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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Negative Words

Posted in Attitude, Criticism, lies, Mind, Perspective by PCraig on August 17, 2017

Is it just me or do harsh words seem to last longer in your memory than positive ones? Whether it’s through social media, texts or right to your face, do you find yourself being defined by words that were spoken over you in the past? Maybe statements like, “You don’t fit in, I don’t love you anymore, you don’t measure up or have what it takes.” Comments like these can cause us to compromise our morals in an attempt to be accepted or loved. They also can tempt us to perform in order to prove that we are good enough. Others choose to cling onto even unhealthy relationships in an attempt to find validation from people.

There’s a better way. Instead of basing our security and confidence as a person on the acceptance of people, we can get our worth from the acceptance of Christ. Here’s three parts of our position in Christ, we are:

Forgiven

Secure

Free

This means you no longer have to be defined by your past and what others have spoken over you. God has spoken something even more powerful over you – you are forgiven, you are secure, you are free! It’s time to shut the door on those negative voices and rise up and open the door of what Christ says about you. Get yourself plugged into the Word of God and what it says about you.

Replace the lies of the enemy of your soul with the truth of God’s Word and you’ll feel yourself getting stronger every day. Go ahead and try it for a week and see what happens. (I’d suggest starting by reading the book of Philippians)   Do you have selected verses that encourage you? Make a list and go over them until you believe it about yourself.

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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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