Recognizing Joy  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in ,

Sometimes in life you just have to sit back and look at life and see the blessings instead of the burdens. Burdens are so much easier to recognize and remember. Blessings are expected; sometimes even presumed. The blessing of having your own transportation makes you presume it will start. The blessing of having heated water makes you presume it will be hot when you turn it on. However, when those things are not working, they become a burden, and all of a sudden, their burden is easier to see then their blessing the day before.

If you look around at what you've got, you will appreciate things and have that much joy in your life! That brings us to this week's quote...

Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. ~ Marianne Williamson
Look around...what do you see? Bills, broken marriage, dirty house, miserable weather? Those things may be something we have to deal with. However, as you are looking around, be thankful you have the opportunity to see...many people don't!

Looking for joy in my life...Share/Bookmark

Awareness of Weaknesses - Judges 16:15-21  

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In sports, when you become aware of a weakness of the other team or opponent, you want to try to take advantage of that weakness. When your team has a weakness, you want to try to avoid that weakness being exposed. The awareness of a weakness will take on a different strategic move depending on which side you are sitting. However, when the weakness is on your team, you still try to accomplish your goal. Teams are made up of individuals, but to reach the goal takes everyone working together and committed to each other.

Yesterday, we continued with discussing Samson (Judges 14, 15, &16). Samson was one who had a known weakness. He was ignorant to think that after three times of Delilah trying to find out his weakness and showing that she can't be trusted, he told her on the fourth time. Samson told her it was his hair. She cut it off and God left him, thus becoming weak. He was captured. Later to "bring down the house" and kill 3,000 men and women. He allowed his knowledge of his weakness to interfere with his quest to serve God. As a church, in any given area, someone is going to be weaker. When we know that, we cannot turn on our own brethren, but to not allow that to interfere with our quest to serve God and expand the Kingdom.

As we reflect back on that, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

Pray that you will not fall into temptations - knowing, already, you're susceptible in those areas. (Luke 22:39-45)
Be conscious of times when you're critical of others and ask God to turn you from that thought
Be conscious of times when you're self-righteous and ask God to turn you from that thought
Be conscious of times when you're tempted to either spread rumors or listen to gossip, and ask God to turn you from that situation.
Be conscious of times when you're ___________ (you fill in the blank) and ask God to turn you from that thought/situation.
Ask God to strengthen you with your weaknesses, that it will not inhibit your church/work/team
Ask God to strengthen those you are associated with through church/work/team so you can accomplish the task.
Ask God to keep the Enemy away from you as to make it easier to accomplish the goals you are striving toward (presuming the goals are helpful to your walk with Him).
Praise God that we're a family!

Keep in mind...Rule #1...We are family! That is so important when it comes to trying to accomplish goals.

We have weaknesses, about ourselves and within a group, but we need to be aware of those so that we can do everything we can to serve Him better.

Being aware...Share/Bookmark

Learning to Fly  

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Superman, the original 70's movie, is one of the first movies I ever went to that I still remember (Benji and Bambi were the other two). It remains one of my favorites. Along with Superman being my favorite superhero.

In the movie, Superman's planet is about to be ruined. He is less than a year old, not able to do any type of mobility on his own. His parents decide to send him away, so as to protect him. As it works out he lands on earth, now being about a 3-4 year old boy. He gets out, starts to walk, is "adopted" by a couple who raise him. He then learns to run and climb. And we all know he can run..."faster than a speeding bullet". However, he doesn't know that he can defy gravity, that doesn't come for a good while in the movie. That brings us to this week's quote...

He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
I'm sure, barring any physical obstacles, you've learned to walk and run and climb and dance. But have you learned to fly? Do you have any reason to fly? We can get practically anywhere with the other means of mobility, but to be able to fly, that is the next step.

Some described Michael Jordan as "flying" as he could leap and glide in the air to put that ball in the hoop. Flying is special. Flying is fun. Flying is freeing. Flying is exhilarating. But you can't learn it until you've learned some of the others, first.

In understanding the Christian lifestyle one must learn the others before they can understand flying. Gravity keeps us on the ground. Legalism (feeling like you have to earn/work your way to heaven) is the religious gravity that keeps us from flying. As you learn to team up with God and not try to "work" your way to get close to Him, you will start to experience what it means to fly - defying "gravity". When you are using your gifts for His glory, you will start to experience what it means to fly. When you are with people and are constantly thinking about how you can influence their life for Christ, you will start to experience what it means to fly.

However, you have to learn the others first, they are important, but learning to fly...that's something to strive for!

Learning to "fly"...Share/Bookmark

Family Peace: Maintain It - Judges 14:15-16  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Unfortunately, practically all do not live in a totally "peaceful" house. I am not equating that with quiet. I am speaking of one where there are not disagreements that causes voices to raise, tempers to flare, or pouts to form. I can remember being told that my younger brother and I were never going back to the store with my mom. We wore her out. I can somewhat understand a little more where my parents were at as I am in the second year of being a father.

I have experienced making poor choices because of a lack of peace in my life. The different "noises" that may be all around me, at that time, made it difficult to choose wisely. However, that doesn't give me the excuse to make the poor choices. As we reflect back to Samson's situation yesterday, let's look at some applications we can choose from to put into practice this week...

  1. Develop boundaries for yourself - whether in a particular situation or in general - and stick to them, not giving in to "make people happy".
  2. Take yourself away from some of the "noises" going on in your life to regroup, then move on.
  3. Look for ways not to take on as much, so you don't have as much "noise"
  4. See distractions as ways that the Enemy may be trying to get you to veer away from the "narrow path".
  5. Don't be a distraction to others - when "no" is given, don't keep going till you get a yes
  6. When you get a "no", but feel passionate about it, pray about it so that God will either give you the answer you want or you will clearly see that it is not the right time for this prayer to be answered the way you want.
  7. Pray for peace in your household
  8. Pray for peace in your church family
Maintaining peace doesn't mean that we are all doormats, compromising or avoiding anything we disagree with. Peace takes both sides of the issue coming to an understanding so as not to have that rift anymore between the two (or more) of you.

Use each and every opportunity to keep peace in the family!

"Peace out..."Share/Bookmark

Have You Got a Second (Wind)?  

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As I begin to creep near mid-30's, I realize that my body is definitely not in shape. Though I have an education in exercise and the science involved with it, my personal philosophy on exercise is that I need to be working toward a goal each time I attempt to "work out". I have never received any long-term "high" from pushing weights up, letting them down, pushing them up, letting them down, and so on. The same goes with treadmills and indoor bikes. If you don't go anywhere, what's the use? My thought is, I would rather load bales of hay because I would be accomplishing something in the mean time. With that being my philosophy, I have not caught on to the exercise bug. Therefore, I am out of shape and know that it doesn't take long to need to take a breather.

Too often in life we look at goals we have, and quit before we get the chance to get a second wind. I encourage you to not give up on your goals. That brings us to this week's quote...

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out if they've got a second. Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you. ~ William James
I love to play sports, as I enjoy getting the chance to "move toward a goal" of scoring. Even though I may take a breather from time to time, I enjoy the opportunity to keep playing, especially when that second wind comes!

Too many of us exercise our dreams like we exercise our bodies (if you exercise your body a lot, then you may exercise your dreams like others exercise their bodies). We have not lifted, ran, swam, etc., in so long our "dream shape" is very out of shape. You may start to dream, then you "run out of breath". Go for the second wind! What do you dream for yourself, your family, your church, or your community? It will probably amaze you at the energy that comes from pursuing your dreams!

Keeping in "dream shape"...Share/Bookmark

Things are Happening!  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

One of the highlights of my job is getting to know what is going on in people’s lives! Especially when it comes to hearing how people are serving and sharing Him.

You may or may not have thought much about your church life since last Sunday. I hope that is not the case. This is a great bunch of folks and things really seem to be happening. I applaud all your efforts, whether I know about them or not. I know many of you are praying. Many of you are thinking of who you could invite. Many of you are having your eyes opened (by Him) to new things that incorporate the many facets of a Christian lifestyle.

I do not have to know all the fine details of each person’s life (as I don’t even strive to find out). Regardless, I see God at work in mighty ways in this church. He has His own timeline which He deems important. Our minuscule desires are nothing when compared to His. As you are being used, praise Him. As you are catching yourself thinking of being involved with new things, praise Him. As you are thinking about inviting someone to one of our get-togethers or an assembly, praise Him. He is mighty and awesome!

Things are happening and that is wonderful! When we have our eyes opened and start seeing all the neat things that He does with our lives it will blow your mind! You will not even realize how fun being a Christian can be!

I hope that you have a Jesus-filled week! One where you wake up and are ready to see God in your day.

God is Good…All the Time!Share/Bookmark

We are a Devoted Family  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Over the past few years, my wife and I have become driven to do what we can to help marriages. Too often we see or hear of marriages that have fallen apart due to a lack of devotion. There are several components that make up a good marriage. However, some of those components can be put under the umbrella of devotion. Devotion does not quit. Devotion does not look elsewhere. Devotion says "I will stand by you".

A church family must be devoted to each other, including the staff. As we are a family. We are to be laughing, sharing, and healing with each other. Your view of family may be that of "getting out when the times are tough". That would be unfortunate because that is not what the church was set up to be. Ephesians 4:3-6 helps us remember how we are to be unified despite the odds. (See the bottom of the blog for those verses) Yesterday, we took a look at the concept of devotion and here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Ask God to help you to remember your church family more often - not letting it just be at meeting times.
  2. Invite someone in your church family to join you/your family for a meal or a fun activity.
  3. Send a card from your family to another family in the church.
  4. Send a card to or call any visitors you've had lately.
  5. Go and see someone in your church who is in the hospital.
  6. Send a text to any teens in your church family that have text messaging (that is the most common way they communicate now - you can even send a text message from a mobile company's website for free, but you have to know who that person's carrier is)
Though the people in the church may be separated by lifestyles, let us be as connected as possible by utilizing the utilities we have at our disposal - prayer, electronics, postal service, etc.!

Staying Devoted...

Ephesians 4:3-6: 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (NIV)

Exploring New Paths  

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Templates are created to make it easier for people to create things. I am not a user of many templates. I only used a template for my blog because I don't know how to design my own, yet. (I don't even use a Blogger template, to try to be more unique) Whenever I design a website, I don't download a template. I want it to be something that I created. When I write a sermon, I don't look for other peoples' sermons to use. When I teach, I like to use my own material, not taking a published lesson straight from a book.

As we go about life, it is much more energizing and rewarding to go to places others have never been. Places other's have been do not bode well for new explorations. Where have you tread in life that others had not gone before? That brings us to this week's quote...

If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success. ~ John D. Rockefeller
When you go down a road never taken, you get to be the first to experience the experiences. You may be breaking ground on something that has never been done before. You get to be the first to plant the flagpole in the ground to say that you're the first one here, ever!

As you finish out the rest of the week, look for paths you can head down, which someone else hasn't yet taken...find the success in each day by being that day's trailblazer!

Walk down the path of "success"!Share/Bookmark

Helping Out With the Simplest of Things  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

The other day I was visiting one of our members at work, when a lady came in needing some assistance getting her gas cap off. He offered to help her in a second, when he was free, but standing around not doing anything at the time, I volunteered to help. We walked outside and I tried to turn the cap and it wouldn’t turn any more. So, I thought I would give it a tug, and it came right off. I noticed that she had the kind of gloves on that wouldn’t allow for much grip, so I don’t know if that prevented her from being able to pull it out or not. Regardless, the solution ended up being very simple.

This reminded me how easy it is to help someone in need. If we are willing to help anyone who comes our way, then, most likely, we will be given the opportunity. Sometimes it takes being-at-the-right-place-at-the-right-time to be able to help someone in need. I am a firm believer in connecting the dots. If she ever comes back in there she will have two good things to think about. First, the employee’s willingness to help her out, and two, someone who was there to help her out.

The “connect the dots” part is that both the employee and I go to church together. The seed of kindness has been planted. He can continue to water and nurture the planting. I don’t know if it will come in my lifetime that I will see the seed come to full growth, or if it will come from her spreading the news about how someone from that store helped her, which may send someone else there. Another person would be another dot on a branch off of that situation. And who knows what may come of that.

Help someone out by lending a hand, an ear, or your heart. You never know what God will do with even the simplest of things!

Appreciating all of you!Share/Bookmark

Rule #1: We Are Family  

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The Ron Clark Story came out in 2006, and when I saw the preview I knew I wanted to see it. When I saw it, I hoped I could have the movie. The dilemma was, it was a TV movie, not out in theaters. Thankfully, after some research, I found out it was made to DVD...and thanks to my beautiful wife, this Christmas she bought it for me.

Ron establishes several rules for his classroom, 55 to date. One of the first ones that he put in his classroom was the one that is in the picture...We are family. This applies so much to church life. As a new chapter begins in my life, this was a strong point that I want people to understand. Here are some applications to use from this lesson...

  1. Pray for each person in the church on a regular basis.
  2. Pray when something/someone bothers you.
  3. Pray for ways you can be of service to your family
  4. Approach someone when you have concerns
  5. Encourage, commend, congratulate, uplift, and anything else positive that you can think of to those who are in the family.
  6. Be the first to put your hand out to greet someone or to hug someone's neck
  7. Reflect on your imperfection before you point out someone else's.
  8. Appreciate those who are in your family - even if you have to look a while to find something to appreciate.
Click on the title, Ron Clark Story Trailer, to go to a website to see the trailer, especially if you have never seen the movie before.

This movie is probably one of my top ten movies, specifically in the drama category. It is very inspirational to try to help others know more!

Appreciating my "family"!Share/Bookmark

One Year Ago  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

I call it the "curse to the parent", that feeling you get when you remember your child at a younger age, but want to see them grow up. Being an independent person, I never really appreciated hearing about the times when I was a baby, etc. I was ready to fly! Still am...however, now I fly with a wife and a son.

Oliver was born Friday, January 4th, at 4:04 in the afternoon. When my wife and I first started dating, we talked of the number of kids we wanted to have. I wanted two and she wanted four. When we were married, we waited a while before pursuing being parents. However, that wait went month after month, year after year, for eight and a half years. Then, out of the blue, (and a few weeks after watching Facing the Giants, click here to see that entry from Aubrey's blog), Aubrey wanted to take a test. We'd taken several of these throughout our marriage, all t0 turn up negative. I bought the "two pack" because we always want to make sure. I was playing Xbox on a Sunday afternoon, and she came in after taking the test... "I think you're going to have to buy me something for mother's day" she said, with tears in her eyes. Immediately I had tears in my eyes. WOW! We're going to be parents!

Oliver was the "New Year's Baby", but since we weren't from that county, where we had him, he got the "parting gift". It was still very nice. (You can read the write up by clicking here).

He is an awesome boy. People always say how "happy" he is. Last night he got to eat his first bowl of ice cream, with strawberry topping. YUM! He's basically walking all around! He only went to the doctor once, outside of well care visits, his entire first year. He's healthy...what a blessing! He's very much a "text book" baby...walking, crawling, getting teeth, all in the normal time frames. He fits into the proper sized clothes, etc. What a blessing!

My wife and I could not be any happier with him! He's the greatest! Though I am cursed with the memories of him as a baby, and wanting to hold him at 8 lbs, I am thankful for the future!

I am sure practically all parents have the feeling that I have for my son, so to say, "love your kids", would be redundant.

Thankful! Appreciative! Bursting with pride!!! As I remember one year ago and look at him now.Share/Bookmark