Mike Cope's blog

Saturday, September 03, 2005

All over the country, churches will be taking special collections tomorrow to help people in the Gulf Coast area. If you've been reading the comments in this blog for the last few days, you recognize how unclear it is right now as to how we can best help. The situation is just so bad that strategies are murky--though there are several agencies and churches that we know we can trust. Incredible acts of Christian service are going to happen in many places. And we trust that the money given will be used by God to aid the victims. We've identified places in Baton Rouge and Houston where we believe some money can be sent to help immediately. But this is just a beginning. Contributions tomorrow are just a first step. One of our councilman (a Highland elder) left me a message yesterday that 500 evacuees are on their way to Abilene. Surely this is happening all over Texas, as centers in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio fill up. I received e-mails from members wondering if we could use Highland's gym and our Southside building (where the Freedom Church outreach is about to take place) to house some of the people. We'll be looking into all that. As the mayor (also a Highland elder) said in the paper today, it's uncertain when they arrive or where they'll stay. But the main thing is that we have some hard cash ready immediately and that we stay prepared to offer gifts of cash, housing, and labor as the opportunities arrive. By the way, after what I wrote Wednesday it's a bit funny to read in this morning's paper that Sri Lanka has made a pledge of aid--along with Cuba, Dominica, and Venezuela (despite Pat Robertson!). It's a time for us to give sacrificially. Final note: already I'm hearing reports of ministers announcing that this is the judgment of God on the wickedness of New Orleans. Can someone please tell me how they know that? And if God hasn't explicitly told them that, would they please SHUT UP and get busy with acts of compassion?

25 Comments:

  • An article written by Bill Martin a student assistant of the LSU Sports Information Department gives an eyewitness account of thier sports facilities being used in rescue efforts. This is the link to the original article at tigerbait.com - Mike Scarborough's coverage of LSU's athletics and recruiting http://lsu.rivals.com/ or read it on my blog.

    Conroe Church of Christ has adopted five families, and they are settled into apartments. They have their cars, but no homes. It will be a blessing to be involved in their lives for the long-term.

    By Blogger Cathy Messecar, at 9/03/2005 06:39:00 AM  

  • Amen Mike! Let's all do what we can -and let others do the judging.

    By Blogger KentF, at 9/03/2005 07:36:00 AM  

  • I've been waiting to hear something brilliant out of Pat Robertson's mouth about this. I guess his PR guys are telling him to keep a low profile for now -- after he decided last week that killing someone would be a good idea.

    If God is wiping out sinful cities, why is Hollywood still standing? Or Vegas? Or Abilene or Baytown?

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 9/03/2005 08:01:00 AM  

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    By Blogger jill, at 9/03/2005 09:25:00 AM  

  • The pestilence-pronouncing preachers probably inferred New Orleans incurred God's wrath from reading the Old Testament prophets, texts such as Hosea 7. If they keep reading, they may want to keep one eye on the sky because deliberate debauchery isn't the only thing that hacks God off. And what's bad for the Bayou might just be bad for the Bible Belt, too.

    By Blogger Grant, at 9/03/2005 09:56:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Emily, at 9/03/2005 10:24:00 AM  

  • Ahhh.....let the W bashing begin. Or should I say continue. I've already read where he is the CAUSE of the Hurricane. No, I'm not kidding.

    We've got plenty of time for the blame game later.....there are people to take care of right now.

    DU

    By Blogger David U, at 9/03/2005 11:25:00 AM  

  • Sorry to the person whose comment I pulled. They posted a Maureen Dowd editorial. I pulled it because now is not the time -- at least on this blog -- to point fingers. Like David says, that time will come. "Mistakes were made." But for now, let's keep our eyes on what we can do. Then, let's immediately ask what we need to do about the kind of poverty that we've allowed to grow in all our major cities.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/03/2005 11:51:00 AM  

  • And Grant, you may notice I didn't deny that God has at times brought destructive judgment on cities and nations. But I want to know who has the wisdom to say when something is a Hosea 7 event and when it is just a force of nature that creates such destruction that God, too, weeps. I think there is an aching need for better theological reflection in our churches. Where is God in this? We need to learn what we can from the way of God in Jesus Christ and bring that to better thinking about God in this fallen world.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/03/2005 11:54:00 AM  

  • Sorry to take away from the hurricane relief discussion, but at Mike's request, I wanted to post an update to the prayer request I posted yesterday. My roommate's mom is doing better. She was sent home from the hospital today after her successful heart cath yesterday where they put a stint in one of the blockages that had not been taken care of last January. Thank you guys for your faithful prayers, and please continue to pray for her recovery.

    Now back to our original discussion...

    By Blogger Heather A, at 9/03/2005 12:52:00 PM  

  • It is convenient to blame others when bad things happen. We have all had storms in our lives, or we will. It is not what happens to us that matters, this is only temporal. Therefore, spending time on blame is vain. What matters is how we respond, this is eternal. This is where we should focus.

    By Blogger Clint, at 9/03/2005 01:47:00 PM  

  • For those who don't know, my dear brother Clint knows what he's talking about. Clint, since the accident you have been a model to our community of what faith means in the midst of the storm. Your life is worth more than a thousand sermons.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/03/2005 01:55:00 PM  

  • The focus should not be on us, but on Jesus Christ. May we be His eyes, ears, hands and hearts to these devastated people.

    Amen Mike

    By Blogger Hoots Musings, at 9/03/2005 02:58:00 PM  

  • Mike, thanks for giving us a place to find churches to send money to, tomorrow we will take up a collection and send the check to Whites Ferry.

    Also on a theological note; I thought Romans 8:28 was our mandate to get off our duffs and use what God has given us to show His Love and Compassion. The time is now, so quit your murmuring, and please quit telling us why God did this and let’s begin to show the compassion of God.

    By Blogger Jeremy Houck <>, at 9/03/2005 03:53:00 PM  

  • The Houston area has a unique challenge. Estimates are as high as 150,000 evacuees in hotels, shelters, staying with friends and family. Every day has presented itself with a new challenge.

    I spent today working with our local battered women's shelter which as become a volunteer organization in itself. The problem we face here it seems is that thousands of people who want to help bring "stuff."

    Consequently there are mountains of stuff with no place to go or the people power to handle it. It as quite overwhelming. Please pray and send money to organizations such as American Red Cross, Lifeline Chaplaincy, or Houston Impact because that is the single biggest need right now.

    By Blogger Chad, at 9/03/2005 04:25:00 PM  

  • If God were truly 'smiting' (what a word, huh?), New Orleans, why would He stop there? Does any of the preachers who are spreading this type of thing realize that God hates sin, and New Orleans did not have a corner on it!

    I am going to preach tomorrow about the truth of God being there THROUGH the storms, NOT on how the city of New Orleans deserved that...

    "It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor. The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked will perish!"
    - Psalm 112:5-10 -

    By Blogger Ray, at 9/03/2005 05:00:00 PM  

  • I am so ashamed that so many are saying such crazy things. My husband addressed that very thing from the pulpit yesterday. Why would anyone feel the need to "help" God in calling this a judgement for sin? If that were the case, my house and everyone else's in the world would be flooded! So sad.
    We are collecting money at our church here in Monroe, Lousiana where my husband is the minister. We have refugees here who need help as well as money to send with our workers who are going down to NO. My husband left today to spend the week working in the Mandeville area. If you would like to donate through our church, please see my blog: preacherwife.blogspot.com.
    Thank you and God bless.
    lisa c

    By Blogger Lisa C, at 9/05/2005 04:08:00 PM  

  • After my son died, I was amazed at some of the people who brazeningly told me why suffering happens. I know other parents who have lost children that have endured the same comments. After the Tsunami in south Asia, I heard people agains speculate why suffering exists. So I guess people are now going to speculate as well. But LET ME SAY this: While some have critically thought about the subject of suffering and evil and others certainly have not, while some have good theology and others certainly don't, NEITHER opinion help the person whose suffering is so intense that he or she cannot even think but only weep -- weep physically, mentally, and spiritually. Such a person only needs a friend who will be there with them in their suffering.

    By Blogger K. Rex Butts, at 9/05/2005 10:04:00 PM  

  • "Together "
    When the storms of life are howling
    And the levy of life can't stand,
    When the force of Mother Nature
    Leaves destruction across our land.
    When lives are filled with struggle
    To survive through all the pain,
    When all we have is lost
    On the brink of going insane.
    When all that's left is faith
    And belief in the Father above,
    Together we need to unite
    Reaching out to them in Love.
    This is not the time to criticize
    Or to point a finger of blame,
    It's a time to work together
    To bring healing to the pain.
    Let's dig into our pockets
    Reach out to willingly share,
    Hand in hand together
    To show for them we care.
    Together we can rebuild
    Together there is hope
    Together there is comfort
    Together we can cope.
    Together we'll rise up
    No matter what the weather
    Through faith and hope and love
    We can do it - "Together".
    September 2, 2005 © Jim Ness

    http://www.expressionfromtheheart.com

    It irates me to see all the criticizing, blaming, and games being played for political gain. People are hurting and need a united America to reach out to them with healing and hope.


    May the Father give strength to the survivors, to the families and to all those sharing what they can to bring healing, hope and love during this tragedy.

    By Blogger Jim Ness, at 9/07/2005 12:31:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Joel Maners, at 9/08/2005 12:32:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    I' glad you brought up this subject. I've had some extensive conversations via e-mail with Jim McGuiggan on this very subject. As you may know, he wrote a book called Celebrating the Wrath of God that deals with this. After studying, it appears that God does have complete control over everything, including nature. In Job chapters 1 and 2 it appears that God is the one who sends the destructive wind that kills Jobs family. In Luke 13, we learn of a group of Galileans who were slaughtered by an occupying army. When asked about it Jesus replies, "Repent, or you too will perish." Wen confronted with a blind man, Jesuswas asked, "Who sinned? This man or his parents?" Jesus replied, "Neither, this was done so that the glory of God could be revealed in his life."

    I realize that these are different incidents but all point to some common threads.

    1. God is in control of everything. We typically say something is random until we learn the dynamics involved. Gradually as we increase in knowledge, what we call random, recedes.It become predictable. If God has infinite knowledge of every molecule in the universe, is anything random or arbitrary to Him? The storm didn't just happen on it's own, He made it happen. If he's going to take the credit for "good" weather, then he has to take responsibility for the "bad" weather. We just can't let what we call "bad" become "evil". God can't do evil things.

    2. God clearly states that he uses acts of nature and even entire nations to do his bidding. He states specific instances through the prophets, and they are authoritative, of course. In the New Testament we have Jesus making authoritative statements in Luke 13. But what if Jesus was not asked about the incident with the Galileans. Would it not still be an act of judgment?

    3. We can't think that we are any better than any other sinner just because our lives were spared. Jesus makes this clear in Luke 13. God doesn't hold our coats while we throw verbal stones at victims of disaster.

    In conclusion, I don't think this gives us the right to go around wagging our finger at New Orleans or any other group of people who suffer. But we can dismiss the idea that this could have been God's judgment. Or like the blind man who was brought to Jesus, this may have been done to reveal God's glory. The question of who sinned is almost irrelevant. No one is innocent, we have all sinned. The real question is, what are we going to do to reveal God's glory in this difficult situation.

    I think that this is a topic that needs much further discussion. I'veonly touched on a few highlights here. Too often I hear people attribute the "good" in their lives to God and the difficulties to Satan or nature (Job 1:21). It's time we got the Truth about God from our pulpits an not just a sugarcoated sweet God.

    Thanks for your blog.

    By Blogger Joel Maners, at 9/08/2005 12:45:00 PM  

  • In an email discussion with a brother who believes that the destruction of New Orleans was a "Sodom-and-Gomorrah"-type judgment from God, I commented that New Orleans was no more sinful than any metropolis on Earth. He responded, asking if that was my conclusion about S&G as well.

    I wrote, "I don't have to come to a conclusion about Sodom and Gomorrah. I have God's Word, in which God figuratively signed His name to the destruction of those cities. Unless He does so, though, I must go on the word of Jesus in Luke 13 and the suggestions given in the conclusion of the book of Job. In both places, God scolds people for deciding that disasters and suffering are moral judgments, without His input on the matter. When God destroys, He leaves no doubt as to the source. When Satan destroys, he encourages people to accuse God."

    Am I off-base in my understanding?

    in HIS love,
    Nick

    By Blogger Falantedios, at 9/09/2005 02:17:00 PM  

  • The usual chorus of some who believe they are following a biblical prophetic model can be heard pronouncing that Katrina was God's judgment on New Orleans.

    Some facts they miss:

    1) Biblical prophecy of doom almost always preceded the event of destruction in order to bring about repentance - rather than following it as a way of heaping abuse on those who have suffered.

    2) This was the position of Job's friends who insinuated that his calamity was due to his sinfulness. They were wrong, God was angry with them for misrepresenting him, and ultimately Job was the intecessor for them.

    3) When Jesus encountered those who were suggesting that the Galileans were slaughtered by the Romans because of their sinfulness, he turned the conversation back on those making such suggestions. He denied that these after-the-fact claims were right in asserting that the Galileans were greater sinners. Seems those making such accusation ought to heed Jesus' warning.

    By Blogger Greg Newton, at 9/12/2005 12:17:00 PM  

  • Mike - some people with an honest heart who have never studied the Bible so in-depth as many biblical scholars around your church cannot help but wonder if the Hurricane was not really an act of judgment. After all, it sure does look like it was, especially if you have ever been to New Orleans and seen the utter depravity and wickedness. You are totally right in that we CANNOT know. But telling honest sincere ministers who have given their lives to the gospel to "SHUT UP" because they have made an undue assumption is at best childish and immature, and helps nothing but your own ego. With all sincerity and love, I expect more from someone who has been entrusted with the ears of 2000 souls every week. I love you brother Mike.

    By Blogger Anonymous, at 9/14/2005 01:43:00 PM  

  • Yesterday, our preacher did a lesson on Katrina. It was about how God CAN cause these incidents to happen. The problem was, he was vague when answering the question, "So...WAS it God's fault?"
    If we preach this lesson in our churches, the next logical question is "WHY would God do something like this?"
    And we all know from Job that God doesn't like that question!
    Instead of asking "Whose fault?" or "Why God...?" it just seems we should be asking, "How can we show God's love through this?"
    Why do we have to blame anyone?
    Why do we THINK and not ACT?
    Would Jesus be "explaining it away" in church...or would He be healing the masses?

    By Blogger Franklin Wood, at 9/19/2005 03:09:00 PM  

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