When I was in college I was a student trainer. I think I worked every home football game during my time in college. Several coaches had the wit to come up with one-liners. I remember one instance where a defensive player blew his coverage, thus allowing the opposing team to score. He came off the field, feeling bad about what he'd done, and the coach was talking to him. I don't remember his name, so we'll call him "Ryan". The coach something like this, "Ryan, we both know you blew that play. That doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you a horrible player." The tone of the coach was very calm and conversational. He wasn't up in his face. He just told him like it was. I know I laughed, inside at first, and outside when I told someone else. I wasn't laughing at the player, but at the line.

That really is no way to motivate. Putting someone down may make them mad and fired up, but it doesn't make them better. That brings us to this week's quote...

When you want to encourage a greater sense of responsibility in others (and yourself), emphasize the anticipation of accomplishment, not the penalties for failure. ~ Roger Crawford

Parents, spouses, coaches, supervisors, and employers can all learn from this concept. If you want someone to do something better, showing the positive outcomes more so than the negative.

As you go into the future, think about how you will try to encourage someone to do more with themselves. Whether that "more" is a single situation or an ongoing task. Make them feel good about what they can accomplish rather than feel bad for what will happen if they do not accomplish the task.

Having an environment that has a positive direction will probably affect the morale, too! What a concept to consider!

Make it positive, not negative...then see what results...Share/Bookmark

Going Green: "BE" Vitamins - Part 3  

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Thank goodness for Flintstone's chewable vitamins! I remember taking those as a kid and really enjoying them. I wanted to eat more than needed. In high school, our sports team gave vitamin C tablets out to players, if they wanted them. Since they tasted so good, as a trainer, I sometimes took a few to eat throughout practice. They were good!

It was easy to take these because they tasted so good. Whereas the ones that do not taste as good, would not be taken in extra amounts. That is the way it is with some of the "BE" vitamins that we examined over the past three weeks.

Sunday, we examined how we must "BE" prepared, self-controlled, holy, and careful. These may require more to "swallow" than others do. As each person's taste buds differ, so does how one can take their "BE" vitamins; easier for some than others.

Here are some applications from this week's sermon to choose from to use this week...

  1. "BE" Prepared - There are so many things in life to be prepared for. Many, at this time, are getting prepared to go off to college. Parent's prepare for months getting ready for the arrival of a baby. Those are events that we know are going to happen. Our spiritual preparation needs to also focus on things we do not know are going to happen. When that temptation comes around the corner. When someone offends you. When the overdraft sheet comes in the mail. When someone starts talking about someone you know. Make sure you're prepared!
  2. "BE" Self-Controlled -You've probably heard the story of the officer who stopped a woman who was ranting and raving at people who weren't driving "correctly". Who, in turn, was driving very erratically. He stopped her because he thought she stole the car. Part of his reasoning was that she had Christian bumper stickers and icons on the back of her car...but she was not even close to acting like a Christian. She needed to take a self-control "BE" vitamin. When things are going awry...swallow hard!
  3. "BE" Holy - Taking time to swallow the "BE" vitamins are ways that we can set ourselves apart from the rest of the crowd. Just being kind and thoughtful to people are not always ways that may set ourselves apart. Pray that God will help you to be "holy" and set yourself apart, and still be 'normal', so that people will see you as an approachable Christian.
  4. "BE" Careful - "You may not touch that, it's dangerous" is a phrase that is said around our house a lot, because of having an 19-month old. He's at the height and capability to get into a lot of things - sometimes dangerous things. I can already tell it will be challenging to let him get further away from the 'nest' and be more independent as he grows. But he will make his own choices in life, just like you and I do. Some will be good and some bad. Just as God, the Father, lets us make choices, we must be constantly aware to "be careful". The smallest influences can wreck our life. Watch where you step!

After these different "BE" vitamins, you have a lot to be taking or to choose from, as you go through life.

Take them, not just for your "health", but to make your 'environment better' as you are working to 'go green'.

Swallowing my "BE" vitamins daily...Share/Bookmark

Things Are Always Advancing  

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As I have a child, we go to McDonald's on a regular basis. The "Happy Meal" is geared to have food servings for kids. Inside each of these meals is a toy/prize. These prizes are continually rotating, weekly for ten or so weeks at a time, then another line of toys will come. On the bottom of the cardboard Happy Meal containers it will tell you what is "coming next". I am getting accustomed to looking at the bottom of the container to see what's next.

Though there may be some groups of toys that I am not that keen on, I know they will be rotating (after all, the toy isn't for me anyway). That is a good marketing strategy, to be coming up with something new on a continual basis.

That is the business world, but since we are always consumers, that is our world. Which means, that is our culture and what our church exists in. As people are consumer minded, the church must also adapt to the times. If businesses do not change, people will get bored and go elsewhere. It doesn't have to be a complete transformation or remodel, but a change. If it is too drastic, people may not recognize the business and its goals. This can be the opposite side of the spectrum of change.

Take, for instance, the Happy Meal. The same three options are included in the Meal - hamburger, cheeseburger, or 4-piece McNuggets. Now, a more healthier approach is given to other options, apples instead of fries or milk instead of a soft drink. Depending on how you combine these options, the basic meal stays the same. The difference is the toy inside. It changes weekly.

This is a minor example of change. But it is a major argument for the need for continual change. As a church, what has changed lately? Past 6 months? Past year?

When it comes to thinking about change, we must do it. At least change something. If not, people get bored, complacent, and lethargic. That is the people in our congregation. So if we're feeling those feelings, why would someone come in and join us?

We must be changing. May not be our environment, but be different. We can't be model-followers, and do just what a "competitor" is doing. We have to be unique in action, not just in principle.

What can we do to be different? Let's brainstorm. That is something the teams can be trying to work on. Try not to think of something safe, but something "out of the box". People are attracted to more of "I never thought a church would do that" kind of things. How can we open our doors to others? Know anyone who needs a meeting spot? We're open for that! Let's see what we can do to cause people to "look under the box" to see what's happening next!

We're having an ice cream night, take time to invite someone! Maybe they are someone who makes great ice cream and you could even ask them to make their "famous" ice cream, who knows.

Things are always changing...let's not be left behind!

Syncing Up  

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As personal digital assistants (PDA) and MP3 players have been introduced into the technology world, the term synchronization, shortened to sync, has also been introduced. One will ‘sync’ or ‘sync up’ their object with their personal computer. This action assures that both pieces of technology have the same information in them. Neither of them is competing, nor are they withholding any information from the other. It is a convenient tool to have for backing up, retrieving, and transferring information from one piece of technology to the other. So if you lose your object or have it replaced, then all you have to do is sync it again, and all the information will be put back.

With the popularity of these types of technology, probably half of you have either experienced this yourself or know what it is. You know how simple it is to plug your cord in to your PDA or MP3 player, and in a matter of minutes, all the information is on both pieces of technology. It doesn’t matter if you had five hundred addresses and phone numbers or one hundred of your favorite songs, they are now digitally saved for you to use whenever you want.

Now, phones are using the feature which allows you to plug it in to save all your contacts to a computer. Other phones are being combined with a PDA. They are classified as ‘smartphones’. You have all your contacts, their addresses, birthdates, anniversaries, your appointments, pictures, videos, and any documents you wish to store, all in one small, portable object.

Whether your PDA is included in your phone or if it stands alone, you understand the value of this tool. There are no more times when you must fumble through pages of contacts or scribbling names and addresses out when someone moved. You simply edit their name and voila, it is changed, neatly and easily! It also can remind you when you have an appointment or special day coming up.

For those of you who have MP3 players, whether or not combined on your phone, you know how much time you can spend putting hundreds of songs on your player. The ability to sync the songs you have transferred makes it convenient and helpful.

Christians also have the privilege of being able to ‘sync up’. With technology, there is a smaller unit that can hold a fraction of what the larger unit can hold. As we parallel this to us and our Creator, we are the smaller being and he is the ultimate being, and we can hold a fraction of what our Creator can hold.

When you connect to Him, through prayer, thought, or meditation, you are essentially ‘syncing up’. You might be trying to understand what His will is for you, confessing your heart, or asking for Him to care for a particular person or situation. ‘Syncing up’ allows Him to better understand what you are experiencing. There isn’t a competition going on. When you are finished ‘syncing up’, hopefully, you will be on the same page. ‘Syncing up’ also allows you to be more in tune with things and to remember details that you may not remember otherwise.

With technology, you do not have to sync up your unit more than once. It is a choice you make. You can sync up one to unlimited times. However, the fewer times you do it, you risk losing information.

As a Christian, you have the opportunity to ‘sync up’ once or unlimited times, too. If you ‘sync up’ only once, then the information you have from that last connection will eventually be old and out of date. However, if you sync up over and over, you will notice that you will be more familiar with Him and you will be up to date.

Take time to connect with Him and to let the two of you be in sync. Just as it is a benefit in technology to sync up between each unit, it will be even more beneficial to you to ‘sync up’ with your Creator.

Plugging in and syncing up!Share/Bookmark

On Earth to Be Ordinary?  

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Life is generally what you make of it (or don't make of it). There is no way to deny that life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes those happen on a daily basis. You could be in an "up" or a "down" moment right now and that will determine a bit of how you view life.

As Christians, we are called to be different. We are not to be ordinary, of the "world" or anything like that. We are called to "be holy", set apart. Let us show people we are different, but not in a yellow-with-purple-spots unitard kind of way, but in an "I'm here when you need it" kind of way. The "it" could be when they are going through a victory or a defeat. When they are needing someone to watch kids or needing to go out for coffee. When they are needing a smile or reminded that they aren't the next 'American Idol'.

We aren't expected to be ordinary, which was inspired by this week's quote...

I can't believe that God put us on this earth to be ordinary. ~ Lou Holtz

I can't believe it either! In fact, I know so. There are too many ordinary people. We are given all the chances in the world to be ordinary. Let's be something different...maybe even EXTRAordinary. What will you do extra?

The other day, I wrote a post on a listserv I subscribe to that people all over the country are a part of. It is somewhat of a brainstorming and sharing listserv with people involved with Coalitions. I wrote about a recent CNBC program regarding marijuana and its legality in Mendicino County, CA. Yesterday, I received a nice, encouraging e-mail, appreciating my post. It really boosted my week. It was ordinary to read it, but it was extraordinary to send an appreciation e-mail to the author of the post.

Don't believe you were put on this earth to be ordinary...because you weren't! Now do something to show it!


Going Green: "BE" Vitamins - Part 2  

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"Be all that you can be" was one of the former U.S. Army slogans. It challenged one to do all they can do for their country, while serving in the U.S. Army. That is a tall order for us to give all we can, every chance we get.

Sometimes "being" something takes a lot of effort. We have a tendency to slack off and not give our all.

If you've played football, you know that, generally speaking, going 100% and getting hit is a lot less painful/dangerous than going part way. More people get hurt, getting hit, when they get scared and slow down.

Have you been giving your all in your daily life? I will admit that haven't been giving my all in certain areas. It usually has negative results. As you focus on yesterday's lesson, let us look at the "BE" Vitamins and see how we can apply them this week...

  1. "BE" Humble and Gentle - Do you have a tendency to think of yourself in situations? Do you take the "I'm the customer" approach and desire certain services in certain lengths of time? Maybe you need to swallow this pill. Do you take that approach in church settings and think that someone better greet you or the preacher better say something I can relate to. Maybe you need to swallow this pill.
  2. "BE" Patient - This is a "pill" I need to pop more often than I would like. Whether I'm waiting on the Lord or waiting on someone, I need this pill. Do you have a tendency to become impatient easily with people? Maybe you need this pill.
  3. "BE" Kind and Compassionate - How do you try to get your goals accomplished? Do you do it by beating your horse or by giving your horse some straw to chew on? When we have difference with people, we need to think about "feeding" them a bit rather than beat them. What can you do to help lead someone this week by feeding them?
  4. "BE" Imitators of God - Do not try to be an exact replica of God, but rather think about some characteristics that you need to swallow/absorb which will help you as you learn to imitate Him?
  5. "BE" Merciful - Jesus tells the parable about the servant that was not able to pay back the large sum, but demanded the small sum from someone who owed Him. God doesn't demand the repayment for the large sum of sins that we have brought about on Him. Have you ever thought about being merciful to someone who may owe you a little. Give someone mercy for something they may have done to you...God is rich in mercy - spread a bit of it around, yourself.

Our challenge may be the same as the Army slogan. Let us 'be all that we can be' as we are trying to swallow some "BE" vitamin enhanced 'pills'.

Swallowing these vitamins may be difficult, but they're for our own good!

Swallow hard!Share/Bookmark

Coasting Through Life?  

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When I was late into my high school life, I purchased a car that was a stick shift. It was somewhat of a sports car. It was fun to drive - except when I was trying to juggle food and shift gears.

Sometimes when I would drive, especially if I was putting through town or coming up to a stoplight, I would take it out of gear to put it into neutral, letting it coast. It may not have been the best to go in and out of gear, but I enjoyed it.

A very embarrassing thing happened in that car when I was "dragging Main" was I killed it while trying to put it into gear, and I had worn the battery down from all the "dragging" and it died...luckily I had a friend in with me, but it was still embarrassing to push the car in busy, heavy traffic.

A vehicle with manual transmissions allow one to coast pretty easily. Besides the wear and tear on the transmission, one thing about coasting in neutral is you can't gain any speed. That leads us to this week's quote...
If you're coasting, you're either losing momentum or else you're headed downhill. ~ Joan Welsh

Are you coasting in life, or in certain areas of your? If so the quote holds true. How is your family life? How are your work pursuits? How is your church-related pursuit?

I asked a "get to know you" question one time about the favorite place to ride a bike. I got a good laugh out of one response..."downhill". For a lot of us that could be the favorite place to ride a bike. However, we do not receive any benefits from just coasting or going downhill.

If/when you see yourself coasting through life, it will probably be because you are losing momentum or heading downhill. Why not keep going? Putting in the energy will help you as you pursue your goals. Don't coast or wait for the downhill, anticipate the challenge of continuing to pedal. It has many benefits!

Coasted enough...starting to pedal...

Can People Tell the Difference?  

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I just completed the book “The Collapse of Distinction” by Scott McKain. It was a business book that had so many applications to church-related areas, specifically outreach.

The following quote comes out of the book…“Can people tell the difference between you and your competition?” What is your answer to that? How are people supposed to tell the difference? Because this is a business book, the word “competition” will be what we would think of as “other churches”.

As I ask this question, I am not just asking about people in the other churches. I am not focusing on those that already go somewhere. I am looking at it from the standpoint of a “consumer”, those that drive by our building, read about us, or hear about us who are not currently involved with any religious group.

These “differences” are not just superficial like color scheme, slogans, building style, etc. But think about, why you choose your insurance agent over another? Why do you buy tires at one place over the others? Why do you prefer Starbuck’s over other coffee places? What makes it different?

If we’re not different, we’re not going to exist.

We may exist by having an address, but our life will be non-existent. We, all of us, have to be willing to make something seem unique and different. I am not simply referencing the fact that we sing acappella, take the Lord’s Supper every week, or “have the truth” (as we like to claim).

There has to be more than those areas that make us distinct, in a positive way, from “our competition”. Be thinking and praying how you can be a catalyst in making us distinct!Share/Bookmark

Going Green: "B E" Vitamins (Part 1)  

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Are you a fan of green vegetables? Probably every child hears the sentence, "You need to eat your vegetables". They are a great source of nutrients that our bodies need. God designed them to help a lot of living creatures. If you grow a garden, you may be frustrated at times when some 'living creatures' come and help themselves to your vegetables!

Specifically, green vegetables are able to help your body in many ways. When your body is healthy, you are able to positively enhance your environment.

Yesterday, we looked at part of a lesson that focused on "BE" vitamins. As B vitamins do wonders for the body. "BE" vitamins also do wonders for the body, just not the same way. We investigated all the "BE's" found in Romans 12:10-12. Here are some applications you can take from yesterday's lesson and choose to use this week...

  1. "BE" Devoted - How do you measure devotion to the church family?
    • Is it "I'll be there whenever it is convenient"? Or a "I'll be there even if it is inconvenient"? Inconvenient may be defined as working through the tired times, not being involved in other activities (that are consistently taking you away from gatherings), visiting someone in the hospital, etc.
    • Devotion involves more than church gatherings. It also means that you may think about others in the church family throughout the week - a trip they're on, appointment they go to, etc.
    • Devotion involves not "church hopping" or worse when things aren't going your way or "your needs aren't being met" - keep in mind 'it's not about you'.
  2. Do Not "BE" Lacking in Zeal - Complacency is one of my biggest pet peeves. It frustrates me so much because I know what it is like - I've been there. When we lose fire, we lose desire. When we lose desire, we just go through the motions. Let's make the motions mean something.
  3. "BE" Joyful - Down and out? Maybe you need this vitamin? We are to be joyful in hope. Joyful for the fact that you have hope. You are not hope-less. Like waiting in line for the movie. You are joyful in hope because you look forward to what you are going to experience, even if the line may be a bit slow. As you look forward to getting in to see heaven, be joyful in the time that you get to be here teaming up with God!
  4. "BE" Patient in Affliction - Ever had to wait in a doctor's office? If you've ever visited a doctor, you've experienced waiting. Specifically, when you are the one who is sick or injured, it is not fun to wait with your affliction. However, you must be patient, as things will work out in time. That is the way we must work it with God. Patient with Him though we're suffering with some sort of affliction.
  5. "BE" Faithful in Prayer - Pray for those on a prayer list. Pray for those you know with different afflictions. Pray for open doors to share Jesus. Pray for your church family. Pray for yourself. Pray for your family. Pray for your co-workers. Pray for your enemies. Pray for students you teach. Pray for the parents of students you teach. Pray for your employees. Pray for boss(es). Pray for the people in place you patron frequently. That should keep you busy praying for a while...take a group a day or so as a variation.
You can take one of these five a day and that will pretty much round out your week.

Next week there will be some other "BE" vitamins to add to your dosage.

"BE" good and Go Green!Share/Bookmark

Other than your DNA what makes you different than the next person? If you were applying for a job and the person interviewing you asked the question "Why should we hire you? Why are you right for this job and this company?"

If we are not different, we aren't attractive. That goes for individuals and businesses.

I recently completed a really good book by Scott McKain, called "The Collapse of Distinction". This book is a business based book. Scott draws experiences of growing up in a small town and comparing two different restaurants to partly illustrate how one should run their business. He also has first-hand experience of his father owning a business. This personal experience helped me to better understand what his principles should look like in real life.

The reason why we visit different places of business is usually because there is something distinct about them. These distinctions can have about as much variation as the color spectrum. However, the key is to have something that makes your business distinct (not just a color scheme). When a business is distinct is it going to live. When it is ordinary and the same, then it will not last.

Oddly, as a minister, this book had a lot of good principles to use in ministry. Churches are, in a sense, businesses. We, too, must be distinct, otherwise we will die. Much of what goes on inside a building is very similar. Christian churches use the Holy Bible. So, what makes one distinct over another, especially within one's town? I have already thought of different things that I am working on utilizing the principle, in the church setting.

I really enjoyed this book and will probably pick it up again in the future to read again!Share/Bookmark

Prayer: Steering Wheel or Spare Tire  

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It can be so easy to start a day without prayer. For most, it can be easy to go through an entire day without utilizing this powerful resource.

There are times, admittedly, that I get so wrapped up in getting started with my day and getting all kinds of things completed, that I don't utilize prayer at the beginning of my day. It is simple, generally short, and so powerful. However, we often neglect it.

Here is a quote I received off of Twitter that I want to pass on to you...

"Is prayer your steering wheel or only your spare tire? (There is a difference)"
- Joseph Simmons, aka "Rev Run"

So true! We do not think of our spare tire until we need it, usually in a desperate situation. One time I noticed that my spare tire was flat...luckily it wasn't a 'needed' time. However, it was just chance that I looked at it because I generally do not think about it. Do you treat prayer that way? Not generally thinking of it or only thinking about it in desperate situations?

Let's look at the steering wheel. Its purpose is to guide you, take you in the direction you want to go. If it is not there, you panic. If it falls off or fails to work, you panic. We have our hands on it all the while when we are driving. That should be how we treat prayer. Having our hands all over it, and panicking if we are not involved with it...rather than the opposite.

Use prayer to guide, not to put in the trunk!Share/Bookmark

How Sweet It Is!  

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Last Wednesday, I had the great privilege of baptizing Alexa S. into Christ! This is the greatest decision one can make! It takes away all the filth that sin brings to our life. It is the detergent of all detergents. No stain can withstand it. No color will be evident. Quoting from Isaiah 1:18, we are “white as snow” afterwards.

It sometimes seems surreal to know that one moment you are doomed for hell and the next moment you are welcomed to heaven. How can it be? Faith is the answer. It is all about faith. Without faith, we are just plunged. With faith, we are not simply plunged, but we are “plunged…to victory”. Oh, isn’t it sweet to know that we can have this “victory” because of Him?!

Each person who has taken that “plunge of faith” knows the feeling of coming up out of the water. You now see life in a different way. The Spirit is given as your gift. You have been forgiven of filth. You don’t just have your sins taken care of, you have a clean conscience. You now do not have to worry about a “next time” you sin. The blood of Jesus has already taken care of that. You don’t have to be baptized again and again to get rid of any sins because of Jesus. Oh, how sweet it is!

Another part of sweetness comes as a result of someone else being baptized. You get to see their excitement, zeal, and thirst. They are experiencing many things for the first time. Let their excitement be something that rubs off on you to give you a renewed/heightened zeal. I always look forward to getting to be around the people who have been baptized because it gives me such a thrill to see their excitement.

Soul Quest played a part in getting Alexa ready to make this awesome decision. I received a phone call and text regarding her decision to be baptized. Events like Soul Quest can really play a pivotal role in helping people make the decision to obey the gospel. I think we should praise God for those types of events, including workshops, Bible camps, and anything like that. They give an out-of-the-ordinary look at Christianity.

The next time you see Alexa let her know how excited you are about her decision and welcome her in to the “family”! She is a neat teen who had already been talking about Jesus to her friends, before her baptism.

Baptism…how sweet it is!Share/Bookmark

Going Green: Take A Walk  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

A couple of weeks ago, I had to go somewhere by a certain time and didn't have our only car at my disposal. Since the destination was within walking distance, I decided to use that resource. It was rather warm that day and I wasn't able to be in shorts, plus I was pulling my 18 month old son in a wagon. Though the walk was warm, the experience of pointing out various objects and spending time with him made it worthwhile!

Summertime is a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the fresh air. If you are not an "outdoorsy" person, then you may have to wait for a perfect time/temperature to get you out of the house. However, getting out and taking a walk is beneficial. If the heat of the day is not your forte, then find time in the early morning or later at night to get out and enjoy some neighborhood time.

Walking doesn't pollute the atmosphere and allows for physical benefits, too. It also allows for some spiritual benefits. As we reflect back on yesterday's sermon, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Meet the Neighbors - Do you know of someone who just moved in or just someone you do not know in your neighborhood? If you see them out, walk over and say "hi", get to know them a bit. Let them know if they ever need anything to contact you.
  2. Walk a Bit Further - Walk beyond your block and see who you can introduce yourself to, expressing the same thing as in the previous application. You never know who God will put in your path.
  3. Take a Walk With Him - Journey with Jesus in prayer - talk to Him or by reading through one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) - looking closely at some of the situations He encountered
  4. Clean out your heart - In Psalm 51:10, David is experiencing a "heart attack". He needs to have blockage removed. As walking is good for the heart, when you walk, ask God to "clean out" your heart (i.e. 'create in me a clean heart, O God').
  5. Breathe deep breaths as you walk along, let the fresh air fill and refresh your spirit. Hopefully, giving you calming effect. Especially on stressful days, make it a point to do some walking. Possibly walking more brisk the more stressed you are.
  6. Walk with friends - Going slow, through walking, allows you to get to know the people you're with a lot better. Jesus took time to walk with His disciples and it allowed for moments they could connect better. Whether it is a spouse, family member, or friend, walk together so that you can get to know one another better.
In our area of the country, we don't do as much walking because so many have their own transportation. Taking the opportunity to walk gives less pollution to the environment and also it gives you the health benefits!

Take a walk and live a better spiritual life!

Aiming to walk more...Share/Bookmark

Fun on the Fourth!  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer


Life's Actions - Your Response  

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Over the past two days, I have witnessed two people who have been laid to rest. One older. One a teen. One physical. One spiritual.

Some of the actions we take in life can have dramatic effects on our future. Getting married, having a baby, going to college, graduating from school(s), etc. are some examples that will have long lasting effects on us.

Some decisions in life will end in "I wish I did". You look back and think to yourself that you should have chosen a different path. Other decisions in life will end in "I'm glad I did". You look back and are pleased with choosing that path.

As you ponder this week's quote, it is not about death, but about life's choices. Here is the quote...

The difference between whether you say, 'I wish I would have,' or 'I'm glad I did,' at the end of your life is whether or not you take DECISIVE ACTION during your life. ~ Chris Widener

I decided to open up with the subject of death for a reason. Oftentimes at the end of one's life, that person will think back to their decisions. Sometimes, others will also think about the decisions they made concerning the person who died.

One of the most important decisions a person can make is to become a Christian. I am not talking about the religion/institution side of Christianity (read previous post). I am talking about the opportunity to take away all the smut and filth of your life to be able to have a home in heaven.

Maybe you don't believe in God or anything of the like. However, what if he were real? What if you got to the end of your life or the end of time and didn't make that decision and now realized you should have...think about it.

The one that was laid to rest physically, was a Christian, so that is a victory in and of itself. The one who was laid to rest spiritually, became a Christian, so that is also a victory. Her death was a death to sin, leaving it in the grave of baptism!

Both deaths can be rejoiced over. Since both became a Christian, they can say "I'm glad I did".

How do you respond to life's decisions?Share/Bookmark

Religion: Not Just an Instution  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , ,

Times have changed over the past few decades, specifically with religion. I originally was going to have the title say that religion was not an institution. However, after looking up Webster’s definition, I found that one meaning was couched around being institutional.

I am alive in a religious time which is exciting for me. I have been affiliated with the Church of Christ all of my life. Throughout my life at home, my view of “church” were the practices we did on Sundays and Wednesdays. A typical Sunday morning would look like this: go to Bible class, and then sit in the auditorium for about an hour while listening to songs, listening to prayers, watching people take the Lord’s Supper, listening to the preacher talk over my head, and then going home. We would come back on Sunday night to sing some more songs, hear another sermon, and go home. A typical Wednesday was going to Bible class and then everyone coming together for the last few minutes to sing a few songs.

Your story may differ a bit depending on your experience. However, the institutionalized part of religion is a turn off to many. It is for me, too. Religion is not about a “check off list”. Religion is not “church”, though the church is religious. I have refocused my view of religion. It is not an institutionalized view, but rather an exciting opportunity to team up with my Creator, every day. Everywhere I go, every person I meet, and every action I take should reflect the appreciation for my salvation and wanting others to be a part of that as well. I am not trying to attract someone to “church”, the institutionalized part of religion. However, I am trying to attract someone to a challenging and rewarding way of life.

For those who have made religion institutionalized, that is a huge mistake. It has led so many people down a dreary and exhausting path. It takes all the joy out of it. The little bit of time you spend in a building on a Sunday is not geared to give you “brownie points” to God. In fact, the Bible speaks against the institutionalized part of religion. Jesus came to show that it wasn’t simply offering sacrifices because God wanted their hearts more than sacrifices. So, getting together on Sunday should be about revving you up and getting you ready for the week as you go back out into a world that is spiritually dark.

One of my goals, as a minister, is to show people that religion and Christianity is joyous rather than institutional. I have been “institutional” too much in my life and it did not bode well for my faith. Experiencing the uplift that comes from teaming up with God has allowed my faith to become stronger.

Remember, that God wants you, not just your presence in a church building. God wants you, not just your money in a plate. God wants you, not your hypocritical actions.

I go through days where I am guilty of all three of these. I am constantly working to give me to Him, so I don’t revert back to making religion an institution.Share/Bookmark