Pray for All Affected by Hurricane Florence

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From: David Crews
Latest Update: Saturday, September 15, 5:30 AM
🙏🌀🌊⛈️
Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and South Carolina with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding. Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 mph, and it’s at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 mph.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center. Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

 North Carolina Flooding Expected to Worsen

The National Weather Service says 14 to 15 inches of rain has already fallen north of Swansboro, North Carolina, and it’s only going to get worse. Weather Prediction Center senior forecaster David Roth said catastrophic flash flooding is expected to continue to worsen Friday.

Roth said the heavy rainfall for southeast North Carolina is only one-third to one-quarter the way over.

“Plenty of heavy rain remains in the future for this region,” Roth wrote in the weather center’s rain forecast discussion.

 More Than 2,100 Flights Grounded

Airlines have canceled more than 2,100 U.S. flights from the storm’s approach on Wednesday through Sunday, according to tracking service FlightAware. The region’s two largest airports, in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, had more than 200 cancellations on Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says Charleston International Airport in South Carolina isn’t expected to reopen until Monday night. Wilmington International in North Carolina expects to reopen at noon Saturday.

 Rainfall Totals Could Be Staggering

Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at weathermodels dot com, calculates that Florence is forecast to dump about 18 trillion gallons of rain in seven days over the Carolinas and Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

That doesn’t quite measure up to the 25 trillion gallons Harvey dropped on Texas and Louisiana last year. Maue said Harvey stalled longer and stayed closer to the coast, which enabled it to keep sucking moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Still, 18 trillion gallons is as much water as there is in the entire Chesapeake Bay. It’s enough to cover the entire state of Texas with nearly four inches of water. That much rain is 2.4 trillion cubic feet. It’s enough to cover Manhattan with nearly 3,800 feet of water, more than twice as high as the island’s tallest building.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough rain to cover the Tar Heel state in about 10 inches of water. Maue calculates that 34 million people will get at least 3 inches, with more than 5.7 million getting at least a foot and about 1.5 million getting 20 inches or more.

 5 Deaths Reported So Far

At least five people were killed during the storm, authorities said. A mother and an infant were killed when a tree fell onto their home in Wilmington on Friday. The father was injured and transported to a nearby hospital, The Wilmington Police Department said.

Images showed firefighters responding to the scene and kneeling to pray. The firefighters were shaken up by what they witnessed at the scene, CBS affiliate WWAY reports.

 Massive Power Outages Along the Coast

At least 490,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage dot us, which tracks the nation’s electrical grid.

The numbers are expected to soar as the storm’s winds and torrential rains sweep over more land. Duke anticipates 1 million to 3 million of their 4 million customers in the Carolinas will lose power from Florence.

Hurricane Florence could inflict the hardest hurricane punch North Carolina has seen in more than 60 years. In 1954, the state was hit by a Category 4 storm, Hurricane Hazel.

“Hazel stands as a benchmark storm in North Carolina’s history,” said Jay Barnes, author of books on the hurricane histories of both North Carolina and Florida. “We had a tremendous amount of destruction all across the state.”

 Florence Hovering Near Cape Fear….Literally

The center of Hurricane Florence is hovering inland near Cape Fear, North Carolina. It remains a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 80 mph, but stronger wind gusts have been reported.

Florence was centered about 20 miles southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 55 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. advisory. It was crawling west-southwest at 3 mph, lifting huge amounts of ocean moisture and dumping it far from the coast.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.

 People worry and fear the worst for their property and possessions, and rightly so. Many may return to find destruction and ruin.

But they don’t have to find despair.

As a Christian, I want people to know God loves them and hasn’t forgotten them. A lot of people think when a storm comes that maybe God is mad at them, and He’s not. We share this simple, yet profound truth as we minister in crisis situations.

Franklin Graham said that Chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association are already ministering to people who have fled to evacuation centers. And as soon as the storm has passed, they will be going into hard hit areas with our Samaritan’s Purse teams who will be responding to the physical needs.

We don’t run from disasters – we run to them. We go to help people in Jesus’ Name. We work all over the world like this. And in every heartbreaking situation, I hear people from all walks of life say: “We’re just glad we have our lives and each other,” and, “My faith in God is the one thing that’s giving me hope.”

 Fear. Storm. Flood. Fire. Tornado. Disease. Famine. War.

No matter the calamity, no matter the outcome, I want people who are suffering to know that God is their “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

You see, God’s not just there for us when things are going well, or when we still have a home. He’s there when the going is tough and the rug has been ripped out from under our feet – or soaked in the floodwaters.

And God uses people to bring hope and healing in times of trouble. Too often, especially here in America, we are guilty of seeing what divides us more often that what unites us: our common, intrinsic value as God’s creation, highly valued and greatly loved by Him.

Franklin Graham said “Every time I go out to a wrecked home where our volunteers are helping begin the recovery process, I am privileged to see that love shared and human dignity affirmed, often through tears, smiles, and sweaty hugs among hard-working people from all over the country.”

When you’re hurting, or are in a time of uncertainty, or don’t know where to turn, I want to encourage you to first turn upward and ask God for His help. He is always there. Then, turn to your left and right, find the people around you – some who you may not have met until this storm – and flash them a smile, give them a word of encouragement, and most of all, reach out with a helping hand.

As Christians who sincerely care, these is not a time for any theological speculation as to the “why’s” of this catastrophic, natural disaster—this is a “time for prayer”—for the millions who are forced to deal with loss, property damage, even death. Fortunately, many believers have taken up this prayer need and are praying as we speak.

David Crews 

More Peace in a Stressful World

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“How important is peace of mind to you?”

Seems like this fast-paced, rapidly-changing, I-phone, tech world we live in today is getting more chaotic and crazy with each passing day.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
 
Rebekah Hargraves writes……
 
I don’t have to tell you that we live in a world today that is seriously lacking in peace. Women everywhere I talk to are stressed, worried, anxious, concerned, exhausted, overworked, fearful, overwhelmed, emotional, and on and on the list goes….
 
I’m sure one or more of those words could well describe you in this very moment. Unfortunately, as women, our first response to these feelings or issues is oftentimes to turn and cry out to our best friend, to overindulge in the wonders of chocolate (don’t get me wrong, sister-I am a big fan of chocolate myself! 😉), to give way to our fears and concerns, to complain and lash out, to binge-watch our favorite show on Netflix, or to get lost in some comfort food.
 
The problem is that not one of those reactions or sources we turn to for comfort, were ever meant to actually provide us with the peace for which our hearts long. They cannot fill the void in our lives or provide us with the lasting comfort we need. Though we, as Christians, trust Christ to provide us with eternal peace, we too often turn to anyone and anything other than Christ to provide us with the peace we long for in the here and now.
 
“Why is this?”
 
I believe our problem sometimes is that, though we believe and rely on the Word of God for salvation, we feel like it is not adequate to bring us help and peace in our day-to-day lives. Or perhaps we lack the self-control and self-discipline required to calmly sit down and pour over the Scriptures or to cry out to God in prayer. Perhaps we mistakenly think He isn’t really listening to us after all. We think we have to instead read the latest self-help book, or seek the advice of a friend, or else just wallow in the mire with a woe-is-me attitude.
 
But, friends, let us not make the mistake of forgetting that the Word carries with it the very power and teaching of Almighty God, that it is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12), and that it does indeed bring “great peace” to those who love it (Psalm 119:165). (Psalm 29:11) says the Lord brings peace to His people, (Isaiah 26:3) says we will have “perfect peace” when our minds are fixed on the Lord, Jesus tells us repeatedly that He gives us peace (John 14:27, John 16:33), (1 Corinthians 14:33) says God is a God of peace, one of Jesus’ names is Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and (2 Thessalonians 3:16) refers to the Lord as “the Lord of peace”.
 
If you want supernatural, true, lasting, ultimate peace, dear reader, peace down deep in your heart that will see you through every trial and trouble you face, supernatural peace that is abiding and unwavering even in the midst of life’s worst difficulties, then cling to the Lord. If you want the “peace of God” to “rule in your heart”, then “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Immerse yourself daily in His Word. Talk to God about whatever you are going through (Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7).
 
Sing to and worship the Lord (note the importance of this in our Colossians passage above!). The result is that that peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

How is that for deep, unwavering peace?

More peace is available for you, right now, no matter what situation you are in or what adversity you are now facing. God’s supernatural peace is not based on being in “ideal circumstances.” His peace is above and beyond the superficial peace of this world, the kind of fragile peace which happens when everything is perfect. We all know this is temporal at best. Life is not perfect, things happen and we need deep, strong, spiritual peace to help us thrive when maybe all we are hoping for is just to survive. 

Friends, I know this real. I know because I’ve faced severe testing and trial, yet I reached out to Jesus for His peace and I got it. I know it’s available for you, if you want it.

Please re-read this post. Take it to heart. Do what God tells you and you will also experience more peace than you’ve ever dreamed. Remember, God wants to give you MORE of His peace. It’s a gift. You don’t have to try and do a bunch of good deeds. It’s by His grace. Open your heart and receive His supernatural peace and then you’ll ENJOY what you’ve been missing, I promise you.

God’s Shalom Peace to You!

David Crews, Ph.D. 

Making a Difference with Your Life

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I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

— 2 Timothy 4:7

One morning in 1888, the inventor of dynamite awoke to read his own obituary, which was printed as a result of an error when the paper had gone to print. His brother had died and the paper carelessly printed the obituary of the wrong brother.

Anyone would have been disturbed at such a thing. But for this man, it was particularly overwhelming because he discovered himself as the world saw him, the “Dynamite King” who had made an immense fortune from explosives.

After reading his obituary, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of life, which he did through the final disposition of his fortune. So the last will and testament of the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel, included an endowment of five annual prizes for outstanding contributions to the world. The most valuable of these was given for the promotion of peace… the Nobel Peace Prize.

Wherever you are today, it’s never too late to start making a difference with your life. It doesn’t have to be on the grand scale of a peace prize—maybe it’s sharing Christ with the people right around you. Impact others with your life and leave a legacy far beyond your years!

Prayer Challenge
Ask God to show you how you can make the most of your time here and leave a lasting legacy of faith to others.
Questions for Thought
1. Who in your life left a lasting impact?
2. What did they do that left such an impression on you?
3. What things are you doing now to make a difference in other’s lives?
4. What would you like your legacy to be after you’re gone?

A Meteor Shower of “What If’s”

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Max Lucado writes, “Anxiety is like a meteor shower of “what-ifs.” The sky is falling, and it’s falling disproportionately on you.”

Anxiety ain’t fun! One would think Christians would be exempt from worry but we are not. It’s enough to make us wonder if the apostle Paul was out of touch with reality when he wrote in (Philippians 4:6), “Be anxious for nothing.”

Is that what he meant? Not exactly. He wrote the phrase in the present active tense—implying an ongoing state. “Don’t let anything in life leave you perpetually breathless and in angst.” The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.

Could you use some calm? Of course you could. We all could! We all could use a word of comfort and God is ready to give it. Just look up, not to the meteor shower of what-if’s, but the marvelous shower of God’s riches in glory for you in Christ Jesus.

 

Beauty is the Eyes: Focus on Christ

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The world today tries to tell us that we need to be comfortably-rich, socially-powerful, successful, perfectly-beautiful, hilariously-funny, absolutely-outgoing and (fill in the blank) or else we will never be happy people with meaningful lives. We are constantly bombarded by slick, sexy television commercials, and internet ads, which tell us to “buy this” or will we be hopelessly left out of all the fun in life.

But, wait….stop the presses!  We, as Christians, don’t answer to the world is not our maker—it is certainly not our master.

Yet, sometimes we act like it is.  It tells us what we need to believe, how we should act and what we should say.  And we follow in step. Its words can often seem louder than the Word of God – especially if we aren’t taking time to hear the Word of God.

The world’s magnetic pull draws us close and we tend to get consumed us with its standards rather than getting consumed with the one who holds all life, all love and all power.

The truth is, we can’t focus on two destinations.  It’s impossible.   You can’t drive to two places at once.  And that is exactly what we are attempting to do.  We say we are driving towards Christ, yet that enticing off ramp pulls us off our course.

We continually get distracted when we take our eyes off the road leading to Christ.

We follow signs that direct us to pleasure and enjoyment – and we get sidetracked.  We see the stop sign that offers a perfect moment to look at our needs in the mirror – and our voyage is halted.  We see a billboard that advertises a perfect face of beauty, riches and power – and we get thinking.  Then, we get lost.

Let’s not set ourselves on a crash course.  In order to do this, we are wise to think about what we are thinking about – and what we shouldn’t be thinking about.   Likewise, we have to look at what we are believing – and not believing. Because, we either have our eyes set on Christ or we are swerving down the roads of the world, ready to head straight into a ditch.

God calls us to focus.
To keep our eyes on Christ.
To avoid looking at what everyone else is doing, being, and saying – and to instead see Him.

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God.”  (Hebrews 12:2 The Message)

When our eyes are on Christ, they are not on the world.
And, when our eyes are on the world, they are not on Christ.

Lets fix our eyes on the One who provides all direction, all hope and all purpose by keeping focused eyes.

  • Focused eyes understand He is the One who provides all good things.
  • Focused eyes, let the world become blurry.
  • Focused eyes allow God to magnify the right ministry opportunities.
  • Focused eyes spend time connecting with God on the daily basis.
  • Focused eyes see those that need love.
  • Focused eyes are focused on the needs of others before themselves.
  • Focused eyes are not just focused on TV.
  • Focused eyes understand that God has big plans for them.
  • Focused eyes know that God is greater than any circumstance.
  • Focused eyes know that God has not forgotten them.
  • Focused eyes know that God is alive, well and aware of all things.
  • Focused eyes know God will rescue and restore.

Focused eyes do not veer off the road.  They steer clear of potholes.  They avoid dark areas.

The result is a life that is full of Christ, abundant in love, strong in purpose, weak in pride, engaging in relationships, authentic in grace and powerful in faith.  We all want this.

When we meet Jesus, we want him to turn to us and say, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)

When our eyes are focused, we won’t miss out on what God has for us.  The opposite happens – we see ourselves and our lives with amazing clarity.  We receive the goodness, the peace and the love that God has in store for us as believers because we are not sidetracked.  We need not fear because the Lord will keep us safe and also make us beautiful people where real, lasting beauty begins; from the inside out, not outside in. 

A New You!

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Our real, personal identity is not something we normally sit around thinking about like philosophers. It’s more a deeper, sub-conscious awareness of “how we really see ourselves,” and from that image, the way we actually respond to God, others and ourselves are profoundly impacted. In fact, it’s not going to far to say that your whole life flows out of how you interpret “who you are” as a person.

Too often, people base their identities on what they do (from their jobs to their roles in relationships), defining themselves by those pursuits. Sometimes people define themselves by what they don’t have and wish they did, or even by their relationship failures in life. But by doing so, they significantly limit their lives. The truth is that God intends for all people to find their identity in Christ.

If you’re a born-again Christian, your personal identity encompasses all the abundance of being a beloved child of God. Here’s how you can start living your life fully in Christ, keeping in mind that:

You’re loved. Regardless of your past mistakes, how you may feel about yourself right now or how others treat you, one thing is crystal clear; God loves you with a perfect love that is so great it is way beyond our ability to totally grasp. God loves you unconditionally in a way that eclipses probably the greatest human love on earth; a mother’s tender, dear, compassionate love for her child. You cannot make God love you any less or any more than He loves you right now. The only way you can begin understand this is to look to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and why He gave His life for you, why He suffered everything to bring you back to God and transform your life in such a way from “ashes to beauty.” Once you finally grasp God’s absolutely, immense, cosmic love for you, it will radically change the way you treat others and accept yourself, as your Heavenly Father does.  While the people who love you can’t do so completely unselfishly, continually, or perfectly, God does. As a Christian, nothing can ever separate you from God’s magnificently great love for you!

You’re a saint. The fact that you’ve placed your trust in Jesus Christ is enough to qualify you to be a saint. Even though you’ll still struggle with sin while you live in this fallen world, your core identity as a Christian is as a saint, not a sinner – and you can always count on Jesus’ help to overcome sin in your life. Rely on His help to resist temptation. When you do sin, confess and repent. Maintain attitudes of humility and gratitude for God’s grace.

You’re blessed. God has given you the greatest blessing of all – Himself. No matter what other blessings God may or may not choose to send into your life, you can always be confident that God Himself will be with you, loving you, and working everything in your life out for good purposes when you trust Him to do so. God also brings many different, specific blessings into your life regularly. Make a habit of reflecting on those blessings every day (or every week) and thanking Him for them.

You’re appreciated. God notices and appreciates every good choice you make throughout your life – even when other people don’t. So change the way you live as a result. Exchange grumbling for praying, competing for celebrating, bitterness for thankfulness, performing for serving, and boasting for encouraging.

You’re saved. Thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, you’re saved from: sin, death, Satan, your old human nature, and a pattern of worldly living. You can respond in gratitude to your salvation by doing good works that God has prepared for you to do, to help others discover relationships with Him and help redeem this fallen world.

You’re reconciled. Jesus has spiritually reconciled you to God and other believers. Since God plans for all Christians – from all the diverse types of backgrounds on Earth – to live harmoniously together in heaven forever, you should do your best to live harmoniously here and now. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be peaceful, humble, and compassionate toward other people.

You’re afflicted. Everyone in this fallen world – Christians and non-Christians alike – must endure suffering. However, as a Christian, your suffering can accomplish good, redemptive purposes. Rather than asking “Why?” when you suffer, ask “Who?” instead, shifting your focus from trying to figure out something that you may not be able to understand and toward seeking God Himself, who promises to always be with you. Ask Jesus to use the suffering you experience to make you more like Him and point more people to Him.

You’re heard. God always hears and responds to your prayers when you’re connected to Him through Jesus. Feel free to confidently express any of your thoughts and feelings to God at any time, expecting Him to listen to you and answer your prayers according to what’s best for you.

You’re gifted. God has given you special abilities that He wants you to use in the Christian ministry work He calls you to do – both inside your church, and out in your community. You can discover those gifts by asking yourself questions like: “Whom/where do you have a passion to serve?”, What do you have a burden to do?”, “What needs do you see in the church?”, “What do you find joy in doing for others?”, “What opportunities has God already provided for you to serve others?”, “What things are you best at and have the most success in?”, “What have godly people commended you for doing?”, and “What acts of service have given you the deepest sense of satisfaction?”

You’re new. Jesus placed a new spirit within you when you began a relationship with Him, so, at your core, you’re a new person than who you were before you became a Christian. However, you’ll keep learning and growing every day for the rest of your life as you gradually become more like Jesus.

You’re forgiven. Since Jesus paid the price that God’s justice demands for your sin and took God’s wrath for you upon Himself, you were forgiven for all of your sins (past, present, and future), when you placed your trust in Jesus. You can thank Jesus for forgiving you by obeying His commands to forgive others who have harmed you and to seek forgiveness from people you’ve harmed.

You’re adopted. As a Christian, you’ve been adopted into God’s family. The work of your big brother – Jesus – on the cross has made it possible for you to become one of the sons or daughters of God the Father. So make your main goal of life learning how to know, love, and trust God as your Father.

You’re rewarded. God will reward you for everything faithful and holy that you do as a Christian. Although you can’t earn your salvation, after you’ve been saved you can earn rewards in heaven for the work you do serving God on Earth.

You’re victorious. Jesus has given you the power to ultimately overcome evil, sin, and death. Use the spiritual weapons at your disposal as a Christian (truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation, scripture, prayer, and the strength to stand) in spiritual battles, trusting that you can always emerge victorious.

The more we meditate on our brand-new identity in Christ, the more our character and actions will change. Daily remind yourself of how God defines you through Christ, not your actions or the way others see you. What matters ultimately is what your eternal, loving Heavenly Father says, not this fleeting world. Embrace your new identity today!

You’re a new creation in Christ Jesus! 

David Crews