Gone Fishin’…  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

For those of you who are “regular” readers of my blog, I want you to know that you will just have to wait until next week to read anything because I am on vacation this week…but not fishing!

Look over any older posts to read some things you maybe have never read.

Have a great week!

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The Crossroads of the Cross  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

The Crossroads of the Cross

Life is full of choices. Have you ever found yourself at a crossroads with a decision you had to make? Some decisions come with more than two choices. Of course, there are always at least two choices – yes or no. However, sometimes you encounter a situation where you may have so many choices it is difficult to choose.

One who is a believer stands at a crossroads on a daily basis. For one, you decide whether you are going to follow Christ or not.

Picking up your cross and carrying it is a challenging choice within itself. Thinking of the pain or discomfort your decision may bring can be taxing all on its own. You will find yourself at the crossroads of the cross many times in life. Sometimes you may sit there for a while, where other times you find it easier to make the decision. Either way, it is still the cross, and the ironic thing about the cross, as we normally think about it, is that it forms a “T” or cross, where we can go forward, left, or right, giving you choices.

When the world comes falling inward on you, you will find yourself at a crossroads. When you make a poor choice in dating and something like abuse or pregnancy is a result. When you make a poor choice in finances and overdrawn bank account or bill collectors calling is the result. When you or your spouse fails to stay faithful to the marriage and broken trust is a result. When a spouse is not there for you and distance is a result. When a child makes a poor choice and humiliation is a result. When grades are going south and retaking a grade is a result. When the economy is headed downward and job loss is a result. With all of these you find yourself at a crossroads. Fortunately, the cross will still be there, waiting for you to make a decision.

Have you ever felt like life is just handing you a deck of cards where it is full of “bad luck” cards? Around each corner and with each week comes one unfortunate event after another? Or you feel like people are so busy that you have no one to turn to and life is so lonely. You do or have done for others but there is nothing that seems to be coming back your way. You feel spent, tired, worn out, and hopeless. You are at a crossroads. Which way will you turn? The crossroads of the cross is waiting for you to decide which decision you will make.

In so many of life’s journeys we need to find a place of rest. We need a place where we can prop up our feet and clear off our mind. The cross is that beacon in the storm or the oasis in the desert. At the cross there is hope for the hopeless. There is rest for the restless. There is comfort for the discomforted. Rest is available if you make your choice to come to the cross.

Through all life’s journeys and decisions, even though the cross is waiting for you to make your decision, it is also has a more important significance. The cross is still the cross and it is a staple in one’s life to know that God is there. It will stand in the midst of the storm. It will stand in the midst of the crashes. It will stand in the midst of ruins.

What crossroads are you at right now? Is it any of the ones listed as an example? Carrying that burden is most likely weighing you down and wearing you out. You may experience times which you are short-tempered with someone because of the short fuse you have due to the crossroads where you are standing. Come to the cross and make the decision easy by laying your burdens down. They are too heavy to keep carrying them day after day and you are not created to carry them. So, if you are at a crossroads, make the decision to go toward the cross, laying your burdens there.

A couple of paragraphs above, I said the cross was a staple; staples help anchor. May the cross be an anchor when you are at the crossroads! After all, the cross is still the cross!

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The Extra Mile…Who’s Willing?  

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There is a passage in the Bible, Matthew 5:41 that encourages us to go the extra mile with someone if they ask us to go one mile.  However, it seems that there are probably very few that will do it.  If I am being honest, in certain circumstances, I am hesitant to be able to go that extra mile.

Maybe it is a day that you have no more energy after going that first mile that you were asked to go on.  So, to go two miles…no way!

A couple of weeks ago I was watching a show about the US Army’s RECON unit.  They had to go through some grueling training.  I almost felt “out of shape” just watching it.  The first part of the show showed them treading water for 45 minutes with their full normal military clothing.  Then, they had to pass a 2, 5, & 10 pound weight around a circle twice, still while treading water. If dropped, they would start over.  Needless to say, people were going to the sides, done with the training and their hopes.  After that they had to swim along the bottom of the deep end for about 30 feet without coming up for air!  Some didn’t make it there either.  All this was just the first part of their entire training…pretty grueling!  That brings us to this week’s quote…

It's never crowded along the extra mile.  ~ Wayne Dyer
To go the extra mile takes a certain type of person.  Only a small percentage is going to continue.  That “extra mile” may not entail running or something physical.  It may require something totally different.  Maybe being nice to someone that doesn’t deserve it.  Maybe being understanding with someone.  Who knows what area it is, but in a world full of “entitled” people, this quote holds very true.

Are you one of the ones who will go the extra mile or will you quit before then?  Only a few of you will be in the extra mile on any given day…remember you probably won’t have a lot of company with you!Share/Bookmark

Bending the Rules  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Imagine if you had a company that issued guarantees on a product.  The person who purchased that product with the guarantee then went to make some small changes which would benefit him greatly.  On top of that, he exercised those changes, in which, you had to contest his guarantee, after the alterations.  Or, how would you feel to know that a guarantee you had been given was altered to make it void? 

Sunday, we looked at Matthew 5:17-20 and focused on 18 & 19.  We brought out how Jesus was informing the recipients that any small change to the scriptures would be a bad thing.  Also assuring us that actual scripture was not going to change, but if someone would try to rewrite some of the scriptures to try to make it read differently, they would be considered “least”.

The Bible, being a document that is in print form, should not be changed up, figuratively or literally, to fit our desires. This statement is not meant in the “traditional” sense, but in the sense that we are not to input our own words or our own thoughts.  Some passages we may “pick-and-choose” what is a command for us today and what is not.  This is getting closer to where we’re going with this concept. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  1. The Worst Command/Expectation ~ What biblical command or expectation is one of your most difficult to deal with.  Maybe it is one that makes you uncomfortable doing it or one you just “will not” ever do.  Challenge yourself to see it in a new light.
  2. Move Upward ~ Jesus said the one who changes will be the “least”.  Changing your view of what something in the Bible is urging you to do will cause you to move upward. 
  3. Appreciate the Unchangeable Word ~ The Bible has a certain amount of “guarantee” written into it. That is partly why people read and follow it.  Without the assurance people would be extremely uncomfortable and probably would abandon the Bible altogether.  Knowing that the Bible is not going to change, impeding your guarantee, we should be appreciating what it can do for us and others!

Have you ever watched an ad on television and then noticed some fine print that was at the bottom?  With the brevity of the commercial there is no way to read it all, however it is on there.  So if the commercial was selling you something, when you went to buy the product, you may be getting into something you wished you didn’t.

Enjoy the Word the way it is…may we not change it, literally or figuratively!

 

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It is Not the End  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

The clock going down to zero, a buzzer going off, the sun going below the horizon, and the cooking pan is empty are all signs that something has ended.

I was a witness to a basketball game where the whistle had been blown and the time on the clock read 0:00.  However, no buzzer had sounded.  The officials just concluded the game (I can’t remember if it would have mattered or not to have those tenths of a second be played out).  One coach tried to explain that the buzzer had not gone off, and the official was explaining that there was no time on the clock to play any part of the game.  The official won the argument – right or wrong.  This was before most clocks had the tenths of the second show up on the clock when it dropped below one minute.

The game should have probably been played out because there was technically time left.  When there is something left – time or daylight, then we are not to quit.  That brings us to this week’s quote…

Everything works out in the end.  If it hasn't worked out, it's not the end.  ~ Unknown

Doesn’t that just sound so logical that it zings you?  It did for me.  Oftentimes we want to think where we’re at the end should be also.  However, that is often not the case.  We are not the best judges of determining when things have ended because we’re not the ones in control.

If and when you become involved in a matter where you just do not think it is going to work out, just know that it probably isn’t the end yet.  As it will work out in the end!

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He Speaks to Me Like a Friend  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

If I were to meet someone I idolized I can only imagine the nervousness I would feel.  I can’t imagine speaking to them with much comfort.  For one, we do not know each other.  I would know them, but I wouldn’t KNOW them. I don’t know the real them, only what I saw on the surface.  They try to speak to me as a friend, but they wouldn’t know me either.

When I come in contact with someone I try to speak to them “as a friend”.  If they are coming to me for a benevolent reason, then to talk down to them is going to make them feel uncomfortable and defensive. If they are in a crisis, to not talk to them as a friend is going to turn them away.  If they come just because they know me, to appear “higher” than they are is not going to give a good impression.

To talk to someone that you hardly know, as a friend, is going to make a positive impact.  As a minister I am in that position fairly regularly.  Most of the time it can be pretty easy, but if something has negatively impacted my day, then it can be a bit more challenging.

As we looked at the interaction between Moses and God (Exodus 33:11) as a man speaking to a friend, may we be encouraged to know that the Christian is His friend as well.  What a place to be at!  Here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  1. Talk to Him as a Friend ~ Just as God speaks “as a friend”, you should do the same with Him.  Whenever you are trying to get your thoughts out there, don’t feel like you have to use a lot of “Christianese” type talking (i.e. thee’s, thou’s, Heavenly Father, guide-guard-and-direct, etc), just speak to God as He was a friend. One way for me is to pray with your eyes open, like while driving.
  2. Enjoy the Friendship ~ Sometimes you may feel like God is “distant”. That may or may not be true, but one way to remedy that issue is to treat Him like any other relationship.  If you are far away, you will make efforts to get together or talk about your life together. If you are closer in proximity, you will see each other and share life together, that’s the way a life with God should be like.
  3. Be a Friend ~ As God is the highest “idol” you could ever want to talk to, and He will speak to us as a friend (regardless of who we are), speak to others with similar understanding.  Try not to let social standing or other life experiences to cloud your thoughts of how you will interact with someone who has come to you, regardless of why they came to you.

I enjoy the fact that God does not look down on me and not talk to me, but views me as His friend!  Let others see you do not look down on them but view them as a friend!

Reveling in the encouragement that He is my friend and I am His!

 

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When Parachutes Function Properly  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

My son has a few shows he really likes to watch.  Thanks to the invention of the DVR (digital video recorder) it makes it easy for him to have shows to watch.  One of the shows he likes to watch is called “Special Agent OSO” (pronounced oh-so).  If you don’t have kids you probably won’t be looking for this to watch.  It is a spoof off of James Bond and “Get Smart”.  He goes on missions but he usually screws something up in the mean time.  But when he goes to his missions he is usually dropped out of his flying mobile and floats down with his parachute.

I have always wanted to jump out of a plane with a parachute.  However, I know there would be the big fear of the parachute not working properly.  Then, I would plummet to my probable death or be severely injured.  As long as the parachute functioned properly, all things would be presumed well.  That is kind of the way life can be, using the metaphor of a parachute, which brings us to this week’s quote…

Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.  ~ Dewar

I once went door-to-door to talk to people about their faith. My avenue was asking if they’d take a short survey with me.  People were really cooperative.  One couple I went to I will never forget. They went to a church they didn’t like but they didn’t see themselves going anywhere else.  They said “I guess we’re just set in our ways”.  I jokingly said, “Kinda like concrete?”  They said something like, “Yep, I guess so”.

Too often we can be like that couple.  We want to change, but we’re closed off to it, for various reasons.

As you go through life, think about how parachute-like your mind is…open, partially open, or closed. Open doesn’t mean you have to do something that is proposed, just that you’re open.  Remember that parachutes only function when they’re open!

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Lighting Up a Life  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

My birthday is always a pivotal point in the year.  That day is the longest day of the year, regarding light, which means, after that day, the daylight will start to decrease. As a person who’s always enjoyed summer evenings, it is nice to have daylight longer.  Last night, it was getting pretty dark around 8:30 PM.  Soon that time will be closer to 6:00 PM, as we get closer to December 21st. It is nice to enjoy the light!

Sunday, we focused our time on being light to the world, from Matthew 5:14-16.  YOU are challenged to be a light to others.  YOU are a lamp to guide them.  YOU are not to be hidden. People are to see you and glorify your Father in heaven.

Light comes in all shapes and sizes and powers.  Light serves one basic purpose, but is applicable in many instances. Light can me comforting, annoying, and/or necessary.  Light needs to be positive because if being a light to someone comes across as a negative it will turn someone off quickly. As we think about the lesson, here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  1. Light Their Path Not Their Past ~ Mistakes are not something that people brag about, nor do they like to have brought to the surface.  Sure, it is good to acknowledge things in your past, but to have it be “highlighted” is something totally different. When you are a light, make sure you are helping them see the future as bright, not pointing out their past, it can be uncomfortable.
  2. Drawn to vs. Deterred From ~ When life is tossing you back and forth, you look to find someone who is going to be a “safe place to land”.  Similarly, boats on the ocean look for that light that is associated with land to mark where safety exists. Make sure that people are able to see your light, so don’t hide it.  You never know when someone is going to need that “safe place to land” or that gives hope to the hopeless.
  3. Be a Light of Comfort ~ Shining light in someone’s eyes can be very uncomfortable.  It is that “too much too soon”.  It exposes who someone is in the dark that they are living in. Dark may not be “sin” but could be simply “alone”.  If someone is involved in sin or, simply, alone, coming in to their life with a big beam of light is going to be uncomfortable.  Take your time and let people see your light, just not in an uncomfortable way.

Just like lights come in all shapes and sizes, we also come that way.  Different lights are made for certain functions. Therefore, as “lights” we are made for certain functions. Presume that your function is perfect for each person you meet.  Use your light to its potential!

Looking forward to lighting up a life every chance I’m given!

 

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Must Be Willing to Move  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , ,

Have you ever been one of those “I want to change” people?  However, the “want” to change didn’t really go much past that?  I want to be stronger, more faithful, lose weight, be smarter, be more athletic, and the list goes on.  However, a day drifted into the next and nothing ever was accomplished.  Your “want” stayed in the past and never went to the next level.  

Maybe you even prayed about it, asking God to guide you into the “want” that you have, however, things still didn’t progress…that brings us to this week’s quote…

Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps, if you are not willing to move your feet. ~Author Unknown
I received this quote the other day and it “hit me” as one of those subtle “in your face” kind of quotes.  The concept of wanting to do things or asking God to guide your footsteps is not uncommon.  However, we often want God to just take us by the hand, kind of like what I have to do with my two-year old, from time to time.

If we are wanting things done or wanting God to “guide us” then we have to be willing to move.  That willingness is going to be started over with each day and each decision.  So, the real question is, are you willing to move?Share/Bookmark