Relationally Challenged

Posted in Marriage, Relationships by PCraig on September 29, 2011

Do you ever find yourself comparing yourself to others?  Maybe while you’re at the gym?  Or, during a reception at a wedding?  Or, how about while your reading a magazine and looking at the people on the cover?  Do you ask questions like, “Is my butt smaller than hers?  Do I have bigger arms than his? or, How can she be that skinny?”

The Bible says that’s a dumb thing to do (2 Cor. 10:12).  It’s especially bad when we compare ourselves to things that aren’t even realistic.  For example, it would be stupid for me to compare my singing ability with Bono.  His natural talent and giftedness, plus perhaps voice lessons – of which I’ve had none, make it foolish for me to compare myself with him.

What if we compare our current marriage or hopes for marriage with movies, television shows or romance novels?  How realistic is that?  Doesn’t it seem like it all works out if you just find the right person?  What is that saying about your current relationship?  Does that mean you married the wrong person if you’re struggling?

This weekend we begin a new series entitled “Relationally Challenged” to help give a fresh perspective to this confusing dilemma in our culture.  We’ll be exploding some of the myths that can take us down the wrong path relationally while giving clear advice from God on this topic.  Since God is our Maker and the Creator of relationships, doesn’t it make sense to see what He has to say about it?  The series could help you know what to look for and how to improve every relationship you’re in currently.

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Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Posted in Christian Lifestyle, Unity by PCraig on September 22, 2011

We’ve been talking about the importance of unity in our recent meetings with Trustees and Elders.  I don’t believe there is any topic more important to discuss than the power of unity.

In the Bible, we see the power of unity in the story of the tower of Babel and how the people came together to build.  God said of the people, “nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (Gen 11)  In other words, people can accomplish things thought to be impossible when they come together in unity.

Jesus said, “if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” (Mt. 18:19).  The Bible is clear to point out the power of agreement.

I suppose this is why the devil fights unity so much.  He knows if he can get people sideways on issues that don’t really matter, then they won’t be able to work together on issues that do matter.

You see this with Christians all the time that get upset with each other because they don’t agree on everything.  Well, guess what?  Your never going to find a church that you agree with on everything!  If you wait to get married to someone that you agree with on everything, you’ll never be married.  Marriage is all about relationship and two people in love overlooking differences for the greater good of unity.

Isn’t it a shame people can’t get that message in the church world?  Who knows, more people might actually want to become Christians!  Isn’t that the bigger goal instead of who thinks they’re right?

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You Offended Me!

Posted in Attitude, Character, Offense, Victorious Living by PCraig on September 8, 2011

Are you a person who gets easily offended?  You probably wouldn’t want to admit it if you are, so here’s a test to see:

  • Is there someone you having a hard time with right now?
  • Did someone say something to you that you didn’t like even though it was true?
  • Do you feel justified in taking offense?

There are two kinds of offended people:

  1. Those who have truly been treated unjustly or with cruelty.
  2. Those who believe they have been treated unjustly or with cruelty.

The second group have convinced themselves that they are justified in feeling like they do, even if the conclusion was drawn from inaccurate information.  Some get offended because of gossip, “Well, I heard that…”, while others make assumptions, “I imagine they intended to do that…”

How many of us have ever had a conversation with someone, and what you heard them say and what they really said was two different things? Often offenses, if allowed to stay in your heart will produce more sin.  God is so faithful; He has the Holy Spirit within us to reveal to us our sin.

We can spend our whole life blaming others and being bitter or we can choose to trust God to work in and through us to bring about His plan and purpose.  If you choose to stay offended, you will wander in the wilderness until you repent, forgive and let God put you back on path again.

Prison left Joseph with an opportunity to get bitter or better. He chose to get better and even used his prison experience as an opportunity. God is all knowing, He knew what Joseph’s brothers would do with him before they did it.  When he had the opportunity to pay back, instead he chose to not take offense and offered forgiveness. (Read Genesis 45)  I love Joseph’s story and attitude!

If you are offended and don’t take care of it, it will follow you and come up again and again. Many people float from church to church because their roots don’t go deep, leaving them so weak that they find themselves unable to endure any hardship or persecution.

God calls us to live in family, in unity, and to learn to work through our problems with each other, dealing not only with their flaws but our own.  Part of being in a church family has greater expectations of spiritual growth than our earthly families require.  Unfortunately, spiritual growth is not a matter of time or more learning, it comes through obedience.

It is usually not the big things that shake us but the little things. The enemy tries to pervert our attitude about the real issue to deceive us.  The real issue is not “have you BEEN offended?”    The real issue is, “did you choose to TAKE offense?”  No one has the power to MAKE you offended.  The ONLY way you can be offended is to TAKE offense.

Would you want God to forgive you in the same way you have forgiven others? According to the Scriptures, this is exactly how we will be forgiven. Our debt of sin was overwhelming, but God gave us salvation as a free gift. Many people cannot receive healing, comfort or deliverance all because they would not release others and forgive them.

Make no mistake:  God is a just Judge and He will see to it that justice is done. God avenges us, it is unrighteousness for us as believers to seek to avenge ourselves. When we try to correct wrong done to us we become the judge, trying to take God’s place. Jesus likened the condition of our heart to soil. The ground can only produce what is planted. If unforgiveness, offense, and anger are planted, then instead of God’s love, another root comes up, the root of bitterness.

Some steps to healing and freedom from an offended spirit:

1) Admit you are offended and hurt.

2) Open your heart to the Lord’s correction or discipline for you.

3) Forgive and release the person from everything they have done.

4) Stay open and tender to the Holy Spirit’s voice and obedient to His Word.

5) Choose to not let negative thoughts reign in your spirit.  Just like you can CHOOSE offense, you can choose to not be bound by it

Life’s too short to spend it all knotted up in a ball of offense.  Get free today!  Your wife wants you to, your husband, your friends and everyone around you.  Let go and let God be God!

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Get Fired Up

Posted in Attitude, energy, Victorious Living by PCraig on September 1, 2011

I’ve been getting impressions lately about the need to be fired up every day that I live.  Why live a life of mere existence?  Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, life to the full” (John 10:10).  God’s desire is that we live fired up each day and moving forward in a growth pattern of our faith while accomplishing great things for His glory.   So, what are some additional benefits of living a “fired up” life?  Here are a few I thought of:

  • Your attitude is better when you act fired up
  • You aren’t nearly as bothered by petty things around you
  • A sense of accomplishment fills you each day
  • People around you tend to get fired up as well (it rubs off!)
  • God likes it when we are “stirred up” (2 Tim 1:6)
  • People are drawn to those who are fired up
  • You live the day with more energy because of a better mindset

Put a postcard by your nightstand, mirror where you get ready in the morning or a sticky note in your car that reads “Live Fired Up!”  Maybe that’s all you need to shake off the shackles of a wimpy existence some call living.  Perhaps it would get you going in the morning and you wouldn’t stop until you have squeezed every powerful moment out of the day.  Try it for a week.  It beats getting up and saying, “Good Lord, it’s morning…again!”

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