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.
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”.
“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.”
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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.”
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).
“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.