40 Days - Day 14

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing” NKJV. Well, I tend to find that verse a bit intimidating. When I was younger, I thought it meant eyes closed, head bowed and don’t think about anything else type of praying, and in my case that would be impossible. There is No way I would ever be able to pray like that for more then 30 minutes. When I finally understood what way of praying worked for me, it made that verse seem possible to carry out. For me, praying is having a conversation with God. Half the time how I hear God talk to me is through nature: a beautiful day, a pretty sunset or the rain is just a few of the ways I find myself hearing God talk to me. And for me talking back to God isn’t always “talking.” It can be singing, dancing, painting/drawing, photographing... Really any way for you to express yourself to God is a way of talking. So through these 40 days of prayer, I just want to encourage you to find the way that works best for you and pray for those we are interceding for that they will find the way that works for them as well.

Would we all will find the way we pray? God would you just break down any walls that people have and are putting up? Would you go ahead and surround the camp with angels? Would they come in ahead of us and wipe out any evil that is there already and start to keep any evil from coming in? God start to soften people's hearts. Make us mighty God. Help us to step into your protection God. I love you Daddy.

Love you guys,
Casey Tinius


40 Days - Day 13

"But for you who fear my name the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free." Malachi 4:2 NLT

We have all been wounded at some point in our lives. Many of us swallow our hurt and hide our scars in a valiant attempt to appear invincible. Perhaps we feel as though we are the only ones who have ever gone through our struggle and fear of rejection is worse than just keeping our pain inside. This is not how God intended us to live! He never said life would be pain free, but when we do struggle, He doesn’t want us to pretend everything is o.k. God created us for community - one in which we share our struggles and bear each others burdens.

My prayer is that Winter Retreat will be a time in which we are vulnerable enough to share our struggles and receive healing.

Hilary Morris


40 Days - Day 12

Hey ya'll, it’s Caleb. I’m new at this so I'm not sure how this is going to turn out.

I was listening to my iPod the other day (when I should have been studying for exams), and a song by the Gaither Vocal Band came on called “My Name Is Lazarus.” Previously I would always sing along with it. I thought the song had great meaning, but the other day I finally stopped and truly thought about the song.

The song is set back during Jesus’ time while he was on Earth. It states that while we don’t know much about the men that carried that man to Jesus, we can create an idea of what it was like.

The illustration is thus:

There are four men that are going to see Jesus, and they are carrying a mat with their crippled friend on it. They are all talking to each other, and during the conversation, they start to doubt Jesus’ power.

The first man says:
“I hate to doubt it
For Jesus touched my eyes when I was blind
He made me see and there’s no doubt about it
But this man’s needs are more serious than mine.”

The second man says:
“No need to bother
This man’s condition will remain the same
Though Jesus touched my hand when it was withered
I don’t believe He can heal a man so lame.”

The third man says:“I hate to question
But no one here is more skeptical than me
Though Jesus cleansed me when I was a leper
This helpless man will never walk, you see.”

Then all of the men turn to the fourth man to see how he is going to “criticize and doubt” Jesus. All of the men are completely taken aback when they hear what the fourth man has to say. He says:
He said, “My name is Lazarus, could I testify?
My name is Lazarus, it feels good to be alive
When I in chains of death was bound
This man named Jesus called me out
If you think your little problem is too big for Him to solve
Take it from the one who’s heard the mighty voice of God
A living testimony of his death defying touch, my name is Lazarus!
All of these men had seen the incredible miracles of Jesus right before their eyes, but they still doubted. I think that we all doubt Jesus at times and wonder if he is really there. Granted, none of us have been raised from the dead by Jesus, but as Nathan (AND GOD) said previously in his message, “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains.” If you have any problem that you think is too big for God to handle, just remember that He is God and created everything that you see; He knows your thoughts before you even think them. It is as simple as completely giving your problems to God, don’t hold anything back. He might not deal with it the way that you want him to, but He will always act on it the way that is best.

My prayer for this Winter Retreat is that God is evident everywhere. That everyone will be able to see God, and that God will move in everyone in some way. I pray that everyone will come away from camp different than when they first arrived. I pray that if anyone has something that they are dealing with and are afraid to give it up to God, that they would just realize that He can handle it: no problem is too big for Him.

Caleb Reynolds


40 Days - Day 11

Ever been without your cell phone? Say you were out one day, texting yourself into oblivion, and then the unthinkable happens-- the ‘low battery’ message flashes across your screen. Moments later, your phone dies. You gasp, horror stricken, at what has just happened. You left your charger at home and won’t be there for hours and hours. How will you stay informed? How will you find out if anything is going on? Surely you will miss some big event that everyone is going to be attending. Everyone, that is, but you because now you have no way of knowing about it. You begin to feel lost, completely out of the loop and in some cases even a bit angry.

This universally understood scene illustrates the importance of prayer. Prayer, in a sense, is like our cell phone-- it enables us to speak with the Almighty Creator of the Universe (commonly referred to as God). It is made even more important because it is the only thing that allows us to do this. Yet humans tend to get more in a tizzy over their cell phone dying than we do about not talking to God. We go out of our way to make sure we are never out of contact with the wider world or with our circle of acquaintances (car chargers anyone?), and in some cases, we even have devices that can communicate with people in more than one way (iPhone, anyone? Yeah I wish, too). Many cell phones today allow you to email, text, get on MySpace and Facebook, and oh yeah. . . call people. Ha. Somewhat shamefully, we spend the majority of our time doing this, but how much time and effort do we put into talking to God?

Throughout the Bible, prayer does some pretty awesome things. It gives unfertile families children; it heals the sick; it’s used to give thanks to God; it calms storms, liberates whole nations of people from slavery and sin, and makes great men out of ordinary ones. It stops plagues, ends famines, and most awesomely of all-- it saves our wretched souls from hell. (We could never accept Christ as our Lord and Savior if we couldn’t even talk to Him.) Prayer allows us to speak with God. Such a simple statement, but look at all of the things that this fact enables to happen. So why don’t we spend more time doing it? I have found that the times in my life that are worst (and consequently, the times when I am farthest from God) are also the times when I tend not to pray. At least, I tend not to pray until things get so bad that I realize that I must; for just like Solomon in Ecclesiastes, I realize that life without God truly is meaningless. None of the awesome things that I listed earlier in this paragraph can happen if we don’t communicate with God. It’s like throwing a party, sending out no notice or invitations, and then expecting people to show up. They just won’t.

So I challenge you, reader of this blog (and congratulate you for getting to the end) to pray about Winter Retreat. Pray long and hard about what God is going to do over the course of those few days and all of the days surrounding it. Because if you aren’t in communication with God, you just might miss out on His big event that everyone is going to be attending. And really, who wants to miss that?

Cameron Nations


40 Days - Day 10

Micah 7:8 says, “Do not gloat over me my enemies for though I have fallen I will rise again, though i sit in darkness Christ will be my light” (from the DALE off the top of my head version).

This whole week has been long and relentless. I realized it does not feel like Christmas yet, and I wonder if that is because it is just now getting cold or if I just haven't been in the mindset of Christmas. I feel so busy that I forget Christmas is coming, and I don’t get anyone gifts until the last moment. Above that, I do not give Christ what is Christ's until way after the due date. Something is not right about this. So when I remember how fallen I am, I am thankful for that faithful eve when an angel appeared to shepherds keeping watch over flocks by night. If there was no baby in the manger that night, if Mary had a miscarriage, or an abortion, we would have no Savior. Without a Savior, Micah 7:8 would read "and I sit in ceaseless, bludgeoning darkness." The mood of Christmas should be our normal attitude as Christians. We are called to celebrate and worship Christ every day - not merely in the Christmas season but in all seasons. When we do sit in darkness, Christ will be our light. When we fall down, we can get back up.

This is what I would be praying right about now.

"Holy Father, thank you for your Son, not just today but everyday. This winter retreat attune me to do Your will. Thank you for never leaving me in complete darkness. Thank you for the times I get back up by Your strength. Thank you for providing for us and delivering me from evil. Amen."

I love ya’ll!

Dale Allen Lipscomb


40 Days - Day 9

Luke 6:27-28 has been laying on my heart lately due to some troubles I have been having with my friends, and I have constantly been going back to Luke 6:27-28 for guidance.

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:27-28 NIV).

We need to love our enemies; maybe set some goals this year to send your enemy a Christmas card or a little present. If you are game enough, go to that person and actually talk to them. Forget your differences and love that person unconditionally. I've seen it work in my life with more than one person, and I'm amazed how much prayer can work! Even the simplest things seem to be 100% better once you pray about it. You seem less worried, stressed and you feel in control of things. : )

Ohhhhhhhhhh and there is more... : )We so often in our lives search for love in anything we can. We so easily forget that God is our strength, and He shelters us from harm. His love for us shines through the windows every morning when we wake up or when we look at the wonderful things He has made for us to enjoy in this temporary world. He protects us, gives us food and a warm bed to sleep in. We should be thankful for the things we have, but we should be willing to give it away.

I pray this season we'll show God's love to our neighbors and friends. Bake some cookies for a neighbor, or go caroling to the nursing home. MAYBE if you are game enough, go to someone that is your enemy, and like the Scripture says, go and love him/her. Give them a surprise note in their mailbox just saying something nice to them.

Be a light this holiday season. Show others what CHRISTmas is really about. : )

Heavenly Father,
For this 40 days of prayer, I pray our friendships will be mended, and our love for God will grow! I hope that enemies become friends again, and we will have the heart to forgive them! God forgave our sins and failures! We must forgive others so that we can be like God! He wants us to forgive! He says so in Scripture that He has forgiven our sins. So, we must forgive others as He has done for us. What an amazing and uplifting word, He loves us that much to give us all that! I pray this Holiday season we’ll get closer to our enemies, and we’ll forgive those who were in the wrong. Amen.

Merry Christmas!

Libby Smallbone


40 Days - Day 8

To be honest, writing this will be a struggle; in my own life, I often go many days and sometimes weeks without praying. I use the excuse that I don’t have enough time, or I find something else to do. I often don’t know what to pray for, or how to pray. I’ve tried using devotionals, but I never seem to commit to them.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26 NIV).

Lord, I thank You for this time and opportunity to write this, as You have shown me a weakness in my own faith. I take this time to pray for everyone who often finds themselves in similar situations. For the ones who struggle in finding time or the commitment to sit down for 5 minutes everyday and open Your Word, Lord, I ask You for guidance and strength. As we approach Winter Retreat, I pray for those whom are lost in this world. I pray for those who might be feeling all alone. I pray that You will show up in their lives, like no one has before. For those whom know You already, I ask You to turn over a new leaf in their faith by showing them its not about what or whom they pray for. As long as they pray, You will guide them and lead them in their lives.

In Christ's Name,

As I was writing, I felt I should share some of my testimony. I once played golf, 4-5 years ago. I traveled the state playing competitively. I was nearing the road of drugs, and I swore like a sailor. I was the most negative person you ever would have encountered. I know now that without prayer I would have never made it to where I am today. I remember times when I played golf; I would often find myself singing and praying to Lord. Even before I had accepted Christ, I prayed. Now that was some 4-5 years ago, but I remember the day I accepted Christ. I remember feeling so new and complete. Shortly after, I felt the Lord telling me to give up golf and to follow His path for my life. After several months of prayer and many sleepless nights, I finally told my parents about the decision I made months before. I had no clue where the Lord was going to take me, but I knew as long as I prayed He would show me. One night at Fusion, I got my calling. There was a spot open on the “tech team.” They needed someone to switch the slides on the PowerPoint during worship, and that’s where it all began. Years later, I am now a senior about to go to college. Throughout the years, I have often been confused on where in fact God was going to take me. It was often hard and frustrating. I remember feeling let down and abandoned at some points, but I always found the Lord's will through prayer.

I tell you this so that you will know life will not always be easy. Though I left out many specific details on the trials I have been faced with, I want you to know that no matter how hard it gets the Lord is always there: all you have to do is open your mouth and start talking.

Lord, I pray for the upcoming Winter Retreat. I pray You will show someone a new beginning - like You showed me many years ago. I pray for those who struggle, who are frustrated, and for those who think they're ready to give up. I ask you to show these people Your mightiness and comfort them in ways they’ve never felt before. I pray for people to know You are always there. It's so easy to give up and place the blame elsewhere. I thank You for the times You never let me give up and for the trials I went through. I ask You to show someone a new beginning, a new start to life on this retreat, or show someone You are God. Everything You do, You have a reason for even though we may not know the reason. However, we will eventually find it, through our prayers to You.

In Christ's Name,

Andrew Bennett