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Nehemiah

There is no Fear in Love

By Nehemiah

The saying, March comes in like a Lion is an understatement. I know it usually refers to weather, but the entrance of the coronavirus this month has certainly affected our nation like never before. People are panicking, and some are very afraid. Some of the stuff I have seen on social media is nuts, people wearing trash bags, spraying each other down with Lysol. It is funny, but to people who do not know the Lord, I am sure very scary. Brad reminded me that Jesus referred to people as sheep. Well, there you go, if you don’t have a shepherd to protect and lead you, you get scared.

I was headed today to a board meeting and was shocked at all the people I saw at Walmart and Sams Club, it’s like a hurricane down here, and what is up with everyone stocking up on toilet paper? Is there something I missed about the symptoms?

While driving, I had this thought; God is a God who takes something bad and turns it into His good. It always fascinates me when there is a tragedy. People stop their busy lives and chasing their dreams and remember that they are mortal and will die one day. In America, I am always reminded of what Jesus said about the rich. Mark 10:25, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Most of you know this, but the eye of the needle was a small gate where people could walk through. A camel could go through it, but it had to get on its knees. The rich can know God, and there are millions that do. It is just harder because sometimes, with money, you don’t have to trust God as much.

Maybe the entrance of coronavirus into our world is something that might make people think about God, life, purpose, meaning, not just money or fame or what the world usually thinks about. Maybe they will think of bigger more important things. I have told you before we are due for a revival, and wouldn’t it be fun to see that happen? When your neighbors, friends, and family are frightened, you and I need to be the rock to them. Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” We can have peace because we know the Great Shepherd and we know His voice. To a world that is lost, we can’t act surprised and criticize. We have to give them hope. We need to love them in the midst of the chaos.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18.

Are you ready to start club?

By Nehemiah, Local FP Communities

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. 

We gave each school 1 case of FP Bibles, 50 decision cards, and 3 copies of 8 weeks worth of curriculum to finish out the year.
 
Praise the Lord for the excitement and passion over there for the schools! Let’s keep praying especially now as their clubs launch.
 
Are you ready to start a club? 
 

Students find belonging in their First Priority club

By Nehemiah, Local FP Communities No Comments

Students want to feel like they belong. They seek others who are like them or who like the same kinds of things they like. But often, it is easy to go to school everyday thinking that there is no one like you. No one else who likes the same things you do or believes in the same things you believe in. But they are out there just waiting to be found.

One student from Wake County in North Carolina realized this when she decided she wanted to help get a FP club going in her school. She thought there would be no one at her school who was a Christian. Once she got permission to start her club, she realized there were a lot of Christians excited about it. Even the janitor started talking about the Bible to her and her mom. It was like Christians were in hiding. FP gave them a safe place to stand together and invite others to join.

At another FP club on the Emerald coast, students went out into their campus inviting other students to come to the club that day, handing out invite cards and biscuits. Students came and heard the gospel and four of them raised their hands proclaiming they accepted Christ!

First Priority gives students a place to belong. And a place to invite others to belong and learn about the love they can receive from Jesus Christ.

Students are looking for the opportunity to be used by God

By Nehemiah, Local FP Communities

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

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

If you don’t measure it, you don’t care about it

By Nehemiah, Leadership Development

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

By Nehemiah

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://firstpriority.club/club-resources/start-a-club

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.

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