Coming Apart

What is the one thing that many of us fail to guard in a fast paced culture? -Our time. Especially to cultivate ideas, listen to God, and allow ourselves to get in a contemplative mode. Instead we hurry around with our cars, phones, iPods & other gadgets and people filling our lives with noise.

Even in the ancient times of the Bible, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come apart.” One person commented on this that, “if you don’t ‘come apart’ you will come apart.” (Get away from the noise before you come apart at the seams)

Do you have a problem hearing from God? When is the last time you pushed all the sources of noise in your life aside and sat quietly and waited on God…for more than a minute?

Could it be that many of our stress related issues might be resolved if we took time for concentrated meditation? Allowing the Spirit of God room in our lives to operate from within.

Try it. Take a look at your calendar and when could you make this happen? Here’s a few suggestions on finding this time: stay off Social Media for a day, don’t watch TV, return calls tomorrow, tell the people around you that you need to take some time to “come apart.”

Have you had some times where God refreshed you in His presence just by waiting? Do you need some de-stressors in your life today? Give this a try and feel free to share what happens after you “come apart” in a good way.

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Who Am I?

Just this past weekend, we wrestled with the prayer of “send me.” We learned that one response to God’s call on our lives (our purpose), is to say “send someone else.” This is exactly the response of Moses that I’m reading in the One Year Bible again today.

Genesis 3 records the story of God calling Moses to be His voice to the people of Israel and representative to Pharaoh. The call seems bigger to Moses than his ability to pull off, so he tries to talk God into using someone else.

I wonder how many of us do the same thing with God. We feel He might be asking us to step into something bigger than what we’re currently doing, and rather than saying “yes”, we hesitate and try to justify our reluctance.

Moses said, “Who am I that I should go?”  We say things like, “They are much more gifted than me”, or “they have more money to give than I do” or “they have more time, I’m sure, than I do, so let them volunteer.” Do any of these excuses work with God? What happened when Moses stopped making excuses and started making commitments? He witnessed first hand, the incredible power of God using Him to free a nation.

What might happen if you stopped making excuses and started making commitments? The One that enabled Moses to go beyond what he believed he could do, is the same God today for you.

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A Daily Word

Posted in Change, Hearing God, Personal Growth, Victorious Living by PCraig on October 20, 2016

Like a caterpillar waking up from its slumber in a cocoon, many of us are hoping for our lives to change overnight. It doesn’t work for dieting, bodybuilding, educational degrees, or athletics, so why would we believe it in other areas? Some seem to think that by attending church two or three times per month, they will be spiritually equipped to be more than conquerors. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the main things God uses to help us move up into spiritual strength and maturity is the Bible. There’s just something about the reading of God’s Word that helps us to grow in our faith. Our goal is not just to get into the words of the Bible; it’s to let the words of the Bible get into us. When that happens, it produces change.

We learned this past Sunday from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God’s Word helps us discover who God is. It’s here we learn about His character, passion, plans, and purpose. Don’t just go through the Bible, let the Bible go through you and you will discover God.

Another discovery is who we really are, not just what others have said. You may have had people beat you down with words, saying things like, “You’re stupid, dumb, ugly, unwanted, fat, skinny, or ignorant.” But, you don’t have to live life based upon what they said. God’s opinion is what matters most. When you let what He says about you to influence how you see yourself, it changes everything.

So, the big question is how do we make it happen? I’d like to offer a few suggestions or tips:

  • Free up some time. Daily is best. Trade the pointless for what is priceless.
  • Get going. Start today! The New Living Translation is a good one to use.
  • Let the words soak into you. This is where change begins.
  • When you put it into practice, then the power flows. Don’t just be a hearer of the Word.

My prayer is that you would start today, and experience a growth toward full life in Christ like you maybe never have before.

 

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Step Into The Water

Posted in Expectations, Faith, Faithfulness, Hearing God, Perspective by PCraig on October 6, 2016

How often are we waiting on God, when God is actually waiting on us? It goes like this, “I’m waiting on God to show me what job I should pursue.” Or, “I believe that if God wants me to meet that person, He’ll bring them into my life.” Maybe even, “If God wants me to do that thing, then He’ll make it easy for me to do it.”

Each of these scenarios is assuming that if something’s going to happen it is up to God. However, in studying the Scriptures, we discover that God is often waiting on us. We have been in the book of Joshua recently and when the people came to the river Jordan, rather than sit back on the bank waiting for God, God told them to go ahead and wade into the water. The record says that when the priests feet went into the water that the river dried up for them to cross. (Joshua 3:14-16)

What is God currently asking you to do? He speaks to us through the Bible, people, songs, and an inner voice or promptings. Is there an area that you feel God is speaking, but you’re not moving? When you step forward in obedience, that is where God will meet you and help you to cross over toward His promises.

So, just keep moving until the miracle shows up. Don’t be content, lazy or disobedient by sitting on the bank rather than wading into the water. It could be that the miracle is ready to happen and you’ll discover it as you decide to walk forward in obedience. What step do you need to take?

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What God Might Be Saying

Posted in Faith, Hearing God, Personal Growth, Perspective, Prayer, Time, Will of God by PCraig on August 14, 2014

What is going on when you pray?  Have you ever wondered if anyone is listening or cares?  Sometimes it can feel like your prayers are being heard and other times it can seem like God is helping someone else.  Ever feel that way?

First of all, I would like to clarify that God does answer prayer, does care about each and every one of us and enjoys it when we pray.  (See 1 John 5:14-15; 1 Pet 5:7; Mt 11:28)  Second of all, prayer does make a difference.  Clinical studies have been done and found that people who are prayed for go through surgery more successfully, and have a better recovery than people who don’t have prayer.  I’ve seen this just from the way God answers prayer requests that are turned in on the weekend services.

To help those of you who struggle with what is going on behind the scenes when you pray, I have four options that might be happening.  God may be saying…

  • NO – now that’s not an answer we like, but it’s an option, because God knows what’s best, and we need to trust Him.  Your request could simply be off-base.
  • SLOW – the timing may not right for what you’re asking right now, so don’t get impatient.  Trust that God is working even when you don’t have evidence.
  • GROW – again, the request may be okay, but there needs to be some growth in you before God brings it into your life.  If you were praying for the right spouse, but you are not the right spouse material yet, then grow in the meantime.
  • GO – this is the answer we like best.  It’s when we are ready, circumstances around us are ready, and God is ready to bring it about.

Knowing that there are more answers than just “yes” and “no” helps me to analyze my situation and see if I need to do some adjusting.  I hope this helps you.

P.S.  Be sure to pray over our services this weekend when Phil Stacey from American Idol will be our guest.  It’s also part 2 of the Frames series and somebody must be praying really hard already, because last weekend was powerful.  Let’s believe for even greater anointing and results this weekend!

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Up or Down?

Posted in Counsel, Decisions, Hearing God, Will of God, Wisdom by PCraig on April 24, 2014

Be very careful whom you listen to or get advice from day to day.  The reason is that people can hear from God one day and then be listening to themselves the next.  Shoot, they can have an impression from the Spirit of God one moment and then minutes later share with selfish motivations.

A great illustration of this comes from the life of Peter in Matthew 16:13, when Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  In a couple verses He then asks them, “Who do YOU say that I am?”  Peter steps up and answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus then blesses Peter with this answer and tells everyone that Peter got it direct from the Father in heaven.  Wow!  It’s not a bad day when Jesus tells you and everyone around you that you hear from God.

However, as you keep reading, you find Jesus telling the disciples how He is going to suffer, be killed and then raised.  Peter evidently, still feeling good about hearing from the Father, takes the Lord aside and begins to “rebuke him.”  He says, “Never Lord!  This shall never happen to you!”  Jesus recognizes that Peter is now listening to the Satan himself and tells him that he’s saying these things because of a wrong perspective.

Now, how can you get that off in such a short amount of time?  Because we’re all human and have the ability to get off track.  That’s why you need to be praying on your own when you are taking advice from people.  A well-meaning person can be influenced by selfish motivation that skews their words.  The danger for you and I is to not know the difference.

Jesus shows that you have to be careful who you listen to each day and do your own praying so you can have discernment.  By doing so, you will be able to know what direction their advice to you may be coming – up or down.

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Lessons From A Meat-Lover

Well, today I get to eat meat again!  I’m ending my fast of meat that I started at the first of this year.  Here’s some lessons I have learned:

  • I miss meat in my diet, but I didn’t die without it.
  • Every time I got hunger or empty feelings I thought about what this was for and it helped me stay focused.
  • My heart was open to hearing from God and was more aware of Him over these past three weeks.
  • It has given me a great start to a New Year where I am hungry for His presence in my life.
  • There are things I need to delete or take less time for in my life to make time for what’s more important.

This is why fasting and spiritual growth activities are important in our lives.  There’s just nothing like a spiritual retreat (Discipleship Walk), fasting, or spiritual growth campaigns (40 Days of Purpose) to ignite our lives to burn brighter.

What lessons have your learned in times of fasting, prayer or spiritual retreat?  If you are struggling for an answer, it may be time to do it.

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More Where That Came From

Posted in Hearing God, Holy Spirit, Victorious Living, Weekend Reflections by PCraig on November 14, 2013

Last weekend I ran out of time and I hate it when that happens!  So, I decided to give some more of what I didn’t have ability to share on the weekend, here on the blog.

As many of you know, we launched a new series last weekend called SPIRIT that is focusing on who the Holy Spirit is and what He does.  The passage of Scripture that we concentrated on was from 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 and I would encourage you to read it.

We said the Holy Spirit is more than just an add-on that makes cameo appearances in our lives.  People demonstrate this mindset when they say things like, “The Holy Spirit was really here today!”, implying that He’s not always there, but can show up on occasion.

Also, many tend to get prideful and divisive as they experience more of the Holy Spirit.  In verses 10-16 Paul says that the Spirit reveals things to us, but not so we can get puffed up about our knowledge or experience.  That’s the last thing the Spirit is trying to do!  The real thing the Holy Spirit should reveal is just how much we NEED Him and have to HAVE Him.

Finally, the Holy Spirit is not weird.  What He is though is mighty, unpredictable, unchained and amazing!  People get strange and start telling other people that “God told me to tell you”.  Let me be clear, if you are a believer, then you don’t need someone else to tell you what God says, He can speak to you directly.  Now, He may use someone else to confirm something you are already sensing, but if you are filled with the Spirit, then you don’t need someone else to tell you what you need to do.

The fact remains that God knows stuff you don’t know.  So, instead of trying to hear God through others (and their spin on it), why don’t you tune into God yourself?  What would happen if you did?  What might God say?  What if He wants to tell you not to take that job you’ve applied for because He knows something?  What if He wants to tell you not to get married to that person because He knows the future?

Maybe you’ve already missed some messages that wanted to get through to you.  Some of you might have already missed one when you were 18, 20, or 25 years old.  Isn’t it time to get the insight of the Holy Spirit in you?  Paul says “We CAN have the mind of Christ”, so get tuned in.

*Don’t miss this weekend’s message on the Holy Spirit’s power!

**Also, if you missed last weekend, go to crossroadsavon.com or just click here: http://crossroadsavon.com/podcast/

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Make A Difference

Posted in Dreams, Hearing God, Impact, Involvement, Prayer, Purpose, Used of God, Vision by PCraig on February 7, 2013

Over the past two weeks we’ve been looking at the story of Nehemiah to learn how to make a difference.  The reason is, there’s something inside of each of us that wants to make a difference.

One of the first things we learned is you start with a burden.  What breaks your heart that also breaks the heart of God?  For some it might be human trafficking, or child poverty, and for others illiteracy.  There are countless other causes of course.  But, to change the world it has to be YOUR burden, YOUR cause, YOUR sense of calling.

Next, you pray about it and seek the face of God asking what He would have you to do.  You look around for Him to point out others in your life that can help you in your dream after they see your passion.

Then, you must get clarity on what it is that you will do to make a difference.  What exactly is it you feel you must do?  If you can’t define it, you can’t do it.  Take it from something broad “I want to help poor people” to “I want to help these poor people that live here.”

Get your plan put together.  This is where the homework comes in.  You have to talk to people, read, listen to lectures, and go tour locations to come up with a strategy.  You don’t have to have the whole thing figured out, but what is your next step?  Don’t let yourself freeze up.  Get up and take the next step no matter how small it is today, then tomorrow take the next step, then the next, then the next and keep going.

John Wesley said, “Light yourself on fire and people will come from miles around to watch you burn.”  What can you get lit up about?  What passion do you have that stirs your soul?  Does it involve kids, youth, seniors, disabled, poor, ethnic, near or far away?  My challenge to you is find out what it is and get so on fire about it that it spreads and makes a difference.

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Reflections of the Fast

Well, it’s the end of the line.  Hard to believe in some ways, but my participation in the 21 Day Fast that we promoted for this New Year is over today.  Here are my thoughts at this point:

  • It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be (giving up meat & sweets).
  • It did cause me to feel closer to God.  I had some intimate times with God that I wouldn’t have missed for anything.
  • Mixed with our Night of Prayer, journaling the New Testament, and other events has made for some unique experiences with God.
  • The impact on the church family was bigger than I expected.
  • I want to be open to other times of fasting throughout the year, just as an individual.
  • I am looking forward to feasting this week to celebrate the end of the fast.

I’m really pumped about what stories I’ve heard already, but I want to hear every story.  If you have had a unique experience through our 21 Day Fast, will you please comment on this blog?  I would love to hear from you.  Don’t just hold it to yourself, give God glory and share a testimony of what God has done for you!

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