LIVE THE NEW LIFE
Christ the Center
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
IN CHRIST – United with Christ through faith in him and commitment to him.
NEW CREATION – Redemption is the restoration and fulfillment of God’s purposes in creation, and this takes place in Christ, through whom all things were made and in whom all things are restored or created anew.
2 Corinthians 4:6 – For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
The darkness of sin is dispelled by the light of the gospel – the new creation…the new birth.
When we decide to follow Christ (when we Believe, Repent, and follow Him in Baptism), we are new creations. How amazing is that?! I don’t think this means that we won’t still struggle with the “junk in our trunk”. We will still have sin in our lives – that’s part of the human nature that we’ve been cursed with until we get to heaven. But it does mean that we now have a spiritual nature that will go with us into the next life – a nature that is more aware of what God expects. We are new creations. And we are becoming new each day.
Today, may I live my life in this light. May I understand and know that I’m made new through Christ and his defining act on the cross. May Christ truly be the center of my life.
I’m back here on the old jonstolpe.wordpress.com site. I will still continue to utilize the new jonstolpe.com site for most of my blogging, but I want to use this site for a while to test out some new ideas and themes. So here goes…
Yesterday, our family arrived home from vacation to the Midwest. It was a great opportunity to see family. We drove quite a few miles. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I think we logged 1,500 miles. Needless to say, I was ready to be home and out of the car when we pulled into the driveway at 3:30 yesterday afternoon.
My wife and my son left to pick up one of our dogs leaving my daughter and I to unpack and clean up, go through the mail, and clean up. After going through the mail (why do there have to be so many bills when you arrive home from vacation?), I decided to check the front porch to see if there were any packages on the front porch. (This is often where the mail carriers leave packages for us when we’re not home.) As I looked out the front windows to the porch, I was surprised to see a cat laying on the front porch. At first, I thought the cat was sleeping, but I soon noticed that there were flies swarming around the cat. This was not good. The last time I saw flies around an animal was when six of our chickens died in the extreme heat of the summer.
I called our daughter over to the window to see if she recognized the cat. Sure enough, it looked like our neighbors cat, Chester. After confirming my fear, I walked out to the porch to check things out. As soon as I came out the door, I noticed our neighbor in his backyard. We exchanged a couple of words, and he confirmed that their cat had been missing. Withing five minutes, he and his wife were on our front porch. It was their Chester.
As our neighbor wrapped Chester in a towel, his wife shed some tears. It was clear that Chester was not just a cat but a friend – a loved one. I apologized for their loss, and they carried Chester to their house. Their youngest daughter soon emerged from the house, and she quickly began to cry as she heard the news of Chester’s departure.
I’m sure it was a tough night for our neighbors.
Our pets mean the world to most of us. I’m not sure about the eternal destinations of these beloved four legged friends, but I’m sure that they can do a lot to teach us about friendship, love, and loyalty.
When we lose our pets, it definitely leaves a hole in our heart. There’s no question that we grieve. And I think that’s okay.
Pray for our neighbors as they mourn the loss of their beloved Chester.
Do you have any pets? What have they taught you about life, love, and loyalty?
If you missed yesterday’s post, The Stretched Blog has moved to a new site (jonstolpe.com) – including today’s ice breaker question. So head on over to the new site, answer today’s ice breaker question, and subscribe to the NEW Stretched Community!
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?
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?
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?
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
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:
- FedEx Guy Throws Computer Monitor Over Fence by Chris LoCurto at Chris LoCurto’s Blog
- The Brilliant Person You Ignore Every Day by Jon Acuff at JonAcuff.com
- Goals: Get A Bigger Frying Pan! by Chris Patton at Christian Faith at Work
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!
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!