Category Archives for "The Circle Maker"

January 2012 Top Posts and Commenters

It was a fun month for The Stretched Blog.  This month, we switched to a self hosted platform.  It has been fun to learn and experiment with the new things available at  If you add up the traffic from the old site and the new Stretched Blog, it was far and away the best month so far.  Here is a list of the top posts on the new blog for the month of January.  It is exciting to see how many guest bloggers appeared in the top ten list this month!

Managing Conflict – A Leadership Stretch … Guest Post by Frank Chiapperino
January 14, 2012 Week In Review
Book Review: The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
Our Behavior Is Our Witness – Guest Post by Kevin Stone
Why Did I Change To My Own Domain?
Ice Breaker – Leaving On A Jet Plane
Ice Breaker – Back to the Future
Rediscovering Grace Through A Two By Four Moment – Guest Post By Chad Jones
Stretching Beyond the Hurt – Guest Post by Diane Karchner
Say What You Need To Say (This was one of my favorites from the month!)

As promised, I am giving away a copy of The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson to this month’s top commenter.  It was a tight race between the top two, and there was a tie for 3rd place!  Here’s the top 3 (or 4):

1.  Larry Carter (22 comments)

2.  Brandon Gililland (21 comments)

3.  Bill Grandi (11 comments)

3.  Arny Sanchez (11 comments)

Your comments are a huge part of what makes The Stretched Community so great!  This month, I will be giving away Chazown by Craig Groeschel to the top commenter.

As a reminder, don’t forget to subscribe to The Stretched Community by entering your e-mail on the right side of the main page.  This will make sure you don’t miss a single post, and it will give you an opportunity to receive any “exclusive” information that might be sent to the blog subscribers only.  Also, I’d encourage you to follow Jon Stolpe Stretched on Facebook.  This is an excellent way to see some of the things I’m reading elsewhere in the blog world.

As always, thank you so much for making The Stretched Blog part of your regular reading!

Are you a blogger?  What was the highlight of your month?  Feel free to share a link to your top post!

January 22, 2012 Week In Review

The week in review for was pushed back a day thanks to the wonders of our winter wonderland and the need to take care of some things at home.  It was a good week on The Stretched Blog.  On Wednesday, The New Stretched Blog experienced the highest traffic day so far!  I will be traveling this week, so I’m turning the blog over to some great guest bloggers for a few days.  Please read the excellent posts by Diane Karchner, Chad Jones, and Kevin Stone and join the conversation in the comments.

Here’s a recap for this week:

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 NEW 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 am sharing 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:

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!

Book Review: The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

Last month, I shared that leaders are readers.  One of my goals for 2012 is to read more – at least one book per month.  This may not sound like a lot to many of you book worms out there, but I’m a slow, deliberate reader so this goal will be a challenge for me.

The first book I finished this year is The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  The Circle Maker is a book about prayer based on a Jewish man named Honi who lived during first century BC.  He was known for drawing circles in the ground where he would stand praying until he received an answer.  Batterson discovered Honi while reading a book about legends from this history of the Jewish people, and Honi’s story inspired Batterson to pray more deliberately and with more conviction.

In The Circle Maker, Batterson relates the story of National Community Church (the church he started in Washington, DC) and the story of Honi to inspire readers to dream big, pray hard, think long, and to keep circling.  He also shares personal stories of how he has seen the power of prayer in his own life.

When I started reading The Circle Maker, I quickly decided to use a blue pen to take notes in the margin and to underline key sentences and points in the book.  I highlighted many things that spoke to me, and I wrote in the margins questions and comments that came to mind as I read through the book.  I was inspired and motivated to pray bigger prayers.  I was challenged to be much more specific in my prayers.  And I was encouraged to keep praying even when the answer doesn’t come right away.

This is the perfect book to read for starting the new year.  Here are a few ways that The Circle Maker stretched me:

1.  I decided to start actively keeping a journal of my prayers.  Through Batterson’s encouragement, a prayer journal will help me keep a closer record of my prayers so I can stay in tune with how God answers my prayers.

2.  I decided to be more deliberate in praying circles around my wife, my kids, my church, my town, my extended family, and my job.

3.  I decided to be more intentional in dreaming big.  I am working on my Life Goal List (or Bucket List).  I’ll post this at some point, and I’m asking The Stretched Community to hold me accountable to this.

So how can you be stretched by The Circle Maker?  Pick up a copy of it for yourself.  I’m actually going to give away a copy of The Circle Maker to the top commenter this month.  You could also head over to Mark Batterson’s blog and join in the 21 Days of Prayer.  I think they’re on Day Six, but it’s not too late for you to get plugged in on this challenge.  Finally, I’d recommend starting a prayer journal for yourself.  Start today dreaming big, praying hard, and thinking long.

How’s your prayer life?  How have you seen your big prayers answered?  What or who are you circling with prayer?