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What Role Does Prayer Play In Your Life?

Posted: November 23, 2015 in Faith, Stories
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IMG_2388Not long ago my answer to this question would have been not very much.

Ever had a pivotal moment in life and you had no idea it was a pivotal moment?  A lot of God’s work is like that…where in the moment you have no idea how big the moment really is until you look back. Recently I have been encouraged by the power of praying out loud, and it took me back to the first time I did that. I vividly remember sitting in my friends floor curled up in a ball, looking uncomfortable, feeling uncomfortable, and feeling terrified. Maybe it was because I was afraid of being honest with myself? My friend? Or with God? Not sure, but I am so thankful for my friend who stood by me and waited patiently while I grew in my faith in that moment. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t long, it wasn’t poetic. It was out loud and it was honest, and there is power in that.

That day was almost 9 years ago. I wish I could say my life hasn’t been the same since. Well a little bit is true there, my life definitely isn’t the same, and praise the Lord for all He has brought me through. My prayer life however really had not changed much since that day. Sure now I was no longer afraid to pray out loud, but in this current stage of life the ability to pray isn’t the issue anymore, it is now the role it plays in my life. I remember a pastor not long ago challenging me with the statement of, “If you could no longer pray, would it make a difference? Does prayer hold so much value in your life that it would be missed if you could no longer do it?”

At the time I answered no. The Lord has been moving since then as He has refined my perspective and understanding of who He is and the importance of prayer in my life. God is working and moving all around us all the time whether we see it and are a part of it or not. When you are in a relationship with Him He invites you to join in and be a part of what He is already doing…and a major part of that relationship is prayer. Prayer is not only a conversation, but it is the humblest form of our need of God.

Praying helps us recognize our dependence on the Lord.

Praying out loud holds us accountable for what we pray. I don’t know about you but I am more likely to remember the prayers I intentionally pray out loud than the ones I say in my head.

After you pray it is important that you WATCH. Watch what God is doing around you. Praying is not a magic genie in a bottle. God does not always answer every prayer and He definitely doesn’t answer them in the ways we think he should, but he moves. Prayer is powerful. The closer you grow in a relationship with God the closer your prayers align with God’s mission and in turn you see lots of movement and encouragement from the Lord.

Jesus made prayer an important role in his life here on Earth and He made sure He taught his disciples how to do it. The High Priestly Prayer in John is a beautiful depiction of the relationship between the Lord and his son. In John 17:20 Jesus prays, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who believe in me through their message.” He is praying for all believers. That includes me and you. Out of the whole Bible Jesus only speaks in a small portion of it and I find that it’s pretty amazing that a man of few words felt that it was important to not only pray, but model how to pray and then to spend time praying for all believers. He knew He was going to save us, but He prayed for us anyways!

In Acts 6:4 the disciples said, “and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Before Jesus left them He had taught them how to pray. They prayed for the Holy Spirit to come and now they are giving their attention to prayer. Not to traveling around, not to preaching, but to prayer then the ministry. The ministry of the word is still an important part of Gods mission, but first comes prayer. The relationship with God, the growth in faith must come in order to spread the gospel or be involved in the ministry of the word. The disciples understood this by the time Jesus left them with the Great Commission. In fact a large part of their growth is shown in Mark 9:29 when the disciples weren’t able to cast out demons in a child and Jesus said, “this kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” This is a pivotal moment for the disciples as they see that more time and effort in prayer is necessary in the relationship with God, which is a direct correlation to growth in faith. Their lack of faith and prayer was unable to cast out the demons.

The Lord knows your heart, thoughts, and mind, but the difference is does He have your heart, thoughts, and mind? Because if He does then your answer to the question is yes. Yes…my life would be drastically different without prayer.

Several months ago a few of us took a trip to Peru and took on the Santa Cruz Trek. We survived and we documented the entire trip the best we could! Enjoy!

YL 1The Lord planted a seed for a mission trip in our heads at the beginning of this year. In fact we made new years resolutions and one of our friends said, “y’all will go on a mission trip.” We started researching and we are so thankful that Davis Orders went to Tanzania because it was through a friend telling us about his trip that we found Young Life Expeditions Africa.

We applied in January and the Lord answered quickly and the journey began. “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I Am. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:3

To Kenya we were going, and the Lord began preparing our hearts from day 1. Between fundraising and attacks in Kenya…Satan was after us, but we persevered and come June 19th we were on our way to change the world in Kenya…or so we thought.

As we reflect on our time in Kenya and process what we experienced there were a few takeaways we wanted to share.

God is bigger than….

We discovered in a whole new way that you fill in the blank with anything and God is bigger than it…because He is bigger than everything. He is bigger than my city, my church, my problems. Bigger than any circumstance anyone in this world finds themselves in. He is bigger than fear. He is doing big things in Greenville and we get to be a part of that, and man…how prideful we were to not think He was doing big things in Kenya as well. God blew us away with His glory and love there. Young Life is expanding all over the continent of Africa and God is using this organization to do big things. In Kenya alone there are 391 leaders, 74 neighborhood groups and 125 clubs in schools. The work they are doing is incredible and the only way they are able to do it is solely through the resources that people donate through mostly America. They are reaching parts of Africa that seem to be unreachable.YL 2

Prayer life

Dependence on the Lord is so apparent in everything they do. Many of the friends we were able to meet and spend time with showed us what faith looks like. They are walking in life with the Lord having sacrificed something…whether it be a job, friends, family, traditions, culture, or even food. One of the Kenyan Young Life leaders, Martin, spoke at the first club about the sufferings and pains we cling to in life that can keep us from knowing the freedom we have in Christ. He challenged each kid to write down the pain and suffering they needed freedom from and then had them ask God to take it. They prayed about it and then came back together and lifted their papers up high while kneeling and praying. They then set a fire in a pot and each put their paper in the fire and said, “I surrender my pain and worries to Jesus.” You could feel their pain, their suffering, but also the Lord in that place. There were Muslims and children of Kenya at camp giving their lives boldly to Jesus Christ. It was powerful. It was beautiful and there just aren’t words that can describe it. Their daily prayers are outside of themselves, and their gratefulness for the mercy and grace the Lord has bestowed on them is beyond what I call thankful.

This gratefulness was extended to us when the entire camp of leaders and 200 kids surrounded us, laid their hands on us, and prayed for us. I have never felt more undeserving of their love than in that moment – what a humbling experience as 200+ voices prayed together thanking the Lord for us. I’ve never known a whisper to be so powerful. These people love us with true agape love unlike anything I have ever seen. We found it to be so unique that they invite the Holy Spirit into the presence of their prayers and where we are every time they pray. It was such a peaceful and comforting way to pray…as we know the Holy Spirit is with us, but what a humbling thing to invite Him in wherever we are…who doesn’t want to be invited in?YL 3

Eternal Wealth

America needs what Africa has. Society tells us that we are among the wealthy and they are not. Yet, we discovered they were not lacking in anything. Their wealth comes from within. When your wealth comes from within, you find that what pours out is joy and love despite any current circumstances. Their ability to “just be” was unsettling at first in contrast to the scheduled lives we normally live, but as the days went on we began to revel in every moment we got to “just be”…TIA (This Is Africa). The people of Africa focus so much on building relationships with the people around them. It is such a wonderful way to live out the gospel. God created us as relational beings and that’s what Jesus did during his time here on Earth. Jesus continues to pursue relationships all over the world with each and every one of us.

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” – 2 Corinthians 8:13-15YL 4

Being the Same Yet so Different at the Same Time

One of the YL Leaders, James, warned us that many of the kids felt unequal to Americans or “mzungus” as they called us. They had not spent much time with mzungus so they had no idea how similar we all really are. They simply believe that America is a wealthy, well off nation and that we are better than them. We could feel and see this during an experience we had with a small group bible study. One of the boys was afraid to speak out or respond to the questions for fear that he would not sound smart. Martin, their leader, reassured and encouraged them that they were free to speak among us. As we shared more they began to open up with each other and us. The bible study was about HEALTHY friendships and the “T” in the word healthy stood for Trust. A boy named Johnte and I were partners and we began talking about what parts of a healthy friendship we struggled with. We discovered that we struggled with the same issues…trusting close friends and being completely honest with them. We were able to encourage each other and we came up with ways that we could practice this with the great friends the Lord had blessed us with. We talked about how with great risk comes great reward. We both agreed it was worth it to be honest and trust our close friends with our story…every part of our story!

The night before camp started we were spending time with some of the Kenyan leaders and we began talking to Peter. Maggie is really good at asking questions, so they began to come out as we were eating dinner and Peter answered them all. As we began learning more and more about his life, we could feel his pain from the past, the sacrifice he made for the Lord, and his joy and passion for what he is doing with Young Life. He sacrificed his friends to follow Jesus and relies on prayer to find work and to live. He spends so much of his time in prayer and in scripture. He was able to give such in depth scriptural explanations for topics like speaking in tongues and tithing. We were fascinated with his every word. He found it to be such a foreign concept that people in America could step into a church without ever sacrificing anything. We found such common ground in our conversations as he spoke of his introverted personality and him having a hard time making friends and trusting people. We found he struggled with relationships, singleness, and doubt…which all sounded too familiar to us.

These two relationships were just a small glimpse at how we discovered we are all the same yet so different at the same time.YL 5

Finding Joy in the Small Things

For entertainment at camp, in Nakuru, at the orphanage, or just every night with our team, we found such joy in a whole lot of dancing and games that required no materials. We played music as often as we could. One of the most moving moments was when Kelly turned on “Carry your Candle” and the children at the orphanage began singing it. It was as if the heavens opened up and the choirs were singing! We had a dance party at every stop we made and sometimes just in the van on our way to the next stop. We played games such as, “This is so much fun”, which simply requires 2 people and a lot of laughter. At camp we jumped our hearts out as we shouted, “Do you have rubber shoes?” or as we played, “Balance the ball”…with no ball. It’s amazing how much fun you can have with no props, no iPads, no toys…just our imaginations.YL 6

Experiencing God

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” – Romans 8:18

This verse is so much more real to us after having experienced the country of Kenya and God’s wonderful creation through the Kenyan people and the African animals. The presence of God is noticeably strong in Kenya as you gaze upon the landscape and interact with the people. The Christians there have faith in God’s promises so unwavering. God definitely has not forgotten Africa! This sums it all up for us…as we come home, humbled that the Lord allowed us to go and experience what He is already doing in Kenya. He did not need us to go. We got to go and be a part of what is already in place. We thought we would go and change the world, and oh how humbled we were.YL 7

Go be part of what God is already doing anywhere in this world, because He is everywhere.

“Do Something” by Matthew West

I woke up this morning

Saw a world full of trouble now

Thought, how’d we ever get so far down

How’s it ever gonna turn around

So I turned my eyes to Heaven

I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”

Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of

People living in poverty

Children sold into slavery

The thought disgusted me

So, I shook my fist at Heaven

Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”

He said, “I did, I created you”


Big thank you to Maggie Aiken, Caroline Reynolds, and Kelly Martin for sharing their experience in Africa with us! Y’all are awesome and I know this will inspire and encourage others to go join in where God is already at work in their life!

Marriage: Love Over Compromise

Posted: June 26, 2015 in Faith, Stories

Marriage - Love Over Compromise Picture

Quick Note: We received this blog in an email earlier this morning…before any of the Supreme Court rulings had taken place. This was not written with any of that in mind. So, we hope this honest story is just the encouragement someone needed today because God’s timing is better than our timing!

I overheard some guys having a conversation in the gym today where one of the guys was asking the other for some advice about his relationship with his wife. The man that was looking for advice asked, “Was the reason I married my wife MY OWN will or was it GOD’S WILL?” He admitted that he did not have a personal relationship with God at the time they got married, but has started to develop a relationship since then. He seemed to be questioning the current relationship with his wife saying that they weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on some things and were going through a rough patch. His friend gave him some relationship advice to try to compromise and said, “If that doesn’t work then you will know you did all that you could…”

When I heard this, it got me thinking…COMPROMISE……..THAT’S IT????????????

I have been happily married to my wife for 2 and 2/3 years now…and they have been the best years of my life thus far! I will be the first to admit that I do not know everything there is to know about marriage and I know that I mess up all the time, if not daily, in my marriage. But what I have learned in these years is our marriage is not just a series of compromises. Our marriage is built first and foremost on the love for our Savior. It is built on our love for each other. It is built on the love of our family. It is built on trust. It is built on understanding. It is built on patience. It is built on vulnerability. It is built on communication. And yes, it is built on compromise…

I recently did a book study with the guys in my small group. We read and discussed the book What Radical Husbands Do by Regi Campbell. This book is a great read for anyone going through a rough patch in their marriage and even for those people who are just trying to be better husbands! The book really challenged me to change the way I looked at my marriage. I am here to SERVE my wife, which is radically different from the way the world tells us to live as a married couple. My job as a husband is to show my wife the same love that Jesus showed the church. My job is to lead her through serving her!

So back to the story…What advice would I give this man? I obviously don’t know all of the details of his relationship, but here is what I would say…

First, I would try my best to answer his question about his will versus God’s will.

  • Although you may not have been close to God when you started this relationship, He was close to you! God had this planned for you since you were born. HE has brought you two together to bring Him glory. Take comfort in the fact that you can now be the Godly husband that your wife deserves!

The advice I would give about his relationship is:

  • FIGHT! Fight for your wife! Show her the husband that God wants for her. Cherish her. Love her. Laugh with her. Cry with her. Talk with her. Surprise her. Buy her flowers for no reason. Binge watch Netflix with her. Throw away the back up plan! SERVE HER!!!!

IMG_6920Yesterday, I got a very unique experience and opportunity. This year my company gave all of its employees $100. My boss put no limitation on how we used our $100, but she just told us that she hoped we would spend it on the less fortunate. I had been thinking about different ways that I could spend my portion. Ultimately, my coworker, Malcolm (2nd from the right in the picture), and I decided that we would pack together bag lunches and give them to the homeless. We proceeded to buy a bunch of premade sandwiches, P3 protein packs, granola bars, crackers, oranges, bottled water, and put together the bag lunches. After that, we drove towards downtown to an area that Malcolm knew as a homeless hangout. The area that he knew as the hangout turned out to be the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless shelter.

As we approached the homeless hangout I was feeling all sorts of emotions. I don’t really know how to describe the feeling, but I was certainly nervous. We pulled up and there was a large group of people gathered around the back of a U-Haul truck. It turns out the people in the U-Haul truck were handing out winter clothes and blankets. As we were getting out of the car we were greeted by a gentleman named Nate (2nd from the left in the picture). Nate has been living at the shelter for a couple of weeks because he was forced to move out of his apartment due to black mold. He had nowhere else to go so he ended up at the shelter. After explaining to Nate what we were there for he told us to get the lunches out. Before we knew it every single one of our lunches was gone. The lunches were a hit, but we literally could not give away the water. I guess they did not want the water because it added a lot of weight to what they had to walk around with. We ended up having two cases of water leftover so we donated them to the shelter.

Before we left Nate gave us a glimpse into his daily life at the shelter and his daily struggles. He said his biggest struggles are getting to and from potential job interviews because he can’t afford the bus fare. Nate also told us that the people that really need help are the women with young children. They have a tough time being able to take care of themselves while also trying to take care of their children. The homeless men can get by with food through donations around the shelter and then go look for work during the day. The women have nowhere to go and no one to take care of their kids. Nate told us that food really was not an issue during the weekends because of group donations, but during the week donations are less consistent and food can be a big struggle at times.

Everyone we talked to, including Nate, were extremely thankful for all of the generous donations that they receive, especially during the holiday season. However, what really struck a chord with me was something that Nate told us towards the end of our conversation. Although donations during the holiday season or when it is cold outside are much needed and much appreciated…these people need donations the entire year…not just one or two months. They are fighting to survive everyday and this shelter helps keep them on their feet.