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.. 

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!! 

The True Meaning of Easter

  In the days leading up to Easter, my son who has recently taken an interest in, of all things, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations approached his teacher with a request to do a presentation on Easter.  His teacher then allowed several of the students in the class to embark on this journey in small groups.  Having the preconceived idea that she would see presentations including Peter Cottontail, candy, and baskets, she received the surprise of her life.  The presentations were not cartoons at all.  These kids proceeded to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the true meaning of Easter!  

My Daughter's Baptism! - A Father's Journal

    It's Sunday and we have just arrived home from a weekend getaway in Tennessee.  Completely unprepared for what I am about to hear, my little princess who is now not so little says to us, "I want to get baptized."   "What was that you said?" I asked.  She repeated, "I want to get baptized."  I was ill prepared to hear this AWESOME news!  "That is great, sissy!  When?"  was all that I could muster, as I continued to bring luggage from the garage.

   It's now Wednesday and the plan is set and I am going to get to help do the honors!  I now have time and my attention focused to parse the thoughts of my beautiful daughter, who now has the capacity to make some important life decisions and has chosen to follow the Lord Jesus in obedience to His Will to be baptized in water!   I cannot even begin to fill my mouth with expressions of what I feel in my chest!  She has never been forced to this decision, only informed as to what it is all about as given in Scripture, but my prayer continually has been, "God, may my kids know that You are their God! May they have a relationship with You all by themselves!"  I'm feeling pretty good about how things are going so far with this petition before the Father, and I press on to the mark of this HIGH CALL, that my kids be fully espoused to Christ!  I hope between now and Sunday, I can fully realize this moment.  For now.... only "WOW!" 

   It's Sunday, the big day! Though delayed by weather from the original Sunday, we finally arrived.  Today, I joined our Pastor in the baptism of my daughter at our local Church.  I can't begin to express what I felt looking across the baptistery at my beautiful daughter robed and ready to enter into obedient worship!  I know that she could not fully understand or appreciate what she was about to do, but I also know our Heavenly Father must have been even more pleased than I as our daughter stepped into the water to bring full Glory to God!!  As quickly as she entered the water, the experience was over.  I tried to fully capture every second, in my inner man and on my GoPro. As we began to lay her into the water, I placed my hand on the back of her neck so as to be her protector.  I mean, she's going under water, I have to make sure she's safe, haha! When she rose out of the water, I couldn't hold back the smile that exploded from within.  Crucified with Christ, nevertheless, she lives!   Later that evening, as we talked briefly before bedtime, I said to her, "Watching you grow up so fast is not the easiest thing in the world, but you sure are making it easier."   Then, I commenced to express how proud I am of her responsibility and decision-making.  I blessed her and then walked out of the room, praising God for everything that I had experienced on this Sunday.     

   

   My wife and I continually emphasize the value of trust.  It is hard to build, but easily broken.  We as parents work to build trust by always being honest and real, and we hope that she as a young lady will continue to live so as to build trust.  We assure her that her home life will be better as our trust in her remains.   For now, she has done well!  I praise God for her and for this day!  May she continue this walk to glorify and honor the Name of the Father, of the Son , and of the Holy Spirit!