Archives For Jordan Standridge

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.

Ministry is hard.

easyYou’re probably thinking, “No duh, Jordan.” But there was a time that I actually thought that it was going to be easy. I’m prone to make the same mistake over and over again. When I sat in my pre-marital counseling, I thought that marriage was going to be relatively easy. Then, before we had our first child and we took our parenting class, I thought, “Man, this is going to be a piece of cake.” And then there were times sitting in seminary classes that I thought, “Sounds pretty simple to me!”

But then I got married, and even though my wife is the most gorgeous and godly woman I know, I still can’t stop from being selfish towards her at times, and despite the fact that I’ve listened to hours of Tedd Tripp’s thoughts on parenting, I still struggle when my children sin against me, and even though I went to the best seminary in the world (yes, I know I’m biased), ministry is still incredibly difficult. Sitting in a classroom is one thing, but actually experiencing the ministry is another.

Recently, as I had the opportunity to teach on Luke 9:1-9, I was overwhelmed with the concept of giving glory to God in our ministries. How does God get glory from us doing ministry? For over a year Jesus had done everything, and it was going pretty well. Yes, He was almost killed a couple times, even in His own town, but thousands were being healed, thousands were having demons cast out, and, as you read the verses right after this section, you see that thousands upon thousands were following Christ so far that they didn’t have food to eat and He had to feed the hungry crowd. Jesus was doing ministry perfectly.

And in these verses, He decides to step back for a time and sends out the twelve disciples to go do ministry for the first time.

Jesus didn’t have to do this. He could have done it all. The Trinity could have decided before the foundation of time to never create humans or to not allow human beings to share in ministry, and yet God decided to not only create humans but for human beings to be the instruments He would use to bring glory to Himself.

And so, Jesus sends out the twelve, but it is quite obvious here that the disciples are completely dependent on Christ. We throw around the words “give glory to God” very often in the church, but I believe this passage actually gives us the opportunity to define this term a little better.  In fact, Jesus gives us three gifts that drive us to admit or dependence on Him and that ultimately allows Him to receive all the glory and praise.

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biblepulpitWe are less than a month away from the Shepherds conference and the anticipation is building as we are looking forward to another incredible week. I get that I am biased, but I do believe it is the best conference to go to. Grace Community Church does an incredible job serving the pastors who come, it is great to see so many old friends and make some new ones, and, most of all, it always seems like the various speakers preach their best sermons during this conference.

This year’s theme is going to be “We Preach Christ” and it will be honoring the 500th year of the protestant reformation you can watch the conference at the conference website. To whet our appetite a little I’d like to highlight a sermon preached by Steve Lawson two years ago. The focus of the conference that year was on the inerrancy of Scripture.

He began his sermon by quoting Spurgeon who said, “O Friends, if I did not believe in the infallibility of Scripture—the absolute infallibility of it from cover to cover—I would never enter this pulpit again.

Then, Steve Lawson declared, “Because the Word of God is inerrant, it is, therefore, by necessity, invincible. And because it is absolutely pure, it is absolutely powerful.”

He also added, “The Bible is like a beautiful diamond that has many different cuts, and, when you hold it up to the light, each beauty is refracting the light of each different side and no one symbol of the Bible can communicate the whole. So, it requires many different metaphors, many different analogies, to even begin to try to put its arm around the totality of the invincible power of the inerrant Word.”

All in all, this sermon was very quotable, so I’d like to share with you his outline, as well as some of my favorite quotes, that I hope will give you a gist of what he said. Of course, it would be best to listen to the sermon itself as it would be encouraging to any heart that treasures the Word of God.

Here are Steve Lawson’s seven metaphors that the Bible uses to describe Itself.

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A couple weeks ago, my kids saw a man and his son out in the park, so they quickly asked if they could go outside. It was a great chance for my kids to play with someone and for me to get to know a neighbor. It turned out to be a great Gospel opportunity.

He was a guy who grew up in Peru, currently working for an airline company. He gets to fly all over the world for free, and he told me that he can’t wait to make it to Italy one day, specifically Rome.  When I informed him that I grew up in Rome, we were practically best friends. Then he asked me what I do. When I informed him that I worked at a church, he played it cool like he was ok with it. He had already told me that he grew up with Catholic grandparents, as well as a Jewish grandpa, all practicing in their respective religions. He never mentioned anything negative about them, nor about religion at all. And then he told me that he was an atheist. As we continued our conversation, it was very pleasant. He couldn’t understand why there are so many religions, so I explained to him the differences between what I believe and most other religions. He had many questions about the Bible’s reliability which I did my best to answer, and then I got the chance to encourage him to read his Bible. He confessed to a fear of death, as well as some doubts about atheism. Right before we went home, we took out our phones and became Facebook friends. All in all, a wonderful conversation, and one which I was very thankful for.

And then I looked at his Facebook.

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mormonsThe other day I was getting ready to take the kids to our park when there was a knock on the door. Thinking it was a present from Amazon, I looked out only to find an even greater present: three Mormon missionaries. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. A long time goes by before your last visit and you start getting excited about the next time Mormons come knocking at your door. Every time I see Mormons, I get this sudden urge to talk to them. And every time I walk away discouraged and saddened for how blinding their religion is. And the cycle continues. Over the last few years, I’ve had many interactions with Mormon “elders.”

Mormons are usually very sweet people. They genuinely believe their religion, and they do believe that what they teach is the truth. They believe their religion is best and that you will be happiest if you follow it. But what is fascinating is the training that they receive before coming to your door. They are taught to focus on the positives. They are all about image and the way they present themselves. They are, in fact, salesmen, and they sell their product through smiles and offering “hope.” Over the last couple of years, I’ve asked Mormons what they are selling. I say, “Ok, you guys have come all the way to my house and to my door, what do you guys want me to do?” “What are you guys offering?” and whether it was Virginia, California or a random Chick-Fil-A in Georgia, they all said, “Happiness in this life and hope for the next!”

Their training teaches them to smile big, to not argue, and to focus on the positives of their religion. They are trained to talk about family, and about being with family for eternity. They are discouraged from bringing up controversial topics. No matter what you say, it seems like they nod as if they agree, and when you point out to them that they shouldn’t be agreeing, they agree with you again and say that they agreed with most of what you said. In other words, they are taught to be “winsome.” And this winsomeness ultimately manipulates some people into giving this false religion a try.

I’ve noticed over the years that some people in the church do the same, even some preachers are tempted to do this from their pulpits. We put on our best face. We ignore the difficult topics the Bible talks about and just focus on the love of Jesus. We focus on family as well, and on more happiness in this life and hope for the next. And as I think about the Mormon religion, I see three areas in particular where Christians are tempted to behave similarly.

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