Upgrade Yourself

Posted in Attitude, Change, Character, Family, Marriage, Personal Growth by PCraig on May 10, 2018

I can still remember the feeling of jumping into the pool on that very hot summer day only to discover I had left my phone in my swim trunks pocket.  Yeah, it didn’t make it.  The pool was so inviting, I was on vacation and ready to relax, but instead, I got to upgrade my phone.  Wasn’t wanting to, and didn’t have a plan for it, but it happened.

We live in a culture of upgrades.  From TV’s, phones, computers, wardrobes, cars, houses, and everything that goes in a house, we love to get upgraded.  The dangerous thing is when we start thinking we deserve an upgrade relationally, especially for those who are married.  Many would even like to upgrade their kids for some that behave better, aren’t as physically or emotionally challenging, or look more like someone else’s. Of course, we aren’t always willing to admit these feelings, but they can lie under the surface of our behavior and decisions.

I would like to propose that you do get an upgrade.  But, instead of looking to upgrade on the outside, why not upgrade on the inside? This doesn’t sound near as sexy, exciting and adventurous, but it can be way more worthwhile.

The lyrics to a worship song say, “I’m trading my sorrows…shame…pain…for the joy of the Lord.” It seems the songwriter is suggesting that you can trade up your negative emotions and experiences for a joy that comes only from God.  The brother of Jesus, James (1:2-4), says that trials will come to all of us.  There are no trouble-free families, but instead of giving into the temptation to quit, we can trust that healing is on the other side.

Too many, short-circuit the process, by not allowing patience, strength and healing work it’s way through our struggles.  Instead, we keep making the same mistakes over and over thinking something will change. Maybe what needs to change is us? James says (1:5), if we ask God for wisdom, He will give it to us.  The crazier your family, the more you need this.  When you feel you can’t go on, or that it might be easier to quit, just remember to ask God to give what you don’t possess on your own.  Let Him help you trade up your hurts for healing, your pain for purpose and fill you with virtues that come only through the struggle.

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Soul Thriller

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Happiness, Joy, Pursuing Jesus by PCraig on April 26, 2018

Discontentment can ruin just about any situation.  It’s the thought that I’ve got to change my circumstances, or obtain something I don’t currently have to achieve happiness and fulfillment.  The reality is that you already have what you need to be happy. Happiness is an attitude, not a location or possession.

Paul, the apostle, was in prison when he wrote a letter to the Philippians and expressed that he had learned how to content in need or plenty.  That sounds so freeing!  What if you could learn how to be happy no matter what is going on around you?  What if you decided that you could be content right where you are today?

The greatest enemy of joy, peace and satisfaction is discontentment.  But, Paul goes on to say (Phil 4:13) that he didn’t do this in his own strength.  Instead, he tapped into the power of Christ that enabled him to do it.

Today, regardless of what’s going on around you, believe for God’s strength to come from within and bring a sense of satisfaction nothing in the world can do.  There used to be an old song my mom loved to hear that said, “All that thrills my soul is Jesus.”  Let Him supply the thrill your soul is longing for today.   He is truly the ultimate and only true Soul Thriller.

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Why Not Try It?

Posted in Attitude, Expectations, Faith, Victorious Living by PCraig on April 19, 2018

Today is a day of incredible potential because of God working in my life.  What if you believed that?

Or, I can be happy today because I’m forgiven, free, filled with the Spirit, redeemed, made ready for heaven, and a child of God.  What if you confessed that each day?

Why not try it today? Move beyond knowing these things are true, to declaring them and living as though they are real and happening.

Could it change today? What might happen if you did this for a week, or 30 days? Why not try it and find out?

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The Most Repeated Command

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Encouragement, Happiness, Joy, Perspective by PCraig on April 12, 2018

The most repeated command in the Bible is probably not what you think it is. It’s be happy! It comes in many forms and words such as, blessing, blessed, peace, joy, prosper, and others. It is proof that our God is for us and not against us.

That means instead of thinking God is getting in the way of your happiness, He’s actually making a way for your happiness. He is the solution and not the problem. Most of the other commands in the Bible are actually to keep us from things that lead to unhappiness. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and life to the FULL” (Jn. 10:10). God is not just holy, He is happy, and the two go together.

Last weekend, we launched a new series called FINDING HAPPY. We learned that there are habits of happiness that can lead us to more peace, love and joy. Science says that only about 10% of what happens to you actually impacts your happiness. This explains why two people can undergo the same set back, but one bounces back while the other gives up. It’s not the circumstances, but our perspective that makes the biggest difference.

So, this week, I want to again encourage you with two new habits, and here they are:

Switch worry for prayer (Phil.4:6). What is you worried less and prayed more? Every time worry tries to land in your lap, toss it out like a hot potato. Say, “Oh no you don’t, I’m not accepting this worry, fear, fret, concern and anxiety. Instead I’m tossing it over to God in prayer and let Him carry it.”

Live Thankful (Phil. 4:7). Take it from the Apostle Paul, when you choose to be thankful, you can be in prison but free.   Just be thankful for the simple things like: “I’m forgiven, washed, liberated, free, I have family, friends, a home, a church…” It’s hard to be depressed and thankful at the same time.

What would happen this week if you let your feelings follow your actions, instead of the other way around? I believe, you’ll experience God’s peace that transcends our human understanding and find a joy you can’t explain.

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In The End

Are you doubting God’s love because you are in a time of crisis? “God! I just found out I have an incurable disease. I thought you loved me!” As we get closer to the time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, it reminds me of the suffering that led up to Easter.

The Bible is clear that Jesus underwent all kinds of emotional, physical and mental anguish leading up to His trial and conviction. Often, we picture Jesus as perfect, and though He is, it does not negate the fact that He suffered much.

In addition to Jesus, we find that many people that we would call “good” in the Bible went through times of persecution, illness, heartache and trials. Why would we think we are exempt? Where did we get it that if God loves us, He will keep all bad things from touching us?

1 Peter 2:21 “For God call you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.”

Later Peter goes on to say (1 Pet 4:19) “…keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.”

Our job is simply to keep on doing what is right and leave the results up to God. So, today, no matter what may be going on in your life, or not going on, chose to keep doing what is right. Sure, it’s not always easy. Yes, there are others that do wrong, but seem to be doing just fine. The story isn’t over yet friend. Just like it looked as though Jesus was going through trials He didn’t deserve, the people didn’t realize it was part of a bigger plan.

He is still the God of the final word. Don’t give up too soon. Never let the enemy get you to believe a lie about God. Keep on doing the right thing, and in the end, you’ll be glad you did.

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Waiting On A Miracle

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Expectations, holiday, Hope, Miracle by PCraig on December 14, 2017

Do you remember how agonizing it was to wait for Christmas as a child? It seemed like forever to get from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Now, as an adult, it seems like Christmas comes too fast.

Does it seem like you are in a waiting period in your life currently? Waiting on a job, or a marriage, healing, direction can seem to take forever to happen. It can even seem like God is late in bringing these things into your life can’t it?

The very first Christmas seemed like God was late to those who were waiting for Messiah to come. It had been hundreds of years and yet each year they were disappointed. But the Scripture teaches that it all happened at the “proper time” (Luke 1:20).

The lesson is that God has a “proper time” for everything. He’s never late and He’s always on time. But, it’s His calendar and not ours!   In the meantime what do you do?

  • Don’t lose hope. Things could change tomorrow.
  • Never give up. God can do anything at anytime without restrictions.
  • Do allow this waiting time to be a time of growth spiritually.
  • Keep trusting in the God who still has a plan for the world and you!

It may look like a dark night, but remember, it did in Bethlehem 2000 years ago when hope was born!

We’ll be focusing more on the topic of waiting this weekend in part 3 of A Christmas Miracle in our 9 & 11 a.m. services.

 

 

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Get Excited For Christmas Again

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Expectations, holiday, Perspective by PCraig on November 30, 2017

I remember being a kid and being so excited about the Christmas season. It seemed like it took forever between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My heart was full of expectancy about everything that surrounded the holidays. I loved the lights, decorations, songs, parties and of course the gifts. Each year I looked forward to all the potential the season had to offer.

Something happens as we get older. We become the one to fix the lights when they don’t work. We have to put up the decorations, plan the parties and pay for the gifts. All of this can taint the season. If we’re not careful, we can transform from the expectant child to the Grinch.

This is not only a problem with Christmas; it’s a problem in marriages. Two people walk down an aisle to go live life in love, only to discover that there are pressures they never planned to experience. They didn’t anticipate one of them losing their job, or having a special needs child, or finding themselves attracted to someone else at work. When burdens come, it’s all too common for us to begin dreading the very thing we once anticipated.

My challenge to us all this season is to take joy in this time of year. The story is about a Savior who left His throne to be born in a manger, live and teach, then die a sacrificial death for our sins.  So, rejoice in forgiveness!  Also, be careful what comes out of your mouth. Instead of dreading the holidays, your marriage, your job, your family, why not expect the best? Let a spirit of expectancy build in your heart and find it’s way into your mind and mouth. Changing how you view things can go a long way toward how you experience them.  I’m choosing to celebrate the reason for the season.

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Positive Thinking

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Expectations, Faith, Hope, Perspective by PCraig on September 14, 2017

I remember growing up and watching Dr. Robert Schuller preach from the Crystal Cathedral. For those who knew him, Schuller was huge on possibility thinking. Each week he would encourage his listeners that they could rise above their circumstances by focusing on the possibilities rather than the difficulties. I know he had his critics, but I think most people could use a good dose of Schuller’s message.  Some a double dose!

How many people do you know that give into the power of negative thinking? They can moan, groan, gripe and complain for endless hours. No matter what your problem is, they have it worse.

What would happen if we began to practice possibility thinking? Not that we can just think good thoughts and everything will be okay. But, what if we stopped thinking of how bad we have it, what more could go wrong, and why isn’t God doing something about it? Instead, we could spend the same amount of time thinking of how well off we really are (especially compared to most of the world), what could go right, and where is God currently trying to direct us if we would just pay attention?

People all around us are looking for hope. What if you became a source of it? Would there be a promotion in your future, better relationships, or greater influence? I think so. Take some time today to think of the possibilities.

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A Good Comparison

Posted in Attitude, Perspective, Thankfulness by PCraig on September 7, 2017

It’s often not a good thing to compare ourselves to others, especially when it comes to social media. The reason is that we get to look at people’s highlight reels, while we are living the behind the scenes lives. We see people, as they want us to see them, yet we know what we are at our worst.

I’ve discovered that there is a good time to compare ourselves with others and it’s when we are having a pity party. When we feel unappreciated, unloved, undesirable, blaming others, and feeling like we’re not getting our fair share. It’s in these moments that looking around can actually help. Because if you’ll look long enough, far enough and close enough, you will discover people who are worse off than you. There are people who would gladly trade you places.

While we’re grumbling about how full our three-car garage is getting, there are people who would love to live in our garage. It would be a lot nicer than the shack where they currently live (tin roof and dirt floor).

So, just keep in mind that it’s better to stick to your own business. But, if you do insist on comparing, make sure you look far and wide to gain a full perspective. You might just want to change your grumbling into gratitude.

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4 Helps To Fight Depression

Posted in Attitude, Counsel, Encouragement, Perspective by PCraig on September 1, 2017

We’re just a matter of weeks before the leaves begin falling from the trees. For me, that can be depressing. I much rather watch the leaves sprout in spring, rather than tumble to the ground in fall. But, there is a time and season for everything, the Bible says, so I can choose to accept what I cannot change.  If we’re not careful, some of us can get depressed over things we can’t change. What good is that? There are countless reasons to get depressed, but can you avoid it? Or, at least minimalize it?

Here are the some things to consider:

  • Stop Hiding It. Until you admit you’re depressed no one can help you.
  • Ask For Help. This may mean joining a Life Group, go to counseling, or visit a doctor.
  • Take Action Today. Delay keeps us down. Quit postponing & procrastinating. You know what you need to do, now go do it! Make the phone call or set up the appointment.
  • Seek The Healer. Jesus wants to help you more than you know. Don’t doubt Him, attempt to hide from Him or run from Him. Instead, we need to run to Him. (Ps. 147:3; Isaiah 61:1-3)

The enemy will try to get you to focus on what’s wrong with your life, on things you don’t have, and the hardships of life that often can’t be avoided. Instead of biting his bait, fix your eyes, mind and senses on what you do have and the promise of God to never leave you or abandon you. It may look dark at the moment, but hope and help is on the way and God can turn things around for you. Don’t give up, instead take action and I believe you’ll begin to come out from under the dark clouds of despair into a new day full of God’s sunshine.

One of the very practical things that lifts me is positive, uplifting music. What helps you? Whatever it is, take time to activate it in your life today.

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