Greg Laurie - Fourth of July Special
America. One nation under God. Men fought and men died to pursue rights and the freedom of choice. To choose to pray. To worship. To serve the Creator of the Universe and the right to assemble. To gather not because of our race, creed, politics, or religion. But to gather to lift up one name above all names. That on bended knees we may bow our heads in honor, raise our hands to declare that this Creator, our God reigns. His sovereignty rules. His grace abounds and his mercy endures forever. It is time that we honor these freedoms and once again together stand as one nation under God.
If my people (that is you, that is me), who are called by my name: Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace will humble themselves and pray, "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Your name". And seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, "Lord please forgive me. I surrender myself to You. I put my faith and trust only in You". And I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin. And heal their land. "Save my family. Help me reach my neighborhood. Oh, God, restore America. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Amen. Amen". America it is time that we turn back to God.
Well how many of you are glad you came to church today? Raise your hand up. Yeah. Well you are going to be more glad after you hear from our very special guests. We have two sons of South Carolina with us here today at Harvest: congressman Trey Gowdy and senator Tim Scott. They've written a new book called "Unified", subtitled "How our unlikely friendship gives us hope for a divided country".
I met Tim and Trey a while ago back in Washington DC. Marco Rubio, a mutual friend, invited cathe and I, and Jack Graham and his wife to the Capital Club where they have meals together, so that was the first time that I - of course knew of them, but I had never met them before. So Trey gave me his phone number. I'm sure it's a decision he's regretted many times, but so I noticed they had written this book and they were out touring and I said, "Hey, would you like to come to Southern California and let me interview you"? They said, "We'd love to".
So that's how this came about, and I did it all texting. I never even had the courtesy to call him on the phone. It was all done by text and somehow it worked out and they're here today with us and they'll be out in a moment. But let me give you a formal introduction in case you don't know who it is you're going to be hearing from. Trey Gowdy is a former state and federal prosecutor for two decades. In 2010 he was elected to congress and now is in his fourth and unfortunately his last term. He's the chair of the house committee on oversight and government reform. Congressman Gowdy chaired the select committee on Benghazi - you may recall that. He serves in the house permanent select committee on intelligence and there's much more. He's a legend and he's here today with us, and you're going to meet him in a moment.
Senator Tim Scott is a successful small businessman. And U.S. Senator representing South Carolina. He's the first African-American to be elected to both the house and U.S. Senate since reconstruction, and that's a great thing. And he also serves on the senate committee in finance and banking. He serves on the committee on banking, housing and urban affairs, and the committee on health, education, labor and pensions. He, too, is a legend. They're both here. Let's give a warm Harvest welcome to the senator and congressman. Well guys, welcome. Thank you so much for... I'm sort of in an awkward spot. These things swivel though, I think. But it's great to have you. You know. Do a 360. Go all the way. Wow. Okay.
Trey Gowdy: What athleticism.
Tim Scott: That's all the talent a senator has, by the way. That's it.
Greg Laurie: Well, it's so great to have you guys. Tell us Tim, what Memorial Day means to you and how we should observe it as Americans.
Tim Scott: For me, when I think about Memorial Day I think about the men and women who don the uniform to fight for the cause of freedom. So many of us sit here today because someone who would never meet us was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice. More than 1.2 million Americans have paid the sacrifice so that we could live in a country where freedom includes the freedom to worship.
Greg Laurie: Trey, I remember you talking about when you fly into Washington DC to Reagan Airport, there's two things you can choose to look at through the windows and it reminds you of what we should remember on Memorial Day.
Trey Gowdy: Yes sir. If you look out the left side of the plane you see these monuments to the names we all learned in history class. You see monuments to Jefferson and Lincoln and Washington and Doctor King, and every building is named for someone famous and every street is named for someone famous. And that takes about six months. When you're first in congress you want to look out that side of the plane at the fame at the names you know. And then something happens on that six month anniversary and you begin to say, "Well, there's a right-hand side of the plane", and depending on how the pilot comes in, you see these gently rolling green hills punctuated with these elegant white crosses and it's tragically beautiful and symmetrical from the sky.
But if you can in your mind get out of the plane and walk on those gently rolling hills every one of those crosses represents a life that was either impacted or cut short in service and sacrifice to our country. So you ask yourself, "What is the United States? What is this thing we call America"? Is it the handful of names that we learned in history class or is it those un-named heroic service minded women and men who gave their lives for our country? And for me, Memorial Day is the right-hand side of the plane.
Greg Laurie: Well, first of all let's start with your relationship. How did you two become friends? And then maybe because you've mentioned this to me earlier, Tim, some practical step we could take. And you have something to add to that too as to how we can start a conversation. We won't even talk to each other. We just go to our corners and we have our positions and so you're really trying to address that. But how did you two meet, first of all?
Trey Gowdy: Well, he was the Elvis Presley of our freshman class. I mean everybody knew who he was. He really was the most famous person in that 80 person freshman class in 2010. And at least, as far as I'm concerned, pastor, it happened one night when this person who seems to have everything on television whenever he wanted to be on television, historically significant, beat two really well-known people just to get the seat that he was holding. So he seemed to have the world by the tail.
And then one night we're eating dinner together and he seemed overwhelmed. He seemed exhausted. He seemed frayed as my grandmama used to say. And for me, it was the vulnerability of someone trusting me enough to appear vulnerable to me and he needed help that night, and relationships start. They have to have a little bit of vulnerability. You have to at least say, "I'm going to be authentic in this two-person relationship and I'm going to ask for help". And you have to trust the person that you're asking. That for me was the night I knew that our friendship was different.
Tim Scott: And for me it was that we came into congress not knowing each other. Getting to know Trey Gowdy is an interesting experience. I mean just look at that hair. It's just amazing right? And he'd wear these dark suits with white socks, I mean fashion faux pas. But one of the reasons. I thought John 8:32 says, "The truth will set you free". Brothers I'm just trying to be honest up here.
But for me, our relationship hit a new high after the greatest atrocity and one of the reasons why I wanted to write the book was because after the Mother Emmanuel Church shooting in South Carolina where Dylann Roof walked into an African-American church to start a race war in the home of the beginning of the civil war, the first person I called that night was a white guy from the same state. This fellow. And it occurred to me about four weeks later that God had transformed my state and this nation in such powerful ways, that if the guy who walks in to start a race war actually brings South Carolina together in a way that we had never seen in the history of our state. Something must've changed.
And the more I examined the relationship the more I realize that having that biblical foundation in common, Proverbs 27:17 reminds us "As iron sharpens iron, so one person does the other", that over the five years that preceded that church shooting something had been glued together, fused together, in our friendship so that a black guy would turn to white guy after a racially motivated shooting says something about the evolution of this country and what is possible in our future together.
Greg Laurie: Here's another thing you have in common and that is the role that a mentor played in your life. For you, Tim, it was a gentleman that... Well, you used to go to chick-fil-a and you would stand in the longest line and why did you do that?
Tim Scott: Well, there was this pretty girl. Every dude in the mall was in line in front of me and we were all heading the same direction. And unfortunately I was broke at the time, so I could only afford the french fries, but it was worth the wait. It was worth the wait.
Greg Laurie: So, by the way, something we should share. Senator Tim Scott is a single man. Girls, hello. What? Come on. Okay, and I'm going to give his phone number out after this. No, I'm not. So chick-fil-a, so you're going there getting the fries. You can only afford that and a glass of water, but then one day you said the owner/operator of that chick-fil-a, you're working in the theater what is it, next door, and he comes and gives you a bag of chick-fil-a including the chicken sandwich right?
Tim Scott: Somebody say praise the Lord for chick-fil-a. Hallelujah!
Greg Laurie: It is good. I want it right now.
Tim Scott: Absolutely.
Greg Laurie: Don't you wish we had it right now? I do.
Tim Scott: It's Sunday so they wouldn't be open, but I wish we had it right now.
Greg Laurie: That is exactly true. But that man was more than just someone who hooked you up with a chicken sandwich. He became a mentor to you.
Tim Scott: He hooked me up with a new mission for my life and he would come into the movie theater and introduced himself with a chick-fil-a sandwich and slid it across the concession stand, and for the next four years of my life which unfortunately ended up being the last four years of his life. He died at 38 years young. He taught me the most valuable Christian principles. That all things were possible for me in this country no matter where you come from. No matter what you look like. No matter your circumstances. If you were willing to persevere something good on the other side would happen.
And he would teach me these biblical principles of entrepreneurship and stewardship and taking responsibility for my own actions that it started to transform my life over time. It had to germinate. It's like Galatians 6:7 reminds us "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap". But he has to be patient. Verse 9 reminds us "In due season, the harvest comes". John taught me, through time, to be patient. He taught me to take responsibility. Not blame my dad because he was not around or my mother because she was working 16 hours a day. But to take responsibility for my own life.
When he started teaching me this lesson it was the year after I failed out of high school. I think I might be the first United States senator to ever fail civics which is the study of politics. I will say that after five years in the senate, I am not the only one that failed civics. I'll just leave it there.
Greg Laurie: So the power of a mentor who came into your life, and Trey, you had a mentor in your life as well. Though your parents were divorced when you were a young man so you were raised primarily by your mother, but your parents are still together. But another gentleman came into your life, Mr. Little John, who influenced you dramatically. Tell us about him, Trey.
Trey Gowdy: Yeah. My parents have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and I have three sisters so whoever says God won't give you more than you can handle did not have three sisters. So I had an eighth grade Sunday school teacher and even though my parents are wonderful, sometimes when you're in the eighth grade you listen to what other people's parents' say more than you do your own.
So I went into a Sunday school class. He offered me a silver dollar for every Bible verse that I learned and "Jesus wept" counted. And most of the Bible verses that I still know today are because Mr. Little John incented me to learn them. He was a democrat. The most racially progressive white man that I had ever met. He wanted me to work in a warehouse where every boss I had was a man of color and 99% of my coworkers were young men my age, but they didn't grow up with a dad as a doctor and they weren't a member of the country club and they may or may not have the money to go to college.
He wanted me to appreciate how very, very good my life was and how other young people by the circumstances simply of their birth may not have had those same opportunities. He was eccentric. He was irreverent, but what he gave to me, pastor, was this belief that our God is a God of unconditional positive regard because no matter what I did, and I did lots of crazy things, he would always say "I've heard worse, and I love you".
When I got kicked out of a youth camp in North Carolina, I don't think anybody had ever heard worse. You cannot get kicked out of a Christian youth camp. But I did. And I knew that my father was going to kill me. And I mean that literally and not figuratively. He was going to kill me. But it was not my father waiting on me in the parking lot. It was dick Little John by that old station wagon with the wood panels on the side to say, "I love you, and I've heard worse". And my view of God comes primarily from that old democrat man that only voted for one republican in his life and that would be the guy on stage.
Greg Laurie: The Lord could say that couldn't he? "I love you and I've seen worse". And he can change us as well. Well gentleman, thank you for coming. It's been such a great privilege to have you here, and I was wondering Tim, if you would pray for us. You know I was just thinking about one thing as Trey was talking. Just the value of a mentor. You know my mom divorced seven times and I never had a dad growing up, so I was a young 17-year-old kid making all the wrong decisions maybe like you. Probably worse actually. But you know I heard the Gospel. I came to Christ. And I found godly older men to help me to mentor me and it made all the difference in my life too.
And so I just think for a lot of folks listening, its like don't just be a mentor to your children. Be a mentor to someone else because Mr. Little John took time for Trey and look how God has put his hand on Trey. And your mentor, I forgot his name. I'm sorry, Tim.
Tim Scott: John Moniz.
Greg Laurie: Yeah, he took time for you and how God has blessed you. So look for some young man, some young woman maybe from a broken home, but they don't have any positive role models in their life and mentor them either. I think everyone of us should either be being mentored we should be mentoring or in sometimes you can do both at once. Absolutely but it's so important, but Tim, if you wouldn't mind just to close in prayer for all of us. Pray for our country and for us and the church that we would rise of the challenge of what God has called us to do.
Tim Scott: Perfect. I'll just say, before I start praying, Paul, Timothy, Barnabas. Mentor, mentee. It's powerful. Let's go to the word and to the Lord in prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father, it is Christ Jesus name we pray. God, thank You for men and women who will stand in the gap for other people. We call those mentors, but sometimes they're just a friend or a neighbor, but each and every one of us have been given something special. Something unique from God that we should be sharing with this world. Lord, I believe that your word reminds us in Luke 6:38 if we will give it will be given unto us in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put back in our bosom. And if we give love, if we give appreciation, if we give respect, if the body of Christ comes together and shares the love of God in such a way that it attracts people, not to us but to him, this nation will be transformed in the instance. May we hear according to Matthew 25:21, "Well done, my good and faithful servant". In Jesus name, amen.
Greg Laurie: Amen. Let's thank these gentleman for coming. God bless you, guys.