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Archive for November, 2013

Don’t let this discourage you, but sometimes the answers to our prayers are affected by the desires of other human beings. There are not only the immediate effects of those near us, but also the long-term effects, both physical and spiritual, of mankind upon the whole ecology of the earth. We interact with each other, with our environment, and with God. We influence each other, and we often hinder the desires of God (1st. Thessalonians 5:19).

Although he could easily do so, God doesn’t often override the freewill of either human beings, or the angels. I don’t mean that he doesn’t resist us. If he didn’t, then tyrants would have destroyed the world long ago. The Bible (1st. Peter 5:5) says that God “resists the proud, and gives grace unto the humble.”

There are a few examples in the Bible where God temporarily altered the thinking process of some person by some scientific means of interference (ref. Saul, 1st. Samuel 10:9-11), but that doesn’t create a permanent change in the heart of that person. God can change our hearts, and longs to do so, but we must be persuaded to willingly accept that change (2nd. Corinthians 8:12). God is sovereign, but rather than control every move that we make, in his sovereign will, God has chosen to allow us freewill.

The rulers of this world have often attempted to control the thinking of their subjects, usually by deception, but God is the author of liberty (Galatians 5:13,14). He desires that we choose to live our lives in such a way that he would have no need to intervene.

So, for many reasons, our prayers aren’t always answered in the time and way that we desire, but I don’t want to sound discouraging. My purpose is to explain why things don’t always work out right away, and to encourage us to not give up. One very difficult lesson is to not let things that go wrong stop us from trying, or from praying. Just as those who love us desire time with us, God wants us to pray. Prayer helps to open a line of communication, and to establish a relationship between God and man.

Prayer also gives us something to do when we can do little else about the cares of life. Atheists have many of the same desires as we. They have hopes and dreams, and they may do what they can to make things work, but until something changes their mind, the true atheist has no desire for God. When we are not accusing, or trying to silence God, but actually trying to communicate with him, he will respond to us; usually in a very still small voice that is only heard in the heart. Sometimes good ideas come from that communication, and sometimes things happen that we’re not even aware of.

The common phrase “prayer warrior,” should warn us that the field of prayer is a battlefield. If we were to follow the scientific method in a study of prayer, we would have to question why that is. Is there an enemy, that we can’t see, who uses every possible distraction and diversionary tactic to keep us from praying? The answer to that question seems obvious. All kinds of negative ideas may come into our thoughts, and we may have to repetitively ignore them as we talk to God.

We could learn a lot about prayer from the experiences of the Ararat explorers. Encountering a bad snowstorm on Mount Ararat, John Morris saw a member of his party temporarily seek shelter from the wind behind a large rock. A little earlier, Morris had seen lightning strike that very rock. He hurried to warn his friend, and there at the rock he thanked God for protecting them. Their fellow climber had joined them, and just as he finished his prayer, he and the other two climbers were struck by lightning.

Morris, and Roger Losier, were instantly thrown downhill, while John Bultier (J.B.), the man sitting against the rock, was momentarily held by the current before he was likewise thrown. Morris’ legs were temporarily paralyzed. He had no feeling in them except for a burning pain. J.B. was laying twenty feet away. He was also unable to get up. Both legs seemed paralyzed, and he feared one leg was broken. Roger was laying in the snow farther down the slope with his head bloodied.

Many people would consider the lightning strike to be a very negative, and final, answer to John’s prayer. It could definitely make you feel “not blessed.” Though death seemed inevitable for all of them, as Morris continued to pray, he was reminded of Bible verses which gave him hope that he could live. He began to rub his legs, and after about an hour, he was able to stand. Steadying himself with his ice axe, he moved to help J.B. get to his feet.

Roger had been the first to rise, but he had amnesia and didn’t know who, or where, he was. He didn’t know his friends, and the only thing he would do for them was to bring their ice axes. They had a difficult time persuading him not to go back to the “shelter” of the rock. Little by little, his memory returned to him, and they finally made their way off the mountain.

To be fair, it’s dangerous to be caught out in the open in a storm, and mountain storms can be especially dangerous. Then also, for some strange reason, there are people who seem to attract lightning. A Park Ranger in Virginia, Roy Sullivan, was struck by lightning eight times during his lifetime. Seven of the strikes were documented, and he is in the Guinness World Records as being the person experiencing the most lightning strikes.

Some of the strikes occurred in areas where he should have been safe. He was even struck while driving his truck. He committed suicide in Dooms, Virginia in 1983. That is a sad story. According to Wikipedia, “after the fourth strike, he began to believe that some force was trying to destroy him…” I hope that he didn’t blame God for the unusual circumstances of his life.

Searching for Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat, Richard Bright admitted to wondering at times whether “the enemy (Satan) is that strong.” He said he chose to believe however, that it must not be God’s time to reveal the ark. That may well be true, but it’s also true that the battle is sometimes fierce, and survival is a victory in itself. The last enemy that will be overcome is Death (1st Corinthians 15:26, Revelation 20:14).

One of Bright’s most fervent prayers on Ararat was simply “Jesus, I need you now!” He had scrambled to a rock rising only about two foot out of the ground, and dropped facedown behind it as an avalanche of huge boulders tumbled around him. When it was finally over, he stared in stunned amazement at his only injury; a cut on one finger from a broken shard of rock.

Pray, and don’t give up, no matter what thoughts come to mind. In spite of the circumstances of life, find something to thank God for. Keep the faith, for faith affects all things. Don’t start thinking negatively if your prayers don’t seem to be answered right away. An answer to a prayer of the prophet Daniel was delayed for twenty-one days. That information was given to Daniel straight from the Lord’s mouth (Daniel 10:5-14).

I have heard some say they feel closer to God high in the mountains, and I have felt that myself, but we often need to pray regardless of how close that we feel. I don’t believe that 1st. Thessalonians 5:18 is telling us to thank God for evil things that happen, as is sometimes preached, but rather to find things to be thankful for in spite of evil circumstances.

It’s nearing Thanksgiving, and I know some people who have suffered losses that could leave them feeling thankless. I wish I could help them, but I don’t know of anything to do except to pray. I think we should always determine to count the blessings that remain. It isn’t easy, but if we don’t, we can quench our own spirit, that of those around us, and the Spirit of God (1st. Thessalonians 5:18,19).

This is added as a postscript.  I pray that the Lord help us not to dwell too long on the reasons why things happen as they do, but for him to touch us, strengthen us, and help us to stand, as he helped Daniel (Daniel 10:10-11). I pray that he help us never to forget that hope, by its very definition, is often something that cannot be seen very clearly (Romans 8:24). I pray for him to help us live for him, for each other, and for tomorrow.

I’m off from work today, but I had to get out fairly early to take my oldest son to work. He’s saving up for a car. I was surprised by the amount of snow we have, and barely had time to sweep the auto a bit. When I got back home and parked, I was thinking that I wasn’t enjoying the snow as I once would have.

There’s only one shy little girl, about seven years old, who lives close by,  but she had a friend visiting. They rushed around some parked cars, ready to throw snowballs at me. When they hesitated momentarily, I realized they wanted my permission, so I told them to go ahead. I didn’t think about adding, “make my day,” but that’s what they did. They had such fun that they turned the snow into a blessing.

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This probably has nothing to do with anything, and since it’s somewhat difficult to believe, I have to wonder if I should bother to tell it. Computers can be subject to some strange quirks, and yet we’re entrusting our future to these things more every day.

No doubt, there’s some programmer somewhere who could explain this incident. That is, I think they could explain it to someone else who possessed enough programming knowledge to understand them. I know that long names of computer files become abbreviated when there’s not enough area in a field for complete viewing, but that’s not the case here.

This is also not a case where a text program substitutes unintelligible symbols (or blank squares) for characters that it doesn’t recognize. The result of that process appears as gibberish; not the substitution of one word for another. I’ve never seen a computer do anything like this, and yes, I know that I need to update my computer equipment. Maybe I would if I had money to throw around.

Anyway, I assigned the name, “The Broken Ark,” to the text file of a recent post, and saved it on an old Macintosh computer. Looking back for the file, I found the name was changed to “The Broken Bread.” At first I thought that I must have typed the wrong word. I once wrote some song lyrics that I gave that title to, and I thought that perhaps my mind had drifted to that song (the lyrics can be found in my July 2010 archives).

When I attempted to change the word “bread” in the file name to “ark,” an alert box asked if I wanted to replace the existing file, “The Broken Ark.” Knowing then that I had typed the title correctly to begin with, I didn’t replace it, but saved a copy under a temporary name. The original file reads correctly on computers running a Windows operating system, but I looked back at the file on another old Macintosh, and it reads “Bread” as it did on the first Mac.

The quirk that caused this doesn’t transfer to copies of the file. If I copy the file on a Windows computer, the word in the title copies as “Ark.” If I copy it on an old Mac, it copies as “Bread,” From there on however, the copies of the file read alike when taken to the other type of computer.

I’ve shown this to my wife and sons, so now there are three people who believe me. At present, I could only prove this little story to an observer in the same room with me. A video would not be accepted as proof since they can be easily altered. Oh well, that’s life.

A parallel is drawn in the Bible between the ark, which God used to preserve life during the destruction of the old world, and Jesus (the Christ), the future means of escape. In John 6:48 (ref. Luke 22:19), Jesus is also called the “bread of life,” but I doubt that the computer was making such connections.

The incident delayed the posting of the file for a little while because I couldn’t find it at first, and it also distracted me when I realized what had happened. It prompted some detours in my thinking. I’ve been unable to get the computer to repeat this performance. It looks as if some stray electronic quirk occurred at the moment the file was saved.

I don’t think this little story is too important, but when a computer edits my wording, it does make me wonder. Popular thinking is that computers are better than we are, and I can see many uses for them, but I don’t want them driving my car. A little glitch in the matrix of the computer could take us on a long detour.

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