We Can't Be "We Are That, Too"  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , ,

If you've ever sat in a group of people who were asked a series of questions you've probably heard someone say something like "I am/liked/thought that too". You may have been the person in a group that said it. I have. It generally stems from a person that is either not satisfied with their answer, forgot to say it when they had the opportunity, or is trying to be like that person so they don't look bad.

Distinction is about creating a clear direction and being unified about that direction. No matter what your involvement is with a group, you need to make sure this is clear among the people.

Specifically focusing on church related settings, in order to create some distinction, we need to have a sense of clarity in our direction. If we're not all on board, then we're going to be going in several different directions.

If you were to be a part of a group of churchgoers, all from different denominations, who was being interviewed from someone who was "shopping" for a church, and the question "Why should I come to your church" was presented for you to answer, what types of things might you be inclined to say? Now that you have your answer, would you be tempted to piggy-back off of someone else's answer and say "we do/are that, too"? If you didn't, I would bet that someone would.

We don't understand distinction, enough, in that type of setting. We would worry about making ourselves look so good that we would forget to make ourselves distinct, in a positive way.

We may think that, as a church, we are going to be everything to everyone. However, as much as we would like to think that, we are not going to be. We may try to dabble a bit into various realms, but we are not going to succeed in being everything to everyone. Wal-Mart, with all its variety is not able to succeed in being everything to everyone. You can't buy a tuxedo there. You can't buy several things there. Even with all the variety they have available at every store, they still have a select amount of things one can buy.

As a church we must keep that in mind. We must create a clear distinction about what we are and for everyone to get on board with that so that we can have a good direction. We may offer a wide range of products, but we're not going to meet everyone's needs or be able to make a place for people to receive certain things.

As the future continues, we need to make sure there is clarity and that clarity is expressed to the people, so that we can all get on board with our direction.

Let's not focus on worrying if "we are that, too" but, rather, focus on what we our for others and get excited about it and see what God will do when we create clarity.Share/Bookmark

Clean Up Before Crossing - Joshua 3:2-5  

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Going out on the town? If so, you will probably make sure that you look nice - from head to toe. You will probably wear a special outfit, make sure your hair looks good, and put on perfume/cologne to top it off. As you head out the door you are feeling pretty good about yourself.

One thing is for sure, you won't leave looking just like you rolled out of bed or like you've been working in dirt all day. You want to make sure you're cleaned up before you go out.

Getting "ready" for the day seems to be a logical response before heading out of the house, especially if you are doing something social. You will probably do some things under the category of hygiene - wash your hair, bathe, shave, style your hair, apply cosmetics, brush teeth, paint fingernails/toenails, etc.

As Joshua was about to lead the people to the Promised Land, a land they had been looking forward to for years, they were told to clean themselves up before they crossed. Yesterday, we looked at this passage, focusing on verse 5 of chapter 3, where they were told this command. As one gets ready to approach God, it is important that they are cleaned up. Moses told the people to do this (Exodus 19:10-11). The Sacrificial System required this by the sinner, before approaching God. Jesus discussed this when He mentioned getting right with your brother before laying down your gift at the altar (Matthew 5:21-26). Paul mentioned it in I Corinthians 11:28 pertaining to the Lord's Supper. So it was pretty much a concept that spreads throughout the Bible.

As we think about applying the idea of cleaning up before crossing, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Clean Heart - One of David's famous Psalms is the 51st, in that psalm, the words "create in me a clean heart, O God" are mentioned. Occasionally, as you pray, ask God to help clean up your heart. Clean it of rage, malice, anger, gossip, hate, impure thoughts, resentment, self-righteousness, jealousy, envy, etc. Keep your heart clean so that you can approach Him.
  2. Clean Mind - Sometimes when you speak of the heart and mind, you are thinking very similarly. The difference here is that I am speaking of just "clearing" your mind as you approach Him. Try to get rid of the distractions. Try to focus on approaching Him - whether it is in prayer, song, or listening.
  3. Waiting on Him - One of my mom's famous lines when I was a kid was "your times comin'". I hated hearing it (because I heard it all the time). She would say this because I wanted to do things that my older siblings were able to do and I wasn't old enough yet. I have a tendency to treat God with a sense of impatience. I want things soon, if not now! However, there have been times I've had to wait on something which allowed me to focus on my needs rather than my wants. It allowed me to make a better decision, rather than going on an impulse.
  4. God Will do Great Things - It is cool to see God work. I get goosebumps when He does things that just wow me. When seeds that are planted start to show first signs of life. When you get to see a result of the dots that have been connected through your interaction with people. When people's hearts are softened and changed.
  5. (Great Things) Among You - God could be doing something great with you right now! Open up to the possibilities as where you're at, what you're involved in, and who's in your circle. You never know how, but it is exciting to watch it unfold. Don't be blind to the idea, enjoy what is going on and anticipate His workings among you!
Before you cross into your next venture or into tomorrow, be sure to "clean up before crossing". Consecrate (cleanse) yourself as you prepare for what God will do. He's amazing!

Looking forward to the future...Share/Bookmark

Finding the Right Angle  

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Recently, I was working on making a dining room table. As I was creating it I was taking my time to "measure twice cut once". When I would get in a hurry then I paid the price. Part way through the project I checked how square the apron was to the top...it wasn't a right angle. It seemed that the work that I did to fasten it all down didn't create the right angle I wanted. This made me concerned about how the legs would look by the end. (If you ever come and see it, don't look too close)

To make sure that one would get a right angle, then there are lot of precautions to take into consideration. There are lots of tools and rules to follow in order to make sure that the angle is specifically 90-degrees. It doesn't take much, especially when human error is involved, to be off a few degrees. One can try and try and try, but there is still the chance that the project will be off...then what is one to do? All that work and not a perfect angle to show for it. It can drive some people crazy. Those that suffer with any part of obsessive compulsive disorder would be spinning in circles over something not correct.

Trying to find the right angle is how some people approach God. All they know is to follow the rules. Trying to do all the correct things so they can feel that they have done all they can do to make sure "in the end" they can stand before Him knowing they did the correct things. They may read their Bible so that they can feel good about themselves. They are a part of a church and go for the purpose of feeling good about themselves. They behave both, in church and society, in a way that makes sure they are doing right.

Just as it is a lot of effort to make sure my project's angles were square, it is a lot of effort to make sure that you achieve a right angle with God. But what would you do if you were off by any fraction of a degree? What would you do if you found out that an error you'd committed when you were 20 years old took you away from being at a right angle and caused you to lose out on any hope of heaven? You would have done anything to go back to that day and change it, right?

Don't misunderstand to think one should do things at the other end of the spectrum and be okay with God. God is just, which, to me, means that sometimes He must show "tough" love and will hold people accountable for what they've done or not done while they lived their life.

What I am getting at is that grace, which God has given mankind, is something that shouldn't make us worry if we are at a "right angle" with God, or not. We can be a few degrees off and still look good to God. One person once described grace as "God's Riches At Christ's Expense". The first letter of each of those words spells out grace.

That description is so true! We are able to be a few degrees off, because we are sinners. We are able to be right with God because of the grace that has been given to us through Christ paying the price.

I tried to make sure that my project had right angles. However, because it does not have every angle the way it is supposed to be that doesn't make it a total waste. Let us not get caught up in being too concerned if our life is filled with right angles, but rather understand that as a Christian, we can be a few degrees off and God will still give us the opportunity to be in heaven!

Enjoy life, even if you are a few degrees off of a right angle!Share/Bookmark

Leave Yesterday Where It Belongs  

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Yesterday: the day that preceded today. That is basically its definition. The ironic thing about is that the "day" may be defined that way, but we often try to carry it further. Have you ever tried to carry "yesterday" into today? Do you have things on your mind that they "rent a room" in your mind so that they will be there the next day?

A hotel room costs money; it also costs to leave things on your mind. Getting a single room is costly enough, what if you had to pay for a dozen rooms? Your most basic "nice" hotel is around $35 a night, name-brand hotels can cost around $100 a night. You do the math at taking on a dozen rooms, it can get expensive.

That same expense is what it may be like with you when you bring "yesterday" and it's components, into today. If you bring with you a dozen worries, it is going to cost you. This cost can eat at you daily. What if you bring with you things from the past, not just one night, but say the last three months it's been "renting a room" in your mind. WOW...that is going to get expensive!

As you think about the weight and cost of "yesterday" read the following quote...

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some
blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to
be encumbered with your old nonsense. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are probably some exceptions, but think to yourself about all the time and energy that you've wasted allowing things to take up space in your mind that happened "yesterday". When we keep bringing with us things from yesterday into today, or worse, things from days ago, it keeps us consumed with using energy to keep it around.

If we would just learn to let the "yesterday" be exactly that. Carry as few things into the next day as possible. Don't even bring "tomorrow" into today, as that takes unneeded effort. Let us let today be the day we take advantage of and put our energies into.

Let the past dissolve, be excitedly patient about tomorrow, but use your energy to make today the day that you be you.

Use this day to it's fullest!Share/Bookmark

People Want to Know Who We Are  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

I recently learned the artist and name of the theme song to the main CSI television show. The artist is The Who and the name of the song is "Who Are You?" As a church, this is what many people are asking as they hear about us, drive by our building, read something, see you in public, or, especially, when they come to visit.

There is probably not an exact definition of who we are because that can change from time to time. There are core values and traditions that may make us different, but those shouldn't be the labled items.

How would you answer this question, as to who we are? If someone were to come up to you on the street, whether they knew you or not, what would you say?

Would you say we're the church that meets at ___, naming our address? Would you say we're the church that doesn't have the instrumental music? Would you say we're the church that ___ and you fill in the blank. Defining our church can be a positive or a negative, in the eyes of someone else. What you say will take them to a different place of understanding than they had before. Labels are good and labels are bad, depending on the reputation. A label that is put on now hopefully would be changed, each time for the better.

I want to be a church where people are asking "who are you?" But I would want that person to find out that who we are is something positive. That even if someone asked someone not a part of our church "who are they?" That the response would be something positive, not judgmental or putting us in a box.

I once lived in a town where we had a retired prominent business man as a member. Many of the people of his generation knew our church as "his" church. Probably because of his prominence in the community. It drove me nuts! I wanted our church to be known by something other than that. To get it to that point the church must be the church to places other than the four walls of the building. Every Monday, for example, our church must be Jesus to people at work, school, in neighborhoods, in the grocery store, at sporting events, etc. We must be able to show people "who we are" in a positive way, outside of seeing your car parked in our parking lot.

Let's not just be able to tell people "who we are" but let's be showing them "who we are" because people are asking and inquiring. If they have a negative opinion, let's show them differently!

Live out "who we are" this week!Share/Bookmark

Reign Falls - Joshua 1:1-9  

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Some people crack under the pressures of responsibility; others thrive on it. I've been in both situations. When one is expected to do more than they are used to they must make a choice to either decide it is too much for them and get out, or "eat the elephant" one bite at a time.

Occasionally, when a responsibility seems too great it is because one hasn't taken the time to put it all in perspective. You look at the big picture and think about the fact of going from point A to point B and it seems overwhelming to get to those two places. However, once you can put it into perspective, it will seem possible to complete.

Yesterday, we looked at Joshua, as he had this newly appointed reign fall on him. He was responsible for the people of Israel to make sure that they made it to and through the Promised Land. God was with him and tried to do all that He could to make sure Joshua was assured. God told him several times to be "strong and courageous". This advice of wisdom was not only for the outside forces that would come upon them, but his leadership among the Israelites. Moses encountered complaints, I'm sure that Joshua even witnessed some of them. So, Joshua was bound to be thinking about the complaints and headaches that would come his way, as well.

As you think about this section of text from the book of Joshua, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. When on the 'battlefield' keep in mind that God is always right here - He will never leave us or forsake us.
  2. When you see someone who needs to be bandaged up - do it, don't leave them susceptible to 'shrapnel'
  3. When the battle is within, keep in mind that God created you and knows how your made. Open yourself up to Him to let Him deal with the battle.
  4. Keep in mind that with God there is victory. He assured Joshua by telling him that there won't be an enemy who will be able to stand up against him. Join up with God to gain the victory!
We all face battles. Many of them are daily. Some are within, where others are from outside influences. You may be dealing with a tough decision or self-esteem, or dealing with a marriage issue, a work issue, a school issue, or a parental issue.

The list could go on and on to be thinking about all the battles that one could face. If you are facing some issue, feel free to e-mail me at ichthus_man@hotmail.com, I'd be willing to pray about it with you.

Battles leave us wounded. Wounded soldiers are not that productive on the battlefield. Make sure you are not going out wounded on to the battlefield.

Stay safe, remember where the victory is attained, and be assured!Share/Bookmark

Being So Good That People Want to Know  

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News spreads because it is interesting. A great sale going on at the grocery store - tell someone. Peter and Pam are having a baby - tell someone. You just won the lottery - tell someone. "Did you hear about..." - tell someone. A famous person dies - tell someone. You get the point?

Just the other day the President's comment about Kanye West's stunt on the VMA's leaked out. It didn't just "drip out" it spewed out. Didn't take long for people to know what the President said. So, news spreads because it is interesting.

If you want to be successful in a business venture, your church, or life, you must make it interesting, and the news will travel. Word of mouth is trusted. A friend tells a friend who tells a friend and by the end there is success. This brings us to this week's quote...

If you want to be successful, begin by being so good that those with whom you
are in the closest contact cannot wait to recommend you to their friends and
grow your circle. ~Scott McKain

Speaking as a church leader, I have a continual goal of numerical growth. Don't misunderstand to think I don't have a goal of qualitative growth, too. However, the numerical growth isn't going to take place by me being the sole 'worker'. All those involved must be a part of the 'net' that is cast every day; hoping for a catch. Partly, the way that we are going to grow isn't simply by invitation. Those that come to the church must be excited. Their excitement will be seen in their friends, whom are in their close circle. They will be continually sharing about the good things happening at their church. Then, those people may want to be a part of what their friends are a part of.

We must be "so good" that we are the "talk of the town", in a good way. We must be excited, otherwise people aren't going to want to come to something our church isn't excited about. If you suggested a restaurant where the food was horrible, I'd be a fool to try it. But if you tell me of a restaurant where it was "so good", I'd be a fool not to try it.

If you want have something successful, you must make it so good that those involved can't help but to tell one person after another about the great thing you are a part of.

Let's make it "so good"!

Wanting others to know...Share/Bookmark

Different is Often Perceived as Better  

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During any given year, you will see a number of items that are being sold on TV. The may later get to the stores to sell, but they make their debuts on television. Some seem really quirky: Chia Pets, Topsy-Turvy, Shoes Under, Bump-it, Pedi-egg, Touch-n-Brush, & Wizzit.

Have you purchased any of these? Why? They probably caught your attention. You may have been won over by the commercials and 'seeing' their results. You may have thought 'now is the time I need one of those'. Regardless of the reason, you are not alone, as millions of people have bought these and other similar products for years. The real question is did it work for you? Did it work for everyone who bought it? Did you use it to its capacity or did it end up taking up space or going to a garage sale pile?

Have you ever wondered why foreign films get such high awards? They usually don't have anywhere close to the visual imagery that our films tend to have, with all the action/adventure, etc. Roger Ebert was asked a similar question, here was his response..."how many movies are you normally seeing in any given week?" Most of us would answer the same as the person he was addressing, "One". "Don't you see? That's your problem," Ebert responded. "Many of the people in this profession are seeing one or two movies a day. Those little, offbeat, quirky, odd foreign or independent films capture our attention because they are a bit different! When you are overwhelmed with such boring similarity, you begin to perceive that different is better!"

Distinction and being distinguished allows one to stand out. Understand there are good and bad ways of doing that. What I want the church to think about is the idea of being different, distinct, distinguished, while being attractive. Like I said a week ago, we are not to appear 'cooky' or 'holy roller', but to appear approachable, fun, and passionate about our faith. To make everything fit in our faith-bucket, instead of trying to make our faith fit into everything.

Individually, we can make a big difference. Collectively, we must think about being different by doing things that are out-of-the-box. They can be service opportunities. They can be buying shirts with our church name on them (and wearing them). They can be visiting visitors when they came by. They can be putting on city-wide events. They can be a number of things.

Just as the "As seen on TV" products are different, so they appear better, let's see what God opens up for us with ideas and opportunities that may be different, but different is often perceived as better!Share/Bookmark

This is What the Lord Will Do - Joshua 10:24-25  

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Scariness is scary. Being afraid is frightening. Those may sound redundant, repetitive, and elementary. However, no matter how basic, it is true. When you are in the middle of something that constitutes you being scared, it is scary. You don't know how you are going to get through the situation. Being scared usually renders you being powerless to the situation.

Think of the parent who sits in the waiting room anticipating the success of the "experimental procedure". Think of the individual who just got laid off after working in the company for 15 years. Think of the elderly woman who is being surrounded by a group of young men asking for her purse. Think of the person who runs off the road in the middle of a blizzard, their car won't start and a window is broken letting in the cold air. Think of those who have fallen victim to hijacking.

The list of scary situations could go on and on. However, each situation is just plain scary. When you are in those situations you are essentially powerless.

There were times when the Israelites, and their leader, Joshua, were also scared. They were scared going into battle. Joshua was scared taking over the responsibilities of leading all these people, where Moses had once led.

Yesterday, we began a series on the book of Joshua. Though there was fright on the part of Joshua and the people, God wanted them to know to be "strong and courageous". That is one of our biggest messages to take from this first lesson, but here are a few more applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Prayer ~ Before you go into battle, pray. While you are in battle, pray. When you are anticipating battle, pray. When you are discouraged, pray. When you are scared, pray. Prayer has so many uses...use it!
  2. Look Forward to the Victory ~ If you knew you were going to coast to a championship, would you be as concerned about the game/event? You would probably be so relaxed that you "wouldn't care", so you may tend to be a bit overconfident, etc. Overconfidence in God is great! You get to anticipate the victories! God will give them to you! Look for them!
  3. Do Not Be Afraid ~ Be strong and courageous. Be strong and courageous. Be strong and courageous. Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
  4. Re-Read #3 many times ~ We need to know that God will take care of us and give us the victories. We need reminded!
  5. Look for God in Your "Battles" ~ Keep your eyes open to what possibilities God is presenting you with this week as you have different encounters.
It is important that we understand that when you are walking with Him and trying to do His will, you and God make a majority. It is important when it comes to battles you encounter as you go through each day.

I can't promise that there will never be anything that happens physically to you. However, the Bible does show us that God is with us as we go through life. He will take care of us as we try to live for Him. It may not always be physical, but we will be taken care of, despite the earthly hardships.

You may never see "what the Lord will do" but the reassurance that comes through the book of Joshua is awesome. I get so excited to see what God can do when I walk with Him!

Looking for the opportunities in the battles...Share/Bookmark

Believe in YOU  

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It seems that our society is filled with people that do not believe in themselves. Whether it is that they've been teased, are overweight, have a blemish-filled face, not part of the in-crowd, not a sports' star, are told they are 'no good' at home (from parents, spouse, siblings, etc.), and the list can go on, they do not have belief in themself.

As I've grown up I've learned that those who are in the opposite side of these categories generally have difficulty in believing in themselves, also. It is hard if you in one of the categories above to believe that someone who is a model or a sports' star could have any difficulty believing in themself, but they do.

I've gone through times in my life, sometimes feeling like eons, where I didn't believe in myself. I had a few of the categories in common. Life appeared to be h-e-double-hockey-sticks. Have you been there??? However, once you move past different situations, life really wasn't that bad.

When does one's life tend to turn around...that brings us to this week's quote...

Every achiever that I have ever met says, "My life turned around when I began to
believe in me." ~Dr. Robert Schuller

I cringe when I hear of people committing suicide! They tend to have stopped believing in themself. In my line of work I've had people tell me they've thought about suicide. They need to know that they are unique and God cares about them, even if they feel the opposite. I've been there for people who have tried to do suicide. Neither is something I look forward to.

You are not only unique and that God cares for you, but you mean so much to many people - be it a friend, parent, sibling, child, or a relative. People don't want you to 'go'. People care about you!

Believing in yourself takes effort. I had to do an exercise when I was in college to think of ten things you liked about yourself. I don't remember if it was overly difficult, but it was an exercise I've used on other people. Maybe you need to do it yourself. Sometimes we need a reminder of how many good things we have about ourself so that we can keep going in life.

Believe in yourself. You are able to do things when you put your mind to it. Get up, turn your life around and see yourself in a totally different light. Believe in yourself!Share/Bookmark

Being Different  

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I think that most people who have any drive at all desire to be different. Growing up with an uncommon name I wanted to have a different name. One that would resemble "cool". However, I remember a time when I was at a low point in my childhood and I started thinking about my name. It was different and that was OK. I am who I am and I was named this name for a reason. I don't know if that was a turning point or not, but, like many, I had a drive to be different.

Merriam-Webster defines different in this way...

1 : partly or totally unlike in nature, form, or quality : dissimilar
2
: not the same: as a : distinct b : various c : another
3
: unusual, special
Individuals in life are different by their gender, the way they dress, their choice in music, their choice in hair styles, their favorite color, their hobbies, etc. Sometimes when we see someone who is so different than us we label them as being "different".

In a consumer world being different is the name of the game. You either have a different product, a different price or difference in service. As a church we are in the middle of consumerism and must adjust the rudder and sails to survive. We may not be a "business" and we aren't a consumer. However, we must lean more toward the business side to survive, as we need people to support us so we can stay afloat, just as a business does.

One of the definitions above stood out to me - 2(c). It basically says that part of different is "another". When we are just "another" church in the community, that is not the right kind of different that will help us be more attractive. When a business opens up, if it is just "another" burger place or another grocery store, then it is bound to fail. Something must be done to move it from "another" to "dissimilar" or "distinct".

We must understand, as we look to attract, what makes us unique. Is it a product, a price, or a service which is provided? Once we can identify which of the three areas we are going to target, then we can seek to be different. If our focus is to meet each week for a few hours in a building then we will always be just "another" church. If we drift from week to week not thinking about being different outside the walls of the church building, then we will always be just "another" church.

However, if we can have the mindset to be different by thinking about our mission each day, in the middle of our jobs, our games, our drives, our interactions, etc. Then, we will start to take on one aspect of being a bit different.

Too often we have paralleled "different" in the religious world to being "cooky", "snobbish", "stuck-up", "crazy", "holier than thou", "preachy", "goodie-goodie", "radical", or a host of other labels. Really, you make the label. You can be different without being any of those things. We, as a church, can be different without any of those things. I am driven to be different, as a preacher, by trying to avoid any of those things, and, as relationships go, it has worked very well.

Let's not drift. Let's look for ways to be "different" as a church, every day.Share/Bookmark

"Fearless" by Max Lucado - Book Review  

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What do you fear? I am sure it is something...the dark, the unknown, your job security, being buried alive, urban legends, family's well-being, heights, certain bugs/animals, or something totally different.

Fear is practically instilled into us. And we learn other fears along the way. Media has a way of making our fears seem bigger than they should be. Max has come up with a great, current book that challenges us not to be fearful, but Fearless.

Throughout the book, each chapter is filled with a certain area that is something that someone fears. If you are like me, you will find more than one chapter that you find a fear of yours couched in.

Max does a great job of making the idea of fear, and overcoming it, come alive by pointing practical aspects of scriptures. This makes the scriptures be real for people, which helps to apply them.

I was really enjoying the book until I arrived at the chapter about fearing "global calamity". He used Matthew 24 as much of his text for the basis of his teaching. From my study, which many will have differing opinions, I do not see Jesus teaching the "end of times" from this chapter, but rather a "destruction of Jerusalem" warning. I don't point to say that I'm right and he's wrong, but based on my study, I didn't see it as a parallel. However the fact that we do not need to worry about the end is true.

He concludes by reminding us that when we have a faith in Christ and God, we can be Fearless.

There is an "additional chapter" which I would challenge all readers to not skip, as it is inspiring also.

Enjoy Fearless, it was some good food for my soul!Share/Bookmark

A Creation of Wonder  

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My 20-month-old son's favorite show is the Backyardigans. He's loved that show for about as long as he could pay attention. Recently an episode came on that was about a spies. When we were watching it together I told him that he was a lot like his daddy. I enjoy a good spy movie. Not only do I enjoy it, but his mother enjoys shows that have mystery woven into them.

Where do you find mystery? Is it as you look out into a starry night? Is it as you stare into a microscope? Is it watching a sonogram of a life forming inside a womb? Is it watching a person walking through a forest with someone about to jump out and attack them? Where?

Mystery is part of what causes us to go forward. If you think about it, that is why we are on the "edge of our seats" longing for that next scene. It is what makes us look forward to the next week's episode. It brings us to this week's quote...

Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand.
~Neil Armstrong

Recently, I put myself out there with an idea I had to try to encourage teachers. The mystery of how people will receive this idea is energizing. Whether it is a "yes" or a "no" makes no difference, really. Then, when the answer was "yes" by three different administrators, I then see a mystery in how God is going to use this idea. I anticipate about as much as I would on Christmas morning, looking forward to what will be under the tree!

Another great mystery that energizes me is when I study the Bible. Like others, I can read things many times and get something new out of it many times. I am like a schoolboy each time I get the chance to dig in to the Word. I look for how God is going to speak to me, and then how He is going to give me a message that I may be able to pass on to others to deepen their faith.

The revelation of a mystery helps us understand. It could be understanding the moon, as Neil Armstrong experienced. It could be how an idea will pan out or how God's Word is that much more applicable.

Wonder to better understand!

Enjoying the mysterious to better understand...Share/Bookmark

Change is a Must  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , ,

Why is it that the "top" songs on any chart changes? Why is it that Toyota is no longer using "Oh, what a feeling, Toyota"? Why does Pepsi have a new logo every few years?

The answer...change. Change is a must. Without change, we get bored. I remember being a bit bored a few weeks into my summer vacations, as a kid. Why? Because it was the same thing each day...get up, play, maybe go swimming, etc. Doing that for days on end for a few weeks, I started to get bored. Go on a trip...no longer bored. Why? Because it took away from the norm...it was change. But live out of a suitcase, that is boring.

Change is something the religious community has had a hard time dealing with over the years. We want to hold on to different things that we hardly ever change. Those that have gone through changes usually see positive results - not just numerically.

One important concept about the introduction is that if customers weren't given any change, their sales would drop. We can apply that to the church a bit to say that if change is not made our "sales" will drop. Our sales are obviously different than a business. However, what we are all about will distinguish us from other churches. Sometimes what traditionally separates us is not going to be good enough to draw people in (or keep them). We may feel passionate about them, but that doesn't make someone else feel passionate.

Think about the person who developed the Pepsi logo of the 80's. I bet they were proud of that, as their art was displayed to billions of people. But what happened when Pepsi decided there needed to be a change in the logo? Did that person lose their passion or agree there was a need for change for the sake of attraction?

With the change in the logo, did the contents change? No, just the container. Our contents are not going to change, but our container may need to change. In other words, we have to be open to something that may "look" different, but in actuality, the contents are still the same. Our passions shouldn't change, but the superficial part changes.

There is always the argument about a younger generation leaving the church. This isn't just in our brotherhood, it is all around. Part of the reason that we're losing so many is that they are stifled. They are not able to adopt the procedures/traditions of the church of years past. Quite frankly, I'm not either. I am an "adapt with the times" person, even when it is difficult. You may not understand all the "techy" stuff kids are doing (and it isn't just kids). You may not understand their music. You may not understand their style of dress (not speaking of anything immodest). However, things have changed, and if we, as a church, are not willing to adapt to the times, we are in a slow decline...like boiling a bullfrog, it slowly dies.

Tradition of the Sabbath was not to work. Pharisees said it was a sin to pick grain (among other things) when Jesus and His disciples did anything of the sort. Sabbath was the content. Jesus wasn't changing the content. Jesus would still rest...but the men needed to eat.

Let's not consider the traditions and the superficial as unchangeable. Let's be praying that, individually, we will be open to change so that, for one, we can be more attractive in our approach to customers.

If we are going to be the church of the 1st century, we'll look like a church from antiquity. If we are going to be the church of the 1960's, we'll look outdated. We are to be the church that becomes "like all men, so as to save some". That type of a church would now be a 21st century church. Let's be the church of the 21st century!

What will you do to help us get there?Share/Bookmark