Hello and welcome to Joy City, a weekly blog and podcast, hosted by yours truly, Stuart Welch the Lead Pastor of Life Connection Church located in Modesto, CA and my co-host brother John Cunningham Jr., who we call brother J.C.
You see, Joy City isn’t a geographical location, it’s a place where YOU can find your joy and happiness in the kingdom of God, following hard after God and fulfilling the call of God in your life. In Joy City faith is all important, our trust and confidence in the ways, will and word of God. Let me hip you to this; Jesus never uttered and opinion, He never guessed. He didn’t give us sound wisdom or keen observation like Solomon. Not at all, Jesus’ words are the essence of truth and when we adhere and follow them intently, we become stronger, healthier and joyful.
This is truly getting real, as you and I have a dear friend whose wife is battling a debilitating illness, we have been fasting & praying and others around us are battling , in and out the hospital – one sister in hospice care, hurricane just tore thru Louisiana and we have an on-going war.
Being a resident of Joy City is as the Apostle Paul says, “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” You see God’s purposes are bigger than our own lives or our own communities. Now I know we don’t like to hear that, but we know God cares, matter of fact He cares so deeply He sent Jesus to the cross. I mean Christ is called the man of sorrows and aquainted with grief. It is thru that level of love that He is able to draw us so close in order to comfort and strengthen us.
In Joy City, it’s about FAITH – even in adversity or with scarcity of resources, we can pursue God with daily communion and in His presence is a fullness of JOY.
Now I get it, over the last 2 years, we all have been challenged and at times, have had to focus on SURVIVING. I mean whether it was threats to our health, our sense of justice, our safety, our relationships, as well as the disruption of so many of the routines and forms of what we call NORMAL life. We were all forced to expend energy on SURVIVING.
Yet, having a Joy City mindset allows us to seek ways to experience Christ and live into our purpose.
You and I both know, cause we have been in contact with thousands of men and women, young and old who have faced so much adversity in their lives and their brains have been wired to activate when faced with perceived danger. They have been forced into survival mode since a young age. Whether it’s the prefrontal cortex or the amygdala – fight flight or freeze is real and the power of the brain to lock up – and stay locked up into adulthood is real. Now neither you nor I are scientist or nuero-surgeons, we have just seen this behavior on the street and in the pews.
Too many people are still living in poverty, and we will never ignore that fact, and they are faced with daily violence or subject to systemic injustices and this can and has triggered a SURVIVAL mindset.
This mindset has been forged by fear, subjected to threats so it is reactive and we get that, we understand that and GOD does as well, which is why He has made a way for us…
He has INVITED us, as people of faith, to lean into His love by the Holy Spirit. As Christians we understand that we live in 2 realities; the spiritual and the natural. As mere mortals we find ourselves pulled between the 2 – however, God has given us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit to dwell on the inside as well as the Mind of Christ so we can focus on fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives and in this world. In that we rejoice and in that we find our Joy in Joy City.
I’ve enjoyed being your host and you can comment below, or email me at pastorstuart@