Some Things Must Change  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Change is a hard concept for most people.  Sometimes change is a must, where other times it is simply an elective choice. Either one, depending on the context, can be difficult.  Even people in Jesus' day had some difficulty with change.  One major change was a change in the law.

The law had been observed by the Jews for hundreds of years, from the time of Moses.  In fact, the Mosaic Law was still in effect at the time of Jesus' arrival.  Some may not realize it because of the way the Bible is divided - Old & New Testaments.  Since Jesus arrives and leaves in the New Testament, some may forget that it is partially governed by the Mosaic Law.  The new covenant takes place after Jesus dies (Hebrews 9:16-17), just like any will someone leaves behind takes effect after they die.

Imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to come on the scene and bring about these changes.  If you can't, think about if your government changed from what it had been like for hundreds of years.  For us in the United States, can you imagine the uproar if our government went to something other than a Democratic government?

The old covenant was in place for a temporary time.  It was not planned to be here forever.  The old became obsolete (Hebrews 8:13) and a replacement was on its heels.  I drive by a big snow pile on Franklin Avenue almost daily.  Ever since we had our first big snow, a few other snows have been added to that pile (as the snow comes from what is scraped off of our main streets), and eventually that pile will be totally melted.  It started out pretty big and the kids have enjoyed playing on it; I've become accustomed to seeing it.  However, when the day comes that I don't see it anymore it will be a change.

The pile did some good for a while, but is not able to completely do everything.  By that, I mean that it can't water the ground for the entire park by itself forever, something else must take its place.  It can't provide entertainment and fun for the people forever, something else must take its place.  Seems kind of like the Old Law.

The Old Law was able to provide a temporary relief of sin and a temporary relationship with God. But it wasn't forever.  The Old Law was a pointer and a convicter.  It pointed and convicted the guilty to say, "Who was the sinner?  It was YOU!", accompanied with a finger pointed your way.  It did not give you a permanent way out because once you sinned again, you received that same finger pointed in your direction.

It is an awesome thing to see that Jesus brought more than just a new Law, but a way of escaping the penalty of Law.  A few months ago I wrote about grace and how we've been justified.  So we may get that finger pointed our way, with a "conviction notice", that same voice says, "That's OK, you may have erred, but it is 'just as if I'd' never sinned".

The crime may have been the same, but the punishment is different for the believer.  For the unbeliever, the punishment is still conviction without forgiveness.

Change is difficult for some, but some change is vital.  God didn't have to create this change.  He could have set up the Law as a suicide law for all mankind.  In other words, once you broke it, you were spiritually dead forever.  Thus, you were basically committing spiritual suicide by being under a law with no real forgiveness.

That big snow pile will melt and something better will come to replace what it is providing.  Somewhat like the change that took effect from the Old Law to the New Law.  The old law wasn't providing what it needed to and the New Law could, with a special thanks to Jesus.

So the next time you drive by that big pile, remember it is just temporary, just like the Old Law, and better things are to come, just like what happened with the New Law!
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Cheer Someone On!  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , ,

Last week was "Random Acts of Kindness" week, where it was suggested to do something random for someone to be generous and kind.  I think those kinds of reminders are good, as we need to remember to cheer people on for doing good things or, simply, for the normally unrecognized things they do.

I bet you know of several people in your community that normally go unthanked.  What normally happens, is that they go through their professional job being criticized.  Leaders often fall into this category.  There is still another group, the "menial".  The ones who do the little jobs, whether they're paid to do it or not.  They do it week after week without ever receiving much of anything.  Maybe they have a certain day for thanks, like Secretary's Day.  Even Clergy Appreciation Month often goes unnoticed.  Why not just tell some people thanks for what they do, once in a while.  That brings us to this week's text...

It is time for us to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever, and the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it.  ~ Vince Lombardi
Long-time football coach, Vince Lombardi, surely came across a lot of people who needed to be "cheered on".  Lots of people that he worked with and worked "under" him were doing several great things, sometimes making him look even better.  I hope he lived up to the quote.  I hope he was a cheerer of others.

May you use some of your vocabulary each week to cheer people on, to recognize the people who step up to challenges.  Even if you cheer some people on, find someone else to cheer on!

Go get 'em!

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"Location, Location, Location!"  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , ,

"Location, location, location" is a popular list of three things when it comes to real estate.  People want to live in certain places for certain reasons.  Just like everyone is different, so is everyone's choice of where to live and what makes that place work for them.

Some like the quiet, so they want to live in the country.  Some may like to live near certain businesses for convenience.  Some may want to live near people they already know, possibly family.  Some may want to live away from railroad tracks, schools, or busy streets.  Then there are those that are complete opposites of all these phrases or it doesn't matter where they live.

Wherever you live in a certain place the environment is shaped a certain way.  The number of families with young kids or older kids will affect a neighborhood.  Likewise a neighborhood primarily filled with retired or elderly will affect it also.  However, each neighborhood can be positively or negatively affected by you.  How do you respond?  What happens if you live in a neighborhood you do you take it upon yourself to make a difference?  Will you use where we live to make a positive difference?

That same challenge is given to us all the time when it comes to reflecting our faith to others.  We are spread out over hundreds of miles each day.  You are at a specific location at all times to be able to make a difference. You are at school, home, downtown, out of your town/community, in a meeting, at work, etc., with an opportunity to make a difference.

Location shouldn't be all that important when it comes to reflecting your faith. Even if you don't like where you are at you should use it to His advantage.  Maybe you don't think about it because life clouds your thinking with other things on your plate, try to change this pattern.  

When you think about "location" don't think about it in terms of "whether or not you like it", but think about it in terms that "I want to be used wherever I'm at".  Believe me, it is very enjoyable to wake up during a moment and realize something is going on around you that you had the opportunity to team up with God to experience.  So, keep in mind your "location, location, location" and allow wherever you're at to glorify God!

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I Don't...Want to Take You For Granted - Proverbs 31:10-15  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

The hot water came out whenever I turned on the shower this morning.  The garage door went up when I pushed the button.  The car went forward whenever I put the gear shift in "D" and pushed on the accelerator.  My computer was in my office when I arrived.  These are things I didn't lose sleep over last night because I didn't even think about them when I went to bed.  As I rose up this morning, I presumed they would all work.  In a sense, I just take them all for granted till they are no longer working or in existence.

You can probably come up with your short list of things which you take for granted.  Mine is not exhaustive.  It is practically impossible to think about all the different people in my life all the time.  However, I don't believe you must do that in order to not take them for granted.  

Yesterday, we continued on our journey of exploring "I Don't" phrases associated with relationships.  The one we looked at yesterday explored taking people close to us for granted.  Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...
  1. Think about a person that is close to you (spouse, parent, sibling, etc.) and what it would be like if they were no longer in your life.  Then, see if you can think of 10 things to tell them that you like or appreciate about them.
  2. Think about someone who you do not have much contact, generally, with and imagine the same thing and do the same thing - let them know they are appreciated.
  3. Pledge to yourself that you will appreciate the people closest to you more.
  4. Pray for people you don't normally pray for - whether you think they need it or not.
  5. Praise God for the people in your life that He's blessed you with.  Also, don't forget to praise Him for the material things you've been blessed with, understanding they are still "things".
One of the best ways to not take someone for granted is to simply think about them.  Most of the time when we take someone for granted we are simply not thinking about them.  We presume they'll be here later.  We presume we'll have a chance to be around them. These presumptions are fueled by other "items" on our priority list that are taking precedence.

Take some time to think about people.  Look around this week, where you're at (school, work, etc.) and SEE different people, maybe for the first time!  Say a prayer of praise that you get to be in their life.


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Teacher's Aid: "I Don't..."  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , ,

This month I am doing a sermon series called "I Don't" couched around the concept of marriage.  Oftentimes, you will hear the phrase “I Do” at a wedding, so we’re used to that, but not “I Don’t”.    Examples are: “I Don’t Want Anyone Else” and “I Don’t Want You to Be Unprotected”.

As I have that on my mind, I thought about taking this into another realm, on of educators.  So, I have come up with a few “I Don’t” phrases for you to consider as you transform young minds…
I Don’t…Know All the Answers     ...Want to Give Up    ...Think You Can’t Do It     ...Want to Prejudge Students
You’ve went to school, you’ve experienced life, and you may have taught for a good while, but should you know all the answers?  Have you ever given an answer that you actually didn’t know?  I have.  However, there have been times that I’ve had to swallow my pride and say “I don’t know”.  You don’t look unknowledgeable, even thought you may feel it.  Rather, you appear real.  No human can know all the answers, even if it is in your field.  Try it sometime, don’t let pride get in the way.

I think all teachers, administrators, and staff have those days where they just want to pull their hair out.  Or those times in your life when you can’t wait for the school year to be over so you can  interview for another job. You are hoping to find a better place.  You rarely will.  You have the        opportunity to transform many lives in the place where you are teaching.  Don’t give up and keep on making a difference to the many kids you see each year!

Sometimes it is easier to give advice than to take it.  You may be compromising your values when you want to throw in the towel, but you try to tell kids not to give up. Each student has their   different needs and you have the opportunity to bring out the best in each child, even when they want to give up on themselves or say “I can’t”.  Maybe they cannot accomplish something right now, but they might be able to build up to accomplishing that feat in the future.  You’re belief in that child can make a world of difference.  The movie “The Ron Clark Story” comes to mind...great show!

I don’t know if it is true or not when I hear it, but I hate hearing students say that a teacher “hates” them.  I know the teacher never said that to them, but it is the student’s belief. It could be for a number of reasons.  Sometimes it may be because a teacher is creating boundaries that the student is crossing and the student doesn’t like the consequences.  However, if one, after looking at a student, decides to dismiss their learning abilities based on how they dress or carry themselves, then that can lead to bigger  problems.  May you see each as individuals, coming from different backgrounds, and different circumstances, even daily and help transform that young mind the best way you know how.

Pledge to say “I Don’t” this month as you continue on in your pursuit to transform young minds.

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