After You Have Suffered A While...

    Suffering is not something we, as Americans like to experience, but in the Bible, suffering is far-too common to ignore as the people of God who follow the road map of Scripture to navigate our lives and families, as God orchestrates HIS-tory to usher in the Everlasting Kingdom.  

    In 2000-01, my family faced a great deal of challenge and pain.  This was a very transitional period in our lives, Carrie and I had just celebrated our first wedding anniversary and we moved home with no job ready for us, but it was the loss of a sister way too early in life that just about brought us down.  My 14-year-old sister-in-law suffered an ATV accident that would claim her life instantly.  We found ourselves in a season of great mourning, asking God a lot of questions and trying to understand it all.  In the same 6-month window, we would move again and transition jobs twice.  Then in 2005, after several years where we worked hard to try to build our family, fighting for financial and job stability and having our first child,  Carrie experienced a miscarriage while waking on a cool morning in April.  It's these types of situations and seasons of great difficulty that cause one to look deeply at suffering in Scripture, to seek to comprehend suffering from God's perspective and properly interpret these excruciatingly painful experiences in our own lives.  Since those days...  years ago, I have gathered much from Scripture on suffering and pain. One of my favorite verses is found in the first Letter of Peter (I Peter 5:10) that states, "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."   In this, Peter states that suffering is something we WILL face, but after the suffering, God will work to bring stability and strength to our lives. 

“Suffering is not the end...”

    Recently, I was scheduled to preach on the weekend of the 16th anniversary of the ATV accident that claimed the life of my precious 14-year-old sister-in-law, Toni Ann Preece.  When considering what God would have me speak on, I was lead to the Book of Ruth and the life of Naomi.  This sermon follows Naomi, mother-in-law to Ruth and her challenging season followed by God's working in her life to stablish, strengthen, and settle her.  I hope the Lord gives revelation knowledge to those who struggle and suffer to shed His light on the experience from the Word of God as you check out the sermon below.  God Bless!  

"God, I love this..."

    This past weekend, our family traveled south to Pigeon Forge, TN to meet up and spend some time with our North Carolina family.  We were blessed by my company with tickets to Dollywood, and we are never a family to turn down a good trip, esp. when there are roller coasters involved.  Friday was a great day!  We ran ourselves ragged hopping from coaster to coaster and having a blast!   One particular coaster we were in line for only accommodates riders by 1 or 2's, and by the way the numbers worked out, I would be riding this one alone.  While riding the Wild Eagle in a car by myself, (Wild Eagle) being one of my favorites at Dollywood, I began to worship God and tell Him about all the fun I was having.  "God, I love this!  I am having so much fun and I wanted to tell you about it!  Thank You so much!"   

An adult riding all alone is not a Kodak moment I wanted kept... but oh well!

An adult riding all alone is not a Kodak moment I wanted kept... but oh well!

    In our modern day, to many people, our Heavenly Father is nothing more than e911.  While it is true that He is "our very present help in time of trouble,"(Psalm 46:1) our Father God wants to be more than simply a way out of difficult and uncomfortable places.  Remember in the beginning, God came down and walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden when there was NO sin, NO difficulty and NO trouble in the world.  Also remember in the end, there will be NO trials, NO tears, and NO death! (Hallelujah to God!)   The God of Eternity wants to know you! He wants to walk with you! He wants to hear from you, not just in trial and difficulty and need. He wants to share in times of fun and pleasure.  Tell Him when you are happy. Tell Him about the things you enjoy.  It's called relationship!  Worship Him in times of blessing.  David said, "I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me." (Psalms 13:6)  I know for me, when I share with God in my joy, worship and praise to God is a natural result, and Scripture tells us that God inhabits or dwells in our praises (Psalm 22:3).  It's GOOD to have God around!  It's BENEFICIAL to have Him close!    He loves us and wants to be where we are.  This is a good thing!    

Tell Him about the things you enjoy.  It’s called relationship.

    How would I feel as a father to my children, if all they wanted to talk with me about was what they wanted me to buy them?  How would I feel if they only wanted me around when the WiFi was out?  Would I enjoy hearing only about their problems? NO!   I want to know what makes them happy and sad, what brings them pain and what brings them pleasure!  I want to know them. God wants to know us!  YES, cry out to Him in your difficulty, trust Him with your needs, but also speak with Him with great thanksgiving when you are filled with Joy!  He wants to hear about it all!    

What Being a Mother Means to Me - A Mother's Day Testimony

    Carrie was contacted to be a part of the Mother's Day Service this year at Regional Church of God.  This is the testimony she shared.  Toward the end, she shares a story about a dream our son had concerning our child that was lost from the womb. Check it out.. 

Play Well Together

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      Summer is always a wonderful time!  For us, summer means cookouts, swimming, get-togethers, celebrations of all sorts, travel, and lots of fun!  Who could forget vacations?  We love to travel!  We love to travel in packs, most of the time including the extended family.  While the beach (somewhere) is a frequent hot spot for us, there have been a few occasions where we as a household venture out, just the 4 of us, and do something different.  It's just us, and I must admit, we play well together!  For vacation 2016, the 4 of us packed up the Explorer and ventured up to Cedar Point.  It was the first time for all of us.  After Hershey Park, I vowed never to go to another amusement park until our kids were tall enough to ride everything! I just couldn't stand the heartache of those words, "I'm sorry son, you are not tall enough to ride that."   Once he surpassed 54" in height, we were all set!  I have wanted to visit Cedar Point since Millennium Force hit YouTube, so this year, we set our sights and Google Maps destination on the Hotel Breakers and off to the fun we went! 

    We have a Family Mission Statement that we try to remain true to.  One such goal is that we just want to be fun and adventurous together.  We want to try new things, stay in all 50 states, and travel to the coolest places of the US. The world is too scary these days, so just the US for now :) !  I hope all families have as much fun as we do!  We laugh together, act crazy at times, and try not to get into too much trouble with hotel staff!  We find that it builds relationships and fortifies love for one another!  It's a good thing!   Family is the basic unit of society and we must learn how to get it right, so as to perpetuate healthy families! "God, please provide grace for healthy families!" 

     Vacation 2016 was a great time together, we had a great time and so much fun!  We were out everyday until the park closed and definitely got our money's worth out of it!  I pray you and yours have a great and safe Summer 2016!  God Bless and enjoy our highlights video from Cedar Point! 

Seasons Change: The King Is Here Now!

          What a season we have now entered in the region my family calls home.  WOW!!  The West Virginia Revival is spreading like wildfire and God is on the move here in Mingo and the surrounding counties!  While I understand that God uses all His people as He sees fit to bring about His purpose, I want to share my story (in a nutshell) how I experienced the years leading up to this movement!  I am but one amongst all the obedient servants of our Lord, and I am so glad to be apart!  

Revival service at the Williamson Field House in Williamson, WV on April 25, 2016

          My wife and I were only married for 1 year when we felt the Lord leading us back home in 2001. At that time, I thought I was heading via a smooth transition into a career in Pharmaceutical Sales.  That was not actually what happened.  A story for another day!  What we actually found were some very difficult situations, nothing smooth at all.  We found suffering and opposition, trials and paths where the next step was very unclear.  Through it all, we learned to trust the Lord and lean not on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5).   The one thing that never changed was our assurance that Almighty God had a plan for our region.... to fulfill at some point in the future.  He had declared that He was to do a "Work of Renown!"  He spoke often in those days of "Transformation" (Isaiah 40) and "Name Changes!" (Isaiah 62)  These and other prophetic words provided the foundation for our vision for living here.   In 2005, I preached a sermon I titled "Watch Your Mouth" and near the conclusion, I encouraged the congregation to "be careful with the words you speak about our region!"  Life and death are in the words we speak, ya know!  I made a faith declaration of my own in that sermon to declare life and transformation over the region in accordance with the vision God had given us, even before we moved back home.  (See the following video clip). 

          My son, Joseph Isaac was born in 2006 and we named him according to the name and vision we felt God giving us.  Psalm 126:1-2 says, "When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.  Then was our mouth filled with laughter.."   Years passed and our region seemed to continue in decline, yet the promise, we had never fully forgotten.  I like to think that every time I spoke my son's name, I was making a faith declaration according to Psalm 126.   In July 2014, the company I work for in the coal industry began to announce plans for major layoffs.   I felt we had come to a cross-road and critical decisions were at the door.  Do I look for work elsewhere? Do we put our home up for sell? There were so many things to consider!  In a state of mild panic, the Lord began to speak to me from II Chronicles 20.  (Details can be found HERE)   The Lord's Word brought me the assurance that I needed to trust Him and hold steadfast to the vision. It was also at that time that I felt I should respond in obedience and launch a prayer initiative in the coal industry.  I would connect the group (of about 53) via e-mail and we would pray for our industry and region on Tuesdays.  We prayed together in this way for about 40 weeks.  Then around Easter 2015, while my Pastor preached on resurrections, God began to resurrect some things in me that had been lying dormant!  I walked into a season of prayer and pondering old promises and words of prophecy, and I sought the Lord to see how I should respond to Him in obedience according to how He was moving me.  While praying early one morning, I continued to seek the Lord concerning the significance of my son's age, which I felt in my Spirit was somehow tied to the vision.  He was about to turn 9 years old, and I made it clear to the Lord I didn't understand the significance of 9.  God spoke to me that morning and impressed upon me that 9 was the number for full-term fetal development.  The "conception that had taken place and the baby that was to come" (see video above) was about to be birthed into the earth!  I had never had a Word from the Lord concerning timing before and a sense of urgency began to build.   I felt that I should reach out to my Church and small group and begin to gather the believers to raise their level of faith in the Word of the Lord and His promises concerning our region.  I called this faith initiative the #iBelieve Campaign.  This was mostly done on Facebook, but thanks to God and my Pastor, I was able to explain it and promote it at Church.  Many in my church family joined in and the response was awesome!  We were rising in faith to believe the Lord, who said  "Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" (John 11:40)

On May 3, 2015, I shared the vision for #iBelieve at Regional Church of God.  

     That was one year ago this month and "WOW!" have some things began to transition here in our region.  We have now been in revival for 7 weeks, and the impact on our region and beyond has been tremendous!

Revival crowd at the Williamson Fieldhouse in Williamson, WV. 

News of the #WVrevival or #WVawakening has spread all over the nation and the live stream has been viewed in more than 50 nations of the world.  It has been reported on CBN and that can be found HERE.  There have been more than 3,000 salvation's and many others healed, delivered, and brought back into the Kingdom of God!   Many others, like myself are experiencing renewal in our walk with Jesus and are stepping up and using our gifts to glorify the Lord.  In addition, we are growing more and more hungry to see all that God has for this place!  God has already begun to shake our state and nation.  There have been visitors from Pennsylvania, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Arkansas, and as far away as California and Texas.  The King is here now and this is only the beginning of the "Work of Renown" that God is going to do in this land.  He is turning the captivity and it is truly as if I am dreaming!  I am hoping that the Body of Christ rises as One Temple in which God dwells by His Spirit and One Bride ready for her Groom!  May the fame of Jesus spread from sea to shining sea and America turn back to the Living God!!