"Before" Still Gives You a Choice  

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If you are like me, you've probably had many moments where you either knew or felt that you shouldn't have said something, could have said something differently, or wonder if someone took it wrong what you said. These are not fun moments. They can aggravate you like a rock in your shoe. You think about it, worry about it, and want to fix the situation.

Though easier said than done, there are some ways we can prevent that feeling. It comes in this week's quote, from a poem titled "Before You", by William Arthur Ward...

Before you speak, listen.
Before you write, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you invest, investigate.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.
Before you retire, save.
Before you die, give.

Not all of these are situations where you make a mistake and have to go back to correct it. However, they are some simple, everyday, applicable phrases to help us through some situations in life. Some of them may impact you more than others. Some may make you really look within. Some might be what you wish someone else would keep in mind.

"Before" is a powerful word that says things are at the fork in the road. "After" is when you chose to take a path. "After" is no turning back; "before" is when the option of taking another route is possible.

Try to put the "Before you" tool in your pocket to pull out at the many opportune times that will come about in your lifetime.

Always trying to sharpen the "Before you" tool...Share/Bookmark

Being Different But Being Similar  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

It is common knowledge that everyone has a different set of fingerprints. From what I found there are about seven different styles of fingerprints: arch, tentarch, loop, double loop, packed loop, whorl, and mixed. It still amazes me that God enables this uniqueness to happen. When I design things, I can come up with a certain amount of different designs, but after billions of people are created, it would seem difficult to come up with some design that makes each fingerprint different, but they are. What an amazing God!

Though our fingerprints may be different, many of us have similarities. Hair color, eye color, interest in movies, favorite color, gender, and the list could go on and on. I am reading this awesome book, geared toward business that is focused on the principle that though we may be similar, something needs to differentiate us to cause us to be “attractive”. I am not speaking of physical attraction, but, in this case, spiritual attraction.

What makes you, a consumer, go to Burger King over McDonald’s, or J & B Meat over the other two? They are both serving some type of beef sandwich and a fried potato side. One has a king, the other a clown, and the third has no mascot. Something makes them different to cause one to visit them at different times and at different rates.

The book is titled “Collapse of Distinction”, authored by Scott McKain. I have only experienced the first few pages of the book, but I eat up so much of it. I want to highlight so many lines. Though it is a business book, there is so much application to the church. There are so many churches in town that, to many, we all probably look the same. When a business takes its customers for granted that they will always come in, and never try to improve something to meet their customers demands, they will eventually go under. Their failure to be distinct will cause them to collapse (hence the name of the book). Thus, if we are so similar, then what are we doing to not take the “consumer” for granted and try to attract their “business”? Unfortunately, in most cases, it is nothing.

I don’t know where I will integrate this knowledge, but I will find a way!

Though we may be similar, we must find ways to be different!Share/Bookmark

Givin' a Shout Out  

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Watch any football or baseball game and you may see some individual player holding up a hand signal, probably a #1, while saying "hi" to someone. They are proud of what they have just been involved in, be it a touchdown run/catch or hitting a homerun, for example. They are giving a "shout out" to their friends/family.

Shout outs are a classic case of being so proud you want to tell others and to take advantage of the opportunities to be in the spotlight to say something to someone. Pride causes us to project with confidence. As a Christian, are you proud of your salvation and your Savior? If so, you will project that, if not you won't. You won't show pride when you're sleeping, it is a conscious action. Hence, if you are spiritually sleeping, you're not going to show your pride to others. You will simply show no emotion.

To be alive in Christ, we envision, we have confidence, and we focus. With all of those things you will naturally not be able to keep it in, you feel you must give a "shout out". Who all will you be giving a "shout out" to this week? Here are some applications to choose from to use...

  1. Give a shout out, passively - Post something like "God is good, all the time...and all the time, God is good" or "Givin' a shout out because GIGATTAATTGIG" (which the letters are the first letters of that phrase) on your Facebook or MySpace page, send a text to a few friends, post it on your blog, write it on a piece of paper and put at your workplace, put it in a card, etc. and see what responses you get to start the ball rolling on a spiritual conversation. Or you can come up with your own phrase.
  2. Give a shout out, actively - Tell someone a phrase like the one above or come up with your own. See what happens.
  3. Memorial Day - Ask someone who they think about the most on Memorial Day, then share with them that the most important person in your life that has gone on before you, who fought the toughest war, was Jesus. See how God handles it.
  4. Pray for Camera Spots - By this I mean to be praying for God to open doors for you to have the camera put on you so that you can put your figurative #1 finger up to show how important your faith is to you.
  5. Live Out Your Shout Out - Your actions may be the loudest voice you have, regarding your faith. You may not always have to say anything. How you handle yourself throughout life is going to speak volumes. Where you put God on your priority list, over family, job, sports, recreation, etc. may show others how valuable your faith is to your life.

I will be excited to hear, if you care to share, how God surprises you by using you in unexpected, surprising ways as you sow seed this week. For those of you who live where I do, I may give you the opportunity to tell others how surprising your shout outs went this week!

It is such a wonderful experience to go about each day looking for ways for God to be using you to influence others' lives. These experiences come all the time, you just have to be "awake" to see them. Don't expect them to be something so vivid...look for them around each corner!

Givin' Shout Outs to My Peeps...Share/Bookmark

Summer: A Great Time to Soak Up the Son  

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School is out, Memorial Day is past, ball games are about to begin, the pool will soon be opening, and grills are being fired up regularly. All are signs that summer is upon us. Most look forward to the warmer temperatures because they can do more things outside. The sun stays out later enabling us to enjoy daylight and being outside that much longer. Kids love it too, as they usually do not have to go to bed as early.

As outdoor activities increases, so does the wearing of less clothing. This will bring about the tan, the Caucasian-craved skin color. Regardless of the warnings, this desired shade is still sought after throughout the summer time. People like to not look “white” but have a bit of a tan shade to their body.

Spring, though technically still here for about another calendar month, has basically dissipated from the lips of people. Spring brought about green grass, leaves on trees, flowers in bloom, and many other wonderful colors to our area. Each time between the end of March and May, God brings on His paintbrush and paints a gorgeous picture. It happens every year and it is something I look forward to seeing.

Since spring has passed and summer is here, why not take some time, as an individual or as a family, to soak up some Son? The wonderful thing about soaking up all the Son you can, is that it never makes your skin look leathery or has even the slightest potential of making you have cancer. Here are some ways you might go about soaking up more Son this summer. One, go grab some ice cream, refreshing drink, or some other summer treat, and sit outside and look at what God has created this spring. If doing it as a family, talk to your kids about God’s creation. Ask whoever you are with what is their favorite creation. Two, spend time outside with your family or with someone else, either just chillin’ out, playing games, washing the car, or doing yard work. During this time you can be playing Christian music. Three, watch movies outdoor. A multimedia projector makes for great drive-ins. If you have one, use it outdoor and invite your neighbors. There are tons of great movies out that have a very good message to display. Finally, don’t forget the formal ways, that is getting you and your family involved in church-related activities this summer. Watch for them in the paper. There will be Vacation Bible School events going on throughout the summer. Plus, our own church is planning on having some different activities for families and dads throughout the summer.

Soaking up the Son doesn’t only have to be when the sun is out. You can soak up the Son any time of the day, inside or out. Just take this summer as a common time to soak up more sun to not neglect soaking up more of the Son that we all need!Share/Bookmark

Power Just Waiting to Astonish  

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What are you capable of doing? How high are you capable of going? Do you think of those questions very often? If you are like most that drift from day to day going through the motions of life, you probably don't think of them too much. Usually we have to be prompted to think of the possibilities.

I am a softy for seeing people accomplish something. I can't help shed a tear on most situations where people have shown their potential to reach goals they never knew they could reach. These situations could be in real life or movies. It makes me want to go out and do things. When I watch a movie like this before I preach the next day, I am on fire. I am so pumped. I am more antsy to get to preach/teach than normal. It just does wonders for me. It makes me imagine what God could do with me if I put myself out there.

You may have heard that we do not use very much of our mind's potential, I think the same could be said of our talents. We probably do not use much of the potential that our body possesses throughout our lifetime. There is something inside each of us that if used to its potential, would do amazing things and the powers would be astonishing. That brings us to this week's quote...

Deep within man dwell those slumbering powers; powers that would astonish him, that he never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize his life if aroused and put into action. ~Orison Swett Marden
As created beings, God gave us "powers" to serve Him. By serving, I don't simply mean actions like bringing Him breakfast in bed, if there were such a thing. I mean doing what we can to repay Him for what He's done for us. Paul, the apostle, writes "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (II Corinthians 12:9). He is describing the grace that comes from God is perfect in our weak human bodies. Paul also wrote this, "...[he] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20). Both indicate that we have a certain amount of "power" given to us, as Christians, that can do more than we can even fathom. Though we are human beings, which mess up, God can do great things with mess ups.

You have dreams, ideas, and potential inside of you. Make a list of how you are going to let your weak body be great for God. How are you going to serve Him by using your talents to impact those around you for His Glory?

We all are a volcano with some type of lava just waiting to erupt!

Enjoying Erupting...Share/Bookmark

Just When You Thought You Were Done  

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Just When You Thought You Were Done

Planning big events takes a lot of extra time and effort, and it feels so good to be finished. Maybe it is a campaign, a workshop, a dinner, or a trip. All of these would probably hold true to the opening sentence. When it is completed you think that it is all over. All that preparation and planning has come to an end. Now you can rest and move on…so you think.

This weekend is a great weekend. One filled with bittersweet feelings. For the graduates, twelve years (plus Kindergarten and/or preschool) of education comes to an end. All the hard work, socializing, playing sports, frustration, procrastination, school lunches, and routine, as you they know it, comes to an end. You will most likely miss high school, as it starts out slow your freshman year, but by the time your senior year comes around, it seems to end very quickly. You are probably a bit sad, though you are glad to be done. Parents reminisce of memories when these graduates were too small to go to school. They now have to let their “birds” start to fly a bit. Even if they are staying close to home, there is a sense of flight that comes with the territory.

I still remember what it was like to walk across the stage and feel that awesome “completion” sensation! It seemed like so much had passed in my life, but that was simply the beginning. I am sure that most of you who have completed various levels of education have felt similar feelings and can remember those moments of relief when you were finished. However, you also know that much more came after the diploma. Your learning and life-tests never stopped, though you were out of the formal classroom.

Regardless of whether you are an Eagle alum, a Viking alum, a Plainsmen alum, or a Trojan alum, you may think you are finished because you walked across a stage, but you are just getting started with the future. The future is much of what you make of it, determined by the choices you make. However, regardless of how many years of formal education you may have under your belt, the classroom whose teacher is Experience, never holds a graduation ceremony. So, just when you thought you were done, there is much more to look forward to in the future!

Go get ‘em, graduates!Share/Bookmark

Be a Hero  

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We all have heroes. Could be a parent, a friend, just someone you admire who you don't really know, or a fantasy super hero. Heroes of the movies are written. Whether they can defy gravity or say the most romantic words, they are generally not realistic.

It doesn't take flying or romance to indicate a hero. A hero is someone who does something heroic (pretty profound, huh?). Seriously, a hero does things that we haven't tried or even thought of. With any sort of trying there is the chance of failing, which usually happens. However, getting to the end is like maneuvering through a maze. There will be some dead ends, but you can simply back up and learn from that. When you make it to the end, you've accomplished your goal. This accomplishment may be the defining factor to what makes you a hero to some.

Moses was a hero. Moses did things that others wouldn't do. He stuck up for the Israelites, he spoke to the Pharaoh, he rescued the people from slavery, and he dealt with all the griping and murmuring of the people during the exodus.

Yesterday, we looked at Moses and the idea that he was a hero. Here are some applications to choose from this week to use...

  1. Understand Where You Are - Moses heard the voice coming from the inconsumable burning bush. God spoke to him and Moses replied, "Here I am". Moses was just out tending to his father-in-law's flock. Not doing anything wrong or out of the ordinary. So, where are you or what are you doing? God will speak to you, and maybe has been trying, while you are where you are at for the sake of being used by Him...Listen for Him!
  2. Lots of Crying People - God's people had been crying out while in slavery. There are lots and lots of people out there that are crying out to be released from some type of slavery (probably figurative). Do what you can to rescue them and to be their hero!
  3. Excuses Don't Excuse - Moses made excuses as to why he didn't want to do what God was telling him to do. However, the excuses didn't allow for Moses to be excused from his task. God is calling all of us to do things and all the excuses we come up with are not going to excuse us from the responsibility of accomplishing the task.
  4. Be Heroic - Do something to make a difference in people's lives, in your community (maybe by joining a community group), in your family (parents can be wonderful heroes), in your church, or in some other area that needs your talents and passions!
God does amazing things with people. Just this weekend was an example of God placing me in different places. Throughout graduation weekend, I was involved with lots of people and it was awesome to team up with God to sow seed for His kingdom!

The neat thing about most heroes is they do not know they are heroes. They may have smiled at someone one day and that prevented them from ruining their day or it could have even saved their life, literally. Or, they could have sent a card at just the right time when they needed it most, and didn't even know that was the "right time".

Do something that makes a difference...Be a Hero!Share/Bookmark

Finding a Team's Identity  

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Recently, I was watching a segment of an interview consisting of Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN Announcer/Commentator) and Sam Bradford (OU Quarterback). Sam Bradford just finished his sophomore year of eligibility playing football for the University of Oklahoma. He won the Heisman Trophy last fall, being only the second sophomore to win college football's most prestigious award.

Kirk was asking Sam what it was like to come onto campus a couple of years ago and be a "nobody" and now, be more than a "somebody". He was asking him what changed in the past couple of years. Then Kirk asked Sam how his leadership changes or is going to change this coming fall. Sam said a quote from NFL Redskin's quarterback great, Joe Theisman that really impacted me. Here it is...
Every team has to find its own identity. ~Joe Theisman

Sam was saying this because Kirk and him were discussing the difference between this year's team and last year's. Sam elaborated to say that it didn't matter if you had all the same guys back from last year, your team still changes, and even at that, the team must find its own identity.

As I was thinking about ministry, so often we want to have things be pretty much the same. All of us have our comfort spots and will resist change of one form or another. However, as a church, we/you may start to develop some camaraderie but then something may change. People may move in or out or an issue may rock the boat. Then, we must find our identity again, as our team develops. Other small factors can include a season, a recession, a drought, a new staff member, a death, etc. All these things are factors which a team is going to have to find its identity to "click" and be the best organism it can be to accomplish its purposes.

A football team consists of about 55-60 guys, total. But within those groups are offense, defense, and special teams. Each of those groups must also form their own identity. Within a church body, there may be times which mini teams are found (like in ours). Each of those are going to develop their own identity, but that identity will change as time goes on.

Regardless of the size of team or the purpose of the team, we must find our own identity to make sure we know what we're doing and how we're doing it so that we can work together to be the best we can be!

Finding our identity...Share/Bookmark

The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love  

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Most of you will remember the title of this article as one the Peace Corp used many years ago. I myself thought that the Peace Corp would be something enjoyable to do. Maybe it was a desire to help people, which has been what I’ve done, much of my professional life. So, maybe I wasn’t too far off.

However, I believe there is another job that could be one of the toughest jobs that you’ll ever love. That is the job of being a mother. No matter how many children she has, her love continues to multiply. Her willingness to go the extra step never runs out. Her desire to nurture never loses its passion. Her tears never dry up.

I watch mothers more now that I am married and have my own child. I observe one of the best mothers each and every day. As I grew up, I was immature and oblivious to the real sacrifice that comes with being a parent. Now that I am a parent, and my wife is a mother, I understand much of what goes on in being a mother, based on observing my wife.

Girls start out caring and nurturing. They care for their dolls just like they are their own. They will imitate their own mothers, but at the same time, they have an instinct of creating a safe haven for these pretend children. My niece, when Oliver was born, though she was only 5 ½ at the time, was so gentle and nurturing with him. She already started to show her instincts in caring for a child.

As a girl grows, she will enjoy playing house and being the “Mommy”. Sometimes this may be humorously scary, as it depends on what moments she may imitate what a “mommy” does as she plays house. However, she already understands that some of the roles a mother takes on is caring for the house, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children.

Girls are the natural choice for babysitting. Why…because they naturally nurture. Boys will protect, but we do not have the instincts like a girl has. I remember when I babysat some children, four of them from ages three to five. We ordered pizza, when it arrived I put a piece on each of their plates, and I started to eat. About the time I took the first bite, they were all staring at me (I was 14 at the time). I quickly realized that they needed me to cut their pizza up for them into more manageable sizes. Not my instinct, but a girl probably would have done it immediately.

When the woman becomes a mom, she becomes even more sacrificial. It is a “24/7 365” sacrifice. She will do anything for her husband, but if her husband does not love her back, that may fade away. However, for her children, it will probably never fade. She will get up in the middle of the night to make sure that her child is fed or changed, stay up until they fall back asleep, then get up when needed, despite the lack of sleep she’s had.

Mothers will continue to sacrifice until they no longer have a heartbeat. There is no retirement from being a mother. It doesn’t matter if you go to bed at night or your children move away from home, nothing says retirement to a mother. Dads can compartmentalize some of the concerns for a child, but a mother simply cannot. Though some dads may be more in tune with their children than others, moms are continually involved and intuitive with the concerns of their children. So much love…so much sacrifice!

Thanks Moms for all you do! Without you, we’d be in trouble! Thanks for taking on the toughest job you’ll ever love!!! Happy Mother’s Day!Share/Bookmark

Being a Mom is Such a Laugh  

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I am sure that all the moms reading this have had a variety of moments that have caused them to laugh, which was brought on because of your children. I know that I gave my mom plenty to laugh about as I was growing up. I am sure there were lots of things that I did before I was at the age of remembering that was funny.

Our 16-month-old is definitely a happy, funny child. I won't say he is the happiest or funniest, but he certainly provides us with a lot of entertainment (when his teething doesn't get in the way). Who knows how many laughs my wife is given throughout a week with him. He hasn't done anything major yet, regarding an accident. He is into a fascination of enjoying throwing things away. But he sometimes has a difficult time deciphering between trash and treasure. Diapers and cups are trash, but toys and books are treasures.

For you moms, I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday! I hope you went to bed feeling appreciated and loved. Yesterday, I spoke about moms and how it can be such a laugh being a mom. It was taken from the story of Sarah being told, by God, that she was going to have a baby (at 90 years old), and she laughed. Hence the meaning of Isaac, "he laughs". Here are some applications to take from this week's sermon...

  1. Laugh - at your child when they do something funny, but not at God when He asks/challenges you for/with a task to do.
  2. Abraham's Promise - Abraham was promised amazing things that would come through him and Sarah having a child. Through your children, God may have some amazing things that will come as a result. It may not be in your lifetime or their lifetime, but God will carry His plan through.
  3. Craziness is God's Plan - The likelihood of a 90-year-old becoming pregnant is very small. It seems practically "crazy", but God does crazy things some times. Like asking an insignificant to build an ark, spanning 120 years of ridicule. Or, having a big fish swallow someone to teach them a lesson. Or, being told by a non-fisherman to throw the nets out in the deep (where fish generally aren't found). He definitely provides some interesting fields for learning. He may be using you in a situation your in for big things, but to you it seems "crazy" or impossible! Look for them.
  4. A Year Changes Things - Significant changes were going to take place in the Abraham-Sarah household a year from this point. Since we had to wait a while to have a child, we had some changes to make. I remember going shopping at any time of the day because we had to travel a few miles for a Wal-Mart! However, when we had a child, we had to change that schedule to actually make it a scheduled trip - around feedings, naps, feedings, naps, etc.

Mother's Day is a great day to appreciate moms. They do so much for us. Being a mom presents some very priceless, non-getting-back, humorous events.

As you start your next trek toward Mother's Day 2010, look forward to all the laughs that God brings to your life.

Also, for everyone, look forward to ways that God is going be showing up in your life to be using you. You never know what the forecast will be like in a year from now...a lot changes in a year!

Moms, thank you, thank you, thank you...for nurturing us, running back home when we forgot something, for staying up late when we needed "cupcakes" the next day, for working outside the home - then coming home to continue working, for teaching your children Godly values, for so many endless things...THANK YOU!

Appreciating moms...Share/Bookmark

Higher the Better  

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We tend to be a people that focuses more on the "Why" than the "Why not". We try to find things that would prevent us from doing great things. That is frustrating to me when I hear of people talking like that. I am not free of ever speaking that way, and I'm sure it has frustrated people. However, more often than not, I like to try to empower a person and let their ideas be lifted off the ground, instead of halted at the blueprint.

When we look for things, we have a drive and a vigor that continually motivates us to achieve it. If we aim for something we know is achievable, we may get it accomplished, but not much passion will be behind the project.

We shouldn't just settle for what we can achieve, but what would take us to the next level of achievement. Don't just aim for what we can see, aim for something beyond that. This brings us to this week's quote...
Set your sights high, the higher the better. Expect the most wonderful things to happen, not in the future but right now. Realize that nothing is too good. Allow absolutely nothing to hamper you or hold you up in any way. ~Eileen Caddy

We set our sights too low for God. Remember that God can do more than we can ask or imagine? (Galatians 3:21) He gave Solomon more than what he asked for. I am not claiming that God is going to give you more money than you need or more people in your church than what you ask for...but He might. There is always the sense that we have a certain responsibility on our part to do down here, and He can work through us by being in heaven.

Let us not have blinders on which hinder us from looking higher. There are "glasses" made for basketball players to put on so they cannot watch the ball while they try to dribble. We need those on in life. They prevent us from looking down, so that we can look up and see life! So we do not set our goals low, but instead, set them higher. We need to "see the floor" (basketball term for needing to look forward and all around, instead of looking down) so that we know what is going in in the game of life.

Aim high. Look how to get there and do what you can to achieve it! Life is too awesome just to let it pass you by. Look for, anticipate, and expect the great things to come! I know each day I can't wait to see God show up in my day. I can't wait to see where/how He shows up today!

Looking upward...Share/Bookmark

Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer. It is a tremendous blessing to this country to be able to have this day to celebrate! I hope you will find a gathering place where this people are praying. You may be able to find them on the web, but you may also just know, based on advertising, where these gatherings are going to be located. Ours, is blessed to be at our local courthouse lawn. I know of other towns that are doing the same.

Take time to join these gatherings and to be continually praying for your government, military, education, business, media, church, & family.

Have a great week!Share/Bookmark

Idleness Stagnates; Involvement Excites  

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Have you ever noticed yourself being more tired on a day that you could lay around than on a day that you had to get up and go all day? I have. It seems odd that our bodies would be constructed in such a way that you get energy by expending energy.

Another idea to think about is that when there is little to do, we tend to do things that get us into trouble. That is one reason that there is a push to create a center for teens, to give them somewhere to go and something to do that will, hopefully, keep them from turning to alcohol, drugs, or sex to keep them occupied. But adults are just as guilty as teens are when it comes to the principle of “little to do…get into trouble”.

I think that the principle from the introductory paragraph holds true to the Body of Christ. If all who make up the Body, here, are figuratively lying around, spiritually, then we are going to have less energy than we would if we were busy. As energy is given to the physical body, I think there is a parallel to the energy given to the spiritual body. I’ve been guilty of being lazy for God. I’ve felt that feeling of “church is just a few songs, some prayers, Lord’s Supper, a sermon, and an hour” feeling. Then, after you are done, you either chastise your experience or are grateful that you are finished and can move on to more fun things. I laid around all week, spiritually. Looking back, I was more tired not doing anything for God, than doing things.

The principle of the second paragraph also holds true to the Body of Christ. When we are not busy, we can tend to get into trouble. I am not simply alluring to the fact that sin could creep into our group. That is true, we could find ourselves being tempted to do things we shouldn’t, or worse, actually following through. However, there are other kinds of trouble to think about, like being lukewarm, idle, or complacent.

John warns the lukewarm in the book of Revelation. (Revelation 3:16) Paul warns the idle of Thessalonica. (I Thessalonians 5:14) Zephaniah warns the complacent. (Zephaniah 1:12) So, we can see that the less busy for God we are, the more likely we are to fall into one of these categories. Busy for busy sake is not the same as being busy for God. Being involved with the church family and its activities is one way to be busy for God.

Based off of my personal experiences, I’ve learned that being involved keeps me excited to be a part of the Kingdom. I make it a personal mission to try to give you opportunities to be more involved in doing things that help to deepen and develop your faith. This sermon series is not short of that mission.

Let’s all live wide awake…for Him!Share/Bookmark

Living Wide Awake: Focus  

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When do you find yourself having the most difficult time to focus? Is it when you are approaching a deadline? Is it when your kids are screaming around the house? Is it when you take too much on? Is it when there is noise, in general, going on that is not pertaining to the task you are trying to accomplish? Is it when things just aren't going your way (i.e. in a slump, crises, etc.)?

Focusing is important to getting something accomplished. When you have an idea (aka dream) and are following through with the idea, you have to focus in order to be able to bring it to completion. So you dream, put your confidence in Him, and focus. Notice that these are all things you must do - you have to be active. Living wide awake means that you are active in doing different things.

As I've said, too often, Christians, "sleep" in between church assembly times. Other things are on such a priority list that being a Christian is something you do "on Sundays". But living wide awake means that you are an "awake" Christian every chance you get.

Yesterday, we looked at the concept of focus. Keeping focused on Him, as we dream, is vital to accomplishing our goal. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...
  1. Don't look down - Peter started walking on the water and looked down - Fright loses focus - This climbing phrase holds true when you are trying to accomplish anything of magnitude. Don't let your fears of getting higher, on the accomplishment scale, cause you to look down and see all that you've overcome and then get discouraged.
  2. Keep focused on Him - That goes along with last week's word of confidence (in Him) - Everything you should be dreaming of doing is for His glory, not for anything to do with you.
  3. Keep the Son close - Jesus' parents had an instance where they failed to keep their son, the Son, close to them, so when they left the feast, they didn't have Jesus with them. They were a days journey away before they realized that no one in their company of friends and family knew where he was. As you go through the day, don't forget to keep Him close to you and your daily events. Don't let Him so far away as to wonder where he is at in your life!
  4. Keep Your Dreams Accountable - When you write down a dream, ask someone to hold you accountable for trying to do all that you can to make sure the dream is accomplished. This way, even if you slack a bit, you will have a friendly and humble reminder to keep working on it.
  5. Rid the Noise - You may not have to cut something out completely, but you may need to turn off outside responsibilities once in a while to help make sure you are working on what you wrote down as your dream.
  6. Praise God for the Accomplishments - As you go through life living wide awake you will notice that God is working. You may not see it right away because you aren't used to looking for Him in your every day. However, even if you look back and realize that God showed up in an unlikely place, give God the glory and tell Him "Thanks" for using you in that situation.
A friend of mine enjoys looking for God to show up in the media. From the time I learned of this interest, I started focusing in on shows to see when God shows up. Last Monday, on an episode of "How I Met Your Mother", God showed up (and not in an put-down-religion way). If you are not familiar with the show, here's a short synopsis. Three friends are sitting around a table, when another comes over, bragging he was just given a girls phone number. They discuss that there is a "three day rule" where you should not call her before three days. "Not the three day rule...that is stupid...who even came up with that?" are the comments that follow. The answer, Jesus. He was dead for three days before he waited to come out to reveal Himself. Hence, the reason to wait three days. There is much dialogue that goes on regarding this situation. I personally found the dialogue humorous. He wasn't poking fun at Jesus, but trying to prove his dating theory. Regardless, "Jesus" was spoken several times and the event that they were speaking of was a real event - the resurrection. I was impressed how God showed up. However, if you don't focus on looking for Him to show up in the media, you could have missed the greatness of this situation.

If you aren't focused your frazzled. If you are frightened you're going to lose focus. If you dream, you're going to look higher and when you get there, don't look down! You'll be amazed at how high God can take you when you team up and see what you can do together in your every day!

Focusing on Him in my every day...Share/Bookmark