Being Over Doing

Posted in Character, End of the World, witnessing by PCraig on September 21, 2017

It seems like every few years, maybe less, someone comes along and starts a hypothesis that Jesus is coming back on a certain date. They may write a book, get on radio, send newsletters, and use social media to promote it. Besides the fact that Jesus clearly stated that “no one” knows the day or hour of His return, it is a misalignment of priorities.

When Jesus was getting ready to ascend into heaven to be with His Father, the disciples asked him when He was coming back (Acts 1). Jesus answered them that it was not for them to “know,” but for them to “be” His witnesses. In other words, we get more caught up in knowing than being, and Jesus guides us to flip those.

So, are you more involved in knowing things or being something? It would be better to be a great parent than to know a lot about parenting. It’s better to be a good example to your kids than to know a lot about finances. Do you see what I mean? In an information age that wants to know lots of data, Jesus encourages us to focus more on being and He can lead us to the right knowing.

Whether or not Jesus comes back in the next few days is not as important as you and I being a good witness for Him today.

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When Chased By A Killer

Posted in Attitude, Character, Choice, Dreams, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 18, 2017

I love the story of David and his rise from shepherd boy to king of the nation of Israel. In today’s reading of the One Year Bible, I was reading about David’s escape from King Saul (1 Sa. 22&23), who wanted to kill him. It made me think, just because you’re anointed and chosen by God (he would be King Saul’s successor), doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges.

Too many people think that life’s supposed to be easy and if you’re doing the right thing, then it should be smooth sailing. Not sure where that idea originated, but nothing could be further from the truth. Gallup did a study and asked people to identify the worst and best event of their life. They found that there was an 80% correlation between the two events.

Many people find that some of the worst events of their lives have led to some of the best days. Why? Because they knew they couldn’t control what came to them, but they could control what came out of them. Over and over again, David displayed honor, respect and love for the person trying to hurt him. He couldn’t change Saul’s actions, but he could choose his. People may want to kill your dream, but it doesn’t mean you let them.

You may not like how things are going at work, your marriage, or other areas, but what’s happening to you is not as important as what’s happening in you. We can live as a victim or a victor and much of it is by choice. Trust that your best days are yet ahead, walk in faith, expecting good things, and just like David; it will lead to better days ahead.

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Lifting Others Up

Posted in Attitude, Character, Criticism, Humility by PCraig on May 4, 2017

How good are you at cheering for the success of others? I know we all appreciate hearing remarks about how well we’ve done, but how do you do with praising others? It can be even more challenging when you are hearing the accolades from others in private. Pastors can be guilty of this. They hear of the success of another colleague from across town seeing his church grow, so they say things like, “Well, he doesn’t preach very challenging messages is why his church is growing.”

Nowhere in Scripture is this very scenario more illustrated than in today’s reading of the One Year Bible. John 3:22-36 tells the story of how a friend of John the Baptist informs him that Jesus is now attracting more followers and baptizing more people than John. Here’s his response in verse 29, “I am filled with joy at his success.” What? Where’s the, “Yeah, but he’s not fasting like I am” or, “He’s not preaching the Word as strong as I do, so that’s why so many are attracted to him.” Instead, John takes the high road and realizes that the universe doesn’t revolve around him. He’s not God’s gift, …but Jesus is!

So, in our lives, how does this play out? Next time you hear of a co-worker doing well say, “That’s awesome that she’s excelling like that, I wish her the best.” Or, when competing and you come in second, let the first place player know that you’re proud of their effort and sportsmanship.  Stop yourself before you’re tempted to open your mouth and criticize.

When you take on this attitude, it actually raises your value in the eyes of others. Days later, when Jesus is asked about John, He says that, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Lu.7:28). Pretty cool praise from the King of Kings. It just shows what the Savior thinks when you take on humility and lift others up, He lifts you up!

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A Mary Christmas

Posted in Attitude, Character, Faith, Giving, Used of God by PCraig on December 8, 2016

It’s Christmas time in the city, and the country, and everywhere else I suppose. I love Christmas! The music, decorations, lights and all of it are beautiful. But, let’s admit it, sometimes it can be stressful, burdensome, and a mess. It’s for these reasons and more we need to be reminded that it’s really all about Jesus! This is especially important if you’re having a tough time this season because of a loss of loved one, job, or illness. The good news is that you can experience a Merry Christmas anyway.

By looking at Mary, the mother of Jesus, we can find a way to have joy this season and potentially attract God’s favor as she did. Here are three characteristics she possessed:

She had a childlike faith. From Luke 1:38 we see that she lived in a simple faith that surrendered to God’s plan.

She had a giving attitude. We know she first of all gave her body to be used of God. So many in our culture think, “It’s MY body, so I’ll decide.” But, Mary said, “My body is your body God, so use it however you see fit.” No wonder God chose her!

She also shared the light with others. Before Jesus had ever done any public miracles, He and Mary were attending a wedding (Jn.2). When they ran out of wine and faced humiliation, Mary offered Jesus to help. Her words to the servants were priceless, “Do whatever He tells you.” You gotta love that! It’s one of the most powerful messages we need to hear.

To attract God’s favor in our lives we too can believe God with childlike faith, live life with an open hand, and share the hope of Jesus with others. Here’s hoping you have a very “Mary” Christmas.

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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.

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Follow Your Heart…Really?

Posted in Character, Culture, Decisions, Heart, Victorious Living by PCraig on July 14, 2016

Our biggest issue is a heart issue.  It doesn’t matter if you are talking about marriage, money or race.  If your heart is not in the right place, nothing else really matters.

The problem is that all of us have a heart problem.  The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above al things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9-10). You know your heart has a problem when it keeps trying to get you to do the wrong thing. Like if you are in debt, but you go into H.H. Gregg and see a new TV and think, “I can’t keep watching that little 46” I have at home, when here’s a beautiful 60” on sale that I should have!”  What is that?  Friend, that’s a heart lying to you.

You can’t build a good life on a bad foundation, or raise a good harvest with bad seed.  Also, we really don’t have a race problem in America, we have a heart problem. If our heart is right, then we will act right.

How do we get our heart right?  “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” (Psalm 119:9-10)

So, stop telling people to follow their heart or listening to people telling you to follow yours. Instead guard your heart and don’t allow anything that can pollute it to gain access. Americans are crazy about pure water, food sources, and air, but think nothing of other crud entering their minds and hearts.  Don’t allow yourself to be deceived (which your heart can easily do).  Address the root of the problem by guarding your heart with God’s Word. Only God can make a perfect heart that leads to peace, happiness and joy.

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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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A Grateful Example

Posted in Attitude, Character, Thankfulness by PCraig on February 11, 2016

Like a billion, or whatever, other people, I watched the Super Bowl again this year.  This one had a little extra interest because of it possibly being Peyton Manning’s last game.  I just wish it had been with our Colts again.  In the after game interview, one of the things that struck me was the phrase “I’m grateful.”  Peyton mentioned that he was grateful for the opportunity, the team, and to in essence be in this position. It was a good example of a gratitude attitude.

Far too many people fail to recognize the power of gratitude.  Marriages, friendships, businesses, children, and parents suffer when ungratefulness exists.  Many don’t appreciate what they have until it is taken from them.

My grandma lived to be 93 years old and one of the consistent traits of her life was gratitude.  I would take her a simple card and gift, and she would say, “Oh, I thank ya, thank ya, thank ya” (she was from Kentucky).  This always made me feel special and that I had really blessed her.  But, it also allowed me to see the kind of attitude it takes to live that long with grace.  Thanks grandma for the example!

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To Be Or Not To Be

Posted in Attitude, Character, Thankfulness by PCraig on November 5, 2015

It seems like this week, I’ve been reminded of the importance of being over either knowing or doing.  Knowing to do good for someone is great, but if that’s all it is, then it really didn’t help.  And, won’t we do the things we ought when it is a part of our being, or who we are as a person?

So, when the Bible says things like, “Be thankful,” it’s saying more than just say a kind word to someone today, or think thankful thoughts.  It’s saying from the core of your “being,” let thankfulness ooze out.  When a person is a “be-er,” they more naturally show thankfulness more so than either a “know-er” or a “doer.”

A visual might be squeezing a tube of toothpaste and how whatever is inside comes out.  Same thing with us, when we are thankful (or generous, loving, merciful…), then it will come out of our lives.  I think it’s easier to know something or even do something than it is to be something.  But, will we step up to be what Scripture calls us to be?  That is the question.

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