Marriage. It is a union in which I honestly thought I would be a older-than-average guy before I found "the one." However, I truly believe that it was God's timing for me to find my mate. We met in an unlikely time. We had known of each other for a few years prior but now lived over 600 miles apart when we started dating. We both were not in a relationship. We didn't expect anything like this to happen, at this time and with each other but it did. It makes me happy each time I relive it.

Every couple has their story. I find it fascinating to think of the variations that come in bringing people together into marriage. A few variations:

  1. The "high school sweethearts"
  2. One spouse more than 5 years older than other spouse
  3. Unplanned pregnancy
  4. Long-distance relationship
  5. One or both been married before
  6. One or both have children already
  7. Blind date
  8. One couple each brings a sidekick friend - and two friends marry
  9. Late-in-life widow and widower find companionship
You can see there are different variations and these are still filled with variations within variations.

Sunday we concluded our "In the 'Ring'" sermon series on marriage. We looked at four more words to put into practice in the realm of marriage. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  • HonoRING ~ Live up to the vows that you took. Marriage is not easy and it will take effort. Put in the effort, and then some to make your marriage rewarding.
  • CheeRING ~ Give your spouse at least one compliment a week. That may sound like a long time span in between, but I am not referring to telling the spouse things you may tell them already. These are something more "out of the blue" and unexpected. Find a way to cheer them on if they are pursuing a life goal.
  • PerseveRING ~ Has your marriage lost it's luster? Try getting some wax out to polish it up and make it shine again. That may mean thinking back to why you fell in love with them, what made them so great. That may mean going to see a counselor or some other professional to talk. That may mean a host of things to give your marriage a much needed buffing.
  • ReveRING ~ Lift up your spouse in any way you can, specifically publicly. It could be in front of their spouse, co-workers, children, or any other friends and family. Let others know you think they are number one in your eyes!
It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of life and letting your marriage get lost in the shuffle. I am not absent of such a habit, unfortunately. Take time to strengthen it with actions from the words we've discussed over the past four weeks.

Now it's your turn...What would you provide for additional applications with any of the above words?
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God, Surprise Me, Today  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , ,

Everyone likes surprises, right? Do you agree? What if I follow that question with making sure you know I am talking about good surprises, does it change your answer? I think the answer would mostly be “yes.” I am one who likes to have positive surprises. What we know as surprise is usually in the verb form, some type of action. Merriam-Webster defines the word in this context as “to strike with wonder or amazement especially because unexpected.” To find something unexpected coming your way should bring a smile to your face; I know it does mine. About six years ago I was praying and asked God to surprise me. To this day He has not stopped doing surprising me. I am not going to lie by saying that each day I notice the surprises or are they mountain-top experiences. However, it has caused me to look at each day with a different perspective and with wonder of what God is going to do in my life that day, who He is going to bring to me or allow me to cross paths with during any given day. It is quite exhilarating. Have you ever tried to scare someone, even if they knew where you were hiding? Like when you are playing with a young child and they know where you are hiding and they sneak up just to be surprised. They look forward to that feeling because they know it is going to make them laugh. That is somewhat the way I feel about my expectation to God’s surprises. A couple of weeks ago I went into it thinking that it was going to be a semi-normal week. I knew I had a meeting out of town on Monday and probably traveling on Wednesday for a surgery. Other than that, the week was going to pretty much be as normal. God had some other plans for me. Surprise number one came about on Valentine’s Day. I have been sending the occasional text message to several local college students to try to encourage them or see how their life was going. At best, most of the time I receive a “thank you.” This was a day which I received a reply that said something like “you don’t know how much I needed to hear that.” Wow, was I surprised! The message was intended to reach out, but didn’t know it would actually accomplish its goal in receiving a response. That led to having an exchange of several texts to counsel a soul that was broken inside, needing a listening ear. You just never know when these surprises will come your way. Surprise number two came about a couple of days later. As my week had been busy with meetings, traveling, and work, then I received a call from a local mortician. He called to ask me if I would perform a funeral for someone who didn’t have a minister to do their mother’s funeral. My plans for the week didn’t include this, but God had other plans. Since moving to this area, in just over three years, I have performed seven funerals. I know that isn’t a lot for some ministers, but for me, coming from a small congregation that is a lot. Oddly enough, only one was from our congregation, and that person lived in a nursing home. Five of the other six have been people I did not have the pleasure of meeting. Doing funerals allows me a chance to be involved in peoples’ lives that is unlike other times in one’s life. Because of that, in a non-morbid way, I do enjoy having these opportunities to minister to people. In both of these situations, I could have passed on the opportunity. Looking back I could not imagine what I would have missed out on if I would have passed on the opportunities. Think about the many opportunities that have come about in your life in which you decided to pass up. Worse yet, the opportunities that did come about in the last week which you did pass up on them even if you didn’t realize these opportunities came your way. I want to challenge you to keep your eyes wide open to the many God-opportunities that come your way. Then, be ready to take advantage of them for the chance to make an influence for Him. Start asking “God, surprise me, today” then look out for the surprises to come to you and come often!
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As a dad, some of my greatest memories are seeing and hearing my kids laugh for the first time. It is so enjoyable to tickle them and get them laughing. Even as they get older to really see them laugh is a lot of fun for me. I am sure most all parents will agree.

If you are like me, there are also other instances which cause you to laugh. Sometimes just thinking about it causes you to laugh. It could have been a life experience or a movie line. As laughter is the subject for the day, that brings us to this week's quote...

A laugh is a smile that bursts. ~ Mary Waldrip
I challenge you to think about laughter today and find something that prompts it in you. If it is a movie, maybe look it up on YouTube and see if that scene is on there. If it is a life experience, recall that experience as you are having some time to yourself.

Whatever you do, just take some time to find a way to laugh. As the section in Reader's Digest is titled, "Laughter is the Best Medicine."

Make your smile burst today...laugh a little!

Now, it's your turn, what is it it that makes you laugh? or what "laughter" memory is one that stands out?
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Marriage has a lot of perks to it. If you are getting ready to enter into marriage, look forward to it! If you have been married for any length of time over a month, you know there are some parts of it that you didn't realize were going to be there. There are several areas in a marriage that takes effort. Sometimes we do not realize the effort it will take until it is too late.

If you have been married and are no longer married, you may look back and realize there were things you should have and could have done differently. You may have enjoyed a few areas, but not the entire portion. Maybe there were some areas on the side of the other spouse in which contributed to the separation. As all marriages are different, everyone's story for separation has differences.

Sunday, we looked at some instructional words regarding being "in the 'ring'" and how we can apply them in our relationships. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  • HeaRING ~ How well are you hearing your spouse/significant other? Have you had those times when they went silent or walked out of the room? What happened prior to that to cause them to do such a thing? Pick up on these things, not all of them will be verbal for you to audibly hear! Hear what your spouse/significant other is trying to tell you...it may be in the silence that they are speaking the loudest
  • OffeRING ~ Each person brings a certain flair to the relationship. Something within you is so attractive to the other person that they couldn't help but to fall in love with you! Also, you see it in your spouse/significant other about them that you fell in love with them. Be sacrificial in your love/respect to the other person; offer up yourself to be there for the other person.
  • RemembeRING ~ Don't forget! Appointments, special days, "favorites," etc. are all important. Though some of the things may not be as important to you as other things, they are important to your spouse. Keep that in mind!
  • AppeaRING ~ Be around for your family. The family is healthiest when spouses are involved. Be there for your spouse/significant other and for your kids. Do not become too busy that your private life becomes a source of contention.
When you say "I do" and are now "in the 'ring'" it is very important that you stay in there till the end. Fighting may occur but that is not a reason to stop your marriage. If it occurs quite frequently, then it is time to examine and maybe look for outside professional assistance. Keep on fighting!

Now it's your turn...How's your week been "in the ring"?
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Join in With Someone in the Journey of Life  

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

Life is not the same for any one person. We all live through different experiences, different fashion times, different music times, different families, and the differences could continue. So when two people enter into a life together, they are going to bring those differences with them.

If you've been in a long-term relationship, what were some of the differences that made the relationship the challenge? What made it that much more rewarding?

As much as I like to have "me" time, I could not imagine what life would be like without the blessing of the company of my wife, son and daughter. I love them so much and that brings us to this week's quote...

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. ~ Anna Quindlen
Relationships are not easy, but they are very rewarding! When we put in work, we reap the benefits. Sometimes we can reap the benefits anyway, but to work at it is rewarding without the benefits.

So, "get a life" and spend time with people, but it will take effort...Keep that in mind.

Now, you have the opportunity to answer the question posted in the first part of the post...
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I remember that there was a time in which I was naive to think that since my girlfriend and I were getting along so well, a continual long relationship (aka marriage) was going to be easy. We could talk, share, and spend time with each other and things were great. This wasn't even the first few months, several months later it was like that. However, was I wrong.

After falling off of "Cloud 9" reality set in. My love for her had not changed, but the reality that things were not "easy," at least as much as I determined, was a wake up call.

I knew we were "different" people - being male and female. However, I thought things would be as easy as they started out being. We weren't young when we started dating (in college), so I was not talking from a fourteen or eighteen year old perspective.

Understanding all this, once I became "in the 'ring'" I found out that being married was work on my part. I know there were responsibilities outside of doing dishes, paying bills, and other general responsibilities. But outside of that I realized I had a lot to do to be a "good husband" on a deeper basis.

This brings us to what we discussed Sunday as we continued with our "In the 'Ring'" sermon series. Here are some applications to choose from to use...

  • MinisteRING ~ Both the husband and the wife have needs. I will HIGHLY suggest the book "Love and Respect" by Emerson Eggerichs. I have read "The 5 Love Languages" and "His Needs, Her Needs" and "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" and this book is better than all of those. So if you've read those, please read the book I suggested. I enjoyed it as a male and it made so much sense to me regarding my wife's needs and how she operated.
  • CoveRING ~ Take time to pray for your partner. We're all vulnerable. Women are vulnerable to not feeling beautiful enough and fears. Men are vulnerable to immodest dressing and being valued. These are just a couple of examples. Ask your partner what they are vulnerable to and then pray for those areas - and pray often.
  • BeaRING ~ Being able to understand no one is perfect is important. Most of us know this on one side of the argument, but some of us tend to jump to conclusions about their partner on occasion. These types of occasions might be when someone says something and we mistake their tone for being what it was not intended to come across.
  • SuffeRING ~ The closer we get, the more likely we are going to bother one another. In the marriage relationship, when we love and trust one another, it doesn't take much for someone to feel unloved or disrespected. These types of mistakes do not mean to quit the relationship. There are very few reasons to do so. Suffer through and communicate in order to help grow the relationship.
As Valentines 2012 is tomorrow, may you be able to express your love for one another in an awesome way! Have a great day of "love!"

Now it's your turn...what has been a great benefit to your marriage? A book, seminar, another individual or couple, etc.????
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Experience is Coming At Us  

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

I remember the first year of my first job out of college. It was filled with some real goofs and those goofs taught me a lot. The majority of it was because of inexperience. Rolled into that inexperience was trying to establish respect in that particular workplace. This tended to be difficult because one person in particular knew me as a student a few years prior and had a difficult time giving me the respect coming in as a "college graduate."

The mistake did not cost me my job but it did teach me a lesson. It was definitely a rookie mistake. Experience is constantly coming at us. We can never get away from it. There is always another test that comes ahead of the lesson. That brings us to this week's quote...

Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue. ~ Henry James
Lint traps are supposed to catch all the small particles that comes out of your clothes. Similarly, we are going to be receiving those constant particles of experience as we go through life. One challenge is to know how to deal with the experiences. Also, how to process and learn from it.

Hopefully, most of the particles that have been caught in your "lint trap" for experience have been able to be utilized, not thrown away.

May we use our experiences in a positive way to reflect the Savior!

Now it's your turn...what broad or specific situation has an experience taught you?
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In the Ring: WeaRING, BRING, ShaRING, & God-FeaRING  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

"With this ring I thee wed" is a common phrase, or one like it, said at many American weddings as the soon-to-be spouse slips the wedding ring on the partner's finger.

Sunday, we looked at a new series called "In the Ring" that used the letters R-I-N-G into words that we focus on for marriage relationship. Here are some applications to use this week...

    1. WeaRING - You wear the ring and you wear Christ. Treat them with respect and show them both "off" to others to demonstrate your commitment.

    2. BRING - You bring something with you to the relationship. Sometimes it is "baggage" and other times it is something good. Either way, what you bring may affect your relationship and you need to be aware of it as you enter into the relationship. The great thing about your spiritual relationship is that you can have all of it "washed away" as in no longer being accountable for it in the spiritual realm

    3. ShaRING - You also begin to encounter a time of sharing your life with one another. There can be a lot of fun times with that. You are your spouse create memories to last a lifetime. As you encounter a life in Christ, you create memories "with" Him that are priceless. Also, you can share your life with others.

    4. God-feaRING - Being God-fearing is very important to the couple. They both have a common goal to get to a point of being closer to God. They create an atmosphere to make each one closer. They want their family, in general, to be closer. It also allows you to head to that goal together. To be unequally yoked we will have a marriage that is doomed, or at least, ready for misery and unneeded difficulties. Utilize this concept and get both of you closer to Christ.

As you go through life "married" to your spouse or Christ, may we understand that we are now "in the ring" and let us live like we are!

More "R-I-N-G" words coming over the next three weeks...

Now it's your turn. What "R-I-N-G" words can you come up with, and how do they apply to marriage (spousal or spiritual)?
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What is Failure?  

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

How many times in your life have you failed at something? Anything from missing an answer on a test to not figuring out a life issue? Failure means different things to different people. It can depend on the outlook of the person.

Failure is the focus of this week's quote...

Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is 
delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is 
something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being 
nothing. ~ Denis Waitley
I purposely gave a brief intro to the quote this time because it would be too easy to spoil it, otherwise.

What did you think of that quote? I liked it a lot. I think that when we fail, we should learn, as it is our teacher. I think failure should bring us upward, not take life out of us. Failure is "in the way" not "losing." It is there to make our journey a bit longer, not make us stop. If we do not say, do, or be anything, we are sure not see much failure.

However, if we can learn to see the positives that can come out of a situation, we will be amazed, I believe. However, if all we see as failure or the negative side of things, we are not going to be very amazed. We will be looking out for the worst and being consistently pessimistic!

Now it's your turn...what "failures" in life have you seen as stepping stones or turning points to something better?
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