Humans have problems seeing the implications of their own actions. We frequently try to solve one problem and inadvertently create other, unintended problems. One classic example is the introduction of Kudzu vines in the South to combat erosion. Today, over two million acres of forested land in the Southern states are covered with the Japanese import. The University of Florida says that “Kudzu will grow over anything in its path (other plants, buildings, road signs) and eventually kill other plants it covers because it blocks out sunlight. Kudzu will also girdle stems and tree trunks, break branches, and uproot trees and shrubs through the masses of vegetation produced. Kudzu has been reported to grow roughly one foot per day once established.” This certainly qualifies as an unexpected consequence! This is what humans, with good intentions often do.
God, however, is different. There are no unexpected consequences to his actions. There are no random happenings. He has no "oops" moments. So, when God purposed for a volcano in Iceland to begin a series of eruptions this month, he was not at all surprised or chagrined that the ash clouds billowing upward from the volcano would disrupt travel in Northern Europe and America. Indeed, thousands of travelers have been stranded, business appointments delayed, and weddings rescheduled. The finely pulverized ash not only diminishes visibility, but also can damage jet engines. Air traffic was scheduled to begin being restored Tuesday, April 20, but today’s eruptions have put those plans in doubt.
You may recall that in an earlier newsletter this winter we looked at Job 37:5-7:
God's voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,'
and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.'
So that all men he has made may know his work,
he stops every man from his labor.
While this volcanic event is not snow, the voice of God is certainly thundering. The power unleashed is beyond our comprehension. And like the snow, this volcanic ash falls to the ground, disrupting travel. Many who made what they thought to be definite plans have been frustrated and forced to take refuge in airports. God has once again stopped a large cross section of humanity from its labor.
The question still remains, what will we learn from God’s intended consequences? So far this year God has used huge snowfalls, earthquakes and one little-thought-of volcano to bring man’s labors to a halt. As the hurricane season approaches, there is a real possibility that just one moderately large storm could dramatically alter life on the East Coast of the United States. Imagine a series of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and hurricanes all occurring within days of each other. Such a combination would disrupt life and work for millions.
How do you think people would react to such catastrophic events? Would you expect the news networks to call for people to consider the glory of God and his awesome power as the reason for such events? Might we perhaps consider repentance, instead of only crying out for relief, as an appropriate response to the power of these events?
No, I don’t think we would expect such a response from the news channels. But how about such a response from the church? Surely, God’s people would see such a string of events for what they were? Or would we? God has called us, his church, to be salt and light in a dark world. We live in a world that continues to believe that it can do as it pleases, disregarding the Living God of the Bible. If we are to have an impact for Christ, we must have the highest regard for God—for who he is. It is his voice that thunders from the volcano, from the storm and from the earthquake.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Losing the gospel doesn't happen all at once, it's much more like a four generation process: the gospel is accepted, the gospel is assumed, the gospel is confused, the gospel is lost.
"Christians profess belief in the gospel. Their symbolic burial and resurrection from the waters of baptism indicate that they mean to take up their cross and follow their Lord, but the very ethic of their commitment-less love does not provide them with the opportunity to fulfill these professions with their actions. These sheep are so poorly taught and so imbued by the secular culture's commitment-less conceptions of love that a man's conscience is barely triggered (if at all) when he turns to his wife and says, 'Honey, I'm tired of this church. Let's look elsewhere.' As she quickly agrees and they lightly depart, they fail to recognize their breach of the new commandment Christ gave to his church--'love one another as I have loved you'--even though they may affirm this commandment in their minds. The world at large then looks to the Christian church and hears about 'Christ's love,' but it sees nothing different from what it's already known, because our commitments to one another are chap and easy. So why would the non-Christian bother (unless he's entertained)?"
Play the Security Card. It’s simply not safe for everyone important to be in one room. Instead, you’re home or at an undisclosed location. Say everyone gets a stomach virus – God forbid – and can’t preach this weekend. Who is Bethlehem Baptist going to call? Probably you. It’s a good thing you didn’t attend.
Yes, this makes you the Dick Cheney of T4G. Live with it.
“My very dear child! What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore His goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and He has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be. Your affectionate mother, Sarah Edwards.”
I adore the goodness of God in all the years that he gave my granddaddy to me and my family. I do hurt at his death. I hurt in a way I have never hurt before. It's a hurt that seems to cut both ways. In a sense, you want it to go away or ease up. But, in another way--just as fervent--you don't want it to leave because the depth of the hurt is an indication of the depth of the love and I never want that love to be minimized or forgotten.