The Best Counselor

Posted in Counsel, Decisions, Holy Spirit, Victorious Living, Wisdom by PCraig on May 25, 2017

I don’t think anything is more important in life than from whom you receive your guidance. Proverbs talks about if we want to be wise, then we should hang with the wise. If we take up company with foolish people, it’s no wonder we make foolish decisions. In today’s reading of the One Year Bible in John 14, Jesus talks about “another Counselor” that will be with us. He identifies this “Counselor” as the Holy Spirit. He then goes on to say a couple of things that the Holy Spirit will do.

One benefit the Holy Spirit brings is He will teach us things. I don’t know if you’ve had this happen, but many times when I’m reading the Bible, it’s like it jumps off the page and reads my mail. I mean it is like God is literally talking to me face to face through His Word. Sometimes I learn how to be a better man, husband, father, leader, while other times I understand more of God’s love for me. Powerful things happen as I allow the Spirit to teach me.

He also comes to remind us of Jesus’ words and teaching. Maybe you’re going through your day and feeling discouraged, then the words of Jesus saying, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” come back to you and your built up in faith. You decide that if He is with you, what can be against you? Amen! When this takes place, we are no longer operating in our natural abilities; instead we are plugged into the supernatural abilities of the Spirit.

These are just two of the many ways the Holy Spirit can enable us to live life to the full in Christ. We’ll be exploring these and more during the Breath, Wind & Fire series that begins this weekend. I hope you can join us in person or online via podcast, for what I believe will be a powerful three weeks focus on the Holy Spirit.  He’s the best counselor I know!

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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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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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The Power of Pondering

Posted in holiday, Margin, Perspective, Solitude, Time, Wisdom by PCraig on December 11, 2014

What would be your reaction to an angelic appearance and message from God, experiencing a supernatural birth and a bunch of strange men (shepherds) showing up at your door to worship your son?  Especially when these men explain that they have also seen angels who told them their Savior had been born in Bethlehem.  Strange occurrences.

Here is Mary’s (mother of Jesus Christ) reaction:  she treasures up all these things and ponders them in her heart (Luke 2:19).  What kind of person does that?  I think the answer is a wise person.  Foolishness often coincides with rashness.  People hurry up and get married, then later talk about how they should have waited.  Or, we quickly quit our job and jump out and take another to realize the grass isn’t any greener over here.

There is power in pondering.  Maybe it’s one of the reasons Mary was chosen to give birth to God’s Son?  David is another biblical character that pondered.   In Psalm 111:2 he writes, “How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them.”  Maybe that’s how David came up with so many great Psalms? He must have trained his son how to ponder as well to have come up with all the wisdom of the Proverbs.  He wrote, “haste makes mistakes”, maybe you’ve heard of that one?  It comes from Proverbs 19:2.

In the hustle and bustle of the season, let’s take some time out to ponder.  It’s in these times that we can come up with our greatest thoughts, make better decisions, and live with fewer regrets.  Sounds like a superior way to live.  Maybe God will choose us to do something great for Him, as we take time to ponder?  It may not be to birth the Son of God, but maybe we can birth a new business.  It may not be to become a great general of an army, but maybe we can generate people to follow Christ.  It may not be to wear the title of the wisest king, but we can still be known for making good decisions.

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Getting To The Light

Posted in Decisions, Distractions, Purpose, Wisdom by PCraig on October 9, 2014

The recent promotion of the blood moon this week got me focused on the moon, more than usual.  Even last night as it was shining so brightly, I was thinking of how it guides the Sea Turtle hatchlings to the sea.  When we’ve vacationed in Florida, the beach hotel where we stayed asks its boarders to close their windows at night.  The purpose is to avoid distracting the baby Sea Turtles and getting them confused.  You see, the babies crawl toward the brightest light.  On an undeveloped beach, the brightest light is the moon.  On a developed beach, it can be an artificial light source coming from hotel rooms.

When that happens, it leads to a disastrous outcome.  Rather than follow the pure light of the moon to the ocean, they follow the wrong light in the opposite direction.  This is how we human folk do at times.

Rather than follow a path of purpose and destiny designed by God, we too often get distracted by things that move us in the wrong direction.  Peer pressure, excessive time on social media, bad habits, addictions, and meaningless time wasters can provide diversions that get us off course.

So, what about you?  Are you living a purpose-driven life or are you allowing shiny distractions to lead you in a wrong direction?

Unlike sea turtles, we can discern right and wrong, false and true, real and artificial, if we will.  God’s Word is a pure light that can help us find the meaning and purpose that brings about joy and fulfillment.  This is why we need to hear it preached, read it for ourselves and pray for application.

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Up or Down?

Posted in Counsel, Decisions, Hearing God, Will of God, Wisdom by PCraig on April 24, 2014

Be very careful whom you listen to or get advice from day to day.  The reason is that people can hear from God one day and then be listening to themselves the next.  Shoot, they can have an impression from the Spirit of God one moment and then minutes later share with selfish motivations.

A great illustration of this comes from the life of Peter in Matthew 16:13, when Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  In a couple verses He then asks them, “Who do YOU say that I am?”  Peter steps up and answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus then blesses Peter with this answer and tells everyone that Peter got it direct from the Father in heaven.  Wow!  It’s not a bad day when Jesus tells you and everyone around you that you hear from God.

However, as you keep reading, you find Jesus telling the disciples how He is going to suffer, be killed and then raised.  Peter evidently, still feeling good about hearing from the Father, takes the Lord aside and begins to “rebuke him.”  He says, “Never Lord!  This shall never happen to you!”  Jesus recognizes that Peter is now listening to the Satan himself and tells him that he’s saying these things because of a wrong perspective.

Now, how can you get that off in such a short amount of time?  Because we’re all human and have the ability to get off track.  That’s why you need to be praying on your own when you are taking advice from people.  A well-meaning person can be influenced by selfish motivation that skews their words.  The danger for you and I is to not know the difference.

Jesus shows that you have to be careful who you listen to each day and do your own praying so you can have discernment.  By doing so, you will be able to know what direction their advice to you may be coming – up or down.

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It’s Easier to Steer a Moving Car

Posted in Decisions, Will of God, Wisdom by PCraig on September 27, 2012

Many people want to know God’s will for their lives, but not everyone is active in pursuing it.  Over the past several weeks, we’ve looked at principles to discover God’s will.  The truth is, however, unless you get up and get moving, it’s probably going to remain a mystery.

God uses the Bible to guide us, but if you’re not reading it, then it’s not much help.  He also directs us through our gifts and unique design to his path, but if we’re hiding our gifts and abilities, then you wouldn’t know that.  He also speaks through wise, godly counsel, but if you never seek out those kind of friends, then you won’t hear it.

I don’t think it’s a problem of God not speaking, I think we’re not listening to the ways He talks.  What do you need to do to move forward in hearing God?  Do you need to pick up the Bible?  Is there a ministry you could volunteer to do and make a difference?  Who is in your life that can be that wise counsel we all need?

To get God’s guidance you need to get moving!

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Why Should Christians Vote?

Posted in Christian Lifestyle, Wisdom by PCraig on September 25, 2012

In a few short weeks, Americans will once again have the opportunity to vote for local and national leaders.  America’s towns, counties, state and federal officials will be decided by those who turn out to vote.

How about the Christian?  Should we even worry with it?  Maybe we could just stay home and let happen whatever happens and we just pray about it?

Here are a few reasons why I believe American Christians should vote:

  1.  You’re an American.  People all over the world wish they were you.  They don’t have a hope of deciding who’s leading their country and calling the shots.
  2. Men & women have laid down or risked their lives for over 200 years to give you and I the privilege of voting.  It’s more than a right, it’s an honor paid for in blood.
  3. We Christians get to have an influence on national policies just like any other group by voting.  If Christians stay home and all the anti-Christians go vote, then don’t be upset by what laws and regulations get passed over the next several years.

How should Christians vote?  Well, this is where it gets dicey!  Let me give a few suggestions:

  1. Get educated.  Don’t just go in and push the buttons you always push.  Know who’s running for office and what they stand for.
  2. Compare what the candidate(s) believe in, compared to what you believe.  If you find out that a particular candidate stands for something you don’t want to see in our country, then don’t vote for them.  Yeah, this takes time, but it beats being ignorant!
  3. Pray for guidance on this very important decision.  God promises to provide wisdom to those who seek it.  His wisdom might come through a news program, religious programing, articles on the candidates, talking with other wise Christians about the elections coming up.
  4. Encourage other Christians to vote.  All it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing – someone said.  Laziness and apathy are not godly attributes.

Finally, pray, pray, PRAY for our nation and its current and future leaders.  We need godly leadership throughout our nation and prayer is the key to moving God’s hand.

What are you doing as a Christian to prepare for this coming Election Day?  Be sure to get registered NOW to vote if you aren’t already.

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Today’s Decisions Could Be Huge

Posted in Choice, Decisions, Time, Wisdom by PCraig on August 23, 2012

There are defining moments in each of our lives and the difficulty is we often don’t realize it at the time.  For example, you decide to break up with your boyfriend and had no idea that it would lead to finding your future husband.  Or, you decide not to take a job in another city even though it meant more money, only to find out months later that you would have been unemployed because of the company going under.  You might not have known it at that moment, but those are pivotal times.

Yesterday, I was at the Avon Rotary meeting listening to longtime Indiana broadcaster and former news anchor, Mike Ahern (from WISH TV ch.8), reminisce about his 37 years in the industry.  He said one of the pivotal moments he remembers was in 1977 when Tony Kiritsis took a shotgun and wired it around a man’s neck and took him hostage.  The man and Tony wound up in a Westside apartment where police were held at bay for days.  During this time Mike said that microwave technology had made it possible for smaller and portable cameras to be taken on location for live feeds to the studio.  Little did they know that their first use of these cameras would be to live broadcast Tony with a shotgun wired around a man’s neck.  The dilemma this produced was what if he shot him on live TV?  Thankfully, for both viewers and the man, Tony ultimately surrendered without firing the weapon.

Mike’s point was that they had no idea how the new technology would make them a hostage themselves in this situation.  Once they began broadcasting the event live, it became difficult to pull out.

Here’s my point, you often don’t know how pivotal your next decision will be until afterwards.  This is why the Bible encourages us to seek wisdom every day.  Are you ready to make the wise choice in case it’s one of those life-changing moments?  You need to be, because you probably won’t know just how important the decision is until a day, week, month or even years from now.

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Getting Wise

Posted in Wisdom by PCraig on June 18, 2012

We just finished a short series on wisdom and one of my hopes is that it gave the hearers an appetite for God’s Word, specifically the book of Proverbs.

Here’s a truth: if you lack wisdom, the book of James says to ask God and He will give it liberally to you.  So, get busy asking God daily to fill you with His wisdom like Solomon did.

What else can you do to increase wisdom in your life?  I would suggest reading Proverbs over the next month.  There are 31 chapters in this book, therefore you can read a chapter a day and completely cover it in one month.

Be sure to have a writing instrument or device with which you can make notes while you read.  You never know what the Spirit of God may reveal to you while you are reading and you’ll want to have it written down for future reference.

You might want to get a partner to read along with you so you can compare the takeaways you get each day/week or end of the month.

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