Coming Apart

Posted in Rest & Refreshing, Solitude by PCraig on October 19, 2017

Jesus on one occasion, at least, said to His disciples, “Come apart.”  The context was to get away from the crowds and get time alone.  I once heard an old preacher say, “If you don’t ‘come apart,’ then you’ll come apart!”  In other words, we need times of retreat.  I have found this important for the following reasons:

  • Reflection – I need time to process life, the future, goals and dreams, along with disappointments.
  • Refreshing – My soul is replenished in the times away from the crowd.
  • Renewal – My heart is restored by the quiet moments with Him (and often my family)

What happens to you in these moments?  Has it been so long that you’re uncertain?  I’ve learned the value of Jesus command to His disciples and am trying to be obedient to it myself.

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Coming Apart

What is the one thing that many of us fail to guard in a fast paced culture? -Our time. Especially to cultivate ideas, listen to God, and allow ourselves to get in a contemplative mode. Instead we hurry around with our cars, phones, iPods & other gadgets and people filling our lives with noise.

Even in the ancient times of the Bible, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come apart.” One person commented on this that, “if you don’t ‘come apart’ you will come apart.” (Get away from the noise before you come apart at the seams)

Do you have a problem hearing from God? When is the last time you pushed all the sources of noise in your life aside and sat quietly and waited on God…for more than a minute?

Could it be that many of our stress related issues might be resolved if we took time for concentrated meditation? Allowing the Spirit of God room in our lives to operate from within.

Try it. Take a look at your calendar and when could you make this happen? Here’s a few suggestions on finding this time: stay off Social Media for a day, don’t watch TV, return calls tomorrow, tell the people around you that you need to take some time to “come apart.”

Have you had some times where God refreshed you in His presence just by waiting? Do you need some de-stressors in your life today? Give this a try and feel free to share what happens after you “come apart” in a good way.

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Running On Empty

Posted in Margin, Prayer, Purpose, Rest & Refreshing, Solitude, Stress, Victorious Living by PCraig on September 8, 2016

All kinds of information exists on breathing techniques for reducing stress. It seems most of us tend to breathe shallow and live pressurized lives. By breathing deeply through our nose, holding it for several seconds, then slowly releasing it out our mouths, heart rate and stress levels come down. So, you might try it and see what happens.

This got me thinking about how important it is to breathe in the experiences of life. How many of us just getting going in the morning and don’t stop until we hit the bed? God didn’t even do this. In creation, God set aside one day of the week to be a day of rest. In a culture that carries a device that is linked to the world in it’s hand, that is difficult for us to achieve.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Unplug for 15 minutes each morning to connect only with God. Read, pray, sing, meditate and establish connection. How your day begins has a lot to do with how it goes.
  • Set aside a few moments before you pull into the driveway and pray, “God, I’m about to go inside to people who need me to be present and a positive influence, help me to put all else aside to be what they need.”
  • Weekly orchestrate your schedule to attend a church service where you can recalibrate in worship, fellowship and discipleship.
  • Schedule monthly appointments with yourself that include getting away from the normal routine for a number of hours to ponder, pray and rest.
  • Annually take a day, or more if possible, to evaluate your life and the direction you are headed. Ask yourself, “Am I going toward my purpose?” If not, ask God to help you get in alignment with His purpose and create action steps for doing so.

What are some steps you currently take to reduce stress and realign your life to God’s purposes? If you can’t think of any, maybe try some of those I’ve suggested, or seek God to create your own. You can’t live a fully charged life while running on empty.

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Sometimes life comes at you fast someone said.  I agree.  There are times in our lives when it appears that everything is coming unglued, when bad news follows bad news and we’re uncertain about way too many things.

What you and I choose to do in those moments is crucial in whether we bounce back, decline or waste a bunch of time (that thing we can’t get back).  So, I would like to offer a few suggestions that help me when these moments come.

  • Get alone with God.  I can’t keep myself encircled with chaos and confusion and expect to think clearly.
  • Step away.  I’ve got to disconnect from the situation and catch a break.
  • Take in inspiration.  Whatever feeds your soul – get around it.  It may be music, exercise, prayer, meditation, preaching, worship, reading, but whatever it is – do it.
  • Talk with others.  Not just any others, but the ones who not only have your best interest at heart and are willing to speak truth in love.  You need it.
  • Get outside.  I can’t help but feel how big God is when I step into the glory of His creation. The heavens declare God’s glory and I need that reminder.
  • Sleep & rest.  When I’m tired and worn out, that is not the time to make decisions. I need to rest my body to refresh my soul and mind. Everything feels darker when I’m tired.

Maybe try some or all of these things if you’re in a season of loss and one thing keeps piling on another.  One thing you never do – quit!

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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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Get Away

Posted in energy, Perspective, Rest & Refreshing, Stress, Time by PCraig on October 15, 2014

Since my wife is a travel agent in her spare time (besides all the other things she does), we try to get away when we are able.  The strain of ministry can pull on you physically, mentally and spiritually.  Jesus Himself would get away from the crowds and encourage His disciples to do the same.

My problem is this: “I’m too busy to get away!” Ever find yourself saying this?  So, how can you make it happen?

I think you have to decide to make it happen first of all.  Nothing will change until you decide.

You have to plan ahead. If you intend to take time off at spring, then you better start working toward it now.  If I wait until close to the date I want to leave to work ahead, then it won’t happen.

Let everyone know that you will be gone and unreachable.  If you allow urgency to press in, then there will never be a “good time” to go. You have to make this the priority in your life.

Then, unplug, unwind, disengage and relax. Many people tell me that I am on fire when I come back from a break. I think you’ll be amazed at how much more you can get accomplished by taking off quality time to restore, refresh and recharge your internal batteries.


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Jesus Said Rest

We for sure struck a nerve last weekend with the launch of the new series: De-Stress-Ed.  I don’t even know how many people said it definitely spoke to and challenged them.  Why?  Because it is such problem in our culture, so don’t miss this weekend for part two.

Along those same lines, I shared with our staff a devotional thought on rest this week as well.  I know I didn’t grow up thinking this way, but God intended for us to get our proper rest.  Here’s how we know:

  • He gave a command to rest (it made the top 10 – Exodus 20)
  • Jesus rested & taught the disciples to rest (Mark 6:31)
  • Jesus said he would give rest (Matt. 11:28-29)

Now, if God commanded it, Jesus promised it, practiced it and promoted it, then it’s probably something we should do.  At least that’s how I look at it.

In addition, medical studies have been done to conclude that disease, sickness, and mental weakness results from lack of rest.  Just two nights of improper rest will slow down your reflexes by 3 times normal response.  This isn’t even mentioning the irritability factor and other negative responses that can come.

So, do your spouse, your boss, your employees, co-workers, children, students, friends and everyone else within ear-shot a favor and get your rest.  You’ll be healthier, probably wealthier, and definitely happier.  And, you’ll serve and glorify God so much better.

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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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Set Your Pace

Posted in Books, Personal Growth, Rest & Refreshing, Solitude, Stress by PCraig on October 10, 2013

I’m taking our Elders through the book Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft this year in our monthly meetings.  In today’s reflection, we focused on the leader’s pacing (not just walking back and forth in your living room).  Our attention was concerning the attitude of most people today on their lives: “I’m so busy.”

Jesus was the most influential person to ever walk this planet and yet I don’t think of Him as being in a hurry.  When I read about Jesus, it’s hard to picture Him as stressed out, in a fizz, and running in every direction like I am often times.

A while back, I had a pastor friend of mine say that he had been told by a Christian Psychologist, Dr. Richard Dobbins, to take time off every quarter of the year.  That pastoring a large church was an extremely intensive career and so he said you need to rest and replenish each quarter.  Since hearing that, I’ve really tried to plan quarterly breaks where I can be refreshed and rejuvenated.

God instituted the Sabbath for a reason.  Here’s the four practices that Kraft gives in his book that he tries to follow:

  1. Take a full day off each week and limit my work hours.
  2. Plan a full day alone for spiritual retreat on a monthly basis.
  3. Make sure I have some fun each week doing things that make me laugh.
  4. Limit the number of evenings I am not at home.

I heard someone say, “If you’re burning the candle at both ends, you may not be as bright as you think you are.”

If Jesus took His disciples away to rest and retreat, God created a Sabbath day, and health, spiritual, and mental experts agree that you need to control your pace, then who are you and I to argue?  Are you setting your pace?  Does your schedule honor God?

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Slow It Down

Posted in Hearing God, Margin, New Year, Rest & Refreshing, Solitude, Stress by PCraig on December 13, 2012

Slowing down.  Doesn’t that sound good?  Then why don’t we do it?  I think some of us are addicted to the adrenalin rush of feeling important; running from meeting to meeting, talking on the phone in our cars, texting while walking, and over-booking ourselves.  Many of us have a need to look important and busyness, we think, gives that appearance.

The problem is that God has mandated we take time in our week and reflect upon Him (called a Sabbath – see the 10 Commandments).  Also, Jesus seems to suggest a daily getting before God to request His assistance in our lives (“Give us THIS DAY our DAILY bread”).

Here are just a few things taking time to slow down will do for you:

  • Calm your nerves (your family & co-workers will thank you)
  • Centering or regaining balance to your life
  • Greater focus
  • A word from God (you can’t hear Him well on the run!)
  • Reflection on what’s important (realigns priorities)
  • An awareness of beauty around us (creation, people, our blessings)

Especially during this season, let’s make sure we take time to delight ourselves in the Lord.  In the New Year, I’m encouraging us to all make a daily practice of reading the New Testament through slowly and with contemplation.  By picking up a Crossroads Scripture Journal at the iCenter, you can have a plan to slow down and hear from God in 2013.  I hope you’ll join me!

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