Category Archives: discipleship

Books I Have Read In 2015!

It has long been a goal of mine to read 1 book per month for an entire year. Every year I have really great intentions, but never actually get to a place where I intentionally set aside the time to read. I’m learning that I need time for personal development. And so do you. If you aren’t making time, start making the time.

At this point in 2015, 4 books are in my rear view mirror with many more ahead of me. I wanted to share the books that I have read so far this year. This is not intended to be a review of each book, although that might be a great future post, it is simply a list of where I’m at so far and what is immediately in front of me.

Done Reading |

 

 

[No More Dragons – Jim Burgen]

Real life ministry book. Don’t read if dirt under your finger nails makes you queazy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Give God Some Credit – Brett Andrews]

The story of New Life Christian Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[United Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity – Trillia Newbell]

For those with a passion for racial reconciliation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Finding Your Way Back To God – Dave & Jon Ferguson]

For whatever reason you may have become disconnected from God, this book helps you find your way back.

 http://www.yourwayback.org/

 

 

 

 

Up Next |

 

 

 

[Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass – Frederick Douglass]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Ready. Set. Grow. – Scott Wilson]

 

 

 

 

 

 

[The Cost of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer]

 

 

 

 

 

 

[The Master Plan of Evangelism – Robert Coleman]

 

 

 

 

So that’s what I have read so far and what’s up next. What are you reading? What are your other suggestions for books to read this year?

“A Little More Excitement Please!” -Jesus

I was in my favorite Starbucks the other day.  Shocking, I know.  I ordered my Fall favorite, Triple Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Near the door stood a man, a little shorter than me.  We’ll call him 5’11”.  He appeared to be very fit and his shirt even advertised it.  It said, “Rogue Fitness!”  And then had some added information about kettlebells and who knows what.  Honestly, I quit reading after, “Rogue Fitness!”

As usual, I started a conversation with a complete stranger.

“Hey, tell me what Rogue Fitness is all about.”

The conversation from that point was a blur.  I know I left with a business card, his name (Matt), the fact that Rogue Fitness was his gym and an offer to come and check it out.  He was so excited about his gym, I honestly contemplated checking it out.  Until I came back to reality and realized that would cost money.  Nevertheless, the fact I won’t be going by, didn’t diminish one glaring fact that was blinding me as I walked to my car.

Why can’t Christians be that excited about their faith?

If I was wearing a church shirt and someone asked me about it, would I have responded that excitedly?  I sure hope so.

When given an opportunity like this one, do we jump all over it with the tenacity of a Rogue Fitness Coach?

Do our eyes light up?  Do they get really big?  Do the veins in our neck stand out a little more?  Can people see the passion about your faith when you talk with them?  Or does your impression leave them feeling as if they would fall asleep at your church?

God has come across the cosmos and intervened in our world.  Given us a mission and purpose.  Told us that no matter what happens, we will not fail.

And yet we often times act as if we are scared little dogs, afraid to tell anyone what we believe.

So get out there you Christians.  You who claim to be followers of Christ.  You who show up on Sunday morning and sing the songs, listen to the message, take the communion and claim to live for and obey Jesus.  Get out there and be excited about your faith.  When someone is done talking to you, they should feel the excitement and passion pouring out of you.  Get excited Christians!

And unlike Rogue Fitness, there isn’t even a membership fee.  So you can tell that stranger at Starbucks that it’s all free!

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT) – And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

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!

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?

It’s The End Of The World?

End of the world

Harold Camping

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  =)

Osama Bin Laden And The Christian’s Response!

President Obama

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.

While I think some more, here are a couple of blogs from two men I respect and who are much smarter than me.  Read their thoughts here and here.

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.

But…

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.

Matthew 5:44-45…

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?

What I Was Waiting To Hear!

Exponential Conference

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

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

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

Well, I finally got what I was waiting for.

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

His message was this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for allowing God to use you to preach!

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

An Anointing!

Exponential Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid!

Keep it up, church!

Keep it up!

Easter Traditions!

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

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

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

Communion

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

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

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

Does your family have any Easter traditions?

I’d love to hear them.

Please share in the comments.

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