Why Not Try It?

Posted in Attitude, Expectations, Faith, Victorious Living by PCraig on April 19, 2018

Today is a day of incredible potential because of God working in my life.  What if you believed that?

Or, I can be happy today because I’m forgiven, free, filled with the Spirit, redeemed, made ready for heaven, and a child of God.  What if you confessed that each day?

Why not try it today? Move beyond knowing these things are true, to declaring them and living as though they are real and happening.

Could it change today? What might happen if you did this for a week, or 30 days? Why not try it and find out?

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The Most Repeated Command

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Encouragement, Happiness, Joy, Perspective by PCraig on April 12, 2018

The most repeated command in the Bible is probably not what you think it is. It’s be happy! It comes in many forms and words such as, blessing, blessed, peace, joy, prosper, and others. It is proof that our God is for us and not against us.

That means instead of thinking God is getting in the way of your happiness, He’s actually making a way for your happiness. He is the solution and not the problem. Most of the other commands in the Bible are actually to keep us from things that lead to unhappiness. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and life to the FULL” (Jn. 10:10). God is not just holy, He is happy, and the two go together.

Last weekend, we launched a new series called FINDING HAPPY. We learned that there are habits of happiness that can lead us to more peace, love and joy. Science says that only about 10% of what happens to you actually impacts your happiness. This explains why two people can undergo the same set back, but one bounces back while the other gives up. It’s not the circumstances, but our perspective that makes the biggest difference.

So, this week, I want to again encourage you with two new habits, and here they are:

Switch worry for prayer (Phil.4:6). What is you worried less and prayed more? Every time worry tries to land in your lap, toss it out like a hot potato. Say, “Oh no you don’t, I’m not accepting this worry, fear, fret, concern and anxiety. Instead I’m tossing it over to God in prayer and let Him carry it.”

Live Thankful (Phil. 4:7). Take it from the Apostle Paul, when you choose to be thankful, you can be in prison but free.   Just be thankful for the simple things like: “I’m forgiven, washed, liberated, free, I have family, friends, a home, a church…” It’s hard to be depressed and thankful at the same time.

What would happen this week if you let your feelings follow your actions, instead of the other way around? I believe, you’ll experience God’s peace that transcends our human understanding and find a joy you can’t explain.

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Easter Everyday

We just finished celebrating the greatest event the world has ever known – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It not only changed history, but it changed my history! All that I’ve done before won’t matter anymore when we know Jesus is alive.

The first person to meet and greet Jesus after His resurrection was none other than a woman whom Jesus freed from seven demons. And, you think you’ve got problems! She had seven problems she couldn’t solve, fix or repair. Her life was broken in seven places, and only Jesus had the power to set her free.

We all have demons that we deal with in our lives. Some allow their pain to defined them, spend their lives trying to numb it or escape it to no lasting impact. Mary Magdalene, as she was called, was the kind of person we give up on, but not God. He has a way of weaving them into His story, by showing up and showing off His amazing grace. This is one of the great reasons why I love God. He chooses people we wouldn’t choose, does what we can’t do, and transforms us from the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory.

She thought she would never hear His voice again. This one, that had freed her, taught her so much, and might be the Messiah. However, on that Sunday morning, she heard Him call her by name, “Mary.” That’s all it took. She went from sorrow to gladness, from hopelessness to hope, from weakness to strength. Jesus is truly alive.

What about you? The resurrection is the central fact of history, but is it the central fact of your life? When it is, that’s the game changer. He moves from being alive to being alive in me.

God is still in the resurrection business. He resurrects relationships, careers, dreams, and hopes.  Seek Him today and you will find Him. Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus because she went to Him. Once she saw Him, I think it was like it was Easter everyday. It can be the same for you and me.

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This Changes Everything

Posted in Change, Expectations, Faith, Perspective, Stress by PCraig on March 28, 2018

Do you ever feel the icy fingers of despair on your soul? Maybe you’ve tried to get rid of a habit, but never seem to fully kick it. Perhaps you feel like you take two steps forward in life then three steps back. Or, maybe life has changed for the worse and it just doesn’t seem like it will ever improve.

Jesus’ followers knew exactly what this feels like. They had put their hopes and dreams in a man who taught like one with authority, performed miracles like they had never seen, and made promises for their future. Yet, after being arrested and tried, he was crucified like a criminal and buried in a borrowed tomb.

It seemed like it was over. All hope is gone. There’s nothing left to do. However, they were wrong. It really wasn’t over, hope was alive and the best was yet to come. Life has a way of trying to convince us that we can’t overcome the odds; that this last loss was the final blow and we might as well quit. My friend, what was true for the original disciples of Jesus is true for you. He is still alive and that makes all the difference in the world.

When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw Jesus, she came back proclaiming to the others, “I have seen the Lord!” In that moment, everything changed. All the despair was exchanged for joy. She went from the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory in a second.

Where have you been discouraged? In the area of your finances? Your family? Victory over an addiction? Maybe you’ve been doubting that you’ll ever change. When Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead, he solved your biggest problem. He has a solution for all the rest, if you’ll put your trust fully in Him and step out in faith. As you do, you’ll begin to see God work in your life, doing what only he can do.

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A Last Promise

Posted in Encouragement, Perspective, Stress, Worry by PCraig on March 22, 2018

Have you ever gone into the gym after not working out for a long time and be discouraged over the weakness you feel? Maybe you can’t push the weight you used to and you feel like a failure. Initially, it can seem like it’s going to take forever to get back to the place you were before. Discouragement has a way of dragging down your soul in whatever area you encounter it. And, it seems like when you get discouraged in one space, it has a way of spreading.

I can’t imagine how discouraged the disciples must have felt when the One they thought could be the Messiah was arrested, tried and killed. They could have thought, “I’ve wasted three years of my life following someone that wasn’t the real deal after all.”

Maybe you’ve had a marriage dissolve, a business fail, revenue is down, pressure is mounting, or physical ailments are taxing you daily. If we’re not careful, we can get caught up in the whirlwind of discouragement, which often leads to fear paralysis. It’s no wonder one of the most repeated commands in Scripture is “fear not.” God knows this is an area where we all can struggle.

During these times, it’s easy to dwell on the negative facts of our situation: lack of money, stack of bills, pain in our body, rebellion in our kids, emotional hurt and the list goes on. However, there are other facts that can help us during these times of testing. Here’s just one: God is with you always. He promised it more than once, but you can look it up in the very last verse of Matthew.

I’ve heard it said, someone’s last words could be some of their most important. I think Matthew wanted to share some last words of Jesus that gave him courage for the future: He is with me…He promised. Plus, He’s with you and me too!

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What Happened to Happily Ever After?

Are you depressed because life has not turned out the way you thought it would? Maybe your marriage is troubled, your kids are rebellious, your health is failing, or your job is ending. In these times, we might ask, “God! Can’t you stop this from happening?”

It’s tempting to wonder if God cares and is even paying attention in hard times. Especially if you begin to compare yourself to others and wonder, “Why do they seem to get all the breaks?” This is one of the reasons why I enjoy reading the Bible. God’s Word is not written like a fairy tale, where all ends “happily ever after.” Rather, the Scriptures are filled with pain, illness, trials, separations, murder, even rape and incest, to name a few. Yet, in the midst of all this ugliness, God so often revealed His beauty. In spite of what was going on around them, God showed His grace in troubled times.

This is what Easter is all about. Through the horror and pain of beatings, torture and crucifixion, God provided a way for you and I to have a fresh start. The Scripture says that we become a “new creation” when we surrender our lives to Him. Just because you put your faith in God, doesn’t mean it will end with “they lived happily ever after.” But, it does mean, you’ll never go through anything life slings your way alone. He said to be sure of this, He will never leave us or abandon us, but go with us always, even to the end of the world.

And, actually, the Bible does promise a “happily ever after,” – after this life is over, which will last forever. So, hang in there, eternity is a long, long time, and will more than make up for the suffering in this world.

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In The End

Are you doubting God’s love because you are in a time of crisis? “God! I just found out I have an incurable disease. I thought you loved me!” As we get closer to the time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, it reminds me of the suffering that led up to Easter.

The Bible is clear that Jesus underwent all kinds of emotional, physical and mental anguish leading up to His trial and conviction. Often, we picture Jesus as perfect, and though He is, it does not negate the fact that He suffered much.

In addition to Jesus, we find that many people that we would call “good” in the Bible went through times of persecution, illness, heartache and trials. Why would we think we are exempt? Where did we get it that if God loves us, He will keep all bad things from touching us?

1 Peter 2:21 “For God call you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.”

Later Peter goes on to say (1 Pet 4:19) “…keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.”

Our job is simply to keep on doing what is right and leave the results up to God. So, today, no matter what may be going on in your life, or not going on, chose to keep doing what is right. Sure, it’s not always easy. Yes, there are others that do wrong, but seem to be doing just fine. The story isn’t over yet friend. Just like it looked as though Jesus was going through trials He didn’t deserve, the people didn’t realize it was part of a bigger plan.

He is still the God of the final word. Don’t give up too soon. Never let the enemy get you to believe a lie about God. Keep on doing the right thing, and in the end, you’ll be glad you did.

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God’s Miraculous Gift

Posted in God's love, holiday, Miracle, Stress, Worry by PCraig on December 21, 2017

Do you open presents on Christmas Eve or only Christmas day? Growing up, we got to open some of our gifts on Christmas Eve and I loved it! However, we always had to wait until Christmas day for the major gifts. It was mostly clothes and maybe a game the night before.

I’m so glad that we don’t have to wait for the major gifts God has provided for us this Christmas. What are those gifts? Well, I’m only going to share one, but every one of God’s gifts is wrapped up in His Son, Jesus.

One of the best gifts we receive when we become followers of Jesus is the gift of peace. Never has this present been more needed than today. We live in a culture of turmoil, separation, division, worry, and offense. Yet, in the midst of all that surrounds us, within us can be a deep abiding peace.

This present of peace comes through His presence in our lives. And, unlike Santa, Jesus is not keeping a list of those naughty and nice. If He did, we would all be in trouble. Instead, knowing we’ve all been naughty, and imperfect, He came in a perfect way to live a perfect life and die as the perfect sacrifice. Why did He do that? To get you and me on the “nice” list.

1 John 1:8-9

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Good news of Jesus is better than the story of Santa. When you accept what He did, then you receive His peace, and you’re never alone again, because He is always with us. It’s a miraculous gift!

Join us for Christmas Eve Services @Crossroads Church -welcometocrossroads.org

Saturday, Dec 23 at 5 p.m.

Sunday, Dec 24 at 9 or 11 a.m.

 

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Waiting On A Miracle

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Expectations, holiday, Hope, Miracle by PCraig on December 14, 2017

Do you remember how agonizing it was to wait for Christmas as a child? It seemed like forever to get from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Now, as an adult, it seems like Christmas comes too fast.

Does it seem like you are in a waiting period in your life currently? Waiting on a job, or a marriage, healing, direction can seem to take forever to happen. It can even seem like God is late in bringing these things into your life can’t it?

The very first Christmas seemed like God was late to those who were waiting for Messiah to come. It had been hundreds of years and yet each year they were disappointed. But the Scripture teaches that it all happened at the “proper time” (Luke 1:20).

The lesson is that God has a “proper time” for everything. He’s never late and He’s always on time. But, it’s His calendar and not ours!   In the meantime what do you do?

  • Don’t lose hope. Things could change tomorrow.
  • Never give up. God can do anything at anytime without restrictions.
  • Do allow this waiting time to be a time of growth spiritually.
  • Keep trusting in the God who still has a plan for the world and you!

It may look like a dark night, but remember, it did in Bethlehem 2000 years ago when hope was born!

We’ll be focusing more on the topic of waiting this weekend in part 3 of A Christmas Miracle in our 9 & 11 a.m. services.

 

 

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The Voices In My Head

Posted in Counsel, Distractions, Dreams, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Mind by PCraig on November 9, 2017

It happens to me every week. I want to quit. I’ve wanted to quit my run halfway into it. Just last week I completed my first half marathon, but after several miles, I asked myself, “Why can’t we just walk?” Toward the end, the voice got louder with each step.

But if it’s not running, I’ve had other things: my marriage, my job, my writing, my blog, or even God. This is just the nature of life. The temptation to quit is a recurring theme.

And if the voices in our heads were not enough trouble, the voices in our culture also urge us to “throw in the towel,” “make a change,” or “take it easy on yourself.”

What these same voices fail to tell you is there is a price to pay for quitting, just like there is for success. Somehow, the enemy voice doesn’t mention what the cost will be for giving up: poor self-image, weakness, depression, missed opportunities, and far worse.

In my experience, the thing that keeps me going is answering this question, “Why am I doing this?” I then try to remember the dream. “Why I am doing this hard thing that I am doing.” I try to get connected to the original vision, because that keeps me going when the going gets tough.

This is what the apostle Paul did when faced with imprisonment for preaching the good news of Jesus. He would remind himself of who he was in Christ, the great work that he was doing, and the reward that awaited at the end. We can do the same!

Plus, God is faithful to provide encouragement if we are looking for it. Sometimes it comes through a song, a Scripture reading, a friend, a blog, or the whisper of the Spirit’s voice inside our heads. Tune into the right voice today and you can keep on keepin on to the finish line.

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