The Storms of Life: Are You Fighting Them Alone?

As of this past weekend, most of North Carolina and South Carolina have been dealing with Hurricane Florence, which struck the coast near Wilmington, NC as a Category 1 hurricane. As the eye moved on shore, in a couple of days, it was downgraded as a tropical storm. Today, it was downgraded again as a tropical depression. This storm was massive and has produced catastrophic flooding in North Carolina and has been attributed to at least 15 deaths. This storm came charging into North Carolina and has effectively been a wrecking ball in the lives of the residents of North and South Carolina with destruction of property and death.

Today, as my family and I attended Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Henrico Virginia, Dr. Brian Autry led the congregation in prayer, praying for the people of North and South Carolina. He then delivered a message of hope called, “There is Hope in the Storms of Life.” His text was taken from Mark 4:35-41. It reads,

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (English Standard Version)

Without rewriting Dr. Autry’s entire sermon, I want to focus on a few nuggets of truth taken away from this sermon which ministered to me and my family in a great way. While Jesus and His Disciples were on the ship, a great storm stirred the seas and the people were scared literally to death. They thought they were going to die, and went to get Jesus and wake Him up so that He could tell them what to do. And Jesus rebuked the storm and the wind. The wind and the rough seas calmed immediately and they were amazed.

Life occurrences are sometimes like major storms. They sometimes come and they disrupt our lives to the point that we are brought to our knees. Dr. Autry stated, “Some examples of these occurrences could be a death of a child, the death of a spouse, losing a job and unable to support your family, the death of a parent, and home destruction from a fire, hurricane, flood, or tornado.”[1] These are just a few things that can disrupt our lives and cause storms in which we do not know what to do? We are scared and our faith is weak because we do not know where to turn?

Within the last four years, I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. To be honest, the diagnosis scared me. I started to think the worse. I did not want to die. I was afraid of the surgery. It was all an unknown for me. After the initial shock, I decided to go for a second opinion. That doctor agreed with the pathology report. So, it sunk in. I had to accept it! But something inside of me said “NO!” I started to reach out to men and women of God who had a very strong faith and believed in healing. The way that they prayed was powerful and they were known as very strong prayer warriors. I decided to go for a third opinion to an ENT Specialist in Norfolk Virginia at Eastern Virginia Medical College. I met with him and he advised me that if it were cancer, that he felt that I had a less than 5% chance of it being an aggressive cancer that would kill me. This offered me hope as well as I calmed down and settled in for the fight. I was scheduled for the surgery in June of that year. I had people praying for me, laying hands on me in prayer, Dr. Mark Becton from Grove Avenue Baptist Church laid hands on me and prayed for me, Dr. John Peyton of Reconciliation Church laid hands on me and prayed for me as well as his church congregation, people I didn’t even know prayed for me all over the world, my Choir Director and staff and worship team at Grove Avenue Baptist prayed for me, and my wife and daughter and family prayed for me. I was covered in prayer. Then, before they whisked me away for the operating room, a nurse at the hospital that I personally knew came in and laid hands on me and prayed for me right in front of the surgeon. Whatever happened, it was well with my soul. I kept singing that in my mind and in my heart. I had totally turned my circumstance over to Jesus Christ, to do with as He wished. My surgery was supposed to be around six and a half hours. After two and a half hours, I was brought back to recovery and the diagnosis was that they did not find any cancer. They did remove half the thyroid because of a very large nodule. The good news was no cancer at all. I must admit, that was a major storm in my life, but God saw me through it. I felt that this was a true miracle!

There have been other storms in my life where God protected me. I was a police officer in Rocky Mount, NC and a deranged drunk man attempted to kill me and my field training officer. The man shot up our police car and by the grace of God, we were not struck by his bullets. Although I had gun powder burns on my face from the suspects gun when my partner and I were fighting for the man’s gun, my partner and I were protected.

There are things that most likely will happen in your life that will bring you to your knees. Why does God allow these storms to happen? Dr. Autry gave three truths pertaining to these storms of life that affect our lives:

  1. The first truth is that you can be close to Jesus and still encounter storms. Storms are not always predictable. Storms can be sudden and severe. They can produce suffering, sorrow, and sin, which can bring about a dark side and destruction in our lives.
  2. Storms force us to cry out to Jesus. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you will encounter these storms that might bring you to your knees. As a Christian, we are to cry out to God and tell Him our problems and pray for mercy and grace. Unfortunately, there are many without Jesus as their Savior. A person without Christ and suffering through a crisis has no source of hope.
  3. Be aware of the Storm Surge of doubt. Pastor Rick Warren once wrote, ‘Doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs.’ Don’t stop believing because you are in a major storm in your life. When you pray, remember that the Holy Spirit knows what you should pray. Have faith in Jesus. Remember His promises. Rest in the presence of Jesus. Rely on the power of Jesus. You can only find joy, hope, and peace in Jesus.[2]

What storms of life are you enduring? Do you know the true Living God? Do you want to deal with it alone or would you like to know the love, grace, peace, joy, and mercy; only found in the saving grace of Jesus Christ? If you do not want to face it alone, then reach out to Jesus. He is waiting for you. He said in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Jesus, would not die and go to hell, but have eternal life in heaven with Jesus. For God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn it, but to save it. Paraphrased from John 3:16-17. For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Jesus died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but live for the One (Jesus) who died for them. (2 Corinthians 5:15). Without a living God and Savior, when battling these storms, one feels defeated. But only with Jesus Christ, one battling these storms has hope and faith.

If you want to pray and ask Jesus into your life and heart, just stop right now and pray this prayer:

Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I am not worthy of life. But Lord Jesus, I want you to come into my life and into my heart. Please forgive me of my sinfulness against you and my Heavenly Father. I ask you to come into my life and forgive me. In Jesus name, Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then get involved in a Bible believing church. Without the encouragement of other Believers, you will have a hard time staying on track with Christ. It is my prayer that you stay steady in Christ. Read your Bible. If you don’t have a Bible, I would recommend you purchasing an English Standard Version. This is the translation that I read and study.

Please join me in praying for the victims and families of Hurricane Florence. I pray that God will touch hearts and people will be restored from this tragedy. In the coming days, there will be men and women from other states going to North and South Carolina to volunteer and help with recovery efforts. Organizations like the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia has a disaster relief team that has been placed on stand-by. This is an organization that I am a part of. Please pray for the volunteers who will be deployed soon to assist in the clean-up as well as be there to feed people who are the victims of the storm. Please pray that the team will be able to minister, not only by Word, but by deed. To make a donation for hurricane relief through the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia, please click on the following link: https://www.sbcv.org/hurricaneflorence/

References:

[1] Dr. Brian Autry, There is Hope in the Storms of Life, The Victory Hour, Broadcast on NBC12, September 16, 2018

[2] Autry, There is Hope in the Storms of Life, September 16, 2018.

Copyright © September 16, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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May I Give You a Little Advice About “Storm Chasing Contractors?”: Part One

Most recently, I have come across people who are being taken advantage of by contractors who are “storm chasers.” I have studied insurance and I know quite a bit about the subject. May I give you some helpful advice? Read the following story so you will understand the ramifications of not using a local and reputable contractor.

Last year, on May 27, 2017, our area had a severe hail storm. The thunderstorms were so severe that it hailed on homes as well as automobiles. All of a sudden, “Storm Chasing Contractors” started appearing out of the woodwork, coming from as far as North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, as well as the North East and even Arkansas. These contractors were not local companies. They showed up at people’s doors and told customers that if they filed a claim, they would handle the claim for them. Unfortunately, many of these contractors did not tell the homeowner exactly what would be done for that money. Many did not even give a written estimate. They only used the insurance company’s Claim Estimate for the damages. These types of contractors should be avoided if possible.

For instance, I heard of one lady who got a legitimate estimate to replace her entire roof for $10,500 from a local company. But instead of using the local, well known company, who was a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and who was accredited with an A+ rating, the highest rating the BBB gives, she went with a “Storm Chaser Contractor” who was not local and who charged her $16,800 to repair the roof. According to the claims adjuster that was telling me about this case, the insurance company paid the “Storm Chaser Contractor” $16,800 for the roof as well as other damages. They just learned of the $10,500 estimate from the local company within the last two weeks. The lady also had other damages that was written in the estimate, but the “Storm Chaser Contractor” did not repair those items. Now according to this adjuster, the lady wants the insurance company to pay for those damages. This lady has learned a very hard lesson that insurance companies will only pay ONE TIME for a claim, not twice for the same loss.

So here is the issue and the problem. When you use “Storm Chasing Contractors,” you may not be getting a good deal. In this example, the Storm Chaser over-charged roughly $6,300 more for a $10,500 job. Not only this, but the contractor told her that they would take care of everything, which he did not! His company has moved on to another area and is not reachable. She still has work to be done, but must now pay for it out of her own money because she “TRUSTED” an out-of-State “Storm Chasing Contractor” with her insurance claim. Another problem here is that she did not get her contractor to give what they were going to do in writing. Not only has she lost out on the money paid to the contractor, but she really has nothing in writing to prove what they verbally promised to do.

Here are some tips to remember:

 

  1. Always use a local, well established company, one that has been in business for a while.

 

  1. Use a company that has a Better Business Bureau Accredited Rating of A+. The BBB has vetted them as to how they will handle customer disputes.

 

  1. NEVER, EVER, sign your claim check over to any contractor until all the work is completed.

 

  1. Get an estimate to exactly what is going to be done. Get the contractor to sign the estimate. If they will not give you an estimate, then walk away.

 

  1. DO NOT tell the contractor what the Insurance Claims Adjustor has estimated. If the contractor is professional, he or she will look at the damages and give an independent appraisal of what it will take to fix your property.

 

  1. Never pay any one up front for materials. If they are legitimate, they will be able to obtain the supplies prior to working the job. One exception is if you are using a reputable local company and you know where to find them.

 

  1. Do Not use a handyman. Use a specialist, someone who has replaced many roofs.

 

  1. Remember, it is YOUR HOME! Make wise decisions and good choices. Do your homework and do not settle on the first person, especially if they come to your door going house to house.

 

Hopefully, these tips will help you secure reputable contractors. We have seen many times in the past where these “Storm Chasers” will come to town, take deposits, and then leave with your money. Unfortunately, these types of people have ruined it for the legitimate contractors who work hard to build a successful and honest business.

If you want to investigate a contractor, I highly recommend going to the Better Business Bureau website at www.BBB.org and in the SEARCH field, type in the company name or their telephone number. Also, GOOGLE has become one of my business tools in researching contractors. If a roofing contractor appears to be a “storm chaser,” GOOGLE the name of the company and their telephone number. If they have stiffed someone before, most likely people have filed complaints against them or their company. Please don’t be the next story! Do your research and check these contractors out. It is your home and your insurance claim. Guard them carefully.

This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without express written permission.

Copyright © January 26, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Tropical Storm Philippe: Downgraded to a Remnant

Good News! According to the National Hurricane Center, Philippe has been downgraded and has dissipated over the Western Atlantic. The remnant has been absorbed by a frontal system and is moving NNE at 46 MPH as of 5:00 PM EDT. The location is about 290 miles South of Cape Hatteras, NC. Maximum central pressure is 991 mb with maximum sustained wins of 60 MPH with gusts up to 69 MPH. The storm is expected to stay off the coast and no landfall will be expected. Tropical force winds will extend out up to 230 miles from its center. This storm will produce rough seas. Small craft warnings are in effect.

Tropical Storm Philippe Has Formed: Heavy Rains & Flooding Expected

A new tropical storm has formed and is moving through the Straights of Florida tonight and into Southern Florida. As of 8:00 PM EDT, Tropical Storm Philippe was moving N at about 28 MPH with a wind speed of 40 MPH. The pressure was at 1002 mb.  The location of this tropical storm was about 50 miles north of Havana Cuba. According to the National Hurricane Center, Philippe was a tropical depression and had recently strengthened to a tropical storm. Although the storm is moving North, it is expected to turn Northeast, crossing the Everglades and stay in the southernmost parts of Florida. It is expected to move towards the Bahamas and then be well off the coast of the Carolinas by Sunday evening. Once it hits the cold waters of the Atlantic, it is expected to dissipate or be absorbed by another system. Heavy rainfall can be expected regardless of the track. Tropical force winds are expected across southern Florida tonight and tomorrow. Expect heavy rains and flooding as well. The history of this storm has caused severe flooding in Cuba.

Joseph T. Lee © October 28, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC