Sunday, June 29, 2008

A few changes.....

You'll notice that my "blogroll" on the left hand side of the page is now in a new format. Rather than an alphabetical listing of my favorite blogs, the roll is now set up in more of a "feed" format. As the 20 or 30 blogs to which I link update, their updates will be listed at the top of the roll.

I've also taken the opportunity to add a couple of links that I enjoy but have never linked to from this site. Take the time to check out some of these places. Most of the blogs and sites to which I link have edified, encouraged, or educated me. Some of the others have made me think, while there are some to which I link simply because they make me laugh!

I've also removed a couple of links.....mainly because, while their site still exists, they've stopped updating (yes Hannah.....I'm talking to you :) ).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why do foolish men claim to speak for an infinite God?

The first five paragraphs of the following article are preparatory words to get to the main point of the article which starts in paragraph six. I make this statement in hopes that you don’t get bored and leave off reading the article prior to that point!

I’ve spent most of my 35 years of life living in Kansas. During that time I’ve seen several “natural disasters”. Tornadoes, flooding, large hail, ice storms, and damaging winds are simply not all that uncommon in Kansas. Granted, they aren’t an every-day occurrence, but some years bring about more of these types of things than other years. Occasionally you’ll see one part of the state take more of a beating than other parts of the state. Some years back, when we were living in the southern most part of the state, we saw massive flooding and catastrophic hail hit during the same calendar year. One other thing I remember about that year was standing in the parking lot at my job watching a tornado that was hitting the ground about 15 miles to the north…pretty exciting stuff!

Now those of you who do not live in the Midwest might assume that tornadoes are a nearly daily experience around here, but that’s not quite true. Every year that I can remember there have been tornadoes hit somewhere in the state, but most generally they hit in outlying areas and cause little property damage. While Kansas has a goodly number of tornadoes some years, we also have plenty of open land upon which those tornadoes can run amuck without posing any immediate threat to life and property.

I say all that to get to this point: The last 12 months have been unusually volatile as far as the weather is concerned. During that time I’ve seen flooding that nearly had me trapped in town; an ice storm that knocked some outlying areas out of power for weeks and placed my family and I in a Red Cross shelter for a short time; softball-sized hail that destroyed my (under-insured) automobile; and a record high for tornadoes that have touched down. The most uncommon aspect of the tornado season thus far this year is the damage it has brought to many communities and cities. Last week a town that is 10 miles down the road from us was all but leveled and a larger city also saw an incredible amount of damage (including more than 20 million dollars worth of damage to the campus of Kansas State University). Additionally, there 2 people killed and several more hospitalized as the result of the tornadoes that dropped last Wednesday night. This years tornado season has brought about more deaths in a shorter period of time than any other on record.

My Uncle and Aunt’s house was destroyed by a tornado last week. They’ve been in the house for 40 years and their two youngest children were raised there – all four of their children spent at least some portion of their teenage years there. They certainly weren’t the only folks in that town who lost their homes, as some 70% of the city was completely destroyed and another 15% suffered varying levels of damage. It was somewhat heartbreaking the first time I entered town and saw how torn up it was. As I was watching the news that night and reports were coming in of the damage and deaths caused by the tornadic activities, I shed some tears. I called my Uncle as soon as the tornado had left his area and asked if they were OK. “We’re fine”, he said, “but the house is destroyed, the garage is gone, and our cars are smashed.” As I’ve been in town a couple of times now, it’s been difficult to see some of the raw emotions. So many memories lost forever….many folks were still attempting to process it all.

Now to the point of this article…..When it comes down to it, sin is the root cause of all “natural disasters”. Without sin, the earth wouldn’t be behaving like this, I suppose. I doubt seriously that Adam and Eve ever had to climb into a tornado shelter before the Fall, or worry much about outrunning lava from a volcanic eruption…..there’s no doubt about it, sin is the reason behind these sorts of things.

That being said, nothing makes my angrier than wicked men claiming to know God’s “motivation” behind these sorts of disasters. On two different occasions during the last week I’ve heard men claim that this tornado that destroyed Chapman, Kansas last week was simply God dealing with some wickedness (one of these men was a preacher). I’ve heard many people claim that the disaster in New Orleans several years ago (Hurricane Katrina) was God judging a wicked city. One man I heard this week even alluded to the idea that 9/11 was God’s judgment on New York City and he hopes that God takes out San Francisco next. Aside from the shear idiocy and hate-mongering of these ridiculous statements, I am most amazed at the audacity of any man who would brashly assign motivation to a God whose thoughts are beyond ours. How on earth does any man find justification for this sort of thinking and speech? Who are you that you attempt to speak for God? What revelation is this which you claim?

I certainly would never dismiss the idea that God could use this sort of thing as a judgment for sin. The Noaic Flood, the earth opening up to swallow Korah and his cohorts, the fire and brimstone that rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, not to mention the plethora judgments of Egypt in Exodus are all examples of God using “nature” to judge. But in each of these instances, the “disasters” were exta-ordinary. While many of the weather-related disasters of the last 5 or 6 years have left an extra-ordinary amount of damage and an atypical loss of property and life, they have certainly not been the result of anything that is outside of the natural course of things. Every time I see the results of a weather related disaster, it causes me to marvel at the power of God, but it wouldn’t be proper for me to ever assign motives to God for allowing it to happen. I would be a fool to do so.

The fact is that nobody is surprised when a hurricane leaves a swath of destruction on many coastal cities and states. There has never been surprise when a tornado touches down and causes damage in the Midwest. Earthquakes along fault lines are expected to occur every now and again. The only question about these things is whether or not the damage will be severe and, in the instance of hurricanes and tornadoes, will there be significant property damage and loss of life, or will the damage occur in less populous are open-range areas? The idea that God is arbitrarily taking out certain cities because of their wickedness is a foolish one. If God is going to destroy a place because of sin, why did He allow the tornado to pass right over the top of the adult bookstore outside of town and instead destroy a city that boasts one church for every 300 residents?!

I refuse to leave with the conclusion that God destroyed Chapman last week, or New Orleans 3 years ago, or Greensburg last year as a judgment for the specific sins of the specific people in those specific cities. Could He have? Certainly. Is there precedent for such a thing? Not without warning. Is it OK for a pastor, evangelist, or any other Christian to claim anything else? Absolutely not – those people would serve the cause of Christ better if they kept their mouths shut and committed themselves to studying the Scriptures a bit……

Monday, June 2, 2008

FOR SALE: 1 car....slight hail damage.....

A small, destructive storm cell passed directly over my place of employment today. For nearly an hour it was so dark outside that, had I not known better, I would have thought that it was 9:30pm. With the darkness came some rain, tornado sightings, and then some pretty serious hail. As a matter of fact, it hailed nearly non-stop for some 20+ minutes. Some of the hail was larger than baseballs....I've never seen anything like it. When the storm finally subsided, there was significant damage. As a matter of fact, of the 350 or so vehicles in our parking lot, there was only one I saw that didn't have the windows all broken and smashed in. Here's a few pictures of my car.....if you're interested in buying it, just leave me a note here... :)