How To Grow In Faith In 2017

Posted in Change, Church Growth, Faith, Fasting, New Year, Personal Growth, Prayer by PCraig on January 1, 2017

I want to encourage every Crossroads family member to take the following challenges in January to grow your faith like perhaps never before!

  • Begin reading the Bible everyday starting today. You can do this thru downloading and printing a reading plan to keep inside your Bible as a checklist. Another way is to purchase a One Year Bible and it will guide you through daily readings. Or, you can use the YouVersion Bible App and select a reading plan for 2017 to read from your phone, computer or other electronic device.
  • Attend church every Sunday for the next three weeks. We’re launching a new three-week series called PRAYING BOLDLY beginning January 8. For these three weeks you will learn how to pray more bold, powerful prayers that will literally change your life and relationship with God.
  • This is also a great time to invite friends, family and anyone who needs to grow in faith to be a guest at Crossroads. Be sure to carry the invite cards that are in the lobby to help you to share with others. These cards give our service times, location and web address so they have something in their hand after you’ve invited them.
  • Begin a 21-Day fast on January 8. Next weekend starts our 21 Days of Fasting & Prayer. Powerful things happen when people fast and pray. If you would like to learn more on this topic, you can follow this link: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/fasting-for-beginners. Just know that you don’t have to give up food only, there are other things that may have more of your time and life than what you place in your mouth. We’re going to believe God together for a spiritual breakthrough in our church, our families, our community and our country during these 21 days!

Don’t allow yourself to be left out of what God may want to do in your life this year! Get off to a great start by accepting this challenge and just see what God will do. I believe this could very well be the greatest year for our church and your life also. Get ready to be changed!

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It’s The Simple Things

It seems like so much of life is about the simple things.  I heard recently that if a person gets seven or more hours of sleep per night they will be more productive and positive in life.  Yet, the average American only gets somewhere around six hours of sleep per night.

We know that when a family takes time to share meals together that it builds connection and communion within the home.  But, many schedule their lives so that meals consist of grabbing something on the way to the next event.

Many of us are aware that reading God’s Word can feed our soul, encourage our hearts and allow for God to speak.  We recognize that attending church services fills our spirits, touches our lives and inspires us for the week.  Yet, many of us get busy with other things and leave off the ones that matter for eternity.

So, allow me to challenge you to get to bed more regularly, eat meals with your family more consistently, read your Bible each day and attend church services every week.  You’ll be more productive, positive, better connected, encouraged and inspired, so, who doesn’t want that?  Here’s to a sweet ’16!

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The Power of Doing One Thing

Posted in Change, Distractions, New Year, Time by PCraig on January 8, 2015

For those of us who suspect we might be ADD, but are yet to be diagnosed, here are some thoughts toward making a real difference in your life in 2015.  In past years, I have tried to make New Year’s resolutions, only to have one or two of them…maybe get completed.  Why is that?  I like to think I’m a disciplined person.  My wife says I am every day that I get up at 5:30 to head to the gym.  Why do we often struggle to make resolutions happen?  I think it is often in the plurality factor.  We try to do too much at once.  Now, that can have something to do with being an overachiever, but we’ll save that topic for later or in discussion with a counselor.

Here’s my proposal:  try just doing one new thing in 2015.  Try picking from this list for starters:

  • I commit to moving forward spiritually in 2015 by signing up for a class.
  • I will seek out new ways to grow in 2015 by reading the Bible daily, through YouVersion, so I’m accountable.
  • I will release all hurt & pain of the past by writing a letter, making a phone call or scheduling a lunch.
  • I will become more generous by tithing, and giving to God off the top instead of what’s leftover.

Those are just a few suggestions, but you can choose from your own list.  The main thing is to pick something, but not everything.

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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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Renew

Don’t you wish life had a refresh button?  I love how you can hit the refresh button on your browser and everything on the page gets reloaded and updated.

As we begin a New Year, have you ever thought of making a new you?  Over the next few weeks as a church we’ll examine renewing our lives.  Each week we’ll discuss a portion of Scripture that addresses helping us to refresh our lives.

Here’s the definition of renew according to Merriam-Webster:

re·new verb \ri-ˈnü, -ˈnyü\

: to make (something) new, fresh, or strong again

: to make (a promise, vow, etc.) again

I hope you can join us for the next four weeks of RENEW and allow God to make you new, fresh or strong again.  He CAN renew, refresh and restore us.  Pray that God will use this series your life personally and in our church corporately for His glory!

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Steps To Progress

Do you find that there’s a gap between wanting to make advancement and actually seeing progress?  Especially at this time of year, we determine to lose weight, get in shape, take classes, or accomplish a project, but six months from now will there be any change?  How many years now have you been frustrated by your own lack of progress?  What can make this year different from all the others?

For me, there has to be a combination of things to get me going and keep me going toward my desired destination.  First of all, I have to have a resolve to really do it.  It can’t just be one of these, “It sure would be nice to be in better shape.”  It’s got to be, “I will not tolerate this anymore, I must change!”

Second, I’ve got to have a goal in mind of where I want to be.  “I will lose one inch in my waist in 60 days.”  That’s a clear goal that gives me something to aim at and be inspired to reach.

Third, I need some steps to be able to put my desire into action.  The question I ask, “What should be my first step toward my intended destination?”

Here’s some things you might want to consider to help you reach spiritual goals:

  • Sign up on Crossroads for Scripture to be delivered each day electronically
  • Participate in our 21 day fast by giving up something in surrender to God
  • Come to our one hour Night of Prayer on Jan 8 from 7-8 p.m.
  • Register for a Crossroads University class this weekend (classes start soon)
  • Join a Lifegroup if you haven’t already to do life with others in 2014
  • Determine to be in weekend worship unless on vacation or sick
  • Get baptized in water (next baptism is in 2 weeks!)

Those are just a few next steps that can take you to a better place spiritually in 2014, than you were in 2013.  What step do you need to take?

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How To Fast

Posted in Fasting, Holy Spirit, New Year, Prayer by PCraig on December 18, 2013

Here’s some thoughts I’ve gleaned from the writings of Bill Bright on the topic of fasting as we get ready to begin the NEW YEAR with another time of fasting & prayer.

How to Begin Your Fast

 How you begin and conduct your fast will largely determine your success. By following these seven basic steps to fasting, you will make your time with the Lord more meaningful and spiritually rewarding.

STEP 1: Set Your Objective

Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.

Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Make this a priority in your fasting.

STEP 2: Make Your Commitment

Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, decide how long and what type of fast you will undertake.  I am challenging those who can to a 21 day fast.  There are many resources for a Daniel type of fast for 21 days.  Here’s some other things you could fast:  TV, Facebook or social media, shopping, or other potentially controlling things for 21 days (for some, these could be more difficult than food).

Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon it.

STEP 3: Prepare Yourself Spiritually

The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers. Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:

Ask God to help you make a comprehensive list of your sins.
Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4).
Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you.
Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14,15.
Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1,2).
Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8,11-13).
Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6).
Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17).

STEP 4: Prepare Yourself Physically

Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.

The first two or three days are usually the hardest. As you continue to fast, you will likely experience a sense of well-being both physically and spiritually. However, should you feel hunger pains, increase your liquid intake.

STEP 5: Put Yourself on a Schedule

For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be.

When possible, begin and end each day on your knees with your spouse for a brief time of praise and thanksgiving to God. Longer periods of time with our Lord in prayer and study of His Word are often better spent alone.

A dietary routine is vital as well. Dr. Julio C. Ruibal – a nutritionist, pastor, and specialist in fasting and prayer – suggests a daily schedule and list of juices you may find useful and satisfying. Modify this schedule and the drinks you take to suit your circumstances and tastes.

When your designated time for fasting is finished, you will begin to eat again. But how you break your fast is extremely important for your physical and spiritual well-being.

STEP 6: End Your Fast Gradually

Begin eating gradually. Do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Suddenly reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have negative, even dangerous, consequences. Try several smaller meals or snacks each day. If you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will result in continued good health.

STEP 7: Expect Results

If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God’s face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence (John 14:21). The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed. You will see answers to your prayers.

A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all. Just as we need fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit daily, we also need new times of fasting before God. A 24-hour fast each week has been greatly rewarding to many Christians.

It takes time to build your spiritual fasting muscles. If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. You may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or your may need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. As soon as possible, undertake another fast until you do succeed. God will honor you for your faithfulness.

I encourage you to join me in fasting and prayer to begin 2014.  May God help us to truly experience revival in our homes, our church, our nation, and throughout the world.

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Next Steps for a New Year

Posted in Change, Choice, Commitments, New Year, One Year Bible, Personal Growth by PCraig on December 12, 2013

When trying to bring about lasting change in our lives, there has to come a point where we take the next step.  In other words, good intentions are not enough.  “I intend to be a better husband in the New Year” or “I want to grow in my faith in 2014” or “I need to get a handle on my finances this next year.”  Each of these are wonderful statements, but it takes more than talk to bring about change.

Often what is missing is a clear next step that will intentionally head us toward the desired destination.  Here at Crossroads we have some Next Steps that we’ve designed for the New Year to lead people in desired directions.  Here’s the list so far:

  • Starting Point – a class for new believers of basic principles of faith
  • 21 Days of Fasting – starts Jan 1 to engage with God through sacrifice
  • Daily Bible Reading – plans available online
  • Night of Prayer – Jan 8 join together for an hour of prayer for 2014
  • Ignite Your Spiritual Potential – class to discover your spiritual gifts
  • Financial Peace University – Learn to better manage your finances
  • GriefShare – Recovery & healing from loss
  • DivorceCare – Recovery & healing from divorce or separation
  • Matthew – a class to study this book of the Bible
  • How to Study the Bible – a class to better understand the Bible
  • LifeGroup – join a small group in 2014

As you can see, we have quite a few next steps available to anyone who wants to really move forward in faith.  Look over the list.  Decide what your next step(s) should be.  Then, get signed up and committed to do it!

I love progress, and so I hope you will take advantage of at least one of these Next Steps in the New Year.

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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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Start the New Year in Power

Posted in New Year, Prayer by PCraig on December 27, 2012

Here’s the ways I’m suggesting to start off 2013:

  • Join in a 21 day Daniel Fast (basically a veg, nuts & fruit diet)
  • Come to a Night of Prayer on Jan 2 for 1 hour of prayer starting at 7 p.m.
  • Begin reading the New Testament through on Jan 1.  Use the Scripture Journals ($5 each) to record what God says to you as you read it daily.  The daily reading plan included in the Journals will guide you in this process.
  • Attend the series on prayer, Sync Up, that begins on January 6 for 3 weeks to strengthen your communication with God.

If you want to get where you’ve never been, you’ll have to travel a way you’ve never gone.  I believe that 2013 will be a great year for you and us as a church family.
Pick up a brochure on fasting and a Scripture Journal from the iCenter this Sunday to help you on this path.  Follow this blog each day through the 21 day fast.  I will be joined by John Money on providing daily encouragement and instructions as we go through the time of fasting.  John is a living witness of what God will do in you by fasting.

I’m so excited about the spiritual growth that is going to take place as we take these steps toward knowing God better in the New Year.  Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.  Get on board the journey to a powerful 2013!

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