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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A Better Way To Live

I heard the other day that no matter how big the plate is that we Americans will tend to eat about everything on it.  So, a strategy for weight loss is simply to use a smaller plate.  What is that saying about us as people?  Do we really have that little self-control?

Unfortunately, this behavior doesn’t just show up in our eating habits, but also in our spending habits as well.  Most Americans would need to borrow money or use a credit card if they had an expense come up for more than $400.  Do we really think our refrigerator will never go out?  Why don’t we save for occasions like that?  For many of us, we’ve never been taught how.  So, we use this pattern: consume first, save second (what we feel we can) and give last (what’s leftover).  What this makes of us is a consumer.  We consume all we can as a first option.

Generous people flip this list, so it looks like this: give first (a set amount), save second (a desired amount) and spend what’s leftover.  When we do this, we become planners.  Also, giving first is a biblical principle found throughout Scripture, often with promises attached (Prov. 3:9-10).

What should we give toward?  Here are my criteria:  What am I grateful for?  For me, that is easy, it’s the local church.  The local church kept me through my life from making poor decisions and living with fewer regrets.  Then, what breaks my heart?  Again, I believe the church is the best agency to address the needs of humanity.  When the church is firing on all cylinders, the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the lost are found and people are brought into the full life of Christ.

Take a look at your life.  Are you just a consumer?  God intended for you and I to be much more than that. If we really got ahold of this, needs would be met, and the world would be changed.

For a negative example, look at the story Jesus told about a guy in Luke 12:16-20.

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Funding Your Missions Trip

Posted in Faith, Finances, Missions by PCraig on October 22, 2015

Over the years of ministry, I have known many people that desired to go on missions trips, but didn’t feel they could raise the funding.  This always saddens me because I know the power of going on a trip.  So, here are some simple suggestions of ways to raise funds:

  • Start now – delaying only makes it more pressured and insurmountable.
  • Start an account – open a special account to build up for a missions trip.
  • Save – avoid needless or unnecessary expenses when trying to go on a trip.  Ask, “Do I need a new pair of jeans now?”
  • Cut expenses – cancel cable, eat cheap, do your own manicure, etc.
  • Become a coupon-er 🙂
  • Write a letter to friends, family, co-workers, bosses, asking them to help you go make a difference in another country.
  • Get a second job, sell things on eBay or Craigslist, host a garage sale, or sell some stock.
  • Pray for God to help you.  (This should be the first thing you do!)  God can supply the need and give you creative thoughts on how to fund the trip.

These are just a few ways that I’ve used and seen others use to go on missions trips.  Maybe you have some other creative ideas?

I hope this helps you to have bigger faith and trust God to make it possible to go on a trip and make a difference in another part of the world.  You will get as much or probably more out of the trip than the people you serve.

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Funny Over Money

Why do people get funny when it comes to discussing their money?

Talk about marriage and people are anxious to hear.

Talk about faith and people are willing to grow.

Talk about overcoming and people are running to listen.

BUT, talk about money – and some people start looking for reasons to not make it to church.  Some even quit attending a church when they are talking about money.  They don’t always tell you that it’s the reason.  Then, when the next church starts talking about money (the nerve), they leave it and keep repeating the cycle.  Why is that?  What is the problem?

Here’s a few thoughts:

  • These people would not like to listen to Jesus teach, because He taught about money and finances a lot!  He talked about it more than heaven, hell, healing, deliverance, or just about anything else.  It’s like He knew it was a sore spot!
  • All of us are selfish by nature and want to keep what we think is ours – ours.  We want to do with our money what we wish and don’t want to feel guilty about that.
  • We don’t know that God owns it all and we are just managers.  (See Jesus teachings on the shrewd manager)
  • We don’t understand how rich we are.  (visit to see how rich you really are)
  • Some of us run from the very thing that could help us (like the rich young ruler Matt. 19).

The day you and I find out how rich and blessed we are is a great day, because we can learn how to be a greater blessing to others.  Don’t allow yourself to run from a message that can help you be good at being rich, instead run to it and become all God wants you to be.

Here’s just one promise for putting this into practice:  “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”  (2 Corinthians 9:11)

Let’s bring about more thanksgiving to God!

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Financing Your Future

Posted in Finances, Uncategorized, Wisdom by PCraig on November 16, 2011

Why do so many people not plan for the future?  I recently read that 40% of Americans have less than $10K saved for retirement.  No doubt there are some in this number that are barely living day to day, but at the same time there have to be those who just don’t plan for the future.  Maybe they think global warming will cook everything up before they retire?  Or perhaps their Christians counting on the rapture to rescue them?

God is a detailed planner.  He planned out the salvation of man from the very beginning of creation.  The Bible says that even before He created us He knew He would send His Son to die for us.  You can see how God plans for the future Himself, and also encourages us to do so as well.

Just getting the Messiah to earth took a lot of planning.  For example, God had to save a whole nation from dying from famine to preserve the bloodline from which His Son would come.  God gave a man named Joseph a dream in the book of Genesis and told him to convince the Egyptian leadership that a famine was coming and they needed to save us for it.  As a result of listening to Joseph, Pharaoh grew richer and Joseph’s entire family was preserved.

Whatever you do, don’t wait too long to be wise with your income.  Life is shorter than you think when you start out.  (Just talk to some older people)  If you start saving when you’re young the interest will compound exponentially and you’ll be amazed at how it accumulates.  Trouble is that voice in your head that says, “spend it now…have some fun…live a little.”  Just keep in mind how much fun you’ll have being out of debt and able to retire when you want to.  How are you doing with that?

I said a lot more about this in last week’s sermon, so just catch the podcast if you missed it.

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The Hottest Topic

Posted in Finances, Generosity, Giving, Stewardship by PCraig on November 10, 2011

They used to say not to talk about politics or religion unless you wanted to stir people up, but I’ve found the hottest topic is probably money.  Over the years of preaching, nothing gets people more uncomfortable than talking about God’s ownership over their money.  And probably the greatest source of controversy is in regard to the tithe.  Why is the tithe so controversial?

Let’s look at some facts about tithing.

  • First of all the word “tithe” is used 41 times in Scripture and means “ten” percent.
  • The meaning behind it was to put God first by giving back to Him out of what you’ve been given (this started with Cain and Abel at the very dawn of creation)
  • It symbolizes God is first when we give Him “off the top” and not our leftovers.  God’s not interested in being served leftovers.
  • “First” things throughout the Bible belong to God: first portion of income, day of the week, animal that was born, crops that were harvested…  My best should be offered to Him as an offering.
  • It is a universal principle like Sabbath rest.  Tithing is not just a “law” principle.  It preceded the law and was validated in the New Testament.  Abel gave of his firstborn and Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek 400 years before the law.  A universal principle is not negated by Christ’s coming and the new covenant.
  • It was practiced throughout church history showing it was a part of New Testament church practice.  Tithes were mentioned in church councils at Tours in 567 and at Mâcon in 585. They were formally recognized under Pope Adrian I in 787.
  • It is a thermometer of your spiritual vitality.  Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters…you can’t serve God and MONEY…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be…”  Jesus could have named a lot of other things as the opposite of God, but he chose the word money.
  • It is a starting place for New Testament giving.  We have examples throughout the book of Acts of those who sold homes and other possessions and gave all the proceeds to the church.  Since we have the Holy Spirit within, the completed Word of God and the finished work of Christ, should we do less than in the Old Testament?  Jesus often raised the expectations from what the law required (example of lust/adultery in Matthew 5:27-28)

Paul taught that we ought to give until it feels good (“cheerful“), not until it hurts.  When a person realizes all that God has done for them, it no longer is about what the law demands, but what love desires to express.

My true desire is that you and I would become more and more joyous, outlandishly generous givers each day.

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Tithing & the Single Mom

Posted in Finances, Giving, Stewardship, Weekend Reflections by PCraig on November 8, 2011

Since I shared the message on Sunday about the biblical principle of tithing, I’ve had questions about people’s circumstances.  Here’s a couple things that I want to say today:

Single Moms are much like widows in the Bible who are left deserted by their husbands and are probably more in need of the church’s help than helping the church. Don’t even get me started about deadbeat dads!

Single Moms can still give what they can to the Lord, because when we are giving a percentage of our income, it makes it fair and the same for everyone.  Some people start at 2 or 3% and work their way up – maybe setting a goal of increasing the amount each year?

I’ll be sharing this coming weekend on how to get control of your finances so you can do more than tithe and enjoy it!  Also, I’ll be sharing principles for investing, building wealth, and prioritizing your dollars from the Scriptures.

Tithe is used 41 times in the Old and New Testament and should not be a forced thing, but a love thing.  True lovers are givers.  More to come later….

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Another New Year?

Posted in Finances, Giving, Victorious Living by PCraig on August 17, 2011

It’s back to school time and that means a return to routines, schedules, practices, games, homework…  As much as I don’t want summer to end, I must say that I do look at fall as almost another New Year.  For example, I’m currently praying and planning out my preaching calendar into 2012 right now.

When I was thinking about this, I was also thinking of finances.  Currently, I’m in a mentoring program with Casey Graham, a Christian financial consultant.  He, along with Joseph Sangl have offered some great tools to assist in this area.  I want to run a few thoughts by you that might help you thrive this fall instead of survive.

1. Do you have a written spending plan?

If you are not writing down where you are spending your money, you are probably over spending in some way.  I wanted to equip you with THIS TOOL from guru Joe Sangl.

Remember, every spending decision is a spiritual decision.

2. Are you paying down debt?

Everyone wants to pay off debt but few take the time to do it.  Here is a TOOL that will be FUN and help you pay off debt.  It is basically a coloring sheet for your family to watch the debt being paid off.  Get it HERE.

3. Are you being consistent in your giving?

Tithing (giving 10% of your income) will unlock crazy good things in your life.  When we give consistently, we show we trust God with our money.

Take the time right now to go to our online giving page from and give right now.  Many people set up an online recurring donation so they don’t have to remember each Sunday!

I just wanted to give you these three tools and challenge you to THRIVE this fall.

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Heart Follows Treasure

Posted in Finances, Stewardship by PCraig on April 7, 2011

Where’s your treasure?  The reason this is an important question is Jesus says, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Lu 12:34) 

It works like this, if you put your treasure into the stock market, then your heart will be there.  If you put your treasure into a business, then your heart will be there. 

Our heart follows our treasure, not the other way around according to Jesus, and I’ve seen it myself.  I’ve known people who began dabbling in business ventures and before long that’s all they were about.  They became consumed with following the latest trends, reading online articles, spending more and more time on it, even to the neglect of their family. 

Jesus really isn’t in search of our money or treasure so much as what it represents – our heart.  He knows that wherever you put your treasure, your heart will follow, and that’s His concern.  It should be ours as well.  Where is your heart moving toward today?

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Book on Finances

Posted in Books, Finances by PCraig on November 4, 2010

I’ve had some people ask from time to time about the books I read, so I thought I would write about a few I’ve read recently. 

Because of the numbers of people suffering from debt in our culture, I am always looking for good resources on the topic of finances.  One that is a newer book is “I Was Broke But Now I’m Not” by fellow Hoosier, Joseph Sangl.  This is probably one of the most concise, yet informative books on debt reduction I’ve ever read.  And, it’s not boring!  In my opinion, the greatest strength of the book is the topic of budgeting.  It’s one of those yuck subjects to many, but Sangl makes it easy to understand and implement. 

In addition to the information contained in the short book, Sangl has several helpful resources on his website that are free!  Here’s the website:

Do you have budget challenges?  Are you trying to get out of debt?  Check out this resource.  Also, we’re going to be teaching a class on this topic in January in our Crossroads University lineup, so watch for it.

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