Monday, January 30, 2012


Prayer surely works, but not all people believe so. I've met people who believe prayer only benefits the one who prays, giving them peace of mind or calming their heart, but not to change anything. They believe God has things already worked out (He does, of course) so prayer doesn't change what He will do. But I believe in the Christian addage, "Prayer Changes Things."

My wife Carol believes it too. After sustaining a complete fracture of her right upper femur last Monday, she had surgery Tuesday to put three pins in to hold the broken leg bone in place. After two more days in the hospital, she was transferred to "Sante of Chandler," a beautiful new facility in south Phoenix for physical therapy. It's located at 825 S. 94th Street  Chandler, AZ 85224, if you'd like to send her a card. Or more easily, she can be reached via Email at . She is using our regular address while I use a different one, as you can see from the Email address I am using.

Carol said often last week she felt so comforted that so many were praying for her. The dozens of Emails and many cards and flowers she received helped her know that "Prayer Changes Things." Now, neither she nor I can prove that God did things any different than He might have had no prayers been offered up. But a Christian can know whether she is being blessed by the petitions offered up on her behalf.

Consider what Isaiah 38:1-5 tells us about this: "In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, 'Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.' Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, and said, 'Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight. ' And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 'Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life'."

God changed His plan because of Hezekiah's prayer. Now, you might think God knew Hezekiah was going to pray, and just waited for him to do so, and then did what He was going to do all along. But the Bible is trustworthy, and when it tells us God heard his prayer and added fifteen years to his life, we can believe that is what actually happened. You and I can believe, "Prayer Changes Things" because it really is true.

God answers prayer in several ways, "Yes, No and Wait." He can agree with our prayer and grant our wish, or He can can decide not to grant our prayer for reasons only He knows. God can also answer us by having us wait awhile before granting our request. Parents do this all the time. They hear the child asking for something that may be good, but they know the child is not ready nor capable of receiving it now. One day, yes, that request can be granted, but not now. When it's time, the parent gives the child what (s)he asked for months or years before. Then (s)he is ready to receive and use it wisely.

God is answering our healing prayers for Carol now, but He is also making her wait with rehab and gaining strength. God is making me wait also, because she is not ready to come home yet. Meanwhile, I've had dear and longtime friends visiting with us whose time here was significantly altered. They did less sightseeing and more serving than planned. I thank God they were here, for they helped with tasks around the home and have been good companions. When they leave, my sister and son are coming for awhile. All this was already planned months ago, so God is using our plans to do His will. He does that often, and that in itself is very comforting.

"Prayer Changes Things!"

Monday, January 23, 2012


Things surely can take a sudden turn in life when you least expect it. Moses discovered this when he met the Lord in a burning desert bush, and Jonah did when God told him to take a trip to Nineveh. Paul found this out as he was traveling the road to Damascus, and Martin Luther did when he got drenched outside in a raging storm.

Carol and I discovered this yesterday, too. She went to an activity at a friend's house, missed a step, and fell, breaking her leg. She thought it wasn't that badly injured and believed the doctor to be joking when he said it was a complete break of the upper femur that would require surgery and pins. And if the surgery was wasn't successful, she might need a hip replacement.

She laughed when the doctor said this, but he then realized wasn't "pulling her leg." She is scheduled for surgery at the Casa Grande Regional Medical Center today, and life will be different around our home till her leg heals.

I had thought she had a low tolerance of pain, but I was wrong. I am sure I'd have yelled a whole lot more than she did when they moved her to another bed and those broken bones rubbed together. I hope any further moves won't be as bad, and that her days ahead will be blessed with a patient and caring husband.

Things surely can take a turn in life when you least expect it. You plan a fun day outside and wake up to clouds and rain. Or you train for a life occupation and find you dislike the kind of life it brings. Or you plan good family life and end up in the divorce court. Or you plan a winter of activities and break a leg.

Of course, not every unfortunate event carries the same result or requires the same effort to overcome. Legs can heal more easily than marriages, and impatient husbands can learn more easily than dissatisfied students or inept politicians. Even with dear guests at our house, it will surely be quieter there in the coming days until we get back to normal, whatever and whenever that will be.

Last Sunday we said in worship, "I praise You, O Lord, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, and I know this full well." (Psalm 1139:14) We will look for the hidden blessings in this and we accept that this event, too, is a part of God's good plan for us.

Please pray that Carol's surgery is successful and her healing complete.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Have you ever said, "Oh my God!" and considered what those three words mean? Have you ever thought of that phrase as an expression of gratitude? How do we show our gratitude when we are truly grateful?

Yesterday I viewed a marvelous desert sunset, with vibrant colors on fleecy clouds in a clear and changing sky with its deepening reds, yellows and blues. It was a sight only God could create in such grand fashion. I quietly said, "Oh my God!" because it was so beautiful and so fleeting.

"Oh my God!" I have often been critical when hearing those three words flippantly spoken, yet they can have great meaning. It means something worthwhile has caught your attention, and a connection was made with your person, so much that it caused you to cry out to your Creator, "Oh my God!"

Today for me started out grey, wet and chilly but ended with a warm display of brilliance that is hard to imagine. Today for you and me is a gift, and this very moment is the only gift we have in our possession. Today has such great value to our existence that gratitude should be our appropriate response.

Today you and I have life, our own life and the lives of those around you. Open your eyes and see the sky and the weather moving through it. It is wondrous and ever changing. Look at the faces of the people you meet. They are unique, original, interesting, and you have eyes to see them with. Millions cannot see with eyes like yours, for their world is darkness.

Turn on the faucet and see the clean water coming out, hot or cold, and realize many millions do not have this gift you take for granted. Smile at a friend and realize for just a moment the value of that person smiling back at you. Perhaps they like you, maybe even love you, and what a gift it is when they value you.

If you can count even a few small blessings in your life, then let your gratitude overflow to others around you, and also to your Creator. "Oh my God!"

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever." (Psalm 107:1)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I'm late posting this WEEKLY MESSAGE, because I had a rare bout of "writer's block." It's surprising it should happen today after last Sunday's amazing Bronco's victory, or a New Hampshire primary going on right now, or a couple of recent shooting tragedies. The new year 2012 is barely under way and I had writer's block. Maybe I just don't know which to write about first. Either that or my mind has become a muddle of confusion.

I've been trying to approach this particular new year more positively than I have some in the past. Years from now 2012 will be remembered for various reasons, most of which we do not know. We do know there will be a presidential election, and a few people are anticipating some kind of cataclysmic event this year. Just exactly what all the major news stories will be this year only the Good Lord knows.

I recall once writing a sermon titled, "What Do You Do When You Don't Know What to Do?" I think I wrote it because I didn't know what to preach for my sermon that Sunday. But I remember the answer I put forward - "Pray and Act!" First, pray for God's guidance, then make a decision and follow through with it.

I once accepted a call to another congregation, and when we got there we wished we had stayed where we were. We got there with all our worldly goods packed in a U-Haul truck, and for four days that truck sat in the church parking lot while we looked for a place to live.

Both my wife and I were torn about our decision. What should we do - go back or stay? Amid all the anxiety and newness, an older pastor there gave me some advice. "You'd better pray, and then either unpack that truck or go back where you came from." We prayed and unpacked the truck. That was thirty years ago.

Pray and Act! Another member once told me, "Make your decision and don't look back. Nine out of ten times you'll have made the right one, and the other time will be a lesson you won't forget." A wise man he was, my friend Roy! He's with the Lord now, probably chuckling at me right now.

Pray and Act! I can't tell you how long to pray, but I can urge you to pray for God to show you plainly what He wants. When you pray for that, He is usually quite obvious with His answer. His prophet once told us, "Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and He will act." (Psalm 37:5)

Today I guess He just wanted me to tell you this - Pray and Act!.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


HAPPY NEW YEAR! I appreciate many things as we begin this year, including your willingness to keep reading WEEKLY MESSAGE. May 2012 be filled with wonderful blessings for you and your loved ones, and may nothing evil happen in our world. Rather like the man who prayed, "Dear God please grant that this new year I will have a fat bank account and a skinny body, not the other way around like last year."

I like Ben Stein. His combination of humor, communication skills, common sense and, uncommon intelligence make him both interesting and worth paying attention to. In his November, 2011, Newsmax article, "Cherish Your Moments," Ben states his main point that, "Of all life's mysteries, the most cruel and unyielding is that the moment, which seems to be permanent and fixed today, passes and is gone forever." He continues, "The only thing I can do about it is to cherish the time I have left." Then he lists those most important to him among family and friends and concludes, "… and to appreciate them while I still have them."

Time does go by so quickly. 1 Peter 1:24-25 says, "The grass withers, the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever." Psalm 90:12 prays, "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Moses wrote Psalm 90. We don't know how old he was then, but Deuteronomy 34:7 tells us, "Moses lived to be 120, his eyes undimmed and his vigor unabated." I'm sure that won't happen to us, but time will go by quickly, and we will not pass this way again.

Some people are speculating that 2012 will be a cataclysmic year, that something will happen to change the course of human history. Perhaps that will be so, perhaps not. But if you trust in God for your life, then "No evil shall fall upon you, nor any plague come near your home." (Psalm 91:10) That doesn't mean we will avoid all evil, but that we will not be crushed by it.

So we need to be ready for whatever comes. Jesus assured us in John 6:47, "Whoever believes [in Me] has eternal life." Having faith in Christ is being ready. We don't know the future, only that the Day of the Lord will come when we least expect it. If Christ comes and this world ends, then 2012 will usher in the best life of all for believers, an eternity of peace in the loving presence of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In the meanwhile, cherish and appreciate your fellow travelers on the road of life.