Distortion

Posted in Criticism, Perspective, Victorious Living by PCraig on June 1, 2017

Ever go through a Fun House with those distorted, curved mirrors? I used to love looking in them when I was a kid. Something about seeing my head look elongated by several feet or my body looking like it had been squished was really amusing. All of that is imaginary fun, but some of us carry distorted images of ourselves on the inside. “I’m stupid,” “I’m ugly,” or “I’m unlovable.” Perhaps it started with comments from others, past bad choices, or current tough conditions. Whatever the case, distorted messages inside can lead us to false conclusions outside. Therefore, we might tailor our lives around the distortion. We can live our lives based upon what others have said over us or about us.

Jesus said, “When you know the truth, the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Nowhere is this more important than when it comes to our self-image. We each want to be accepted. We work hard at it by buying things, wearing certain things, and joining or doing things. Our desire can be for acceptance at any cost.

I want to help you be free of the distortions of past mistakes, words of others, and your own opinions. Here’s some good news: God has accepted you, according to Romans 15:7. Nowhere in Scripture does Jesus say that it’s based upon you. Instead, He emphatically declares that we are accepted unconditionally. You are not accepted because you’re worthy; you’re worthy because you’re accepted.

God accepts you, so begin a process today of accepting yourself. Your Heavenly Father loves you right where you are and just as you are. That gives me a lot of confidence, how about you?

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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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When Chased By A Killer

Posted in Attitude, Character, Choice, Dreams, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 18, 2017

I love the story of David and his rise from shepherd boy to king of the nation of Israel. In today’s reading of the One Year Bible, I was reading about David’s escape from King Saul (1 Sa. 22&23), who wanted to kill him. It made me think, just because you’re anointed and chosen by God (he would be King Saul’s successor), doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges.

Too many people think that life’s supposed to be easy and if you’re doing the right thing, then it should be smooth sailing. Not sure where that idea originated, but nothing could be further from the truth. Gallup did a study and asked people to identify the worst and best event of their life. They found that there was an 80% correlation between the two events.

Many people find that some of the worst events of their lives have led to some of the best days. Why? Because they knew they couldn’t control what came to them, but they could control what came out of them. Over and over again, David displayed honor, respect and love for the person trying to hurt him. He couldn’t change Saul’s actions, but he could choose his. People may want to kill your dream, but it doesn’t mean you let them.

You may not like how things are going at work, your marriage, or other areas, but what’s happening to you is not as important as what’s happening in you. We can live as a victim or a victor and much of it is by choice. Trust that your best days are yet ahead, walk in faith, expecting good things, and just like David; it will lead to better days ahead.

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Tapping Into God’s Power

Posted in Change, Deliverance, Holy Spirit, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 11, 2017

In today’s reading of the One Year Bible, I was reflecting upon the anointing of Saul to be the first king of Israel. The story is chronicled in 1 Samuel 10 where the prophet Samuel tells Saul that the Spirit of the Lord is going to come upon him in power. Indeed, just as the prophet declared, the Spirit of the Lord does come upon Saul with so much power that he is transformed.

This is a specialty of the Spirit of the Lord, a life that is transformed. I can relay so many stories of addictions, hurts, losses, physical illnesses, emotional scars and countless other issues, that have been changed by the power of the Spirit.

Like Saul, we just need to be open, receptive and expecting the Spirit’s power to come upon us as we walk out our journey each day. In the New Testament, we find every believer in a position to receive the Spirit’s power. Read the book of Acts in the Bible and you’ll find ordinary people moving in extraordinary power because of the Spirit.

Whatever stronghold, addiction, hurt, pain or habit you may be fighting, know that by tapping into the Spirit of the Lord, you can be changed. I don’t know about you, but in a culture like ours, I need all the power I can get.

Also, don’t miss the launch of our next series, Breath, Wind & Fire starting May 28, as we talk about the Holy Spirit.

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Lifting Others Up

Posted in Attitude, Character, Criticism, Humility by PCraig on May 4, 2017

How good are you at cheering for the success of others? I know we all appreciate hearing remarks about how well we’ve done, but how do you do with praising others? It can be even more challenging when you are hearing the accolades from others in private. Pastors can be guilty of this. They hear of the success of another colleague from across town seeing his church grow, so they say things like, “Well, he doesn’t preach very challenging messages is why his church is growing.”

Nowhere in Scripture is this very scenario more illustrated than in today’s reading of the One Year Bible. John 3:22-36 tells the story of how a friend of John the Baptist informs him that Jesus is now attracting more followers and baptizing more people than John. Here’s his response in verse 29, “I am filled with joy at his success.” What? Where’s the, “Yeah, but he’s not fasting like I am” or, “He’s not preaching the Word as strong as I do, so that’s why so many are attracted to him.” Instead, John takes the high road and realizes that the universe doesn’t revolve around him. He’s not God’s gift, …but Jesus is!

So, in our lives, how does this play out? Next time you hear of a co-worker doing well say, “That’s awesome that she’s excelling like that, I wish her the best.” Or, when competing and you come in second, let the first place player know that you’re proud of their effort and sportsmanship.  Stop yourself before you’re tempted to open your mouth and criticize.

When you take on this attitude, it actually raises your value in the eyes of others. Days later, when Jesus is asked about John, He says that, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Lu.7:28). Pretty cool praise from the King of Kings. It just shows what the Savior thinks when you take on humility and lift others up, He lifts you up!

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Dreamweaver Video

Posted in Dreams, Weekend Reflections by PCraig on April 27, 2017

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Dreamweaver

Posted in Dreams, Encouragement, Events, Perspective, Victorious Living by PCraig on April 20, 2017

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Easter Message

Posted in Evangelism, Events, holiday, witnessing by PCraig on April 13, 2017

Hey Crossroads family,

Easter is coming in just a few days (April 16) and I am filled with anticipation over what God is going to do in each of our services. Here’s how I could use your help this Easter:

The message that day is called “An Empty Easter” and will focus on the emptiness of life versus the full life the empty tomb provides. This is a great opportunity to invite people you know as it focuses on who Jesus really is and came to do. In the few minutes it takes to invite someone, you never know what God might have in mind.  Let’s get busy and reach one more for Jesus!

Please use the various tools that are available to invite others to Crossroads. You can use your own Facebook (or social media) account to encourage others to come to one of the Easter services. Be sure to share posts from our Crossroads Facebook Page, this is huge! Hopefully, you also have the small “Invite Cards” we’ve made available each weekend at the Information Desk. These have a map to the church and feature the service times as reference help for those desiring to come. Sometimes people need reminders and helps after you walk away! I would suggest you keep these cards handy in case God opens a new door of opportunity to share.

Finally, as usual, we’re preparing for lots of new guests to be with us for Easter. It would be great if you could…

  • Attend the first service – which is usually less crowded.
  • Make an extra effort to give a warm welcome to the people you meet.
  • Park away from the doors to make room for guests to park close.
  • Sit in the middle of a row, so guest don’t have to step over you for a seat.

It’s going to be an awesome Easter at Crossroads, and it’s a privilege to partner with you!  I’m praying for your family and friends to come to Jesus this Sunday!

 

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An Empty Easter Invite

Posted in Events, holiday, witnessing by PCraig on April 6, 2017

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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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