Mike Cope's blog

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The mayor of New Orleans said that God sent the hurricane because he's mad about the war in Iraq and racism. Pat Robertson said that God struck Prime Minister Sharon to punish him for his policies with Israel. I'm continually hearing from people who know what God wants. How do people know? Wouldn't it be better to admit that we don't have a direct line to the mind of the Almighty (other than through scripture--which still must be interpreted)? We need to practice the disciplines of spiritual discernment: reading scripture, praying, listening, living in community, seeking wisdom, etc. But like a wise, loving parent, God wants us to actually make choices. He isn't just waiting to be joyful or disappointed, depending on whether or not we figured out what he wanted. He has invited us into the journey.

34 Comments:

  • I guess God sent Katrina for a host of reasons - from wiping out sin and debauchery to cleansing New Orleans of racism. And I guess the poor folks of Mississippi were just in the way of all these messages God was sending to the epa-center of the world -- no, not Jerusalem -- New Orleans.

    By Blogger KentF, at 1/19/2006 05:40:00 AM  

  • Perhaps when we finally stop speaking for God we will finally be in a place to actually hear him speak for himself.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 1/19/2006 06:21:00 AM  

  • My question is did God actually send the hurricane or does He just allow horrible things to happen randomley (or purposefully)?

    Perhaps the real question is how do we respond to these events as Jesus' representatives? I've about decided not to be surprised by much anymore!

    By Blogger Amy, at 1/19/2006 06:31:00 AM  

  • Or maybe it's "what in the world should we do with Pat Robertson?"

    By Blogger Amy, at 1/19/2006 06:49:00 AM  

  • You say God was punishing people I say that warm water coupled with rotation of the earth and continued condinsation caused by low atmospheric preassure leading to high winds creating a cyclone type storm.

    You know. Tomato, tomahto.

    By Blogger Kyle, at 1/19/2006 06:49:00 AM  

  • "He isn't just waiting to be joyful or disappointed, depending on whether or not we figured out what he wanted".

    I never quite thought in those terms, but these words really spoke to me today. I think too often we are just going through life wondering if we have figured it out and we are either making God happy or sad! There is so much more to life than that! I pray I learn to be more involved in life and make my choices because I am in a relationship with God, not just trying to make him happy or sad.

    Peggy

    By Blogger pegc, at 1/19/2006 06:59:00 AM  

  • My friend Bill Gnade has written an excellent commentary on the "problem of prophets" in light of these current events that is definitely worth checking out.

    By Blogger mike the eyeguy, at 1/19/2006 07:01:00 AM  

  • What is the difference between giving God credit for bringing storms or for making us healthy, wealthy, and wise? Why are we cursed if we are in a storm and blessed when we get what we want; good job, new house, our kid lives?

    By Blogger Clint, at 1/19/2006 07:02:00 AM  

  • Mike:
    Isn't it funny that God is big enough to send a hurricane but not big enough to stop a war??? I have little patience for such people and such comments! I appreciate your willingness to speak out.
    Klint

    By Blogger Klint Pleasant, at 1/19/2006 07:10:00 AM  

  • I like your question, Clint. I suspect the answer lies in the "we" centeredness of our questioning.
    -----

    Perhaps the mayor of NO saw how much free airtime Robertson was getting and wanted in on it.

    By Blogger James, at 1/19/2006 07:13:00 AM  

  • Some really believe that there is more sin in New Orleans than in Abilene...that just baffles me.

    By Blogger Beverly, at 1/19/2006 07:14:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    You know I agree with you 99.9% of the time. I agree with the following from your post:
    "We need to practice the disciplines of spiritual discernment: reading scripture, praying, listening, living in community, seeking wisdom, etc.

    But like a wise, loving parent, God wants us to actually make choices. He isn't just waiting to be joyful or disappointed, depending on whether or not we figured out what he wanted. He has invited us into the journey."

    But I disagree with this thought:

    "Wouldn't it be better to admit that we don't have a direct line to the mind of the Almighty (other than through scripture--which still must be interpreted)?"

    I disagree with that for several reasons:

    I believe the Holy Spirit is still alive and well and isn't on vacation and one (ONE) of His roles is to speak to us on God's behalf.

    I believe that Paul tells us in Eph 4:11 that Christ gave to the church five gifts. Those gifts are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The church of Christ has traditionally recognized the last three and remained silent about the first two. I believe that the role of all five is that of equipping the Saints and not self-serving or others condemning.

    I believe that we (I'm not saying me here) can (at times) have a direct line to the mind of the Almighty (not the entire mind but perhaps a little-bity part). Through the hubs of the spiritual disciplines you've mentioned, with the Holy Spirit has our broad band, we can access the hard drive of the heart and mind of our Heavenly Father.

    I believe one of the biggest mistakes the church has made is the approach of only looking and hearing from God through scripture. If that is the case, then Heaven help those who didn't have access to it in the past. Maybe that is why they called it the Dark Ages?

    I guess a question that arises from this is: Are there still prophets?

    You might not agree with me, but I'd say yes.

    But praise God for all the stuff we do agree on.

    Like: Pat Robertson is a NUT!

    I love you brother.

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 1/19/2006 07:27:00 AM  

  • Some christians look for "cause and effect". As in "this issue is in your life because of this sin".

    I guess that thinking can work sometimes under the boundries of sowing and reaping.

    But in Job, there is no "cause and effect" for his misery.

    I welcome any discussion over "cause and effect" vs. Job since I've yet to do a serious study on this...yet. Thanks.

    By Blogger Agent B, at 1/19/2006 08:03:00 AM  

  • When I miscarried three times in eight months in 2003, several people told me that this must be God's way of telling me that now is not the right time for a baby.

    I had already been grappling with the possibility -- that seemed to increase with each pregnancy loss -- that some sin tucked away deep in my soul was the cause of all this.

    Now I know that my body was not producing enough progesterone to sustain a pregnancy into the second trimester. Our bodies are not perfect. These things happen.

    In fact, lots of bad things happen. I have to go with Kyle. There are not all necessarily judgments from God.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/19/2006 08:23:00 AM  

  • A sure sign of God's unhappiness with America:

    The unreasonable popularity of Pat Robertson, Rod Parsely, Joel Osteen and their ilk.

    God must be REALLY mad.

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 1/19/2006 08:26:00 AM  

  • I too struggle with how a person can say that they have the authoratative word on what God did and why. Sure, I have feelings as to why some things happen, but you are not going to hear me claiming this as an absolute fact.

    Maybe this is my problem I have to get over, but I have been burned so many times by someone telling me what God is telling them (about me) that I cringe anytime someone comes to me with the "word" from God.

    Mark Solomon, lead singer of a band called Stavesacre had the same experience when a fan at a concert told him that God had told him Mark's sister was going to be healed. This is touchy stuff, you had better be sure rather than acting on a goodwill feeling. Mark's sister died and his frustration over people's abuse of the name of God grew that much more.

    Can we be careful, discerning, and meek in knowing that there is a God and we are not Him?

    struggle wrestle grow.....
    maybe with just a bit of a limp

    Matt G

    By Blogger Matt, at 1/19/2006 09:23:00 AM  

  • Mike, Does this have anything to do with that Calvinism class you're teaching? =)

    I don't have the luxury of going to church at Highland, so please post as much as you want about Calvinism.

    Also, an unrelated question: I have a friend at New Life who's raising funds to do missions in Austria, but she needs a church to be her clearing house. Do you think Highland might be interested in doing that? And if so, who should she talk to?

    By Blogger Matthew, at 1/19/2006 10:03:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    After listening to your TULIP sermon last night, I was unable to figure out whether you are more of a Calvinist or an Arminian? Ummm...
    Good thoughts last night.
    I can't believe that you mentioned Pat Robertson's name in a sermon.
    Love you bro and I appreciate your willingness to stretch us.

    By Blogger Josh Ross, at 1/19/2006 10:07:00 AM  

  • God is God. He can do whatever and whenever He wants. He is sovereign over all. He can pass judgement or not when and where He wants. As a Christian, some non-Christians have asked me questions about the Katrina disaster and I can only say this, "My God is so awesome and sovereign. Let me tell you about what He has done for me in my life. And here are the ways I can serve God by serving those affected by the storms....." I am not in a position to tell people what God intended from certain events. But I can testify how those events have taught and blessed me. It must be a burden for people to feel as if they are the eyes and ears and judges for God here on this earth. I wish they'd try to refrain from making comments as God's PR rep. Good post. Thanks Mike.

    By Blogger Snapshot, at 1/19/2006 10:46:00 AM  

  • It's funny, you have people who have no idea what their dog is thinking but at the same time lay claim to heaven and earth in pronouncing the judgement of God on someone.

    In Luke 13, Jesus is teaching that we should not think that we are more righteous simply because a tragedy didn't befall us. He also seems to indicate that we all deserve to be hit by the hurricane. It is only by God's grace that ANY of us are alive. Instead of asking why it happened to them, we need to be asking, why doesn't it happen to us all.

    I also find it troubling that we attribut all "good fortune" to God while attributing all of the "misfortune" to chance or Satan. Is God in conrol of this world or not? think we let God off the hook too easily. We rejoice that God set Israel free from Egypt, but we forget about the thoudsands of first born children who lost their lives the night of passover. Then I hear people say "God would never do such a thing as that." Well, he did. Does that make him evil in your eyes? Maybe our image of God is just too nice.

    By Blogger Joel Maners, at 1/19/2006 11:46:00 AM  

  • "I am not in a position to tell people what God intended from certain events. But I can testify how those events have taught and blessed me."

    Good point Kelley. Remeinds me of when the disciples asked Jesus, "Who sinned, this man or his parents?" I wonder if we could translate this, "Who sinned, the city of New Orleans, The United States, or someone else?" Jesus answer would still be the same. "Neither, this was done so the glory of God could be revealed." I pray that God's glory will be revealed through this and every tragedy in our lives.

    By Blogger Joel Maners, at 1/19/2006 11:53:00 AM  

  • "Neither, this was done so the glory of God could be revealed."

    What does that even mean?

    By Blogger Matthew, at 1/19/2006 02:24:00 PM  

  • I think the mayor of New Orleans and Pat Robertson were sent to show us all what not to say. :)

    I'm not sure we will ever fully understand God's will and his ways this side of Heaven...but I have faith that he is always working for the good of those who love him even through the bad circumstances of this world. Who knows what we bring on ourselves and what is brought on by God? Is that really ours to question?
    I think God cares more about how we react to whatever comes our way. Maybe that is too simple?

    By Blogger SG, at 1/19/2006 02:35:00 PM  

  • I am still waiting for someone to blame Pat Robertson and Ray Nagin on George W? Am I out of line?

    By Blogger Hoots Musings, at 1/19/2006 07:44:00 PM  

  • No, No, No! You've all got it wrong. Katrina was the work of the Japanese mafia using a weather weapon on us in retaliation for us dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. Check it out at www.weatherwars.info

    By Blogger Brad, at 1/19/2006 08:17:00 PM  

  • Man, oh, man. we may not be sure what God is thinking but at least you can say you read my mind. (On this topic. Beyond that I wouldn't want you to be responsible.)

    By Blogger Val, at 1/19/2006 09:07:00 PM  

  • "He isn't just waiting to be joyful or disappointed, depending on whether or not we figured out what he wanted."

    I love the way you put this, but so much of the evangelical/CoC culture is built around discerning and then implementing God's will that the gravity of it is very difficult to escape in most of my interactions.

    I have trouble deciding how to react when someone engages me on a subject of "God's will" or "what God wants for me" or "what God was doing with the hurricane/911/a personal tragedy/etc"

    I don't discount that God will sometimes direct people - that he will give them a "direct line" - so I don't want to react critically. But I also wonder if that mentality can become a spiritual security blanket, giving a false sense of security that a person is "okay" with God.

    Grace and freedom, it seems to me, go hand in hand.

    Is it possible that the freedom to creatively choose and interact with God - to participate in the divine dance - is more frightening than obeying orders like a good soldier?

    By Blogger Matt, at 1/19/2006 09:14:00 PM  

  • For some reason, that verse about rain falling on the just as well as the unjust came to me. If that verse is true, then is the opposite also true? Tragedy befalls both the just and the unjust? I mean, what about all the Christians living in N.O.? And like Beverly pointed out, can we really say that N.O. has more sin than Abilene or any other city in the world? I've been wrestling today with questions such as these, asking God what He is up to and why certain things happen the way they do...whether or not God "sends" bad things or "allows" bad things or what. So far, all I have is more questions. I can't wait until we are in heaven and all the complexities about God's will and how it works are completely revealed. Until then, thanks for provoking this discussion, Mike, and challenging us all to think.

    By Blogger Heather A, at 1/19/2006 09:33:00 PM  

  • Have you ever noticed that people pronounce "God's intentions" mostly when BAD THINGS happen?
    But, when we get a promotion at work, it's because of the long hours WE put in! When we have a baby...the DOCTORS did a good job!
    Why does God only intend for bad things to happen to people (according to these prophets?) I wish we would do a better job of either:
    1)Proclaiming God's GOOD intentions and not just the bad, or
    2)Quit trying to "interpret the signs."

    By Blogger Franklin Wood, at 1/19/2006 10:14:00 PM  

  • Joel -

    Prophets? Absolutely -- Megan, John Willis, Jo Bass, Bono, David Wray, etc.

    People who have called me (us) to ways that are more God-formed and who have opened for us the mission of Christ in this world.

    However . . . I'm a bit more skeptical about the kind you're talking about: the ones who claim to be channeling for God. Haven't yet any yet whose lives and messages measure up to what you're talking about.

    There seem to be LOTS of people who claim they're prophets. It's a wee bit confounding that they don't agree on what they say. God is certainly a confusing God, eh?

    God has given the church prophets: the ones who speak forth the Word of God with their lives and words.

    But pardon my skepticism about the kind you're talking about. I understand why people would WANT them -- we crave certainty! -- but so far I'm not impressed with the confusion and pride that seems to prevail.

    Peace, friend.

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/20/2006 05:02:00 AM  

  • When Hurricaines kill people, people always want to blame God. We forget that the because of the sin of Adam the earth was cursed. Eve's sin caused the curse to be born in her own body (and every descendant thereafter); but, God curses the earth because of Adam. So let's play the blame game...it is all about "original sin". Now that we have established the fault, what about the solution? Maybe, out of tragedy and lament, God causes grace to abound? Our puny little minds just can't comprehend how this works without the eye of faith. It is all about His sovereignty.

    By Blogger bradfordlstevens, at 1/20/2006 08:20:00 PM  

  • never posted a comment on this site: enjoy reading it! Thanks for your heart and insight.

    You said:
    However . . . I'm a bit more skeptical about the kind you're talking about: the ones who claim to be channeling for God. Haven't yet any yet whose lives and messages measure up to what you're talking about.

    Counterfeit: To make a copy of, usually with the intent to defraud. Whether its diamonds, money, prophets - never a good thing BUT it doesn't discredit the real thing. ask my wife :)

    i hate these comments, as much as the next follower of Jesus. I have met confusing, arrogant and misleading 'teachers', 'pastors', ''evangelist', 'prophets' and 'apostles', but that is not a good enough excuse to discredit the real ones.

    By Blogger blogginiscool, at 1/20/2006 09:21:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    Just look at the number of comments and you will see how much the subject of the "will of God" is on people's minds. You write very well and you need to write a book on this. I get so tired of people saying that God has a preacher picked out just for our church and when they hire him he lasts a couple of years and they fire him. That just doesn't make sense. Please share more of your thoughts.

    RC

    By Blogger RC, at 1/24/2006 06:42:00 AM  

  • SG said: "I'm not sure we will ever fully understand God's will and his ways this side of Heaven...but I have faith that he is always working for the good of those who love him even through the bad circumstances of this world. Who knows what we bring on ourselves and what is brought on by God? Is that really ours to question?
    I think God cares more about how we react to whatever comes our way. Maybe that is too simple?"

    This is along my line of thinking. I gave up long ago trying figure *everything* out. I believe that good and evil both have power in this world. Let's not forget about the powers of Satan that can wreak havoc in our lives (though I'm NOT saying that Satan sent the hurricane). My time is best spent by reflecting God's light in this world, not figuring out who or what caused the areas of darkness in it.

    My two cents on "the blame game": A friend's youth minister told me that my brother was born with mental retardation and cerebral palsy because one or both of my parents must have sinned in some way, and my brother's condition was a consequence of that sin. That was almost ten years ago, and it still burns me up. I wish we could have that conversation again so that I could ask him what he thought of Jesus' words in John 9.

    By the way, my brother now lives at a group home in Abilene. (DRI--it's a great organization.) He *loves* worshiping at Highland when his group attends it!

    By Blogger joytothegirl, at 1/28/2006 06:22:00 AM  

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