God of This City

Sunday morning my little family slept a little later than usual, swung by Shipley’s Donuts and headed to church. Sunday school had been cancelled, which is totally a bummer because I love that part. I’m such a fellowship person.

We entered the sanctuary and it was slowly filling up. Two weeks ago our church had just started meeting in the sanctuary again after a five-month exodus into the chapel, fellowship hall, and gym while it got a much-needed renovation. That first Sunday back in the new sanctuary was incredible. It was so exciting and there was a wonderful spirit of praise and thanks to God. We sang Chris Tomlin’s “God of this City” and proclaimed that “greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city.” We sang it loud and proud.

The very next Sunday there was no church because of the hurricane. Then there was Sunday, September 21 – only our second service in the newly renovated sanctuary. I cannot adequately describe how different the mood was in the service this week. Quiet. Somewhat broken. Sweet. Humble. Sober. Unsure. Pastor Gregg poured his heart out to love on us and shepherd us. His sermon was directly related to the hurricane and he talked about what we can learn from it. Three things will stick with me. For some people, this was a correcting storm. For others, it was a perfecting storm. And God wants to use it to shave the silliness off of our lives. When Curt and I went to the mall last week to get Baby’s two little outfits after the ultrasound, I can’t tell you how ridiculous and obscene it felt. Were we really at the mall when there was so much devastation everywhere? I think that is what a lot of us are feeling right now. I’m sure it will wear off for most Houstonians, but hopefully it won’t wear off for the Church. I certainly don’t want it to wear off for me. I really need it. This is something I feel God has been doing in my life for the past little while and I want to see the work made complete.

I remember when we were in England how different the elderly people were from everyone else. They had survived The War. Many had been shipped off from their parents when they were kids to live in regions of England where they would be safe from the fighting. They had been through a ton in their young years and they were not caught up in the silliness of the present-day culture. They made do with little and they didn’t need extravagance. This way of being was not attractive to me at age 24. I wanted very much to project a certain image and to have as much as I could of what the world could give me, while having the things of God, too. (I’m not talking about things that are plain sinful as much as things that are permissible, but not beneficial.) I so appreciate God’s patience with me at every stage of life. I also appreciate that He changes me. I am getting ever-so-close to my thirties and I’m happy that in 13 months I’ll cross that line with a different heart and mind than that of my 24-year-old self. I will say the same as I enter my forties, I’m sure.

Pastor Gregg exhorted us let this storm do its work in our lives – to let it be more than the inconvenience that it’s been for most of us. Honestly, I haven’t even been inconvenienced all that much. As he asked the congregation how many were still without power, the vast majority raised their hands. I was stunned. My cross to bear has been a tiny one. Still, He has allowed me to take a look at my own life and see the silliness, and to gaze at what matters. I want to learn this lesson.

That morning we sang “God of This City” again. We did so loudly, not as proudly, but full of faith. As we sang, images of our damaged region flashed across the whole front wall of the sanctuary. Our words went up as a prayer to God. While we worshipped in our lovely new sanctuary, we knew that only a few miles away Second Baptist Church was meeting outside. Part of the dome at the top of their beautiful sanctuary had been ripped away during the storm and the damage was extensive. They are out of their sanctuary indefinitely. The body of Christ in this town is having a moment with the Lord, y’all. How I pray that the fruit will be sweet and that everyone who lives here will get a taste…and see that He is good.

God, You are the God of this city. You’re the King of these people. We feel broken by You but loved at the same time. Like today when I had to give Jackson a spanking for locking me out of the house while I fetched the groceries, but he clung to me for a long time afterward. I know You love us. You are not done with this city. Strengthen the remnant. Build up Your Kingdom here, Lord.


122 Responses to “God of This City”

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  1. 101
    Nana says:

    Good reminders for us all. As a wife of a power lineman, I know that the families in your area appreciate your prayers. When storms hit the northwest where we live my husband often works 28 days straight with just 4 hours or less of sleep a day. What they are doing is dangerous and they need to be thinking all of the time. Okay I’m going to go pray for your lineman. God bless you all

  2. 102
    mirmartin05 says:

    Your post was amazing! I attend Second Baptist in Pearland and we also held services outside. The devastation that surrounds our city and region is massive. However, I know that never before have so many people actually met their neighbors, helped strangers and shared food, water, ice and electricity. Someone dropped off a case of water on my front porch!! What a simple way to let your light shine through the storm.

  3. 103
    Anonymous says:

    Just wanted to say that us New Orleans folks our praying for the body in Houston. After being away our home for six weeks after Katrina I remember that the outpouring from the church was truly amazing. My own church still has volunteers coming here three years after Katrina to work on homes. There is so much to be done still and God is moving in big ways. For those of you in Galveston and Houston and all other areas affected do not lose hope. The God of this universe is bigger than all of this and He will get you through. Also, I will never forget the kindness shown to my family while we were in Texas after Katrina. Thank you Texans!!

  4. 104
    Little Steps Of Faith says:

    I think my comments get eaten by spam monster, the one on here by me, was left weeks ago…weird.

  5. 105
    Anonymous says:

    Way to bring it Amanda!!

    I just started stepping up. There are over 500 women at my church involved in this bible study. I am so excited. I can’t wait to put my kids to bed and start my homework!!!

    Much love,
    Lisa in RL, IL

  6. 106
    roxanne worsham says:

    Dearest AMENda,

    I have read, re-read, and re-read several more times your post.
    It is so profound and rich. You are wise beyond your years, young lady.

    Remember when Jacob wrestled with the Angel (God) and He told Jacob that He was going to change his name to Israel? I am no angel but I think I am going to change your name to………………………

    When I read this post it so ministers to me that I keep saying, “Amen!” “Amen!” So I am ging to call you Amenda if that is okay with you.

    Let me know if that is not agreeable with you as I do not wish to offend you.

    God bless you for your openness and boldness.

    Proud to be in the FAMILY of GOD with you!

  7. 107
    Walking on High Hills says:

    We were definately praying for you!

    I am sad for all the heartaches and headaches, but it sounds like people have come together for the good and that God is preparing His people for His coming.


  8. 108
    judy says:

    Thank you, Amanda, for reminding to keep Houston and the surrounding areas in our prayers!

    What a heartfelt post. Thank you!

    Lord may we always be mindful of those around who are suffering. It might not be a Hurrican Ike but something else they are dealing with. Place them in our hearts to remember to pray for them.

    God bless you.

  9. 109
    mamabearbouch says:

    Thanks for sharing, Amanda. Our Bible study group is doing Psalms of Ascent right now and it is having a similar effect on me . . . and I’ve just (within the last week!) ‘crossed the line’into my fifties!!

    We are still praying for you all down in Texas – believe it or not, because of a very unique weather pattern, Ike’s winds raced up a sort of ‘wind tunnel’ to where we live in Ohio – no rain, but trees down everywhere, 2 million without power, many still 9 days later! Although it was a very small ‘touch’ of what you all experienced, it was enough to make me sensitive to what it might be like in Texas . . . and to pray. For peace and contentment, for strength for workers of all kinds and people waiting on those basic necessities, but especially for humble hearts and lessons learned that will impact many. 🙂

  10. 110
    Jina says:

    Wow Amanda,

    This post so resonates with my heart. Those of you in Southeast Texas are seeing physical manifestations of having your lives turned upside down. I pray for God to be seen through the broken windows, cracks in the buildings and even domes lifted off. I pray that The Body will come together, that Jesus will use this as a blessing for Houston, Galveston and all the towns in between that we don’t see on the national news.

    I remember something I learned in the Daniel bible study. Something at the end about being a student of the Word and aware of the times. My heart is burning that we must keep our eyes on the Strong Tower who is mighty to save. Praise God He is mighty to save us from our sins, but He is also trustworthy and will redeem us from even these circumstances.

    As we look out beyond Texas to the financial issues of this country, we must remember that there will be a “crown for these ashes… oil of gladness instead of mourning… He will raise up oaks of righteousness for His name sake” (Isaiah) He is preparing His bride and she will be ready. He is a King and His bride will be radiant. She won’t be distracted by the comforts of this world, what car she wants to drive or the house she longs to live in. She will be hungry for Heaven alone.

    I take refuge in many scriptures right now. Daniel 10 reminds me God hears and acts on our behalf in the heavenlies. Hebrews reminds me, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses full of faith, who stood the test and were found faithful for the time they were called. I pray that God has developed our spiritual muscles to the point that someday, we will be a part of that cloud of witnesses, cheering on whomever may be waiting for His return.

    Blessed be the name of the Lord.

  11. 111
    Ginger says:

    We went through Wilma in South Florida, and while it was supposed to be a Cat 1, it ended up being a Cat 3 where we lived, so I can relate to what you are talking about. It was hard to believe at the time that life every where else was business as usual. But as with everything God allows in our life, it was an opportunity to grow. It definitely put my life in perspective, made me more compassionate, and aware in general of my blessings and others need.

    An interesting thing happened as life returned to “normal,” we were bonded as a community. We had gone through something life altering and came out OK on the other side. I can honestly say, I saw people who did not know each other (although we lived very close to each other) helping each other, sharing… Humanity at it’s best!In the end I think we were better for it! A bit of pruning was in order, I suppose.

    As for the mall trip, we spent a lot of time in the mall as well, if not to shop but for the air conditioning!!!

    Isn’t it great that He loves us so much that He allows us small glimpses of how He sees things? I, like you, look forward to the journey!

    Much love, blessings, and prayers to you, your family and the people of your area

  12. 112
    Bridgette says:

    I love this song! I’m hoping that we are going to do this one at our church soon as well. I listen to it most mornings as I’m taking the kids to school.

    This is a great post Amanda. I just turned 33 on Monday, and I was thinking about how different I am now than I was at 23. I pray that when I turn 43, that there will more change! God is never done teaching us and changing us. May we all keep our hearts open to him and remember what really matters. I’m taking Daniel right now, so this subject is heavy on my heart now as well! I made the committment not to shop! for anything unless it was a need and then to get it as cheap as I can! Which, by the way, I don’t have many needs! 🙂

  13. 113
    Joni says:

    God is at work in our lives. In 3 years my city has been hit with 3 hurricanes–Rita, Humberto, and now Ike. Each time I realize how blessed I am to have a home, how much I take God and what He has given me for granted, and how impossible it is for me to change inside without His help. It’s easy to start living in fear–to start second-guessing every decision–to start wondering if God really cares because of everything that’s happening around us. That plays right into my melancholy-phelgmatic personality. But then, I remember God and all He’s brought me through and what His Word says and how I feel when I pray to Him–and I feel my heart filling up with faith, and I can smile in the face of it all. No one–no thing–no hurricane–can take that away. Is that the deep-seated joy the Bible talks about? I don’t know. But I do know that whatever happens today, tomorrow, or years from now my God is with me, He is on my side, and He will work things out for my good as I lean on and trust in Him every day.

  14. 114
    Anonymous says:

    I so love your heart, Amanda.
    Because of Him,

  15. 115
    Rebecca says:


  16. 116
    Living day by day for Jesus says:

    thanks for the new perspective on that song because it got on my nerves for some reason…love the albom not the song…anyhow, it helped! I like it now!

  17. 117
    Amy says:

    What a powerful post. Thank you.
    (And I haven’t heard the song yet; I need to find it and give it a listen!)

  18. 118
    Meghan says:

    Thank you for this post. I can only imagine how good the message was that Sunday.

  19. 119
    JSM says:

    Love this AJ… gave me goosebumps as I read it. And I absolutely LOVE that song… He does have some great things yet to come!

  20. 120
    jfoz says:

    Thank you Amanda for beautifully putting the sermon from Sunday on paper and adding your thoughts too. I have printed and will put in my journal and keep there safely til Jesus comes back to get us. 🙂

  21. 121
    Anonymous says:

    I’ve had the same song in my head as I look at all the devistation around Houston. He is God of our city and I’ll never forget when pastor said: Ike was a catagory 2 but God is a Catagory 10!

    I believe these storms come into our lives for a reason. Your mom said, “The challenges we go through cause us to seek God… His help, His healing, His throne. It’s like a chisel carving true integrity into our rough personalities.” He will bring us through!

    Thank you for sharing your heart!

  22. 122
    Chris says:

    I know I am super late to comment, but that is because I have been letting this stew. Looking at my silliness, and HAVING PERMISSION, not to mention being CALLED to let it go, has been so liberating for me! Does that make sense? I WANT to let it go. I am so thirsty for a simpler life, with a laser focus on what God is calling me to do here. Amen!

    Thanks, Amanda. You are brilliant. And really touched me heart.

    xo Chris

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