The Power of Unity

Posted in Attitude, Perspective, Unity, Worship by PCraig on June 15, 2017

Have you ever seen a car stalled and someone gets out to start pushing? The car is barely creeping, but then one or maybe two others run over from their cars and start pushing and the person steering has to eventually push on the brake to avoid hitting something. What happened? It’s a great picture of the power of unity. One person could only accomplish so much, but efforts were multiplied when others joined.

The Bible is filled with encouragement along those lines, such as in today’s reading of Psalms 133 of the One Year Bible. Why such a push for this coming together?  I think God knows our tendency of focusing way too much on ourselves. We think about ourselves all the time and so little on others.  All that changes when we come together though, especially in worship.

In worship, I begin to focus on God first of all. At least that’s what true worship does. I come before Him offering my life, my lips and my legacy (or future). When I do that, it becomes all about Him. What He wants me to do, how He wants me to act, where He wants me to go, instead of my thoughts, ways and agenda.

Also, when I get around God’s people and get busy serving, I don’t have as much time to think about my needs, wants and desires. In other words, I’m not near the selfish person that I woke up being this morning. Instead, I make my life about helping others, serving their needs, and ministering to their concerns.

True worship brings us to a place of unity where our desires are placed under His and others. The result is that the world sees that submission and the power of God flowing through it, and wants more of it. That’s just one of the reasons to be in the atmosphere of worship as often as possible; it brings us together.

 

Show your support, add your comment now...

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!

BreathWindandFire-FB-link

Show your support, add your comment now...

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.

Show your support, add your comment now...

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.

Show your support, add your comment now...

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!

Show your support, add your comment now...

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.

Show your support, add your comment now...

Whose Report Will You Believe?

Posted in Attitude, Counsel, Faith, Friendship, Perspective, Relationships by PCraig on March 9, 2017

It really matters who you take advice from and listen to most. You may think that the negative comments and poor advice doesn’t affect you, but it does.

One of my favorite stories to illustrate this in all of God’s Word is in today’s reading of the One Year Bible. It comes from Numbers 13 where Moses sends a delegation of 12 spies to scout the Promised Land and come back and report. The Scripture says that after 40 days of sampling its produce and examining the land, they returned with news. Ten of the spies scared the people by reporting briefly about the abundance and fruitfulness of the land, then sharing how powerful, invincible and fortified the cities and people were. They went so far as to say, “We can’t attack these people; they are stronger than we are.”

Can you imagine that the same people who have seen their God deliver them from Egypt, split a sea and dry up the land, feed them daily with manna and quail, now don’t have faith to conquer the land God has already promised? That’s exactly what was going on.

However, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, believed that even though the enemy looked strong, that God is stronger. They said, “We can certainly do it.” Not, “We hope, might or it’s possible”, but we can do it. These two saw all the same things the other ten did, but they had a different outlook. I wonder how many of your friends have a different outlook on life? Do you have friends that tend to see things from God’s perspective over man? How many faith-filled, positive speaking, God-trusting friends do you have?

Are there people you need to spend less time with? Or, can you think of some you need to be around more often?

The sad thing in this story is that bad news travels fast. It seems to be easier to get people to go negative than it is to get them to step out in faith. That’s why you have to be very choosy about who’s reporting to you. When you get around people of faith, then your going to be impacted positively. Stop allowing negative reports to plague your life and keep you from the report God has for you.

Show your support, add your comment now...

Juxtaposition

It’s such a juxtaposition to think that the way up is down. Most people would assume that the way up is up. But, Jesus clearly taught something different when it comes to greatness.

One day Jesus was asked if He could arrange who would sit next to Him in eternity. The question was asked by two disciples, and probably really ticked off the others. Jesus defused the situation by defining what it would take to be great. He said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43b-44)

The desire to be on top will hinder, not help. Rather than seeking to have your needs met, look for ways that you can minister to the needs of others.

It seems backwards, but Jesus gave us an illustration of how it works with His own life. Here He is this eternal King, but comes as a poor child in a manger, lives a simple life as a carpenter, teacher, preacher, Rabbi. He then dies a death for a criminal, yet it was this act of humility that formed His rise in popularity. By the time He’s resurrected, the story of His life is the most popular topic in town. Now, over 2,000 years later, He’s considered the greatest person who ever lived by most.

The key to all that greatness was His willingness to humble Himself and serve us by giving His life. In a culture that thinks up is up, let’s choose to follow the true path that Jesus showed by example.

Show your support, add your comment now...

Sticks And Stones

Posted in Mind, Offense, Relationships, Words by PCraig on February 23, 2017

Like many of you, I grew up on the school playground saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Most of us learned really quickly in life, however, that it was a lie. As a matter of fact, some of us have gotten over broken legs, arms and ankles way faster than words spoken over us.

If that’s the case, then how careful should we be about what we say over another person, such as our spouses, children, family members, friends and colleagues? In today’s reading of the One Year Bible from Proverbs 10:11 it says, “The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain.”

I wonder, does that describe you? Do people think of you as a wellspring of refreshing words that bring them life?

Take some time today to evaluate what is coming out of your mouth. Even better, consider it before it comes out of your mouth. Because once it hits the airwaves, there’s no taking it back. And the damage it can bring to your relationships is far worse than any stick or stone could cause.

(Pray Psalm 19:14)

Show your support, add your comment now...

This Gets God’s Attention

When you know a friend needs Jesus, how do you respond? There’s a story in Mark 2 about a man who couldn’t walk, so four guys literally carry him to Jesus. The problem is that by the time they get there, they can’t get into the house where Jesus was teaching because of the crowd. Rather than say, “Oh well, dude we tried to get you in.” They refuse to be denied and carry this man up on the roof. Once up there they tear open the roof (probably made of mud, tiles and maybe straw) and lower the man down to Jesus.

The Scripture says that when Jesus saw “their” faith, he responded. In other words, it wasn’t even the man on the mat’s faith; it was those bringing him to Jesus that touched the Master.

Here’s my question: who are you currently carrying to Jesus? Who do you know that needs a touch from God, forgiveness of sins, and a fresh start? Please understand that it is your responsibility to carry them to Jesus. This man got to meet Jesus, be healed, made whole and restored to God because someone cared enough to carry him.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,” and we are most like Him when we love others enough to take action. Friend, it’s too easy to get caught up in our Christian circles and ourselves and forget who Jesus came for. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. If you don’t know any lost people right now, you need to change that. Get out of your bubble and love like God loves.

It impresses Jesus when he sees us bring others to Him. If you want to get Jesus’ attention today, lift someone up and bring them to Jesus. Nothing moves God’s heart more than when we care enough to carry someone to Him.

Not only does this story come from today’s reading in the One Year Bible (that I’m doing again this year), but it is also our text for Sunday. I hope you can be with us as God anoints His Word to our ears. God has a word for you this weekend!

Show your support, add your comment now...
Next Page »