Facebook Revival

Last Friday, I began posting statements and sayings on Facebook I have used in my purpose coaching and teaching over the years. Immediately, I sensed something was up. The response was quick and RevivalPicenthusiastic, so I posted another and then another, and before I was finished, I had posted roughly 100 sayings that are still receiving feedback, likes, shares, and questions. I thought I would share some of the way forward now that this online revival of sorts has finished while the effects are felt for some time to come.

  1. The most popular post of all my quotes was this one: "Stop waiting for your church to recognize you; recognize yourself and then do what God wants you to do." Let me explain. I have found that many people are expecting their church to recognize their gifts and then find a way for those gifts to be expressed. This does happen but it's rare. There is only one pulpit and 52 Sundays every year to give a public platform to the gifts. What's more, often people's gifts are not consistent with a modern worship structure. One man I knew one time had a purpose to minister to the military. Most churches don't know what to do with that, so I advised him to start his own outreach ministry to the military, which he did.

Rather than being angry at the church or going to another church, I advise you to pray and be creative to find ministry expressions that don't depend on your church's programs or leadership preferences. If you have a ministry to child, buy a rocking chair, take it with you, and go rock children in a hospital ward. I just counseled a woman who was gifted musically to schedule three concerts over the holiday season. She did and I think one of them was at a family gathering. Her assignment for January is to write a song, then record it on YouTube. My point is that you cannot and should not allow your purpose, creativity, or gift to languish if others don't see it for what it is or what it can be.

2. The second most popular post was "By the authority vested in me, I give you permission to be a person of purpose in 2019. You may kiss your purpose." This is obviously a tongue-in-cheek adaptation from the standard wedding vows at a Christian wedding. I have found that I often have to give people permission to be who they are. Everyone wants to be normal but in reality, no one is "normal." Our purpose makes us abnormal, but we often hide who we are so we can act more like what we have been taught normal is. You don't need anyone's permission to be you, but when you are hiding who you are in fear, it sometimes helps for someone like me to say, "Go ahead, sing, dance, write, teach, build and do it the way you want it done. It's okay and it's God's will."

3. The third most popular was "Be you - everyone else is already taken." This brings us back to the normal issue. When we see someone else serving the Lord, we can think that we should be more like that person. We admire their gifts and want them, even covet them. I urge you to be who God made you to be, and there has never been anyone like you in the world. Stop trying or pretending to be someone else. If you like pizza for breakfast, eat it (not particularly healthy, but you get my point). If you like the color purple, then decorate in purple (mine is orange, but men don't wear orange, but I started to wear orange). I may emulate what I admire in someone else, but I am going to assimilate that into my personality and gifts. I want to be me and God wants that too.

4. The fourth post was "I no longer put my faith in my ability to hear the Lord; I put my faith in God's ability to speak to me." My experience has shown me that we have been taught not to "miss the Lord," so we agonize over the guidance process and wait for endless confirmations before we may then venture out. God is with us, not against us. He is not trying to trick us. I can honestly say I have never heard that the Lord wanted me to write any of my 40 books (perhaps that is reflected in the sales!). I had an idea and I trusted that I had the mind of Christ on the matter and proceeded. Now if you have written 41 books, I will listen to your advice of how to hear from the Lord, but if you have thought about writing for ten years, had three prophets confirm you were supposed to do it, and still haven't written anything, I won't be accepting your advice on how to hear and follow through any time soon. God is a great communicator and James was clear: If we ask for wisdom and don't doubt, we will receive it. We tell people to go for it, but be careful. That grooves fear into their mind, so they wait and tarry and delay.

There is a lot more I could write, but I have probably already written or talked about it someplace. Check out my website, my Vimeo video channel, my Monday Memo blog, my personal blog, my Twitter account (@johnstanko) or my LinkedIn page and you will find a ton of stuff that relates to what I wrote about on Facebook this past weekend. As you approach 2019, I encourage you not to set your goal to go to the moon if you haven't been out of your home town, for you are just setting yourself up for failure. Don't set a goal to write a 900 page novel if you can't be consistent with your journal. Build your faith muscles in 2019 by going a bit farther than you have gone before. Share your testimony on Facebook when you do and then set a goal to go a little farther.

If I can help you, let me know, but in the meantime, have a blessed, purposeful and Happy New Year! May this be the year of purpose for you.

Trip to Haiti and Other News

Here are some things going on and random thoughts on the future:

1.  The Kenya container drama continues. We have been informed that we need to fumigate the shoes we are sending (providing a certificate of the process) and also to provide a health certificate stating that there is no leprosy in the sending country. If any of your friends in the U.S. are lepers, please let me know so I can inform the Kenya authorities.

2. I currently have 26 people going to Israel next April, with 13 going to Rome after our pilgrimage. There is still time and room to book your space. Check out the website and then join us for the trip of a lifetime, one you have probably wanted to make for quite some time.

3. I received a surprise invitation to go to Haiti before Christmas for a day of leadership training. I Haiti will depart on December 18 and return on December 21, a quick trip. If you care to contribute toward my expenses, please do so using my website link.

4. We have been called to schedule our Kenya shipment inspection. After that, we will get a pick up date. I will need help on that day to load the container with the 800 boxes, desks, bikes and other "stuff" we are sending. I cannot give you a date, but if you think you may be able to help, please let me know.

5. I just sent my latest commentary off to begin the publishing process. That means I will have published commentaries on Matthew, Mark, John, Acts and five of Paul's epistles in 2017 (Paul's epistles should be available in late December).

6. My writing goals for 2018 are to publish two more volumes of my commentaries (Luke and Paul's epistles to the Thessalonians and to Timothy). Then I will edit five of my existing books to make them current plus will author three new books and record two audio books. All that is in addition to the books I will edit and oversee for others through Urban Press.

7. In order to achieve my 2018 goals, I am looking at what I need to stop doing. So far, I have decided to discontinue my weekly radio show and I have resigned an administrative position I held with a school. I am also cutting back from teaching three college classes to one for the next semester. Every productive person needs a to-do list and a stop-to-do list.

8. I am still looking for the last $3,500 to cover all the Kenya shipment expenses. You can give online using PayPal or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.

9. If you are looking for a good devotional and study book for 2018, may I suggest my revised Life is a  Gold Mine: Can You Dig It? and the accompanying daily devotional. Both are on sale through my Urban Press website.

That's about it for now.

Back from Nigeria

My trip to Nigeria from October 12-30 was many things: grueling, exhausting, exhilarating, fun, challenging, and enlightening. This past week was busy, as the first week back usually is, and I am IMG_0107sleeping well but still finding myself tired at the end of the day. The first week in Nigeria was spent teaching a graduate level class on Contemporary Communications; the second was participating in the 29th annual Believer's Convention sponsored by Gospel Light International Ministry (GLIM) hosted by Rev. Dr. Felix Omobude.

I met people from all over the world who are part of the GLIM family, and was reunited with my old traveling partner, Dr. Ron Kenoly. It was a wonderful reunion and brought back many good memories of our travels all over the world from 1991 to 1995 for Worship International, the ministry arm of Integrity Music. The attached picture is of my parting gift from GLIM, which is a tailored suit complete with cuff links! I could get used to wearing it, for it is comfortable, yet considered formal wear in many African countries.

Now that I am back home, my focus is on finishing the shipment to Kenya, which currently is bogged down in paperwork. We are waiting to hear when our inspection will be, which is the prelude to a shipping date. We will need help loading the container on whatever day the trucking company assigns, and I am still trusting the Lord for the remainder of the funds needed to finalize the shipment. If God directs you to help, you use my website link with PayPal or send a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.

And don't forget that my 2018 trip to the Holy Land is coming up April 24-May 4, with a short trip afterwards to Rome. There is still time to register, but time is running out. Don't miss the chance you have been waiting for to connect with the land where Jesus walked and taught.

My Ministry Updates

There is a lot going on, or should I say, coming up with my ministry work. I thought I would take this opportunity to update you and give you a chance to get involved. Here goes:

  1. I have 14 people signed up for my 2018 Israel trip from April 24-May 4, and many have inquired IsraelWebsitePicand more than a few said they are going. There are also 8 people signed up for the after trip to Rome. You can find out more about the pilgrimage at the tour website.
  2. My next trip to Kenya is February 22 to March 9, 2018. The first informational meeting is on Sunday, July 30 at 12:30 PM at Allegheny Center Alliance Church in room 120 of the Union Place building. Please let me know if you plan to attend.
  3. My latest book, a commentary on the gospel of John, is available for purchase on Amazon.
  4. I am ready to ship my next container of books and school supplies to Kenya. This shipment has 25,000 books, 2,500 pairs of shoes, desks, bikes, and a ton (literally) of school supplies. I need help with the shipping costs. You can contribute using PayPal through my website, or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.
  5. I next speak at Allegheny Center Alliance Church on the weekend of August 19-20.
  6. I will be speaking at Victory Church in Oklahoma City on Sunday, September 3, in both services.
  7. This fall, I am teaching two leadership courses at the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry in Pittsburgh. On Wednesday nights, I will teach How to Start a Nonprofit Organization from 6 to 9 PM. On Saturday mornings from 9 to noon, I will teach History of Urban Leadership. Write me for more information.
  8. I will be in Lagos, Nigeria from October 14-30 teaching at the satellite school for Southwestern Christian University.
  9. I am working on my second work of fiction that involves lessons from the relationship of David and Saul, as well as from the book of Psalms.
  10. In addition to the above, I am enjoying my time as president of Urban Press, for which I am involved in many book projects for other people.

Please write and let me know if you would like to participate in anything I have listed above or if you have any questions. And please know that what I do, I do in faith, trusting God for my provision. If God leads you to help me, please contribute using PayPal through my website, or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.

January is Gone

January just flew by, or is it just my impression of how quickly the first month of 2016 passed through? I thought I would write some personal thoughts this week since I am not posting my daily devotional and haven't yet started my video devotional format. Here goes.

  1. I have two personal writing projects that I am working on. The first is the editing of last year's daily devotional, Life Matters: Daily Reflections from the Book of Psalms, and the second is Unlocking the Power of You, which is the fourth book in a four-part Unlocking series (Purpose, Creativity and Productivity are the other three, already published).
  2. I stopped my Saturday morning radio show, but I don't miss getting up early on Saturday morning to trek across town to the studio. I sense more media is in my future, but nothing has emerged yet.
  3. I am teaching three college classes every week, and will pick up a fourth in two weeks. I always sense God's presence when I teach.
  4. I am editing four manuscripts right now for my publishing company, Urban Press. There are also a few more projects getting ready to get under way. I am pleasantly surprised at how well the publishing work is going, but the key word in that endeavor is work! I am writing morning, noon and night, although I am not complaining - just sayin'.
  5. I am on day 28 of a fast to start the year. It is going well, and I am going to finish fasting this week.I am not fasting for any particular reason, or to seek specific direction from the Lord. My morning prayer is, "God, I will do whatever you want me to do, wherever You want me to do it."

I sent out an appeal letter this week, asking for financial help for my upcoming trip to Kenya that starts on February 25. If you regularly read this blog, you know the work I am doing to build libraries, establish relationships with orphanages, finance orphans to go to school, and other relief and development work. I trust the Lord's provision for these projects, and this year is no exception. I am attaching my fundraising letter at the bottom of this post and ask that you read it then act accordingly. I need your help, and I am confident that God will orchestrate meeting these needs as He always has.

That's about it for now. Thanks for your patience as I work out a rhythm and routine for how to do the video devotionals.

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Personal Direction for 2016

It occurred to me that I updated my Facebook readers of my publishing plans for 2016, but did not post an update on my blog, so here goes. First of all, Happy New Year! I trust the year has gotten off to a good start for you and that you are pursuing purpose and fruitfulness in these first days. I am starting the year off with a personal fast to set my course for the year, and to seek the Lord's guidance on many issues.

As you may know, I began a publishing company last year called Urban Press. Business is good, and right now I am in the final edits of four manuscripts that Urban Press will publish. That''s about 650 pages of writing that I am juggling between the four works, and it's been both a challenge and a privilege to help shape the four narratives of the four authors.

I began teaching again for a new semester last week, and this semester I will teach History of Leadership, Leadership and Strategy, and the Pentateuch, as well as oversee two final projects for two separate Master's-level leadership classes. On February 25, I will be part of a team returning to Kenya to reconnect with our work there.

I decided to stop two things as 2016 began and one of them was my daily devotional that I have written every day for the last seven years (the other was a Saturday morning radio show here locally). The good news is that each one of those days can be found on my personal blog, if you still want to access something to stimulate your daily Bible study. Simply go to my site, look down the right side, and you will see a link for each year's devotional - Daily Dose, Leadership Walk, Life Matters, What Would Jesus Ask?, and Purpose Pearls. Those represent about 1,800 daily devotional entries, so I am sure you can find something there you like.

In a few weeks, I am going to experiment with a new devotional format, and that will be video. I hope to launch a daily video devotional, but I have to figure out the logistics and how exactly I will do that. I assume I will post the link on this site where you can watch. My thought right now is to go back and do What Would Jesus Ask You Today? in this first video series. All that is subject to change as I seek the Lord.

Of course, you can access all my material in book form by purchasing any devotional from Amazon. All my books are in Kindle and paper format, so you can carry one with you in your briefcase or in your e-reader. I am working on three personal projects right now: a 20th-anniversary revision of Life is a Gold Mine: Can You Dig It?; Unlocking the Power of Your Productivity; and Your Life Matters: Daily Reflections from the Book of Psalms. Those projects are part of the reason I stopped publishing a daily devotional this year, for I am starting each day by working on my own material before I move on to teaching or editing other people's works.

Thank you for bearing with me in this transitional period. It will take some time for me to find a new work rhythm, but I am confident it will come with God's help and direction. My eyes are fixed on him as we start a new year, and I know He will lead and guide. If you have any thoughts, questions, or impressions of the direction I should take, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. Thanks for your support, and please also let me know if I can help you in your own quest for a purposeful life.

The Morning After

The church where I serve has six weekend services. Speaking five times (one is a video recording) over a weekend is not without its challenges. First of all, I must work to keep all five messages the same, even though the time available usually varies. I know 3-4 minutes does not seem like much, but when you only have 25 minutes or so, it can make a big difference. I have to think through what stories to include or not to include. Since there are PowerPoint slides, I cannot change the skeleton of the message, but may or may not have time for all the illustrations. What's more, I try to leave time for an altar call.

Then there is the issue of stamina. I like to inject some energy and passion into my messages and not shortchange any service. You have a lot going on while you are speaking as well, like babies crying, people coughing (one man who coughs sounds like an explosion), and people exiting rows. All that is normal for a speaker, but it adds to the challenge of staying focused and moving the message forward. Finally, there is the need to get done so the people can move out and the next service move in.

So here I am on Monday and I feel like I have moved some furniture. Please don't misunderstand: this is not a complaint. I just thought I would share some of what, from my perspective, goes on in doing multiple weekend services. If you would like to listen to or watch my messages from last weekend or two weeks ago, you can access them on the church site.

One more thing: I got this message on Facebook last night and thought I would share it with you. This kind of report makes the work of preaching so very worth everything that is invested:


We have never met. I have been witnessing to one of my friends for over two years and finally convinced him to visit ACAC this morning, (I lead worship at an Alliance Church); he lives in Bellevue.

Anyway - long story short - he accepted Christ this morning as a result of hearing your sermon!

Thank you for serving!

Wow! Thank you Lord for the privilege of serving your people and your Kingdom! But now it's the morning after and time to return to our regularly-scheduled work week. There is certainly more to church work than preaching and teaching!

Land of the Living

It was so nice to get up this morning and not have to race off to class, as I had to do the last two weeks.  I now have seven of my eight weeks of lectures completed for my degree, but have a 25-page paper due on Biblical Worship and three written sermons for Issues in Theology, to be completed by the end of summer.  Plus, I had my thesis approved by the program head, which will be entitled, A Theology of Creativity and Productivity

While the title sounds academic, the project will not be.  I will simply try to point out that biblical, theologically and historically, the church has equipped people to go out and impact the world.  Then I will present my plans for what I call a Life Purpose Center, which can be established by any interested church and nonprofit anywhere in the world. I hope to have all that done by this time next year, Lord willing.

I learned a lot last week, but the format of lectures from 8 to 4:30, six days a week is nothing short of grueling. My cohort class has been together for seven weeks over two years, so we are now veterans of the lecture wars, but it is still requires physical and mental stamina to stay engaged.  Maybe that is what the programs is trying to instill?

I know I have grown through the program, and I have certainly learned a lot.  One thing is clear: Where you start in your journey to build a biblical worldview will determine how you define things along the way. For instance, if you don't believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are available today, then that will color how you interpret things as you progress and grow.  I heard many presuppositions about worship and theology the last two weeks that allowed my professors to be consistent in their approach to Scripture, but limited their applications and interpretations nonetheless.  I admire those men greatly; I just don't agree with them all the time.

So now it is back to the workaday world, and none too soon. My emails and phone calls have piled up and it's time to do some real work for a change.

One Down, One to Go

I started school again last Monday at Reformed Presbyterian Seminary.  I have been in class all week and will be again next week from 8 to 4:30, Monday through Saturday. It is grueling, but the class was fairly interesting as we spent the week studying passages related to biblical worship. The Reformed Presbys hold to the regulative principle, which states that if it isn't in the Bible, it should not be done where worship is concerned.  Therefore they sing only the Old Testament psalms without any musical instruments.

This position was presented and defended but was not forced on any of the students, since none of us are from a Reformed Presbyterian church.  I came away from the class with an increased appreciation for the psalms but could not accept the presuppositions that allow for the exclusive psalmody position.  We had some interesting class debate, but all in a good spirit of discussion and fellowship.

As usual, there was lots of work reading up to the class and once we finish there will be 20-page paper due. Next week, we have an Issues in Theology class, for which I have not completed the class readings, most of which are from German authors who make the simple complex, if you know what I mean. After next week's class, I will have one more class next February.  When I have all my class work done and my project/thesis submitted, I will graduate with a Doctor of Ministry.  I have been in the program two years, and it has been a great experience.  I am learning a lot and how can anyone complain when you get to sit for almost eight hours a day and discuss Scripture and the things of God!  It is a privilege to be enrolled.

What's more, I marvel at God's timing, for I started this program two years ago. With my position at Allegheny Center Alliance Church now, I am glad I made the decision to go back to school.  Every course has helped me prepare for what I am doing at ACAC now.  What are you doing to grow and be more effective in the work God has given you to do?  If you are thinking of going back to school, may I heartily endorse that option if you can make it work.  If not, at least embark on a reading program or attend some lectures or seminars that will make you better at what you do.

Easter Weekend

We had a good but busy Easter weekend (you may prefer to call it Resurrection Weekend).  Much of it was spent in church, for the local church of which I am part had two services on Friday night, one on Saturday and three on Sunday.  The quality of ministry was excellent and I was uplifted by it all.  At the same time, I took every available moment to work on my latest book, which is due to the publisher this coming Wednesday. I only have the Appendix to finish, so I think the deadline is within reach.

After I wrap up my book, I then have about 2,000 pages of reading to finish for my next two classes in the first two weeks of June (I figure I have to read 40 pages every day between now and then to finish), in addition to a paper due on May 1 for my biblical counseling class.

It's nice to see spring flowers in full bloom. Even though it's still cool, spring and summer can't be far away.  They can never come too early for me.  The Pittsburgh Pirates baseball home opener was last Monday, and the hockey and basketball playoffs are imminent. 

So that's what is new in my world.  What's new in yours?  Feel free to post your response on the site where this entry is posted.