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.

March 18, 2015

“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 We had a lively discussion at last week’s prayer meeting (unabashed advertisement alert: we meet Thursday nights at 7:00 in the front office of the CE/Fellowship Hall building. Would love to have you join us!). We talked about a number of things—stuff going on in the church and questions about scripture, and how they all really do tie together. I can’t say the exact way we got onto the topic of the parable of the talents, but I can say that it was quite illuminating—I came away with an understanding thanks to Pastor Kevin, and I want to share it with you. Perhaps you have always understood it this way, so what I’m going to share is yesterday’s news, but I’m quite jazzed about it! My quibble with this parable has always been the third servant’s assessment of the master: he knew him to be a hard man, reaping where he had not sown--taking things that he did not work for. And the fact that the master acknowledged the servant’s assessment of him—I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how this portrayed God as the giving Father that He is.
The illumination that Kevin brought to mind is that the master’s personality is a reflection of each servant’s perception of him, and it affected the servant’s relationship and subsequent response. The first two servants confirmed the master’s trust in them, in that they doubled the amount of the talents entrusted to them. They worked hard to augment the master’s money. When the master returned, they presented their efforts to him, and received his high praise. “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of the lord.” They got to enter into the JOY of the lord! They got to hear the words we all long to hear our master say!
But the third servant projects his evaluation of the master’s personality and reacts accordingly. Fearful, he does nothing with the responsibility he had been given but bury it in the ground. He was entrusted with something of amazing value by his lord and because of crippling fear, did absolutely nothing with it.
But what of the master’s response to his statement? It is better understood when you look at the response recorded in Luke’s version of this parable (Luke 19): ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow…’  The talent with which he had been entrusted is taken away and given to the first servant, and the third servant cast away.
Jesus gives us the take away from this parable: “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.”  Friends, Almighty God has given us much—resources, talents, love, but above all, He has given us His Son—the Word made flesh. When we share Lord Jesus with others, as the first two servants did, we are blessed, and we further the kingdom as we have been commanded to do. When we react in a spirit of fear, (which is not from Him, by the way) and we hide the gospel, the promise of salvation is taken away, and we are cast out into the darkness.
Let us, in all things, respond to the Lord in faith, in positivity, in joy. In our individual lives as well as our corporate church life, let us acknowledge that everything we have comes from Him, and is not ours to keep. He is not glorified if we reserve our time, talents, and tithes instead of sharing them in this world through our ministries, our benevolences, our outreach. Let us seek His discernment for how to spend His resources and invest them in the community for His kingdom. And now on to prayer requests: •      For all those in anguish, wherever they may be, struggling to understand tragedy in their life and God's role in that. •      For the arrival of Spring and the renewal it brings for all things. •      Praise and adoration for His boundless grace, His endless love and His matchless strength, all of which He shares and and blesses us with, continually. Continued prayers for revival in this place - His revival and conviction of all we do. •      Continued prayers for revival in this place - His revival and conviction of all we do. •      For those on our prayer list, and those who are not, who are suffering and afraid •      For a renewal of His presence in our midst that all who come to SOCPC will feel and come to know Him
Dear ones, He loves us so much, and expects us to share that love with others. Blessings are multiplied when we give of the resources He has given us. We are His church, here for the purposes of spreading the gospel and ministering to others. Let’s agree to commit to doing His work, knowing that He will not let us falter. Amen? From Pinterest: “Take a second to think about how blessed you are.”
And “Four things you can’t recover: The stone…after the throw The word…after it’s said The occasion…after it’s missed The time…after it’s gone” Blessed beyond words, Laura <><


March 10, 2015

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”        Hebrews 11:1 & 6   “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven”   Ecclesiastes 3:1
As Rebecca mentioned in her Young Disciples’ Time message Sunday in playing The Byrds “Turn, Turn, Turn”: there is a season for everything. People, relationships, even churches—we all go through seasons, some good and some not so good. When we go through the latter, life can feel like a perpetual winter—lifeless, bleak, alone. We can feel as if we have faced blizzard after ice storm after nor’easter, with no end in sight. And even if the challenges we face aren’t as bad as the frigid-like comparisons I just described, going through a proverbial Texas winter life experience can be like walking through a long, low valley with high winds and uneven ground. Friends, our church and church family faced some winter-like conditions over the past several months. We have mourned the passing of dear church members (while celebrating their life and return Home), we have experienced the sting of church members and friends of the church leaving us, and we’ve faced trying budgetary considerations. We have struggled with empty pews, burned-out church members, hurt feelings, and have combated health issues within the church family. But just as trees that in the winter seem dead and lifeless but soon put out buds and tiny leaves that will soon unfurl, we too have that same hope. Through it all—THROUGH IT ALL—God is with us. He is seen in the beauty of blooming flowers, and He is in the arrival of wonderful guests and friends whom we have met over the past couple of weeks! He is in the soon-to-come spring showers, and He is in the Breakfast Taco Sundays. He is in the greenness of the soft grass and wild flowers that dot the highway, and He is in the bringing of Pastor Byrd’s church to our door. You will experience Him in the baby animals to be born in spring, and enjoy His presence as we proudly watch a number of our youth graduate high school. He is in the despair of Good Friday and in the faith and promise of the empty tomb. Friends, I firmly believe that we are at a tremendously exciting time right now in our church’s life. We have prayed for the renewal of hope, and He has provided. We have sought Him with faithful hearts, and He has rewarded us. To God be the Glory!! Now on to prayer requests: •      For those on our prayer list, and those who are not, who are suffering and afraid •      For government leaders, from local to world governments, for discernment and wisdom •      For boldness in sharing our faith •      For the pursuit of the fruit of the Spirit as we mature in our spiritual walk •      For those whom “religion” would damn as sinners but for whom Christ Jesus loved so greatly that He died •      For a renewal of His presence in our midst that all who come to SOCPC will feel and come to know Him Dear ones, not having lived as an adult in a snowy climate, I love me some winter. Bundling up in mitten, hats, and jackets, walking in the crunch of snow, listening to the slight crackling of icy branches moving in the solitude of a wooded area, breath visible in front of me—it’s a place of sweet peace I would love to visit again as an adult, especially now, to walk with Him. However…winter as a seemingly desolate season is not one I want for us as a church family to stay in. Celebrate the newness and promise of spring. He is with us and always will be! From Pinterest: “God is working in your life right now, in ways you cannot understand.” And “God never intended that we should merely get into His word—His intent is that the word should get into us.”  -- Nancy Leigh DeMoss To His hope and promise I cling, Laura <><


March 4, 2015

The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.  If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.  John 9:30-34

 

The latest report of the kidnapping of Assyrian Christians by the terror group ISIS has the number between 287 and 350 people—men, women, and children from 30 villages throughout northeast Syria, though between 19-29 have since been released. One account reports the total killed by ISIS at 1,969 since its declared caliphate last June, with many more missing and unaccounted for. A large majority of those killed were civilians.  Villages have been emptied, friends and families separated from each other, chaos and evil running rampant throughout the Middle East. Lives brutally impacted by those seeking to annihilate people who follow Christ. Reports I have read said that most of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were beheaded on a Libyan beach died chanting “Lord Jesus Christ”.

Would I do the same?

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February 25, 2015

“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself…” Romans 15:1-3a
 
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:3-4

There is an acrostic piece I’ve seen that teaches the proper placement and priority of those in your life:

J – Jesus
O – Others
Y – Yourself

Remember the miniseries “The Bible” that was on a couple of years ago? I watched it faithfully, and was struck by some of the scenes that showed Jesus being followed by throngs of people, pressing against Him just to be in His presence, stories of His healings having preceded His arrival in each new town. Projecting my own introversion onto Him, I imagine myself feeling overwhelmed and frantic to escape the crowds after a while, longing for a place of solitude, just to get away from the overwhelming neediness of the people around me. (That’s why, as a young mother, I retreated to my bathroom, locking the door while my children knocked on the other side. I was concerned there for a while there that they would worry about my general health due to the length of my “stays”, but maintaining my sanity was important. Moms, you know what I’m talking about). But Jesus never seemed to stop giving of Himself, even when He was physically weary and alone, talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, or tired and frustrated at having been awakened while at sea during a storm. His selflessness put the needs of others before His own needs. His love put the needs of others—us—before His very life.


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February 18, 2015

“Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

 “…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
When you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
Cause I get better looking each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man.
O Lord it’s hard to be humble
But I’m doing the best that I can.”

Okay. Those who are seasoned enough to recall Mac Davis, did you sing those words in your head in his voice? Did it bring back memories—good ones, I hope?


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February 11, 2015

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
 
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:7-10

I’m sure you’re familiar with the phenomenon in which couples that have been married for a while start to look like each other. A University of Michigan psychologist conducted a study on this a while ago, looking at pictures of couples as newlyweds and then again 25 years later. The results showed that couples had grown to look more like each other over time, and that the happier the couple was, the more similar they seemed to look (now, hold on—don’t go look in the mirror and then look at your spouse and assume the worst if y’all don’t look alike!). The psychologist who conducted the study speculated that these couples looked alike because people in close contact tend to mimic each others’ facial expressions. Laugh lines, frown lines—they all form similarly together, based on shared experiences.


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February 4, 2015

And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15
 
And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. Exodus 17:11-12
 
And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. 1 Thess. 5:12-13

Not too long ago a friend of mine who is the wife of a pastor posted a link on Facebook that revealed some of the challenges that pastors face on a daily basis—challenges that those of us in laity probably never even imagine. I know that I didn’t when I read it. I’d share some of the information with you from that link, but alas, a search of her Facebook page didn’t reveal it right away. Rather than get sucked into the abyss that is Facebook, only to find that 5 hours have passed and I haven’t accomplished anything!!—I Googled “Challenges as a pastor” and 10 ‘o’s in the Google logo at the bottom of the search results, indicating a boatload of links on the topic.

Before I go on, I feel the need to disclose the following:

•      Pastor Kevin did not put me up to this
•      He knows nothing about my writing this
•      I will receive no remuneration, on earth or in heaven, from him in exchange for having written this devotional

End of disclosures!


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January 28, 2015

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25:6-9

My dad has a picture hanging in his living room that has the viewer standing at the foot of a large banquet table that is set with the most majestic of gold-rimmed china, the finest crystal, the most elegant silverware and napkins one could ever imagine. The banquet chairs are ornate wood and formal—seats fit for dignitaries and royalty. The place settings are devoid of food, and the chairs empty. The table is endless; its extravagance continues into the background. It has a caption that references Luke 14:17 “Come, all things are ready.” There are no people in the picture, yet it is teeming with life—ever lasting life.


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January 21, 2014

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:23-24

Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
   Psalm 29:2

The main role I play on a project team at work is to be the user experience (UX) champion. As we develop software capabilities based on business needs and requirements, I provide the visual and interaction direction of the software, focusing on a user-centered design. Per Wikipedia, this is a process in which the needs, wants, and limitations of end users of a product, service, process, or technology solution are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. As I work with the business team to determine the requirements for how the system should act, I question the value and consideration given to the end user. As I work with a visual designer to design what the page interaction and flow could be like, I try to envision the types of users of our capabilities, and work for simplicity and intuitiveness. We bring users into the building and have them use prototypes of what we are developing to validate the usefulness of our systems, and we incorporate as much of their feedback as we can. They are going to be the end users of the software capabilities we deliver; their needs are paramount. To me, it’s all about the user (hierarchically balanced with the needs of the business and the technology).


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January 14, 2015

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

This past week I found myself monitoring the terrorist situation in Paris, with every push notification I received thanks to the Fox News app on my phone. Each time there was an update, I’d read about it and if I could, share it with my co-workers. I listened to talk radio for the news updates on the way to and from work. I prayed for the victims, their families and friends, and just the whole situation. I won’t go so far as to say that it consumed me, but the boldness and the heartlessness with which the terrorists struck worried me greatly. I’d read about threats made to similarly strike a newspaper or magazine in Belgium, the one who years ago had published caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, and that caused me concern.

I’ve written before on the scary world events, and how we need to recall that God did not give us a spirit of fear, and that to Him we must cling and not give the enemy a way to gain control of that fear. I didn’t envision I’d be writing a devotional about that again any time soon. In fact, this week’s SUPV was going to be on a completely different topic, until Saturday morning, during my morning prayer.


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