Don’t Worry – Be Happy!

Posted in Faith, Fear, Happiness, Worry by PCraig on April 26, 2012

I remember a song by musician Bobby McFerrin, released in September 1988, called “Don’t Worry Be Happy.”  It became the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard chart and even won song of the year award at the 1989 Grammys.  I think one of the reasons for the popularity was the catchy tune, but the other was the positive message that it sent to a culture that is filled with worry.  We worry if we’ll have enough money, about our health, career, children, spouse, and the future.

In the midst of all this worry, Jesus comes along and gives his take on the topic in Matthew chapter six, where He says, “Don’t worry” (must be where Bobby got his lyrics!).  When we read these words of Jesus, our reaction might be, “Easy for you to say Jesus – after all you are the Son of God, but what about me?”  Well, keep in mind, Jesus wasn’t talking to Himself, He was speaking to you and me when He said this.

This past Sunday I dealt with this topic and listed three ways to break free from worry:

  • I will do what God asks me to do.  Start by thinking right thoughts & doing what is wise.  In other words, do what YOU can do first.  You can obey God and take control of your thoughts.
  • I will give God what I cannot do.  You can’t heal cancer – God can.  You can’t protect your children 24/7 – God has angels.  You can’t change people – God can orchestrate events to bring about change.  I can only do what God asks me to do, but I can give God what I cannot do.
  • No matter what happens, I will trust God.  If God answers like you want Him to – you trust Him.  If God doesn’t answer like you want – you trust Him.  If things don’t go according to your plan – you still trust Him & still praise Him.

I don’t know what you’re worried about today, but I know my Heavenly Father watches over me and you.  Just like the old gospel song, “His eye is on the sparrow and I KNOW He watches me.”  I refuse to be chained to worry, distrusting God and His promises.  I will not insult the God of the universe with unbelief, rather I will believe He is who He says He is, and I believe He will do what He says He will do.

What worries do you need to release to God?

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Girl Found Alive in Morgue in Argentina

Posted in Miracle by PCraig on April 21, 2012

Below is the report I just received from our missionary in Argentina, Mark Kinney:

Not sure if you saw in the int’l news from Chaco, Argentina the amazing survival story on April 3 of a newborn premature baby – 6 mos, 2 weeks old that was found alive after 12 hours in the morgue? I received a detailed report from one of our Bible school graduates who lives in Chaco and was involved in the case. His version of the story was not carried by the major networks.

It turns out that Facundo Macucha (IBM student) is discipling a recent convert in his church. The church was conducting an evangelism program that involves contacting people door-to-door and taking prayer requests. Facundo’s disciple Agusto contacted Analia Bouter at her home. She was a backslidden Christian who was also the mother of four children and pregnant with a yet unborn girl. She asked for prayer for a safe delivery because she had been experiencing problems with the pregnancy. Agusto promised to pray and have the church pray for her and her baby. Shortly after this interview she began to have severe pain and went to the hospital for an assessment. The doctors recommended an abortion because of the risk to her own life if she continued the pregnancy. She informed Agusto of the situation via a text message sent to the church contact info from the evangelism brochure. Agusto counseled her to not have an abortion. He assured her that he had faith that the baby would live and she would be fine. Analia then informed the doctors that she was against the abortion. They decided to take the premature baby by C-section, but after further consultations they opted to induce labor instead. The induced labor episode produced complications and the doctors informed the father, Fabian, that the baby had been born with severe medical complications and was near death. The mother was still sedated and unaware of these developments.

An hour later the doctors informed the father that the baby girl had died. The father sent a text message to Agusto informing him about the death because he had become a friend of the family and had prayed for the mother and baby. Agusto assured Fabian that the baby would live in spite of the obvious. He quoted the words of Jesus in Jn 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies…” Agusto had received a vision of the baby girl alive and clung to this version of reality in prayer all through the day. Meanwhile, the hospital staff issued a death certificate and sent the ‘dead’ baby 5 blocks to the morgue where she was enclosed in a small wooden coffin and then placed in a refrigerated vault. 12 hours later, at 10:30 p.m. the parents, accompanied by Analia’s brother and sister-in-law went to the morgue to take a picture of the baby with a cell phone camera.

The attendant on duty would only allow the parents into the morgue so the other couple waited in an outer room. Fabian requested a crow bar to pry open the lid of the coffin that had been nailed shut. When Analia pulled back the cloth to see the baby more clearly its hand jerked when she touched it. She assumed her mind was playing tricks on her. But, when Fabian removed the cotton from the baby’s mouth and nose to take the picture the mother touched the baby’s cheek and suddenly the baby cried and began breathing. This baby had been refrigerated for nearly 12 hours. There was frost on her skin yet against all odds of survival she was alive! The commotion that followed alerted the other couple outside the morgue that something incredible had happened. When Analia’s brother stepped into the morgue he saw his sister and brother-in-law kneeling on the floor praising God with unspeakable joy and surprise and the attendant holding the live baby girl in her arms. He quickly grabbed the baby and ran the 5 blocks back to the hospital in a frantic sprint to get help. He held the child against his chest for warmth. He reported that the baby, who weighed only slightly over 2 lbs, felt like a block of ice against his chest – as if it were a bottle of frozen water from the freezer. To the shock and amazement of the doctors the baby’s vital signs were normal and is now in intensive care and making progress each day. She was named Luz Milagros for obvious reasons. The churches in the capital city of Resistencia are experiencing revival from this incident. None of the doctors can explain how or why the baby is alive after being pronounced dead, or how it survived so many hours of refrigeration. If the mother had not insisted on going to the morgue to get a picture the baby would have been buried alive. Agusto is a young Christian whose faith may well be interpreted as presumptuous in some ways, but to date there is no other satisfactory explanation to account for this amazing miracle of life except that God honored his fledgling faith. Praise the Lord!

Mark Kinney – Missionary to Argentina

mark.kinney@hqmail.agmd.org

Acct. # 239794

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Me Bitter?

Posted in Attitude, Criticism, Relationships, Revenge by PCraig on April 19, 2012

I don’t know too many people who would admit they are bitter, but if were to be really honest, you might discover some bitterness in your own heart.  As a matter of fact, we can see bitterness much easier in others than we see it in the mirror.

The Bible says that a “root of bitterness” can “defile” or poison many people (Heb 12:15).  It can destroy any relationship including marriages, parent-child, friendships, dating or otherwise.  Bitterness becomes a poison that keeps us from the kind of intimacy and purity that leads to fulfilling relationships.   How can you know if you have bitterness?

Here are some signs to watch for:

  • You rejoice in the misfortunes of others.  Even if it’s not outward, inside you are glad that the other person stumbled.  You might even feel a sense of satisfaction – “Well, you reap what you sow!”
  • Justifying your bitterness.  You say things like, “Okay, after what this person did to me, I think I have a right to be angry, upset, mad…I mean, you would only expect me to want revenge, because they deserve it, right?”  You look for others to justify your feelings.
  • You become overly critical.  From now on, all you seem to do is pick that person apart, saying things like, “Well, who does she think she is coming in here looking like all that.  I mean we see through her, right?”  In marriages, you may have been hurt by your spouse, but you’ve decided you’ll make them pay for it the rest of their lives.  When bitter, you are an expert critic of others.
  • Writing off entire groups of people.  You may have been jilted by one girl, but now you say, “All women are the same; you can’t trust any of them.”  Or, as a lady hurt by men, “Every guy is a jerk.  I hate ALL men because they’re ALL bad.”
  • Seeing it in others, but not seeing it in the mirror.  You think, “Oh, if only so & so could read this blog, because they really need it.”  Problem is, everyone else can see it in you, but you don’t recognize it yourself.

So, what can you do about it?

  • Pray for God to reveal bitterness in your heart.  Ask Him to answer this question, “With whom or at what am I bitter?”  Then sit and let Him reveal any signs of bitterness toward others.
  • Release the person at which you have been bitter with total forgiveness.  The same kind of forgiveness that God has given you.  (Read Eph 4:31-32)  Get rid of it ALL.
  • Even if you don’t feel like it yet, forgive them and begin praying for them.  Jesus said that we are to even pray for our enemies!

This past weekend, we talked all about this topic and many came to me afterwards to say thanks.  Another exercise I recommended in the service was to make a list of all the ways you’ve offended God. Yes, it may take a full notebook to make a complete list!  Then, take out another sheet of paper and write down the ways that person you are bitter towards has offended you (much shorter list).  Compare all that God has forgiven you over what He’s asking you to forgive in others.  This might make it easier to give out the same forgiveness that you’ve received.

Did you find some bitterness hidden in your heart that you didn’t realize was there?  Haven’t you held onto bitterness for too long?  What step could you take today toward ridding yourself of bitterness?

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Living Your Life Mission

Posted in Dreams, Purpose by PCraig on April 12, 2012

Just last night I met with several guys of our church for leadership training.  Our topic was discovering your life mission.  If there is anything that excites me it is this subject.  I am extremely passionate about everyone having a life purpose, discovering what it is, then living it out in God’s strength.

Too many people in our world settle for a mere existence rather than discovering their life purpose.  How sad to go through life simply going through the motions when you could have lived God’s dream for your life.

God told the prophet Jeremiah that He had a purpose for his life already established while he was in his mother’s womb.  I believe God had a purpose for your life as well before anyone ever got to see your slick body come out into the world.

Here’s my question:  are you living your purpose or just going through the motions?  Have you allowed this world to squeeze your into its mold and lost your drive, ambition and dream?  What did God have in mind for you before you were ever born?  Are you being the you He intended?

If not, here are some ways to get on track:

  • Pray, and ask God to reveal His original plan & design for your life
  • Examine your life and see if it’s headed in that direction
  • Look for God’s guidance through open doors & opportunities
  • What strengths or gifts are you currently not using for His glory?
  • Ask wise people around you to speak into your life concerning what they see in you
  • Form a plan of steps that can lead you to your life mission

How are you doing with living your purpose?  Have you made any recent steps to get on track with your life mission?

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Happy Easter!

Posted in Evangelism, witnessing by PCraig on April 6, 2012

I pray that you are well prepared and full of anticipation for this weekend’s services as we celebrate the greatest event in history – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  How humbling to know that God loved us enough to send the gift of His Son to pay the price to cover our sins.  How wonderful to think that God can use us to reach others and remove their guilt as well.

Keep yourself open to any and all divine appointments that God may bring into your life in these next two days.  He is not willing that anyone should perish and miss out on the future He has prepared for those who love Him.

Have you already invited someone to Easter services?  Who could you call, email or text today that might take you up on your invitation?  Pray with me for a great harvest of lives to know God’s remedy for guilt this weekend.

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