Shrink Your Challenges

I can spend way too much time, energy and effort on the problems in front of me. This consists of conversations with others and myself, Google about it, reading concerning it and such. How about you? Human nature is to focus on the problem and many of us are wired to fix things, so we attempt to do it on our own.

And while I want to be careful not appear to be minimizing your problem, because I know it can be enormous. But, think about what it would look like if we put that same time, energy and thought toward God? Would the size of God outsize your problem? Would the radiance of God outshine your problem? Would the power of God overpower your problem?

Are you ready to focus more on God and less on your problem? When you do, if you’re like me, your vision of God will increase and your view of your problem will shrink.

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God Help Us

Posted in Hope, Perspective, Prayer, Worry by PCraig on September 15, 2016

Is all the political action in America getting you nervous? One thing is for sure, come November 8, our nation will elect a new president. Every presidential election seems to come with drama, and this one has certainly had its share.

Here are some suggestions on how to pray at this time:

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 NIV

  • Pray all Christ-followers will put their faith ahead of their politics.
  • Pray that America will experience revival & spiritual awakening.
  • Pray for Christians and churches to share God’s love in a way that shines light to those in spiritual darkness.
  • Pray that the results of the elections will be pleasing to the Lord and result in His blessing over this nation.
  • Pray for physical protection over all candidates during this campaign.
  • Pray a strong hedge of protection over the nation for a safe and fair election.
  • Pray that those leading our nation will be drawn closer to Jesus each day and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

A PROMISE:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

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Running On Empty

Posted in Margin, Prayer, Purpose, Rest & Refreshing, Solitude, Stress, Victorious Living by PCraig on September 8, 2016

All kinds of information exists on breathing techniques for reducing stress. It seems most of us tend to breathe shallow and live pressurized lives. By breathing deeply through our nose, holding it for several seconds, then slowly releasing it out our mouths, heart rate and stress levels come down. So, you might try it and see what happens.

This got me thinking about how important it is to breathe in the experiences of life. How many of us just getting going in the morning and don’t stop until we hit the bed? God didn’t even do this. In creation, God set aside one day of the week to be a day of rest. In a culture that carries a device that is linked to the world in it’s hand, that is difficult for us to achieve.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Unplug for 15 minutes each morning to connect only with God. Read, pray, sing, meditate and establish connection. How your day begins has a lot to do with how it goes.
  • Set aside a few moments before you pull into the driveway and pray, “God, I’m about to go inside to people who need me to be present and a positive influence, help me to put all else aside to be what they need.”
  • Weekly orchestrate your schedule to attend a church service where you can recalibrate in worship, fellowship and discipleship.
  • Schedule monthly appointments with yourself that include getting away from the normal routine for a number of hours to ponder, pray and rest.
  • Annually take a day, or more if possible, to evaluate your life and the direction you are headed. Ask yourself, “Am I going toward my purpose?” If not, ask God to help you get in alignment with His purpose and create action steps for doing so.

What are some steps you currently take to reduce stress and realign your life to God’s purposes? If you can’t think of any, maybe try some of those I’ve suggested, or seek God to create your own. You can’t live a fully charged life while running on empty.

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Choose Your Story

Posted in Attitude, Change, Choice, Marriage, Relationships by PCraig on September 1, 2016

Each of us is telling a story every day of our lives. There’s the story we are portraying to everyone else, such as, “look at me the hard-worker.” Then, there is the story we tell to ourselves, “I am so tired of working harder than anyone else around here and being unappreciated for it.”

Couples who tell a positive story about their spouse are far and away more likely to make it through life’s challenges. How about your story? Are you saying things like, “My husband never…” or “She always prioritizes everything else”? If so, then your story needs to be adjusted. You can’t tell a negative story and expect positive results.

In addition, the Bible has a ton to say about our attitude in life. In Philippians 4:8 we are told, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

So, realize today that you might just be part of the problem with your relationships. Make an attitude decision and adjustment. Tell the story you want to be reality in your mind first, and then as you focus on the good, I believe more good things will happen.

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Let It Go Today

Posted in Choice, Happiness, Offense, Relationships by PCraig on August 25, 2016

If we all got what we deserved, we would all be in trouble. Am I right? Surely you don’t think you’ve lived such perfect life that even God is impressed with you – really? I don’t think so. The Bible says that we’ve all missed the mark and come up short in breaking promises to ourselves, God and others.

The most miserable people you know are resentful. They refuse to give up a grudge, let go of a hurt, and withhold forgiveness as though it were a prize. What these poor folks aren’t fully realizing is that they are hurting themselves. Un-mercifulness makes you miserable.

Proverbs 11:17 (NLT) Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.

We think it will destroy them, but often they are going on their merry way while we suffer for it. Holding a grudge is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

When I realize how much I’ve been forgiven, washed and cleansed of my past, then it makes it easier to forgive others. Maybe you don’t feel forgiven? Perhaps it’s your lack of being forgiven that is holding you back from issuing forgiveness?

Whether it’s your spouse, your neighbor, friend, boss, co-investor, parent or whomever, here’s what I know, it’s time to let it go. To let them go. And, I’ll even tell you when to do it – now! It’s already late as far as I’m concerned. But, the best time is to do it today. So, I don’t know what that means for you, what phone call or appointment you need to make (if you can), letter or email you need to write. I just know, after it’s released and you finally let go, you’ll be happier and glad you did. (Jesus said so, Matthew 5:7)

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Get A New Script

Posted in Change, Choice, Personal Growth, Perspective, Victorious Living, Words by PCraig on August 17, 2016

Whenever someone is trying out for a part in a play or movie, they are often handed a script to read. The goal is to see if the actors can read the part and put themselves into it in such a convincing way that it’s as though they become the character. A good actor is believable as they take on the attributes of the scripted person. We often get absorbed into the role, as the actor seems convinced also of their new identity.

In life, many of us feel as though we’ve been handed a script of a part we are forced to play. Some act out as a liar, cheat, adulterer, swindler, drug addict, stupid, weak, and loser (to name a few). God, in the meantime, is in the business of handing out new scripts and helping us obtain a new identity. His script reads, winner, warrior, truth-teller, loyal, faithful, free, healed, wise, mighty, and overcomer (to name a few).

When we invite Jesus into our lives, He switches our script. We are no longer a slave to fear, shame and remorse, but a liberated child of the King.

I’m so glad He switched my script and mercy rewrote my life!

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Stop Eating Junk Food

I’m not writing about the poor eating habits many practice (though that would be a great idea). My concern today is more about the people you and I can choose to hang around.

Just like any dieter knows, if you get around people with poor eating habits, chances are, you’ll eat more like them as well. I know when my wife Rachelle is dieting, I tend to lose some weight also. Why is that? Because when she is eating less, I do too!

Whoever you hang with can influence what you eat or take in, such as movies you watch, books you read, or music you listen to.

So, it just makes sense that if you want to increase your appetite for godly things then you need to get around godly people. Spiritual hunger is contagious. As you get around people who love God, love to worship God, love to read the Bible, love to attend church, and love to serve – your loves are going to change.

Whether it’s losing weight or getting closer to God, you need to watch who you hang around, they are probably affecting you more than you know or admit.

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A Perspective on Opposition

Posted in Attitude, Christian Lifestyle, Decisions, Perspective by PCraig on July 30, 2016

Ever feel like everything is against you when you are trying to do the right thing? Maybe you decide to lose weight and someone brings cupcakes to work? Or, you are trying to get out of debt and the car breaks down? It can get really discouraging and, if we’re not careful, fill us with the temptation to give up or quit.

It can be like this in regards to living a life of faith. We make a commitment to serve and live for God and then all hell breaks lose in our home, boss, career or girlfriend. What is up with that?

Jesus said that we should consider ourselves “blessed” when it happens, according to Matthew 5:10-12. I don’t know about you, but “blessed” is not the first word that pops into my mind. However, it is important to see it from a different perspective. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

So, whatever your day looks like, understand that persecution, difficulties and challenges are going to come our way. It may not be a result that you are doing something wrong, but that you are doing what’s right. Spiritual opposition is going to happen.

You may not be quite ready to take it as a complement, but, it may just be that because you are trying to do what’s right, there’s an enemy trying to stop you. Let the friends make fun of you for praying before lunch. It’s okay if someone else wants to do a deal that’s unethical, you won’t. Others may dress their daughters like call girls, but you want to live holy.

When you make decisions such as these and desire to pursue godliness and heaven’s approval over man’s, something happens inside of you. A strength begins to build, a power is released an intimacy with God floods your soul, and you feel good about yourself. All this happens when you don’t allow yourself to quit in the midst of the battle. Be encouraged today that maybe the opposition you face is a better sign you’re going in the right direction.

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You Look Like Your Father

Posted in Character, Excuses, Humility, Love, Victorious Living by PCraig on July 21, 2016

It seems that there is so much tension, strife and conflict in our culture today.  Added to this is the everyday discord in many households with the people who live there.  Daily we can learn of families being torn apart, violence in our communities, and unrest in our society.  There is a better way – and we all wish for it.  But, it takes more than wishing upon a star for it to happen.  What are some steps to take that lead to peace?

We can learn to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).  It’s not working around the issues, but through them.  However, there is a right time, place and way to do it.  What we need to do is confront the issue, not the person.  When we do it in love, we become the peacemakers Jesus said we could be (Matt. 5:9)

Another step is to apologize when you are wrong.  Instead of making excuses and blaming other people, we need to accept responsibility.  There is a big difference between remorse and repentance.  You can be sorry that you got caught, sorry that you’re going through something, and sorry for the pain.  But, repentance is saying, “I sinned against you when I did that, will you please forgive me?”  That can go a whole lot further in bringing healing and reconciliation than a simple, “Sorry about that.”

Lastly, we must learn to let all hurt, pain and damage go.  I’m not saying that your hurt wasn’t awful, that the person didn’t do you wrong, or discounting the incredible pain and suffering you might have endured.  I’m also not going to tell you that it’s easy to forgive, but it is doable.  And, it is vitally important to moving forward in personal and spiritual health.  (See Col. 3:13)  Let me ask, “Has the Lord forgiven you of a lot of sins?  How many? Did He do it freely without you even deserving it? That is how we are to act.  To freely forgive as we have been forgiven.

This is how to bring peace to our marriages, communities and nation.  When we do this, Jesus says, “They will be called the children of God.”  Why?  Because we look so much like our Father.  I don’t know about you, but I want to grow up to look more like Him everyday.

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Follow Your Heart…Really?

Posted in Character, Culture, Decisions, Heart, Victorious Living by PCraig on July 14, 2016

Our biggest issue is a heart issue.  It doesn’t matter if you are talking about marriage, money or race.  If your heart is not in the right place, nothing else really matters.

The problem is that all of us have a heart problem.  The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above al things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9-10). You know your heart has a problem when it keeps trying to get you to do the wrong thing. Like if you are in debt, but you go into H.H. Gregg and see a new TV and think, “I can’t keep watching that little 46” I have at home, when here’s a beautiful 60” on sale that I should have!”  What is that?  Friend, that’s a heart lying to you.

You can’t build a good life on a bad foundation, or raise a good harvest with bad seed.  Also, we really don’t have a race problem in America, we have a heart problem. If our heart is right, then we will act right.

How do we get our heart right?  “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” (Psalm 119:9-10)

So, stop telling people to follow their heart or listening to people telling you to follow yours. Instead guard your heart and don’t allow anything that can pollute it to gain access. Americans are crazy about pure water, food sources, and air, but think nothing of other crud entering their minds and hearts.  Don’t allow yourself to be deceived (which your heart can easily do).  Address the root of the problem by guarding your heart with God’s Word. Only God can make a perfect heart that leads to peace, happiness and joy.

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