September 11, 2011
On the 10th anniversary of one of our nation’s darkest days, we can celebrate together a light that shines brighter than any other. It is the light of a future found in Jesus Christ.
In this message, Pastor Ed Young delivers a message of hope that, no matter how vicious the shark attack, God wants us to have victory in life. And when we learn to ask the right questions, we will begin to move forward rather than remaining frozen in fear!
Welcome once again to Fellowship. Please be seated. Fellowship is not only something that we are it’s something that we do. I want to ask you a very important question right now. Where were you on 9/11? Where were you on 9/11? I will tell you where I was. I was here at the church and my wife called and said, “Turn the television set on.” I watched with several staff members in horror as this attack took place, as the towers came crumbling down. It’s a day I will never forget, a day our nation will never, ever forget.
I’m not an alarmist. I’m not a blind optimist. I am, however, a Biblical realist. I’ve got to ask you, where were you on 9/11, but let me ask you a more important question. Where are you on THIS 9/11? Where are you? Ten years ago we had an impromptu worship service. Thousands and thousands of people poured into Fellowship. We knelt, we prayed, and I watched several groups emerge out of the rubble of 9/11.
Some who were paralyzed by fear were galvanized by grace. Some hit their knees, surrendered their lives to Christ. They’ve been walking with him ever since.
Another group were those people who rushed to church, and as quickly as they rushed TO church, they rushed OUT of church once the dust settled. Foxhole faith. Just enough of Jesus to be dangerous. I watched that group.
Then I watched another group. Those who attended here, those who asked the question. Why? When? Where? How? Why did God allow this to happen? Where was God when the towers were struck? How could a good God do such a thing? Caught in the web of why. Trapped in the quagmire of questions. They turned and walked out on God and on faith. But in reality that’s impossible because we all live by faith.
Three groups. Three responses. Some walked on their knees and they walked ever since. Others didn’t.
T.S. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that America 10 years later is in severe trouble. America is sick. As horrible as the terrorists were and are, I would argue that there is a personal sinister force that is attacking us, not without, but within. This force is taking one bite at a time from our standards, out of our values, our relationships, and our nation.
You might be going, “Ed, come on. You’re telling me you believe in the devil? Are you telling me that you believe in a dark, sinister, evil force that is wreaking havoc on our world today? You seem like an educated guy.”
I am. I went to college and did four years of master’s work, done some doctoral work, I’m an educated guy. And yes, I believe that the greater terrorist, the greater predator, is attacking us from within. Jesus called him out in John 10:10. He said, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” Then he said, “I’ve come that you might have life and have it to the fullest.” Where are you this 9/11? What’s your posture?
A decade ago 9/11 knocked us to our knees. What would have happened, though, if our country had remained in that posture? We were just in that posture for a little while. Congressmen, joining hands on the capitol steps, singing “God Bless America.” They should have said, we should say, “It’s time for us to bless God!” And just because you take a Bible and wrap it up in the flag and say ‘God bless America’ doesn’t mean everything’s gonna be A-OK.
What would have happened as we got knocked to our knees if we would have stayed there? Where are you this 9/11? Are you walking on your knees? When we hit our knees we’re simply saying, “God, you’re God. I’m not. Lord, you’re the King of the crisis and the King of my life as well.”
I don’t know about you but what I do when a crisis situation hits, when the towers fall in my life, I will say, “God, tweak this person. Change this event. Don’t change me, but change everybody else.” When we’re on our knees we’re saying, “God, you’re sovereign. I’m not. God, not only are you the King of the crisis, you be the King of my life. I bow before you.” To go up we’ve got to get under the authority of God. This is how life works. This is how relationships work. This is how marriage works. This is how our careers work. Walking on our knees. It’s not a posture of passivity, it’s a posture of power and strength. What’s your posture?
The book of Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man that only leads to death.” There is an avenue that seems sexy, it seems cool, it seems hip, it seems like the way to go, but it only leads to death. We have all these people in Washington who have more degrees than a thermometer but they can’t tell the temperature of our nation. And the reason is, they’re not seeking the face of God. “There is a way that seems right to man that only leads to destruction.”
What’s right is wrong. What’s wrong is right. We honor dishonor and dishonor honor. We value devalue and devalue values.
We take the lives of developing babies and we call it “choice.”
We pluck prayer out of public schools. The predator has done that. We call it being fair. Pluralistic.
We champion homosexual marriage and call it tolerance.
We dignify euthanasia and call it compassion.
We have this whole antiauthority vibe. Our parents are idiots. Anybody in authority is an idiot. And we call it, “hey man, it’s my right!”
We legalize laziness and call it welfare.
Now don’t walk out of here and go, “Ed doesn’t believe in welfare.” Oh, no, no, no. If you can’t help yourself, yeah, I understand that. The church should step up and the government can help. Most people, though, can help themselves.
Our nation is drowning in a sea of debt. Trillions upon trillions of dollars these cats are spending, and they call it being fiscally responsible? What are they smoking?
America, America, we’ve got to get back to our knees. We’ve got to become one nation under God once again. And it’s time for those of us who are followers of Christ to stand up! Not in a mean-spirited way, not to take the Bible and force it down someone’s throat, but it’s time for us to stand up and say, “OK. Here is what God’s word says. And I stand on the word of God. Let the chips fall where they may.”
You’re going to have people slurping Hatorade; you’re going to have people that don’t dig it. That’s O-K! it’s time for us to stand.
We can’t really stand, though, until we do what? Until we walk on our knees. A spirit of humility. God, you’re God. I’m not. God, you’re sovereign. I’m not. God, run my marriage. God run my friendships. God run my business. God run my academic career. God, you’re God. I’m not. Because we’ve all tried to do it our way, and when we’ve done it our way, let’s be honest. It doesn’t really work. There is a way that seems right to a man but only leads to death and destruction.
Illus: A couple of weeks ago I swam with some sharks. I mean real, live sharks, sharks that will eat you up. If you were here last week you saw that one shark tried to attack me, actually tried to bite my foot. I had the opportunity to hit the water with a gentleman who has done 22 Shark Weeks for the Discovery Channel in a row. You know what he told me? He said, “Ed, when you hit the ocean floor, stay on your knees. Don’t move your arms around, stay on your knees. Even though the currents carry you here and there, stay on your knees. It’s a position of power. You’re establishing yourself. Stay on your knees.”
We’re being attacked. Yes, I know terrorists will do that, I understand that as we look at the stage of our world. But I’m saying we’re under an attack in a more vicious way from the ultimate predator. What is your posture? Where are you this 9/11?
God told Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Only when we fall on our knees will God meet our needs. We’re so worried, though, about e-mail we’ve forgotten about knee-mail. We’re so worried about some text that we don’t live under the text. We’re so freaked out about Facebook that we forgot to seek the face and the status of who we are before a holy God! I’ve gotta ask you. Where are you this 9/11? Walking on your knees? Maybe one foot in church, the other foot out of church. Have you turned your back on the Lord and shook your puny fist in his face?
The Bible is so authentic. God is so real. He tells us that everybody is gonna bow one day. Did you realize that?
Some are going, “Man, I’m not going to bow before Jesus. I don’t even believe in him. I’m not going to bow before the Messiah. I’m just not that kind of person. I do my own thing. I got my own agenda.”
Oh no, no, no. I mean, that’s cool, you can say that, but you’re wrong. You will bow before the Lord one day. And here’s the option. We either bow now or bow later.
I’ve been praying like so many have that scores of you at all of our environments would bow now. You’re hardwired to bow now. You’re made to bow now. You’re made to say, “God, not my will but your will. God, I’m not gonna live my life and you sync up to me. No, Lord. I want to sync up to you. God it’s time for me to admit the obvious and turn from my wicked ways and turn to you. I believe that you shed your blood on the cross for my freedom.”
And so many of us live in the land of the free and the home of the brave that we don’t remember the blood that’s been shed for us all over this planet to secure our freedom. Freedom isn’t free! It’s not free in America and it’s definitely not free in our connectivity with the Lord Jesus himself. It’s not free! It’s not free.
Have you bowed before Christ? You either bow now or bow later.
“Well, Ed, talk to me about bowing later. You did not complete that thought.”
Well, the Bible says in Philippians 2:10-11, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Let me talk to you about Hell. You either say, “Hell, no,” or “Hell, yes.” We have that option, theologically speaking. We say “Hell, no,” and we hit the knees.
One of the reasons I became a Christian is I don’t want to go to Hell. That’d be a great place to clap. I just don’t want to go to Hell. People always say, “I accepted Jesus, you know, because he forgives me of my sins. He gives me a purpose, and power, and strength.” I believe all that but one of the reasons is I don’t wanna go to Hell.
Some of you are on your way to Hell.
“Whoa, Ed. Wait, wait, wait, wait. That’s heavy. God hurls people to Hell? God slam-dunks people to Hell?”
No, no, no. We make that choice. It’s your choice. We serve a loving God. God doesn’t hurl or slam-dunk anybody to Hell. The Bible says, though, if we don’t bow the knee on earth when we have a chance and a choice and an option, the last moment etched into the screens of our consciousness before we are banished to Hell is going to be when we bow the knee to Jesus and confess him as Lord.
Once we clock outta here we’re not going to have another chance, another option. You can’t wheel and deal and strike some sort of compromise. No, no, no, no, no. But the last scene that you’ll have etched in your mind is when you bowed before Jesus. You bow now or bow later. You say, “Hell, yes.” You’ll say Hell-yes. You determine your destiny.
So right now you can make this choice to give your life to Christ. You can say, “Hell, no! I bow the knee. I give it all to your, Lord. You’re God, I’m not. I fall on my knees before you and say, ‘Lord, have your way in my life.’” Have you made that decision? Have you made that choice? I can’t make it for you. It’s your deal. I can show you how to do it but I can’t make it for you.
One of the things this text says in Philippians 2 says that at the name of Jesus we have to confess. One of the struggles of many people who go by the label of Christ-followers is they’re silent.
“Oh, I’m just a silent witness.” Come back?? If you’re walking on your knees, then you’re speaking it as well. You’re speaking it in love. You’re telling others what happened to you. That’s a witness.
We’ve seen hours and hours of video concerning 9/11. The people who survived are telling their story, what happened to them. That’s what we’re called to do. You have a story that’s unique. So do I. It’s our story for His Glory. When you’re under attack, walk on your knees. God allows it (he doesn’t cause it), God allows it to reveal himself to you and to me.
Where are you on 9/11? What are you putting your confidence in? What are you putting your faith in? What are you putting your security in?
T.S. Years ago when I first began in the ministry I started out doing a lot of speaking to students in our church. I loved junior high and high school students. I went to a lot of camps and did all that. There was on guy from an Egyptian background that I really connected with. This young guy was extremely intelligent, he loved to fish and of course, you know, I like to fish.
During 9/11, a decade ago, this guy who is now a young man, was there. I want you to listen to his words as he talks about what happened.
September 11, 2001 I was in the operating room at Belleview Hospital. I had just finished being the chief resident in jaw surgery, and now I was a junior resident in plastic surgery. I was on the hand service at the time and I was doing a rather simple procedure when one of the interns walked in the room and told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I frankly didn’t believe him. I thought it was just a joke. I thought it was just something that someone was saying. I couldn’t imagine that’s something that would happen.
I was told by the head of the operating room to finish the procedure as quickly and as safely as I could as we did not know what was gonna come in the door next. I finished that procedure and then I went down to the emergency room where everyone else was. While there the second plane hit.
Everyone knew that I rode a motorcycle, it was my younger crazier days, I rode a motorcycle every day. And the Chairman of Surgery said,
“Sean, you can get down there. No one else can right now and they need surgeons.” So I didn’t ask any questions. I hopped on my motorcycle and I was able to weave through the barricades, brandishing my hospital ID. It was chaos. It was, uh… a lot of people running around frightened. There were people running up and down the streets.
The first tower had fallen but the second tower had not. The air was filled with a dense dust particle that, it literally made you feel like ants were crawling on your skin. The chaos was trying to figure out who to treat, how to treat them. We had limited staff, limited supplies, limited everything. Limited rooms. We did procedures on patients who had collapsed lungs, patients who had such bad burns in their mouth that they couldn’t breathe and we put tracheostomies in. We had patients who had crushes of their faces and we had to release the pressure so they wouldn’t lose their eyes.
It was probably for about an hour and a half, man, it felt like a day, but for that hour and a half I was as busy as I’ve ever been in my life. There were several procedures, emergency procedures, that I was able to perform and save some people’s lives, and that was obviously a very gratifying situation. Watching people that were teetering between life and death and helping them to make it through to life. It was an important thing to be able to do. But then it all stopped.
We quickly realized that the people we were seeing were just the perimeter, the edges of the catastrophe. It was an eerie silence. People say that silence is deafening. Silence is truly deafening when you know that there are thousands of people that are dead underneath a pile of rubble.
After a day or so I went back up to Belleview Hospital where I was working and that’s when we saw the people waiting outside the hospital. They, they all had hope that their loved one was there, and that for some reason we weren’t telling anyone that we had survivors in the hospital. It just wasn’t true. People would sit outside the hospital with photos of their loved ones and just hold them. Blank stares. Not say a word. Just hold their pictures. Anyone with a, with any medical attire on they would just show the pictures to. They wanted to, they wanted to believe that their husbands, that their daughters, that their sons, that their children were alive. They weren’t. They all died.
It makes you reevaluate what we consider as safe. Safe is not a real word. Safe means absence of risk. It means there’s not risk. I put my security in a lot of things that aren’t safe. If you’re gonna trust in something I think September 11th taught me more than anything else to trust in something that is safe. And that’s the love of Jesus Christ. Everything else is not guaranteed. That’s something that is guaranteed.
Where were you 10 years ago? Where are you this 9/11? Have you placed your trust, your faith, in the only thing that’s safe and secure? The person of Christ. It’s time to walk on our knees.
Would you bow you’re your heads with me for a moment? No one moving or stirring in the balcony, the floor, no one moving or stirring in Miami, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Plano. I believe it’s time for many people here to bow and say, “Jesus Christ, I give my life to you.”
Well, Ed, how do I do that? You do that by simply saying this prayer. I will lead you in a prayer right now that I prayed when I made this decision. Love is based on a choice. We have a choice. It’s either Heaven or Hell. It’s either a dynamic agenda or destruction. It’s our choice. But maybe, just maybe, you’ve been on a way that seems right yet God is telling you, he’s speaking to you, and he’s saying, “Bow to me. Bow to me!” You can do that right now by simply saying this….
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]