Talents


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The following is a guest blog from Lynne Focht, director of the Children’s Ministry at Spirit Life Church.

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Lately my Facebook feed has links to these quizzes where you discover things about yourself. Like which 80’s TV character you might be, which Taylor Swift album you are, which flower represents you, what your name really means, etc. I like playing these quizzes because I, like so many others, want to know more about myself. But I do also understand that they are pretty much meaningless entertainment. I already know certain things about myself, good and bad qualities that make up most of my personality. I know that God has given me special talents to use in this life to fulfill my purpose.

1 Peter 4:10
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

What I struggle with is what I assume many others do, which is finding what exactly my purpose is and how to use my talents to serve that purpose. I have always been an undecided sort of person. My sister knew when she was in kindergarten that she wanted to be in the medical field when she grew up. She hasn’t wavered from that goal and is now a successful pharmacist, helping others daily. I remember that my first occupation was going to be a clown because I wanted to make people laugh. After that I wanted to be a police sketch artist, a buyer, a social worker, an interior decorator, a geologist, and an alpaca farmer. My path has never been clear to me. I was undecided my first two years of college, then declared Art Education as a major. I loved it and was very successful. I became a high school teacher for eight years, and then quit to find another path. I found myself at Spirit Life Church.

Many people I know complain about their jobs, their spouses, their houses, and their bad luck in life. We’ve been taught to believe that dissatisfaction is a bad thing, and that we should do everything possible to avoid it. Shove it down. Ignore it. Act like it doesn’t bother us. Take a pill. Put on a smile. Buy something new, or decide that misery is part of “bearing our cross.” But above all, don’t consider that God might be using it to make us uncomfortable so we’ll want to swim in another ocean where our gifts can shine. But it can also be a road sign that He has another purpose for us. So if you’re miserable in your current career or job, (and you have been for a long time), you’ve prayed, sought counsel from others, and you’re still miserable, consider that God may have another plan.

It can be very difficult to break a rut in life. And scary. But in order to grow as a person, we have to change ourselves and our thinking. Oprah said, “There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And it’s how you most truly come alive.”

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Lynne Focht is director of Go!, the children’s ministry at Spirit Life Church. Click here to learn more about Go! Children’s Ministry.

Life Writes Its Own Lesson Plans


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The following is an excerpt by Minister Mark A. Albert from his upcoming book, Living an Examined Life. Mark has graciously agreed to allow this blog to share some of his work. Enjoy.

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There are, without a doubt, certain invisible laws that exist within the universe. For instance, there is the “law of cause and effect.” Certain actions or conditions can, and inevitably will, cause reactions to follow. To know these things ahead of time can make life much easier.

An example? “Because there was ice on the road, the car slid into the ditch.” Well, if you know that the temperatures and weather conditions are such that there might be ice on the road, you should altar your normal driving pattern in order to adjust. If you don’t, well… the law of cause and effect will have its way with you. In other words, life will get more difficult. It is much easier to listen to a driving instructor “teach” this information than it is to deal with the consequence of ignoring it and ultimately paying the high price of both life and property. There are many things, which fall under the purview of cause and effect. Because he was drinking… Because they were intimate with one another… Because he drove 100 mph… You can fill in the blanks, as to the effects that will occur.

There is also the invisible “law of sowing and reaping.” If you sow, as in a seed, an action, an attitude, you will reap exactly what you have sown. You don’t plant corn and expect wheat to grow in your field; so, too, an attitude or an action. You don’t plant anger and expect love in return. You don’t plant infidelity and expect fidelity. You don’t steal and expect freedom.

Life, with these universal laws, will write its own lesson plans in response. It is, indeed, a harsh taskmaster. We don’t get to choose the end results, the consequences. Some get off easy, like only wrecking the car, but life is spared. Others are not so fortunate. Either way, the lesson will be taught and a price will be demanded. So… nurture, teach, instruct, and train those who are willing to listen, but do not become distraught about those who refuse. Life has its own, unique, teaching style. It has a way of instructing those who will not learn any other way, and it is extremely effective at its job.

One final thought… we must not interrupt those harsh lessons, by easing the effects of consequences. The consequences themselves are a part of the essential tutorial. If we rescue people from their choices, and the consequences of their choices, we are enabling their behavior.

Galations 6:7-8
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

A Clever Teaching Style
A poem by Minister Mark A. Albert

Nurture, teach, instruct, and train,
All those who care to listen,
But ne’er become distraught or pained,
‘bout those who fail the lessons.

Life has a clever teaching style
From which it will not vary.
If you run from wisdoms words,
Its lesson plans won’t tarry.

Experience? A harsh task master;
But effective in its career.
So learn your lesson the easy way,
And to sound advice, adhere.

If you run wild, and do your thing,
Popping off, acting out, being crass.
Life’s not afraid of your running mouth,
It will gladly kick your SASS!!!!

If those who love you understand…
You will live in your creation.
Relieving the consequence, of your choice,
Will destroy your life’s foundation.

So learn from mentors, family, friends,
Each lesson that they bring.
For if you fail sound judgment’s quiz,
Life’s waiting in the wings.

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Minister Mark A. Albert is a board member and long time friend of Spirit Life Church. He is currently working on a book of wise prose and poetry called Living an Examined Life.

Click here to learn more about Spirit Life Church.

Success is a Little by Little Event


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The following is an excerpt by Minister Mark A. Albert from his upcoming book, Living an Examined Life. Mark has graciously agreed to allow this blog to share some of his work. Enjoy.

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Life works much better for us if we develop a patient, progressive, plan that helps us grow our wisdom, our project, our career, and our family. An unhurried approach is the most prudent path.

Historically, in the year 1445 B.C., when the Hebrews came out of Egyptian bondage, they were not ready to inherit the vast land that we know as Israel today. They had been slaves for over 400 years and had not been properly trained or educated; they had not learned to live a liberated life. They didn’t know anything about being landowners, farmers, ranchers, or entrepreneurs. When they came out of Egypt, free for the first time in centuries, they were told that they needed to take possession of their new “Promised Land,” in a gradual manner. They were encouraged to go “little by little” into the land until they were fully ready to take complete control of their vast inheritance. So, a little by little approach is how they grew into a great nation.

We, like Israel, must stop looking for the quick fixes, and the windfalls. We must embrace the gradual, slow growth, plan that brings experience and expertise along the way. How can we possibly be expected to handle the big things if we don’t know how to do the little things, yet? We can’t! As a result, we must reject the “win the lottery” lifestyle. Slow, steady growth brings real success.

This patient plan applies to every area of life, including real, productive change in a human being. Change is not a cataclysmic moment, no matter how emotional the decision or how life altering the event. The real change will happen over time, after the emotion has worn off, as we grow bit-by-bit daily.

Exodus 23:30
Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

A Champions Place
A poem by Minister Mark A. Albert

A Champion’s Pace

Little by little’s
How victory arrives,
Eschew the plan,
That quick fix contrives.
We search for windfall,
And lottery deals,
Like those who hunger,
Seek microwave meals.
But plans and programs
That seek change fast,
Seldom succeed,
Infrequently last.

It’s time, and patience,
Hard work, and skill,
Which brings the prize,
And pushes the will.
You see, slow and steady’s
A champion’s pace,
Cause the contest we’re in,
Is a life long race.
So, eschew the plan,
That quick fix contrives,
For, little by little’s
How victory arrives.

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Minister Mark A. Albert is a board member and long time friend of Spirit Life Church. He is currently working on a book of wise prose and poetry called Living an Examined Life.

Click here to learn more about Spirit Life Church.

The Winding Way


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The following is an excerpt by Minister Mark A. Albert from his upcoming book, Living an Examined Life. Mark has graciously agreed to allow this blog to share some of his work. Enjoy.

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The Winding Way
By Mark A. Albert

Life is like a country road,
With curves and holes galore,
Adventures from their winding ways,
Share insights to explore.

It’s not on gentle highways,
Enlightenment is found.
On byways, course and craggy,
Great wisdom does abound.

Every bend and chuckhole,
Brings lessons truly taught.
So we must pay attention,
And not become distraught.

Each veer’n swerve contains within,
Britannica’s full knowledge.
The strength and wit that it reveals…
Is a hard knocks kind of college.

Each bump’s a lesson taught,
Professor Pothole… demands his say.
On every winding country road,
A degree will come our way.

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Minister Mark A. Albert is a board member and long time friend of Spirit Life Church. He is currently working on a book of wise prose and poetry called Living an Examined Life.

Click here to learn more about Spirit Life Church.

X-Mas or Christmas


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The following is a guest blog from Lynne Focht, director of the Children’s Ministry at Spirit Life Church.

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Is it okay to say Xmas?

We refer to Jesus using many terms: the Word, the Light, the Lamb of God, Son of God, Lord, Emmanuel. As we head into this Christmas season, we often see or hear the term Xmas. Is it okay to use Xmas? Some people may think that by using the term Xmas you are being too modern and disrespectful. They might say that you are taking the “Christ” out of Christmas.

This is a misconception that mainly came from etiquette guides that date to the 1940’s. The 1948 Vogue’s Book of Etiquette states that “‘Xmas’ should never be used” in greeting cards. Also interesting to note is in 1977, New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson sent out a press release saying that he wanted journalists to keep the “Christ” in Christmas, and not call it Xmas—which he called a “pagan” spelling of Christmas.

It turns out “Xmas” is not a non-religious version of “Christmas”. The “X” is actually indicating the Greek letter “Chi”, which is short for the Greek word for Christ. So “Xmas” and “Christmas” are equivalent in every way except their lettering. Using the “X” abbreviation was a very popular practice, particularly with religious scribes, who are thought to have started the whole “Xmas” thing in the first place.

Indeed, the practice of using the symbol “X” in place of Christ’s name has been going on amongst religious scholars for at least 1000 years. Most of us are very careful with the terminology we use, so as not to offend others, but using
Xmas really shouldn’t be offensive to us as Christians.

The abbreviation was not created specifically for the purpose of demeaning Christ, Christians, Christianity, or Christmas – it is simply a very old artifact from another language.

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Lynne Focht is director of Go!, the children’s ministry at Spirit Life Church.

Click here to learn more about Go! Children’s Ministry.

Every Path Has It’s Potholes


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The following is an excerpt by Minister Mark A. Albert from his upcoming book, Living an Examined Life. Mark has grtaciously agreed to allow this blog to publish some of his work over the coming months.

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Life is not a smooth road. No matter what path we take, we will face adversity. Difficult times, however, can be the greatest learning events of our lives. It is during life’s difficulties that we can uncover our own emotional and spiritual capabilities. Tough times show us, first hand, those areas on which we need to work, and those areas in which we can flex our emotional muscle. In other words, we can clearly see our strengths and weaknesses during times of trouble. Tough times are a mirror in which we can see ourselves more clearly.

It may be during times of difficulty that we learn to adjust our “self-talk” and encourage ourselves as never before. In fact, it is during troublesome times that some people actually figure out that they have “self-talk” and it is, quite often, negative in nature. Those who embrace a more positive inner conversation recover from difficulty more quickly.

When life throws us a curve, we learn about establishing boundaries. We now know what we will, and will not, allow in our relationships in the future. In fact, not having proper boundaries may be the reason we are going through a tough time in the first place. We can now celebrate that “bump in the road” as a wise old classroom professor, who just taught us a truth we will never forget.

Distress may, even, teach us “who” our friends are, and “who” we cannot depend upon when the chips are down. How many showed up to help during our season of difficulty? Who were they? Why were they there? These are all legitimate questions to ask. Does this mean that we should be angry with those who did not help us? No… it simply means that we have had revealed to us the true nature of certain relationships. We would not have learned this information during stress free times. That knowledge may become very important to us in the future.

So… negotiate troubling seasons with skill and grace, looking for the learning, because, contained within the event is an encyclopedia of knowledge.

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)

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Minister Mark A. Albert is a board member and long time friend of Spirit Life Church. He is currently working on a book of wise prose and poetry called Living an Examined Life.

Click here to learn more about Spirit Life Church.

A Guest Blog from Corey Kizziar


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The following is a guest blog by Corey Kizziar, Worship Leader at Spirit Life Church.

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As an Arrow
Corey Kizziar

Growing up I loved playing outdoors—good guy bad guy type games, but not so much cops and robbers.

No, I played Indians and well I didn’t really have bad guys. Lol I just knew I loved taking the time to craft a bow and find those few but worthy sticks to call arrows.

Being that my mom never felt putting a sharp object into my hands was the wisest thing, I had to get creative in my arrow sharpening procedure. Eventually I learned concrete worked the best. I also learned if I wasn’t careful, that concrete could take the skin right off pretty easily.

Aren’t we made in the image of our creator? If we love to make a toy bow and arrow, doesn’t our Father love crafting bows of his own? And everyone knows God won’t create something without a purpose.

So what could the purpose of His bow—to shoot it of course.  The question is if you were an arrow, what kind would you be? Could God launch you? How would you fly?

Lets fly straight and true.

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Click here to learn more about Spirit Life Church.

Volunteerism by Lynne Focht


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The following is a guest blog by Lynne Focht, Children’s Director at Spirit Life Church.

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Volunteerism
Lynne Focht

Kids hold a special place in my heart, always have and always will. I love being able to work with our church’s kids and see their spiritual growth each Sunday, as well as their enthusiasm for learning. Running “GO!” our children’s ministry, is not an easy task, but a very rewarding one. We teach kids from ages 6 weeks to 6 schedule of volunteers. So that leads me to my next thought – volunteerism. I was approached and asked to write this blog on volunteerism, and I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to write. Help us? It’s not that bad? Kids are cool? All true but I had better dig a little deeper and reflect on my own volunteering and why I do it.

I volunteer at my son’s school, Nicklin Learning Center, each week, because they need me to. Do I always skip out of the house wearing a smile on my drive there? Not exactly, but once I arrive and those kindergartners hug me I know I’m where I belong. The teachers actively seek parent volunteers to help out with everything from field trips to computer testing.

I learned to be a volunteer from my mother, who is a volunteer CASA/GAL worker, which is a court appointed child advocate for foster kids. Basically, she follows one or two foster kids at a time and makes sure their needs are being met and they are in the best home available. We learn from our role models, and my mom is one of my biggest influences.

So, needing more information, I Googled “what does the Bible say about volunteerism?” and found there to be 176 verses! If you are striving to be more Christ-like in your actions, then perhaps you might read up on this area. My personal favorite comes from James 2:14-24:

James 2:14-24:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

I really don’t think it is enough for us to just show up to church each week. If we really want to make a difference in this world, then we need to actively seek good works to do. Like volunteering :)

Another way to look at volunteering is to consider the personal benefits. According to leading experts, dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills. Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Reducing the risk of depression is another important benefit of volunteering. A key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times.

Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.

Considering the great benefits to volunteering, why wouldn’t everyone do it? Well, I think it’s because we fall into a trap of excuses, like we don’t have enough time in our schedules, or we donate money, so doesn’t that count as a good deed?! Or we will volunteer, if someone asks.

The truth is making time in your life to volunteer probably won’t happen unless you commit to doing it. So we are asking you directly – help us! The children of Spirit Life Church need you!

We are in need of energetic and caring people to work in all classes in the children’s department. Your commitment would be minimal – most of our volunteers work only one Sunday a month from 9:45 – 12:15. What would you be doing exactly? You would be leading a class or co-teaching with another volunteer. You do not have to bring any supplies or prepare lessons. Everything will be ready for you when you arrive. All we ask is that you be reliable and enthusiastic. Kids do notice when a teacher really isn’t into “it”. You do not have to be afraid; we will train you with another experienced person until you get one or two under your belt.

And gentlemen, yes, we need you too! Positive male role models are so important in today’s society. We already have a couple of great guys working with the kids, so you won’t be alone.

If you are at all interested in volunteering on one of our three classes, or would just like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Lynne@spiritlifechurch.us.

Thank you!

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Click here to learn more about Spirit Life Church.

A letter for 2013 from Pastor Ken


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An open letter from Ps. Ken for 2013:

I believe this coming year will be one of the most significant in the history of our church. 2013 brings with it as much excitement and promise as any of the past decade, and the opportunities available to us for ministry, and in the marketplace, are unprecedented!

Hard-times and difficulties of the past few years are yielding to opportunity and growth. This shift is taking place now—not sometime next year or here after a while—pursue your new business idea and embrace your wildest dreams because this is a year of divine favor.

Through careful planning and deliberate change, Spirit Life Church has evolved steadily throughout the last year in a meaningful direction. Our departments have gained renewed purpose and direction, and continue to align towards a single, united set of goals.

We must continue the constant evaluation and adaptation of our organization if we hope to take advantage of the favor of the coming year. Though it is there for you to take, success requires diligent effort and careful planning.

Now more than ever our actions must be deliberate and the commitment we make to our responsibilities must be paramount. No doubt we are up for the challenge.

Hebrews 6:11
We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.

Start preparing, planning and executing towards your goals because they are yours to take in 2013.

Together we achieve greatness.

- Ps. Ken

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Ken VanHoose is pastor at Spirit Life Church in Piqua. Visit the Spirit Life website to listen to his messages online.

Words Are Cheap


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The following is a poem by Minister Mark A. Albert from his upcoming book, Living an Examined Life. Over the coming months Minister Albert has graciously agreed to allow this blog to share some of his work. Enjoy.

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Words Are Cheap
By Mark A. Albert

There comes a moment in every life,
Due to sadness, rejection, or constant strife;
When you look in the mirror, then look around,
To judge what you have, to see if it’s sound.
Is there a way to unveil the truth?
Of course, there is; love has a proof!
You see, words are cheap, a penny a pound.
It’s deeds that are rich, and actions sound.

May I, Can I, Shall I Dear?
Love’s a function; love draws near.
So, if you wonder: “Is love there?”
Watch what they do, not what they share!
Calling it love, when it’s clearly not,
Is lying to self, inaccurate thought.
You see, Words are cheap, a penny a pound.
It’s deeds that are rich, and actions sound.

Waiting for exploits that never occur,
S’like a ride in a limo with no chauffeur.
Begging for progress, while parked on the street,
Is selling yourself, way too cheap.
So, if they say it, but never come through,
It’s time to rethink, they may not love you.
You see, Words are cheap, a penny a pound.
It’s deeds that are rich, and actions sound.

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Minister Mark A. Albert is a board member and long time friend of Spirit Life Church. He is currently working on a book of wise prose and poetry called Living an Examined Life.

Click here to learn more about Spirit Life Church.

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