Pat Williams is a basketball Hall-of-Famer, co-founder of the NBA’s Orlando Magic and former general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. He shared his 7 leadership principles with the FP leaders at the National Fall Conference in October. Click on the image to view video.
As I sit looking out the window on this dreary, rainy day in Tennessee, I am reflecting on life and how so many surrounding me are suffering physically. There are those with cancer, viruses, upcoming surgeries, or in the hospital ICU clinging to life. I don’t think I have ever heard of so many I know with this much suffering as I do right now.
We all suffer in one way or another, whether it’s physical or emotional. But we sometimes find ourselves wondering how God can allow things like our suffering or the suffering of others to happen. Or we wonder how God will use that suffering to mold us and shape us and bring others to Christ. Most of the time we are impatient and want to know the why or how right now so that the suffering can stop and we can move forward. Or sometimes we are just impatient because we are in hurry.
The world has become a hurried state of mind where we run from one thing to the next. Barely stopping to notice those around us. I’m reminded over and over again by the many books, podcasts, articles etc that talk about our society needing to rest. Encouraging us to take some time out of our busy schedules and find rest away from whatever is constantly consuming us. But do we do it. We talk about it, but we don’t always practice what we preach.
I would encourage you to take a step back and reflect on what your passion is. Hopefully part of that passion would be living a life for God in whatever manner that God has asked you to serve. But I also pray that you would find time to rest. And reflect on the life you have and the lives around you. And that you would find rest and trust in God, knowing that he is in control of everything whether it be those times of suffering or times of rejoicing.
Hebrews 4:10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.
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.
New podcasts have been uploaded every week for the last 12 weeks! Are you listening? There has been some great content from a variety of guests and we have enjoyed and been challenged by the things they have shared.
We also want to hear from you! Do you have any idea for the podcast or know someone who would be a great guest to have on the show? Let us know!
The First Amendment reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
These few sentences encompass our right to gather, to worship, and to share Jesus with others. These rights protect students as well. What a beautiful reminder.
May we always give thanks for these freedoms and never take them for granted. It is for God’s glory and honor that we are able to worship HIM freely.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” Isaiah 61:1 (NIV)
You got into student ministry because you loved students and you wanted to make a difference in their lives. Thoughts of making disciples who you could build into student leaders were at the top of your priority list. If you are anything like me, you thought this was going to be the most awesome job ever! Wow! Hanging out with teenagers, leading them to follow Christ, meeting their friends and having this huge influence on them. Then reality set in. The parents of my students are demanding. The pastor thinks I have a lot of time on my hands, so he gives me every junk job there is.
When I was at my first church, I loved my pastor. He was so good to me. But some of the deacons thought we could save a few bucks by getting rid of the lawn guy and making me mow; because I made the big bucks as you know. The problem was, it was not just mowing a lawn. There was a big cemetery behind the church. Every week this had to be kept up. Because if there is ever something that needed to look nice, it was the grave sites of so many of our church members deceased families. You think I got a hard time about some of the activities our students did? Ha, nope! That was nothing compared to not mowing uncle Jesse’s grave site correctly…
Well, I soon found out that what I had imagined as the perfect job was not. I mean, there were times that it was awesome and God did great things, but man did I have to jump through hoops to get just a few wins. It seemed like every time God was up to something, Satan was there to put a wrench in it. I know now that is exactly how Satan works. His M.O. is to divide, get Christians to argue and to fuss and fight about stupid things. He keeps us busy with things that are temporal. He tells our students they are not good enough to be followers of Christ. We fight the culture, the emphasis on academics, sports teams, colleges applications and requirements to get in. It’s all overwhelming. Our student ministry becomes just another set of activities and programs. We feel like we are unproductive and spinning our wheels. Instead of making disciples of Christ and raising up student leaders, we start defining success by how many students we had at our last event.
Be alert and of sound mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
When we know the devil’s M.O. we can be alert and watch for the things that trip us up. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and your feet always bringing the gospel of peace.
“How beautiful are the feet of those who [b]preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15
It’s a new year! Another year has gone and a new year has come. Some say, well it’s just a day, one day it was 2018 and the next day it’s 2019. Nothing has changed. For some that’s true. They just continue in their same daily life without a change in the world. But for some it’s a 2nd chance, or a start of something new and different. Or even maybe to give something up for a while. Of course the gyms are flooded with people trying to get back in shape. More people set goals of things they want to accomplish or try to accomplish anyway. All those things are good things. Goals that we set out to accomplish that make us better people in one way or another. But we also want to focus on the ‘why’ of what we do.
My church started a 21 day fast on the first day of the New Year. A way in which to focus on God and unite together to bring about revival in a place that so needs it. Whatever it is that you set out to do or not do in this new year, I pray that God will be in it. I pray that you are doing it for the right reason and that through it you will come closer to walk along side the One who gave you life. I pray that your passions will align with His and that He will lead you to be more like Him in how you live your life.
As we begin a new year at First Priority of America, we want to make sure we are intentional about what we do and how we do it. We want God in it all. Our desire is for us all to grow in Him so that we can continue our journey to see the Hope of Christ in every student.
There was a period of time in England when Christians were not able to practice their faith openly so they had to find other ways to pass on their beliefs. The song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” is one example of how they did just that. The song goes:
”On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…” The ”true love” represented God, and ”me” represented those who are Christians and have received God’s gifts.
”Partridge in a pear tree” represented Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God.
”Two turtle doves” represented the Old and New Testaments, another gift from God.
”Three French hens” represented faith, hope, and love.
”Four calling birds” spoke of the 4 Gospels that tell the story of salvation.
”Five golden rings” spoke of the first 5 books of the Bible.
‘Six geese a laying” spoke of the days of creation.
‘Seven swans a swimming” spoke of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
“Eight maids a milking” spoke of the 8 beatitudes.
”Nine ladies dancing” spoke of the 9 fruits of the Spirit.
”Ten lords a leaping” spoke of the 10 Commandments.
”Eleven pipers piping” spoke of the eleven faithful disciples.
”Twelve drummers drumming” spoke of the 12 Apostles.
Regardless of the history of this song, people have had to hide their faith out of fear of the government. One of the greatest blessings we have as Americans is our religious freedom. What sets us apart from all other nations in the world is our right to worship and assemble without fear of the government. I know there is persecution and sometimes ridicule in our country, but our religious freedom trumps all. Do you realize the freedom our Christian students have on their public middle and high school campuses? Most of us do not. We think the schools have banned Christians on campus from expressing their faith, but it is just not true. We have one of the greatest opportunities right in front of us. We as youth pastors and leaders, can equip and empower students with a plan of action so they can change the lives of students at their school. Give us a call or or send us a text, we would love to help equip you.