By the end of Monday evening service at the National Youth Convention in the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville, the evidence of a message well-received was noted on the arena floor. The floor was littered with pieces of paper, shoes and other tokens of appreciation the students threw at speaker Tim Ross' request.
The energy was felt in the eruptions of excitement as teens left the arena after a night of worship with Worth Dying For and a powerful challenge from Ross to stand strong. Speaking on Acts 14:8-10 (NLT), the associate pastor at Gateway Church in Fort Worth, Texas, explained how the crippled man had faith enough to believe one day he would walk, but required the command to stand to find strength on legs where muscles had never been and claim his healing.
At the beginning of the message, Ross lightheartedly encouraged the students to let him know if they appreciated and understood what he was saying by shouting, "Amen" or "Preach it." However, he told them the best way they could show their appreciation of the Word would be to throw something small and non-threatening near the stage.
"There are many like the crippled man," Ross said. "We too, may constantly look to someone to pick us up, but they will let us down. However, there is only one person who can pick you up and never let you down, and that man is Jesus."
Ross encouraged the audience to go to church demanding to hear a word from the Lord. He petitioned youth leaders to take leadership in the discipleship role of their students train them, give them the work, don't ask them if they want to do this. Get them to do hard things. Students need to be fed the Bread of Life and not just pizza and cheesy bread, he urged.
Ross called students to do the hard things, "Stand on the righteousness and stand for Jesus; stand for purity; stand for justice."
Explaining that the message was to encourage a stronger relationship with Christ, Ross added, "However, I believe that stronger relationship comes when we hear the right message." To develop a stronger relationship with Christ, he says private devotional time is critical. "Have a love affair with your Bible and the boldness to be His witness."
Students visually and vocally expressed their appreciation for Ross' "Command to Stand."
Anna Liu, senior at The Pointe Fellowship in Tomball, Texas, said, "I feel like [the message] doesn't just suggest or offer opportunities. It is God telling us, 'Get up and do this for me' instead of 'I think you should do this for me,' or 'You should try this.' It says, 'Do it!'"
Michael Maddox, also a senior at The Pointe Fellowship, said the message reminded him of the command in the Great Commission. "It's like my youth pastor, David, says, 'There are not options to be considered; it's a command to be obeyed.'"
Recent high school graduate Ashley Hoeft, from Crossroads Church in Burnsville, Minnesota, discussed the sermon in room devotions later that night. "We felt like [the message] was telling us to just do it; don't be afraid."
Hoeft said the message encouraged students to get up and be Christians, not just Christians, kind of. "I think I need to be brave. Do what God has called me to do and not to be afraid. I feel like that's what a lot of people struggle with, the fear."
Tonight, students will hear a message on missions from Chet Caudill, national Speed the Light and student missions director. A Speed the Light offering will be taken and the new Speed the Light theme will be announced.