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A Great Start to a Sermon

This is now old, but I have just come across it and wanted to share how John Piper started his first sermon after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001.
So how shall I strengthen your hope this morning?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope politically, and comfort you that America is durable and will come together in great bipartisan unity and prove that the democratic system is strong and unshakable?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope militarily, and comfort you that American military might is unsurpassed and can turn back any destructive force against the nation?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope financially, and comfort you that when the market opens on Monday there will be stability and long-term growth to preserve the value of all your investments?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope geographically, and comfort you that you live in the Upper-Midwest, far from the major political and military and financial targets that enemies might choose?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope psychologically, and send you to the web page titled "Self-Care and Self-help Following Disasters" so that you can read there that "individuals with strong coping skills . . . maintain a view of self as competent . . . and avoid regretting past decisions"?
· Should I try to strengthen your hope eschatologically by comforting you that you won't be on the earth anyway when the blazing fireball comes near your town?

The answer to those six questions is very easy for me: NO. I will not try to strengthen your hope in those six ways. And the reason I won't is also very simple. None of them is true.
· The American political system is not imperishable.
· The American military cannot protect us from every destructive force.
· The financial future is not certain and you may lose your investments.
· The Midwest is not safe from the next kind of terrorism which may be more pervasive and more deadly.
· The psychological efforts to feel competent and avoid regret are not healing, but fatal.
· And eschatological scenarios that promise escape from suffering under God's end-time providence didn't work for the Christians in the World Trade Center last Tuesday, and they won't work for you either. 
Before you exalt Christ it is often necessary to pull down a few idols that are in his place first, and Piper does well to give them the contempt they deserve.  [HT to Darrell Johnson, p49]


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