What's It Like In Columbia? South Carolina's 1,000-Year Flood

I live in Forest Acres, the epicenter of what newsmen are now calling “The Thousand Year Flood.” Over a two-day period, more than 15 inches of rain, 6 trillion gallons of water, poured into our city, causing rivers, creeks, lakes, and ponds to overflow, dams to break, and roads and bridges to collapse. Rushing water swept away cars, boats, businesses, houses, and, most tragically, people. 

South Carolina has suffered losses totaling in the billions, and parts of our infrastructure are crippled. Some residents are completely without water, and the rest of us are under a Boil Water Advisory for the forseable future. 

But before I continue painting the picture of Forest Acres, let me gratefully acknowledge that my family and my home were spared. 

Now look at Forest Acres through my windshield:

As I drive to work, every major route out of my neighborhood save one is closed. Bridges have collapsed. Roads have washed away. Dangerous water still covers some roadways, and rushing streams and rivers make passage hazardous. Barricades block almost every major intersection. Five railroad employees crossed one of the barricades two nights ago and plunged into raging water when the road disappeared. Three men swam to safety. Two men drowned. 

I drive over a bridge that has miraculously withstood the storm. The water rushes beneath me carrying a lampshade, a cooler, and someone’s kitchen chair. Every year South Carolina has a 43-mile yard sale where sellers from all over the state set their wares along the sides of the road. As I drive down Kilbourne Road, it looks like the yard sale has come to Columbia. The entire contents of people’s homes are piled in the street. There are no smiling sellers offering bargains, however. Instead there are friends and neighbors with masks on their faces depositing armloads of possessions in soggy, molding heaps. Their masks protect their lungs but cannot hide their tears. 

A friend’s home three neighborhoods over was spared—an island in an underwater cul de sac. He and others manned powerboats to rescue their neighbors—the special needs women whose group home had always been a haven, an elderly woman clasping photos of her grandchildren, and the young lawyer and his 14-year-old son. But not their dog-the floodwaters rose too quickly. 

Five thousand national guardsmen are flooding the state. A Samaritan’s Purse rescue trailer sits in the parking lot of a church. Community training for flood remediation begins tomorrow as the churchs' gyms fill with donated water, diapers, and other necessities. 

Military police in their olive drab sit at strategic intersections, and Red Cross Disaster Team trucks rumble past giant dump trucks scooping piles of waterlogged debris from the sidewalks. Helicopters circle overhead, dropping one-ton sandbags in strategic spots near fragile dams still threatening to burst. Friends who shared meals around the table hug in yards where their homes once stood. 

There are stories of profound loss—an elderly friend whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s surveys the basement pond where high school memorabilia, baby albums, and love letters float like lily pads. “We’re blessed,” he says. “She doesn’t even know they’re gone.” 

There are also stories of profound rescues—an 87-year-old man and his dog pulled from a car by a family who refused to let them drown. A grandmother, on her way to church, whose car is swept from the road and into another church’s parking lot. Nine-eleven didn’t answer so she called her grandson. Wrenching the door open, he freed her from the car and watched in horror as the swiftly moving water carried it away. They waited for rescuers, holding on to a bright red cross on the church property. 

"Where my car stopped was right behind a huge red cross,” Clara Gantt told WISTV. “I was literally, after I got out of the car, holding on the cross. I was clinging to the cross.” 

And there are stories of profound hope. A community rallying around its own. Strangers showing up on damp doorsteps to lend a hand. Collection points overflowing with donations. Prayers and financial contributions from around the world. 

Nineteen souls have lost their lives in the floods, and we mourn their passing. Hundreds of thousands of souls have been spared, and we are grateful. 

“But now, this is what the LORD says--: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you’” (Isaiah 43:1). 

And yes, this week the sun came out again. 

As Tuesday dawned bright and clear, meteorologist Tim Miller expressed what was on everybody’s heart: “Wow,” he said, in a voice thick with emotion, “well how about that--sunshine. That's amazing.” 

Washington Irving captured what the citizens of South Carolina know: 

"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love."

If you’d like to help with South Carolina’s relief efforts in the wake of the Thousand Year floods, please consider donating to the following agencies who are providing help and resources:

Samaritan’s Purse

Red Cross Disaster Relief

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What Disc Golf and Life Have in Common

I did something recently I’ve never done before—I played disc golf.

Disc golf is my husband’s new favorite sport. It gets him off the couch into the sunshine and air and provides a fun way to exercise. It also helps him build relationships with other men through friendly competition.

The game of disc golf is similar to traditional golf, only instead of using a ball and clubs, you play with a disc that looks like a sophisticated Frisbee. Instead of hitting a ball into a hole in the ground, you fling a disc into a basket made of chains. The trick is that these baskets are 300-400 feet apart, scattered throughout the woods, with lots of obstacles to throw around.

My husband and I were on a weekend getaway in the mountains (far from his regular disc golf course AND his regular golfing buddies) when he discovered a nearby disc golf course. Not surprisingly, he wanted to check it out.

“Would you like to play with me?” he asked, turning hopeful, beseeching eyes upon me.

“OK,” I said hesitantly, remembering a lesson in our latest marriage Bible study that said couples with healthy marriages try new things together.

So off we went.

A well-designed disc golf course has tees that are clearly marked with signs that tell you where the basket is, how far away, and what par it is. This course, a simple one at an elementary school, had “natural” tees. They must have been VERY natural, because they blended in so well with all the nature around us that we never saw most of them.

Instead of having a clear starting point, we had to guess. Instead of knowing how long the drive was, we had to guess at that too. Sometimes, we weren’t even sure where the basket was. We had to scour the property until we stumbled upon a basket with the correct number on it. Scoring was impossible, because without knowing what par was, we didn’t know if we’d hit the basket in fewer strokes than most, more than others, or if we were average.

Thankfully, since I was a rookie and not very good at throwing the discs or hitting the baskets, I wasn’t troubled that there was no measurable standard against which I could log my performance. My husband, however, is a serious player who wanted to know for sure how he measured up. He found the course very frustrating.

The next day we tried another course. This one was well marked with bright blue tees. At every hole there was a sign that told us how long the shot was, what was the par, and where the basket was. To make things even simpler, the rec center provided a detailed map showing where all 18 holes and their tees were.

It was a delightful experience. My husband and I knew what was expected of us, what the course rules were, and how to successfully play the game.

It occurred to me that many people play with their eternal destiny much like my husband and I played that first disc golf course.

They wander through life with no clear direction. They measure their performance by their own standards, or perhaps compare themselves with someone who’s worse than they. They guess at what might please God and occasionally stumble on something that seems right. If they’re honest with themselves, they admit that they are frustrated and uncertain.

And when we’re talking about where we’ll spend eternity, no one should be frustrated and uncertain. 

I'm glad God tells us in his Word, “These things have I written . . . that you may know that you have eternal life . . .” (1 John 5:13). We don’t have to guess. Like the second course on which we played,

God provides a map to help us navigate life. It’s called the Bible.

He’s provided a way for us to spend eternity in heaven. It’s called salvation.

And he’s provided the power to live the best life possible here on earth. It’s called the Holy Spirit.

If you feel like you’re wandering through life unsuccessfully chasing a standard you can never attain, I can relate. And if you’re wondering where you’ll spend eternity after you die, I’d love to share what someone shared with me many years ago. It changed my life, and it can change your life, too. Please CLICK HERE to go to the page, How to Know God.

Or CLICK HERE to listen to my story on YouTube.

If you already have a relationship with God, why not share this post with someone you love who is struggling?

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Occasionally a disc gets stuck in a tree. Guess who has to get it out?


When You Wonder if Christianity Is Real

Perhaps I’m the only one who has struggled this way, but I suspect not.

Have you ever wondered if Christianity is real? If the events on which we’re staking our eternal destiny are true? In the dark night of the soul, have you ever wondered if Christians down through the ages have all been deceived, and you’re one of the gullible? Or maybe you suspect Christianity might be a fairy tale, like the educated people who are too enlightened to believe in God often tell us. Have you ever questioned whether Christianity is any different than any other religion, and who’s to say our way is any better?

Maybe that little worm of doubt has never wiggled deep inside of you. Perhaps your faith has always marched in a straight line ever upward since the moment of your conversion. Maybe your trust has never wavered, and your commitment has always been strong. God bless you.

But if you’re honest, I suspect you have to admit that every now and then you wonder. 

I do, too. 

There are many excellent books on the inerrancy of Scripture, proof of the resurrection, archaeological discoveries that support the Bible, and defenses of the faith. I’ve read many, and they’ve reinforced the reasons I believe in Christ. I’m not going to share them today, although if you’re interested, start with Josh McDowell’s bazillion books on apologetics.

What I want to invite you to think about today is this:

What do you think it will be like when we stand before God and know—not hope, not think—but KNOW, deep down in the depths of our souls, that everything we’ve believed is TRUE? When we see Jesus face to face, look deep into his eyes, feel his mighty arms wrap around our shaking bodies, and KNOW he is real? When we look around and see every believing loved one we’ve buried in the ground smiling and laughing and more alive than they’ve ever been?

What will be like when we realize that every gut-wrenching trial, every heartbreaking loss, and every cruel hurt we experienced as Christians had an eternal purpose and nothing was wasted? When we gaze with wide eyes at the splendor of heaven—the golden gates, the River of Life, and God Almighty’s throne—and know it is just as real as the wood, hay, and stubble we’ve left behind? And what will it be like when we realize the struggle is over—forever? No more sickness. No more pain. No more dying.

In Isaiah 25 I caught a glimpse of what that great and glorious day will look like. Listen to the prophet’s words:

“On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.

“On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. 

“The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.”

Can you picture it?

As we gaze at the Lord Almighty against the stunning backdrop of heaven, surrounded by the apostles, the patriarchs, the heroes of the faith, and everyone who has ever placed his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will realize, THIS IS REAL. It’s not a dream. It’s not a hope. It’s not a fairy tale. It’s REAL. 

A cry will well up from the depths of our grateful hearts as we point to our Savior and utter Isaiah’s prophetical words—“THIS IS OUR GOD! WE TRUSTED IN HIM, AND HE SAVED US!”




This is my favorite part of all—the part where faith becomes sight and believers receive the object of their faith, fist pumping up and down heaven’s streets. I can only imagine. . .

I believe God gives us glimpses of Heaven, like Isaiah shared with us in chapter 25, so we will not grow weary or lose heart.

God is real. Jesus did die and rose again. And one day we will spend eternity with him in heaven.

When the doubts loom large, comfort one another with these words.

If you're reading by email and would like to worship with Mercy Me and "I Can Only Imagine," CLICK HERE.

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A Perspective from 34,000 Feet

Did you know the outside air temperature is -78° at 34,000 feet? Or that it’s possible to convince a planeload of people that it’s nighttime in the middle of the day simply by turning out the lights and closing the blinds? 

Did you know that thrifty, normally rational people will pay $2.64 for a 2-ounce bag of M&Ms in an airport when they’d scoff at the idea anywhere else? And that people only feel the urge to go to the bathroom when the Fasten Seatbelts sign is on?

I’m not a world traveler. I’m like the lady behind me in line who, when asked if she was a Preferred Access customer, replied, “No, I’m just an ordinary person.” I’ve spent most of my life within a 25-mile radius of my house, but occasionally, when life calls me to an adventure far from my home sweet home, I go. 

Such was the case recently. 

I was seated on a plane that holds four times more people than our church sanctuary, roughly 350 people. I’d flown almost 2,800 miles and had 4,285 more to go. I’d eaten dinner out of a cardboard box, gone to the bathroom in a room the size of a broom closet, and taken a nap in the middle of the afternoon for the first time since I had the flu. 

There were three of us strapped into an area the size of the backseat of my Toyota Corolla, and nobody was fighting. Alaska was on the horizon, and the East Coast was just a memory. 

The sky was the color of dust bunnies when I boarded the plane. Heavy clouds hung low, spritzing me with moisture. As the plane approached the runway, raindrops made tiny vertical streams on the window. Just before takeoff, the streams leveled out, slinging the silver trails sideways until the wind whisked them away. The misty cloud bank surrounded our plane like a thick sheet of lint pulled from the dryer compartment. 

We began to climb, and brilliant sunshine pierced the shroud and streamed through the windows. Squinting, I groped for the sunglasses I hadn’t worn in days.

The dust bunny clouds changed from sooty grey to bright white and billowed up in massive heaps. Through the cumulus fluff, I could spot tiny houses and miniature office buildings. 

I’ve lived long enough to know that life has its share of grey days. Sometimes they come and go. Other times they come and stay. Sometimes we think the sun will never shine again, and life will be colorless forever. 

My recent altitude adjustment reminded me that my perspective from the ground is very limited. All I see is what’s around me. It’s real, but it’s not all there is. 

I suspect that if I could mount up to the heavens like I did recently, it would be easier to remember that the sun never ceases, and it will shine again in my life. 

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,” God reminds us through the prophet Isaiah, “so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (55:9). 

If the skies are grey outside your window today, take comfort. The sun has not gone out. It will shine again.

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I'm not Brave

I’m not brave.

You won’t catch me parasailing off the back of a cruise ship, rappelling down a mountain, or jumping out of an airplane. When my girls were little, I wouldn’t even ride the kiddie roller coaster with them at the fair. “If you want to ride THAT ride,” I told them, “you’re on your own.”

This is why I had to chuckle when a patient of mine, hearing I was planning a trip to Japan, remarked, “Wow, you’re BRAVE.” I’ve gotten similar responses about my two mission trips to Mexico. People also call me courageous when they hear I’m a women’s ministry speaker.

“I could NEVER stand up in front of people and speak,” they say. “You’re very brave.”

And when they hear that I asked a stranger if I could pray for her? Over-the-top brave according to most people’s estimation.

I smile when I think about these comments, because I know that a timid, cowardly heart beats inside my chest. Within my own strength, I am decidedly NOT brave.

So why do I do brave things? The simple answer is because the Lord tells me to. When we know the Lord is calling us to do something, it’s no longer a matter of preference. It becomes a matter of obedience. And with the desire to obey God and do what he is calling us to do comes a bold confidence that he will also enable us to accomplish it.

Remember when God called Moses to tell Pharaoh to free the Israelites? Moses almost stammered and stuttered his way toward disobedience. “I I I cccccan’t, Lord,” he said, “I st-st-sttttutter.”

“I’ll put the words in your mouth,” God said. “Now go!” And Moses went. We all know what came of that act of obedience.

Remember what God said to Joshua when he called him to lead the Israelites in battle to conquer the land of Canaan? "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them” (Jos 1:1-2).

God called Joshua, and then he promised to go with him: “I will give you every place where you set your foot . . . . No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (v. 3-5).

The same is true for us, because God does not change. Just as with Moses and Joshua, when he calls us, he will also equip, provide for, and enable us to do what he calls us to do.

This is why we can boldly go on mission trips to foreign countries. This is why we can share our faith without fear. This is why we can give and work and speak and minister in Jesus’ name with confidence—because “the everlasting God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27).

Is God is calling you to a task that seems too big and scary for you to accomplish by yourself? Guess what? You’re right where he wants you to be. And he has something to say to you:

“Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Jos. 1:8).

I’m spending 10 days in Yokusuka, Japan, to visit my daughter and encourage a group of Navy wives. Will you pray for me?

What have you done that others have considered brave? I’d love for you to leave a comment and tell us about it. And if the Lord is leading you to do something brave, please leave a comment below so we can pray for you.

If you're reading by email, CLICK HERE to enjoy the song "Courageous," by Casting Crowns.

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