Whom did you reflect today? (Or maybe another word would be "what" did you reflect today?)

Through the day you may have had moments where you reflected one thing then another you reflected another. For example, you could have reflected a very bitter attitude when you were frustrated in a moment and then you had a phone call or a doorbell ring and reflected something totally different. That seems to be a classic example of reflecting two different things in a very short time. Plus, I've been guilty of it myself.

There are going to be those times of "slipping" in our Walk in Christ where we are going to let emotions get the best of us in a given moment. That doesn't excuse away the lack of control, but it does say that we are going to make a mistake. Our goal is to not let that be the "norm."

Sunday, we looked at several scriptures (all found here) as we discussed the idea of letting Jesus reflect in me in 2013. We focused on Jesus being reflected in our attitudes, speech, and actions. As much as those in the religious world would like to concentrate on their "Sunday" rituals as what may make them different, I would like to challenge you to think about how your everyday reflections of Him will make you seem "different," yet attractive, for the sake of Him. As we think about this, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  • Attitudes ~ Attitudes can be both contagious and like an out-of-control snowball. The first will affect others. Whether they are positive or negative, when you are go in to something with a certain kind of attitude, others will likely catch it - so watch what you are reflecting. The second will affect you. You will easily stay with that attitude for quite some time and it will have a tendency to pick up speed. If you are around others, it will also become contagious. Think about how your attitude will be impacting others this year.
  • Speech ~ We all know that the tongue is such a small and powerful tool. It can easily be used for good and just as easily for bad. It can take someone to 'cloud 9' and then cut someone to a very low depth. Sometimes, the tongue may not directly impact the person who is being talked about negatively, for instance, talking behind their back, but it will have a negative ripple effect. The negative sides of speech are slander, gossip, spite, lying, hypocrisy, and the like are going to have that same reflection of Jesus this year. Where as the positive sides of speech are compliments, encouragement, motivation, praise, blessings, and the like will have good reflections of Jesus in your life in the year 2013.
  • Actions ~ I remember a few years ago where someone thought that the parking stall I parked in should have been there's and they didn't send me a very nice greeting, as a result. It wasn't one of those "cut them off" situations, it was simply that they thought they were in the right and I was in the wrong. My wife and I had a good laugh about it, as a result. However, if I was in the wrong, it could have drastic effects on who they see me reflecting. Other times there will be times we need to understand that as a Christian, we are representatives of both Christ and our faith. Our actions represent Christ, first, in that we are showing how much of an impact He's made in the application of our life. Our actions represent our faith, next, in that it shows others who we belong to and who else goes with us along the way.
  • Results ~ I try to make hotel housekeeping know they are important and that I appreciate what they are doing, for me and others. I have done this for years, but I learned recently how, from the moment of check-in, how you compose yourself can have a lasting impact on your hotel stay. It confirmed how a positive reflection can have positive results. With that, how can 2013 be different? I will focus on the positive outcomes of positively reflecting Jesus in me in 2013. 1. See you as a pleasant person.
    2. Look forward to seeing/serving you.
    3. Be inconspicuously rewarded (a free appetizer, room upgrade, etc.)
    4. Develop trust in your showing of genuine concern.
    5. Create a sense of mystery to others as they see that you can remain focused even in crises.
    6. See that Jesus is not something you simply speak of but actually live out.
    7. Want to know why your relationship with Jesus affects you that way.
    8. Want to know how they can know Jesus the way you do.
    9. Learn to see that your spiritual friends are not hypocrites.
    10. Commit their life to Jesus.








To ultimately reflect Jesus in a consistent, positive way, to others in the coming year, we must also be conscious of what we are doing. It is not going to be easy and it is not going to something that comes about involuntarily. We must work at projecting Him in a positive way. We must think about how something may come across. We must remember that when we are in a hurry it is likely do to something we did/didn't do and any slow or irritating people ahead or around us are not to be involved or blamed. We must think about what we are going to reflect before we enter in to a situation, maybe reminding ourselves that we are a representative of God.

We can create people to see the greatness of Jesus in us as we go through 2013. I can't wait to see what happens as a result. I hope you will keep track and report back.

Now it's your turn...what other outcomes can you see as a result of positively reflecting Jesus? Or, what area will challenge you to make a positive reflection this year?
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You can do it! The new year will offer opportunities that you may have never had before. The question is, how will you make the best of the doors of opportunities that will open up in 2013? The 'thing' about the doors of opportunity is that it is up to you to take the initiative to walk through. If you simply look at the opportunity, it will be like the sunset - here now, gone in a few minutes.

I have looked out at those sunsets and think, "Wow, that is beautiful and would make a great picture." Then, I will simply 'think' about it and then the moment is gone. So much are opportunities. We must take advantage of them while they are present. However, again, we must be the ones to go after them. Rarely will they come to us. That brings us to this week's quote...

If you believe you can do it, go out there and do it because that's the only way you're gonna get it! ~ Harry Main
How do you feel about Harry's thoughts? We can accomplish about anything we set our minds to in life. We can achieve greatness! Keep in mind that "greatness" has its own levels of what each person determines the height. For some it may mean money, for others it may mean reaching thousands, and for others it may mean simply personal success.

As you have a new year ahead of you, you will likely have new opportunities, as well. May you take advantage of the opportunities that come your way to achieve greatness. Believe it and then go out and achieve it!

Now it's your turn...what do you have on tap for 2013?
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Merry Christmas!  

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

I want to thank all of my viewers of my blog! May you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy, blessed, and beneficial 2013!Share/Bookmark

If you are like me, there are some weeks of life which can seem like there is so much on one's plate that it is impossible to see it as a week that is overwhelming! Maybe it is work related, schedule related, financially related, or just life in general. There are lots of things can can cause you to be overwhelmed.

Having that feeling can seem oppressive as everything seems to be closing in on your life. The stress involved causes you to seem as if there is no "end in sight." Sometimes, common sense tells you there will be an "end" but in the middle of everything it seems difficult to see that "end."

Regardless of the source of the overwhelming feeling, to have some assurance or someone to guide you through the situation. Sunday, we looked at the scene when Joseph (Jesus' earthly father) was informed he was going to be a father and he seemed a bit overwhelmed. However, to be assured to know that Jesus, his son, was going to be "with us" as He was given the name Immanuel. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  • You're What? ~ I can only imagine Joseph's reaction to Mary's news about her being pregnant. What it might be for you? Maybe it is an unexpected bill, news of someone's passing, news of a job loss, or some other news that rocks your world and comes out of no where. They are all with the potential to be overwhelming. How do you deal with these situations or something similar? Do you simply sleep it off or address it or talk to someone or try to do it yourself? May be find safe and sane ways to create an environment to grasp the news.
  • Save Them ~ It is a bittersweet moment when we think about hearing that your child would save people from their sins. The people would know this as likely a sacrifice for their sins. He would be given an honor that is unlike any other, but He would have a responsibility that is unlike any other, as well. God came to be with us, to be deity in human form, so that he could understand us and we could try to understand God.
  • God Revealed ~ It is fascinating that God would reveal himself in this form, to us. That God would leave His place of comfort to this place of discomfort. We can be grateful for such a God as this.
I am grateful to have someone with me, through God, to have the Spirit as a guide and helper. May you be blessed to have that same Helper for you as you experience times of feeling overwhelmed.

Now it's your...when do you feel overwhelmed?
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A Great Time of Year to Be a Friend  

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

Friends are truly priceless. To gain a friend takes some time. Those we may think are "friends" may not turn out to be the ones we can really trust and confide in as time continues. Acquaintances are not always friends. People we spend time around most are not always friends. Sometimes it seems as if I can count on two hands those who I would consider in this category. Those who would not be judgmental by an action I performed or offended by something I said. They would know me well enough to understand why I did or said the things I did.

One cliche my parents (probably my mom) always said was something like "You have to be a friend to have a friend." This time of year is a great time to experience that, whether it is to people you know or those you don't. That brings us to this week's quote...

Your friendship is a glowing ember
Through the year; and each December
From its warm and living spark
We kindle flame against the dark
And with its shining radiance light
Our tree of faith on Christmas night. ~ Thelma J. Lund

This time of year has a lot of opportunities to be a friend (or even a nice person) to people you are around. With all the shopping that is happening the "hustle and bustle" that takes place, why be the calm one? Why not wish others a "Merry Christmas" when they say "Have a good day" or "Thank you for shopping at ___."

Now it's your turn...how will you be a friend to someone this holiday season?
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We have all had moments where we were really afraid. Sometimes it is over an "artificial" or created fear, like watching a scary movie. We logically know nothing on the screen is going to affect us but we are caught up on the moment. Then, there are the "noises" or "shadows" we see in our house that may cause some fear. Then, there is news that may come in the form of a doctor telling us we have terminal cancer (or having a relative find that news out). Then, there is having a phone call telling us that our mom, dad, son, daughter, or someone else close to us has died. Then, there is being involved in a death-is-likely situation, like being held with a knife to our throat or gun to our head. Though the severity is worse with each one, the fear also may increase.

I can only imagine myself in some of the latter situations and how I would react. My fear would be "through the roof" in some situations. Fear is real and every person handles it a bit differently. However, one thing is for sure, that God is there for us in the middle of our fears! It takes a lot of maturity in some of the more severe areas of fear to really find comfort in Him; but the opportunity is always present.

Sunday, we looked at Psalm 23 where David mentioned the idea of fear. It was also coincidentally an opportunity to talk about the recent shooting in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary. Here are some applications to choose from use this week...

  • Real Fears ~ There are some fears that are identified which I must say make me laugh. I think "How could they be fearful of that?" However, to those people, those are real fears. I know that even the small amount of fears I have, I CAN overcome them. For instance, I don't like the "drop" feeling of a roller coaster or other free fall rides. However, I know I would be able to live through them if I chose to make that decision. I don't love snakes but if I know they are there, I'm fine (but nervous). What makes us fearful of things is a mystery. One good thing is to identify them and understand them, then when confronted, talk to God about being comforted in the midst of your fears. Also, even when we don't understand others' fears, we can still be compassionate toward them.
  • Valley of the Shadow of Death ~ This is a great wording to conjugate a scary scene. Valleys are low - so you may have no way out. Shadows are dark - darkness generally makes us a bit apprehensive and uncomfortable. Death is avoided - we don't want to experience that any time soon. When we experience those dark times in our life, which we all will (in one form or another) may we be ready to turn to Him to help lead us through and comfort us in our journey.
  • Fear No Evil ~ Romans 8:31 comes to mind here..."If God is for us, who can be against us?" I would like to think that if I was experiencing a life and death situation, I would have my fears relieved a bit by knowing I have done what I needed to do to have heaven as my home. My fears would likely be centered around leaving my family and their loss in a husband and father, more so than my life, itself. May we rest assured that nothing evil is going to be able to affect us in a spiritually negative way, in these situations. Stay with God and He will be there for us!
  • You are With Me ~ The shepherd was the "best friend" to the sheep. They listened to his voice and followed him everywhere. They trusted him like no one else. Whether they encountered good pastures or threat of wolves, they learned to trust him. As we think about our Shepherd, may we learn to trust in Him like the sheep do to their shepherd. May we rest assured that He's always near with me. May we find comfort in our victories, defeats, times of hurt, fear, and apprehension. God is good! Read John 10 for more on Jesus as our Shepherd.
I cannot imagine, having two young children, what it must be like for those who lost the loved ones at Sandy Creek Elementary to not know that was their last time to see them alive. To know they will never enter their classroom again. To know they will not open any Christmas presents this year. To know they will never sleep in their bed/room. To know they will never experience another birthday. To know they will never be able to hug them or receive a hug from them. To think "If I knew today was going to be the last day I had with them, I would have done/said [this]!"

It doesn't have to be in tragedies that we have those thoughts. May we appreciate everyday that we have together with those we care about because we never know what will happen.

If you experience the loss or the dark journey, may we find solace in the fact that God is constant and is here for us constantly!

After the next sentence, you will find a list of those who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (in Newtown, Connecticut). Other sites have released pictures, but here are names. Pray for all those involved. Rest in peace, Sandy Hook victims!

Now it's your turn...when have you had a fear that seemed almost impossible to see God in the middle of that time of fear?


Children:

    Charlotte Bacon, 6 Daniel Barden, 7 Olivia Engel, 6 Josephine Gay, 7 Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6 Dylan Hockley, 6 Madeleine F. Hsu, 6 Catherine V. Hubbard, 6 Chase Kowalski, 7 Jesse Lewis, 6 James Mattioli, 6 Grace McDonnell, 7 Emilie Parker, 6 Jack Pinto, 6 Noah Pozner, 6 Caroline Previdi, 6 Jessica Rekos, 6 Aviele Richman, 6 Benjamin Wheeler, 6 Allison N. Wyatt, 6

Adults:

    Dawn Hochsprung, 47 Rachel Davino, 29 Anne Marie Murphy, 52 Lauren Rousseau, 30 Mary Sherlach, 56 Victoria Soto, 27
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Sound of Courage  

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

How many of you remember the book/movie "Red Badge of Courage?" The young man who doesn't show courage but is rewarded for it. How about in the "Wizard of Oz" and the lion who wants to have some courage? He does a lot of "roaring" to try to demonstrate that he is courageous.

Typing that last word reminded me of the movie "Courageous" that followed four police officers and their families. You may think that their courage was found more on the police beat as they encountered different dangerous situations. That, however, is not the whole part of the case, rather their courage was found how they dealt with their spiritual life, their family life, their professional life and it all boiled down to integrity. How they would respond in life with the courage to stand up with integrity.

The sound of courage is not always what it seems...which brings us to this week's quote...

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
Not too long ago I was surprised that there were ducks whose call was not the normal "quack, quack." I had been taught and teach my kids about the idea that the sound a duck makes is "quack, quack." However, that was not the sound of all ducks.

Maybe there are times which courage roars and we presume that is the sound that "courage makes." What about thinking about other sounds that courage makes. It may not be loud and may be very quiet. In fact, sometimes it may not make a sound at all. Courage has a sound that is all its own in particular situations. Maybe the wisest is the quietest. Regardless, I like the sound of courage from this quote that challenges me to get up and try again tomorrow.

Now it's your turn...what sound has courage made in your life and when did that sound occur?
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I cannot imagine what it must be like for kids to have parents that are so busy that they forget to pick them up. I've seen this on movies/television and heard of some small stories like this in life, but never have experienced it. I was fortunate to have parents that didn't forget nor can I imagine "forgetting" where my kids are at or when they need to be picked up. I know there may be the occasional honest mistake but the child may not even realize that it was an honest mistake.

Most of the time in the movies the time is exaggerated to be a long time later that a person is picked up or someone is stood up for an engagement. Counting on someone and then being let down can be devastating.

There are various instances of being let down. Some may be a bit higher on the scale where other situations can be brushed off pretty easily. Sunday we looked at I Samuel 30:1-6 and Hebrews 5:7 while examining situations in the lives of David and Jesus. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  • Poor Choice ~ Sometimes we are going to make a poor choice. Whether it is something we say or do, it will have a negative repercussion. Instead of wallowing in our poor choice and/or the effects which follow, may we find strength in God, even if it is easier said than done!
  • Extend Grace ~ Knowing that we can make a poor choice, there are those who may let us down because of a poor choice. May we make every effort to extend the gift of grace and forgiveness their way. This will help you to keep carrying the burden around with you and let you move more freely.
  • Relate to Jesus ~ Jesus' life seemed to be filled with disappointments. I am not taking out any victories, but the disappointments did not just come at one time. People let him down regularly. Whether it was people in his close circle or people who were claiming to be religious but were not. We can appreciate how He dealt with his friends letting him down and how we can deal with such situations. Appreciate and relate to Jesus when you become a victim of "friend let down."
Having people that let you down is a sad part of "real" life. People don't always live up to our own expectations and as much as we hate that, we can learn to find strength in God during those times. David was a great example of finding strength in his God. May we see that as the all-sufficient source of our strength in any disappointments we may encounter.

Now it's your turn...when have you been disappointed by someone and how did it feel?
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Better Things Ahead  

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

The past. Every person has a different one. Every person has some "skeletons" in their closet which they must deal with and try to keep in that proverbial closet. Similar to the person who "cleans" by putting everything in a closet or under a bed, the past is still present even when it is hidden. Just because we hide it does not take it away. Hiding simply takes it out of sight but not out of mind.

The past does not always mean things that we are "guilty" of or that we "did." The past can be filled with events that happened to us. Bullies, bad relationships, abuse, failure, rejection, cancer, illness, fear, and the list could continue.

I have my own set of past memories. Even though I may go on with everyday life like there really is nothing wrong, it doesn't take much to think about it and rehash some memories. However, even if I may remember the past, I know it shouldn't be forming who I am today and for the future. That brings us to this week's quote...

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. ~ C.S. Lewis
As I am getting a bit older, I am noticing that my body is not responding to things like it did in the past. Physically, I am bringing the past to the present - the choices of the past affect the status of the present. It is a tangible reminder.

That can be the way our choices of bringing memories and issues of the past with us into the future. You choose how the past "handles" you. Does it have a grip on you or is it simply a 'sticky note' reminder that you know its there and you can take it off very easily. Which are you going to choose?

Understandably, there are things of the past that may be to a level that you are never going to forget. I cannot imagine how some people who have encountered heinous attacks can make the future seem brighter. Similarly, other violent/shocking life experiences are going to be very traumatic on individuals. So there is no superficiality in this thought and challenge to look to the future with a sense of brightness. The key is stated above when we must understand how we are going to choose letting the past "handle" us. Are we going to take control or let the past control us?

Maybe you need to find someone who you can visit with if you haven't had your "breaking" point. If you have had that point, maybe you can think about how you are stronger than the past. If you are religious, know that God is bigger than any past issue and He can help you throw it. Look to the future, there is a brightness found there!

Now it's your turn...what memory of the past do you need release the grip of? What do you need to do to accomplish this? Feel free to leave comments...
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During some stressful weeks I come home not mentally where I need to be. Having a job that doesn't "end at 5" has its ups and downs. Some days the downs are definitely challenging, but the challenge sometimes simply comes to me and the way I handle things. Sometimes I am weary and fail to leave things "at work" and know it can be picked up tomorrow. I may want to "finish" some tasks and five o'clock comes too soon and my mind stays on that task for a while.

The more I am mentally "at work" the less I am connected with my family. Some days this is easier than others. However, it reminds me of the lesson we discussed on Sunday as we examined Galatians 6:9-10. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  • Take a break ~ You may need to walk away from a situation for a short time to cool off or do something else. You may need to simply say "No" to things to give yourself a break.
  • Take some time to breathe deeply ~ Take a deep breath, hold it, let it out, repeat several times until you start to feel relaxed
  • Get Out of Town ~ Away from chaos and let yourself refill
  • Disconnect from life ~ Turn off cell phones, computers, and turn to something that will refill, refuel and refocus
  • Make a plan ~ Look over your life and see how you can reassess things to make it be a bit more “refilling”
  • Quit Giving and Start Taking ~ Take time for yourself and let people know it. This isn’t selfish, it’s necessary from time to time
  • Sit in Silence ~ Take some time to think and/or pray. If prayer, then give it to God and repeat until you feel the sense of relaxation
  • Learn Your Limits ~ You know when you are at a breaking point – before you get there, be aware
  • Ask help from others ~ You don’t have to do it all by yourself, it is ok to ask other people to help.
There are things you can do that may take more time or little time – activities of relaxation or responsibility. Some activities take a “season” – a hobby, etc., some activities may be able to be completed in a day, a long walk, a phone call, a day trip, and some activities you can use to refuel when you can take the time – may not be a set time – a quiet afternoon, go to bed early, doing something you enjoy with your family.

It is important to not grow so weary in doing the good things that we are not "on our game" when temptations and trials come our way.

Now it's your turn...when have you felt so exhausted that it caused you to be more susceptible to the "Enemy?"
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