Tropical Storm Cindy

Tropical Storm Cindy downed oak

Tropical Storm Cindy surprised everyone in New Orleans Tuesday night as she toppled ancient Oaks, uprooted Crepe Myrtles, and ripped down power lines. In a city accustomed to keeping a close eye on approaching hurricanes, a mere tropical storm didn’t seem to warrant much concern. Seventy mph winds can do more damage than most realized. Not since the legendary Betsy (1965) were so many New Orleanians left without power. She tore a sheet of tin off our garage, split a termite infested Oak tree a block away, and ruined all the food in our refrigerator /freezer. After two full days without electricity, we finally had power restored last night. I really didn’t mind the ordeal to much. I did have to put up with complaints from those suffering air-conditioning withdrawal, but lunch at Taqueria Corona and an after-noon at Rock and Bowl seemed to stave off the worst of it.

Tropical Storm Cindy downed oak 2



Yep. We are fine. Thanks. Now we have Dennis to contend with. It looks like New Orleans will be wide of harms way, but I need to watch him close, since our church is 50 miles east of here and closer to the cone’s center of probability.

I’m preaching through Galatians right now, but I’m seriously considering taking a pause from that and putting together a talk, “How to Pray in the Hurricane Track.” I keep hearing people say, “I’m praying that the storm misses us and hits Florida.” I’m not sure that’s the best way to focus our prayers. I just started thinking about this a few minutes ago, but I’m thinking: 1. Pray that God would be glorified, both in our eyes and the eyes of the world. 2. Pray that God’s will would be done, resting in his mighty hand of providence. 3. Pray for safety, but without wishing harm to others. 4. Pray for a heart of trusting confidence in the goodness of God, no matter where the storm hits. 5. Repent, lest you too likewise perish. (Luke 13:1-5) With that last point, I believe that all destruction comes as a reminder and foreshadow of ultimate judgement on deserving sinners. The fact that we have not already been swept into the se of God’s wrath hinges only on his grace. I do not normally preach topical sermons, but I think I’ll work on this today. Any thoughts?

Rock ‘n Bowl is a classic New Orleans vintage bowling alley. In the evenings they have live music and its a fun place to hang out. Follow the link above to their web site and check it out.

>>Any thoughts?

Hah! Funny you should ask for my opinion!

Actually, I’m certain you could do a better job addressing this difficult topic than I could, but you may find this interesting:

A well-respected Southern writer named Flannery O’Connor wrote stories that were often quite violent. She professed her faith as a Roman Catholic, and she was very clear about the goodness and holiness of God. Yet her stories are replete with people being gored by bulls, shot my escaped convicts, left stranded, drowned, etc.

One of her best known stories, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” is about a family of totally respectable, totally self-centered, selfish, unkind, flattering, deceptive people driving out on vacation. The reader sees them systematically mock the poor, quarrel with each other, deceive each other to get their way, etc.

Then they all end up by the side of the road, the wrong road, their car broken down. They are found by a murderer and his cronies, and one by one each member of the family is led away into the woods. The last to go is the wily grandmother. She flatters and flatters her killer, but even though he answers her with common courtesy, there is no getting away from him. Just at the end, as he suddenly tells her of the life of pain he has suffered as a sinner and outcast, she changes and seems to recognize that he too is a person, just like she is.

Now, no longer flattering, she suddenly declares he is one of her own, and with a snarl he shoots her. She falls down dead with her arms out, as though on a cross, her eyes heavenward. One of the other criminals mentions that she’d have been a good woman if there’d been somebody there to shoot her every day of her life.

And that, of course, is the point of the story. Confronted with getting her way all her life, she always acted to get her way. Confronted with the reality of her own death, she suddenly expressed genuine compassion.

Flannery O’Connor herself, I soon learned, drew a distinction between mercy, which she saw as actions to provide comfort and solace, and grace, which she saw as any action that drew the person’s attention to God. As a person who suffered (and eventually died from) Lupus, her stories showed that most conversion to real faith occurred upon acts of “grace” that would make most people’s blood run cold.

And yet, there is a truth in her writing. When I compared her view to Scripture, I saw that Paul himself was knocked off a horse and blinded, an act of grace to convert him, though it certainly terrified and humiliated him. Later, Paul appears to still suffer some after effects or else some other “act of grace”, a thorn in the flesh that teaches him he must rely upon God. But this thorn in the flesh is given to him by God to keep him from straying.

Stephan, the first martyr, suffered a terrible death, but his death was a grace given to the church to show them how to die as Christians.

When I consider the hurricanes that are sure to pummel us this year, I recall that God, in His grace, can cause us pain.

The first priorities of God are to give us fellowship with Him, and then to give us love for each other. We, even those of us who believe, are too easily caught up in building our houses, building our bank accounts, furnishing our tables. So God sends hurricanes.

Regrettably, it’s in losing the things we treasure on earth that makes us treasure God above and the fellowship we have in the comfort of other Christians. So there will always be hurricanes.

I’m sure if you say these things to your congregation, they will be jumping out the windows before the end of the sermon. But God does take things from us, including things we think He should not take. But He takes away earthly things to give us heavenly treasures.

We have a divinely given right to cast our cares onto Him and tell Him what we fear. So it is right to ask God to spare us from whatever He chooses to bring.

On the other hand, our first priority is to know God, and so we ought to ask Him to use the hurricanes to cause us to know Him and understand His ways with us.

And when I am afraid, I always remind God that I’m only flesh and have never seen heaven at all. I tell Him that He has never been through these things as a blinded sinner, and He has promised to guide me through them. Like any sinner who can’t see the enormity of the goodness of GOd around me, I’m going to cling to the one goodness I can see and understand, His promises. So even if He’s trying to teach me something, I think He should remember that a creature of frail flesh will cling to the literal promise of God very hard and depend on it, and I want Him to be mindful of that.

In the end, I don’t think we should tell God where to send the hurricanes or what to do with them. But I think we can get as articulate as we need to be in asking Him to keep us calm and trusting Him. We ought to tell Him exactly what we fear.

But I never pray solely for grace. I always ask for equal parts Mercy, just in case Flannery O’Connor was right!


Interesting thoughts Jeri.

I doubt we would have anyone jumping out of windows. Most of our people sport deep scars from the grinding graces of God. We walk with Jacob’s limp. We recognize the sentiment of C. S Lewis when he wrote, “Pain, as God’s megaphone, gives us the only opportunity we may have for amendment. It plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul. All of us are aware that it is very hard to turn our thoughts to God when things are going well. To ‘have all we want’ is a terrible saying when ‘all’ does not include God.” Such talk in our church usually finds nodding heads of agreement from folks who would fit right into the pages of a Flannery O’Connor short story.

btw, I’m going to have to save my Hurricane sermon for another day. Dennis will pass too close for services tomorrow. I reluctantly had to cancel.

Doc Mohler had a few good thoughts about praying in hurricane season the other day on his blog. I’ve had a hard time not praying that it would go somewhere else this time, since it seems to be headed up my Mom’s street (if not driveway!) — but I remember what she went through last year with Ivan, and I don’t want that to happen to anyone.

Dinnis jogged to the east of the Hurricane Centers prediction. That, coupled with the storms narrow focus, sent not much more than a brisk wind here in New Orleans. I have not heard any damage reports from our church members on the coast either. It looks like we are all good. Praise the Lord.

No offense intended to Ms. Swanson, but I’ve always had trouble with “C” storms: Carla, Celia, Candy. 🙂 All hit near where I used to live on the Texas coast, Carla and Candy being direct hits (1961 and 1967).