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?  

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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.


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