Upgrade Yourself

Posted in Attitude, Change, Character, Family, Marriage, Personal Growth by PCraig on May 10, 2018

I can still remember the feeling of jumping into the pool on that very hot summer day only to discover I had left my phone in my swim trunks pocket.  Yeah, it didn’t make it.  The pool was so inviting, I was on vacation and ready to relax, but instead, I got to upgrade my phone.  Wasn’t wanting to, and didn’t have a plan for it, but it happened.

We live in a culture of upgrades.  From TV’s, phones, computers, wardrobes, cars, houses, and everything that goes in a house, we love to get upgraded.  The dangerous thing is when we start thinking we deserve an upgrade relationally, especially for those who are married.  Many would even like to upgrade their kids for some that behave better, aren’t as physically or emotionally challenging, or look more like someone else’s. Of course, we aren’t always willing to admit these feelings, but they can lie under the surface of our behavior and decisions.

I would like to propose that you do get an upgrade.  But, instead of looking to upgrade on the outside, why not upgrade on the inside? This doesn’t sound near as sexy, exciting and adventurous, but it can be way more worthwhile.

The lyrics to a worship song say, “I’m trading my sorrows…shame…pain…for the joy of the Lord.” It seems the songwriter is suggesting that you can trade up your negative emotions and experiences for a joy that comes only from God.  The brother of Jesus, James (1:2-4), says that trials will come to all of us.  There are no trouble-free families, but instead of giving into the temptation to quit, we can trust that healing is on the other side.

Too many, short-circuit the process, by not allowing patience, strength and healing work it’s way through our struggles.  Instead, we keep making the same mistakes over and over thinking something will change. Maybe what needs to change is us? James says (1:5), if we ask God for wisdom, He will give it to us.  The crazier your family, the more you need this.  When you feel you can’t go on, or that it might be easier to quit, just remember to ask God to give what you don’t possess on your own.  Let Him help you trade up your hurts for healing, your pain for purpose and fill you with virtues that come only through the struggle.

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Easter Everyday

We just finished celebrating the greatest event the world has ever known – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It not only changed history, but it changed my history! All that I’ve done before won’t matter anymore when we know Jesus is alive.

The first person to meet and greet Jesus after His resurrection was none other than a woman whom Jesus freed from seven demons. And, you think you’ve got problems! She had seven problems she couldn’t solve, fix or repair. Her life was broken in seven places, and only Jesus had the power to set her free.

We all have demons that we deal with in our lives. Some allow their pain to defined them, spend their lives trying to numb it or escape it to no lasting impact. Mary Magdalene, as she was called, was the kind of person we give up on, but not God. He has a way of weaving them into His story, by showing up and showing off His amazing grace. This is one of the great reasons why I love God. He chooses people we wouldn’t choose, does what we can’t do, and transforms us from the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory.

She thought she would never hear His voice again. This one, that had freed her, taught her so much, and might be the Messiah. However, on that Sunday morning, she heard Him call her by name, “Mary.” That’s all it took. She went from sorrow to gladness, from hopelessness to hope, from weakness to strength. Jesus is truly alive.

What about you? The resurrection is the central fact of history, but is it the central fact of your life? When it is, that’s the game changer. He moves from being alive to being alive in me.

God is still in the resurrection business. He resurrects relationships, careers, dreams, and hopes.  Seek Him today and you will find Him. Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus because she went to Him. Once she saw Him, I think it was like it was Easter everyday. It can be the same for you and me.

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This Changes Everything

Posted in Change, Expectations, Faith, Perspective, Stress by PCraig on March 28, 2018

Do you ever feel the icy fingers of despair on your soul? Maybe you’ve tried to get rid of a habit, but never seem to fully kick it. Perhaps you feel like you take two steps forward in life then three steps back. Or, maybe life has changed for the worse and it just doesn’t seem like it will ever improve.

Jesus’ followers knew exactly what this feels like. They had put their hopes and dreams in a man who taught like one with authority, performed miracles like they had never seen, and made promises for their future. Yet, after being arrested and tried, he was crucified like a criminal and buried in a borrowed tomb.

It seemed like it was over. All hope is gone. There’s nothing left to do. However, they were wrong. It really wasn’t over, hope was alive and the best was yet to come. Life has a way of trying to convince us that we can’t overcome the odds; that this last loss was the final blow and we might as well quit. My friend, what was true for the original disciples of Jesus is true for you. He is still alive and that makes all the difference in the world.

When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw Jesus, she came back proclaiming to the others, “I have seen the Lord!” In that moment, everything changed. All the despair was exchanged for joy. She went from the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory in a second.

Where have you been discouraged? In the area of your finances? Your family? Victory over an addiction? Maybe you’ve been doubting that you’ll ever change. When Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead, he solved your biggest problem. He has a solution for all the rest, if you’ll put your trust fully in Him and step out in faith. As you do, you’ll begin to see God work in your life, doing what only he can do.

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Better Than Resolutions

Posted in Change, New Year, Opportunity, Personal Growth by PCraig on January 5, 2018

They say that resolutions don’t work, that statistics show that the vast majority of people who make them fail within a short period of time. If that’s the case, then why make them at all? Is there a better way to bring about change?

In thinking this over during the week, I pondered what has brought about change in my own life and here’s what I came up with: one step at a time. All the changes in my life have come after taking another step.

That means the key to changing your life this year is starts with taking the first step.

Here’s the dilemma:

The first step is the hardest.

The next one can seem just as hard.

Keep stepping anyway. Nothing great is achieved by taking the path of least resistance. Whatever it is you need to change about yourself this year. Just get started by taking first step today. Pick up your Bible and read a chapter, spend 15 minutes in prayer, make an appointment with the counselor, don’t eat that donut, instead eat a banana.

For more about how to bring about your best year yet, be sure to come to part one of Your Best Year Yet this weekend! Service times: 9 & 11 a.m.

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Your Best Year Yet

Posted in Change, Distractions, Faith, New Year, Personal Growth, Victorious Living by PCraig on December 27, 2017

Every year millions of people make New Year’s Resolutions, and many are common to us all.  They are desires to improve our lives better ourselves.  Join us as we discover what the Bible has to say about these popular resolutions.  Get the help and power you need for the changes you want to make.  With God’s help, you can make this your best year yet.

Join us on January 7 for a new series: YOUR BEST YEAR YET.  Each week we’ll discover the secrets to positioning ourselves for a God’s help in making this the best year we’ve ever had!

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The Advantage Wise People Use

Posted in Change, Choice, Decisions, Friendship, Relationships, Wisdom by PCraig on September 28, 2017

I saw recently that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Wow! Are you thinking about who those 5 are right now? If not, you should because your future depends upon it.

You show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. It is almost impossible to live the right life when you have the wrong friends. Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. You can’t walk with the wild, broken, broke and be self-controlled, healthy and empowered.

So, look around and ask who you are surrounded by? Is that where you want to be in the next 5 years? If not, then it might be time to delete some names from your contacts, friends from your social media and time spent with the wrong people. You could be one new friend away from a better marriage, stronger finances, and a fuller life.

If you would be willing to change your friends, you can change your story. Get in a good Life Group, service club, or accountability group and transform your destiny. After all, this is what wise people do. Above all else, get wisdom (Proverbs 4:7).

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Tapping Into God’s Power

Posted in Change, Deliverance, Holy Spirit, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 11, 2017

In today’s reading of the One Year Bible, I was reflecting upon the anointing of Saul to be the first king of Israel. The story is chronicled in 1 Samuel 10 where the prophet Samuel tells Saul that the Spirit of the Lord is going to come upon him in power. Indeed, just as the prophet declared, the Spirit of the Lord does come upon Saul with so much power that he is transformed.

This is a specialty of the Spirit of the Lord, a life that is transformed. I can relay so many stories of addictions, hurts, losses, physical illnesses, emotional scars and countless other issues, that have been changed by the power of the Spirit.

Like Saul, we just need to be open, receptive and expecting the Spirit’s power to come upon us as we walk out our journey each day. In the New Testament, we find every believer in a position to receive the Spirit’s power. Read the book of Acts in the Bible and you’ll find ordinary people moving in extraordinary power because of the Spirit.

Whatever stronghold, addiction, hurt, pain or habit you may be fighting, know that by tapping into the Spirit of the Lord, you can be changed. I don’t know about you, but in a culture like ours, I need all the power I can get.

Also, don’t miss the launch of our next series, Breath, Wind & Fire starting May 28, as we talk about the Holy Spirit.

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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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Help For Interpreting Life

Have you noticed that if you get around negative people that you can be tempted to start talking negative also? Same thing happens when you get around positive people, by the way (thank God for that). Or, if you watch movies with vulgar language, those words might come to your head next time you hit your shin on the end table leg. And, if you read romance novels constantly, you might think your husband is a total bore.

It struck me the other day that by reading the Bible, my view of the world gets impacted. Like when I read about the value of life, how God formed me in the womb, had purpose for me before I knew it, then it makes the thought of abortion (especially late term) almost intolerable. I want to cry out against the injustice of the unborn that have no voice, but should.

I find that I need this clear, wise, voice in my head to combat all the competing unwise, and often hypocritical voices all around me. I’m thinking the same thing applies to you. If left unchecked, we can begin to be influenced by the loudest, strongest, and closest voices to us, that may not necessarily be right, wise or good.

Paul writes in 2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

What in your life needs corrected? Do you still have an awareness of right or wrong? How might God’s Word help you be able to identify what is true?

Don’t just get into the Bible; let the Bible get into you.

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A Daily Word

Posted in Change, Hearing God, Personal Growth, Victorious Living by PCraig on October 20, 2016

Like a caterpillar waking up from its slumber in a cocoon, many of us are hoping for our lives to change overnight. It doesn’t work for dieting, bodybuilding, educational degrees, or athletics, so why would we believe it in other areas? Some seem to think that by attending church two or three times per month, they will be spiritually equipped to be more than conquerors. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the main things God uses to help us move up into spiritual strength and maturity is the Bible. There’s just something about the reading of God’s Word that helps us to grow in our faith. Our goal is not just to get into the words of the Bible; it’s to let the words of the Bible get into us. When that happens, it produces change.

We learned this past Sunday from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God’s Word helps us discover who God is. It’s here we learn about His character, passion, plans, and purpose. Don’t just go through the Bible, let the Bible go through you and you will discover God.

Another discovery is who we really are, not just what others have said. You may have had people beat you down with words, saying things like, “You’re stupid, dumb, ugly, unwanted, fat, skinny, or ignorant.” But, you don’t have to live life based upon what they said. God’s opinion is what matters most. When you let what He says about you to influence how you see yourself, it changes everything.

So, the big question is how do we make it happen? I’d like to offer a few suggestions or tips:

  • Free up some time. Daily is best. Trade the pointless for what is priceless.
  • Get going. Start today! The New Living Translation is a good one to use.
  • Let the words soak into you. This is where change begins.
  • When you put it into practice, then the power flows. Don’t just be a hearer of the Word.

My prayer is that you would start today, and experience a growth toward full life in Christ like you maybe never have before.

 

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