A big lesson from Welch. Are we blessed because we have more? I say “no”.

As we have participated in another outreach in Welch, W. VA. I have learned a few things.  I walked around yesterday as about 1000 people packed the Welch Armory. People in great need in many ways. In McDowell County, W. VA  the unemployment and poverty is very high.  The suicide rate is higher, and like with any place, drugs are prevalent.

So some of you might hate this post. But please read it closely.

When we see poverty and need, we always say something similar. I have said it and hear others say it.  We say “we are so blessed.”  This is referencing that we are not as poor as those we are seeing. We are doing better. We have money and stuff. We are blessed.  God loves us more? God is really caring for us?  I don’t think so.  A year ago this saying was starting to grate in my spirit.  Are you we really blessed because we have stuff?  So when we say that we are implying, those that don’t have what we have are not blessed?  Maybe they are cursed? Is God’s blessing only manifested in financial and material gain? Maybe the blessing of God has nothing to do with money and stuff. Maybe our definition of blessed is very wrong.

Maybe we are not blessed because of our stuff.  Maybe we are blessed (which means happy) because we know Jesus.  We are forgiven, saved, and delivered.  Are we not all blessed because we are never going to die in Christ. We live eternal?  Regardless of our bank account, if you know Jesus, no matter if you live in Haiti, Temperance, Welch, War, or Toledo, you are blessed.

Jesus cautions us about what we call a blessing. He says you can’t serve God and money (Matthew 6.24).  Paul tells  us that the Love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6.10).  He also says in the last days when people start forsaking God, they will become lovers of money (2 Timothy 3.2). Our Lord says it is  easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19.3,4).  So it seems, God is saying opposite of what we may believe and what the deceived prosperity gospel proclaims.  True blessing from God is God himself. We are happy because we know Him.  So think about and think about this…

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Tyndale House Publishers. (2007). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (3rd ed., Mt 6:19–21). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

The Challenge of Love

“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! ”  John 6.23 New Living Translation

I love being loved!  I feel a pit in my stomach when I know that people are upset with me. I feel defensive when people are unkind.  I fight resentment when people don’t love me at all, and their lack of love is manifested in what they have said to me or slandered me to others.  What do you do when you are confronted with the unhappy fact that someone does not care for you?  Most people return the “favor” and don’t love back.  We withhold love from those who don’t love us, are unkind and uncaring to us and have made it clear we no longer are on their list of favorite people.

When we come to Christ, Jesus makes his home in us by His Spirit.  we know the Bible says God is love. Not the kind of love that exists without God. Loving those who love us. That is conditional love. God’s love is unconditional.  Simply meaning, He loves without certain favorable conditions.  He loves no matter what.

For us to love people like that, we need God. We need Jesus in us and we need to let His love flow through us.  We have to allow the love of Christ to manifest through us. This might mean not giving up on someone. this could be that we need to grant forgiveness.  This would require us to abolish bitterness in our heart toward someone.  I can see that this implies we would have to stop with holding love from someone whom we have determined no longer qualifies for our love.  You see Jesus told us, we need to love those who may not love or even like us.  We can only do that through Christ.  Let’s stop withholding love, no matter what way we are doing that. Life is too short. Relationships are too important and God forgive us for being so stubborn!  May we love like Jesus, unconditionally.

Go Ahead and Be Weak

If you have ever had a bump in life, and you struggled, broke down, or folded up under pressure, you most likely kept that secret, to yourself or your family.  We all have weak times, but our society does not embrace people struggling.  It seems no one appreciates weakness.  We are all to “be strong” all the time.  We must “be strong” for others, for ourselves.  Show no emotion. Admit no deficiency. Confess no weakness.  Keep up the strong front. Don’t mourn. Don’t weep. Don’t cry out. Never confess to weakness or people will think less of you.  These are all unwritten standards. But can we be weak?  Can we  confess to not be super dad and super mom all the time.  Can we admit that we hurt? That we are struggling?  That life has hard seasons?  Where can we mourn?  Is there a place in the world where we can be honest that we are sick of our job, and the pressure of life has taken all the strength from us and we feel totally depleted?

The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in his flesh. What that “thorn” was, we can only speculate. That is not the point God is trying to make.  He is teaching here and the Apostle Paul, shares his long and painful lesson in 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 12.8-10   “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NLT) “

Here is the deal. Paul’s weakness, gave him an opportunity to stretch his faith and rely on the strength of Christ. He made peace and accept the thorn and the weakness is brought, for from that he learned that his admission to being weak, made him needy. Christ filled his need for strength. Strength to move forward, to get out of bed, to face another day, to gain in weakness.

So admit to weakness and reject the pressure of our society to “be strong” and to have it all together all the time.  God is there for our weakness if we will draw from Him, he will persevere in divine power not from us.  For Christ is attracted t weakness.

So go ahead………be weak.

11 Things I Learned at My Daughter’s Wedding

Thankful for our family!

Thankful for our family!

On October 3, 2014 my daughter married an amazing guy, Justin Isacson.   It was one of the most amazing days of my life.  The feelings I had, some unexperienced before, were amazing.  Here are a few things I learned.

1. I learned that I had not experienced all the depths of God’s love.  When I went down the hill to get Abigail and walk her down the aisle and the sun came out, after raining most all day,  I believe it was the closest to God I had ever felt. I can’t explain the rush of emotions at that moment.

2. I learned that my love for my family is much deeper than I comprehended.  We worked for weeks, months, on the wedding together. That day, was a proud day for me as a dad.  Pride in a great way and a godly way.

3. I learned my wife Wendy can coordinate an amazing wedding. Her talents, gifts, love, and patience were awesome. Her love for Abby came out in every detail. She is such a gift to me and I love her so much. The wedding was sure great and her work, and Abby’s made it happen. They are awesome.

4. I experienced life accomplishment.  I can’t explain it, but, to know my daughter and new son, love the Lord, and are making great choices.  It’s hard to explain, but it was euphoric to experience these feelings.

5. I learned our  greatest efforts in our life toward our children have the greatest payoff and is a parents greatest responsibility and calling.  Parenting our kids is a mission, not a hobby.  It’s all worth it.  Loving Christ and having a godly home, teaching your kids the ways of Christ, is so worth it.

6. I learned that family is so important and my love for them is so deep. Thankful to all Randy and Carol, Eric and Rachel did for us, and how we all worked, talked, and coordinated everything. They expressed their love for us in all their help.

7. I learned joy is so real, and we need to experience it more.  The reception was full of joy, eating, laughing, smiles, love, relationships, and rejoicing with dancing. You don’t need booze at a wedding reception. We experienced pure joy, happiness, and goodness. It was so holy, and the joy was sacred.

8.I learned living for God is worth it because our kids benefit the most.  I learned that Randy and Carol’s faith, passed down a legacy that my kids have benefited from, as I have, because of their love for God as they raised their children. Their lives emulate Christ and shines on their grandchildren.  Walking with Jesus is worth it, living for the world, and self, wrecks families and futures.  Live for God, and your children, grandchildren, and beyond will reap the blessing. Thank you Randy and Carol! Your fingerprints and legacy are on our lives, and the lives of all your grandchildren!

9. I re-learned how precious my kids are to us.  Abby blessed me beyond words. My boys continue to exceed my greatest expectations.  Praying for their future mates is worth it. God answered our prayers and will continue to I am confident. I love Justin so much and I am so excited that he is in our family.  He is a great guy, and God’s hand is on his life.

10. I learned that Gabe can sing. He did awesome. And Levi can dance and do the splits.  Watching them throughout the event blessed me and moved me.  We are a close family and will continue to be. Their love for their sister again, blessed me deeply.  It’s part of that feeling of life’s accomplishment feelings.  They are close and get along so well.

11. I learned I am blessed by friendships. What great friends we have. The feelings of seeing so many friends and I know we could not invite everyone, and some could not make it, but relationships and friendship go deep. Some of our friends worked so hard to help us. What a blessing.  I was blessed to know how much we are loved.  It was humbling and I know it’s because of Christ. Thank you all.

Abby called her wedding “The Best Day Ever”.  And it was!!  I learned so much and loved every minute of it!

My daughter Abigail and I.Levi, Abigail, and LeviMy beautiful Girls filled with joy!

I heard some stuff…

Sometimes I see Christ in people.  It is a blessing. I often hear about Christ and I celebrate His love and life in others.

  • I heard a lady in our church has made 71 dresses to take with her to Haiti, and still is making more.
  • I heard that a group of people care so much for those in the county jail, they want to help them make it when they get out.
  • I heard the praises of men, who are well aware, they would be hopeless without Christ.
  • I heard that some men, are camping with some boys this weekend to disciple them into being men of God.
  • I heard a godly Grandma give verbal praise to Christ and her daughter and grandaughter, for their lives.
  • I heard a guy gave a car away cheap to bless a young man’s life.
  • I heard the coo of a newborn and saw Christ in his carseat.
  • I heard laughter from tired moms, and joy from friendships.
  • I heard prayers for someone’s friend, who is fighting cancer.
  • I heard a prayer offered up in thanksgiving for the hope that only comes in Christ as they turn their heart to Him.
  • I heard an old friend, prayed beside the bedside of his friend, who is fighting for his life.
  • I heard a family dropped off some groceries to a family going through a tough time.
  • I heard a wife, express unconditional love for her husband.
  • I heard a friend encourage another to not give up.
  • I heard a former drug addict,encourage another, that he can live free forever.
  • I heard a speaker baptized his father, and forgave him for years of abuse.

I heard this with my ears, but listened with my heart.

I heard a lot of Jesus.  Are you listening too?

My Birthday Wish Today

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love”   

Ephesians 3.14-18a

As I awake this morning to Happy Birthdays from Wendy and the boys and sit and read Ephesians this is my wish for my birthday. It is more than a traditional  birthday with, but a prayer of agreement with the Apostle Paul.  As I read his prayer and desire for the Ephesians I pray it for myself, my wife, and my kids.  I pray it for Compelled Church and the Body of Christ.

I pray we would tap into the underestimated power of Christ who  dwells (lives) in us.  I pray today we would be strengthened in our inner man, by the power of His Spirit. (Ephesians 3.16). This is so important for the life and victory of the follower of Christ.

The inner man (our spirit)

  • Needs redeemed, saved, and cleanse from sin to Christ.
  • Needs cleared daily and filled with Christ’s Spirit.
  • Our inner man is where our thoughts, motives, and attitudes come from.
  • Is the center of our will.
  • If our inner man is not obedient to the way of Christ, we will make terrible choices.
  • When we are filled with Christ our inner man, is not selfish, and we are giving love, because the reality of being established in love is sensed and lived out.

How strong in Christ is your inner man?  My Birthday prayer is that today it will be stronger, and so will mine.