Category Archives: sacrifice

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.

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Do Work!

Last fall I played in a men’s flag football league in Fairfax, Virginia.  It was a blast.  One of my teammates was named, Bryan.  He and I played defense on the same side of the field (this meant we got to know each other really well).  He had a great phrase he would use during crucial moments of a game.  He would look at me right in the eyes and say, “Time to do work, Rodda!  Do work!”  Granted, the grammar isn’t great, but the phrase gets the job did done.  That phrase and his intensity always challenged me to run a little faster, to jump higher and work harder than the guy lined up across from me.

Jordan River

Now jumping to present day life.  Our Campus had an awesome Sunday.  Our theme was, “Get Right With God.”  We had really cool stories lined up for people to tell about how God has impacted their lives.  We talked a lot about the Jordan River and water in Scripture.  It seems to me that water, especially the Jordan, carries some powerful significance to God.  Every time the Jordan is mentioned, it seems there is some transition in life, something leading to victory and hope.

  • Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan
  • Moses’ passing the mantle of leadership to Joshua
  • Elijah passing the mantle of leadership to Elisha

We challenged people to come to the banks of the Jordan.  To get their feet wet.  To make a commitment.  To dive all in for God.  To give Him full control of their lives.  To immerse themselves in the waters of baptism.

Then, we handed them a card.  We challenged them to fill out the card and to tell us about a commitment they might need to make.  We also asked them to tell us how we could pray for them.  What things in life were holding them back from giving God their all and how we could we be praying for them.

Then it happened.  I sat down that afternoon to read the cards.  I began to pray for individuals by name who were going through some very serious things in life.  And to think they trusted us enough to tell us what was going on behind closed doors.  I believe it was a huge moment in the life of our Campus.

One man wrote…

I want to serve as a better example for my family – wife and kids.  To live a life with God and Jesus in control.

And another…

…the strength to save my family.

Another…

Stronger family.

And still another said…

My marriage.  It is dying.

And this was just the beginning.  As I prayed for these people and families, I was overwhelmed with emotion for them.  I was blown away by their honesty and their stories.  And that’s when it hit me.  Do work!

Satan is doing work.  He’s working.  He’s getting after it.  He’s destroying lives.  He’s lying to people about what brings fulfillment and purpose.  Oh yes, Satan does work!

Am I?

Am I ready to, ‘Do work?’

Are you?

The field is there.  The people are ready.  The hearts and souls of people are open and ready for transformation.  As my friend Bryan would say, “It’s time to ‘Do work!'”

Organic!

Organic Bananas

Over the course of time, the word “organic” has become a bit confused.  Apparently it’s so confused that we have to label fruit as “organic” to distinguish it from non-organic fruit.  Don’t jump all over me just yet, I get it, okay.  Some fruits, vegetables and other foods have preservatives and fillers added to help keep them more fresh, longer.  What’s interesting to me is our culture’s passion to get back to organic.

Organic is natural, fresh, simple, healthy, real.  It’s grassroots.  There’s nothing else added.

No preservatives.

No fillers.

No additives.

Nothing.  It’s simply organic, natural, fresh, simple, healthy.

Our lives are so cluttered with so many things, that we are in a desperate search to get back to what’s organic; simple and natural.  As a society, we are desperately craving less fillers and preservatives.  And as a follower of Christ, I am finding the same in my relationship with God.

Over time, I have added so many fillers and preservatives to my relationship with God.  And eventually, the relationship I truly have with God is simply a “preserved” image of the real thing.  It’s not a real, fresh, simple, natural or healthy relationship, it’s one filled with junk to make it appear better and to help it hopefully last a little longer.

And then it happens.  I wake up one day and it hits me…my relationship with God is superficial.  It’s simply covered up with fillers and preservatives.  It’s why I grow tense and uneasy.  It’s part of why I become angry and frustrated with life.  I try to go through life on the additives of a relationship with God, only to find that the real thing has alluded my grasp.  As a result, my life is chaotic and upsetting.  Little things bother me.  Things just don’t seem right.  Then I realize, it’s time to get back to God.  And not the god I like to create in my head, but the One, True God, who desires more than anything to know me and have a relationship with me.  But it’s going to require cutting out a few additives (Jeremiah 29:13).

I have to cut…

See, developing an organic relationship with God means cutting out all the additives and fillers.  It’s surrendering every fiber of my being and allowing God to lead and rule in every area of my life.  Without that, the only relationship I have with God is simply unnatural.  It’s full of extras that dilute the purity of the relationship God wants to have with me.  It means surrendering my will to God’s.  It means aligning myself with what He has revealed in Scripture, not trying to align God with my thoughts and feelings.  It even means surrendering all the “laws” of Christianity to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.  It means finding the God who is alive and well beneath all the mega-church, post-modern, missional, traditional, denominational conversations out there.

I want to experience God in His purest form. I’m tired of the additives and fillers.  They only screw things up.

What do you think it looks like to have an “organic” relationship with God?

What would you add to the list?

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!

Sunday’s Coming!

I’m putting the finishing touches on my Easter lesson for Sunday.  Here’s my point – There is something desperately wrong with the world, but God is setting it right in Jesus!

Every year I write an Easter lesson.  I have been for more than 10 years.  Every year, I use roughly the same verses of Scripture.  And every year, I’m blown away by the evidence that is stacked up in God’s favor.

There is no question that Jesus rose from the dead.  Any other option requires more faith than believing He rose from the dead.

And because Jesus rose from the dead, my life should be significantly different.  But, it’s not.  I’m not who I should be.  I’m not who I could be for my Jesus.  I am disappointed in myself when I don’t give my all.  My God deserves so much better.

I’m so excited that Sunday’s coming.  Easter morning changes everything.  God’s plan is fully realized and His grace is in full swing.

Thank you God for your grace through Jesus Christ.

I pray I live a life that is worthy of all you have done for me!

Forgive me when I fall short.

I love You!

Empty Tomb

Muscle Rollers And Discipleship!

I just finished  a short run.  I needed to clear my brain and have some time to think.  It has been a while since I last went for a run.  So before long, all I could think about was my legs.  They were revolting in every way.  When I got home, I did some stretching, but that didn’t help.  So, I busted out the trusty, handheld muscle roller.  For those who have used one of these, it’s a modern day, torture device.

Grab each end, and roll the small, plastic wheels over whatever muscle is sore.  It’s amazing how many tiny bumps this torture device health tool will find.  Press down and slowly roll out the kink in your muscles.  If you aren’t screaming in pain, or crying, you’re doing it wrong.  The only thing that keeps you rolling over every muscle fiber, putting yourself through that kind of pain, is knowing that on the other side, your muscles will be thanking you.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about discipleship and all that Jesus expects of me.  As a follower of Christ, there are certain disciplines that I want to have in my life.  I want to spend time reading the Bible.  I want to spend time praying.  But sometimes those disciplines can be a little like the handheld, muscle roller.

Some days, I read the Bible and something jumps out at me.  It lands on some of the most sensitive areas of my heart and soul.  Then it begins to work, rolling back and forth.  Often times there is pain and tears associated with the work God is doing.  As a disciple of Jesus, I open myself up to being examined and improved by the Holy Spirit of God.  And when He does His work, it can be painful as even the tiniest, hidden parts of me are exposed.  He brings them to my attention and I’m forced to deal with them.  I’m forced to look at my flaws in light of the perfect God-man, Jesus Christ, who I claim to follow.

Yet, I want to be exposed.  I want the Holy Spirit of God to see every part of me.  Why?  Because I know that growing through those times will lead to an even closer relationship with my Father.

This is not about how great or wonderful I am.  This is about a journey of faith, growing to be more like Christ.  And along the way, Jesus is shaping me into His likeness.  Sometimes it’s a painful process, but I believe that it will all be worth it in the end.

Zechariah 13:9 – “I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure.  I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold.  They will call on my name, and I will answer them.  I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Have you ever used a muscle roller?

What images, metaphors, come to mind when you think of discipleship and growing to be more like Christ?

Not An Easy Task! But It’s Worth It!

Jesus asks a lot of me.  He has high expectations of me.  And to be quite honest, His standard is not an easy one to reach.  Maybe that’s why He says the road to destruction is wide and the road to salvation is narrow. In Luke 9, Jesus is talking to a crowd about what it means to follow Him.  This is how He describes what it means to be a disciple.

Luke 9:23 – “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

That is no easy task.  I mean, the cross was where criminals went to be tortured and die.  It’s where people hung for days, starving to death while they urinated and defecated all over themselves.  It’s where the smell of blood and sweat mixed under your nostrils.  You simply died in your own shame and filth.  It was the most gruesome way to die ever devised by mankind (in my opinion).

And that’s the standard for those who want to be followers of Christ is that on a daily basis, they take up their cross and follow Him.  Daily cross-carrying, is the standard of discipleship for those claiming to follow Christ.  The cross is very symbolic of your own death.  Jesus carried His own cross to His death.  Criminals carried their crosses to their death.  In other words, Jesus wants me to die to myself and only live for one person; Him.

Being a disciple means that you are a follower, a student of someone.  If I want to follow Jesus more closely, I need to study Him more.  I need to spend more time in the Gospels, absorbing every move and conversation.  I need to seek after Him as if I believe I was really lost without Him (and I do).  And when I have discovered Him in a whole new way, I need to take His radical life and begin to replicate it on a daily basis.

I need to love the unlovable.

I need to serve even when it’s not in my best interest.

I need to teach as if eternity hung in the balance.

I need to spend time with the least of these.

I need to give all that I have, 100% of the time.

And no matter how far I think I have come, there is always a next step.  There is always someone else to love.  Someone to serve.  Someone who needs to hear that Jesus is the way to God. I’m thankful for the words of Paul in Philippians 3…

Philippians 3:12-14 – “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,tbut I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I’m so thankful for Christ.  I’m so thankful for the forgiveness He offers me.  I’m so thankful for grace.  I’m so thankful for an example of how to live life. I know I will never attain perfection on this side of heaven, but I’m going to continue striving toward what I am called to.  And I’m called to be more like Jesus.

What do you think about discipleship?

What do you need to do today to be more like Jesus?  Tomorrow?

Take The Real Man Challenge!

Let’s just be honest, many men don’t truly value their wives.  Let me be more honest, I have not always valued my wife the way God expects me to.  For that, I am eternally in debt to my amazing wife.

My guess is that most of you who read this blog have probably heard a song by Bruno Mars called, “Just The Way Your Are.”  I’m not necessarily a fan of Bruno Mars personally, but I truly enjoy this song and wish that all men felt this way about their wives.

Bruno Mars

I want to challenge every man out there who has a spouse, is engaged or who would like to be married some day; when you have a wife, cherish her, love her, sacrifice for her, die on the side of a mountain for her.  It doesn’t matter to me if you are on to your second or third marriage (or more), but if you will love your wife the way God intends, you will see your marriage bloom into something amazing.

Ephesians 5 offers some guiding principles.  Some people take offense to them.  Men believe they can never live up to them.  But let me tell you where God stands on your marriage.  God says this in Ephesians 5:25-27 (Message)…

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church-a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.

Your love for your wife should reflect the love Jesus has for the church.  Jesus died for the church!

Your love for your wife should make her whole and complete.  Does your love for her leave her feeling as if she is whole and complete?  Or does she feel like something is missing?

Your love for your wife should bring out her best to your family and the world.  How do you speak about your wife to your friends, neighbors and co-workers?  Is she the “old ball and chain?”  Or is she so much more than that to you?

Your love for your wife should bring out the best in her.  If something isn’t right, don’t blame her first.  Look at yourself and ask if you’re doing everything in your power to bring out the best in her or are you putting her in no-win situations.

Your love for your wife should have her looking holy, blameless and radiant to everyone on the planet.  Can you say that you do that for your wife?

This passage is a great challenge.  I believe that if men took it on fully, they would find the most satisfying and rewarding relationship with their wives.  Everything would change if men would follow through on their role in the family.  I wish I could say that I have lived this perfectly.  I strive for this standard, but often I fall miserably short.

I mentioned Bruno Mars because I think that men (and women) go into a marriage or relationship thinking the other person will change.  We often view the other as a project or someone we can fix.  And when that philosophy doesn’t pan out, we give up.  The relationship ends.  And in many cases, the lives of those involved will never be the same.

So I’m posting the Bruno Mars song (I can’t vouch for comments on YouTube nor can I vouch for the ads).  You should listen to it.  Bruno isn’t perfect either I’m sure, but the words say a lot about how men should look at their wives (not other women walking by, by the way).  And at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I have even imagined Jesus singing this song to the church.  When the church is on its game, smiling like Jesus knows we can, the whole world takes notice.

God has given you a helper, men.  And when you treat her the way God expects, you will not experience a better relationship with anyone, ever, on this planet.  So get out there and love your wife like you’re supposed to.  Sacrifice for her.  Bring out the best in her.  Never leave her.

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