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Brad Schelling

One statement that changed my life, made it easier to say ‘no’, and brought me comfort.

By First Priority Of America

You know the statement I am talking about. It’s the comment that is made by someone that I cannot remember where or when, if I read it or heard it, or what I was putting off at the moment…but I remember the statement clearly. It is ingrained into my subconscious and rises at inopportune times of the day and night and subtly shifts the course of my entire life. But who said it? And why has it made such a lasting impact on my life? You know the statements I am talking about. You’ve had various statements like that change your life as well. Here is one of mine:

If I do not have time to get this done right now, what makes me think I will have time tomorrow?

I am sure that whatever I was putting off that day was going to be pretty boring, but I have no idea why it stuck. But it did. And it’s changed my life. For months after my subconscious burned this statement into my soul, I’d find myself at a moment in my day when I’d typically say, “Oh, I’ll do that later.” only to be followed up with “When later?” Stink!! #busted

Now I’ve gone back and forth with this internal battle. Like a typical teenager living in a 44-year-old body, I’d rebel and still not do what needed to be done. I’d lip off (yes to myself). I would finally walk away only to be drawn back by my 44-year-old self knowing that it wouldn’t be more fun tomorrow. 

What I have learned about myself in this process is interesting. What it comes down to for me is less about time management and more about personal priority. What do I want in life? What I want in life needs to happen today! So, I go through a series of questions now when I find myself in this moment of conflict asking myself if I want to do something right now: Does this NEED to be done? If yes, just do it now so it’s over. I found that having things pile up caused more stress and anxiety in me than I realized.  How did I realize that? I ended a few days without a pile of things I needed to do tomorrow. My second question is, ‘Do I want to do it?’ If yes, then why not have the joy of getting this done now? I found that so many things that I was putting off were actually things that I wanted to do and found joy in. So why not get some instant gratification?

One of the most profound things I came to realize is that I was putting a LOT of pressure on myself to do things that didn’t NEED to be done and that I did not WANT to do. So why do them? I don’t anymore. I didn’t do it then either. The difference now is that those items no longer make my to do list which is where the stress and anxiety came from. 

You might be saying, ‘Brad, you are way too complex and make life way too difficult.’  That may be true, but life is way easier now that I’ve learned that I have time to do what is a priority right now. I hope the same can be true for you.

Is God still in our schools?

By Nehemiah, Local FP Communities

Rachel Camarota, FP Director Johnston County

This blog was written by Rachel Camarota, Director of FP Johnston County, NC.

Before I stepped into this role with First Priority, I was a teacher and the sponsor for an FP club at a local high school. Every day I saw the need for Christ-centered clubs in our school and among our students. But do you know what else I saw? Students who love Jesus, who were unashamed to share their faith through First Priority.

For the past decade, we have been told that God is not present in our schools anymore or that young people aren’t interested in Jesus – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?”

While in recent years there has been a noticeable decline in Christian beliefs in our schools and among our young people, as long as we have students who walk the halls and believe in Jesus, God is still there.

This is where First Priority comes in. We train students to be disciples of Christ and to share the Gospel in their school – and it is working. Just in the last weeks of 2019, 2 students accepted Christ in a local high school!

But those students would’ve never been given that opportunity had it not been for student leaders being brave enough to share the Gospel at First Priority – and they can’t share the Gospel without your help. Click the button below to find out more info about how you can start a club in a school in your area.

Start a Club

Rachel Camarota
FP Director Johnston County

FP Podcast Episode 35: Roundtable with Joel Rowland discussing the Enneagram

By Podcast

Joel Rowland Executive Director FP Front Range

Joel and his family are following their passion to plant First Priority Range. Joel and Amber have been married for 13 years. They enjoy playing music, exploring the outdoors, and finding joy in the simple things of life. Lincoln is 4. He loves baseball, Hot Wheels, Star Wars, and anything fun. He has an Australian Shepherd named Zuma.

Joel and Amber have walked through life-changing tragedies including the loss of Joel’s parents, Amber’s father, and a devastating miscarriage. They are passionate about sharing the hope and healing they have found in Christ. They have served in ministry together over 13 years including Lead Pastors of a Church Plant, Prison Chaplains, Founders of a Non-Profit for at risk kids, Drug Court Representatives, and most recently, Executive Director of First Priority in North Carolina.

Joel is a Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team and Certified in Apologetics with the Ravi Zacharias Institute. He is currently on the journey of becoming a Scholar in the Hebraic Context of the Bible and Biblical Linguistics through the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has enjoyed studying abroad in Israel, Canada, and Ecuador with Operation Christmas Child. Amber has worked with youth and at risk women and has ministry skills through Vineyard Institute.

The Rowland family have a passion to missional lives of love that bring hope to their community.

Below you will find the documents referenced in this podcast.

Can-the-Enneagram-Make-You-a-More-Effective-Leader

Enneagram-Spiritual-Formation-Plan

Enneagram Cheat Sheet

Enneagram Notes

FP Podcast Episode 34: Curtis Zackery “CZ” talks about finding rest for your soul

By Podcast

Curtis Zackery, Author, Communicator, Pastor

My story contains a bunch of twists and turns that have shaped who I am today. It began when I was born and raised in New Jersey. It took a beautiful turn when I started running with Jesus in college. It continues today with a focused sense of purpose:

To invite people into the story of God, so they feel seen, known, and loved.

I’ve had the privilege of opening the word, serving, and working with some super cool folks, partnering in pointing to hope. It’s a beautiful mystery as to why the Lord has allowed me to experience such grace, but I’m just a beggar trying to show other beggars where the bread is.

Along the way, I wrote a book called “Soul Rest” that came from a season of deep learning and growing. It connects to my absolute belief that God’s desire for humanity is that we would find rest in His finished work. I’ve had some fantastic opportunities to share this hope with churches, ministries, businesses, and organizations around the country.

When I have the time, I enjoy reading, running and exploring coffee and food spots around the country. I live in Franklin, Tennessee with the love of my life, Monique, and my two boys, Noah and Micah.

Students spread Christ’s love this Holiday Season!

By Local FP Communities

Stories of students sharing Christ’s love from FP Birmingham, AL

Throughout the year, and particularly at Christmas, many First Priority clubs participate in various mission and service projects to serve their school, community and the world for Christ. We would like to share several of those awesome stories with you!

  • Spain Park High School students raised money to purchase 16 water filters for families in the Dominican Republic. Each filter will provide a family clean water for up to eight years. Until They Know is the ministry that will deliver the water filters and as a result these families will have the Gospel shared with them at the time of delivery and each time someone checks on the filters. Once the families receive a filter, Until They Know will continue to follow-up with them throughout the eight years. These students are passionate about reaching others with the Gospel at home and abroad.
  • North Jefferson Middle School First Priority students collected gifts for Lovelady Center children.
  • Pelham High School First Priority students gave out hot chocolate and candy canes to students to kick off exam season.
  • Thompson High School First Priority students passed out candy canes and Bible verses to students.
  • Oak Mountain High School’s First Priority club served hot chocolate to students to say “Merry Christmas” and share Christ’s love this holiday season!
  • Calera Middle School First Priority student leaders blessed the school with goody bags containing candy, life books, and an invitation to First Priority. Just about every student and teacher at Calera Middle went home with a goody bag! “We pray that all who received them will read the life books and maybe even come to First Priority to hear more about the Gospel,” said Campus Coach Savannah Grace.
  • Forest Oaks Elementary School’s FPKids club partnered with Liberty Baptist Kids Ministry in Chelsea to provide 244 candy goody bags to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Kids brought in candy for Military and First Responders for a mission project.

We’re super proud of these students and their passion to serve others and reach them with Christ’s love. Students are inviting their friends to First Priority. Students are sharing their testimonies. The Gospel is being shared on campuses every week and students are responding with questions and professions of faith. God is using First Priority to change lives. Please pray for these students as they strive to reach Every Last One.

FP Podcast Episode 33: Mary Margaret West author of Show Her the Way: Your Guide to Discipling Teen Girls

By Podcast

Mary Margaret West, Author of Show Her the Way: Your Guide to Discipling Teen Girls

Mary Margaret West served as the Girls Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources, which basically means that teenage girls and the women who lead them are her favorite people on the planet. She has a passion to equip girls and women to dive deeply into God’s word and live out their calling, and does this by training, consulting, and speaking to women and student ministry leaders across the United States. Mary Margaret is the author of Show Her the Way: Your Guide to Discipling Teen Girls, is a former Girls Minister, and holds a master’s degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Mary Margaret and her husband Jonathan just recently moved to Florida where she works as a Bible Instructor for 7th and 8th grades.

FP Podcast Episode 32: Nate Stucky talks about his book “Wrestling with Rest”

By Podcast

Nate Stucky, Director Farminary Project

Nathan Stucky serves as Director of the Farminary Project at Princeton Theological Seminary. He grew up on a farm in Kansas where his love for Christian faith and agriculture first took root. After earning a B.A. in Music from Bethel College (KS), Nathan spent six years doing ecumenical youth ministry on the eastern shore of Maryland, and two years farming back in Kansas. After farming, Nathan earned an M.Div. and a Ph.D. (Practical Theology, Christian Education and Formation) from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author of Wrestling with Rest: Inviting Youth to Discover the Gift of Sabbath, and he lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with his wife and three children.

FP Podcast Episode 31: Marketing tips

By Podcast

Scott Emerine, Co-founder Branding Iron Marketing

Scott Emerine, M.Sc., is Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Branding Iron Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations, a full-service agency with expertise in financial, health care and aviation marketing. As Co-Owner of Branding Iron, Emerine manages media relations and public relations for clients throughout the world. Emerine’s clients have been featured in some of the largest media outlets in the world.

Scott received his Master of Science Degree in Health Care Communications in 2010 from Boston University and was in the inaugural graduating class. He received his undergraduate degree in Marketing from Oral Roberts University. 

He resides in Bristol, Tennessee with his wife Joy and their three sons, two of which are First Priority leaders. He is a Church of God Ordained Bishop and serves as Associate Pastor at Covenant Fellowship in Bristol, Virginia. He has served as the President of the American Advertising Federation of Northeast Tennessee Board of Directors, served as Chair of Public Relations for the American Advertising Federation District 7, was Chairman of the Board for the Bristol TN/VA Chamber of Commerce, and Chairman of the Board for First Priority Blue Ridge.

Emerine currently serves on the executive board for the United Way of Bristol TN/VA, is Chairman of First Priority Blue Ridge, serves as the Bristol TN/VA Area Director for First Priority Blue Ridge and the Bristol Morning Rotary Club. He also serves as the Vice Chairmen of the Board for Covenant Fellowship. 

Jada’s Story

By Nehemiah, Student Leaders

“Sometimes I feel like I am the only teenager trying to live for God, but then I think of all the other students in FP, not only in my school, but across the nation. I am reminded that I am not the only one, and there are people I can go to and lean on for help spiritually.

First Priority has also given me the confidence to talk about and discuss God openly to other students. When I started directing meetings and speaking to the group, I was timid and hesitant to tell my testimony. Now that I have spoken more, I have the confidence to share God’s good news with everyone because of the practice in First Priority. Considering my initial lack of confidence, I truly believe that God has given me the gift of gab. Most of the times this leads to me talking too much, or saying something that I wish I could take back, but I feel like I am putting this gift to work in First Priority.

This club has given me a platform to share the things that God has shown me that helps live life to its fullest potential. Lastly, FP has given me the opportunity to do something in school that will help save my soul and others. Sure, art clubs and scholarly activities are great to be apart of, but when I stand before God, I have to give an account of what I have done to help build his kingdom. FP has given me the opportunity to help build God’s kingdom through volunteer work and witnessing to others, and I am truly grateful for that.”

-Jada, student from FP St. Louis Metro East

FP Podcast Episode 30: Fundraising Friendships; investing in other people

By Podcast

Mark Robbins, FP Executive Director

Mark serves as the Executive Director of First Priority. He spends most of his day managing the organizational side of the ministry, including fundraising and board development. He was the initiator and director of First Priority Tri-States, the 2nd oldest FP chapter. Mark and his wife Michelle manage their own small business, therefore, Mark brings years of experience in business management to First Priority of America. Mark resides in eastern Kentucky with his wife, Michelle. Mark and Michelle have three children, Nathaniel & Mikaela (Robbins) Gray, Morgan, and Micah. They also have two grandchildren, Sadie B. and Beckham.