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!

Show your support, add your comment now...

Betrayed By Those Nearby

Posted in Choice, Forgiveness, Love, Offense, Pursuing Jesus by PCraig on February 9, 2017

We will soon be coming into the season of Lent on the church calendar. It begins on March 1, 2017 and celebrates the 40 days leading up to Easter, often with prayer and fasting.

As I was reading today’s daily portion of the One Year Bible, one portion was on the last supper, Jesus praying in the garden, betrayal and arrest. No matter who you are, each of us will be let down by those around us. Even one of Jesus’ closest companions betrayed Him for just 30 pieces of silver.

When we are betrayed by those closest to us, we have a choice to make. We can either get bitter or we can get better. We can get over it, or let it get all over us. The choice is up to us. Too often, we use other’s shortcomings and failures to be our excuse for bitterness, resentment and revenge.

Jesus shows us a more excellent way. Rather than allowing ourselves to be reactionary in our response toward how we have been treated, we can respond with forgiveness, kindness and love. I know you may say, “But, you don’t know how many times they’ve let me down!” That may be true, but Jesus was betrayed in as hurtful of a way as anyone before or since. But, He chose to forgive and set the example for us.

Too often we fail to see that the person being hurt most by our unforgiving heart is us. So, if there’s someone you need to forgive, let go of and quit harboring resentment toward – today would be a great day to do it. No better way to get ready for Lent season, than following Jesus’ example of forgiving those nearby.

1 person commented on this so far, read and add yours...

I’m Gonna Let It Shine

Posted in Christian Lifestyle, Evangelism, Love, One Year Bible, witnessing by PCraig on January 4, 2017

We used to sing a song when I was in preschool Sunday School classes that went, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…” My favorite part though, was when it came to the verse that said, “Hide it under a bushel, no…” The reason I liked that portion is because we were allowed to shout the word NO when asking about hiding our light. I must confess, that at the time, I really didn’t even know what I was singing about, but it was fun.

Later on, I came to understand that the meaning of the song came from this week’s reading of the One Year Bible in Matthew 5:14-16. Jesus proclaims that His followers are the “light of the world,” and just like no one hides a light under “a bowl,” likewise, we are not to hide our light.

During this year, my intent is to take a similar passage like this, from the One Year Bible reading, and to make comment on it in this blog. My hope, is that it will not only speak to those of you reading the Bible through this year, and keep you encouraged along the way, but it will also inspire you to let God’s Word speak directly to you. (We are providing 21-day devotionals this weekend to go along with our 21 Days of Fasting & Prayer this weekend, so don’t miss it!)

Getting back to our passage, I would like to suggest that each of us are carriers of the light of Jesus to our world in 2017. As a result, it is imperative that we feel that responsibility to let our light shine as Jesus stated. We cannot expect God to shine for us, we are to shine for Him. We shine when we do our work well, do more than is expected, love our enemies and show Christ’s compassion to all.

Another way to shine this week is by inviting someone into your life with Christ. You might respond to their need for help by offering to pray, or share an inspirational thought from Scripture you’ve been reading. One more way is to simply invite them to be your guest at your church. Statistics say that most people would be glad to attend church with a friend if only they were invited.

Let’s commit to shine our light in the darkness of our world this year so others can find their way to God.


2 Comments made so far. Add yours...

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.

Show your support, add your comment now...

The Day Grace Ran

Posted in Evangelism, Love, Love for God, Salvation by PCraig on April 7, 2016

There are a lot of amazing things to see, experience and hear in life, for example: a newborn baby, the stars, and Niagara Falls, just to name a few.  But, for me, nothing fits the description of amazing more than the grace shown to others and me by God.

Grace defined by Webster is, unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; a virtue coming from God.  I heard it said as, God’s unmerited favor toward us.

Nowhere is this revealed more explicitly than the story Jesus told of the Prodigal Son.  Now, I grew up hearing about this story, but it’s only been in recent years that the power of the message pierced my heart like never before.  As you may know, the narrative is that the younger of two sons, takes his inheritance early and goes out and blows it on wild living.  He parties hard until the money runs out.  When it runs out, the friends run out too.

This isn’t the most incredible running is the story however.  Jesus goes on to say that the young man realizes what a fool he’s been and that life was so much better in the father’s house.  So, he comes up with a speech to say to his dad in the hopes that he can at least move back as a servant.

Now, here’s where it gets crazy and blows the minds of the listeners.  Jesus says, the dad is looking down the road as the son is coming home and actually runs out to meet him, so that he can tell him what an idiot he’s been – NO!  The purpose of the running is to get to his son as fast as he can and throw his arms around him, show his love, restore his place and celebrate his return.  If that’s a picture of our Heavenly Father’s reaction to us coming home to Him – wow!  That’s all I got, amazing, astonishing, overwhelming, beyond description.  That’s our God.

Why wouldn’t everyone love Him?  Why would anyone ever want to leave?  Who wouldn’t want the power of grace in their lives?

For those who have experienced this kind of grace that goes beyond comprehension, our job is now to invite others into the Father’s house.  It’s a place of return, restoration, and revel.  Not everyone knows and understands it, so like Jesus, let’s spread the true story of a Father’s love.

Show your support, add your comment now...

Help For Marriage

Posted in Love, Marriage, Relationships by PCraig on January 29, 2015

Many marriages are struggling today.  I don’t even need to refer to national statistics.  I’m sure you can point to couples around you that have divorced, had affairs, or are two people living separately in the same house.  What’s the problem?  There are many reasons, but over the next few weeks, we’re going to see what you can do to keep from being a statistic.  Hidden away in the Old Testament is a book that is rarely referenced, but is full of advice for marriage.  It has romance, sexual intimacy, drama and passion.

During this series, we’ll discover advice on love, courtship, and marriage that can keep the flame burning.  Here’s who you should invite: anyone currently struggling in their marriage, people contemplating marriage, singles interested in dating, and teenagers who want to have a model marriage one day.

It all begins this weekend and I hope you will commit to each of the five weeks as we attempt to build strong marriages in our community.

LOVE series: Feb 1 – Mar 1  

Show your support, add your comment now...

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.

Show your support, add your comment now...

If You’re Looking For A Party

Posted in Love, witnessing by PCraig on July 31, 2014

Today, I want to focus on the final installment of the “trifecta” stories Jesus told that are recorded in Luke 15.  Let me remind you that this is the only time Jesus tells three stories in succession that all have to do with the same topic.  I’m just thinking, that must mean something!

Here are the common threads:  all three focus on something being lost, the search and the reaction when found.  In the final story, it changes from an animal or object to a human.  Specifically, this is about a lost son who wants to sow some wild oats with his inheritance money.  He doesn’t want to wait until his father dies to collect, so this sensitive son goes and asks his father for the money now.  The father goes ahead and gives him what he asks for and the son takes off to party.

The party scene might have been fun for awhile, but it all ends when the money runs out.  He winds up in need, working under poor conditions and longing for home.  It’s at this point that Jesus says, “He came to his senses.”  But this time, he’s been humbled by his foolish choices and wants to come home as a servant.

Here’s what’s amazing, the father is already looking for the son to return.  He won’t allow him to return as a servant.  He calls for him to be completely restored to his former status, and throws a party to celebrate.

A few highlights:

  • We humans can make some dumb choices that lead to great pain
  • We need to own up to our failures and seek forgiveness
  • The Father (God) is watching for us to return to Him and runs to meet him
  • The Father is not out to punish us, but has a goal to restore us
  • Nothing causes God to party like someone being restored

What’s this mean for you and I?  If you want God to party along with all of heaven, then bring people to the Father.  True love runs with compassion.  It’s not looking for an opportunity to rub in the pain of the past, but to rub it out.  Our hearts should have the same sense of urgency, compassion and resolve to see people restored as God does.  What lost sons (or daughters) can you help come home to the Father?  God’s looking for a reason to party!

Show your support, add your comment now...

True Love Leaves

Posted in Evangelism, Friendship, Love, witnessing by PCraig on July 17, 2014

Yesterday I was reading the account in Luke 15 where Jesus tells three stories in succession that all have pretty much the same theme.  What’s remarkable about this is that this is the only time Jesus does that.  If Jesus takes three different approaches to teach a central theme, then I just think we better pay careful attention to it.  Therefore, over the next three blogs, I want to take each of these stories and share some gleanings.

The first story is to ponder, “What is you were a shepherd and had a hundred sheep and lost one, what would you do?”  Jesus says, that a shepherd would leave the 99 and “go after the lost sheep until he finds it.”

Our first principle is that Christ followers are to GO AFTER the lost.  Believers are not supposed to wait inside the church for non-believers to show up.  There must be a sense of duty and responsibility felt by the Christian to  “go after” lost people.  Let me say it this way, love leaves and goes.  True Christ-like love cannot stay and be content while bunches of people are lost without God.

What’s this look like for you?

  • Look around and notice that there are lost people who need to know God
  • Let a sense of duty & responsibility for them grip your soul
  • Go find them and bring them back to God where they belong

Finally, the story ends with Jesus explaining “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over ONE sinner who repents than over 99 righteous person who do not need to repent.”  In other words, whatever gets heaven excited ought to excite us!  If you want to get God and the rest of heaven happy, then go out and bring a lost person back to God.

This gets heaven more excited than healings, gifts, and choirs.  And, I just think whatever heaven celebrates; we should be celebrating as well.

Who can you reach out to today?  Is there someone you could invite to church this weekend?  True love cannot stay – it must go.

Show your support, add your comment now...

Today’s Hot Topic: Homosexuality

Posted in Hope, Love, Marriage by PCraig on January 30, 2014

This is something our culture just can’t seem to stop talking about these days: homosexuality.  Recently, on the Grammys a mass “wedding” was performed that included both same sex and opposite sex partners, officiated by Queen Latifah.  Then, in our own state of Indiana, a recent bill named HJR 3 was being considered by the House to allow voters to decide on whether marriage should only be for one man and one woman in the November elections.  It is now going back to the State Senate because the House changed the language in the bill.  You can learn more about it here:

What does all of this debate, talk and controversy mean for the believer in Christ?  Does God condemn gays to hell?  Can a person change that has same-sex attraction?

I decided I would weigh in on this a little today, since it is all over the media, and on the minds of many.  Here are a few initial thoughts for all of us:

  • We are all sinners in need of God’s grace & mercy (Romans 3:23)
  • Just because my sin is different from yours, doesn’t make me better
  • We all need a substitute to pay for our sins and it is Jesus (Ro. 6:23, 10:13)
  • Any and all sin can be forgiven when confessed to God (1 John 1:9)

Here are specifics about homosexuality:

  • No one goes to hell for homosexuality; we go for rejecting God’s Son.
  • We cannot just do “whatever is right for me” because that attitude affects those around you.
  • We are given control over our bodies through our will and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16-21)
  • God’s plan was one woman for one man from the beginning (Adam & Eve).
  • Jesus referenced marriage as one man and one woman (Mt. 19:4-6)
  • We can master our bodies for God’s glory rather than our bodies mastering us (1 Cor. 6:12-19)

Finally, God loves us all and He is our hope.  As a result, to be like God (which should be the goal of every Christian), I should love everyone the same.  I will never reach anyone with the hope of God by being bigoted and hate-filled.

Jesus has compassion on each of us now matter what our particular sin-bend is like.  All of the guidelines for sexuality that He gives are for our good and ultimate fulfillment.  My hope is that all Christ followers will live as Jesus lived and love as He loved.  That’s how Jesus said the world will know we’re His.

2 Comments made so far. Add yours...
Next Page »