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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Living On Purpose

Posted in Personal Growth, Perspective, Purpose by PCraig on November 2, 2017

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. Isn’t that awesome! 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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Coming Apart

Posted in Rest & Refreshing, Solitude by PCraig on October 19, 2017

Jesus on one occasion, at least, said to His disciples, “Come apart.”  The context was to get away from the crowds and get time alone.  I once heard an old preacher say, “If you don’t ‘come apart,’ then you’ll come apart!”  In other words, we need times of retreat.  I have found this important for the following reasons:

  • Reflection – I need time to process life, the future, goals and dreams, along with disappointments.
  • Refreshing – My soul is replenished in the times away from the crowd.
  • Renewal – My heart is restored by the quiet moments with Him (and often my family)

What happens to you in these moments?  Has it been so long that you’re uncertain?  I’ve learned the value of Jesus command to His disciples and am trying to be obedient to it myself.

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The Advantage Wise People Use

Posted in Change, Choice, Decisions, Friendship, Relationships, Wisdom by PCraig on September 28, 2017

I saw recently that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Wow! Are you thinking about who those 5 are right now? If not, you should because your future depends upon it.

You show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. It is almost impossible to live the right life when you have the wrong friends. Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. You can’t walk with the wild, broken, broke and be self-controlled, healthy and empowered.

So, look around and ask who you are surrounded by? Is that where you want to be in the next 5 years? If not, then it might be time to delete some names from your contacts, friends from your social media and time spent with the wrong people. You could be one new friend away from a better marriage, stronger finances, and a fuller life.

If you would be willing to change your friends, you can change your story. Get in a good Life Group, service club, or accountability group and transform your destiny. After all, this is what wise people do. Above all else, get wisdom (Proverbs 4:7).

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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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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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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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How To Grow In Faith In 2017

Posted in Change, Church Growth, Faith, Fasting, New Year, Personal Growth, Prayer by PCraig on January 1, 2017

I want to encourage every Crossroads family member to take the following challenges in January to grow your faith like perhaps never before!

  • Begin reading the Bible everyday starting today. You can do this thru downloading and printing a reading plan to keep inside your Bible as a checklist. Another way is to purchase a One Year Bible and it will guide you through daily readings. Or, you can use the YouVersion Bible App and select a reading plan for 2017 to read from your phone, computer or other electronic device.
  • Attend church every Sunday for the next three weeks. We’re launching a new three-week series called PRAYING BOLDLY beginning January 8. For these three weeks you will learn how to pray more bold, powerful prayers that will literally change your life and relationship with God.
  • This is also a great time to invite friends, family and anyone who needs to grow in faith to be a guest at Crossroads. Be sure to carry the invite cards that are in the lobby to help you to share with others. These cards give our service times, location and web address so they have something in their hand after you’ve invited them.
  • Begin a 21-Day fast on January 8. Next weekend starts our 21 Days of Fasting & Prayer. Powerful things happen when people fast and pray. If you would like to learn more on this topic, you can follow this link: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/fasting-for-beginners. Just know that you don’t have to give up food only, there are other things that may have more of your time and life than what you place in your mouth. We’re going to believe God together for a spiritual breakthrough in our church, our families, our community and our country during these 21 days!

Don’t allow yourself to be left out of what God may want to do in your life this year! Get off to a great start by accepting this challenge and just see what God will do. I believe this could very well be the greatest year for our church and your life also. Get ready to be changed!

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God’s Plan For You

Posted in Expectations, Faith, holiday, Used of God by PCraig on December 22, 2016

I had some really great Christmas experiences growing up, but I realize not everyone did. Some of you may have had good memories from childhood, but adulthood has been rough. The thought of Christmas can be filled with hassles and hurt. Marriages that failed, finances that are a wreck and health that’s deteriorated. What do you do to restore the wonder, joy and happiness of the past?

The original Christmas story wasn’t one without hassle, hurt and confusion. Imagine Joseph being engaged to someone that now claims to be made pregnant by God. Really? I’m supposed to go along with this? Even though it wasn’t easy, Joseph steps into the plan of God for his life and things begin to happen. A manger is available, Wiseman bring gifts, God directs you on where to move and ultimately you realize God has a plan.

God has a plan for each of us as well. It may not involve mangers, moving and wisemen, but it won’t be without its challenges. At the same, it won’t be without God’s provision, because where God guides, He provides.

Instead of asking God to bless our plans this Christmas, let’s seek to join God’s plan for our lives. Read Proverbs 3:5-6 and let the promise excite you with possibilities as you seek to trust and lean on Him. In doing so, you’ll experience God leading you into a plan that only He could put together.

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A Mary Christmas

Posted in Attitude, Character, Faith, Giving, Used of God by PCraig on December 8, 2016

It’s Christmas time in the city, and the country, and everywhere else I suppose. I love Christmas! The music, decorations, lights and all of it are beautiful. But, let’s admit it, sometimes it can be stressful, burdensome, and a mess. It’s for these reasons and more we need to be reminded that it’s really all about Jesus! This is especially important if you’re having a tough time this season because of a loss of loved one, job, or illness. The good news is that you can experience a Merry Christmas anyway.

By looking at Mary, the mother of Jesus, we can find a way to have joy this season and potentially attract God’s favor as she did. Here are three characteristics she possessed:

She had a childlike faith. From Luke 1:38 we see that she lived in a simple faith that surrendered to God’s plan.

She had a giving attitude. We know she first of all gave her body to be used of God. So many in our culture think, “It’s MY body, so I’ll decide.” But, Mary said, “My body is your body God, so use it however you see fit.” No wonder God chose her!

She also shared the light with others. Before Jesus had ever done any public miracles, He and Mary were attending a wedding (Jn.2). When they ran out of wine and faced humiliation, Mary offered Jesus to help. Her words to the servants were priceless, “Do whatever He tells you.” You gotta love that! It’s one of the most powerful messages we need to hear.

To attract God’s favor in our lives we too can believe God with childlike faith, live life with an open hand, and share the hope of Jesus with others. Here’s hoping you have a very “Mary” Christmas.

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