Wednesday, January 26, 2011

STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS 2011 [My Comments In Brackets]

“They’re right.  The rules have changed.  In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business.  Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100.  Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an Internet connection.” [I hear – Adapt Or Get Left Behind]

“What’s more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea -– the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny.”  [What If We Allowed God To Shape, Mold, and Give Us The Plan for Our Lives, instead of little ole me, WOW!]
“We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.   We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business.  We need to take responsibility for our deficit and reform our government.  That’s how our people will prosper.  That’s how we’ll win the future.”  [Oh, And Pray] 
“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.”  [No, First Seek God’s Counsel and Submit Your Plans To Him]
“That’s what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves.  And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we’ve begun to reinvent our energy policy. We’re not just handing out money.  We’re issuing a challenge.  We’re telling America’s scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo projects of our time.” [O.K., A Possible Solution]

“With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.” [Good Luck With That]
“We need to get behind this innovation.  And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies.  I don’t know if -- I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own.  So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.” [Act Before Iran Attacks Saudi Arabian Oil Fields To Hurt America]

“So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal:  By 2035, 80 percent of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.” [WOW! 2035!  2020 sounded spaceagey back in the day]

“...if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas -– then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.”  [Agree]

“That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities.  It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child.  Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done.  We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair.  We need to teach them that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.” [Standing Ovation From Me]

“Let’s also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child’s success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom.  In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.”  Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect.  We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones.  And over the next 10 years, with so many baby boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math.”  [Had a lot of friends in college who studied to be teachers, I agree with this one too.]

“Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens.  Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet they live every day with the threat of deportation.  Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities.  But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us.  It makes no sense. ... let’s agree to make that effort.  And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who could be staffing our research labs or starting a new business, who could be further enriching this nation.” [Huge Task, More Power To You]

“The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America.  To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information -- from high-speed rail to high-speed Internet.” [Agreed]

“We’ll put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.  We’ll make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based [on] what’s best for the economy, not politicians.” [I’ll Believe It When I See It, But It SOUNDS Good]

 “Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car.  For some trips, it will be faster than flying –- without the pat-down.  As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.” [“Without the pat-down” – Famous Last Words]

  “Within the next five years, we’ll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans.  This isn’t just about --  this isn’t about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls.  It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age.  It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world.  It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.” [Bringing US Up To Speed, What A Play On Those Words]

“To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 -– because the more we export, the more jobs we create here at home.  Already, our exports are up.  Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs here in the United States.  And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs.  This agreement has unprecedented support from business and labor, Democrats and Republicans -- and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible.” [Really?! Keep It Going!]

“To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I’ve ordered a review of government regulations.  When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce common-sense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century.  It’s why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe.  It’s why we have speed limits and child labor laws.  It’s why last year, we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies and new rules to prevent another financial crisis.” [Big Brother Testing That Line – supposedly to protect us from ourselves]

“Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means.  They deserve a government that does the same.” [Fluff]

“So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years.  Now, this would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President.  This freeze will require painful cuts.  Already, we’ve frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years.  I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs.  The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.  I recognize that some in this chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and I’m willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without.  But let’s make sure that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. And let’s make sure that what we’re cutting is really excess weight.” [The Government Is Going To Hurt Themselves For Us – Wow! Insert sarcasm.] 

“We shouldn’t just give our people a government that’s more affordable.  We should give them a government that’s more competent and more efficient.  We can’t win the future with a government of the past.” [True, But More Fluff]

“And so we must defeat determined enemies, wherever they are, and build coalitions that cut across lines of region and race and religion.  And America’s moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom and justice and dignity.  And because we’ve begun this work, tonight we can say that American leadership has been renewed and America’s standing has been restored.” [The “Policeman of the World” Continues His Watch]

“American combat patrols have ended, violence is down, and a new government has been formed.  This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq.  America’s commitment has been kept.  The Iraq war is coming to an end.”  [The Rise of Babylon Is At Hand]

“Of course, as we speak, al Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us.  Thanks to our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, we’re disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies.  And as extremists try to inspire acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our American family.” [And as long as they are a part of our “American family” they will have ample opportunity to attack from within.]

“Because we rallied the world, nuclear materials are being locked down on every continent so they never fall into the hands of terrorists.” [Never Say Never...Where There Is A Will and technology There Is A Way]

“Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher sanctions, tighter sanctions than ever before. [“Insist”?!  I’m sure they are shakin’ in their boots – insert sarcasm here.]

And on the Korean Peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons. [Insisting Again? What’s Plan B?]

We’ve reset our relationship with Russia [What? Elaborate please!]

Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC. [Sin Marches On and He Wants Sin To Permeate Our Colleges More]

We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution.  We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try.  We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything is possible.  No matter who you are.  No matter where you come from.  [It’s All About You...NOT!]

[In short...Promises, Promises and Fluff]

We definitely need to keep our leaders in our prayers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

CAN WE REALLY CHANGE GOD'S MIND? (Things That Make You Go Hmm)

From observing Scripture it seems that God's essence/nature "yesterday, today, and forever does not change".  He is always good, faithful, just, loving, and so forth.  However, His mind on certain matters seems influenced/altered by human prayer's.  Or is it?  Being an all-knowing God, He knew these prayers were going to be prayed a long time before the need for them arose.  So, was God's mind really influenced/altered?  Has God's mind, then, ever been altered?

I don't think so.  God has always had a plan and what we think was a deviation from that plan was still His original plan.  Can God's plans be thrwarted?  I don't think so.  He was before the plan and He is already at the end of the plan and He is presently overseeing the working of His plan in the meantime.  There are no surprises with God, The God that stands outside of time and within it, because He made it and space too.

So, because there are no surprises with an all-knowing God - who are the situations of life and the prayers we pray in response good for?  Us.  I believe God is desiring to use every opportunity to draw everyone closer and closer to Him and to teach us what His word says about a given situation or circumstance.  This drawing closer will be an endless process, because of the amazing, eternal facets of God we will perpetually discover as believers here and in heaven.

(Stemmed From Jeremiah 18:7-10)

Friday, January 21, 2011

JEREMIAH'S PRAYER

"I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.
['For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.  If we live, we live to the LORD; and if we die, we die to the LORD.  So, whether we live or die, we belong to the LORD.'-Romans 14:7]
Correct me, LORD, but only with justice - not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing.
Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the peoples who do not call on your name.
For they have devoured Jacob [Israel]; they have devoured him completely and destroyed his homeland."
-Jeremiah 10:23-25

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

IDOLS AND ALTARS

My definition of the word idol is – a person, thing, or concept that holds sway over one’s life instead of God; a substitute considered of highest value/worth over the one true God; a major distraction that causes us to take our focus off of God and place it on something or someone else.
Now, that stated without going to the dictionary, let’s look at what the dictionary does say.
–noun
1. an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.
2. Bible .
a. an image of a deity other than god.
b. the deity itself.
3. any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion: Madame Curie had been her childhood idol.
4. a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance, as a phantom.
5. a figment of the mind; fantasy.
6. a false conception or notion; fallacy.
(Source: http://www.dictionary.com/)
As you can see from number two and letter “a”, my definition was a little wordy compared to theirs but I had the same thought.
The word idols (plural form) appeared 172 times in a word search on http://www.crosswalk.com/.  After studying how the word was used in the verses, the following is what I found out about idols.
Idols are a detestable thing to the LORD (Dt. 27:15). [You are cursed if you make one]
"Cursed is the man who carves an image or casts an idol--a thing detestable to the LORD”
They should not be a thing you create to replace God (Dt. 5:8). [A command]
"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”
They were usually things made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood that cannot see, hear, or walk (Rev. 9:20).
“…they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood--idols that cannot see or hear or walk.”
They were breathless things (Jeremiah 10:14).
“…every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them.”
Sometimes they were made of a lot of jewelry (Eze. 7:20).
“They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images.”
Their purpose was to fill a void once you were separated from someone/something else (Eze. 14:7).
" 'When any Israelite or any alien living in Israel separates himself from me and sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet to inquire of me, I the LORD will answer him myself.”
People went so far as to make sacrifices unto it, even their own children (Eze. 23:37).
“They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed their children, whom they bore to me, as food for them.”
The fact can probably be deduced, but none-the-less it was stated, idols provide No Grace (Jonah 2:8).
"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

Although idols in the Bible took the form of an object most of the time (i.e. the Golden Calf, Ex. 32:1), many idols don’t have to take a physical form to replace your relationship with God.  Now-a-days other relationships, than the one people have with God, are put first, therefore becoming an idol. Their jobs, any events or activities (habits that continually draw them away from a deeper relationship with God) can be an idol.  Of course any material thing has a powerful pull on people too.  Things we can sense with our five senses get top priority.  The next level of discernment, the spiritual, tends to be neglected.

I encourage you to tend to your relationship with God.  If you are reading this and you are not a believer in Christ as your Savior, with God’s help you can still do away with your idols and accept Jesus as Master, Savior, King, and Friend of your life.  I made that decision to follow Christ when I was nine years old and have never regretted it.  Jesus tells us how creation once was – in right standing with God. What happened – sin or willful rebellion entered creation through the fallen creature Lucifer or Satan.  How to fix it – believe in Jesus’ work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, for without both there is no salvation.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) 
There is no specific magical mantra or prayer to say, but you still need to pray and talk to God about your spiritual condition.  Something you might consider praying would be – “Dear Jesus, I confess before you and all of heaven that I am a fallen creature, that I was born into a fallen nature and that my righteousness is as filthy rags.  In short Jesus, I am a sinner destined to spend eternity separated from you in Hell and I need your salvation you provided on the cross and out of the grave.  I choose to believe in your provision for me – which you died on the cross for and rose from the dead on the third day.  I invite you into my mind, my heart, my spirit, my soul, and my life Lord Jesus.  I ask you to do away with all my idols and that you take control of my life.  Thank you for the price you paid for me, in your name, Jesus I pray, amen.”  If you just prayed that prayer for the first time, congrats – you are now one of my fellow brothers/sisters in the LORD and I would be thrilled to know if you sincerely gave your life to Him.  But, know this – just because you are saved (from hell/lake of fire or eternal separation from God) does not mean you will not be tempted to revert back to your old ways and reclaim some old idols.  Pray and get around other believers that will pray with you and will encourage you in the faith.

If you are already a believer in Christ, I encourage you to perform a “spiritual spring cleaning” of sorts.  Reflect on your life and pray to God that He would reveal any idols that have been “trumping” the relationship you have with Him.  A prayer here might go like – “Dear Lord, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’ (Ps. 139:23)  My favorite chapter in Psalms is this Psalm.
__________________
Altars, they seem to have evolved over time.  Many years ago they were uncut fieldstones (Dt. 27:5-6; Josh. 8:31).  Then later altars became a structure made to be housed within the Tabernacle of Moses.  Still further on, the altar in Solomon’s Temple was an updated version of the Tabernacle altar.  Fast forward to today and we have altars in church.  Some of us have altars in our home and many of us believe wherever we humble ourselves and pray – there is our altar (within our heart).

The word altars appeared 335 times in the word search on http://www.crosswalk.com/. After studying how the word was used in the verses, the following is what I found.

Altars in and of themselves are structures that were built to certain specifications and placed in a specific place for, as I have come to find out, many different uses.
The usual observation about altars is that they dealt with all the many sacrifices brought before the LORD throughout Jewish history.  Of course not only did Jews have a history of sacrificial altars but other cultures and races did as well (i.e. Mayans, Incas, etc.).  But for this text we are concerning ourselves with the Bible and it’s teaching on altars. 

However, not only was it a place of daily sacrifice, but much more. For instance, it was a place where one, usually the priest, would call on the name of the LORD. 
An altar might easily be a memorial to one of God’s many great works and was typically named or titled appropriately to the work (i.e. “The LORD is My Banner”, Ex. 17:15). 
It was portable (Ex. 27:7) "The poles are to be inserted into the rings so they will be on two sides of the altar when it is carried." 
A place of offering (Ex. 29:18) "Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire." 
A place of consecration (Ex. 29:21) "And take some of the blood on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated."
A place of seeking holiness (Ex. 29:37) "For seven days make atonement for the altar and consecrate it. Then the altar will be most holy, and whatever touches it will be holy."
A place of personal cleanliness (Ex. 40:32) "They washed whenever they entered the Tent of Meeting or approached the altar, as the LORD commanded Moses." 
A place of death (Lev. 1:11-15) "He is to slaughter it at the north side of the altar before the LORD, and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle its blood against the altar on all sides.  He is to cut it into pieces, and the priest shall arrange them, including the head and the fat, on the burning wood that is on the altar. 13 He is to wash the inner parts and the legs with water, and the priest is to bring all of it and burn it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.  " 'If the offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, he is to offer a dove or a young pigeon.  The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar." 
A place of continual burning (Lev. 6:12-13) "The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out." 
A place of atonement (Lev. 17:11) "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." 
A place of God’s presence (Judges 13:20)  "As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground." 
A place where you can worship the wrong thing (Judges 6:25) "That same night the LORD said to him, "Take the second bull from your father's herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it."
Where oaths are sworn (1 Kings 8:31) "When a man wrongs his neighbor and is required to take an oath and he comes and swears the oath before your altar in this temple," 
Where prayers and supplications are made to the LORD (1 Kings 8:54) "When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the LORD, he rose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven." 
Where the altar itself is cried out against (1 Kings 13:2) "He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD: "O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: 'A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.' "  
It was a place to take from and apply to (Lev. 16:12-13, 46-47) "He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony, so that he will not die."
A place for seeking guidance (2 Kings 16:15). "King Ahaz then gave these orders to Uriah the priest: "On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king's burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Sprinkle on the altar all the blood of the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance." 
It was a place that is cared for/tended to (Nu. 18:5) "You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that wrath will not fall on the Israelites again."  
It was a place to worship before (2 Chron. 32:12). "Did not Hezekiah himself remove this god's high places and altars, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, 'You must worship before one altar and burn sacrifices on it'?" 
Finally, what might be most striking but definitely gets you pondering is that the earthly altars were patterned after a heavenly altar (Isaiah 6:6; Revelation 6:9, 8:3).  "Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar." and "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained."  and "Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne."

I have a few altars.  One altar is at my church (the bottom of the steps that lead up to the stage).  Another altar is at my house (in my office).  The last altar is wherever I can quiet my heart and mind and pray (a garden, walking trail, etc.).  I’m finding myself plugged into these different located altars and not just to seek God’s hand for something.  I am seeking His face for that deeper relationship that only He can satisfy.  Everything else will be added unto me, He promises (Matthew 6:33).  I encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

IMHO - UNC vs. VA (ACC Opener 2010)

With the amount of potential talent and/or skill that Carolina has on that basketball squad, plus the coaching quality, I viewed this game as the Tarheels playing down to the level of Virginia and VA having a couple of hot shooters that we did not guard well at all.  And those shooters that were hot, guess what specialty they executed in - that's right, the three point shot!  They also had the easiest of times driving the lane late in the game - gotta correct that.

Our big guys contributed nicely down low the first half of the first half, but after that the whole team caught the "I can't hit the broad side of a barn disease" and could hardly buy a basket until the middle of the second half.  Here the table finally switched (ah, you thought I was going to say turned) and UNC had to make up an 11 point deficit, which they did, with help from foul line appearances and held on to secure their first ACC road win.

This year is not going to be pretty.

Next is VT at The Hill on Th., Jan. 13, 9 PM.

GO HEELS! 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

WHAT IF HE HAD NOT HAVE PRAYED?

In my reading the Bible all the way through for the third time (I think), I am in Isaiah.  Specifically I just completed chapter 37 and that is where I will reference from in this writing.

The following is a combination of paraphrasing and quoting from Isaiah 37.  Hezekiah had received an intimidating letter from Sennacherib, king of Assyria and this was Hezekiah's response.

Hezekiah spread out the letter before God and prayed.......

Master of Everything, God of Israel, who has not been dethroned, you are sovereign.  You are Creator God.  Please see me and hear me as I read this insulting letter from Sennacherib to you. [Letter is read]

It is true God that his army has laid waste to the nations around us.  The Assyrians have even claimed victory over each nation's god, which is not that hard seeing that they are made out of wood and stone.  Prove that you are God, Maker of the Wood and Stone that the other gods were made from and Creator of all things and deliver us from his hands.

The LORD's reply was - "Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word the LORD has spoken against him:" (v. 21-22)

" 'He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here.  He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it.  By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city,' declares the LORD.
'I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!' " (v.33-35)

So, evidently the LORD Himself deemed this worthy enough to get directly involved.  He told us He would in the verse above - "I will defend this city and save it, for my sake..." and then He manifests Himself as the Angel of the LORD in the next verse.

"Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp.  When the people got up the next morning - there were all the dead bodies!" (v.36)

For the "angel of the LORD" in many theological camps is considered the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God and many Scriptures do not make sense without this rendering/interpretation.

The LORD could have answered in countless ways, but His will was this way, a direct approach.  Who knows what would have happened if Hezekiah had not prayed at all.

Your issue and my issue no matter how great or small can always be laid out before God like this letter.  It can even be read out loud to God.  Then God's attributes can be told back to Him.  God's promises in Scripture can be quoted back to him and then our plea or request can be made.  All of this through prayer.  Look at the response that you might even get - a direct manifestation of God's presence, WHEW!  I hope you don't even consider NOT praying about things when issues arise in your life.  I'm learning to FIRST lean on Jesus too and submit everything to Him in prayer.