Category Archives: church
I’m parting with several books that I have had in my library. Rather than sell them online, I thought I would give you the opportunity to ask for one first. So, if you are interested in any of the following books, let me know. First come, first serve. You can message me with your requests at firstname.lastname@example.org. All I ask is that you pay for shipping if you live far away from me. =)
I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt – Antonucci
- The Leadership Lessons of Jesus – Briner & Pritchard
Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
- Too Small To Ignore – Stafford
- Jesus Wants To Save The Christians – Bell (eBay)
Guerrilla Lovers – Antonucci When Leadership and Discipleship Collide – Hybels
- The Prodigal Hugging Church – Wright
- Taking A Stand – Knowles
- The Purpose Drive Life – Warren
- If You Want To Walk On Water, You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat – Ortberg (eBay)
- Planting Growing Church for the 21st Century – Malphurs
- Faith In The Game – Osborne (eBay)
- Emerging Churches – Gibbs & Bolger (eBay)
In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day – Batterson
- Creating Web Sites – Crowder & Bailey
Building A Web Site For Dummies – Crowder
There you have it. Let me know.
There is this pretty cool verse over in James 4:2. It says this…
…you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
Could life really be that simple? Could it be that so much of our struggle in life is because we simply try to do it on our own and we don’t ask God to intervene?
I was thinking about this in the context of ministry and church life. Instead of complaining that I don’t have enough volunteers, I’m starting to ask people to volunteer. It’s an amazing concept, I know. As a staff at New Life, we are asking God to change people’s lives and that He would lead people to baptism. I know, crazy huh? Ask God to intervene in “our” work. The best part, seeing so many changes in people’s lives the minute we start asking for it. We have seen God do some very cool things. I’ll save some of those stories for another post.
I love how simple this concept really is. My oldest son, Grant, was at a friend’s to hang out. He is nine years old and started a very interesting conversation with the mother of his friend. He simply said, “What religion are you?” She said, “I was raised Buddhist, but my parents never pushed it on me.” So Grant said, “Then what are you?” She replied, “Well, my husband was raised Christian, so I guess we’re just floating right now.” Grant simply said, “Oh, well you should come to my church sometime.”
I don’t know if she will take him up on the offer, but I think sometimes we don’t have, because we simply don’t ask. Are you as a minister taking time to ask God to intervene in people’s lives? Are you as a minister taking time to ask people to get more involved? Are you simply asking the question?
I am striving harder to ask both of these questions. I am asking God to change people’s hearts because I know I can’t. I am also starting to simply ask people to get more involved. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish with a simple ask.
So who do you need to ask?
Do you need to ask God to do the hard work of changing people’s lives?
Do you need to ask a neighbor to come to church?
Do you need to ask someone in your ministry to step it up?
It is God who is able to do more than we can possibly ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). But, at the very least…
It’s time to ask!
Last fall I played in a men’s flag football league in Fairfax, Virginia. It was a blast. One of my teammates was named, Bryan. He and I played defense on the same side of the field (this meant we got to know each other really well). He had a great phrase he would use during crucial moments of a game. He would look at me right in the eyes and say, “Time to do work, Rodda! Do work!” Granted, the grammar isn’t great, but the phrase gets the job
did done. That phrase and his intensity always challenged me to run a little faster, to jump higher and work harder than the guy lined up across from me.
Now jumping to present day life. Our Campus had an awesome Sunday. Our theme was, “Get Right With God.” We had really cool stories lined up for people to tell about how God has impacted their lives. We talked a lot about the Jordan River and water in Scripture. It seems to me that water, especially the Jordan, carries some powerful significance to God. Every time the Jordan is mentioned, it seems there is some transition in life, something leading to victory and hope.
- Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan
- Moses’ passing the mantle of leadership to Joshua
- Elijah passing the mantle of leadership to Elisha
We challenged people to come to the banks of the Jordan. To get their feet wet. To make a commitment. To dive all in for God. To give Him full control of their lives. To immerse themselves in the waters of baptism.
Then, we handed them a card. We challenged them to fill out the card and to tell us about a commitment they might need to make. We also asked them to tell us how we could pray for them. What things in life were holding them back from giving God their all and how we could we be praying for them.
Then it happened. I sat down that afternoon to read the cards. I began to pray for individuals by name who were going through some very serious things in life. And to think they trusted us enough to tell us what was going on behind closed doors. I believe it was a huge moment in the life of our Campus.
One man wrote…
I want to serve as a better example for my family – wife and kids. To live a life with God and Jesus in control.
…the strength to save my family.
And still another said…
My marriage. It is dying.
And this was just the beginning. As I prayed for these people and families, I was overwhelmed with emotion for them. I was blown away by their honesty and their stories. And that’s when it hit me. Do work!
Satan is doing work. He’s working. He’s getting after it. He’s destroying lives. He’s lying to people about what brings fulfillment and purpose. Oh yes, Satan does work!
Am I ready to, ‘Do work?’
The field is there. The people are ready. The hearts and souls of people are open and ready for transformation. As my friend Bryan would say, “It’s time to ‘Do work!'”
Over the course of time, the word “organic” has become a bit confused. Apparently it’s so confused that we have to label fruit as “organic” to distinguish it from non-organic fruit. Don’t jump all over me just yet, I get it, okay. Some fruits, vegetables and other foods have preservatives and fillers added to help keep them more fresh, longer. What’s interesting to me is our culture’s passion to get back to organic.
Organic is natural, fresh, simple, healthy, real. It’s grassroots. There’s nothing else added.
Nothing. It’s simply organic, natural, fresh, simple, healthy.
Our lives are so cluttered with so many things, that we are in a desperate search to get back to what’s organic; simple and natural. As a society, we are desperately craving less fillers and preservatives. And as a follower of Christ, I am finding the same in my relationship with God.
Over time, I have added so many fillers and preservatives to my relationship with God. And eventually, the relationship I truly have with God is simply a “preserved” image of the real thing. It’s not a real, fresh, simple, natural or healthy relationship, it’s one filled with junk to make it appear better and to help it hopefully last a little longer.
And then it happens. I wake up one day and it hits me…my relationship with God is superficial. It’s simply covered up with fillers and preservatives. It’s why I grow tense and uneasy. It’s part of why I become angry and frustrated with life. I try to go through life on the additives of a relationship with God, only to find that the real thing has alluded my grasp. As a result, my life is chaotic and upsetting. Little things bother me. Things just don’t seem right. Then I realize, it’s time to get back to God. And not the god I like to create in my head, but the One, True God, who desires more than anything to know me and have a relationship with me. But it’s going to require cutting out a few additives (Jeremiah 29:13).
I have to cut…
- selfish desires (James 4:2)
- false gods (Exodus 20:3)
- comfortable Christianity (2 Timothy 3:12)
- people pleasing (John 15:18)
- my will (Romans 12:1)
- legalism (Romans 8:3)
- other sources (Psalm 119:9-11)
See, developing an organic relationship with God means cutting out all the additives and fillers. It’s surrendering every fiber of my being and allowing God to lead and rule in every area of my life. Without that, the only relationship I have with God is simply unnatural. It’s full of extras that dilute the purity of the relationship God wants to have with me. It means surrendering my will to God’s. It means aligning myself with what He has revealed in Scripture, not trying to align God with my thoughts and feelings. It even means surrendering all the “laws” of Christianity to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. It means finding the God who is alive and well beneath all the mega-church, post-modern, missional, traditional, denominational conversations out there.
I want to experience God in His purest form. I’m tired of the additives and fillers. They only screw things up.
What do you think it looks like to have an “organic” relationship with God?
What would you add to the list?
So, you might be thinking to yourself, “Where has Stan been?” Well, I’m still alive. That’s a good start (at least for some of you I guess).
The real question is, why haven’t you blogged in 3 months (or however long it has been)? The answer is a good one. You’re never going to believe this. I…have…been…freaking…busy!!!
That’s right folks, my answer to my weird absence is, I’m busy.
However, in the midst of my crazy, busy start to a summer, I have found a few minutes to touch base with you about something that has absolutely been annoying me for quite some time. That’s right, you don’t hear from me for months, and the first thing I say is, “I’m annoyed.” Sorry for the negativity, it’s just where I am.
Over the last few weeks I have been flipping through radio stations where I live in Northern Virginia. Let me just say, there’s nothing good on. I want to make sure you understand my sentiment, that even includes “positive” radio. Yeah, you know them. The “Christianese” guys on the radio who don’t say they’re Christian, but they’re just so “positive.” In other words, there isn’t much on.
Here’s where I think God is trying to tell me something. I turned on the radio (yes, I hear you. I need an iPad to listen to Pandora while cruising the highway. I totally agree with you.) when I got in the car and started flipping through stations. One of the first stations I landed on had a caller on the line. It was a lady. I missed the context, but didn’t take me long to pick up where they were. Not a quote, but this was her story…
Yeah, I do that all the time. One time, I asked my boyfriend if he minded if I flashed an attendant so we could get free parking.
Of course, I changed that station, only to find another talking about this…
Well, I just think you should do whatever makes you feel good and happy. Maybe you shouldn’t be with your husband if he doesn’t make you happy. You need to follow your heart girl, and do what feels right.
And still another…
The only way to be happy is to find it within yourself. You’ve just got to look inside of you.
At this point, I had all but given up on humanity. And radio in the DMV. Here’s what God is telling me in my search for something decent to listen to on the radio…
- Humanity is broken and we desperately need to be
- The worldview that many people are living by is leading them to heartbreaking decisions and a painful existence.
- When it comes to Northern Virginia, I need to help people develop a biblical worldview.
Here’s where you come in. I would love to hear what you are doing in your ministry, para-church or other organization, to help people develop a worldview that will actually make an eternal difference in their lives.
Everyone lives by some worldview. How are you helping connect people to a biblical one?
“What if the life you really want, and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure, your greatest fear?”
This is the tagline of the book by Mark Batterson, “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day.” The book is based on a biblical character named, Benaiah. He once chased a lion into a pit while it was snowing, and killed him (2 Samuel 23:20, 21). With this in the background, Mark writes nine chapters on this simple verse in the Bible. Simply put, this book is fantastic if you are struggling with confidence or fear about a decision in your life. The stories that Mark shares are a true encouragement to get out there and chase after your dreams. The book is filled with great one liners and inspiring stories, all designed to help you be courages and take some initiative and chase your dreams. Or a lion.
The downside to the book is that it seemed a little on the repetitive side. After all, it’s hard to write on nearly any topic with only a one-line story as inspiration. At times the book felt like it would have made a great article or series of blogs, but not necessarily a book. So you need to be ready for some repetitive language and some concepts that will repeat themselves.
Overall, this is a great book for those needing that extra nudge of encouragement to chase something in their life. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
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.
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!
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!
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.
- “Everywhere you go, that’s where the church is!” -Rob Wegner, Granger Community Church
- “If you want a disciple making movement, you have to have the Lord’s blessing!” -Jim Putman, Real Life Ministries
- “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?