Twelve Years Later on 9/11


“In honor of all those who have come behind…. in honor of Christ who lived like that: Go into a hurting world and live your life as a First-Responder.”


I still can’t believe it happened. Even 12 years later, it doesn’t seem real to me.


I googled 9/11 images today and found hundreds of pictures ranging from patriotic and stirring to emotionally gripping and heartbreaking to chilling and disturbing.


I still remember exactly where I was when my boss at the time called me into his office to witness replays of the first plane hitting the first of the World Trade Center twin towers.


Almost 3,000 people lost their lives that day. And yet it could have been much more catastrophic. Thanks to the heroism of first-responders, many who sacrificed their own lives, there were far less fatalities than there could have been.


The best in us rose to the occasion for when the worst in us showed its ugly colors.


Yet around the world, many people still face on a daily basis what we faced on one day twelve years ago. Many will lose their lives today simply because of their beliefs, their ethnic origins, their gender, or out of pure evil. Many will see loved ones massacred in many horrific ways.


I’m praying for us as a human race today. I’m praying for our nation.


But I’m not praying for God to save us from extremist Islamic terrorists.

I’m not praying for God to deliver us from President Obama and the liberal agenda or the Tea Party and its right-wing policies.


I’m praying this prayer today: “Lord, save us from ourselves. Lord, save me from myself.”


imageI’ve seen in my worst moments what I could have been apart from grace, and it is not pretty. I can be petty and vindictive and selfish and lazy and hateful and rude. Left to myself, there’s no telling what I’m capable of.


We as a human race are our own worst enemy. We have a worldwide pandemic raging through our population, affecting every single person who has ever lived called sin. Because of the Fall, we are fallen and broken people living in a fallen and broken world. Thousands of years of history has proven that we can’t save ourselves from ourselves. We are in desperate need of a Savior.

We have one. That pandemic called sin didn’t actually affect every single one of us. Jesus, the God-man born of a virgin, lived and died a sinless life and an atoning and sacrificial death on our behalf. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves– He came to save us.

So I remember 9/11 again on this day, but I also remember that one day Jesus is coming back to set all things right again, to restore what the locusts and the terrorists and the politicians and the narrow-minded pharisees have stolen. He’s coming to bring true peace and true joy and true life.

So I pray on the 12th anniversary of 9/11, but not just on this day: “Jesus, come quickly.”

Living Sermons: Thoughts from Tonight’s Kairos Roots

Something Aaron Bryant said really hit home with me today in a way few things have lately.

He said that we as believers could be the only sermons some people will ever hear.

Many people who will never step foot inside a chuch building are watching you and me. They are listening as we talk about our faith and how much we love the worship services and sermons we participate in each week.

But what speaks loudest of all is how we live. How we respond to bad days and failure and criticism. How we react when people yell at us or berate us or make fun of us and our beliefs.

When they see us not chasing after the next new big fad or product, they notice. They might think something like, “This is a person just like me who’s not captive to making the same bad choices I always seem to make. There’s something different about her (or him).”

When you exhibit contentment in Christ, it’s hard to miss. When you can be at peace in the middle of the chaos of a hectic day, it’s hard to miss. When you forgive after being hurt, they see Jesus in the flesh, your flesh, as He really is, full of love and grace and mercy.

You are preaching something every single day. How you live either glorifies you or God. How you treat others around you will influence how they see the God you profess to serve.

It’s not about being perfect and always acting out of love and never slipping up and giving in to anger. It’s about being able to ‘fess up when you mess up. It’s about being able to say the words, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. What I said (or did) didn’t reflect what I believe. Will you forgive me?”

So preach love. Not the touchy-feely sentimental much that passes for love these days, but the “get your hands and feet dirty” kind of love. The unconditional agape love that only can come from God, not from us.

Preach grace. Preach forgiveness. Preach not rules and regulations, but a better way to live.

St. Francis said it best (or at least this quote is always attributed to him, so that’s close enough for me): “Preach the Gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words.”

If you live Jesus on a daily basis, when the time comes, you will have an open door to share Jesus to a willing audience.

My two cents on spiritual warfare

A group of guys and I have been watching a DVD series on spiritual warfare by Chip Ingram called The Invisible War (and yes, that was a shameless plug). It got me thinking about the mindset of so many American believers (including me) regarding the whole topic of spiritual warfare. Plainly put, either most of us don’t believe there is an war going on with an enemy that is constantly seeking our destruction. If we believe, we sure don’t live like it much of the time. Again, me included.

The war is real. The enemy is real. In this world, we are not tourists on vacation, or passengers on some kind of luxury cruise, but soldiers engaged in battle. Our ignorance of the battle and our enemy can only do us harm. We need to wake up to realize that we are under attack. But here’s the best part.

The battle is already won. Chip Ingram said, “As believers in Christ, we don’t fight FOR victory. We fight FROM victory.” That’s the good news (which is why it’s called the gospel!). But there is still a battle.

We fight back by putting on the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. We should pray these on every morning and pray these for each other on a daily basis. We should pray with eyes wide open to the spiritual realm, asking God to give us eyes to see the battle around us like the Elijah prayed for his servant when they were surrounded by the Syrian army. We should pray for discernment and wisdom. Most of all, we should pray at all times to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled, taking every thought captive and submitting them to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We must fight together. If you are fighting the enemy on your own, apart from other believers, you may succeed for a season, but you will ultimately grow weary and faint. You will stumble and fall. You need other believers praying God’s protection over you, encouraging you and keeping you honest.

We fight ultimately with one weapon– LOVE. Not as a feeling, but as a decisive act of the will. We fight by showing that Calvary’s love is stronger than hate and that love overcomes anything. Chip Ingram said, “Love is giving to another person what they need the most when they deserve it least.” Love is doing whatever you can, even to your own detriment, for the good of the beloved. It means dying to yourself and your rights and own ideas about how the world should work.

So live with eyes wide open, hands raised, side by side with your brothers and sisters in Christ. And remember that the battle is already won and that we have overcome!

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.