Jon Stolpe Stretched

What's S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g me now?

Introducing The Stretched Newsletter

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!

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July 21, 2013 Posted by | blogging, stretch | Leave a comment

The Stretched Blog is Moving!

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!

January 12, 2012 Posted by | blog spotlight, blogging, new experiences, stretch | 6 Comments

Guest Post – How To Have God’s Will For Your Life

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.

Pray

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.”

-Colossians 3:2

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?

January 11, 2012 Posted by | blog spotlight, Brandon Gilliland, God's will, guest blogger, life, prayer, stretch, teaching, thoughts, wisdom | 8 Comments

Don’t Hold A Press Conference

We all like to be noticed.  We all like to be recognized for doing something good.  We like to hear people say, “Good job.”  We want the praise of man.  I think this is a normal human desire.

The other day, I was reading in Matthew 6 which is part of the Sermon on the Mount given by Jesus.  In part of this sermon, Jesus talks about how we should give to the needy, how we should pray, and how we should go about fasting.  Three times in this passage Christ says, “Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  When we give to the needy, when we pray, and when we fast, we should do these acts so no one knows but God.  We want the recognition.  We want to hold a press conference when we do these things.  But Christ tells us to keep it between God and us.  Surely, God’s reward is far greater than any recognition we get from man.

As a blogger this is a huge topic to ponder.  I often blog about the activities of my family including the activities related to serving others.  I hope that my main motivation in sharing these things is to encourage others to find ways to serve with their families, but I confess that there may be a part of my motivation that wants to hear others say, “Your family is so good.  You are a great parent.  You and Leanne do such a great job.”  These compliments do mean a lot, but my suspicion is that these praises of people pale in comparison to the reward that God promises.

Ultimately, I want to glorify God.  Whether it’s giving to the needy, praying, fasting, working, running, blogging, or whatever, I want my thoughts and actions to bring glory to God.

And so I stretch!  (In a year of being transformed, transformation of my motives is a great place to start.)

What do you think?  Do you struggle with seeking the praise of people?  How do you fight this?

January 10, 2012 Posted by | blogging, experiences, fasting, giving, heart, parenting, prayer, press conference, stretch, teaching, thoughts, transformed, wisdom | 17 Comments

Book Review: Starting Over A Manifesto on Being Myself by Michael D. Perkins

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.

If you are a blogger, I definitely recommend downloading a copy of this FREE e-book.  You can pick up a copy by clicking here.  Let me know what you think!

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?

January 9, 2012 Posted by | blog spotlight, blogging, book review, Michael D. Perkins, Starting Over, stretch, thoughts | 9 Comments

January 7, 2012 Week In Review…

It’s time for The Stretched Blog Week in Review – the first for 2012!   The traffic to the Stretched Blog is at an all-time high this week.  In fact, blog traffic on Wednesday was the highest ever on the blog (and Thursday’s traffic was right behind).  Thank you!

Here’s the rundown on the posts for the week:

Monday:  December 2011 Top Posts

Tuesday:  Meet Irwin

Wednesday:  One Word For 2012: Transformed

Thursday:  The Stretched Blog Visits The Analogous Truth

Friday (this actually posted Saturday do to a visit to me by the stomach flu):  Ice Breaker – My First Car

Your continued contribution to the blog through comments is greatly appreciated.  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!

Here are a few of my favorites from around the blog world this week:

It should be a fun week upcoming.  Brandon Gilliland will be guest posting on Wednesday.  We’ll have another fun Ice Breaker on Friday.  And there’s sure to be more Stretching the rest of the week.  Please stop back so you can see what’s going on here!

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!

January 7, 2012 Posted by | Arny Sanchez, blogging, Brandon Gilliland, guest blogger, Ice Breaker, Irwin, looking back, One Word 365, puppy, Seeing Eye, stretch, The Analogous Truth, thoughts, transformed, week in review | Leave a comment

Ice Breaker – My First Car

It’s that time of the week again…time for an ice breaker question!  Since it’s the first ice breaker of the year, I thought I would ask a question about firsts.  For those of you who are new or who forgot, ice breaker questions are used to help people get to know each other – to “break the ice” so to speak.  I love hearing what other people have to say and how they think.  So for today, I’m excited to throw out another simple ice breaker question.  I’ll answer it first, then it’s your turn.  Answer the question by leaving a comment for us all to enjoy.  Thanks!

Question:  What was (or is) your first car?

My Answer:  Here you go….

My answer will be pretty simple.  My first car was a 1974 Chevy Nova.  It was midnight blue with a white hard top.  It had a straight six cylinder engine in it, and I could stand next to the engine if I lifted the hood.  The Nova had four doors and a JVC stereo that I installed.  The ceiling fabric was falling down, so I used push pins to hold it up.  It had an Oakley sticker in the back window.  The Nova felt like it was floating when I drove down the highway.  I’ll always have fond memories of the Nova.

So there you have it, my answer to the question.  Now it’s your turn….I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got to say!

January 6, 2012 Posted by | car, Ice Breaker, questions, stretch, thoughts | , , , | 14 Comments

One Word For 2012: Transformed

If you had to pick one word to focus on in 2012, what would it be?

For me, I’m choosing the word transformed.

Transformed means to be changed.  You might even say that transformed means to be stretched.

I want my life to be transformed by my relationship with God.

A lot of great things happened in 2011, but I felt like it was a year for recovery (not that this is a bad thing).  I want 2012 to be about moving forward and being transformed.  When I think of transformation, I think of growth.  I think of metamorphosis.  I want to grow closer to God in 2012.  I want to pray bigger and bolder prayers.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

So there you have it – my word for 2012.  You can check out what words other people are choosing as part of the One Word 365 Community.  What’s your word?

January 4, 2012 Posted by | One Word 365, stretch, thoughts, transformed | , | 21 Comments

Meet Irwin

Our family has grown in the last couple of weeks.  No, Leanne and I did not have another child.  But we did add another dog to the mix right before Christmas.  Irwin is a golden retriever and Labrador mix, and I believe he turns 9 weeks old today.  He’s not your normal 9 week old family dog.  Irwin has a purpose, and we only get to have him for a short period of time.  You see, Irwin is a Seeing Eye puppy.  He was bred to help a blind person.  As puppy raisers, we will have Irwin until he is 12-18 months old.  Our job is to get him house broken, teach him a couple of basic things (sit, come, etc.), and to get him exposed to public places as much as possible.  From there, Irwin will return to The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ where he will go through 8 months of intense training.  This is when he’ll learn the skills required to guide a blind person.  At the end of his training, he will go through a final exam and health check to make sure he’s ready to go to work.  Assuming he passes, he will be matched up with a blind person.  They will work together for a month up at the school before they are sent home to live and work together.

The whole new dog thing has definitely added a chaos to our home, but it has also been fun.  Hannah is the official puppy raiser, and she has been doing an unbelievable job.  She takes him out to “park” whenever it’s time for him to go.  She lets Irwin sleep by her bed at night.  And she wakes up early to make sure he gets outside before any accidents.  If Hannah does this twice before she graduates high school, she’ll be eligible for a scholarship from The Seeing Eye.  So it’s likely that this won’t be the last new puppy we’ll see in our house.

Many people have asked, “how can you raise the puppy for a year and let it go?”  That’s a great question.  I’m sure it will be tough to say goodbye to Irwin when the time comes, but it will be easier to release him knowing that he has a purpose.  As parents, we have a similar experience with our kids.  Sure we get them for more than a year, and those 18 or so years can be filled with all kinds of ups and downs, but I think it’s important to realize that we have influence and responsibility over our children for a relatively short period time.  In essence, they are on loan from God.  There comes a time when we must release them for their greater, God-given purpose.  And so, Irwin reminds me of this.  I want to make the most of the time with my kids while they’re under my roof, and I want to release when the time comes them knowing full well that God has a purpose for them.

Have you ever had to release someone or something in order to pursue a higher calling or purpose?  What made this transition easy or hard?

January 3, 2012 Posted by | experiences, family, Irwin, life, parenting, puppy, Seeing Eye, stretch, thoughts | | 10 Comments

December 2011 Top Posts

We’ve reached the end of another month.  December was the BEST month so far at Jon Stolpe Stretched.  Traffic on the blog increased slightly by over 500 page views since November and by almost 300 page views since the previous record month (September 2011)!  Comments continued to roll-in.  And new people joined in the conversation and community.  The blog added TWELVE new subscribers, and the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook Page attracted a couple of new followers in its fourth month.  Here are the top 10 posts and top 3 commentors for the month:

Top 10 Posts

1.  On Fire

2.  Ice Breaker – Christmas Movies (the new #1 Ice Breaker question)

3.  Ice Breaker – Christmas Songs and Carols

4.  Surprise!!!

5.  Our Christmas Ornament Tradition

6.  Ice Breaker – On The 13th Day Of Christmas What Gift Are You Hoping to Get

7.  Ten Things Every Small Group Leader Should Know (originally posted on October 24, 2011)

8.  Ice Breaker – Favorite Toy

9.  Leaders Are Readers – Creating My Reading List For 2012

10.  It’s 40!

Top 3 Commentors (We blew by the 1,500th comment mark this month!)

1.  Larry Carter (for the 2nd month in a row!)

2.  Brandon Gilliland

3.  Bill Grandi

I now have 32 regular subscribers.  If you’d like to become a subscriber, see the “Join the Stretched Community” window on your right.  It’s great to see this starting to take off.

Thank you to all of you for reading and contributing to the blog and to the reader community.  I continue to grow a lot through this experience.  *** This month, the top commentor will receive a copy of The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  Get your comments in for an opportunity to win!!! ***

As always, I love to share your “stretching” stories on my blog, so leave me a comment if you’re interested in being a guest blogger on Jon Stolpe Stretched.  As a side note, I’d love to see guest bloggers in the monthly top 10 list!

Finally, if you’re a blogger, how did your blog to this month?  What was your top post?  What was your favorite post?

January 2, 2012 Posted by | birthday, blogging, Christmas, Christmas movies, Christmas season, family traditions, fire, first Christmas ornament, guest blogger, Ice Breaker, stretch, thankful, thoughts | , | 4 Comments