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Where Is God In This Pandemic?

The Problem of Suffering

During these trying times with sickness and death all around, we ask why do good people suffer? What did whoever do to deserve this? Isn’t God all-powerful? Can’t He make this go away? I will attempt to answer those questions. First the easy ones.

Isn’t God all-powerful? Can’t He make this go away? — Yes is the short answer, but that raises a second question: Why doesn’t he?

Because we live in a “fallen broken world.”

Genesis 3:14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,

cursed are you above all livestock

and above all beasts of the field;

on your belly, you shall go,

and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.

15  I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;

in pain, you shall bring forth children.

Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,

but he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife

and have eaten of the tree

of which I commanded you,

‘You shall not eat of it,’

cursed is the ground because of you;

in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18  thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19  By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread,

till you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

for you are dust,

and to dust, you shall return.”

It is all Adam’s fault that we get to live and die in a broken world that is full of sin, sickness, war, and death instead of a paradise where we would have lived forever. And who exactly pronounced this curse? Yep, the Guy who is all-powerful and could make this all go away—but He won’t, at least not with an all-powerful wave of His hand. We can thus conclude that whatever happens in this world is a result of the Adamic Curse.

The Apostle Paul says as much. We enter the world identified with Adam and his sin but have a second chance if we identify with Christ.

1 Cor 5:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

ALL this suffering we hate in life is the natural result of living in a fallen world.

Does God allow it? Of course, He does. He pronounced the curse, remember?

Spring ahead 3,000 years to the time of Israel. God created the nation Israel and gave it a set of rules we call the Law of Moses. It was really a conditional covenant between God and the nation He created. Conditional, meaning both parties of the covenant were obliged under its terms. God promised blessing for Israel if Israel followed the Law (of Moses), but He also promised discipline if they did not.

God knew they could not meet the terms of the covenant, so He provided a means of finding “judicial righteousness” (to avoid the discipline if they failed) and forgiveness through animal sacrifices, which were a picture of what Christ would do at the Cross. This “forgiveness” (atonement = covering of sin by the blood of the sacrifices) was good for one year before they had to do it all over again. But they failed even under these terms.

Written into the Law and seen in Deuteronomy 28 is a listing of the blessings Israel would receive for obedience and a list of cursing for not. (Go read Deut 28. You will be shocked.) The discipline included sickness, defeat in war, and even being expelled from the land they were promised and taken into slavery. Yes, those were God’s provisions. Israel failed twice to meet their side of the covenant and, ultimately, in both cases, they were expelled from the land.

What you see in the Gospels during the time of Christ is a spiritually sick nation that was less than 40 years away from the final judgment seen in Deut. 28. Had Israel been spiritually well and meeting the terms of the covenant, you would not have seen the sickness that Jesus was constantly healing. You would not have seen the resistance of the “religious” leadership to His Messiahship. About 36 years after the Cross in 70AD, using Rome as His instrument, God destroyed Israel in a long and awful war then expelled them out of the land with many going into slavery to the Romans. Yes, God did that! But more accurately, Israel did that to themselves. They could have had great blessings but … If God did that to “His People,” what do you think He will do to the rest of the world when we slip into that kind of God-rejecting behavior?

John 9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

This passage was recently used by a priest as an argument to reject the “image of a monstrous Father,” but he left out the answer to his own question about human suffering found in the very next verse.

John 9:3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

The passage had nothing to do with rejecting the “image of a monstrous father.” Rather it is about is God taking a product of a fallen world and using him to demonstrate who Christ is. As a result, how do you think the blind man felt about it? Do you think he would have been better off had he never been blind? His suffering produced a teaching moment for both the blind man and those who were witnesses to the act then and for thousands of years after. Through one man’s temporary blindness, a whole world saw who God is and that He is capable of fixing what Adam broke. The blind man and thousands of others who have accepted Christ are in heaven today because of the incident.

We live in a broken world that God is leading to redemption. Yes, there is a time when broken will be fixed, but meanwhile, we must live with what we have and allow God to teach us about ourselves and Himself.

The promise of the coming vehicle for that repair is seen in that Genesis passage at the beginning of this study when God placed the curse on Satan, Adam, the woman, and the world. He said to Satan—

Gen 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.”

Satan’s offspring would “bruise his heel” a damaging but not fatal blow — Christ’s death at the Cross

The woman’s offspring will “bruise your head” a fatal blow — Christ’s victory over Satan’s attack at the Cross and His resurrection.

Is this pandemic God’s discipline on this Christ-rejecting world? Maybe, but I think it may be the beginning of something else, but that is another study.

And I leave you with this. What do these passages below say to you? Think long and hard about your answer. Eternity is a very long time to have buyer’s remorse.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Gal 2:16  yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

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Cherry Bounce Update #1

I wrote of my Cherry Bounce experiment where I am attempting to reproduce my father’s recipe here. Not having his original recipe, I used a modified version of a recipe attributed to Martha Washington.

What I did not mention in that post is I later added a second experiment using an old recipe from a friend’s French mother, although slightly modified to accommodate my available supplies. I will call that one my Roy Recipe in honor of Mrs. Roy. She used wild cherries from her own yard. Not having a cherry tree in my backyard, I used dried, tart, pie cherries. Her recipe called for vodka instead of whiskey or brandy and not cooking the mash. So I have two jars set aside to rest for three months.

Well, I couldn’t wait any longer. I know, it has been slightly less than two weeks, but I had to taste them.

I could drink them now, and probably will next week for Christmas. The Martha Washington recipe with the cooked mash and Sazerac Rye whiskey is rich in flavors and complex, much of which comes from the rye whiskey. The Roy Recipe is less complex due to the vodka but is still quite good. Without the MW version to compare to, you would like it a lot. But I think I much prefer the more complex Martha Washington version. I’m pretty sure that one or a version of it will be the basis of my next and larger batch I’ll make after Christmas.

I will allow others to taste both at Christmas and let you know what comes out of that.


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Cherry Bounce

My dad, Dr. MB Casteix, used to make cherry bounce. His foray into creating adult beverages began when he was quite young. Since he started college two years earlier than most, having skipped two grades, he must have been younger than 16 on his first attempt because he was still living at home with his parents. At that time they were living on Bourbon Street in the building that is now the Famous Door Bar. It was a pharmacy at then, and the family lived above it. I wrote about his cherry bounce escapades here.

I decided I would like to attempt to recreate MB’s cherry bounce, but I don’t have his recipe and have no idea how he made it. I did a search online and found a few recipes, including one that is attributed to Martha Washington.

I did know one thing about MB’s recipe, and that was that it evidently continued to ferment in the bottle. In that linked post above, there was a recalled incident of the top blowing off the bottle and scaring the hell out of our maid. The recipes I found called for adding bourbon, rye, or brandy to the cooked cherry mash then storing that for three months. The alcohol should prevent any further fermenting, I would think. But I have to go with what I have.

So…I created a modified version of Martha’s recipe in smaller test proportions and cooked up a batch. The attached pic is the cherry mash before adding the rye whiskey. Unfortunately, we will have to wait three months to see if it is any good.

So, stand by…


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“You going to wear that?”

I used to consider myself a pretty good dresser. (Note the past tense.) As finances allowed, I stayed up with the styles, especially when younger. While in school, we young men were careful not to make any fashion faux pas that might hurt our chances with the ladies. We would exchange the latest fashion trends amongst ourselves. (Surprised, ladies?)

I worked in a men’s store part-time while in college and learned many things about the proper gentlemanly dress from another salesman who was a VERY dapper dresser, and the women absolutely loved him. From that experience, I learned about proper trouser length, how much cuff should show from under the sleeves of your coat, proper color matching, NEVER mix patterns (which seems to be de rigueur these days, go figure), and other sundry dressing codes for young men.

This carried forward even into my military service. My uniforms were always starched with creases sharp enough to cut thick-skinned tomatoes into paper-thin slices. My sense of style even got me into trouble when I tapered my trousers. My CO obviously wasn’t as fashion conscious as I was, and he made me take the taper out.

Even though my business life after the service, I was required to wear suits to work and I even enjoyed it. As the years passed, the dress codes relaxed to allow just trousers and a nice shirt—but no jeans. Then dress-down Friday came along, and “nice” jeans were allowed. As I neared retirement, even jeans became acceptable every day. Ah, the times they were a-changin’. But that excluded wives.

Eventually, every married male will, at some time, hear that fear-inducing question from their spouse concerning whatever it is they have on when about to head out for the night’s festivities. It comes in three versions, representing ascending levels of both distaste and threats should the offensive behavior continue. Whatever the level of distaste expressed, they all come at that moment when the spouse steps out of the bathroom fully dressed to the nines and encounters innocent you standing there buttoning the last button on your shirt or tidying up the knot of your tie. Let me expand on this below.

Threat Level 1 – She steps forth from the bathroom and finds you standing there. She stops in her tracks. One eyebrow goes up and the other goes down in a questioning glare that begins at your feet and slowly makes its way up to the top of your head. The innocent (clueless) you look like a deer caught in the headlights of a car that is a half a second away from the impact. You very stupidly say, “What?”

Here it comes. In a tone that suggests only mild disagreement with your fashion choices, she casually tosses out (like a hand grenade), “You going to wear that?”

Gentlemen, let me clearly state that “yes” is the wrong answer. Don’t waste your time arguing. Whatever you have on must be changed immediately.

Threat Level 2 – Same scenario as above, but this time that question is asked just a bit differently. It comes out as, “You going to wear THAT?” Note the very strong emphasis on “that.”

Gentlemen, a “yes” answer will mean being sent to the couch for at least three nights. Don’t even think of going there, but tuck your tail and find something to wear that she approves of.

Threat Level 3 – Same scenario but this time the question becomes a command, “You are NOT going to wear THAT!”

Gentlemen, a “yes” reply here will ultimately involve lawyers and cost you lots of money—assuming you survive the night. Save yourself some grief and just let her pick something out, put it on, and shut up.

I don’t know what happened to our sense of fashion between our early years and retirement, but we obviously lost it along the way. At least, that’s what my wife tells me whenever I attempt to dress for some social event.

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Kappa Sigma

I was not the best of students in college. Frankly, I played too much and compounded that by changed majors and changed colleges. My grandfather, an educator and principal at East Jefferson High School where I attended, had mapped out a curriculum designed to prep me for architecture. But I hated math, even though I did well in it when I applied myself, so architecture (before computers doing all that calculating) did not have much appeal. I started out taking fine art, because I had no idea what I wanted to do.

And I minored in beer. Made good grades in that, but not so much in the more serious courses. I finally woke up and realized a career in fine art was not likely to be very profitable. Hearing about a great program in advertising design at the University of Southwest Louisiana that sounded like it might provide a living, I transferred and changed my major. It was a wise move professionally, because I did eventually manage to make a decent living in advertising after college.

ks-6Meanwhile, some new friends at USL (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette – ULL) recruited me to join a frat, Kappa Sigma. My roommates and I went though rush in the fall of ’65, and we all ended up pledging the Epsilon Chi Chapter of Kappa Sigma, one of the largest and oldest fraternities on America.

Ever see the movie Animal House? No, we weren’t that bad (were we?), but the Kappa Sigs were indeed called the “animals” long before the movie came out. We even got put on probation during my pledge semester—not “double secret probation” like in the movie, but probation none-the-less—hazing among other things… Hey, it helped prepare me for basic training in the military! The TI at Lackland AFB screaming in my face was a cakewalk after Hell Week as a pledge. (The pic is of me doing my Otter imitation years before Otter became famous in Animal House.)

Much to my surprise, I was recently contacted by an old (literally) frat brother, Chip Manion, to tell me about a gathering of some brothers living in New Orleans. We only managed to collect up five of us; three others were unable to attend, but we did gather for lunch and spend some time “reeking.” (No, I’m not going to explain that. It means different things to different brothers at different times, both good and bad.)

Not long after that I was notified that a brother, Bo Cooksey, was in the advanced stages of cancer, and an event was being put together for his benefit. In the spring, Janis and I journeyed back to Lafayette for a gathering of sixties era Kappa Sigmas from Epsilon Chi Chapter at the ULL Alumni house. My first thought upon walking into the gathering was who are all these OLD men? They were actually a rather distinguished looking bunch. Some dressed in suits, others more casually, many carrying a few extra pounds and a less hair than when I last saw them.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but September of 1965 was the beginning of a life-long friendship with many really fine gentlemen. Back then I never would have believed some of them would achieve what they did, but many went on to serve honorably in the military during the Viet Nam War, some became doctors, lawyers, financial bankers, politicians, builders of industry, and leaders of their communities. Yes, the “animals!” I saw people I haven’t seen since I graduated. Seeing these old friends and renewing friendships from college was something I will cherish forever. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed their company—and how much fun we had together.

Some I have kept up with, but alas, some I have lost touch with, because they have passed to that “Great Chapter House in the Sky,” or something like that. Some of my fondest memories of college are associated with my brothers in Kappa Sig.

Even though we may have been negligent, “trapped” in our lives of marriages, raising kids, making a living—growing old, it’s not too late to renew fellowship with old friends. We have pledged to gather again before too many more of us move on to that Great Chapter House in the Sky. I encourage you to do the same while you still can.


ks-shirtI found my old jersey from college. I am amazed at how much it shrunk just sitting a drawer all these years.  😉

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Suffering and Sin: not always go hand-in-hand

In the words of Blue in An Eternity of Four Years, “Trials make you bitter or better. You pick which.”

Potholes in the Road of Life

This is part two of the Three Day Quote Challenge I’m participating in. Part one can be found HERE and the first post explaining it all HERE.

The other day I was doing some devotional reading on the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John. The devotional was speaking about Jesus’ teaching on the man who was blinded from birth, verses 1-3:

“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (‭John‬ ‭9‬:‭1-3‬ ESV)

The devotion also included several quotes from various theologians and preachers, some you may be familiar with:

“Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins–but sometimes the trial of extraordinary…

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