September 11, Fifteen Years Later

Fifteen years doesn’t seem like a long span of time but I guess that depends on how old you are. For those of us that can remember September 11, 2001, it was a day we won’t forget. It’s one of those days that you can remember where you were and what you were doing.

I was at work waiting for my Regional Manager, Matthew Gullo, to arrive for a weeklong visit. He had flown out of Newark, NJ that morning headed to Atlanta and then to Birmingham. When I finally heard from him, he was on the ground in Atlanta and standing in front of the television sets in the concourse asking me what was going on. I filled him in the best I could. Needless to say, being a New York native and living in the area, he was beyond concerned. All flights were grounded, and he couldn’t rent a car; none were available. So I headed to Atlanta to pick him up.

Turning into the airport in Atlanta is definitely something I won’t forget. Military vehicles and armed soldiers were everywhere. I was stopped and asked why I was there and allowed to enter to pick Matthew up. The drive back to Birmingham was filled with questions that couldn’t be answered and phone calls, when they would go through, to family in New York trying to find out if he had family or friends in the towers.

He would stay the day, then the next day rent a car to make the long drive home. Yes, he knew people in the towers. Business didn’t seem that important. Our country had been attacked and his family needed and wanted him back home.

You may have experienced something like this yourself or maybe were more directly affected. It got our attention. Remember how full church was on the next Sunday?

Churches were packed. In the wake of an attack on our home soil it seemed only logical to turn to God. Patriotism hit an all-time high. Flags were flying and Bibles were dusted off. We came together as a nation and vowed to avenge those who died in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA.

Fast forward fifteen years and how does the country resemble itself compared to September 12, 2001? While there is still a strong sense of patriotism, especially for those who would serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, our country is clearly not united. It is said that “Time heals all wounds,” well I’m not sure about that but time does allow us to forget and become indifferent.

How do the churches look fifteen years later? Sadly, the change may be even more drastic here. There is an obvious and intentional hatred, in this country, toward those who seek to be followers of Christ. Maybe we haven’t experienced anything that we can call “persecution” but we are called bigots, racists, haters and all kinds of other names if we seek to proclaim what God expects of his people and of this nation.

Biblical prophecy indicates that the United States will not play a role in the end times. Should we be happy that we seem to be fulfilling that prophecy? Or can we seek to be the last country to fall before the prophecy is fulfilled instead of the first?

There is a passage in Acts 2 that has really stuck with me over the last couple of weeks:

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37 (NIV).

What shall WE do?

After the Holy Spirit had come to them at Pentecost, Peter addressed a large crowd. He boldly spoke, quoting from the prophet Joel and from the Psalm of David, and proclaimed the Risen Christ.

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The people were convicted and asked what they needed to do. They didn’t wait to be invited, they were so convicted by the Holy Spirit they couldn’t wait.

Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted this message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2: 38-41 (NIV).

The same Holy Spirit that convicted the people in Acts is still here with us today.  He is still calling us to repent. But are we listening? If Peter were here today, what would he think of this nation? What would he think of our churches? What would he think of you and me?

Comfort can be a good thing but it can also be deadly, spiritually deadly. While our country has experienced some smaller attacks, thankfully we haven’t experienced another September 11, 2001. But we have become comfortable, too comfortable. Because Satan attacks us and this nation every day. In ways that can cause greater damage than those planes ever could.

We have the history of the nation of Israel to see what happens when we turn and fall away from God. It’s never a pretty picture. But thankfully when they turned back, He was ready to restore them. He is ready to restore us today. If only we would turn back and be the people and the nation he calls us to be. So that when the United States is no longer an important part of history, we know that we fought to the very end seeking God and His will instead of rolling over and being one of the fist nations to surrender.

It’s up to us, to you and me. Will we repent and seek God? As followers of Christ, it is our only option.

Listen to the Holy Spirit, save yourself from this corrupt generation and run to the Cross!
Hugh

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