The Voices In My Head

Posted in Counsel, Distractions, Dreams, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Mind by PCraig on November 9, 2017

It happens to me every week. I want to quit. I’ve wanted to quit my run halfway into it. Just last week I completed my first half marathon, but after several miles, I asked myself, “Why can’t we just walk?” Toward the end, the voice got louder with each step.

But if it’s not running, I’ve had other things: my marriage, my job, my writing, my blog, or even God. This is just the nature of life. The temptation to quit is a recurring theme.

And if the voices in our heads were not enough trouble, the voices in our culture also urge us to “throw in the towel,” “make a change,” or “take it easy on yourself.”

What these same voices fail to tell you is there is a price to pay for quitting, just like there is for success. Somehow, the enemy voice doesn’t mention what the cost will be for giving up: poor self-image, weakness, depression, missed opportunities, and far worse.

In my experience, the thing that keeps me going is answering this question, “Why am I doing this?” I then try to remember the dream. “Why I am doing this hard thing that I am doing.” I try to get connected to the original vision, because that keeps me going when the going gets tough.

This is what the apostle Paul did when faced with imprisonment for preaching the good news of Jesus. He would remind himself of who he was in Christ, the great work that he was doing, and the reward that awaited at the end. We can do the same!

Plus, God is faithful to provide encouragement if we are looking for it. Sometimes it comes through a song, a Scripture reading, a friend, a blog, or the whisper of the Spirit’s voice inside our heads. Tune into the right voice today and you can keep on keepin on to the finish line.

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Living On Purpose

Posted in Personal Growth, Perspective, Purpose by PCraig on November 2, 2017

Too many people in our world settle for a mere existence rather than discovering their life purpose. How sad to go through life simply going through the motions when you could have lived God’s dream for your life.

God told the prophet Jeremiah that He had a purpose for his life already established while he was in his mother’s womb. Isn’t that awesome! I believe God had a purpose for your life as well before anyone ever got to see your slick body come out into the world.

Here’s my question: are you living your purpose or just going through the motions? Have you allowed this world to squeeze your into its mold and lost your drive, ambition and dream? What did God have in mind for you before you were ever born? Are you being the you He intended?

If not, here are some ways to get on track:

  • Pray, and ask God to reveal His original plan & design for your life
  • Examine your life and see if it’s headed in that direction
  • Look for God’s guidance through open doors & opportunities
  • What strengths or gifts are you currently not using for His glory?
  • Ask wise people around you to speak into your life concerning what they see in you
  • Form a plan of steps that can lead you to your life mission

How are you doing with living your purpose? Have you made any recent steps to get on track with your life mission?

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Coming Apart

Posted in Rest & Refreshing, Solitude by PCraig on October 19, 2017

Jesus on one occasion, at least, said to His disciples, “Come apart.”  The context was to get away from the crowds and get time alone.  I once heard an old preacher say, “If you don’t ‘come apart,’ then you’ll come apart!”  In other words, we need times of retreat.  I have found this important for the following reasons:

  • Reflection – I need time to process life, the future, goals and dreams, along with disappointments.
  • Refreshing – My soul is replenished in the times away from the crowd.
  • Renewal – My heart is restored by the quiet moments with Him (and often my family)

What happens to you in these moments?  Has it been so long that you’re uncertain?  I’ve learned the value of Jesus command to His disciples and am trying to be obedient to it myself.

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Hearing God Better

Posted in Decisions, Perspective, Will of God by PCraig on October 5, 2017

I’ve never had the need to wear hearing aids, thankfully. I guess I just haven’t attended enough concerts! But, from what I understand, these devices amplify the sounds in your ear so you can hear well. What if we had some ways to amplify God’s voice to us, especially in regards to making decisions? What might some of those ways to hear God speaking be?

  • Get spiritually tuned in. One passage talks about God speaking in a gentle “whisper”. The only way to hear a whisper is to get really quiet and wait.
  • Go with what you know. God usually leads us a day at a time. He likes it that way because we’re more dependent upon Him. So, wherever you find yourself, look for the opportunities you do have over what you don’t have.
  • Get in an atmosphere to hear. Those wearing hearing aids don’t like rooms with many voices, because all of them are amplified, making it more difficult to distinguish. Get in an atmosphere where God often speaks, such as solitude, Scripture reading, worship services, godly friends and mentors.

The apostle Paul learned a secret about God while in the lonely confines of prison, after being arrested for preaching the gospel of Jesus. He said, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). We learn profound things when we are in better positions to listen.

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The Advantage Wise People Use

Posted in Change, Choice, Decisions, Friendship, Relationships, Wisdom by PCraig on September 28, 2017

I saw recently that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Wow! Are you thinking about who those 5 are right now? If not, you should because your future depends upon it.

You show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. It is almost impossible to live the right life when you have the wrong friends. Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. You can’t walk with the wild, broken, broke and be self-controlled, healthy and empowered.

So, look around and ask who you are surrounded by? Is that where you want to be in the next 5 years? If not, then it might be time to delete some names from your contacts, friends from your social media and time spent with the wrong people. You could be one new friend away from a better marriage, stronger finances, and a fuller life.

If you would be willing to change your friends, you can change your story. Get in a good Life Group, service club, or accountability group and transform your destiny. After all, this is what wise people do. Above all else, get wisdom (Proverbs 4:7).

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Being Over Doing

Posted in Character, End of the World, witnessing by PCraig on September 21, 2017

It seems like every few years, maybe less, someone comes along and starts a hypothesis that Jesus is coming back on a certain date. They may write a book, get on radio, send newsletters, and use social media to promote it. Besides the fact that Jesus clearly stated that “no one” knows the day or hour of His return, it is a misalignment of priorities.

When Jesus was getting ready to ascend into heaven to be with His Father, the disciples asked him when He was coming back (Acts 1). Jesus answered them that it was not for them to “know,” but for them to “be” His witnesses. In other words, we get more caught up in knowing than being, and Jesus guides us to flip those.

So, are you more involved in knowing things or being something? It would be better to be a great parent than to know a lot about parenting. It’s better to be a good example to your kids than to know a lot about finances. Do you see what I mean? In an information age that wants to know lots of data, Jesus encourages us to focus more on being and He can lead us to the right knowing.

Whether or not Jesus comes back in the next few days is not as important as you and I being a good witness for Him today.

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Positive Thinking

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Expectations, Faith, Hope, Perspective by PCraig on September 14, 2017

I remember growing up and watching Dr. Robert Schuller preach from the Crystal Cathedral. For those who knew him, Schuller was huge on possibility thinking. Each week he would encourage his listeners that they could rise above their circumstances by focusing on the possibilities rather than the difficulties. I know he had his critics, but I think most people could use a good dose of Schuller’s message.  Some a double dose!

How many people do you know that give into the power of negative thinking? They can moan, groan, gripe and complain for endless hours. No matter what your problem is, they have it worse.

What would happen if we began to practice possibility thinking? Not that we can just think good thoughts and everything will be okay. But, what if we stopped thinking of how bad we have it, what more could go wrong, and why isn’t God doing something about it? Instead, we could spend the same amount of time thinking of how well off we really are (especially compared to most of the world), what could go right, and where is God currently trying to direct us if we would just pay attention?

People all around us are looking for hope. What if you became a source of it? Would there be a promotion in your future, better relationships, or greater influence? I think so. Take some time today to think of the possibilities.

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A Good Comparison

Posted in Attitude, Perspective, Thankfulness by PCraig on September 7, 2017

It’s often not a good thing to compare ourselves to others, especially when it comes to social media. The reason is that we get to look at people’s highlight reels, while we are living the behind the scenes lives. We see people, as they want us to see them, yet we know what we are at our worst.

I’ve discovered that there is a good time to compare ourselves with others and it’s when we are having a pity party. When we feel unappreciated, unloved, undesirable, blaming others, and feeling like we’re not getting our fair share. It’s in these moments that looking around can actually help. Because if you’ll look long enough, far enough and close enough, you will discover people who are worse off than you. There are people who would gladly trade you places.

While we’re grumbling about how full our three-car garage is getting, there are people who would love to live in our garage. It would be a lot nicer than the shack where they currently live (tin roof and dirt floor).

So, just keep in mind that it’s better to stick to your own business. But, if you do insist on comparing, make sure you look far and wide to gain a full perspective. You might just want to change your grumbling into gratitude.

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4 Helps To Fight Depression

Posted in Attitude, Counsel, Encouragement, Perspective by PCraig on September 1, 2017

We’re just a matter of weeks before the leaves begin falling from the trees. For me, that can be depressing. I much rather watch the leaves sprout in spring, rather than tumble to the ground in fall. But, there is a time and season for everything, the Bible says, so I can choose to accept what I cannot change.  If we’re not careful, some of us can get depressed over things we can’t change. What good is that? There are countless reasons to get depressed, but can you avoid it? Or, at least minimalize it?

Here are the some things to consider:

  • Stop Hiding It. Until you admit you’re depressed no one can help you.
  • Ask For Help. This may mean joining a Life Group, go to counseling, or visit a doctor.
  • Take Action Today. Delay keeps us down. Quit postponing & procrastinating. You know what you need to do, now go do it! Make the phone call or set up the appointment.
  • Seek The Healer. Jesus wants to help you more than you know. Don’t doubt Him, attempt to hide from Him or run from Him. Instead, we need to run to Him. (Ps. 147:3; Isaiah 61:1-3)

The enemy will try to get you to focus on what’s wrong with your life, on things you don’t have, and the hardships of life that often can’t be avoided. Instead of biting his bait, fix your eyes, mind and senses on what you do have and the promise of God to never leave you or abandon you. It may look dark at the moment, but hope and help is on the way and God can turn things around for you. Don’t give up, instead take action and I believe you’ll begin to come out from under the dark clouds of despair into a new day full of God’s sunshine.

One of the very practical things that lifts me is positive, uplifting music. What helps you? Whatever it is, take time to activate it in your life today.

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Why Your Words Are Important

Posted in Choice, Criticism, Encouragement, Marriage, Relationships, Words by PCraig on August 24, 2017

Some of us are external processors, some of us are internal processors, but we all talk a lot. One-fifth of your life will be spent with your mouth open. Is that insane to consider? Even more, that’s a lot of opportunity to bless and that’s a lot of opportunity to curse, according to James chapter three. And some of us are really over achievers when it comes to spoken, text, tweet, post and emailed communication.

It’s not surprising that God has something to help us with this area that consumes a fifth of our lives. James tells us to be “quick to listen and slow to speak.” I wonder how many marriages would be better today or even together today, if they put that one principle into practice? Proverbs 18:21 goes so far as to say that the “power of life and death is in the tongue.” But, before you discount that as extreme, think of recent bullying that has resulted in suicides and depression.

You and I weld a lot more power in our mouths than we give credit. The challenge is to direct that force in a good, positive and beneficial way for others and us. When a spouse gets all puffed up and raises their voice to set the record straight, all that may have been accomplished is lowering the quality of their relationship and complicating things further. Being loudest, most boisterous or cutting may win an argument, but it can lose the relationship. You may get someone to walk away, wave a flag of surrender or cower down, but you didn’t build anything along the way.

How do we get control of our tongue? James says it isn’t easy. As a matter of fact, he says it’s easier to tame an animal, bird or fish than it is to tame the tongue. Ever been to Sea World?

Here’s what James says can help:

Be slow to speak. Don’t speak first and think later, that’s a recipe for regret.

Be wise. Ask yourself: Is this is wise to say? Will this be beneficial?

So peace. If you can’t something positive, don’t say anything at all. Mom said that too!

Your words will steer your life in one direction or another. The cause for some not having a better marriage is in their mouth. Some don’t have the job you would like because you sabotage your self by gossiping at work.

We need more peacemakers in the world, and that requires being more in control of what comes out of our mouths. Let’s all start today!

*If you liked this post, join us this weekend for part 4 of Functional Faith as we discuss James 3 in more detail. You can also catch the podcast from our website next week: www.crossroadsavon.com

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