Hearing God Better

Posted in Decisions, Perspective, Will of God by PCraig on October 5, 2017

I’ve never had the need to wear hearing aids, thankfully. I guess I just haven’t attended enough concerts! But, from what I understand, these devices amplify the sounds in your ear so you can hear well. What if we had some ways to amplify God’s voice to us, especially in regards to making decisions? What might some of those ways to hear God speaking be?

  • Get spiritually tuned in. One passage talks about God speaking in a gentle “whisper”. The only way to hear a whisper is to get really quiet and wait.
  • Go with what you know. God usually leads us a day at a time. He likes it that way because we’re more dependent upon Him. So, wherever you find yourself, look for the opportunities you do have over what you don’t have.
  • Get in an atmosphere to hear. Those wearing hearing aids don’t like rooms with many voices, because all of them are amplified, making it more difficult to distinguish. Get in an atmosphere where God often speaks, such as solitude, Scripture reading, worship services, godly friends and mentors.

The apostle Paul learned a secret about God while in the lonely confines of prison, after being arrested for preaching the gospel of Jesus. He said, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). We learn profound things when we are in better positions to listen.

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Why Your Words Are Important

Posted in Choice, Criticism, Encouragement, Marriage, Relationships, Words by PCraig on August 24, 2017

Some of us are external processors, some of us are internal processors, but we all talk a lot. One-fifth of your life will be spent with your mouth open. Is that insane to consider? Even more, that’s a lot of opportunity to bless and that’s a lot of opportunity to curse, according to James chapter three. And some of us are really over achievers when it comes to spoken, text, tweet, post and emailed communication.

It’s not surprising that God has something to help us with this area that consumes a fifth of our lives. James tells us to be “quick to listen and slow to speak.” I wonder how many marriages would be better today or even together today, if they put that one principle into practice? Proverbs 18:21 goes so far as to say that the “power of life and death is in the tongue.” But, before you discount that as extreme, think of recent bullying that has resulted in suicides and depression.

You and I weld a lot more power in our mouths than we give credit. The challenge is to direct that force in a good, positive and beneficial way for others and us. When a spouse gets all puffed up and raises their voice to set the record straight, all that may have been accomplished is lowering the quality of their relationship and complicating things further. Being loudest, most boisterous or cutting may win an argument, but it can lose the relationship. You may get someone to walk away, wave a flag of surrender or cower down, but you didn’t build anything along the way.

How do we get control of our tongue? James says it isn’t easy. As a matter of fact, he says it’s easier to tame an animal, bird or fish than it is to tame the tongue. Ever been to Sea World?

Here’s what James says can help:

Be slow to speak. Don’t speak first and think later, that’s a recipe for regret.

Be wise. Ask yourself: Is this is wise to say? Will this be beneficial?

So peace. If you can’t something positive, don’t say anything at all. Mom said that too!

Your words will steer your life in one direction or another. The cause for some not having a better marriage is in their mouth. Some don’t have the job you would like because you sabotage your self by gossiping at work.

We need more peacemakers in the world, and that requires being more in control of what comes out of our mouths. Let’s all start today!

*If you liked this post, join us this weekend for part 4 of Functional Faith as we discuss James 3 in more detail. You can also catch the podcast from our website next week: www.crossroadsavon.com

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Dreamweaver Video

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

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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!

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Who Am I?

Just this past weekend, we wrestled with the prayer of “send me.” We learned that one response to God’s call on our lives (our purpose), is to say “send someone else.” This is exactly the response of Moses that I’m reading in the One Year Bible again today.

Genesis 3 records the story of God calling Moses to be His voice to the people of Israel and representative to Pharaoh. The call seems bigger to Moses than his ability to pull off, so he tries to talk God into using someone else.

I wonder how many of us do the same thing with God. We feel He might be asking us to step into something bigger than what we’re currently doing, and rather than saying “yes”, we hesitate and try to justify our reluctance.

Moses said, “Who am I that I should go?”  We say things like, “They are much more gifted than me”, or “they have more money to give than I do” or “they have more time, I’m sure, than I do, so let them volunteer.” Do any of these excuses work with God? What happened when Moses stopped making excuses and started making commitments? He witnessed first hand, the incredible power of God using Him to free a nation.

What might happen if you stopped making excuses and started making commitments? The One that enabled Moses to go beyond what he believed he could do, is the same God today for you.

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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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Principles of Perseverance

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Decisions, Expectations, Faith, Perspective by PCraig on December 1, 2016

Last weekend at Crossroads, we were challenged by Randy Ruiz to not give up. He read from one of my favorite passages, in Galatians 6:9 where Paul says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Here are three main points that Randy made that I would like to remind all of us to put into practice each day:

1) I’m Not Going To Allow What I See – To Affect What I Know! All too often we allow what we see to determine our actions. Instead, what if you acted your way into faith? In other words, don’t see how it is today, begin to, in faith, act as though it is already done.

2) You Never Allow Your Present Situation to Name Your Future! Sometimes we allow what we are going through currently to dictate our future. History is filled with people who had every reason to believe they would never achieve in life, but they did anyway. Why? They didn’t allow their current conditions to forecast their future. (We know things can change as fast as Indiana weather!)

3) Israel Made a Permanent Decision Based on a Temporary Feeling. It’s sad when people act in the moment and quit a job, quit a marriage, or give up on their dream and then regret it later. Don’t allow what is a temporary discouraging season to cause you to make permanent choices in your life. Instead, let this be a mantra, “This too shall pass” during those seasons.

So many of you told me that you were encouraged by the message, so I trust this reminder will keep you running in the race!

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Seeking The Good Life

Posted in Finances, Generosity, Happiness, Pursuing Jesus by PCraig on November 17, 2016

Everyone I know wants to live the good life. But, for many, the good life is something we think will happen later. In other words, we haven’t gotten there yet. This translates into what I call, “when and then thinking.” The thought process is that “when” this happens, “then” I’ll be happy. The “when” can be making more money, hitting the lottery, marrying the right person, moving to a desired place. What folks are missing is that the good life is not something that happens to you, but something God does in and through you. It’s not based on the world around (that’s beyond our control), but rather has a foundation in a rich relationship with God.

Jesus warns us that money can actually try to be our master (Matt. 6:24). This is so crazy, because many of us think that if we had more money we would be freer. Yet, we know from talking to people with more money than us, that they still don’t feel they have enough. Somehow having more is not a sign of living the good life Jesus came to bring.

The remedy is found when we put our treasure in God’s kingdom. Jesus says that our heart always follows our money (Matt 6:21), therefore, to have a heart of peace, we need to invest in the things of God.

Here’s the guarantee, Jesus said if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then “all these things will be added unto you.” In other words, when we put God’s kingdom first, our hearts are aligned, and He provides our needs. Both of which lead to a very good life.

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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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