Exciting things are happening in FP Tri-county. They held a First Priority Training this week and expected about 50 people.
70 people showed up!!
We explained First Priority and then trained them on our HOPE cycle.
At the end we split them up into schools and they filled out paperwork to turn into their schools. Out of the 8 potential schools, we had enough people to start 6 FP clubs!
The other 2 potential schools had students there, but were missing a faculty sponsor. They had commitments but the flu hit those 2 faculty. So we should be able to launch those 2 clubs in a couple of weeks.
Below is a picture of the students coming up and the rest of us praying for them to be sent out as missionaries.
In November, I had the privilege of speaking at a booming country church in Milo, Oklahoma. It is in the middle of nowhere. When you drive up, you are shocked at all the cars that are in the parking lot. You have to think where in the world did everyone come from, and where do they live? Mike Johnson has been the pastor there for years. He works in the oil field full time and preaches on Sundays and Wednesdays. He is one of my favorite people in the world and one of the Godliest men I know.
That Sunday morning, after I spoke, a girl name Chy came up to me and said she was a senior and wanted to get a First Priority club going before she graduated. During Christmas break, we set up a time to do a training with her so she could start a club after the first of the year. I told her all the things she would need to get in place and about the leadership teams and their roles in the club. I thought that it would be a few weeks before they got started. I was wrong. She started it the first week back! I got a phone call from Mike, who was all excited and tells me he heard from Chy. The very first meeting ‘help week,’ she was walking through one of the gospel tools, and four students gave their lives to Christ. BOOM! I am convinced there are thousands of Chy’s out there just waiting for someone to provide them with the opportunity to be used by God. Let’s pray God raises an army of these bold teenagers, and as the book of Acts says about the disciples, “these men who have turned the world upside down are now in our city.” Acts 17:6
I recently heard someone say, “If you don’t measure it, you don’t care about it.” Whatever ‘it’ is, he is totally right. The new year always evokes change in people. But because this is not only a new year, but a new decade, it has us writing goals and making adjustments to our life; spiritually, physically, financially, emotionally, and so on. A few weeks ago I shared a quote I heard from Toby Mac. He said, “if you are not changing it, you are choosing it.” there is that ‘it’ again.
Let’s talk about physical goals for a minute. If you don’t know how much you weigh, how are you going to know if you are making progress? If you don’t know how big your arms are when you start lifting weights, how can you celebrate the win? I know you can see the results eventually, but isn’t it more fun to celebrate your achievements from where you started? I love to step on the scale after a week and see that I have lost 5 pounds. I need to lose 20 pounds, but how rewarding is it to celebrate the 5 and then be motivated to do the next 15? We measure so that we can celebrate us changing the situation, not choosing it.
Financially, you need to know what you have coming in so you can make a budget based on your measurement. Whether that measurement is small or large, you set goals on saving, giving, etc.
Spiritually, I need to measure the time I spend with God. I heard a guy say that the hallmark of discipleship is discipline. If I do not take time to spend reading the Bible and continuously putting God first in life, I, like everyone else, will fall back into the worries of this world and be defeated by the enemy.
In your ministry or business, you have to have something to measure. If you don’t, how can you get anyone to join you or partner with you if you can’t measure your accomplishments. No one wants to be a part of a ministry that can’t show results.
Why do we at First Priority bug you so much for your numbers? Because we want you and everybody else to celebrate the win that God gives us. I heard someone ask a campus ministry guy how many schools his ministry was in, and he said, “I don’t know, the Lord is just doing incredible things, and we can’t keep up.” What? Are you kidding me? My first thought was, man, I would never give that guy a dime of money or a minute of my attention. He told me loud and clear that he does not think being on the school campus is important even though that’s what his vision statement says! I know in the ministry world we like to say, if just one person gives their life to Christ, it was worth it, and I agree, but God also wrote a whole book on Numbers.
Hey, in this new year, this new decade, let’s make sure we measure so we can celebrate the win with God.
New year, new goals, new opportunities, and the list goes on. I am sure you can add a lot to your list of things to be new. When I was in college, my buddies and I went and played golf almost every day. We would go late in the afternoon. We could only get in 9 holes, and we had to walk, but it was cheap. I think I spent more money on golf balls than green fees; I had a bad slice! If you have ever played golf, you know that feeling when you hit that perfect shot. You replay it in your mind and remind your buddies of how good it was, to the point of being irritating. Those good shots are what make you keep coming back. What I love about a new year is we get another shot. A shot to change something, a shot to start over. I heard Toby Mac say, ‘whatever you are not changing you are choosing.” Wow, that is good! IF we don’t like something or want to make a change, we have to take a shot.
I know many of you have wanted to help your students have a club on campus, where they can share Jesus with their peers. Well, why not take that shot this new year? Your students get a platform to practice what you are teaching, and you get to see God use your students to reach their friends for Christ. Your congregation in your church can pray for your students as missionaries. It is a win-win, and all you have to do is choose to do it. We train you, you train students, and students start clubs. It is so easy even a caveman can do it. We will have two webinar opportunities (45 minutes in length) for you to choose from. You can choose January 9th or 28th. Click here to register. https://
Wow, I cannot believe it is already Christmas! I know everyone is saying that this year because Thanksgiving was so late. It seems like it just snuck up on all of us. Christmas is next week, and I still do not even have a tree up. What kind of Christian am I? Right! I promise I will get a tree tonight so I can get back on the good list.
Well, I wanted to tell you about this book I have been reading. It is by a guy named Tony Kriz, and the name of the book is Aloof: Figuring out life with a God who hides. Did that get anybody’s attention? It did mine. I have felt that way for years. Not that I have never felt the presence of God, just that it seems like sometimes He is just beyond my reach. Is it just me and Tony, or does that resonate with you too? The Author quoted a friend of his name Richard Twiss. He said, “Our problem is not God’s absence. It is that God is everywhere at all times. The problem is we are not attuned to His actual ever presence.” Ok wow there it is…we are not attuned.
So how does Christmas fit in here? Well, Christmas seemed more magical when we were kids. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Christmas. It just seems that most people have greater memories of Christmas when they were young. Have you noticed that God was more real to you when you were a kid? Do you remember just carrying on conversations with Him about anything? Talking to Him like he was your best friend? My oldest son Hayden was riding his scooter out in our driveway when he was about 6 or 7. He was out there just carrying on a conversation with someone. He was saying things like, “did you see that trick, do you like that one, what did you think about that?” I was wondering who he was talking with. I thought maybe he had an imaginary friend. I looked at him and asked, “who are you talking too”? He looked at me real funny like I was nuts and said, God. I said what what are you doing? He said, “I am showing God my tricks.” I said, “did God like them,” which he replied, “Yes, He did.” I told God that if he liked my tricks to make the wind blow in my face, and it did!” There you go, through the mouths of babes. Remember, Jesus told his disciples in Matt. 19:14,“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Becoming a Christian takes child-like faith. Kids have faith. My youngest son Cole used to throw his toys on the roof of our house just so I would let him go up there and get them off. When he got all of his toys and he was ready to get off the roof he would just make eye contact with me and jump, trusting me to catch him. Is that not what God wants us to do with Him? There is an old hymn that says, trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus is to trust and obey. Seems pretty straightforward though the eyes of a child. When we get older, we get busy with the worries of life, and we trust less and obey less, and God seems aloof. This Christmas, watch the kids and look at the wonder in their faces. I think that is what God desires for you and me, to wonder in Him and to simply trust Him with everything, giving our worries and burdens to Him. Matt. 11:28 says,“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Maybe giving my burdens to Jesus every day is the secret sauce that makes me more child-like. Being child-like helps me experience God so God won’t seem so aloof.
Why am I here on this planet? I believe you are here for two reasons.
1. To know God.
God knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. He created you to know Him. (Jerimiah 1:5) The Pharisees in the Gospel of Matthew tried to get Jesus to pick one commandment over the other. In Jesus’ brilliance, he summed them all up in two. We refer to this as the Great Commandment.
Matt:22:34-39 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
So first and foremost, this commandment says to love God. When we spend time with God, we get to know Him. The more time you spend with God, the more you grow to love God because He is good. (James 1:16-17)
2. To Love people
When we continue to Love God, the 2nd commandment becomes a lot easier, love people. I believe how we treat people is a direct reflection of our relationship with God. God loves all people, so, therefore, the better I know God, the better I will be at loving people. So once again, why am I here? To Love God and Love people. I am here to influence peoples’ lives toward a relationship with Jesus.
Be used by God.
Working with students and student pastors for over 30 years has given me insight on a few things. Of course, the older I get, the more I realize I know nothing. But here is something I have learned. There is nothing more important in the life of a believer than to be used by God! I find that the people who are fired up for God are the ones being used by God. My oldest son Hayden, helped start a First Priority club on his campus during his freshman year of high school. In his sophomore year, he got the opportunity to share his testimony at the club. He was, of course, nervous, as this was his first attempt at public speaking. I helped coach him and helped him outline his talk. That Thursday afternoon changed his life forever. He stood and shared his story to about 300 students, and then at the end, he gave people an opportunity to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. That day 35 of his peers gave their lives to Christ. Boom! Hayden was never the same. He was so excited that God used him. His youth pastor was also fired up as he realized Hayden was practicing what he had been teaching him. First Priority gave my son the platform to be used by God.
Unfortunately, I had to do a funeral this past weekend. I do not like speaking at funerals, however, it’s easier when the person was a Christian. Funerals are a great reminder of our mortality, and for the believer, it is the doorway into our next adventure.
1 Cor. 15:54-55 says, When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
When it was time during the funeral for me to speak, I began with this account of creation from the incredible writer Max Lucado.
They stepped into the Garden again. The Maker looked earnestly at the clay creation. A monsoon of love swelled up within Him. God’s form bent over the sculptured face and breathed. Dust stirred on the lips of the new one. The chest rose, cracking the red mud. The cheeks freshened. A finger moved and an eye opened.
But more incredible than the moving of flesh was the stirring of the spirit. Those who could see the unseen gasped. Perhaps it was the wind who said it first. Perhaps what the stars saw that moment is what has made them blink ever since. Maybe it was left to an angel to whisper it: “It looks like… it appears so much like…it is Him!”
The angel wasn’t speaking of the face, the features, or the body. He was looking inside–at the soul. “It’s eternal!” gasped another.
Within the man, God had placed a divine seed. A seed of his self. The God of might had created, not a creature, but another creator. And the One who had chosen to love had created one who could love in return.
What an excellent reminder of the Father’s love for us, and His desire to be in a relationship with His creation. We will all face death one day, I hope for you and all you know that it is simply a step into the next adventure of fully knowing God’s great love for us.
It is a fact that you and I get a burden for what we pray for. If I asked you to pray for my son Cole and you took the time to write his name down and prayed for him every time you saw his name, you would see me and ask about Cole. If you pray for someone, you will soon care for them. That is God’s heart, He is love, and He cares. Do something nice for the person you are praying for; it will make an impression.
The next part of the circle is to share the gospel with them. I heard it said that the reason most of us never take the time to talk to our friends about God is that we did not bother to talk to God about our friends. As you pray, remember it is not up to you to change or save anybody; that is God’s job. Our job is to pray, care, and share.
The Cause Circle
Who is God prompting you to Pray for, Care for and Share the gospel with? Find out more about the cause circle at dare2share.org
I get asked a lot by people if Todd and I ever fought. Is the Pope Catholic? We not only fought, we were very good at it. My mom and dad decided to enroll us in karate class so some of our aggression might be left there. Karate only made us better. Now we could really hurt each other. When you are a twin, your opponent is the same size. This made our fights very interesting. We kind of had an unspoken rule. Don’t hit hard in the face. This rule lasted only as long as the other one was not hurt. He will deny this, but I know I knocked him out at least three times.
I remember one time a friend was over at the house and Todd had hurt me, so I disregarded the rule and went right for the nose. He must have been unconscious for ten minutes. For his side of the story read his book. Todd had a temper like you would not believe. When he got mad, he got real mad. I liked to hit him, make him mad, and then flee the scene. One time I hit him, ran to the garage jumped on my bike, and took off. He was in fast pursuit behind me on his. I was traveling a little faster because I was not carrying a broom. He finally made it beside me and tried to whack me with the broom. When he could not make that work, he decided to stick the broom handle in my front spokes. That worked! My front wheel came to a complete stop as my body, and the rest of my bike continued on. My brother’s anger was subdued, so he left my poor bleeding mangled body in the street.
Needless to say I have a lot of scars on my body that remind me of my younger years. What is crazy is that when we get to heaven, the only one with scars will be Jesus. I am reminded of Thomas who we call doubting Thomas.
John 20:24-25: Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
We call him doubting Thomas because he had to see and touch, but really the reason for his doubt is found in his nickname (Didymus). Thomas was an identical twin like me. I have been mistaken for my brother Todd all my life. Thomas thought Jesus had a twin, and he was not going to believe until he saw and touched. When he did see and touch, Thomas proclaimed, “My Lord and My God.”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Today when we share the gospel, we need to release the doubt that we hold onto, knowing that the Holy Spirit helps non-believers see and believe. He is at work in the lives of people and He can use our scars to help share the message of hope.