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First Priority Of America

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.

Figuring out Life with a God who Hides

By Nehemiah, First Priority Of America

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.

Finding a Time of Rest

By First Priority Of America No Comments

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.

Scars

By Nehemiah, First Priority Of America No Comments

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.

Are You Listening?

By First Priority Of America

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!

 

Happy Independence Day!

By First Priority Of America, FP Success Story No Comments
As we prepare to celebrate America’s independence, it is a wonderful time to reflect on our freedoms – particularly the right to speak freely. It is the bedrock of our country’s history and the first of ten amendments that protect our rights.

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)

FP Podcast!

By First Priority Of America

Do you know First Priority has a Podcast? We launched the FP Podcast in May and are excited to be able to share a lot of great information and hear from special guests who are living the ministry life.

There are 5 podcasts uploaded for you to listen to. Episode 1 is a welcome and introduction to the FP Podcast with our hosts Steve Cherrico and Brad Schelling. You can listen to these podcasts on our website here. We also encourage you to subscribe to our podcast so you are updated each week with new episodes.

You can subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify. New episodes are uploaded every week. Start listening today and tune in to who will be on our podcast next week!

The Perfect Job

By Nehemiah, First Priority Of America, Church Leaders No Comments

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