Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Greatest Tragedy of 9-11-2011

In the initial line of this post, let me make it clear that the loss of lives and the injuries that came as a result of Islamic terrorists attacking our great nation on our own soil cannot be reversed. Those were and are real people and the trauma to family and friends, though it may be soothed, can never be removed. Though I knew none of them personally, I prayed and continue to pray for them. I pray for the brotherhood of first responders whose lives have been forever changed. Nothing I will share today is intended in any way to diminish the loss, pain nor anguish that these individuals and families have experienced.

That said, I believe the greatest tragedy of 9-11-2001 was not the destruction of buildings, the loss of life and limb, nor the realization that America is venerable to attack within the homeland. Let me explain what I observed as a pastor in America during the two decades surrounding that fateful day.  In the years leading up to the 9-11 events, America in general has drifted away from the biblical precepts on which she was founded and which had made her great. Supreme Court rulings had changed our moral compass. No longer were the lives of innocent children valued as creations of Almighty God. No longer were biblical, nor even patriotic values seen as valuable to our educational process. Parental discipline was broadly limited and a "feel good" moral system crept into place. Participation in worship and other church related activities fell to an all time low and slowly America moved away from her dependence upon God's sovereign direction.

Then came the eventious day of destruction, injury and death. 9-11-2001, within minutes became etched on the annals of American history. We were all stunned. All of America fell into a state of fear and anger. Suddenly those who had no room for God in their lives, began to pray and flock to the churches within their communities. On Wednesday evening, 9-12-2001, our small church saw many turn out for our Wednesday evening prayer time who had not been present in years, or perhaps ever. On Sunday morning, 9-16-2001, our rural church was packed and overflowing. Chair had to be brought in and people were standing as I preached that morning. I was apparent that even through tragedy, God was at work call America back to Himself. I remember distinctly how several parents who had not been in church in months, came to me privately asking for counsel on how to biblically assist their children to understand how God could, or would, allow such things to take place. Without exception, every one of them pledged to return to an active role within the church and to raise up their children in the admonition of the Lord. On Sunday, 9-23-2001, our church was again packed, but no one was standing. There were enough chairs to support the crowd. The following Sunday, the third after 9-11, there were empty seats in our worship center and by the following Sunday our attendance was back to pre 9-ll numbers. Those parents who had come to me seeking counsel and pledging to become actively involved in Bible study and worship were no where to be seen. Their children quickly fell out of our children's and teem ministries and the vast majority of these families were never seen at our church again.

I believe this is the greatest tragedy of 9-11-2001. While God did not direct nor cause the events of 9-11, He did allow them to take place. I believe God saw an opportunity to call America back to himself and reestablish a biblical direction for our nation. We ran to God in our time of fear, but as soon as that initial fear had subsided, America again turned her back on Him. In the thirteen years that have ensued, we have moved even farther away from God and His precepts. We voted for "hope and change." We got the change, but we've lost our hope. We now have national leadership which has no regard for the Constitution  and a President who believes himself to be a monarch rather than the leader of a Republic. America's hope since 9-11-2001 has moved, not closer to God but to a leader whom she really doesn't even know.  Yes, this is the real tragedy of 9-11-2001: America failed to heed the warning of God and failed to return to him.

The hope for America, and for our individual lives is not in government nor in its political leaders. Our only real hope is in God. The Psalmist said it well, "Find rest O my soul, in God alone: any hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge."  (Psalm 62:5-7, NIV).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cozumel 2014 Day 9 The Final Chapter

Today is our last day of diving this trip. We have had a wonderful and relaxing time. We hope you have enjoyed looking at the photos and videos. We'd love to read your comments, so if you haven't already done so, leave us a few words about the pics you like best. If you've already y left a comment, please leave another on. This morning we dove on Punta Tunich Reef and went back to Villa Blanca Reef in search of the elusive Bat Fish. We didn't find any today, but you won't want to miss the video Reva took of some Squid! It's very unusual to locate Squid during the day, but our fantastic dive master, Julio Kim did just that. He's the best!
Green Moray Eel
Black, Red & White Nudi-Branch
Large Black Grouper
Blue Tang
Peacock Flounder
Black & White Moray Eel
Tiny Juvenile Trunk Fish (size of a thimble)
Great Barracuda
Nurse Shark
 Peacock Flounder

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cozumel 2014 Day 8

Up early after a great night dive and off again to Palanca Bricks Reef. It was here that a six foot Nurse Shark came swimming across the top of the reef directly at Reva. He came within one foot of her camera (see picture below) before turning away and swimming through our group of divers. He hung out with us for about a full minute, sometimes coming close enough to touch. Later in the morning we made our way to the Columbia Shallows reef where there was an abundance of sea life. Enjoy the photos and video.
 Reva says. "Welcome to my world."
Yellow Filefish
French Angel
Nurse Shark headed for Reva!
"Hello Ms. Reva."
Nurse Shark and Mitch
"Hey, who's that invading my space?"
Tiny Orange Coral Blennie
Trumpet Fish
Rock Beauty
Yellow Sting Ray

Cozumel 2014. Day 7

Today our youngest daughter, Angela and her husband arrived for their Ports A Call here on Cozumel while cruising on the Carnival Magic. We picked them up about 9:00 am and enjoyed several hours a beach club and had a leisurely lunch with them before returning them to their ship around 2;00 pm. At 4:15 we boarded our own boat, the Queen Angel with Captain Shaggy and Dive Master Julio. It was off to the Palancar Caves for a late afternoon dive. Then it was a relaxing time of watching the sun set before entering the water just at dusk on Paradise Reef of an awesome night dive. We hope you enjoy the photos and videos from today's dives.
The Videos are a little jumpy and there is no sound. I'm not sure why, but it has something to do with the blog site, not the camera.
Fun in the sun
The Magic sets sail. Audios Angela y Mike.
 Puffer Fish
 Coral Blennie
 Sea Cucumber
 Sea Basket Star Fish
 Splendid Toad Fish 

 Moray Eel

 Spanish Lobster (weird)


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cozumel 2014 Day 6

Day 6 took us to Columbia Deep Reef and to Dialia Reef. Not as many opportunities for photos today, but Reva did a great job anyway. Please feel free to leave comments and enjoy the photos and videos.

You guessed right. It's a turtle.

Baby Star Fish (about the size of a dime)
Juvenile File Fish

Green Moray Eel

Another one

Queen Angel


Giant Parrot Fish (4-5 ft. length)

Adult Drum Fish

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cozumel 2014 Day 5

Down to one camera, ugh!  Dives today were to San Francisco Reef and Tormentos Reef. It was a beautiful day and two beautiful dives. We hope you enjoy the pictures and videos.

French Angel

Queen Angel

Spiny Star Fish inside Red Sponge

Blue Parrot Fish (3-4 ft. Long)
Yellow Grunt

Scorpion Fish

Rock Fish

Trumpet Fish
Family of Lobster

Pipe Fish

Pipe Fish

Pipe Sea Horse
Pipe Sea Horse
Pipe Sea Horse

Pipe Sea Horse

Pipe Sea Horse

Juvenile Trunk Fish (size of a small button)

Watch this Snapper gulp down a Lion Fish