Squandered Away  

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“You must give 30 million dollars away in 30 days” is the big challenge in the 80s show “Brewster’s Millions”. There are stipulations as to how he can spend the money. The prize for the challenge is 300 million dollars. The other parts of the challenge is that no one can know about the prize at the end and it cannot be simply handed out to people. The movie displays the challenge of getting rid of such significant cash under the stipulations laid out.

For the young man in the parable from Luke 15, finding a way to squander all the money he was given, was no challenge. He had no stipulations. He had no sense of money management. He was in it for himself. Much like we tend to be at times – even the most selfless fall into this man’s shoes from time to time.

Sunday, we looked at a modern-day take on the Prodigal Son and how we can often squander away what has been given to us (from a spiritual sense). Here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  • Rebelled ~ Rebellion can take place in various forms. Most of us go to extremes when we think of the word. However, from the spiritual sense, the smallest of rebellion can cause us to get into trouble. Sometimes it helps us understand where other people are coming from if we can take a look at what we have done to forgive others, understand others, or empathize with others.
  • Received ~ The feeling of a hug can be very comforting. Not a greeting hug, but the kind that is from someone who is close to you. Be it a spouse, a child, a parent, or a close friend or family member. These are the kind that are comforting. These are the kind that let us know they care. As we rebel and come back, we need to feel that spiritual embrace from God to let us know that He’s there and He cares. Maybe there is someone who needs a hug or embrace from you this week (possibly not even knowing it).
  • Resuscitated ~ Having your heart stop kills you. Having sin in your life kills you. After rebelling, the being received, it has a way of resuscitating your life! This gives you new life which is vital to continuing on. Without life in your life there is no purpose. People all around you are spiritually dead or just seeking that life. Their life is running out of breaths to breathe. They need you to help them…don’t pass them by…resuscitate them!

Don’t squander away your spiritual inheritance on mismanaging life, nor keeping it from others.

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12 Reasons to be Thankful You Burned the Turkey  

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1. Salmonella won't be a concern.

2. Everyone will think your turkey is Cajun blackened.

3. Uninvited guests will think twice next year.

4. Your cheese broccoli lima bean casserole will gain newfound appreciation.

5. Pets won't bother to pester you for scraps.

6. No one will overeat.

7. The smoke alarm was due for a test.

8. Carving the bird will provide a good cardiovascular workout.

9. You'll get to the desserts even quicker.

10. After dinner, the guys can take the bird to the yard and play football.

11. The less turkey Uncle You-Know-Who eats, the less likely he will be to walk around with his pants unbuttoned.

12. You won't have to face three weeks of turkey sandwiches.

*This list came from an e-mail I received…from cybersalt.org

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Are You Full?  

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Tryptophan that great ingredient found in turkey that gives us the excuse to take a nap after we have our Thanksgiving feast. You will probably experience some of that feeling this week.

In actuality, it is not the tryptophan. As I read somewhere once, tryptophan is also found in other things we eat which do not cause us to be tired. One that I remember is peanut butter. I’ve never felt a sudden desire to nap after having a PB&J sandwich. What causes the sudden desire for napping is the overload of carbohydrates that we eat during our meal. If you think about it, you try not to snack so you can have the meal, then when you do you eat and eat and eat.

Sunday, we discussed being full, how we can be full in a different way, as we focused on four different areas. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

Beauti-full ~ Each one of us is “full of beauty” in various ways. Too often we think of beauty being about the physical nature of life, but looking closer it is more than that. Plus it is important to see yourself as God sees you…a “work of art”! (Ephesians 2:10) Let that knowledge lift your chin and walk upright and be proud of the way God made you…beautiful!

Cheer-full ~ The iconic character of Santa Claus is jolly and cheerful. That aura of Santa is part of what draws people in to him. If you’ve ever seen a movie that depicted Santa as unhappy or depressed it just really takes you down a few notches. The part that draws you in with a motivational speaker is their cheerfulness and motivation. Think about how you can reflect Him this week by being cheerful.

Power-full ~ People like to possess things that are powerful. Men will generally fall into this category as they like things more powerful. However, anything sluggish is not good by anyone’s definition. Knowing you have power behind you is something that encourages. As you go into the future, know that you have God behind you and that is so much power, you will be amazed! Be encouraged…be powerful!

Thank-full ~ It is easy to not be as thankful as you should be. It is easy to receive something and become busy, forgetting to let someone know you appreciated that which you received. It is easy to overlook all the things which have had their “shine” wear off. May we remember the little things, the little people, and all the other “littles” in our life to be thankful for!

Be full this week…full on beauty, cheer, power, and thanks!!!

 

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Touching Lives  

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I was visiting with a guy earlier this week and the subject of where we’d lived came up. We shared a commonality of living in more than three places during our school years. He had attended several more schools than I had. However, going to that many schools had shaped us into what we had become and how we approach life.

I felt that part of my “shape” helped prepare me for ministry, meeting new people all the time, even in my town of residence. As you meet new people you make an impression on them and they on you. That brings us to this week’s quote…

Your finger prints will never fade from the lives you touch.  ~ Unknown

This week I lost a close friend to death. The “fingerprint” that she left will obey this quote…never fade. We shared a lot of memories in our short period of time knowing each other. Her “fingerprint” has been left on lots of people. I still feel a bit surreal thinking she is not there.

After the funeral my 2-year old son asked me if we could go to her room (the funeral was held at the nursing home). I told him, “Miss ___ is not there.”  He said, “Let’s go check.”  We didn’t go check, but I will bet the next time we go up to the nursing home together, he’ll ask the same thing.

Her “fingerprint” has been left on him too. She was a great lady. But think to yourself, how many people your “fingerprint” is on by the lives you touch. In reality, you will probably never even realize. The challenge is, to use every day and every moment to make a favorable “fingerprint” on everyone you come in contact with throughout your life!

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Radical Lifestyle  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Why is the main point of differentiating ourselves, when it comes to the religious arena, so heavily leaning on what takes place on Sunday mornings (or at our church gatherings)? From my heritage, we’ve tried to cause ourselves to be or look “right” by doing certain things on Sunday mornings that other people do not do. The reason could be one of many that we practice such practices and few are probably the right reason!

Jesus is such a great instructor. At his young age of 30ish he had a way of describing things that were relevant and timeless. This last set of verses in the chapter (Matthew 5:43-48) was what I need to have some good reminders on from time to time.

I need to be reminded to love those who hate and pray for those who persecute me. It brings out a radically new way of thinking and approaching people in life. As we ended Matthew 5 yesterday, here are some applications to think about from Sunday’s lesson…

  • Love Your Enemies ~ If you watch television for very long during this time we live, it won’t be shocking to see two people who are seeing eye-to-eye calling each other names. These names are not going to be that house-friendly. To unconditionally so love or deep care for someone who you consider your enemy takes some radical change of focus…Jesus calls us to do that.
  • Pray for Your Persecutors ~ I know I am not the only one who feels this way, but have you ever found it less difficult to not like someone when you are praying for them? This is going to take some radical changes for some to adopt this principle. The praying should be consistent, not a one-time prayer. Jesus calls us to pray for our persecutors!
  • Live Differently ~ Being nice doesn’t always cut it. Did you find any of the previous two applications challenging, bordering on difficult? You might be one who can be nice to all kinds of people under the normal circumstances, but Jesus didn’t expect people to have a “normal” life. That is probably why He wants them to understand the way of living that isn’t like everyone else, but rather shows who is living in you. Jesus calls us to not just be nice or friendly but to be different.

This type of living is inward that comes to the surface. One can live a life on the outside which will may be a total facade. When the times become a bit tense, or, in this case, someone does them wrong, the inward comes to the surface, in a bad way. Where the one who lives a life that is the same inward as outward will not see a major difference when someone treats them in a negative way.

I take from this to live a life that is different so that they will not see that I may have different practices on Sunday morning, but that I have a different way of practicing every day of the week!

 

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Create Who You Want to Be  

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It seems in life there really needs to be a moment of creation. Something needs to be created before the rest can fall into place. As I write I think of several examples where this holds true (I will save a few for later). If something is not created, then what follows will not be what could have been or non-existent.

Life is about discovery. I just told my wife the other day how much I enjoy watching our 2 (nearly 3) year old play. How he will use certain toys or phones or household items to role play is priceless. As we think about discovery and creation, here is this week’s quote…

The deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation.  You are not discovering yourself, but creating yourself anew.  Seek, therefore not to find out who you are, seek to determine who you want to be.  ~ Conversations With God

My son would not be able to discover the things he does if he didn’t create the scene with the toys he chooses. A person will not discover a passion for a new talent if they do not create the opportunity by being willing to try new things. One will not discover what college is like if they do not create the path to get there and be willing to take that path.

Feel free to give your examples by leaving a comment…

To discover what is at the end of a tunnel, you must create the moment to move toward and be willing. Discovery is about creating a way to arrive at the point of discovery. As you look to find out who you want to be, create moments to get you to that point and enjoy the process of discovery as you venture down that path.

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"Apps": Be One!  

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One of the new buzzwords in the technology world today is “Apps”, short for applications.  Brought on by Apple, I presume, they are basically “little” programs that do not take up much memory, but their icon is also little, not taking up much screen size.

There are thousands, probably millions of different apps out there.  Some are very silly, others are not.  Some are scholastic, others are not. Some are for travel, others are for leisure.  As there are so many different apps out there, each person is going to be attracted to some over another. Each app has a certain attraction for one.  However, the grand plan is that everyone will like some sort of an app. No matter how introverted or    extroverted you are, you will find one that is attractive.

Turning it around, a Christian has a similarity to an app.  We are small, we are different, and some are going to be “attracted” to us, where others will not.  However, somewhere, someone is going to be attracted to whose is ours...Jesus.

If there was an HGTV app, I would not be attracted to it.  As there is an ESPN app, my wife will, most likely, not be attracted to it. That app means something totally different to you than it does to me.  However, we both want an app.  So, we both will get one, but they will be a bit different.

As you go out in life, keep in mind that as you are “becoming all things to all men, to win some” you are going to hold a certain attraction to someone, but our Jesus is one of the ones in which others should be ultimately attracted to because of Him!Share/Bookmark

Give ‘Em a Little Extra  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Ever heard of “BOGO”? I don’t know who actually was the first one to create it, but the first time that i saw it was with Payless Shoes.  They would have a sale every so often that would shorten the phrase of “buy one get one” free to “BOGO”.

This tends to be a popular sales strategy. Not always is it limited to a short-term sale, either. Our local movie theater is having “buy one get one” free tickets on Tuesdays. With the prices of movies going up, that sounds like a good concept to me.

Sunday, we looked at Matthew 5:38-42, where Jesus is addressing the crowd on retaliation.  One could make an argument that he is encouraging “BOGO”.  He is saying that one should give the little extra or offer them a “BOGO”.  They slap one cheek, they get another for free.  They want your outer clothing, give your coat for free. They want for you to go with them one mile, give them the extra for free. Crazy huh…

Here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  • Anger Management ~ Wanting to get revenge or to retaliate is one of our first inclinations. Jesus introduces a concept that reminds one to think about what you’re about to do. Retaliation, even restitution, was not the answer when you were mistreated. It was about giving them that little extra. Offering them one more of whatever it was in the first place, for free. Change your anger to offering something more.
  • Vary the “Extra” ~ The text begins by Jesus explaining that they had read about “tooth for a tooth, eye for an eye”.  Whether the “for a ___” part was the exact same or not, maybe you should think about making the little extra something different than they’d ever expect. Keep in mind, whatever it is, it should be genuine. They ask for something of you, and maybe  you can return it with something they wouldn’t expect.  They treat you poorly and you let them know how much you appreciate that life lesson. It would probably just shock them.

It can be so easy to get angry over something. I am not saying that anger is not right.  Nor am I hinting that there are not there times when we should stand our ground.  Those times may fall into a gray area with some – works with some and doesn’t work with others. I think we just need to keep ourselves in check to see what kind of a difference we can make for Him by not retaliating, but to go the extra mile with someone!

Working on giving the little extra…

 

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Tying Up a Lion  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

There are just some venues that would not be the same if a lion was not present.  First, a zoo, and second, a circus.  They are known as “king of the beasts”.  They are a well respected animal. They are great hunters. They live together. They are smaller than tigers, but since they live together, that has helped give them their nickname.

How would you tie one up? I doubt there are many lay people who would set foot in a cage to try to tie one up. Their huge physiques would outdo about any man that was weaponless.

So, how do you tie one up, read this week’s quote…

When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.  ~ Ethiopian Proverb

What did you think of that? Ever get caught up, even a little, in a spider’s web? Notice how they are sticky and hard to remove, similar to cotton candy.

However, it goes to show you that people that team up together can make a world of difference. For those of you who are religious, the small-in-number 12 Apostles went together to tie up a lion in the fact that they took God’s Word all over the world.

Maybe we think we cannot make a difference, but if there are enough in the “we” part to be included, think of all the things that you can get accomplished to make a difference.

As you see a “lion” in your life that needs to be tied up, get some people on board with you to make the difference!  Or, maybe your “web” strength comes through prayer and having enough prayers going up to God will help tie up the “lions” in your life!

 

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Are You A ‘Trick or Treat’?  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

I really love seeing the accomplishments of my kids. Seeing them do something at a new level or do it better just gives me those indescribable feelings. As our son went around this weekend to people it was neat to see him say the “Trick or Treat” phrase.  At a church event, one man, who he knows, asked him to do a “trick”.  The way the evening worked, he saw the same man a couple of times.  The first trick was a simple jump, which he did with no problem.  The next time my son was asked to sing a song.  He was asked if he knew different songs or wanted to sing some from a few choices, of those he replied “nope”. I thought that was going to be the end of it, but then my son said “I can sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’”.  The man said to sing it.  So he proceeded to sing the song, just to receive some candy.  I was so proud!  And it was very cute to sing “Pooh” sing this song!

Sunday, for Halloween, we looked at a challenge of whether or not we are a “trick or a treat” to people. As Christians, sometimes we may not even realize how much we are “tricking” them.  Getting them interested in something church-related or about our faith, just to actually show that it is different. Related to this week’s lesson, here are some applications to choose from to use this week…

  • Don’t Be a Lucy ~ I use this title because of the Halloween Charlie Brown special. In almost every Charlie Brown Special, there is a time when Lucy and Charlie are playing with a football.  Charlie wants to kick it and Lucy says she’ll hold it, only to take it out at the last minute and Charlie falls. When it comes to our faith, do we present it in one way and in reality it is totally different?  Maybe that initial way is a “fun” side but then we get around someone else and we have to stiffen up.  Or maybe it is an “anger” side, but then when we get around someone else we have to put on a smile. Why not just be the same person all seven days of the week regardless of who you are around.
  • Treat Someone ~ Receiving that cavity-inducing candy can be one of the most fun things about Halloween. For that is what you are expecting to come your way whenever you say the Halloween phrase of “trick or treat”.  Treats are pleasant. As Christians, may be we see how we can be of benefit to someone every day of the year. Maybe life is taking you down a path where this is difficult.  May the difficulties of what Christ went through spur you to work through the difficulties and still be a treat to someone.

Maybe you can be an additional “treat” to someone by giving any extra candy to someone who made a little pick-me-up, as a simple birthday gift, or just to be nice.

Here is a little quote that was on a Facebook friend’s post…Read it and let me know what you think.

its ironic that on the most "pagan" of all holidays, households show Christian hospitality the best, while they share with total strangers. ~ Unknown source

 

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