Category Archives: Faith

Seeking Peace? 2 Paths to Find It!

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.

 

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“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.

That Moment When Memories Are Made!

Everyone has that moment etched in their mind.

The moment you said, “I do.”

The moment you heard the first cry from your son or daughter.

The moment you found out you were going to have a son or daughter.

The moment your first love broke up with you.

The moment you heard the words, “I’m sorry.  It’s cancer.”

The moment your team wins the big game.

The moment your team loses the big game.

Moments that seem like just that; a moment.  But the moments link together into memories that leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul.

Today, one of those moments happened for me.

Congratulations to my son, Grant Isaac Rodda, on his decision!  Love you, son!

The Book of Joel?

Who would have thought?  Inspiration from a small, Old Testament book, that goes by the name of the prophet, Joel.

I am reading through the Bible in one year.  Currently I am well over halfway done, but still in the Old Testament.  I will admit that there are some Old Testament books that I get to and honestly think, “What can I possibly get out of what this book has to say?  I mean, it’s so…well…old.”

And today I find myself landing in a short, three-chapter, book by a prophet named Joel.  First thought, “Here we go again.”  Not very encouraging coming from the “pastor.”

But if there’s something in a small book like Joel that can benefit us today, God can certainly show us where.  So I prayed before I began to read, “God, please show me what you want me to see in this book.  Whatever it is, let me see it clearly.”  And wouldn’t you know it, clear as day, Joel 2:12, 13 popped off the page and smacked me in the face.

That is why the Lord says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time.  Give me your hearts.  Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.  Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.’  Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  He is eager to relent and not punish.

There it was.

Popping off the page.

God wants more than my outward show.

You see, we all can be good at putting on a show for everyone.  We are fantastic at convincing people we are one way, when on the inside we are another.  We can show up at church, but internally not allow it to impact us in any way.

God is not interested in the outward show (tearing our clothes in grief).  When the Bible says that, we would need to hear, “Don’t come to Me (God) just by looking like it on the outside.  Don’t show up at church and pretend to be coming to Me.”

God is interested in the internal happenings (tear your heart).  What we need to hear is, “God wants more than the outward show of religion.  God isn’t interested in your record for most Sundays attended in a row.  God is interested in whether or not your heart is fully, completely, 100%, turned, focused and aimed toward Him.  Am I fully surrendered to the God of the universe?

I can be the master of this.  Putting on my show for everyone to see.  Making it appear that everything between God and I is okay, when internally, God and I are experiencing tension.  Tension over whether or not He can have all of me.

Guess Joel is urging me to continually lay down the stuff I want in life and to turn my heart completely to God.  Time to give up the tension and allow God to have His way.

Have you ever experienced that tension?

Am I way off?

What I Learned Today!

I had this crazy idea to write about some of the things I learn throughout the day.  Maybe transform some of the stuff I write into a journal at some level.  Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.  But to start, how about some of what I learned today.  We’ll call it, “WILT.”  Get it?  See what I did there?

Spiritually

God breathes life, but you have to be dead first!

I learned that even in a book like Ezekiel, when you seek God, there are some significant spiritual truths that surface.  God uses these to transform us, from the inside out.  You should read Ezekiel 37.  One of the moments that struck me was this one…

Ezekiel 37:9 – “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man.  Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds!  Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.'”

In the midst of spiritual death and dryness, God does His best work.  God can’t breathe life into me if I don’t die to myself first.  I must give up doing life my own way in order for God to breathe into me, true life.  If I want to experience all God has to offer me, I need to be willing to die to my own wants, desires, needs and selfish patterns.

Personally

Someone needs to know the real you!

It feels good to get beyond the superficial parts of life with someone.  It is healthy to share your hurts, pains and struggles with someone you know and trust.  For me, it’s a group of guys I meet with for accountability.  On a more personal level, it’s my wife.

There’s something healthy and great about allowing her to know what’s really going on inside me.  Sitting down for a cup of coffee and really digging in is ultimately liberating.  I was able to spend time with my wife today, just the two of us.  It was great to be able to connect with her at a deeper level.  Taking our relationship into deeper and better waters.

Physically

CrossFit hurts!

But it is such a good hurt.  I love the way I feel when I’m working out.  I love how I feel when I’m done.  I really love the energy I have the next day.  Yes, it hurts.  But it’s such a good hurt.

CrossFit

What did you learn today?

Gettysburg and Leadership!

Some of the staff guys from my church, New Life Christian Church, headed out of town for a few days this week. We left with the mission of hanging out, doing some team building, praying and trying to get a clear picture of what God has in mind for us in the coming months and year. We headed out on Tuesday and drove from Chantilly, Virginia to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Gettysburg is the sight of one of the deadliest and most memorable battles of the Civil War. A battle lasting for three days; July 1, 2 and 3 of 1863.

Gettysburg

View from Little Round Top!

Wednesday morning, we all went on a four-hour bike tour of Gettysburg. The tour was great. Watching eight pastors try to ride bikes in a straight line was downright entertaining. After the leg cramps went away from the 13-mile, four-hour ride, we sat down for some lunch and started chatting about what we learned.

Here are a couple of principles I picked up from the ride.

1 – Leadership Sometimes Means Following!

If you can’t follow the lead of those over you, it might be time for a change of scenery. Just don’t cause a scene on your way. During day two of the Battle of Gettysburg, General Sickles of the Union army, disobeyed a command from General Meade. His move to higher ground (the Peach Orchard) instead of anchoring his line where Meade had directed (base of Little Round Top), nearly cost the Union the battle. A defeat at Gettysburg would have opened the door for the Confederates to take the Capital of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, as well as take open routes to both Baltimore and Washington, DC.

2 – Leadership Is Making the Tough Calls!

Leaders are leaders for a reason; they make the calls that many people are unwilling to make. Sometimes the call they make isn’t popular, but the leader must make the call. Around 5:00 pm on the first day of the battle, General Lee had the Union troops on the ropes. They were outmatched and outflanked. He then delegated a decision down to General Ewell, a lower ranking General, about whether or not to pursue the already retreating Union forces. His decision? Regroup and attack the next day. Wasting two hours of daylight and precious time with the enemy on the run, the Confederates will not recover from this decision and will ultimately lose the battle at Gettysburg. Leaders, some calls are yours and yours alone. Don’t delegate away your momentum!

Of course, these are just a couple principles. There are many others. What are other leadership principles that you wouldn’t go without?

Leave me a comment and let me know.

Getting My Training On!

Two weeks ago, I started training again.  I haven’t been able to do any sort of training or exercise since I strained my ACL in a fierce game of dodgeball.  Yes, I’m only slightly competitive.  I rehabbed my knee for a few months and am now getting going again with some great fitness stuff.  What is this “great fitness stuff” you ask.  CrossFit.

My neighbor is working toward becoming a CrossFit trainer.  So I didn’t hesitate to jump in and start working out with him.  After week one, I had only worked out one time because I was so sore.  This week I finished my 4th CrossFit workout.  And all I have to say about CrossFit at this point; freaking awesome!  I love it.

But my workout will only be as effective as much as I am dedicated to the workout.

No more Dr. Pepper.

No more late night ice cream runs.

No more eating out.

No more junk food or candy.

Dang it!  Now I really want a Dr. Pepper.

Every time I workout, I’m drawn back to something the Apostle Paul said in the book of First Corinthians, chapter nine.  It goes like this…

1 Corinthians 9:27 – I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.

Now to make sure I’m also training spiritually, not just physically.

Do Work!

Another old post. —

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.

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!'”

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?

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!

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