Principles of Perseverance

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Decisions, Expectations, Faith, Perspective by PCraig on December 1, 2016

Last weekend at Crossroads, we were challenged by Randy Ruiz to not give up. He read from one of my favorite passages, in Galatians 6:9 where Paul says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Here are three main points that Randy made that I would like to remind all of us to put into practice each day:

1) I’m Not Going To Allow What I See – To Affect What I Know! All too often we allow what we see to determine our actions. Instead, what if you acted your way into faith? In other words, don’t see how it is today, begin to, in faith, act as though it is already done.

2) You Never Allow Your Present Situation to Name Your Future! Sometimes we allow what we are going through currently to dictate our future. History is filled with people who had every reason to believe they would never achieve in life, but they did anyway. Why? They didn’t allow their current conditions to forecast their future. (We know things can change as fast as Indiana weather!)

3) Israel Made a Permanent Decision Based on a Temporary Feeling. It’s sad when people act in the moment and quit a job, quit a marriage, or give up on their dream and then regret it later. Don’t allow what is a temporary discouraging season to cause you to make permanent choices in your life. Instead, let this be a mantra, “This too shall pass” during those seasons.

So many of you told me that you were encouraged by the message, so I trust this reminder will keep you running in the race!

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Seeking The Good Life

Posted in Finances, Generosity, Happiness, Pursuing Jesus by PCraig on November 17, 2016

Everyone I know wants to live the good life. But, for many, the good life is something we think will happen later. In other words, we haven’t gotten there yet. This translates into what I call, “when and then thinking.” The thought process is that “when” this happens, “then” I’ll be happy. The “when” can be making more money, hitting the lottery, marrying the right person, moving to a desired place. What folks are missing is that the good life is not something that happens to you, but something God does in and through you. It’s not based on the world around (that’s beyond our control), but rather has a foundation in a rich relationship with God.

Jesus warns us that money can actually try to be our master (Matt. 6:24). This is so crazy, because many of us think that if we had more money we would be freer. Yet, we know from talking to people with more money than us, that they still don’t feel they have enough. Somehow having more is not a sign of living the good life Jesus came to bring.

The remedy is found when we put our treasure in God’s kingdom. Jesus says that our heart always follows our money (Matt 6:21), therefore, to have a heart of peace, we need to invest in the things of God.

Here’s the guarantee, Jesus said if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then “all these things will be added unto you.” In other words, when we put God’s kingdom first, our hearts are aligned, and He provides our needs. Both of which lead to a very good life.

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Help For Interpreting Life

Have you noticed that if you get around negative people that you can be tempted to start talking negative also? Same thing happens when you get around positive people, by the way (thank God for that). Or, if you watch movies with vulgar language, those words might come to your head next time you hit your shin on the end table leg. And, if you read romance novels constantly, you might think your husband is a total bore.

It struck me the other day that by reading the Bible, my view of the world gets impacted. Like when I read about the value of life, how God formed me in the womb, had purpose for me before I knew it, then it makes the thought of abortion (especially late term) almost intolerable. I want to cry out against the injustice of the unborn that have no voice, but should.

I find that I need this clear, wise, voice in my head to combat all the competing unwise, and often hypocritical voices all around me. I’m thinking the same thing applies to you. If left unchecked, we can begin to be influenced by the loudest, strongest, and closest voices to us, that may not necessarily be right, wise or good.

Paul writes in 2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

What in your life needs corrected? Do you still have an awareness of right or wrong? How might God’s Word help you be able to identify what is true?

Don’t just get into the Bible; let the Bible get into you.

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A Daily Word

Posted in Change, Hearing God, Personal Growth, Victorious Living by PCraig on October 20, 2016

Like a caterpillar waking up from its slumber in a cocoon, many of us are hoping for our lives to change overnight. It doesn’t work for dieting, bodybuilding, educational degrees, or athletics, so why would we believe it in other areas? Some seem to think that by attending church two or three times per month, they will be spiritually equipped to be more than conquerors. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the main things God uses to help us move up into spiritual strength and maturity is the Bible. There’s just something about the reading of God’s Word that helps us to grow in our faith. Our goal is not just to get into the words of the Bible; it’s to let the words of the Bible get into us. When that happens, it produces change.

We learned this past Sunday from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God’s Word helps us discover who God is. It’s here we learn about His character, passion, plans, and purpose. Don’t just go through the Bible, let the Bible go through you and you will discover God.

Another discovery is who we really are, not just what others have said. You may have had people beat you down with words, saying things like, “You’re stupid, dumb, ugly, unwanted, fat, skinny, or ignorant.” But, you don’t have to live life based upon what they said. God’s opinion is what matters most. When you let what He says about you to influence how you see yourself, it changes everything.

So, the big question is how do we make it happen? I’d like to offer a few suggestions or tips:

  • Free up some time. Daily is best. Trade the pointless for what is priceless.
  • Get going. Start today! The New Living Translation is a good one to use.
  • Let the words soak into you. This is where change begins.
  • When you put it into practice, then the power flows. Don’t just be a hearer of the Word.

My prayer is that you would start today, and experience a growth toward full life in Christ like you maybe never have before.

 

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Keep On Keeping On

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Expectations, Hope, Perspective, Victorious Living by PCraig on October 13, 2016

What do you do when you don’t feel like doing anything? You do what you need to be doing anyway. I know it’s hard to keep on keeping on when you don’t feel like your marriage, finances, or career is changing, but you do it anyway. Why? Because nothing much good happens by quitting, or throwing in the towel.

Galatians 6:9 encourages us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” That doesn’t mean it will come in our timing, or that we won’t be tempted to think it’s never going to happen. But, in those times we remember that God can do anything, anytime, anyplace, so we can keep on keeping on.

Instead of dwelling on how awful things are, how difficult it is, or all the other reasons for why you should give up, dare to believe for victory. It’s scientifically proven that people who expect to win are much more likely to do so. Therefore, dare to believe that you will win in your marriage, finances, scholastics, career or wherever you need a miracle. I’ve found that when I do all I can do and I trust God for what only He can do, that it is often where God shows up the most.

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Step Into The Water

Posted in Expectations, Faith, Faithfulness, Hearing God, Perspective by PCraig on October 6, 2016

How often are we waiting on God, when God is actually waiting on us? It goes like this, “I’m waiting on God to show me what job I should pursue.” Or, “I believe that if God wants me to meet that person, He’ll bring them into my life.” Maybe even, “If God wants me to do that thing, then He’ll make it easy for me to do it.”

Each of these scenarios is assuming that if something’s going to happen it is up to God. However, in studying the Scriptures, we discover that God is often waiting on us. We have been in the book of Joshua recently and when the people came to the river Jordan, rather than sit back on the bank waiting for God, God told them to go ahead and wade into the water. The record says that when the priests feet went into the water that the river dried up for them to cross. (Joshua 3:14-16)

What is God currently asking you to do? He speaks to us through the Bible, people, songs, and an inner voice or promptings. Is there an area that you feel God is speaking, but you’re not moving? When you step forward in obedience, that is where God will meet you and help you to cross over toward His promises.

So, just keep moving until the miracle shows up. Don’t be content, lazy or disobedient by sitting on the bank rather than wading into the water. It could be that the miracle is ready to happen and you’ll discover it as you decide to walk forward in obedience. What step do you need to take?

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Taking The Step In Front Of You

Posted in Decisions, Excuses, Faith by PCraig on September 29, 2016

Many of us are sitting and waiting on God to do something special, while God may be waiting for us to do something simple. Obedience is not complicated. When a parent says, “I want you to go into your room and clean it up,” that is not unclear. Forty-five minutes later when you go check and it looks exactly like it did earlier, or maybe worse, that is not obedience. “But, I got sidetracked by organizing my pencil drawer” is not a good excuse. (This is all just hypothetically speaking)

How many times are we waiting on God to heal, provide, deliver, breakthrough, and create, while we sit in disobedience to what He’s already said? Today is a great day to start making commitments and stop making excuses. And, if you think that God can’t use you because of your past, then just pick up a copy of the Bible and start reading. It won’t take you too long to discover that God specializes in using imperfect people.

God’s grace is all you need to get started. It’s often in our weakness that His strength shows up the most. Rather than waiting on God to bring a breakthrough in your life, why don’t you rise up today and BE the breakthrough you need! God still honors faith and it doesn’t matter if it comes from a prostitute, prophet, politician, or plumber.

Just begin to press on in God’s grace, knowing that He often shows up after we take the first step. (We will see this big-time in this weekend’s message!)

What is your “first-step” of obedience today?

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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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