Archive for July, 2012

Tomorrow I set off with some students to summer camp.  The students I will be taking are all professing Christians and fairly active in the church.  My prayer is that they will grow closer to their God and Savior.  That they will be renewed before school starts to be bold in their sharing and in their beliefs.  In Hebrews the author speaks on maturing as a Christian. “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:13-14  I pray that they begin to grow in the spiritual self.  I more pray that they have a desire to know God more.

Without the desire to know Him, one will not get much out of church.  Church, camp, youth, are all tools that the Holy Spirit uses for us to grow into a mature understanding of God and His will for our lives.  Desire cannot be taught, shared, or given.  It must come from within the person.  I pray that these next few days will awaken a desire inside each student and inside myself as well.  For I am not fully mature until I reach the Throne.

Please pray with me.

In Christ’s Love,

Josh

   When I say prayer, there is an idea that comes into your mind.  It may be of a pastor standing in front of a congregation, a moment of silence at a football game, a still quiet place to talk with God, or simply heads down eyes closed.  Prayer is a large part of church in general.  We pray before the service starts, during singing, at the end of a sermon, and before we leave.  In fact, prayer becomes so commonplace that we can forget the true power that is within it.

I like to use analogies and this one was the best that I could relate to, but take a toilet for instance.  Now stay with me for a moment, I work with youth.  Toilets are great!  They keep me from going outside to use the restroom, when I do go, it is quick to leave me sight, and new water fills the bowl ready for me at any time.  Now this has to be in the top 10 greatest inventions ever.  But how often have you thought to yourself, “I am so thankful for my toilet”?  You see, because most of us here have grown up with indoor plumbing, toilets are a natural part of everyday life.  Prayer can become a natural part of life as well, not in a good way.

Having the ability to talk to God at any given moment and to know that he hears our prayers and to be talking to the One who controls all things can become commonplace.  The ability to talk straight to God has not always been available.  In the Old Testament, before Jesus came on the scene, people had to go through priests at the temple.  Because we pray so often, or have simply forgot what prayer can truly do; it loses it power inside us.  Take for example these 3 stories of how powerful prayer really is.

The first is one story about Elijah, although there are many to choose from.  James references the event to end his book and says, “Elijah was a man just like us.  He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.  Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”  (James 5:17-18)  This phenomenon happened because of Elijah’s prayer.  Looking at 1 Kings 18:42 we see how open and vulnerable his prayer was to God, “So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.”  Prayer is powerful.  It is powerful enough to request to God the control of the weather.

The second story is found in the New Testament in Acts 16.  Here Paul and Silas were walking together and this lady that was demon possessed kept bothering them and Paul had finally had enough.  He turned around and commanded the evil spirit to come out of her and it did.  As a result of healing the woman, they were thrown in jail.  However, they did not let this bother them.  Verses 25-26 say, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.”  I think this was a direct cause of their singing and praying to God.  If they were sitting in jail sulking about how wrong they had been treated, I do not believe the earthquake would have come, at least not to the extent of removing chains and doors.  Now Paul and Silas did not escape, but they were able to use this opportunity to share with the jailer and the other inmates the Gospel.  All of this happened because prayer is powerful.  It is powerful enough to remove chains and doors and allow opportunities to share the truth about Jesus Christ with others.

The last story is a little more recent.  It happened about 5 years ago.  In college one weekend Gail’s mom came to visit.  We went up to her hotel room before we left to go eat somewhere.  Apparently, before she came to Brownwood, she had cashed her paycheck and had a lot of cash on hand.  This cash had now come up missing.  We searched the hotel room like crazy, literally turning over mattresses with no success.  After about 20-30 minutes of looking we stopped, joined hands, and prayed that God would allow us to find the money.  And I kid you not, the very next place we looked, which was where all 3 of us had previously searched, the money lay there…all of it.  Now no life changing event occurred, weather was not changed, no one was freed from jail and no ministry opportunity arose out of this, but I wholeheartedly believe that prayer was why we found the money.  Prayer is powerful.  It is powerful enough to make something that was lost, found, including you and me.

If we look back to the last chapter in James again, right before the example of Elijah, the second part of verse 16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  We do not need to take prayer for granted because it is has been a part of our lives for so long, but remember how much of a privilege it is to be able to talk to the Creator of the universe.

Right now we have a group in Alaska that has been serving the people there for the past 2 days and this will be their last day to be on the beach.  Today around their lunchtime, they will have a church service where a few will share testimonies and possibly sing some hymns.  This is basically the peak of the weekend.  I can tell you from experience that they are beginning to feel the effects of working 15 hour days.  Since we have been reminded about how powerful prayer is; I want us to have a time of prayer for our family in Alaska.  I have a slide that has some specific prayers that we can pray:

  • Health
  • Cheerful Attitude
  • Servant’s Heart
  • Relationships to be groomed
  • Opportunities for sharing the Gospel
  • Immediately results due to their ministry

Also here is a list of all those serving there:

Les, Mandy, Kaylee, Sydney, Charlotte, Scottie, Sara, Seth, Dawn, Shane, Taylor, Kenzie, Chester, Jackie, John, Kim, Daina, Riley, & PJ.

Please lift up either a few or all of them, but be sure to call them out by name.  Be as specific in your prayers as you can.

     There are many old sayings about idle hands. There is one by Isaac Watts that I would like to bring to your attention: “For Satan always finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” These sayings usually come from grandmothers or parents that are trying to reason with a child to cease playing video games or simply lying around the house. However, I would like to entertain this quote in regards to marriage.

Now I am certainly no expert in marriage. Especially for being married only 3 years, a drop in the bucket compared to some. Having said that, in our world today marriage is not viewed as a forever relationship in many circles. Instead the option of divorce or separation is always a possibility and is too often used. If we look back at the quote from Isaac Watts, there is a truth that can be found regarding marriage.

Recently Gail, my wife, organized and spoke at a Ladies Night that was held at our church. Women from the community came to fellowship together. These nights usually have themes and Gail’s theme was repurposing. She focused on the fact that when we come to Christ as sinners, he repurposes us into a new creation, something that can then be used by Him. In order to get her point across in a way that women would understand, she had crafts! These crafts consisted of taking old wood that was to be thrown away and making them in to decorative art, making picture frames from jelly jars, and a soap dispenser out of a sauce jar. Overall I believe there were nearly 25 crafts.

Since I am a part-time youth minister and a substitute teacher, the summer leaves me with some time to kill. Therefore, I volunteered, yes under my own will, to assist in the making of the crafts. This process was about a month long. In that month we tried various things, made mistakes, and had successes. We perfected items found online and even came up with a few on our own. After all was said and done and the Ladies Night was over, I came to an important realization. My wife and I had spent about a month working together on projects…and it was a good month! Thinking back to other months in our relationship, it differed.

You see, I believe Watts quote is true for individuals. Satan will take advantage of any situation he can. When we are not moving forward in our relationship with God, Satan is pulling us backwards. The same is true for couples. As a couple, when was the last time you and your spouse worked together to accomplish a common goal? When each spouse has a different set of goals to accomplish during a day, division occurs. It can lead to seeing one’s own needs and wants over your spouse’s. Ephesians 5:31 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Too often a husband and wife never combine into the “one flesh.” The husband has the duties of providing security for his family and the wife must raise the children properly. But if the two have become one, there will not be two separate people that off-set each other. There will be companionship. A relationship where each strive to work together to accomplish the same goals.

The “craft month” has taught me how important it is to work with Gail to accomplish the same goal. There were not always times of jubilation and excitement. We argued about how to glue certain items together or which way to form jars, but we both had the same ultimate goal. Our arguments never stopped us from accomplishing the goal in the end. Our marriage has benefited from this month.

I would challenge you to take on a project with your spouse. It can be anything from fixing up the back porch at your home, to building a simple item to display as art. During this time you will have to show patience, compassion, love, and self-control. But you will be reminded that your spouse is not just another person you live with, not just a friend that will lisen to your complaints, not just a cook or a handyman; but your spouse is a companion. When working together to accomplish a goal, your hands will not be idle. They will be active. So too your marriage will not be idle, but active and vibrant.

In case you were wondering the Ladies Night was a huge success. Though there were only 9 ladies that showed up to fellowship; God ordained each individual to be there to hear exactly what Gail had to say. I would certainly call that a success.

In Christ’s Love,

Josh Williford