The Power of Prayer

Prayer

Before reading the story below I had never heard of Pahrump, Nevada. Google it and you’ll see a listing of “adult entertainment” that gives an indication of what might be its “claim to fame.”

Here’s the story:

In Pahrump, Nevada, the Diamond D brothel began construction on an expansion of their building to increase their ever-growing business.

In response, the local Baptist Church started a campaign to block the business from expanding, with morning, afternoon, and evening prayer sessions at their church.

Work on Diamond D’s project progressed until the week before the grand re-opening when lightning struck the building and burned it to the ground! After the brothel burned to the ground by the lightning strike, the church folks were rather smug in their outlook, bragging about “the power of prayer.”

But shortly thereafter, Jill Diamond, the owner/madam of Diamond D, sued the church, the preacher and the entire congregation on the grounds that the church “was ultimately responsible for the demise of her building and her business, either through direct or indirect divine actions or means.” 

In its reply to the court, the church vehemently and vociferously denied any and all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise.

The crusty old judge read through the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendant’s reply, and at the opening hearing he commented, “I don’t know how I’m going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork that we now have a brothel owner who staunchly believes in the power of prayer and an entire church congregation that thinks otherwise.”

The moral of this story is we’d better be careful about how and for what we pray. And if we really trust God to answer our prayer, when he answers the way we asked, we’d better be willing to say that that’s exactly what happened and to give him the credit.

God bless your day!

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And Then It Is Winter

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For this final article in the Year of our Lord 2017, I’m sharing with you a story I’ve had in my files for some time, author unknown, slightly revised by yours truly:

Time has a way of moving quickly and catching us unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, newly married, and embarking on my new life with my new spouse.  Yet here it is, the winter of my life. How did I get here so fast? Where did all those years go?

Through the years I remember seeing older people and thinking they were years away from me. The winter of my life was so far off I could not fathom it or imagine what it would be like.

But here it is. My friends are retired and getting gray. They move slowly. Some are in better shape than I’m in. Others are in worse shape than I’m in. But like me, their age is beginning to show. I am now those older folks I used to see but never thought I’d actually be.

Taking a nap is not a treat anymore, it’s mandatory! If I don’t take one on my own, I just fall asleep where I sit!

So now I enter this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and loss of strength and ability to go and do things I wish I had done but never did!

At least I know that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last, when it’s over on this earth, it’s NOT over. A new adventure will begin! The Bible calls it heaven!

If you’re not in your winter yet, let me remind you that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, do it quickly! Don’t put it off too long!

We have no promise that we will see all the seasons of our life. So live for today. Say all the things you want your loved ones to remember about your love for them, about God’s love for them, and about all the things you have done with them in all the years past!

Thus ends the story. Although I’m in the winter of my life chronologically, I feel like it’s actually still the fall. Good health is a gift of God that is often taken for granted until it’s gone.

Life is God’s gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to him and to those who come after you. It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. Today is the oldest you have ever been, yet the youngest you will ever be. So enjoy this day God has given you.

In whatever season of your life you happen to be living at this moment, Terry and I extend to you the assurance of our prayers for a blessed, healthy, and happy New Year!

 

 

A Christmas Story

Here’s a mother’s Christmas story from an unknown source:

A proud moment came during the children’s Christmas pageant. My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds, and my youngest son was a wise man. This was their moment to shine.

My five-year-old shepherd had practiced his line: “We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.” But he was nervous and said, “The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes.” My four-year-old “Mary” said, “That’s not wrinkled clothes, silly. That’s dirty, rotten clothes.”

That exchange caused a wrestling match to break out between Mary and the shepherd. Their conflict was resolved by an angel, who in the process bent her halo and lost her left wing.

I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary dropped the doll representing Baby Jesus, and it bounced down the aisle crying, “Mama-Mama.” Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it tightly as the wise men arrived.

My other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown. He knelt at the manger and announced, “We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense, and fur.” The congregation dissolved into laughter, and the pageant got a standing ovation.

“I’ve never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this one,” laughed the pastor, wiping tears from his eyes. “For the rest of my life, I’ll never hear the Christmas story without thinking of gold, common sense, and fur.”

In my mind, the image of wise men bringing gifts for the Christ child is a poignant one. That’s what people do at Christmas. We give gifts. Most of those gifts are for people we love. Many gifts are also given for the charitable causes and Christian ministries near and dear to our heart.

Terry and I give at Christmas time in various ways. We give gifts to each other, numerous gifts to our children and grandchildren, and special gifts to special causes. For the past several years we have foregone the tradition of sending Christmas cards to loved ones and friends. Frankly, we don’t know where to draw the line. Instead, we make a significant contribution to a number of many favorite charities, including Legacy Deo. You may do something similar. I hope you do.

As this Christmas approaches, Terry and I send our love and blessings to each of you who receive and read these weekly articles. We pray for a special measure of God’s abundant blessing in your life. And the staff of Legacy Deo joins us in wishing each of you a joyful Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Jesus Loves the Little Children

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That was the topic of my brief devotion at the office of the Texas District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod this week. I shared some graphic representations of little children with Jesus and three actual photos of God’s children living today.

Photo #1 was my grandniece Amanda Wheaton and her two children, Emma Grace and Anna Christine. Some of you may recall that they are the survivors of triplets born prematurely (about one pound six ounces each) on Christmas Day 2013. That means they will turn four years old this Christmas. Their little brother Logan Christopher met Jesus the day after he was born.

Although not without ongoing physical challenges, Emma and Anna are doing remarkably well, by the grace of God. Jesus loves Emma and Grace. And Jesus also loves Logan.

Photo #2 was 15 month old Lily Grace Stigall, great granddaughter of Marlene Hahn, who worked for many years in the Texas District LCMS office. Lily is in Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin after a Thanksgiving evening fall into a backyard pool. Initially fighting for her life, Lily is now breathing on her own, yet faces many challenges on the road to restoration.

Thousands of people across the nation and around the world are praying for her complete recovery, which would be truly miraculous. Please join Lily’s parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and their entire family in praying for this precious child. Jesus loves Lily.

Photo #3 was my 101 2/3rd year old mother, Elda Kieschnick. Although in a much different chronological category than Emma, Anna, and Lily, Mother Elda is still very much a child of God, who prays every day to see him face to face. Jesus loves Elda.

That’s the message of Christmas, my dear friends. Jesus loves the little children, no matter how old we are. Here’s how the familiar song goes:

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world
Black and yellow, red and white, they are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world!

That includes you, my friend. God bless your day!

Pearl Harbor – Three Big Mistakes or God Taking Care?

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On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Naval Station Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii Territory, without warning and without a declaration of war, killing 2,403 American servicemen and injuring 1,178 others. The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships and damaged four others. It also damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer. Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged.

One little bit of history is recorded in a small book titled “Reflections on Pearl Harbor” by Admiral Chester Nimitz. Here’s the story:

“Sunday, December 7, 1941, Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington, D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

“Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941 and found a spirit of despair, dejection, and defeat.

“On Christmas Day, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction. Sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?”

“Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. He said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?”

“Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do you mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?” Nimitz responded:

“Mistake #1: The Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and sunk out there, we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

“Mistake #2: When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking them, they failed to bomb our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired.

“As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks. We can have them repaired and back out at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

“Mistake #3: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in above ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply.

“That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.”

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” Rom. 11:33-34

A Clean Windshield

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As long as I’ve been driving I’ve been pretty much a fanatic about keeping my car clean.

My current car is silver in color. Thankfully, that color does not easily show road grime, dust, and dirt. As a matter of fact, the primary clue that it’s time to wash is a dirty windshield. I can’t stand a dirty windshield! It bugs me to have a dirty windshield! Pardon the pun.

So one option is to pull into a service station that appears to have decently clean windshield washing solution, a squeegee that’s new enough not to leave streaks, and paper towels to enhance the process. Finding a station that meets those three criteria is not an easy task.

If my schedule allows, I’ll usually skip that process and go straight to the car wash. I have a special deal at a local establishment that allows unlimited exterior washes for a reasonable fixed price. Terry can also wash her car for a slightly lower monthly fee. Such a deal!

One would think a freshly washed car would have a nice, clean windshield. Not so. The dudes at the car wash don’t seem to understand how important a clean windshield is to fanatics like me. So they wipe the windows with a grimy rag that leaves unacceptable streaks on the windshield.

Alas! What to do? Quit this place and find a new one? Not so easy. In addition to being a clean windshield fanatic, I’m also quite frugal. The price at other car wash establishments in our town is ridiculously ridiculous! So I suffer through streaky windshields and the frustration they bring.

Sort of reminds me of St. Paul’s words about present and future reality in 1 Cor. 13:12: “For we see now through a dim window obscurely, but then face to face; now I know partially, but then I shall know as I also have been known.”

I feel Paul’s pain every time I get behind a dirty windshield.

But then he writes these more familiar words of greater significance: “Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I love a clean car and a spotless windshield. But that love fades into an insignificant speck on the window of life when compared to the love of God for us and the love we express to him in return.

Think about that love as the season of Advent arrives this Sunday. It marks the beginning of our spiritual preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. A blessed Advent to you!

A Thanksgiving Dream

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Recently I read a story about a man who dreamed he went to heaven. When he arrived, an angel began showing him around. Here’s the story:

The angel and I walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with other angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, “This is the Receiving Section. Here all the prayer petitions to God are received.”

This area was terribly busy with many angels sorting out petitions written on countless sheets and scraps of paper from people all over the world. Then we moved down a long corridor until we reached the second section.

The angel said, “This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here all the blessings people asked for are processed and delivered to those who requested them.”

I noticed again how busy that area was. There were lots of angels working hard at that station. Many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

Finally, at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. “This is the Acknowledgment Section,” my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed.

“How is it that there is no work going on here?” I asked.

“So sad,” the angel sighed. “After people receive the blessings they asked for, very few respond with acknowledgments.”

“How does one acknowledge God’s blessings? “I asked.

“Simple,” the angel answered. Just say, “Thank you, God.”

“What blessings should they acknowledge?” I asked. The angel replied:

  • “If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the people in this world.”
  • “If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.”
  • “If you received this message on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who have that opportunity.”
  • “If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.”
  • “If you have never experienced the fear of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 700 million people in the world.”
  • “If you can attend a church without the fear of any harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are envied by and more blessed than three billion people in the world.”
  • “If you can hold your head up high and smile, you are quite different from all those in the world who live in doubt and despair.”
  • “If you can read this message, you are more blessed than billions of people in the world who cannot read at all.”

Motivated to action, I said, “What now? How can I start?”

The angel said, “Bow your head right now and thank God for his bountiful blessings!”

Happy Thanksgiving! Have a good day, count your blessings, and pray with me:

“Thank you Lord, for the many blessings I have received and continue to receive every day. Help me never forget the source of these blessings and always to remember to praise you for all your goodness in my life. Help me do so every day, until the day that, with all your saints, I will praise you eternally in your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen,”