Wiping the Slate Clean  

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Happy New Year!

2009 is upon us! Each new year brings about thought of "Starting over". Whether it was with a resolution or some other way, a new year is always a good reminder to start over with something. Fresh starts generally make us feel better. Lugging the weight creates mental and physical fatigue, and starting over allows us to get rid of that weight.

I received an e-mail this week, through one of my subscribed e-mails (AllProDad.com) and it addressed four things it means to forgive. Forgiveness goes along the lines of starting over. Lugging around that chip on your shoulder can get tiring, so why not forgive that person? Use this year to wipe the slate clean! That brings us to this week's segment...

Author Ken Sande says that when you really forgive someone - your parent, your spouse, your child, your friend - you are making four specific promises to yourself and to them. You are saying:

Number 1: "I will not dwell on this incident."

Number 2: "I will not bring this incident up and use it against you."

Number 3: "I will not talk to others about it."

Number 4: "I will not allow this matter to stand between us or hinder our personal relationship."
You may or may not have to tell a person that you have forgiven them, depending on the specific instance. However, if approaching someone is needed, inform them that you want to be at peace with things and have forgiven them for what they did.

If you are a part of the church, we are not really given the choice whether or not to live at peace with each other. We are called to forgive. Don't make it more difficult on your day-to-day life...forgive! Lose the "grudge" weight!

May God bless you as you start your new year!Share/Bookmark

Have You Made Your Resolution Yet?  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in ,

As this year draws to a close and next year is around the corner, some of you will embark on the tradition of making a resolution. What will you resolve to do in 2009? Will it be lose weight, spend less, exercise more, or something else?

I would like to make one suggestion. Whether you want to call it a “resolution” or not is up to you. How about making a plan to do something each month that will help you with your walk with God? Here are some suggestions…

  1. Pray for 30 days about 30 different things than you normally do
  2. Read a book during one month that has a religious meaning (i.e. Purpose Driven Life, Come Thirsty, Twelve Ordinary Men, etc.)
  3. Attend a workshop, lectureship, Ladies’ Day, etc. (i.e. Tulsa Workshop)
  4. Write, call, or text a different person everyday, for a month, with the purpose of encouraging them.
  5. Host a movie night and invite someone you wouldn’t normally invite
  6. Plan an outreach event that helps get our church exposed to the community.
  7. Help out someone (aka serving) by volunteering to do a task for them – laundry, babysit, wash car, etc.
  8. Go to a Christian/Gospel concert

Maybe you can think of a few more to put on the list. You can do one of these activities more than once during the year. Just make sure that it isn’t losing its impact in making your walk with God more enjoyable.

May your 2009 be filled with many “WOW” moments as you see God working in your life!

Happy 2009!Share/Bookmark

Throw Out the Life Line  

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Recently, I was watching television at my in-laws and we flipped by a news story that involved a break in a water main causing a river-like effect on a city street. Some of the 911 calls were being aired and the panic was evident. Their cars started to no longer be secure on the street as the water was starting to move them. They needed help. They needed rescued. That is the picture to the right.

There are still, today, millions of souls that need to be rescued from the rushing waves of sin. Some have never felt what it is like to be saved, where others have known what it is like, but been "washed away" from the shores of salvation to the river of a sinful lifestyle.

Yesterday, we looked at a challenge to throw out the life line to those we come in contact with. To all be active in doing it to create a net effect instead of a few single lines out trying to rescue. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Pray that God will give you the necessary sight to see those who need rescuing.
  2. Pray and decide to be bold enough to "throw" out the lifeline to those who may need rescuing
  3. Send an e-mail, a card, or a text to someone to invite them to our church - If they have never gone, tell them it would be a great way to start the new year. PS - Maybe even offer to feed their family (whether you make it or you eat out) - people usually don't pass up free food!
  4. Ask them if they've been "rescued" from anything - tell them a rescue story of yours - whether it is spiritual or life experience.
  5. Ask someone in the church if they've thrown out the lifeline this week - then ask how did it go.
  6. Invite someone to our New Year's Eve party
  7. Look with anticipation how God and you will team up to start the rescue process for someone
Lots of different ways we can be throwing out the life line to those needing rescued. As we are all doing our part I look with anticipation at how big the rescue will be!

Let me know your rescue/life line stories by leaving a comment...

Have a great week...Happy New Year!

Anticipating the opportunities...Share/Bookmark

No Santa? Author Unknown  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer


I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit my Grandma on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns. Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything.

She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus!" she snorted. "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go" "Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through it doors, Grandma handed me twenty dollars. That was a bundle in those days "Take this money and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. Suddenly I thought of Bobbie Decker. He sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobbie Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. I fingered the twenty-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, "To Bobbie, From Santa Claus" on it - Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa's helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. From there we watched Bobbie come to the door and pick up his present from "Santa."

Forty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team."

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

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The "MAC"  

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This week had an exciting element for me. I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting of the Board of a project called “The MAC”. This is a project of massive size. Some of you are aware of this project. They are trying to build a YMCA-like center for the community of Colby and the entire northwest Kansas area. The name “The MAC” stands for multipurpose activity center. It really seems like an awesome project. I was asked to come and hear about the project, later to be elected to be on the Board! I look forward to the opportunities that God will open as the project continues in the future.

Though, that was an exciting time for me, there is a different “MAC” that I want you to think about. This one is a “multipurpose active Christian”, you might say it comes from I Corinthians 9:22b, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”

That allows us to see that we are to be Christians of multipurpose. We may be asked to do a host of things that we’re not accustomed to doing for the sake of introducing someone to Jesus. That may mean being in an environment we’re not used to. That may mean talking to someone we’re not normally comfortable talking to. That may mean working through a rough patch with someone. That may mean digging for good things about an individual to appreciate about them. That may mean talking when you normally like to be quiet. I think you are getting the picture.

The middle part is vital to the description…active. Active does not simply mean moving. An active basketball player is not just one that is moving about. Could you imagine a player that just stayed in one area hopping all around? They wouldn’t be very productive. An active Christian is not one that simply is not a pew sitter. They are one that submits and commits to be used, and looks for ways which they can be used.

Are you a “MAC”? I hope we all will be…imagine what the church would be like if we all became “MACs”Share/Bookmark

Working With Servants  

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Over the years God has done some pretty amazing things with His people. Moses - rescuing the Israelites and parting the Red Sea, Gideon - winning battles by being outnumbered, and Mary - giving birth to deity - God's only Son.

I like to look with anticipation at how God is going to use me each day. Even today, I wonder and am eager to see who will be in my path that I can plant a seed in their life. Who's been in your path today/lately? This anticipation makes things exciting. In fact, on a spiritual level, it is the same excitement that I have for Christmas Morning! That is what I hope to rub off on others as time goes on. I didn't have that excitement a long time ago...but I am glad I have it now!

Yesterday, we looked at how God works with servants. We took a look at how God worked with Mary, but she was wondering exactly how this news of her being pregnant was going to happen. However, nothing will be impossible with God. Thus, Mary was blessed to bring in the Savior into the world - for you and me. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Pray that God will keep your eyes open to look at each person that comes across your path as someone you can plant seed in.
  2. See how many areas that you can apply the "nothing will be impossible with God" mindset.
  3. Submit the difficult situations to Him and allow Him to work them out - remember to give Him time.
  4. Share with someone the amazing things that God did with you today, and each day.
  5. Look for ways to expand your territory (I Chronicles 4:10) to increase your influence - joining a civic group, volunteering, inviting a family of a friend of your children for dinner/activity, or you think of one.
I've already had the "surprise" moments since we've moved. It has made things fun and exciting...I wish I could put it into words!

Hope you're ready for Christmas! Have a Merry Holiday Season!

Looking forward to those in my path...Share/Bookmark

Give Light  

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Giving. A word that gives definition to this time of year. We give monies to charitable causes, we give of ourselves as we help others, and we give gifts to those we care about. Generally, when we give, we do not get back what we gave. The money spent is gone. The time devoted will never come back. You may receive a "good feeling" of helping out someone, but it still holds true that those things are never going to return.

This week's quote made me think about that concept. Something that is given, but doesn't lose a thing in return. The quote also made me think about this time of year as the days are shorter and the weather is cooler. Here is this week's quote...

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. ~ Erin Majors
Isn't that an interesting concept? Here is something that is "given" away, but yet, doesn't lose anything.

A "candle" may be a host of things, which you can define what it is. It should mostly be defined as something that warms someone up or gives light to their dark path.

As this time of year brings about shorter days and cooler weather, give light to someone so that they can enjoy something that you have to give them.

Giving light...Share/Bookmark

Loneliness of the Holidays  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

The Christmas season brings about much joy…to most. However, there are several that may not be as joyous as the season suggests. There are a number of reasons for this lack of joy: loss of a loved one, financial struggles, spouse/loved one overseas in military, no family/friends to spend the holidays with.

When those who are lonely or sad hear “it’s the hap-, happiest season of all”, they probably roll their eyes. They cannot agree with the lyric. They are not experiencing that same feeling. They are ready to get it all over with. They are singing “it’s the sad, saddest season of all”.

You are blessed. Not only do you have a Savior, but because of His plan, there are a group of people who get together on a regular basis. This group is the “family”. We are not connected by human DNA, but rather spiritual DNA. We are here to look out for, to support, bear the burdens, to care for, and to love each other.

We are not designed to be alone, so when we are, we’re miserable. Keep your spiritual radar out for people who you know are lonely, or even those that may just seem that way. Be the joy in their moment. If it is someone you know, maybe you can do something to pick them up.

Remember, that people are accustomed to hearing Jesus mentioned this time of year, so use that to your advantage. Invite them to your house, a church gathering, or anything else that gives them someone to be with this holiday season. Let them see the blessing that comes from having people to gather with and not be lonely. Who knows how God will use the seed from the fruit of joy that you give to people during this holiday season!

Handing out fruit…Share/Bookmark

Waiting for Him - Luke 3:15  

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When was the last time you had to wait on the phone for someone to help you? The week before last, I had a day where I was trying to get our internet hooked up and I was on hold a lot. I was being referred from one person to another. On top of that, I was cut off three or four times and had to call back. Each time, I had to plead my case to try to establish internet in our house. It was very frustrating, not to mention time consuming.

Yesterday, we examined how those before Jesus had to wait on the Messiah. Many waited their whole lifetime. They didn't get the chance to see the promised Messiah. How sad. They didn't get to experience what it was like to have him be in their life, whether it was literally, for those who walked when He walked, or in the form we have Him today. They simply looked forward. Today, there are several that are waiting for Him, still. They may not even know it, but they are waiting. How long will you keep them waiting? Here are some applications to choose from to use in applying this lesson...

  1. Pray for God to help you see those who you come in contact with that are waiting for Him.
  2. As you are waiting in line, strike up a conversation with someone around, asking if they're ready for Christmas, what they want for Christmas, what their favorite thing is about Christmas, etc.
  3. If you are waiting in line or behind someone in traffic, pray for the one ahead or behind you that they may have Jesus in their life. Ask of God, if it is His will, that you will get opportunity to be the messenger.
  4. Do something kind (a fruit of the Spirit) for a neighbor this season by taking them something. Preferably, the neighbor that you haven't ever or don't normally talk/visit with.
Don't keep people waiting for Him!

Looking for those who are waiting...Share/Bookmark

Feeling Bored?  

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I don’t know how many times I said the words “I’m bored” as a youth. I can remember going to visit my relatives, where I didn’t have any cousins my age, and being very bored. I remember being at home in the summer and not having much to do, resulting in boredom. I can remember several church assemblies that I sat through with that same feeling.

For the most part, boredom is a choice. It may be as a result of a lack of things to do, but did you look around and try to take advantage of what was in your environment or expect your environment to come to you? The idea of boredom brings us to this week’s quote…

Are you bored with life? [or work, church, spouse, family, etc.] Then
throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it,
die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be
yours. ~ Dale Carnegie

I added the other words in the quote because we may not focus on them if they were not mentioned. I am going to focus on the area of church, though it could be applied to most, if not all, the rest.

I mentioned that I have sat through several church assemblies with the feeling of boredom. This continued into young adult, and even continued into my first years as a minister. I wasn’t bored with God, just with the assembly. Why? Mostly because I didn’t appreciate it like I needed to.

I started looking at it from a new perspective. I was looking for God in those times, not expecting God to come looking for me. In other words, I, now, anxiously await what God is going to do in each gathering. How are people going to change? How am I going to be affected? How is He going to surprise me?

When I threw myself into looking for the surprises in my daily walk with God, then I found the happiness that I thought could never be mine! It is an awesome concept that has changed my perspective on so many areas.

If you’re bored…dive right in to things! For example, do you think your community has nothing to offer? Look for ways you can be involved in a committee to try to change it.

I am so thrilled to get to team up with God to see how we are going to do something each day!

Enjoying being on His team!…Share/Bookmark

Seeing the Soul, Not a Statistic  

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When you go to the doctor with an illness you are hoping to receive some form of help. That help, for example, could come through medication, physical touch, or a listening ear. Another “want” that you desire when you go to the doctor is to feel important. So, if you went to the doctor and they came in to examine you, and during the exam, made you feel uncomfortable, you’d feel like the doctor didn’t really care about you, as a person. Even if they cared about getting you well. “Bedside manners” are important to giving the doctor a good reputation in making their patients feel that they aren’t just a statistic.

This past week, I was flipping the channels, looking for something to watch, and the movie “Patch Adams” was on. It had been a long time since I had seen that movie, and the more I watched it I noticed there were some inspiring lines in the script…here’s one…

You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you'll win, no matter what the outcome.

The movie is about a man who goes to medical school because he wants to help people. His mission reminds me of Jesus’ mission – to help people. He states in Luke 19:10 that His mission is “to seek and to save the lost” (ESV). That is a “help” mission. Which is also our mission – to help people.

How would you answer this question, “How many people have you baptized?” One, two, three, maybe more? Maybe zero. Unfortunately, we can get wrapped up with statistics. How would a person in the congregation be viewed if they had baptized 25 people? You would probably esteem them highly. But sharing Jesus is not about statistics…it is about their soul.

If you look at someone to simply try to get them baptized, you may win or lose. However, if you develop a relationship with a person, help them with their problems as a person, not just to try to get them baptized, “you’ll win”.

Sharing Jesus is an awesome thing that each Christian has the privilege of doing. It shouldn’t be burdensome. Simply put, sharing Jesus is about getting to know people as people, help them when they need help, and let them see Jesus through your words, lifestyle, reactions, and “bedside manners”.

Sin is a disease. Remember, don’t just treat the disease…treat the person!Share/Bookmark

Don't Be a Turkey, Give Thanks!  

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Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that we tend to use it for its purpose. Our family has a tradition of saying something we’re thankful for before we eat our dinner. Generally, the thankfulness is directed toward the other person. It is a fun time to hear what the other person is appreciative of you for and it gives me a boost to hear it said.

In Luke 19, Jesus cures ten people who first beg and beg for their healing. Jesus then heals them, but only one comes back. It seems that once they got what they want they forgot about thanking the one who cured them. The one who comes back shows how appreciative he is of this miracle that Jesus performed on him. The other nine were just a bunch of turkeys – they forgot to give thanks!

Are you in the 90% or in the 10%? When things happen to you are you giving thanks or being a turkey? This story from Luke 19 probably reflects how most people would respond. When was the last time you told your boss thanks for your job? When was the last time you told your teacher thanks for being your teacher? When was the last time you told your parents or children thanks for something that was particular to them? When was the last time you said thanks to your minister for the work they do? Or, when was the last time you said thanks to God when it wasn’t a “church” time or the outcome wasn’t a “yes”? I would tend to think that we probably haven’t said thanks in these listed situations.

God has blessed us physically, materially, and spiritually. Use this week to say thanks to God for allowing you to be rescued from your sins, something different each day. A few examples are: your family, your senses, your job, your school, your teachers, your principal, your sins forgiven, your house, your church, your talents, your friends,

One goal in the Luke 19 parable was to get us to understand how important it is say thanks. This week the concept of being thankful is on our minds, may we use it the way it was intended and not be a turkey!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!Share/Bookmark

What were some of the basic phrases in the last prayer you said? "Be with me..." "Guide, guard, and direct us...", "Give him (the minister) a ready recollection of the things he's studied...", "Forgive us of our sins...", "Heal those on the prayer list...", "May we take this in a manner pleasing to you/thee..."??? Any of those phrases did you say or hear at your church assembly on Sunday? Did you hear many "thanks" in the prayers? How often were the "thanks" phrases outnumbered by the "help us" phrases?

The story of Daniel in the Lion's Den has an important part that I usually looked past this part of the text from verse 10..."Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God,... (NIV). Daniel was praying with thanksgiving. Daniel didn't ask for God to rescue, but to be appreciative! As we think about that concept from the lesson, here are some applications to choose from to use...

  1. Thanksgiving traditions tend to be very deep. We tend to make the same foods and eat with the same people each year. Our family has a tradition of saying something that we appreciate about each other...try saying something you appreciate about each other and making that a new tradition. If your family meal is really big, have each person say something about someone else not in their own household.
  2. Take time this week to say a prayer of thanks...just of thanks...nothing else. Say it, no matter how short or long. Focusing on "thanks" takes our mind off of other things.
  3. Tell someone "thanks" for something they have done to make an impact in your life.
  4. Use Thanksgiving to be thankful for the things you have in Christ!
May we never forget the fact that we are able to have our sins forgiven, which should make us eternally thankful!

What are some of your family's traditions...I'd love to hear them.

Grateful to God...Share/Bookmark

Thanks For the Memories  

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We're down to our last 168 hours of living in Southern Illinois. WOW...that is hard to even write! We moved here with lots of ambition and drive. We engrossed ourselves into the Lord's work, which entailed getting involved with the community.

We had the privilege of naturally getting to know a lot of people in the community through a preschool that the church had going. We put our own stamp on this endeavor and had several parents, who had children involved prior, tell us it was better than it was before. We went to summer events to see these children play t-ball. We strengthened relationships each time we saw them in public.

We took other initiative to get involved in the community. Subbing was one way of doing that. I have really enjoyed getting to know the kids in the high school and junior high, along with the staff. A blog is not long enough to write about all the memories and experiences I've had while subbing!!!

I was looking for an outreach idea, and God led me to start a Ping Pong League. More people I had the privilege of knowing in the community. It is continuing on despite our leaving...God connects the dots!

In the field of ministry the local Ministerial Alliance has had its open doors. This led to serving on the Kids Kingdom Project and the Tree of Lights committee. With the Tree of Lights I have left my mark by designing and making the tree that is used with the fund raising campaign each year. Design work also allowed me to create other designs used with the Tree of Lights. The local Ministerial Alliance has a great group of ministers working to serve the McLeansboro community! I enjoyed serving as Secretary and President during my time.

One of the greatest surprises was the opportunity for the local newspaper to use my blog entries as articles. My prayer has been to "reach more people for Christ" and this has been one door that God opened. I have had numerous people tell me how much they have enjoyed reading my articles. At least half are people who come to me and say something like "aren't you the one who writes those articles...I really enjoy them". I have praised God many times that I have been able to connect with people through this medium.

We also had our first child here. He continues to be referred to as a "miracle" baby. He didn't have any health defects that he has had to endure, but the fact that we were able to become parents, finally, makes him a miracle! This is his "home" and we hated to have to leave here.

I can't leave out our spiritual family...whom we hate, the most, to leave. You've been supportive of us. You've dreamed with us and served with us. You got on board with our ideas. You've trusted us. You embraced us. You sat in the trenches with us. You are our forever family!

Comments that I've been sent from some people in the community that have meant a lot...
"Thanks again! for being an excellent addition to the community."
"Just so you know, the last year of my life has been the most difficult of my adult life. You are the only person that expressed an interest in my well being and I do appreciate it...The community has lost a valuable asset. As "Men of God" fare, you are at the top of the list...in my opinion..."
"I appreciate what you've done for us at Unit 10 and in the community. Thanks."

It has been a great three and a half years! We will miss you! THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!!!Share/Bookmark

She's Famous!  

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Do you see this on the left? This is something that is AWESOME! Something that I am so proud to brag on and bring to your attention. This is a picture my wife's article that is soon to be published in an online magazine!

She is an awesome writer! She has great thoughts and insights! She has a way with words (all pun intended)! She has a magnificent way of bringing her day-to-day occurrences around to deepen your faith!

You won't be able to read this article based on the picture, but you will be able to read the article if you click here. It is worth the click!

I am blessed beyond to be married to this beautiful, talented, and famous woman!!!
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The Emptiness That Holds Us Back  

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Practically everyone would like to have some more money. Whether it is to have a more comfortable lifestyle or to just pay the bills. We are currently in a financial down time. Maybe not the worst one ever, but one which is definitely making an impact on many.

However, as difficult as it can be without money, that doesn't make a person "poor" as much as a person who has no vision, ideas, or goals in life, their career, their church, their family, etc. This brings us to this week's quote...

Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. ~ Norman Vincent Peale
The phrase "I don't know" is one that I have said frequently in life. Aside from the few times that I really didn't know an answer, most of them were times I was being lazy in any attempt to figure out a solution. I wanted it spoon-fed to me. I didn't want to put in any effort. Have you been there?

However, when I have an idea, whether it is for a sermon, a house project, or a graphic design project, nothing holds me back. I am not saying that it is able to be finished in a day, but I am saying that I am thinking about it or working on it often, till it is completed. These things may not take much from my wallet, but that doesn't stop them from being completed and worked on.

Goals do not have to stay the same as you enter into different levels of life. What is important is that you do have goals. Even if finances make it difficult to achieve a goal, don't let that be what holds you back. If you've got a passion in your heart and mind for something...find a way to go for it!

Not letting "empty pockets" hold me back...Share/Bookmark

God is Able - Ephesians 3:20  

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Have you ever heard the statement "God is Good...All the Time!"? How do you feel about it? Do you agree or disagree? (I'd enjoy any comments to post regarding your responses) Sometimes we just cannot agree because we are wrapped up in our circumstances. Life is not going well, so we cannot view God as good - especially not at "this" particular time.

It took me a while to fully embrace the statement above, after I heard it. Basically, I missed the point of the statement, along with its depth. I viewed it selfishly. I am sure I wasn't the only one to view it this way. However, now that I do fully embrace the statement I can see the goodness of God in situations. He is not only good, but He is able. Yesterday, we looked at the phrase "God is able" and below are some areas where He is able. May they be useful in your spiritual walk this week...

God is able...

  1. To Keep You From Falling - Our ten-month old is beginning some early phases of trying to walk. He is starting to take his hand off of an object to stand long enough to realize he's on his own, then to plop down. As we walk with God, there are times when we aren't going to be having it all right to walk freely. We need to have several components to be able to walk. May you be continually working on the elements found in II Peter 1:5-7 in order to keep your walk balanced and you from falling.
  2. To Deal With Problems on Earth - Police lineups are generally about 6-8 people. A witness must try to pick out the one they think committed the crime. It can be very difficult because they may look similar. How about trying to pick out someone in six billion? We generally think that we're not important...but God could pick you out easily. You are very important to God. He is so able to deal with the difficulties on this earth that He can easily deal with us, individually!
  3. To Free Us - When it comes to plans like cell phones, I love the word "unlimited". It makes it so freeing to know you don't have to worry about how much you use. One of our early plans we had a "regional" plan, but it still was "hit and miss" about what our area was once we got outside our immediate area. Plus, we still had a limited amount of minutes to talk. Our plan now includes nationwide service, and to certain numbers the minutes are unlimited. Under the old law, you had a limited amount of time before you broke the law. Once broke, always broke. Under the new law, there is an unlimited amount of grace that is available to those who walk in the light. How freeing it is to know that as we walk with God we can lay our head down at night with assurance.
  4. To Supply Our Needs - Christmas time brings about a lot of "want". We want so many things...But how many of them are needs? Needs aren't always fun, but we need them. We're in a situation that I don't want to be in, but I may need to be in it. There are lessons to be learned through waiting. You may have a similar story...not wanting to be in your situation but needing to be in it. Ponder your situation and look deep to see if it is one you "need" to be in.
  5. To Offer Hope - God is able to provide a hope that is beyond all hopes. One with an assurance that is completely comforting. If you don't know Jesus, you need to reevaluate how much hope there is in Christ! IF you do know Jesus, praise God for the hope you do have in Christ!
  6. To Completely Save - The word "complete" can offer a lot of assurance. When you are insuring your house, you don't want to have certain parts of your house uncovered with your policy, you want complete coverage. If you were to find out that you weren't able to have complete assurance that you would go to heaven when you do what God asks, you wouldn't think it is a very good deal. However, God does save with an offering of complete salvation. Jesus' sacrifice was a one time sacrifice that gives us the assurance of knowing we can have complete salvation! Praise God for His completeness!
God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine...that's for sure! May that verse be a sense of encouragement as you start your week (or just go through your week).

Praising God For His Awesome Abilities...

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What Direction Are You Moving?  

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Have you ever stepped down into a swimming pool where the water wasn't that warm? You felt the chill as soon as your foot was immersed. As you became more and more submerged you developed goose bumps, maybe even had your teeth chatter.

However, what happened after you stopped walking and stood for a few minutes? You felt OK...but then someone walked by you or you started walking again and you felt the chill, again! (Scientifically speaking, your body warmed that water immediately around you, that is why it felt comfortable.)

However, the more you moved around, the more comfortable it became. Movement can be uncomfortable at first, but it becomes more and more comfortable the more we move.

In the religious sense, I gladly label myself progressive. Specifically defined as not wanting to become stagnant. Stagnation is never good. I try to motivate people to be continually moving so we won't become stagnant. That brings us to this week's quote...

The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
When we stay where we are, figuratively or literally, we become more and more comfortable. Comfort has its place, but it can also cause us to lose sight of what is around us. This happens because we look at our environment so often we forget to actually "see" things. When we change things up a bit, we tend to notice things more.

What have you become comfortable with? What are you not noticing in areas like...Your job? Your church/religion? Your relationships? Your goals? Take a look around...see where God may be taking/moving you.

May we be challenged to move. Though it may be uncomfortable at first, the more we move, the more we'll become acclimatized and have progressed to a better place.

Nervous but looking forward to where God will move me...Share/Bookmark

Joys of Jesus - Hebrews 12:2  

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One of the greatest joys that God has ever brought to my wife and I was our son. We were "forced" to wait nine and a half years before we were able to see the "pregnant" indicator on the pregnancy test stick. We will both never forget that day...May 6, 2007...a Sunday, the one before Mother's Day. What joy filled our hearts! Just tonight, I looked at him and made a comment to my wife about how surreal it still feels, sometimes, to think about the fact that this awesome little guy is our son. (You can see pictures if you scan down, on the right).

Jesus is joy. The fact that we can have forgiveness of wrongs, sometimes brings a surreal feeling. "Is that really forgiven?" we might say. Knowing the mistakes we've made have really been washed away, thanks to the Blood of Christ, just seems hard to believe. We remember the mistake(s) like they were just yesterday (and in some cases they were). How can God just let that go? Well, He desires your relationship so much that He had to make a way for you to be able to return to Him. His decision was that only a perfect sacrifice would do the trick...His solution...Jesus. WOW! That should bring us joy!

Yesterday, we looked at the joys of knowing Jesus and being in Jesus. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. What would your life be like if you didn't know Jesus? If you had never heard of Him, His name, or anything associated with Him? Some may feel relieved because you don't believe in Him. However, others of you reading this would have a life that was beyond empty. You wouldn't have that perfect example to look to for how you want to live your life. You wouldn't have the knowledge of this man who was both 100% God and 100% man at the same time who was able to die for your sins to give you a hope that is priceless! This is the message to share with others...if knowing Him brings you joy...it will also bring others' joy, as well!!!
  2. Imagine what your life would be like it you couldn't dispose of your trash by simply putting it by the curb or in your alley dumpster. Know how disgusting meat smells after it has been disposed of? What if you had to store your trash up for a whole year before it could be taken away? I can't even think to imagine the smell of all the rotten foods and other things that would eventually cause a big stink (all pun intended). That stink that would be there is incomparable to the stench of your sins. However, being IN Jesus allows that trash to be "disposed" of properly and quickly! What an awesome concept, that we are free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2) and we are restored, even when we sin! Figuratively, there are people who are keeping their garbage in their heart because they don't allow Jesus to take it away! That is part of the message of being IN Him...He takes away the garbage! Praise God!
If your week has started with a lot of garbage piled around it, lean on Him and let Him take out the garbage!

Laying it out at the curb...Share/Bookmark

Substituting...Quite the Experiences  

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Most of you know that I have had the privilege, yes, privilege, of being able to be a substitute teach in the local schools. Practically all the time, it is in the high school. Being there frequently has allowed the kids to get to know me. This allows for me to have a certain sense of respect. During my time, I have not had to give anyone a detention. Part of that is due to that punishment not being that effective, in my opinion. And two, I don't resort to that until they are defying me. Occasional talking, I can handle. Being defiant, I can't.

I think, in the two and a half years that I have been doing this, I have filled in for almost every teacher. The only one I can think of that I haven't filled in for is the driver's ed teacher. This has allowed me to be in a variety of classrooms. Each classroom brings its own sense of challenges.

Last week, I was in the band room. I didn't have to do anything musically with them, but their freedom brought boredom and boredom brings trouble. The school has a cell phone policy. I was never told about what the policy actually is, so I have my own. It is based on me catching them and their honesty. During that period of forty-four minutes I confiscated three cell phones! Kids trying to text because the were bored! In the middle of the week I caught two, in another class. The first one gave up without a problem. The second one didn't want to give up his phone too easily. I asked for it, and he said "no". We visited, but he still wouldn't give it up. I gave him until the end of the hour (about 6 minutes) to decide if he was going to give it up or not. I even started to write a detention slip, and at that point, he gave it up. I drew the line, and he had to decide which side he was going to be on. That is a "secret" to my success, giving students a choice and then sticking with it.

I also do the same with the class, as a whole. Depending on the situation, they have the choice, as a class, to behave or not. Sometimes they want to go to lunch early or they have to read the entire class period. In these two cases, I will put up numbers from highest to zero. These numbers represent how early they can go to lunch or how much free time they have after reading. I tell them that they've already been given a warning. Then, if even one student is not doing what they are supposed to be doing, I mark a number off. They now have less time for free time or to be able to go to lunch early. It is very effective. Kids have the choice and they take care of each other to win the reward. I don't believe in warning kids over and over. I draw the line and they have the choice of where to stand.

Subbing has given me great opportunities to make Kingdom impacts in the community. Much of the time, the community doesn't even realize it. I love to observe what kids are going through and try to help them as they go through. I like to reach out to those who probably never get reached out to. I enjoy seeing them learn. I enjoy seeing them in the community. I enjoy congratulating them on their achievements. I enjoy meeting their parents. I really have enjoyed subbing and look forward to today, when I get another chance to be in the classroom having many more experiences! I could write about so many things, but this was long enough!!!Share/Bookmark

Developing a Greater Vision  

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Being a principal's son has its definite disadvantages. For example, your peers tend to think that you get special treatment because of your father's position. The jeering doesn't stop when the school day ends or at non-school related events, no it continues on into other realms of life.

There was one such individual in my class that was one of the ones who dished out most of the jeers. It caused me to really grow to dislike him, even though I would try to let it go most of the time. In my youth, I even "dreamed" that when I grew up, I would show up on his doorstep and beat him up for all that he dished out. Well, that "dream" never came true, for various reasons. However, I had to make the choice to get on with life or fall victim of my circumstance. This brings us to this week's quote...

People who consider themselves victims of their circumstances, will always remain victims unless they develop a greater vision for their lives. ~ Stedman Graham
As I mentioned, that "dream" never came true for a few reasons. One, this boy turned out to be a user of drugs. Which I began to feel sorry for him rather than hurt. Two, I was a Christian and this was no way to solve the problem. Lastly, I knew that my life was going in a positive direction and his was going in a negative one.

People who feel the sense of entitlement tend to fall victim of their circumstances. They go through life waiting for something better, rather than putting forth the effort of achieving a goal.

Vision, in life, is so important to see where you want to go. Have you had a string of bad luck due to poor choices or the environment where you live? Make realistic goals and envision where you want to be, praying throughout the process about how you are going to get there. You may not see the "end", but God can do amazing things when you give it to Him, letting Him work. We have our part to do as much as we can to be proactive in achieving those goals.

Looking forward to the future...Share/Bookmark

A New Found...Praise - Acts 2:47  

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How many times did you say "thanks" to God today? One, two, three...a dozen, maybe more!? How many times have you told other people how great your life is since you have God in your life? Any?

As we've been examining Acts 2:42-47 lately, we've been looking at some of the "new" things that the early church was about. Sunday, we concluded with the concept of praise and how that led to them finding favor with the people and God blessing them with growth.

God is an awesome God! He is SO worthy of our praise. As I am finishing redoing many things in our bathroom, I have had several "Thank You, God" moments. For instance, I bought this tool for a little more than $3.00, that is supposed to help with making your caulking look nice. You know how "gadgets" can be...well, I didn't have much faith in it. Mostly because its accompanying gadget was a caulk removing tool - that didn't work out as well as I thought. Anyway, this tool was well worth the money! It made it look nice and it cut down a lot of time..."Thank You, God!" was my response!

Here are some applications to choose from to apply from Sunday's sermon...

  1. Let God know you are thankful that you are able to read this sentence.
  2. Let God know you are thankful for giving you another day to see His creation (Fall is a beautiful time of the year!!!)
  3. Let God know you are thankful for _______. You fill in the blank.
  4. Let someone know (outside of your household and family tree) today, somehow, how much you are thankful for being a part of God's family - could be through a testimony, a direct statement, a text, e-mail, or some other way.
  5. Say a prayer that is all about praise to God - not mentioning anything but a list of things you are thankful for.
What we could be praising Him for could go on and on. I was just thinking about how great our assemblies were today and for the guests we had. And, then to set up a study with a lady who has recently overcome almost all the cancer in her body...the cure...she attributes almost all to prayer! The doctors have been amazed...with no answer for her why she went in one time with cancerous areas and the next time those areas are gone - without treatment! "Thank You, God!" This has been one of those "God's timing" studies. I've known this lady for about 2 to 3 years because she is a friend of one of our members. She is finally open to wanting to find out more about the Jesus that her friend and I have in common...God is Good!

Hope your week has gotten off to a great start...mine has!

Praising Him...in my speech...to Him and others...

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Thanking Those Who Lit You Up  

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It is not a pleasant experience to get into your shower to find out that your hot water heater is not working. I have experienced such a thing. Usually, because the pilot light has gone out. However, once the pilot light has been re-lit, the hot water heater can warm up the water to a shower-taking temperature. It is such a relief to feel the heated water, once again!

People that have had their "pilot light" put out and have turned cold are usually not pleasant to be around. They have lost their "spark" and do not have much ambition. However, once you have that light re-lit by someone, you greatly appreciate what they did for you. That brings us to this week's quote...

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~ Albert Schweitzer
Have you had your light go out lately? In the past? Whenever it was, who was it that helped to re-light your fire? Was it someone you know or not? Someone you hear on the radio? A movie you watched? Someone in your family?

Regardless, why not thank them for helping you through your time in a "valley"? Even if it is someone you have never met, try to find a way to say "thank you" for what they did to help relight the fire within you? They would greatly appreciate it, no matter who they are!

Reach out and "thank" someone!

Reaching Out...Share/Bookmark

Come to the Cross  

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As there are many benefits to working for the US Postal Service, one of the drawbacks, for those that are carriers, are back problems. My brother-in-law is one such person. He has had back problems for a while now and continues to work for the Postal Service. Carrying the mailbag for a good amount of the work day would create fatigue at the end of each day. It is probably a huge relief to come in from the day and set your bags down. However, you have to turn around and do it all again tomorrow!

Yesterday, we looked at the idea of coming to the cross. When we come to the cross we need to lay our burdens/worries/anxieties down and leave them there. It doesn't matter what our past is like, there is always room for one more. As we look back on this lesson, here are some applications to choose from...

  1. Give it up! Each of us have concerns on our plate. You may have started out today with a list "a mile long" of things that you have to get done or are thinking about. Did it make you look forward to the day? Some of the things that are on your list may not be things you can control. Those are areas that we definitely must leave at the Cross for Jesus to take care of. Don't be like the mail carrier and pick it up the next day...leave it at the Cross!
  2. After a long time of carrying something we get thirsty. After you've laid your cares/burdens/anxieties down at the Cross, you will need a "break". At this break you can drink...the water of life. As a way to aid in not trying to pick up your baggage again, you need to be in prayer with Him. This will occupy that time that you previously would have used to "carry the baggage". Find something, if not prayer, to occupy your time that helps you spend that time with Him - listen to music, read a book, etc.
  3. unLimited Openings! I've had times when I was trying to find a place to eat, just to pull up to one that was very full. The waiting time was over 20 minutes, sometimes an hour. Some of those I waited at, while others I passed by to find another restaurant. That same concept may be what is keeping you from going to the Cross. You think that you are just a number and there isn't room. Friends, that just isn't so. There is UNlimited openings at the Cross...so don't delay...GO!!!
The Cross is a place of rest...where Jesus takes on our sins and burdens, so we don't have to. This week, enjoy rest as you take things and dump them off at the Cross! Enjoy a "lighter" week!

Taking Several Trips to the Cross...Share/Bookmark

I Give Up!  

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Most of us have said the words "I give up". You had a task to perform and it became impossible to finish. You worked and worked but couldn't come to a solution. However, you could have been just around the corner of solving the problem or doing something great. But you never will know because you gave up.

It is not simply continuing on that is the real issue, but rather backing up, evaluating the situation and solving the problem. This brings us to this week's quote...

The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those, which fail. ~ Napoleon Hill
There is nothing wrong with coming up with a wrong answer, as long as, it is not your final answer. This week I was working on my bathroom. I was trying to get the handles off of the shower faucet. I took the set screws out and then expected the handle to just pop off. However, they didn't just pop off. After talking with two different men experienced in the field of "repair", I thought I knew what I needed to do. I tried...nothing going. Finally, they broke free, after a bit of hammering on them. I had to try to do something different than I had been for the plan to work!

I see this as a problem with life as a Christian. We try evangelizing, but no results. We try a time or two more (if you're lucky), still no results. How likely are you to continue on? Probably not very much. Don't think of evangelizing as a "bible study", but rather think of it as any time/way you share Jesus. I challenge you to continue on - but trying different approaches.

Whatever your endeavors, be persistent and evaluate what you did and see how the next one can be even better.

Backing up and looking at where I've been to improve the future...AND working on not "giving up"~Share/Bookmark

A New Found...House - Acts 2:46  

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Have I been to your house? If I had I would have seen belongings of yours that were close to you, that describe you, that show what type of person you are. If I haven't and we have met, then I have only seen a very small portion of what reflects who you are.

If you have been to my house you would see things that reflect who I am. You would know what teams I root for and what memorabilia I have that show I like those teams. You may also find out what types of food I prefer. These, among other things, can only be known when you come into my home.

The early church met together in homes. There are a variety of possibilities as to why they did, regardless, we know they did. I think that they grew stronger as a group because they did meet in homes. This is what we looked at yesterday as we looked at Acts 2:46. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. When was the last time you had someone over to your house for a social reason? What about a group of people? Whether you have a hobby, like to watch sports, play games, enjoy good food, etc., make it a point to get together with someone, in your home, once a month.
  2. Bonds strengthen. Visiting with people in a home environment produces a feeling of comfort and you become closer to that person or group of people. When you visit ask about a person's interest, family, or their past. Trust is greater in a home.
  3. Practice Impromptu Invites. Occasionally, invite someone over to your house after an event or on a spur of the moment. It may create a very meaningful memory!
  4. Bring in Outsiders. How will your friends/family/neighbors ever get to know your church family if they never go to assembly with you? When you have a gathering made up of church people, invite a few others from outside your church. It may surprise you what friendships evolve through these events.
The early church gained so much from meeting like this . May God give you opportunities to have people into your home as so you can strengthen your friendships!

Welcoming Into My House...Share/Bookmark

Tomorrow...Where Your Thoughts Take You  

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Each day we take steps in the journey of life. We often find ourselves at crossroads and have to make a decision. Some decisions have greater effects on our lives than others do. Where we have come has a lot to do with the decisions that we have made in life...If/where we went to school, if/who we married, what job we take, where we live, buy vs. rent, friends we've made, etc.

Where have you come in life? Where have you gone? How have your decisions affected you? Life tends to be a series of choices and you choose based on your thoughts about each choice. This brings us to this week's quote...

You are today where your thoughts have brought you; 

you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.
~ James Allen
Maybe your life has been a storybook...the "happily ever after" type of life. However, most would probably think that wouldn't be the way you describe your life. Some choice along the way could have made it better. You may have a good life and are very content, and that is good. Regardless, the future is still the future and you have the potential to make it whatever you can.

Your tomorrow is based on the choices you make today, reflecting on the thoughts about those choices. Make your tomorrow better than today!

May your thoughts take you to an entirely better place than you have ever been!

Anticipating the future...Share/Bookmark

A New Found...Distribution - Acts 2:45  

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We all need things. For optimal living, we need food, water, air, and rest every day. For as long as man has been on this earth, we have needed things.

Those in the "early church" were no different. However, some were without their needs. What did they do? Those with things gave to those without. A great example for us...giving of what we have to those who do not have. Yesterday, we continued with our look at the "early church" and looked at the concept of "distributing to those who have needs". Here are a few applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. What is your definition of "poor"? Is a different view from a biblical perspective? The bible does describe "poor" in other ways. Take some time to look up the idea of poor...here are some helps from BibleGateway.com... "poor" a keyword search and "poor" a topical index search (click on either one to go to that particular one).
  2. Give something away this week. Does someone ask you for something - give it to them. Maybe surprise someone with a "gift" you give them. You could give something as small as a smile or compliment. Something bigger as buying lunch or buying a present. Or, even something bigger than that...you fill in that blank. Just give something of yours away.
  3. Share your "story" with someone - how you became a child of God.
  4. Give yourself to God. You have talents and abilities that are not just "yours" but they are God's that He is letting you use while you're here. Use what He has given you to His glory!
  5. Look out for those who are "poor" - those who don't necessarily need money, clothes, etc., but for those who need Jesus!
We need (no pun intended) to reprogram our minds to think of needs as more than material. Needs are anything that someone is lacking. So many are lacking a relationship with Jesus - even Christians, sometimes.

Have a great week of open opportunities to share with others!

Looking for opportunities...Share/Bookmark

Tough Loss  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Saturday's game was not what I had envisioned. I was expecting a victory by the Sooners, but it wasn't in the cards this year.

Oh, well, it was a well fought game...and they didn't fall too far in the rankings...still time for them to get back to the championship game!

Rooting them on...Share/Bookmark

GO SOONERS!!!  

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It is that time of the year! This weekend is one of the biggest games in the Oklahoma and Texas schedules. What an exciting game...OU #1 versus UT #5...Of course, if you know me at all...GO SOONERS!...all the way!Share/Bookmark

Things People Don't Forget  

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Emotion is a feeling that tends to go deep in your memory and go there very quickly. Think about it, when was the last time that you felt hurt? You can probably recall it very easily. What are some of your favorite holiday/birthday memories? You can also recall those very easily. This concept leads us into this week's quote...

People will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.
~ Maya Angelou
You may not recall everything that happened in times that you felt good or bad, but you will remember how you felt.

Emotions are important to memory. As a minister, the times that people remember what I taught or preached on are usually because I triggered some type of emotion that helped their memory. They will forget the words I said and if I did something new, but if I can make them feel a certain, purposeful way, they will have a lower chance of forgetting.

After realizing that emotions affect how we feel, apply this to how you make others feel when you interact with them. Did you lift them up, leave them where they were at, or knock them down?

Emotions can run very deep into the memory. May you make an effort to make them feel wanted, valued, and important. Because that is what they will not forget.

Working on how I make them feel...Share/Bookmark

A New Found...Togetherness - Acts 2:44  

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Family reunions are times that tend to bring people from all different places and backgrounds to a common spot. These times are filled with catching up with loved ones, seeing how people have changed, and enjoying good food.

As a church, we are a family. I like to think about the opportunities that we have to get together, both formally and informally, as "family reunions". These are times that we get to catch up with each other, see if people are different than the last time we saw them, and, sometimes, enjoy good food. Each week I look forward to seeing the "family" and catching up with their lives, while sharing a bit of my life with them.

As we've been examining the "early church", from Acts chapter two, we've seen how their actions created a great growth pattern. This is a challenge for us see the principle and see what we can do to help the church of today grow. Here are a few applications to choose from...

  1. As electronic devices become "in sync" with each other, to make sure they both have the same information, how do you "sync up" with your Christian brother or sister? Or, do you even attempt to do that with others? Do you pick out your "favorites" and neglect the others? If you do fall into that last category, try to pick out someone new each week to talk to that doesn't sit by you or not someone you normally visit with.
  2. There is strength in numbers. One snowflake has no chance of surviving when it lands on your skin, as it will melt quickly. However, several put together can freeze your skin. You up against Satan/temptation/evil are going to have a very difficult task at winning. However, take God along, you're a majority. In addition to that, have a good group of brethren helping you through a struggle/difficult time, and you have a strong resource group to pull from.
  3. A healthy church is striving to get from one place to the next. Pray that your church and its leadership can be unified so that it will have success in making it to its goal.
  4. Who sits by themselves in your church? Who sits by themselves at lunch/breaks or goes to lunch/breaks on their own? Look for those people to see how you can get to know them - it may be the day when they needed that attention you give them the most.
The overwhelming majority of people like to have friends. Friends create a place of comfort and warmth. A place you can go to in times of trouble. A person you can call in the middle of the night. They are important and they are what the church should be made up of.

If you are struggling with something, I don't want you to be "alone" and I will be willing to pray for you if you e-mail me at ichthus_man@hotmail.com. You can be as open or discreet as you choose.

May God be with you as you enjoy the "togetherness" that is one of the ingredients of the "early church" that helped launch its growth.

Looking forward to the next "family reunion"...Share/Bookmark

Envision Your Bridge  

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It is fourth and goal with one second left on the clock and you are on the two yard line. A field goal isn’t enough to secure the win. This is the biggest game of your life, how do you respond?

You are informed that guests are coming over for dinner and it is five 0’clock. You have dinner planned out for your family, but you don’t have enough for eight more people. These are some of the most important dinner guests you’ve had over in a long time, how do you respond?

Whether it is a game situation or a life situation, being able to look ahead and know how you’d respond to a “bridge” you will come to is important. That brings us to this week’s quote…

"We are told never to cross a bridge until we come to it, but this world is owned by men who have 'crossed bridges' in their imagination far ahead of the crowd." ~ Anonymous

Not all bridges are emergency situations but all bridges represent an opportunity to cross. Some bridges a wide and sturdy, easy to cross. Where others are small and rickety, more difficult to cross.

Life is much the same way. Some opportunities are clear and easily understood, making it easy to decide. Where other decisions are unclear and difficult to understand, making it difficult to decide.

Changes that have taken place in this world have been by people who are visionary. People who wanted something different and were able to see it before they arrived at the “bridge”. What do you want to see changed? What do you foresee as “bridges” you may need to cross in order to create the change? Start planning ahead and looking forward to what you will find on the other side!

Imagining my bridge…Share/Bookmark

Being Fed...  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

This last Sunday was a rare occasion for me. As a minister, I am usually the one doing the talking, aka the feeding. A minister’s call is to provide spiritual food for his audience, and I greatly this part of my job! However, like any profession that gives themselves to others, a time of refueling is always needed.

My family had the privilege of attending an assembly as, basically, a guest. It was a very moving experience. The assembly was first and there was obvious life that resonated throughout the room. It was a fun atmosphere that didn’t seem to have noticeable restrictions. At one point, during some announcements, a man started tossing postcards like Frisbees, toward the audience, all the while saying “Pass these out to your friends”. This was a fun and attention-grabbing way of getting these outreach event postcards in the hands of the people. Even this was a way of being fed…with a sense of spiritual fun.

The singing, sermon, and bible class all gave me the spiritual food I needed that day to leave with an excitement and fervor to enter my week with a skip in my step. I hope you had a similar experience wherever you were able to worship!

Appreciated being fed…Share/Bookmark

Prayer Saying  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

I am on the road, and don't have a chance to write a normal post for Thursday, but here is a little saying to leave with you...

When we work, we work; when we pray, God works - J. Hudson Taylor
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From Oasis to Garden  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , ,

Yesterday, my family had the "privilege" of driving in Western Kansas. I jokingly said privilege because we were driving straight south into a wind that was somewhere near 30 miles-per-hour. The entire 100+ miles we encountered this not-s0-desirable force. If you've ever been to this area of the country you know it is flat and basically tree-less. Because of that you couldn't really even tell it was windy, besides the car was being affected.

What made the trip enjoyable wasn't the wind, the tree-less terrain, or the lack of gas mileage, but the fact that we we were traveling from an "oasis" to a "garden". Both have great things about them. We had and are having a good time in both places.

Wind is a powerful force that brings about change. Both wind and change are not always the most pleasant to experience, though it may be needed. But wind is couched in between encounters of calm.

A section of text in Matthew 8 reveals a time when the disciples were on a boat and encountered winds when they were on the sea. They woke Jesus, in desperation. Jesus calmed the storm. The disciples had gone from calm to calm, but with wind and storm in between.

As you travel through life, from calm to calm, keep in mind that the winds that come your way are taking you from "oasis" to "garden". Between these two destinations are filled with change. Just know that the calm will return and once it does, you can look back and rest again.

Enjoying the time in "garden"...Share/Bookmark

Ride On...  

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When I was just young enough to play with "big boy" toys, I remember a toy that was a lot of fun to play with. It was called a "Stomper 4X4". It was battery operated, by one AA battery. It was four-wheel drive. It was designed to be able to go over all kinds of terrain and obstacles. It didn't move fast, but it made it to the end.

Life is not a race, either. We're going to get to the end when we get there. People "cross the line" at different times and some win or lose, at that time. However, we have a lot of obstacles to go over in the meantime. That thought brings us to this week's quote...

Ride on!
Rough-shod if need be,
smooth-shod if that will do,
but ride on!
Ride over all obstacles,
and win the race!
~ Charles Dickens
Ride on! We will come upon some type of obstacle in life...probably today. Maybe you'll get a day that you get the smooth road (those days are always nice). However, be like the Stomper, encounter every obstacle with the idea of getting over it. Use all "4 wheels" to keep going and going until you are over it, don't allow obstacles to get in your way!

May your life be filled with flat roadways, but if it includes obstacles, may God get you over them as you seek to "win the race!"

Riding on...Share/Bookmark

A New Found...Fear - Acts 2:43  

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The summer I turned 16 I had a new driver's dream job. Maybe dream might be a bit extreme, but I was so excited about the opportunity to get to detail and drive brand new cars by working at a car dealership. Each time I sat in the driver's seat of the cars, whether they were new or used, I was a bit nervous. Partly because I had not been driving too long and the other part was because the cars were not mine. I had a sense of fear of damaging them, but yet I was excited to drive these new cars. For a bit of trivia, the Chevrolet Beretta had come out that year - if you want to know my approximate age.

That feeling of fear mixed with excitement is what I think might have been in the minds of the early church as they began their life as "Christ's Church". Below are some applications to choose from to apply from our lesson yesterday as we continued with our look at the early church...

  1. We tend to like to tell others when we have bought something new. It is really easy to share about the item. Is your life in Christ new? If so, it should be easy to share. If you're like me, it has been a few years since you "put on Christ", however the sheer impact that it has made on your life should be never fading. Rekindle your memories of the past when you "put on Christ" and stoke the embers to create a flame to cause you to want to share with others.
  2. One thing that creates a sense of "old" is routine. Our churches are full of routine and tradition. It can be good but it can also be bad. If you are a church leader, specifically, try to bring about something in your assembly (be it each week or once a month) that is a bit out of the ordinary. Something with an edifying goal, but that would be a break in the routine. I doubt the early church had a routine.
  3. If you are not as involved as you could be, is it as a result of fear? Allow that fear to fuel you instead of fizzling you. Allow it to be a mission that you decide to take on - which is not impossible. Go ahead and try it out...you may like it. Join a group, talk to that person, share Jesus, use your talents, etc.
The early church had a lot for us to look at and learn from. If you are involved with a church, examine what they experienced to stoke the fire in your congregation. If you are not involved with a church, the early church was nothing like what we find in most groups on Sunday mornings across America. This was an excited, yet fearful, group of people who just wanted to get together to worship God, the Father of Jesus, whom they recently put on the cross. They were community changers - and God added to their number daily (Acts 2:47).

Have an excitedly scared week!

Approaching things with nervousness...Share/Bookmark

Connections Determine Future  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , ,

People you are around will tend to affect you in one of two possible ways: pull you up or pull you down. These two effects will also determine your future. By your future, I mean, the moments of your life that follow. It could be a matter of seconds to years. Unfortunately, we may not even realize the effect that a particular connection is having on us.

Have you seen how this has played in your life from examining your past? What connections have made you become better? What connections have made you become worse? This thought brings us to this week's quote...

The size of the future you actually experience will 
largely be determined by one factor: the people you 
choose to connect with. When you invite people who are 
truly committed to growth into every aspect of your life, 
your own potential for growth becomes truly unlimited. ~ Dan Sullivan
What does your future look like based on the connections you have at this moment? Are many of them tearing you down or building you up?

How about others' connection to you...are you building them up or tearing them down?

Look for people who truly build you up and make your future big. Look for those who will help you grow - in every aspect - so that you see your potential as "unlimited".

I am looking forward to seeing how big your future is going to be (let me know from time to time).

Determining the size of my future with the connections I make...

ichthus_man@hotmail.comShare/Bookmark

A New Found...Devotion - Acts 2:42  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , ,

We all really like to do something. Some would categorize it as "loving" to do something. It could be going to eat somewhere, a hobby, a vacation spot, etc. We are devoted to these things. We tend to think about them often and may put them into practice as much as we have time for. You may be devoted to a certain team, local or otherwise. Devotion comes in different forms, but the overall concept is still the same. As we think about devotion, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. As Christians, we must be devoted to God. He is a jealous God and wants us to not have any devotion to anything else above Him. Think about your priorities, are they putting Him first? Do you need to re-examine where He is on the list? The next time you are finding yourself putting prayer, bible reading, going to church/assembly below other things, you might want to re-examine your priorities and your devotion to Him.
  2. Be a Kindergartner. Treat each day, each time you open your Bible, and each time you hear the Message as a chance to soak in all that you can. There is so much to learn when it comes to being a Christian and a disciple of the Word. What will God teach you today?
  3. Fellowship is so important to me. I enjoy the opportunities to spend time with others. It is such a bonding experience. Look for ways you can get in touch with someone else and get to know them a bit deeper.
  4. Pray...not because you "have" to, but because you can't go on another day without talking to God. Give Him your praises and petitions.
It was great to get together and sense the excitement of people. It has been great to see the transformation in people as they are getting out of their comfort zones and doing things they have done in the past. It is amazing how God works with different situations to allow His people to flourish in using their talents!

Devoted...and Excited...Share/Bookmark

Fall Festival  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , ,

This is the time of our town's annual Fall Festival. It is a three day event! Practically every town in Southern Illinois has some sort of festival in the fall. Our festival is bigger than the County Fair. People come out to eat, visit, listen to music, and ride rides.

Over the past three years, we have grown to look forward to the Festival. A time when you know you will see people you don't normally see.

Being involved in ministry has allowed our family the chance to get to know a lot of people, and I have had the privilege of subbing in the Jr/Sr High, which has allowed me to get to know a lot of kids, also. By these means, we have been able to have the opportunity to connect people to us and to Jesus. It is great to see how the community seems to have taken us in and supports us in our work here.

We look forward to seeing the seeds grow that have been sown through our work with this community. We plant and water and God makes it grow!

Sowing seeds...Share/Bookmark

Do Your Best - Don't Worry About the Rest  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , , , ,

My parents always told me to "do my best". They didn't expect perfection, but just that I try my best. As I have chosen a field which involves constant expectations, I still keep in mind what my parents said to me many years ago. This week's quote inspired me to do my best and not worry about the rest...

I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. ~ Abraham Lincoln
There was another phrase my parent's said a lot, "Don't worry about others, worry about yourself". Pairing that with the first phrase creates a concept that when you are trying to do all you can, what other people think is meaningless.

We must be confident enough in our own decisions that we are not overly concerned with what other people think. I know I am not perfect and I make mistakes, but I am confident of the goal that I aimed to achieve. As a minister, there is never a time that I do something that I do not have a purpose and a goal in mind.

As you go through life, may you "do your best" and be able to look back and not worry about anyone who may say something against you.

Doing my best...Share/Bookmark

At Just the Right Time - Exodus 14:10-14  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , ,

This year's Olympics were filled with some exciting finishes, specifically in swimming. Michael Phelps has gone down in history as one of the greatest male swimmers for the US of all time. In a couple of his races, he or his team, won by a fraction of a second. Which means, at just the right time, a person on the US team touched the wall before the opponent's. There are times which God does the same thing when it comes to dealing with us.

Yesterday, we looked at the text where Moses and the Israelites are on the verge of being captured by the Egyptian army. The Israelites have the Red Sea in front, mountains to side, and an army behind. They're doomed! However, at just the right time, God allows the waters to recede, forming two walls of water and dry ground underneath. Thus giving them a chance to cross over, free from the Egyptian army. Here are some applications to choose from in applying the lesson...

  1. New situations make us uncomfortable. When you are involved in something new, the old life may seem better because you were used to it. Whether you are moving to a new town, trying out a new church, got a new job, etc., allow time to be given so that you can see how God is going to use you where you're at right then.
  2. We live in a cruel world and it can be lonely sometimes. You may not be walking on water, but still, don't look down, keep your eyes on Jesus! Pursue Him, knowing that He is always there for you when you need Him - and boy, do we need Him a lot more than we think!
  3. Undergoing trials? Trials allow us to refocus ourselves on Him and not on the impossiblities. Look throught obstacles as ways to be closer to God and find Him in the midst of these trials. "Seek and you will find"!
God is faithful and He will take care of us. Some of the solutions may seem so far off that we are not comfortable with them when they do come. However, at just the right time, God will bring you through your "Red Sea" on dry ground!

Praising Him for His Rescue, at Just the Right Time ~Share/Bookmark

Working Hard by Doing Hard Work  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , , , , , , ,

We have a common phrase we say when it seems we are not able to complete a task..."I can't". You've said it, I've said it, and those yet to be born will say it. I remember saying it in school when trying to find an answer to a question. However, there are times it feels that way with God. That feeling where you just can't go on another minute/day with the situation the way it is right now.

Schools have started; practices have started; life has always started. All these things require us to work hard. This brings us to this week's quote...

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. ~ Newt Gingrich

Usually, when we say "I can't" we haven't even arrived at the point of perseverance. However, when you get to the point of thinking you can't do it any more after putting in the hard work, you have to continue working hard to complete your goal.

I encourage you to keep on working hard in your marriage, Christian walk, at your job, at school, a giving up bad "habits", at starting good "habits", in your friendships, in your sports practices, in coaching and in other areas of life.

Work hard at working hard!

Persevering...Share/Bookmark

Getaway  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , ,

Summer is a common time for families to go on trips. Kids are out of school and the weather is good; a good time for traveling. Vacations allow for adults to get away from work for a period of time, too. Getaways provide for families to grow together, as this may be one of the few times they can be together for period of time without the interruptions of life. Now that summer time is ending, getaways will be coming to an end.

Where do you like to go? A few years ago, my wife and I went to the Mt. Rushmore area and camped for over a week. We were with my in-laws and we didn't have any kind of "schedule" and it ended up being very relaxing. It also gave me a refueling to return to my job. That brings us to this quote...

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~Seneca
We are in a state of traveling at the moment. It has been nice to get away from the normal life and take a "road trip" with my wife and son. We have been meeting new people and seeing family. We are not going to be done for about a week, and we are yet to meet more new people. I have been able to clean out the "mind" and forget about things at home (well, kind of forget) to enjoy the trip.

Traveling, whether it is just out for a country drive or a trip, has held true for me to the point of this quote. I like getting away and allowing the "renewing the vigor of the mind".

May you have opportunities to get away to renew your vigor or reflect back on your family trips as memories to remind you how blessed you are to have the family you have been given.

Getting away...
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Seeing Life Differently  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , ,

One of my biggest annoyances is waiting. Whether it is waiting on a phone call, a service technician, or traffic, my attitude towards these instances of waiting do not rank that high on the scale. The longer I have to wait, the worse it can get. How about you? What are things that cause your attitude to go south? Weather, slow cashiers, or atmosphere at work may be areas that affect your attitude. As we focus on the idea of attitude, be inspired to be different as you read this quote...

Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. Life would undergo a change of appearance because we ourselves had undergone a change of attitude. ~ Katherine Mansfield
As I look to apply this quote to my life, I would focus on waiting. Waiting on a phone call could enable me to pray for that person who is supposed to call me back. Waiting on a service technician could enable me to pray for the person coming and the opportunity to share Jesus with them. Waiting on traffic could enable me to pray about the person in front of me or to praise God for various abilities He's given me.

What areas would apply this quote toward? If the weather hasn't been what you've wanted lately, maybe it is an opportunity to be reminded that we're not in control. If you are fortunate to have a slow cashier, maybe it is an opportunity to encourage them. If your job is getting you down, maybe it is an opportunity to pray for your coworkers, bosses, or employees.

As you look at those areas that affect your attitude, see how you can view it differently so that your attitude can be different. I will bet you will be surprised how your life will start to develop a different appearance.

Anxious to see the outlook of my life as my attitude looks different...Share/Bookmark

He Bore Our Sins - I Peter 2:20-24  

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What have you done that you felt guilty over? Break something of someone else's, lie to someone, or any number of other things. Guilt causes us to carry baggage that we are not equipped to carry. Too much will weigh us down. When it comes to our sin problem, it is nice to know that Jesus bears our sins, so we don't have to bear them.

Yesterday, we looked at Jesus and how He took the sins of ours and placed them on His body, so that His sacrifice could take them away. Here are some applications to use from this lesson...

  1. Give Him Your Guilt ~ We've all sinned. Some are very impacting on our lives. Make it a regular practice to give Him your guilt by confessing your wrongs. The wrongs of the past may be lurking, depending on what they were. If they were "washed away", then they are no longer on the record books to be judged against. Acknowledge the wrongs and leave a lot "lighter".
  2. Confess Your Wrongs ~ When you've done something against someone else, practice the action you were taught since you were a child...Tell them you're sorry! Sometimes, just making the call or "coming clean" can make all the difference in the world. It is probably worse on you than it is on others (depending on what it is).
  3. Breathe a sigh of relief ~ As Jesus has "bore our sins", praise Him for doing so, but then take a deep breath and sigh with a sense of relief, knowing what He's done for us.
Once you do not have to carry the guilt or you've confessed to the crime, you can breathe a sigh of relief because that baggage is no longer weighing you down. You may have to suffer the consequences, but you don't have to carry the weight.

Walking lighter...Share/Bookmark

Striking the Flint  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , , ,

If you've ever watched the reality show Survivor, you know how important fire is to the participants, regarding their survival. Fire is one of the things that they need to boil water, keep themselves warm, ward off predators, and various other needs. Without fire, they are in trouble. If they go too long without fire, they are doomed to starve or dehydrate. In the early part of the show, there will be a game that gives flint as a prize. Though the winner may have flint in their possession, they must use it correctly to produce enough spark to get fire.

Fire, sometimes associated with passion, is also important to the survival of the soul. Food and water keeps the physical body alive, but passion feeds the soul. That leads in to this week's quote...

Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark. ~ Henri Frederic Amiel
We are all just "possibilities". There is a possibility that you could be a host of different things. But, when you have a passion about something, you will inevitably start to move toward it.

Want to see a change in something? Don't just be the flint that sits on the shelf, never to strike the iron; rather, be the flint that moves toward the iron. Your fire may not start with the first few strikes, but the collection of strikes is sure to get a flame going.

Without food and water, the physical body is in trouble. Without fire, the soul is in trouble.

May passion create a fire within you so that you will not be just "possibility and latent force".

Striking the flint...Share/Bookmark