Thursday, August 25, 2011

Natural Evil

I was sitting in a large ballroom with 400 of my closest friends yesterday when I felt it; I knew exactly what it was. I leaned over to my friend and whispered “earthquake”. Sure enough, a few seconds later we were on the streets of Baltimore waiting for the tremors to end and get the “all clear” to re-enter the Baltimore Hilton.

Tomorrow we fly down to Orlando to lead a retreat. Can you say “Hurricane Irene”?

When natural disasters strike we often wonder where God is in the mix. Does God cause these things to happen? If so, why? Is God helpless to prevent these things from happening? If so, is God really omnipotent? Is this just the way the world is? Or is it a result of some kind of evil? Here are some of the ways others have described it.

1. Natural disasters are God’s punishment on the wicked. Undoubtedly you have heard someone say that AIDS is God’s punishment on the gay community or that Hurricane Katrina was sent by God to clean out New Orleans. But then again, what about infants who contract the HIV virus or innocents who drown in NOLA? Not very satisfying to say God is just, but those folks are just “collateral damage”.
2. Others say God allows these things to happen so that good can come from it. Take a look at the Church’s response to natural disasters throughout history. We step up to the plate and become the visible presence of Christ in the world. That’s good stuff! People come to Christ through our ministrations and we have the opportunity to flex our missional muscles. But do we really serve a Heavenly Father who will cause death and misery to some of his children so that other children can do good deeds? I don’t think that is the God our Bible teaches us about.

Instead, I think these natural disasters are a result of our fallen state. If you read the third chapter of Genesis you will see that in the fall we become estranged not only from God, but also each other, ourselves, and creation. Simply put, before the fall there were no natural disasters. And to add hope to this message, when Christ returns in final glory and puts all things right again, once again there will be no estrangement between us and God’s creation and hence, no natural disasters.

You and I live in the “in between times”. We live between the fall and the final consummation of God’s kingdom. So, let’s not grow weary in doing good. Let others see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Things are certainly changing in the Higgins household. Three years ago we sent our oldest, Bo, off to Reinhardt University in Waleska, GA. For the past two summers he has stayed on campus, taken classes and worked. But, we still had three teens at home with our twins and a young man, Dekarius, who lived with us for a little over a year. We moved Dekarius down to Florida last month where he will live, work, and next year attend a local college. Many of you know that Chris left July 5th for boot camp at lovely Ft. Jackson, SC. He’ll graduate in September and go to Ft. Meade, MD for additional training. Carley leaves for Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville at the end of this week. Next week, Pam and I will be empty nesters!

This will certainly be a new chapter in our lives. I know we’ll miss their presence, energy, clutter, and friends dropping by. Dinner will be more of a challenge to prepare as I move from preparing for an always undetermined number of adults and teens to just the two of us. And I know the dinner table will be a bit lonely for a while. But I also know we are looking forward to some of the changes that are coming.

And that’s pretty much life, isn’t it? Our post-modern culture is one of quickly accelerating change. And change is good, but sometimes painful. It has been said that we are either growing or dying, and growth requires change. Think of all the change in McEachern through the years. We moved from a wooden structure to the brick chapel. In 1990 we built the current sanctuary. We embraced new technology like indoor plumbing, electricity, air conditioning, and video. The “old guard” made room for a new generation over and over again through the years so the congregation could keep moving forward. Each generation struggled to be faithful to the Gospel in the context of the changing culture and that led to what we now know as the church we love. As the old preachers like to say, “We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us”. Thank goodness those who went before us embraced those changes.

The good news in the midst of sometimes bewildering change is that God remains the same. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13.8). With all the changes going on in our house these days that may just become my favorite Bible verse for a while.