Sunday, September 04, 2005

Katrina Relief

Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto will be accepting donations this Sunday to send for Hurricane Katrina Relief Work. We will send all our money to the Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada, who intend to pass on the entire amount to Grace Bible Church in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Pastor Mark Webb and his elders will oversee the disbursement of funds.

7 comments:

  1. did God cause this hurricane?

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  2. I am not sure your question is phrased the way I would ask it... but the answer I think you are looking for is quite clearly presented in this post by Philip Ryken over at http://www.reformation21.org/Reformation_21_Blog/Reformation_21_Blog/58/?vobId=827&pm=114

    "Once again we are witnesses to a disaster and we are bound to ask: What is the right way for a Christian to respond?
    We respond with awe at the mighty power of God, who is stronger than Katrina or any other hurricane of any category. The sovereign Lord rides the clouds of the heavens (Ps. 68:33), and the stormy wind fulfils his word (Ps. 148:8).

    We respond with sorrow, grieving the dead. What images of death we have seen in the past week, and what stories of grievous loss! We weep for the man whose wife slipped his grasp and floated away in the storm. We mourn the dead grandmother under the blanket at the convention center. We grieve for the bodies we saw floating in the streets. And we mourn the loss of all the dead we will never know, the people trapped in their homes for too long, dying before medical care could reach them, and still waiting for the dignity of a decent burial.

    We respond with humility, acknowledging the limits of human competence. Many people are angry today, and for many different reasons. There are so many people to blame: the ones who didn’t evacuate, or spend the money to build a bigger levee, or develop a better disaster plan, or provide help sooner—on and on it goes. Anger usually comes when people’s expectations go unmet. This is a country with high expectations, and many people expected more. We are all entitled to our opinions about this, but we should also see the frailty of the human condition in all of this. How weak we are in the aftermath of a hurricane! We casually put our confidence in modern telecommunications, in our insurance coverage, and in the ability of our government to do something about a disaster. But how easy it now seems to end up in a situation—even right here in America—where there is nothing that anyone can do to help. And how quickly that situation becomes totally desperate! Who will ever forget the squalor of the Superdome, or the utter frustration of seeing people with needs that are so easily met, if only we could get the help where it was needed?

    We respond with pity, knowing that the depravity we have witnessed is common to us all. How bitterly disappointing it has been to see all of the violence and anarchy in New Orleans: the looting, the raping, and at times the almost complete breakdown of human society. The aftermath of the storm has brought out the worst in human nature. But then what would we expect from people who are fighting for their very lives and no longer have any outward restraint on their sinful desires. What a pitiable exhibition we have seen of the depravity of the human heart! And what great need we have of a Savior who will deliver us on the day of destruction.

    We respond with indignation, seeing that the poor have suffered even more than the rich. Hurricanes are indiscriminate in their destruction, raining destruction on everyone in their path. Almost no one on the Gulf Coast has gone unscathed. But more of the poor were left behind, in many cases because they did not have a vehicle that could get them out of town, or the money to get a seat on a bus or an airplane. The righteous see the structure of injustice behind the disproportionate suffering of the poor.

    We respond with trust, believing that God is working his purposes out for our nation and our world. But this is not to say that we know what those purposes are. Is Katrina God’s judgment on America, as some have said—his punishment for an unjust war on Iraq? Or is it perhaps his wrath against the casino towns of Mississippi and the wanton depravity of New Orleans, as others are saying? But if that is the reason for all this destruction, then what shall we say about all the other godless cities in this country, including our own? And what shall we say about all the godly people whose lives have also been lost, and all the faithful churches that have been destroyed? These questions are better left to God, who alone has the right to say what justice and what mercy he will show.

    Finally, and most importantly, we respond with compassion, helping those who are suffering and will suffer. There are many things that people can learn from Katrina. They can see the awesome power of God in nature. They can see the frailty and fragility of human life. They can see the limits of human competence and the wicked depravity of the human heart. But they can only see the grace of God if people reach out to help them in the name of Christ. This week we have seen many heroic and hope-giving examples of human courage. Now it is our turn to help. To begin with, Tenth Presbyterian Church is encouraging its members to give generously to the disaster relief agency of the Presbyterian Church in America. Checks should be designated for “Hurricane Relief” and sent to Mission to North America, 1700 N. Brown Road, #101, Lawrenceville, GA 30043 (or visit www.pca-mna.org/). We also support the work of World Relief, which is receiving donations to “Hurricane Katrina Fund” at P.O. Box 868, Baltimore, MD 21202 (or visit www.worldrelief.com). I am concerned that, like 9/11, this most recent disaster may have a negative impact on other Christian ministries. To that end, I urge you to make sacrificial gifts over and above your regular tithe to the church and your regular giving to other Christian organizations.

    Soon there will be much more for us to do. We will be working with our denomination to identify one or more PCA congregations that we can help in the months and perhaps years to come. If possible, we will send out work teams later this fall; look at your schedule to see if you have time to donate, or if perhaps your employer will give you time to participate in what will surely be a national effort. We will also give you more information about the City of Philadelphia’s plans to house up to 1000 refugee families. Be ready to open your home and your heart to people in need, just as your heavenly Father has opened his home and his heart to you."

    Does that answer your question?

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  3. Love your blog Pastor, keep it up! Why does God cause bad things to happen to good people? I think the more proper and probing question we should be asking is why does God, who is holy, allow sinful people to live at all. We as sinful people should all be condemned to hell but it is because of God hesed love and sovereignty that He allows us to live and breathe and it is because of His Sons' death on the cross for our sins that we can be reconciled to God. We can enter the kingdom and be justified before a holy God because of Jesus' sacrifice for our sins! We dont know when we will be called to give an account to God...I urge you, if you dont know Jesus Christ to read the Bible and seek God with all your being!! Only Christ alone can save! Follow Christ and trust Him alone for your salvation!!

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  4. no, this is not an adequate answer. if you hold to God being the god of "reformed calvinistic sovereign," then must you say that God caused Katrina for his glory? Also, the question "did God cause this hurricane?" was within God's foreknowledge and therefore predestined so how can it be "phrased" any other way? Did God cause Katrina for his glory (judgement on sin, or so that heros and churches could rise up and glorify him etc.)?

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  5. Anonymous,

    Sorry for not answering your question directly, I thought by giving another answer to another question may give some insight into this discussion. To quote Charles Spurgeon in relation to your original question(because he can say it far better than I):

    "It is true that everything is predestinated, and that everything that happens is ordered according to the unfailing purpose and will of God"

    and

    "I believe in divine election, because somebody must have the supreme will in this matter, and man's will must not occupy the throne, but the will of God."

    and

    "Opposition to divine sovereignty is essentially atheism. Men have no objection to a god who is really no God, a god who shall be the subject of caprise, who shall be a servile follower of their will, who shall be under their control. But a God who speaks and it is done, who commands and it stands fast, a God who does as he will among the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of this lower world, such a God as this they cannot endure. And yet, is it not essential to the very being of God that he should be absolute and supreme? Certainly to the scriptural conception of God, sovereignty is an absolute necessity."

    I hope this helps to answer your questions...have you checked out kerux's answer? What did you think? May the Lord greatly bless you!

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  6. thank you for your response twin#2; God has predestined that I respond at a later time . . . but I will respond. thank you for the qoutes, they are helpful. I will reply back soon.

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  7. Thank you so much for your question and for the responses provided. Those quotes are great. These are some interesting articles that you might want to take a look at in relation to disasters, sin, and God's Sovereignty, judgement and mercy, they are both from DesiringGod.org:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/library/fresh_words/2004/122904.html

    http://www.desiringgod.org/library/fresh_words/2001/091701.html

    A little quote from RC Sproul, might help our perspective on the issue of suffering: " We are puzzled and bewildered whenever we see suffering in this world because we have become accustomed to the mercy and the long-suffering of God. Amazing grace is no longer amazing to us. So our astonishment is in the wrong place. The real question is: Why has God not destroyed us all since we got out of our beds this morning? Why does He tolerate us as we continue our work of sin and destruction upon His planet?"

    I am so grateful to God for His infinite mercy and grace, to save a sinner such as I.

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