A Sadness That Leads To Gladness

Posted in Change, God's love, Happiness, Joy by PCraig on June 16, 2016

The thing I enjoy most about going to the dentist is leaving.  Sorry to all my dental professional friends.  My reason stems from not taking care of my teeth overly well as a kid and needing a lot of fillings done along the way.  I never enjoyed them coming toward me with that big, long needle to numb me up for the procedure to follow.  Nowadays, I don’t have to worry about fillings; it’s more just the picking at my teeth with a small stainless pickaxe.  Yet, I love how clean my teeth feel when I leave.  That crystal clean sensation of teeth that have been scrubbed as clean as can be is wonderful.

This is a similar feel to what Jesus described, when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  It doesn’t sound like we will be happy if we’re mourning, but it depends on how you look at it.  We try to numb ourselves from our unhappiness by using alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, sexual adventure, entertainment, food and even work.  All of these things are an effort to escape or produce a fix.  But, not only are these temporary, they can lead us to addiction.

Rather than trying to escape or mask our sorrow, we would do better to address it.  Jesus promises comfort to those who do.  How do we do it?  Realize that a loving Heavenly Father waits for us to come to us with our brokenness.  Many have a warped image of God, but the Bible says (Ps.119:76) that His “unfailing love” will be “my comfort.”

Much like going to the dentist, if we will come to God in sorrow for our sins, He can help us bring about the change we need.  His cleansing power can do for us what we cannot do ourselves.  This is how mourners can be happy.  Or to put it another way, happy are the sad.  When we declare ourselves spiritually bankrupt, then God can step in and begin the process of recovery.  As we take the crud of our guilt, shame, bad choices and sin to God, He can scrub away the past and clean us up for a sparkling future.

When was your last appointment for soul cleansing?  Don’t let the plaque of sin build up on your heart any longer.  Enjoy the freedom, joy, relief, and relief that only an appointment with God can produce.  Do it today.

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Being A Victim Steals Your Joy

Posted in Attitude, Joy, Perspective, Victorious Living by PCraig on June 11, 2015

Every single person in your life, no exceptions, has the potential of hurting you.  Either by words, actions or otherwise their behavior may cause you pain and possibly frustration.  Often one of the key questions I ask myself during such times is, “did this person make a conscious decision to intentionally hurt me?” If the answer is no (which it usually is) I simply remind myself that, just as I am, this person is human and fallible.  So, I can then stop having my pity party about how the world owes me something as a victim.

In short, a person with a victim mentality rarely ever takes responsibility or accountability for their actions.  People that choose to live in the victim mentality world will always fault and blame others for what is or went wrong in their life.  Is that really going to lead to a joy-filled overcoming life?

Joyce Meyer said it well in her book Power Thoughts, “I was very angry and bitter toward my father for abusing me and I ended up mistreating my husband who had nothing at all to do with it.” (pg 138)  All unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness and anger does is rob you from being all that you were meant to be.  Why would you give anyone that much power?

Here’s what Jesus said:  “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

I especially like this quote from Will Smith:

“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” 

Don’t allow a victim mentality steal the joy God has for you each day!

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Fight For Joy

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Joy, Perspective, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 28, 2015

In a culture that seems to deal with depression and discouragement on a regular basis, how can we find more joy?

Today, I just want to encourage you to fight for joy.  Fight relentlessly, consistently and audaciously.  Joy doesn’t come finding you; instead you must go looking for it.  Here’s the tricky part: you’ll often find it hiding as a challenge, difficulty or problem.  Instead of focusing on those, begin to look for the silver lining in the dark cloud.  What could you learn right now that could benefit you the rest of your life?  What strength might you develop while being pushed beyond your normal limits?  What character quality might grow in the midst of all that’s around you?

Know this, problems are never permanent, failure is never final and victory could be one day away!

Here’s how Paul talked about it, while chained up in a prison cell in Rome: “Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.  I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.”  Philippians 3:1 NLT

Let’s fight for joy, it’s a fight we can win!

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You Can Choose Joy

Posted in Attitude, Change, Fruit of the Spirit, Happiness, Joy, Perspective by PCraig on April 30, 2015

I don’t think most of us think of joy as a choice.  Many think it is dependent upon their circumstances.  Some even go as far as thinking that joy is beyond them and something they’ll probably never really possess.

Looking at the writings of Scripture, I love what Paul says in Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”  Here’s some things I take away from this passage:

  • It is stated like a command rather than an option.  So, all Christ followers should pay attention and strive for it.
  • It is to be on-going and not based upon daily circumstances.  Paul was in prison when he wrote this.
  • This quality was important enough that he stated it twice, back-to-back.  Plus, the whole book emphasizes joy while in prison.
  • The ability to have joy daily must come from rejoicing “in the Lord.”  When I think about His goodness, grace, and love, I can be filled with joy.
  • We need to speak joy-filled words.  “I will SAY it again…”  The more we get in the habit of speaking joy, the more we’ll experience it.

Hope this helps you live a life that is full of joy.  Feel free to leave a comment about what you do to help live a joy-filled life.

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Home Alone

Posted in holiday, Hope, Joy, Victorious Living by PCraig on December 4, 2014

I don’t know if you were a fan of the movie Home Alone from 1990 with Macaulay Culkin, but I thought it was hilarious.  As you probably remember, the plot was about a young boy being left home alone at the holidays by his large family.  Somehow, during the hassle of getting out of the house, they failed to notice that they were one child short.  This set up a chain of events around a couple of clumsy crooks who thought it was an opportunity to break in and rob the home while it was perceived empty.

Unlike the movie, there are true reasons why people are lonely during the Christmas season that don’t include miscounting.  The truth is, even though Christmas is a season of family, parties and togetherness, yet for many it isn’t.  If you find yourself facing Christmas alone, December can be the longest month of all.  Going into hibernation for a month isn’t a realistic plan, and like it or not, Christmas is coming.

There are a few things we can do to help cope with the holiday loneliness.  One of those is to pursue the presence of God in our lives.  People may leave us, but Jesus said He never would.  The Bible also promises that “in His presence is fullness of joy,” which can fill us up when we feel empty.  I’ll talk about this further and two more helps for loneliness this weekend.  (9 & 10:45 a.m.)

I hope you can be with us as we discover how to face the season when it might not look the way it used to.   Invite someone who doesn’t have to be home alone.

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Ever Lost Your Cell Phone?

Posted in Evangelism, Joy, Perspective, Salvation, Used of God, witnessing by PCraig on July 24, 2014

Have you ever lost anything of value (cell phone) and turned the house upside down to find it?  My wife may or may not have recently lost her cell phone and thought she might have left it somewhere.  It was like it disappeared.  We looked everywhere in the house for it, called it (of course it was on silent) and searched anywhere we thought it could be all to no avail.  Ultimately we discovered the phone was in the garbage in our garage!  By the way, if you think I’m telling on my wife, let me say that at least she has never driven off with her phone on the roof of the car like someone else may have done once in their lives.  (That story didn’t end well)

Here’s my point, when you have something of value that is lost you will do whatever it takes, spending time and energy to find it.  Jesus told a story about this that involved a woman who lost             one of her ten silver coins.  He said she will do whatever it takes until she finds it.  The story is found in Luke 15:8-10 and once again illustrates the principle of seeking after lost people.

In this second of three successive stories of Jesus, there are a few things I would like to highlight:

  • She searches “carefully” until she finds it, which implies she is deliberate in the pursuit.
  • She also is very diligent in the hunt and will not rest until the coin is found.

These imply to us:

  • The value of one lost person.  Everyone matters to God.
  • Love will search carefully, not casually for the lost.
  • Love cannot sit still while there is still a chance of find those who are lost.

Lastly, as in the prior story, Jesus says there is “rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  So, if you want to get heaven excited, find one more lost person.

We’re challenging our church family to reach out to one person each week and invite them to church on August 17.  On that date, we are having an “everyone bring one” Sunday with former American Idol finalist, Phil Stacey as our guest.  But, you don’t have to wait another moment when the stakes are as high as eternal life.  For whom do you need to search carefully, locate for God and then celebrate?  I think the angels are ready!

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Finding Hope

Posted in Encouragement, energy, Happiness, Hope, Involvement, Joy, Ministry, Purpose by PCraig on August 1, 2013

Someone said that a person can live without food for about 40 days, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.

What gives life hope is purpose.  If there’s no purpose to our lives, then what’s the point, right?  How do discover the meaning and purpose of our lives?

Here’s some questions to ask:

What are my strengths?

What do I have a passion to do?

What do others say I’m good at?

When do I feel the pleasure of God the most?

What hurt have I come through that could help others?

Looking at these questions can give an indication of what God might have designed for you to do with your life.  Our hearts, talents, gifts, abilities, experiences and feedback from others can help guide us to our purpose.  Once you discover it, then you’ve got something to live for each and every day.

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Joyful & Triumphant

Posted in holiday, Joy, Victorious Living by PCraig on December 19, 2012

There’s a line in O Come All Faithful that says, “joyful & triumphant,” yet many probably don’t feel that way at the holiday season or perhaps any season.  When Jesus said that He came that we could have life to full, I really believe He meant all of us.  That God would bless us everyone.

What causes us to feel defeated?  Here are some examples:

  • Financial worries
  • Marriage strife
  • Children going astray
  • Pressures at work

The message of Christmas is more than a baby was born in Bethlehem.  It’s about a divine invasion to restore you and I back to our Heavenly Father and empower us with His internal presence.

No matter what you’re going through, what you’ve lost or how deep your hurt, Jesus has been born and that’s reason for joyful triumph.  He has won so you can win also!

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The True Life

I believe there is something within the heart of every person to desire to make a difference.  Where did that come from?  Why is it that we actually live more fulfilled and happy lives when we’re unselfish?  It comes from the way we were made in the image of a generous God who finds joy in giving of Himself to us.  Jesus said it this way, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.” Matthew 16:25 (NLT)

Could it be that we are actually avoiding greater happiness and contentment the more we try to seek after it?  Some people express it this way, “Yeah, I’d like to get more involved in ministry to others, but I’m just so busy.”  The world certainly offers us plenty of opportunities to focus on ourselves and an “us four, no more” mentality, where we only live for those who live under our roof.  However, Jesus cautions us against living that way and invites us to something grander.

Try this: begin giving your life away, as Jesus described, and see if happiness, joy and deeper meaning and contentment don’t find you.  Make it your aim to live your life for others, and God will aim His blessed life at you!

Are you searching for a life of meaning and purpose but haven’t found it?  What’s keeping you back from the true life Jesus promised?

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Party God

Posted in energy, Happiness, Joy, Victorious Living by PCraig on March 1, 2012

There’s no doubt about it, God is a partier!  Most of us good, religious, church-going people probably don’t look at God that way – but the evidence is there.

Let me give you some examples:

In the Old Testament, God invented festivals for the people to commemorate.  He plainly stated that they were to take off work, have a feast and rejoice in things He had done for them.

Moses and his sister Miriam led the people in song after crossing the Red Sea to make merry over God’s delivering power.

King David got so excited over the symbol of God’s presence, the Ark of the Covenant, being returned to Israel that he began dancing in the streets.

It says in Zephaniah that God will rejoice over you with singing.  How cool is that?

Jesus attended weddings and feasts on a regular basis and even turned water into wine at one of them as His first miracle.

I not only believe that God is into partying, but I also believe He’s against dried up, pruned up, sour-puss religion that causes people to look depressed.  Jesus said He came to give us life to the full, so that means rich, abundant, joy-filled experience in life.

Last night we took time to come together for a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and it was a blast.  We had whistles, clappers, foam fingers, funny videos, along with prizes and it was a hoot!  Sometimes we can get so busy serving God that we fail to take time to celebrate with His people all of the good things he has done.

What could you take time to celebrate today?  How has God moved in your life in the past?  Take some time to rejoice in the Lord – it will do your heart a world of good!

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