Remembering September 11, 2001

I was sitting here, a decade later, looking at video of the terrorist attack that changed America. It still brings tears.

This weekend we are doing a big service, complete with the story of a police sergeant who was there. I felt bad cutting out parts of his story to make it fit into a service. I will post his entire story later, but for this weekend we have his story and another piece I actually made nine years ago.

The flag waves through the names of every person who was killed on September 11, 2001. The audio is part of a speech by President Bush on September 14, 2001.

NYPD Sergeant Michael Troisi’s complete story:


God Shatters Expectations: Kairos Moments and $5.6 Million

This last weekend was a kairos moment at church. I think it’s another one of those days we will look back on as a clear memory of a time when God showed up.

It all started when the pastor led us to devote 2011 as a year devoted to developing a Passion of God. As a part of heading into the second series of the year, we asked author and speaker Bruce Wilkinson to come for a weekend. As he was working on his message, he saw a special on 60 Minutes about a new kind of homelessness in Central Florida. He was moved.

The next week he spoke with our pastor and asked if he could talk about this issue, and call our people toward intimacy with God through sacrificial giving. He asked what our dream amount would be. Could we trust God to lead his people to give a million dollars?

You have to know Central Florida to know how big of a deal this was. 11% unemployment. Many of the people in our congregation have taken large pay cuts. To ask them to give that much over and about their budget giving… well… it would take a movement of God.

During the weekend, Wilkinson called this a kairos moment. This was an opportunity. We, as a church body, had been increasing our involvement in local mission opportunities. This year we launched Love Orlando and had started doing some things under that banner. But this news report brought to light a new level of homelessness. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of children going to bed hungry in hotels across Central Florida.

I heard about the million dollar goal. The skeptic in me wanted to laugh it off, but the faithfulness in me said, no, we can do this. God can move our people to do it. So I went into the weekend expecting to see a miracle.

At the end of the Saturday service, which had a little over 1/10 of our total attendance, Wilkinson began the offering. As the envelopes were handed in, he kept a running total. I sat in the control room watching this unfold. I was amazed as number after number was called out. $10,000. $30,000. $70,000.

The grand total of the night was $506,000. We still had the next two services, where the vast majority of our congregation would attend. The next morning I told someone that I thought we would surpass $3 million that day. I was amazed. God was going to work a miracle in our presence. People in very hard financial times were going to respond to the call.

Of course, God had bigger plans. After the end of the 9:00 service we had already passed $3 million. By the end of the last service we had taken in gifts and pledges of $5.6 million.

Oh, me of little faith. I thought I was stretching to trust that $1 million would be given. God is so much bigger than my faith. So much bigger than my expectations.

Now we are putting plans together to use these funds to really help some people. And we have been very busy with news requests. When God moves, many times our small plans are overwhelmed.


I am continually reminded of how blessed we are at my church.

Today I got an email from a friend at another church that is laying off people, cutting pay and benefits. He lost his immediate supervisor, and the entire media and creative staff structure has shifted.

Oh, we have our challenges. I have gear that’s so old it is literally dying a little more every week. This weekend the “Color Black” on the switcher became purple. I hear purple is the new black, but not in video production. Our gear is old, 2 decades old. But we at least have a plan to replace it, and a likelihood.

I am not looking at laying off anyone. Our giving is equal to last year, and since we kept the budget the same, that means we will make it through like last year.

Anything can happen, but we work in a pretty safe environment. We get to do some great, fun stuff. And work with some amazing people. I am truly blessed.