Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Picking Up

For nearly a month we have wrestled with the impact of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. Most of the time, we have watched on television, night and day. For Joslyn and I Hurricane watching has become a ritual.

When Hurricane Rita moved through Texas and South Louisiana, we started to feel some of the winds in Monroe. Over the weekend power was out in most of South Monroe because power lines were toppled by falling trees, bent to the extremes by the wind. For many, power still has not be restored three days later.

We heard the whistling of the wind and the crackling of tree limbs around us. A giant Oak tree behind our home cracked like a toothpick as it crashed into two houses behind our home. The tree poked holes in the roofs and stuck its limbs all the way to their floors. Electrical wires snapped and dangled into the streets.

All night we heard limbs falling from the tall Pine and Oak trees in our yard. Because their branches stretch over our home like great fans in the summer, we anticipate the worse in storms. Their potontial is devastating in strong winds. We fully expected one of those trees to plunge through our house as well.

By Sunday morning, most of the neighborhoods looked devastated. Tree branches, downed electric lines, and debris were everywhere. Amazingly, we still had electric power but no cable connection. When we arrived for worship, our congregation was was miniscule. Most had been battling the storm in the dark all night.

A family of 35 from Lake Charles worshipped with us. They spent the weekend cramped in a local beauty shop. Another family of 20, also fleeing Hurricane Rita shared with us as well. The sermon God gave me addressed the moment, "Life Is Not Fair, But God is Good."

We fed our guests after the worship and returned to our homes to pick up after the storm.

All we had was just the risidual winds of the storm, and we were dislocated. Those who were actually in the storm endured more.

As we drove home the sun began shining brightly in the sky. The clouds seem to break away and allow the reassuring sun rays to make a bold entrance. It was a striking contrast to the broken community we passed as we drove.

The sun was a welcomed sight.

It reminded me that "After the storm, the SON will shine."

God is still good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

We All Have Our Inner Tubes

Last night a Hurricane Katrina evacuee gave a testimony. We were meeting concerning our response to the diaster. The evacuee told how her son was stranded in New Orleans on a roof top with water rising all around him.

Just when he thought he would drown, he sent up a final prayer. Suddendly an inner tube floated by and he grabbed it and floated to safety when he was picked up by a helicopter.

That innertube saved his life.

We all have our innertube situations. I have certainly had mine.

Sometimes the Lord answers my prayers in grand ways. Then sometimes he does it in small simple ways..

...like floating inner tubes our way!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Soles Repaired

My favorite shoe repair shop closed. I scanned the phone book to discover that there is only one remaining shoe repair shop in our city. One place left that repairs holes in soles.

I have a few pairs of shoes that I have been wearing for years. Each time the soles or heels wear out, I take them to the shoe shop for new half soles and heels. The shoes are just like new at a third of the cost of new ones.

That's been my habit most of my adult life. Repair good shoes, don't throw them away.

Apparently my method is not fashionable anymore. Folks are not getting their soles repaired, they are throwing away old shoes and buying new ones. Resultingly, shoe shops are going out of business. (They don't seem to repair anything: marriages, relationships, friendships; they just throw them away and get new ones.)

I pace, so my favorite pair of black loafers often have holes in the soles. The other day I felt rocks on my socks as I walked. That's when I knew I needed sole repair.

I found the last shoe shop in town. The repairman looked lonely; glad to see a customer. She said can pick up my repaired shoes Monday; they'll be like new.

There are times when I feel like there is a hole in my soul, just like my shoes. I can feel the rocks of this world making things uncomfortable.

I'm glad that God hasn't gone out of business. He's still in the business of reviving worn out souls and making them just like new. He's not in the Yellow Pages but he is in the Book.

My shoes will cost me about $25 Monday, but I'll have new soles.

When God revives me though, there is no bill.

Jesus paid it all.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ravels, New Shirts & Cufflinks

When I returned home from the National Baptist Convention yesterday, I returned with 10 new shirts. They are multi-colored with my last name embroidered on the left collar. More importantly, they have cufflinks.

A few Sundays ago, my old white shirt that I've been wearing, with other old ones for about six years, had a ravel dangling from the sleeve. I didn't see it, but everyone else did, including thousands who watched as I preached on television.

After the service no one remembered what I talked about; only the ravel that floated through the air, clinging to my shirt sleeve everytime I moved my left hand.

Joslyn said that's the end of it. No more ravels. She said I am to get new shirts and cufflinks. Fancy shirts and cufflinks are low on my priority list. I'd rather cut the ravel off the shirt and keep wearing it; but Joslyn says the public will fault her for my ravel, saying "Why does she let him go out like that."

Now I have new shirts and some fancy cufflinks.

I'm not a flashy person. They look good, but they are not "me."

Since they won't ravel soon Joslyn will be pleased.

I have a few ravels in my life that keep showing too. Sometimes I embarass myself and can't focus on what I should be doing because I keep looking at my ravels. Fortunately, God looks at the inside and not the outside.

What does Joslyn think about that?

She says it's true that God sees the inside, but "black folks are not God they only see the ravels"...keep wearing cufflinks!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Ah Atlanta-Reborn

Joslyn and I are attending the National Baptist Convention this week in Atlanta. It is a city of high rise buildings whose pinnacles seem to touch the sky. It has beautiful parks, several wide eight lane streets and hustling commerce.

When General Sherman burned this city during the Civil War its inhabitants looked at the ashes and thought it could never be rebuilt. Margaret Mitchell even wrote a book about the determination of Atlanta citizens and Scarlet O'Hara, called "Gone With The Wind."

I see Atlanta and I think about New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina. It certainly can rise again.

Atlanta left behind its endearment of slavery and much of its racism. Maybe, New Orleans will have to leave a few things behind when it rebuilds.

To be born again, we can't do the same thing again. We must be brand new.

The good must rise from the spoils; the bad must be "Gone with the Wind."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Can't write a check

My wife Joslyn has always said that computers were going to be a curse on us. Now she's partially vindicated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Because I bank with New Orleans based Hibernia Bank my banking capabilities have been limited to making deposits and withdrawals up to $100.00. No online banking. No electronic transfers. Automatic withdrawals for regular payments have been halted. Credit card receipts from business activities can't be posted.

Hurricane Katrina has taken out many businesses in the New Orleans area. UPS has 2,200 employees in 22 buildings; they have not heard from several hundred of them. Georgia Pacific Railroad had 8,000 workers, they are out. BellSouth has reporte 1.6 million phones not working. Cox Communications has 1000 employees, 500 in New Orleans.

Then there is Hibernia Bank.

I'd open an account at another bank, but I can't transfer any funds.

The bible says in the last days that that the world would become totally dependent on a evil number based system that will not allow us to sell or buy anything or even make commercial transactions with the Satan's approval.

We have not reached that point in the Revelation prophesy, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina let's us know how close we are to the fulfillment of the prophecy.

Joslyn has been predicting a computer dependence meltdown for a long time.

However, she's not laughing about being right....she can't write a check or use her debit card either!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Fallout

I went to the makeshift shelter in our community for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. The number has grown here to 2,200 in one place. Yesterday, it was announced that another 5,000 are expected.

The number of hurting people is overwhelming.

It looks like a battle zone in the relief centers. There is so much need, yet what we are able to do seems so little.

To sufficiently rise to the occasion takes a united effort. I'm afraid the disunity of our community is beginning to reveal the cracks in the dam.

The Red Cross controls the whole process, the overwhelming majority of its staff and leaders are white. The overwhelming majority of the evacuees are Black.

Black agencies such as "Community Action" and other Black community relief groups are excluded from the relief process inner circles.

When that happens it means that big money is being raised, distributed and handled. Whites have a tendency to have a great compassion for the poor when there is money available.

So, most of our churches stand on the sideline doing what they can individually, but are being excluded from the big picture as others "help" our people...for a profit.

Jesus said the "poor you will have you always."

I guess that applies to poverty and disaster scavengers too.