Why Your Words Are Important

Posted in Choice, Criticism, Encouragement, Marriage, Relationships, Words by PCraig on August 24, 2017

Some of us are external processors, some of us are internal processors, but we all talk a lot. One-fifth of your life will be spent with your mouth open. Is that insane to consider? Even more, that’s a lot of opportunity to bless and that’s a lot of opportunity to curse, according to James chapter three. And some of us are really over achievers when it comes to spoken, text, tweet, post and emailed communication.

It’s not surprising that God has something to help us with this area that consumes a fifth of our lives. James tells us to be “quick to listen and slow to speak.” I wonder how many marriages would be better today or even together today, if they put that one principle into practice? Proverbs 18:21 goes so far as to say that the “power of life and death is in the tongue.” But, before you discount that as extreme, think of recent bullying that has resulted in suicides and depression.

You and I weld a lot more power in our mouths than we give credit. The challenge is to direct that force in a good, positive and beneficial way for others and us. When a spouse gets all puffed up and raises their voice to set the record straight, all that may have been accomplished is lowering the quality of their relationship and complicating things further. Being loudest, most boisterous or cutting may win an argument, but it can lose the relationship. You may get someone to walk away, wave a flag of surrender or cower down, but you didn’t build anything along the way.

How do we get control of our tongue? James says it isn’t easy. As a matter of fact, he says it’s easier to tame an animal, bird or fish than it is to tame the tongue. Ever been to Sea World?

Here’s what James says can help:

Be slow to speak. Don’t speak first and think later, that’s a recipe for regret.

Be wise. Ask yourself: Is this is wise to say? Will this be beneficial?

So peace. If you can’t something positive, don’t say anything at all. Mom said that too!

Your words will steer your life in one direction or another. The cause for some not having a better marriage is in their mouth. Some don’t have the job you would like because you sabotage your self by gossiping at work.

We need more peacemakers in the world, and that requires being more in control of what comes out of our mouths. Let’s all start today!

*If you liked this post, join us this weekend for part 4 of Functional Faith as we discuss James 3 in more detail. You can also catch the podcast from our website next week: www.crossroadsavon.com

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Who’s Your Person?

Recently, I’ve been encouraging my staff to seek out a mentor in their lives. Someone they can call, email, text or visit with during the month that can help them process thoughts, ideas and decisions.

This is a great idea for a young married couple as well. I think it would be great if each newlywed could have a seasoned couple in their lives to help them navigate this new adventure of marriage. How many couples could avoid collapse?

I know I have personally benefited from many different people in my life. One of those that has impacted me greatly, is my pastor, Tom Paino. I only had one pastor my whole life of growing up in the church! He dedicated me, baptized me, performed our wedding, ordained me, and dedicated our daughter. The most important thing he did was lead by example. His steady leadership taught me the value of perseverance, continuity, and strength. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked his opinion, sought his counsel and asked, “What would Pastor Tom do?”

Who do you have in your life that you can trust to have wise advice? What person can you reach out to that is further down the road and knows where the potholes are located? Let me encourage you to find that person. If you don’t have someone today, then get busy thinking through your contacts, acquaintances and friends. Get them in your life and you’ll be the better for it.

Today’s reading of the One Year Bible affirms this when it says, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” This principle is not only true for a nation; it’s true for you.

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Whose Report Will You Believe?

Posted in Attitude, Counsel, Faith, Friendship, Perspective, Relationships by PCraig on March 9, 2017

It really matters who you take advice from and listen to most. You may think that the negative comments and poor advice doesn’t affect you, but it does.

One of my favorite stories to illustrate this in all of God’s Word is in today’s reading of the One Year Bible. It comes from Numbers 13 where Moses sends a delegation of 12 spies to scout the Promised Land and come back and report. The Scripture says that after 40 days of sampling its produce and examining the land, they returned with news. Ten of the spies scared the people by reporting briefly about the abundance and fruitfulness of the land, then sharing how powerful, invincible and fortified the cities and people were. They went so far as to say, “We can’t attack these people; they are stronger than we are.”

Can you imagine that the same people who have seen their God deliver them from Egypt, split a sea and dry up the land, feed them daily with manna and quail, now don’t have faith to conquer the land God has already promised? That’s exactly what was going on.

However, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, believed that even though the enemy looked strong, that God is stronger. They said, “We can certainly do it.” Not, “We hope, might or it’s possible”, but we can do it. These two saw all the same things the other ten did, but they had a different outlook. I wonder how many of your friends have a different outlook on life? Do you have friends that tend to see things from God’s perspective over man? How many faith-filled, positive speaking, God-trusting friends do you have?

Are there people you need to spend less time with? Or, can you think of some you need to be around more often?

The sad thing in this story is that bad news travels fast. It seems to be easier to get people to go negative than it is to get them to step out in faith. That’s why you have to be very choosy about who’s reporting to you. When you get around people of faith, then your going to be impacted positively. Stop allowing negative reports to plague your life and keep you from the report God has for you.

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Sticks And Stones

Posted in Mind, Offense, Relationships, Words by PCraig on February 23, 2017

Like many of you, I grew up on the school playground saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Most of us learned really quickly in life, however, that it was a lie. As a matter of fact, some of us have gotten over broken legs, arms and ankles way faster than words spoken over us.

If that’s the case, then how careful should we be about what we say over another person, such as our spouses, children, family members, friends and colleagues? In today’s reading of the One Year Bible from Proverbs 10:11 it says, “The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain.”

I wonder, does that describe you? Do people think of you as a wellspring of refreshing words that bring them life?

Take some time today to evaluate what is coming out of your mouth. Even better, consider it before it comes out of your mouth. Because once it hits the airwaves, there’s no taking it back. And the damage it can bring to your relationships is far worse than any stick or stone could cause.

(Pray Psalm 19:14)

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Lessons From A Lame Man

Posted in Evangelism, Friendship, Relationships, Salvation, witnessing by PCraig on January 12, 2017

One day some men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus lying on a mat. The Bible (Matthew 9:2) says something interesting, that “when Jesus saw THEIR faith…” He did something. There are several things that speak to me out of this passage from the One Year Bible. One thing is that it’s important to have good friends. You need some friends that will carry you to Jesus if they have to.

Another thing is that Jesus is moved by the faith of people around you and not just you. That means you better how some people of faith around you. Who knows how many of us have been impacted by the prayers of a grandparent, parent or friend?

Then, I see that Jesus is more concerned about the man’s spiritual need than his physical need. Keep in mind that it was the physical need that drew him there, but Jesus wanted to remedy the paralysis in this man’s heart. His greatest need wasn’t his legs, it was his life.

Some lessons for us:

  • Be the kind of person that brings others to Jesus.
  • Listen for the pain in others that leads to an opportunity to invite them to Jesus.
  • Don’t be too busy to carry others burdens in prayer or personally.

The fact that these men got involved in this paralytics life, enabled him to walk away physically and spiritually healed. Who could you get involved with and bring closer to Jesus this week?

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Choose Your Story

Posted in Attitude, Change, Choice, Marriage, Relationships by PCraig on September 1, 2016

Each of us is telling a story every day of our lives. There’s the story we are portraying to everyone else, such as, “look at me the hard-worker.” Then, there is the story we tell to ourselves, “I am so tired of working harder than anyone else around here and being unappreciated for it.”

Couples who tell a positive story about their spouse are far and away more likely to make it through life’s challenges. How about your story? Are you saying things like, “My husband never…” or “She always prioritizes everything else”? If so, then your story needs to be adjusted. You can’t tell a negative story and expect positive results.

In addition, the Bible has a ton to say about our attitude in life. In Philippians 4:8 we are told, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

So, realize today that you might just be part of the problem with your relationships. Make an attitude decision and adjustment. Tell the story you want to be reality in your mind first, and then as you focus on the good, I believe more good things will happen.

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Let It Go Today

Posted in Choice, Happiness, Offense, Relationships by PCraig on August 25, 2016

If we all got what we deserved, we would all be in trouble. Am I right? Surely you don’t think you’ve lived such perfect life that even God is impressed with you – really? I don’t think so. The Bible says that we’ve all missed the mark and come up short in breaking promises to ourselves, God and others.

The most miserable people you know are resentful. They refuse to give up a grudge, let go of a hurt, and withhold forgiveness as though it were a prize. What these poor folks aren’t fully realizing is that they are hurting themselves. Un-mercifulness makes you miserable.

Proverbs 11:17 (NLT) Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.

We think it will destroy them, but often they are going on their merry way while we suffer for it. Holding a grudge is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

When I realize how much I’ve been forgiven, washed and cleansed of my past, then it makes it easier to forgive others. Maybe you don’t feel forgiven? Perhaps it’s your lack of being forgiven that is holding you back from issuing forgiveness?

Whether it’s your spouse, your neighbor, friend, boss, co-investor, parent or whomever, here’s what I know, it’s time to let it go. To let them go. And, I’ll even tell you when to do it – now! It’s already late as far as I’m concerned. But, the best time is to do it today. So, I don’t know what that means for you, what phone call or appointment you need to make (if you can), letter or email you need to write. I just know, after it’s released and you finally let go, you’ll be happier and glad you did. (Jesus said so, Matthew 5:7)

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Lord Have Mercy

Posted in Attitude, Character, Criticism, God's love, Relationships by PCraig on July 7, 2016

Have you ever mis-judged someone because you didn’t know his or her history?  This happens when the server at the restaurant doesn’t seem to be serving you well, but later you learn this is her second job, she’s a single mom and trying to keep it all going.  With this piece of information, suddenly you feel mercy rise up within you even though the service may not get any better.

John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”  Imagine what a world would look like that operated on that principle.

This is way Jesus would have His followers to act.  Culture might say, “If they hurt you, then hurt them back.”  But, Jesus tells us to even love our enemies.  We’re never any more like God than when we’re merciful.

I think the biggest example of this in action is Jesus on the cross, and in His final moments cries out, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they do.”  Now, as the Son of God, He had many options, but He chose to show and pray for mercy.  So, when you get so ticked off at your ex that you can barely stand it, forgive.  When you are upset at your spouse for messing up again, forgive.  And, when your relative manipulates the people around you, forgive.  Got it?

Whatever the scenario, the response is the same – forgive.  Let it go.  Release it/them.

If God can be merciful to you, then surely you can be gracious to others.   Today’s a great day to get started.

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Settlers vs. Settling

Posted in Attitude, Character, Choice, energy, Faith, Personal Growth, Relationships by PCraig on February 18, 2016

I can remember learning about the people who picked up and moved their lives to the western part of the United States.  They did this in order to explore new territory and built a settlement for themselves and those who would come behind.

All of that is proactive, energetic, risk-taking and exciting.  Settling is totally different.  The person who settles is someone that is lazy, compromising, has low self-esteem, and small goals.

Nowhere is settling admired.  We don’t look up to people who could have achieved more but chose not to.  Nor do we applaud people who quit simply because it got to be too tough.

If settling is not a virtue to aspire to, then why do so many choose it?  For followers of Jesus, I think one thing it comes down to a lack of faith in you and even more in God.  If we really believed in ourselves and God, then we wouldn’t dream of settling.  We would know that we were made for more, formed for a destiny that is greater than us, and unable to allow ourselves to stoop.

If you are single, don’t allow yourself to settle for less than what God has for you, wait for God’s best.  If you are married, don’t accept a mediocre marriage; inspire your partner to greater days.  Whatever you current situation, don’t settle for anything less that what God has destined for you.  Settlers are adventurous, brave and bold to lay claim on their future.  It’s okay to be a settler, just never settle for less than God’s best.

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The Second Biggest Decision You’ll Make

Posted in Choice, Decisions, Marriage, Mistakes, Relationships, Wisdom by PCraig on February 4, 2016

We all make choices each day.  Someone has said that our lives really are the sum of our decisions that we make along the way.  What is so crazy is that in the moment, we often don’t know what ways in the balance.  How many times have you looked back to see that had you chosen differently at the time, your life would have gone in a different direction.  If you had gone ahead and married him, if you had moved and taken that job, if you had attended that party, or if you had spent your money on that instead of saving it.

All of us have had moments like these; therefore, it’s supremely important that we weigh every decision.  Outside of choosing to follow Christ, I believe the second most important choice is whom we will marry.  This person will have 24-hour access to our lives and bring joy or pain like no one else is able.

So, how do we choose wisely?  Are there things to look for in a future spouse?  Do warning signs appear that we can see and pay attention?  What are the big things to make sure they possess before going any further?

This weekend starts a series called Lasting Love, which pulls from the story of Ruth found in the Scriptures.  Over these next four weeks we’ll discover what to look for in a potential mate.  As a result, we can be equipped to make wise choices and live with fewer regrets.

I hope you can join us!  (Sundays @ 9 & 10:45 a.m.)

Here’s a video invite:  https://youtu.be/eliCsF6ZyHE

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