Yesterday, I got up early and went to the national See You at the Pole celebration.  We’ve been talking about it for three weeks, challenging kids to make the commitment to go, talk to their friends about it and go together, praying about it, and promoting it as much as we could.  I get to Central High School at precisely 7:00 o’clock and am greeted by these guys… my heroes for the day.

I’m proud to say that one of those students, Ryan (on the far right), is representing Destiny (smile).  The rest of the 2,202 registered students at Central High School were about their daily business.  I was sad for them at first… knowing how they must have felt being the “only ones”.  I was also a little down on myself, feeling like I failed as a pastor somehow because of other students being a “no show”.

But I didn’t stay discouraged long… as the five of us started sharing and praying, I was instead inspired.  These four didn’t seem the least put down by the fact that there were so few (the fewest I’ve probably ever seen at Central in my seven years here).  They were just intent on praying.  Getting the “kingdom business” done — accomplishing what they came to do.  We stood together, no cameras or filming (what I would usually be doing)… just lifting up Central’s students and teachers to God, asking Him to what only He can do this year, and to use us to do it — agreeing with thousands of others praying similar prayers all over the nation.

I tried to make it over to North Middle School when we were finished, but they had already disbanded when I got there.  From there, I made my way home to pick up my daughter Bella and Cynthia on the way to Memorial Christian School.  As we got there, we joined in prayer around the pole with the gradeschoolers, teachers, and a few parents…

I talked with Pastor Patrick while I was there, their student pastor, and found out that there were only 12 students at Stephens High School.  Bummer.  I was hoping for more than a less-than-1% turnout!  We talked a bit about the morning and went our separate ways.

The rest of the work day was full of evening rally service-prep.  I had two of my guest speakers back out somewhat last minute and was scrambling a bit to fill the spots.  I was also putting a lot of time into the give-aways that we had planned for the end of the “Congrats…You’re Gifted!” message series.  I borrowed a treasure chest from Pastor Tani to stuff everything in and give an extra fun look to the evening.

By the time I got home that afternoon I was so wiped out that I fell asleep on the couch almost instantly.  I was knocked out for about an hour before I woke up for dinner and then headed back out the door to open up the youth room.

Well…about 10 minutes before service start time, I get word through someone else in the church that there is a family emergency and that I need to call Deanna right away.  Ugh!  I borrowed that person’s phone and called to find out that Deanna and the girls were all sitting in the ER — Kella, my 3-year-old, was messing around with a pair of kid-scissors after supper and accidentally cut a chunk of skin off her index finger!  It was a big enough cut that it wouldn’t stop bleeding.

Great!  That’s the kind of call every youth worker wants to get right before a big night.  Double-ugh!  Deanna assured me that Kella was all right, so I reluctantly went back into the youth room and started trying to mentally re-prepare myself for the night.

I opened up the evening by filling everyone in on Kella and asking them to join me in prayer.  From there, I shared a few quick announcements and went right into a great time of worship.  I love it when students enter right in!  After the third song, I decided to have students come up and share about their See You at the Pole experiences.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m glad we went that route — probably five-to-six students got up to share some very moving stories, including Ryan in the pic above.

Ryan shared about how he was moved by some of the same things I was over at the Central flag pole.

Amy, a homeschool student, got up and shared how she woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning (not on purpose, her parents were leaving on a trip) and prayed in tongues for an hour and really felt God move through that time.  Then… she went back to bed — LOL!

Sam went to SYATP in Sturgis where about thirty-to-forty students met and told us with much excitement about four students who gave their heart to God for the first time!  AWESOME!

Rachael got up and told us that she had forgotten about SYATP but that she saw the affects of the prayers all day through the actions and faces of other students at her school, Dakota Middle School.

Erika shared that she was supposed to be the organizer of the SYATP rally at her school, Rapid City Christian, but that she woke up late and was hurrying to get there in her car.  On the way, she was thinking to herself about how she wanted it to be so much more than just rote prayers prayed in empty exercise.  When she arrived, she expressed that it was nothing like that; the prayers were passionate and heartfelt.

I think other students shared too… but my memory fails me.  We finished out the worship time by singing the chorus to “Take My Life (All of Me)”.  I shared a 15-minute wrap up challenge/encouragement to the “Congrats” series and then had four speakers lined up for the evening come and share how God has shaped and gifted them for ministry in their “everyday” lives.  It was SO GOOD…

Mary got up and shared about how God first used her gifts and talents in the medical field and how that has progressed, shifted, and morphed into ministering to students by teaching at the pulic high schools.  She stopped at an emotional moment when she mentioned her love for students… her heart is so moved by them.  Isn’t that how our lives should be lived?  Full because we are fulfilling and walking out the God-shaped calling that He’s given us for our personal life?  YES!

Janessa shared about how God has used her to minister to her own family through the adoption process and how she also has been moved and inspired by the students at Elevate as she has opened up her life to them.  I can’t agree more!

Bethany, who is twenty-years-old, shared about where God has her now — leading the Vote Yes for Life movement here in Rapid City.  She gave everyone free T’s and pins and most likely inspired several to join the cause.

Israel, who is also right around twenty-years-old, shared about how God took him through an out-of-state Bible school experience, a skate ministry to teenagers, and then back home to minister to his newly-healed relationship with his mother.

As we were closing out the sharing time, I handed out SHAPE cards for students to take home and prayfully fill them out as a final commitment to discovering all that God has shaped and purposed them for.  The stories from students about how the series has been helping them see their unique “kingdom impact” have been powerful; I’m expecting to hear more in the next couple weeks as they fill these out and get a more complete picture.

We finished the evening by unloading the contents of the give-away chest.  Quite a feat!  There were over thirty different gifts that were handed out including gift certificates (from Bully Blends, The BodyBuilder Christian Bookstore, Alternative Fuel Coffee House, Cold Stone, and Armadillos), movie tickets, compilation CD’s, DVD’s (music videos), posters, T-shirts, and even a play-sniper-gun-set (don’t tell the parents) left over from a student Christmas party!  WHEW!

When it was all dismissed, Kella and Deanna were pulling into the parking lot.  When I went out to see my Baby, she happily showed me her “owie” that the doctors had “made better”.  WHAT A DAY!

Here’s a pic after I changed her bandage out this morning.  She didn’t even shed one tear.  Such a big girl.