Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dog Eared Pages - Rising From Katrina

Rising From Katrina - How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered by Kathleen Koch was a tough read. It wasn't the reading level, nor the way it was written. The book flowed very easily and chronologically it told of the days leading up to the storm and the days, weeks, and months that followed. It wasn't just some story book, it was the real stories of real people on the coast, some of whom I've met, some are public figures you hear about on a daily basis, and others, who like thousands on the coast, have a story of survival and loss.

I've seen picture book after picture book of what remained in Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Lakeshore and the gulf coast. All which contain pictures that each speak a thousand words and are awe striking and heart aching. But this book wasn't just pictures of seemingly nameless and unrecognizable properties. It shared the lives and stories of those who stayed and rode out the storm, those who left and returned to find everything in disarray - It shared those stories of those properties that used to be just another picture in another book and the lives that once dwelled in those homes.

I began reading this book just a couple days after the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I can tell you in the four years I have been on the coast after the storm I've heard heart wrenching stories, things I thought I couldn't forget. But as time went on stories began to slip my mind. This book brought back a lot of the things I was told in my first year I was in Lakeshore. Things that reminded me and showed me how far things have come, how lives have changed, and the resolve of the people on the coast who pulled up their boot straps hours after the storm passed to help their neighbors, help themselves, and not wait or expect others to come in and pick up the pieces despite the lack the basics of food, water, and shelter. As well as stories of the believers I know who clung to the only solid thing there was, Christ and His Word.

I can say without a doubt, of the books about Hurricane Katrina I have read, this is one of the best and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dog Eared Pages - Book Recommendations to Come

I told myself at the beginning of September that I wanted to set a goal for me to read through 4 books in the course of the month, in addition to my daily time in the Word. Well, I fell short by one and a half books. I will just have to set it up next month.

I set this goal for myself because it hit me a few weeks back while I was talking with a couple of women that I need to make the most of the time that I am given now. If I do marry one day and have children I will probably not have the time like I do now as a single that I can just sit down in the evening and read.

As I read I hope to be able to post a few book recommendations, as well as an occasional sermon recommendation as I seek to grow in knowledge and fill some of my spare time with good things and not just mindless tv shows (which trust me I have my favorites).

Lord willing I will post my first book recommendation tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Comfort in affliction

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Storm, O Blessed Hurricane

I have been reading a lot lately, the majority of it has not been on suffering and theology, though it probably seems like I have because the last two posts mention quotes related to suffering. Truth is I came across this quote as I was reading through the blogs I frequent and it was too good to pass up.

“On My arm, they shall trust.” Isaiah 51:5

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is quickly sinking, and no human deliverance can avail—he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God.

Happy storm—that wrecks a man on such a rock as this!

O blessed hurricane—that drives the soul to God and God alone!

When a man is so burdened with troubles, so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn—he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein! Oh, tempest-tossed believer—it is a happy trouble which drives you to your Father! –Charles Spurgeon

(HT: Erik Raymond)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Where is God amid so much suffering?

"So where is God amid so much suffering? Hanging on the cross, bearing in his own body the curse of his own law, drinking the cup of wrath and the venom of our sin and death. Even though we cannot see God's sovereignty and goodness reconciled in holocausts, tsunamis, hurricanes, and fires, here the harmony is empirically verifiable! God is neither aloof to our suffering nor powerless to intervene.

No one has ever suffered more unjustly at our hands than this sinless God-Man, and yet he was 'delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God' (Acts 2:23). We can be assured that in the crises we face, large and small, God works all things together for good (see Romans 8:28) because God's strength has once and for all been made perfect in weakness. The unity of God's sovereignty and goodness that will be fully disclosed on that last day has already dawned decisively in the work of Christ. God has triumphed over the serpent, sin, death, evil, and tragedy. 'It is finished!' Jesus cried. Our victory is assured, thought we walk through the valley of death's shadow (Psalm 23:4). In fact, in this famous psalm of comfort in distress, we can say 'i will fear no evil, for you are with me your rod and your staff, they comfort me.'"

-A quote from A Place for Weakness by Michael Horton

Monday, September 20, 2010

Building Homes and the Gospel Proclamation

I'm currently sitting at my desk catching up on weekend emails, the sounds of weed eaters buzzing outside the window, and sitting here amazed that over 5 years after the storm the Lord is still sending people to the gulf coast and specifically Lakeshore Baptist Church.

It sometimes just hits me that what the Lord is doing here is bigger than I could have ever imagined being possible by a church of around 30 members. Thousands upon thousands of volunteers have filtered through, 38 homes from the ground up have been built, over 100 homes rehabbed, hundreds of sheds built in the early days after the storm, countless cans of food and articles of clothing have been given out in the distribution center, and tons and tons of storm debris gutted from homes and pulled from yards. This is all amazing and we can't help but point to God and give Him the glory.

Yet, while that is all great, we do not want to pull away from the gospel itself. If we just build someone a home and neglect the gospel we just give them a comfortable place to go to hell from. I can say without hesitation that Lakeshore Baptist Church, while we desire to physically help people, sees the immense need for the gospel in our community and our hearts are burdened to see that the gospel message goes out.

I am blessed to be apart of this church, where you can count on hearing the gospel proclaimed from the pulpit and from behind a shovel or while hanging a piece of sheetrock, or while framing a home. The gospel can be heard while sitting in the distribution center and people talk and encourage one another or while a couple of men sit on the tailgate of a pick up truck. The Lord has used His children at LBC and volunteers who have partnered with us to spread that good news and the He has used that to draw people to himself. I rejoice at the lives that have turned to Christ and repented of their sin as the Lord has worked in their hearts. I look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store as believers committed to sharing the gospel are faithful to do so.