As I was watching Nicole’s video, one thing really hit me. When she was thirteen, something that she had known all of her life changed. She was no longer the child of a man who had simply passed away, she was the child of a man who had committed suicide. Shock, depression and even anger accompanies a revelation like that. Worse than that was the new found added fear that because of his suicide, she now would only find rejection from God and from the community. Too often, we find this stigma attached to people that have been through tough times. Perfection holds the highest esteem in the public’s eye, but that is quite the opposite with God. God can do nothing with someone who thinks himself perfect. It is usually only when we experience anguish, rejection, fear do we turn to God, and His open arms. We should be thankful that God does not ask us to be perfect before we approach Him, rather that He will perfect us.
When I was younger, my parents went through some very rough times financially. It was even to the point that we had no house, and lived in the back of a shop my dad owned. How do you think I felt going to school, not being able to invite friends over to my house to play, and couldn’t ride the bus like I had up until then, because the bus doesn’t stop at shopping centers. It was devastating. However, as I grew older, I came to realize that even if people that I went to school with looked down on me because of it, God never did. God didn’t care that we had to live in those conditions. God’s love isn’t held back from someone because they are socially unacceptable. Jesus proved that when he talked with the woman at the well. Paul wrote in Romans 8, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” This is something that we can always focus on when going through a rough transition in life, and be reassured that God’s love will never be held back.
How many people have been rejected by the social community because of circumstances that shouted “imperfection” on them? How many times has this happened to you? What can you do to make sure others always feel God’s love?
-Patrick, I am Second intern
I feel the most energized Monday mornings. Without a doubt, after spending my weekend with friends and family that I love, I’m ready to get the week going! I’m one of those weirdos who LOVES going to work. There’s a reason though: I get to help others do all of the things that made my weekend awesome. Spending time with neighbors and friends, sharing the love of the Lord through our I am Second group, and watching new believers grow through community and truth. Sounds pretty ideal, doesn’t it? I have to admit: I love my life! I love getting the opportunity on a regular basis to share what the Lord has done in my life (http://iamsecond.com/#/seconds/Shannon_Culpepper/).
I’m not here to brag or boast or tell you how awesome my life is. I understand there are a few things I’m blessed with from working for a ministry. I’m here to tell you that my joy comes not from my vocation, but from the love of Lord and getting to watch the way that He can use someone as broken as me to bring glory to Himself and love to others. Specifically, I get the most joy from the work I see outside of my 40/hr a week job. It’s humbling. I am in no way deserving of getting to be a part of His plan, but because I am obedient when He burdens my heart for people, He is able to use me. All that to say this: YOU CAN DO IT TOO! What are you doing on a regular basis to reach out to those around you? Let me give you a few ideas:
- Start an I am Second Group. I know I say this a lot (because I think it’s a great idea!), but if you haven’t looked into yet, I would encourage you to! Last night, I had four separate times that I was left speechless when I realized the work that the Lord was doing in people’s hearts/lives right before my eyes. I’m not a seminary student. I don’t know my Bible backwards and forwards. I haven’t even been a believer for that long. But I get the opportunity to grow towards Christ with my friends every week and help point those that are looking for Him find their answers. http://iamsecond.com/getinvolved/GroupTools.html
- Invite your neighbors over for a game night. In a busy world like ours, it’s easy to never meet your neighbors. I would encourage you to get to know your next door neighbors, your neighbors across the street or hall, and have a fun night for all of them. Maybe make it a potluck! Then, you can invite them to your I am Second group!
- Order some I am Second cards (They’re not very expensive!), and give them out to people that you think would benefit from seeing a video or two. You can order them here: http://store.e3resources.org/s.nl/it.A/id.3164/.f
I love you guys! Please consider looking to the people around you as Christ would: as potential vessels of His work that He loves and wants to call His children.
Let me know how it goes, and if you need any help, email me: email@example.com.
Hey I’m a youth pastor out in Colorado and just wanted to say thank you and to let you know that you are having a great influence. I got to lead a student to the Lord just last week at my kitchen table, who had been touched at a service on Sunday by the presence of the Lord and then during the week saw your commercial and checked out your website. By Thursday he was ready to know the Lord. He’s the kind of kid that people thought couldn’t be reached but you had a part to play, when he came to me he was already ready to receive the Lord.
Thanks again and God bless
I loved this story and thought you could join me in praying for the newly-transformed life! Do you personally have a plan if someone came to you and asked you how to make Christ part of their life? Do you know where to send them? Have you thought about starting an I am Second group?
Learn how to tell your story or how to start a group here: http://iamsecond.com/getinvolved/GroupTools.html
If you have any questions, or want more information, let us know! firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon was a long term project. His sister, Vicki, had been praying for him for 24 years. Around the first of January Jon saw the Colt McCoy I am Second commercial running on ESPN. He was out of town, but he went to his computer to check out www.iamsecond.com as soon as he got back home to Boise, Idaho on Jan 7th.
As Jon watched film after film, he was amazed how Jesus changed lives. Jon called Vicky, who lives way off in Atlanta, to see what she thought of the site. “It’s good, keep looking at it” she told him.
Jon spent 6 hours . . . yes, 6 hours . . . looking at videos. Then his heart could not hold back . . . he fell to his knees and talked to Jesus. Confessing. Worshipping. Putting his faith in He Who is First.
“Find an I am Second Group” caught Jon’s eye on iamsecond.com. As he clicked on the page, up popped a Google map right around his house. Jon didn’t know it, but that part of the website had gone live just 3 days before. But in God’s providence there already was a group registered near him. Probably not another one for 500 miles, but God had a group right there for Jon to find.
Jon connected with Jeremy, the group leader. Then tried out the group two days later. He loved it. “People there really are pumped about Jesus,” he told me on the phone.
Jon called Vicky to tell her the good news that he now believed in the Good News. Vicky’s joy overflowed to Mike R, one of her prayer partners. Mike R sent it on to Scott, one of our Board members who lives in Orlando. Scott knew I’d love the story, so he sent it on to me.
The rejoicing went from Boise to Atlanta to Orlando to Charlotte, where I was when I got Scott’s forward of Mike R’s forward of Vicky’s hallelujah email message. As I joined in the email celebration, Mike R asked where I am Second is headed next. When I responded that actually I was in Charlotte that very moment discussing launching there, Mike R mentioned that Apartment Life, the ministry he’s with, had just started work there.
A few hours later . . . I’m sitting across the table at a Starbucks in Charlotte talking to Nick, AL’s brand spanking new regional leader. Discussing how we might partner together. All because Jon trusted Christ in Boise a few days before.
The fingerprints of God . . . all over that whole thing. I can’t help but believe in a sovereign God who WILL accomplish His plans, and often in a way that only He gets the acclaim for pulling it off.
Also challenges me NOT to give up when praying for someone. For we never know when or how God will cause the spiritual dominoes to fall.
Here’s what Vicky told us later—
“I want to personally thank every person involved with this website for helping to bring my brother Jon to Christ. Jon and I were not raised together. We share an earthly father who struggled to give either of us what we needed emotionally. But now, after I have been praying for him since he was 15 years old – 24 1/2 years of prayers, God has drawn us together as children of the same heavenly father. A father who can love Jon in a way that he has never experienced before.
“The work that you are doing has such great eternal impact. My brother who was lost up until this day is now absolutely blown away by the love of Christ and his new life in him. And I have the privilege of sharing this with Jon and having new life breathed into my own spiritual walk – if DOES matter what we say, what we do, where we put our efforts, and how we nurture these over the years.”
People are looking for hope and change and God. Would you like to be there when they come looking? Register your group or ministry at http://iamsecond.com/join/.
-Mike, I am Second Coach
It’s a day like today that makes me thankful I’m Second. Not because of anything I’ve done, but because of the people I’m fortunate to have in my life.
I’ve had an amazing two weeks that have been slam-packed with trainings, a staff retreat at a new part-time job, a dance competition, and deadlines on the side. Everything seemed to be great and I’ve been praying to Lord I feel like constantly to direct my steps as I’ve had information overload. Yesterday though, I felt like every time I turned a corner I was slipping up. I emailed one of my accountability partners today about my stress and learning to not over-commit and she sent me a prayer via email. Taking that time to pause and look to the Lord was exactly what I needed to get my head in the game. Do you have Christian community around you to build you up on those days that you need encouragement? Are you helping pick your friends and family up when they need to be reminded of their Savior?
I don’t know if you struggle with living your life in over-drive like I do, but if you do, then you need to hear this: A fifteen minute retreat into prayer with your Lord (Even in the middle of the day!) won’t kill you. In fact, it will give you strength for the day. Moreover, YOU NEED IT.
For everyone who isn’t living in community: Do you have friends to call when you’re down? Are you living in Biblical community with people that can remind you of truth? What’s holding you back? Who are the believers in your life that you can be intentional about doing life with?
My I am Second group is one of my greatest places of refuge because I can see my friends growing closer to the Lord.
If you’re interested in starting an I am Second Group, or want to work on your prayer life, find materials here: http://iamsecond.com/getinvolved/GroupTools.html.
It’s still football season, so let’s talk about the obvious – no need to be obscure here. Outstanding in his field, Colt McCoy is a rock star. We have watched him perform unbelievable feats all year long on the field. On top of all that, it’s a bonus to us Christians that he is a Christian too. We get to call him “one of us.”
Along with Colt, we have some Heisman Trophy winners on our team: Sam Bradford, Mark Ingram, Tim Tebow. Other professional athletes – Jason Witten, Greg Ellis, Jason Terry, Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols. And going old school, AC Green, Reggie White, David Robinson. What about all the actors and musicians? Besides the ones on our site, there are still so many more out there. All of them, outstanding in their field.
My guess is that they just didn’t “happen” upon their celebrity status. My guess is that in second grade, Jason Terry was standing on the block shooting jump shots trying his best to reach the basket. And by high school, David Robinson stood at that free throw line shooting 500 free throws a day. Do you think Jason Castro just woke up one day able to play the ukulele like a skilled professional?
How about I am Second? I’m going to just throw this one out there and say that I am Second is outstanding in its field of “website testimonies” and say its not like other websites either. Our video team, our IT department, our marketing group, our leadership…they didn’t just wake up one day as exceptional either.
Are you seeing something in common here?
I’ve realized that Jesus never settled for being mediocre either. A favorite verse of mine is Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Can you shoot free throws for the Lord? Of course.
Does Colt McCoy throw touchdowns for Jesus Christ? You bet.
Do we make video testimonies and launch small groups and encourage you to do the same all for the glory of the Kingdom? There is no question.
All of this to say, all of the people on our site have something in common besides being Second – they didn’t just wake up being Second.
Colt McCoy started as a young kid probably throwing five yards at a time, but today, he can throw touchdown passes. Christ isn’t asking you to be perfect today, but He is asking you to just work at it with all that you can, to pursue excellence in Christ and to do it for Him.
One of my favorite quotes that Colt says in his video is that he didn’t want to be remembered for his touchdowns or for what he did on the field, but for the way he lived his life and for his actions. And after this national championship game, what are we all talking about? Right. The way he stood up for Christ in his quote after the game. It’s almost like he knew what he would be called to do.
How are you going to pursue excellence for Christ today? What in your life can you do for the Kingdom? Personally, I’m going to make phone calls, send emails, write blogs, and file papers…for Him. For you never know what or whom He might use to reflect His glory.
Start right now. Go shoot your free throws. Basketball season is upon us.
After 16 years, this is what I have to show for my efforts.
The following excerpts come from my 16 year who wrote the follow for a school assignment. I have to admit, I’m glad she “get’s” what I am Second is all about. Now, the mission is to get the word out to those who have not met Jesus Christ. From my daughter, Elizabeth:
“When you think of a symbol, what comes to your mind? Is it the Nike Swoosh? Maybe it is the AT&T mobile networking globe? A symbol can be more than just a picture; it usually has a deeper meaning. Some symbols that are more that just a logo like the cross, the Ichthys, or a purity ring. These are recognizable symbols of a Christian lifestyle. A new symbol has emerged.
In December of 2008, the North Texas campaign of I Am Second was launched. The symbol of the I am Second campaign is a chair. The chair is where everything happens: the tears, the laughter, and the memories all unfold there. The meaning behind the campaign is to put God first, and if we are putting God first we become second, therefore getting the name, I Am Second.
They use relevant influences to capture the attention of people visiting the site. This is exactly what this generation needs, famous Christian figures giving testimony about how Christ changed their life! At the end of each video they give an invitation to accept Christ. The impact on the nation does not happen because of the chair. The impact from the stories inspire new believers to become second and existing believers into Kingdom action. Since I am Second is an evangelical tool to reach the lost and hurting, I think very highly of it! My family has gotten very involved with this campaign. In fact, my dad is getting ready to go into the full-time ministry with e3 Partners, the ministry behind the web site. It’s ironic, but it seems that everybody wants to go out of the country to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. My question is this: What about the people right here in our own back yard? Do they not need to know Jesus Christ just as much as others do? They do need to know. I honestly believe, that the impact that I am Second is having on people is amazing! Through this campaign thousands of people are coming to know Christ and they are being plugged into churches that can help them grow in God’s word.
My name is Elizabeth McElyea and I am second. Are you?”
Needless to say, I am proud of my daughter and more importantly I know there are thousands of others just like her. People all around the globe that are using the web site and materials to help fulfill the Great Commission; sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and making disciples. You know, Jesus never made a distinction between domestic and foreign missions, we’re all instructed to reach the lost and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Why not step out and join the revolution of “Second”?
-Andrew McElyea, I am Second Staff
If you didn’t get a chance, take some time to read Erica’s testimony: http://iamsecond.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/erica-is-second/
Erica’s story is an amazing story of grace and love, redemption, and hope. Her eyes were opened by God to truly see the life she was living, and the life He intended her to live. There is a story of a blind man whose eyes were opened in John 9. Just like with Erica, the man was allowed to be blind for a portion of his life, but when their paths crossed, Jesus opened his eyes.
One thing that always struck me about having “eyes opened” by Jesus is that in most stories that we hear and share, it is a story of how God completely changed a person. They make uplifting and powerful testimonies, sharing how someone went through a completely radical transformation. The problem is, it doesn’t happen with everyone. Not everyone will have to leave a life of begging, because they never had to beg in the first place. Not everyone will have to go through rehab because not everyone will have a drug or alcohol problem. The one thing in this that unites every person is the need to life up Christ, and to lower our own self-importance. Erica knew that God could and would change her life, and the blind man knew that Jesus had changed his forever.
Erica knows her life was lived in darkness, and Jesus came to open her eyes. Once her eyes were opened like the blind man’s, she too believed and worshiped Jesus. That is part of what being Second is about. Worship cannot happen if God is not elevated first. Her life is now directed by her position to God. She is Second.
In what ways have your eyes been opened? How can you lift up Christ in your life so that others can see Him?
-Patrick, I am Second Intern