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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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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No Substitute For The Right Piece

Posted in Happiness, Pursuing Jesus, Weekend Reflections by PCraig on June 30, 2016

I loved sitting and putting puzzles together as a kid.  I started with the big wooden pieces and worked my way up to the small, intricate and difficult puzzles with hundreds of pieces.  The frustrating thing that came with the more challenging puzzles was the way it seemed there were similar shaped pieces that looked a lot alike.  Invariably there would be an empty spot that would form with a odd shape, then I would joyously find a piece that appeared to be an identical match, only to have it not quite fit.  It was at this point; I would push, remove and repeat for numerous times.  My hope was that somehow it would turn into the missing piece that would exactly fit the hole.  But, in the end, it was the wrong piece.

It was not until I gave up and looked for another piece that I was able to fill the spot.  Much the same, many of us are living this puzzle called life and all of us want to be happy.  Yet, we find ourselves pushing and pushing the wrong pieces into the holes of our lives.  We think, “If I can just get married, obtain a new job, move to a new city, or reach a new high, then I’ll be happy.”  The reality is that we are trying to force something into a hole that only God can fill.

Each of us are made by a Creator that loves us and wants good things for us, but He is the missing piece for many.  We try to cram relationships, careers, money, things money can buy, positions, and other things and it leads to frustration, hurt, anguish and pain.

Just like getting the right shape in the right place can only complete the puzzle on a card table, we cannot find happiness until we get Jesus in the God-shaped hole in our lives.  Once we do, then we begin to experience life to the full that Jesus came to bring.

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A Sadness That Leads To Gladness

Posted in Change, God's love, Happiness, Joy by PCraig on June 16, 2016

The thing I enjoy most about going to the dentist is leaving.  Sorry to all my dental professional friends.  My reason stems from not taking care of my teeth overly well as a kid and needing a lot of fillings done along the way.  I never enjoyed them coming toward me with that big, long needle to numb me up for the procedure to follow.  Nowadays, I don’t have to worry about fillings; it’s more just the picking at my teeth with a small stainless pickaxe.  Yet, I love how clean my teeth feel when I leave.  That crystal clean sensation of teeth that have been scrubbed as clean as can be is wonderful.

This is a similar feel to what Jesus described, when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  It doesn’t sound like we will be happy if we’re mourning, but it depends on how you look at it.  We try to numb ourselves from our unhappiness by using alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, sexual adventure, entertainment, food and even work.  All of these things are an effort to escape or produce a fix.  But, not only are these temporary, they can lead us to addiction.

Rather than trying to escape or mask our sorrow, we would do better to address it.  Jesus promises comfort to those who do.  How do we do it?  Realize that a loving Heavenly Father waits for us to come to us with our brokenness.  Many have a warped image of God, but the Bible says (Ps.119:76) that His “unfailing love” will be “my comfort.”

Much like going to the dentist, if we will come to God in sorrow for our sins, He can help us bring about the change we need.  His cleansing power can do for us what we cannot do ourselves.  This is how mourners can be happy.  Or to put it another way, happy are the sad.  When we declare ourselves spiritually bankrupt, then God can step in and begin the process of recovery.  As we take the crud of our guilt, shame, bad choices and sin to God, He can scrub away the past and clean us up for a sparkling future.

When was your last appointment for soul cleansing?  Don’t let the plaque of sin build up on your heart any longer.  Enjoy the freedom, joy, relief, and relief that only an appointment with God can produce.  Do it today.

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It’s Not God’s Fault

Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself, “What is the common denominator in all my bad relationships?”  Think about this – it’s you!  How many of our issues, challenges and problems are the result of us trying to play God.  When I act like God, I’m going to make choices that I want regardless of what God has spoken.  So, when my life is going in a bad direction, who’s fault is it?

The Bible talks about how there is a way that seems right, but in the end it leads in death. What it’s saying is that we think we know what will make us happy, and way too often we get our cues from the culture. I wouldn’t get my advice from a bunch of people addicted all kinds of stuff and still can’t get happy.  Just saying!

When Jesus wanted to tell people how to be happy, He starts off with be “poor in spirit.”  That doesn’t sound like something you read in a magazine.  Yet, the encouragement is to admit some things about you, to get authentic.  Admit you are broken, because we all are, just maybe in different locations.  Set your pride aside and declare that you are not enough on your own.  Then, ask God for help. We move from confession to petition. With less of you, there’s more room for God.

Finally, we accept help from other people, because God uses others when we dare to be honest.  We all need a place to go where people won’t judge us, but hear us and pray for us.  When you admit you are poor in spirit, that’s when the power comes.  As you position yourself, then Jesus comes in His power and takes us to places we could never go on our own.

Don’t be the reason you’re not happy.  Humble yourself, admit you’re not enough, ask for God’s help, and accept help from others, in so doing, you’ll find a joy you never dreamed!

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Garbage In – Garbage Out

Posted in Attitude, Change, Happiness, Victorious Living by PCraig on June 3, 2015

I’m amazed at how people can be surprised by bad outcomes when they had bad input.  They date a person for a short time, get married, then wonder why they are blind-sided by the other person’s faults.  We see someone struggle with depression, but learn they spend their time alone, watching TV and never reading God’s Word.  Or, we hear about a person that has an affair with someone from their past that they reconnected on Facebook and got extra cozy with.

The common denominator in all these scenarios is what the person was putting into their life.  Just like eating poor food will lead to poor health, when we take in negative thoughts, ideas and terrible advice, what do you expect?

If you want to live a life full of joy, peace, satisfaction and contentment, then you’ve got to first all address your intake.  You can’t put water in your gas tank and sail down the road.  Why would you expect to be able to load up on un-godly media, un-wise friends, and un-healthy thoughts and be an over-comer?

First look at the in-take and you’ll probably discover the cause of the out-flow.  If you don’t like the results you’re getting, then the good news is you can do something about it.

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You Can Choose Joy

Posted in Attitude, Change, Fruit of the Spirit, Happiness, Joy, Perspective by PCraig on April 30, 2015

I don’t think most of us think of joy as a choice.  Many think it is dependent upon their circumstances.  Some even go as far as thinking that joy is beyond them and something they’ll probably never really possess.

Looking at the writings of Scripture, I love what Paul says in Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”  Here’s some things I take away from this passage:

  • It is stated like a command rather than an option.  So, all Christ followers should pay attention and strive for it.
  • It is to be on-going and not based upon daily circumstances.  Paul was in prison when he wrote this.
  • This quality was important enough that he stated it twice, back-to-back.  Plus, the whole book emphasizes joy while in prison.
  • The ability to have joy daily must come from rejoicing “in the Lord.”  When I think about His goodness, grace, and love, I can be filled with joy.
  • We need to speak joy-filled words.  “I will SAY it again…”  The more we get in the habit of speaking joy, the more we’ll experience it.

Hope this helps you live a life that is full of joy.  Feel free to leave a comment about what you do to help live a joy-filled life.

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Tax Time

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Happiness, Perspective by PCraig on April 9, 2015

Taxes.  Okay, are you depressed yet?  It’s that time of year and each time we approach it with fear and trembling.  Hopefully, you are one of the rare people who actually get some money back from the government, but that’s usually not our experience.

Jesus said we ought to pay them though, so I guess I’ll keep following what He said.  And as much as I hate paying such a ginormous percentage of income in taxes, I guess I’m glad for a few things:

  • To be an American.
  • To be healthy enough to earn a paycheck.
  • To earn a lot more than the dollar a day much of the world lives on.

Plus, even though there are plenty of stupid things and items I don’t agree with that are supported by my taxes, there are many good programs my percentage helps make happen.

Okay, I feel better now about submitting my paperwork to my accountant tomorrow and I hope it helped you as well.  Look at your blessings and choose to be happy!

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Motivated By Gratitude

Posted in Attitude, Giving, Happiness, Marriage, Serving, Thankfulness by PCraig on March 6, 2014

Gratitude is a great source of motivation.  Recently, when Shaunti Feldhahn was with us, she talked about how this works with marriages.  She said that her research revealed that highly happy couples keep score.  No, not of the things their partner didn’t do.  Instead, they keep track of the good things their partner did in an effort to show gratitude and appreciation later.

In other words, the happy couples said things like, “Hey, I’ve been noticing how you’ve been knocking yourself out for the family lately and doing more than normal because of sick kids in the house, so I want you to take this Saturday and go get a massage, go shopping with friends and I’ll watch the kids.”  She said the couples felt a feeling of indebtedness to each other when one was doing a lot.  (Try it out on your spouse and let me know how it goes over)

If gratitude toward our spouses causes us to serve one another all the more, then what should we do when we look at what God has done for us?  Through Christ we have been forgiven, restored, renewed, released, accepted, and have eternal reservations with Him in heaven.  What more could you ask for?

I mean Jesus died on the cross because of your sin and mine and forever paid our debt so we can be free.  What does that feeling of indebtedness do to you?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have enough hours in a day to serve Him, nor can I give too much money in support of kingdom work to repay Him.

Truly grateful people keep score and look for ways to pay it back.  It can help a marriage and it is the only reasonable response to a Savior who gave all for us.  Does the way you serve and give show gratitude?

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Marital Work Ethic

Posted in Happiness, Marriage, Relationships, Weekend Reflections by PCraig on February 26, 2014

Those who are married all worked to get there.  Why is it after we’re married many of us stop working?  Sometimes it’s because we start working on something else:  kids, the office, golf game, working out, or decorating a house.  Too often, we forget to work on the foundation of our marriage.

Marriage may not be the easiest thing to be good at, but I think it can become the greatest thing this side of heaven.  It’s funny how we can get up have the coffee, rush to work, look as good as we can, make the calls, take initiative, bag the clients and that all takes work.  What if you took that same energy and effort and put it into your marriage?  Many of us would get fired if we treated the work site like we do our home life.

Here’s some things to work on to improve your marriage:

  • Your relationship with God.  The Holy Spirit can do wonders on us to bring about the necessary change we need.
  • Read the Bible.  God’s Word is an incredible marriage manual.  (Proverbs, Song of Songs, Ephesians 5 & 6 are some favorites)
  • Pray for your spouse.  There is power in prayer and it’s hard to stay mad at someone you’re praying for.
  • Read marriage books.  Like Shaunti Feldhahn’s books that was our guest just last Sunday.
  • Work at being a good listener.  Put down the phone, iPad, and whatever else and give your undivided attention to your mate.
  • Love your mate as they desire to be loved, not using your love language.   (See Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman for more on this)
  • Guard your thoughts and keep them positive about your spouse.  (Use Philippians 4:8 as a guide)

That’s a great “to-do” list.  I wish I could say I’ve got all these down, but I will say, I am still working on them and for nearly 30 years it’s worked for us!

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