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.
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.
When I get to this time of year, I often think about my Grandpa Stolpe. (I’ll tell you why tomorrow.) My Grandpa passed away a few years ago, and he is missed by his whole family. Grandpa has two kids, seven grandchildren, and fifteen great-grandchildren. I’m sure each one of us would have a different perspective on our grandfather, and I wanted to share a little bit about my take on the man my cousin calls Big Grey.
Grandpa was first and foremost a follower of Christ. He lived it. He breathed it. He provided a clear example that Christ should come first in our lives. I remember Grandpa leading us in prayer and Bible reading when we sat down for breakfast when we were there for a visit. He was always involved at church. And he had a huge heart for missions and bringing God’s love to everyone around the world. As we sat down for breakfast, I remember Grandma and Grandpa praying specifically for missionaries around the world.
Grandpa was a killer croquet player. Whenever we went over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, the croquet set would come out of the garage and the croquet match to end all croquet matches would begin. Grandpa knew the rules like the back of his hand, and he was always quick to teach us the correct way to play the game. After Grandpa beat the rest of us around the croquet course, he would go back and knock out the older cousins so the younger grandchildren could win.
Grandpa had a great sense of humor. Some of my cousins and siblings might argue with me on this, but this is something I carry with me. Grandpa had a desire to make everyone laugh. He always had a corny joke or response that broke the ice and made you chuckle. For example, when the cantaloupe came out, he would say, “I can’t elope. I’m already married to Grandma.” Or if we had nectarines, he would say “I don’t neck with Irene; I neck with Grandma.” I’m proud to say that I picked up some of that humor.
Grandpa was Swedish. Grandpa knew how to speak Swedish. He shared the Swedish traditions with our family – especially the Christmas Swedish traditions. I big part of celebrating Christmas is eating the Swedish food. I attribute this to my Grandma and Grandpa. At Grandpa’s funeral, they even sang a Swedish hymn.
Grandpa was an incredible example. After his faith, his marriage was always his top priority. He and Grandma were a team. They complimented each other well. They put each other first before their own interests and needs. Grandpa would do anything for Grandma. After his faith and Grandma, family was a top priority. He would do anything for all of us. He always wanted the best for each one of us. He and Grandma prayed consistently for each one of us. Grandpa had a special relationship with each of us. When we showed up for a visit, he showed us off like we were movie stars.
I share about my Grandpa to brag, to share, and to remember.
Who in your life to you want to remember and why?
Today, I have the privilege of presenting Larry “The Deuce” Carter. Larry and I recently became friends thanks to the wonders of the on-line blog world. Larry puts out some pretty thought-provoking posts at his blog, Deuceology, and his comments at Jon Stolpe Stretched and on other blogs always make you think and usually make you laugh. Today, Larry shares how he is currently being stretched. Please join in the conversation here and also hook up with Larry on his blog and via Twitter.
(I’m always looking for guest bloggers who are interested in sharing their “Stretch” stories with the Stretched Community. If you’re interested in writing a guest post, leave a comment, so I can hook up with you.)
I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into when I answered the call to guest-post for Jon. I hadn’t followed him long enough to pick up on the stretched motif of his blog. But when he told me that I should discuss being stretched, I didn’t have to think long before I came up with an idea since I’m in the process of being stretched right now.
I have my own blog over at http://deuceology.wordpress.com. Without going into tremendous detail, I wrote some things that I shouldn’t have written. Some of these things were disrespectful of some people who I have known for several years. Some difficulty ensued which resulted in my family and I leaving my church.
There you have it. I said the wrong things in my blog. I left my church. Guess who’s to blame? Oh, I would love to blame someone else, but just like Jimmy Buffett realized in Margaritaville, it’s my fault and no one else’s.
So, how has that stretched me?
Well, it certainly has matured me in my blogging. Despite being forty-three years old, I can still be a bit childish on occasion. I certainly proved that. So, I was stretched and learned a great lesson about blogging. It’s made me a better blogger. It’s helped me in the direction of my blog. I’ve so many lessons about blogging through this that I would never have learned. However, that probably isn’t the best way I’m being stretched right now.
How else am I being stretched? Well, I’m about to begin a search for a new church. While a bit exciting, I also face it with a bit of trepidation. New church. New pastor. New people. It may be enjoyable, but it certainly isn’t comfortable. Despite my failure, God is going to use this failure in my life to put me in a new place to worship and serve Him.
There you have it. I’ve been stretched like taffy and foresee it continuing for a while. Would you pray with me as I begin this new phase of my life?
How have you been stretched through mistakes in blogging? How about during a church search?
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25
What do these words mean to you?
Last night, I met with my MEAT group. I honestly felt like I was called out on the carpet for a few things that I had mentioned to another person in the group. I’m not sure if it felt right to be singled out for my comments, but I will say that it permitted conversation within the group that spurred me on – and hopefully spurred others on in the group.
When we think of what it means to be in fellowship with one another, we all come into the discussion with different ideas from our past experiences, from our education, and from our own expectations. I’ve been doing small group stuff for a while now, and even though I’m extremely open to what could be considered a small group, I still have my own preconceived ideas for what life in a small group looks like. I don’t always get it right.
Last night, I was definitely spurred on. I think the conversation last night spurred others on as well. I think it provided encouragement, support, and accountability. Being part of a group where this type of conversation can take place is important. It’s important for testing and growing our faith. It’s important for support. Many of these guys were here for me as my family went through challenging times over the past year. It’s also important for uplifting the soul. We laugh a lot at our weekly MEAT meetings, and laughter can be such great medicine for the soul.
Are you part of a group like this?
What are the key ingredients for a small group?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
As I was thinking about today’s post, I was reminded of a reason to celebrate at this time of year! On October 10, 1993, Leanne and I shared our first kiss on a rock along the river at McConnell’s Mills a park a little south of Grove City. I still remember this day like it was yesterday….
Leanne and I picked up sandwiches at Subway when we left campus after church on this particular Sunday. I think I had a cold cut trio sandwich, and Leanne may have had the same. We parked in the upper portion of the park and walked down to the covered bridge near the old mill. From there we walked along a path by the river until we discovered a perfect rock. Here we sat and ate our lunch, we enjoyed each others company and conversation, and then it happened! We shared our first kiss – my first kiss! I was blown away! The rest of the day gets a little more blurry….
When we arrived back at campus, I dropped Leanne off at her dorm. It was an awkward goodbye. Do we share another kiss? When will we see each other next? So many new questions. From there, I walked back to my dorm room, it was a little crazy back in Lincoln. My room was filled with my roommates and friends watching Sunday afternoon football. I wasn’t quite ready for the crowd. I just wanted to lay down on my bed and process what had just happened. A couple of my friends picked up on the glow that must have been coming from my face.
That night at Hicks Dining Hall, I remember running into one of Leanne’s friends as I carried my tray to the salad bar. Her friend must have thought I was pretty clumsy as I dropped my tray all over the floor at the dining hall. I think my nerves were on the edge as I was still processing the days’ big event. At any rate, Leanne’s friend still speaks with me, so it must not have left too much of an impression.
To make the story a little more amusing, Leanne and I went back to the same rock when year later when I returned to campus for a visit. 1994 was a bit colder than 1993, and the water was higher, so we couldn’t sit right on the same rock as we shared our Subway sandwiches. As our time together was drawing to a close, I thought it would be a good idea to climb down to the rock where we shared the actual kiss. Little did I know that the rock was now covered in a slippery moss. As I stepped onto the rock, my feet began to slide and before I knew it, I was up to my shoulders in freezing cold river water. Talk about embarrassing! As Leanne helped me out of the water and we walked back up to the car, we laughed as we shared a new humorous memory connected with our special place.
I’m so thankful for these memories and the chance to celebrate the good that God has done in our relationship. As we approach this special milestone in our relationship, I praise God for allowing our lives to intersect and become one. God is good!
Okay, time for you to share a special or embarrassing moment. Come on! Let us celebrate and laugh with you.
It’s hard to believe how quickly our kids grow. This picture was taken the first day of school (this year), and I think they’ve grown another few inches since then. A couple of weeks ago, we took the kids with us to visit Grove City College for Homecoming and Leanne’s 15th Class Reunion. Leanne and I felt especially “older” as our kids were clearly the oldest kids among Leanne’s classmates.
One of the cool things about our visit was how our friends’ kids were attracted to our kids. When we were walking over to line up for the parade, one of our friends’ kids ran up to Isaac and said, “Hey Magic Boy, do a magic trick!” And he was completely serious. He had been to our home a month or two prior to homecoming and remembered Isaac doing magic tricks for the kids. Leanne and I often remark to each other how much of a performer our son can be. He loves to put on shows for people. He is the first to jump on the piano or to take out his trumpet when guests come over. We sometimes wonder what Isaac will do when he grows up. Perhaps, he’ll be the ring master for a circus, a musician, or a preacher or worship leader. It’s fun to imagine as we watch our son bloom.
At Grove City, most of the kids were attracted to Hannah. And many of the parents were putting bids on Hannah to come to their homes over the summer to watch their kids. Hannah is a leader and a care-giver. She knows how to take charge and how to have compassion. She had the opportunity to hold a baby, and it was fun to watch her as the baby fell asleep in her arms. She also was the leader for the preschoolers and elementary kids as they made up games and did crafts together. Leanne and I often say that Hannah will have an interesting future. Will she be a teacher, a missionary, a mom, or president of some organization? Like her brother, it’s fun to watch as our daughter matures and becomes a young lady.
As we watch our kids grow, we have come to know and realize that time goes so quickly. Each moment is precious as they fly by before our eyes. It’s for this reason that I often say that Paul’s call in Colossians to “make the most of every opportunity” was about sharing our faith, but it’s also a great reminder to take advantage of the time we have with our kids. Walking around Grove City College a couple of weeks ago with our kids was a huge reminder that our kids will be venturing to college before we know it. We need to make the most of these days we have with “Magic Boy” and “Super Sitter.”
What characteristics and gifts to you see developing in your children? What are you doing to make the most of the opportunities you have with your children?
We’re getting ready to kick-off the second year of our service group. Our daughter, Hannah, came up with a new name for the group – H.O.P.E. which stands for Helping Other People Everywhere. The group is designed for adults and kids elementary school age and older, and the group gets together twice a month to serve other people in practical ways, to fellowship with each other, and to have a great time.
Generally, we meet the first and third Tuesday evenings of the month. On the first Tuesday of the month, we get together for a potluck style dinner. At this meeting, we will usually participate in a small craft or project that benefits different causes. Last year, we made cards for soldiers, filled eggs for Easter, and made crafts for hospice patients. During this meeting, we will usually spend a few minutes discussing why we serve. On the third Tuesday of the month, we go out and serve off-site. Last year, we served in soup kitchens, nursing homes, Cradles to Crayons, Open Door Ministry Thrift Store, and Philabundance.
Our first meeting is coming up next week. H.O.P.E. will meet at our house at 6:30PM on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. We’re looking forward to starting up again, and we’d love to see new faces. If you’re interested, drop me a comment, so we can get back to you. This is a great group for families, couples, or singles who are looking for ways to connect with others and for ways to help other people.
When was the last time that you stopped to help someone else? How did it go?
What kinds of projects would you like to get involved with that help others and show God’s love in practical ways?
Five at five in the pouring rain
I hit the road and I feel no pain.
The lightning brightens up the sky,
I’m lost in my thoughts as my feet do fly.
Running brings me great relief,
I clear my head as I grit my teeth.
My body groans as I roll out of bed,
But it springs to life once the shoes do tread.
My morning run gives me time to ponder,
As I collect my thoughts and allow some to wander.
I’m thankful for these five at five,
When my soul wakes up and I feel alive.
I really appreciated my run this morning. As I prepare for my day and for the 1st ever Perk Trail Half, these are just some of my thoughts.
Are you a runner? What do you do on your runs? What do you think about while you’re pounding the pavement?