Lifting Others Up

Posted in Attitude, Character, Criticism, Humility by PCraig on May 4, 2017

How good are you at cheering for the success of others? I know we all appreciate hearing remarks about how well we’ve done, but how do you do with praising others? It can be even more challenging when you are hearing the accolades from others in private. Pastors can be guilty of this. They hear of the success of another colleague from across town seeing his church grow, so they say things like, “Well, he doesn’t preach very challenging messages is why his church is growing.”

Nowhere in Scripture is this very scenario more illustrated than in today’s reading of the One Year Bible. John 3:22-36 tells the story of how a friend of John the Baptist informs him that Jesus is now attracting more followers and baptizing more people than John. Here’s his response in verse 29, “I am filled with joy at his success.” What? Where’s the, “Yeah, but he’s not fasting like I am” or, “He’s not preaching the Word as strong as I do, so that’s why so many are attracted to him.” Instead, John takes the high road and realizes that the universe doesn’t revolve around him. He’s not God’s gift, …but Jesus is!

So, in our lives, how does this play out? Next time you hear of a co-worker doing well say, “That’s awesome that she’s excelling like that, I wish her the best.” Or, when competing and you come in second, let the first place player know that you’re proud of their effort and sportsmanship.  Stop yourself before you’re tempted to open your mouth and criticize.

When you take on this attitude, it actually raises your value in the eyes of others. Days later, when Jesus is asked about John, He says that, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Lu.7:28). Pretty cool praise from the King of Kings. It just shows what the Savior thinks when you take on humility and lift others up, He lifts you up!

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Juxtaposition

It’s such a juxtaposition to think that the way up is down. Most people would assume that the way up is up. But, Jesus clearly taught something different when it comes to greatness.

One day Jesus was asked if He could arrange who would sit next to Him in eternity. The question was asked by two disciples, and probably really ticked off the others. Jesus defused the situation by defining what it would take to be great. He said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43b-44)

The desire to be on top will hinder, not help. Rather than seeking to have your needs met, look for ways that you can minister to the needs of others.

It seems backwards, but Jesus gave us an illustration of how it works with His own life. Here He is this eternal King, but comes as a poor child in a manger, lives a simple life as a carpenter, teacher, preacher, Rabbi. He then dies a death for a criminal, yet it was this act of humility that formed His rise in popularity. By the time He’s resurrected, the story of His life is the most popular topic in town. Now, over 2,000 years later, He’s considered the greatest person who ever lived by most.

The key to all that greatness was His willingness to humble Himself and serve us by giving His life. In a culture that thinks up is up, let’s choose to follow the true path that Jesus showed by example.

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You Look Like Your Father

Posted in Character, Excuses, Humility, Love, Victorious Living by PCraig on July 21, 2016

It seems that there is so much tension, strife and conflict in our culture today.  Added to this is the everyday discord in many households with the people who live there.  Daily we can learn of families being torn apart, violence in our communities, and unrest in our society.  There is a better way – and we all wish for it.  But, it takes more than wishing upon a star for it to happen.  What are some steps to take that lead to peace?

We can learn to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).  It’s not working around the issues, but through them.  However, there is a right time, place and way to do it.  What we need to do is confront the issue, not the person.  When we do it in love, we become the peacemakers Jesus said we could be (Matt. 5:9)

Another step is to apologize when you are wrong.  Instead of making excuses and blaming other people, we need to accept responsibility.  There is a big difference between remorse and repentance.  You can be sorry that you got caught, sorry that you’re going through something, and sorry for the pain.  But, repentance is saying, “I sinned against you when I did that, will you please forgive me?”  That can go a whole lot further in bringing healing and reconciliation than a simple, “Sorry about that.”

Lastly, we must learn to let all hurt, pain and damage go.  I’m not saying that your hurt wasn’t awful, that the person didn’t do you wrong, or discounting the incredible pain and suffering you might have endured.  I’m also not going to tell you that it’s easy to forgive, but it is doable.  And, it is vitally important to moving forward in personal and spiritual health.  (See Col. 3:13)  Let me ask, “Has the Lord forgiven you of a lot of sins?  How many? Did He do it freely without you even deserving it? That is how we are to act.  To freely forgive as we have been forgiven.

This is how to bring peace to our marriages, communities and nation.  When we do this, Jesus says, “They will be called the children of God.”  Why?  Because we look so much like our Father.  I don’t know about you, but I want to grow up to look more like Him everyday.

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It’s Not God’s Fault

Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself, “What is the common denominator in all my bad relationships?”  Think about this – it’s you!  How many of our issues, challenges and problems are the result of us trying to play God.  When I act like God, I’m going to make choices that I want regardless of what God has spoken.  So, when my life is going in a bad direction, who’s fault is it?

The Bible talks about how there is a way that seems right, but in the end it leads in death. What it’s saying is that we think we know what will make us happy, and way too often we get our cues from the culture. I wouldn’t get my advice from a bunch of people addicted all kinds of stuff and still can’t get happy.  Just saying!

When Jesus wanted to tell people how to be happy, He starts off with be “poor in spirit.”  That doesn’t sound like something you read in a magazine.  Yet, the encouragement is to admit some things about you, to get authentic.  Admit you are broken, because we all are, just maybe in different locations.  Set your pride aside and declare that you are not enough on your own.  Then, ask God for help. We move from confession to petition. With less of you, there’s more room for God.

Finally, we accept help from other people, because God uses others when we dare to be honest.  We all need a place to go where people won’t judge us, but hear us and pray for us.  When you admit you are poor in spirit, that’s when the power comes.  As you position yourself, then Jesus comes in His power and takes us to places we could never go on our own.

Don’t be the reason you’re not happy.  Humble yourself, admit you’re not enough, ask for God’s help, and accept help from others, in so doing, you’ll find a joy you never dreamed!

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Resting In Him

Posted in energy, Humility, Margin, Rest & Refreshing, Strengths, Time by PCraig on November 19, 2015

I don’t know about you, but I just am not as good of a person when I’m tired.  Some people act like they need very little sleep and they can perform fantastic – I don’t like those people.  Then, I wonder, are they only fooling themselves and really don’t understand how much better they could be with more rest?

It’s interesting that the Bible has a lot to say about rest.  God even through in an extra day in every week for that very purpose.  Jesus, God in the flesh, intentionally pulled away from the crowds, went off on retreats (40 days in a desert), prayer times in a garden.  So, who am I to think I don’t need to do similar?

My problem is that a strength of mine (according to StrengthsFinder) is achiever.  Therefore, I want do it all.  I want to work really hard, see progress, exercise to be as healthy as possible and be a great husband and super dad.  Unfortunately, there isn’t always time to feel accomplished in all of those areas at the same time (and those aren’t all the areas).  Do you ever feel that way?  Strung out, pushed to the limit, going 100 miles an hour in many directions, everyone needing a piece of you.

Let this be a reminder to all the achievers and people who tend to push it as fast as possible that our Savior calls us to rest.  Take your foot off the accelerator, find a quiet place to meditate and pray, get to bed a little earlier tonight, leave work a little early and hug your kids, and enjoy the earth that God put you on.  I think we’ll find that He will honor our act of wisdom and bless our humility in acknowledging that He is God and we are not.  Plus, we’ll probably be more pleasant to be around, I know I am.

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Kill It

Posted in Attitude, Humility, Relationships, Submission by PCraig on July 23, 2015

Here’s what won’t get conflict resolved or less conflict in your life: becoming more selfish.  It’s true that conflict is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be fatal.

Should the toilet paper go over or under? Must we squeeze the toothpaste in the middle or from the bottom?  Which paper towels should we buy, full sheets or half?  Why do these become big issues?  The reason is often that there is already an unresolved tension that we either refuse to deal with or have learned to ignore.  It isn’t going away, so you might as well deal with it.

The key to dealing with differences and resolving conflict in a positive manner is our selfishness.  We have to give up our right to be right, to win the argument and be in control.

Proverbs 13:10 “Pride leads to arguments. Be humble, take advice, and become wise.” Don’t let pride keep you from peace, love and joy in your home, workspace or friendships.  Kill your pride before it kills your connections.

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The Power Of United Worship

Posted in Attitude, Fellowship, Humility, Submission, Worship by PCraig on June 11, 2013

I’ve been reading Ephesians this week and I can’t get away from the emphasis Paul puts on unity, one another and joining together.  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 them, I don’t have as much time to think about my needs, wants and desires.  In other words, I’m not near the selfish slug 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.  Where He can teach us to be unselfish.  The result is that the world sees that submission and the power of God flowing through it, and wants more of it.

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The Way Up Is Down

Posted in Attitude, Boasting, Humility, Victorious Living by PCraig on October 11, 2012

Have you ever been humbled by God?  I have and I can tell you this, it’s not fun.  God actually gives us a choice.  We can choose to humble ourselves, or he will do it for us.  It shouldn’t take long to decide on that one.  I think I’ll humble myself, thank you very much.

Do you know what’s involved in humility?  Are you willing to resist taking credit and pass it along to others instead?  Have you learned to say “I’m sorry”?  Or do those words stick to the roof of your mouth like a thick peanut butter sandwich?

Knowing how to humble yourself is a key to experiencing God showing up strong in your life.  God actually opposes the proud, but give grace to the humble (James 4:6).  Don’t skip over this.  When you are at war with your pride, remember who you are opposing.

Are you willing to humble yourself so that God can flow in your life?  Examine yourself for a proud spirit that endeavors to call the shots and take the credit.  Humble yourself before God has to help you with that.

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Jars of Clay

Posted in Humility, One Year Bible by PCraig on August 30, 2010

We can all too often think too much of ourselves by failing to realize that we are just jars of clay.  That’s what Paul calls us in today’s reading in 2 Corinthians 4 of the One Year Bible.  He mentions this after speaking about the glory of God being revealed in us. 

Our problem is we think WE come up with the great ideas, the astounding revelations and discoveries.  Paul brings us back to reality by saying, “All you really are is a jar of clay and it’s what’s inside that counts.” 

What’s in your jar?

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