Hurricane Harvey and Samaritan's Purse

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In October 2016 Freedom Church sent a small team to Bluffton, SC to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  Our team was blown away by the destruction but overwhelmed by the Samaritan's Purse team and the heart of people from all over the U.S.   

The first home we arrived to had a huge tree that had fallen directly on top of the house. The family that lived in the home had relocated from up north.  They had been living here for a little over a year and he was assured that he was relocating far enough inland that his family would be safe from any major effects of hurricane.  Welcome to the coast of South Carolina!

In a second location, there was a small mobile home park.  Trees were down everywhere, but somehow not one tree landed on any of the mobile homes.  It was evident that God’s protection was on them. 

Americans from all over had arrived in the low country of South Carolina to lend a helping hand.  There were people from other churches who sent down teams to serve.  A company out of Virginia sent their heavy equipment to help remove big trees.  One gentleman flew down by himself from the north just to offer his assistance.  We were even more impressed with those we would call our senior citizens.  They were working circles around everyone else.  It was hard, dirty, sweaty work and I won't say anything about the mosquitos. What we experienced was simply amazing! 

With everything that was going on in Washington, D.C. and even in our state governments one thing was evident; underneath all of the Democrat, Republican and Independent rhetoric, the heart that America was founded on was alive and well!

All these people who came together became the hands and feet of God, demonstrating God’s love that was guided by an organization called Samaritan's Purse. Any group or an individual can join and be a part of this amazing experience!  This organization is extremely well organized and brings glory to God in difficulty situations.

They had huge tractor trailers that had separate showers for men and women.  Another had an office and another had washers and dryers.  There was a local church who allowed them to use their facility for their people to sleep.  The volunteers were fed and had a place to shower and wash their clothes and were presented with a short training video.  Every morning before leaving we would gather together and pray.  The teams would go out and help with clean up.  As soon as we were done at one location a ministry team would come in and we would all pray with the homeowners.  They would present each homeowner with a bible signed by every member from the team and we would pray with them before we left.  It was touching to see as some of those homeowners with tears in their eyes received Jesus into their heart.  Samaritan's Purse recognized that loving the people was paramount to their hearts being open to receiving Christ into their lives.

It's times like these you may want to something but don't necessarily know what or how to help. I have shared some experiences with you related directly to the disaster that took place last fall in S.C. and now we have another opportunity to reach out to Texas.

 

Clemson Tigers National Champions 2017 - Endurance

I was in the Mauldin Sports Center getting my workout for the day and I overheard a group of older men talking about the Clemson vs Alabama National Championship Game.  One of them said, "This reminds me of David and Goliath.  Hunter Renfrow was the smallest guy on the field and he caught the winning touchdown."  Another guy spoke up and said, "Yea, he was a just a walk-on from Myrtle Beach."  In other words nobody expected much from him. He was the underdog.

It's amazing that the pattern we see in real life is the pattern we see in the bible. People who are underdogs sometime do some of the most amazing, unexpected things with their life.  I'm sure Hunter Renfrow had his naysayers just like David and Joseph.  David's own dad did not invite him to the coronation of the next King because he didn't believe David was King material.  Joseph the little brother was mocked for his dream. Each one of them an underdog.

We live in a world where it seems we want to blame everyone and everything else for holding us back in life, from keeping us from our dreams, for making us an underdog.

Like Christine Caine said at the recent Passion Conference.  "No matter what chaos is going on around you don't freak out, but you... will... need... endurance." 

If we are going to do what God wants us to do we will need endurance. Endurance is the ability of strength to continue despite fatigue, stress or adverse conditions.

Hebrews 10:32-35 NIV

32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

People may be insulting you.  People may be persecuting you. You may be experiencing conflict and suffering. It's gong to take endurance. In order for David to become King he had to have endurance.  In order of Joseph to save a nation he had to have endurance.  In order to be a part of winning a national championship Hunter Renfrow needed endurance.  And then there is Dabo Swinney!

  • His dad became and alcoholic and would beat on his mother
  • His parents divorced
  • Dabo cried in the High School Field House the night his parents divorced
  • They were evicted from their house
  • Dabo and his mom lived in motels
  • Moved into a condominium and was evicted 3 months later
  • Bounced from house to house staying with friends
  • His mom lived with him in his college apartment sleeping in the same bedroom

"He's always been the underdog." said former Alabama quarterback Jay Barker, one of Swinney's teammates. Dabo had to have endurance as well.

Hebrews 10:35 NIV

 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

All these underdogs David, Joseph, Hunter Renfrow and Dabo Swinney never threw away their confidence.  Just as David and Joseph are richly reward for their endurance Monday, January 9th 2017 Dabo and Hunter were richly rewarded.  They can call themselves National Champions!

So if you are the underdog, red, yellow, black, white, abused, rejected, neglected, abandoned or inadequate don't "freak out" and throw away your confidence.  If Dabo and Renfrow can do it so can you.  It just takes some endurance!

Congratulations Dabo, Renfrow and all the Clemson Tigers!  Monday night was a display of pure endurance (the ability of strength to continue despite fatigue, stress or adverse conditions)!

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Prayer and Fasting

Freedom Church would like you to join us for the month of January, as we set aside a season of prayer and fasting, to seek God as we begin the New Year.

During this time we commit to praying God’s favor on our lives, our relationships, our families, and our church. We know it is vital to keep God at the center of everything we do in all of these areas. We believe that as we set aside this time of prayer and fasting that we will draw nearer to God.

FASTING

The purpose of Biblical fasting allows us to eliminate the distractions in our life that interfere with our spiritual walk.  It enables us to hit the reset button of our soul and begins to renew us from the inside out. It also enables us to experience the goodness and mercy of God and prepares our hearts for all of the good things God desires to bring into our lives.

Remember, your personal fast should present a level of challenge. 

Seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do.  

BEGIN WHERE YOU ARE

We’re all at different places in our walk with Jesus. Our jobs, daily schedules, our family life and medical conditions are all different and should be taken into account. So most importantly, whether you’ve fasted before, or this is your first time, begin where you are. 

PRAYER

Fasting without prayer is a wasted opportunity.  Prayer makes room for more of the presence of God in your life.

POSSIBLE FASTS

There are several types of fasts.

Complete Fast – This fast calls for drinking only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option.

Selective Fast – This type of fast involves removing certain elements from a diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast, during which you remove meat, sweets, dairy, preservatives, and bread from your diet. You typically drink water and juice for fluids, and eat fruits and vegetables for food.

Partial Fast – This fast involves abstaining from eating any types of food in the morning and afternoon (6 am to 5 pm) or basically sun-up to sun-down.  

Media Fast – This fast is common for those who do not have much experience fasting foods or who might have medical issues. It allows us to refocus certain areas of our life that are out of balance. For instance, someone might select to abstain from using social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  It may also include not watching television or listening to the radio.

The time that you normally would spend in these areas you choose to fast should increase your Bible reading, prayer or worship time.

During this season of prayer and fasting, we are seeking the Lord in these areas:

   That God would reveal Himself to us in new ways. 

   That God would enlighten us in the areas we may be self deceived.

   Believing God for answered prayer to specific needs.

   Declaring our dependence on God in every area of our lives.

   Asking for forgiveness of our sins.

   Praying for our nation.

   Praying that more and more people would come to accept Jesus as Savior.

   Inviting the presence of God to move in a greater way at Freedom Church and our lives.

   Crying out to God for the next generation.

Corporate Prayer

Join us Monday - Friday from 6:30 am to 7:30 am for corporate prayer.  We will meet at the Summit Mauldin Campus at 48 Brookfield Oaks Dr. # A, Greenville, SC 29607

YOU CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW

Have you ever experienced life's negative turns?  I have!

Several years ago I went to pick up a young boy at school who was from a single parent home. His mom had asked if I would talk to him about some things going on in his life. I thought I knew where the school was located, but on the way I realized that I was heading to the wrong school.  This was the day before cell phones so I stopped at a grocery store to use, what we called back in the day, a phone booth.  As I got out of the car to use the phone I turned back and noticed my car was not there anymore.  I looked to my right.  I looked to my left.  Sure enough, I saw my car rolling down the parking lot toward another store in the shopping center. True story!  It was heading for the front window of an Allstate Insurance Company.  I could see the employees in the building running for dear life.  Fortunately my car did not go through the front window, but hit a pole and stopped.

That is what I call a negative turn in life.  Of course it was my fault, but some times the negative turns in our life occur without our assistance.

My question is how do you and I respond to the negative turns in life?

When life takes a negative turn that's when we really find out what we believe about God?

I am in this vein of reading the Bible and seeing a common thread.  This thread runs consistently through the entire Bible and plays a vital role in whether we experience victory or defeat over the negative turns.

ADAM & EVE: Adam and Eve disobeyed God, but their view of God caused them to hide from God instead of run to God.

THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL: When they experienced negative turns like the lack of water and the lack of food, what was their view of God? They said, "Why have you brought us out into the wilderness to kill us?"

THE 10 SPIES: They were all excited to be going into the Promise Land until life took a negative turn.  There were giants in the land. What they said reveals their view of God. Listen, "Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die by the sword."

THE WIDOW WOMAN: Remember her? She was about to run out of flour and oil. She had enough to make one more meal and then she and her son would die. Elijah tells her to prepare him a meal first.  She did and because of her obedience the barrel of flour and oil did not run out during the famine for three years.  Did you get that? Three years!  But then life took a negative turn.  Her sone died.  Even after experiencing the supernatural provision of God for three years she STILL did not know who God was.  What was her view of God? She believed that God was punishing her for something she had previously done. 

GIDEON: Life took a negative turn for the Israelites.  They would plant crops and when it came time to harvest the crops their enemies would come in and take away their harvest.  Gideon's view of God was, "Why have you abandoned us?"

Has your life taken a negative turn? What is your view of God? 

When Moses asked God to show him His glory God said, "I am full of mercy.  I am full of grace.  I am long-suffering.”

When Jonah finally went to Nineveh like God directed him, 120,000 people turned to God.  Jonah was mad with God.  He said, “I knew you would change your mind because you are full of mercy, full of grace and long-suffering.”

My encouragement is when life takes a negative turn ask God to reveal Himself to you.

Hebrews 12:1 says, "Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin which so easily entangles us. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us.”

I think one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is how we view God when life takes a negative turn.

Life took a negative turn when Goliath came out 80 times to challenge the Israelites.  But listen to what David said; "I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied."

UNTIL WE GET THIS ONE ISSUE SETTLED IN OUR HEARTS WE WILL HAVE DIFFICULTY DEFEATING THE GOLIATHS IN OUR LIFE!

I end with the words to a children's song. Allow these words to settle in your hearts and minds!  

My God is SO BIG! SO strong and SO mighty!  There's nothing my God will not do for YOU! 

 

SNAPSHOT

This past Sunday our message for Mother's Day was "Life Lesson's Learned From The World's Greatest Mom."  We were talking about Mary the Mother of Jesus.

There are four life lessons we can learn from Mary.

  • She stayed connected to her purpose
  • She stayed connected to healthy relationships
  • She stayed connected to the bigger picture
  • She stayed connected to God  

I want to focus on one of these life lessons; Mary STAYS CONNECTED TO THE BIGGER PICTURE.  

We all have a SNAPSHOT of what our life is going to be like.  What our marriage will be like.  What our children will be like.  What our career will be like. 

But what happens when the SNAPSHOT doesn't turn out like we expect it to?   Read what Gabriel tells Mary.

Luke 1:31-33  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  HE WILL BE GREAT, and WILL BE CALLED THE SON OF THE HIGHEST; and THE LORD WILL GIVE HIM THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER DAVID.  And  HE WILL REIGN OVER THE  HOUSE OF JACOB FOREVER!

Now that is a SNAPSHOT! What parent wouldn't want to hear that about their child?  

But that snapshot came crashing down the day Mary was looking up at her Son as He hung on the cross.  I'm sure there were thoughts that rose to Mary's mind. "This really wasn't what I signed up for. This really isn't anything like I thought it would be.  This isn't what Gabriel said was going to happen."

For me, there was a season in my life where I had a SNAPSHOT of a situation I was facing.  I had scriptures and people shared their dreams in reference to my situation.  It all lined up with my SNAPSHOT!

I'm sure Joseph (the Old Testament Joseph) had a SNAPSHOT for his life.  He had God given dreams, but his path to that dream seemed to be hindered by his very own brothers. When Joseph's purpose was ultimately fulfilled he makes this statement in Genesis 50:20.

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."

Has your SNAPSHOT been broken?  Is your marriage in shambles?  Did your kids not end up like you thought they would? Did life not turn out anything like you thought it would?

During this difficult season, I did well on three out of the four lessons learned from the "World's Greatest Mom." 

  • God's purpose time and time again helped me to persevere through the storm.  
  • Healthy relationships kept me strong.  
  • And boy did I stay connected to God!  

I worshipped during that season like I've never worshipped before.  I found myself coming out of worship strong and grounded.  I would go right back into the storm and whenever I would find myself wrecked I would head back into worship.  I wasn't seeking His hand; I was seeking His face. There were worship songs I would play over and over and over. There were moments when it seemed time was standing still. I found myself doing nothing, but adoring God.

All I can say is if your SNAPSHOT is broken worship...worship...worship...worship...worship!

Even though I was seeking God in an intentional manner, I struggled with connecting to the BIG PICTURE.  My SNAPSHOT got in the way of seeing the BIG PICTURE.  When your SNAPSHOT doesn't turn out the way you expected you have more questions than answers. Let me say that God welcomes your questions, but let's look at this quote from John Maxwell's book, Wisdom From Women in the Bible, "Your hope must far outweigh your questions."  

Every God given purpose comes with it's own set of impossibilities!  Paul's purpose was not only to open the door to Gentiles receiving Christ, but to stand before Caesar.  He went through multiple impossibilities that would keep him from his purpose: shipwrecks, snakebites, floggings, being left for dead and even betrayed by his own people. Life was filled with negative turns.

As Gabriel said to Mary, "Nothing is impossible with God." All you have to do is ask Mary, Joseph, Paul, Moses or anyone else to whom God has given purpose. 

The most difficult thing to do when your SNAPSHOT is broken into pieces is to trust God for the outcome. I leave you with this word of encouragement if your SNAPSHOT is broken.

MY GOD IS SO BIG,  SO STRONG AND SO MIGHTY, THERE'S NOTHING MY GOD WILL NOT DO FOR YOU!

Nothing is impossible with God! He redeems. He restores. He renews.

Note: The  premise of this message came from a book by John Maxwell titled, Wisdom from Women in the Bible, but the heart behind it came from my own life experiences.