The following is a list of the ways God has been working in my life. The list is not complete, since I started it in December, 1997. Some of the earlier, more dramatic workings of God are included, also. Even the "bad" things have led to other good things happening. Skeptics might say that all these things are coincidences. The explanation of improbability is not one which science usually offers, but is required "faith" for unbelievers.
|Expand to Share His Love||10/95|
|Brain Tumors and Restitution||9/96|
|Dead Computer and Ministry on-hold||9/97|
|Undeserved Award and Answered Prayer||12/97|
|Free Web Hosting for PHC||12/97|
|The Impossible Task||2/98|
|Matthew Prays for a Neighbor's Felt Needs||3/98|
|Winning a free computer||6/98|
|God Supplies Mission Project for VBS||6/98|
|The cat with 9 lives||9/98|
|Y2K and our church||12/98|
|Festival of Life (June, 1999)||6/99|
|Prayer for finding things||8/99|
|Needed funds for taxes||11/00|
|Miracle of modern medicine||10/01|
|God Reaching out to persons in cults||12/01|
|Matthew nearly drowned||9/02|
|Do good to those who hate you||2/03|
|The prayer of another||11/07|
Expand to Share His Love (October, 1995)
The church (Sierra Madre Congregational Church) had committed a year and a half before this point to a building program to expand the children's ministry facilities. This was necessary because we have as many or more children as we have adult members. After a fund-raising drive in the beginning of 1994, members had committed to giving more than adequate funds to complete the project. Each person made a pledge to give a certain amount per month or per week for the next three years.
However, by the Fall of 1995, it became apparent that the rate of giving was not keeping up with the rate of construction. Construction would have to be halted until more money came in or a loan would have to be taken out. Halting construction would have cost nearly as much money as paying interest in a loan, so the elders decided to propose taking out a loan. There were a number of informational meetings, which occurred in the Sunday school classes and following church services. It finally came to the point of a vote of the congregation.
Factions and angry words
The vote consisted of ballots, which were given to members during the service. Members were given the option of submitting an absentee ballot or attending the congregation meeting following the last service. The issue was a very emotional one for many members of the congregation, since many felt that the church should not go into debt. However, the congregational meeting was rather poorly attended, since most voted by absentee ballot. In total, less than 150 people attending the meeting. The opponents of the loan were a minority, but very vocal. Angry words were exchanged and unsupported accusations abounded. Although it didn't seem to be a meeting led by the Holy Spirit, He was working in our lives. When the vote was taken, only 53 members voted against the loan proposal at the meeting. A similar number of people had voted against the proposal by absentee ballot, although several hundred ballots were received. The church bylaws required that any loan proposals be passed by a two-thirds majority. Therefore, overall, the proposal passed easily. However, the bylaws also stated that any proposal be passed by a two-thirds majority within the congregational meeting as well. Therefore, the proposal was defeated by three votes. The elders and the pastor were stunned that a small minority (53 people out of the 1,000 total members) had defeated the loan proposal. However, God seldom works through the majority, but usually through individuals and small groups. The church went into prayer and the elders considered alternative proposals. Another congregational meeting was called to discuss alternatives.
The Holy Spirit speaks
The next congregational meeting had a completely different tone. Nearly everyone had prayed, since it was apparent that the easy secular options were not going to work. One of the first members to speak was a women who is involved in outreach to internationals. She asked for God's forgiveness in not having fulfilled her financial commitment, and vowed to give the remaining amount of her pledge that week. Others got up and expressed the same leading of God. I, too, knew that this was what God wanted us to do.
Although I knew God wanted our family to give the remaining portion of our commitment, financially it would be very difficult. We had $1,500 left on our commitment, along with auto insurance ($700) due in November and property taxes ($1,200) due in December. In addition, we hadn't received a raise in over a year and salaries at work (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) were frozen for the remainder of fiscal 1995-1996 (until July, 1996). Giving the extra money would virtually wipe out our savings, with no reserve for unexpected expenses or Christmas presents. Reluctantly, I wrote the check in the middle of November.
You can't Out-Give God
Unknown to me, at the end of November, my boss put in for me to receive a bonus. He had no idea about my financial situation or what had happened at my church. I don't know how it was approved, but the week before Christmas I received a check for three times the amount I had given to pay off my commitment. No one else at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center who I knew received any bonus or raise that year, even others within my department. God rewards obedience - not necessarily financially, but you can't out-give Him.
An arrogant man stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the LORD will prosper. (Proverbs 28:25)
Matthew's Faith (July, 1996)
Matthew, our oldest son (born in 1991) has had a strong faith since he was very young. Even before he made an "official" commitment to Jesus Christ, he was testifying about the gospel. When he was still three years old, he told a waitress about the Jesus video and proclaimed that Jesus died and rose from the dead. Since then, he has witnessed to many people - both adults and children. When he was five years old, he earned a Jonah puzzle (a colorful 11 x 14 in. cardboard interlocking puzzle) from his Sunday School class. When I picked him up from his class, he was beaming, and I put the puzzle in my Bible, collected our other children and loaded everyone into our car. While driving down Baldwin Avenue in Sierra Madre, I noticed a pile of papers flying through the air in my rear view mirror, and immediately knew that I had forgotten to take my Bible off the roof of my car. I pulled over, found my Bible relatively undamaged, and collected as many papers as I could, while dodging traffic on that busy street. When I got home about twenty minutes later, Matthew asked me for his puzzle. I remembered having put it into my Bible and realized that it was still somewhere on Baldwin Avenue. I explained to Matthew that it had probably been destroyed by cars running over it. I was going to offer to go out and buy something similar, but Matthew said that he had earned the puzzle and was sure that God would protect it. The Holy Spirit said to take Matthew back to Sierra Madre to get the puzzle. Matthew prayed several times that God protect his puzzle. My faith was not as confident as his, since I was sure we would find a smashed puzzle with numerous tire tracks all over it. However, I prayed that God would have preserved the puzzle, since Matthew's faith would be severely tested if the puzzle was destroyed. We drove up Baldwin Avenue and I didn't see it on the opposite side of the street. I turned the car around and drove down the side of the street where it fell off, but still didn't see it. After having passed the place where it fell off, I pulled the car to the side of the road and walked back along the curb looking for the puzzle. I finally found it, face down in the traffic lanes. To my surprise, it was in perfect condition - still wrapped in cellophane and with no tire tacks at all! Matthew was happy we found his puzzle, but he didn't seem to be too surprised that it was in perfect condition - he had trusted God all along.
And He [Jesus] said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)
Brain Tumors and Restitution (September, 1996 to present)
A closer walk with the Lord
Beginning in 1992, my wife Carole and I started to become more involved in proclaiming the gospel (which is commanded by Jesus).1 As a result of this leading, we had been praying for the salvation of our unsaved family members and friends. Two years before, God began to lead Carole to go through her past to forgive people and make restitution to others. One by one, He has brought the names of these people before her, and she has been very faithful to do what God has required. It has been remarkable to watch Carole grow in her faith and obedience to Christ through recent years. In the beginning of 1996, Carole commented to me "it's almost as if I am being prepared to die by tying up some loose ends in my life." I told her it could be that God was cleansing her life to prepare her for an important ministry.
The Lord's questions
Through my prayers in 1995, I felt the Holy Spirit asking me, "Will you follow Jesus when things become difficult?" I said that I would, although I had no idea what He had in mind. In the Spring of 1996, during Carole's prayers for unsaved family members and friends, she felt God ask her if she would be willing to die to lead these people to faith in Christ. Carole replied that she would be willing to die. So in God's goodness, He had already prepared us beforehand, and even asked our permission for what He was about to do - even though He certainly did not have to do this.
In the Summer of 1996, Carole began to have some tingling feelings for several seconds a day on the right side of her body. During one of these episodes, she experienced black and white vision. Later, she also experienced briefly rotated vision. These symptoms were obviously abnormal, and after a month of dispute with her doctor, she was given a referral for an MRI. The MRI, on September 2 showed a large mass in the left frontal lobe of her brain. We were referred by Maxicare to a local physician who would do the biopsy. After discussing the situation with a number of doctors, we determined that getting a good biopsy was critical to diagnosis and treatment. We scheduled an appointment with the foremost neurosurgeon in the world, Dr, Keith Black, then at UCLA (he has subsequently moved to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and appeared on the cover of Time magazine in November, 1997). Through prayer, Maxicare (an HMO) agreed to pay for Carole's biopsy through Dr. Black at UCLA, even though neither Dr. Black nor UCLA were part of Maxicare's HMO network. A stereotactic biopsy revealed an astrocytoma (with mixed glioma), grade 2-3 (Brain tumors are classified according to aggressiveness, with grade 1 being the least aggressive and grade 4 being the most aggressive). The average lifespan of a patient with a grade 2 astrocytoma is 4-7 years (compared to 6-12 months for grade 4). Carole's prayer was that she would be given enough time to raise our boys.
At the right place at the right time
Because of the size and location of the tumor, surgery was not an option. The best course for treatment was radiation. We were assigned to a Maxicare physician at a local clinic. The idea of getting radiation treatment from a doctor who was not associated with a major hospital didn't seem like a good idea, so we appealed to have the treatment done at City of Hope. The appeal was turned down, but we were reassigned to the radiation group at Huntington Memorial Hospital. When going through the radiation simulation, there seem to be some question regarding the competency of the group, so we decided to go to USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital (University of Southern California). Carole's parents agreed to pay for the treatment. As a last minute idea, we submitted the plan to Maxicare. The director of our provider group (Huntington Provider Group) was overheard (by Carole, remarkably at the Huntington Memorial Hospital) talking to Carole's doctor and said, "there was no way in Hell that Huntington Provider Group would pay for her to go to USC Norris". Such lack of professionalism did not please Maxicare, which reluctantly agreed to pay for treatment at Norris out of their own funds, since our provider group steadfastly refused to pay.
The "gift" of having the tumor
The radiation treatments went very well. Carole rode the van provided by the American Cancer Society, since she was no longer permitted to drive, because of the possibility of seizures. She met several new friends, in addition to being able to witness to dozens of people during her trips. During the six weeks of treatments, she began to have some neurological symptoms, some of which were associated with her left-side. The doctors had noticed on the original MRI's an unusual structure in the right temporal region of her brain. It looked to them to be some sort of venous malformation. By comparing a new MRI with the old ones, they could see that the structure was growing in size. Because of our association with USC, we were referred to Dr. Stephen Giannotta, one of the premiere vascular neurosurgeons of the world. Upon examination of the MRI films, he concluded Carole had a cavernous angioma, an extremely rare condition in which a malformed vein bleeds into the surrounding tissue. As it turned out, Dr. Giannotta just happened to be the most experienced neurosurgeon in the world having dealt with cavernous angiomas, having performed over 400 of these extremely rare surgeries. If Carole had not had the brain tumor, she might have never found out about the canvernous angioma until it was too late. Carole was scheduled to have a craniotomy on May 17, 1997. It was anticipated that the surgery would last 3-4 hours, although things went extremely well, and Dr. Giannotta came in to tell us it was over barely 1 1/2 hours after beginning. Twenty minutes later, we went into the recovery room where Carole was laughing and telling jokes!
Since that date, most of the MRIs had shown that Carole's tumor had remained the same size. A PET scan in March, 1999, and another in 2002, showed that Carole's tumor was not metabolizing (completely dormant). However, in 2005, a PET scan revealed areas in which the tumor was probably growing. Carole began chemotherapy in June, 2005 and tolerated it well. A second round was begun in 2007, using a different chemotherapy agent. MRIs in 2009 revealed that the tumor had begun to grow on the left side, so Carole received a third chemotherapy agent. In 2011 Carole began her fourth round of chemotherapy. In 2012, Carole was admitted to UCLA with a rather sudden inability to walk. Since the brain tumor was beginning to take over, it was recommended that Carole be put on hospice care. Although able to read well, her ability to construct sentences was becoming more limited. However, since she live longer than the expected 6-month survival, she was taken off hospice care and I am currently caring for her. Carole's prayer to be able to raise our boys was answered, since they are all young adults.
Through the many years of doctor's visits and chemotherapy treatments, Carole has reached out to other brain tumor and cancer patients with compassion and the good news of Jesus Christ. Without the brain tumor, she would have never had those opportunities nor met all those people. None of us have guarantees for the future, but we have seen God working through all that has happened. The Bible tells us that all things work for good for those who love God.2 In addition, trials perfect one's faith and produce endurance.3
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Dead Computer and Ministry on-hold (September-December, 1997)
I had bought a laptop computer (Arche, 486sx with 4 meg RAM and 110 meg hard disk) in July, 1994 for use as a correspondent for Reasons To Believe during my daily hour-long van pool commute each way from my home to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. By riding the van, I could devote ~10 hours/week to Christian ministry without taking any additional time away from my wife and family. In the Spring of 1997, the computer's second battery started to die (its battery life started to decrease). I checked at the usual source from which I had purchased the second battery and found that they had gone out of business. The store from which I had purchased the computer no longer sold that brand and didn't know where to get parts. I took apart the computer's first battery, which had died the year before, and started looking into making a battery from the component NiCad batteries. Making one's own battery was going to be as expensive as buying an assembled one. I decided to wait until the battery died and then make a new one. One day on the van, the computer's LCD display suddenly died. Since there was no way to obtain service, my laptop was officially "dead."
The ministry of cross stitch
Another ministry I did on occasion on the van was cross-stitch. It started in 1989, and by 1991 I was making baby samplers for my newborns along with the newborns of co-workers in lab. From 1992-1995 we had a population explosion in the lab, during which I made 8 samplers. At one point I was doing two at a time, since it was faster to do two at once, since doing the same part a second time could be done nearly from memory. In 1995, I started a very ambitious project - a huge (16" by 14" on 16 point canvas) fancy font rendering of the Lord's Prayer over the image of a cross, surrounded by colorful flowers. I worked on it on and off for a year before moving on to more baby samplers. The population explosion in our lab ended in June, 1997, at which time I devoted all my commuter time to correspondence and web site programming (which had started in May, 1997). Upon the demise of my computer in September, I brought out the Lord's Prayer project, which I finished the week before Thanksgiving, 1997. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, our pastor shared that the Lord had indicated to him that our church should examine itself in light of the kinds of things the Lord said to the churches in Revelation 2-3. This was going to be a difficult undertaking, critically examining what the Lord would say to our church. I felt then that the Lord's Prayer cross stitch would make a good gift to give thanks for a pastor who loves and follows the Lord, and to encourage him during the difficult self-examination period.
Back to computer ministry work - in a major way
Late in November, My boss' assistant, Lore, informed me that my boss was willing to buy me a laptop computer. I didn't feel this was right, since I had no intention of using it for work business, but just for personal and ministry use. I told this to Lore and refused the offer. I had already put out a number inquiries to find a cheap used laptop, since I could afford only a few hundred dollars at most to replace my dead computer. None of these inquiries resulted in any leads, so I just waited. One day, when our secretary was on vacation, we had a temporary replacement for 2 days. Lore was still trying to get me to accept the laptop and mentioned it in front of the temp. The temp immediately said that I shouldn't refuse a blessing from the Lord - and she didn't even know I was a Christian. I realized that the offer was the Lord's way of blessing me, and giving me something I didn't deserve, just as He does in offering us eternal life. So the week of Christmas, I received my blessing - a new Armada 1540 DM 150 MHz Pentium multimedia computer with a 2.1 GB hard disk, internal modem and 20X CD-ROM. It was even faster and more powerful than my desktop unit. Now I can run all the latest software, including MS Office and FrontPage 2000. It has been a joy to do the Lord's work on this computer.
Undeserved Award and Answered Prayer (December, 1997)
In November, my boss called for a meeting to discuss changes in our department. We all showed up and listened to what seemed to be a complete waste of time. There was little substance to the meeting, and although it seemed everything had been said, the meeting continued because of some rather inane questions. Finally, our administrative assistant left and our secretary continued asking questions. Soon, some administrative people showed up along with a photographer. It was announced that I had won the prestigious "President's Award," the highest award given at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I didn't fit the typical profile for President's Award winners, since most recipients worked 60-80 hours/week and worked in direct patient contact positions (I work only 40 hours/week in the research division). I couldn't figure out why I was getting the award, but didn't feel I could just refuse it.
In November, my wife, Carole, told me that the American Cancer Society (ACS) van transportation program (which transports cancer patients to and from doctors appointments) was going to have to be discontinued because of lack of corporate financial support. How could I help obtain corporate funding in excess of $100,000/year? I prayed about the problem, but had no hope that I would be able to do anything to get funding for the ACS van program. The day before the President's Award Ceremony, December 4, it came to me that I would be meeting the President and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the largest medical centers in the nation. Maybe the president could help me. Receiving the award gave me the courage to contact the president directly. So I E-mailed him on December 6, but got no reply for over a week. However, he replied on December 14 with the following:
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 1997 19:27:01 -0800 (PST) From: Tom Priselac
XXX@CSMC.EDU Subject: Re: President's Award To: DeemR@CSMC.EDU Content-type: TEXT/PLAIN; CHARSET=US-ASCII Sorry for the delay in responding. I have been out of the office over the past few days and my computer connection from home wasn't working until recent- ly. It was my pleasure to honor you and your colleagues at the Presidents award. It is one of my favorite duties.
Regarding the ACS van, I think it would be difficult for Cedars to fund the van. However, if you would have the right person from the ACS send me the info on the van program - how it operates, where, when etc., along with the cost I will look into the question including other potential sources in the community who might be interested. I imagine the ACS is looking at potential funders as well so please have them let me know who they are talking to so that we are not duplicating efforts. I will do everything I can to identify sources. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your wife.
There is no way I would have even thought to contact the CEO of Cedars-Sinai if I hadn't received the award. God sometimes uses events (good and bad) to give us insights into how to fulfill His perfect will.
Free Web Hosting for PHC (December, 1997)
Initial contact with the PHC
The Lord put it on my heart to make a web site for a local crisis pregnancy center, the Pregnancy Help Centers of Glendale and Hollywood. The director of the clinics, Suzanne, called me regarding an article they were writing for their newsletter about the church I attended, which had just donated $11,000 to them to purchase a used ultrasound. At the conclusion of the interview, I offered to make a web site for them. Although Suzanne said that they had considered the possibility, they didn't have the expertise or the funds to make a site. I told her that they could get a site at Geocities for free, however, she responded that they just weren't ready yet. I was confident that the Lord was behind the idea, so I created an example home page and then contacted them through their E-mail address with all the details. Suzanne had no access to the Internet, so attempted to contact a friend through E-mail to check out the page I had made. Unfortunately, instead of sending the E-mail to her friend, she had selected the "reply" button, so it went to me. Her E-mail was rather frank, since I found out later that they had had a former offer by a person who didn't know what they were doing. When Suzanne's friend didn't reply, she phoned her and asked if she received the E-mail. The friend indicated that she hadn't, and when Suzanne checked her E-mail, she found that she had replied to my E-mail. Needless to say, Suzanne was very embarrassed, apologized profusely, and agreed to let me make a web site.
The Lord's leading to get web hosting
Suzanne didn't know anything about the Internet, but had a friend at the Ventura County Crisis Pregnancy Center who had designed a web site, so she suggested that I visit that site for ideas about page design. I looked at their site, which has a very clean look. After going though their pages, I noticed at the bottom of the home page that web hosting had been donated by a Ventura Internet Service Provider (JetLink Systems). Immediately, I knew why I had been sent to check out the page. I wondered if Glendale had any local ISP's, so I did a search on the Internet to find out. I was shocked to find that there were four ISP's located in Glendale (a small city of only 180,000 residents). I E-mailed Suzanne, asking permission to seek donated web hosting from the four ISP's. In the E-mail, I expressed confidence that the Lord was leading us and that we would get donated web hosting for the PHC. I composed an E-mail for the four ISP's, including information about the clinics, and how they were non-profit community service organizations. I avoided the issue of pro-life vs. pro-choice, since I knew that most people on the Internet are somewhat liberal and mostly pro-choice. I sent out the E-mails on the morning of December 15 after much prayer. I received no reply that day or the morning of the next day. I thought that I might have been too hasty in expressing to Suzanne that the Lord had promised us free web hosting. What if we didn't get any replies? I was now questioning whether the Lord was actually leading us or not.
We did eventually get a reply from one of the ISP's. When I read it, I almost fell off my chair. I had an experience similar to Thomas, the disciple who doubted Jesus' resurrection. Here is a copy of what was sent:
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 12:53:58 -0800 From:
XXX XXXX@wman.com MIME-Version: 1.0 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Web Hosting Services Hello Richard: It is funny that after 10 years I would have the opportunity and Honor of assisting the Pregnancy Help Center once again. 10 Years ago when the Center was first opening it's door's I had the opportunity of assisting in acquiring furnishings from some very generous folks that so willingly donated to the center. It was a great pleasure to Work with Lois Honeycut back than and I look forward to being of any assistance I can today. I have contacted the Center to express the same message I am sending you. I spoke briefly with Susan regarding this and look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to contact me at you earliest convenience. Best Regards,
Some would say that this is an example of the "its a small world syndrome." However, I believe God wanted to let me know that He was, indeed, arranging the events.
Added blessing (January, 1998)
A full three weeks after sending the E-mail, I received a reply from one of the other ISP's. They also agreed to host the PHC's web site (which was already online at phc.org). Obviously, I didn't need a second web hosting site for the PHC. I thought I might be able to use the offer for another crisis pregnancy center, specifically, the Pregnancy Help Center of San Gabriel Valley. I momentarily thought that I might just accept the offer, not telling them that it was for a different crisis pregnancy center. However, this would be dishonest (it is sometimes frustrating being a Christian, since there are many instances where sin works so well!). I E-mailed them back indicating that the Pregnancy Help Clinics of Glendale and Hollywood had already obtained web hosting from another ISP, but that the Pregnancy Help Center of San Gabriel Valley was looking for web hosting. They replied that they would be willing to host a site for the the Pregnancy Help Center of San Gabriel Valley, which went online as phc-sgv.org on February 12, 1998.
The Impossible Task (February, 1998)
This is going to seem somewhat trivial, but it was something that couldn't have been done by my own ability. One day in lab, my coworker, Alice, came to me saying she couldn't get the door to the glasswasher open. Upon examination, I could see that the shelf that contained the glassware was pressing against the door, which opened by sliding up. However, when you tried to slide the door up, the one inch lip at the bottom of the door caught on the bottom of the glassware shelf, so that the door opened only about half an inch. The opening was too small to get one's hand through, so I thought the problem could be solved by sliding a coat hanger through the opening, such that it could push the shelf backward. It would not be an easy task, since the door still extended about two inches below the front of the machine. Therefore, The coat hanger would have to go down two inches, under the door, then back up two inches and back about six inches to hook onto the shelf. I bent the coat hanger to the correct dimensions, slid it in sideways and rotated it upright to hook onto the shelf. It was relatively easy to do to Alice's amazement. However, when I push the hanger, the shelf did not budge. It appeared to be stuck somehow. We looked for a few minutes to see what was holding the shelf. There was a broken piece of glassware on one side of the shelf, but it didn't seem it could be holding the shelf. Further examination revealed an Erlenmeyer flask at the very back corner of the machine, wedged between the back wall, the left wall, and the shelf. It was positioned upside down so that the narrow top was wedged between the shelf and the walls, with the triangular base extending straight up. The problem seemed much too difficult for the coat hanger approach. The coat hanger would have to go under the door, back up above the shelf, weave through all the glassware on the shelf, back 2 1/2 feet to the corner, and somehow push the flask out of its position to flip it over and out from between the shelf and the walls. It was difficult to even see the flask at the back of the glasswasher, since it was dark that far back. Alice went to get a flashlight as I extended the coat hanger to its full length to get to the back of the glasswasher. As I slid the hanger under the door and above the shelf, I realized that this was an impossible task, and asked for God's help, since I could not even get the hanger past all the glassware to the back wall, much less to be able to move the flask once it had wound around all the obstacles. Alice returned but couldn't find a flashlight. In a few seconds, somehow the hanger got near the back. With a couple rotations, the flask seemed to magically jump up out of the way of the shelf. I pulled out the hanger and reshaped it to push the shelf back, which was easy to do. As the door opened, Alice was fascinated that the flask had moved, reached into the back and found that the mouth of the flask had become lodged onto a one inch bumper on the back wall. If it had landed anywhere else, it would have fallen back into the space between the shelf and the walls.
Matthew Prays for a Neighbor's Felt Needs (March, 1998)
We had been trying to witness to some neighbors soon after we moved into our home in 1989. They didn't seem to have any interest in God, the reason for which we found out later. When their daughter was a young girl (over 20 years ago) she was killed by a car that jumped the curb and landed on her in their front yard. One day, as they came down the street, Matthew (our oldest son, six years old at the time) and my wife, Carole, were weeding in the front yard. The neighbor stopped to ask if they had seen their lost cat, April. Neither Matthew or Carole had seen the cat, but Matthew offered to pray that their cat would return. He prayed with them as they went on to look for their cat. The next day we received a note thanking Matthew for his prayers and a bag of lemons as a token of their appreciation for their cat, which had come home at 6 p.m. the previous evening.
Winning a free computer (June 1998)
In October, 1997, I entered a drawing for a free computer (686 DX, 166Mhz, 16 MB RAM, 2.5 GB Hard Drive, 8x CD-ROM, 14" Monitor, Sound Card, Mouse/Keyboard) from Ages Software, which produces CD's containing Christian writings. Unknown to me, they re-entered my name into the drawing for February and June, 1998. On June 5, I received an E-mail stating that I had won their June 1 drawing. I had to go back to their web site to even remember the contest. I don't know how the Lord will use this in our family's lives, but for now, our sons will be able use Reader Rabbit, Treasure Hunt Math, and Knowledge Adventure software (especially 3D Dinosaur Adventure) on their own computer.
God Supplies Mission Project for VBS (June 1998)
I have the good fortune of working with some wonderful people at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. One of these people is a committed Christian, whose husband works at Loyola Marymount University. The first week of June, my co-worker mentioned that Loyola was getting rid of some electronics equipment, included several 25 inch NTSC video monitors and about 30 overhead projectors for just $10 apiece. Since our television set died in May, this was a great opportunity to get a cheap TV. I thought it would be good to get an overhead for use in Bible studies. So, on June 11, I took delivery of the two items. That evening was our Vacation Bible School (VBS) kickoff for teachers and helpers. As a part of the 5th and 6th grade teachers, I went to the meeting to get acquainted with the staff and the 1998 program. About midway through the meeting, they introduced the mission project for VBS. Every year, the children (and their parents) raise money for some worthwhile cause. This year the mission project was to support a church school in the inner city (Watts, CA), which desperately needed an overhead projector. I almost fell off my chair. There were nearly 30 overheads at Loyola that cost only $10.00 (compared to several hundred dollars for a new one). Unfortunately, things were not as simple as they might have been.
I called the head of VBS, Brenda, the next morning to ask if they might be interested in some used overhead projectors. She was, of course, very enthusiastic and asked me to get three. However, my co-worker and her husband were having out of town guests arriving the next day and didn't have time to pick up the overheads. They were going to be on vacation all the next week (through June 21). However, the last day of the electronics garage sale was June 15. I asked my co-worker's husband if he could contact Loyola to see if the overheads could be saved. On June 24, the overhead projectors arrived - after much prayer. VBS (July 13-17) was a great success and raised over $1,000 for the Watts Christian School.
The cat with 9 lives (September 1998)
Our family has three cats - Winnie, a gray persian, Oreo, a black and white short hair, and Promise, a short hair calico. One day, Carole mentioned that Oreo had gone out the previous night and had not returned home. The next day he had still not returned home, which was very unusual. The days passed and Oreo did not come home, so we concluded that he had been killed either by a car or a coyote. A week later the boys wanted to go out and look for Oreo. We prayed at dinner and went out to look for the cat. We went all around the neighborhood but did not find Oreo. However, the next day, Oreo came home, having been locked in a neighbor's garage for 8 days with no food or water. It was a miracle Oreo survived, since temperatures were in the 100's (and much hotter inside the garage) and he had no water for that entire period of time.
Y2K and our church (December, 1998)
In June, 1998, I was invited to attend a Y2K meeting at our church. A group of church leaders had been meeting each month since the beginning of the year in order to gather information on the impact of Y2K on people and technology in the United States. I had been studying the issue for only a couple months, and brought some of the information that I had found. To my surprise, the entire committee had already decided that Y2K was going to be catastrophic and that the church needed to get prepared to provide for the needs of its members and the community. I was met with paranoia and disbelief regarding all the information I had gathered. Anything that indicated that Y2K would not be as serious as they thought was labeled as "coverup" or "conspiracy." The committee members seemed unwilling to consider anything other than the worse case scenarios.
The next several months (through the end of November) were filled with information gathering and prayer as I put together my analysis of the Y2K situation. The analysis was completed November 24 and posted on my site. At this point, I prayed about how to present the information to church leadership and asked some of my friends to join me in prayer. The answer God gave me was "wait." This made no sense to me. How was waiting going to get anything done? The intellectual part of me wanted to find out when the next Y2K meeting would be and attempt to get scheduled to appear before the committee. So, I waited a week, and then another week, wondering how waiting could possibly do any good. A couple days later, to my disbelief, our senior pastor e-mailed me asking my advice about a number of Y2K scenarios. God does, indeed, answer prayers.
In February, 1999, I was invited to become part of the Y2K committee.
Festival of Life (June, 1999)
Carole, as a survivor of a brain tumor, was invited to USC Norris' "Festival of Life" celebration. Several hundred cancer survivors and their families attended, including our family. To my surprise, the celebration was overtly religious, with references to Jesus on the children's breakfast packages, an invocation by a pastor, and a magician who admitted he was a believer, and in part of his show, asked the children what they were thankful for. At the end of the ceremony, people were invited to come up and give a short talk about their experiences. Carole, got in line to speak, but was near the end of a long line of people. I prayed that she would be given an opportunity to speak and that her words would be given in the power of the Holy Spirit. With several people still in front of her, the host said that they would take "one or two more speakers," so I continued to pray. Several people testified of their faith. The host continued to allow more people to speak, and Carole was finally given an opportunity. Carole testified of her faith in Jesus Christ and included several poignant stories that touched people's hearts. Afterwards, Carole had several people come up and talk to her, including the chaplain and USC publicity, who took her picture and requested an interview. She also had an opportunity to give away a Jesus video, which she often does during her trips to doctors. Carole is a truly awesome disciple of Jesus, who has been used mightily by God in the furtherance of His kingdom since developing a brain tumor. I thank God that we are married and can share our lives together.
Prayer for finding things (July, August, 1999)
I don't pray enough at work. However, there are times when I realize that the task is more difficult than what I can easily do. In April, 1999, we had received some special chemical derivatives of thalidomide (the anti-nausea medication that caused birth defects in the 1950's). The new medications do not have the teratogenic properties of thalidomide and may be effective in treat certain forms of inflammatory bowel disease. The chemicals were "one of a kinds" and expensive to manufacture. In July, we were to prepare to do experiments with the new chemicals. The researcher who was to use the chemicals did not remember where he had put them and searched the lab for a couple weeks in every place he could think of. He was becoming desperate and our boss told him that it would be very bad if we had to go back to the manufacturing company and ask for more. I took up the challenge and looked in a number of places, without success. I realized that finding the chemicals would not be easy, so I prayed beforehand and then searched again. I find the chemicals within 3 minutes and my coworker was very grateful.
In August, our "Bears" den (Cub Scouts) went to a large local park to shoot off rockets that they had made the preceding three meetings. The rockets were supposed to go up to 2,000 feet, and they probably did so, since they disappeared from sight within a couple seconds of launch. The first rocket went up and came down 100 feet downwind. The second rocket went further downwind and landed in a tall tree. We obtained the owners ladder and a tall pole to get the rocket down. At this point, it was beginning to get dark. The third rocket went off and was quite spectacular with the fire against the dark sky. However, we never saw the rocket come down, as it disappeared into the blackness. The boys started running around playing tag for several minutes. We then announced that the meeting was over. One of the boys reported that he had lost his scout kerchief holder (a small, ring-like piece of brass) in the grass. He was uncertain where it had been lost - somewhere within the several acres of the park. Our gathering of 4 boys and 3 parents searched through the darkness with no success (and only one flashlight, held by one of the other parents). I was encouraged to pray to find kerchief holder, since it was literally like trying to find a needle in a haystack. After gathering the boys from the search, I looked down and saw a faint glimmer in the thick grass. It was the brass kerchief holder.
Needed funds for taxes (November, 2000)
Every six months we get a large property tax bill from our county assessor's office. Finances were going to be very tight this December, when the bill was due. However, because of an error in payroll, my entire raise for 2000-2001 was paid as a lump sum check in November, 2000 - just in time for taxes.
Andy's Hospitalization (January, 2001)
One weekend in January, 2001 was a scary time for our family, since Andy, our middle son was hospitalized for over 24 hours. It began earlier in the week, when Andy was taken to the pediatrician for some test to try to determine why he was having recurrent fevers. A routine blood test turned up a high sedimentation rate, indicative of some sort of inflammatory process going on. Andy had complained of some pain in some of his bones, so a bone scan was ordered. The pediatrician also noticed a heart murmur, so an echo cardiogram and EKG was ordered. The bone scan was negative, but the cardiac tests were said to be troubling. Our pediatrician was going to get a second opinion from a pediatric cardiologist. Friday afternoon, I got a call from the office of a doctor I had never heard of saying that they wanted to admit Andy to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as soon as possible, since the echo cardiogram showed that Andy had an enlarged left ventricle. My wife, Carole, was taking photographs for a friend, so Andy was at the babysitter. Since I work at Cedars-Sinai, I had to go home, pick up Andy and then travel back to Cedars - a three hour round trip in Friday night rush hour traffic. The time on the road gave me lots of time to pray and think about Andy. As parents, I think we tend to take for granted our children as we deal with the day to day struggles of parenting. In contemplating giving Andy back to the Lord, I considered all the ways in which he is special and fits in with our family. Andy is the "life of the party" and the glue that holds his brothers together. Being the middle child, Andy plays and interacts easily with both his older and younger brother. When the eldest and youngest brothers interact, it is more like a teacher-student relationship. Our family would be very different with Andy missing. Carole, notified the prayer team and Andy was admitted to the ER at Cedars. Andy was very brave through three blood draws, an X-ray, an EKG, and an echo cardiogram, was declared completely healthy and returned to school that Monday. Although the experience was not pleasant, it made me take the time to appreciate Andy. God uses such things to turn our focus to the important things in life.
No Parking Money (October, 2001)
Promise Keepers held its annual convention in the Southern California area beginning Friday, October 17, 2001. Matthew, my eldest son (age 10, at the time), wanted to go, so I thought it would be a good chance to spend time together and share a positive spiritual experience. I took the day off to do some work in the morning (gave Carole a break from taking the kids to school). On the way home from school, I stopped at the ATM to get some money for dinner that evening. My ATM card did not work, so I was unable to get money out. I figured that I would just charge the meal on a credit card. After dinner, I realized as I was driving to Arrowhead Pond that I did not have enough money for parking (I only had $4 out of the $8 needed). Matthew suggested that we pray about it, which we did. However, following the prayer, he asked what we would do. I told him that the Lord would provide. When I arrived at the attendant and explained my problem, he called over his supervisor, who allowed me to park for free (however, I did pay them back later).
Miracle of Modern Medicine (October, 2001)
I had been experiencing areas of my skin that had patchy white scales under which was inflamed, red skin. It had been steadily getting worse for about a year. After finally going to a dermatologist, I was diagnosed with psoriasis, which is an incurable, autoimmune inflammatory skin disease. I looked on the Internet to find all kinds of "witch doctor" cures for a disease that was often refractory to many treatments. I was prescribed Dovonex (a form of vitamin A) and Floucinonide (Lidex). I was pleasantly surprised to find that the three affected areas were nearly completely healed within the first week. Praise God for modern medicines!
Depressed Neighbor (November, 2001)
Reasons To Believe holds an annual picnic in late September or early October for all their volunteer apologists (of which I am one). This year, the picnic was scheduled for early October, but then cancelled. It was finally rescheduled for November 17. We took our three boys, who ate the food (and desserts!) and played in the park, and helped destroy the pi�atas to get dozens of pieces of candy. After an update about the ministry and its plans, the final event was a raw egg toss. I paired off with Carole (my wife) and we began tossing at a distance of a few feet. By the time we were up to 20 feet, most of the competition had already produced scrambled eggs. Carole and I kept stepping back - 30, 40, 50 feet. The egg got dropped a couple times, but still did not break. Finally, at about 100 feet (long after the rest of the competition was eliminated) Carole dropped a long high toss and it exploded on the grass. As reward for our victory, we were given the centerpiece from one of the tables. Carole thought that it would be nice to give it to the neighbor across the street. While at her house, Carole discovered, while looking for a vase, that there was no food in the cupboards. The refrigerator was also empty. Carole talked to the neighbor, who admitted that she was depressed and was not eating. Carole came home, gathered some food and went back to make dinner for the woman. Knowing that someone cared for her was very important to our neighbor, and the small act of kindness helped to greatly improve her outlook. God's timing (including rescheduling events) was perfect, and He can sure make a hard-shelled egg!
God Reaching out to persons in cults (December, 2001)
On December 3, 2001, I received an e-mail from a Mormon man, who asked me why I did not have a page about the Unification Church in my "Cults" section. Then, he asked, "Is this in deference to Jonathan Wells (Icons of Evolution) and his position in the Discovery Institute?" I had no idea that Jonathan Wells was part of the Unification Church, and, in fact, I thought that the man must have been mistaken. So, I did some research on the Internet, and found, by his own writing that it was true. I sent a message to the Reasons To Believe apologist discussion forum on December 4 asking people to pray for Jonathan Wells. Unknown to me, Jonathan Wells was scheduled to talk before the RTB Scholar's lunch (for RTB staff only) on Monday, December 10. Since the RTB staff had been alerted to Jonathan Wells' beliefs, they were able to ask him about those beliefs and challenge them. According to Bob Stuart (head of apologists at RTB), "Dr. Ross challenged some of the beliefs of the Unification Church and Dr. Wells readily admitted there are problems." I know by the unusual timing that God is trying to reach Jonathan Wells with the truth, and would be surprised if he did not leave the cult of the Unification Church before too long.
Matthew nearly drowned (September, 2002)
Matthew, our eldest son could have drowned, but for God's grace. We had gone to a friend's home and the kids (our three boys and their two boys) were swimming in their pool. I was watching, and had been doing so for a couple hours. The other boys' father was also swimming in the pool. All five of the boys were swimming and diving in the round Jacuzzi at the end of the pool. I really wanted to get into the pool, since I enjoyed swimming, having been on my high school swim team. Matthew's friend challenged him to go down to the drain for a "tummy massage". He was down there for a long time and was not coming up. I jumped in, grabbed his arm and realized immediately that I would not be able to pull him off that way. So I dove down, grabbed him by each side of his stomach, releasing the suction, and pulled him to the surface. He later would relate that he was at the end of his ability to hold his breath. The suction on the drain was very powerful, and the plastic had cracked, with the pieces causing numerous cuts and abrasions in a large circle around his stomach. He was screaming in intense pain. I gave him some pain killer and rushed him to a local emergency room. After numerous tests, it was determined that there were no internal injuries. My wife (who was taken home with our other two sons) called the emergency room while we were there and related that the boy who had prompted Matthew to dive onto the drain was found crying inconsolably in the bathroom. The first thing Matthew did when he got home was to call the family and assure them that he was okay, and talked to the boy saying that he didn't blame him, but had forgiven him. Afterwards, I realized how close Matthew had come to drowning. I had seen a 60 Minutes program on television a number of years ago, which had discussed the dangers of old pool drains. Had I not seen the program, I would have likely panicked or severely damaged Matthew's arm in trying to release him. Instead, I instantly realized that I had to break the suction in order to get Matthew out. In addition, if I had gone in swimming myself, I would have been unable to see what was going on in the Jacuzzi, and Matthew would have likely drowned. Somehow, God had kept me out of the pool and I am eternally grateful.
Do good to those who hate you, and bless those who curse you4 (February, 2003)
I am the Committee Chairman for Cub Scout Pack 414 and am one of the leaders of Boy Scout Troop 414. Our Scouts own the land on which our Scout Hall/Police Emergency Services Building sits. The Police Department does all the maintenance on the building and use it during weekdays and the Scouts use it evenings and weekends. Last year, some of the members of the Police Department renovated the Scout Hall on their own time, using donated materials. They did a spectacular job and the inside is now bright and cheery.
In the Fall of last year, the were some incidents that caused us to loose favor with the woman who works in the building. At one point, there were black scuff marks on the floor (I don't think the Scouts did it), the building alarm was not set correctly (one of our leaders did that) and the women's restroom was messed up (not sure who did that). The woman put up notes all over the Scout Hall saying how irresponsible we were and locked the women's bathroom. Things were tense and she would never say anything when we said "hi" to her if she was working late.
At the end of January, I was making up the list of invitees for our annual Scout Blue and Gold Banquet. We usually invite city officials, school principals in addition to Scouting officials and families. The idea came to me (probably from the Holy Spirit, since I didn't want to do it) that I should invite the woman who worked in the Scout Hall to our Banquet. At the first Scout meeting after sending the invitations, the woman's car was in the lot. I wasn't looking forward to walking past her office. However, when I walked by, she was smiling. Then I noticed that all the nasty notes had been taken down. To top it off, my Scout emblem/necktie, which I had lost nearly a year ago, had been found and was hanging on the wall. I couldn't believe the change that had happened from just one small act of kindness to an "enemy."
Matthew Saves a Life (October, 2003)
Since Matthew (our eldest son) is now in junior high school, he began attending a new school this year. The school is about ten miles from our home, but there is a family whose daughter attends, so our families have been carpooling. In addition to the grammar school daughter, the family has a toddler son, Joey, who goes along for the ride. As Matthew was getting into the van on the street side, he saw Joey running out from the yard. Neither the mother or sister was in a position to stop him, but Matthew grabbed him in the street right before a car sped by. If Matthew hadn't been there, the toddler would have been hit by the car. Afterwards, Matthew was reflecting on what had happened and said, "I know at least one reason why God had saved me from drowning last summer. If I hadn't been there, Joey would have died" The same thought had occurred to me.
The prayer of another (November, 2007)
My wife and I had happened to stop into a thrift store next a restaurant that we were going to on a Tuesday night. There was a African-American woman who had put a hold on a table for purchase, but her son was sick and could not come to help her take it to her home. So, we offered to take it in our van. When we arrived at her house, she said that she had just prayed about what to do when we showed up. Who says that prayer doesn't work?
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
- "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," (Matthew 28:19)
- "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28).
- Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter
various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect
and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)
- "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." (Luke 6:27-28)
Last Modified June 28, 2010