Did God ‘Send’ Katrina? [v80]

OCTOBER 2005

DID GOD ‘SEND’ KATRINA?—Like the Asian tsunami did, the New Orleans disaster provokes serious questions. Some ask, “What sort of God would allow so many innocent people to be killed?” Others present the quandary this way: There are only two choices. Either God is all-powerful in which case He did this cruel thing or else He couldn’t stop it in which case He’s impotent and who needs an impotent deity?

First, this was a catastrophe of epic proportions—and it wasn’t just the Gulf region that was affected—it was the whole nation, because our fuel supply is so dependent on the area hit. Katrina struck a direct blow to the ‘nerve center’ of America.

“Was this God’s judgment?” many people asked. I’m always reluctant to speculate because it is too easy to blame God for things that we bring upon ourselves or to falsely read the mind of God. But we can say for sure theologically that an all-powerful sovereign God can prevent a natural disaster anytime He chooses to. So, in one sense, one would have to say, “Yeah, God permitted it.”

But rather than blame God, we should ask ourselves whether ‘we’ are responsible. After all, the city of New Orleans was built six feet below sea level, surrounded by levies that everyone knew were sufficient only for a category-3 hurricane, and could not stop a big storm surge. For years, people partied in the French Quarter, celebrating their “good luck” every time a monster storm missed them—almost as if they were playing the slot machines at the casinos that line the Gulf Coast. Talk about shaking your fist at God.

Then consider our fuel supply. Energy experts have warned us for years that we lack refining capacity. But we have not built one new refinery in thirty years. Why not? Because no one wants one in their ‘backyard’ any more than they want offshore drilling. Everybody’s for offshore drilling, of course, so long as it is off somebody else’s shore. There are politicians who get elected and re-elected simply by promising not to allow offshore drilling in their state—even 100 miles offshore.

Well, what about nuclear power? We could end dependence on foreign sources of energy simply by resuming our nuclear power building program. But environmentalists have blocked it, as they have blocked Arctic drilling (which, to my way of thinking, would have minimal environmental consequences).

So, who do we ‘blame’ for this direct hit on the nation’s soft underbelly? We can say God allowed it, and if so, I say “good”—it might just get our attention, and be the ‘wake-up call’ which, I believe, America needs.

With all that being said, I think there’s another approach to this question. Though catastrophe was absolutely devastating and horrible, instead of waving a defiant ‘fist’ at God, let me try to explain how I think God set up this world to ‘work’.

By and large, God allows the laws of nature to work. The doomed airliner falling from the sky never gets scooped to safety by a giant divine hand regardless of the piety of the passengers. Mountain climbers challenging frozen peaks sometimes die and people living in flood prone areas sometimes drown.

Obviously that provokes the question of why would a ‘benevolent’ God create such a malevolent nature. Why must gravity compel airplanes with engine failure to tumble out of the sky? Why should earthquakes flatten buildings and shatter lives? Does water really have to rush toward its lowest point washing away anything in its path?

In my opinion, the reason that God almost never interferes with His laws of nature and created nature to be far from benign, is that He wanted us humans to WORK TOGETHER to overcome nature’s menace. “And God said to them, be fruitful, and multiply, populate the earth, and conquer it [Genesis 1]. This does not mean we are to ruin or obliterate nature, but to render ourselves less vulnerable to its harsh realities.

We resist disease with medicine. We conquer the heat of the desert with air-conditioning, and we make the frigid plains habitable with heating.

Similarly those who choose to live in low lying areas are ‘morally obliged’ to do everything possible in order to minimize flood risk. After a flood drowned more than a thousand Dutchmen in 1953, Holland created the world’s biggest land reclamation project to ensure it never happened again. You can be quite sure that once rebuilt, New Orleans will never flood again.

There’s also another ‘part’ to this. Apparently, God is ‘obsessed’ with bonding—to unify—by which the best results come from bonding. Let me explain.

There are about 100 chemical elements in the world. But very little that we need and enjoy in life is used in its elemental, ‘un-bonded’ form. The water we drink comes about when two hydrogen atoms joyfully unite with an oxygen atom. The wood in our furniture, the plastic everywhere, our medicine, the steel in our buildings and vehicles—all these are the results of atoms bonding with one another. Why, even rust is the undesirable consequence of us failing to adequately prevent ion from leaping into an ’embrace’ with oxygen.

God created almost everything seeming to YEARN FOR BONDING. Even humans were created to feel a deep emptiness that only bonding with another could heal. He created man and woman to “become one flesh” as the greatest expression of unity.

After creating people, God had a problem: how could He ensure that humans unrelated to one another would bond and help one another? In other words, how could God ‘incentivize’ community and cooperation among humans?

Well, one way was place them in a beautiful world, but one filled with constant threat. Forest fires, earthquakes, disease, and floods are all perils that would ‘force’ frightened people to cooperate with one another. No single individual, all alone, can discover the cure to a disease, any more than a single peasant can defy a monsoon. However, when banded together, people can create universities for medical research; villagers can unite to construct dikes and dams to protect their homes; and ‘strangers’ in casualty insurance companies can work together to help others when a disaster strikes.

I believe all this ‘pleases’ God—just as when siblings live together in love and harmony their parents feel delight. Whether we climb mountains, build tall buildings, or soar across the seas, we are defying nature just as we are when we build cities on low ground between rivers and lakes. Sometimes the rope snaps, the building falls, or the airship explodes. Sometimes the levees break and the pumps fail.

When these things happen, our response should be renewed determination to develop greater care, compassion, and collaboration among people in order to more effectively subdue nature—and I think that is exactly what we saw happen with the OUTPOURING OF COMPASSIONATE ACTION.

While politicians in Louisiana and the nation’s capital continue their nauseating blame-game, many charities, ministries, and ‘normal’ folk around the country are in the nitty-gritty details of helping others get basic supplies and shelter right now, and others are partnering with relief agencies for long-term rebuilding. GOD WAS THERE in the storm and GOD WILL BE THERE in the recovery work.

I think it’s time that we ought to take a sober look at ourselves and turn to God daily, asking
Him—not for justice, because we might get it—but for mercy. We ought to be repenting for all of our sins as a people and for falling so short. The LESSON with Katrina? Well, I pray that we turn to God and ask for mercy, and the wisdom not to repeat our mistakes.

We may not know why God permits certain ‘evils’ or ‘consequences’, and we may not find out in most cases. But you can know this: He’s in it with us. He’s willing to put up with suffering too. He, Himself, came to this earth in the person of Jesus to get ‘down and dirty’ with us.

God hasn’t chosen to eradicate pain and suffering and natural disaster. Instead, He has shared in that pain with us. And at first glance, it seems an ‘odd’ response to a broken world.

But it’s a response that grows out of love—and in the end, this love has the power to overcome the world’s pain and suffering.

[NOTE: If you would like to further investigate about “real” love, click on this link:
http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q5_d4_5of10.html

This so happens to be the focus of the “L3” (Love, Lock and Live) discussion group I mentioned at the beginning of this newsletter.

This ‘series’ is designed to help people from a variety of spiritual backgrounds discover what matters most—a growing ‘intimacy’ with God and with other people. Each ‘lesson’ explores life-giving practices, practical advice, and interactive discussion topics.

Come and experience how ‘radical’ (and fun) life change can be—especially when you are doing it with others with the same ‘goal’—Loving God and others; Locking arms in service to others; and Living openhandedly by giving of your time and ‘treasures’.

Let me encourage you to spend the next 6 weeks “getting a grip on what matters most.” Join one of the groups I will be leading, or pick another one that meets on another day or is closer to you—just ‘do it’—LOVE WINS!!!

[Link to sign-up page: http://kensingtonchurch.org/smallgroups/  ]

[Excerpts from: Rabbi Daniel Lapin; Chuck Colson]

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v80) for OCTOBER 2005
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

THANKS TO:
– Joanne Weigand

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CONTINUING ‘SAGA’: THE “SENECA STREET” PROJECT
As I mentioned in my previous newsletter (AUG ’05), I have completed the FIRST PHASE of my ‘project’ of putting a computer in EVERY ‘apartment’ on Seneca Street. Which means I will need to collect probably a minimum of 30 MORE COMPUTERS if Grace Centers is successful in acquiring the additional homes they are looking at right now. So, if you know of anyone that has older Macs/accessories (PowerPC’s; G3’s or G4’s), please have them get in contact with me (mbesh@comcast.net ). I will gladly go to wherever it is convenient for them to pick up the items.

As a reminder, if you want more detail (or want someone else to know) what has already been done, and what we would like to do in the future, visit this link:
[ http://www.spiritedesign.com/senecastreet ]

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DEEP THOUGHTS
– Give God what’s right—not what’s left.
– Man’s way leads to a hopeless end—God’s way leads to an endless hope.
– A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing.
– He who kneels before God can stand before anyone.
– In the sentence of life, the devil may be a comma–but never let him be the period.
– Don’t put a question mark where God puts a period.
– Are you wrinkled with burden? Come to the church for a face-lift.
– When praying, don’t give God instructions—just report for duty.
– Don’t wait for six strong men to take you to church.
– We don’t change God’s message—His message changes us.
– The church is prayer-conditioned.
– When God ordains, He sustains.
– WARNING: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.
– Plan ahead — It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
– Most people want to serve God, but only in an advisory position.
– Suffering from truth decay? Brush up on your Bible.
– Exercise daily — walk with the Lord.
– Never give the devil a ride — he will always want to drive.
– Nothing else ruins the truth like stretching it.
– Compassion is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back.
– He who angers you controls you.
– Worry is the darkroom in which negatives can develop.
– Give Satan an inch and he’ll be a ruler.
– Be ye fishers of men — you catch them & He’ll clean them.
– God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
– Read the Bible—It will scare the heck out of you.

[Received from Joanne Weigand]

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DISCUSSION GROUP OPPORTUNITY:
Starting Tuesday or Thursday (11 or 13 OCT 05), and meeting every week for
6 weeks from 6:45 PM – 9 PM, I will be hosting a discussion group called
“You Were Made For This.” It will guide you in exploring how you can grow
closer to God and to other people.

Similar in format to the “40 Days of Purpose,” we will watch a 10-15 minute
video, then discuss it together with the aid of a companion workbook
(optional short daily readings).

The three ‘themes’ we will discuss are:
– Love God and Love Others
– Lock Arms (to help each other)
– Live Open Handedly (giving of yourself to others)

So, give me a call if you are interested (or if you know someone that might be),
and I can give you/them more details (248.788.1758)—or just visit the following
link to sign up for my group (or another group if a different day or location
would be better):
http://kensingtonchurch.org/smallgroups/

Blessings,
Mark

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I hope you enjoyed some of these insights. Share them with your friends and colleagues, so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from—and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” especially if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” [Ephesians 3:17-19].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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