Dear Coastal,

Wow – never in a million years when I planned this UNSHAKABLE series, with the tagline, “Standing Strong In the Storms of Life,” and the artwork of an aerial shot of a hurricane – never did I envision canceling one of services because of an ACTUAL HURRICANE!  But here I sit, early Sunday morning, in the darkness of my living room, without power, hoping I finish this before the battery of my laptop goes dead.

Well, what did I expect?  After all, this is hurricane season and this is Charleston.  And like I’ve said over and over again in this series, “Storms are a fact of life.  You’re either coming out of one, heading into one, or you’re smack dab in the middle of one right now.”

The truth is we could all just as easily say, “I didn’t expect to lose my job.  I didn’t think the economy would tank like it did.  Never in a million years did I think I would get cancer.  I never thought my husband would have an affair.  I never dreamed that my kids would make such poor decisions.  I never pictured being a widow at this age.  You’re not supposed to bury your children.”  And there you sit, all alone, in the darkness of your thoughts, wondering who to blame and will the pain ever stop.

Storms really are a part of life, whether we give them names like Hugo, Andrew, Katrina, Floyd, and Matthew, or names like depression, sickness, bankruptcy, cancer, divorce, and death.  God never promises us a storm free life, not even to the faithful, but He does promise to walk with us through the storm.  He promises to never leave us or forsake us.  And if we let Him, He even has the miraculous ability to use our greatest storm, our deepest pain, for our good and His glory.  There is help.  There is healing.  And there is hope.  His name is Jesus.  And that’s not just a trite saying, a t-shirt, or a bumper sticker.  If you will draw near to Him, He will draw near to you.  I know that to be true personally.

I’ll be honest with you, it feels really weird not to be getting ready to head to church this morning and worship together with you.  This has only happened a couple of times in 26 years.  So, make sure you take some time today to give God thanks today.  If you’re frustrated or angry, pour out your heart to Him.  Remember, His love for you is big enough – big enough to even handle your anger and pain.  Pray for those people who did not fare as well as you did through this storm.  Pray for people of Haiti.  Take some time today to help a neighbor.  Smile, laugh, hug your children.  Remember Coastal, we don’t just go to church – we what?  WE ARE THE CHURCH!  So let’s be the church, today and everyday, where we live, where we work, and where we play.  Let’s let the light of Christ shine through us, in our actions and in our attitudes.

I really believe that 27 years ago, in many ways, God used Hurricane Hugo to till the soil of people’s hearts, to prepare them for the Good News of the Gospel.  And I believe He can do the same thing today with Hurricane Matthew.  We’re in this UNSHAKABLE series right now for a reason.  My guess is that it will be easier than ever this week to invite someone to church, “Believe it or not, our church is in a series right now called, ‘UNSHAKABLE – Standing Strong In the Storms of Life.’  In fact, when we kicked off the series our church gave away generators and hurricane preparation buckets!  Each week we’re looking at a different storm that we all face – how to prepare for them, withstand them, and rebuild after them.  Come with me this Sunday!”  It doesn’t get any more relevant (and easier) than that!

Well, I can’t wait hear all your stories, HUG ALL YOUR NECKS, and see you and your friends next Sunday!  And speaking of next Sunday – we’re having a Baptism Service, Sunday, October 16, 9:30am & 11:15am!  It’s going to be an AWESOME PARTY!  I can’t wait!  I love you Coastal!  And I love what we get to do together!

I did it – 11% power left on my laptop!  Now if I can only find somewhere to go with wifi to send this thing!

Standing Strong With You – UNSHAKABLE,

Pastor Chris

Psalm 62:5-8, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”