Help For Interpreting Life

Have you noticed that if you get around negative people that you can be tempted to start talking negative also? Same thing happens when you get around positive people, by the way (thank God for that). Or, if you watch movies with vulgar language, those words might come to your head next time you hit your shin on the end table leg. And, if you read romance novels constantly, you might think your husband is a total bore.

It struck me the other day that by reading the Bible, my view of the world gets impacted. Like when I read about the value of life, how God formed me in the womb, had purpose for me before I knew it, then it makes the thought of abortion (especially late term) almost intolerable. I want to cry out against the injustice of the unborn that have no voice, but should.

I find that I need this clear, wise, voice in my head to combat all the competing unwise, and often hypocritical voices all around me. I’m thinking the same thing applies to you. If left unchecked, we can begin to be influenced by the loudest, strongest, and closest voices to us, that may not necessarily be right, wise or good.

Paul writes in 2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

What in your life needs corrected? Do you still have an awareness of right or wrong? How might God’s Word help you be able to identify what is true?

Don’t just get into the Bible; let the Bible get into you.

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The Power of a Pre-Decision

Last weekend, during my introduction, I mentioned reading several books on my recent break and that one of them focused on change.  I thought I would take some time to unpack some of the thoughts from Change Anything.

One of the initial factors identified, concerned itself with interrupting your impulses by connecting with your goals during crucial moments.  Another way that I have talked about this is “pre-deciding” before the time you have to decide.  In other words, before you get in backseat of the car with him, before you pull out your credit card, before you order your food, you decide ahead what you will do.

You say to yourself, “When it comes time to order, I won’t get what sounds good, I’ll order what’s healthiest.”  Now, this doesn’t mean there won’t be a struggle and challenge to do the right thing, but it does give you extra strength going into the situation because you have an inner resolve.

Growing up in church we used to sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”  It was like we were saying, “I am not going to turn around now matter what comes my way.”  So, whether you sing it, speak it, spray it, play it, or display it, be sure to decide ahead what results you want.

I have decided some things about today, I will move forward in faith, grow in my knowledge, stay pure, live a healthy lifestyle and serve my Jesus!  I’m ready for a great day, how about you?

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Revelation Explanation

Last weekend, I asked all my Crossroads family to read the first three chapters of Revelation and I’ve had some people asking questions.  So, I thought I would just use my blog and cover a few things.

First of all, did you realize that you are blessed if you read, hear and take to heart the message in Revelation?  Says so in Rev. 1:3.  That is an awesome promise!

Who are the angels and stars that are mentioned?  Most scholars believe these to mean the messengers of the seven churches.  This means that Jesus is holding these churches and leaders in His hand.  They are not sovereign, but under the authority of the One who paid the price for His church.  He walks among them and is very much concerned about them.  Just like He is still concerned and watching over His church today.  God is still the true leader over His church and it’s leadership.

What is the sword from his mouth?  The sword in Jesus’ mouth symbolizes the power and force of His message.  Even when Jesus walked the earth in human form, his voice had power to raise people from the dead and cause others to fall to the ground (John 18:6).  In Ephesians 6:17, we are told to take up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Back at the beginning of creation, God set things in motion through the power of His word.  True Christ-followers do not need to fear the words of Jesus, only those who will come under His judgment.  For them, it will be terrifying.

One has to keep in mind that much of Revelation is figurative language.  In other words, it most likely is not a true sword that will come from Christ’s mouth, but rather the power of His voice and words will be like a sword of spiritual power upon His enemies.  Also, consider how tough it would be for a man of 2,000 years ago (John) to write down the incredible things he was seeing.  How could his ancient mind even wrap itself around all that he was experiencing?

You might also notice the repetition of the number seven throughout the Bible, as this is the number of completion.  Though it is used over 50 times in Revelation and over 700 times throughout Scripture, we must be careful not to overemphasize it by attaching symbolic meaning in each instance.  Sometimes a seven is just a seven, especially if Scripture is not explicit about a meaning.  However, there are times, it seems, that God is communicating the idea of divine completeness, perfection, and wholeness.

I hope that by reading these first three chapters, you have allowed the Holy Spirit to speak a new, fresh word into your spirit.  Perhaps one of these seven messages is meant for you today so you can “hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

 

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Get Fired Up

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Events, Friendship, Personal Growth by PCraig on August 13, 2015
I think many of us tend to underestimate the value of inspiration and what impact it has upon us.  Studies have been conducted that show a connection between inspiration and increase in well-being.
There are outside sources of inspiration that cause us to feel better about ourselves, connect more with God and gain a feeling of confidence.  I gained some of this just this past week by attending a conference put on by the Assemblies of God.
Here were some things that brought inspiration to me during the past week:
Sermons/Talks given (One by Christine Caine was awesome)
Worship (especially the night with Kari Jobe)
Getting with friends (saw people from college days – what fun and laughs!)
A change of scenery (love looking at palm trees sway)
Reading books (I read 4 1/2 books over the week)
These are a few things that got my fire going and lit me up with new and creative thoughts.  Thing is, I don’t have to go way off somewhere to have this happen.  I can get inspired right here in my office and in our worship services each weekend.  So, the question is, what inspires you and what are you going to do about it? Go to a bookstore, meet a friend or mentor, attend church this weekend, or head outside for a walk?  Let’s get fired up!
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What’s In You?

Posted in Change, Deliverance, Pursuing Jesus, Victorious Living by PCraig on June 19, 2014

How do you break the power of bad habits and hang-ups in your life, especially those that you have dealt with for years and have tried to overcome to no avail?  Maybe you’ve used various methods that worked for others but they didn’t work for you.  Is there anything else you can do?

I was reading in Colossians chapter one yesterday and was reminded of how God’s power can work in us.  Paul writes about “Christ IN you, the hope of glory” and how HIS (Christ’s) energy…so powerfully works IN me.”  Many people try will power, positive thinking and meditation to attempt to win the internal battle for control.  I think all of those things can be effective, but what if they aren’t?  Is there anything else you can do?  I believe this is where Christ’s power working IN us can help us do what we could not do before.

I’ve known people who had alcohol, drug and sexual addictions that they could not break on their own.  But, one day, they tapped into God’s power and won a victory that could not be sustained before.

So, what are you battling today?  Addiction, habits, anxiety, disorders, lust….?  Whatever it is, why not tap into Christ’s power and let it powerfully work in YOU?  People who have battled these things for years have found freedom and deliverance through the power of Christ.  I believe the same can happen for you.

Get your Bible, read Colossians 1 & 2, confess verses 27-29 of chapter 1 over yourself this week.  You CAN be free!  You CAN lay down that addiction, habit or hang-up!  What Christ’s power has done in others, HE can do in YOU!

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Help For Weakness

Posted in Holy Spirit, Prayer, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 22, 2014

I was reading today how “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” in Romans 8:26.  Combine that with a book we’ve been reading as a staff and board called Overcoming The Dark Side Of Leadership by Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima in which it discusses our “dark side” or weak areas.  This made me think all the more about personal weaknesses and how they impact us and what we can do about it.

Are you aware of yours?  Some are probably all too aware as you struggle to put down the drink, stay away from certain websites, keep your tongue in check or attempt to avoid skewing information to others in a deceptive way (lying).

We each have weaknesses and I guess the first step is to be aware of them so you can guard that area.  But, secondly, it’s good to know that the very Spirit of God is ready, willing and able to help us in our weakness.

One of the ways this passage tells us that the Spirit helps is in our prayer time.  Have you ever wondered how or what you should pray?  Like, “Do I pray for this job to happen or not?” or, “Should I pray that we break up or stay together?”  Sometimes we just don’t know what is best.  In those times, the Bible says that the Spirit intercedes for us.

I’m going to encourage you to read Romans 8 and ask the Spirit to do what is promised, and pray for you and through you.  This experience could be just what you need to help in your weakness and overcome!

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Share Your Story

We just came out of an incredible time of revival as a church.  I heard so many great stories of how God used our 21 Day Fast, read through the New Testament and Scripture Journals.  Some have said that they are getting more out of the Bible than they ever have in all of their lives.  Others have said that the fast totally took them by surprise on how God used it.

Here’s what I would like for you to do, write and give a testimony of what God has done for you recently.   When I grew up in church, occasionally we would have testimony services in which people would stand up and share what God had done for them.  Well, this is your chance to give a testimony of what the Lord has done for you.

I’d like for you to comment back what God has done for you since the first of the year.  Just share how God used the Fast, the Scripture reading, journaling or a service or Life Group meeting to touch and impact your life.

Can I get a witness?  Just take a minute and write it down in the comments and let others rejoice with you in the goodness of God.  It will encourage me and everyone else who reads it.

 

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Getting Wise

Posted in Wisdom by PCraig on June 18, 2012

We just finished a short series on wisdom and one of my hopes is that it gave the hearers an appetite for God’s Word, specifically the book of Proverbs.

Here’s a truth: if you lack wisdom, the book of James says to ask God and He will give it liberally to you.  So, get busy asking God daily to fill you with His wisdom like Solomon did.

What else can you do to increase wisdom in your life?  I would suggest reading Proverbs over the next month.  There are 31 chapters in this book, therefore you can read a chapter a day and completely cover it in one month.

Be sure to have a writing instrument or device with which you can make notes while you read.  You never know what the Spirit of God may reveal to you while you are reading and you’ll want to have it written down for future reference.

You might want to get a partner to read along with you so you can compare the takeaways you get each day/week or end of the month.

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Ten Stupid Things

Posted in Books, Church Growth, Leadership by PCraig on November 18, 2010

Thought I would share another book report with a clever title: “Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches From Growing.”  Besides the humorous title, the book makes some very good points concerning what can hinder the advancement of God’s Kingdom through the local church.  So, you ask, “Craig, what are the ten stupid things?”  Here they are:

  1. Trying to Do It All
  2. Establishing the Wrong Role for the Pastor’s Family
  3. Providing a Second-Rate Worship Experience
  4. Settling for Low Quality in Children’s Ministry
  5. Promoting Talent over Integrity
  6. Clinging to a Bad Location
  7. Copying Another Successful Church
  8. Favoring Discipline over Reconciliation
  9. Mixing Ministry and Business
  10. Letting Committees Steer the Ship

 There are several things that God used in this book to get my attention, but the one I’ll share surrounds the leadership question.  Throughout the book, Geoff Surratt, refers to the importance of developing leaders.  The longer I am in ministry, the more convinced I am that this is essential.  You can’t grow past what you cannot sustain and you cannot sustain without leadership.  Our staff is spending hours talking about this topic right now and envisioning new ways to empower leaders in our church. 

 What is your next step in leadership?  Is God calling you to something bigger than yourself, but right now you’re too scared to jump?  What great thing might happen if you did?  Get positioned right now to hear God and obey His voice for what He wants to do through you in 2011.  How do you get positioned?  Shut everything else off and get alone with God, let Him speak, then get up and obey.

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What’s In Your Soup?

Posted in Books, Leadership, Relationships by PCraig on November 11, 2010

One of the things I enjoy most about cooler weather coming is soup!  How about you, do you enjoy hot things when it’s cool outside?  A recent book I read was called SOUP, and no it wasn’t about cooking.  It contained a recipe for success for anyone in any position, delivering a powerful message on how the quality of your career, business and team is determined by the quality of your relationships. 

Relational ties are crucial to success.  The author, Jon Gordon, makes the point that “people follow the leader first and the leader’s vision second.”  In other words, if you are not a person people will follow, the vision will never be realized.  He further says, “It all comes down to relationships.  You need to have great relationships with your team if you want to build a winning team.” 

The book makes many good points that are transferable to the church, business or living a successful life.  It’s a short fast read, but the points are worth mulling over for while.  Here’s a final question: what are you doing to nourish your soul?  Are you putting in the right ingredients into your marriage, career, ministry or life to get the results you desire?

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