“Missed It By That Much”  

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How often have you “missed it by that much”?

If you didn’t hear the sermon Sunday, you probably already know where the phrase was made popular…”Get Smart”.  You would hear the character played by Don Adams say to the Chief or Agent 99.  It may have been used by making up the excuse of letting the villain get away by “that much”.

Yesterday, we looked at a small section of text in the first chapter that pertains to Joseph.  For one, he learns of Mary being pregnant and is planning on trying to “resolve the matter quietly”.  For two, he is given the chance to have a “re-do” and doesn’t follow through with this, but instead, he stays with Mary and, eventually, Jesus.  Here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  1. Look for More ~ It can be easy to go in to a restaurant and have “tunnel vision”.  By that, I am meaning that you come in, you are seated, you look over the menu, you order, you receive your food/beverage, you consume, you pay, and you leave.  Where can you fit sharing Jesus in there? What about with the waitperson?  You don’t have to be real “churchy” with them, you could silently pray for that person.  You could ask God to open up the opportunity. You could ask to know if you need to talk to that person or someone else in the restaurant.  You could ask the waitperson how their day is going or if you sense it is not going well, leave a good tip and note of encouragement.
  2. Stop Procrastinating ~ I used to have a book by a series called “Sweet Pickles” that was titled “I’ll Do It Tomorrow”.  It was all about procrastination, which I became very good at as I grew up – the book didn’t help me!  Too often things are put to the back burner for another day.  Too often that day becomes like the same sides of a magnet approaching each other – they repel.  So, the next day becomes the next becomes the next, etc. and we may never get around to getting it done.  Is there someone you’ve been wanting to visit with about their salvation?  Are you waiting for a “just right” moment, of which will probably never come?  Don’t delay…do it today!
  3. Aim Smarter, Pull the Trigger Slower ~ You are out hunting and you have hit the jackpot on the game that you are trying to aim for.  You cannot believe this shot, the closeness of the game you are aiming at.  You get out your weapon. You are trying to aim perfectly but your anxiousness is causing your weapon to bounce.  Slow down!  Take a second to calm yourself so you can aim smarter.  Carefully aim, hold back any anxiousness so that you can have a better shot at aiming. Someone is asking you about your church and you cannot believe it!  What do you say?  Are you bold or hesitant…calm your anxieties and “pull the trigger slowly”!

Don’t miss the opportunities by “that much”…pay attention! Measure twice, cut once. is a popular phrase in carpentry.  Don’t be one of the ones that may “miss it by that much”, rather look for more, stop procrastinating, and aim smarter.

Hoping this week is one where I don’t “miss it by that much” very often!


Summertime Freedom  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

School is out across northwest Kansas. You are going to see an increase of kids that will be riding bikes or walking during the business day.  It is always a reminder to me that I need to pay more attention while driving down residential areas – in case an unexpected child comes darting out into the street after a toy.

With the summer break brings freedom.  Freedom that most kids are longing for since the time Easter break passes.  They like to stay up late, sleep in, and do many other things during the absence of school.

This takes us through about June.  You may not understand what I mean by that, but the excitement of this freedom that the kids were enjoying, the opening of the pool, the playing with friends, the staying up late, the sleeping in, and the list could go on, will end after about six weeks into the summer break.

I remember what it was like.  I had a little brother that was four years younger than I was and we had our fair share of disagreements.  We would call my dad or mom several times to settle arguments.  We heard several times that we better not call again, unless it was an emergency.  We had lists to do while my parents were gone.  I generally procrastinated doing those till about 3:30 in the afternoon.  I enjoyed my freedom, but with that freedom came grumbling.  Sounds a lot like some Israelites…read on…

Their voices rose in a great chorus of complaint against Moses and Aaron. "We wish we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!" they wailed.  "Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and little ones will be carried off as slaves! Let's get out of here and return to Egypt!" From Numbers 14:2-3, New Living Translation

Sounds a lot like kids do about six weeks in to their summer break.  “I’m bored” is what they will probably say, even if they don’t say those words.  The appreciated their freedom, but then the reality sets in to their minds.  They wanted freedom, but yet they enjoyed something that occupied their time.

How about for adults?  Are we really much different?  I remember a scene in a movie where a gentleman who had been in prison for so long couldn’t function once he was released.  He desired freedom but didn’t know how to handle it when he was freed.  We enjoy the things that God gives us but we still enjoy the boundaries, whether we think we do or not.

Do we appreciate the freedoms we have but get “bored” after a while?  Has God given us too much freedom?  Or have you ever wondered why God brings you to such “places” in life?

May we not be like the grumbling Israelites and appreciate the freedom that we have been given in Christ.  May we not get “bored” but use every opportunity to serve Him.  All kinds of opportunities await around every corner.

This summer, use that freedom – away from school or enjoyable weather – to do something that expresses gratefulness to Him rather than a complaining attitude!


Hinges: You have the Choice  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Hinges…they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  They open and close on one axis.  Back and forth…back and forth…they go when they open or close.  Some of them do not always rotate around to meet the other side, so you can put them on wrong! (I’ve learned)
They can be put on with the axis going vertical or horizontal.  On occasion, one may put it on a totally different angle.  They allow big doors to open and small doors to open.  Some of them are very long (piano hinge) where some are very short.
Some are for the outdoors where some are just for the indoors.  Most all hinges that are purchased are metal.  However, I would bet that you can create a wood one if you’d like – and they probably did years ago.
Hinges are the found in so many places.  After writing a few minutes, I decided to look up “history of hinges” in Google and found the Wikipedia site, click here. The site was quite fascinating.  Lots of hinges were mentioned!  Most I didn’t know by their name.  That brings us to this week’s quote…

Choices are the hinges of destiny.  ~ Edwin Markham
Each choice you make in life will open or close something.  That “something” could be a job opportunity, a relationship, a chance at salvation, or an opportunity for something better or worse.
You make the choice on what to eat and how much to eat.  You make the choice of what direction to take, literally and figuratively.  You make the choice of what to say.  All these will have an effect on “destiny”. They will create a good moment or a bad one.
How will your choices affect today?  How will they affect tomorrow…next week…next month…next year?
How will your choices affect you? Your spouse? Your children? Your family? Your friends? Your business?  Your coworkers?
Lots to think about when we make choices!  Let your choices be as positive as possible so that the way they will rotate will positively affect destiny!Share/Bookmark

Matthew...An Introduction  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

As the first book in the New Testament, I presume the book of Matthew to be one of the most common books in the Bible, by those that are religious and those that aren't.  The first of the "Gospels" and one of the longer books in the New Testament.  Matthew boasts more quotes from the Old Testament than any of the other Gospels.  The book also contains the infamous Sermon on the Mount, consisting of three chapters of the books twenty-eight chapters.

Matthew, the author, was one of those types of guys that was initially and on the surface could be deemed atypical for the role of authoring such a book.  He was not the friend of the majority.  He was in politics, but not a politician, so he didn't have the wooing capabilities as some.  I would think people turned and went the other way when they saw him, didn't answer the phone when his name came up on caller ID, or didn't answer the door when they looked through the peep hole.  However, it was still his job to collect taxes; Rome required and he was hired.

As we entered into the journey of this book today, here are a few applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Investigate Matthew, the author ~ Take some moments to do some investigation on Matthew on your own time.  Look where he is mentioned in various scriptures.  Look at his occupation and how that may have impacted his decision and ministry. Look to see what his family life was like, if it is known - the Bible doesn't really tell us.
  2. Read through the book ~ One of the great mysteries of the Bible is the way you can read a verse or verses and see something that you didn't see before.  I have already had that experience in reading this book. It is awesome to experience.  As you read through may the "first time" and the "reread" verses stand out to you as something new and exciting.
  3. Appreciate the Redeemer ~ As one of Jesus' main goals was to "save us", what can you do this week to help carry out that goal to someone else?
  4. Look for the "Matthew crowd" ~ Look for someone who would not likely enter a church building due to any number of reasons, and see if you can join in with them to the point of showing Jesus, not necessarily showing "church" to them. People need a place to start life over and Matthew may have been just that type of person...who do you know who fits in to this category? Invite 'em!
I am looking forward to what God has in store in the upcoming weeks that we explore and uncover in the book of Matthew! It will be a fun and exciting journey!

Whether you are a reader or a participant in this series, I will be praying that God uses this book in amazing ways to benefit your life, as well as, mine!

The name of Matthew means "gift of God" and may this book be a gift of God to you as we go through it!Share/Bookmark

“I Can’t Get No Sa-tis-fac-tion”  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Several people have sang the words to this song, both onstage and off, professional and those-who-should-never-sing.  What is it about the song that people seem to be attracted to?  Was this the start of a “consumer” mindset?  The idea that we expect more than we’re receiving? Or that it is unthinkable to listen to someone challenge us to live differently?
Satisfaction would easily be put into the category of “subjective”.  What one deems as satisfying, another deems as boring.  However, the majority of the decision making of determining if something is satisfying is in the attitude.  That brings us to this week’s quote…

You've got to get up every morning with determination if your going go to bed with satisfaction ~ George Lorimer
The outlook you have on your day will start to pave your day.  As you enter into different events, your outlook will be colored with a negative or positive hue. 
You don’t want to go to a meeting, you will color it negatively as you enter in to it.  You don’t like who will be directing things at church, you will color it negatively as well.  You are excited about a concert, you will color it positively as you enter in to it.
Find life dissatisfying?  Maybe you can think about changing the way you start your day, specifically with an attitude of determination.  Determination to make your day a good one.  Determination to make someone else’s day a good one.  Determination to make any environment you’re in a more positive one.  You’d probably be surprised at how much “sa-tis-fac-tion” you can acquire by a simple change in outlook.Share/Bookmark

Graduation: Symbols of the Past - Joshua 4:19-24  

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Model T, wind up telephones, 8-track tapes, and top-loading VCRs are symbols of the past.  They represented something that happened a long time ago.  Some of those have special meanings to people.  Some have never seen or maybe never heard of them.  However, the ones that did experience them can tell stories about how they impacted people's lives. 
 Don't know what year this ad came out, but you can now by VCRs for $2 at garage sales!
You, too, have symbols that represent your past.  As I mentioned yesterday, maybe it is that cap-and-gown from your alma mater that you are so proud of.  For many there is a lot of pride associated with a graduation.  That's where you put in time and effort.  That is where you made friends, possibly even met your mate.  You will have stories to share from these years after graduation.

Yesterday, we looked at Joshua and a time in the Israelites journey where they crossed over the Jordan on dry ground. On the other side, Joshua has them bring twelve stones to create an landmark that will signify to other people and other generations of what happened at this place.  It will signify how God had rescued them and brought them through this part of the journey.  Here are some applications to choose to use this week...
  1. Tell of the Past ~ Take time to tell the generations that have gone on before you about your past.  Specifically, your kids or grandchildren.  Maybe there are moments that you may not have their full attention, but look for moments which you do have their attention, which you can share
  2. Appreciate the Past ~ Victories and mistakes can all be appreciated to the point that, even with mistakes, you can appreciate the lessons you learned.  You can also appreciate what others went through in order to bring you to where you are today - biologically, technologically, and spiritually.
  3. Create a Symbol ~ Plant a tree, take/hang a picture, or something else to produce a symbol which will indicate where you or your family have been so that you can remember it for the future.
The memory is strong, but it is stronger when it is associated with a picture or a landmark.  The more you tie a landmark or an object with a specific event, it will help hold the meaning to that event.  Also, make sure you share that with others so that they will also appreciate the memory.

Looking forward to sharing my past with my children...


What Are We Busy About?  

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Tasks…we all have them.  We all have things on our plates to do during a day.  Even if one is retired and their task is to take seven different medications and have coffee with friends, during a given day, those are still tasks to complete.  However, what happens at the end of all those tasks, how did we come out any better?
I have a job where there are tasks involved and it can be difficult to rest until the tasks are completed.  However, sometimes I feel that though the tasks are completed there isn’t much to ultimately show for it.  In most of those cases, that is where I am confident God is working in places I am not.
Are you busy?  If so, what are you busy with?  That brings us to this week’s quote…

It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, "What are we busy about?"  ~ Henry David Thoreau
As I look out the window of my office, I see some birds flying around in the dampness of the day.  They are not simply staying in their nest all day, they, too, have tasks to complete.  However, I think that they are not just busy, they have a busyness that accomplishes something.
In life, may our busyness accomplish something.  May we not be busy just to be busy.  May we be heading to a goal, even if the goal is not tangible. May we not just scurry around on earth as busy-bodies, or drift from week to week in church without accomplishing much.  May we use the time and talent that God has given us and make the best of each day!Share/Bookmark

Mary, Did You Know? – Luke 1:26-38  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

To have children is one of the greatest blessings I could have been blessed with receiving.  There are so many highs that the lows are easily outnumbered.  I don’t know why God made us wait exactly 10 years to be able to have children, but the transition seemed pretty easy.

The other day, we were coming home from a trip to my niece’s graduation and stopped at a fast food restaurant to go through the drive thru.  We stopped outside the drive thru to get our food settled before continuing.  A father and son came out.  The father was picking up his son from work.  The father raised his voice and pointed at his son, obviously upset.  Then, I heard the son say something like “I’m tired of you yelling at me.  That’s all you do. I’ll go somewhere else.”  “Get back here” was what the father tried to communicate, as the boy started to walk away from their vehicle.  Then they got into a foot race.  The father gave up.  I told my wife, “That will catch up with him and it won’t be pretty”.

I think, in the middle of this, which probably has been going on about other things, the father forgot what it was like to have that “sweet bundle of joy” in his arms that he held several years ago.

Yesterday, we looked at a lesson called “Mary, Did You Know” based on the song by Mark Lowry.  It was a day to honor moms.  Moms are special and deserve honor.  They do so much for us and rarely understand how much they mean to us.  Here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  1. Appreciate Moms ~ It can be hard at times to appreciate the things your mom does or has done.  Even if your mom is so low on the “acceptance” pole that you cannot possibly think of anything nice, continue thinking.  Or, if you don’t know who your mom is, say a prayer of praise for the fact that you were given life through her.
  2. Appreciate Your Children ~ Whether you are given 1 or 21 children to love and care for, say some prayers for each one.  You never know when that child may burst through with a talent that you never dreamed was possible in them.
  3. Quit Drifting ~ Life goes by very quickly and before you know it a month has already passed by! Make each day count with your family.  Take time to eat with family.  Take time to spend moments together with family.

Mary, did you know?  Did you know that this little baby was going to grow up and do so many things?  Did you know he was going to suffer so many things?  What did you know?  That is a question I’d like to ask her when I see her some day!

Thanks, Moms for all you do!  We couldn’t do it without you!


Which End Do You Use?  

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I am having a difficult time introducing this week's quote, as I am afraid I would give too much of it away.  So, simply put, here is this week's quote...
[God] gave us two ends: one to sit on and one to think with.
 Ever since then, man's success or failure has been dependent on the one he used most.
  ~ Robert Albert Bloch
The decisions that we make most frequently take us either to the side of "good job" or "ooops".  Those decisions could be couched around the words we choose to say, the purchases we choose to make, or the direction we choose to turn.  

Not all the decisions that are hasty are guaranteed "ooops" kinds of decisions.  Not all thought out and/or prayed about decisions are "good job" decisions.  We can make "good job" hasty decisions or "ooops" thought out decisions.  However, from my experience, the majority of the "good job" decisions were more thought out.

Sometimes you do not have the opportunity to really think it out.  Ever been in a conflict situation with someone?  Words are spewed right and left, the timing of thinking about the words is not being utilized.  Your thought process is being derailed and it comes back much quicker, with barbs attached. 

Neither of these possibilities disregard the quote.  The outcome of a situation will hinge on the decisions that you make and which "end" you made that decision.  

Use your head!

Book Review - "Plan B" by Pete Wilson  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in ,

When was the last time that you had to deviate from your intial plan and go to "plan B"?  I've had my fair share, and, in reality, I would say I go from "plan A" to "plan B" on a daily basis.  However, in life we all experience times when we are thinking life is going one way, but something happens and we have to rethink our plans.  Your job, marriage, pregnancy, etc. is going one way, but then something causes you to think about a "plan B" approach.

Pete Wilson titles this book "Plan B" but what drew me to read the book was the subtitle, "What do you do when God doesn't show up the way you thought He would?"  So many people, including myself, have a tendency to think that God is doing something in your life when in fact, possibly around the corner and when you didn't expect it, God is planning on doing something else with your life.  The catch is, you didn't see it coming.  Since you didn't see it coming, you have to pull out the "plan B" in your quiver and be able to deal with it.  The question is, how are you going to deal with it?

Much of the time we go through a blame-game phase or a why-asking phase before we can get to the point of growing.  Or, in the simplest times, when we aren't getting what we want from God we wonder where is He in our life?

In Wilson's book, he provides scriptural and real-life examples of how people have used their "plan B" times for good.  The end result may not have changed, but there was a learning period which you allowed yourself to learn from Him.  I recommend this book to people to read who've been through "plan B" times and for those who may not have - you probably will go through it sometime!Share/Bookmark

Prodigal God - Luke 15:1-10  

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Most people would like to have an abundance of money. Maybe not all at once, but just the peace of mind to know it will always be there, as much as one needs. Another way of thinking, which is similar, is food. A lifetime supply of food sure would take the worry off.

Have you ever thought to yourself that, for the Christian, there is an endless action of sin cleansing? (cf I John 1:7) That should cause you to definitely "take the worry off" when you look at it that way.

Yesterday, we looked at the final "Words of Wisdom From the Workshop" lesson, which was by Rick Atchley, titled "Prodigal God". Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...
  1. As God has given us so much to be thankful for, say a prayer of praise this week. Say something different each day.
  2. Make a list of your blessings in your life, both material and immaterial.
  3. Seek out someone to share Jesus with, who would benefit from the blessings that come as a result of being in the Kingdom.
  4. As God stops at nothing to seek out a wanderer, take some moments to revel in this statement "He won't let you be a lost sheep or lost coin without coming to search for you" ...of what part of that statement do you appreciate the most?
God loves us so much that he'd give up companionship for people who would be better off with a Savior. What an AWESOME GOD, right?

Appreciate all that he has done for you!

Appreciating the abundance from Adonai...