Category Archives: the basics

“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.

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.

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?

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?

We Can’t Get This One Wrong!

I enjoy listening to many people.  National speakers, pastors, writers, presidents, CEO’s and more.  I like listening to people that I disagree with.  It forces me to take a stand on what I really believe, rather than just float along with whatever the next thing to come along is.  With that in mind, this is what I like so much about a guy like Francis Chan.

When I listen to him, I don’t hear a lot of bias toward his own way of thinking.  He challenges us to confront God and Scripture to determine what we believe.  I think in a lot of ways I like him because he makes things very simple and I am a simple guy.

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins.”  I haven’t read the book, so I won’t comment on it yet.  I don’t think I should comment on a book I haven’t read.  However, I believe Mr. Chan has read it and he has some very interesting comments.  He never calls out Mr. Bell.  He never points to anyone in particular to throw them under the bus.  He simply says that we can’t afford to get the issue of hell, wrong.  Check out this video and let me know what you think about this whole conversation.

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  =)

9 Years!

When you say it like that, it seems like a long time.  I mean, nine years is a long time, right?  Nine is almost ten and ten is a decade.  A decade is a really long time, right?

If you start at zero it takes you an entire 3,285 days, 78,840 hours, 4,730,400 minutes, 283,824,000 seconds to get to nine years.  That’s a long time, right?

Surely that time goes by so slowly.  Every second, minute, month and year ticks by in an agonizingly, slow fashion.  You can’t get there fast enough, right?

Well, apparently not.  I mean, it was only last week when he was a tiny, newborn baby in my arms.

Newborn Grant

Then I blinked and this happened…

Grant at 9

What the what?

How?

Where did my more than 4 million minutes with him go?

How did 283 million seconds tick by so quickly?

Is this the feeling I’m supposed to have when the Bible tells me to, “take advantage of every opportunity?”

My son, you are so amazing!  You are growing up to be an exceptional young man.  I am blessed to have you in my life.  Thank you so much for making this journey special.  I love you with all my heart and will be here for you as long as I live.  I pray for you everyday and it is my deepest desire that you choose to live your life for Jesus Christ!

I love you, Grant Isaac (Great Laughter)!  Happy 9th Birthday!

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!

Exponential Conference 2011!

Exponential

Today was an amazing day!  The opportunities to learn were amazing and the chance to meet some very cool people is simply fun.

I sat amazed today.  A large stage filled with speakers who are inspiring in the church world.  Names like; Alan Hirsch, Francis Chan, Matt Carter, Neil Cole, Ed Stetzer and more.  There aren’t many things that are obvious to me, but one very clear thing slammed into my face today; God is amazing!

God has blessed me beyond what I deserve and I’m so thankful to Him for all He is allowing me to see, learn and do.  I pray that I will be wise and use His grace to reach as many people for Christ as I possibly can.

As I listened to many speakers today, here are a couple of things that I picked up.

  1. “Everywhere you go, that’s where the church is!”  -Rob Wegner, Granger Community Church
  2. “If you want a disciple making movement, you have to have the Lord’s blessing!”  -Jim Putman, Real Life Ministries
  3. “Don’t plant churches.  Plant Jesus!”  -Neil Cole, CMA Resources

When all was said and done, I developed a challenge for myself.  I’m not going to tell you what that is just yet.  Maybe some day.  For now, it’s a personal challenge that God and I are working on.  I believe that God is up to something big.  And I hope He has in mind to allow me to be even a small part of it.

And today also held a few fun surprises.  It was very cool to sit in a room with 75 church leaders and planters from around the country and world, to listen to Rick Warren share some inspiring vision stuff for the church.  It was also fun to shoot a video with him.  No, really.

I’m very excited about what God is doing through church planting.

I’m very excited that I get to work closely with people who are doing some really cool things.

I am humbled that God even lets me near this stuff.

Typically, I’m scared I’ll just mess it up.  Which is very likely.

Thanks again, God, for being so gracious to me.

And thanks to all those who have made this conference possible.

What are some of your favorite things, that you have learned at different conferences, classes, seminars, books, etc?

What pieces of knowledge have been the most valuable for you in ministry?

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.

%d bloggers like this: