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Pastor's Note
Reverend, Warren R. Carswell

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June 29, 2020
Steps of Faith with Pastor Warren Carswell

Freedom comes with a price.

You've heard the saying, "There is no such thing as free!"

This is a very true statement.
America is known as the land of the free and home of the brave.
The freedom we experience today cost somebody something in the past.
For us to experience the freedom we have on this upcoming July 4th, it is only through the sacrifice of others generations before us.

Blood was shed for our freedom!
The red stripes represent the "hardiness" and "valor" of those who fought for freedom.
This is an odd time for us with the pandemic.
We will not have the 4th celebrations as we have in the past.
There probably won't be the mass gatherings and fireworks.

So, instead of allowing our circumstances to lead us into frustration and anger.
Let us pause during this time and give thanks!
What can we be thankful for?
Well, that is up to you to figure out. I encourage you to start a gratitude journal. Everyday, write 2-3 things you are thankful for.

Although we may not feel free right now, we are free to be thankful.

Finding ways to show gratitude in difficult times changes our brains and changes our attitudes!

We live in a wonderful country through the sacrifices of many!

I want to share the story of one soldier's acts of gratitude.
I hope you enjoy it!

It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life. Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark...ten feet long. But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.
In Captain Eddie's own words, "Cherry," that was the B- 17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, "read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off."
Now this is still Captian Rickenbacker talking..."Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don't know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food...if I could catch it."
And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice. You know that Captain Eddie made it.
And now you also know...that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushyeyebrowed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness. "The Old Man and the Gulls" from Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story by Paul Aurandt, 1977, quoted in Heaven Bound Living, Knofel Stanton, Standard, 1989, pp. 79-80.

True freedom is only found in Christ. Like the sea gull in this story, Christ sacrificed his life for our. Maybe that sounds a bit of a crude analogy with the story above. Jesus held the cup and said, "This is my blood, given for you." He broke the bread and said, "Take eat, this is my body, given for you."

Have you put your hope in Christ?
Have you received the freedom that Christ offers you?

If so, what are you doing with your freedom?
Are you thankful?
How do you show your thankfulness?

There are so many people that walk by us daily that have never heard of the freedom of Christ. One way to show thanks is to share the Good News with others.

I am proud and thankful for the freedom we have in America
Moreover, I am proud and thankful for the freedom I have and continue to experience in Christ.

I pray that your 4th shall be full of gratitude and freedom

Pastor Warren
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