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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You Are What You Think

Posted in Attitude, Mind, Perspective by PCraig on June 22, 2017

I’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Of course what people are saying is that if you eat junk, you’ll feel like junk, and junk up your arteries. I think an even more powerful axiom is, “You are what you think.” If you think like junk, you’ll live like junk. Solomon said it like this, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

I am a firm believer in the power of self-worth. If you get up, look in the mirror and see a bum, then chances are you will live like one today. Likewise, if you look in the mirror and see a child of God that is adopted into God’s family to be an heir of His kingdom, filled with the Spirit to be Christ’s ambassador on the earth, then you’ll live like that.

What’s your self-image? Does it come from comparing yourself to the physical appearance of airbrushed photos of models and botox-filled celebrities? If so, you’ll probably feel you don’t measure up. Try seeing yourself as God sees you. Fill your mind with the thoughts of God about you, and let them cancel out the lies of the enemy. Say this with me, “I am loved, accepted, chosen, anointed, approved, filled, and rejoiced over by my Heavenly Father. I no longer need man’s approval, applause or accolades. I live for an audience of One that accepts me for who He’s created me to be and gives the power to become more than I could on my own.”  How does that feel?

See yourself today as a world-changer that’s empowered by the very Spirit of God and I believe you’ll live up to it!

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The Power of Unity

Posted in Attitude, Perspective, Unity, Worship by PCraig on June 15, 2017

Have you ever seen a car stalled and someone gets out to start pushing? The car is barely creeping, but then one or maybe two others run over from their cars and start pushing and the person steering has to eventually push on the brake to avoid hitting something. What happened? It’s a great picture of the power of unity. One person could only accomplish so much, but efforts were multiplied when others joined.

The Bible is filled with encouragement along those lines, such as in today’s reading of Psalms 133 of the One Year Bible. Why such a push for this coming together?  I think God knows our tendency of focusing way too much on ourselves. We think about ourselves all the time and so little on others.  All that changes when we come together though, especially in worship.

In worship, I begin to focus on God first of all. At least that’s what true worship does. I come before Him offering my life, my lips and my legacy (or future). When I do that, it becomes all about Him. What He wants me to do, how He wants me to act, where He wants me to go, instead of my thoughts, ways and agenda.

Also, when I get around God’s people and get busy serving, I don’t have as much time to think about my needs, wants and desires. In other words, I’m not near the selfish person that I woke up being this morning. Instead, I make my life about helping others, serving their needs, and ministering to their concerns.

True worship brings us to a place of unity where our desires are placed under His and others. The result is that the world sees that submission and the power of God flowing through it, and wants more of it. That’s just one of the reasons to be in the atmosphere of worship as often as possible; it brings us together.

 

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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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