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Never Forget: words that are uttered on this day as we remember the events of 9/11.  It was one of those days, even for those of us not directly impacted, that is etched into our minds.  Each of us that are old enough to remember has a memory of that day. What happened that morning as many of us were going about our day, just like any day, only to find ourselves shocked by what had taken place with a permanent reminder etched into our minds.

For me, that memory takes me back to my college campus.  I had an early class that morning.  After the class wrapped up and I was walking across the campus I recall kind of an eerie calmness about the campus.  During a time when I was accustomed to seeing more people moving about the campus I saw very few.  I made my way to the Student Activity Center where my first memory is of a lounge area where hundreds of people where gathered around some large screen televisions.  While it was normal to see some people sitting, studying, watching TV, working on a laptop in that area…it was very odd to see hundreds in almost total unity focused on what was taking place on the TV screens.  It was in the moments that followed that I was swallowed up by the moment as I too realized what was transpiring at the World Trade Center buildings.  While my cell phone didn’t work and I was shocked by the events as they unfolded before my eyes, I cannot say I felt the emotion of the day as those who had loved ones in those Towers, be it people working there or first responders trying to save lives.   Yet, even for someone who was really just a distant observer to such an infamous event in our nation’s history, I felt a heaviness and still do for the loss of life that we remember to this day.

There are so many stories to be told, so many lives sacrificed that day and so many lives changed that day. In the weeks that followed, churches were packed with people looking for answers, trying to make sense of the incredible devastation and trying to come to grips with the realization that the United States is not invincible.  Of all the stories I’ve heard, the stories of extreme courage and bravery exhibited by the first responders on that day seem to stick out above the rest.  While thousands of people were rushing down stairs in fear of their lives, almost every account speaks of first responders running against the crowd up those same steps.  Each of them rushing towards the risk instead of away from it.  Many of which we honor today because they died that day in the collapse of the buildings.  Even beyond that, years later some of the men and women that were on site that day, covered in dust and debris, trying to save lives, are developing breathing related illnesses and cancers that are leading to their premature death.  

Their example on that day in particular and honestly every other day they rush to help people in dangerous situations is something that challenges me.  I think about what God has called us to do as “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  Every day thousands…millions…billions of people are in dire need of saving.  Their life is at risk, the fires of sin burn around them and at any moment the building of their life could collapse. Am I willing to be the first responder in their life that rushes in and brings to them lifesaving help?    

For many of the firefighters, police officers, paramedics that responded that day, they mustered a courage and bravery that pales in comparison to what we as Christians have access to.  I can’t help but think about Acts 1:8 where it references “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses”.  Countless times throughout the Bible God tells us to be courageous, not to fear…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. - Deuteronomy 31:6

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. – Ephesians 6:10

The list goes on and on. We have the ability as Christians to go courageously into the world with the strength of the Lord to be His witnesses. The incredible acts of courage on display on 9/11 are worth remembering.  The lives saved that day as a result of their sacrifice are worth honoring. Let us not forget that the courage they boldly lived out that day going into buildings on fire and on the verge of collapse is but a sliver of the power and courage God can provide each one of us willing to obey Him and be His witnesses.  Honor those who lost their lives that day, remember the lives that were lost…but NEVER FORGET to take inspiration in their courage knowing that you…through the power of the Holy Spirit…can do far greater things for Christ!

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with 1 Comments
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Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 
Ezekiel 37:4 (NIV)

Most of us are willing to confess that Ezekiel is one of the books of the Bible we know little about. We’ve heard the song about the wheel within a wheel, and maybe the Valley of the Dry Bones, but that’s about it. For a major prophet, Ezekiel doesn’t get a lot of press because the book is so hard to understand. 

What does the Bible tell us about the prophet Ezekiel?

  • He was likely about 30 when he began his ministry.
  • He was taken captive to Babylon in the second deportation of 597 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:14-16).
  • He was both a priest and a prophet (Ezekiel 1:3).
  • He was married, but would later lose his wife (Ezekiel 24:18).
  • He had a home in Babylon in Tel-Abib near the Kebar River, where we find him in the first chapter.
  • His name means “God will strengthen.” The Lord would use Ezekiel to strengthen the people during the siege of Jerusalem, the fall, and the aftermath.

Ezekiel was known for the radical things he did to get his point across:

  • He made a drawing of Jerusalem on a clay tablet and played army against it (Ezekiel 4:1-3)
  • He lay on his left side for 390 days (over a year) as a symbol of Israel’s sin, and then lay on his right side for 40 days for the years of Judah’s sin (Ezekiel 4:4-8).
  • He made bread baked with cow manure in the sight of the people as a symbol of the defiled and unclean food the people would eat in their exile (Ezekiel 4:9-17).
  • He shaved off all his hair, burning some while casting some to the wind to represent what God was going to do to the Israelites (Ezekiel 5:1-4).
  • He lost his wife, but God commanded him not to grieve for her because Israel refused to grieve for her sin (Ezekiel 24:15-19).
  • He packed all of his belongings, dug a hole through the wall, and, as the people watched, crawled through just like a man going into exile (Ezekiel 12:1-7).

As a result of Ezekiel’s bizarre behavior, some have tried to label him neurotic, epileptic, psychotic, or even schizophrenic.  The truth is that Ezekiel knew how close his countrymen were to God’s coming judgment so he did not have the luxury of procrastination.

One of the things to appreciate from this book are the mind-staggering events in the life of Ezekiel:

  • He starts in Jerusalem and then is taken off to Babylon with the captives.
  • He arrives in Babylon, settles, and makes a new but awkward life.
  • As a priest, he thought he knew the spiritual condition of his people, but the Lord would show Ezekiel through visions what was really happening inside the temple and in the hearts of Israel.
  • The Lord would give Ezekiel great oracles to prophesy against Tyre, Egypt, and other surrounding nations, enabling him to see them as God saw them.


Ezekiel started in a small part of a much larger world, believing that he understood things.  Suddenly he was thrust from his small world into the greatest nation on the planet at that moment of history, and he was forced to see the world differently. Ezekiel could have chosen to live out his life in a comfortable house on the side of the Kebar River and let Babylon and Israel suffer the consequences.  Instead, he answered God's call, and gave God's message to the people of Israel.  When we look at the life and ministry of the prophet Ezekiel, we find a rare man committed to God’s great life purpose.

How far would we go to follow the Lord?

  • If it cost us our reputation?
  • If it cost us our spouse?
  • If we were asked to eat horrible things?
  • If it required us to make a fool of ourselves?
  • If we were told to do ridiculous things—things so far out that people would wonder if there was something wrong with us?

As we look at our world today, we see an updated version of the same behavior as in Ezekiel's day.  Most of us are very concerned about the future of our country, and we, too, do not have the luxury of procrastination.  Who is the family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor God want us to tell about His Son Jesus?  Who does God want us to invite to church?  What holds us back?  Complacency, mediocrity, indifference, unconcern, fear?  Those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior have a responsibility to share the Good News with others...but, we have to choose to obey.

Posted by Dee Schneider with 1 Comments

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