Do you know the story of the thief on the cross?

By: TYLER SHIPLEY on | Comments: 3
The scene takes place in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus has just been before Pontius Pilate and has been sentenced to one of the most humiliating ways to die. And now, His hands and His feet have been nailed to the cross. Here now we see the Messiah, hanging and slowly dying. Look at what happens: 

“Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” 

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:322-43) 

Maybe read that passage again. Did you notice the difference between the two criminals? One of the criminals mocked Jesus. This man not only challenged Jesus to save them and Himself but challenged His authority. While he challenged, notice what the other man did. He rebuked the challenger and said, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” (23:40-41) 

The second criminal rebuked the first! Can you imagine what everyone else was thinking when he spoke out like this? This man truly has the boldness that even the disciples did not have. Think about that for a minute. The eleven had fled the scene because they were scared; scared to the point that they denied knowing Christ. This criminal, with more boldness than the disciples, rebuked the other man. And following his rebuke, he then turned to Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

What follows is indescribable! Jesus looked at the criminal, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (23:43) Jesus allowed this man into heaven. He did not say a prayer, he did not understand any doctrine or theology. He simply asked that Jesus remember him as Jesus returned to His heavenly sanctuary. 

Many people say that I did this and this to get to heaven. I repeated the prayer that my pastor, youth pastor, camp counselor, etc. said and now I am good. I did some pretty good works while I lived: “I was nice to others.” “I helped this person.” “I showed love when it mattered the most.” 

The list goes on and on! 

Are you one of those people? Are you relying on your deeds to get you to heaven? Well, guess what. Your deeds do not grant you access to heaven. Pastor Alistair Begg preached this text and said that we always talk about Christ in the first person. (Refer to what I said above) We should talk in the third person! It’s not what WE did, but what HE has done! 

We are allowed into heaven, not by our deeds or by anything that we have done, but because Jesus paid the debt of sin. Remember and reflect on the death of Christ today and always. You get to heaven not by yourself, but as Alistair Begg said, we get to heaven because “The man on the middle cross said I could come.” 

“The man on the middle cross said I could come.”
Read more

Remembering 9/11: The 20th Anniversary

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 1
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks. 

Although two decades have passed since that terrifying and tragic incident, everyone who’s old enough to remember, can recall where they were when they first heard the news of the twin towers being hit. For those who were there in person, they remember it as the day the sky turned black, clouded with ash and smoke, over New York City. 

That day started like any other day. No one could have expected such an event would take place, stopping time for people nationwide. It was televised worldwide and broadcasted across radio stations across the U.S. All eyes and ears were on NYC that day. In that moment, the world was forever changed by the attack that caused 3,000 lives to be lost. 

Even though I was too young to remember where I was, or what I was doing, on that day (as I was just a toddler at the time), I do clearly remember the aftershock of 9/11. It was taught and talked about all the time as I grew up. I was told about how the world worked to heal, repair, and better defend itself in the days, months, and even years after what had happened. That event claimed more than just a day. It lives in the memories of millions of people, especially those directly affected by the attack. I grew up with these stories. I’ve watched videos, seen photos, heard testimonies from actual survivors, and read articles about that day. Whether you were there or not, it’s a memory shared by the world. And even though I know we can’t experience time as God does, it amazes me that the people of NYC didn’t feel the presence of the future staring back at them on that day. 

But, despite the gravity and devastation of 9/11, there is and was hope to be found in Jesus. 

How can I say this when such evil things like this happen? 

Psalm 46:1-2 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.”

This passage, among many others in the Bible, promises us that God didn’t abandon the world on that day. He didn’t desert those who were killed, the first responders who risked their lives to save people trapped under debris, or the people who lost loved ones due to the attack. Even in situations where the world was literally crumbling at people’s feet, God promised to be a refuge for those who were hurting and needed a Savior. God was still moving, providing hope, help, and comfort to those in need. 

Likewise, He is a God of justice who will bring about the judgement of those who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Psalms 37:28 says, “For the Lord loves justice and does not abandon His godly ones; They are protected forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be eliminated.” It also says in Proverbs 21:15, “The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity.”

I want to end with the following quote. This quote is an excerpt of a prayer by John Piper who said this a decade after 9/11 took place. He said: 

“We turn to you, heavenly Father, as our rock and our refuge, as our King and our comforter. We pray that you continue to sustain all those who lost loved ones on 9/11. Show them mercy. Give them comfort. For those who believe in you, minister by your Spirit and the truths of your word. For those who are far from you, use this tragedy in a new way a decade later to draw these broken-hearted men, women, and children to yourself...We thank you Lord for the firemen and police officers who risked their lives, and often gave their lives, to search for and rescue the victims of 9/11... May every moment of adversity and prosperity point us to Christ. Keep our eyes fixed on the Author and Perfector of our faith. Let us run to Christ. Let us cling to Christ. Let us find forgiveness in Christ. Let us find assurance in Christ. For the only true promise of peace, in this life and in the next, is found in Christ. We gladly confess that he is our only comfort in life and in death. Some trust in chariots; some trust in horses; some trust in the Koran; some trust in their wealth; some trust in their ancestors; some trust in their degrees; some trust in tanks and talks and predator drones. But we trust in the name of the Lord our God. It’s in his name of the Lord Jesus that we live and move and have our being, and it’s in his name we pray, Amen.”
Read more

Tips for Updating Your Backers

By: ALEX SHIPLEY on | Comments: 0

Whether it’s on social media, sending out an email, or directly on your GiveSendGo campaign page it’s important to update backers about the progress of your campaign. After all, they’ve made the decision to invest in you and your idea, you should invest in them too! 

Here are a few tips on how to update your backers throughout your campaigning process, as well as a few guidelines on how to write a great campaign update!

So, what are some reasons or occasions why you should, or would need to, update your backers?

1. Fundraising Progress or New Developments

So you’ve created your campaign and are now asking people to donate to a cause you care about. That’s great! You’ve completed the first step. Now that you’ve opened that dialogue with your backers and potential backers, it would seem a little insensitive to never speak to them again. From a potential backer’s viewpoint, this would look like you only cared about getting the money you needed and not about their support. You need to also show your investment, not only in your campaign’s mission, but in the people who are giving to you. 

This is why it’s important to share fundraising milestones and new developments in your campaign with your supporters. Let’s say you reached $1,000 raised or maybe you’ve reached the halfway point in your campaign. Let your supporters know you’re grateful for their help and share your milestones with them. 

Who knows, someone out there might see your campaign update and want to give to help you reach your final goal! Sharing updates isn’t always about communicating with your supporters, although that is important, it’s also about reaching people who may not even know your campaign exists. The more updates you give, the stronger the support you will have, which means you’ll most likely reach your goal faster! 

2. Thanking and Recognizing Your Backers

Show your gratitude and share it often! If you’re getting any support at all in your campaign, that’s more support than what you started out with. You should recognize those people for the impact they’re making on your life through their donations. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to reach your goal, so they deserve to see and hear how appreciative you are for their help. An update alone shows you care about keeping your backers in the loop, but adding an extra thank you tells them that you truly appreciate what they’ve done for you! 

3. Personal Stories
It’s important for people to see the heart and the drive behind your campaign’s mission. People love stories, especially ones they can empathize with. You’d be surprised how much people want to help other people. But, without sharing a need or the story behind your goal, they might just see you as just another campaign in a sea of hundreds of campaigns. Give them something to be passionate about, something that makes you stand out. Everyone’s story is unique, so don’t be afraid to be vulnerable when you tell it. Just make sure you’re being honest. Your story might speak to someone on a level you may not expect. It may also inspire someone to start their own campaign if they see you sharing your mission with the world. So, share your story!

4. Sharing Links Related to Your Campaign

Sharing your campaign with local news organizations is a great way to get more awareness about your goal and mission. If they decide to run with it, now you have an article or news story you can share on social media or even share through email/text. It’s a win-win! Be sure to also share this article or video link as an update on your GiveSendGo campaign page, so people can see an outside perspective on your campaign! Who knows, you might have dozens or hundreds of people outside of your circle interested in your campaign now simply because the news covered it! Those are people who may never have known about it otherwise! 

On a similar note, you can also share in an update to your backers the different social media platforms you use and regularly post to. This is another way for you to update your backers more frequently and to stay in touch with your supporters! It’s also a way of welcoming them into your life and story!

5. Share What You’re Using the Money For

So now people know about your story and your campaign goal, but what about the money? People are sometimes hesitant to give because they don’t know where the money they’re donating will actually be going and if it’s actually going to be used for what it’s intended for. Give them an update from time to time sharing the details of where or what your money is going to and how you plan to use it. 

If your campaign is to raise money for an organization you’re passionate about, share about them and how that money will be benefiting that specific cause. If it’s for you or a group to go on a mission trip, share specific details about what their money will cover such as flights, hotels, transportation, food etc. Or, if you plan to use the money to help build houses in a third world country, then share that in an update too. The more specific you can be, the more confident people will feel in their giving to your campaign. 

6. Image or Photos

Sharing a personal update through a photo or video is a great way to connect with your backers and potential backers on a more personal level. Sometimes this means just sharing a glimpse into your life and other times it means sharing an update specific to your campaign journey. 

For instance, let’s say you’re raising money to pay for medical expenses for a loved one. You might decide to share an update about the state of their health, or maybe they have a message they want to share with those who are supporting them and you need to relay that message. Especially in this case, if someone has donated to your campaign then they probably also care about you as a person, not just about helping you reach your monetary goal. A photo or video that updates your backers helps you engage with them on a deeper level than just through text. It’s also a really simple way to let your backers know how your campaign journey is going! 

How to Write a Great Update

Now that you have all of these tips on what to update your backers about, it’s a matter of how do you do it? Your update doesn’t have to be really long, but if you feel led to share a blog post or a longer message with your supporters that’s great too! It also doesn’t need to sound deep or really professional to get the information or message across. The important thing is that you be honest in your update, genuine, and that it be relevant to your campaign. Sometimes the shorter the update the better since most people don’t want to read pages of information, nor will that help communicate clearly what you need to share. Whatever you’re updating your backers about, simply write a few paragraphs (or maybe just a few sentences depending on the update). 

Then, be sure to thank them for their continued support and be sure to mention how they can keep supporting you. Make sure you’re providing updates at least once a week, even if the update is short and to the point. Depending on the nature of your update, there are a lot of templates online that give specific steps in how to write an update like this. But at the end of the day, remember, just be you! 

Shine Brightly!
Read more