What's YOUR Answer - Joshua 24:14-15  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , , , , ,

You pull in to the drive thru, look at the menu, and you hear something like this, "Welcome to ___, may I take your order?" Then, in a matter of moments, you begin to say what you would like to eat for that day. Your answer to their question is the food you request.

What would you do if you pulled into a drive thru and didn't hear the message above, but rather heard something like "Welcome to ____, which god will you choose today?" And on the menu is not hamburgers, french fries, shakes, salads, or sodas, but rather, it is Self, Activities, Money, Job, Family, Self-Righteousness, Envy, Control, Jehovah and a list of others. Which one would you choose?

Surprisingly, we've all ignored the Jehovah part of the menu from time to time. Instead, we look over it and see what other things may entice our appetite for that moment and choose it.

Yesterday, Joshua told the people that his household was going to choose the Lord. He challenged the people with asking which one they will choose. We're confronted also with something similar on a daily basis. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week to help you make the choice to 'choose Him'...

  1. Praise Him ~ "Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you" - Psalm 63:3 - If life is good, His love is better. If life is going south, His love is much better. Either way, experiencing a relationship with Him is better, so give Him a praise or two this week for the good things you have in life.
  2. Serve ~ Do something kind for someone else, maybe even anonymously. Not because you want the credit, but because you are doing it because you care for them. It doesn't have to be buying anything. Serve someone!
  3. Make a list ~ One thing my wife likes to do when making a big decision is to make a "pro-&-con" list. As you are deciding which god you are going to choose, make a list and see what benefits there are to serving the one besides Jehovah.
  4. Pick One ~ God is a "jealous God" and cannot share your attention. He wants you to be solely focused on Him throughout a day. Don't let another day go by without focusing on Him and picking Him over other gods that may drift into your life. You cannot "serve two masters", let Him be the only one!
Life is full of choices. A menu board gives us plenty of choices, but we will most likely choose one entree by the time we are finished. As you think about your faith, you must also have only one choice as the one on the #1 line...the "Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like [Him], in heaven above or on earth beneath..." (I Kings 8:23)

Make a choice to follow Him, moment by moment...Share/Bookmark

Black Friday Values  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , ,

You’ve eaten. You’ve watched a lot of football. You’ve napped. You’ve eaten leftovers. Today, you’ve shopped. “Black Friday” is one of the busiest shopping days of the year across the country. Sales for today will top almost every other day of the year. Stores have all kinds of specials. In my experience, some of the specials have only a limited amount of items, so you can easily miss out if you don’t go early enough! You will wait in line for longer amounts of time than normal due to the shopping frenzy. Is all of this sacrifice worth trying to find the values that are advertised? Some think so…others do not.

Getting up early and fighting with the crowds can cause you to be exhausted by the time you are all finished with the day. If you grabbed some good bargains, it was worth it. If you were beat out by other shoppers, you may feel like you wasted your day.

Those values are very tantalizing to your wallet. You’ve looked forward to them as this day grew closer. As the ads came out earlier in the week you really were looking at them to see what you could get at a great price, whether for a gift or for yourself.

I know it isn’t the time we think of the Resurrection of Jesus, as most are gearing up for the celebration of His birth. But, as I was thinking about the arrival of “Black Friday”, it made me think about the Resurrection.

Though we do not know when the birth of Jesus or the Resurrection actually took place, from a calendar’s perspective, we do know that the Resurrection was discovered on the morning of the first day of the week, Sunday. We also know that Jesus was buried on Friday, before sunset.

If you will recall the Bible informs us that there were three hours of darkness the day that Jesus was put on the cross (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44). These three hours were said to be from midday to 3:00 PM. Man’s sin was having its price paid and it was a dark time. Jesus paid the price for our sin, even though He had no sin (II Corinthians 5:21).

That Friday could easily be referred to as a “Black Friday”. It wouldn’t be named that because of the fact that people arose early in the morning to make it down to their favorite store to pick up a value. It would be named that for the darkness that was apparent when Jesus paid the price for our sins. It would be named that for the darkness that Jesus must have felt when He was forsaken by His Heavenly Father to pay that price for sin. It would be named that for the misery that His mother, biological family, and friends must have felt as they watched Him die.

But wait, that isn’t the end. We know that on Sunday He will be resurrected. We know that He will put the crushing blow to Satan. We know that we can now attain that membership into heaven. We know that this “Black Friday” is a day when the best value is found. The value is that even though we have sin in our life, Jesus died to allow us to be justified. We can see ourselves as guilty, but because of the value we obtained on this “Black Friday” we can see ourselves as “‘just as if I’d’ never sinned”. What a feeling! What a relief! What a day!

Most definitely, it was a “Black Friday” for Jesus. Who would want to be forsaken? Who would want to have to pay the price for someone else? However, it may be one of the best spiritual shopping days of eternity. The day that my sins were paid!

So, as you went out today to shop, was the sacrifice worth it? As we think back to the “Black Friday” that Jesus experienced, we can definitely say that His sacrifice was worth it!Share/Bookmark

Waiting for the Bloom of Destiny  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , ,

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" was a question we were all probably asked more than once as a child. My niece, who's seven, recently told my wife that she wanted to be about 5-6 different things when she grew up. Ironically one was a waitress and a chef, but then she realized she couldn't be a waitress and a chef at the same time.

As you've gone through life, what were some of the careers that you hoped to have? Sports star, movie star, television star, doctor, teacher, lawyer, etc. How many of those careers have you accomplished? For most, the answer is probably zero. I know that my career was not what I would have named when I was a kid. I probably wouldn't have named it until I decided to pursue it.

The pursuit of something makes the journey fun and enticing. It makes the bumps along the way seem minimal. Focusing on a goal can cause you to jump a little higher so as to be able to hurdle the obstacles that you encounter. Keeping a goal in your "vision" help keeps you going. This brings us to this week's quote...

As long as we are persistent in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we fully bloom. It happens in its own time. ~Denis Waitley

In America, we are experiencing winter. Most areas the plants have gone dormant because of the cooler temperatures. So, to think of things blooming may seem kind of odd at this time of year. However, like the flowers that come from bulbs, you can keep them in the ground and when the time comes, which happens on its own, it will spring forth a flowering plant.

As you look to pursue your "destiny", it may not spring forth from its bulb today or tomorrow. It may be in the ground during your "winter", as it is not time to grow yet. However, if kept in fertile soil, as you still keep it in a place of desire, there will be a time when it blooms.

Don't let your destinies and desires die...look forward to the day they bloom!Share/Bookmark

Rest After Restlessness - Joshua 11:23  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

The event is over and now you can breathe a little easier. You have either been planning or a part of this event for quite some time. You've been anticipating the time when you could get to the end of the road. How relieved you must feel.

That event may be a wedding, a concert, or a fundraiser. Those are common ways to think about this idea. However, what about thinking about some others...paying off a car, being cured from a disease, graduation, or being saved?

These are other areas we could be thinking about as we can rest after a time of restlessness. Yesteray, we looked at Joshua 10-11, focusing on 11:23, and saw how the Israelites had that chance to rest after all the battles that had been going on. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Take time for God - When you are in a resting position or before you go to bed at night, for a night of rest, take time to be with God.
  2. Take time for God's Family - Whenever you can be with the spiritual family you should take the opportunity, the uplift and encouragement may be more than you expected.
  3. Repair Yourself - Not only can you be repaired when you come together with your spiritual family, but take time to self-reflect and see what areas you may need to hone to make yourself be a stronger Christian - from a defensive and offensive position.
  4. Get yourself pumped up! - People often listen to music before an athletic competition. Whatever you need to do to get yourself ready to go into "battle" is something you need to do. Maybe it is listen to music, read a book, or pray. JUST DO IT!
  5. Pump Someone Else Up - Enthusiasm is catchy! When you are excited, others will be also. Encourage someone today!
When you have gone through the "ringer" you know it can be exhausting. However, to be given that energy back is priceless. Whether you've just completed a big event or you have just been saved, do what you can to make sure you get to or stay at an excited level!

Excited to see the possibilities!Share/Bookmark

When you signed up to work at the school you had a things you were planning to do. You were hired to be a teacher, a coach, a secretary, a counselor, a psychologist, a janitor, or an administrator. What is missing? Being a kids authority figure or role model.

One of my favorite shows that I started watching last spring was "World's Strictest Parents". You don't know me, but I enjoy giving attention to the kids that most would stay away from. As a substitute teacher, I've had my moments when I had to draw my line. Whether it is taking a cell phone away or letting kids go early for lunch, they've had to learn where I stand.

If you haven't seen the show, it is about a boy and a girl, somewhere between the ages of 15-18 who go to a "strict" parent's house for a week. Usually one of them smokes, maybe even does drugs or drinks. The females tend to dress immodestly. Most of the time, though they have their struggles of understanding who's in charge, they do figure out that life with rules and boundaries are something they, ironically, enjoy.

Often you find out that they didn't have a good parental figure in their life, so to have someone give them boundaries is something they actually want. Sometimes the person who shows interest and gives them boundaries will become the "involuntary authority figure" in their life. You may already have experienced this and if you have, you know it probably wasn't what you "originally signed up for".

However, I applaud you to be in that position. Sure it is different than being a "buddy" or "BFF" to someone. That is not what authority is all about. When they see you as an authority figure you have a priceless position in their life. They respect you, look up to you, and listen to you! The bottom-line is that though you didn't sign up for it, you have an invaluable position in their life to help them become a respectable person. Use it to THEIR advantage!Share/Bookmark

Dangers Ahead are Not Good Enough Reasons to Stay Put  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , ,

On the television show, Deadliest Catch, fishermen will venture out onto the sea to catch seafood. They've been out before. They've encountered problems, lost crew, gone hungry, and possibly lost their boat. They've seen so many things on that water.

However, one thing's for sure, they haven't lost their zeal to go back out. Whether it is for the money or the thrill, they look forward to going out and gathering the catch. They feel the deep urge to go out. They know people are counting on them; people they will never meet. They are needing to provide for their family, as well.

How willing are you to go out from the shore? How much zeal do you have to go out even in dangers? That brings us to this week's quote...

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storms are terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reasons for remaining ashore. - Vincent Van Gogh

When life is putting in front of you situations that you deem difficult or impossible, just remember that the fishermen are going out time after time. They know things may get dangerous, but they know they are worse off if they don't go out.

If you're looking at something impossible know that He is the God of the impossible. With Pharaoh behind the Israelites and the Red Sea before them - the Impossible provided them a way out!

Don't let the danger of the sea or the concern about storms halt any progress you can make to create things that will change your life or the life of others!Share/Bookmark

Life is all about trying to stay above the red line. This last week on "The Biggest Loser" (a show about weight loss) the contestant who fell below the red line instantly went home. It was the first time this had been done on the show's history. The normal ending is to vote between two people who've gone below the yellow line, that is they were the two who had the least percentage of weight loss for the week (not necessarily the least amount of weight).

In the business world the competitiveness doesn't last a certain amount of weeks. Just like watching one's weight cannot just end after a certain number of weeks, making sure your business is successful never ends. Every business is replaceable. We would make it without Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Macy's, and your business. Every employee is replaceable. Your business would probably be able to survive without you. This concept is understood, that is why the competitiveness among businesses never ends.

I knew a State Farm employee (who I am insured with) tell me that when he had customers who threatened to leave he didn't worry too much. State Farm is an insurance mogul. One customer isn't going to affect them that much. What if it was one per agent, that might make them a bit nervous. However, we don't all work for moguls. Some of us are the only employees. Regardless of the history of our companies or place of employment, we never want to go below the red line.

Even those who are with moguls, as an employee, you're always replaceable. However, you are where you're at to do the best job you can do with the company you work for. You can make a huge difference in the position you are at. You can be the best salesperson. You can be the top realtor. You can also be a great employer, gaining respect from your employees. Not always is the top about sales and money.

You shouldn't want to relax in your position to think you and/or your company is "safe" from falling below the red line. I know a seed salesman who talks about trying to make courtesy calls regularly to keep that relationship with his clients. He's continuing to fight. He doesn't want to all below the "red line" because there's always another seed salesman who can replace him.

Though there is a lot of competitiveness in the business world, there should also be a sense of staying relaxed. When the body is too stressed you won't lose the weight, cause your body goes into panic mode. When you put too much stress on you with your business you will appear too greedy or impersonable. This won't help you in your quest to stay above the "red line". So, keep going, be as good as you can, relax, strive for the doing better each day, relax, and enjoy the ride!Share/Bookmark

Delusional Decision in a Dash - Joshua 9:3-14, 22  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , ,

One of my weaknesses is a "good deal". Sometimes that is enhanced when I go near a clearance aisle. I may see things that I don't need, but could use, eventually, so I want it because of the price. Then that item takes a seat on a shelf or hides in a compartment till the one time I MAY need it.

Have you ever bought something at an auction? If you have, you know that sometimes you have to make a decision very quickly. Especially when it was something you didn't intend on purchasing. Not too long ago I was at an auction where I saw something in a miscellaneous bin that I wanted (bear in mind, I didn't need it). Being the frugal guy I am, I told myself I wasn't going to bid too high. So, the bin came around. It started about $10, then to $5, then to $1. My hand shot up then. WOW...$1 for the item I wanted, plus the other stuff. I was willing to go to about $3 for this one item. The auctioneer tried to get people to go the next level..but "SOLD!" to me for $1. That was good, I bought the item I had wanted (which I haven't used yet)...but the best part (for me) was that they had thrown in ANOTHER miscellaneous bin, too! All for only $1.00!!! SCORE!

Occasionally, those kinds of moments come our way and a spur-of-the-moment decision can become a positive one. However, some decisions like that can be not-so-good. Maybe it is deciding to go to a bar/party? Maybe it is looking at a classmate's test? Maybe it is fudging your taxes? Maybe it is looking longingly at someone's body? Maybe it is clicking on an internet link? Maybe it is not stopping at a stop sign? Maybe it is buying something that will take too much out of your monthly expenses?

As we looked Sunday at Joshua and his encounter with some 'neighbors', they presented him with a proposal and he took it. His decision was rash and had consequences. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Hesitate ~ If you're at an auction and you hesitate too long, you may lose out. Sometimes in life we parallel too many things with this way of thinking. We may think we are "losing out" when, in fact, we may end up winning. Glance through the list of "maybes" above and see if there are any categories that you have been in where you didn't hesitate, but gave in to making that decision. When I umpired baseball, one of the disciplines they teach you is to hesitate just a brief moment to make a decision on a close play, be it a pitch coming in or a out/safe call. To make it too fast you may not see the ball dropped, for example. So, to hesitate can help a person make a better decision.
  2. Ask ~ Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs, chapter 15, verse 22: Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (NIV) When a quick decision must be made, you may not be able to "phone a friend". But there may be times when you can consult counsel for the time when you have to make a decision like that the next time. However, for those times when you do have some time to make a decision, it is good to have someone to discuss it with, getting various points of view, so you can make a good decision. Keep in mind that your first response should be asking God.
  3. Direction ~ Which way do you go? North? South? East? West? Forward? Backward? Sideways? Up? Down? Life can hand us a whole list of choices. We want to know where we're supposed to be. Where can God use you in life? How can He use you in this or that situation? As you connect with Him, regularly, I think it will become clear what direction you will need to go in.
You may find one of these that may apply to things you are confronted with or subjected to, in life. However, these three things are also a simple formula to go through when you are faced with a spur-of-the-moment situation: Hesitate, Ask, Direction. When you're trying to decide think "H.A.D." to help you out!

Seeking Him in my Decisions...Share/Bookmark

The Cave You Most Fear  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , ,

Darkness is not something most of us are attracted to, nor are we comfortable around it. You turn out the lights on the outside of your house at night and it will appear unwelcoming. You turn the lights out at night on the inside of your house and you will probably become uncomfortable. We like the light. It is attractive and comfortable.

Going into a cave means stepping into darkness. Stepping in to darkness goes back to the previous paragraph, we become uncomfortable. In life we tend to be very wary of the caves that we come upon. Some caves may be more lit than others, causing us to be more comfortable in them than others. That brings us to this week's quote...

The cave you most fear to enter contains the greatest treasure. ~ Joseph Campbell

A movie came out several years ago, called "The Goonies". One of my all-time favorites. I enjoy the practice of going in search of something mysterious. During the movie they encounter a cave to go into. They were hesitant, but knew the enemy was on their heels. The pursue the cave and they find treasure, tons of treasure, at the end of the cave.

My spiritual life is one of mystery. I have no idea what is going to happen next. Who's going to call, text, send an e-mail, or even just cross my path that God won't use me mightily in that situation. I look forward to it, every day! I hope you will learn to do so, too.

As you go through life and encounter different caves, don't be afraid to go into the most dark cave out there, cause it just might surprise you and have the greatest treasure in it than all the others.Share/Bookmark

THANKS, Veterans!  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , ,

Today is one of the days throughout a calendar year to say THANKS to those who have trained, served, and fought in the military for the freedom of our great country!

Enjoy the freedom, as the cliche goes, freedom is not free it costs lives. Even our spiritual freedom was paid for with a price.

This song is one of my favorites that never gets old. I'm including the lyrics for you to read and enjoy. You can hear it on YouTube or a number of other places.

THANKS, VETERANS! I appreciate all you've done!

God Bless The USA

by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife.

I’d thank my lucky stars, to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas, From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston, and New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart, and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.

And I’m proud to be and American, where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.


Copying Isn't Exercising Creativity  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , ,

During college I was pursuing an Art Education degree. Throughout my experience with art, I had never dabbled in painting. It was always drawing, either with pencil or ink. The semester came when I had to take a painting class, and I chose Watercolor. Watercolor is a painting technique that requires a lot of discipline. For example, once you go dark, you can’t go light. So, you have to work from back to front and light to dark. In addition to that, the difficulty came when we had to come up with original works, just for our exercises/daily assignments. This was a Tuesday-Thursday class, so to come up with an original painting from Tuesday to be ready by Thursday morning was usually pretty tough. If we ever did something that was not original to us, it would be an automatic failing grade!

Too often when we see something that someone else has done we want to mimic it. Using what they have already done means that it has already been done. Though that is simple, my point is that we limit ourselves (and maybe God) when we take the easier road to do something someone else had done.

When we do something someone else has done, now we’re the same. We lose the distinction. Imagine if every business that started with an “m” used the shape, maybe different color, of the McDonald’s® sign? There would be a nation filled with that shape and people wouldn’t know if they were seeing a McDonald’s® or a Montana Mikes®!

We tend to treat the things we try in the church like recipes we have exchanged. The problem is, the recipe uses standard and controlled ingredients. Flour is the same here or there, and so is baking powder. However, trying to copy what a church is doing down the street or across the country is limiting because we are not that church. Our town is not the same, our people are not the same, or our culture is not the same. We need to be creative in our approaches to outreach and ‘inreach’. We don't want to be the same as someone else. We don’t want to limit our creativity so much to just copy someone. Copying doesn’t allow us to exercise our creativity. Let’s get creative so that we can not be cast into the “sea of sameness” and not be limiting what God can do through us!Share/Bookmark

An Outing Without Doubting - Joshua 6:15-17, 20  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , ,

"Team, this year the conference championship is ours" says the coach. "All you have to do is practice, show up, and take the field," he continues, "Not only that, but we're going to win Districts, Bi-Districts, Regionals, Sectionals, Sub-state, and State!" By this time the kids are very pumped up. They can't believe it. Compared to last year's sub-par year, this will be awesome!

Can you imagine the hope they have each day and each game? Imagine what might be going through their minds. What would go through yours?

Put into a business perspective and create an endless amount of goals to reach, then imagine what it would be like to pursue that.

Now, imagine how hard you would work, in any instance, if you knew the victory was at hand? Some would still work, though many wouldn't. Think about as the season led on and you kept on winning and winning. You probably wouldn't work that hard as the season went on because your confidence level would be pretty high.

That is similar to what is happening in Joshua. God is guaranteeing the victory, they just have to do a few things to obtain it. This is probably one of the easiest victories in battle history. March around once-a-day for the first six days, then seven times on the seventh day. Blow your horns, shout, and take the plunder, while saving a promised family. Easy huh?

We CAN have it that easy, if we choose to look at it that way. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week from this section in Joshua...

  1. March Around ~ We go a lot of places in this world. Some of them we go to regularly. The Israelites only went to Jericho once. Regardless, God may be sending you there to march around in order to give you a victory. Be conscious of the fact that where you go, it may be for the purpose of giving a victory...especially if you are going there on a regular basis.
  2. Shout ~We can shout when we're at a sporting event, we can shout when we're mad, we can shout when we're trying to get someone's attention, why not shout to gain the victory? Imagine getting in your car, after "marching" for "six days" and saying "Ok, God...{then shouting...AAAAHHHHHH!} Shout for the victory! Shout like you're trying to break down the walls...of sin, of procrastination, of hesitation, of fear, etc., so you can go in and gain the victory that God has allowed to happen. If you don't experience the "walls coming down" keep marching and shouting!
  3. Enemy Routed ~ I am in total awe when I sit back and think, "This is a God-thing". Something I didn't expect, but get a smack-in-the-face wake up call to the fact that what happened was God working with me and/or through me to put me in this situation. How I was in the right place to see a victory come to pass as God uses me, instead of the Enemy, to make a difference in someone's life.
One of the main applications that I can see from this section of scripture, is that when something that you feel God is asking you to do, which may seem utterly ridiculous to you, go ahead and do it. Whether you are going to be a dot in a connect-the-dots journey to Christ or you are going to be able to shout so as to knock down walls, do the crazy thing. You will probably be blown away by it as you are seeking Him in the process.

Deuteronomy 20:4 says, "For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." Rest assured that when you are going in to battle, with Him in mind, He can give victory!

I challenged my congregation to start marching for six weeks (figuratively or literally) and then shout, beginning the week of December 20, 2009...see what walls may collapse! Let me know how it goes.Share/Bookmark

Winning the World Series Isn't the Only Good Thing a Guy Can Do  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , ,

Last night I noticed a headline about Joe Girardi on my news updates, and decided to check it out.

Turns out he helped out a stranded motorist. I thought it was something worth mentioning because often the good things aren't mentioned, and I'm not even a Yankees fan.

It is a pretty short article but I thought it was neat that on the night that his club won the World Series, he still took time to do something nice for a stranger, by his own choice.


Motivators...to Keep You Going  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , , , , ,

It is the time of year for the corn harvest in the Midwest. The problem in the area where I'm at...wetness. It has been just wet enough that farmers have not been able to finish cutting the corn. The anxiousness that must flood the mind of a farmer on a regular basis is beyond my scope of understanding, as I'm not a farmer. With each crop, planting and harvesting, there is the challenge of timing. Following the planting comes the anxiousness of the balance of moisture and sunlight.

When I read this week's quote, I thought of a few different things to start it off with, but my mind kept coming back to the farmer. Here's this week's quote...

Faith and doubt both are needed, not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve. ~Lillian Smith

Not being a farmer, I am going off of experiences being around farmers. When a farmer goes to plant, with hopes of the upcoming harvest that will take place in a few months, I can't help but to think he has faith and doubt. Faith that the crop will have a high yield and doubt that the weather will be without fail. I'm sure there are other 'faiths' and 'doubts', but either way the farmer keeps forging ahead, year after year, because he's been through it before and it keeps him going to the unknown season that lies ahead.

The same can go for us in life. We have no idea what the day may bring, but we keep going. For someone who sees no hope, you may need to add the faith, for doubt is rampant.

When I travel in the mountains, I can't see where the next town is, generally. I doubt that it is around the next curve, but I have faith it is coming up. It keeps me going!

May faith and doubt be the salt and pepper to keep you going in life!Share/Bookmark

Sudden Service  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , , ,

When I've taken my vehicle to get it serviced, typically an oil change, I pull up, get out, and go into the store or the garage bay letting them know what I'd like to have done to my car. This is probably the typical way that you are treated. Maybe, if the employees are having a slow period, they may come out and ask you how they can help you.

However, imagine pulling into a place like that and having the employees running out to greet you? Not walking fast or jogging, but running! No more having to get out of your car and hope or wait to be greeted. Wouldn't that give you a favorable impression? Wouldn't you probably come back?

That is exactly what happens with a service center place called Les Schwab Tires, typically located in the northwest part of the nation. The following is something that comes directly from their website, they call it "Sudden Service"...

You come in, we come running. We’re proud to offer fast, friendly service. We hand torque your lug nuts and wash your tires and wheels. Plus, we provide mobile service trucks when you can’t make it to our stores.
At Les Schwab, "We Guarantee our Service, Like we Guarantee our Tires."
(emphasis mine)
I wish I could take my vehicle to this place just to see what this kind of service is like, wouldn't you?

What if we turned this around to a church setting? If you were visiting a church and received an out-of-the-box genuine greeting, wouldn't it make a favorable impression on you? You would probably think that you would like to come back again.

Imagine the impression that it would give to a visitor for our greeters to go to them, as they were coming in the door. Or, if it was raining to walk out with an umbrella? How about, for our own people, if our greeters went that extra step for us, how would that help our attitude as we came to class/assembly?

Let's continue it on by thinking about the impression we can give to introduce ourselves to a visitor, to possibly sit by them, and/or to even offer to take them out to eat. I can just imagine the impact we would make on someone who came through our doors, into an already foreign environment, and was genuinely lavished with hospitality.

What other things might we be able to do to cause that first impression to be "what an awesome place to be!"?

Let's become a distinct church! Let's do "Sudden Service"!Share/Bookmark

Confronting the Battle: Porn Sunday  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

For those of you reading/knowing about this for the first time, it may be a bit of a shock to see. However, the church tends to be uncomfortable discussing the idea of pornography and things related to it, at length. Sometimes it is mentioned as a point in a sermon, but rarely is a whole sermon, filled with statistics and the hope for healing, ever mentioned. It is the elephant that is in the room, but never dealt with.

Pornography has a stickiness about it that can grab and never let go. It can be as much of a problem as any drug addiction. As any recovering addict will tell you, they will always be an addict, even when in recovery. That is because whatever they are trying to released from, their mind will always seem to "want" it. Along those same lines, if it is never dealt with and always brushed under the rug, then the person doesn't receive any form of healing or hope.

Pornography is found almost anywhere, in some form or another. After looking up the meaning of the word and its etymology anchors it to Greek. Interestingly it was about the writing of prostitutes or prostitution. Here's Webster's definition:

  1. the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
  2. material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement
  3. the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction
From those definitions, one could easily put many areas in the box labeled "pornography". There are the norms - magazines, x-rated films, x-rated books, and x-rated internet sites. However, you could also add in there other magazines, sending sexually explicit messages/pictures to someone, internet pop-ups or teasers, song lyrics, music videos, chat rooms - depending on the context of the chat, etc.

Here are a few statistics, some may be shocking, to keep in mind...
  1. Americans ages 13-18 spend more than 72 hours a week using electronic media - defined as the internet, cell phones, television, music, and video games
  2. Average age of first internet exposure to pornography --- 11!
  3. 90% of 8-16 year olds have viewed porn online - most while doing homework.
  4. 80% of 15-17 year olds have had multiple hard-core exposures
  5. Searching keywords like ESPN, Disney, & White House can bring up sites that are pornographic
  6. 77% of women who are sex addicts said that pornography was significant to their addiction
  7. Filtered internet does not guarantee things won't come through or your children will not be able to get around the filter.
Another new rage that is becoming more and more available is known as "sexting". "Sexting" is defined as sending explicit words or images over a cell phone. I've had a mom call me with a concern about her son, who she found out received an image from a famale acquaintance. So, I know it is something that happening all over.

The good news is there is hope for healing. If you would like to discuss it further, please e-mail me at ichthus_man (at) hotmail.comShare/Bookmark