Category Archives: Life

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.

 

Take It Slow!

We are almost always in a rush to get somewhere.  Hurry to the next thing.  Get to the next place.  Do it quickly because I have a “to-do list” a mile long.

But today is my day off.  So I slept in a little later than normal.  All the way to 7:15 am.  Mostly I slept in a little because of my workout last night.  I spent some time with the kids before they headed off to school.  And when they were off to school, the house was empty and quiet.  A great time to simply take it slow and enjoy the beautiful morning.

When my wife returned from taking the kids to school, we decided to go on a run together.  I absolutely love the freedom to go on a quick run with my wife.  We don’t get to do that together very often, but it’s so much fun when we can.  I guess there’s something special about having a hobby you can share with your favorite person on the planet.

The scenery was beautiful; my wife being the #1 source of scenery attraction for me.  I’ll just leave that thought there.  =)  The sun was bright.  The temperature was perfect for a run.

It was simply a fantastic morning!  I took it slow and I liked it that way.

I do still have things to accomplish today, but what a great start to the day.

So I want to encourage you to take it slow.  Find time today to slow down.  Evaluate life a bit.  Enjoy those closest to you.  Take time to enjoy the weather and sunshine.  Don’t just rush through it and take it for granted.

Get out there and slow down!

How many blogs do I really need?

It’s becoming increasingly apparent to me that when it comes to blogging, I really don’t know what I’m doing.  Oh well.  It’s all in fun and for people I know to be able to keep up with things in my life.

All that said, I started another blog.  Not sure why.  I probably could have just added the posts here, but I didn’t want to cramp my style.

I decided to journal my CrossFit journey.  What workouts I do and when.  Time results.  Nutrition and more.

So if you want to follow along, you’re welcome to join me over here.

There you have it.  Another Stan Rodda blog.  The world is so much better now.

Remembering September 11th!

It was a day I will never forget.  A day none of us will ever forget.

A day of terror.

Of shock.

Of pain.

Of death.

In the midst of all that, heroes emerged.

Firefighters rushing into the heart of death to save lives.

Passengers taking over a flight to save hundreds of lives, but sacrifice their own.

A nation coming together regardless of their differences.

It was a day when darkness and light collided.

Thank you to all of you who were the light!

You are what makes this an amazing nation to live in and be a part of.

Remembering September 11th.

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!

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!

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