LIVE THE NEW LIFE
Obedience to Christ
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship.
True Worship or Spiritual Act of Worship – Not merely ritual activity but the involvement of heart, mind and will. Obedient service.
When we begin to realize God’s mercy for us as expressed through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for us, our only natural response is one of sacrifice, of worship, of obedience. He died for me; I’ll live for Him.
God, thank You for this reminder. Help me commit this to memory. And guide me as I respond. Thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for Your love. I want to honor, serve, obey, and worship You with my life.
I woke up this morning a little groggy thanks to a dream and a storm that woke me up in the early hours of the morning. The thunderstorm shook the house for a while as I could hear the storm approaching and passing. It sounded like a drummer pounding the drum head in the sky for thirty or more minutes. As it passed by, I eventually fell back asleep.
A short time later, a dream woke me up. In my dream, someone shared some disturbing news with me which led me to breakdown in tears. And then I woke up again. As I laid in bed, I reminded myself that it was just a dream, and I began to pray.
I wonder if this was just a coincidence or if God was sending me the storm and the dream as a reminder. Do I believe that God still speaks today? Yes. I believe He speaks through His Word – The Bible. I believe He can speak through life’s circumstances and surroundings. But does He speak through storms and dreams in the middle of the night? It’s a good question.
I’m not an expert on dreams (can you tell?). But I’m thinking that our dreams are sometimes simply a response to our fatigue level, the happenings of the previous day, and the pizza we ate the night before. But my hunch is that God can and does still speak to us through our dreams. If that’s the case, does this mean that one of my loved ones is in trouble? Or is it simply a reminder to reach out to this person and to pray for them more regularly? More questions.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
God, Thank You for this new day. Thank You for storms and dreams. My I always be listening for Your voice and be open for how You speak to me. Thank You for being with me throughout the day and throughout the night.
LIVE THE NEW LIFE
Christ the Center
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14
Who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. Galatians 1:4
Paul reminds us that Christ died to rescue us from our sin. We we begin to remember and realize that sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf, it changes us. When we decide to follow Him and accept this gift, we are new. It’s not just us. Now, Christ lives in us.
God, thank You for this reminder today. May I remember Your sacrifice for me on the cross. I give you all my sins and struggles. I lay them at Your feet. And I proudly proclaim and accept Your gift of newness.
I’d like to introduce a NEW Stretched newsletter.
The newsletter will highlight some of the things going on at Jon Stolpe Stretched, and it will hopefully give you content that you can’t find on the blog. More than anything, I hope that STRETCHED (the newsletter) will be a place to keep you and me stretching.
To sign up, go to my main blog and enter your e-mail address in Newsletter sign-up box at the top of the right sidebar menu.
Thanks in advance for subscribing!
Yesterday, Leanne and I attended the wedding of my boss’s daughter. She is a couple of weeks older than my little brother, Erik. But I definitely felt like I was on the older side of those in attendance.
There were several comical things that happened during the wedding that I may explore at a later point. I just wanted to capture a couple of thoughts related to my observations of my boss. He lost his wife just over 3 years ago (another topic to explore later). It was so great to see him and the whole family happy.
Craig (my boss) did an incredible job walking his daughter down the aisle. He did a great job welcoming everyone to the reception. And his part in the father/daughter dance left all the fathers of daughters in the room with our jaws dropped. There’s no way most of us can compete with the show he and his daughter put on for this dance.
When I started with the company more than 17 1/2 years ago, his daughter was a little girl. Time certainly flies. Now while I still have several years to go before Hannah reaches this milestone, I’m realizing more and more how quickly the time will fly. I want to make the most of each and every opportunity I have with my kids. I don’t want there to be any regret.
For this reason, my run this morning with Hannah was a little extra special for me. We didn’t set any land speed records. We didn’t even talk all that much. It was just nice to be together.
May I always remember to enjoy each moment with my kids.
God, Thank You for Hannah. Thank You for giving me such an amazing daughter. Be with her as she grows and continues to develop into the woman You are calling her to become. Thank You for her spirit of generosity and compassion. Thank You for her incredible intelligence and her outstanding work ethic. And thank You for the reminder to make the most of each moment with her. Be with Craig’s daughter and new son-in-law as they start their lives together. Help them to grow and know You deeper every day. Help them to have happy and healthy lives, and help them to have an impact on this world that far out lives them and their marriage. Finally God, I ask that You prepare Leanne and I for the milestones to come with our children in the days and years ahead.
My son heads to scout camp in Vermont this morning.
In about an hour, we’ll be putting him on a bus with others scouts and leaders from his troop. From there, he’ll begin the journey to camp where he will work on merit badges and scout skills. He will bond with others, and he will be challenged to work on his character. I anticipate that he will come back next weekend exhausted yet STRETCHED.
The Boy Scouts of America has taken some hits in the media through the years thanks to their position on several key issues. While I’m sure there are some very bad experiences that some kids have had in their scout troop, this is not the case for most boys. I’m thankful for this organization – especially our local troop – where my son has been pushed. Over the years, I have seen him develop more confidence, stronger leadership skills, and better decision-making skills.
And so today, I pray for Isaac.
God give Isaac and his troop safety as they travel today to Vermont. May this be a week that Isaac will always remember. Help Isaac to stand tall, to grow, and to represent you well while he is away this week. I pray that You would ease any struggles he experiences with home-sickness. And I thank You for this opportunity for Isaac. More than anything, help him to know Your love this week and always.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 5:16-18
This takes faith.
When we hit speed bumps in our lives – health problems, financial problems, material problems, etc. – it’s easy to become bitter and discouraged. I see it every day at work as team members become frustrated by the ever-changing demands of a project, a schedule, or a customer. I see it in the news where people in our country and in other countries are fighting against each other verbally and physically. And I even see it at home from time to time when we get tired, when we face a hardship of one kind or another, or when things start breaking down.
Paul reminds us that things on earth – things that we see – are temporary.
Yet we put so much energy and stock into these things. We try to build bigger bank accounts and bigger homes. We try to keep up with the Jones’ and the Smiths’ with our cars, toys, and other material items.
When will we learn to put our energy into the things that matter?
When we die, there’s only a couple of things coming with us. I’m guessing that our memories will somehow come with us (although that’s just a guess on my part). The only other thing I can think of is relationships – we can bring others to heaven by inviting them in – by introducing them to Christ. Yet we live as if there’s no urgency to this. We keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get the next promotion, the next financial windfall, or the next achievement. When will we learn that God wants our hearts? When will we live for things that will last?
God, give me your eyes. Help me to live for things that matter. Help me to build relationships. Help me to actively share my faith in words and deeds, so others might know you. Thank you for the reminder today. I will not lose heart!
Last night as I was heading over to the VFW to drop Isaac off for scouts, I noticed a man riding his bicycle in the 95 degree heat. As he approached a straight away with no traffic, the man took his hands off the handlebars and sat up in this saddle.
When I was younger, I loved to ride my bike with no hands. There was something unbelievably freeing about taking my hands off the handlebars and basking in the breeze as my bike traveled down the road.
Today, it scares me to take my hands off the handlebars. I’m sure most of it is my lack of confidence in my own balance. My center of gravity and my sense of coordination has changed since I was a kid. Generally, I don’t want to give up control of the bicycle, and I certainly don’t want to risk a crash.
Carrie Underwood sings “Jesus Take The Wheel” as a reminder to let God be in the driver seat. Maybe that’s a message I need to hear, because quite frankly, I like to be in control of my life. I like to have my hands on the handlebars of my life trusting that I can guide my path.
The reality is God knows best and is a far better driver than me.
How would my life look different if I gave God the steering wheel? I’m guessing my direction would be better, and I’d be more likely to enjoy the ride of life.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13
God, I confess to You that I want to be in control. So often I let this desire get in the way of the life You have for me. Thank You for the reminder to give You the steering wheel. I ask You to guide and direct me, and I pray that my eyes would be open to ways that I can serve others in love. Thanks for sending Your Son so that I could experience this freedom.
Last night, I had an appointment with the optometrist.
When I was in first grade, I had to get glasses. I was farsighted. I’m not an eye doctor, but I apparently needed glasses to correct my vision. Believe it or not, I was able to abandon the glasses around sixth or seventh grade when eye tests showed that my vision had corrected. Amazing! Eye tests in high school and college actually showed that I had better than 20/20 vision.
After an initial eye exam sixteen or seventeen years ago when my wife and I got married, I went many years without a return visit to the optometrist. That changed last year when I started dealing with migraine headaches. Someone suggested that I visit the eye doctor. My vision was still pretty good, but I had apparently reached the age in which reading glasses would be helpful. (If you’re not 40 yet, just wait.)
My visit to the optometrist yesterday confirmed that my eyes were continuing to change ever so slightly and a new prescription would be helpful for reading and computer use. So my vision is apparently getting worse. And I would suspect that this will continue for the rest of my physical life.
As I was thinking about how are bodies breakdown and wear out as we age, I was reminded of these words from the apostle Paul:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
The note in my bible says, “It was customary to conceal treasure in clay jars, which had little value or beauty and did not attract attention to themselves and their precious contents. Here they represent Paul’s human frailty and unworthiness.”
There’s no question that are bodies are frail (jump over to my main blog today to read about a reminder from a visit with my Grandma). I’m sure it’s not just my eye sight that is beginning to break down. We’re not getting any younger. Right?
The beautiful thing is that this verse reminds us that despite our human frailty, we have access to unending power and strength. God’s grace is sufficient for each one of us.
So I’m hoping my new glasses will be a reminder to depend on God. He’s all I need.
God, thank you for this new day. Give me your vision. Thank you for supplying all my needs, and thanks for the reminder through a simple visit to the eye doctor. Today, I ask that you’d be with those who need eye care but don’t have it. Use your followers to help those around the world in meeting this physical need. More importantly, open my eyes to those around me who need Your vision. Use me to point them to You – the ultimate optometrist.
Yesterday, I learned that someone my age passed away. Seventeen and a half years ago, we had worked together for our former employer. We both put in long hours. We learned a lot through the experience. I left the company when the company went through some traumatic events and changes right before I got married. And he stuck it out as the company emerged like a phoenix from the ashes. I learned yesterday that he stuck it out at the company for a total of twenty years before jumping over to my company. He spent his last two years working in a different office and department, so I had no idea. It would have been nice to reconnect after so many years.
I’m not sure how or why he died. After doing some investigation, I learned that he did have a young son. It doesn’t appear that he was married. There are so many things I’d like to know.
Life has a funny way of reminding us that life is fleeting and relationships matter. At the age of 41, it seems unfair that he would depart from the world leaving his son without a father. But I guess I’m reminded that life is short. We’re not guaranteed an extra year, an extra day, an extra minute. His passing is a reminder to make the most of my life. His passing also reminds me that relationships matter. We lost touch as soon as I left the company. Life can be like that. People come and go from our lives. In some regards that is natural. But his passing reminded me that each and every relationship matters. I don’t want to take my relationships for granted. I pray that my interactions today would be intentional – that I would live and respond as if its urgent.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever. Isaiah 40:8
God, thanks for Denny. Comfort his family. Help me to be intentional with my life and my relationships. Thank you for today.