We're in awe of the tender mercies of God when we reflect on the last twelve months and we praise God that we are able to share this year-end report with you highlighting some of the significant things that have happened in our lives and ministry. Thank you for your continued friendship, prayers, and support that help make what we do possible.
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. - Rev 3:19
At the beginning of the year we sensed the Holy Spirit renewing our hearts in tenderness to His presence with refreshed zeal for His purposes. We knew by faith that He was speaking to us about revival and the need to realign certain areas of our heart in deeper agreement with His word. The first three months of the year especially were a time of deeper consecration and seeking the Lord.
Also, at the beginning of the year, there was a slight realignment in our ministry roles where we serve. Ruth and I have the honor of working along-side and supporting a team of people who are serving in the prayer and worship ministry. These thirty or so individuals are pillars upon which the Lord, in part, is building His house of prayer within the community and effecting spiritual change in the region.
The Shiloh experience...
In March, you may remember that I traveled to Israel. During our visit to Shiloh, the site where the tabernacle of Moses rested for over three hundred years, I had an unusual experience.
While browsing the gift shop I happened upon a small, decorative print with an ancient writing that caught my eye. As I picked it up to look at it more closely I could feel my heart accelerating. Wondering if this was a spiritual experience or the cup of coffee I just had, I put it back down. My heart quieted. I picked up the print once more and again felt my heart stirring in my chest. "OK Lord, You have my attention," I whispered as I decided to purchase the half-dozen copies that were on the shelf. On the print was written Hannah's prayer.
If you're familiar with Biblical Shiloh, then you know that one of the things that happened there was Hannah prayed and asked God for a child. So, atop the hill where Hannah probably offered her prayer, feeling stirred to faith, I offered a simple prayer: "Lord, if You want to give Ruth and I another child then we will gladly receive him."
Nine months later and our family is now looking forward to welcoming our son Ezekiel into the world any day now. We know that he is a reminder to us that God shares the desires of His heart with us and, if we'll ask and seek, He is faithful to answer them.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4
Wind in the sails...
In the ministry, we are thanking the Lord for over 150 prayer meetings at the house of prayer this year including 160 unique participants and over 200 hours of corporate worship, adoration, and intercession for our community and the nations of the earth.
Singers and musicians are worshipping with intercessors before the Lord. Children, youth, and adults of all ages are coming together. People from multiple congregations are praying together regularly. Hearts are turning to the Lord, spiritual hunger is increasing, the Lord is answering prayers, and Holy Spirit is bringing forth the beautiful and victorious Bride of Christ.
In June we began offering training classes to help equip people with the Biblical principles and practical applications of ministry in the house of prayer. In all, we've trained 90 people in worship leading, spontaneous singing, growing in intercession and corporate prayer, healing prayer and New Testament prophetic ministry.
And last month we hosted a community-wide round-table with forty participants from multiple congregations to talk about the growing prayer movement and how we can work together to promote a culture of prayer throughout the region. We sensed the Lord's pleasure over this gathering and heard from several about the encouragement that they felt during the meeting. We're looking forward to sharing with you more about the initiatives that come out of these conversations in the months ahead.
The Season of Our Joy
We want to leave you with one final encouragement as we head into the New Year. One that has greatly blessed us this year and we trust will bless you as well.
Hebrews 12:2 - For the joy set before Him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We recently received revelation from the Scriptures about the joy of the Lord and how God brings us into it. Psalm 45:7-8 reveals that the oil of joy used to anoint Jesus is made of myrrh, aloes, and cassia. This blend of oils symbolizes pain, healing, and the new life that emerges from God's redemptive processes at work in us. When we complete a cycle of suffering, healing and new life we enter into the joy of the Lord in increasing ways. This is God's promise for those who experience redemptive suffering, specifically those who are able to connect in their pain, disappointment, and loss with God's heart of love and His redemptive purposes.
...those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy (Psalm 126:5).
This year Ruth and I have witnessed, in our own lives and the lives of people around us to some extent, God take the pain and sorrow from years past that has been surrendered into His hands, mingle it with His healing balm, and turn it into joy and gladness. Our testimony to you is that God knows how to use both blessing and adversity to awaken us to deeper levels of love and lead us into His joy. We know He can and will do the same for you. May the joy of the Lord be your strength, and ours, as we walk together with Him into next year.
Merry Christmas & a Joyful New Year,
Josh & Ruth