Prayer - 4/16/2008

2 Corinthians 4:18- "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" NIV.

What is seen is fleeting. I will not always have my Ipod, or my car, or my house. My friends won't always be around, but what I WILL always have are my passions, my spiritual walk, my relationship with Daddy, my thoughts, MY LORD, and my beliefs. When the going gets tough, I know that my trials can be overcome with the Lord's power. When faced with enemies, I need to turn my eyes to the heavens and call on Dad.

When, not if, when… When I am confronted with tough times, I KNOW that the Lord will come right alongside me and strengthen me to not only survive, but prevail. I know, in my heart of hearts, that all this drama junk is fleeting and that my walk will grow closer to Him. While I battle earthly issues, my ETERNAL home in heaven is being prepared for me, and I will spend ETERNITY there. Those around me will perish, but I am at peace. I'm at peace because I know I will see the ones I love and adore in heaven. I will be able to laugh with my brother, talk and talk and talk without having to worry about getting home before midnight with Neens and Em, and I can worship without ceasing. Not only can I talk with my friends now...but I will also see more of my friends in heaven. My old, wise friends - Moses, Esther, Ruth. They will all be there ready to accept me.

I know that the Lord has put me on his beautiful Earth for a purpose. Being able to look forward to going Home encourages me through the day. It may sound pessimistic and morbid to some, but Heaven is going to be....like a StarbucksArtStudioChocolateFountainSummerCampBeach all wrapped up in one!

"When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of You" (Ps. 42:6 TMG). When I am confronted with the Devil face to face, I know everything will be alright because MY GOD SAVED THE DAY.

I know that who's who in high school won't matter in heaven. In heaven, everyone will be so crazy nuts about worship and passions, no one will care that you had acne in 9th grade, or you tripped in front of that really cute football player during your senior year.

I pray for strength when I am confronted with "high school issues." I pray that you, Daddy, remind me that I am a treasured Daughter of the King!

And that thought alone, that I am a Daughter of the Most High God, will get me through the day. :]

Amberly Holmes


Prayer for March 14

This is our prayer: make us a mighty army, a force to be reckoned with, revolutionaries for God. Teach us to be fishers of men and a light to the world. May we be the devil’s adversaries in God’s right hand. May we rise up and be evangelists today and tomorrow, powerful beings in the name of the Lord, disciples of the King. Our tongues will speak only His name. Our blood, sweat, and tears will seep through our skin, and we will pour ourselves into the path He wants us to take - showering the world with God’s love. We’ll break the mold of the ongoing struggle, leaving only hope. We’ll spread His power to the ends of the earth, a world wide effort, a global movement, by the youth of today, the future of this world, our temporary home. The issue isn’t whether God is near us. The question is if we are where God wants us to be. We may start small, but we’ll end affluently; taking over is an understatement. Let’s break this standstill motion of our conforming ways. This is a call to arms. We know what needs to be done, but we can choose. Do we rise above, or do we stay behind, standing complacently in the dust, in this sin-infested world? WE can become something, a mighty army. WE can fulfill God’s plan for us. WE can be a part of His glorious take over. OR, we can ignore the world’s desperate cry for change. YOU decide.

The Student Artists of The People's Church


Feedback Questions

1. How long have you been part of the Student Ministry?
2. What/who brought you here?
3. What keeps you here?
4. What do you think is the most spiritually impacting thing we do for you now and/or have done for you in the past? How have we helped your faith grow?
5. If you didn't know the Lord, would you come to anything that Student Ministry does? Why or why not?
6. Have you ever walked life with someone from Student Ministry? If so, who? How has that affected your life?
7. What about Student Ministry would you keep for the future? What would you bring back from the past?
8. How can we help you with your family?
9. How can we help you with relationships?
10. Are we at a place where we have equipped you enough so that you know how to spiritually feed yourself? Do you even know what this means?
11. Is this Student Ministry a loving atmosphere? How so?
12. How have we offered hope for your future?

Thanks for all of your input! We really care about each of you and want to have a positive impact on your life...


Prayer 2/26/2008

Three years ago, my family made a huge decision to sell our house, get rid of most of our belongings, and move into an RV. We traveled the U.S. for a year. Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Mount Rushmore were just a few of the places that we visited. It sounds great, but it was one of the most difficult times of my life. For some of you that have moved before, you know it’s a pretty painful process. I would cry myself to sleep thinking, what are we doing? We are leaving everything I have ever known because God said there was more for us somewhere else? What else was there?? I was happy, wasn’t that enough?

One of my favorite songs to listen to is “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns. The lyrics go:

Oh, what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
"Boy, you'll never win, you'll never win."

Eventually, I had to let go of everything and move to where God wanted me to be. Let me tell you, it was a turn for the best! I am now a part of this amazing youth group, and I have become closer to God than ever before!!

My prayer for this youth group is that during this critical point in our lives, when we are trying to figure out what college to go to, what we are going to major in, and what we are going to do with the rest of our lives that we wouldn’t just shut God out. He has a plan for us, if we would just listen to it.

Isaiah 12:2 (The Message)
2"Yes, indeed—God is my salvation. I trust, I won't be afraid. God—yes God! —is my strength and song, best of all, my salvation!"


Prayer Blog 2/7/2008

Relative Truth

What is the nature of truth? Is it subjective, where what is true for me is not true for you, or is it objective, where the statements of the world are just as true for you as they are for me, regardless?

If I were to say that I was your typical relativist and did not believe in absolute truth, or objective truth, and that your acceptance of Jesus was great and true for you but simply not true for me, what would I actually be saying? If all things are untrue for someone, somehow, at some point in time, then there simply is no absolute truth. Seems logical right? Sure. It allows you to believe exactly what you want and me to believe exactly what I want. It’s the ultimate idea of tolerance amongst religion, people, and mindsets.

So as Christians, can we be relativists? Of course not. We are told that we should go out and preach the gospels, but how is that to be done if the person that we are preaching to says that while it’s great for us, the Bible simply is not true for them? What can you say? They have effectively turned you away and done so eloquently and effectively. Yet, there is always a rebuttal; finding it though is the hard part. Earlier I said the line, “there is no absolute truth.” Can you find out, simply using this statement alone, why relativism fails?

That statement must be ABSOLUTELY TRUE for a relativist, or else it fails. Say you point this out to the relativist, and he/she says, yes, that there is no absolute truth. He/she has just affirmed an absolute truth; thus, undermining their entire position. If they say no, there is NOT absolute truth; then by grammatical rule of a double negative, they are saying there is absolute truth. So in short, relativism fails as a worldview, and to have a discussion with a relativist should not be daunting in any way.

Philippians 2:13 – “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” NIV.

Andrew Hayslip


Prayer 2/2/2008

Honestly it's been one of those weeks where you're not entirely sure things can get much worse. Family issues seem to have a way of bringing you down lower than most others, but all week I have been praying for my family and many of my friends in hope that God will see fit to impart to them some amount of wisdom and peace - for myself it's been the peace. I can't say I pray enough or get into the Word as often as I should. Yet, since Winter Retreat, I've tried committing myself to that more, and God has been working through soo much. I can't say that when things get bad He totally makes me feel 100%, cause He doesn't really work that way, but He has given me that peace and that strength to walk through it all. He does have a way, however, of providing you with everything you need to get along!

"I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." (Luke 10:19)

Abba father,

I pray that Your love will not be unseen as we go through this weekend, whether we're at home or at retreat or work or wherever. Father God, be working in our hearts and prepare for us everything that You have in store for us. Like Nathan said, God, I pray that each and every one of us would be striving for that steady relationship with You and fall out of the habit of creating ups and downs in our walk with You. There will always be those ups and downs God, but I pray that as the Prince of Peace You will give us some of that peace. Especially for the seniors who will be going on to the college life next year, keep us out of the enemies' reach, Father, help us retreat to Your strong fortress and guard us!! God You are amazing, and You have placed AMAZING people in my life. You are the perfect blessing Dad! We love you so much!

Chris Garmon


Prayer 2/1/2008

Daddy, I pray that tonight You would lay Your hands on everyone who's headed to Winter Retreat. Would You soften their hearts? Would You allow them to be open and willing to share in small groups? I pray specifically for those who are going on their first retreat or camp. I pray that You would surround them with loving leaders and friends; will You not let a single person go one night without feeling loved, treasured and accepted with a place? Daddy, I'm excited for what You're up to in the youth group now and for this weekend. Thank You for everything that You've done, are doing and will do. We love You!

Nina Coyle


Prayer 1/31/2008

Well, first off, how about this wonderful day off from school? I love the days when they cancel when there is not even a sight of snow or rain in the sky. A few days ago a friend of mine told me we had only 75 days left of school. That means today’s wonderful snow day marks only 73 days left of school, and the countdown has begun. The last few days I have been doing a lot of thinking about the last three and a half years of my life - where I was both spiritually and maturity wise. Skipping many stories and memories, I just want to tell you all that without the Lord, I would not be the person I am today. Without Jesus, I would not have made it through some of the challenges of high school. I have always lived by the motto of, “Trust in God and understand everything happens for a reason.” My advice to all the underclassmen out there is exactly that - Trust in God.

Andrew Bennett


Prayer 1/29

God's been working wonders since Winter Retreat. It's weird because I haven't been much with words since then either. Over WR, I ended up losing my job. Talk about not knowing God's Plan. It's been awhile since I felt so entirely lost, but I completely gave it up to God. I've put my entire trust in Him to provide, AND HAS HE! He provided me enough money so that I could pay all my bills for the month, and He has also given me a wonderful opportunity to work for this awesome christian music magazine. AND I got to share Jesus with someone at my school the other day. It was incredible. I can really see a difference in myself and in my life since I totally gave my heart to God.

I hope everyone else has been great since WR ended. I miss all of you guys so much and pray for you all every day.

SIDE NOTE: Please keep my friend Shannon in your prayers. She's my best friend, and she's in a really bad situation, family-wise. Please, please, please pray that God will give her strength. She needs it so much.

Natalie Miles


Prayer 1/27/2008

The Vision-

The vision is JESUS--- obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.

The vision is an army of young people.

You see bones? I see an army.

And they are FREE from materialism.

They laugh at 9- 5 little prisons.

They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.

They wouldn't even notice.

They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the west was won.

They are mobile like the wind; they belong to the nations.

They need no passport.

People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.

They are free; yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying.

The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes.

It makes children laugh and adults angry.

It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars.

It scorns the good and strains for the best.

It is dangerously pure.

Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation.

It loves people away from their suicide leaps, and their Satan games.

This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause.

A million times a day its soldiers choose to lose.

That one day they might win the 'Well Done' of faithful sons and daughters.

Such heroes are as radical on Monday Morning as Sunday Night.

They don't need fame from names.

Instead, they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting again and again: "COME ON!"

And this is the sound of the underground -

The whisper of history in the making.

Foundations shaking.

Revolutionaries dreaming once again.

Mystery is scheming in whispers.

Conspiracy is breathing...

This is the sound of the underground,

And the army is discipl(in)ed.

Young people who beat their bodies into submission.

Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms.

The tattoo on their back boasts " For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes.



Who can stop them?

Can hormones hold them back?

Can failure succeed?

Can fear scare them or death kill them?

And the generation prays like a dying man -

with groans beyond talking, with warrior cries, with sulfuric tears and with great barrow loads of

Waiting. Watching: 24-7-365.

Whatever it takes they will give:

Breaking the rules.

Shaking mediocrity from its cozy little hide.

Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs, laughing at labels' fasting essentials.

The advertisers cannot mold them.

Hollywood cannot hold them.

Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late night parties before the cockerel cries.

They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive inside.

On the outside? They hardly care.

They wear clothes like costumes to communicate and celebrate but Never to hide.

Would they surrender their image or popularity?

They would lay down their lives-- swap seats with the person on death row--guilty as hell.

A throne for an electric chair.

With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruitless days,

they pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them.

Their DNA chooses JESUS. (He breathes out; they breathe in!)

Their subconscious sings.

They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.

Their words make demons scream in shopping centers.

Do you hear them coming?

Herald the weirdoes!

Summon the losers and the freaks.

Here come the frighten and forgotten with fire in their eyes;

They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are dwarfed by these children of
another dimension.

Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient dream of Eden.

And this vision will be.

It will come to pass; It will come easily; it will come soon.

How do I know?

Because this is the longing of creation itself, the groaning of the Spirit, the very dream of GOD.

My tomorrow is His today.

My distant hope is His 3-D.

And my feeble, whispered faithless prayer invokes a thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking
great "AMEN!"

from countless angels, from heroes of the faith, from Christ Himself!

And He is the original dreamer the ultimate winner.


God I just pray that would become our hearts' DESIRE! To be SO passionately in love with you.
Equip us to be soldiers for you God; use us in ways that glorify YOU and humble US! Let there be more glory for you and less for US. Would you Cover the camp for the middle schoolers and continue to answer prayers God? Unite them like you have the high schoolers. I LOVE you daddy.

Love you guys!

Casey Tinius


Prayer Continues

And so the prayer continues; however, its purpose has changed. My prayer for Winter Retreat was that we would see both healing and unity, and I have seen immense amounts of both of those happen in Winter Retreat and persisting through even now. Praise God, for broken relationships and hearts who had been back stabbed and betrayed were healed. A conflict and a pain that was years old was resolved once and for all, and for the first time in 6 months, I sleep with an easy heart and an easy mind because things are finally good and getting better.

My biggest prayer now is for the continuation of this Feeling, this Passion, and this Love. Jimmy said at camp that if it fades it wasn't God, and I've gone to several camps and several times at youth group where everyone gets really emotional and the worship is great. God truly does move in those times, but I feel like we open ourselves up to God. Yet, when He starts trying to fix us, we close ourselves up again and shove Him away. I pray that won't happen this time. I pray that this Love would continue and further, that it would spread into our families and into our schools. I pray that it would be so much more than just a “camp high!” I pray that it would be a Reformation.

This past week has gone by so quickly to me. I can't remember much from it from school and things like that, but I do remember that I've felt like I've been floating, like I've been flying. I may seem a bit out of things, but I feel like I'm weightless, floating 10 feet off the ground. What I want to do is becoming what I do and what I don't want to do is becoming what I don't do. I look at the people in this youth group now, and I see a light. I pray that light would never fade, not just for us, but for Nathan. He has come to us at a bad time and in a slump and hasn't seen us at our highs and at our greatest points of exemplifying the unalienable Love that is Christ's Love. I pray that he would begin to see in us what we're really like, who we really are, and I pray that each of us would be able to show that to him.

God, coming off of Winter Retreat, immediately things have changed drastically for me and for a lot of other people, and I haven't stopped praying since. Life is becoming complicated and challenging again, and it's more than welcome. “You're growing,” You say. I believe that, and I'm excited for it. Since Jimmy mentioned his 40-Day Fast and how close it brought him to You, I've been feeling challenged to one of my own. I want You to be what sustains me and nothing else. I love You, and You are all I need. Starting tomorrow morning, I will not eat any solid food for 40 Days as I delve into an intensive time of prayer and drawing nearer to You, God, and I'm not worried or concerned about a thing. I'm confident and excited to see what You will bring to the table and to see all the things You will show me. I simply cannot wait.

Jon Rarick


40 Days - Day 40

"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?"

"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace."

"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.”

-Matthew 6:5-13 (The Message)

No one says it better than Christ…so let this be our earnest request. Would you please go to your quiet place, refuge, and speak this prayer aloud and in agreement with me? There’s just something about praying aloud. In His LOVE…your sister

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Let it be so Father!

Brooklyn Watson


40 Days - Day 39

Send Me

Imagine: Not having a car. Not being able to hang out with friends. Not having Starbucks. No shopping centers. No chance of an education, not even grammar school. No ipods. No internet. No running water. No plumbing. No electricity. Walking…walking…walking…no shoes, sharp rocks, broken glass, hot surfaces, muddy walkways, rough calloused injured feet… A one room house resting on the edge of a cliff, shared by you and your four siblings and parents and even extended family. There is only one mattress in the corner, resting on unlevel boxes or crates. The bathroom is outside the house, a hole in the ground covered by a crate to keep out the stench and the flies. You must be careful because if you make one wrong step, you could fall off the cliff. Working…working...working… You do not get to go to school because your family needs food to eat; so you must work. There aren’t any kids in the neighborhood to play with because they are working. Water is collected in a barrel and used for drinking, washing dishes and washing clothes. Bathing is dependent on rain… The air is heavy with the smell of pollution, garbage, raw sewage and cooking food. Your stomach hurts… You have worms. Your teeth hurt; you have no dentist. You are hungry. You find a half eaten apple, take a few bites and save the rest for your sister.

You are envious. There is a home in the area that has cinderblock walls and running water. The children go to school. They get to play. They get a meal. How did they get so lucky?

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” –Isaiah 6:8 NIV

IT is not luck. It is hearing the voice of the Lord… and obeying.

Mr. Alvaro was a successful architect in Guatemala City, Guatemala. When he heard the voice of the Lord, his heart was broken for the poor and the lost of his country, where poverty ravages 98% of the population. He started a church to help change families and a school to impact future generations.

The People’s Church heard the voice of the Lord and began a partnership to help Pastor Alvaro. A church was built. A School was built. Lives were changed in Guatemala and in Franklin, TN. Mission trips continued providing medical and dental care, sports camps, church, school and home construction.

Fathers heard the voice of the Lord; fathers went.
Sons and Daughters heard the voice of the Lord; they went.
Friends heard the voice of the Lord; friends went.

Pastor Alvaro’s vision --changing his country from darkness to light by impacting one family at a time—is changing his country and the people of The People's Church as they each have placed their "Yes" on the table… “Here am I. Send me!”

Mary Clay Estes


40 Days - Day 38

Hi. I'm Natalie Miles. I'm pretty new to The People's Church youth group still, but some of you should know me or at least see me sing on Wednesday nights. This youth group has been such a blessing in my life and a total answer to prayer. My entire life, prior to TPC, had consisted of being pushed away and excluded from every youth group I had tried to become a part of. Before I met Brad Perry, I had gotten to a point in my life where I didn't know what I believed in anymore. I had basically almost completely given up on God. I desired nothing more than to do everything and anything that would go against my parents, and in turn, God's will. But God has a funny way of having His sovereign hand on everything.

About two weeks after I decided I was done with the whole Christian thing, I met Brad through Dale Lipscomb, whom I had known for about a year. Brad and I were instant friends, but hanging out was always an issue because I always was doing other things. Then he invited me to come to youth group with him. Now, as I said before, youth groups were a pretty sore spot for me. Because of what I had been through, my heart was cold towards them. But I agreed. That Wednesday was the very first Wednesday Nathan Oates spoke. I was almost in tears the entire time. I knew that night this place was going to be different. And it was.

In the past six months or so, I have been involved in the youth group; I have never felt more loved and accepted. Even as I type this, I'm fighting tears because what I was met with at TPC was the one thing I always craved and was never given, no matter where I went. The people I've met are so sincere and crave God and want to do His Will so much so that I can see it on their faces, in their eyes, in what they do. I truly believe that this youth group was everything I needed to pull me back to what I needed more than anything, everything I was running away from.

So my prayer for Winter Retreat is that someone who is in the same boat I was in comes just because their friend asked them to. And that we greet them with the same open, loving, sincere arms that I was greeted with. That we show them not only WHO God is, but who God can be in their lives. I also pray that God will constantly remind us that we are not our own and that it is NOT ABOUT US. It is about Him and Him living through us even if we can't possibly see how.

"There is a God in Heaven who reveals mysteries." Daniel 2:28a NIV

It's going to be awesome guys.

Natalie Miles


40 Days - Day 37

I'm Taylor Bloss, and I'm a senior in the youth group at The People's Church. If the name doesn't ring a bell, then you've probably seen me playing acoustic guitar and singing in the Fusion band with my abnormally long blonde "Goldie-locks" hair. Yeah, it's kinda feminine hair, but I am not a feminine guy. Oh well, that's beside the point. The blog I'm writing is kinda directed toward the seniors, but I think we can all benefit from it. I'm going to base it around one of my favorite verses that tends to encourage me the most during this amazing yet scary time of decision making in my life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" NIV. Without this verse, I would be a SCARED man!! (but still not feminine). I don't know how the other students that are graduating this year are taking the fact that we are about to be in college, but I seriously didn't think this day would come. Yet, to hear the King of the universe say He has plans for ME to give ME a prosperous future is the most encouraging thing I can possibly think of right now. I'm afraid I'm going to major in the wrong thing or something like that, but when these bad feelings of doubt come, I pray to God and recite this verse and leave it all in His hands. I find it so encouraging how personal this message is to me at the stage of life I'm in. As for the students that aren't graduating this year, He still has that plan for you and the rest of your future in high school. High schools around here need Jesus so bad, and as for the seniors, now our time is running short on our impact on our high schools. It's time for you guys to pick up where we left off; I know you guys will do amazing. As for retreat, wow!! I can't wait!! It's my last retreat; so I'm gonna be going CRAZY!!!!!

Taylor Bloss


40 Days - Day 36

Dear Lord,

I know you have big plans for us at Winter Retreat, even before we step on the bus. Let each of us realize that through you we have everything. You are our comforter when we feel afraid. You are our joy when we are down. You are our peace when Satan causes confusion. Together as a team we can overcome the barriers we have put up; take us by the hand and teach us what you have in store for us. Show up miraculously to us at Winter Retreat. In your Name.

An Anonymous Student


40 Days - Day 35

Many times throughout the Bible, we as Christians are told to have faith: “be faithful in Christ,” “faith, hope and love,” faith, faith, faith. Quite frankly, I’m sick of faith. Faith does nothing for us. In fact, I’d bet my salvation that God doesn’t want us to have faith. Now before you say anything to that and dismiss what I have to say as the delusional writings of a madman, ask yourself what faith is.

Seriously. Do it.

I can wait.

Now that you have done that, I would be willing to bet that you said something that I have heard many times before; or maybe meant to say but couldn’t verbalize it. I know I couldn’t. Did you tell yourself, or lead yourself to think that faith is a wish? That faith is merely a whim of hope, a psychological reassurance or desire that something could come, and by having faith, you are merely taking an optimistic stance?

If you know me at all, you know that I love to debate people, especially in the category of religious thought. Just recently, I was in a debate with a pair of Mormons, and I was doing very well compared to other encounters. I would ask a question, and after giving my problems with their religion a thought, they would always respond with: “Well…we just have to have faith.”

I received that exact answer a good four or five times before I asked them the same, mind-boggling question that I posed for you. I said, “You have mentioned several times that you need faith, but how do you define faith?” I gave him a few minutes to stand in dumbstruck silence before I answered for him.

What is faith? The world has told us to believe that faith IS a whim, a hope for something that could not conceivably become. The Bible teaches otherwise. Here is an example of what I’m saying. Though not all of you are 18, let’s assume that you are going to buy a lottery ticket with a friend. You can walk into the store and tell your friend that you have faith that you will win. What kind of faith is that?!? That is the worldly definition of faith, a sheer hope that you will win with that lottery ticket. That is simply a hope grounded in no evidence or reason for thinking so. The world has taught us that is what having faith means. As Christians, we shouldn’t buy into that garbage.

Now we will recreate that same scene with one minor change. You now have x-ray vision. If you go up to the counter and see through the ticket before you buy it, how would you describe saying that you have faith that you will win? I would say that it’s pretty certain that you would have Biblical faith in your winnings. What does that mean?

Since you have seen through your card to determine that you do indeed have a winner, you can tell your friend that you do not have faith that you will win, but instead you have an active trust that you will win based on your power of observation. That is the kind of faith that God desires of us - ACTIVE TRUST. We cannot simply walk around proclaiming ourselves to be Christians, saying that we have faith that Jesus rose from the dead. Instead, the world will misinterpret that meaning of faith, and Christianity will be dismissed as “just another whim.” So if, instead of faith, we go around practicing active trust, we will begin to realize what it is that makes genuine Christian faith different from that of everyday faith.

I was once told by my dad, “God can move mountains, but you had better bring a shovel.” What does this quote mean to us? I think it means exactly what I am trying to say regarding the nature of faith. We can have faith that God will move the mountain for us, but we must be willing to work for Him and do His will. If we do not have that active trust that He will do it, then our faith is as useless as wishful thinking, and we will end up trying to move that mountain under our own earthly power, which won’t be happening anytime soon.

Andrew Hayslip


40 Days - Day 34

Hello! My name is Jackie Peterson. Most of you probably don't know me very well, and I would love to get to know you. I have just recently devoted myself to Christ! It's one of the best and most difficult things of my life. I find it hard each day to deal with peer pressure from cursing to skipping class, but the one thing that has kept me sane is that I read a verse of Scripture each morning. As I started to read the Bible, I came to find this verse. It says,

"Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the LORD will be my light" (Micah 7:8 TNIV).

To me, this verse means that what I have done in the past is past and what I have learned determines my future.So don't judge me for my mistakes. Help me learn from them. I will admit that I have my fair share of "bad" stuff,but along with it, I have figured out who I am! And that's the way I look at it. If people judge you because you screwed up once or maybe more, then you need for them to get to know the real you. I'm not saying go do something bad and you will learn from it. I'm saying that you should be who you are and stay true to yourself!Thank you all for what you do, and I hope you have a great day.

Love always,
Jackie Peterson


40 Days - Day 33

Psalm 136:1-2 (NLT)

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever."

How often do we pray for something and receive what we wanted but not give God the credit that He deserves? How often do we overlook God when He does something mighty? Can it really be that we are too caught up in our day-to-day lives that we don’t see what God is doing around us and thank Him for our many blessings? For months people in our youth group have been praying for a revolution and for unity to occur within our youth group; it is finally beginning to happen. Slowly but surely it is happening. We are becoming a family again. A family that is passionate for God. A family that thanks God for all He has done in our lives. A family that knows we can get through anything if we lean on Christ and seek guidance in each other. I pray that we continue to grow stronger and closer as a family in Christ and that we never forget to thank Him for granting our prayers. I pray that through this Winter Retreat we will fully remember how awesome our God truly is, and an urgency will ignite within all of us to live our lives completely for Christ. I pray that we don’t have a “camp high,” but our ignited flame will grow more and more as we continually search for His will and truth.

Psalm 46:1 (NLT)

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”

Even though we go through hard times and many trials, I pray we pull together as a family who isn’t afraid to go to their brother or sister in Christ to ask for help or prayer. I pray we become the youth group I know we can be: one that is overflowing with Christ’s love and loves each and every member of the youth group. One that is not afraid to be passionate followers of God. One that has something special so that when visitors come they see something in us that other youth groups don’t have, an unexplainable bond.

In His Loving Arms,

Katie Webb


40 Days - Day 32

Romans 12:12 says, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" NIV.

Father, we do have hope. Thank You for the hope You have given us. Give us patience as we seek You in all of our daily trials at home, in school, in our families, in our friendships, in our work relationships, etc. Go before us to Winter Retreat because we want it to be all about You. We love You and trust You in everything!


40 Days - Day 31

Hello all you lovelies! Well, I am not very good at verbalizing things as many people know, but I am going to share some of my life and the Word with you.

I wake up nearly every morning knowing that the choices I’ve made in my life are VERY real to my past, present, and future. There are some things I’ve done that will not be undone, and the consequences of which haunt me continuously. I’m sure tons of people feel this way; it’s probably not too uncommon. Something I am told often in church is that I just have to have that BLIND FAITH and lay all of my mishaps at the feet of God. I have learned to do this at times, but it is sooo hard for me to let go of some of my burdens. That is my confession. I started relying on many different drugs and substances to keep me feeling "good" almost every day starting in my 8th grade year, and those things were the only relief from reality that I knew until about my junior year in high school. When I came to know Christ later that year, my heart felt like it was meant to be taken from my chest and given to all of the people whom I love, and that was something I felt most anxious to do. However, I couldn’t understand the true gift of God because of all the times I had gotten drunk or completely blitzed being tied too tightly to me; I had tied them too tightly to me. I don’t know why I couldn’t understand that these sins, these experiences, these choices....were Christ's now, and even today I struggle with giving them to Him. Anyway, my heart is for other people, and I want to be the best worldly example of Christ’s love for them that I can be. Yet, it’s not usually easy. So, when I was in Kosova, one of the Americans I was there with saw some of my heart and gave me this:

"So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong" Hebrews 12:12-13 NLT.

Father God, sin and temptation have tried to make us weak. We have been led astray from the path that You have laid out and sometimes wander like lost animals, but I pray that You will lead us back to that path whenever we need it. Father, please strengthen our hearts and our bodies and be our living compass. With You showing us the way, there’s no doubt that we can find our way from any place or situation!!! Let us love each other like there is no tomorrow; let us offer our hands to those who are broken and our hearts to those who can’t find theirs. God You are so loving, so fair and so unbreakable, and You are forgiveness. Be in our hearts constantly and prepare us for what You have in store for this Winter Retreat. We love You Father, in Jesus' name.

Love you all, be with God always, and have a great week!!!
Chris Garmon


40 Days - Day 30

Revelation Song: by Jennie Lee Riddle

Worthy is the, Lamb who was slain

Holy, Holy, is He
Sing a new song, to him who sits on
Heaven's mercy seat

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You

Clothed in rainbows, of living color
Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be
to You the only wise King

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You

Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder
At the mention of your name
Jesus your name is power
Breath, and living water
Such a marvelous mystery

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come, yeah
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You

Wow! Seriously, this song has resonated in my head ever since the Sunday morning service. I have heard it several times before, but for some reason, the track just keeps playing over and over again - a chorus of praise to our King! Look at what the song proclaims Him to be and records our response:

He is:
heaven's mercy seat,
the Lord God Almighty
who was, and is, and is to come...

He is:
King of Kings,
the sender of rainbows,
a voice of thunder,
the only wise King...

He is:
living water,
marvelous mystery,
holy, holy, holy!

We will:
bless and honor,
be filled with wonder!

Father, You truly are everything, and we entrust Winter Retreat to You. We thank You for who You are in each of our lives... We are excited about the journey with You and what is to come!


40 Days - Day 29

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV.

Our sense of smell is the most memorable sense of all. God's Word declares Christ as a fragrant offering and sacrifice. Indeed, this should be the most memorable event of all! Christ did not just save us from our sins; He also saved us from God's wrath.

John 3:36 says, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

Father, help us imitate You and love one another just as we have been dearly loved. Continue to pursue us and reveal Your love for us. I pray we each remember the fragrant offering and sacrifice of Your precious Son: a sacrifice which spared each of us from Your wrath. We praise and thank You! You are worthy of all praise and honor. Send Your Spirit before us and with us to Winter Retreat. Teach us Lord what it is to be like You to each other. We love and adore You!


40 Days - Day 28

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" Acts 2:42-47 NIV.

Four simple things are mentioned: teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer; yet, do we DEVOTE ourselves to them? I think we do a great job with fellowship sometimes. I mean, we are pretty good with talking and socializing with one another, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, how much teaching do we truly savor and take to heart? How often do we listen to something for thirty minutes or an hour just to forget it minutes or hours later? How often are we able to teach others because we have devoted ourselves? What does it mean to be devoted anyway? Words like steadfast, attentive, perseverance, and constant when combined together give us an idea of the powerful meaning of this simple word: devoted.

When it comes to breaking of bread, how often do we really take time to remember what Christ has done for us? The sacrifice, the pain, taking on our sins, and setting us free from the bondage of sin often get lost in the hectic pace of our lives... Lord, help us devote ourselves to remembering as it changes us. We cannot remember and remain the same!

Finally, the act of prayer is mentioned. This 40 day journey has been especially wonderful as various students have allowed God to work in their lives. I have been so blessed and thankful for each of their entries. God is at work. Lord, may we devote ourselves to prayer. May this become such a part of who we are as a youth group, as Your children, and as Your servants. Knit our hearts together with Yours Lord!

God, help us be devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer! We want to know You more and more. May Winter Retreat be a time of seeking You and You alone. We desire sincere hearts filled with praise for You!


40 Days - Day 27

"When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, the LORD appeared to him at night and said:

'I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. '"

2 Chronicles 7:11-16 NIV

Father, this is Your student ministry. May we be humbled as we cry out to You and seek Your face. Hear our prayers, and unite our hearts. Forgive us for being lukewarm and not putting You first. We want a relationship with You Lord. We desire to serve and follow You... Heal us Abba!


40 Days - Day 26

Unfortunately, looking back over this past year, I must admit that I haven't grown as close to God as I could have. I have been living a lukewarm life. Sure I've had moments where I felt great potential, and if I had continued to pursue God like I should have, I probably would have become closer to Him. The reason why I'm lukewarm for Him right now is no one's fault but my own.

By a seemingly random reading out of the Bible by my cousin, (except of course it wasn't random, it was God) I knew that I had to change.

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth" Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV).

In Greek, spit means vomit. If we are lukewarm for God, He will vomit us out of his mouth. Being vomited out of God's mouth is something I want to avoid at all costs. To know He would detest my lukewarm passion for Him so much as to rather me be completely cold for Him has made me stop and think. How can my passion become hotter and more intense for Him? How can I avoid being lukewarm? I've been praying about it a lot lately. I've come to realize that God wants us to constantly seek Him by reading His Word and talking and listening to Him. Just spending time with Him. He longs for us to be all that we can through Him.

My prayer for Winter Retreat, and for everyday, is that we will not be lukewarm for Him. That we will renew our passion, and that our passion will not die out. And most of all, that through our passion, God will be glorified.
Beth Rouse :)


40 Days - Day 25

God, please show us Your never ending love;
show us Your mercy and Your ceaseless grace.
Let them come down to us like a dove,
and let us feel Your warm embrace.

Help us see the plans in store;
may they be full of You.
Soften our hearts to open the door
to Your purposes, some strange and new.

Help us let go of our past:
the pain, the dark, the sin.
For we know evil will never last,
and Jesus Christ shall always win.

I pray for Your guiding light,
our unity under attack and weathered.
Ha, yes Disney got it right;
We're all in this together.

Life's journey for God's people is rough
trials and doubt may come like tidal waves,
but having Your hand on this trip will be enough
to make this Winter Retreat the one that saves.

This prayer, in Christ, I pray
with all of my heart I moan,
that for the rest of our days
we will never feel alone.

Jesus, thank You for the loving staff we have. I pray that You will equip them with the strength and the heart for this Winter Retreat. I pray that no one shy away from coming, that they know they will be loved and will grow. I pray for a united front against the struggles of our youth. Let this be a Winter Retreat we remember for the rest of our lives. Finally, I pray that the ones who don't attend feel the impact of Your love and guidance as much as the ones going. I pray that we grow and hold close to You. I pray for the youth who feel detached from You. I pray they know that they are not alone and that we love them. In your precious name, Amen.

Maddie Burford


40 Days - Day 24

Recently during this 40 days of prayer, I have come to realize more about who we are as God's most precious creation. We are warriors that are here on this earth to fight for Him. The sad part about all of this is some of us are reluctant warriors and are not fighting for Him. It seems that now people live their lives the way they want to until something happens, and then, they expect God to just pick up the pieces for them so they can continue with what they were doing. While He is there and will help us, He does expect a little help from us too. We are not completely helpless. Without minimizing the possibility of God intervening in our lives at special times, it is safe to say that He usually expects us to use the resources given to us to work through the problems of life. He made us in His image with the abilities to feel and make decisions, and He encourages us to use them. There are certain things in life He WILL NOT do for us, and these are usually the times when we feel He has left us. When really, He is there to mentor us, help us and encourage us, but He will not excuse us from using our minds. John 16:33 says that the victory is already ours, but that does not mean we won't have troubles. It just guarantees we will win in the end. What we have to remember as a youth group is that with continuing prayer there will be spiritual warfare, and the primary location for this battle is in our minds. Either we choose to believe the lies that hold us in bondage, or we choose to believe the truths that set us free. This is a never ending process that comes along with prayer. I am here to encourage you and tell you that no matter what you are going through or how you are getting attacked, God knows exactly what you are going through because He has been there too. When Jesus came to earth, He took on human form meaning that He desired food, He became tired, He needed sleep, He cried, and He died, etc. There truly is nothing He won't do for us. As a youth group, I want to challenge everyone to make a new year's resolution to not only continue in prayer but to stick with each other through these guaranteed times of struggles, and we will find it to be so much easier to pull through. This is my prayer for the youth group.

~Brittney Harrison~