Category Archives: discipleship
Being a Christ follower in our society will ultimately come down the each decision a Christian makes. Everything from how we spend our money, to what we listen to and how we behave between Monday and Saturday, will tell if we really believe in this Jesus guy. Read here for everything that has to do with being a Christ follower, a disciple of Jesus Christ, at a practical level in the day to day stuff.
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!
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?
Have you heard the news? It’s the end of the world. Or at least, that’s what Harold Camping wants everyone to believe. He made the same, bold prediction in 1994 and now nearly 20 years later, he is making it again. His original date was off, based on a slight miscalculation. However, he believes he is back on track again.
It would be very easy to sit here and spout off my opinion on this topic. However, I want to simply let Scripture speak for itself.
Colossians 1:15 – “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
In other words, Jesus Christ not only created the entire universe, but He also holds it together by the power of His words. It was God’s intention to save humanity through His Son, Jesus. It is this same Jesus who also said this…
Matthew 24:36 – “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
There is only one thing that Jesus doesn’t know, and that is when God will send Him back to earth.
Acts 1:6-8 – “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’ He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
The disciples are concerned about when Jesus is coming back to ultimately take care of Kingdom business. Jesus in essence says, “Don’t worry about that. It’s none of your business. You just be My witnesses and do the work I give you in all the world.”
Matthew 24:42-44 – “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
Let’s recap |
1) When Jesus comes back is none of my business.
2) Jesus doesn’t even know when He’s coming back.
3) Jesus’ return will be sudden and Scripture makes the assertion that none of us know the time.
There are a couple of questions that come to mind as a result of simply reading what God has to say for Himself (instead of assuming we can figure Him out all the time). The first question is, where does this land our friend, Harold Camping? What should we do with his claims? Where do we land on this issue?
Another question, and by far the more urgent of the two, is, what are you doing with your time? If you are a follower of Christ, did you live life today like you were concerned about the coming of Christ? Or did you go through life today assuming that just like yesterday, Jesus wouldn’t return? Are you living as if your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers will spend eternity without God if you don’t do something? Or are you assuming that you will always have another day?
Have you explored the claims of Christ thoroughly enough?
Have you given your life to Christ and submitted to the will of God through baptism? (Acts 2:38)
If you are a follower of Christ, I want to challenge you to live as if Jesus will come back at any time, day or night. Be careful listening to so-called “prophets” who proclaim the end of the world. Scripture has a pretty clear teaching on that. However, it is also clear in its teaching that we need to live life everyday as if it is the last.
What does that mean for you?
Well, I plan to write again sometime after 6:00 pm tomorrow night. If you don’t hear from me, just assume you missed the train. hahah =)
The news hit late at night on May 1st, 2011. The President of the United States of America announces that a very strategic strike by covert military forces had lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden. The mastermind behind the 9/11 attack on the United States. The mastermind behind hundreds of other attacks, leaving thousands dead in his wake.
At the onset of the news, I was so excited. I’m so thankful to the countless men and women serving our nation in the military. I’m so thankful that nearly a decade of work has paid off for them. I’m so thankful that they didn’t quit. I’m so thankful to the President of the United States for not giving up and for allowing us to find him.
Then I woke up Monday morning. I felt different. I wasn’t sure what I really felt or which was right. My thoughts shifted to, “I’m a Christian before I’m an American. Is it okay for me to be glad this murderer is dead? How would Jesus have responded?” I was so confused and not sure what to feel about the death of this man.
I have gone back and forth on this issue most of the day. I have read Facebook posts detailing each person’s, personal opinions. I have read the arguments. I have even watched the videos on YouTube that are already saying the Government invented Osama Bin Laden and that he wasn’t even a real person (crazy people). I wish I could say that I have some solid answer, but truthfully I’m still wondering what to think.
Here is where I land |
I am happy that a mass murderer is no more!
I am happy that we finally got the man who killed thousands of Americans in a matter of hours.
I am happy about that.
I am sad that another soul has likely gone into eternity without Jesus as his Advocate.
I am sad that he could not be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some of you land on one side of this argument or the other. Some of you aren’t struggling with this at all. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be. I’m not telling you how to think about this by any stretch. However, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I want you to wrestle with something I am wrestling with. From the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. If you are diving in deep, becoming more like Christ, tell me these words of His aren’t hard to wrestle with.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
I am glad that Osama Bin Laden can never hurt another human being again! Praise God for that.
I am sad that he met God without knowing Jesus!
What do you think?
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!
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.
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.
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?
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?