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Notes: What's Next? Remembering 9/11/01

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  • Stephen Hall
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTESFROMTHEVALLEY September 15, 2013 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 15, 2013
      September 15, 2013
      “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
      I will fear no evil for you are with me.” Psalm 23.
      WHAT NEXT ?
      Editor’s Note: Last Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D. C. The following are excerpts from an edition of Notes originally posted shortly after the attacks occurred. I’m reposting them in remembrance of the events of 9-11-01. There is so much we need to remember about that period in mankind’s history - about our enemies; about ourselves, and about our God. I pray these “notes” will help.
      Based upon the many articles and inputs I’ve received this week, plus my observations of various national news sources, it seems fairly clear that there are two major camps seeking to influence the form of our impending response to the attacks of September 11th.
      One camp is angry. VERY angry. Legitimately angry. So angry that I don’t think any of them would be the least bit upset if President Bush ordered our military to level any nation that supported the terrorist attacks and make paved parking lots out of them all. And the other camp is scared. Legitimately scared. Scared of the actions threatened by the Taliban if we do attack them. So scared, that they distrust any course of action that involves the use of military force.
      One side screams for revenge.
      The other pleads for patience and diplomacy.
      Who’s right?
      Is either side right?
      And more importantly, what is it that God would truly want us to do next?
      To those who are angry let me say, I share your anger. Every time I contemplate the cold blooded, carefully calculated and brutal acts taken against our citizens on September 11th, my blood boils. I cannot comprehend the kind of human being who could act in such a heartless manner towards other human beings. The level of hatred and bitterness they must nurture towards us as a people goes beyond my ability to understand. I can only characterize it as the darkest and most sinister form of evil I have ever encountered. To me, they are the very personification of the devil himself. And I long for the identification and punishment of each and every one of them as quickly and severely as possible. I long for it as deeply and earnestly as I long for the day when I can see the devil himself fall defeated before Christ and then be cast out from our midst into eternal torment.
      But as angry as I am, I also know that our response, if governed by a desire for revenge rather than justice, will result in the deliberate massacre of innocent civilians. And if that happens, we will be as guilty of wrong doing as the ones we seek to punish. The harm that has befallen innocent Americans of Arabic and Indian heritage in this country over the last two weeks, solely because of their physical appearance or their belief in the Islamic faith, is validation that anger can be a very heady and easily misdirected emotion. We cannot allow ourselves to be dragged into that dark and vile place. We must resist the type of angry responses that would take us there.
      To the angry, God says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27
      For those of you who are scared let me say, you are not alone. Truly honest people everywhere will admit that their hopes and dreams were forever changed by the events of September 11th. And with those changes came uncertainties and fear. That fear, authored by the devil, is the counterfeit of faith. It is his primary weapon and he uses it to freeze us into inaction while he and his cohorts continue about their sinister business. We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by that fear. If we do, we will end up in the same dark destination our unrestrained anger would take us. But we will have crawled there voluntarily to hide behind his dark illusion; seeking safety in a lie.
      To the scared comes this reminder, “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
      Having said all that, what’s the answer to our question, “What next?” It’s certain the answer won’t be found within ourselves. For all our energies and achievements, events have brought us face-to-face with the reality of our own insufficiency to deal with the challenges that lie ahead. So, what comes next is a choice: Where will we seek the answers we can’t find within ourselves? The world offers us many choices. God offers us only two. Himself or all the rest.
      I know everyone has heard the much quoted scripture from 2 Chronicles 7:14 this week: “. . . if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” It is my firm belief that we have reached that point where God will no longer accept a part time relationship with His children. It breaks His heart. And it is destroying us slowly from within as our spirits grow weak from our lack of communion with Him.
      God did not author the events of September 11th. I cannot emphasize that strongly enough. The evil in men’s hearts did that. But He is using those events as a wake up call to His People. And what comes next is our answer to that call. From that choice will flow all the events that will prepare and define us for what lies ahead.
      When faced with Goliath, the nation of Israel cowered in fear. But David chose to trust in God instead of in Goliath’s prowess or his own meager abilities. And David defeated Goliath with only a slingshot and a stone. The lesson for us is very clear. It wasn’t the superiority of the warrior or the weapon that mattered. It was the one who guided them both.
      Later in his life, David would write: “ In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me . . . he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:6, 9, 16-19 (NIV)
      God does not expect His people to cower in fear before evil in any form. But before we dare come against that evil, we had better prepare ourselves by making the same wise choices that David did. We’d better put our faith and trust in God.
      God bless you all.
      God bless America.
      May we all remain sheltered under His wings and overwhelmed by His love,
      (Author Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church)
      Tuesday's horrific mass murder of innocent Americans leaves all rational people shocked, angry, grief-stricken, and numb. Our tears flow freely and our hearts carry a deep ache. How could this happen in our nation?
      This week as mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, and co-workers begin to share their stories, this tragedy will be become even more personal. As this tragedy becomes more personal, it will become more painful. As our pain deepens, so will the questions. Why does God allow evil to happen? If God is so great, and so good, why does he allow human beings to hurt each other?
      The answer lies in both our greatest blessing and our worst curse: our capacity to make choices. God has given us a free will. Made in God's image, he has given us the freedom to decide how we will act and the ability to make moral choices. This is one asset that sets us apart from animals, but it also is the source of so much pain in our world. People, and that includes all of us, often make selfish, self-centered, and evil choices. Whenever that happens, people get hurt. Sin is ultimately selfishness. I want to do what I want, not what God tells me to do. Unfortunately, sin always hurts others, not just ourselves.
      God could have eliminated all evil from our world by simply removing our ability to choose it. He could have made us puppets, or marionettes on strings that he pulls. By taking away our ability to choose it, evil would vanish. But God doesn't want us to be puppets. He wants to be loved and obeyed by creatures who voluntarily choose to do so. Love is not genuine if there is no other option.
      Yes, God could have kept the terrorists from completing their suicidal missions by removing their ability to choose their own will instead of his. But to be fair, God would also have to do that to all of us. You and I are not terrorists, but we do harm and hurt others with our own selfish decisions and actions.
      You may hear misguided minds say "This must have been God's will." Nonsense!! In a world of free choices, God's will is rarely done! Doing our own will is much more common. Don't blame God for this tragedy. Blame people who ignored what God has told us to do: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
      In heaven, God's will is done perfectly. That's why there is no sorrow, pain, or evil there. But this is earth, a fallen, imperfect place. We must choose to do God's will everyday. It isn't automatic. This is why Jesus told us to pray "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."
      The Bible tells us the root of evil: "This is the crisis we're in: God's light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness...because they were not really interested in pleasing God." (John 3:19 Message Translation) We're far more interested in pleasing ourselves.
      There are many other questions that race through our minds during dark days. But the answers will not come from pollsters, pundits, or politicians. We must look to God and his Word. We must humble ourselves and admit that each of us often choose to ignore what God wants us to do.
      No doubt this weekend houses of worship across America will be packed. In a crisis we cry out for a connection with our Creator. This is a deep-seated, universal urge. The first words uttered by millions on Tuesday were "Oh God!" We were made for a relationship with God but he waits for us to choose Him. He is ready to comfort, guide, and direct us through our grief. My prayer is that you will attend a house of worship this weekend and reconnect with God. But it's your choice.
      Copyright © 1998 - 2013 by Stephen J. Hall - 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 or would like to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at: sossteve2010@...
      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 89:1-2 The Message)
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