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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Is Being Offended A Choice?

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Forgiveness, Offense by PCraig on June 29, 2017

Are you a person who gets easily offended? You probably wouldn’t want to admit it if you are, so here’s a test to see:

  • Is there someone you having a hard time with right now?
  • Did someone say something to you that you didn’t like even though it was true?
  • Do you feel justified in taking offense?

There are two kinds of offended people:

  1. Those who have truly been treated unjustly or with cruelty.
  2. Those who believe they have been treated unjustly or with cruelty.

The second group have convinced themselves that they are justified in feeling like they do, even if the conclusion was drawn from inaccurate information. Some get offended because of gossip, “Well, I heard that…”, while others make assumptions, “I imagine they intended to do…”

How many of us have ever had a conversation with someone, and what you heard them say and what they really said was two different things? Often offenses, if allowed to stay in your heart will produce more sin. God is so faithful; He has the Holy Spirit within us to reveal to us our sin.

We can spend our whole life blaming others and being bitter or we can choose to trust God to work in and through us to bring about His plan and purpose. If you choose to stay offended, you will wander in the wilderness until you repent, forgive and let God put you back on path again.

Prison left Joseph with an opportunity to get bitter or better. He chose to get better and even used his prison experience as an opportunity. God is all knowing, He knew what Joseph’s brothers would do with him before they did it. When he had the opportunity to pay back, instead he chose to not take offense and offered forgiveness. (Read Genesis 45) I love Joseph’s story and attitude!

If you are offended and don’t take care of it, it will follow you and come up again and again. Many people float from church to church because their roots don’t go deep, leaving them so weak that they find themselves unable to endure any hardship or persecution.

God calls us to live in family, in unity, and to learn to work through our problems with each other, dealing not only with their flaws but our own. Part of being in a church family has greater expectations of spiritual growth than our earthly families require. Unfortunately, spiritual growth is not a matter of time or more learning, it comes through obedience.

It is usually not the big things that shake us but the little things. The enemy tries to pervert our attitude about the real issue to deceive us. The real issue is not “have you BEEN offended?”   The real issue is, “did you choose to TAKE offense?” No one has the power to MAKE you offended. The ONLY way you can be offended is to TAKE offense.

Would you want God to forgive you in the same way you have forgiven others? According to the Scriptures, this is exactly how we will be forgiven. Our debt of sin was overwhelming, but God gave us salvation as a free gift. Many people cannot receive healing, comfort or deliverance all because they would not release others and forgive them.

Make no mistake: God is a just Judge and He will see to it that justice is done. God avenges us, it is unrighteousness for us as believers to seek to avenge ourselves. When we try to correct wrong done to us we become the judge, trying to take God’s place. Jesus likened the condition of our heart to soil. The ground can only produce what is planted. If unforgiveness, offense, and anger are planted, then instead of God’s love, another root comes up, the root of bitterness.

Some steps to healing and freedom from an offended spirit:

1) Admit you are offended and hurt.

2) Open your heart to the Lord’s correction or discipline for you.

3) Forgive and release the person from everything they have done.

4) Stay open and tender to the Holy Spirit’s voice and obedient to His Word.

5) Choose to not let negative thoughts reign in your spirit. Just like you can CHOOSE offense, you can choose to not be bound by it

Life’s too short to spend it all knotted up in a ball of offense. Get free today! Your wife wants you to, your husband, your friends and everyone around you. Let go of offense and let God be God!

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When Chased By A Killer

Posted in Attitude, Character, Choice, Dreams, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 18, 2017

I love the story of David and his rise from shepherd boy to king of the nation of Israel. In today’s reading of the One Year Bible, I was reading about David’s escape from King Saul (1 Sa. 22&23), who wanted to kill him. It made me think, just because you’re anointed and chosen by God (he would be King Saul’s successor), doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges.

Too many people think that life’s supposed to be easy and if you’re doing the right thing, then it should be smooth sailing. Not sure where that idea originated, but nothing could be further from the truth. Gallup did a study and asked people to identify the worst and best event of their life. They found that there was an 80% correlation between the two events.

Many people find that some of the worst events of their lives have led to some of the best days. Why? Because they knew they couldn’t control what came to them, but they could control what came out of them. Over and over again, David displayed honor, respect and love for the person trying to hurt him. He couldn’t change Saul’s actions, but he could choose his. People may want to kill your dream, but it doesn’t mean you let them.

You may not like how things are going at work, your marriage, or other areas, but what’s happening to you is not as important as what’s happening in you. We can live as a victim or a victor and much of it is by choice. Trust that your best days are yet ahead, walk in faith, expecting good things, and just like David; it will lead to better days ahead.

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Betrayed By Those Nearby

Posted in Choice, Forgiveness, Love, Offense, Pursuing Jesus by PCraig on February 9, 2017

We will soon be coming into the season of Lent on the church calendar. It begins on March 1, 2017 and celebrates the 40 days leading up to Easter, often with prayer and fasting.

As I was reading today’s daily portion of the One Year Bible, one portion was on the last supper, Jesus praying in the garden, betrayal and arrest. No matter who you are, each of us will be let down by those around us. Even one of Jesus’ closest companions betrayed Him for just 30 pieces of silver.

When we are betrayed by those closest to us, we have a choice to make. We can either get bitter or we can get better. We can get over it, or let it get all over us. The choice is up to us. Too often, we use other’s shortcomings and failures to be our excuse for bitterness, resentment and revenge.

Jesus shows us a more excellent way. Rather than allowing ourselves to be reactionary in our response toward how we have been treated, we can respond with forgiveness, kindness and love. I know you may say, “But, you don’t know how many times they’ve let me down!” That may be true, but Jesus was betrayed in as hurtful of a way as anyone before or since. But, He chose to forgive and set the example for us.

Too often we fail to see that the person being hurt most by our unforgiving heart is us. So, if there’s someone you need to forgive, let go of and quit harboring resentment toward – today would be a great day to do it. No better way to get ready for Lent season, than following Jesus’ example of forgiving those nearby.

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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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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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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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Disappointing People The Right Way

Posted in Choice, Commitments, Decisions, Family, Perspective by PCraig on June 23, 2016

There are times I have to disappoint people, and I don’t like it.  I can’t be in two places at once, so I have to make a choice.  There is a call to answer and so you can’t answer everyone else’s.  Opportunities present themselves, but you can’t have it all or possibly do it all, so what do you do?

I’ve failed in this area so many times that it isn’t even funny, but over time I have learned some principles that serve as a guide and help me sleep at night.  One thing I would suggest is you must prioritize your life and do so with the idea of living your life on purpose.  What are your priorities?

Here are mine:

  • What do I feel would please God most in this situation, choice or dilemma?
  • What does my family need me to be right now?  Present? Listening? Engaged? What does that look like?
  • What does my church family need right now? Is there an area I need to pay closer attention to at this season?

Now, this list is written in priority order for me.  God first, family second and occupation third.  I would like to tell you that this is the way it’s always been, but I’m afraid my wife might write a blog someday and embarrass me.  The truth is that it used to be church first, God second (because I thought He put me in charge of the church), then family a distant third (because God liked it when I let Him be in charge of my family.  The problem came when I saw in the Scriptures that He said HE was in charge of His church and I was in charge of my family.  That changed my life!

For many I’ve witnessed, the miss-alignment looks more like family first, career & personal ambitions second, then God (and things of God) a very distant third.

So, if you were to apply the priority list of God first, family second, and occupation/dreams/goals/job third, what does today look like for you?  How about this coming weekend?  How about the year so far?

We’re about halfway through this year, so the good news is you can still turn it around and finish strong.  Here’s what else I’ve found, when I put God first, not just in my words, but in my time, talent and treasure (the real measurements); then He has a way of blessing the other areas in ways only He can do — see Matthew 6:33.

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