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God Bless America

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  • Stephen J. Hall
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY August 7, 2008 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 4, 2008

      August 7, 2008

      "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
      I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.



      Editor's Note: This coming Thursday is Patriot Day and marks the
      seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and
      Washington D. C. The following are excerpts from an edition of Notes
      originally posted on September 16, 2001. I'm re-posting them in
      remembrance of the events of 9-11-01. In the current political
      climate of this election year, there is so much we need to remember
      about that period in our nation's - about our enemies; about
      ourselves, and about our God. I pray these "notes" will help.

      "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord
      is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? When evil
      men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my
      foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege
      me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even
      then will I be confident." Psalm 27: 1-3

      Like most Americans, we have watched a lot of television the last few
      days hoping to understand; to make some sense out of the senseless.
      The networks have been frantically sifting through every bit of
      information they can gather, trying to find those answers for us.
      But they've been unsuccessful. Not surprising. They've been looking
      in the wrong places. On Friday, our President called this nation to
      the only place where those answers can be found.

      This week has been America's darkest and finest hour. We have felt
      the vile touch of evil squeeze our hearts with fear. We have starred
      into his dark, malevolent face and felt the bile of hatred in our
      throats. A generation that has grown to adulthood without knowing
      the true depths of the evil abroad in this world has now been
      introduced to him with undeniable clarity. The Internet is flooded
      with their testimonies. Their lives and ours have been forever
      redefined by that introduction. Yes, America, despite all the rumors
      to the contrary, there is a devil. And he roams this planet seeking
      those he can destroy.

      And in response to this defining moment, we have seen the emergence
      of that spirit God breathed into all of His creation. First like a
      small light in a dark cavern and then flaring like a curtain being
      thrown back to reveal the sun, the light of God's love has begun to
      shine in men's hearts again. Strangers have become brothers and
      sisters, supporting and caring for each other as they stagger to
      recover from the cowardly and senseless acts of destruction on
      September 11th. Some risking their lives in the faint hope of giving
      life to others.

      Will that spirit prevail? Will we recover? Can we overcome the evil
      that seeks to destroy us? I believe the answer is in the verses I've
      quoted from the 27th Psalm and in the choices we make in the days
      ahead. Do we chose justice or revenge? Do we allow hatred to feed
      the bitter fruit of prejudice or do we unite in the brotherhood of
      God's family. The scales are precariously balanced and the choices
      each one of us makes will determine if they tip towards or away from
      the Lord who is our salvation and our strength, our provider and our

      I am reminded of a book Tony Campola wrote some years ago, "It's
      Friday, but Sunday's Coming." It's a book that helped me find hope
      at one of the darkest times in my life. Although I don't have the
      book any longer, and I'm terrible at memorizing things, I still
      remember the basic message of the book that blessed me and gave me
      the faith to go on. I find comfort in that message now and offer it
      to any one who's heart is aching from the losses we all have suffered
      this week.

      On Friday Christ was crucified, died and was buried - but Sunday's
      On Friday the disciples are scattered and hiding in fear - but
      Sunday's coming.
      On Friday the sky is blackened and the earth shaken by God's anger -
      but Sunday's coming.

      Sunday when Christ will rise again.
      Sunday when God's Son will become the fulfillment of all scripture
      and God's love to His children.

      It's Friday and our hearts ache. Darkness seems to surround us.
      Life seems too hard. The suffering and the losses are too much to
      bear. But Sunday is coming! Sunday when Christ will come again
      and "prince of this world" will suffer the finality of eternal
      defeat. Yes, it's Friday now. The pain and the suffering are very
      real. But so is the hope and promise we have in Christ. His arms
      open wide to receive you, to comfort and heal your breaking heart.
      Run to Him now! Run into the comforting embrace of those loving
      arms. Those arms that opened wide upon the cross to receive your
      punishment so you could receive your salvation.

      Thank you Lord. It may be Friday now. But, we understand - Sunday
      is coming!!!!

      "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death
      or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed
      away." Revelation 21:4

      His servant and your brother,
      Sheltered under His wings and overwhelmed by His love,

      (President George W. Bush, National Cathedral, Washington, D. C.)

      We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so
      great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come
      before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who
      love them. On Tuesday, our country was attacked with deliberate and
      massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes, and bent

      Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning to
      read. They are the names of men and women who began their day at a
      desk or in an airport, busy with life. They are the names of people
      who faced death, and in their last moments called home to say, be
      brave, and I love you. They are the names of passengers who defied
      their murderers, and prevented the murder of others on the ground.
      They are the names of men and women who wore the uniform of the
      United States, and died at their posts. They are the names of
      rescuers, the ones whom death found running up the stairs and into
      the fires to help others. We will read all these names. We will
      linger over them, and learn their stories, and many Americans will
      weep. To the children and parents and spouses and families and
      friends of the lost, we offer the deepest sympathy of the
      nation . . . you are not alone.

      Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have
      the distance of history. But our responsibility to history is already
      clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil. War has
      been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation
      is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was
      begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at
      an hour, of our choosing.

      Our purpose as a nation is firm. Yet our wounds as a people are
      recent and unhealed, and lead us to pray. In many of our prayers this
      week, there is a searching, and an honesty. At St. Patrick's
      Cathedral in New York on Tuesday, a woman said, "I prayed to God to
      give us a sign that He is still here." Others have prayed for the
      same, searching hospital to hospital, carrying pictures of those
      still missing. God's signs are not always the ones we look for. We
      learn in tragedy that his purposes are not always our own. Yet the
      prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great
      cathedral, are known and heard, and understood. There are prayers
      that help us last through the day, or endure the night. There are
      prayers of friends and strangers that give us strength for the
      journey. And there are prayers that yield our will to a will greater
      than our own. This world He created is of moral design. Grief and
      tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance, and
      love have no end. And the Lord of life holds all who die, and all who

      It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. This is true of
      a nation as well. In this trial, we have been reminded, and the world
      has seen, that our fellow Americans are generous and kind,
      resourceful and brave. We see our national character in rescuers
      working past exhaustion; in long lines of blood donors; in thousands
      of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible.
      And we have seen our national character in eloquent acts of
      sacrifice. Inside the World Trade Center, one man who could have
      saved himself stayed until the end at the side of his quadriplegic
      friend. A beloved priest died giving the last rites to a firefighter.
      Two office workers, finding a disabled stranger, carried her down
      sixty-eight floors to safety. A group of men drove through the night
      from Dallas to Washington to bring skin grafts for burn victims. In
      these acts, and in many others, Americans showed a deep commitment to
      one another, and an abiding love for our country. Today, we feel what
      Franklin Roosevelt called the warm courage of national unity. This is
      a unity of every faith, and every background. It has joined together
      political parties in both houses of Congress. It is evident in
      services of prayer and candlelight vigils, and American flags, which
      are displayed in pride, and wave in defiance. Our unity is a kinship
      of grief, and a steadfast resolve to prevail against our enemies. And
      this unity against terror is now extending across the world.

      America is a nation full of good fortune, with so much to be grateful
      for. But we are not spared from suffering. In every generation, the
      world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked
      America, because we are freedom's home and defender. And the
      commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time. On this
      national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask almighty God to watch
      over our nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to
      come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in
      sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise
      of a life to come.

      As we have been assured, neither death nor life, nor angels nor
      principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor
      height nor depth, can separate us from God's love. May He bless the
      souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. And may He always
      guide our country. God bless America.

      (Alexander de Tocqueville)

      "I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious
      harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there. I sought for the
      greatness and genius of America in her fertile fields and boundless
      forests, and it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius
      of America in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was
      not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her
      public school system and her institutions of learning, and it was not
      there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her
      democratic congress and her matchless constitution, and it was not
      there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her
      pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her
      genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if
      America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."


      Copyright © 1998 - 2008 by Stephen J. Hall - Letters of
      encouragement to Christians written by Stephen J. Hall unless
      otherwise indicated. Notes from the Valley and Humor from the Valley
      are meant to brighten your day and encourage you along the way. If
      you are blessed by them, please feel free to make copies and pass
      them along to others. If you have something you'd like to
      contribute to a future edition, would like to ask a question or make
      a comment, please contact us at: steveh.rbis@...

      Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
      everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
      your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-3 The Message)
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