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.   
 
 

Born of the Spirit

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

                                                            John 3:5-8

 

“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed so you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

                                                            Matthew 25:24-30

 

I’ve written devotionals in the past about the role the Holy Spirit plays in salvation—in convicting a person to repent of his sins and accept the exquisite present of salvation that Jesus Christ’s death offers us. I’ve even preached a sermon in which His transforming power has changed my life. But I’ve never gone as far as to raise the question here in written word, about how and why some people are convicted and some aren’t, as I hadn’t wrapped my mind fully around that yet. I don’t think that I accept election or predestination, but I know that there are a number who do. I did not explore how I theologically felt, as I think I was worried about what I would find? Suffice it to say, I didn’t write about it because I didn’t have any definitive answers, and I didn’t want to lead anyone astray. I will admit, though, that the question has been rolling around in my brain for a while, and that I’ve quelled the need to answer it thus far.

 

Until late last week.


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Discipleship and Purpose

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;

                                                            Matthew 28:18-20a

 

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

                                                            Luke 9:23

 

The concept of discipleship has been on my heart lately, and I’ve been chewing on the idea of how to start it for a while, but have come up dry with how to start out a devotional on it (that’s part of the reason there was no devotional last week). I’d shared this struggle with the Thursday night prayer group, and Dell read me a letter that he’s had in his Bible for a long time. We all agreed that it was a perfect way to begin this devotional. So with many thanks to Dell, and more to the Holy Spirit, I’d like to share this with you. It was attributed to a young African pastor in Zimbabwe, and was found among his papers after he was martyred.

 

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His and I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I’m done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, or first, or tops, or recognized, or praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power.

My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission is clear.

I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He comes for His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!”

 


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Celebrities

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 

                                                            Psalm 103:8

 

…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

                                                            Isaiah 43:1-3

 

Have you ever met a celebrity—whether it was a planned and expected meeting, like the opportunity to meet a politician or movie star at a gala or event, or if it was a random encounter, like running into David Robinson standing in line at a Sombrero Rosa (a Taco Cabana-like restaurant from years back) or Robert Horry at Ajuua, a Mexican restaurant over on the North side. My encounters are the latter ones, if you couldn’t deduce that. I did not approach either of them, because I figured that they were just people who wanted nothing better than to just eat without anyone bothering them (my co-worker, though, thought nothing of approaching Horry and asking him for his autograph. Horry obliged while the rest of us at the table sat embarrassed for our co-worker. Oh well.)

 

I’ve heard of some celebrities being unbelievably kind and generous with their time and willingness to pose for pictures and sign autographs. I’ve also heard of those who are quite the opposite, causing an unfortunate experience with their unfortunate fans who happen to run into them.

 


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Surrender

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

 

                                                           Galatians 2:20

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 

 

                                                            Luke 9: 23-24

 

He must increase, but I must decrease. 

                                                           John 3:30

 

I was reading a non-fiction book in which the author relayed a story about a time in which he was out with a group of friends at the lake, and one of the friends started to drown. I can’t for the life of me recall if it was the author who had been a lifeguard or his friend, so I’m going to attribute this to the author, but as the story goes, the author did not jump in immediately to save his drowning friend, despite the shouts from the group he was with. Precious time seemed to slip by, and yet the author waited, until it seemed almost too late. It was at the point where the young victim finally stopped flailing and kicking that the author jumped in and saved him, bringing him back to the shore. The group was able to revive the young man, and he seemed to have no lasting effects. After the excitement wore off, one of the persons in the group asked the author why he waited so long to try to save the victim, the author explained that he’d been taught in his lifeguard training that the instinct to live is so strong that the victim would have panicked and potentially latch on to the young man, putting himself and his potential rescuer in danger, possibly creating two victims that day. Instead, he waited until the victim had no fight left, thus ensuring an easier rescue for all involved. The victim had to basically surrender himself to the possibility of impending death before he could be saved.

 

What a fitting analogy for our humanness and salvation, don’t you think?

 


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Through His Eyes

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

 

                                                            Psalm 139: 1-4

I was praying the other morning and started thinking about Jesus’s contact with the woman at the well. Her initial reaction at His knowledge of her (“Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet…”) seemed to be guarded, even though He had revealed very personal information about her. It wasn’t until He revealed Himself to be the Messiah that she truly reacted to His revelation of her past. John tells us that she “then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all the things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”..)

 

I have a penchant for empathizing with people, wondering what they felt or thought during certain experiences. During this encounter with Jesus, her curiosity had to have been more than just piqued to have Him, a Jew, ask her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink. She had to have been taken aback when He validated her statement of having no husband and then adding that she had had five husbands already, but she seems to have hidden it well. But when Jesus reveals Himself to her as the Messiah, she sees Him for who He is. Can you imagine the joy in her heart? Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One Who would give her everlasting life, looked at her and saw her as she truly was: the daughter of the High King. I imagine that He looked at her, despite His weariness and her sin, with eyes of sincerity and of love. He offered her acceptance and hope, and she ran to share it with others.

 


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He Loves Us Anyway

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

                                                            Romans 8:38

 

I was praying the other day for my friend “Brian”, hoping for him to not be upset with God, or rail against Him, or anything like that due to the recent death of his beloved wife (okay, I confess, I was worried that he might have that reaction. I know it’s silly to worry about that, as it may not even be a thing, and even if it were, there wasn’t anything I could do about it…other than pray). It got me thinking about the writers of some of the comments I have read on Christian blogs, comments that are a vitriolic cocktail of rage, condescension, and pain. It hurt my heart to think of His heart hurting at the intensity of the feeling behind them (in hindsight, I’m now wondering if I attribute too much to the pain of the words, given that He knows if that person will accept Him later—that is, later of us, at the same time for Him—okay, now I’m getting myself in too deep in these theological waters. *waves hands, looking for Jesus, her lifeguard Who walks on water*)

 

My mind wandered from mulling over His hurt over the comments to the time in my life when I turned my back on Him. I know I’ve shared some of this in my sermonette and testimony, but for those who don’t know or recall, here it is, in a nutshell: got married at the tender young age of 18 to a young man who became addicted to drugs and who was verbally and (a little) physically abusive. I begged and pleaded for Him to change my husband but nothing changed. After a while, I gave up hope, helpless to do anything to change my situation, but darned sure I wasn’t going to set myself up for disappointment any longer by praying to someone who did not answer my prayers.

 


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Spiritual Gifts

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

 

But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

 

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 

 

                                                            1 Corinthians 12: vv 4-12; 18-20; 27-30

 

In our adult Sunday School class, we are studying
The Mind of Christ 
by T. W. Hunt, in an effort to understand how to become more like Jesus. We had a discussion a couple of Sundays ago about the 1 Corinthians 12 reference about each of us being a part of the body of Christ (though I cannot recall exactly how that tied in to the book!). I recall commenting that in the metaphor of the body Paul writes about, each body part knows exactly how to be—the eye knows how to be an eye, the toe knows how to be a toe, and so forth. I think the point I was trying to suggest is that the analogy breaks down, to a certain degree, when not everyone in the Church knows how to be the part of the body for which they were designed. (I’m referencing the church universal, not necessarily Stone Oak Cumberland Presbyterian church, though it might apply here, too. I’ll let you conclude on your own).

 

And when I talk about being designed as a certain body part, I’m talking with respect to spiritual gifts. Paul’s analogy is a beautiful one, one that speaks volumes and is easily understood. It isn’t by accident that this chapter introduces the concept of spiritual gifts, in its focusing of unity in diversity, and diversity within the unity of the body. Paul is writing to the Corinthians about divisions within the church, resulting most likely from an overemphasis on certain spiritual gifts being more important than others. Possession of certain spiritual gifts does not make one any more important, more prestigious, or more valuable than anyone else in the body, Paul writes. Each one of us is given at least one spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit (“
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills”), 
and each is important to the edification of the body.


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Suddenness, Part 2

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us,

                                                             Titus 2: 7-8

 

I’m sorry that this devotional is a day late. I’ve got to say that I have two devotionals that are in some semblance of completion, one of which was started last night, but I did not get (or push myself) to finish. I was about 70% sure on both that they were the ones I was called to write, but for various reasons, they remain undone. I also have, at any given time, three to four ideas that are rolling around in my head for topics.

It wasn’t until I attended today’s memorial service for the woman I wrote about in last week’s devotional that I knew what I was to write for this week.

The memorial service was held at a funeral home at 2:00 p.m. Before it started, as people were walking in, classic 80s soft rock songs were being played, and a slide slow of pictures of Linda (her real name) at various ages with different family members was shown. It was tastefully done, reverence mixed with fun and love in celebration of her life.


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Suddenness

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

 

                                                            James 4:13-14

 

I used to work with a gentleman by the name of Brian who was very involved in the technical architecture of the systems we used to develop the experiences we designed for our members. It turns out we graduated high school in the same class and are just three weeks apart in age; we didn’t know each other until we met at work, though, some 22 years after high school. A small group of us bonded quickly, team members thrust together in a dynamic organizational shift.

Brian was always a very precise but lovable person, with a quick smile and an even quicker explanation for things. When I was in a meeting, he would always preface a heavy technical discussion with a “sorry, but this is going to get technical”, almost out of deference to my non-technical non-expertise. Brian was a private person and while he did share some family stuff, what he shared was positive and high level.

 He and his family went to Disney World over Spring break, and since he was tagged in a number of the photos that his wife posted to Facebook, I and all of his friends got to see Brian, his wife, their college age daughter, and high school age son enjoying all that Disney World had to offer. They seemed to be having a wonderful time at the happiest place on Earth, and I was happy for them.

 I found out Sunday afternoon from a mutual friend of ours that Brian’s wife passed away Friday (the last day of Spring break, the day before they were supposed to fly home). Apparently she had a heart condition and had not been feeling 100% the week before the vacation, but her cardiologist cleared her for travel. As evidenced by the pictures, she seemed to be doing fine. She was checking them in to get their boarding passes while Brian and the kids went to the park, and when they returned, they found her slumped over the computer. They attempted to revive her with a defibrillator and she was taken by ambulance but did not survive.

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Side Effects

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

 

 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 

 

                                                                        2 Corinthians 4:17

 

 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

 

Isaiah 43:2

 

 Sunday afternoon, I was chatting with my dad’s wife Helen (it feels a bit weird to refer to her as my stepmother, though that’s technically what she is to me. I was grown when she and my dad married so she never really mothered me, as it were. But I digress…). She has had innumerable health challenges in the past couple of years—it got to the point that every time I talked with her, she was sick yet again with pneumonia, or bronchitis, or some other infection she was never able to fully shake. She has asthma and chronic migraines as well. She went from doctor to doctor, never able to find a cause for her constant illnesses. She kept her hopes up, though, and her faith was rewarded not too long ago when they diagnosed her with an autoimmune disease, though they don’t know which one exactly yet. But finally, a diagnosis!

 

This Wednesday she is going to have a treatment called subcutaneous immunoglobulin infusion, in which antibodies from human plasma are injected to a person to help bolster her resistance to infections (from what I can glean from the interwebs). She is quite excited for the possibilities and promises that this treatment might bring. What’s she’s not so excited about, though, are the potential side effects she might experience. As she heard and read about some of the side effects (some of which include headaches, migraines (and as a migraine sufferer, she is more likely to develop more of them), nausea, lower back pain, and a whole host of other more serious but less likely ones), she shared with me that her first thought was that the cure seemed worse than the illness, but that she realized that the side effects were probably necessary but temporary things she would have to experience in order to get better.

 


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Born of the Spirit

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

                                                            John 3:5-8

 

“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed so you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

                                                            Matthew 25:24-30

 

I’ve written devotionals in the past about the role the Holy Spirit plays in salvation—in convicting a person to repent of his sins and accept the exquisite present of salvation that Jesus Christ’s death offers us. I’ve even preached a sermon in which His transforming power has changed my life. But I’ve never gone as far as to raise the question here in written word, about how and why some people are convicted and some aren’t, as I hadn’t wrapped my mind fully around that yet. I don’t think that I accept election or predestination, but I know that there are a number who do. I did not explore how I theologically felt, as I think I was worried about what I would find? Suffice it to say, I didn’t write about it because I didn’t have any definitive answers, and I didn’t want to lead anyone astray. I will admit, though, that the question has been rolling around in my brain for a while, and that I’ve quelled the need to answer it thus far.

 

Until late last week.


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Discipleship and Purpose

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;

                                                            Matthew 28:18-20a

 

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

                                                            Luke 9:23

 

The concept of discipleship has been on my heart lately, and I’ve been chewing on the idea of how to start it for a while, but have come up dry with how to start out a devotional on it (that’s part of the reason there was no devotional last week). I’d shared this struggle with the Thursday night prayer group, and Dell read me a letter that he’s had in his Bible for a long time. We all agreed that it was a perfect way to begin this devotional. So with many thanks to Dell, and more to the Holy Spirit, I’d like to share this with you. It was attributed to a young African pastor in Zimbabwe, and was found among his papers after he was martyred.

 

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His and I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I’m done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, or first, or tops, or recognized, or praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power.

My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission is clear.

I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He comes for His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!”

 


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Celebrities

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 

                                                            Psalm 103:8

 

…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

                                                            Isaiah 43:1-3

 

Have you ever met a celebrity—whether it was a planned and expected meeting, like the opportunity to meet a politician or movie star at a gala or event, or if it was a random encounter, like running into David Robinson standing in line at a Sombrero Rosa (a Taco Cabana-like restaurant from years back) or Robert Horry at Ajuua, a Mexican restaurant over on the North side. My encounters are the latter ones, if you couldn’t deduce that. I did not approach either of them, because I figured that they were just people who wanted nothing better than to just eat without anyone bothering them (my co-worker, though, thought nothing of approaching Horry and asking him for his autograph. Horry obliged while the rest of us at the table sat embarrassed for our co-worker. Oh well.)

 

I’ve heard of some celebrities being unbelievably kind and generous with their time and willingness to pose for pictures and sign autographs. I’ve also heard of those who are quite the opposite, causing an unfortunate experience with their unfortunate fans who happen to run into them.

 


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Surrender

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

 

                                                           Galatians 2:20

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 

 

                                                            Luke 9: 23-24

 

He must increase, but I must decrease. 

                                                           John 3:30

 

I was reading a non-fiction book in which the author relayed a story about a time in which he was out with a group of friends at the lake, and one of the friends started to drown. I can’t for the life of me recall if it was the author who had been a lifeguard or his friend, so I’m going to attribute this to the author, but as the story goes, the author did not jump in immediately to save his drowning friend, despite the shouts from the group he was with. Precious time seemed to slip by, and yet the author waited, until it seemed almost too late. It was at the point where the young victim finally stopped flailing and kicking that the author jumped in and saved him, bringing him back to the shore. The group was able to revive the young man, and he seemed to have no lasting effects. After the excitement wore off, one of the persons in the group asked the author why he waited so long to try to save the victim, the author explained that he’d been taught in his lifeguard training that the instinct to live is so strong that the victim would have panicked and potentially latch on to the young man, putting himself and his potential rescuer in danger, possibly creating two victims that day. Instead, he waited until the victim had no fight left, thus ensuring an easier rescue for all involved. The victim had to basically surrender himself to the possibility of impending death before he could be saved.

 

What a fitting analogy for our humanness and salvation, don’t you think?

 


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Through His Eyes

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

 

                                                            Psalm 139: 1-4

I was praying the other morning and started thinking about Jesus’s contact with the woman at the well. Her initial reaction at His knowledge of her (“Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet…”) seemed to be guarded, even though He had revealed very personal information about her. It wasn’t until He revealed Himself to be the Messiah that she truly reacted to His revelation of her past. John tells us that she “then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all the things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”..)

 

I have a penchant for empathizing with people, wondering what they felt or thought during certain experiences. During this encounter with Jesus, her curiosity had to have been more than just piqued to have Him, a Jew, ask her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink. She had to have been taken aback when He validated her statement of having no husband and then adding that she had had five husbands already, but she seems to have hidden it well. But when Jesus reveals Himself to her as the Messiah, she sees Him for who He is. Can you imagine the joy in her heart? Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One Who would give her everlasting life, looked at her and saw her as she truly was: the daughter of the High King. I imagine that He looked at her, despite His weariness and her sin, with eyes of sincerity and of love. He offered her acceptance and hope, and she ran to share it with others.

 


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He Loves Us Anyway

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

                                                            Romans 8:38

 

I was praying the other day for my friend “Brian”, hoping for him to not be upset with God, or rail against Him, or anything like that due to the recent death of his beloved wife (okay, I confess, I was worried that he might have that reaction. I know it’s silly to worry about that, as it may not even be a thing, and even if it were, there wasn’t anything I could do about it…other than pray). It got me thinking about the writers of some of the comments I have read on Christian blogs, comments that are a vitriolic cocktail of rage, condescension, and pain. It hurt my heart to think of His heart hurting at the intensity of the feeling behind them (in hindsight, I’m now wondering if I attribute too much to the pain of the words, given that He knows if that person will accept Him later—that is, later of us, at the same time for Him—okay, now I’m getting myself in too deep in these theological waters. *waves hands, looking for Jesus, her lifeguard Who walks on water*)

 

My mind wandered from mulling over His hurt over the comments to the time in my life when I turned my back on Him. I know I’ve shared some of this in my sermonette and testimony, but for those who don’t know or recall, here it is, in a nutshell: got married at the tender young age of 18 to a young man who became addicted to drugs and who was verbally and (a little) physically abusive. I begged and pleaded for Him to change my husband but nothing changed. After a while, I gave up hope, helpless to do anything to change my situation, but darned sure I wasn’t going to set myself up for disappointment any longer by praying to someone who did not answer my prayers.

 


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Spiritual Gifts

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

 

But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

 

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 

 

                                                            1 Corinthians 12: vv 4-12; 18-20; 27-30

 

In our adult Sunday School class, we are studying
The Mind of Christ 
by T. W. Hunt, in an effort to understand how to become more like Jesus. We had a discussion a couple of Sundays ago about the 1 Corinthians 12 reference about each of us being a part of the body of Christ (though I cannot recall exactly how that tied in to the book!). I recall commenting that in the metaphor of the body Paul writes about, each body part knows exactly how to be—the eye knows how to be an eye, the toe knows how to be a toe, and so forth. I think the point I was trying to suggest is that the analogy breaks down, to a certain degree, when not everyone in the Church knows how to be the part of the body for which they were designed. (I’m referencing the church universal, not necessarily Stone Oak Cumberland Presbyterian church, though it might apply here, too. I’ll let you conclude on your own).

 

And when I talk about being designed as a certain body part, I’m talking with respect to spiritual gifts. Paul’s analogy is a beautiful one, one that speaks volumes and is easily understood. It isn’t by accident that this chapter introduces the concept of spiritual gifts, in its focusing of unity in diversity, and diversity within the unity of the body. Paul is writing to the Corinthians about divisions within the church, resulting most likely from an overemphasis on certain spiritual gifts being more important than others. Possession of certain spiritual gifts does not make one any more important, more prestigious, or more valuable than anyone else in the body, Paul writes. Each one of us is given at least one spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit (“
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills”), 
and each is important to the edification of the body.


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Suddenness, Part 2

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us,

                                                             Titus 2: 7-8

 

I’m sorry that this devotional is a day late. I’ve got to say that I have two devotionals that are in some semblance of completion, one of which was started last night, but I did not get (or push myself) to finish. I was about 70% sure on both that they were the ones I was called to write, but for various reasons, they remain undone. I also have, at any given time, three to four ideas that are rolling around in my head for topics.

It wasn’t until I attended today’s memorial service for the woman I wrote about in last week’s devotional that I knew what I was to write for this week.

The memorial service was held at a funeral home at 2:00 p.m. Before it started, as people were walking in, classic 80s soft rock songs were being played, and a slide slow of pictures of Linda (her real name) at various ages with different family members was shown. It was tastefully done, reverence mixed with fun and love in celebration of her life.


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Suddenness

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

 

                                                            James 4:13-14

 

I used to work with a gentleman by the name of Brian who was very involved in the technical architecture of the systems we used to develop the experiences we designed for our members. It turns out we graduated high school in the same class and are just three weeks apart in age; we didn’t know each other until we met at work, though, some 22 years after high school. A small group of us bonded quickly, team members thrust together in a dynamic organizational shift.

Brian was always a very precise but lovable person, with a quick smile and an even quicker explanation for things. When I was in a meeting, he would always preface a heavy technical discussion with a “sorry, but this is going to get technical”, almost out of deference to my non-technical non-expertise. Brian was a private person and while he did share some family stuff, what he shared was positive and high level.

 He and his family went to Disney World over Spring break, and since he was tagged in a number of the photos that his wife posted to Facebook, I and all of his friends got to see Brian, his wife, their college age daughter, and high school age son enjoying all that Disney World had to offer. They seemed to be having a wonderful time at the happiest place on Earth, and I was happy for them.

 I found out Sunday afternoon from a mutual friend of ours that Brian’s wife passed away Friday (the last day of Spring break, the day before they were supposed to fly home). Apparently she had a heart condition and had not been feeling 100% the week before the vacation, but her cardiologist cleared her for travel. As evidenced by the pictures, she seemed to be doing fine. She was checking them in to get their boarding passes while Brian and the kids went to the park, and when they returned, they found her slumped over the computer. They attempted to revive her with a defibrillator and she was taken by ambulance but did not survive.

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Side Effects

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

 

 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 

 

                                                                        2 Corinthians 4:17

 

 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

 

Isaiah 43:2

 

 Sunday afternoon, I was chatting with my dad’s wife Helen (it feels a bit weird to refer to her as my stepmother, though that’s technically what she is to me. I was grown when she and my dad married so she never really mothered me, as it were. But I digress…). She has had innumerable health challenges in the past couple of years—it got to the point that every time I talked with her, she was sick yet again with pneumonia, or bronchitis, or some other infection she was never able to fully shake. She has asthma and chronic migraines as well. She went from doctor to doctor, never able to find a cause for her constant illnesses. She kept her hopes up, though, and her faith was rewarded not too long ago when they diagnosed her with an autoimmune disease, though they don’t know which one exactly yet. But finally, a diagnosis!

 

This Wednesday she is going to have a treatment called subcutaneous immunoglobulin infusion, in which antibodies from human plasma are injected to a person to help bolster her resistance to infections (from what I can glean from the interwebs). She is quite excited for the possibilities and promises that this treatment might bring. What’s she’s not so excited about, though, are the potential side effects she might experience. As she heard and read about some of the side effects (some of which include headaches, migraines (and as a migraine sufferer, she is more likely to develop more of them), nausea, lower back pain, and a whole host of other more serious but less likely ones), she shared with me that her first thought was that the cure seemed worse than the illness, but that she realized that the side effects were probably necessary but temporary things she would have to experience in order to get better.

 


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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.