I’m super excited to announce that The Stretched Blog is moving. As of today, I’m now hooked up at jonstolpe.com. Please head over there to see what’s going on. Join the Stretched Community by becoming a subscriber. Add this new link to your blog readers. And get set for more great content.
I plan to head in the same direction, but the new platform will give me some flexibility for future enhancements. Thanks so much for following along here and I look forward to seeing you at the new site!
Let the Stretching continue!
Today, I have the honor of presenting Brandon Gilliland. Brandon is a young leader with lots of passion and incredible talent. He’s training to become a surgeon. In his spare time, he plays the guitar, and he blogs about leadership, following Christ, playing the guitar, and becoming a surgeon. Brandon currently writes at two blogs. You can check them out here and here. Please jump over and become one of his regular readers.
(If you’re interested in becoming a Stretched guest blogger, let me know in the comments, and I’ll get back to you. I’m always looking for people to share their Stretching stories.)
How To Have God’s Will For Your Life
A question that encompasses many Christian’s lives is “How do I follow God’s will for my life?” I have wondered this myself many times. As a student on track to become a surgeon, I have many doubts in my mind. I commonly question myself the methods that I am going through. A few short months ago, a really questioned if this track was God’s will for my life. I sometimes still question it, but I am starting to discover that becoming a surgeon is what God desires for me to do with my life. It is a lot of work, but if it is God’s will for my life, He will give me the strength and the necessary opportunities that will ultimately allow me to become a surgeon.
Like I said earlier, there were a few moments when I was not sure what God’s will for my life entailed (on the career side of things). As Christians, we should desire to stay in God’s will for our lives. If we are truly following Christ, we should have the desire to please and serve Him.
If we are always questioning if what we are doing is God’s will, then how can we serve Him to our absolute best ability? The answer is rather simple: focus on God. This is easy to say, but it is not easy to live out on a daily basis. There are a few things that I have to remind myself of all the time to be able to be assured that I am living God’s will for my life.
First off, prayer is important. If prayer is not an important part of your life, you can be certain that you are not in God’s will. If you are not on the same wavelength as God, you are not going to make the decisions that He wants you to make.
“Pray without ceasing…”
-1 Thessalonians 5:17
Keep the Main Goal in Mind
After prayer is an important part of your life, you need to keep the main goal in mind. Obviously, this goal can not be set properly without consulting God first. When you believe that God has revealed to you a certain goal after you have prayed about it, you can begin to focus on that goal. Go can desire something else, but you can have the right thought pattern. That leads us to the next point…
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Focus on the Small Things
Ultimately, it is essential to know God’s main goal, but it is not beneficial to focus entirely on it. If you focus too much on the main goal, you can begin to drift. Instead, it is important to focus on the small tasks that lead to the ultimate goal. This method insures that you can follow God’s will. If you are doing everything that God wants you to do at every moment, you can be 100% sure that you are in God’s will for your life.
That is the problem though. We do not always pray. We do not always focus on God. We are not always on God’s wavelength.
This is the reason why we can stray from God’s will. He desires so much more for us, but sometimes we give up on the blessings He has for us.
What do you need to follow God’s will on?
Over the years, I’ve reviewed many books here on The Stretched Blog. Today, I’m reviewing my first eBook. Starting Over A Manifesto on Being Myself is a creative and challenging eBook by pastor and blogger, Michael D. Perkins. In Starting Over, Perkins challenges bloggers (and other creative persons) to break free of the formulas that govern traditional blogging (and other forms of creativity). Michael’s unique blogging style which usually appears on The Handwritten is taken to the next level in this handwritten work as he encourages readers to avoid copying others and to find ways to be ourselves.
From a personal perspective, I was challenged by every page of Starting Over. My engineering personality thrives on formulas and routines. So much of my blogging has been influenced by “big name” bloggers like Michael Hyatt, John Saddington, and Jon Acuff. I think it’s okay to be influenced, but it’s important to find our uniqueness in our on original styles and forms. Starting Over definitely STRETCHES me as I consider my Stretched Blog.
How about you? Who had influenced you as a blogger? And how have you found your unique voice through your blog? What do you need to change in order to become yourself?
Today, I have the privilege of guest posting over at The Analogous Truth. The Analogous Truth is a blog written by my friend, Arny Sanchez. Arny creatively relates pop culture to faith. My post today (I Love You Man!) fits into Arny’s theme. Please stop over to read it and add a comment or two. Also, please consider adding The Analogous Truth to your regular blog reading routine. Thanks!
(Note on guest posting: I’d love to share a guest post on your blog sometime or to have you guest post here about your stretching story. If either of these two opportunities interest you, drop me a comment.)
Several months ago, I received a free copy of Rumors of God from Brandon Gilliland (Thanks, Brandon!) as a prize for reading and commenting on his blog. I love this time of the year as it gives me a chance to catch up on some reading. I finally finished reading this book this week.
Rumors of God was written by two pastors from Australia – Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson (he even spells his name correctly). It seems that this book was written as a challenge to American churches and American Christians to live like God is real – to live like the rumors of God aren’t just rumors, God is real!.
“But what about us (America)? Are we simply content to watch the American church limp into eternity? Are you ready to drift through the rest of your life, lulled and softened by our comfort and ease? We believe that deep in your soul you long to see the fame and deeds of God renewed and known in our time. We believe that you were created for a radical pursuit of Jesus and his kingdom.”
The book does an excellent job reminding readers that faith is meant to be experienced. For many Americans, our faith is generally inactive, private, and stuck in our heads. In Rumors to God, Whitehead and Tyson share stories and stories from scripture that inspire readers to make their faith active, out-loud, and alive.
I really appreciated how the authors start at the personal side of faith by challenging readers on the topics of love, grace, generosity, and abundant life. And I love how they end with challenges related to community, justice, and hope. The book definitely provided encouragement and inspiration. I would recommend it.
Have you read Rumor of God? What did you think?
What steps are you taking to experience your faith?
What are you reading right now?
We are down to the top Stretched post from 2011. Sharing these top posts provides an excellent opportunity for me to take a small break during the holidays, and it also provides an incredible opportunity for you to catch up on things you may have missed over the past year. I hope you’ll hop on over to the original post, so you can read the entire post and add your comments to the existing comments string. Thank you for letting me take this break and for letting me take this opportunity to share these posts. Your support for the Stretched Blog this year has been incredible!
And so, drum roll please,…the most popular Stretched post from 2011 was a fun look at my college experience shared right before Homecoming. The post is titled Top 10 Things To Do At Grove City College. Here’s an excerpt to get you going:
Leanne and I are getting ready to head out to Grove City College for homecoming and Leanne’s 15th reunion. I’m excited to go back to the place we first met. My four years at GCC were extremely memorable. Since I’m thinking about it, here’s my Top 10 Things To Do At Grove City College:
2. Look to your left and look to your right. As Nancy Paxton would tell all freshman, your future mate may be in sight. As it turns out, I met Leanne at the end of my junior year. The rest is history, so they say.
To read the rest of this post, head on over to the original Top 10 Things To Do At Grove City College post.
Share one positive memory about your college or high school experience!
We are down to the top two Stretched posts from 2011. Sharing these top posts provides an excellent opportunity for me to take a small break during the holidays, and it also provides an incredible opportunity for you to catch up on things you may have missed over the past year. I hope you’ll hop on over to the original post, so you can read the entire post and add your comments to the existing comments string.
The 2nd most popular Stretched post from 2011 was post written to help small group leaders. The post is titled Ten Things Every Small Group Leader Should Know. Here’s an excerpt to get you going:
Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege of sharing my thoughts to a group of small group leaders at our church. I shared 5 of my ideas in an earlier post, but I thought you might enjoy hearing my complete list. So here are my notes:
I’m excited about this opportunity to share. If you don’t know me or if you haven’t figured it out, I’m extremely passionate about small groups. I truly believe they can provide a path for connection to others and to God. I also believe that small groups play an important role in accountability and discipleship. In no way is this list the Bible of small group leaders. It’s just my thoughts based on my involvement with small groups in various capacities for nearly 20 years. I’ve participated in groups. I’ve led groups. I’ve led group leaders. And I even had the privilege of leading a team of coaches. (I was also brought up in a home where small groups were important and modeled by my parents.) As I share my ideas, I’d encourage you to take a few notes. So here goes:
1. Small group leaders are important. They play a big part in helping people find community, find God, and find growth. If you are a small group leader, you need to know that what you do matters.
2. Small group leaders set the tone. Whether or not you consider yourself a Biblical scholar, your group members look to you as an example. For this reason, it’s important that small group leaders continue to model growth. They should be in the Word. They should develop disciplines that model growth. Small group leaders aren’t perfect, but they must find others who will hold them accountable to setting the tone.
To read the rest of this post, head on over to the original Ten Things Every Small Group Leader Should Know post.
Are you in a small group? Tell us about it!
Top Posts of 2011 Number 3 – Reflect More, Risk More, Leave A Legacy – Start Blogging (A Guest Post by Jason Fountain)
As I mentioned last week, my plan is to provide links to the top Stretched posts from 2011 over the next couple of weeks. This provides an excellent opportunity for me to take a small break during the holidays, and it also provides an incredible opportunity for you to catch up on things you may have missed over the past year. I hope you’ll hop on over to the original post, so you can read the entire post and add your comments to the existing comments string.
The 3rd most popular Stretched post from 2011 was a guest post by my friend Jason Fountain. The post is titled Reflect More, Risk More, Leave A Legacy – Start Blogging. Here’s an excerpt to get you going:
John Maxwell relates a story shared by sociologist Anthony Campolo. Campolo tells about a group of 50 people over the age of 90 years old who were asked one question: If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?
The question was open-ended and the people’s answers were varied. However, three ideas consistently emerged.
1. If I had it to do over again, I would reflect more.
2. If I had it to do over again, I would risk more.
3. If I had it to do over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.
I want to share with you an idea that can help you begin to accomplish all three of these goals TODAY.
To read the rest of this post, head on over to the original Reflect More, Risk More, Leave A Legacy – Start Blogging post.
What would you change about 2011?
What is one thing that you’re looking forward to in 2012?
What a great week here at the Stretched Blog. The blog traffic is up for the week, and we’re already running a higher page view total than last month. If we can keep it up this week (which could be tough over the holidays), the Stretched Blog may see its highest page views per month total ever!
Monday’s post was titled My Treasure & My Heart was an opportunity to share some of my wrestling over time and priorities. I really appreciate the empathy and encouragement expressed in the comments for this post. Tuesday brought a visit from Jonathan Pearson. Jonathan did an excellent job sharing the stretching of a young leader. Wednesday, I started to share the top 5 posts for the year. The number 5 post for the year was a great guest post by my wonderful wife. She shared about Detours that she has experienced over the past year or two. On Thursday, I shared the 4th most popular Stretched post of 2011 – Locks of Love – about my daughter’s generous donation. And finally and Friday, I shared another fun Ice Breaker about our favorite toys.
I am so thankful for your continued contribution to the blog through comments. Your comments are what makes this Stretched Community! Please remember to take the time to Subscribe to the blog, so you can have Stretched delivered daily to your e-mail inbox. Also, don’t forget to stop by the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook fan page. Become a fan to keep up with some additional Stretched stuff. I have started to share more blog highlights from other blogs that I read regularly. I think you’ll find some great stuff here. Thanks!
A few of my favorite posts from the rest of the blogging community this week:
- Questions To Ask For Reviewing 2011 by Brad Lomenick on BradLomenick.com
- I Dare You To Do This With Me by Jon Acuff on JonAcuff.com
- The Only Way To Become A Real Writer by Jeff Goins on GoinsWriter.com
How about you? How was your week? If you’re a blogger what happened over your way this week? Did you read any great blog posts this week? Share with the rest of us!
As I shared yesterday, my plan is to provide links to the top Stretched posts from 2011 over the next couple of weeks. This provides an excellent opportunity for me to take a small break during the holidays, and it also provides an incredible opportunity for you to catch up on things you may have missed over the past year. I hope you’ll hop on over to the original post, so you can read the entire post and add your comments to the existing comments string.
The 4th most popular Stretched post from 2011 was a post about my daughter and her sacrificial gift. The post is titled Locks of Love. Here’s an excerpt to get you going:
The generous heart of my daughter never ceases to amaze me. As you can see by the pictures, Hannah decided several months ago to grow her hair out, so she could donate to Locks of Love. Locks of Love provides wigs for children who are facing hair loss for various reasons. Hair is a big deal for girls, women, and kids. So when Hannah decided to have her hair cut so someone else could enjoy a head of hair, it was quite a sacrifice – at least in my mind.
To read the rest of this post and to see more pictures of Hannah’s transformation, head on over to the original Locks of Love post.
When and where was the last time you got your haircut?
What was one of your favorite posts this year?