The Advantage Wise People Use

Posted in Change, Choice, Decisions, Friendship, Relationships, Wisdom by PCraig on September 28, 2017

I saw recently that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Wow! Are you thinking about who those 5 are right now? If not, you should because your future depends upon it.

You show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. It is almost impossible to live the right life when you have the wrong friends. Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. You can’t walk with the wild, broken, broke and be self-controlled, healthy and empowered.

So, look around and ask who you are surrounded by? Is that where you want to be in the next 5 years? If not, then it might be time to delete some names from your contacts, friends from your social media and time spent with the wrong people. You could be one new friend away from a better marriage, stronger finances, and a fuller life.

If you would be willing to change your friends, you can change your story. Get in a good Life Group, service club, or accountability group and transform your destiny. After all, this is what wise people do. Above all else, get wisdom (Proverbs 4:7).

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Who’s Your Person?

Recently, I’ve been encouraging my staff to seek out a mentor in their lives. Someone they can call, email, text or visit with during the month that can help them process thoughts, ideas and decisions.

This is a great idea for a young married couple as well. I think it would be great if each newlywed could have a seasoned couple in their lives to help them navigate this new adventure of marriage. How many couples could avoid collapse?

I know I have personally benefited from many different people in my life. One of those that has impacted me greatly, is my pastor, Tom Paino. I only had one pastor my whole life of growing up in the church! He dedicated me, baptized me, performed our wedding, ordained me, and dedicated our daughter. The most important thing he did was lead by example. His steady leadership taught me the value of perseverance, continuity, and strength. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked his opinion, sought his counsel and asked, “What would Pastor Tom do?”

Who do you have in your life that you can trust to have wise advice? What person can you reach out to that is further down the road and knows where the potholes are located? Let me encourage you to find that person. If you don’t have someone today, then get busy thinking through your contacts, acquaintances and friends. Get them in your life and you’ll be the better for it.

Today’s reading of the One Year Bible affirms this when it says, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” This principle is not only true for a nation; it’s true for you.

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Whose Report Will You Believe?

Posted in Attitude, Counsel, Faith, Friendship, Perspective, Relationships by PCraig on March 9, 2017

It really matters who you take advice from and listen to most. You may think that the negative comments and poor advice doesn’t affect you, but it does.

One of my favorite stories to illustrate this in all of God’s Word is in today’s reading of the One Year Bible. It comes from Numbers 13 where Moses sends a delegation of 12 spies to scout the Promised Land and come back and report. The Scripture says that after 40 days of sampling its produce and examining the land, they returned with news. Ten of the spies scared the people by reporting briefly about the abundance and fruitfulness of the land, then sharing how powerful, invincible and fortified the cities and people were. They went so far as to say, “We can’t attack these people; they are stronger than we are.”

Can you imagine that the same people who have seen their God deliver them from Egypt, split a sea and dry up the land, feed them daily with manna and quail, now don’t have faith to conquer the land God has already promised? That’s exactly what was going on.

However, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, believed that even though the enemy looked strong, that God is stronger. They said, “We can certainly do it.” Not, “We hope, might or it’s possible”, but we can do it. These two saw all the same things the other ten did, but they had a different outlook. I wonder how many of your friends have a different outlook on life? Do you have friends that tend to see things from God’s perspective over man? How many faith-filled, positive speaking, God-trusting friends do you have?

Are there people you need to spend less time with? Or, can you think of some you need to be around more often?

The sad thing in this story is that bad news travels fast. It seems to be easier to get people to go negative than it is to get them to step out in faith. That’s why you have to be very choosy about who’s reporting to you. When you get around people of faith, then your going to be impacted positively. Stop allowing negative reports to plague your life and keep you from the report God has for you.

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This Gets God’s Attention

When you know a friend needs Jesus, how do you respond? There’s a story in Mark 2 about a man who couldn’t walk, so four guys literally carry him to Jesus. The problem is that by the time they get there, they can’t get into the house where Jesus was teaching because of the crowd. Rather than say, “Oh well, dude we tried to get you in.” They refuse to be denied and carry this man up on the roof. Once up there they tear open the roof (probably made of mud, tiles and maybe straw) and lower the man down to Jesus.

The Scripture says that when Jesus saw “their” faith, he responded. In other words, it wasn’t even the man on the mat’s faith; it was those bringing him to Jesus that touched the Master.

Here’s my question: who are you currently carrying to Jesus? Who do you know that needs a touch from God, forgiveness of sins, and a fresh start? Please understand that it is your responsibility to carry them to Jesus. This man got to meet Jesus, be healed, made whole and restored to God because someone cared enough to carry him.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,” and we are most like Him when we love others enough to take action. Friend, it’s too easy to get caught up in our Christian circles and ourselves and forget who Jesus came for. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. If you don’t know any lost people right now, you need to change that. Get out of your bubble and love like God loves.

It impresses Jesus when he sees us bring others to Him. If you want to get Jesus’ attention today, lift someone up and bring them to Jesus. Nothing moves God’s heart more than when we care enough to carry someone to Him.

Not only does this story come from today’s reading in the One Year Bible (that I’m doing again this year), but it is also our text for Sunday. I hope you can be with us as God anoints His Word to our ears. God has a word for you this weekend!

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Lessons From A Lame Man

Posted in Evangelism, Friendship, Relationships, Salvation, witnessing by PCraig on January 12, 2017

One day some men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus lying on a mat. The Bible (Matthew 9:2) says something interesting, that “when Jesus saw THEIR faith…” He did something. There are several things that speak to me out of this passage from the One Year Bible. One thing is that it’s important to have good friends. You need some friends that will carry you to Jesus if they have to.

Another thing is that Jesus is moved by the faith of people around you and not just you. That means you better how some people of faith around you. Who knows how many of us have been impacted by the prayers of a grandparent, parent or friend?

Then, I see that Jesus is more concerned about the man’s spiritual need than his physical need. Keep in mind that it was the physical need that drew him there, but Jesus wanted to remedy the paralysis in this man’s heart. His greatest need wasn’t his legs, it was his life.

Some lessons for us:

  • Be the kind of person that brings others to Jesus.
  • Listen for the pain in others that leads to an opportunity to invite them to Jesus.
  • Don’t be too busy to carry others burdens in prayer or personally.

The fact that these men got involved in this paralytics life, enabled him to walk away physically and spiritually healed. Who could you get involved with and bring closer to Jesus this week?

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Stop Eating Junk Food

I’m not writing about the poor eating habits many practice (though that would be a great idea). My concern today is more about the people you and I can choose to hang around.

Just like any dieter knows, if you get around people with poor eating habits, chances are, you’ll eat more like them as well. I know when my wife Rachelle is dieting, I tend to lose some weight also. Why is that? Because when she is eating less, I do too!

Whoever you hang with can influence what you eat or take in, such as movies you watch, books you read, or music you listen to.

So, it just makes sense that if you want to increase your appetite for godly things then you need to get around godly people. Spiritual hunger is contagious. As you get around people who love God, love to worship God, love to read the Bible, love to attend church, and love to serve – your loves are going to change.

Whether it’s losing weight or getting closer to God, you need to watch who you hang around, they are probably affecting you more than you know or admit.

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Get Fired Up

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Events, Friendship, Personal Growth by PCraig on August 13, 2015
I think many of us tend to underestimate the value of inspiration and what impact it has upon us.  Studies have been conducted that show a connection between inspiration and increase in well-being.
There are outside sources of inspiration that cause us to feel better about ourselves, connect more with God and gain a feeling of confidence.  I gained some of this just this past week by attending a conference put on by the Assemblies of God.
Here were some things that brought inspiration to me during the past week:
Sermons/Talks given (One by Christine Caine was awesome)
Worship (especially the night with Kari Jobe)
Getting with friends (saw people from college days – what fun and laughs!)
A change of scenery (love looking at palm trees sway)
Reading books (I read 4 1/2 books over the week)
These are a few things that got my fire going and lit me up with new and creative thoughts.  Thing is, I don’t have to go way off somewhere to have this happen.  I can get inspired right here in my office and in our worship services each weekend.  So, the question is, what inspires you and what are you going to do about it? Go to a bookstore, meet a friend or mentor, attend church this weekend, or head outside for a walk?  Let’s get fired up!
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Who’s Influencing Who

Posted in Character, Friendship, Relationships by PCraig on July 30, 2015

Who you hang around is so huge. I mean I’ve seen people that normally make good decisions do some stupid things because of who they listened to.  From dating the wrong people, quitting jobs without another job, starting businesses that were bad ideas, and countless others; it’s sad to watch.

The Apostle Paul puts it like this, “Bad company corrupts good character.”
No matter how strong you think you are, Paul says don’t tempt yourself to trouble by hanging with the troubled.  That doesn’t mean you don’t reach out and try to help people, but you just can’t overly involved, especially if you feel you could be affected.
The problem is that many think they are strong and will pull the other person up.  But, Paul warns us that most often that is not how it works.  Rather than the better individual lifting the other, they are instead pulled down to a lower level.
My point is to be very selective, cautious and wise on choosing who you hang with or allow to hang around you. I know you think you’re the exception, but the apostle Paul would argue that holding to that belief is not wise.  Who is influencing you?
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When In Doubt, Leave It Out

Posted in Encouragement, Friendship, Hope, Perspective, Relationships, Worry by PCraig on November 20, 2014

I remember when my wife was battling anxiety and how helpless I felt.  Here’s what I learned through that experience, when in doubt leave it out.  Here’s what I mean by that: if you have not walked in someone else’s shoes, then don’t act like you have.  If you have never lost a child, then don’t tell someone who has, that you understand exactly how they feel.  No, you really don’t!  Even if you have lost a child, you didn’t lose their child.  Plus, you may have a totally different way of dealing with grief than they do, so don’t act like it’s the same.

Sure, we have empathy when someone else is going through something that we have gone through before, but that’s not what people need most when they’re hurting.  What do they need most?  My experience tells me, someone to listen.  Not talk.  Not try to fix things.  Not try to act like you know exactly what they are feeling.

Just try being there, possibly holding them, cry with them and pray with them.  Be there in a way that simply communicates hope.  There are things better left unsaid when people are in real pain.

This weekend at Crossroads:  FIGHT series part 4 – Winning Over Anxiety

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Two Questions To Make A Difference

Posted in Friendship, Impact, Love, Used of God by PCraig on November 13, 2014

Here’s two questions you could ask people that would make more friends than you could imagine: where’s your pain? And how can I help?

The reality is that most everyone has pain somewhere in his or her life, be it financial, relational, physical, emotional, and mental.  If you look deep enough into a person’s life you will discover there is a hurt that needs healing.  Wouldn’t it be a great mission to help heal the wound of someone else today?  Just think if each of us took on that mission.  If everyday, we made the commitment to look for pain in someone else and then we make a positive difference in their life while we’re with them.  Wouldn’t that be incredible?  Who wouldn’t want to be around people like that?

Let’s try it for 30 days.  Every morning get up and make the commitment to make a positive difference in someone’s life.  It would be especially powerful if it was someone different each day.

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