Stop Playing The Blame Game

Posted in Decisions, Excuses, lies, Personal Growth, Victorious Living by PCraig on November 23, 2011

I used to like watching game shows growing up.  Some of you remember Match Game, Hollywood Squares, The Newlywed Game and more recently Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.  My family likes to play board games at home as well.  One game that won’t get you anywhere is the Blame Game.

How do you play this one?  Simply take no personal responsibility for what happens in your life.  In other words, if you have outbursts of anger, just find a person to blame it on.  “I wouldn’t have gotten so angry if you hadn’t said that to me!” For many, this much easier to do than saying, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have raised my voice at you like that.”

How do we begin taking responsibility?

  • Look in the mirror instead of out the window.  Instead of looking to blame somebody, try looking in the mirror and asking, “What am I denying the truth about?”
  • Instead of playing the role of a victim, try seeing yourself as a victor over self-deception, while believing the truth as God reveals it.
  • Quit comparing yourself to others (to feel justified) and instead compare yourself to Jesus who took responsibility for you and cried, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

The greatest day of your life will be when you stop making excuses and start taking responsibility.  Everyone around you is already hoping you will.  The only one you’re really trying to fool is yourself.  Stop acting like a fool and get rid of your baggage by taking responsibility today.

Don’t miss part two of our Baggage series this weekend!  (Addiction Baggage – Everyone’s Carrying it)

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Financing Your Future

Posted in Finances, Uncategorized, Wisdom by PCraig on November 16, 2011

Why do so many people not plan for the future?  I recently read that 40% of Americans have less than $10K saved for retirement.  No doubt there are some in this number that are barely living day to day, but at the same time there have to be those who just don’t plan for the future.  Maybe they think global warming will cook everything up before they retire?  Or perhaps their Christians counting on the rapture to rescue them?

God is a detailed planner.  He planned out the salvation of man from the very beginning of creation.  The Bible says that even before He created us He knew He would send His Son to die for us.  You can see how God plans for the future Himself, and also encourages us to do so as well.

Just getting the Messiah to earth took a lot of planning.  For example, God had to save a whole nation from dying from famine to preserve the bloodline from which His Son would come.  God gave a man named Joseph a dream in the book of Genesis and told him to convince the Egyptian leadership that a famine was coming and they needed to save us for it.  As a result of listening to Joseph, Pharaoh grew richer and Joseph’s entire family was preserved.

Whatever you do, don’t wait too long to be wise with your income.  Life is shorter than you think when you start out.  (Just talk to some older people)  If you start saving when you’re young the interest will compound exponentially and you’ll be amazed at how it accumulates.  Trouble is that voice in your head that says, “spend it now…have some fun…live a little.”  Just keep in mind how much fun you’ll have being out of debt and able to retire when you want to.  How are you doing with that?

I said a lot more about this in last week’s sermon, so just catch the podcast if you missed it.

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The Hottest Topic

Posted in Finances, Generosity, Giving, Stewardship by PCraig on November 10, 2011

They used to say not to talk about politics or religion unless you wanted to stir people up, but I’ve found the hottest topic is probably money.  Over the years of preaching, nothing gets people more uncomfortable than talking about God’s ownership over their money.  And probably the greatest source of controversy is in regard to the tithe.  Why is the tithe so controversial?

Let’s look at some facts about tithing.

  • First of all the word “tithe” is used 41 times in Scripture and means “ten” percent.
  • The meaning behind it was to put God first by giving back to Him out of what you’ve been given (this started with Cain and Abel at the very dawn of creation)
  • It symbolizes God is first when we give Him “off the top” and not our leftovers.  God’s not interested in being served leftovers.
  • “First” things throughout the Bible belong to God: first portion of income, day of the week, animal that was born, crops that were harvested…  My best should be offered to Him as an offering.
  • It is a universal principle like Sabbath rest.  Tithing is not just a “law” principle.  It preceded the law and was validated in the New Testament.  Abel gave of his firstborn and Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek 400 years before the law.  A universal principle is not negated by Christ’s coming and the new covenant.
  • It was practiced throughout church history showing it was a part of New Testament church practice.  Tithes were mentioned in church councils at Tours in 567 and at Mâcon in 585. They were formally recognized under Pope Adrian I in 787.
  • It is a thermometer of your spiritual vitality.  Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters…you can’t serve God and MONEY…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be…”  Jesus could have named a lot of other things as the opposite of God, but he chose the word money.
  • It is a starting place for New Testament giving.  We have examples throughout the book of Acts of those who sold homes and other possessions and gave all the proceeds to the church.  Since we have the Holy Spirit within, the completed Word of God and the finished work of Christ, should we do less than in the Old Testament?  Jesus often raised the expectations from what the law required (example of lust/adultery in Matthew 5:27-28)

Paul taught that we ought to give until it feels good (“cheerful“), not until it hurts.  When a person realizes all that God has done for them, it no longer is about what the law demands, but what love desires to express.

My true desire is that you and I would become more and more joyous, outlandishly generous givers each day.

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Tithing & the Single Mom

Posted in Finances, Giving, Stewardship, Weekend Reflections by PCraig on November 8, 2011

Since I shared the message on Sunday about the biblical principle of tithing, I’ve had questions about people’s circumstances.  Here’s a couple things that I want to say today:

Single Moms are much like widows in the Bible who are left deserted by their husbands and are probably more in need of the church’s help than helping the church. Don’t even get me started about deadbeat dads!

Single Moms can still give what they can to the Lord, because when we are giving a percentage of our income, it makes it fair and the same for everyone.  Some people start at 2 or 3% and work their way up – maybe setting a goal of increasing the amount each year?

I’ll be sharing this coming weekend on how to get control of your finances so you can do more than tithe and enjoy it!  Also, I’ll be sharing principles for investing, building wealth, and prioritizing your dollars from the Scriptures.

Tithe is used 41 times in the Old and New Testament and should not be a forced thing, but a love thing.  True lovers are givers.  More to come later….

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Help My Tongue Is On Fire!

Last weekend, I told the story of one of my family members catching a bush on fire one summer back when we were young.  It just started with a little fire on one of the twigs of the large arborvitae.  Then once it began to spread, the extra oxygen of trying to blow it out just made it spread all the more.  Before long the entire bush was engulfed in flames.  Thankfully, no one was hurt and the house wasn’t significantly damaged either.

James 3 says that our tongue is “also a fire” that can spread a word until our life is on fire, or someone else’s life.  Have you ever spread a fire with your tongue?  Maybe it was just a little exaggeration when you repeated a story you heard about someone else?  Perhaps someone hurt you, so the way to get back at them seemed to be in telling a story about them?  Who are you unable to speak with anymore?  How many times have you been careless with your words toward a friend, a spouse, your kids or a co-worker?

The Scripture clearly says in Ephesians 4:29  “Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.”

Once again, here is the Four Way Test I provided to know whether to open your mouth or not –

Ask:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Is it beneficial?
  4. What is my motive?

By asking these four questions BEFORE we open our mouths, we can keep our foot out!  We can also keep a fire from spreading that could burn down our marriage, career and other relationships.

Let’s end this on a positive note.  How many people could be lifted up today by your words of encouragement?  In a world full of harshness, cruelty, pain and anguish, what might happen if you became a source of positivity?  Our world is so starving for encouragement that I believe they will be lining up at your business or home to get some more.  Give it a 30 day trial and see if it doesn’t improve the relationships in your life.

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