Category Archives: bible
It started out like any other day. I was in college. Classes began at 0700. Not my favorite way to start a day, but that’s how it was. Midway through the morning the office contacts me saying I have a phone call. I take the call to hear my frantic mother in a panic. My father had been taken to the Emergency Room with severe chest pain.
Three and a half weeks later, he passed away. He never woke up from a surgery designed to save him from the heart aneurism he had experienced. His body shut down and he would never speak to me again. I often wonder if he could hear me as I spoke to him, sense me as I hugged him and reminded him of my love for him.
My world had been flipped into absolute chaos. I was mad at God. I hated God. I wanted to die. I had no idea how to move forward. Without my father, moving on with life didn’t even make any sense. I had been thrust out of a state of perfect contentment. A great college, beautiful girlfriend, wonderful family. All of that shattered in a single phone call.
Some of you may know the feeling.
Your marriage is in a downward spiral. You don’t know what happened. You can’t explain it. But things just aren’t what they used to be.
Your children have pushed you to the edge. You don’t know how it got so out of control, but you think to yourself, “If only we lived in another place, another state, another house with another school, things would be better.”
You lose someone you love unexpectedly. The circumstances might be a fast-acting, terminal cancer, car accident, suicide or any number of other possibilities. Regardless, someone in your life is now no longer there and you have a hole, a gap, in your world.
Your finances have driven you underground. You are so far in debt you can’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore. You have no room for generosity, you’re stressed about how to feed your kids, you have stopped answering phone calls from debt collectors and you’re just hoping to somehow disappear off their radar.
Everyone one of us has a story. A moment when life got messy, chaotic, unpredictable and painful. A story that makes us ask, “How do I get back on my feet again? How do I recover from this? Will I ever have contentment in my life or will it always be this way? How do I experience peace again?”
If this describes you, I want to offer a solution. A path to contentment. A path to solid footing again. A path that blows the “light at the end of the tunnel” out of the water and brings you into direct contact with the Maker of light.
First, read Psalm 136.
Pathway to Peace #1 – Give “Thanks” to God!
Thank God for the mess and chaos of life. Use those opportunities to seek the will of God and how He might be growing you or preparing you for something bigger and better in life. Read Psalm 136 again and see the times when God’s people could have chosen to give up. We’re reminded even in our worst moments of discontentment, chaos and pain to offer thanks to God for all He has already done. Have the discipline to remember all that God has done for you in the past and to offer an attitude of thankfulness to Him. A heart of thanks turns our attention from ourselves and moves us into a place of peace and contentment. It reminds us that life isn’t about my happiness, but it is about God purifying me into holiness.
Pathway to Peace #2 – Remember God’s Faithfulness!
This is where some discipline is required. In the pain and chaos of life, it can be difficult to see God at work. Our tendency is to assume He has left us for the time being and has moved on to someone else. Maybe He has given up on us or someone else needs Him more badly. Either way, we convince ourselves that if we are going to find peace, to grow our marriage, to heal our pains and to begin to get up on our feet again, it’s all on us. So we put all the pressure on ourselves to make it happen. In doing so, we fail to remember God’s faithfulness. Every verse in Psalm 136 ends with, “His faithful love endures forever.” No matter how far we fall, how unfaithful we are, how bad or deep our hurt is or chaotic life has become, God is the faithful one. We are unfaithful to our God. His love endures forever. He is faithful. If you’re feeling the chaos, it might be time to remember God’s faithfulness.
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?
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?
I enjoy listening to many people. National speakers, pastors, writers, presidents, CEO’s and more. I like listening to people that I disagree with. It forces me to take a stand on what I really believe, rather than just float along with whatever the next thing to come along is. With that in mind, this is what I like so much about a guy like Francis Chan.
When I listen to him, I don’t hear a lot of bias toward his own way of thinking. He challenges us to confront God and Scripture to determine what we believe. I think in a lot of ways I like him because he makes things very simple and I am a simple guy.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins.” I haven’t read the book, so I won’t comment on it yet. I don’t think I should comment on a book I haven’t read. However, I believe Mr. Chan has read it and he has some very interesting comments. He never calls out Mr. Bell. He never points to anyone in particular to throw them under the bus. He simply says that we can’t afford to get the issue of hell, wrong. Check out this video and let me know what you think about this whole conversation.
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 =)
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!
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.