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

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...  

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

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 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...


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  

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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