The People You Meet  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , ,

You really can meet some interesting people when you are traveling and have to take public transportation to the airport.

The day has come that I am finally coming home from Atlanta. I have missed my family tremendously. Their little-big hugs are being yearned for by my neck.

As I am leaving the hotel I must take a shuttle to the subway (MARTA) stop. Our party is combined with another group from our conference and I am placed next to a lady from Green Bay (WI). We exchanged backgrounds and touched on the information from the conference.

After I was on the MARTA I started a discussion with a grad student from the Atlanta area. We had a good visit as he was interested in hearing about our team's work. He stayed on for about half of the trip, then exited at his stop.

Right before the young man had exited, a man got on the MARTA, sat down in front of me and opened his Bible and started reading. I couldn't help but notice being a minister. He was reading from the book of John. I asked him if he was reading for fun or otherwise. He said for fun, as his Bible class was studying John and he had already read the required reading. I told him I was a minister and we had a short visit about church and faith.

Since boarding the MARTA I had noticed a retired couple sitting across the aisle from me with luggage. Naturally, I presume they are going on a trip. After inquiring I find out they live in Atlanta and they are flying to Baltimore to visit family. Grandparents take every chance they can to visit grandkids!

They shared about their kids and asked about where I was from. After telling them, the husband said he had been to my town before the interstate was completed, which was pre-1970. The MARTA made it to the airport stop and hundreds of people rushed off.

After arriving at the airport, I eventually made it to the security line. If you haven't flown ever or since "9/11" this can be a long line. Today, in "one-of-America's-busiest-airports" the line was long and slow.
During that long line I met a lady going to Michigan who, after mentioning that fact, was picked up in conversation by the man in front of her.

So, after a few minutes of deciding whether or not to inquire about the gentleman behind me, I "went for it." Turns out he was a chemist of German descent, working for a Swiss company, traveling with an Indian colleague from Atlanta to Tampa. Travel is a natural part of his week. We had a good conversation. When I took out my 17" laptop for security check he "whoa'd" about how big it was, for his was a 10-12". After security we said "goodbye" and parted ways.

Then I eventually met up with my team and boarded the plane home, sitting by my colleague and the window.

My flight is not over, but this portion of describing my adventures in talking to people have come to a close.

I don't know if I will ever cross paths with these individuals again. However, what I do know is that I made it a point to bring something positive to them and that is a way I can share my faith and have fun doing it.

People, get to know people, it can be very interesting.

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Expensive Commitment  

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

Having a hobby can be costly. Whether the hobby is golf, scrap booking, painting, collecting, etc., there is money involved. To be really good at the hobbies the more money that will need to be invested. Golf, for example, will take buying your own clubs and then spending money on the sport of golf to improve your skills. Buying all the special punches, decorative paper, and books for scrap booking can add up as well.

Christianity is not a hobby that one can pick up from time to time and it have much of an impact in your life. It is one that needs to be practiced and used. Too often Christians want to say they are in the "Christian club" but they only are involved "on occasion." They like to take advantage of the benefits, but they do nothing to improve their skills or have any involvement. They forgot to realize that there is a cost involved to being in the "club" and the price is not cheap.

Sunday we looked at Matthew 8:18-22 where Jesus is challenging a couple of men in their quest to follow Him. This is no light challenge from Jesus. He may even come across as insensitive to some. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...
  • Get Real ~ Have you ever looked at something in your life with such a thick filter that you didn't realize you needed to improve? I think there are times when we need to take a hard look at re-evaluate our commitment to our Christian life. Are we willing to be second to others? Are we willing to forgive? Are we willing to share our faith? Now that you're willing...do it!
  • What's Your Master? ~ We all have something or someone that masters us. The master may not control you at all times, but they have a heavy influence on you. Generally when that master demands something, you are going to respond. That response may even be consuming your mind with thoughts. If any of those things that may "master" you are pushing away your commitment to Christ, you need to change your focus.
  • Comforts versus Commitment ~ What is your priority? Will the comforts of avoiding contact with someone who needs to have a "light" of good news in their dark world take priority over your commitment to be a follower of Christ?
  • Cautious, but Not Overcautious ~ To need to get to the other side of a busy street you are not going to simply dart across. Instead, you will make sure it is safe to cross. To follow Christ does not mean that every time we are going to not think about what we're doing. So to be cautious about what you are about to encounter is one thing, but to be so cautious that you do not engage in your commitment to Jesus is how we miss the mark. Or as Jesus says, "let the dead bury their own dead." cf Matthew 8:22
Being involved in Christianity is an expensive commitment. Are we willing to pay the price?

Now it's your turn...what "expenses" have you had to consider in your Christian walk?
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Stagnate Water Starts to Stink  

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I would think it would be safe to understand that practically everyone understands that the earth's complete rotation is a day and its one trip around the sun is a year. Recently, I was teaching my four-year old this concept. I was not using a ball but a stuffed animal and my fist (very primitive but it was a "teachable moment"). He understood it in the moment, but a few days later, he had forgotten.

Days are a constant change. The rotation of the earth causes things to change continually. Whether it is the shadow that is moving as the earth rotates, the temperature that is changing, or the weather patterns. Each day is filled with constant change. We seem to be able to come to terms with this, for there is nothing we cannot do about it. However, it seems that we are not so comfortable with change in other areas. That brings us to this week's quote...

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. ~ Confucius
Change is going to happen. Change in the day. Change in one's life is inevitable. The way we approach change is going to vary.

It is interesting to see in the quote about the point that "change" and referred with happiness and wisdom. Can you imagine living in your current happiness and wisdom? Maybe for a little while, but it will lose its attractiveness. You would likely want to do something to create additional happiness and wisdom. Something like finding a new hobby, working in the yard, or going on a trip. Plus, you would want to find some additional knowledge to increase your wisdom; not just remaining where you are in your wisdom.

Imagine simply stopping where you were at in your happiness or wisdom and never changing. How fun would that be? It would probably be similar to water that is stagnate, it would be fine for a while, but then it would start to stink.

The next time you are thinking that the world is changing too quickly or that things need to remain the same in some organization you are with, think about this verse and how things simply must change.

Now it's your turn...What changes in your lifetime have really caused you to grimace and dig your heels in (either at first or if it continues)?
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Rewarding the Undeserving  

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

My kids are pretty much spoiled. They are being given so much more than they deserve. Whether it is by us, as parents, their grandparents, or by the various others. I am continually impressed, and thankful, by the number of people who will give them things and show their generosity by "doing" for them. I love my kids as much as any parent can but have to admit they are blessed as well as spoiled!

If you're like me you've probably felt that "I didn't deserve this" kind of feeling. Something in your life that you were given was more than you thought you deserved. As much as those moments are humbling, it is still nice to receive them. I remember being given some additional scholarship money in college that was not being "used" so they thought of me. It wasn't a lot but every little bit helped. I was sincerely grateful and honored that I would be chosen. It was given by a high administrator and it felt good to be on his radar.

Sunday, we looked at the story in Matthew (8:5-13) that dealt with the Roman Centurion's servant being healed. This story is more about the Centurion than the servant. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  • I Don't Deserve Jesus ~ If you are saying this and believing it, essentially, you are correct. There is nothing about what God allowed Christ to do on the cross which we deserve. Think about how sin takes away our relationship with God. God is pure; sin is impure. Why would we deserve to be made pure...simply put - LOVE. However, though you don't deserve Him, He still loves you. May we ever-appreciate that!
  • Delayed Reward ~ "Two hamburgers, large fries, and a medium Coke. Is that everything?" "Yes." "That will be $5.39." You've probably heard something like that in your life. Possibly even today. After we order we plan on receiving those two hamburgers, the fries and drink at the last window. We expect to not wait more than a few minutes - even on a slow day. The problem comes about when we think our rewards from God will be that fast. The mature mind starts to realize that God doesn't always work that way. Sometimes there will be a delay in our rewards. We must be ready to handle those delays...the rewards will come!
  • Healed Need ~ The need in the Matthew passage included the Centurion's servant. Jesus healed him based on the faith of the individual requesting the aid. That seems to be a common thread in the times Jesus heals. So maybe that is something for us to think about. Do we ask God in faith or simply selfishness? Do we hope with assurance or hope with question? That may be a factor in your prayer life and even your faith life!
For me, it is nice, to say the least, to know that I am being rewarded for something of which I am undeserving. I can reap the many benefits for something I don't deserve. What a glorious feeling! May I keep from taking it for granted.

Now it's your turn...what have you ever received that you were not deserving of? It can be from a spiritual point of view, but even materially speaking.
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Failure: A Barrier  

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

My son is in a stage where he is a bit fearful at night. This is not a new stage, for probably over a year, we've been praying for him being scared, before I leave him for the night. I don't think he is really scared, but we pray nonetheless. The thing is, if we do not pray, he will struggle going to sleep because he is a bit hard-headed and wants me to pray for him.

He has some other fears (that may not be the best word for it) like not wanting to touch a root of a plant I recently dug up because it was dirty. He has no issues with dirt or getting dirty, just this kind of a thing he's not comfortable with touching. I think we are all like this to one point or another.

Some of our fears are not even tangible, like the root is. Some of it is a mental fear that is built up so high that we cannot see past it. They are "mirage fears." In other words, there is really nothing there that would prevent us from doing what we need to do, just our own created fear. This thought brings us to this week's quote...
Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have. ~ Louis E. Boone
Failure will keep us from doing and trying a lot of things. Maybe it is jumping down from a height that seems impossible, but in reality it is possible. That height could be in a pool or a tree branch. Maybe it is not even tangible, like jumping into a different career or moving. We fear what people will say or how our kids will adjust, but in reality, we are just inhibiting ourself.

What are you fearful of that you are building up, when in reality it is nothing? You never know what may happen if you do not try. Your "could have's," "might have's," or "should have's" may get the best of you if you do not try!

Look at the reality and try something new!

Now it's your turn...what failure have you been fearful of? Have you been able to overcome it? If so, how?
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RESTORE: A New Community  

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

June of 1999, my wife, sister-in-law and I were traveling through Southern Colorado on our way back from a family reunion. We stopped at a gas station to fill-up and go to the restroom. I went to the restroom, came out, paid for the gasoline and went back out to the car to find my wife and sister-in-law laughing. Long story short, my sister-in-law had misread the bathroom sign and used the men's restroom. On top of that, she was in there when I was using the restroom. This continues to be a story that we laugh about.

The journey that was taken was filled with good memories. I could continue to write about moments I've had with people - some resulting in a lot of laughs, some resulting in laughs afterwards.

One continual journey is parenting. I enjoy seeing my kids learn life. I enjoy having those teachable moments come about and then seeing things "sink in." I have had my moments of learning, as well. The journey brings about a newness of knowledge and application.

As the Christian goes from conversion to heaven, there is a journey. This journey is to get as many people join in with this new life as possible. All those people who join in to create a new community. A community that presents a bigger, new life. With all that said, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  • Need for Togetherness ~ God, when setting up mankind, said "it was not good for man to be alone." We are created to be together with others. Sometimes that pertains to marriage and other times it means that we work better in life being with others. Being all by yourself presents several negative things, but we need to think about being with people as we go through life. The church that Jesus set up creates a great environment for togetherness. Let's get some more to come along with us in this eternal life journey.
  • Exciting Times ~ Excitement is attractive. When you're excited others will be excited. Though the church community is not as new as the church in Acts 2, you can choose to get excited and promote the excitement to others. Then they will get excited, then others will get excited and the snowball continues. Get excited! Be excited!
  • Being Sent Out ~ As Jesus sent out a group of individuals ahead of Him, we, too, are sent out. We are being sent and He, in a sense, follows up as we plant-and-water, plant-and-water. This is very exciting for me to think that God is following behind when I am planting-and-watering. As a Christian, you are being sent out - enjoy the privilege.
To go from rundown to restored is a journey. The journey is part of the joy. This all brings about a new community of those who are restored. I enjoy joining in with God in the effort to bring others along in this journey, adding to the new community.

Now it's your turn...how have you been impacted positively in the new community?
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Actions and Intentions  

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

Under the microscope is not a fun place to reside. Some probably live there without even realizing it. Some have chosen to live there based on their livelihood.

Once you live there long enough, some things will be easier to handle. However, there is always one more "zing" that may hurt based on someone's critical judgment of you.

With the elections looming in the foreground, politicians are committing to various actions. Some of which will not be able to be attained, even though they promised. Unfortunately, only a few will be able to be attained.

Have you ever been caught in the middle of "intention" and "action?" You intended to do something, but in all reality, only some of that was able to be accomplished.

I liked this quote about intentions...

Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold; but so does a hard-boiled egg. ~ Unknown
Intentions are not measurable, where actions are. Whether it is right or wrong to determine based on these parameters, it tends to be the way life goes.

As you go through your life, remember to follow through with your actions. This speaks to me as well! Refrain from being a "hard-boiled egg."

Now it's your turn...when have you been caught in between "intention" and "action?"
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RESTORE: Restored From Within  

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

Whether it is the first of the year or maybe a life changing birthday, people have a tendency to want to make a change in their life. Sometimes that change can come easy, where other times it is much more difficult. On occasion the change agent will be like an asteroid hitting the earth; creating a huge reason for change.

To change your body weight/figure in order to fit into a certain size clothes may only be enough motivation to achieve the goal. However, if the reason for the change is to create a healthier lifestyle, then the change will be more likely to stay and the pounds will likely come off, naturally.

Regardless of the change that will take place, it must come from within. The "mind" or "heart" is the anchor for which the change must stem from to have a greater effect.

Sunday, we looked at Romans 12:2 as a means to transform our minds, not wanting to conform to this world. Being something different than the world is as much of a challenge as it is a reward. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...  

  • Draw Closer ~ When you spend time with people and become closer to them you start to understand them more. The closer you draw to God you will start to understand Him more. The text describes the principle of being able to recognize what God wants and you will respond quickly. I think this is spot on. I can remember the times in my life which I was closer to God and it seemed to spill over into other areas. It was exciting!
  • Rid of the Old ~ A few years ago I was restoring our bathroom. It needed it because there had been a leak in the shower area. This was a first for me and the project presented itself with plenty of challenges. There was more damage than I had planned on. I needed to rid the project of the mold and dry rot that was behind the wall. To start to restore/transform, we must rid ourselves of that which is the old and found deeper than the surface. May your process of riddance be successful!
  • Opened Eyes ~ We must be able to see the need for change before we can change effectively. With closed eyes we will not be as likely to see God being active in their life. We will overlook things that come into our life as "not from God" when, they likely could have been from Him. I love to see where God is at in my life; how He is directing me to people who need to know of Him. May you keep your eyes opened to see the possibilities!
Are these types of things a challenge for you? For many it can definitely be a challenge, but the outcomes can be awesome. The great part is that God will present you with an overflowing amount of examples that show He is working with you in your life. I either go to bed or wake up (or sometimes both) looking forward to what is going to come forth in the next day. I look forward to today!

Now, it's your turn...what will you be open to? or How has God been working?
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