“I have a loaf of bread in one hand and the Bread of Life in the other.” Pastor Sam Green of Palm Bay, Florida.
I just got off the phone with Pastor Sam this morning September 14, 2005. Again, he was ecstatic about what God was doing in hurricane ravaged New Orleans. He and his team of 12 arrived in New Orleans yesterday. He met Pastor Bill Shanks, the real Mayor of New Orleans, who arranged for the missionary crew to unload all of their supplies at the East Jefferson Community Health Center. That's right! Pastor Sam spent last night sleeping in a dentist's chair.
When the missionary team unloaded all of their goodies, they were absolutely flabbergasted at how much they had brought. It appeared that the Lord had multiplied the supplies ten times. Pastor Sam's shirt was soaked with sweat and so was everyone else's on the team, but their hearts were filled with joy. There is nothing so exhilarating as laying one's life down that others may live. Today, they plan to distribute and cook hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone. In the evening they are planning a big celebration service to bring honor and glory to King Jesus, the true king of New Orleans .
Please note well, that the first one to plunge into the heart of this national disaster was the Church of Jesus Christ. You won't hear this on the television or the radio, but the Church of Jesus Christ is rising to the occasion in extraordinary ways. She did not wait for permission from the government, she did not find fault with everyone from the President of the United States to the Mayor of New Orleans, she just silently moved into the devastated areas with a love for Christ and a desire to rescue her fellow man. Thank God for His Church. It is bigger than the Red Cross, FEMA, and the collective governments of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama put together. The Church is bigger than the federal government, the kings of this world, and all the stars in the universe. God's Church is great because God Himself resides in it.
Who do you think was the first to build hospitals to care for the sick? Who do you think was first to establish orphanages to care for orphaned children? Who do you think was first to care for the poor, the downtrodden, and the heavy-laden? It was not “the government.” It was the Church of Jesus Christ. Our nation, when she reflected these high ideals that come straight from the Bible, was indeed a shining city set on a hill. All nations were drawn to her and to her God because the Church of Jesus Christ was her firm foundation. Freedom unlike that of any other nation, was manifest in America because the Spirit of the Lord was here. 2 Corinthians 3:17. Jesus was King.
Yes, God's Church is stepping up to the plate in the midst of Katrina's devastation to help her fellow man. Unfortunately, the Church in America has lost her clear vision and mission and, because she has, our nation is floundering in a morass of perversion, anarchy, hatred and murder. Isaiah said it best, “See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She was once full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her – but now murderers.” Isaiah 1:21. We have become a nation of murderers, killing our young, old, weak, and handicapped. Proverbs 8:36 tells us that “…all who hate me love death.” It is because we have pushed God into a closet, thrusting Him behind our backs, that a spirit of murder has been unleashed, filling the corridors of our schools, work places, and homes with blood.
God's judgments upon our backsliding abound, but we do not see them! When 19 men with box cutters brought this nation to its knees – we did not see the hand of God in it. It didn't fit our conception of who He was. But our conception of who He was, had nothing to do with the reality of who He is. He has destroyed men, kings, kingdoms, and nations in a moment. Just a cursory reading of the Bible will help us to know that He is not to be trifled with. He is Almighty God, not the comical Wizard of OZ, Santa Clause, or our divine cosmic bellhop ready and waiting to meet our every need.
No, God does deliver judgments upon a people who turn from Him, and Katrina happens to be one of those judgments. Just like 9-11 was a judgment from God. The word Katrina comes from a Greek word catharsis (cleansing). This word is found in the Septuagint in Psalm 119:9 “Wherewithal shall a young man keep his way pure ? If he taketh heed according to thy word.” The way that a man is purified (catharsis) is by heeding the Word of God. Katrina has purified (cleansed) New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport, Mobile , and the entire region from drunkenness, homosexuality, Voodoo, witchcraft, gambling, Mardi Gras, and passions of the flesh. When we were in New Orleans last week, most of the people said that their city was being cleansed by God Himself. Why isn't this being reported in the news? The people of New Orleans recognize the hand of God's judgment.
Unfortunately for us we are looking to rebuild rather than to repent. It was the same in Isaiah's time. God's people were rich, secure, and very religious. They were always in church praying, praising, preaching, and tithing, but God said their hands were full of blood (Isaiah 1:15). They were killing their children (child sacrifice) and praising God at the same time. This He will never tolerate. Never! The people thought things were just fine between them and God because He had not judged them (in reality He had given them several remedial judgments to turn them to Himself but they did not see them). So when disaster came, they simply sounded the tune, “let us rebuild!” Sound familiar?
“The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel. All the people will know it – Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria – who say with pride and arrogance of heart, “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” But the Lord has strengthened Rezin's foes against them.” Isaiah 9: 8-11. This is what God thinks of rebuilding rather than repenting. He will stiffen the judgment. Why? Because He loves us. His judgments will continue their relentless mission until there is true repentance.
Why wouldn't the people repent before God rather than trying to rebuild what the judgments of God had brought down? “But the people have not returned to Him who struck them, nor have they sought the Lord Almighty…those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.” Isaiah 9:13-16. It is crystal clear here that God was the One who struck them. He was the One who was disciplining them. Their prophets were not telling the truth about God and about His judgments. The people did not know to repent because the prophets were proclaiming the message “we will rebuild” rather than, “we must repent.”
God's Church has responded splendidly to come to the aid of the brothers and sisters caught in the judgment of hurricane Katrina. God is looking to cleanse us all. He has been very merciful and patient with us desiring us to repent and return to Him. The question remains, will the prophets of God, who have the ear of this nation, call us to national repentance over the shedding of innocent blood (abortion) or will we arrogantly try to rebuild that which God has brought down?