Where Was God?

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“Where was God?” the atheist demanded. “Where was God?” the frightened widow cried. “Where was God?” the shocked nation asked. Even Christians looked to heaven and said,  “God, where are You?” It was the most tragic and horrific day in American history and twenty years later it still makes us weep. I imagine the same question was going through the minds of the Jews when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem. The event even sounds very similar:  “[The Babylonians] set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.” (2 Chronicles 36:19).

A memorial sits at the very spot in New York City where the buildings fell. People come every year to remember and pay their respects to the thousands who lost their lives that day.  Every year religious Jews come to Jerusalem to pray and fast in remembrance of the destruction of their Temple, first by the Babylonians in 587/586 BCE, and again in 70 CE at the hands of the Roman legions led by Titus.

Where was God when the Twin Towers fell? The same place He was when Jerusalem fell. In His heaven, ruling over human history. How can that be? I wish I could give you a simple answer, but this is the age-old “problem of evil” that men have pondered for thousands of years. It has been used to deny the existence of God and His goodness and sovereignty and quite honestly, I cannot answer it. But I can tell you that evil may have claimed a few battles throughout human history, but it has already lost the war.

Oh, satan thought he was victorious when Jesus drew His last breath and cried out, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). But he was trembling when the ground rumbled as the stone rolled away. He was dumbfounded when the angel told the women, “He is not here; He has risen!” (Matthew 28:6). He was horrified as Mary Magdalene ran back to the disciples with the amazing news, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18).

So today I will remember the lives lost twenty years ago and pray for the still grieving. But I will not fear evil. I will keep my eyes on heaven and celebrate the risen Lord who dealt evil a fatal blow. No, the war is not yet over, but Satan has already lost. God has already won. God always wins.

Is He Lord?

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I had a t-shirt that got me into trouble in middle school. It wasn’t racy or low-cut or provocative – it was what it said. No, it didn’t have profanity on it or racist comments.  It said, “As long as there are pop tests, there will be prayer in school.” By my middle-high school years, faculty-led prayer had been banned from schools for ten years. Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools. Fifty-nine years later we are reaping the consequences of that decision. Deadly, horrific consequences.

After the 9/11 tragedy, Anne Graham Lotz commented, “for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace. And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life. Removing his hand of blessing and protection.” What fools we have been.

But we were not the first to tell God to leave us alone. The Old Testament Prophet Amos tried in obedience to deliver the word of the Lord to the people but they told him, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the house of Isaac” (Amos 7:16). In other words, “Shut up and leave us alone.” And so God did. He told them, “The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (8:11). They had said, “We don’t want to hear from you, God,” and He gave them what they wanted – silence from heaven. For four hundred years. Years of great oppression and persecution and struggle.

You and I can’t plead for God’s help in a crisis and then reject His holy and righteous ways when they rub against our “freedoms.” And I’m not just talking on a big, national scale – I’m talking about our every day lives. The missionary Hudson Taylor said, “Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.” You and I have to be all-in. What say you, Beloved? Is He Lord or is He not?

God in a Lamp

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“‘Who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 30:21)

“When I need you, I’ll call you.” That’s what I wrote as the reason I wanted to unsubscribe from email advertisements from a company I’ve done business with. I didn’t need them to barrage me with their weekly deals and specials. When I want a pizza, I’ll order it from you. Otherwise – just leave me alone. Sounds like the way a lot of people treat God doesn’t it? “When I need you, I’ll call you, otherwise, stay out of my business.”

September 16, 2001 was one of the highest attended Sundays in churches across the nation. It was the Sunday after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the world was turning to God in our shared grief and shock. We needed Him. We were hurting, confused, broken. But the Sundays following the 16th saw a steady drop off in attendance each week. The immediate moment of crisis was over and we didn’t need God anymore. That is until the next crisis. And here we come again. I’m not criticizing, truth is, I’ve treated God like a pizza chain many times in my life. I need to place an order God

Yes, God wants you and me to come to Him in our time of need. But if we only come to Him in times of need, we have no relationship with Him. And God wants a love relationship with us. He wants us to know Him as more than a magic genie we can pop up when we have a problem. He wants you to know Him as a loving Father who cares about every aspect of your life, even when all is calm (does that ever happen?). He wants to help you grow. He wants to build you up. He wants to use you in His Kingdom work. He wants to give you good blessings. And the greatest blessing He offers is nothing less than Himself.

God loves you. He wants to show you “great and unsearchable things” about Himself, about truth, and about you. You don’t just need God in a crisis Beloved, you need Him every moment of every day. He is what life is all about. Don’t miss out on the greatest love you’ll ever know.