Monday, January 25, 2016



Arapaho Basin Ski Area

Expecting to enjoy God’s creation on a beautiful day seems like a plan.  Expecting the unexpected was not even on the radar.  

A group of Christian friends and I headed to Colorado for a Christian conference.  We planned to get there early for some ski time.  A good breakfast and time with the Lord got the day going. 
Skiing A-Basin seemed like a great idea.  High mountain areas at 12,000 feet.  Open terrain.  Powder.  All good.  Excitedly my friends and I get into our skis and on the lift to get to the top and begin the descent.  We had been on more level ground for a while at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater where alpine skiing is not so good.  This was a wonderful occasion.  

The first ride up is cold.  Brisk.  No body heat has built up yet and there is a lot of sitting out in the open air as you go hundreds and thousands of feet into the thinner, more frigid air.  You can laugh and joke and swing the chair at the beginning of the ride.  Then your lips go numb and it’s hard to form words.  Then your feet go to sleep hanging over the seat with ski boots and skis pulling down.  Did I mention it was cold?

The views are endless at the top of the world.  Snow capped peaks all around.  The Master Artist put on His display.  Then the end of the lift approaches there is excitement and anticipation.  Now the fun begins.  But I have to overcome numb lips which aren’t as big of a problem as legs and feet that are frozen and now have fallen asleep.  Kicking, lifting, shifting to get some circulation going before the end of the lift and being forced to jump off and ski immediately.  The alternative which is often seen at this point is the person gets off the lift and tries to ski, but one leg or the other gives way and they fall on the off ramp.  That leaves little room for the skiers who are getting off and have no choice but to get off the chair lift.  It can be a mess.  You don’t want to be that guy.  Everybody has been that guy, but you don’t want to be that guy again if you can avoid it.  Blood flow in the extremities recommences and all is good.  

Skiing in this pristine white powdery snow is glory.  It is like gliding on a cloud.  Little snowflakes come off the front of my skis and touch my face saying good morning and welcome.  Ahhh. 
The area is wide open with lots of powder some of which was knee deep.  I moved across the slope and was nearing where the tree line began and it happened.  Underneath the blanket of powdery snow was a boulder.  My ski tip made contact.  My body went airborne.  I launched up and out.  A forward somersault as I gained air.  I saw a tall pine looming ahead.  As the mind races at times like those.  I was already working on the trajectory which had me firmly planted on the top third of that tree.  But the trajectory was interrupted.  

My in-flight mental processing knew something was off.  I was held as if in giant hands, and placed into the powdery soft snow as if I had just decided to take a break from skiing and sat down.  I was stunned.  Happily, stunned.  I had one ski on.  I imagined the other one was shattered.  My leg was fine and not even hurting.  I climbed through the powder to find the other ski.  When I did it was in good shape.  I got back in my skis thankful for an unexpected outcome to what looked like the end of my skiing for the day and I still had the rest of the day left on my lift pass.  Oh, and there was this guy.  

When I stood up from where I had been placed in the snow a man skied over to me and said, “Man!...I thought you were a goner.  You were flying through the air and headed towards that tree. (Pause) But then you just stopped.  In the air.  (Shaking his head) Man, I thought you were dead.  (Recovering) Have a good one, man.”  You know, I think I just did.  

Consider this from Psalms:

For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.  They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. Psalm 91:11-12 (NLT) 

I can vouch for the reality of this.  I didn’t see an angel, but I felt the tender strong hands snatch me from the air and gently lay me down unharmed. 

Obstacles and Landings

You may have times when all is looking smooth and suddenly an unexpected obstacle trips you up.  Don’t give up.  Keep trusting the God of Wonders.  He might just send an angel to give you a hand.  “Have a good one, man!”

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Prayer Introduction

Prayer is a simple thing.  A person talks to God.  It may be official and religious or sudden and emotional.  Do you remember your introduction to prayer?  It may have been with your parents tucking you into bed as a child or your family turning to God in prayer due to a tragedy.  Maybe it came later when you started to drive and avoided a wreck or while serving in the military you found it helpful in stress filled situations.   

I remember as a kid talking to God the Father or sometimes to Jesus. It didn’t seem strange, but sort of a flow.  As a family we weren’t in church much so I didn’t pick up the details of prayer I just talked.  At Christmas time there is often the wish among kids for a white Christmas.  Back in the 60s I was looking for one and asked God about it.  I told family it was coming.  Uncle Calvin found it weird that I would hold on to such an idea, and when it arrived he was freaked out.  Prayer just sort of showed up though I didn’t have much of a theology or understanding of it. 

Prayer Connection

Wrestling in my soul disturbed me, and kept increasing my senior year in high school.  I had a King James Bible and read it, but I didn’t get it.  So in search of what human life was about and what God had to do with it I read all kinds of books from a wide variety of sources.  

 Circling back around I read the New Testament and primarily the four Gospels in the Phillips translation.  I was captivated by Jesus.  I was moved by His relationship with God the Father.  I was overwhelmed by John 3:16. 

God loved us so much He sent His Son.  I could believe in Him.  I could have life…eternal.  I had seen Billy Graham Crusades on TV, so the idea of a prayer and commitment to God was vaguely there for me.  I tried to carry on life as usual, but this had me in knots.  In the dark on a rainy night on a gravel road outside Chouteau I got out of my car and in the headlights prayed.  I told God I wanted Him.  Whatever that meant.  I wanted to go His way.  It kept raining.  No angels came (as far as I knew).  But the connection was made.  God heard me.  I knew it.  A settled sense of getting it right came over me.  I knew I needed to know more about God and about this new life. 

Prayer Instruction

Four years passed as I had a year of college and two years of active duty in the Army during which time I found out more about God and how to pray.  I attended seminars.  I read books.  I learned prayer devices which help remember some basics.  You may know this one JOY: Jesus Others Yourself.  You honor the Lord first, then pray about others and finally add your own requests. 

Another you may recognize was the ACTS prayer.  Adoration:  praising God for who He is.  Confession: acknowledging anything that is out of whack in your life or just plain sin.  Thanksgiving: letting God know you appreciate Him.  Supplication: making requests known to God.  Those are simple, but really helpful tools for entering into prayer.  I got it.  I practiced prayer.  And then this happened.  

I was involved in a ministry called The Navigators with a number of really fine people.  We were working primarily with U.S. military personnel, their families and support people in Germany.  I was given an opportunity to lead a workshop at a conference.  My topic for this 90-minute workshop was to be on prayer.  I was honored and scared.  Addressing people from up front was horrific for me.  Always had been.  So…I prayed.  And prayed.  I got busy.  I crossed every “t” and dotted every “i” in my study of prayer.  I read book after book and researched verse after verse on the topic of prayer.  If someone bumped into me I would spout prayer quotes.  

Now just for a little bit of the dark side of all this let me tell you about ministry covetousness.  That is a desire to be the guy upfront, but the guy with the big topic or the most exciting theme.  Somewhere in the process this ugliness arose.  The hot topics for conferences were things that motivated people to action or had something to do with finding God’s will.  Those were big.  Scripture memory…hmmm…important, but not really exciting.  And guess what I had prayer.  Also not one of the big ones.  The crowds would make their way to the really good workshops.  Ugh!  Covetousness.  Yep.  And I go present prayer.  Scared.  Honored.  Coveting the success of others.  And I survived.  

People actually got something out of it.  It was highly informational, but somehow helped.  That was at the University of Essex in England.  Another conference was coming up which was for all The Navigators in Europe.  It would be held in Gwatt, Switzerland.  Guess who they called on to present a workshop on prayer?  

Again I went to work.  But I was gaining some confidence in this and seeing God work in ways that rattled any notions I had about communicating with Him.  I was more and more amazed at what He was doing and wanted others to see it too.  So Switzerland was going to be different.  90-minutes of workshop would include some informational training, but this time there would be actual prayer practice with the actual anticipation that God would answer quickly and in the long term.  A bit brash.  We did it.  God answered short and long in wonderful ways.  

A lot of years have come and gone since those days back in the 1970s, but prayer has been and continues to be a passion for me.  Because being in touch with God is a passion for me.  Those early days of instruction and instructing helped lay a foundation for building on a relationship with God that is real and conversational and dynamic.  It was truly surprising communication with God to begin with and has continued and will continue into the days unending which lie ahead. 

Prayer Proliferation

Hanging out with God is a joy.  Humbled in His presence I find being with Him refreshing.  He has taught me more and more about prayer.  In His presence I have experienced prayer as affirmation, instruction, correction, reflection, adoration, and even power.  Prayer for me is no longer an exercise in definitions and research, but experience set in relationship with the living God.  So now I have the opportunity of continuing to share with others what it is to pray.  From basic essentials in relating to God to an ever deepening approach to prayer that engages the heart and sets the spirit free. 

What a choice opportunity.  Remember the covetousness of others in ministry referred to earlier?  That is gone.  God confronted it.  I repented.  And I found His plan better than one I could have designed myself.  He invited me into a hallowed place to learn the mysteries of prayer and to share them with those who want more in their communication with Him.  As a result, I pass these things along at various times and places.  Sometimes in a message at church, and at other times on a retreat over a weekend.

 A new approach in this process is to learn about laser prayer.  I first taught some about it at the Fall Retreat.  Sunday and on following 2nd Sundays of the month at GBC we will look at this form of prayer and see where God takes us with that.  It will be challenging, but the rewards will be eternally delightful. Time for more surprises.