Archives For Jordan Standridge

Not too long ago, I ran into an old college friend. Sadly, to my shame, we didn’t get along that well in college. As we caught up, it dawned on me what a cool guy he was and how the Lord had been using him as well as helping him to grow. He seemed to really be interested in me and how I was doing. He had obviously grown a lot and it was a great opportunity for me to be reminded of one thing, that sanctification had worked not only in his life but in mine, as well.

Over the years, I’m sure I have annoyed a lot of people. When I got to Masters College, I was a young man who was really excited to serve God, but totally raw when it came to how to love people and how to serve in the church. I’m sure, in many ways, I was prideful and thought I knew a whole lot more than I actually did.

Many men and women came alongside me and thankfully confronted me, encouraged me, and brought me along and helped me grow in so many areas.

Whether it is with our own children or with people in our churches, a lot of the time we are tempted to be impatient. When we see someone, who isn’t measuring up to what we want from them, we can be tempted to anger, in our minds we mark them with an x and think to ourselves that there is no hope for them and that they are a lost cause. But nothing could be further from the truth.

As I think through my past, I’m thankful to the many who not only didn’t count me out, but came along side me, and it dawned on me how much it hurts when people make up their minds about me and don’t give me a chance, and it convicted me how often I do that with people in my life.

There are many thoughts that come to mind as I think through this, and many reasons why we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss people.

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A few years back, Focus on the Family spent millions of dollars on a commercial to be played at the Super Bowl. The commercial featured Tim Tebow tackling his mom as she spoke about the fact that she chose to have Tim even though the doctors recommended an abortion. As the self-proclaimed #1 Tim Tebow fan, I’m so glad that Mrs. Tebow went ahead and ignored those doctors and had her baby.

I am troubled, though, by a subliminal message that the commercial seemed to imply:  that the reason why abortion is wrong is because you could potentially kill a future Tim Tebow.

Of course, I believe that the world is better off having Tim Tebow around than without him throwing touchdowns, hitting home runs, and just being a wonderful man of God. I also doubt the Tebow family had this in mind at all, but the concept of potential has become a major talking point for the pro-life movement.

This year I attended the March for Life again in Washington, DC.  I have learned a lot about abortion and its lies by attending this march the last few years. But I will say that particularly this year, what the Tim Tebow commercial implied some of the March for Life speakers said more explicitly. These speakers emphasized the idea of “potential” as if it were rehearsed among them. And then one speaker, in particular, said the following,

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A scandal broke out in the NBA on March 29, 2016. Nick Young, a bench player for the Los Angeles Lakers, was caught on tape confessing to have cheated on his fiancée, a famous singer, Iggy Azalea.

Teammates were irate, and the next morning, after the tape was released, the whole team ate breakfast together while a Los Angeles Laker player had to eat alone. But that player was not Nick Young.

NBA fans were irate, as well, and they spent the whole next game booing a particular player on the Los Angeles Lakers, but that player was not Nick Young.

Rather, they went ballistic about Nick Young’s teammate, D’Angelo Russell.

Why, you ask? Because Russell supposedly recorded Nick Young confessing to the fornication and then posted it online for the world to see. And the whole world condemned D’Angelo Russell for the action. No one criticized Nick Young in any way. He was only praised. He became a fan favorite and the world stood by his side while demonizing an early April Fool’s prank by his 19-year-old teammate.

Exactly one year later another scandal broke out. This time in the political realm.

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Lord I believe that Jordan will play in the NBA! No! I declare Jordan will play in the NBA!

That was a sentence that a guy prayed over me as we were leaving a basketball camp I attended in high school. He said that sentence as he alternated between speaking in tongues and speaking in English. I wanted to say, “have you not seen me play this whole week? I’ll be lucky to start on my high school team this year!” That was the first time I was exposed to the modern version of the gift tongues. Over the years I’ve had a chance to attend quite a few pentecostal churches and events but it wasn’t until I got to seminary that I really started gaining interest in Charismatic theology.

Over the years my disdain for the “miracle workers” on tv grew as I heard of thousands of people in wheelchairs praying and hoping to be healed at Benny Hinn crusades, only to leave disappointed, questioning God and being told they simply didn’t have enough faith to be healed. These stories saddened me and made me want to make sure I understood what God said in his Word regarding the miraculous gifts. I’ve come to take the cessationist position. Immediately, one of the first things I noticed was that cessationists have been accused of limiting God.

Picture a box. Let’s call it the “can’t do miracles box.” Anyone placed inside this box, of course, can’t do miracles. For about a century now, many people in the church have accused those who would call themselves “cessationists” of putting God inside that box. Cessationists believe that God has ceased working in certain ways that He did previously. Namely, He limits the miraculous abilities that humans can do.  Whether it is the ability to be able to speak in unlearned languages as in Acts 2, heal a lame man as in Acts 3 or to be able to correctly predict the future as Agabus did in Acts 21, cessationists believe that God has ceased allowing human beings to perform these miraculous gifts.

In other words, cessationists believe that God–shortly after the death of John–put human beings back into the “can’t do miracles box” as He has for most of history.

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It is said that there are creatures in the depths of the oceans that remain undiscovered to this day. Astronomers keep finding new stars and new planets each and every year that, for millennia, have been seen only by God.  Every undiscovered animal, plant, and planet brings glory to God by the mere fact that He sees them, and He gets glory from their beauty even if He is the only one who knows that they exist.

In much the same way, despite the fact that there is much to be discouraged about when we look around at the situation in churches today, I do believe that there is, also, much to be encouraged about. I believe that God has men whom He has specifically placed around the world that bring Him glory every single Sunday, and no one other than their congregations know anything about them.

Last week I went on vacation with my family. And since we were on vacation on a Sunday, I looked for a church for us to attend. It wasn’t the easiest choice to make as zero churches came up on the TMS and 9 Marks church finder websites, but eventually, I settled on a church based on a Google search. We showed up right as it was starting. The first song began. As I walked into the room, there were about 40-50 people present. My expectations were not very high based on previous vacation experiments we had tried.

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Over the years I’ve seen that one of the most powerful moments in a new believer’s life is the realization that there is such a thing as a false convert. The sudden realization that salvation is not dependent on a prayer, a baptism or family history propels true believers to a whole other dimension in their walk with Christ. They begin to examine themselves properly (2 Cor 13:5), they become more evangelistic, they care more about theology and they appreciate being at church so much more. Understanding the fact that false converts are a reality is so important for those who call themselves Christians.

dying plantAs we saw last week, there are few things more disappointing than when someone from our church walks away from the Lord. Especially when you’ve spent countless hours not only teaching and discipling that person, but you have shared a myriad of hours of ministry with him.

Maybe at some point in the grieving process, you will wonder why you weren’t able to tell that he was a false convert. Maybe you question your ability to discern over the fact that you were unable to tell, and you are beating yourself over the head.

Philip was one of the first deacons in the Church. He was selected by the disciples to be one of the seven to serve the tables in Acts 6:1-6, and he went on to becomes an incredible evangelist soon after that. In fact, when Stephen was martyred, Philip was the one who was sent to Samaria and Judea in order to spread the Gospel past the confines of Jerusalem. And we see that the Lord used him greatly. But, what we also see is the first false convert. Simon, the magician, was a man whom the people practically worshiped. He was able to do incredible tricks that caused the people to say to themselves, “This man has what is called the Great Power of God.”  When Philip showed up, the Bible tells us that 1) he believed, 2) he was baptized, and 3) he continued on with Philip. As soon as Peter and John showed up, though, we realize that Simon was a false convert and we are left wondering how did Philip miss it? Perhaps Philip was left wondering how he missed it as well.

Of course, no amount of time spent discipling people is wasted time, but there is a sense in which we want to use our time wisely and be able to water where the grass is green, rather than spend our time watering dead grass. Is there a way to tell? Is there a way to be able to recognize the sheep from among the goats in this life? Well, Simon had four red flags that Luke points out in the short story of Acts 8:9-24 which we can apply to all false converts. These don’t encompass all the red flags, but they are a helpful start. So, here are four characteristics of a false convert.

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“Oh wow! A lady from my church just called my wife to tell her she found out her husband has committed adultery! I think he’s leaving her.”

That’s the sentence a pastor friend of mine said last week during our conversation. While we were catching up, he had received a phone call but he ignored it since we were talking; then he got the text. Here we were at a pastors’ conference enjoying fantastic preaching and great fellowship, when, suddenly, this text served as a striking reminder that ministry never stops. It doesn’t matter how far we travel, across the country or across the world, we can’t escape the realities of ministry.

I don’t have much experience in ministry, but I can confidently say that the most difficult part of it is when people walk away from the Lord. Of course, the death of fellow saints is painful, but our theology allows us to be joyful at the same time; unbelievers rejecting the Gospel is sad, but it is expected apart from God opening their eyes. It must be said that there is nothing like having someone with whom you’ve spent hours with, discussing Scripture, theology, doing evangelism with them, and spending Sunday after Sunday singing incredible truths with, only to watch them walk away from it all in order to satisfy some worldly temporary pleasure while forsaking the church that Christ died for.  Thomas Watson’s words ring true when he said, “What a fool who, for a drop of pleasure, would drink in a sea of wrath.”

What are we to do?  How are we to think about it?  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a pastor for decades and have watched dozens of people walk away, or if you’re new in the ministry and it has happened only a handful of times, I imagine that it is something you never get used to and, perhaps, as we get older and our joy to see Jesus increases, our disappointment over those who walk away only tends to get stronger. So, how do we think through this? You don’t have to be a pastor to experience this tragedy. Here are four reminders we need when someone close to us in the church walks away.

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rosaryAs we celebrate the 500th year of the reformation this year, I’ve been very encouraged by the fact that there are so many in the church who understand that the reformation is not over.

Coming to America after growing up in Italy was very interesting. The world has a lot to learn from the American church, who, for so many years, has supplied the world with most of its Christian missionaries, and yet the American church has a lot to learn from the rest of the world when it comes to being able to condemn false religions.

This year is an opportunity for the American church to really explore what the Roman Catholic church actually is, and ask whether or not it teaches the truth. Secondly, each believer must ask himself whether, when speaking with the Catholic individual, they are asking the right questions.

Many Christians may accept the fact that the Roman Catholic church is a false church that teaches works-righteousness, but may have “the neighbor” who says he really loves Jesus, making it very difficult to figure out how to really know if they believe in grace or if they believe in works.

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nonnoenonnaMy grandfather turned 90 last week. This year, he will celebrate his 68th year of being a missionary in Rome, Italy.  He is still preaching regularly, not only in his own home church that he planted over 60 years ago but also around the country. He also writes for a monthly magazine and books for the edification of Italian believers. It has been an incredible ride, and I’ve learned so much from him over the years, but there was one day in particular that will stay with me forever. But first, let me tell you about his ministry.

It was 1949, World War II was just finished, and William Standridge, my grandpa, fresh out of college, was on his way to Italy as a missionary. He was 22 years old and had already decided a few things. If he was going to be giving his life for the Italian people, he needed to adapt as quickly as possible to the Italian culture. He would learn to wear what they wore, eat what they ate, and speak as they spoke.

Soon after that, he was on his way to speak at a young adults’ camp and although his desire was to dress like an Italian, he hadn’t adapted quite yet. After the war, Italians were experiencing serious depression, not just financial, but even more emotional turmoil. This affected their clothing. They all wore gray and black suits and ties, with very little color in them. As he approached the camp, he caught the eye of the woman who had organized the conference. She said that his choice of shirt that day was something she had never seen before–horses that were colored in every color of the rainbow. And so, he caught her eye even before she heard him speak. He taught them that week about his love for the Lord, and his ability to preach the Word stood out and she definitely wanted to get to know him more.

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This June, Immanuel Bible Church (in the Washington DC area) is hosting our third Foundry Conference. The conference has three goals: to expose young adults to expository preaching that will build a biblical worldview in every area of life, to sing theologically rich music that will lead us to a proper worship of God, and to provide encouragement for people from like-minded churches all over the country.

This year’s theme will be a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Our sessions will focus on sections of scripture that were critical in leading the reformers out of Roman Catholicism. Although this conference will be geared toward young adults, we will not be checking ID’s at the door, and everyone is welcome.

Registration is $40, and includes a $20 gift card to Immanuel Christian Bookstore and lunch on Saturday. The conference begins Friday evening, June 9th, and ends Sunday evening, June 11.

I’ll be preaching at the conference, along with:

Cripplegate conference
Mike Riccardi: In addition to his Cripplegate blogging, Mike’s real job is Outreach Pastor at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. Mike has a passion for evangelism, and a heart for the church.

Jesse Johnson: Jesse is currently the Lead Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. Along with Clint and Mike, Jesse  is the founder of The Cripplegate blog. This will be his third year hosting the Foundry Conference.

Eric Davis: Eric blogs regularly at The Cripplegate. In 2008 he planted Cornerstone Church in Jackson, Wyoming, which he currently pastors.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to bring a group, email me at standridge@ibc.church.