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    Answers To Your Stretching Questions

    On Friday, I asked you to ask me any questions.  Today, I’ll do my best to answer the questions.  This is one of my longer posts, but I hope you’ll find in interesting and perhaps a little humorous.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on my responses to your questions.  Thanks so much to each of you for some wonderful and challenging questions (I may just have to do this again some time).

    What would you go back and tell 16 year old you if you could time travel? from Larry Carter at Deuceology

    Great question, Larry.  I’d tell myself to buy stock in Apple.  I’d tell 16 year-old Jon Stolpe to be confident in who God made him.  I’d tell me that I am a writer.  I’d tell me not to sweat the girlfriend thing, because God has an unbelievable wife in store for me for the future.  I’d remind me that I am a leader.

    Who is your favorite blogger? from Rob Shepherd at robshep.com

    This is really a tough one as I follow so many great bloggers.  Perhaps, my favorite is my dad, Norman Stolpe.  My dad is a writer’s writer.  He has been writing for years.  He doesn’t blog regularly though he keeps a blog.  But his weekly sermons have to be considered as some type of blogging.  My dad has inspired me on many different levels when it comes to my writing.  I don’t ever expect to hold a candle to his writing skill, but I hope that my dad will be proud that I’ve followed in his writing footsteps in some small way.

    What motivated you to start blogging? from Rob Shepherd at robshep.com

    I have a friend, Frank Chiapperino, who was my biggest encouragement to start blogging.  Frank was our adult ministries pastor at the time, and he now pastors his own church in Minnesota.  Frank still blogs fairly regularly about leadership, technology, and small groups.

    What verse in the Bible challenges you the most? from Rob Shepherd at robshep.com

    Colossians 4:2-6 is one of my favorite verses and probably one of the verses that challenges me the most.  Making the most of every opportunity means so much to me.  I need to make the most in sharing my faith with others.  I need to make the most of the time I have with my friends, family, and co-workers.  I don’t want my time here on earth to be a waste.  I want to hear God say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

    Would you rather have spam for hands or mayo for a tongue? from Rob Shepherd at robshep.com

    This ones easy for me.  I hate (I strongly dislike) mayo, so I’ve got to go with Spam for hands.  If I had a mayo tongue, I’d be throwing up all the time.

    It’s a question I asked on my blog yesterday. If you wrote a cardboard testimony what would it say? from Eileen Knowles at The Scenic Route

    “God love me – broken and bruised, impatient and imperfect, STRETCHED!”

    Where do you see yourself in 15 years? from Joe Lalonde at jmlalonde.com

    In 15 years, I will be 55.  I’ll have two kids in their later twenties, and I will have been married for over 30 years.  I hope to be 100% debt free including the house.  I hope to be giving way more than I’m getting.  I’d love to have written at least one book by that time – though I’m still figuring all that out.  If I stay at my current job (which is definitely a possibility), I will have been there for over 31 years.  I’d like to continue to grow in respect.  I’d like to be known for investing in others like no other leader before me.  I’m not sure if blogging will still exist in 15 years, but I’d like to use my writing as a tool to expand the Kingdom.

    As a man of strong religious beliefs, what do you think is in general the greatest challenge today to people who seek to maintain their religious faith? And what is the greatest challenge to maintaining your faith personally?  For example, is it that science has called into question many fundamental beliefs in the Bible? Is it rampant materialism in our society? Is it pressure from the mass media to adopt more secular values? When people who are hypocritical in their religious practice are exposed to the public, is that the greatest challenge to believers? Or is personal hardship and suffering a greater challenge to faith than all of these?  from Michael Shaw at I Love Skippack

    Wow, this is a pretty deep question which I may need to explore in more depth in a future post.  My short answer is this: The greatest challenge today to people who seek to maintain their religious faith is the same challenge that has plagued people since the beginning of time.  We are so bent on being in control.  We’re self-centered, sinful creatures.  We all struggle with ME, ME, ME.  And we live in a culture where this pull towards ME is so strong.  It’s so easy to be distracted by the things of this world that call to us saying “I can help you get ahead by doing this or doing that.”  For me personally, it’s not much different.  I get distracted by thoughts of trying to get ahead, trying to make a name for myself, and trying to keep up with the Joneses.  The Bible talks about “seeking first the Kingdom of God” in Matthew 6.  This can be a real challenge and can be nearly impossible without the support of family and friends of faith who spur me on.  This is part of the reason I love this blogging community.  While I hope my writing will spur other on, it’s often the Stretched Community that pushes me to keep the faith.  For that, I’m grateful beyond words.

    How much are you ready to stretch yourself in order to see your God-given dreams come to pass?  from Joe Abraham at joeandancy.com

    Appropriately, this question is rather stretching for me.  I’m fairly certain that I’ve shared this here before – I hate change.  I like things to be the same.  I would eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day given the choice.  So it’s no surprise that “stretching” to achieve my God-given dreams is not always easy for me.  Honestly, there have been a few setbacks along life’s journey that have dampened some of my dreaming, but I’m relearning some of the skill related to dreaming big again.  I shared some of this in a guest post over at Expect the Exceptional a few weeks ago, and I’ve been sharing some of these thoughts especially related to my leap of faith decision to go to Guatemala.  I think I struggle most in this area in trusting God financially to provide should I decide to leave my career and pursue something else.  I’m not convinced that this is where God’s calling me, but I think it would be the biggest challenge for now.  I’m not sure this fully addresses your question, but I hope it’s a start.  Thanks!

    Wow!  This was more challenging than I expected.  Thank you to everyone who answered the call to question me.  What’s your answer to one of these questions?  Or better yet, what’s the one question you’re most afraid to answer?