Category Archives: life

Great Christian Finance Resources!


One of my favorite sites for financial resources is Christian Personal Finance.  They have an amazing library of free resources for all things financial from a Christian perspective.

Here are two links to a couple of my favorite blogs on their site.

  • How to Make a Budget!  http://christianpf.com/how-to-make-a-budget/
  • 250 Bible Verses About Money!  http://christianpf.com/money-in-the-bible/

Head over to their page.

“Like” them on Facebook.

Follow them on Twitter.

Subscribe to their email updates.

And while you’re there, sign up to win a free iPad 2!  =)  Now that’s hard to beat!

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Rainbows!


Rainbow

A storm rolled through town tonight.  My family and I were watching my son at Tae Kwon Do.  Suddenly the rains came and the thunder struck.  I walked through the rain to pick my wife and children up at the curb.  A rainbow appeared as we were leaving the parking lot.  Driving home, every one in the van strained to see the colors in the sky.  That’s when I said, “God is telling us, ‘Hi.'”

Let me stop here.  For those of you who don’t know me personally, I never say weird things like that.  Typically, that kind of “Christianese” simply annoys me.  But for some reason, this time, it was different.

I was reminded of what God told us in Genesis 9:12-15…

Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come.  I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.  When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life.

Somewhere along the way, rainbows became associated with different movements or stereotypes.

As a child of the ’80’s, I remember when liking rainbows made you a “girl.”

Rainbows were somehow linked with unicorns and Rainbow Brite.

Now in our modern era, the rainbow has become the proud symbol of the gay and lesbian community.  A flag waving with rainbow colors declares, “PRIDE.”

Yet, I stared into the colors of this rainbow.  Each color shining clear and bright.  A near, complete arch, stood proudly displayed in the sky.  A bold reminder that rainbows are not girlie.  They shouldn’t be linked with unicorns and fairies.  And it is far bigger than a community of people.  The rainbow stands alone as God’s promise to mankind.  A promise to never again flood and destroy all of humanity.

In all honesty, I don’t fully understand God’s mindset when it comes to the flood.  But there is one thing I know…the rainbow is His.

It is a symbol of mercy and grace.

It is a symbol of His covenant.

It’s God saying, “Hey, I’m still here.”

It is His.

I probably won’t stop and stare at every rainbow I see.  I won’t get “girlie” every time the rain comes and a rainbow appears.  I’m just not like that.  But for some reason, tonight was different.  God giving me a nudge.  A simple…

Hi, Stan.  My promise is still good.  They never fail.  I love you.

What do rainbows mean to you?

Use Your Manners!


If you were to come into my home and listen in on some of our family conversations in the house, you would hear me getting onto my kids periodically for different things.  Sometimes it has to do with the way they treat each other.  Sometimes it has to do what they are saying about someone else.

But none of those even come close to the one thing I’m always all over them about.  It’s a small thing really, but in the long run it’s a big thing.  My wife might even tell you that I get onto them so quickly about manners that I sometimes fail to give them the chance to use them.  Maybe so.  But manners are a big deal to me.

Manners

This was only reinforced during my time in North Carolina.  It seemed like every where we went, people were only too willing to extend a hand of common courtesy.  Letting you pull into a space in front of them.  Starting a conversation with you as if you had been friends since birth.  The kindness to give us a free sweet tea, not because we ordered one, but because you were just extending a hand of good, old fashioned, southern hospitality.

Granted, some of these examples go beyond manners, but it starts with the basics, “Please,” and, “Thank you.”

I want to help my kids grow to be respectful and kind to people around them.  I don’t want them thinking they are above treating people respectfully for the things they do for them.  Some days my kids are really on the ball with manners.  Other days I go to bed with a sore throat.

Still, being at the beach simply reinforced for me my stand on manners.

What do you think about manners?

 

The Scary Part Of “Tomorrow!”


Once again this summer I am spending a week, sitting on the sand of Carolina Beach, North Carolina. I’m soaking up a lot of sun and family time. It has been a great week.

Last summer after our trip to the beach, I posted a series of three blogs about the lessons I was learning while at the beach. You can find those here or by searching for posts on, “Beach.”

This year I picked up a couple things as well. For instance, the danger of always saying, “Tomorrow,” or, “Maybe later.”

While swimming in the ocean, my sons said, “Dad, can we boogie board?”

“Of course,” was my reply.

“Hey Dad, can we have soda with our dinner?”

“Absolutely,” I would say.

“Dad, can I tell you about these facts I’m reading about in my book?”

“I’d love to hear them,” I would say.

But at home, too often the answer is, “Maybe tomorrow. I’m tired. I’ll get to you later. Maybe next week we can do that. No, you can’t have soda for supper.”

And before you know it, tomorrow becomes ten years and you aren’t sure where the time went. Then you live in regret because you missed some of your kid’s best moments.

So, yes, there is a danger in too many “tomorrows.”

Do you have a son you should be playing catch with? Do you have a daughter you should be having a tea party or playing Barbies with? Do you have a child you should be listening to because they have questions about something they read?

Did you just tell them, “In a minute,” because you just had to finish reading this blog? (I hope not.)

Try changing your answer and watch their eyes light up.

Social Media Does The Body Good!


The way we interact today isn’t like it was in the old days.  Back in the “good ol’ days” people would talk to each other using their mouths and eyes, not their computers, websites and fancy smartphones.  The way we connect, communicate and interact seems to be changing constantly at a blinding speed.  The minute I catch up with one thing, I’ve already got to learn a new one.

Fortunately for me, I actually enjoy the social media fad.  I’m on most major social media platforms.  I enjoy connecting with new people and catching up with people from my past.  Social media has completely changed the landscape of communication.

I want to speak specifically to those who are involved in ministry for a minute.

You may or may not like social media.  It may be something you naturally connect with or you might look at it and be completely baffled as to why anyone would get involved with such craziness.  I’m here to tell you something; your ministry needs social media.  Trust me, it does the “Body” good.

Adam Carriker

Adam Carriker

This is Adam Carriker.  He is a former Nebraska Cornhusker, stand out defensive lineman and Blackshirt.  He is a current Washington Redskin, right in my backyard.  I follow Adam on Twitter and am a “friend” on Facebook, mostly for selfish reasons (to keep up with Husker players).  However, this connection would prove to be extremely fruitful.

At our Campus in Haymarket, Virginia, we have a ministry we call, “Grab Your Groceries.”  We connect with social workers and guidance counselors in our local schools in Prince William County.  Through them, we are able to help provide grocery relief for some of the poorest in our area.  We meet very few of the families we serve, but based on our connections, we know the help is going to those who need it most.  The schools and families we serve are beginning to trust us more than other social organizations and it’s awesome to watch as they call us up and ask us to help us with different events at their schools.  I think we’ve stumbled on to a way to bring Jesus to schools without bashing them over the head with a Bible study or prayer group (but that’s a post for another time).

To help GYG grow, we are planning a huge benefit concert.  This is where social media comes back into the picture.  I sent Adam a direct message on Twitter, briefly told him about myself and introduced him to GYG.  I also was so bold as to ask him to help us out.  He responded with a message of his own and the conversation took off from there.  I found him on Facebook (to make messaging simpler) and gave him more details.  He was happy to help.  I asked him to donate cleats, signed by him, that we could raffle off to raise money to buy groceries for the families we serve.  He loved the idea and agreed.

No red tape.

No agents.

No long lines waiting for an autograph at a mall.

But I did make a connection with a professional athlete in the most powerful city in the world.  And he is helping us serve the community in his own way.  And I couldn’t have done it without social media.  Facebook, Twitter and more, have the power to connect you to people around the world like never before.  And in this case, it has served to further ministry efforts to provide grocery relief for those who need it most in our area.  Social media is capable of some very powerful things.

So, what do you think social media could help you and your ministry accomplish?

In what ways do you utilize social media to your ministries advantage?

Do you see ways that social media can be used to help make disciples?

Adam's cleats

Thanks, Adam Carriker, for the awesome donation!  You’re the man!  Go Huskers!  And, Go Skins!  We will be raffling his cleats at the benefit concert on Saturday, September 10th.

Follow Adam on Twitter here.  Check out his bio as well.  Maybe he knows a little something about making a difference in people’s lives.

Follow me on Twitter here.

It’s Time To Ask!


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?

Just ask

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!

Do Work!


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.

Jordan River

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.

And another…

…the strength to save my family.

Another…

Stronger 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?

Am I ready to, ‘Do work?’

Are you?

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!'”

Organic!


Organic Bananas

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.

No preservatives.

No fillers.

No additives.

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…

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?

WHYB?


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 fixed healed.
  • 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?

In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day!


In A Pit

“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.

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