Family in Prayer

What is S.U.P.V.?

For those new to our church, website and this blog, here’s what it’s all about: SUPV stands for the Straight Up Prayer Vigil. It is a virtual prayer vigil that happens every Wednesday (God willing). The Straight Up refers to the times of 6:00 a.m., noon, 6:00 p.m., and midnight–you choose whatever time works for you–and you pray for our church, those on prayer list, and prayer requests that are included in the blog post or are sent by email, normally at the beginning of the week for that Wednesday. 
The length of the SUPVs has grown in nature over the past couple of years, and now it’s pretty much a full-blown devotional, with specific prayer requests included. May it bless you as you read it.   
 
 
 

Hubris

The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!

                                                            Daniel 4:30-31

I distinctly remember learning about the concept of hubris in 10th grade AP class when we delved into Greek mythology. The literary definition of hubris is “extreme pride and arrogance shown by a character that ultimately brings about his downfall.” I discovered the epitome of hubris while reading Daniel the other morning in the person of King Nebuchadnezzar.
 

We meet King Nebuchadnezzar in the first chapter of Daniel, when he besieges Jerusalem. He learns about Daniel’s God in chapter 2, when God reveals and interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream through Daniel, and he declares Him to be all knowing. In chapter 3, after the fiery furnace, he declares God all-powerful and decrees death to anyone who speaks against Him. And in the beginning of chapter 4, we read from the hand of Nebuchadnezzar himself as he shares his dream and seeks Daniel’s interpretation of it (which his own magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers were unable to give).

The king’s vision was quite extreme. A troubled Daniel explains the meaning of the dream saying, “The tree you saw.. it is you who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth. … but… the tree shall be chopped down, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen…seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he chooses. (emphasis mine) … “your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. .. break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.”
 
The king has been given a glimpse into his future, as well as the insight on how to potentially overcome (and avoid?) the consequences. Who among us wouldn’t want to be in his position?

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Micromanager

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

                                                                        Philippians 4:6

“…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”                   

                                                                        1 Peter 5:7

One of my former coworkers from IT (Information Technology) is a project manager. She used to be a software developer, so she has a logical mind. It’s a fairly common career progression to go from developer to project manager, exchanging solution-oriented analysis tasks and if-then statements for budgets, schedules, and numerous spreadsheets. She cut her teeth on smaller budgeted projects, and has now worked her way into managing high quality software development efforts with teams that span the globe.

Sylvia (not her real name) is a nice enough person. Never married, she lives with her mom, and takes care of her. She does not seem to have anyone special in her life, and she constantly works late (yes, there is a causal connection, I’m sure). When she sends emails, she includes everyone and their cousin, and their cousin’s friend’s nephew, to ensure that no one is left out of the communication. She includes “read receipts” on her emails, and she files those responses in special folders on her computer. She can seem inflexible at times when it comes to the project schedule or monies, and thus requires a fair amount of lead time and special handling when there is a change in direction.


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Three-word Gems

For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few.

                                                           

Ecclesiastes 5:2b

 

We are studying the book of John in our Monday lunchtime bible study at work. One verse in particular spoke to me, in its depth despite its brevity. It got me thinking about other three-word verses that powerfully convey His word:

God is love

Feed My Sheep

Love Your Enemies

Come, Holy Spirit

He is risen!


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What a Privilege

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God

                                                           

Philippians 4:6

‘Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

                                                           

James 5:16

 

I had the opportunity to hear a message over the weekend at an event for a Walk to Emmaus. The message was about opportunity and attitude, and having the right one at that. The pastor recited an anecdote about renowned opera singer Beverly Sills, who had been at an evening reception given in her honor. She’d rehearsed all afternoon and still had an entire opera to perform later that night. Her hostess said to her, “I know you must be tired—I’m sorry you have to sing an opera tonight.” Sills responded with an emphatic “I don’t
have to sing an opera tonight. I get to sing an opera tonight.” (emphasis mine). Despite all her fame, she never forgot that it was a privilege to sing for those who came to see her perform.
 
Before the service this past Sunday, I was looking at the sign-up sheet for the prayer vigil that will take place on October 15. It is something that our church used to participate in, and one that I know we talked about bringing back when I was still on the Worship committee last year. In fact, this devotional originally started out as prayer vigil—a virtual one, that is. The original premise was that every week I would send prayer requests that people turned in, and then on the Wednesday of each week, at midnight, 6:00 a.m., noon, or 6:00 p.m., folks would pray for each request (that’s where the acronym SUPV comes from—Straight Up Prayer Vigil.. clever, yes?). I then started writing more, and voila! You poor people can’t stop hearing from me! But I digress..

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Send me

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

                                                            Isaiah 6:8

 

 

I’ve been seeking. I have sought for a while now to know God’s calling for my life. I thought I understood Him to tell me before that He’d be sending me to third world countries to share His word (I’ve even mentioned that fact in a couple of SUPVs!). It’s been a while, however, since I thought I understood that; now I’m wondering if I wasn’t so eager to hear from Him in some capacity that I didn’t make it all up…wishful thinking, you know?

I think I can honestly say that I’m not seeking to know what to expect in the future – I’m not trying to get ahead of Him and understand the plan so that I’m not ill prepared when “it” finally happens. I know that everything is in His timing and in His plan, and I’ve left all of the details to Him (how gracious of me, hmm?). If He wants me to clean toilets in an orphanage in Mumbai, He’ll make it happen. If He wants me to volunteer in hospice or elderly care, He’ll make that happen, too. Those arrangements and details are all His, and He will be glorified throughout.

No, I think the impetus behind my seeking is a need to quell the fear or uncertainty 
that He might not have something in mind for me that is different than what I’m doing right now, 
Now please don’t get me wrong—I enjoy doing the things that I am doing. I do! And I do realize the importance of striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman, and I am far from being one—so I have a lot of growing to still do in that opportunity. I fully admit to that. No, I think that my problem is that I am expecting something grandiose to present itself—an opportunity custom made for me, or a sign pointing to said tailor-made prospect for me. Dell even commented as such in a sidebar conversation at Sunday School one Sunday—I think I’d known it for a while but had not fully realized it until he said it.

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Grown Up Clothes

I delight greatly in the Lord;
 my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,

 

                                                Isaiah 61:10a

 

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

                                                Galatians 3:26-27

 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

                                                2 Corinthians 5:21

I’m sure most of you possess, as I do, a picture or two of your children or grandchildren as little ones in diapers, wearing adult shoes, or playing dress up in Mommy’s dresses. I had two boys, as did my sister, so I never experienced tea parties with pearls, makeup, and dresses, but I have seen pictures of coworkers’ daughters and granddaughters as such. It’s always so cute to see those little bodies, walking ever so slowly lest they trip in oversized shoes or outfits. To see someone so small try to act so grown up, invoking the character and promise that the adult clothes provide, is touching and heartwarming. Oh… the memories–am I right?

 


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Suffering

 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

                                                 1 Peter 1:6-7

 

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

                                                James 1: 2-4

 

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

                                                Hebrews 12:11

 
It started with a blog shared on Facebook, one that I got from Robin, I believe. It is entitled “Why Christians Need to Stop Saying “Everything Happens for a Reason.” I read it, thought it articulate and theologically sound, and shared it. The only comment was from a co-worker who posted “Isaiah 45:7”, which reads “I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.’” I brought that verse up for discussion at a prayer meeting a couple of weeks ago. For some time now, I’ve noodled on the thought of God allowing bad or evil things to happen to us.. or more yet, more than just allowing but actively utilizing the work of the enemy to affect us in some way. (Please understand—I’m not saying that I think that the enemy is one of God’s minions that He deploys in a covert operation to “take care of His business.” I’ve just let the idea of the interaction between God and the enemy float around in my brain for a while, not allowing it take root anywhere). Dell shared that he’d heard a pastor opine at the funeral of a child that perhaps God calls home a baby, or a young child, to save them from the consequences of a decision made later in life – one that would lead them to spend an eternity in hell. I’d not considered that concept before…until the other morning, when I felt compelled to read the latter chapters in Job. I don’t recall if I was seeking the Lord’s response to Job’s declaration of no wrong doing, or something else, but I found myself reading about Elihu and his response to Job, and to Job’s three “friends” (quotation marks mine). It was then that I read verses 21-22, and 24:

His flesh wastes away from sight,
And his bones stick out which once were not seen.
Yes, his soul draws near the Pit,

 

Then He is gracious to him, and says,
‘Deliver him from going down to the Pit;
I have found a ransom’;

 


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Poker Face

 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…

 

                                                James 1:19

 

If you’ve not had the opportunity to be in a meeting, discussion, or even Sunday School class, allow me to share something about myself that you will easily find out when we are in such a meeting, discussion, or class together: I do not have a poker face. My lack of such a thing is the source for much joviality for a set of co-workers in my previous department, where most of us worked together for about nine years, give or take a couple. Everyone knew my thoughts on the topic of discussion—all anyone had to do was but to look at my face. One of the executive directors who was the sponsor of my projects found it particularly amusing to sit himself directly so that my face was in his line of sight, so expressive were my reactions to various opinions and thoughts. (Once I realized what he was doing, I would move ever so slightly behind the person sitting next to me, just to thwart his plan of merriment). It’s gotten to be such a thing that a good friend posted this to my Facebook wall saying that it is so me:

 

Poker face

 

Made me giggle when I saw it.

 

I’d never sought to control it, because I’d never really felt I needed to. I’d worked with everyone in my old area for so long that we all fell into familiar patterns and knew what to expect from each other. We never took anything personally (though in hindsight, it did take us a little bit to get to that place) and we delivered really great software and experiences. Plus, it was part of who I was—how I expressed myself.

 


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Identity

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

                                                Galatians 3:26-28

 

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

 

            1 Peter 2:9-10

 

As we barrel down towards Election Day, I’m seeing an increasing number of Facebook posts in my newsfeed from my friends who are on both sides of the political spectrum. I seem to have more Facebook friends who are in the conservative, Republican category, and I’m always a bit surprised at who of my Facebook friends is a Democrat. There are also posts by those who are avid Second Amendment supporters, and those who are ardent gun control advocates; others from those fundamentally against vaccinations, and those who can’t fathom why vaccination is even an issue; Aggies and Longhorns; heck, I even have some Army versus Navy folks in my Facebook feed as well. But if you read my newsfeed, you might wonder how my views align with those who post and share things in the wonderful thing that is Facebook. Were you to look at my Facebook wall (my home page, for all intents and purposes), you’d see an amalgam of my comments about the Cowboys, the Spurs, rescued dog videos, military service salutes and shout outs, Bible verses that have brought me comfort, and an errant comment about my total lack of a poker face. But who am I, really? Who would the world say I am, based on my Facebook newsfeed and wall? When you think about it, it is surprising that I don’t suffer from an identity crisis!

 


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Breathe

The Spirit of God has made me,
And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

                                                           

Job 33:4

 

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

                                                            John 20:22

I was reviewing relaxation exercises with my physical therapist, as part of therapy for some hypertonic muscles (which means that the muscles are overly stretched out and lengthened from having too much tone and tension). As she went over the concept of diaphragmatic breathing with me, I was struck at how similar its effects were with those of calling on the Holy Spirit, both eliciting the same action. You see, in diaphragmatic breathing, (you may have heard as belly breathing or abdominal breathing), you breathe in deeply but instead of your chest rising, it’s your belly that does. Air comes in through your nose and completely fills your lungs, unlike “chest breathing”, which has shorter and more shallow breaths that limits the diaphragm’s range of motion, which in turn can increase tension and anxiety. With the deeper breathing, you receive the benefit of a full oxygen exchange, which can lead to a slower heartbeat and lower blood pressure. It is one of the first steps in evoking the relaxation response, which in turn can enable your brain to override your muscles’ response to stress. (No, I’m not going to get all New Age-y on you. No Transcendental Meditation, I promise. It’s just a good idea to try not to have stress build up, that’s all. It’s toxic.) It takes concentration and a conscious and deliberate focus on your breathing to do it correctly. The plus side: when you’re concentrating on your breathing, you can’t focus on those things that were bothering you. You actually disarm them!

 


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