Who Am I?

Just this past weekend, we wrestled with the prayer of “send me.” We learned that one response to God’s call on our lives (our purpose), is to say “send someone else.” This is exactly the response of Moses that I’m reading in the One Year Bible again today.

Genesis 3 records the story of God calling Moses to be His voice to the people of Israel and representative to Pharaoh. The call seems bigger to Moses than his ability to pull off, so he tries to talk God into using someone else.

I wonder how many of us do the same thing with God. We feel He might be asking us to step into something bigger than what we’re currently doing, and rather than saying “yes”, we hesitate and try to justify our reluctance.

Moses said, “Who am I that I should go?”  We say things like, “They are much more gifted than me”, or “they have more money to give than I do” or “they have more time, I’m sure, than I do, so let them volunteer.” Do any of these excuses work with God? What happened when Moses stopped making excuses and started making commitments? He witnessed first hand, the incredible power of God using Him to free a nation.

What might happen if you stopped making excuses and started making commitments? The One that enabled Moses to go beyond what he believed he could do, is the same God today for you.

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God’s Plan For You

Posted in Expectations, Faith, holiday, Used of God by PCraig on December 22, 2016

I had some really great Christmas experiences growing up, but I realize not everyone did. Some of you may have had good memories from childhood, but adulthood has been rough. The thought of Christmas can be filled with hassles and hurt. Marriages that failed, finances that are a wreck and health that’s deteriorated. What do you do to restore the wonder, joy and happiness of the past?

The original Christmas story wasn’t one without hassle, hurt and confusion. Imagine Joseph being engaged to someone that now claims to be made pregnant by God. Really? I’m supposed to go along with this? Even though it wasn’t easy, Joseph steps into the plan of God for his life and things begin to happen. A manger is available, Wiseman bring gifts, God directs you on where to move and ultimately you realize God has a plan.

God has a plan for each of us as well. It may not involve mangers, moving and wisemen, but it won’t be without its challenges. At the same, it won’t be without God’s provision, because where God guides, He provides.

Instead of asking God to bless our plans this Christmas, let’s seek to join God’s plan for our lives. Read Proverbs 3:5-6 and let the promise excite you with possibilities as you seek to trust and lean on Him. In doing so, you’ll experience God leading you into a plan that only He could put together.

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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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Getting Prepared For Thanksgiving

Before you load up the car and head over to spend time with friends & family eating, watching football, and possibly taking a nap (if you’re lucky), what else might you do to get prepared for Thanksgiving?  For some, it might be psyching yourself up for a new debate over an issue, getting set for another fight over the past, or watching other dysfunctional members remind you of why you don’t overly enjoy these gatherings.

But, as a follower of Christ, knowing there might be family present who aren’t believers, what might we do to prepare?

  • Pray, for you to say the right things, for them to be impacted and for the Holy Spirit to fill the house.
  • Listen, to all they are saying around the table.  Ask some questions to gain greater understanding and resist the temptation to “set them straight.”  This is true love in action.
  • Remember, it is only natural for people who don’t know Jesus as Savior and Lord to act like they don’t.  Don’t allow yourself to be upset about their choices and lifestyles, rather, be sympathetic to their lost state of heart.
  • Obey the Holy Spirit’s prompting to share only what He tells you to share. Stay away from debates and focus more on how you have been impacted by God’s love and presence.
  • Leave the results of any sharing up to them and the Holy Spirit.  Don’t be discouraged if they don’t put down their pumpkin pie and ask how to be saved.  Sometimes you plant, other times you water and only God can control the harvest.

I hope you and I have an opportunity to be show and tell followers for Jesus this Thanksgiving.  Let’s be ready for more than just turkey, pie and football (and hopefully a nap).  May God show his light through us to our family and friends, giving us another real reason to be thankful.

I’m thankful for you!

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Two Questions To Make A Difference

Posted in Friendship, Impact, Love, Used of God by PCraig on November 13, 2014

Here’s two questions you could ask people that would make more friends than you could imagine: where’s your pain? And how can I help?

The reality is that most everyone has pain somewhere in his or her life, be it financial, relational, physical, emotional, and mental.  If you look deep enough into a person’s life you will discover there is a hurt that needs healing.  Wouldn’t it be a great mission to help heal the wound of someone else today?  Just think if each of us took on that mission.  If everyday, we made the commitment to look for pain in someone else and then we make a positive difference in their life while we’re with them.  Wouldn’t that be incredible?  Who wouldn’t want to be around people like that?

Let’s try it for 30 days.  Every morning get up and make the commitment to make a positive difference in someone’s life.  It would be especially powerful if it was someone different each day.

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Through It All

Posted in Encouragement, Relationships, Used of God, Victorious Living by PCraig on August 20, 2014

I grew up listening to Christian music and one of my favorite artists (this is WAY back!) was Andre Crouch.  It wasn’t just the cool gospel sound that attracted me it was also the words.  One lyric I have always remembered was from a song called “Through It All.”  There’s a line in that song that says, “If I never had a problem, I’d never know that God could solve them.  I’d never know what faith in God could do.”

It’s the same thing that Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 where he says that, “(God) comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  The principle is that whatever you’ve gone through in life, now you get the chance to show someone else how to go through it.

Who are the best people to help people going through divorce?  People who have been divorced.  Who are the best people to reach out to people who have lost a spouse?  Others who have been widowed.  So, whatever you are going through today is not just for you, it’s for people who are going to be helped after you get through it.

Because, “through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all…I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”

Whatever you’re going through today, you can learn to depend upon His Word.  When you take your experience and apply it to others, it becomes a way to see purpose in pain and win a greater victory over the enemy.

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Ever Lost Your Cell Phone?

Posted in Evangelism, Joy, Perspective, Salvation, Used of God, witnessing by PCraig on July 24, 2014

Have you ever lost anything of value (cell phone) and turned the house upside down to find it?  My wife may or may not have recently lost her cell phone and thought she might have left it somewhere.  It was like it disappeared.  We looked everywhere in the house for it, called it (of course it was on silent) and searched anywhere we thought it could be all to no avail.  Ultimately we discovered the phone was in the garbage in our garage!  By the way, if you think I’m telling on my wife, let me say that at least she has never driven off with her phone on the roof of the car like someone else may have done once in their lives.  (That story didn’t end well)

Here’s my point, when you have something of value that is lost you will do whatever it takes, spending time and energy to find it.  Jesus told a story about this that involved a woman who lost             one of her ten silver coins.  He said she will do whatever it takes until she finds it.  The story is found in Luke 15:8-10 and once again illustrates the principle of seeking after lost people.

In this second of three successive stories of Jesus, there are a few things I would like to highlight:

  • She searches “carefully” until she finds it, which implies she is deliberate in the pursuit.
  • She also is very diligent in the hunt and will not rest until the coin is found.

These imply to us:

  • The value of one lost person.  Everyone matters to God.
  • Love will search carefully, not casually for the lost.
  • Love cannot sit still while there is still a chance of find those who are lost.

Lastly, as in the prior story, Jesus says there is “rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  So, if you want to get heaven excited, find one more lost person.

We’re challenging our church family to reach out to one person each week and invite them to church on August 17.  On that date, we are having an “everyone bring one” Sunday with former American Idol finalist, Phil Stacey as our guest.  But, you don’t have to wait another moment when the stakes are as high as eternal life.  For whom do you need to search carefully, locate for God and then celebrate?  I think the angels are ready!

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Step Out

Posted in Choice, Faith, Used of God, Victorious Living by PCraig on November 21, 2013

The more I live the more I’m convinced that great things are not accomplished so much by great people, but by people who made themselves available.  God has a way of taking an available vessel and filling them for His glory.  When He does this, people note that the ability came from Him and not from them.

Often it is not the brightest, smartest, or most talented that go far in life and make the biggest impact.  I’ve known plenty of people who were highly intelligent, loaded with degrees and filled with knowledge that haven’t had near the impact of way lesser people in the same regard.  Why is this?

Again, God doesn’t necessarily use the most talented, brightest and well-known people in the room.  Instead, God waits for the person who will dare to go beyond their comfort zone and try something.

Peter did this when he walked on water with Jesus.  As far as I know, Peter is the only other person (besides Jesus) who has ever walked on water.  He did this, because while the other eleven disciples sat in the boat, he dared to get out.  He wasn’t the smartest, brightest, or most talented necessarily – but, he was the most daring.

What might get accomplished through your life if you would do the same?  Why not take a risk and step out of the boat?  You’ll only know what God could do with someone like you as you step out of the boat.

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Jesus With No Hands

Posted in Body, Involvement, Ministry, Used of God, Volunteerism by PCraig on August 8, 2013

I heard a story of a cathedral that was bombed out during World War II by German bombs.  It was a cathedral in England.  Later, German students actually went to serve there.  Part of what they did was put together this statue that had been blown up.  They were carefully piecing it back together.  It was a statue of Christ.  It had the inscription at the bottom “Come unto me.”  The Christ figure had his arms outstretched but they couldn’t get the hands to look right.  They finally made a decision.  They took the hands off and changed the inscription.  The new inscription said, “Christ has no hands but ours.”

Isn’t this true yet today?  The fact is that God uses our hands, our voice, our lives to bring Him to life in others.  This past weekend I challenged everyone to find their gifting, passion and use it for the glory of God.  Here were two key truths:  we are His body and we belong to each other.

So, how’s His body doing through you?  If the church only had you to rely on (and people like you), what kind of church would it be?  Weak, anemic, unengaged?  Or, mighty, strong, and connected?

Let’s be His hands today and everyday, because those are the ones He uses.

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A Wrong Spirit Hinders

Posted in Attitude, Criticism, Heart, Used of God, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 16, 2013

The Bible emphasizes that while man may look at the outside, God looks at the inside.  Jesus said it is not what “goes into a man” that corrupts him, but what “comes out” of him.

Having a good spirit is huge in moving forward in life.  I can think of people with incredible talent, intelligence, gifts and abilities that stymie their own success by having a negative spirit.

Some have a hypocritical spirit that says, “you ought to be like this, but I’ll do whatever I want.”  Jesus said to focus on the beam in your own eye before trying to remove the speck in someone else’s eye.  The cure for being a hypocrite is to focus more on fixing yourself instead of excusing yourself.  Trust me, you and I have enough to work on for ourselves to be overly concerned about others.

Others have a hypercritical spirit that is judgmental and looks at others with contempt while giving grace to ourselves.  In other words, we can point out all the bad things about someone without providing any assistance.  These are people that go around pointing out what’s wrong with a person or project without giving solutions.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a lot of help finding problems, but I can always use some help in discovering solutions.

If you suffer from a wrong spirit, it won’t just hinder others – it will hinder you.  So, how do you fix your heart?   Psalm 51:10 says to pray and ask God to, “renew a right spirit within me.”  David also went on to say that once we get our spirit right, then God can use us to reach and teach others.

If you want to be used of God – pay attention to your spirit.

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