Whatever It Takes

I wasn’t sure what was going to happen last Wednesday night.

I had prayed a lot and I knew our leaders were praying too.

I had challenged all of our students to bring one friend. “Plus 1” we were calling it.

I tried my best to show from Scripture that following Christ necessitates inviting others to follow Him as well.

I promised that the gospel would be shared and their friends would have a chance to respond.

Our office had sent out reminder emails, Facebook posts, text updates and gathered supplies. (My administrative assistant is amazing!)

We were offering lots of FREE food and exploding watermelons with rubber bands. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?!

We also gave incentives for meeting certain attendance goals. Pies in the face. Getting slimed. And the thing no sane adult looks forward to–a Lock-In.

I’m not sure what else we could have done.

I was confident it would be a good night, but there’s always that doubt. There’s always that question of “What if nobody shows up?”

I mean, I’ve certainly been a part of events that didn’t go as planned and I’m sure I’ll be a part of more in the future. Haven’t you? You pray, work hard, get commitments from people who say they’re going to come, and then they don’t show up, a projector breaks and it rains. Total bummer.

And in this case, it’s middle school. We’re depending on parents. So if we have a student who is iffy about coming, a parent can say “get in the car, you’re going. You’ll have a great time!” Or, we could have a student who really wants to come, but a parent gets off work too late to get them there, doesn’t feel like bringing them, or makes the student stay home to get homework done (I’m not against doing homework, by the way). There are lots of factors.

All to say, in faith, I was believing it would be a great night!

So what happened?

We had a Wednesday night attendance record and 5 students prayed to receive Christ! Amazing!! And for breaking 1 goal and coming within 1 person of another (We had 139 in attendance and the second goal was for 140. I showed some grace.) I and 3 other leaders got a pie in the face. And gladly, I might add.

It was a FUN night. Lots of laughing. Lots of celebration. And we will be doing another night like this in the near future.

Some might criticize and say, “Oh that’s gimmicky. You should want kids there who want to be there. Kids who have the right heart. And just preach the Word. Stop all the shenanigans.”

Sure.

No doubt.

I hear ya.

But often times it takes doing something you don’t want to do, or even doing something for the wrong reason, to be exposed to a message that changes your heart.

So if playing a crazy game and getting pied in the face brings a student out who wouldn’t have come otherwise, we’ll keep doing it. At least 5 students are glad they came. Their eternity has been altered. 

Also, we do this kind of night once every couple months. It’s not an every week thing.

And don’t forget, Jesus didn’t just walk around preaching. He performed miracles, hung out with people and gave away a lot of FREE food. 

Bottom line: We need to have a more “whatever it takes” approach to life and ministry instead of doing the “same old thing” and expecting different results. 

What could you do differently for your next event to see extraordinary results? What do you need to change in your life personally to see some change? Have you truly exhausted every opportunity and option to do your part, or are you being stubborn or lazy and just praying that God will do something miraculous?

What happened last Wednesday night was an “Only God” moment. God was the one who brought the students, changed hearts and made the night a success. He gets all the glory. But at the same time, there was an incredible team of people that He used to accomplish the night. Those people get all the credit.

So, thank you volunteer leaders! It’s a honor to serve with you each and every week.

Thank you Parents! It’s a privilege to partner with you to reach and grow your students for Christ.

Thank you students! I pray you continue to catch the vision that life isn’t about you, but is about serving others and inviting others to follow Jesus. Keep it up!

Let’s continue to pray for God to do incredible things in our lives and ministries and work hard to see them happen. Let’s do whatever it takes.

Don’t Wait Until Next Easter

It included the Easter bunny,

peeps,

Easter baskets,

hiding and dying eggs and

dressing up nice for family pictures and get-togethers.

And for millions of people it also included going to a church service.

Why?

Well, Easter is a day each year that is honored as “special” by most people. Believers and non-believers alike pour in to church services because there is still, although it’s fading quickly, an engrained conviction that going to church matters on Easter. It’s a day that honors a man named Jesus, who, 2,000 years ago lived and claimed to be God, died, and then proved it by rising from the dead. His resurrection is what is specifically celebrated on Easter.

It is a day to celebrate because this event in history is what the Christian faith is founded upon. The Apostle Paul who wrote much of the New Testament said it best in 1 Corinthians 15:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third dayaccording to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born….And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”

The resurrection is what it’s all about. It’s the whole reason to even believe. It’s what validates the Christian faith. And it’s worth celebrating, not just on Easter, but every day!

It reminds us that we serve a God who has the power over death. He is not dead. And we have hope for the future.

I was reminded last Saturday night as I listened to Lee Strobel, a former atheist turned Christian author and speaker, that if you are a skeptic to not give up on examining the resurrection of Jesus. He went through a 2 year investigation of the historical evidence for Jesus living, dying and rising from the dead. You know what he found after his journey? That it would take more faith to be an atheist than to be a Christian. The historical evidence was too strong.

If you’re reading this, I don’t know what you believe. I don’t know what you’ve been through. I don’t know where you were on Easter Sunday. But what I do know is this: Jesus’ resurrection is no more true and no more worth celebrating on Easter than any other day of the year.

So if you’re skeptical about Jesus, don’t wait until next year to check out the claims of the resurrection. Check it out right now! If he really did rise from the dead then that means Jesus was not just an ordinary man. He was far more than that. He would be…well…God. And that would mean that what he said would be truth and have authority. And that reality would have huge implications for your life. Don’t worry about the other questions you have about faith and religion. Just focus on one question: Did Jesus rise from the dead? In the end, it’s the only question that matters.

To read more on this, check out: Lee Strobel, The Case for Easter: A Journalist Investigates the Evidence for the Resurrection.

And for followers of Christ, let’s not wait until next Easter to celebrate. Let’s live each day as if Jesus really is alive and his resurrection has changed everything. How could we live any other way?

Haiti

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From March 7th – 14th I traveled to Haiti on a mission trip with 32 other students and adults from Bell Shoals. And it was an incredible trip!
 
For the last two weeks I’ve been processing it all and I will continue to do so for a very long time.
 
When you visit a country like Haiti you are impacted in ways that cannot be fully explained. In order to fully understand you have to experience it.
 
Since most people have never visited Haiti, and because I was changed by it, I’ve wanted to post about it. But I’ve been struggling to find the right words. How do you put into a single post what was such an eye-opening, life-changing and kingdom-impacting trip? You can’t perfectly. So I’ll cut myself some slack up front and briefly share some of what I experienced. What I saw.
 
I saw breathtaking views of Haiti’s mountains, lakes and coastline.
 
I saw our students stretched outside of their comfort zone and step up to serve others and share Christ.
 
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I saw children walk miles to get to school and many without shoes.
 
I saw women and children carrying water and other materials on their heads.
 
I saw beautiful smiles, joy and contentment in so many of the Haitian people even though they have so little.
 
I saw poverty. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Clean drinking water, food, health care and education are just a few of their essential needs that we in America don’t think twice about. To find out more about Haiti click here.
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I saw the necessity of partnering with an organization that has ongoing contact with the community you are serving. We partnered with Greg, Maria and Caleb Shepherd with RTS Missions. They are making a HUGE impact in Haiti. People are being saved from earthly struggles and eternal separation with Christ through their ministry. To learn more about RTS click here.
 
I saw that a mission trip really can make a difference. We fed over 1200 children a hot meal, many of which had not received a hot meal in over a week. We saw the power of holding a child’s hand, giving a hug and tangibly showing love to others. And most importantly, our team led over 100 children to accept Christ! In talking with Greg, he told me of a young girl who had been present for 12 mission team visits to her school in the past. Each team presented the gospel, but she did not accept Christ. The 13th time a team came she decided to give in and accept Him. Each of those first 12 teams had a small part in God working in her heart. And had they not gone, that young girl would not now know Jesus. There are countless other lives with similar stories. Going matters!
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Finally, for the first time in my life I grasped the weight of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:31-46. Verse 40 sums it up well:
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Jesus cares passionately about reaching the lost. He also cares passionately about loving the least. I needed, and I believe our churches need, a renewed heart for the least. To not love them may lead to dangerous consequences. To love them gets closest to the heart of God. Read all 16 verses and you’ll see what I mean.
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There is certainly a whole lot more I could say and some key things I’m sure I left out. Maybe I’ll write a part 2. In the end, God changed my life in Haiti and I’d go back in a heartbeat. Not to just experience it all again, but to be used by God to make a difference in the lives of others. To love the least. And reach the lost. Until next time, I pray I will live out the change that I’ve experienced here at home in Brandon, FL.
Haiti has my heart.
 
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