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The Hope of Christ in Every Student

By Nehemiah

Hey “Nehemiah”

As we see another week coming to an end, we are reminded of the ending last week and those in desperation and need in Newtown, Connecticut. They will experience 26 funerals in the days leading up to Christmas. Though evil will always exist in our fallen world, it is these stories that rally us all the more. We are reminded of the power of life change, when the Holy Spirit walks a lost student into a relationship with Jesus Christ in a school setting and the impact of that moment in this and future generations. This is the only thing we at First Priority are here for; helping to organize the local church to share the gospel in their local school. We share a message of crisis with the church before and during the stories that make the news because these types of things happen every day in America.

Every day in America, of students from ages 5 – 17:

  • 5 are killed by abuse or neglect
  • 5 commit suicide
  • 32 die from accidents
  • 186 are arrested for violent offenses.
  • 368 are arrested for drug offenses.
  • 1,204 babies are born to teen mothers.
  • 3,312 high school students drop out.

This happens in cities, towns, villages, rural, urban and suburban each and every day. Scripture tells us why: All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23. The solution is spiritual. Will you organize the family of God in our community like Nehemiah did in his to rebuild the “spiritual walls” and bring The Hope of Christ to Every Student?

In Christ,
Brad Schelling
Director of Expansion – FPOA

 

How did St. Nicholas get a bad name in the church?

By Nehemiah

Hi “Nehemiah”,

This time of year we hear it all the time:
“Breaking News: Cashiers at Target to say Happy Holidays and not choose their own greeting.” Many times the leadership of a few churches will stand up and condemn the store and call for a boycott. We also hear the battle of how secular and anti-Christian Santa Clause is. Yet, we often forget that the first St. Nicholas was a church leader who went out to give gifts to the poor children during the cold season. Why? How did St. Nicholas get such a bad name in the church? Well, studies have shown that repeating the negative is not a great way to battle an opponent. Katya, in her blog (www.nonprofitmarketingblog.com) says this:

“When countering rumors (or myths), it’s a bad idea to repeat them. People may register a denial in the short term, but they only tend to remember the rumor or myth in the long term. Don’t deny or counter something – simply assert your competing notion.
A couple of years back, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tried to combat myths about the flu vaccine by listing commonly held views and labeling them either “true” or “false.” Examples of myths were, “The side effects are worse than the flu” and “Only older people need flu vaccine.” University of Michigan social psychologist Norbert Schwarz found that after reading the flier, the target audience incorrectly recalled 28 percent of the false statements as true. And three days later, they remembered 40 percent of the myths as factual.”

How do we best stop everyone from saying ‘Happy Holidays’? We tell the story of Merry Christmas. How do we remind people that St. Nicholas was a church leader who gave gifts to the poor? We tell that story rather than bashing Santa Clause! We start sharing the birth of Jesus.
Why do some not want to say Merry Christmas? Because they don’t have a relationship with Jesus. Do they know about him? Probably. Have they ever heard that that baby in the manger died and rose again for their sins? Probably not. Have they ever heard that He came that they may have life and have it abundantly (as opposed to religiously)?
Again, probably not. How can they hear unless someone shares? How can one share unless they are sent? I say, ‘How beautiful are you when you commission the believers in your church to go to school every day to share the good news of Jesus Christ.’
My sister spent five years in China as an English teacher. While they were not allowed to talk about religious things, they were encouraged to talk about American culture and traditions. What’s more American than Christmas and Easter? The same is true in your school this month. Help the believing students throw a Christmas party; watch Elf, play games, eat spaghetti and maple syrup, and talk about a baby who changed the world. Don’t have a plan to do that? Remember that there are more students at school that call themselves Christian than football players or band members. Pray for an opportunity to organize the church to rebuild the spiritual walls in your community!
Most leadership blogs will tell you to fight. Politics shows us that in order to win, we need some level of proving the other side wrong and incompetent. Yet, Jesus gives us a distinctly different perspective: RUN! Run the race with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1). Focus this year on the gift our Heavenly Father gave to us in the baby Jesus, pray for an opportunity to share him in your community, and expect God to be faithful and change lives from the inside out.

Merry Christmas,

Brad Schelling
Mark Roberts
Brandon Starnes

The Gift of Good News

By First Priority Of America

The Gift of the Good News!
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Christmas Greetings!

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year as we celebrate the greatest Gift ever given, Immanuel – God with us! As each year continues to allow more reflection on the years previous, I get to see all the more how God guides and blesses each of us through the seasons of life. This year I am excited to share that we have recorded 7,362 students coming to Christ in the year of our Lord 2012!
But there is more…

Our Team in South Flordia has 5,000 special edition Christmas Bibles being delivered to the F.P. clubs this month. As you can see in this picture, Brody Howell is loading up his trunk! With two more weeks left of school and it being Christmas, there are hundreds, if not thousands more who will hear the gospel, many for the first time ever!

Our Expansion Team is seeing movement in a dozen new areas as we head into the new year. With an average of 4 new clubs starting in 6 of our new communities in 2012, that’s a potential of seeing 48 new clubs in new schools in new areas for 2013!! And that’s not counting the new clubs that will rise up as our current local organizations grow larger and stronger. We fully expect our response rate to break 10,000 in the year 2013!

The month of December has traditionally been the most important month of giving for us throughout the year. Not only does it help us finish strong, but we rely heavily on the end-of-the-year giving to sustain us for the first quarter of the next year. As we face the challenge that lies ahead, may we ask you to purposely pray about what God would have you do? As the students, teachers, and campus coaches each do their part in the schools, as we at FPOA continue to do our part in building into churches to start new schools into 2013, would you consider being a part in praying for and partnering with us to share Christ on campus.

Sharing the Gift,

~ The FPoA Team ~

The Two Questions That Follow…

By Local FP Communities, Priority Parents
As we travel across the US, we experience incredible stories of parents who hear about what their children are involved with in the name of First Priority at their schools and find themselves drawn to become a part of what God is doing on their student’s school campus.

 

I learned of one great story in Shreveport, LA this past month and want to share it with you.  David is a businessman in the Shreveport area and was part of the team that helped launch First Priority locally, 3 years ago.  As he began to investigate First Priority through conversations with other members of the launch team, he came to realize that this “club” was different.  What David learned is that First Priority is NOT a club; the club is simply the outcome of what First Priority does. First Priority by definition is a local organization that unites the body of Christ to reach students on the public school secondary schools.

 

It was in his conversations with John Carruth, another part of the launch team and current director in Shreveport, that David realized he too had a role to play in uniting the body of Christ around the local schools. As a business leader, David was able to bring to the table other businesses in his network that were interested in seeing positive influence brought to this local school. As parents, he and his wife have been able to share all that First Priority as meant to their family over the past few years with many other families in their area.

 

 

David now serves as the Board president for FP ArkLaTex, which is the First Priority organization based in Shreveport. His families support of the multiple schools that are served by FP ArkLaTex is awesome.  We are so thankful for the thousands of parents like David and his wife that play an active role in uniting the body of Christ around a school, or a community to reach every student.

Two Questions tend to come out of a story like this…

 

First, what role can i play to support my student on their school campus through First Priority?  We urge parents to get involved, through the 4 P’s “Praying, Participation, Promoting, and Providing.”  Those are pretty self explanatory, however we offer a very simple guide that helps you put those ideals to action.

To order your Priority Parent guide, click here…

 

Second, how can i find the local FP organization in my community? There are over 50 organizations across the US, just below in this email you will se a FP logo in the Social Networks listing, click on that logo, and it will take you to the National FP website. There you will find in the Get Involved section a listing of organizations with contact info.

Taught to Pray

By Nehemiah

Hi “Nehemiah”,

Recently, a devo provided by youversion.com was part of my daily quiet time. As you know, bathing ourselves in the Word is one of the most critical things we can do as Nehemiahs. I heard it once said that when you are not reading and having time alone with God on a consistent basis, it is like the red tachometer on a car. When the tachometer reaches the red, it serves as a warning. The same is true in our daily time with the Lord. When our quiet times become less frequent, it is a warning sign to us as Christians. I wanted to share right from the devo on the idea of, “Teach us to Pray.” As you know, prayer was the first thing that Nehemiah did before he acted on the burden that God gave him. When we pray about certain things, it deepens those burdens.

“Teach us to pray,” one of Jesus’ disciples asked him one day (Luke 11:1). Now–it wasn’t that they were unfamiliar with the concept of sending speech or thoughts up to God in heaven. Their parents had surely taught them prayers in their homes when they were children. Each Sabbath, they would light their candles and pray. Each Passover, they would eat the lamb, hear again the story of God’s miraculous redemption of his people, and thank him for his mighty acts on their behalf.

They were regulars at synagogue worship and knew the temple rituals. But when they saw how much Jesus got out of his prayer time, when they saw how often and how intensely he spoke with his Father, they knew they were missing something important. They wanted their prayer lives to do for them what it obviously did for Jesus.

Why did he draw so much strength from that time? Why was he always so refreshed? How could they tap into that heavenly comfort and energy?

Do you share their longing? Is your prayer life sometimes unfulfilling? forced? scant? confused? nonexistent? The Bible is full of stories and passages that can guide and inspire us to a better prayer life. These little devotions will bring you an encouraging word from the Word for each day of your month. “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)!

We would like to thank Time of Grace for providing this plan. For more information, please visit: www.timeofgrace.org.

Keep Fishing,

Brandon Starnes

Brad Schelling

Mark Roberts

FPOA Staff