Monthly Archives: April 2011

What I Was Waiting To Hear!


Exponential Conference

I really enjoy going to conferences.  There are so many amazing stories to hear and it’s great to see God at work across the nation and world.  I almost always leave refreshed and excited to go and chase all kinds of crazy ideas.  That’s what I love about conferences!

However, there is something that I have been waiting to hear.  It is overlooked at almost every conference (at least the ones I have been to).  It is a topic that goes beyond missional, attractional, traditional, denominational, non-denominational, small-group driven, purpose driven (should I continue?), etc.

My point is this; there is an issue that goes well beyond all of these methods and styles of doing church.  I have been waiting to hear someone at a major conference say, “It’s not about any of this stuff.  It’s more about whether or not you’re Godly.”

Well, I finally got what I was waiting for.

I sat in on a workshop by Matt Chandler, lead Pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, Texas.  It was obvious that God had given him a very specific message to say to me.

His message was this…

Why are you trying to be Francis Chan?  Why do you want to be the next Rick Warren?  Why are you striving to be Matt Carter or Dave Ferguson?  God loves you for who you are right now!  God doesn’t love the future you more because ten years down the road, you will have a big church like some other guy.  God loves you right where you are, right now.  Stop trying to be everyone else!

He basically asked us, “How well do you understand and apply the Gospel to your own life?”  And you know the answer to that question by asking five others (I don’t have all five unfortunately).  Questions like; are you violent towards sin?  Are you utmost in your own affections?  When you screw up, do you run away from or toward God?

The questions were pointed and direct.  He was passionate and animated.  He got off track at times in order to do more than stick with notes and fit into a conference workshop box.  He was preaching.  He was preaching the Word of God and he was bringing the Gospel to a room full of pastors.  And I was so excited that someone was finally saying what I had been wanting to hear.  The difference was that Matt Chandler says it far better than I ever could.

My goal in life should not be to become the next big-church pastor.

My goal in life should not be to be the next main session speaker at a conference.

My goal in life should be to become Godly, holy and more like Christ.

I was so excited to hear someone release me from the pressure of being like one of those guys on the stage.  That’s not what I’m here to do or become.  I am here to do the will of the Father who has given me a task to do and has given me exactly what I need in terms of gifts, talents, background and education to accomplish just that.

Thank you Mr. Chandler, for saying what I have been wanting to hear so desperately.

Thank you for allowing God to use you to preach!

If you haven’t heard Matt yet, I would encourage you to do so.  Beyond a God-given talent to preach, he has such an inspiring story of strength and faith.  God is using him in a big way!

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An Anointing!


Exponential Conference

It was the final session at Exponential Conference 2011.  Matt Chandler was the main speaker (I’ll have more to say about him in a later post).  Exponential ends with a bang each year.  This year was no different.  The plan was to have a prayer and anointing time with church planters and teams that wanted to be prayed with before leaving the conference.  The New Life staff team was asked to help with the prayer and anointing.

I stood backstage awaiting instruction.  Our team listened as the session was talked through and how everything would go.  I left with a small tube of oil as did the rest of our team.  As we sat through the service, something began to nag at me.  I wasn’t sure I was ready for this.  Who was I to pray with and anoint these people, these church planters and leaders.  The more I thought about it, the more inadequate I began to feel.  In fact, I sent a text message to one of our guys who was sitting behind me.  It said…

I don’t feel qualified to anoint.  God has much work to do on me still.

His reply was fantastic and really helped me to make one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Up to you.  Question isn’t whether you have it all figured out, but whether you can be God’s agent in blessing these pastors.  If you decide to pass, no worries.

I decided that I would go for it.  I wanted to be up there with our team, praying for all these men and women who were getting ready to start a new church or had just gotten underway.

When the time came, I went to my spot with the rest of the people set aside for this role.  People began to flow forward by the hundreds.  I heard stories from church planters who were tired and worn out.  I heard stories from those who were afraid and anxious about what was coming their way.  I met teams of people who were working together to make an impact in places like Los Angeles, Denver and Orlando.  I met one woman who was on a team trying to plant churches in Canada.  I was able to pray with them and put some oil on their forehead.

I don’t know how everyone else felt.  I can only speak for myself.  What we did for those people, praying with and for them, maybe accomplished as much, if not more, for me than it did for them.  I was blown away by the stories and by what God is up to in our world.  I was given a fresh sense of the fact that, it’s not about me.  It’s all about God and what He is doing.

I am so thankful that I went for it.  I’m so thankful that the man I sent my text to, didn’t just give me an excuse to get out of it.  Instead, he challenged me to bless others.  God worked in my heart and soul through praying for others.  It was an unbelievable experience and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything (except having my wife beside me when all this happened).

If you’re out there, working in ministry, church plants, leadership team, etc, I want to hear from you.  I want to hear your story.  I want to know how I can pray for and encourage you.

God is doing big things my friends.  Sometimes it feels like we’re losing the battle, but I assure you, God is winning the war!

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid!

Keep it up, church!

Keep it up!

Exponential Conference 2011!


Exponential

Today was an amazing day!  The opportunities to learn were amazing and the chance to meet some very cool people is simply fun.

I sat amazed today.  A large stage filled with speakers who are inspiring in the church world.  Names like; Alan Hirsch, Francis Chan, Matt Carter, Neil Cole, Ed Stetzer and more.  There aren’t many things that are obvious to me, but one very clear thing slammed into my face today; God is amazing!

God has blessed me beyond what I deserve and I’m so thankful to Him for all He is allowing me to see, learn and do.  I pray that I will be wise and use His grace to reach as many people for Christ as I possibly can.

As I listened to many speakers today, here are a couple of things that I picked up.

  1. “Everywhere you go, that’s where the church is!”  -Rob Wegner, Granger Community Church
  2. “If you want a disciple making movement, you have to have the Lord’s blessing!”  -Jim Putman, Real Life Ministries
  3. “Don’t plant churches.  Plant Jesus!”  -Neil Cole, CMA Resources

When all was said and done, I developed a challenge for myself.  I’m not going to tell you what that is just yet.  Maybe some day.  For now, it’s a personal challenge that God and I are working on.  I believe that God is up to something big.  And I hope He has in mind to allow me to be even a small part of it.

And today also held a few fun surprises.  It was very cool to sit in a room with 75 church leaders and planters from around the country and world, to listen to Rick Warren share some inspiring vision stuff for the church.  It was also fun to shoot a video with him.  No, really.

I’m very excited about what God is doing through church planting.

I’m very excited that I get to work closely with people who are doing some really cool things.

I am humbled that God even lets me near this stuff.

Typically, I’m scared I’ll just mess it up.  Which is very likely.

Thanks again, God, for being so gracious to me.

And thanks to all those who have made this conference possible.

What are some of your favorite things, that you have learned at different conferences, classes, seminars, books, etc?

What pieces of knowledge have been the most valuable for you in ministry?

I Am Dave Ferguson!


Exponential Conference

I’m here at Exponential 2011 in Orlando, FL.  Our New Life team is volunteering with a ton of cool stuff.  We’re getting to see some pretty cool behind the scenes stuff at the coolest church planters conference on the planet (someone please pass that tid bit along to Todd Wilson for me).  As we were preparing to volunteer today, we were going through some training.  Our fearless leader stood up and inspired us to volunteer like it was our last day on earth.  He was very excited and it was easy to get excited along with him.  I wanted to share a little of what he said.  If you’re a volunteer, apply what was said to your particular area of service.

In order to give this conference the “Wow” experience it deserves, volunteers have to own it like it’s their own.  Our volunteer leader helped us with that.  He told the story of Exponential and how it was the brainchild of so many great people.  One of which he mentioned specifically was Dave Ferguson.

Dave Ferguson

Mr. Dave Ferguson

You are Dave Ferguson…

…he said.  So I left and pretended to be Dave Ferguson today.  That was fun.

The point was well taken though.  If we want this conference to be as successful as it can be, we need to be as excited about it as Dave.  We need to pretend we have invested as much in it as Dave has (and many others, I’m just using Dave because that was the name that was thrown out there today).  I was inspired to, “Be Like Dave.”  He’s cooler than Mike anyway.

Then our leader said, “Every moment is your moment of truth.”  I loved that.  I think that is a great, practical statement that all volunteers in any capacity can grab onto and believe in.  Each moment is the only time you will have that moment.  Your only moment to make a first impression.  Your only moment to make the best impression for Christ that you can.  Every moment is your moment of truth.  I’ll be taking this one home to the volunteers at my Haymarket Campus.

If you are a volunteer at a church (or anywhere else for that matter), I want to encourage you.

Thank you so much for all you do.

I apologize for not telling you as often as I should.

I want to encourage you to view your role as a moment of truth.  Put yourself in the shoes of “the boss” for a minute.  Think about how much they invest in whatever it is you are doing.  You are that person.  Care for it as deeply as they do.  Give it your all.  Especially if you are volunteering in a ministry.  There’s nothing more important than the work you are doing.  View every moment as your moment of truth.  It is your moment to make a huge impact on someone’s life and ultimately for the Kingdom of God.

Do you volunteer?

What do you do?

And, thank you.  Thank you so much for volunteering!

Tomorrow, I’ll be Dave Ferguson again.  Not a bad looking guy I guess.  It could be worse.  I could be….whoa!  About got myself in trouble there.

Exponential Conference 2011!


Exponential Conference

The day started bright and early at 5:10 am today.  Getting ready quickly, I joined the rest of the New Life Christian Church team at the nZone.  From there it was off to the airport, onto a Jet Blue flight and in Orlando, Florida before 11:00 am.

We are here for the Exponential Conference.  It’s an amazing church planters conference that brings together multiple church plant organizations.  This year features Matt Chandler, Francis Chan and Alan Hirsch.

I’m so stoked to be here.  I’ll be posting a lot of my thoughts throughout the day on Facebook & Twitter.  I’ll also try to update this blog with some other thoughts toward the end of each day.  Check back for all the great stuff happening at Exponential 2011.

Easter Traditions!


On Friday night, I called my kids up to the living room.  The only light in the room was candle light.  I read some Scripture (John 13) and talked about the night before Jesus was crucified.  Yes, I know Friday night isn’t the right night for that, but I had a late meeting on Thursday.

I told my three children about foot washing and what it means to be a servant to others.  Then I went around the room and washed all their feet.  Then, I washed my wife’s feet.  I didn’t expect it, but each of them took turns washing my feet.  It was a great experience and opened up some great conversation, at least from my two oldest children.

Then, I read to them about the Lord’s Supper from Matthew 26.  We talked about what the Lord’s Supper is and why we have communion each Sunday at church (Acts 20:7).  We had grape juice out and some crackers.  Some of you might not agree with my next move, but we talked about how communion reminds us of Jesus’ crucifixion and what He did for us.  Then we all drank some grape juice and at the crackers.  It was a special night and I wanted my kids to understand what communion is and who it is for.

Communion

Then, we went into the dining room to have supper.  It was a good segway into the next part of our evening.  After dinner, we made “empty tomb” cookies.  It’s actually amazing how they are hollow inside.  If you want the recipe, you’ll have to ask my wife.  We made them together and talked about different parts of the Easter story.  Smashing up walnuts we talked about how Jesus’ body was broken.  Putting some vinegar in the cookies we talked about how Jesus was offered vinegar to drink on the cross.  We added salt and talked about the salty taste of tears and the people who were crying when Jesus died.  It was really cool.  I’m hoping to make stuff like this a Rodda family tradition.

*On a side note, I even let my oldest son watch a few scenes from The Passion of the Christ.  I thought he was old enough to see a pretty accurate image of what the crucifixion was like.

I don’t remember a lot of Easter traditions in my family.  We probably had some, I’ve just forgotten (I know, I’m a bad son).  I’m looking forward to sharing cool moments like this each Easter with my family.  I pray it helps them develop a strong connection with how important Easter is and how it is much more than an Easter bunny and candy.

Does your family have any Easter traditions?

I’d love to hear them.

Please share in the comments.

Sunday’s Coming!


I’m putting the finishing touches on my Easter lesson for Sunday.  Here’s my point – There is something desperately wrong with the world, but God is setting it right in Jesus!

Every year I write an Easter lesson.  I have been for more than 10 years.  Every year, I use roughly the same verses of Scripture.  And every year, I’m blown away by the evidence that is stacked up in God’s favor.

There is no question that Jesus rose from the dead.  Any other option requires more faith than believing He rose from the dead.

And because Jesus rose from the dead, my life should be significantly different.  But, it’s not.  I’m not who I should be.  I’m not who I could be for my Jesus.  I am disappointed in myself when I don’t give my all.  My God deserves so much better.

I’m so excited that Sunday’s coming.  Easter morning changes everything.  God’s plan is fully realized and His grace is in full swing.

Thank you God for your grace through Jesus Christ.

I pray I live a life that is worthy of all you have done for me!

Forgive me when I fall short.

I love You!

Empty Tomb

Muscle Rollers And Discipleship!


I just finished  a short run.  I needed to clear my brain and have some time to think.  It has been a while since I last went for a run.  So before long, all I could think about was my legs.  They were revolting in every way.  When I got home, I did some stretching, but that didn’t help.  So, I busted out the trusty, handheld muscle roller.  For those who have used one of these, it’s a modern day, torture device.

Grab each end, and roll the small, plastic wheels over whatever muscle is sore.  It’s amazing how many tiny bumps this torture device health tool will find.  Press down and slowly roll out the kink in your muscles.  If you aren’t screaming in pain, or crying, you’re doing it wrong.  The only thing that keeps you rolling over every muscle fiber, putting yourself through that kind of pain, is knowing that on the other side, your muscles will be thanking you.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about discipleship and all that Jesus expects of me.  As a follower of Christ, there are certain disciplines that I want to have in my life.  I want to spend time reading the Bible.  I want to spend time praying.  But sometimes those disciplines can be a little like the handheld, muscle roller.

Some days, I read the Bible and something jumps out at me.  It lands on some of the most sensitive areas of my heart and soul.  Then it begins to work, rolling back and forth.  Often times there is pain and tears associated with the work God is doing.  As a disciple of Jesus, I open myself up to being examined and improved by the Holy Spirit of God.  And when He does His work, it can be painful as even the tiniest, hidden parts of me are exposed.  He brings them to my attention and I’m forced to deal with them.  I’m forced to look at my flaws in light of the perfect God-man, Jesus Christ, who I claim to follow.

Yet, I want to be exposed.  I want the Holy Spirit of God to see every part of me.  Why?  Because I know that growing through those times will lead to an even closer relationship with my Father.

This is not about how great or wonderful I am.  This is about a journey of faith, growing to be more like Christ.  And along the way, Jesus is shaping me into His likeness.  Sometimes it’s a painful process, but I believe that it will all be worth it in the end.

Zechariah 13:9 – “I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure.  I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold.  They will call on my name, and I will answer them.  I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Have you ever used a muscle roller?

What images, metaphors, come to mind when you think of discipleship and growing to be more like Christ?

Not An Easy Task! But It’s Worth It!


Jesus asks a lot of me.  He has high expectations of me.  And to be quite honest, His standard is not an easy one to reach.  Maybe that’s why He says the road to destruction is wide and the road to salvation is narrow. In Luke 9, Jesus is talking to a crowd about what it means to follow Him.  This is how He describes what it means to be a disciple.

Luke 9:23 – “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

That is no easy task.  I mean, the cross was where criminals went to be tortured and die.  It’s where people hung for days, starving to death while they urinated and defecated all over themselves.  It’s where the smell of blood and sweat mixed under your nostrils.  You simply died in your own shame and filth.  It was the most gruesome way to die ever devised by mankind (in my opinion).

And that’s the standard for those who want to be followers of Christ is that on a daily basis, they take up their cross and follow Him.  Daily cross-carrying, is the standard of discipleship for those claiming to follow Christ.  The cross is very symbolic of your own death.  Jesus carried His own cross to His death.  Criminals carried their crosses to their death.  In other words, Jesus wants me to die to myself and only live for one person; Him.

Being a disciple means that you are a follower, a student of someone.  If I want to follow Jesus more closely, I need to study Him more.  I need to spend more time in the Gospels, absorbing every move and conversation.  I need to seek after Him as if I believe I was really lost without Him (and I do).  And when I have discovered Him in a whole new way, I need to take His radical life and begin to replicate it on a daily basis.

I need to love the unlovable.

I need to serve even when it’s not in my best interest.

I need to teach as if eternity hung in the balance.

I need to spend time with the least of these.

I need to give all that I have, 100% of the time.

And no matter how far I think I have come, there is always a next step.  There is always someone else to love.  Someone to serve.  Someone who needs to hear that Jesus is the way to God. I’m thankful for the words of Paul in Philippians 3…

Philippians 3:12-14 – “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,tbut I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I’m so thankful for Christ.  I’m so thankful for the forgiveness He offers me.  I’m so thankful for grace.  I’m so thankful for an example of how to live life. I know I will never attain perfection on this side of heaven, but I’m going to continue striving toward what I am called to.  And I’m called to be more like Jesus.

What do you think about discipleship?

What do you need to do today to be more like Jesus?  Tomorrow?

Easter Invites!


This year, New Life is going big.  We are inviting some top name people to join us for Easter Sunday.  I’m scheduled to make a call next week, but who I’m calling will remain a surprise.  For now, check out this year’s Easter Invites!

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