A Life Of Joy

Posted in One Year Bible, Victorious Living by PCraig on April 29, 2010

Probably my favorite Psalm is the 100th, and it’s part of today’s reading in the One Year Bible.  Here’s the main challenge it presents: live a life of joy!  If you’ll look, the words joy, gladness, joyful, thanksgiving, praise are used throughout.  How do we do this? 

According to this Psalm you need to cut loose and become a person of praise.  Give exuberant expressions of thanksgiving before God, including singing.  Think about your position in Him as He is watching over you like a shepherd over his sheep. 

Be a thankful person, because it’s extremely difficult to be thankful and depressed at the same time.  Remind yourself of the Lord’s character:  He’s good, loves eternally, and is faithful through all the ages of time. 

Along with reading this Psalm I got an awesome email this morning from someone telling how the church and our ministry has touched their life.  It couldn’t have come at a better time of the week to help me over “hump day” (Wednesday).  I’ve never felt more overwhelmed by all the responsibilities of our growing church, yet never felt surer of God’s guiding hand. 

Are you battling depression?  What do you need to be reminded of today?  Do you need to cut loose with some unbridled praise and worship?  It can fill you with joy, which is our strength!

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Positive Choice

Posted in Attitude, Victorious Living by PCraig on April 28, 2010

Saw an excerpt the other day from Stephen Covey about the 90/10 principle.  It goes something like this: 10% of life is made up of what happens to you, while 90% is decided by how you react to it.  What does this mean?  I have control over 90% of what is currently going on in my life by my attitude.  Here’s an illustration:  You cannot control a red light (10%), but you can control how you react to it (90%).  Just carry that example throughout everything that happens during your day.

What would happen if we did this in regard to how we treat people?  Someone cuts in front of us in traffic (10%) and it ruins an hour of our day (90%).  Think what would happen if instead of getting upset, we said, “That person must be in a real hurry, so I hope they don’t get in an accident.” 

If you need more reasons to not be negative, consider that studies have shown that positive people live longer (on average 10 more years).  Here’s another, positive work environments outperform negative work environments. 

I had a very positive, thankful grandmother, who lived to be 93 and lived on her own until her death and I plan on doing the same.  How about you?  Remember, being positive is a choice.  (Tip: negative people don’t think it’s a choice, they think it’s because of their circumstances) 

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Posted in Ministry, One Year Bible by PCraig on April 27, 2010

Today I want to honor all those who do the “clean up work”.  What kind of work am I referrring too?  Those who work behind the scenes and help make things happen.  They are the sound people, those operating the computer, projectors, and lighting, those making coffee and cookies in the kitchen on Sundays.  These are representative of those who may not be out in front, but have an incredible impact on what happens in our services. 

Who are they where you work?  The night crew that comes in and restocks the shelves, the cleaning crew that sweeps up the mess you make each day, or perhaps the people in the mail room that get all your stuff delivered on time.  These people matter and do the necessary labor of dirty work and covering the not-so-obvious details. 

In today’s reading of the One Year Bible (Judges 8), Gideon is accused of ignoring a group of people  when going out to battle.  Implying he stole the glory for himself.  Gideon is quick to assure them that what they accomplished was even greater than what he did.  He explains that though his job was visible, it wouldn’t have been successful without them cutting of the leaders from their army. 

Famous architects may design impressive buildings, but it is the bricklayers and ironworkers who get it built.  Pride causes us to desire recognition.  Are you content with being God’s bricklayer, or do you resent the work God has given to you?  Who do you need to thank for doing the “clean-up” work that is often behind the scenes? 

I want to thank every one of God’s bricklayers, ironworkers, and behind the scenes layborers that make changed lives possible to such a degree each week.  Though your assignment may be different – you are just as important!

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Call Them Out

Posted in Faith, One Year Bible by PCraig on April 26, 2010

The Lord evidently takes great pleasure and enjoyment in calling people out.  Not calling out there specific sins and announcing them to those around.  He leaves that job up to the Pharisees (woman caught in adultery).  The message He enjoys delivering is that of calling people to a greater existence than what they are currently living. 

In today’s reading of the One Year Bible we find it once again the life of Gideon.  God’s people were so severely oppressed, that they had to hide their crops to keep the enemy from ruining them.  One day, Gideon was hiding in a winepress threshing wheat so the enemy would not see him.  While concealed, an angel of the Lord appears to him and calls out to him “you mighty warrior.”  I’m sure Gideon was thinking, “Who, me?  Are you kidding me?”  But, God was doing what He does best, seeing the potential of what can be hidden in what is. 

What if you spoke to the potential in others?  What would happen if we all did this?  What if everyone just did it for one day?  How much would the production levels rise in each business?  What would be the grades on the tests in school that day?  What kind of performance would be reached by musicians or athletes? 

Maybe you can’t control what everyone else will do, but give it a try in your own life.  Start acting like God by calling people out to the greatness God has intended for their lives.  Begin speaking over your spouse, children, and friends positive statements of faith that inspire them to be more than they might otherwise be.  You never know, like Gideon, they just might live up to it!

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Bread of Life

Posted in Salvation by PCraig on April 24, 2010

I was asked to clarify the meaning behind Jesus saying I am the “Bread of Life.”  One of the questions is “what is the bread of life”?  Just like bread is sustenance for life, Jesus is our source of eternal life.  If Jesus is our source of eternal life, then He doesn’t need anything to be added to that. 

Some believe that you have to add baptism to belief in Christ in order to be fully saved, however, the thief on the cross was promised heaven because of his belief without an opportunity to get sprinkled or immersed.  The only verse that mentions belief and baptism is found in Mark 16:16, which is a passage that is not found in the earliest manuscripts. 

Other passages throughout the New Testament seem to indicate that once a person is saved by taking in the “bread of life”, then they follow that confession up with an outward sign of baptism.  Baptism is then the outward sign of the inward work of salvation, just like a wedding ring is of the covenant of marriage. 

We can’t earn salvation by getting baptized, tithing, witnessing, or anything else that WE do.  It is ALL of HIM, FROM HIM and DUE HIM that we are saved.  Salvation is by grace alone, it is not of works lest we should boast.  That’s why we sing “It’s all about You, Lord.”  As soon as we partake of His salvation (spiritual bread) we are saved!

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Spank Or Not To Spank?

Posted in Parenting by PCraig on April 23, 2010

There’s an extremely controversial statement in today’s reading of the One Year Bible.  It flies right in the face of a modern study recently published in the May issue of the journal of Pediatrics and referred to in an article in our Indianapolis Star on April 18th.  I kept the article after I read it and then today I picked up the Bible for my daily reading and in Proverbs 13:24, here’s what I found, “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children.  Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.” 

New research from Tulane University, that was referred to in the article I read says spanking children when they’re 3 seems to lead to more aggressive behavior when they’re 5.  This is more information to add to the debate on “do we spank or not spank.” 

As a Christian, what do you do?  Do you go with studies conducted by universities, or do you go with the Bible?  Does the Bible mean to spank your child every time they misbehave?  Or, is it leaving room open for other forms of discipline and simply refers to spanking as one that’s effective? 

I’m curious as to how you come down on this issue?  Do you spank your children?  At what age did you start or stop?  Have you tried more than one form of discipline and found one more effective than another?  Have you tried other forms of discipline, but found spanking as the most or least effective?  I’ll be working on a parenting sermon soon, so help me out here and let me know your take on this topic.

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Cut Them Loose

Posted in One Year Bible, Relationships by PCraig on April 22, 2010

You can’t be close friends with everyone.  So, you have to pick and choose who you are going to spend the most time around.  Last night, at my leadership training, we discussed that a wise leader spends 80% of their time with the 20% who produce results.  That may sound harsh or cold, but a leader who is going to achieve all that God wants them to achieve can’t waste a lot of time on people who are going nowhere.

One of the greatest desires I have for my 12 year old daughter is that she would choose wise friends.  Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”  I know that if my daughter hangs around wise people, she will tend to make better decisions, and their wisdom will rub of on her.  She’s already a smart girl, but I know she can even be wiser if she hangs around wiser friends. 

This stuff only makes sense, yet how many of us get caught up in foolish conversations with people who are going nowhere?  Have you ever bought into a foolish proposal by someone who didn’t do their homework and lived to regret it?  Remember that kid that told you, “We’ll never get caught”? (Famous last words!)  How about the guy who said, “You won’t get pregnant”?  See, as difficult as it may be, you have to choose your friends wisely.  Anybody in your life you need to cut loose? 

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Getting The Lord To Fight For You

Posted in One Year Bible, Victorious Living by PCraig on April 21, 2010

How do you get the Lord to fight your battles for you?  Well, according to Joshua, there are a few things to take care of on your part.  As the great conqueror and leader, Joshua was about to die, he gave some powerful last words to the nation of Israel in regard to remaining successful.  During Joshua’s leadership they had conquered much of the land of Canaan and were now enjoying a time of rest.

Joshua reaches down inside of himself and gives the same advice that he had received in the beginning of his career.  In addition to telling them to be strong, he adds, “be careful to obey all” the laws of Moses, and don’t turn to the right or left.  In other words, don’t get distracted by what others are doing around you. 

Here’s a key to a successful marriage – don’t compare yours to the one in the movies.  Why?  It ain’t real!  Here’s a way to stay satisfied in your job – don’t compare your job to someone else’s.  Why?  You don’t know what it’s really like to have their job.  (Stay after work, phone calls at home, pressure to perform, etc.)  Here’s a way to stay faithful to God – don’t look around and chase after idols instead of chasing after God.  Joshua knew what could happen if the Israelites did these things, so he warned them of the dangers.

What’s distracting you right now?  What unfair comparisons are you being tempted to make?  What are you paying more attention to instead of God?

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Before The Breakdown

Posted in One Year Bible, Stuff by PCraig on April 19, 2010

Being a good listener is one of the best traits you can master in life, but it’s even more important when it comes to listening to advice.  Good advice can save you from marrying the wrong person, accepting the wrong job, engaging in illegal activity, and countless other situations.  The thing that is puzzling is how many people ignore good counsel. 

I’m not just talking about your wise, elderly grandfather, or intelligent friend, or even an intuitive partner.  How many people do you know that fail to acknowledge the wisdom of God?  Like any good parent, God has put down instructions to help us live an overcoming life, yet we don’t have sense enough to read them.  God’s Word is like and owner’s manual for a car.  If you obey God’s instructions, life will “run smooth” and you’ll find a power to live life to the full.  If you ignore them, you’ll have breakdowns, repairs, and failures.  In essence you’ll pay for it. 

God has wisdom on every topic pertaining to life, why can’t we discover it before the breakdown?

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Posted in Mistakes by PCraig on April 17, 2010

Why is it so difficult for many of us to admit we have problems, habits, hang-ups and inconsistencies.  Too many people would rather try to live like a fake and never admit they have or caused a problem.  For leadership, that’s a sure recipe for disaster.  Let me let you in on a secret: people know way more about your failings than you give them credit.  That may sound like bad news, but it’s an opportunity to quit living in a fog.

All of Europe is paralyzed right now by a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland.  What’s worse is when people are paralyzed from growing because they live in a fog of self-deception instead of facing their failings head on. 

The first step toward an overcoming life and great leadership is being honest with where you are.  Pretending to know the answers when you don’t know them will not solve the problem.  Acting as though you don’t have an issue when it is obvious you do, doesn’t fool anyone. 

May God help us all to live more real, transparent and authentic lives rather than wasting our days on self-deception.  Are you being deceived?

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