Tuesday, September 17, 2013

O Glorious Love!

This past Sunday, the pianist played an offertory which sounded very familiar, but I could not remember what it was at first. Then the words started coming back to me, and for a time, I almost lost it emotionally. That is because it was a song that my late wife Sue really loved, and I had an excellent soloist sing it at her memorial service back in 2001.
Before the service, the pastor found out I was having it sung, and he asked me not to have it right before the message, because he knew he would lose it if I did. Obviously, the song meant a great deal to him, as well.
Oh, Glorious Love
In my darkness Jesus found me;
Touched my eyes and made me see;
Broke sin’s chains that long had bound me;
Gave me life and liberty!

Oh, glorious love of Christ my Lord divine,
 That made Him stoop to save a soul like mine.
Through all my days, and then in heaven above,
My song will silence never,
I'll worship Him forever,
And praise Him for His glorious love.

Oh, amazing truth to ponder;
He whom angel hosts attend,
Lord of Heaven, God’s Son, what wonder;
He became the sinner’s friend!
Words and Music by John W. Peterson, Copyright © 1970 
You can hear John W. Peterson's grandson, Scott Strader, sing this song by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11: Twelve Years Later

Today we as Americans enjoy a tremendous measure of freedom because of the price that has been paid by so many in the past. All through the history of our country, those who love freedom have been called on to defend it, often having to pay the supreme price.
Twelve years ago, we had the largest enemy attack on the US since Pearl Harbor. Actually, the death toll was even larger than Pearl Harbor. Following are the events of September 11, 2001, which has simply come to be known as 9/11:
  • Four commercial airliners were hijacked. These planes, fully loaded with fuel, basically became incendiary guided missiles. The hijackers reportedly took control of these aircraft by using box-cutter knives to kill flight attendants and at least one pilot or passenger.
  • American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) at 8:46 a.m.
  • United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m., an event covered live by television broadcasters from around the world who had their cameras trained on the buildings after the earlier crash. Both towers collapsed within two hours.
  • American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:38 a.m.
  • United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field in southwest Pennsylvania just outside of Shanksville, about 150 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., at 10:03 a.m. Black box recordings revealed that, after discovering on their phones that planes had been deliberately crashed into buildings, crew and passengers seized control of the plane from the hijackers. One of the passengers, Todd Beamer, had asked for the operator to pray with him before the passengers attempted to retake the aircraft. After praying, he simply said, "Let's roll." These brave passengers gave their lives so that others might live.
No one on board any of the hijacked aircraft survived. There were 2,973 people killed, including 246 on the four planes, 2,602 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. Among the fatalities were 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters, 23 New York City Police Department officers, and 37 Port Authority Police officers. Numerous other victims were officially listed as missing, and over 6,000 were injured.
President George W. Bush addressed the nation and one of his key comments was "Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature."
Why do things like this happen? What can we learn from them? We can learn many things, but following are just three.
1.   Evil is real.
Genesis 6:3-8  And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (NKJV).
Those who did the dastardly deed of 9/11 were evil. That’s all that can be said. Satan is behind evil. We have to get past thinking that we are exempt from evil, pain, and suffering just because we are Americans. Evil is very real.
2.   Death is real.
Luke 13:1-5  There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (NKJV).
Did the people who died on 9/11 deserve to die any more than the rest of us? No. But the reality of their deaths can help us remember that we all must face death sometime, and we don’t know when.
3.   The price of freedom is very high. Many have died for our freedom.
  • Revolutionary War (25,324)
  • Civil War (625,000)
  • World War I (116,708)
  • World War II (407,316)
  • Korean War (36,516)
  • Vietnam War (58,655)
  • Gulf War (293)
  • War on Terror (9,700 – Counting those killed on 9/11 and those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.)
This is not even a complete listing of all of our wars, but all of these died so we can enjoy our freedom in this country. However, we have a far worse problem than not having political freedom. Human beings are enslaved to sin and are hopelessly lost and unable to do anything about the problem. Jesus Christ paid a tremendous price so we can be free from sin and death and enjoy eternal life.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV).
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:14-17, NKJV).
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NKJV).