Who Am I?

Just this past weekend, we wrestled with the prayer of “send me.” We learned that one response to God’s call on our lives (our purpose), is to say “send someone else.” This is exactly the response of Moses that I’m reading in the One Year Bible again today.

Genesis 3 records the story of God calling Moses to be His voice to the people of Israel and representative to Pharaoh. The call seems bigger to Moses than his ability to pull off, so he tries to talk God into using someone else.

I wonder how many of us do the same thing with God. We feel He might be asking us to step into something bigger than what we’re currently doing, and rather than saying “yes”, we hesitate and try to justify our reluctance.

Moses said, “Who am I that I should go?”  We say things like, “They are much more gifted than me”, or “they have more money to give than I do” or “they have more time, I’m sure, than I do, so let them volunteer.” Do any of these excuses work with God? What happened when Moses stopped making excuses and started making commitments? He witnessed first hand, the incredible power of God using Him to free a nation.

What might happen if you stopped making excuses and started making commitments? The One that enabled Moses to go beyond what he believed he could do, is the same God today for you.

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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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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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Learn To Encourage Yourself

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Excuses, Faith, Victorious Living by PCraig on March 5, 2015

Many people have learned the art of experiencing failure in advance.  If you are imagining a future, where you depict the worst possible outcomes, it’s no wonder you battle depression, have trouble staying positive, and feel discouraged.

I’ve discovered that there are those who seem to experience success in advance. They spend time visualizing the best possible outcomes before they happen, thinking of all the good that might occur.

In Jude 20 the Bible talks about “building yourselves up” in faith.  Instead of picturing the worst that could happen, you make a conscious effort to push yourself toward a desired outcome.

One reason this is difficult is that we’ve got a false humility that pushes us to avoid it.  Some think that others will take us as bragging.  The other is that some have found it more comfortable to complain about their circumstances, why the entire world is against them and if it weren’t for the hand they’ve been dealt, they would have made something great happen.

If you expect negative results, it’s a lot easier to slack and be lazy. That doesn’t make sense to those who strive to live as overcomers. But therein lies the difference between those who have learned to encourage themselves.

Don’t wait on someone else to pick you up. Go ahead, pick yourself up, build yourself up in faith and encourage yourself in the Lord.

See also: 1 Samuel 30:6

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Activation

Posted in Excuses, Personal Growth, Purpose by PCraig on March 7, 2013

Most people want to make a bigger difference with their lives.  They want to know that their life matters, has meaning and purpose.

The problem is that many are waiting on some outside force in the universe to make it happen, when the real need is personal activation.

A person wants to get involved in ministry within the church, but they sit around waiting on someone to recruit him or her.   They possess a burden for a certain area, but after making a weak inquiry they sink back into their life as usual.  Some think that if God wants them to step out and do something then He will make it impossible for them to do anything else.

But what would happen if we took the next step?  If we believed that if it was meant to be, then it’s up to ME?  How would the world look if everyone stopped waiting on the perfect time and just started moving forward today?

The writer of Hebrews was frustrated by believers that were sitting around in their comfortable positions instead of growing in their faith.  In chapter five he challenges them to quit drinking milk like a baby and grow up in maturity.

Who’s responsible for your growth, your dream, your passion, and your ministry?  You are.  When we accept this it leads to a life of influence, purpose and no regrets.

What’s your next step to activate?   Take it today!

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Nehemiah Impact

I’ve had incredible feedback from the Nehemiah series that just concluded this past weekend.  God is stirring up a wave of commitment to get involved in making a difference in the world.

Since the series has had such an impact, I thought I would take some time to recap the principles from each week.

Week 1 we learned to express passion, seek God, and take action toward our cause by:

  • Ask what breaks your heart?  (human trafficking, poverty, other…)
  • Pray and ask God to speak, grant favor, and empower you
  • Activate your sense of personal responsibility rather than excuses

Week 2 we saw that we are a leader whether we think are or not.  God specializes in using ordinary people who:

  • Have clarity.  If you can’t define it you can’t do it.
  • Make a plan.  Define your next step and then take it (repeat this process).
  • Communicate passionately.  Get lit up about your cause and others will too.

Week 3 we learned that whenever you move forward for God, your enemy wants to stop you.  To defeat discouragement you must:

  • Overcome attacks from the outside by taking criticism to God and get back to work.
  • Overcome attacks from the inside by remembering the Lord is with you, and keep fighting for your cause.

Week 4 we discovered that our enemy distract us and discredit us.  To avoid this we must:

  • Not allow the good to keep us from the great work God has for us to accomplish.  We must declare: “I’m doing a great work and I’m not coming down!”
  • Not allow any compromise that would blow our testimony.  We must declare: “I’m not giving up…on my good name, my integrity, or my cause!”

Nehemiah stood the test and completed the project as an ordinary cupbearer.  Without any grand miracles, he just put these principles into practice and with God working with him a great work was done.  The same can happen for you.  What great work does God have in mind for you?  What distractions, discouragements and excuses have kept from making progress?

God specializes in using ordinary people, so why not you and me?  Let’s get busy on the wall today and do something great for God, what do you say?

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Questions for a New Year

God has been speaking to me lately about the power of questions. A well placed question can help to bring incredible clarity, understanding and direction. For example: Why do you allow him to treat you that way? That one question can help a person evaluate an abusive situation and take ownership and lead to action.

Here’s some questions that might be good to ask heading into a New Year:
What didn’t work well for me in 2011?
What did I promise that I would do last year that I failed to complete?
What would it take to complete it in this coming year and make it a priority?
Who do I need to get around more often in the New Year?
Who do I need to spend less time with next year?
What fear do I need to conquer in 2012?
What excuses kept me from doing more this year? How can I stop making them?
What do I feel God might be leading me more & more into? (New ministry, witnessing, giving…)
What first step do I need to take to achieve greater alignment with God in 2012?

These are just a few I thought of, do you have any great questions to be asked heading into a New Year?

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Stop Playing The Blame Game

Posted in Decisions, Excuses, lies, Personal Growth, Victorious Living by PCraig on November 23, 2011

I used to like watching game shows growing up.  Some of you remember Match Game, Hollywood Squares, The Newlywed Game and more recently Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.  My family likes to play board games at home as well.  One game that won’t get you anywhere is the Blame Game.

How do you play this one?  Simply take no personal responsibility for what happens in your life.  In other words, if you have outbursts of anger, just find a person to blame it on.  “I wouldn’t have gotten so angry if you hadn’t said that to me!” For many, this much easier to do than saying, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have raised my voice at you like that.”

How do we begin taking responsibility?

  • Look in the mirror instead of out the window.  Instead of looking to blame somebody, try looking in the mirror and asking, “What am I denying the truth about?”
  • Instead of playing the role of a victim, try seeing yourself as a victor over self-deception, while believing the truth as God reveals it.
  • Quit comparing yourself to others (to feel justified) and instead compare yourself to Jesus who took responsibility for you and cried, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

The greatest day of your life will be when you stop making excuses and start taking responsibility.  Everyone around you is already hoping you will.  The only one you’re really trying to fool is yourself.  Stop acting like a fool and get rid of your baggage by taking responsibility today.

Don’t miss part two of our Baggage series this weekend!  (Addiction Baggage – Everyone’s Carrying it)

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Soar or Stir

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Excuses, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 12, 2011

We live in a culture that doesn’t want to accept the blame for anything but would like to take the credit for everything.  Psychology tells us that we wouldn’t make such poor choices if we had just had a better home life.  In other words, it’s not your fault that you beat your wife, drink too much and sleep with people other than your spouse – you’re a victim.  It makes me sick!  Where are the days of people owning their problems choosing to rise above them?  Lifting themselves up by their own bootstraps and making something of their life. 

You have a choice, either stir up dirt with the turkeys or soar with the eagles.  For every excuse you can give me, I can point to a person who had it worse and chose to rise above it. 

Instead of spending so much energy looking around for someone else to blame, why not focus on doing better, living better and being better?  It’s like the criminal that takes all their creative talent to try to cut corners only to eventually get caught.  If they had only taken all that work and creative energy in a positive direction – what might they have gained? 

Too many people try to play the victim card because it just looks to hard to own up to life and be a better person.  However, there are no shortcuts.  There’s no free ticket to the top.  No one has lasting success without paying the price of character development. 

You don’t have to do this.  You can choose to spend your life in the dirt with the turkeys, but I’m hoping you’ll choose to soar with the eagles.  What step could you take today to get off the ground?

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Excuses

Posted in Excuses by PCraig on August 31, 2010

I love how the Bible sometimes uses humor to get a point across.  In today’s reading of the One Year Bible from Proverbs 22:13 it says, “The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion out there!  If I go outside, I might be killed.'”  Solomon is showing us an example of the laim excuses that people can use for not succeeding in life. 

Here are some I’ve heard:  “I would really be able to do something great for God if it weren’t for my kids.”  Or, “I’m just waiting on God right now to bring the right job to me.”  This 0ne is good for those not wishing to get involved, “I would love to volunteer, but I’m just so busy.”  What are these?  Excuses. 

Who are we trying to fool with them, ourselves, those we’re talking to, or even God?  Instead of making excuses, why don’t you step up and make some commitments?  Excuses won’t win a war, stop a depression, help a neighbor, or eradicate poverty and human suffering. 

I know actually doing something might seem harder than just making excuses, but it’s not near as rewarding.

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