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Nehemiah

Are you a disturbed sinner?

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“While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by.   When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. ‘You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,’ she said.

But he denied it. ‘I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,’ he said, and went out into the entryway. When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, ‘This fellow is one of them.’ Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, ‘Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’

He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about.’

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” Mark 14:66 – 72

If you can relate to this story, you qualify as a disturbed sinner. I will confess that I have denied my relationship with Jesus several times. Then reacted just like Peter. I once heard the best description of a Christian from a talk show host in Atlanta. Some lady, Mrs. I’m Better Than You, was arguing with the talk show host and said to him that he did not even know what a Christian was. To which he replied, “Mrs., I know exactly what a Christian is…a Christian is a disturbed sinner.”  Wow, now that is good.  I know I belong to Him because when I sin or deny Him, I am disturbed about it.  

I have learned a couple things from these moments.  I think sometimes we deny Jesus because we cannot adequately defend our faith.  We know so little about the Bible that we cannot make a solid argument.  I have also learned that when faced with these moments, no one can take my faith story away… I was blind but now I see. The more time you and I spend with God, reading His word and talking to Him, the more we build that relationship and become more confident in who we are and whose we are.

Download our Free Club Ministry Tool

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Happy August first!! What?!? Summer camps are starting to wind down, mission trips are in the bag, and some of your students are fired up about making a difference on their school campus.

If you don’t already have a First Priority club in your community, we put together a booklet to help local churches reach the schools near them. This is our 2019-2020 version and is based on 25+ years of campus ministry. It is meant to be used by churches or a network of churches.

Sign up for our free FP Webinar and we will get you the guide as you prepare for the school year. Can you imagine when your students start reaching their friends for Christ at school? We can too!

You can sign up here

 

Praying over our Schools

By | Nehemiah, Local FP Communities | No Comments

Haley Wherry, FP Director of Blue Ridge

Whether school for you starts on August 10 or September 10, the school year is quickly approaching. One thing that we can all do to kick the year off to a good start for our schools is to pray. In Tennessee, the state government made a law that the weekend before school starts is to be the ‘Weekend of Prayer Over Students’. We use that law (that doesn’t do much) as an excuse to rally parents, teachers, and area churches to set a day/time that weekend to pray together. We want to encourage you as well to find ways to be praying for your schools, students, teachers and administration. Click the image to listen to Haley Wherry, FP Director of Blue Ridge talk about the 2019 Tennessee weekend of prayer.

God calls us to pray. Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  We want to constantly be in prayer for these students who are the leaders of our future. It is our job to support and encourage them to be who God has called them to be.

Do Something!

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Has God called you to do something that you have not done because of fear?

Paul said to King Agrippa in Acts 26:19, “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.”

Paul was in prison for years because he was obedient to the vision from heaven. Wow, look where obedience gets us; locked up!

No wonder we get scared to really jump out there and do something that God has told us to do, like start a campus ministry, go to the mission field, etc. We are scared of the unknown, the uncertainty of money and stability and the fear of failure. All of these things and many more keep most Christians on the sidelines of life, watching everyone else play. We wait for the players in the game to write a book or a song on how exciting it was for them to play in the game. Then we run to the next conference to hear them speak and leave like we did at summer camp, ready to charge hell with a water pistol. Once we get back home, we get caught up in business as usual and we sit and watch.

Life, real life, abundant life, is a life of obedience. If God told you to do something, then do it. Paul, like Nehemiah, was right where God put him. He was speaking to a king and proclaiming the good news. We believe God put you right where you are to unite your city to reach thousands of students. Do something. Get in the game.

Mark Roberts

Open up spiritual eyes

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1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” I hear a lot of people say the Bible never really made sense to them until they gave their lives to Christ. Well, there you go.

If you have ever been around non-believers and they think you’re crazy, welcome to the party. God has changed your heart because you heard the gospel and the Holy Spirit of God convicted you. Then, a real conversion happened in you. Your mind became re-wired to hear the Holy Spirit. You also were given a new heart. You and I were influenced by somebody, but make no mistake, we play only a small role in the salvation department of God. However, it is a huge part of God’s plan. Our job is to love God and love people. I pray today that you will play your part. Pray for those around you. Ask God to give you the opportunity to partner with Him to influence the lives of people so that they too may understand the Spirit of God.

We are aliens of this world, strangers passing through. Our great goal is to take as many people with us on our way to our real home.

Pray God opens the spiritual eyes of those around you, and be ready to help guide them through that process.

Keep Fishing,

Mark Roberts

The Call of God on your Life

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The walls and gates of Jerusalem had been torn down for over seventy years. During those seventy years, there were probably hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who thought to themselves or said to a friend, “We need to fix these walls.”

How many times has it been said in our country that, “We need to reach these schools?” Everyone in the church would agree with the statement and might even go so far as to try to do something about it. However, they get busy with all of their other obligations and it becomes just another great idea. Many churches are doing good things, but nobody is organizing them all to share the hope of Christ with every student. Like in Nehemiah’s example, if there is not a person waking up every day to organize the work, it will not happen.

When Nehemiah inquired about the Jewish remnant and the conditions of the city and was told of the situation, he was moved to tears. Nehemiah 1:4, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”

The difference between all of the thousands who had seen the condition of the walls and Nehemiah was that Nehemiah was burdened. He was burdened to the point that he spent days fasting and praying to God. If you are burdened, fast and pray.

We tell others who are thinking about starting First Priority in their community to pray, familiarize themselves with First Priority, and with the conditions of their community. If they can’t sleep, then it is a good indication that God is calling them to do something about it! We like to call it the “sleep test.”

The call of God to unite your community and reach students is very important. This is no easy task! If it were easy, someone else would have already done it. There will be very hard times and a lot of frustrating moments, but the call God places on your life is what will keep you keeping on.

Mark Roberts
Associate Director
First Priority of America

Letting Students Lead

By | Nehemiah, Student Leaders | No Comments

I’m sitting at home on a sunny but very cold January day with my kids who are home from school due to the NO snow we got here. Life in Tennessee for you. I told my kids I had to work still even though they were home for the day and I am battling a bad head cold. My 11 year old daughter was bored before school should have even started. I told her there was a bag of chocolate chips in the cupboard and she could bake some cookies. She immediately got up went and grabbed the chocolate chips and went to work. She has done this before pretty much by herself but I was there to help guide her. Today I couldn’t since I was working and sick. I said a few things from my computer as she was going along. She said, “mom, I know what I’m doing, I don’t need help.”

So often we want to jump in and help our students lead. We think they can’t make it on their own. That they won’t do it quite right or say just the right thing. But we need to learn to let students lead. They are capable and really, more effective in reaching their peers than we would be. They don’t have to be perfect or say just the right thing. They just need to be willing to lead.

First Priority is all about letting students lead. Students reaching students. Students sharing the hope of Christ on their middle and high school campuses. Students can influence their school campuses for Christ if we simply let them. You can train them and equip them with the tools they need to lead, but then you need to give them the reigns to do what they were taught to do.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

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

We Want to Help

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I have been working in youth ministry for over 30 years. After all of those years, I think I have a little bit more of an understanding of how the devil messes with youth pastors. The devil wants you to be stuck in the youth pastor hamster wheel, doing the same thing over and over expecting something different. A lot of  times, he makes us think that the grass will be greener at another church or in another position within the church that we are better suited for. The average tenure of a youth pastor in a church is 18 months. Wow! But who would blame you for leaving? Youth pastors are often the lowest person on the totem pole, having the lowest budget in the church, being asked to do everything, even mowing the grass (nothing wrong with mowing grass but…). The devil has done a great job in America to discourage youth pastors! We understand and we believe you have the most important job in the world. The percentage of people that come to Christ before they graduate high school is why the devil works so hard to defeat you.

We want to help. We want you to be successful in raising up student leaders that can change the world. We believe a majority of the disciples that Jesus called were teenagers! We believe that the majority of the revivals that have swept the world were started by teenagers. We believe that there is more than a remnant of students in our country that are ready to change the world. As the book of Acts states, “these men who have turned the world upside down are in our city also.” Acts 17:6

They are here. They are in your church now. They are ready. They need a challenge. They need a platform, a plan, and they need your coaching.

This new year help your students start First Priority. If you are interested please send an email to roberts@fpofameria.com

God bless,

Mark

This is Exciting!

By | Nehemiah, Local FP Communities | No Comments
We received the email below from a new club that launched this year and we just had to share it!

“I know I recently sent you an email but I just had to send another one after experiencing the launch of First Priority this morning at our school.” This group took jumping multiple hurdles to begin! It started the first time 6-8 weeks ago. Everything seemed to be moving along, but it was quickly shut down by the administration. There was confusion of what First Priority really was. After much parent and student involvement, conferences with staff and emails, today finally arrived as our new official launch. The leader team is 5 7th grade girls and their faith will inspire yours in minutes! They are oozing with excitement for the Lord and preparing days in advance. (Something quite notable with their younger age!) It is the only group that is meeting before school and at 7:15am! But that did not stop students from coming. 47 students came this morning!! They had to borrow chairs from the other teacher’s classrooms next door.  It is the first meeting and we are at our max! We will look into meeting in the media center next. The teacher host told me she was up at 4am praying over this meeting. The director of FCA is supporting First Priority by graciously sponsoring all of the donuts this year. Today he met me in the parking lot at 7am with 48 donuts and two boxes of donut holes. While picking up the donuts, he strikes up a conversation with someone who just so happens to be a past substitute teacher for our school and he tells him that he has been praying over that school to experience God. I am so amazed at what God is doing here!

The girls opened the meeting reading about love from 1st Corinthians and shared that THIS is how God loves us. Then they went around the room and every single person gave a suggestion of what loving others could look like on their school campus. I was speechless. It was so beautiful. Afterwards, a student said, “Wow, that was so soothing.” Next week, we are going to jump right in to Engage week and let a male student share his faith story. Apparently, it is an amazing story and he is excited to share it. He will be moving soon, so we are changing things up a bit to give him the chance to speak.

Please be praying over this student and the gal who will share the Gospel afterwards.

Wow! God is moving. What an incredible story of faithfulness. Be encouraged and know that God can move where you are too!