“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
I will fear no evil for you are with me.” Psalm 23.
WHAT NEXT ?
Note: Last Wednesday
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
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.
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
side screams for revenge.
other pleads for patience
either side right?
more importantly, what is it that God would truly want us to do next?
those who are angry let me say, I share your anger. Every time I contemplate the cold blooded,
and brutal acts taken against our citizens on September
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.
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.
the angry, God says,
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
know everyone has heard the much quoted scripture from 2 Chronicles 7:14 this
. . 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.
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.
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.
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
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
put our faith and trust in God.
bless you all.
we all remain sheltered under His wings and overwhelmed by His
WHY DOES GOD
(Author Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback
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?
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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."
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
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.
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
© 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
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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