Reflections on 9/11 from the Book of Amos

In my morning quiet time, I’ve been reading through “The Daily Walk Bible” this year, which offers a daily devotional along with a guide to read through the Bible in one year.

My copy was published in 1997, well before the tragic and terrible events that unfolded on September 11, 2001.  So I was struck when I reached the September 11th reading titled “Visions of Horror and Hope” paired with a reading in chapters eight and nine in the Book of Amos.

Amos was a man of the soil who worked his sycamore and fig groves in a small town south of Bethlehem. His prophecy announces coming  judgment on the northern kingdom of Israel, which had strayed far from God.

The Daily Walk devotional describes disaster that would come suddenly, “like a flood, leaving the people in hopeless despair.”

Sept 11th from the air

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911 Remembrance: only known survivor from Trade Center impact zone pays tribute to God’s grace

His song of protection – Psalm 91:1

Stanley Praimnath

The 911 Commission credits Stanley Praimnath as the only known survivor from the impact zone at the World Trade Center towers on September 11.

“The Lord saw fit for me to live,” says Praimnath, who works in the banking industry in New York.  His riveting tale of survival is chronicled in “Plucked from the Fire” (Rosedog Books), coauthored with William Hennessey.

Praimnath, born in Guyana, came to America with little money in his pockets in 1981. When he arrived, Praimnath landed a job in the garment industry in Jersey City,New Jersey, where he earned $125 a week.  Then he got a job as a file clerk for a bank in downtown Manhattan.

Growing up in Guyana, his mother insisted he attend church, but he rebelled and drifted away during high school. “I woke up one day in America and decided I wanted to be a good guy, whatever ‘good’ means,” he recalls.  Then a friend called and invited him to church.  “The more I went, the more I liked what I saw,” Praimnath says.  He was born-again in 1983.

A few years later he married a pastor’s daughter and started a new career with Fuji Bank.  On the side, he helped his father-in-law plant a church in a rough neighborhood of Queens, New York.

Within five years Praimnath advanced to Asst. Vice-President, running all of Fuji Bank’s operations on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center, Tower 2.  That floor was immense—approximately one acre square, and almost completely soundproof from the outside.

Praimnath thought he was on top of the world – even planes flew at the same level.  When he looked down, everything looked small.  Praimnath says most of the people he worked with at Fuji Bank were Buddhists or Shinto; there were only a handful of Christians.

When most people went to lunch, Praimnath sat at his desk with a salad or soup, reading his Bible.  He tried to share about Christ when he had opportunities, but most didn’t want to hear.

Critical events transpire

On the morning of Sept. 11, he was riding up the elevator to his office at 8:45 a.m. when Tower One was hit by the first plane.  Riding in the elevator, Praimnath didn’t see or hear a thing.

As soon as he laid his briefcase down he began to receive a barrage of phone calls, first from his mother, then his wife and brothers.  “Stan, are you OK?” they asked.  He said, “Yes, yes, I’m fine,” but none of them told him what happened.  He wondered why his family was checking up on him.

When he hung up he glanced out his window for the first time.  He was stunned to see huge chunks of fiery debris—“fireballs”—falling from Tower One.  The other half of Fuji Bank’s operations were in that tower, so he called there to try to reach his boss.  There was no answer.

Praimnath decided it was time to get out, so he jumped in an elevator and headed down to the lobby.  He was about to go through the turnstile exit when a security guard stopped him.  “Where are you going?” the man asked.

“I’m going home,”Stanley said.

The security guard said: “No, the building is safe and secure, go back to your office.”  Soon an intercom was piping in the same message: “Your attention please, ladies and gentlemen, Building 2 is secure.  There is no need to evacuate Building 2.”

Praimnath got into the express elevator and in less than a minute was back up to the 81st floor.  Several of his co-workers rode in the same elevator.  They were laughing and exchanging pleasantries.  When he got off that elevator, it was the last time he would see them again.

He walked into his office and the phone rang immediately.  It was a woman from Chicago.  “Stan, Stan, get out, get out of the building.”  He assured the woman he was fine.  “But you’re not logged on to the computer,” she said. Stanley still didn’t know a plane hit the first building.

At eye-level with United flight 175 

As he assured the woman he was safe, he stood up near his desk, while he held the phone in his hand, and just happened to look toward the Statue of Liberty.  Suddenly he saw a huge plane, gray in color, that flew straight at him.  “It was coming at me at eye-level contact,” he notes.  Praimnath could make out the letter ‘U’ on the tail.  It was United flight 175.

“As the plane was getting nearer I could hear a revving sound the engine was making, like the sound a plane makes when it’s about to take off,” Praimnath says.  “Quadruple that sound, and that’s the sound I could hear, even in this soundproof building.  I can still hear that sound in my head,” he says.  “That sound will never go away.”

“I’m standing up looking at this plane getting bigger and nearer,” Praimnath says.  “You don’t know how fast your mind is reacting.”

In desperation he cried out to God:  “Lord, I can’t do this—you take over,” and he dove under his desk.  Praimnath’s Bible still sat on top of the desk.  The plane slammed into the building with immense force. The bottom of the wing sliced through his office and stuck in his office door 20 feet away from where he huddled.

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The new song in heaven: going beyond the 12-tone scale

Composers lament the same frustration as they attempt to avoid repetition in their music. After 2,000 years, the limits of the 12-tone

Anne Ortlund

scale leave musicologists with a hunger for something more.

“They have come to a dead end,” observes Anne Ortlund, the popular Christian author and speaker. For 15 years, Anne was the organist for Dr. Charles Fuller’s radio broadcasts. Her hymn “Macedonia” was chosen as the theme hymn at the World Congress on Evangelism inBerlin.

She believes the worship that Christians will experience in heaven will go beyond our imaginations – and outside the limits of our current musical scale.

In the ancient world, only five notes were used. “The earliest people groups all sang the same five-point scale. The slaves who came toAmericastill sang five-note songs that came from their past,” Ortlund says. “The old Celtic songs and even some Chinese music still has five notes.” Because all these ancient cultures used the same five notes, she believes the five-note scale must have precededBabel, going back perhaps to the Garden of Eden.

Then, something amazing happened in the first century A.D. “When Christ came and the church was born, they stepped up to a 12-tone scale that no ears had ever heard before,” she notes. “It was so exciting for them.”

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Cause for praise — three family members come to Christ in a few short days

I want to offer praise for what has transpired in our family over the last few days. On Saturday we ended our vacation in Wisconsin with Sally’s family. On our last morning

The dock near the cabin at Chippewa Flowage

at her Uncle’s cabin on the banks of the Chippewa Flowage, Sally’s Aunt Betty Lu, 88, prayed to receive Christ with Sally and me. It was a beautiful, still, morning at the lake and Sally and I had just gone kayaking. The lake was like glass. When we came in, Aunt Betty Lu came down to the dock, walking very slowly with her cane.

She had just read the book, “Heaven is for real,” and was excited about it. She had also become involved in church for the first time in her life, since her husband’s death a couple years ago. We got into a wonderful conversation with her and asked if she had an assurance about heaven. She said she was “working on it.” Sally and I both shared our testimonies and explained the Gospel. Then we asked if she wanted to be sure about heaven and say a prayer with us to receive Jesus. She said yes. It was a beautiful moment the Lord orchestrated.

Then we drove four hours to Appleton to stay with Sally’s other aunt, Cosette, who is 90, before we flew out the next morning. I”ve been praying for Aunt Cos’s salvation for many years. After dinner at her house, we got into a discussion about spiritual matters, and we all acknowledged this visit might be our last together. I told her that with Jesus, we could see each other some day in heaven. Again we shared our testimonies and dealt with a few issues she had before she prayed to receive Christ with us as well. Hallelujah, Lord!

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Former NFL football player found the Father’s blessing

After he tore all three ligaments in his knee, he thought his dream of future glory on the gridiron was over. Then God met him in a surprising way that changed the course of his life.

Ed Tandy McGlasson

 

From the start — before he drew his first breath – tragedy struck. “I never had a single moment with my father,” says Ed Tandy McGlasson, the former NFL offensive lineman who played for the Rams, Jets, and Giants. He is the founding pastor of the Stadium Vineyard inAnaheim,California.

Ed’s mother was eight months pregnant with him when a terrible accident brought heartbreak. “My father was a test pilot,” he says. “He was killed at 400 miles per hour.” The night before it happened, his mother had a premonition of disaster.

“Am I going to lose you?” she asked her husband. On that last night, Ed’s dad read the story of Jesus walking on the water toward the boat filled with his disciples. As he read, something caused him to circle the word “Come,” the invitation to Peter to walk by faith across the water toward Jesus.

“The next morning he crashed in the sea,” Ed says sadly.

Later Ed’s mother remarried a submarine commander. “He was a hard man whose father tried to beat the weakness out of him,” Ed recalls.

In his youth, Ed strove to live up to the image of his deceased father. “Everything I did was about securing and proving myself to the heroic dad I never saw,” he notes. “I pushed myself to the ‘nth’ degree.”

Walk-on at Youngstown State

Without sufficient funds for college, Ed tried to walk on theYoungstownStatefootball team. “We don’t have any scholarship money to give you,” Coach Bill Narduzzi told him.

Ed had a bold idea. “Coach, if I’m not the best football player you’ve ever seen in the next 10 days, don’t give me a scholarship, but if I am…”

“Son, if you’re that good I’ll mortgage my house to get you a scholarship,” Narduzzi replied.

For the next 10 days, Ed says he played like Dick Butkus, the Chicago Bears all-time great. Every drill was played at 110 percent.

After watching the display, Narduzzi approached him and put his arm on his shoulder pad. “Son, I don’t know where we’re getting the money, but consider yourself on a full ride at Youngstown State.”

Ed could hardly contain his glee, and began to nurture his dreams of playing one day in the NFL. But a serious injury threatened to derail his plans. One day at practice, there was a “freak” fumble on the ground.

Serious Injury

“A freshman dove through my left knee to get the fumble,” Ed recalls. As Ed collapsed he heard his knee ligaments rip. “It was an unbelievable sound in my head.”

Doctors told him all three major ligaments were torn and he would probably not play football again. He needed major reconstructive surgery the next morning.

Ed went back to his dorm room with an ice pack. “To say I was devastated would be an understatement,” he says. “Everything I worked for was gone. I didn’t know what to do.”

Then came a knock on his door. A young man named Bill Romanowski (no relation to the football player) entered the room, surveyed Ed’s sorry condition and said, “Hi Ed, I’m the campus pastor here.”

While Ed’s grandmother was a Christian Scientist, Ed had no interest or previous involvement in religion.

They exchanged a few pleasantries, then Romanowksi said, “Ed, you have a lot of things going for you, but you lack one thing.”

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Faithful children’s minister, prayer warrior, passes to reward at 99

By Mark Ellis

She led generations of young people to invite Jesus into their hearts and headed up her church’s crisis prayer chain until she was 98-years-old. With her assignment finished, she passed on to her reward on July 15th.

Mrs. Elizabeth Ogg

“I always related to children better than adults,” said Mrs. Elizabeth Ogg, who was the children’s ministry director at Church by the Sea in Laguna Beach for decades. For many years, she was the first person people called in a crisis, as she headed a telephone “tree” that transmitted urgent prayers to the faithful before email was invented.

She was the daughter of Italian immigrants, Frank and Lena Bua, who arrived at Ellis Island in 1901. An itinerant street evangelist led eight members of her family to Christ on a street corner in Lodi, New Jersey, shortly after they settled there. Then they traveled west to Los Angeles in 1919, drawn by glowing reports about the fast-growing city with its ideal Mediterranean climate.

“My mother was a Christian lady – very strict,” Elizabeth notes. “But dad was the boss. There was no changing his mind.” They planted themselves in Sierra Madre, where her father opened a dry goods store. Elizabeth helped in the store, selling socks, underwear, needles and notions.

Her father started an outreach to Italian immigrants and other new arrivals near Chinatown, and constructed a brick church that became known as The Italian Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Elizabeth took on the role of Sunday school teacher and organ player.

During high school she got involved with the youth ministry at Church of the Open Door in downtown Los Angeles. Dr. Louis Talbot, pastor at the time, became an early mentor. The pastor who succeeded him, Dr. J. Vernon McGee was a primary influence on Elizabeth’s life, and she continued to listen to his daily radio broadcasts until her final years.

Always a teacher

Elizabeth enjoyed teaching, and she nurtured this gift as a Sunday school teacher at Church of the Open Door. She shocked her parents when she announced she wanted to go to college. Against their wishes, she graduated from UCLA with a degree in education and a teaching degree. 

Jobs were scarce during the Great Depression. Her first teaching job was in a tent on Alameda Street near the city landfill. It was a rough neighborhood where she was tested daily. “Just keep the kids from killing themselves,” her supervisor advised. She often rode the streetcar home in tears, but she stuck with it.

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Is Norwegian mass murderer a fundamentalist Christian?

If Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik is a fundamentalist Christian, he forgot something fundamental to the teachings of Jesus: “Love your enemies.”

Norway shooter

 

A variety of prominent news organizations have described Breivik as an extremist Christian or a fundamentalist Christian.

At the earliest televised news conference, a Norwegian police official, Roger Andresen, helped to create this impression when he said, “What we know is that he is right wing and a Christian fundamentalist.” Additionally, Breivik’s Facebook page lists his religious affiliation as “Christian.”

It appears that Breivik’s horrific acts were motivated by a violent hatred of Muslim immigration into Norwayand other countries inEurope. His rage against Muslim immigrants finally consumed him, with many innocent victims in his wake.

If Breivik read the Bible, then he also forgot about God’s love for the poor and needy, widows and orphans, and yes, immigrants. In the Book of Exodus, God gives the following command: “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.”

Similarly, in the Book of Psalms, David writes, “The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”

When God describes his love for the “alien,” he is not talking about extraterrestrials. This is a clear reference to immigrants at the lowest rung of Hebrew culture – whether documented or undocumented.

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When the party turned to prayer inBangalore

By Mark Ellis and Michelle Rice 

Although his parents were zealous missionaries, working in many villages on the outskirts of Bangalore, he wanted nothing to do with God. He saw Christian work as a weak and undesirable path for one’s life.

worship gathering

 

“I will never be in ministry,” Satish Kumar declared. His early years led him away from God in pursuit of worldly accomplishment. He found success working with a software company that did business inJapanand theUnited States. 

Without a wife or familial obligations, Kumar could define life as he saw fit. While he traveled and worked throughout the world, he lived the lifestyle of a seemingly endless party. However, his dreams of prosperity became his undoing. “I was addicted to success,” he admits. “I used drugs and alcohol and hurt a lot of people.” 

After a night of heavy socializing on the outskirts ofBangalore– going from one party to the next – Kumar and his friends followed the sounds of music toward what he presumed to be another party. 

Instead, Kumar found himself sitting in front of an all-night prayer meeting organized by his parents! “I don’t understand why I didn’t leave as soon as I saw my dad,” he says. 

His father read from 1 Corinthians 3: “Do you not know that you are atempleofGod, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys thetempleofGod, God will destroy him, for thetempleofGodis holy, and that is what you are.” 

As he listened, Kumar realized he was still high on drugs and alcohol.

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He laid his guitar on the altar and God honored the sacrifice

As a believer still young in his faith, God showed him that his passion for music was an obstacle to spiritual growth. After he sold his

Pastor Brad Coleman

guitar and parted with many of his albums, God honored his sacrifice in a surprising way. 

“Before I came to Christ, I was heavily involved with music – it was an obsession for me,” says Brad Coleman, the new pastor of worship and arts at Christ Church in Lake Forest, Illinois. 

Although raised in a stable, Midwestern home where he attended church on Sundays, a personal relationship with God was lacking through his high school years. “Church had little to do with the way I lived or the core of who I was,” he notes. Coleman was never outwardly a rebel, but fell into hedonistic pursuits with friends. “I partied but I didn’t go crazy,” he says. 

When he left for college, he decided to leave some of the revelry behind. “I had an awareness the party scene was stupid, but I fell right back into it. I had nothing that would give me the backbone to say ‘I’m not going to do that.’” 

At Miami University of Ohio, Coleman came face-to-face with two art students, Chuck and Rich Bostwick, who left an indelible mark. “This was the first time I closely observed two people who had a dynamic, growing relationship with Christ,” Coleman recalls. “Their lives were absolutely informed by their relationship with God.” 

As he watched the Bostwick twins up-close, he admired their skill and dedication as artists. “They were hardworking and had a great vision,” he notes.  Their winsome personalities seemed to light up any room they entered. 

On several occasions they invited Coleman to consider a personal relationship with Christ, but he was resistant. “They never shied away from entering into that kind of dialogue without condemnation,” he says. 

Coleman always had the same response to their appeal: “That’s awesome for you. I personally don’t need that, but I’m glad you found it.” 

However, his outward stance belied an inward tension. “I clearly did need it,” he admits now, “because I couldn’t resist following the crowd.” 

Independently, Coleman’s roommate was talking with friends at Campus Crusade for Christ. He brought home a copy of “More Than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell and left it sitting on their coffee table. 

Continue reading at: http://blog.godreports.com/2011/07/he-laid-his-guitar-on-the-altar-and-god-honored-the-sacrifice/

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Casey Anthony verdict reflects high Biblical standard for death penalty

Amid the anger and outrage over a verdict that seems unjust, it bears noting that the Bible sets a very high bar for convicting any person for the crime of murder and sentencing them to death.

Caylee Anthony

 

Several jurors who sat on the Anthony case maintain the government failed to prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Arguably, this standard reflects the Bible’s value of seeking justice for the victim, while avoiding a rush to judgment against the accused. 

In the Book of Numbers, Moses sets forth the principle that “Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” (Numbers 35:30) 

Moses repeats the standard in the Book of Deuteronomy: “On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” (Deut.17:6) 

Sadly, there were no witnesses willing or able to testify regarding the tragic death of Caylee Anthony. Are actual witnesses still needed today? It should be noted that advances with DNA evidence may override the need for actual witnesses. But there was no DNA evidence in this case linking Casey to her daughter’s death. 

The presence of chloroform, Caylee’s hair, and a suspicious odor emanating from the trunk of Casey’s car seem like compelling circumstantial evidence. Her lies, her suspicious behavior, and a mountain of other evidence all argued persuasively to her guilt and left many thunderstruck by the verdict. 

One juror suggests that a horrible accident happened to Caylee that was covered up by the family. Was this an accident or was this a carefully premeditated murder? 

Continue reading at: http://blog.godreports.com/2011/07/casey-anthony-verdict-reflects-high-biblical-standard-for-death-penalty/

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