COSTUMES: Which One Are You Wearing Today?  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , ,

Tonight is Halloween and there will be all types of people wearing costumes. Some will be scary, some superheroes, some fictional characters, others will be vocational people, and others will fall somewhere in the middle.

A few of my more memorable costumes were: 2nd Grade - Superman, 4th Grade - Mr. T, 5th Grade - Juggling Clown, College - my minister. There was another one in college, but I’d have to explain too much about it, but it was “classic”, however you had to be there to understand the humor.

The idea of a costume is to put on something to cover up your identity. We all have an identity. We all have something about our identity that we’d like to cover up. Some things that we’d like to cover up could have just been an embarrassing moment. Whereas some are things we don’t want anyone to ever know.

One of the issues with Christianity is that we treat every gathering as “Halloween”. In other words, we may come together wearing some sort of a costume. Sure, our faces may not be painted - but they could be wearing a fake smile. Our clothes may not be out of the ordinary, but we may be wearing something we can’t afford to look better than we are in reality. We may be wearing a smile, but moments prior we were calling someone a name or at least thinking it.

What would it take to be “real”, to not put on a costume when we’re together? For some, even in your own biological family you may be wearing some sort of a costume because you do not want to show how you were disappointing to your parents or siblings.

Even aside from the church family, there are times when we are in public and are wearing a costume. Which one are you wearing today?Share/Bookmark

Never Too Small  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

I remember when I was young and was able to sleep in during the summer, those were good times!  One of the things I also remember associated with that time of my life was the occasional house fly buzzing around my head totally annoying me. It would land on my nose just long enough for me to be bothered, I would go to swat it and it would fly away. I can remember putting the covers over my head just to “protect” myself from this little bitty fly.

It was also during that time that I was going through a rough point of social development in my life.  As I’ve shared before, having a father as a principal during the adolescent years was not the most enjoyable thing for me.  I wanted to be something because I saw practically everyone else as “something” and it was difficult not to envy what they were doing or able to do.

How would “little ol’ me” be able to make any difference at all? That brings us to this week’s quote…

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you've never had a mosquito in your bedroom.”  ~ Unknown
My small, difference maker was not a mosquito but a fly, that was in my bedroom.  Regardless, it made a big difference.  It didn’t allow me to sleep peacefully.  It bothered me greatly.

As I have grown, I realize that small things can make a big difference.  A kind word during a rough day. A small gift can lift up someone when they need to know someone cares. A paid check can make someone’s day. Oh the possibilities are endless.

Another way to make a difference is to go after something that you would like to see changed which benefits others. Who do single parents find to babysit? Maybe you, little you, develop a program to offer single parents a person who will volunteer to watch their children.

You may be one, small person, so how are you going to make a difference?Share/Bookmark

Just Plain Ol’ Yes or No  

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

When I was in school there was an acronym which was used mostly in writing/English.  This acronym was K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple, Stupid. I found a couple of other variations “Keep It Simple and Straightforward” and “Keep it Short and Simple”.  These were to help the writer understand that simple is sometimes better.  I, for one, had a bad habit of being too wordy with some of the papers I would write.

As I like to design, I have to use this principle, too.  Sometimes a wild design does not make it more appealing.  Whether that design is a billboard, fashion, flyer, or PowerPoint, sometimes simple is the best way to go.

Sunday, we looked at Jesus addressing the crowd in Matthew 5:33-37, and talking about oaths/swearing.  He has these nuggets of information that he is giving out to the crowd. As He points out that an oath is not needed when communicating something of importance we can use that same principle to apply to our life, just keep it simple!  Here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  • Pray For Your Responses ~ If you are prone to have the desire to use a lot of filler in your answers, rather than a “yes” or “no”, pray that God will help you be more of a “simple” person. Especially if that filler is cover up for something.
  • Help Others You Influence ~ I can see this being heavily directed toward parents to do to their kids.  But it could be to a good friend or someone you have a lot of interaction with that you feel comfortable saying it to.  If someone tends to be really wordy with their answers to the questions you ask, say something like “all I need is a yes or a no”.
  • Reflect Him in Your Simplicity ~ As you are being a person who follows through with what Jesus is explaining to this crowd, may your simplicity of answers be a positive reflection of who you are, as a Christian and as a person.

Keeping it simple will be much more productive than making things more complicated.  Whether it is in this situation or others, I think that we’d all probably be better off from time to time to follow the K.I.S.S. principle! (You can decide how you want to define that acronym :) )

Working on keeping it simple…

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Rescued: Living Underground  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer


August 5, 2010 does not mean much to probably any of you. However, to many people in Chile it means a lot.  It means a day when some would have their world come crashing in on them. That day meant a day that they didn’t know if they would see a family member again.  It meant a day which some didn’t know if they would live or die. It meant a day of 33 men spending life together 315 feet underground for the next several days. 

I don’t think I can imagine what these men must have had to endure as they lived underground.  Here, we live in comfortable homes, so imagine having to live in a cave, without an opening?  Imagine living in this cavern with no running water or bathroom?  Imagine living without any sunlight? Imagine living without your family? Imagine living in an area that was defined by irregular walls of close proximity? Imagine living with decreasing hope, especially as the initial hours progressed?

Can you at all imagine what this must have felt like?  On a much smaller scale, I can.  In early spring of 1987 we experienced a shocking, quick-approaching blizzard.  Our house was a couple miles outside of town, so we had lots of wind associated with the snow.  We had a snow drift that was at least as high as the eaves on our house.  After the blizzard was over and I began to play in the snow, I came up with a great plan, to build a tunnel in the snow which we could slide down. I dug down for a while, then from the front.  Then, I went back to the top to continue to clear out the opening between the two tunnels.  But, as I was reaching down, I slid into the opening, causing myself to become stuck.  I think the only thing sticking out the top were my legs.  At first it wasn’t any big deal.  I am not claustrophobic and I was right in front of my house, with my family at home. Then, as I would try to move reality set in that I was not going anywhere and I was certainly stuck.  As I lay there, my hope was deteriorating and I started to get a little scared.

As the miners were inside the earth and minutes developed into hours, did they lose hope? However, when they received the first signs of communication from above indicating people knew where they were and they were alive, can you imagine how their attitudes must have changed?  They had a hope that was naturally inflating as the rescuing efforts began to improve and their day of the ultimate rescue grew closer.

This last week, the miners from the Chile gold mine came to the surface.  Their day of being rescued came true!  Their hope of rescue became tangible.  They could now have all those things they didn’t have: freedom to run, running water and a bathroom, sunlight, and family!  I was able to see a few of the reunions and what joy filled their faces!  Joy beamed off of faces as wives were able to see husbands, siblings to see their brothers, moms to see their sons, and children to see their fathers.

As I lay in the snow tunnel I had constructed I was wondering when my family would come and look for me. By this time my they had gone inside to get ready to eat dinner. Finally, after what seemed to be a long time, but was probably a half hour, my dad heard my cries for help.  He came out of the house and pulled me up out of the tunnel by my ankles.  I had been rescued. What seemed to be a bit hopeless was now full of hope. Aside from my family getting a good laugh out of my mistake, I was going to be fine.  My life would return to normal.

That situation with the Chilean miners really can provide a bit of an illumination on how those who are living without Christ go about their daily lives. They live in a darkness that may never change.  They live within parameters which are not going to expand.  They are not able to be connected with a spiritual family, which is one of the great things about being “in Christ”. They are living without the freedom that is found in Christ.  They are living without hope.

The good news is all this can change.  The change will come as you start to share Jesus with them and their hope will begin to increase. They will notice something in you that is different. Your life will be an example of an appealing hope. You will be a billboard for change. You will be their hope of rescue.

Don’t leave them stranded and underground...give them hope and throw out the life-line!
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What Do You Discuss?  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , ,

What have you been discussing with people this week? Maybe it is topics like your job, your kids, your schedule, the weather, what you like or don’t like about other people, etc.  There are all kinds of things that can come up in any given conversation.

This week’s quote caught me and made me think.  It made me think about its trueness. See what you think about it…

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."  ~ Unknown
I don’t think that you are put into a box if you are ever in a situation where you are discussing people or events. By that, I mean, your mind is not ever “great” or going to be “great”.  However, at that moment which you are discussing events or people you are limiting the potential of what is out there to discuss.

Where do the discussions of people or events usually take you…not much of anywhere.  However, when you discuss ideas, that can take you places.  Are you one who tends to complain but not provide a solution?  That can get you into trouble, too (the most recent person was kicked off The Apprentice for such a thing).

What ideas can you discuss?  Think about them…even just thinking about it will make you much better off!Share/Bookmark

Divorce: Not Just Because  

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

The other night I was visiting with friend and it came up what I was preaching on the next day.  I said, “I’m preaching on divorce tomorrow”.  My whole intent was to see the reaction, which I received one!  “Zoinks” was the response.  I just laughed and responded that I was preaching through Matthew and this was just part of the journey.

It seems that oftentimes the subject of divorce comes with so much stigma.  Whether it is in the religious circle or society itself.  Granted, it isn’t something that people should be bragging about.  But it has such a bad stigma that judgment usually follows the news of someone who did get or is getting a divorce.

Sunday, we looked at Matthew 5:31-32 as Jesus was addressing the disciples on the subject of divorce.  Jesus builds his argument by referring to a black and white thought which had come from Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (click to read).  In this text Moses visits the topic of writing a certificate of divorce and the woman who is impacted. Jesus then turns to a thought without the smooth edges to talk about how the Jewish mindset had abused Deuteronomy 24.

The Jews (who had two main schools of thought on this – Shammai, Hillel) had given just about any reason as an OK reason to write a certificate of divorce. Partly because of the hard hearts of the people at that time. Now, in Jesus’ day, they were still used to that way of thinking. Jesus was wanting them to understand that “any reason” was not a good reason.  The “good” reason for getting a divorce was “unfaithfulness”.  This didn’t address “unfaithfulness” as the only reason that was accepted, but Jesus wanted them to stop abusing women/wives by abusing the option of divorce. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  1. Permanency of Marriage ~ Marriage is a unique relationship. It starts out by an incredible, heightened interest that is predominantly about attraction. Marriage is about openness, honesty, and trust. Once that relationship matures to the point of sharing your lives, then the test comes. It would be wrong to say that the “attraction” wears off or the smoke clears, but something happens to cause us to finally see the person for who they are.  Sometimes we may not like that person very much.  That is partly what makes marriage unique.  If you are viewing your marriage as “not permanent”, refocus that line of thought to consider how you can return back to the way of thinking you used to have when you did view it as permanent.
  2. Who Did You Marry? ~ The person you married is going to be named various names, but that isn’t what the question is about. I am addressing that those who are Christians have a marriage-type relationship with Him.  In Ephesians 5, Paul addresses how Jesus is “married” to His church (the bride).  Jesus has done a lot for us, as a “husband”.  He is not going to divorce us and we should not divorce Him!
  3. Stay Married ~ During marriage we go through our fair share of ups and downs.  The downs may seem like it is impossible to keep going.  However, I encourage you to do just that.  KEEP GOING!!!
  4. ***A super, awesome, amazing marriage book is called Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs

Marriage should never be broken up “just because”.  It is a relationship that is expected to keep going and going and going, until “death do you part”.  Jesus is trying to get them/us to understand that marriage should not be broken up “just because”.

Whether you are “married” in your relationship with Him and/or you are married to a spouse…stay that way!

As this is a “hot” topic, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at ichthus_man (at) hotmail.com

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The list of successful failures would include the following: Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, Ludwig van Beethoven, Thomas Edison, Frank Winfield Woolworth, Michael Jordan, Walter Disney, Winston Churchill, Steven Spielberg, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, John Grisham, Henry Ford, Soichiro Honda, and Akio Morita (see a more detailed description here).

Each one of these would have come to their fair share of dead-ends and then had to back up and decide how to make it successfully to their goal.  That brings us to this week’s quote…

When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.  ~ Zig Ziglar

How would history be different without these individuals continuing to pursue their goals?  Some accomplished more than one goal and probably had many dead-ends.  Their labyrinth of achieving their goals were possibly paved with many dead-ends. However, no matter how many dead-ends they experienced, the ended up making it to their goals.

Obstacles are high, wide, or deep opportunities in disguise.  How we deal with those obstacles will determine the outcome of the opportunities. 

Do not let your goals be dead-ends, but rather turn around, try again and again until you reach the end of the labyrinth. 

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The Labyrinth of Achieving Goals  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

The list of successful failures would include the following: Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, Ludwig van Beethoven, Thomas Edison, Frank Winfield Woolworth, Michael Jordan, Walter Disney, Winston Churchill, Steven Spielberg, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, John Grisham, Henry Ford, Soichiro Honda, and Akio Morita (see a more detailed description here).

Each one of these would have come to their fair share of dead-ends and then had to back up and decide how to make it successfully to their goal.  That brings us to this week’s quote…

When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.  ~ Zig Ziglar
How would history be different without these individuals continuing to pursue their goals?  Some accomplished more than one goal and probably had many dead-ends.  Their labyrinth of achieving their goals were possibly paved with many dead-ends. However, no matter how many dead-ends they experienced, the ended up making it to their goals.

Obstacles are high, wide, or deep opportunities in disguise.  How we deal with those obstacles will determine the outcome of the opportunities. 

Do not let your goals be dead-ends, but rather turn around, try again and again until you reach the end of the labyrinth. Share/Bookmark

Killer Looks  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , ,

There are lots and lots of songs that are written to cause one to think about someone of the opposite gender.  Some may describe the looks of the person, where others describe the type of person the song is about.  Either way, they are written for the fan to think of someone who would appeal to them.

This type of idealistic way of describing someone can cause us to desire that type of person.  This really poses a problem when we are involved with a person or the person the song is written about is involved.  Either way, we should not be enticed to think about another person when we are involved with someone.

Sunday, we looked at the segment of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus discusses lust.  Usually, we think of lust describing the sexual side of the word.  However, it can also mean “an intense longing: craving”. Which doesn’t have to be a sexual longing. Here are some additional applications to choose from to use this week…

  1. Stiffen Your Neck ~ Lust can begin by a look.  That look is sometimes an item to the side of us.  Which may cause you to turn and look.  By stiffening your neck, you won’t be drawn to turn to the side and look at the object you are “craving”.
  2. Acknowledge the Error ~ If you are or have been involved with a lustful thought.  Realize that it is able to be forgiven.  Move on from this situation by acknowledging there was an error involved and pursue a healthier future.
  3. Weigh Your Options ~ Jesus describes what to do when you are involved with this type of lifestyle.  That is, cut off the hand or gouge out the eye.  Remove the little things before you lose your whole self.  You may need to weigh your options and decide which you’d rather lose – an appendage or eye or your whole body.
As you go about life seeing things that may be appealing, may you understand what the damage which can be a result if your thoughts go down a road you didn’t intend.Share/Bookmark

Knowing Ourselves Better  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , ,

Personalities, everyone has one.  Some are outward bound.  Some are inward bound.  Some are funny. Some are serious.  Some are witty. Some are nerdy.  It takes all kinds of personalities to make this world the wonderful place to live that it is.  Sometimes, however, we think our personality is the standard to live by and other personalities are judged on that measuring stick.
When my wife and I were in preaching school and looking into the possibility of joining a mission team we took a personality test, of sorts.  It was actually a spiritual gifts test.  But it revealed certain things about our other teammates that maybe we didn’t know.  It also revealed a sense of sympathy in me toward some of the teammates because I could now understand them better and they me.  It also uncovered an excitement in knowing some of the teammates were very similar.  This brings us to this week’s quote…

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.  ~Carl Jung
WOW! When you look into the lives of others you get to know something deeper than you ever knew before.  You may be able to see the miles they’ve been through.  Which brings the trials and victories they’ve encountered.
You may be one that is quick to assess someone based on how they are acting.  Maybe there are times you feel “above” someone or times you feel “below” someone.  Either case can cause you to be “irritated” with them for one reason or another.
May your interactions with others not lead you to make a judgment, but rather may you be moved to understand yourself a bit more.

For a little extra, read this verse (just click) and see how it fits in to today’s quote Luke 18:9-14  Share/Bookmark

Roadblocks of Anger  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Anger can be like the water behind a dam.  One small crack can start with a trickle, but can quickly move in to a gusher.  Occasionally, that gusher may be handled but not really taken care of; thus you still have anger leaking.  The leakage will prevent the water from doing what it is designed to do.  Generally, in the case of a dam, it is designed to provide hydro energy for the purpose of creating energy/electricity.  The reservoir will also house lots of marine life, so a leak could be damaging to the environment of those marine animals.

As we looked at Jesus addressing anger from Matthew 5:21-26, our focus was looking at anger being a roadblock to your relationship with Him and that anger is the type that is “without cause”.  Here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  1. Cut Phone Line ~ In a Dr. Seuss book of my son’s (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) there is a page where to beings are trying to talk to each other on the phone but cannot due to a mouse cutting the cord.  The two are wanting to communicate, but cannot.  That is similar to the way anger can keep us from effectively communicate with Him.  We want to, but our anger is preventing us from being able to communicate.  Anger is the mouse that has cut the cord…get rid of the anger and repair the line!
  2. Energy Wasted ~ Not only can anger be a roadblock to your relationship with Him, but it is also wasted energy. One of the areas it is wasted are the times when you do not approach a person based on your anger, but rather you stew about it.  You roll the hypotheticals around in your mind so much that you are totally consumed.  You will never get those moments back, so why not try to work things out or let them go so they are not consumed with anger?
  3. Justifiability ~ As you examine your anger, make sure it is able to be justified.  That doesn’t mean that you justify it just because it bothers you.  If you’re anger is a result of something that has caused you to simply be upset or bothered, that probably doesn’t count.  Anger against a sin is justifiable.  Anger that is simply against a person is not.  Do not be angry with your brethren or to call them a “fool” for a superficial reason. These are dangerous situations in which you may be subject to “court” or “judgment”.

Anger is selfish and a choice.  You may react to something which causes you to be angry, but the extent of the anger is up to you.  Sure it may anger you that someone cut you off in traffic, but let it go.  Sure it may anger you that they replaced the pews with chairs, but let it go.  Sure it may anger you that your child is being bullied, but let it go.  Some of those may be difficult to let go, but try to find a positive way to address the situation. Addressing it in a positive way will make you more effective rather than having a roadblock to your effectiveness.

Keeping my (prolonged) anger in check!

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