I’ve never been one to put much stock in dreams. Yes, I believe in having goals and ambition, but dreams have always been sketchy to me. Maybe that’s because I’ve had so many meaningless dreams after eating some late night burgers. I had a dream a some years ago that has made me believe that not every dream is nonsense. In fact, some dreams can actually be God revealing things to you. Let me explain.
Sometime in 2007, I had a dream that was so real, overwhelming, and revealing all at the same time. It came during a season of my life where I kept asking God repeatedly “What’s Next?” I sincerely believe that night, God showed me and I was not ready for that revelation. In fact, it’s a dream that I am still trying to process and live out to this day.
In my dream, God took me to the top of a high cliff. He said, “Ok Son, so you really want to see what I’ve got ahead for you?” I said, “Yes sir.” He said, “Well step up here and you’ll see all the lives your ministry will touch in the future.” As I stepped up and looked out over this cliff, there were people as far as the eye could see. The number of men, women, boys and girls were way too many to count. Every race and seemingly every tribe were represented. God said, “Your ministry efforts will help bring family after family together for my glory.”
I clearly recall waking up around 2a.m. in the morning and sitting up in my bed in total shock. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. This dream was so real and far bigger than I could handle. I was overwhelmed by what God was telling me he wanted me to do. I’m thinking helping all those families at once is simply not possible. I cried, I prayed, and just tried to settle down after this revelation that felt so real at the time. I woke my wife up and attempted to explain to her the reason I was so upset and out of breath.
Well, I never forgot that dream of touching countless lives and seeing families brought together. I did wonder at times if that dream was just all in my head or was it God speaking to me. I believe now fully that it was God revealing things to come.
Since 2010, I’ve come alongside hundreds of families who are grieving and anticipating the loss of a loved one. I’ve had the fortune of leading many of them to Christ and helping their families come together.
On one occasion I was doing a funeral at a nearby town alongside another pastor. It was his turn to speak before me. At the moment I was sitting on stage waiting for my turn to share a few words. As I looked into the crowd of people a few of them really caught my eye. As I looked to the left of the church there on the front row were a few faces that I clearly recognized from my dream a few years before. I could not even tell you their names if you asked, but that doesn’t matter. These were some of the exact faces and folks that God revealed to me through that dream years ago.
For a moment, I thought I was dreaming as I was clearly looking at faces of people God showed me in a dream over four years prior. I found myself having to talk this over with the other pastor after the service. I felt as if I was looking at ghost men and women.
As I take time to think back on the countless families I’ve dealt with over the last few years alone and the families I will still deal with I can’t help but go back to that dream. At this point, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to come alongside a few hundred families. Many individuals have found Christ either in a home, funeral service, or church. God has opened the door for me to write articles that go out to thousands of readers on the internet and beyond. My online sermons have been listened to by thousands. And, God is presently flooding Refuge Church with countless unchurched families.
Maybe you call it just a dream, but I call it a revelation. I have learned that God does speak through dreams. And, when God says He is going to do something through you, He will do just that in whatever way He chooses. Just wake up each day, surrender to God’s will, and let him lead every step of the way. God will do through you way beyond what you can ever dream or imagine. I pray each of us will live out our God given dreams!
“In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)
“Come As You Are” anytime to Refuge Church to hear Pastor Craig share God’s Word. Sunday services are 9:15am & 11am @ 203 Eddie Chasteen Dr, Walterboro.
Being a leader sounds good, but is never easy. Everyone wants to call the shots, but few consider all the shots a leader must learn to take and keep on trucking. If you’re a leader and want to be successful you must take the following five things to heart. These things can apply to parents, teachers, and other areas of leadership.
#1 Lead by example.
Many leaders lose all credibility because they don’t practice what they preach, they don’t operate with integrity, and they don’t go the extra mile themselves. People may doubt what you say, but they will always believe what you do. In order to lead others you must rise above the crowd and mediocrity. A leader is someone who is willing to move forward even if everyone else bails.
#2 Learn from your mistakes.
The longer we live the more we can recount our many shortcomings. It…
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I’ve seen so many marriages fall apart that I’m begining to think I”m abnormal for staying with my wife. It breaks my heart to watch friends, family, and even total strangers see their happily ever after come to an end. If you’re still married I pray you will read the following. 5 Reasons You Should Get A Divorce
#1 YOU JUST AREN’T IN LOVE ANYMORE
Let me see, you just aren’t feeling like you once did about your spouse. Back when it was just the two of you, life was fun, and you were crazy about each other. Well guess what you’re now a grown up. And, grown ups have bills, jobs, and responsibilities. And, its real easy to let those grown up things grow between the two of you. Maybe what you need to do is start back spending quality time with each other. You can’t expect anything from a relationship you don’t invest anything into. And, you also need to understand that love and lust are two different things. Lust is when we are attracted to someone which will fade with time. Love is a commitment to honor,cherish, and care for someone no matter what. Any relationship can grow stale and be in need of a tune up. Invest in the relationship you have before you start looking ahead.
#2 THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER
Satan has a field day with this one. You are convinced that someone will treat you better and be more perfect than the spouse you have. The reason you think that is because you don’t live with them and you don’t really know them. There are no perfect partners and there are no perfect marriages. Marriage is work and requires mutual commitment. I have sat down with so many people who have jumped ship only to look back and realize what a terrible mistake they made.
#3 GOD DOESN’T CARE ANYWAY
We throw around the word divorce like its a roll of toilet paper. If one relationship doesn’t work out we’ll just run to the next one. Yet, God doesn’t just say he dislikes divorce, but he says “I HATE DIVORCE.” Why because he created marriage to be a lifetime commitment. When you said those vows to each other it was a commitment to your spouse and to God. God does care about your marriage and he wants you to fight for it with everything you have inside.
#4 YOU’LL GET IT RIGHT THE SECOND TIME
Maybe you will, but if so you’ll be in a minority. Not sure of my statistics right now, but last time I checked 2nd marriages had even a lower success rate than 1st marriages. Why? Because people carry into them many of the same issues they never resolved in the past. Plus, those partners have to deal with the mess created in the past and the new mess they will create with their new spouse.
#5 YOU LOVE HEARTBREAK
I had someone recently tell me that she and her husband went through a difficult divorce. I said, “Mam, I’ve never heard of a not difficult divorce.” Every divorce is heartbreaking, family dividing, and chaotic in so many ways. Before you walk away and give up on your marriage you need to be sure you’ve done everything within your power to make it work. And, then I would personally suggest that you seek out some christian counseling. No marriage, I repeat, No marriage is not worth fighting for!
Now, for those of you who have already gone through a difficult divorce I pray God brings you healing and that your present relationships will flourish. But, for those of you who are still in this worthwhile fight called marriage please listen to me. God wants your marriage to work and with his help you can make it through any challenge.
Who would have ever thought my most popular article so far would be called “I Bought My First Six Pack.” It made its way to hundreds of computer screens, sunday school classes, and the newpaper. While that story is totally true, God taught me so much through a six pack of beer. As many of you know, I delivered some beer to a man I had never met back in October 2012 just as a way to break the ice between us. At that time, he was still undergoing cancer treatment, but right before Christmas he became one of my hospice patients. I helped preach this man’s funeral this past Friday afternoon. Here is what I learned from it all.
GOD CAN USE A BUD LIGHT
God can use anything he chooses to build a bridge of eternal opportunity. We need not get so hung up on the method, but stay focused on the mission God has given to every believer. It doesn’t matter how you go about it people need Jesus. If I were trying to rescue someone from a burning car I would go to any extent just to help that person get out alive. I wouldn’t care if I got dirty, if I impressed others, or if everyone around me agreed with my approach. Many are dying and headed to Hell and you need to do whatever it takes to make sure they know Jesus.
THE CHURCH HAS TO GET OUTSIDE
Listen, many people like this man are not coming to your church. You can build beautiful buildings, have great services, and even put up big signs. People outside the church could care less what we are doing on the inside of our churches. These people are lost, clueless, and going on about their business. The only way you will reach them is to go where they are. Show me in the Bible where it says “Go and invite people to church.” No, it tells us to go out where they are with the good news of the gospel. Jesus hung out with lost people, sinful people, and those living out in the real world. He met them where they were with a message of hope.
TIMING DOES MATTER
I still remember God tugging at my heart saying, “You’ve got to go check on this man who has cancer.” From what his wife told me it did not sound like he knew Jesus. And, God was moving in my heart to go and do all I could to change that. All I did was show up at his house, strike up a conversation, and tell him about the hope I had found in Jesus. Two hours later he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Two and half months later he died and fortunately was ready for his eternal transition.
THE GOSPEL HAS POWER
I would like to say I gave some great speech that day. But, I really just delivered some beer, talked about life, and then shared with this man the life changing gospel. I informed him that God loved him so much he sent his only son Jesus to die on a cross for his sins. That because Jesus died, was buried, and arose from that grave he could face even death with hope. I simply presented what God’s word says to us all and this man chose to accept that message. At that very instance he believed in Jesus, his eternal future changed. In his own words, “I now have hope and I now have a future no matter what.”
PEOPLE CAN’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE NEVER TOLD
This man was a very nice and approachable gentleman. This man had many friends who were church people. But, for some reason no one had ever took the time to make the gospel clear and to make sure this man knew Jesus. This grown man needed to hear the truth put in simple language so that he could decide for himself what he would do with Jesus. Thank God he chose to accept him, trust him, and put his eternal hope in Him.
Now, most would have looked at this man and said he has plenty of time to live. But, the truth was when I met him he was just two months away from meeting his maker. During his funeral I just sat there in awe of how God used a simple man, a simple gospel, and brought hope to an entire family. My friends God has called us all to be “Bud Lights” to a dark world. To carry out into a lost world the life changing message that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one will ever enter into Heaven without knowing Jesus personally and receiving him into their hearts. Personally, I can’t wait to deliver my next six pack or whatever God tells me to do that I know can lead to eternal hope for someone.
14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”[ (Romans 10:14-15)
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.
What if 2013 was the last year you had on planet earth? Let’s suppose your doctor after studying your test results looks at you and says, “I’m sorry, but based on what we’ve discovered you have only a year or less to live.” No doubt this revelation would change the way you approached this life. Trust me, as a hospice chaplain and minister for nearly 20 years this kind of news is always life changing. I’ve observed countless folks who just discovered this kind of news and it’s always life changing.
I love the song “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw. However, if I knew death was near I would not be making plans to go sky dying, rocky mountain climbing, nor would I care about riding some bull. Forgive me if any of those things are at the top of your bucket list. Here are some things that would probably top the list for each of us if we thought this year was our last.
#1: I would THANK GOD FOR EACH DAY.
Usually when I ask a person who knows they are dying, “How are they doing?” There reply is, “I’m just thankful God woke me up!” You see, they are truly thankful for each breath and another day on planet earth.
(Psalm 118:24) “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.:
#2: I would PREPARE TO TRANSITION.
I still can’t believe the words of a 103 year old man who lives in an area Nursing Home. I asked him, “What do you think happens when you die? He replied, “Hadn’t even thought about it.”
I said, “Sir, I think once a person reaches a hundred it’s about time to start thinking about life after death…don’t you think?”
“I won’t care, I’ll be dead” he replied, to which I responded, “But, sir you will care…because we are each made to live eternally. The only question that remains is where we live eternally. Heaven or Hell.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:11) “…God has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
(Hebrews 9:27) people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
#3: I would MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT.
I’ll never forget one of my sickest hospice patients looking me square in the eyes and saying, “Pastor, I’m more blessed than you.” I replied, “How is that sir?” He said, “Because I know how to live like I’m dying. I seek to make the most of every moment.”
(Ephesians 5:16-17) making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
#4: I would VALUE RELATIONSHIPS.
Never heard any man or woman tell me this at the end of their life, “I spent way too much time with my friends and family.” Or,“I wish I would have spent less time with my family and friends.” It’s always “I wish I would have spent more time with those I love.”
(1 John 4:7-8) “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God…”
#5: I would SEEK GOD’S WILL WHOLEHEARTEDLY.
Do you know what I think is one of the greatest problems with professing Christians and therefore the church today? Very few are living with a true sense of urgency….Very few are wholeheartedly seeking God’s will.
(James 4:13-17) 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
#6: I would LIVE WITH ETERNITY IN MIND.
If you’re like most, you got a lot of stuff this Christmas. Two days after Christmas, I visited with a man who only has weeks to live and I asked him if he had a good Christmas.He said, “Yes, I think so. I got a few things, but I haven’t gotten around to opening any of them.” Over on the bed next to him was a stack of “Things” wrapped in boxes and gift wrap. Those things really didn’t have a lot of value to this man at this time in his life.”
(Matthew 6:19-20) 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
#7: I would WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
I have a patient who just drew his last breath this past weekend. I find it amazing that every time he woke up the last week of his life he spoke one recurring theme. He says, “Pastor, I just want to touch one more life. I just want to make a difference in one more life.”
(Matthew 5:16) “Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
My friends we all only get one dash between when we are born and when we will die. Either we live in such a way that matters or our dash on this earth will be wasted. My prayer is that this article will inspire you to live this year as if it were your last. You don’t need a doctor or a preacher to tell you that you need to live each day as if you’re dying. Now, go make 2013 the best year of your life!
Great turnout for our cookout/vision interest meeting tonight. I’ve posted this for those of you who weren’t able to join us, but still planned to be involved! Here are the actual minutes from what I shared at the first meeting. God bless and please keep this all in your prayers!
January 6th, 2013
As several of you know, I’ve waited some time for this day.
I’ve actually talked about starting a church here in Walterboro as far as back as five years ago.
There was a time when I thought we would put a GracePointe Campus here….but I guess that was not meant to be.
Over the last two years especially I have processed and prayed about this matter many times over but for whatever reason I just didn’t feel led that it was God’s timing to move forward.
Over a month ago, after concluding that God would have me stay right here in Walterboro and after seeing the great need for a church reaching the unreached, I am now 100% sure that God has called me to plant Refuge Church.
I’ve prepared some handouts for you that further clarify “Why I’m Starting Refuge Church,”
and “How Refuge Church Will Be Different.”
This afternoon we’ve not gathered to just start a church, but to start a movement that is going to have impact beyond our wildest dreams. It is a movement towards reaching out to the countless unchurched and lost throughout Colleton County, Dorchester County and beyond.
But, right now, let me explain where we are at this point…..
Starting a new church is not as simple as just finding a building and setting a weekly worship time. Starting a church like Refuge will be take much PRAYER, PATIENCE, PERSISTANCE, & a whole lot of COMMITMENT.
For clarity purposes…I’m going to compare the birth of this church to the birth of a child.
When an expectant mother finds out she is pregnant she typically carries that unborn child in her womb for nine months because this gives that child the best chance for development before entering this world.
It has only been a month since God birthed into my heart a clear vision and call for Refuge Church. Since that time, God has been flooding my heart with things that need to be done and steps that have to be taken in order for this new church to not just survive, but thrive.
1. I need to invite others to join me on this journey.
2. I need to seek wise counsel from those who have failed and succeeded before us.
(I presently have two successful church planters who have committed themselves to be on my advisory team. Both of these guys have been and still are in the trenches of the challenges and changes new church works face.)
3. We need another healthy church to sponsor us. (A mothering church as they call it)
(not necessarily financially, but to provide us with much needed support when challenges come our way.)
4. We need to join a network of other churches that are similar in vision, strategy, and structure. -We will be a non-denominational church because we don’t want to create any barriers that might keep someone from attending.)
-Aimee and I have already gone through a training and assessment time with a group called Launch back in April of 2012. I will be having a meeting with the director of that organization on January 16th. (You can check out their website http://www.LaunchStrong.com). Launch partners with church planters all over the world to help them plant successful outreaching churches. There is also the potential of them supporting us financially once we approach the official launch date.
Here are some other things that need to happen next…..
Over the next month…
-We will work to become incorporated and obtain our non-profit status
(This will allow us to receive tax-deductible donations and be protected as a group.)
-I will be meeting with advisory team members, Launch (Church Planting Organization), and seeking a potential church sponsor.
-I will also be putting together a clear course of action for the months ahead.
Over the next few months this is how things could tentatively play out…
January- February-We will meet for monthly fellowships and make some road trips in between to churches that we can learn from their success.
–I plan on us visiting the following churches each of which are anywhere from 1 to 12 years old: New Spring Church (North Charleston), Freedom Church (Moncks Corner), Tidal Creek Fellowship (Beaufort), and The Journey Church (Summerville).
-We will visit these and possibly some other churches over the next several months. Each of these road trips will be followed by an optional lunch gathering.
In February (Time & Place TBA) will be another Vision/Interest Fellowship
where others will have opportunity to join us. This will be followed by a time of commitment for all those who feel led to be a part of the launch and journey. At that time, there will be much greater detail given for the days ahead and we will each need to make a decision. As mentioned before, there will be no hard feelings for those who don’t feel called to go any further.
March (at the earliest)- We may start monthly preview services. We would rent out a facility that could accommodate our celebration event and child care needs. These would be great times to invite unchurched/lost friends/family/co-workers, etc. These times will help us learn how to work together, realize our future needs, and expose Refuge Church to the community.
March/April….Maybe even earlier we want to establish localized life groups. At the very least, one in St. George and one in Walterboro meeting once to twice a month….WE DON’T WANT SUPPORT GROUPS TO BE AN AFTER THOUGHT. These groups are critical!
May – August- We would continue with our monthly preview services, do some community outreaching events, light up our facebook statuses with Refuge Church buzz, get our website (www.RefugeChurch.org) up and running, secure a launch location, create a budget, make sure we have the staff and man-power ready to make a successful launch on Sunday, September 8th (This would be right after labor day which has proven to be a great time to launch a church.) *We would likely start a few trial services a few weeks prior to this launch date.
*Expect within the week to get an invite to our next event, which will be a church road trip….
And, as you go out to where you live, work, and play….BE JESUS TO THOSE AROUND YOU.
-Be sure to “Like” the Refuge Church, Walterboro Facebook page.
-If we’re not friends on facebook please friend request me.
–Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have. I want you to know that from this day forward, I will treat you like I’m your pastor. Let me know how I can pray for you! Cell # 843- 560-2508
Well, many of you have confirmed that you’ll be attending this Sunday’s Vision/Interest Cookout for Refuge Church. I can’t wait to see you, your family and friends. I have prayed and processed for some time leading up to this event. Just want you to know the following before you come this way….
#1: I appreciate your support. Even if you don’t come back and God doesn’t lead you to be a part of this new work. It means a lot that you think enough of my heart and leadership to take time to listen. I promise, there are no strings attached to this event.
#2: Please bring your family. Your kids are a part of you and there will be plenty of other kids for them to play with. Hopefully the weather will allow all of them to have some big time fun while the adults have a blast as well.
#3: Don’t over think this event. Whether you’re single, divorced, young, or old you will be welcomed. Refuge Church is all about reaching people just like you. Trust me, Satan loves to put all sorts of untrue thoughts in our minds to keep us from our destiny.
#4: You need a church family! If you aren’t involved in a church right now you need to join us. What better time to get back on track than early into this new year. This is a new year and can be a new you!
#5: This is a God thing. I”m not trying to see how many people I get to a church, but I feel God has called me to gather an army of people who are serious about making a difference. This will not be just another church and that I can’t promise you!
If you are reading this and already have a church please keep us in your prayers. Pray for this upcoming event and for God to have His way in Refuge Church!
Here is my 9 year old son’s letter for Santa fresh off the press!
“Dear Santa, I love you so much. You are my biggest hero! I think you should give all my presents to kids who need them more. I’m trying to be just like you and share just like you and share the Christmas spirit just like you. I love you…..Merry Christmas.
*Nothing profound here, but speaks volumes of his little heart!
As most of you know, I have four boys ages 16, 14, 12, and almost 6 years of age. Of course they look forward to seeing what Santa and others will bring them this Christmas. The older I get the more I feel things have really got out of hand. It seems that people everywhere act like it’s the end of the world if their children don’t get everything they’ve put on their Christmas list. SERIOUSLY???? Here are some things I’ve learned…
#1 You would never know times are hard. People during this time of year still spend money like its water. Even before now, Aimee and I have always operated off a budget for Christmas and have resisted the urge to think our children must have everything off their wish list.
#2 Your child won’t die if they don’t get that…new phone, flat screen, or lap top. No, there is nothing wrong with them having those things if you can truly afford them, but don’t act like them not receiving those items is going to destroy them. If them not receiving a certain gift is that big of a deal you’ve got much bigger problems.
#3 The more they have the more they want…..Buying more and more stuff for your children just creates a monster. Trust me I have seen this with my own kids in the past. Kids can easily have a sense of entitlement and grow to believe that money does grow on trees. They need to learn the following as early as possible in this life….WE DON’T ALWAYS GET WHAT WE WANT.
#4 If you can’t pay your light bill you shouldn’t buy it. Many people who tell me they can’t even pay their basic bills spend four times as much as we do on Christmas gifts. Sometimes you just need to be honest with yourself, your children, and responsible with the money you have in the bank. If you broke, you broke. The most important things in this life can’t be bought with money anyway.
#5 Christmas should be a joyous experience, not a stressful event. Christmas should be seen as the most wonderful time of the year. A time we celebrate hope that entered the world through the birth of a tiny baby. Jesus is a gift that we should celebrate daily and share daily. Its truly the gift that keeps giving to all generations.
Before you flood me with hate mail or think I am trying to steal your Christmas fun understand I am just like you. I want to be able to give my children everything, but I can’t afford it. I would love to make all their dreams come true, but I can’t. I love the thrill of Christmas morning and the giving of gifts. But, I want to make sure that I always keep these things in perspective. At the end of the day the greatest gifts I could ever give my kids is Faith, Hope, and Love. These are gifts that will always maintain their value and keep giving way beyond any gift under the tree. Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!
It’s been said for years, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” Most of us will gather with family and friends this Christmas season. Some of us will do so out of a sense of obligation and others will look forward to gathering near. Someone reading this now is dreading their family gathering, but I hope you’ll keep reading. I would like to share with you four things we should all keep in mind as we come together with family this Christmas. .
#1 BE THANKFUL YOU HAVE FAMILY
On Christmas day places across the country will be filled by those who feel they have no one to celebrate with this year. The feeling of loneliness and abandonment will lead many to feel very depressed. Crazy or not, if you had no family to gather you too would feel abandoned, lonely, and more than likely depressed. If you have two or more family members that you will celebrate this Christmas with thank God for that blessing.
#2 MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME TOGETHER
This is true about many things in life, “It’s all what you make of it.” Yes, some may be loud, obnoxious, boastful, bossy, ungrateful, and completely self-centered. Guess what? You don’t have to join them. Bring with you love, gratefulness, peace, joy, and good news. Bad attitudes are contagious so fight the urge to join in the negativity party. Christmas is all about peace, love, and joy. Do your part to bring life, love, and laughter as you meet together with those family members you don’t get to see very often.
#3 TREAT IT LIKE IT COULD BE YOUR LAST
My heart breaks as I see families torn apart daily. My heart also breaks as I know personally of several people who will for certain be spending their last Christmas here on earth. Those families will wake up Christmas morning just thankful for one more breath and time together. None of us know what tomorrow will bring. And, for sure none of us know who might never gather around the family table again. When you come together this year treat it like it might be your last. Give everyone a hug, tell everyone you love them, and be thankful for everyone’s presence. I promise you will miss your loved one when they are gone even if you haven’t always gotten along.
#4 REMEMBER IT’S NOT YOUR PARTY
Amidst the ribbons and bows, boxes, and gifts it is real easy to forget who we are really celebrating. The only reason this Christmas Day exists is to remember the birth of little boy named Jesus. When this child was born hope entered the world. Over two thousand years ago, God gave us all the greatest gift we could ever receive. John 3:16 say, “For God so love the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” On Christmas Eve, our family lights a baby Jesus cake, reads the Christmas story, and takes time to remember the real reason for the season. I hope you and your family will join us in remembering it’s not our party. We are just blessed to be invited!
Growing up as a child I never fully understood why my Grandma struggled so much to get in the Christmas spirit. She would say things like “I might not even put up a tree this year” or “I might not even get out a single decoration this Christmas.” I had no idea why she wouldn’t be thrilled especially during the happiest time of the year. Years later I realize that after she lost her youngest daughter to cancer things just weren’t the same for the holidays.
I bet many of you reading this can so relate to my Grandma’s holiday blues. You miss so much that person you thought would always be a part of your life. You have never gotten used to living without them and you feel you never will. You miss their smile, their hugs, and especially their presence. You know the holidays will come…
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Being a part of Hospice has helped me put life into greater perspective and learn to truly take one day at time. For every family we’ve had the opportunity to serve and for those I’ve had the joy of serving with I will forever be grateful. Here is a poem I’ve written for all my co-workers and friends that operate daily as God’s Angels.
We are God’s angels, many have said
“It means so much, when you stay by our bed.”
God sends us to homes, where people reside
There is always someone on their last earthly ride.
When people hear “hospice”, they often fear the worst
Our job is to show them how end of life care works.
We help them find comfort, quality and care
Even if they feel life is not always fair.
Everything we do and all that we say
Has much greater impact than we see today.
Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry
Sometimes we even ask God, “Why?”
We wish we had some kind of miracle ointment
Instead we prepare them for their final appointment.
Regardless your role in the office or the field
You do make a difference, that much is real.
So, don’t forget your calling or why you are here
There are too many people in need of you, dear.
When we all get to Heaven we will then understand
Why it was so important we kept holding their hand.
We are God’s angels with a very clear calling
To come alongside the weak and catch the falling.
Many know that I’m not that guy who is seeking to make a name for himself. In fact, I’m that guy that totally agrees with the experts who say, “If you can do anything other than start a church, go do it!” Why? Because I know personally it will take sweat, tears, patience, faith and is definitely a God-sized task. Here are 10 things that motivate me to action at this time…..
#1 GOD SAID SO…
My journey to this decision did not start days ago or months ago. But, I believe this was a part of God’s plans years before I was even born. After many sleepless nights, long conversations, and consistent prayer God has led me to know that His will is for me to start Refuge Church right here in Walterboro, SC.
#2 THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL…..
As a hospice chaplain, I meet new people every day all throughout this county and in surrounding counties. There is one thing I don’t need anyone to tell me…..unchurched and lost people are everywhere. Dealing with countless deaths I perform many of the funerals because most today have not even a slight connection to any area church. Most around us are “Harassed, Helpless, Sheep without a Shepherd.” As Believers we have something to offer and His name is Jesus.
#3 FEW ARE DOING ANYTHING…..
I’m not going to bash any particular church. But, most churches are set up for church people. They do preach God’s word, Love People, & provide encouraging words for those who attend their services. The problem is the people on the outside the church are not coming inside the church. Few churches have gotten the memo that the church must go to them. This simply means we must be a church that understands we have to put together a specific plan for reaching people otherwise we’re just gathering to get spiritually fat together. Sorry, if this offends anyone reading this, but the truth speaks for itself. There are over 150 churches throughout Colleton County alone and yet at least 30,000 out of 38,000 people don’t attend any of them.
#4 WE CAN MAKE A “BIG DIFFERENCE”
Anytime we are serious about loving people, lifting Jesus, and leading people to take up their cross and follow Him amazing things happen. If we continually throw out our fishing rods in the direction God tells us to we will catch a harvest that will blow our minds.
#5 DIFFERENT STROKES, DIFFERENT FOLKS….
Yes, there are churches on every corner, but most of them all look the same. We aren’t trying to be just another southeastern church, but a church that is filling a need that is not being met. There is not a doubt in my mind that Refuge Church by taking a much different approach to ministry can make a “HUGE DIFFERENCE”. Our simply ministry philosophy of Loving, Lifting, and Leading people to Jesus will be just what many unreached are looking for in a church.
#6 NEW CHURCHES REACH NEW PEOPLE
Effective church plants especially in recent years have proven that their impact can be huge. When a group of unselfish believers come together with one mind and one mission the sky is the limit.
#7 MANY ARE SEEKING
Every man, woman, boy, & girl on the planet has a God shaped void within them. Even if they don’t know it, everyone around us is seeking to know why God has them on this earth. Thousands are looking for someone to love them and a church that will embrace them where they are with the Hope of Christ.
#8 WE MUST SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY
As you read this, America is more broken than ever before. What better time to reach out to a lost and dying world than now! We can reach as many people as we will take time to love, lift, and lead.
#9 I’VE NEVER GOTTEN USE TO IT…I still have this written on the front page of my Bible. “Dear God, Help me never get used to men, women, boys and girls dying and going to Hell.” As long as I have breath in me and know there is something I can do to make a difference, I plan to die trying to reach out to another lost soul.
#10 I DON’T CARE TO PLAY CHURCH….
If you’re looking for just another Holy Huddle where you can do things your way Refuge Church is not the place for you. We will be serious about breaking down barriers that have been keeping people from church for years. We will not be operating hindered by church politics, denominational preferences, and doing things that only appeal to church people. We want to be the church, not just have church. Life is too short and uncertain for anything else.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but for sure a great top ten that motivates me to keep pressing forward!
Each of us process things differently in response to what’s raging within us and around us. Some pull away and others draw closer. Some are silent and others feel they have to get things off their chest. Some are paralyzed, while others are compelled to action. Some deal with things head on and others just want to run away from it all. Some rise to the occasion and others just crumble under the pressure. Some run to Jesus and others just get flat angry with God. Is there a right and a wrong way to deal with the pressures of this life? Probably! However, there are some things that are true for us all. Here is what I have learned by watching all kinds of people dealing with all kinds of internal and external stress.
WE ALL FALL DOWN
We all have a breaking point. We all have human limitations. We all fall down if enough junk is piled up on our chest and sitting on our plate. Yes, we were made in the image of God, but we are not God. We don’t have all the answers. We don’t have unlimited strength. And, we can’t handle alone all that life throws at us. Anyone who says they have it all under control is bound for a rude awakening.
(Isaiah 40:28-30) Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall;
(Romans 3:23) ..ALL …. fall short of the glory of God,
WE ALL NEED JESUS
Not just for hope in the next life, but for this life. Jesus is not just for people with greater weakness and self-esteem issues. Jesus was sent to this earth to save us, to heal us, to comfort us, and to carry us all through a world that once was hopeless. Jesus is not just a figure of our imagination, but is our only hope. Certain things can numb the pain temporarily. But, only Jesus can fill the deepest need within each of us with a peace and hope this world just can’t offer.
(Matthew 11:28) Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
(Isaiah 40:31) …those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Hebrews 6:19) We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
WE ALL NEED EACH OTHER
Many men and even some women have been raised to think we shouldn’t talk about our hardships with others. You know, it might affect our image and let people know we aren’t perfect. NEWS FLASH, there are no perfect people living on planet earth in human form. We all make mistakes, we all have stress, and we all have junk in the trunk. When you fall down and you often will….you have to make sure that you’ve surrounded yourself with others who can be there to pick you up.
(Genesis 2:18) The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? … Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
WE ALL NEED TO PROCESS THINGS
The person who holds things inside is like a volcano just waiting to erupt. Day after day things are pocketed and buried. These are things that need to be processed and worked through as soon as possible. The more time we allow things to linger the more they grow into multiple issues. Processing things with a trust friend, family member, or total stranger is healing to the soul. It may not fix a thing, but it will get some much need things off your chest. And, if you seek wise counsel you may discover some much needed insight as you seek to process those things weighing on your heart and mind.
(James 5:16) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
WE ALL NEED “HEALTHY” BOUNDARIES
I have seen firsthand that some people deal with more craziness than others. When your life’s plate is full be careful what else you put on it. When your mind is already on overload be careful what you listen to, watch, and expose yourself to at that moment. Part of maturing is learning balance and how to set healthy boundaries. Don’t allow everything around you or the people around you to dictate your heart rate, but proactively guard your heart and mind when possible.
(1 Corinthians 10:23) 23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
(Matthew 5:37) Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
*There is so much more that can be written on this matter. But, I simply seek to share what God impresses upon my heart at the time. I pray this helps someone in this joureny called life!
If you’re like most of us you find yourself just wanting to know why and how such a tragedy could have occured. This is an elementary school for crying out loud and most of the victims were 5 & 6 year old. A nation is in shock and countless family members grieve deeply as we all stand in disbelief. Unfortunately we aren’t dreaming and this really did just happen. Now, what? Where should we go from here?
Unfortunately those directly involved in this tragedy have a lot more to deal with right now. The invasion of their school, the killing of six great leaders, and the mass shooting of 20 precious children. It will take way more than a counsel session and new gun laws to comfort these folks. Nothing apart from God’s continuous comfort and healing can help those folks. But, what about us what can we take from this event? What should we do in response to this horrible day we all wish could be erased.
#1 FALL ON YOUR KNEES….
If the spirit of God lives within you then your heart should break for what is going on around this world. Everywhere we look there is tragedy after tragedy. Every time we think we’ve heard it all another story develops like this one. Earlier when I first heard the news I immediately felt the need to pray without ceasing for the family and friends of every victim. There is nothing I can physically do for them at this time. But, they desperately need God’s comfort, strength, and peace right now. And, I need the peace of knowing that I’ve placed everything in God’s hands.
(Philippians 4:6-7)(NIV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)(NIV) “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
#2 REPENT OF YOUR SIN
This is actually the first thing you need to do if you expect your prayers to make it past the ceiling. If you are willfully and knowingly disobeying God in any area of your life you are living in sin. God will not bless your sinful behavior. It doesn’t take a bible scholar to know that this country has turned its back on God, created its own value system, and completely taken God out of all decision making. Sin abounds all around us and even within our own lives. Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. God will not bless a person or a nation that has willfully turned their back on God.
(James 4:17)(NLT) “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”
(James 4:7-10)(NLT) “ So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”
#3 SURRENDER EVERYTHING
The true sign of someone who has made things right with God is someone who is surrendered to God. This is not a time to turn from God, but a time we should all turn everything over to God. Only God can clean up this mess. Only God can make sense of this madness. Only God can protect us from this evil and corrupt world. We desperately need God’s guidance, God’s healing, God’s mercy, God’s peace, and God’s strength to make it through these uncertain times. We need to literally give God the reigns of everything. Our family, our finances, our failures, our fears, and for sure our future. We don’t need more religious freaks in this world, but we do need more people who have truly surrendered their lives totally to seeking and doing the will of God our creator!
2 Chronicles 7:14-15(NIV) God says, “14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
#4 LIVE WITH URGENCY
It is time for every Believer to come off the bench. There are so many Christians who are asleep spiritually and who are operating with no sense of urgency. I tell people I don’t have time to watch CNN all day because there is too much to be done. There are people on every corner and street that need Jesus. 75% of our culture is completely disconnected from a local church and in need of spiritual support. They aren’t running to us, but we can go to them. I plan on loving like there is no tomorrow. I plan on sharing Jesus with others knowing they or I could be societies next victim. My friends it’s time to put aside our differences, our excuses, our complacency, and start living with a greater sense of urgency. Every minute matters and every soul matters. None of us know what tomorrow will bring.
(James 4:13-17)(NIV) 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
*My friends feel free to add to this list what God has stirred in your heart through this tragedy and time in America. Thanks for reading!
Not sure why I’m writing this blog. I guess just too much time on my hands as I’ve been cooped up in this house all day sick as a dog. Maybe it’s meant to do something for someone. Hope we all feel better soon.
You are not HEALTHY
When you aren’t healthy you can’t expect to feel at your best, operate at your best, and do the things you would do with better health. You have to be patient, get plenty of rest, and take necessary steps towards getting healthier.
You are not IN CONTROL.
I hate being sick and I don’t make a great patient. But, eventually I get over my little tantrum and embrace the fact I’m not in control and never will be!
You are not INVINSIBLE.
We are human, we are weak, and we are prone to break down at any time. Every time I’m sick I realize that I need to operate in my wellness as someone who could go down at any time. This means I must develop and inform those around me in case of my absence.
You are not IRREPLACEABLE
Some people like me at times think the world can’t go on without them. Then you get sick and realize that life does go on and others can step up in your absence. This is very good to know on any occasion as we all need to realize that the weight of the world does not rest on us alone.
You are not GONNA LIVE FOREVER
This body will eventually slow down, break down, and my life will come to an end. All I can do is make the most of the moments and strength I have each day. Everything I do in this life needs to be preparation for the next.
Parents = People who aren’t perfect, but are responsible for raising and taking care of another person. There is nothing that qualifies any of us for this God-sized endeavor called parenting. At the very same time we seek to help someone else grow up, we ourselves are still under development. Our children are highly impacted by our development or lack of development as people and as parents. So, how do I know when I’m failing my children? I’ve thought long and hard about this one and concluded the following…..
#1: We fail our children when we ….STOP GROWING UP….
You can’t take your kids somewhere you’re not headed yourself. Today, we have children raising children. And, I’m not just talking about teen parents. I know plenty of grown adults that still act like adolescents. No greater way will any parent fail their kids than when they fail to lead by example and grow up.Nothing will have greater impact on your parenting than the life you live before them. When we choose to act like grown children we will always have a hard time leading and guiding our children. We have to grow up, own up to our mistakes, and set an example for our children to follow.
#2: We fail our children when we…..WON’T ACCEPT OUR GOD- GIVEN RESPONSIBILITY….
Many have said, “Any man can be a Father, but not every father chooses to be a dad”. Being a good dad or mom hinges much on whether we embrace or reject our God given responsibility. God has blessed us with the opportunity to be called parents and entrusted us with the responsibility of raising another human being. We must do our best to grow up, get up, and lovingly lead our children to understand what life is all about. We must take responsibility of ourselves and take seriously the responsibility of training our children for this life and the life to come. Own up to your mistakes, embrace your God given assignment, and start parenting. It’s not easy, it’s not always fun, but it’s always worth it.
#3: We fail our children when we…..QUIT PARENTING
Many parents start out strong, but when things get tough they bail. Kids needs a parent that stays by their side, keeps keeping on, and sees them through the finish line! Parenting is a 24/7 job that can wear anyone out, but will always be worth every ounce of our energy. A parent must never stop loving, leading, or caring about the well-being of their child. This doesn’t mean you can fix all their problems, but it means you never stop parenting. Unfortunately, I have watched many parents quit parenting when their child needed them most. They claim it’s because they are too big to be told what to do. Listen, we all have to change our approach as time goes on, but your child will never reach a point where your influence doesn’t matter. A parent who has not quit on their child will go to any extent to show their unconditional love and exhaust every effort to guide their child’s steps in the right direction.
#4: We fail our children when we…….DON’T MAKE TIME FOR THEM
We live in a busy world. More and more children are being raised by the television, internet,Day Care, and an empty house. I know you have to work, but you also have to make time for your children. Just like you make time for other stuff you have to make time to invest and spend quality time with your kids. We know they grow up fast and today’s opportunities will not be around later. We all have to put aside the excuses, maintain balance and priorities, and make sure that we are weekly “making time” to be with and invest in the lives of our children.
#5: We fail our children when we…..THINK WE CAN DO THIS ALONE
I still remember that dad who said to me while I was a youth pastor, “What does Jesus have to do with all of this.” He was implying that faith and a relationship with Jesus Christ had nothing to do with what was going on with his son. My friends, your child’s faith or lack of faith has much to do with how they will handle adversity and deal with you. The same is true when it comes to your faith or lack of faith development. Until any of us have come under God’s authority we will always struggle with others authority. I can clearly remember wanting to listen to my parents because I knew and believed it was the right thing to do. Not only was it their request, but it was God’s orders.
Without God’s help your child cannot develop or become anything that will last. Without God’s help you can’t ever be the parent that God has called you to be to your son or daughter. There are a lot of things I don’t know, but this I’m sure of…… “I can’t even walk without God holding my hand.” God’s grace must cover my shortcomings. God’s strength must keep me going and growing. God’s spirit must invade my child’s heart and mine. And, God must bring the growth. “Some plant, some water, but God brings the growth.”
Do you feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster? Feeling on top of the world one moment and then right back at the bottom the next. Life throws a lot our way and it can feel very overwhelming at times. We can feel like we’re drowning, like there is no way out, and that we might as well not even try. Now, I can’t fix your problems, but God’s word does have some insight on dealing with them. These are things I meditate and ponder on daily to help me deal with the daily madness.
As long as you’re human, as long as you live on this earth, you will have trials. You will be tested to your limit. You will have heartache and pain. The person who wakes up not expecting to have tough times is in for a rude awakening. Life is not a walk in the park and this world is far from perfect. I never wake up asking God to make my day perfect, but rather I ask him to help me deal with the imperfect day that I know is front of me.
(John 16:33)(NLT) JESUS SAID, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
FOCUS ON THE PRAISEWORTHY
How has God blessed you? What is going right and still remains in your life. We all have things we don’t deserve and blessings that are always worth celebration. There is always something worth thanking God for in your life.
(Philippians 4:8)(NIV) Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS, NOT THE PROBLEMS
When all I see is my problems I feel overwhelmed, out manned, deflated and ready to quit. But, when my eyes are on my hero, my advocate, and my ever present help in time of need I am reminded that I have nothing to fear. It is not my job to question and solve everything, but to know that I can trust God with anything.
(Hebrews 12:1-2)(NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
DON”T OPERATE OUT OF THE FLESH
There are many times we want to say things we shouldn’t say, do things we shouldn’t do, and just have an “I don’t care attitude.” The flesh will only lead you down a dead end street and add further chaos and regret to your life. You can’t trust your feelings as they will change like the weather. This is why we have to be led by our faith, not our sight. Let God be your stabilizer, not your ever changing feelings.
(Galatians 5:16-17)(NIV) 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
REALIZE EVERY TRIAL HAS A PURPOSE
I used to try to get out of the fire as quickly as possible. I now realize that God is up to something as He uses all my adversity to mold me, develop me, strengthen me, and teach me to depend on Him alone. There is no doubt that God uses the tough times to help us appreciate the good times.
(James 1:2-4)(NIV) 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
STAY ON YOUR KNEES
Not literally, but spiritually speaking. Everything you face is bigger than you and can’t be handled alone. Great news, you’re not alone. In Christ we can call on our Heavenly Father anytime, anywhere, and for anything.
(Philippians 4:6-7)(NIV) 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
LET GOD, BE GOD
Best words I’ve ever been told as a pastor. “Pastor, There is a God and you’re not him.” I remind myself this daily and it helps me keep everything in right perspective. All I can do is my best and then I must trust God with the rest.
(Psalm 46:10)(NIV) He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Growing up as a child I never fully understood why my Grandma struggled so much to get in the Christmas spirit. She would say things like “I might not even put up a tree this year” or “I might not even get out a single decoration this Christmas.” I had no idea why she wouldn’t be thrilled especially during the happiest time of the year. Years later I realize that after she lost her youngest daughter to cancer things just weren’t the same for the holidays.
I bet many of you reading this can so relate to my Grandma’s holiday blues. You miss so much that person you thought would always be a part of your life. You have never gotten used to living without them and you feel you never will. You miss their smile, their hugs, and especially their presence. You know the holidays will come and go regardless, but you’re just not feeling in the mood. What can you do to move forward?
I deal with grieving people every day of my life. For sure there is no one way to grieve because every relationship, person, and situation is different. However, there are some things that others have found to be very helpful as they seek to get in the holiday mood.
First, expect to have trigger moments. Being overwhelmed by the loss of a loved one can come at some of the most unexpected time. You can fully expect to have times where you miss terribly their presence. Maybe you always went shopping together a certain time each year. Maybe they always cooked a certain recipe that everyone enjoyed. Maybe that empty chair at the end of the table on Christmas day makes you fall to pieces. Expect to have trigger moments especially if your loss is recent and you’re still embracing the fact they are gone.
Second, take time to celebrate their memory. Tears are not a sign of weakness, but how God has wired us to drain out the deepest of feelings. Grief is a process, not an event. Often times if you miss them so does someone else in your family. Why not take the time to share stories, laughter, smiles, and even tears as you think about the good times of the past? Many times surfacing the memory of a loved one is like ushering their presence into the room. That loved one who has passed will always be part of your life. Don’t ever think you have to bury their memory. Don’t think you have to run from your grief because it will run you down. Talking things over with others is always healthy, but keeping it all inside is never a good idea. Process your thoughts and celebrate their life.
Three, carry on with past traditions. Just because you’ve experienced certain changes related to their death doesn’t mean everything has to change. Both my grandparents died within four weeks apart from one another a few years ago. Our family is still adjusting, but we can still carry on and honor them by continuing traditions they started years ago. Someone else will have to make the Baby Jesus Birthday Cake for Christmas Eve that Grandma always made. We can take turns quoting the same old jokes my Granddad would have shared if he weren’t in Heaven. Pick up the torch, carry on with tradition, and be motivated by knowing they would hope their loss brought the family even closer together.
Four, realize change is unavoidable. Early into grief there may need to be at least a periodic change of location and traditions. Sometimes the grief is so fresh that you just can’t continue with business as usual. If you need to get away and do something fun, go for it. If this year’s Christmas gathering needs to be hosted by someone else and somewhere else let your loved ones know that it’s just too hard to carry on with normal traditions. A big part of grieving in a healthy way is proactively putting yourself in a position that allows you to move forward. There are many things related to grief that only get easier over time. Everyone is different and sometimes your heart is just too full to be around the sights and sounds of past normal events . I promise you this as one grieving lady told me. “In time, you will never get over it, but you will over time get through it.” It’s like learning to walk again one step at a time.
Lastly, Christmas will stir many emotions. However, it always brings with it the reminder of hope. In Christ, that loved one who has died is no longer in pain, instead they’re in paradise.(Revelation 21:4) says, In Heaven, “There will be no more sorrow, pain, or crying for the old order of things has passed away.” Through Jesus Christ, you will able to see your loved one again when your time on this earth is done. (John 14:1-6) In Christ, we are able to find comfort that God is and always will be here for us. (John 14:16) That baby in the manger was more than just another birth, but brought hope to the world. God is with us and He will help us get through this tough holiday season. This Christmas and every one to come gives us reason to celebrate our forever Hope in Jesus Christ.
(Hebrews 6:19)(NLT) “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.”
There are so many aspects of dying that go far beyond just taking your last breath. One of those things is making peace with those you love and who love you dearly. I’ve said many times that death will either scatter or gather a family. Fortunately, I often get to be a part of seeing families come together as patients near the end of this life. Let me share with you one encounter.
We all know that divorce can be ugly and especially when kids are involved in the separation. Many families are never the same after this type event and some families live the rest of their lives bitter, broken, and in desperate need of closure. The patient I was seeing at this time was drawing close to the end. Although still able to communicate, this man was listed day to day. I knew that it was long overdue for someone to contact his children and give them all a chance at finding peace.
This man had been divorced for well over thirty years. Only one of his children had remained in contact with his dad. Two of his boys had not even spoken with him in nearly twenty years which blew me away. All of this man’s kids now lived quite a distance from their father. The patient had grandkids he never met and kids who never heard “I love you” in their life. As I gathered phone numbers I prayed that God would open their hearts, tear down existing walls, and bring this broken family together.
The patient actually told me that I shouldn’t even bother with contacting his boys because none of them cared to talk with him and never would. I told him that he needed to realize his children were now grown and probably longed for a relationship with their father. The patient at least gave me his blessing to attempt getting in touch with his now grown up kids.
My first call was to his youngest son who really never spent any time around his father because he was so young when the divorce took place. By this man’s bedside I listened as a grown man made his first real connection with his grown baby boy. It was as if they had known each other all of their life. They both said, “I love you” and that they were sorry they hadn’t spent more time together. The smile on the patient’s face was priceless as he felt all of the past was forgiven and at least right with one son.
My next call was to a son that had a lot of harbored bitterness, resentment, and anger towards his dad. The patient told me he knew this son would not talk with him and would likely not answer the phone. He was right, no one answered and no one called back that day. I left a message something like this, “Hey my friend, this is Chaplain Crosby with Amedisys Hospice. Just wanted to let you know that your dad is very close to passing away and I thought you might want to talk. Your dad realizes he has made a lot of mistakes and would love to hear from you if at possible.” I’ll never forget that night he called. He was like, “Are you serious, my dad wants to talk with me?” I thought the patient would pass out with joy as he now had connection and closure with each of his boys. After years of silence, misunderstanding, and waiting for the phone to ring they were all reunited as a family.
This man’s oldest son told me he waited all of his life for this to happen. He said, “I’ve always loved my dad, but there was so much between us. Now, we finally have the past behind us and we’ve cleared the air once and for all.” I felt so blessed to see the power of forgiveness at work in this family’s life. After over thirty years of misunderstanding, God put things back together in just two days.
My friends, don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Life is too short to hold on to the past and not make things right with those around you. As I saw and heard first hand there are no more liberating words for anyone involved than “I Forgive You.” Do you have someone you need to call, write, or visit? If so, don’t wait until you’re on your death bed to make things right. “Tomorrow is not promised and today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.”
There are times when we all, feel alone in this life. Through heartache, pain, and all sorts of strife.
We feel so abandoned, and out of control. We can barely see light, at the bottom of the hole
We pray without ceasing, but worry much more. We don’t have the strength, to pick ourselves off the floor.
What can we do, and what can we say. We would do anything, to have peace come our way
Then we see Jesus, with his arms open wide. We’re reminded that He, has never left our side.
We have been here before, and we will be here again. Where we realize Jesus, is not a fair weather friend.
He has proven and promised, to always be there. Regardless if life, ever, ever seems fair
As the tide rolls in, whether low or high. Remember that God, is not just there in the sky.
His Spirit is with us, and His presence is near. As long as God is with you, there is nothing to fear
Our emotions will fool us, and make us feel at our end. But God will not leave, nor forsake us my friend.
God is always with you, from beginning to end. And regardless what happens, His Goodness won’t end.
Being a leader sounds good, but is never easy. Everyone wants to call the shots, but few consider all the shots a leader must learn to take and keep on trucking. If you’re a leader and want to be successful you must take the following five things to heart. These things can apply to parents, teachers, and other areas of leadership.
#1 Lead by example.
Many leaders lose all credibility because they don’t practice what they preach, they don’t operate with integrity, and they don’t go the extra mile themselves. People may doubt what you say, but they will always believe what you do. In order to lead others you must rise above the crowd and mediocrity. A leader is someone who is willing to move forward even if everyone else bails.
#2 Learn from your mistakes.
The longer we live the more we can recount our many shortcomings. It doesn’t matter how many times you have fallen down, but you must learn how to get back up. Mistakes can be road blocks or building blocks. Don’t live in the past, but make sure you learn from the past. Learn from your experiences and for sure learn from your mistakes.
#3 Look for teaching moments.
Everyday things happen and life is full of lessons. When dealing with the highs and lows look for teaching moments. Instead of allowing the situation to scatter your team allow the situation to bring you all closer together. Evaluate, discuss, and use what life throws your way as an opportunity to grow.
#4 Lift those around you.
The longer I live the more I realize the value of others. None of us can accomplish great things alone. We need others and we each have strengths and weaknesses. A good leader looks for ways to compliment the efforts of others, not just point out each other’s many faults. Leaders are developed, not born like some would say. You show me a man or woman that has great character and leadership and I promise you will find someone in their past who chose to invest and lift them to new heights.
#5 Listen to criticism.
This is my least favorite, but I know it is critical that I listen to the criticism of others. Listening to criticism will help you see where your communication may or may not be clear, your processes might not be working, and your approach to leadership may not be the best. As leaders we must learn to not take everything people say about us so personal, but allow what they say to contribute to our personal development.
*Just some thoughts as God continues to teach and mold me!
This is actually too big of question to answer in just one article, but I will make this as clear and simple as I can through this brief note. The following has nothing to do with what strategies or programs we will have at Refuge Church. Instead, this is about clarifying the vision that will make our efforts successful.
A few years ago my dad, my younger brother and I went fishing led by a professional fishing guide. This gentleman promised all his clients one hundred-fifty pounds of catfish in eight hours or you got your money back. While fishing I just had to ask him a question. I asked, “How is it you can guarantee so many fish will be caught under your direction? Don’t tell me that the other fishing guides don’t know how to fish.” He said, “That’s easy to explain my friend. Everyone else is fishing out of 25% of the lake. When I take you fishing I take you to the other 75% of the lake where the fish are everywhere, but few fish for them. As you can see we’re the only boat out this far right now. Yes, it might mean I have to drive an extra mile or two, but it’s where the majority of the fish are.
It was at that moment, I realized that this fisherman and I had something major in common. We both understood the importance of going where the majority of the fish live. Most churches are on top of each other here in the Southeast, but they’re also fishing in only 25% of the lake. The majority of churches around us are designed for church people, not lost people. Most of what they do is geared towards keeping church people happy not reaching out to the 75% of people who could care less what’s going on inside any of our churches. Refuge Church will be intentional about reaching out to the masses of people who don’t feel good enough to walk through the doors of a church and who need the church to come to them.
Refuge Church exists to LOVE, LIFT, and LEAD people to Jesus.
Any church that genuinely and intentionally does these things will make a HUGE difference, not just be different. You see, we’re not trying to look better than other churches or get people from other churches to come to Refuge Church. We are trying to reach out to the over 75% of our population who don’t attend any church and don’t plan attending one any time soon. Allow me to break these three critical elements of the Refuge Church mission statement down so that you recognize their importance. Everything we do will be done with the following three things in mind and in this order.
1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV) “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”
Mark 12:28-31 says “The two greatest commandments are to “Love God and to Love People”.
Many people don’t have a problem with Jesus, but they do have a real problem with the people inside of churches who say they love Jesus, yet don’t show a sincere love for them. Loving people doesn’t mean you agree with everything someone says or does, but it means that you genuinely care about people despite how they may act or operate in this life. Love is the key to opening many doors to even having the opportunity to share Jesus. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
John 3:14-15 (NIV) says… the Son of Man must be lifted up that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. We can’t fix or save anyone, but Jesus can save and change anyone from the inside out. We have been called by God to take “The Gospel” to everyone and everywhere. In everything we do people coming to know Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord will always be top priority. The gospel has power and only Jesus can save or change or a life!
(Matthew 28:19-20)(NIV) Jesus says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We can’t force anyone to do anything. But, we can lead them to know God’s word and discover God’s personal will for their lives. Through practical and biblical teaching we can help people see that there is a much better way to live, it’s called God’s way. People must be taught and shown by example how to follow Jesus in their everyday life.
Once a group of sold out believers in Jesus Christ come together and work together to love, lift, and lead people to Jesus, COUNTLESS LIVES WILL BE CHANGED!
Loving, Lifting, & Leading people to Jesus.
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 17 months ago that I stepped away from being a local church pastor. After being on church staff for nearly 18 years God led me to take a much needed break and reflection time. During my time away from the pulpit I was reminded of many things… a few that I will never forget.
One, I have been reminded that my family is and always should be my primary ministry in this life. God’s word makes it clear that a man should not seek to manage the household of God before he is doing a good job of managing his own household. During this time Aimee and I have drawn closer than ever before. I see the value of our partnership more than ever before. I also have enjoyed some much needed Daddy time with each of my four boys who are growing up very quickly.
Secondly, I have been reminded that once a pastor, always a pastor. It’s not just some position you hold in a church, but it stems from a clear calling from God I received during the summer of 1993. Fortunately, I have been blessed with the opportunity of ministering to countless folks over the last two years as a hospice chaplain. I’ve preached or spoken at over 100 funerals, I’ve come alongside countless grieving families, and I’ve had the joy of leading many dying men and women to Christ before their last breath was taken on this earth. I presently serve full time as a hospice chaplain at Amedisys Hospice located in Walterboro, SC. My position at hospice keeps me connected with hundreds of folks throughout Colleton County, Upper Dorchester County, and parts of Hampton and Beaufort Counties. This position provides me with a huge window of connection and opportunity. However, many of these folks still need a local church home.
Lastly, I have been reminded how desperately people around us need Jesus. The majority of patients and families I deal with have little or no connection to a local church. In fact, in Colleton County alone where there are over 150 churches only 8000 out of a population of 38,000 attend a local church. This means nearly 30,000 folks in Colleton County alone don’t have a church home and many don’t know Jesus. Since leaving GracePointe I have realized more and more how desperately this area needs a church made up of people who really care that 7 out 10 people around them are dying and headed to Hell if they don’t know Jesus.
My friends, after a long journey of healing, processing, and soul searching, God has led me to know for certain that it is time for a new church to be developed. A church that is not just different from all the rest, but truly making a difference. A church where your family, my family, and many other families can find a Refuge from the storms of this life. Now, there will never be a perfect church as long as we are all a part of it, but together we can make a difference in thousands of lives. If you are not already committed to another local church, live near Walterboro, SC and if you feel called to this kind of mission I invite you and your family to join me for a Vision/Interest Cookout.
On Sunday, January 6th (4:00p.m.-6:00p.m.) we will have a cookout located in Silver Hills Subdivision @ 114 Devon Court, Walterboro, SC 29488. Bring your entire family, an appetite, and open heart to hear what God has laid on my heart. I promise you that God is up to something BIG and I would love for you join me in this exciting movement. By coming to this meeting it does not mean you are committed or obligated to this endeavor. It just simply means you are interested and may possibly want to be a part of this new church development.(Please message me if you are interested, need more information, and especially if you plan to attend the upcoming cookout. You can keep up with all the latest news on our Facebook Page (Refuge Church Walterboro). Looking forward to seeing and reuniting with many of you.
God Bless You All,
Each of us are in the midst of a battle. A battle of the mind, body, and soul. Even believers in Jesus Christ face this battle and maybe in even greater ways. The good news is we don’t face this battle alone. Let’s look at some things we must always remember in order to stay on God’s course in this life.
#1: This World is not my Home.
*We long for things to perfect, but they never will this side of Heaven. God’s spirit living with us is just a deposit of things to come. The world around us is filled with sinners like you and me. There will always be disease, dissappointment, and evil. One day “There will be no more death, sorrow, heartache, or pain for the old of older of things will have passed away.” One day this life will transition into the next until then things will never be perfect. We must do what we can, while we can, to make an eternal difference in this life.
#2:My self worth is not determined by net worth.
We live in a society that grades us for the cars we drive, the houses we live in, and the money we have in our pockets.God sees things completely different and we must view things through His eyes. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” When you leave this earth you will take nothing you have in your possession with you. It won’t matter what house you lived in or how much money you had in the bank. What will matter is did you know Jesus, did you trust Jesus as your Savior & Lord, and did you live for Jesus.
#3: I will never arrive.
As long as I am flesh and blood, I am a work in progress. Yes, when Jesus comes into my heart and life things will change. But, everyday I will battle the flesh, I will always have areas in my life that need to change, and lessons I must learn. Until God calls me home I am God’s piece of clay and God is the potter. God continues to shape us, mold us, and make us into what He has called us to become. “We are God’s workmanship”..
#4: God’s in charge of the Report Card
Too often we are living to please the wrong audience. We follow the crowds by allowing the crowds around us to determine what is right, wrong, and acceptable in our lives. Yet, at the end of this life only what God thinks will matter. And, what God thinks about us, this life and the life to come can be found in God’s word which is our standard for living a life that matters. “Each of us will give account of ourselves to God.” Not only is it impossible to please everyone around us, but the people around you aren’t your God, your judge, or the ones who will give you your report card when this life comes to an end.
#5: You will die
Death is certain.We would all like to live forever. We wish death didn’t come to all ages and all people, but it does. Don’t wait to be told that you are dying before you start living like you’re dying. Life is short, death is certain, but your appointment to meet your maker is unknown to us. Live like your dying. Make sure that you are prepared to die shoudl that time come much sooner than expected. Live with eternity in mind so that your days on earth might be full and your reward in Heaven might be great. No, you can’t earn your way into Heaven. But, every second of your life is precious and what you do this side of eternity does matter. “It is a appointed unto man once to die and then the judgement.”
Well, these were just some truths found in God’s word that were running through my mind. Hope they renew your perspective, strenghten your faith, and help you live life to its fullest.
It’s that time of year again my friends. Along with the excitment of Thanksgiving and Christmas comes the exhaustion of the rat race most of us have associated with it all. Somehow in the midst of what should be some of the best times of our lives we find ourselves tired and just hoping to survive it all. Something has to change if this year is going to be any different. I believe monoriting the following three areas of my life will make a big difference in the coming days ahead.
I HAVE TO REST…..Anytime we run around like chickens with our heads cut off, seeking to play rescue ranger, and treating everything like its urgent we are bound for burnout. We can’t be there for everything and everyone and not expect to hit a wall. Trust me, I’ve hit this wall many, many times in my life. Even as I write this I do so realizing that one of the most underrated things in my life is the value of rest. Our bodies and our minds need rest and recovery time. I have to continually be re-charged if I am to have the strength to charge out into a world that never rests.
I HAVE TO KEEP THINGS IN “RIGHT PERSPECTIVE…..Boy do I feel strongly on this one. The holidays should be about bringing families together, reaching out to others, and realizing how much God has blessed us all so much. It’s not about the price of the gift, but the thought of the gift that matters. It’s not about impressing one another, but loving one another. It’s not about what we eat, but having everyone gathered together around one table filled with love and thanksgiving. In life, my perspecitve will have huge impact on my process. Don’t let the crowds of stressed out people around you dictate how you go about things in this life, but seek to keep everything in right perspective followed by right priorities.
I HAVE TO RECONIZE MY HUMANITY…..I don’t think I’m the only one that thinks at times he is super human. In my wishful thinking, I believe I can be there for everyone and do everything. Then suddenly I run into this wall called “REALITY”. I only have so many hours in the day. I only have so much strength. My wisdom is nothing compared to an all knowing God. In order to carry on at full strength I have to remind myself of my humanity. I can’t say “yes” to everyone and not burnout. I can’t be there for everyone and not wear out. I have to understand my limitations, my imperfections, and my complete dependence on God’s strength. I love the words of an old gospel song “I can’t even walk without Him holding my hand”.
Luke 5:16….says “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” I believe Jesus “The Son Of God” continued to recognize his humanity, allowing God to renew his perspective, and practiced daily the value of rest. This allowed him to stay on course with his God given mission in this life.
It’s usually around Thanksgiving that family members start requesting every child sends them a Christmas list. There is absolutely nothing wrong with gift giving and enjoying things you’ve been given. However, too many parents will spend hundreds of dollars on gifts for their children that will quickly lose their value.
What I’m about to share with you won’t cost you a dime, but I promise it will revolutionize your relationship with your kids. The earlier you implement these things the greater the impact. I’ve learned most of these from my 17, 15, 13, and almost 7 year old boys. No, they’ve not told me these things directly, but in many ways they have made these truths very clear. Here are some gifts every child needs from their parents.
#1 TIME. Nothing can replace time spent with your kids. We all know they grow up too fast and with each age comes opportunity. I really believe that if my kids had to choose between buying something they’ve always wanted and their “daddy being involved in their lives” they would choose the latter. Your kids need to know they are priceless, a priority, and worth your time. If you don’t spend quality time with them today don’t be surprised when they feel a million miles away from you tomorrow. Without time spent with each other you can’t expect to grow closer or to have much positive influence on their everyday life.
#2 ATTENTION. You can spend a lot of time in the same room with your child and yet never get to know them. Every child is unique and you can’t understand them until you give them your undivided attention. Ask them how things are going in their lives. Let them know their thoughts and opinions do matter. Give attention to what they say, what they do, and praise them every chance you get for their efforts and accomplishments.
#3 UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Kids live in a world full of people who size them up, critique every move, and only love them based on their performance alone. If you choose to be that parent who only appears to love your child when they meet your standards, expect your child to ultimately drown under the pressure. Your kids need to know they are loved no matter what they accomplish or achieve in this life. Too many parents are seeking to live vicariously through their children which only leads to resentment and disappointment. Your kids need to hear and see that no matter what happens in their life you will be there and they will be loved.
#4 GUIDANCE. The bible tells us that as we go through life we are to impress upon our children the way they should go according to God’s word. By they way, this always begins by being a living example. Now, most children don’t realize how much they need your guidance, but deep inside they crave it. A few years ago one of my boys ran into my room saying, “Daddy, aren’t we going to have our devotion.” We’re talking just 10 – 15 minutes of reading a scripture, a short story that illustrates that scripture, and then a closing prayer. I can see it in my boys’ eyes anytime I take time to listen, to love, and to guide them in the way they should go. My children need me to lead them with God’s absolute truth in a world full of uncertainties and unknowns.
#5 FAITH. Faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation that all healthy families are built upon. Only faith can keep mom and dad together. Only faith can keep everyone in the house on the same page. Many speak about God, but few choose to put their faith in God. As we open the pages of God’s word we either read those words for entertainment or we apply them by faith. As a man, as a husband, and as a dad I must never think I am self-made. I’ve got to trust God for everything and through anything. A family not resting on a solid foundation of faith is bound to crash it’s just a matter of when this happens.
(Deuteronomy 6:7-8) “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Join Pastor Craig @ Refuge Church on Sundays 9:15 or 11am. They are located at 203 Eddie Chasteen Dr, Walterboro. Your family will always be loved and encouraged. Come as you are, Never leave the same!
I grew up in church all my life. I recall that there were always some who sought to protest the celebration of Halloween. I do understand that some feel this holiday was birthed by darkness, but I think very few of us who celebrate Halloween today ever see it as a time of darkness. I’ve celebrated Halloween all my life and every thought I have of this annual holiday is good. Here is why Halloween is worth celebrating.
HALLOWEEN is a time that every kid can be a kid.
Even us grown ups have a little kid within us if we dare to let it out. Kids loves to use their imagination, play dress up, play games, and of course eats lots of candy. Childhood goes by way too fast, so why not let kids be kids.
HALLOWEEN is a time families come together.
We live in a day and time where kids are fourtunate if they ever do something with Mom and Dad involved. However, many families will come together as they march down the streets going house to house in search of candy treasure. For most, its good, clean, and quality family time.
HALLOWEEN is a time that neighbors meet neighbors.
Let’s be honest most of us don’t even bother to meet those who live next door to us and we rarely even get together with our friends. But, on this creepy night of ghosts and goblins neighbors from all over will come together and for once feel a sense of community with others.
HALLOWEEN is a time to show God’s love through a little piece of candy.
When you’re trick or treating it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, the color of your skin, or how much money you make you can get candy. I personaly think churches miss out on a huge opportunity when they don’t host a carnival or trunk or treat event. If this is an evil holiday, I think it’s a great opportunity to use something that was intended for evil, for the good of all, and even the glory of God.
I’ve always wondered who thought up this brilliant idea of just saying, “TRICK OR TREAT” and then candy falls in your pumpkin. Even as you get older and too big to trick or treat, you can still be a part of this special night. As you drop candy in a child’s bucket you have the opportunity to bring a smile to their face and a happy ending to their night. Trust me with four boys 13, 11, 9, and almost 3 yrs old I know that every piece of candy matters.
*Now, after reading this you may still feel that Halloween is not right for you and your family. But, for me and my little goblins we can’t wait until next year!
We all live in this broken world together. From your house to the White House there are problems on every corner. More important to note there are hurting people everywhere. Whether you’re in Walmart, at a ball game, or even at church there are people on every side that need help, hope, and someone to give a rip. My friends why can’t that someone be you. Here are five excuses I hear often…
I’M TOO BUSY….If you are too busy to care about someone, encourage someone, or do something for someone other than yourself….YOU ARE TOO BUSY. Life is more than dollars and sense, more than personal accomplishment, and people are way more important. The second greatest commandment Jesus said is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So, why not slow down, consider the needs of others, and see if God can use you to bring some light to someone today and everyday.
I”VE GOT MY OWN PROBLEMS……Yep…me too. In fact, I’ve got more things in my life today than I’ve ever had to juggle and keep up with. But, that’s no excuse for not helping those around me. In fact, it only makes me want to help them that much more because I know how life can get out of hand and times are tough. The joyous life is the one that is lived as an offering to God and others. Anyone who lives self absorbed and centered on their own world will be more stressed and miss out on a lots of blessings. Because it is way more blessed to give than it is to receive. Go do something for someone that picks them up and lightens their load. And, everyday remind yourself that life ain’t all about you!
THOSE PEOPLE MADE THEIR BED LET THEM FIGURE IT OUT…..I’m not going to touch this one in detail. But, we’ve all made and continue to make mistakes in this life. Some things in our lives we’ve created and some things we inherit because of other people’s poor decisions. It really doesn’t matter. We are called to love people where they are and look for ways to lift their spirits. Don’t tear them down, but realize they are just like you longing for hope and a brighter tomorrow.
WHY SHOULD I CARE……God created every one of us in His own image. That makes everyone of us special, unique, and beaming with God given potential. We should care because God cares. Scripture says that “whatever we’ve done unto the least of these we’ve done unto God.” From your attitude to your actions you either breath life into others or suck the life out of them. We should care for others just as God cares for us. Unconditionally and with no strings attached. Go out of your way to do for others with no strings attached.
I DON”T KNOW WHAT TO DO…..One, seeek to put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, what might encourage me if I were going through that storm. Two, just let them know you care and you’re thinking about them. Three, take the time to listen. I’ll never forget someone telling me they ran into their pastor at the mall one evening. They were going through some heavy stuff at that time and so they asked their pastor if he would have prayer with them that day. He said, “I’m sorry, but I’m off the clock.” (You don’t want to know what I think of that preacher) My friends here is the point. You should always be caring, loving, and looking for ways to come along side those who are struggling in this life. We need each other and every bit of love and support goes a long way…
*For the people around you who are hurting, harrassed, and feeling hopeless..WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?
(Matthew 9:36) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
It’s hard to believe, but since Aimee and I got married back on August 23, 1997 (15 yrs ago), we have lived in 12 different homes. My oldest son has lived in 9 different locations in his short 13 years on this planet. We have children that were born in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee hospitals. And, now we’re moving again.
Back in August 2011, we moved into a rental home here in the heart of Walterboro. We were blessed to find a great and spacious 4 bedroom home that was perfect for our little army and put me just one mile from my hospice office. Ever since we moved into this house it’s been on the market, but never shown once. However, this past Wednesday there was a military family from Tennessee that wanted to check out the home.
The real estate agent didn’t even show and so I had the honor of playing tour guide of the home. As I was showing the house that we’ve grown to love I couldn’t help but see it as a perfect fit for this young family of five. I did everything I could on behalf of my landlord and this family to help them realize why it was a great house to buy. After they left, I contacted the owner of the house and told her that I believed I sold her home. She was estactic, but said we’ll see if that really happens its been on the market for a long time. I said, Mam on a scale of 1-10, I’m telling you this is a 10 when it comes to possible buyer.
Well, fortunately for her and them, I was right. Two days later, they signed a contract on this home. Which means, the Crosby’s are moving again. No, we’re not leaving Walterboro, but we’ve got to find another house in the area. Of course, when Aimee first heard the news this afternoon she needed to sit down and take a deep breath. I knew what she was thinking, “NOT AGAIN.”
Now, don’t get me wrong we would love to stay in this house and for sure I don’t look forward to moving all our stuff, AGAIN. But, this time it feels different. In the past, we thought it was the end of the world. The changes seemed so life changing. Certainly with six of us and the boys getting older everyone has different feelings. But, I believe what keeps us settled is knowing that a house doesn’t make a home.
What makes a home is knowing that those you love are safe, together, and that nothing can take that away. What makes a home is knowing God is in control regardless of how things change and what circumstances you find yourself in at the moment. What makes a home is the hugs, kisses, love, and a faith that makes life worth living and the future always bright.
My landlord said to me this morning. “I can’t believe you’re being so great about this and that you aren’t more upset with me.” I said, “Mam, I just know that God has a plan. And, that if this is His plan for them and you, then He’s also got a plan for me and my family. Yes, I would love to feel in control of the situation, but I have much greater peace in knowing that God is always in control despite what I feel or what I think.”
So, here we go Aimee, Matthew, Joel, Seth, and Asher. We’re moving into our 13th different living location in just 15 yrs of marriage. Let us know if you know of something in the Walterboro area for rent that could house all of us! We’ve got a maximum of 45 days to be out of this place, but would like to find something asap. Preferably 4 bed rooms and in nice neighborhood zoned for Forest Hill Elementary.
(Philippians 4:11-12)(The Message)….”I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
A few years ago, I intentionally made myself a little uncomfortable. Honestly, up until then I had never bought a beer in my life and certainly not a six pack. However, I was faced with a strange request that I believed could open the door of someone’s heart. Let me explain…
One day, I met a very nice lady who had been happily married for over 30 years and has two grown daughters. Some months back doctors discovered her husband had a very progressed cancer. In recent days, tests revealed that after heavy treatment the cancer had only spread and things didn’t look good apart from a miracle.
I asked this lady was there any chance I might meet her husband to provide some sort of encouragement. She politely told me that he was not religious and would not feel comfortable with my visit. After she denied my request, I found myself praying daily for this man, his wife, and his two girls. I prayed that God might give me an opportunity to share hope and light amidst his dark report. Today, God answered that prayer and opened that door.
This man’s wife told me she would love for me to check on her husband, but she just wasn’t sure if he would even let me in the door. I then asked, “Is there anything I could get him that he would like and might make his day?” She replied, “I know you can’t get this, but he did ask me earlier to please stop by and get him some Bud Light on my way home.” At first, I pondered whether it was ok with God if I picked him up some beer. Then, I actually will this be alright with my Mama. I left this lady saying, “I’ll see what I can do.” No matter what, I knew from this lady that time was not on her husband’s side and I needed to get to him very soon.
As I made my way to this man’s house I decided that God could use the beer as a possible bridge of opportunity. So, I stopped by at that town’s local Piggly Wiggly and purchased my first ever six pack. As I laid it on the counter I could just feel the condemnation of religious freaks who were raised to think, “You can’t do that, you’re a Christian and a Pastor.” Even as I made my way back to my car one lady seemed to stare right through me. I just kept on walking believing that God had me on a mission.
A few miles later I arrived at this man’s house, while his wife and kids were at work. Honestly, I didn’t know what I would use as my excuse for coming by his house. We had never met or talked by phone. He had no idea I was even coming and his wife told me I better not tell him she sent me. All I could do was hit my horn and hope he would come to the door. When he did, I grabbed that six pack of Bud Lights and said, “Sir, your wife told me you might like these.”
As I handed him the beer and introduced myself the man said, “Come on in.” After entering the house we talked about two things I knew for sure about him. One, I knew he loved his family. Two, I knew he had recently received a not so good report from the doctor and was pretty down in the dumps. We talked about the joys of family and the goodness of God. Eventually conversation led me to ask some very important questions. “Sir, if you were to die today what do you think happens to you? Where do you think you will spend eternity? Do you even think there is an eternity?”
This man was not sure, but said, “Well I think the “Good Book” says there is life after death. And, that if a person lives right they have a chance of going to Heaven.” As we continued to dialog I simply shared with this man the simple gospel.
#1: We’re all sinners. (Romans 3:23)
#2: Sin Separates Us From God Eternally and Destines Us To Hell (Romans 6:23)
#3: Jesus died so that we could have the assurance of Eternal Life in Heaven.
(Romans 5:8) (John 3:16) (1 John 5:13) (Romans 10:9)
Now, understand that I did not come into this man’s house with a Bible in my hand. I did not come into this man’s house with a hidden agenda. I came into this man’s house to show him the Love of Jesus and in hopes of pointing him to Jesus. Well, God took it all from there.
This man said he wanted to give his life to Jesus Christ. He said, he wanted the assurance that when he died he would go to Heaven. He realized that this would bring great comfort to not only him, but to his family as they face uncertain days going forward.
Together we prayed with the a six pack of beer between us. “Dear God, Please forgive me of my sin. I believe in your son Jesus. That He died on the cross for my sins, that he was buried, and he arose on the third day. Jesus come into my heart. Save my soul. Be the Lord and Savior of My life. In Jesus Name, AMEN.
After our prayer together this man was beaming and smiling ear to ear. He said, “I now have peace. I now have hope. I now have a future. Thank you so much pastor for coming by to see me and for that Six Pack. Please come back any time.
Less than three months after I led this man to Christ, I preached his funeral. I wanted to make it very clear to everyone that day that God can use anything and anyone to open someone’s heart. And, that sometimes he can even use a six pack of beer.
Now, I don’t know what God wants you to know from this story, but I hope you realize that there are dying, hopeless, and hurting people all around you. I’m not saying you need to buy them a six pack, but I do believe God has called us to do whatever we can to take HIS LOVE to them.
The Apostle Paul said this, “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)(The Message Bible)
Craig Crosby is Pastor Of Refuge Church. Their new facility is located @ 203 Eddie Chasteen Drive, Walterboro (Across from Wells Fargo). You are always welcomed to come as you are, but never expect to the leave the same. They have two morning worship services for your convenience @ 9:15 & 11am.
What can you do? We all have times when someone we love is going through an unforeseen event that sends shock waves through us all. Not only is this time a life changing event, but it is critical that you know how to respond during their time of need. Here are three things you definitely need to do…..
#1: LET THEM KNOW YOU CARE……
Whether it be through a card, flowers, a phone call, a visit, a facebook message, or any other form of communication they need to know you’re thinking about them. Grief can be a lonely place and it helps to know that you’re not alone. They need to know someone has their back, loves their family, and cares for them personally. Let them know you care, you’re there, and that you will be by their side during and after the storm. Bottom line, love your neighbor the way you would want to be loved. What ever you can do, DO IT!
(Proverbs 3:27) Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.
#2: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY…..
There is a great temptation in all of us to explain the hurt away. Words are powerful and encouragement is necessary. But, words usually can’t change the situation or make things any less painful. We must try not to fix others with our words, but simply love them amidst their pain. There is a time for everything. A time for embrace, a time to encourage, and later a time to process the events that have unfolded. Grief is a process, not an event. Be there when they need you most, but be careful what you say.
(James 1:19) My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…..
#3: PRAY WITHOUT CEASING……
If you’ve ever dealt with a traumatic event in your life you know that emotions go wild. You feel hopeless, helpless, and every minute feels like eternity. The desperateness within you is searching for peace and comfort amidst the storm. This is where our prayers must intervene on our friends and family’s behalf. Prayer is not the least you can do, but the greatest thing you can do. During this time your loved one doesn’t just need a little prayer, but a lot of prayer. Pray for them when you breath in and breath out. When we pray we are begging God to be what we can’t, do what we can’t, and go where we can’t in the present and the future. Our prayers do matter, God is real, and especially during times of uncertainty we must know He is there.
(Philippians 4:6-7) 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
#1: YOU BELIEVE IN HIM….
Behind any good man is a good woman cheering him on. Every man needs his wife’s vote of confidence as he faces life’s daily challenges. He needs you to believe in him even when he may not believe in himself. My wife has many times breathed life back into my sails just by her vote of confidence in my God given abilities and integrity. Your husband needs to know that even if the world is against him you’re still his biggest fan.
#2: YOU NEED HIM…..
I know this works both ways. But, often times women think their words don’t matter to their husband. A man needs to know his efforts do matter, that his long hours at work are appreciated, and that his home would not be the same without him. Call it ego or whatever you would like, but your words of affirmation matter to your man. Sometimes the only difference in the past and the present is we just expect certain things to happen and we quit expressing our gratitude for one another.
#3: YOU LOVE HIM……
Don’t let them fool you, men have feelings too. Love is expressed many ways. It can be spoken, but most of all it is displayed through our actions. Wanting to spend time together, considering the other person’s thoughts and feelings, and going the extra mile to show just how special they are to you. Genuine love will move a man’s heart more than you can imagine. The average man will go to the moon and back for a woman who assure’s him he is the love of her life.
#4: YOU’RE WITH HIM ALL THE WAY
The bible tells us that God created woman because he believed it was not good for man to be alone. Men need to know that you are their friend, lover, and lifelong parnter. They need to feel they can trust you and that you always have their best interest in mind. And, should you cross that line of trust you need to do every thing possible to show them you’re committed to the relationship. I personaly believe men have a harder time with trust issues than women.
#5: YOU RESPECT HIM
If you have been blessed with a hard working, devoted, and honest husband you are blessed. In this day and time those are hard to find. No man is perfect, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t give his best everyday. He needs to know that he is respected for his committment as a husband, a father, and a worker. Its been said that a man has two main domains and they are home and work. Feeling secure in both of those domains makes a very happy man. In this day and time, the work place is unpredictable. He needs to feel that his worth in life is greater than the dollars he brings home or the hours he works. He needs to know you respect him for the man that he is and the character he displays. You can choose to pick a part his faults, but you’ll get a lot further highlighting his strengths.
Many women have stepped up and taken over leadership in their homes because the man they married has shown no sign of leadership. Men, we have been called by God to lead our homes in the way God would have us to lead them. Being a leader is not an option if you hope to lead those you love towards better days. This is done best when you submit to God’s leadership and authority. Then, seek to lead your family by example, by faith, and with an unconditional love.
I’ve been guilty many times throughout my 15 years of marriage of attempting to fix my wife. I heard what my wife was saying, but I wasn’t listening to her heart. I have learned over time that it is very important to listen to what my wife is saying both verbally and non-verbally. The only way I can truly say that I’m living with my wife in an understanding way is for me to really get to know her. Your wife doesn’t expect you to fix all her problems, but she does need to know you care enough to listen.
Way beyond your physical relationship your wife needs to feel that she is loved. That love needs to be communicated and displayed on a daily basis. Your genuine love will move your wife more than any flowers, box of candy or empty words. You need to learn your spouse’s love language and always look for ways to highlight her specialness. It’s been said that the key to any successful marriage is “Learning how to fall in love with the same person over and over again.” Never stop dating, being creative, or communicating your love to one another.
A LIFETIME PARTNER
Yes, you need to lead your spouse and your family. But, your wife needs to know that you are her partner in this life. That no matter what comes her way you will be there. That no matter what she does you will be by her side. Don’t treat her like she is your child, your slave, or just the mother of your children. Your wife needs to know that she can share her deepest and darkest secrets with you. Home should be a safe place and you should be her best friend. This means you have to make time for each other, communicate on a daily basis, and remember the lifetime vows you made to her.
You don’t have to agree on everything, but you should always do your best to protect your wife and kids. I know many women who could beat me in arm wrestling, but they are still looking for their man to be their defender, their protector, and their hero. Don’t stand by quietly when your wife is being ripped apart by her family, friends, or total strangers. Don’t sit on the bench when your wife needs you to be her head coach. I know many women who are heartbroken because they feel they can’t depend on their husband to step up and defend them when necessary. Fight for your marriage, fight for your children, and fight for their future.
Many would say this is just another week. Work, school, eat, sleep, and then get back up and do it all again. But, I have to ask myself WHAT WILL I DO WITH THIS WEEK?….I ask this for the following reasons….
A. This week could be the last week of my life.
What if these are the final days of your life here on this earth? Will you regret the choices you make? Will you finish well or leave with much unfinished business? Will you live for things that are meaningless or things that actually have eternal value? Whether you think so or not, these could be your last days to make things right with God and with others you dearly love. So, why wait my friend!
B. This week presents many unique opportunities.
Everyday is gift and full of appointments God has prepared for us in advance. Those appointments will either pass you by or you will seize the God moments. From the random strangers you will meet to those you share life with everyday…..OPPORTUNITY WILL KNOCK. Don’t miss the moments and don’t bank on those moments of opportunity being there later.
C. This week has eternal value.
I know you’re not a pastor so you don’t need to hear this part, right. WRONG! If you call yourself a Christian you have orders from your Commander and Chief Jesus Christ. GO and be a light to all who come in contact with you this week. GO and live in such a way that others see Jesus living in you and through you. And, GO and tell as many people as you can while you can that JESUS LOVES THEM, JESUS DIED FOR THEM, & JESUS WANTS TO SAVE THEM. Remember, it is believed that 7 out of every 10 people who pass you by don’t know Jesus. No Jesus, No Peace. No Jesus, No Heaven. What don’t you share with them what God has so graciously done in your life and would love to do in theirs.
Man, the possibilites for this week are endless. The only question that remains is what will you do this week?
As many of my facebook friends should know by now, I love watching college football. And, I’m really excited that the Gamecocks are winning. But, there is a major difference between something you enjoy and something you put your whole heart into. Here is what separates a hobby from an idol. Here is when you know you’ve gone too far!!!!
#1: It’s all you think about. You live, breath, and are consumed by this burning passion. We all need to learn how to have fun, relieve stress, and not be so serious all the time. But, a hobby should always be seen as a side dish, not the main event.
(Mark 12:30)Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength
#2: You put it above everything and everyone. Where a hobby or meaningless interest gets out of hand is when relationships suffer and more important priorities are pushed to the side.
(Matthew 6:33)But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
#3: You are willing to sacrifice anything for it. At times we have all proven that we spend our time and our money based on what we value most. If you really want something you’ll buy it. If you really want to be somewhere you’ll make the time to be there.
(Matthew 6:21)For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Do you feel like you’re being attacked from every direction? Like you can’t catch a break no matter how hard you try? The bills keeps coming, the problems keep piling, the stress keeps rising, and you’re doing your best just to make it through the day. Here are some things you should know….
#1: You’re not Alone.
We all face hardships and will continue to go through valleys in this life. Everyday is a new challenge and brings with it winds and waves. The fact that you have trials does not mean you’re doing everything wrong or that you’re doing everything right. Some of our hardships are the result of poor decisions and habits we need to break. But, even the most righteous man will face adversity in this life. I have learned that I can’t stop the rain from pouring, but I need to make sure that God is my umbrella.
(John 16:33) JESUS SAID….“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
#2: You’re in a Battle.
This battle is not against the government or your neighbor. This battle is way bigger than what you can see, understand, or control. The Bible tells us clearly that Satan is constantly looking, lurking, and waiting to rain on our parade. He brings temptations that only lead to dead end roads. He tells us we’re worthless, helpless, and hopeless. His goal for difficulty is to bring you down, make you quit, and ultimately turn your back on God. God’s goal for trials is to make you stronger, teach you His faithfulness, and develop you into the man or woman you were created to be.
(Ephesians 6:12)For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
(1 Peter 5:8) Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
#3: You can WIN.
We talk about faith, but then we operate out of our feelings. Faith has nothing to do with your feelings, but it will change the way you feel. When we’re operating out of feelings we are dependent upon our human emotions and very limited perspective. When we operate out of faith our problems don’t go away, but they are no longer our focus. When we put our total trust in a BIG God, we then see that in God’s hands we just have little struggles. When we are fixated on our BIG problems and just operate out of a little faith we feel overwhelmed, out manned, and hopeless. There are two options in this life. I can operate out of my own strength and knowledge and I will never scale the walls in front of me. Or, I can take the hand of the one who can take me through any storm and help me scale every wall.
(Matthew 17:20)He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. ”
(Hebrews 11:6)And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(Romans 8:28)And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:37)No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
(Psalm 18:29)With your help I can advance against a troop ; with my God I can scale a wall.
Do you overreact to the slightest remarks, blow things completely out of context, and just look for someone to say something so you can call foul? Do you walk around like a bulldog just waiting for a reason to come unleashed? Are you hyper sensitive?
7 Things That Could Make You HYPER SENSITIVE….
#1: You take everything TOO PERSONAL.
You can’t take everything someone says or does so literal or personal. You may not agree with their thoughts or actions. They may not agree with yours. But, each person has to make their own choices and will answer to the same God. Many just need to take a chill pill, cut the grass in their own backyard, and not take everything others do so personal.
#2: You are BITTER.
Anyone with unresolved heartache and pain can be triggered at the drop of a hat. Their claws come out and the words fly carelessly because things are so stirred inside. With just the slightest push or word a bitter person begins to vomit and retaliate because of the hurt they feel inside.
#3: You are JEALOUS.
Some people spend their lives comparing what they have with what others have. When jealously develops it leads to resentment. A person begins to hate and even attack someone simply because they feel they’ve been cheated in this life.
#4: You care way too much WHAT OTHERS THINK ABOUT YOU.
If you put too much stock in what others think about you, you will stay hypersensitive. Not everyone is going to agree with you, like you, and even love you. You can‘t live to please everyone and you can’t allow everyone to determine your self-worth.
#5: You think EVERYONE IS AGAINST YOU.
You think every FaceBook post is about you and everybody is against you. You feel you are the victim in every situation and you’re not going to take it anymore. So, you lash out at people who don’t even have anything to do with your past or pain.
#6: You are starving for ATTENTION.
Just like kids, many are starving for attention in this life. And, you don’t care how you get it, you want it whether positive or negative. You say and do things hoping to get a rise and response from someone. To that I simply say…..GROW UP! That is not the way a mature person deals with their differences and for sure that is not how a Christ follower should.
#7: You live in THE PAST.
All of us have a past, but some have had more difficult ones than others. The question is not do you have a past, but have you dealt with your past? The past can make you better or keep you bitter. Living in the past for most means wallowing in self pity and seeking to take out my frustrations on others. Listen, the past will continue to pull you down, until you are willing to let it go.
Well, this is not an exhaustive list by any means. But, these are some things that God has been impressing upon my heart of recent in regards to Hyper Sensitivity. I pray that God will help us each in these areas of struggle so that we live more confidently, inste
For most of us Monday means back to the grind, early mornings, and the end to a weekend we wish could last forever. I must admit that I’m right there with you as I feel like sometimes all I do is go from one event to the next. So, knowing that life must go on and weekends don’t last forever here are some things can make a huge difference in the week ahead.
#1 BE POSTIIVE…..So often we stumble into a busy week with dread and the prediction that “It’s gonna be a rough week.” Well this week consider all that might be accomplished, the lives that could be changed, and the memories that can be made. Thank God you have a job, the health to wake up, a family to come home to, and friends who care about you even if 99% of them only dialog with you on Facebook.
#2 BE PROACTIVE….My wife says this is for sure my favorite word. Now, let me say up front that I am not someone who claims to have it all together and I’m surely not the king of organization. However, I do consider deeply what tomorrow might bring and what I can do to make each transition a little easier. Too many people are passive and just hope things work out for the best. No, you can’t control everything, but you can do everything possible to prepare for deadlines, schedule conflicts, and each day’s certain demands. Being proactive will give you the confidence that you have done your best to be prepared and possibly put you ahead of the game. Because you and I both know the unexpected will rear its head this week and that’s when your proactiveness concerning the certain will make things go much smoother.
#3 Be PURPOSEFUL…..Everyday we wake up God has things designed for us to accomplish, people we’re meant to bless, and places we’re meant to go. Start each day by praying “Not my will, but God’s will be done.” Look for God moments and choose to live each moment to the fullest. Each of us are in a season of our lives that will never come again, but brings significant opportunities. Be purposeful in the way you live, love, and lead. Each of us have impact on many other people, but those who have the greatest impact are those who seek to discover and live out their God given purpose each day!
I meet so many people who have a low self esteem, low self worth, and battle with what I call an identity crisis. I’m not sure I can tackle this entire matter in just a short blog because there are so many things that can contribute to these things. Your childhood, your perspective of success, and your overall understanding of this world and how you believe you fit into it all have high impact on the way you feel, think, and operate. Here are some things you need to know about you.
#1: YOU ARE NOT AN ACCIDENT
God created you when He knit you together in your mother’s womb. Maybe you’ve never felt wanted, appreciated, or cared about growing up in this life. My friend you are God’s prize creation and you did not just stumble upon this earth. God made you and loves you very much.
#2: YOU HAVE A PURPOSE
God has created each of us different, but all with a purpose. God wants to use your strengths, your weaknesses, your experiences, and even your personality to bring Him glory. No need to compare yourself to others, but rather surrender yourself to God. Allow God to shape you, lead you, and use you to accomplish His will on this earth. Don’t try to be like everyone else, but rather just seek to the best You that God created you to be. God’s word (The BIBLE) is full of instruction for helping us discover our God given purpose on this earth.
#3 YOUR PAST DOESN’T HAVE TO DEFINE YOU
So many people allow their past to ruin their present and steal their future. Satan wants you to believe that you are only the lump sum of your past mistakes. HOGWASH. I have seen God time after time use the past, forgive all the mistakes, and take people like you and me places we never thought we could go.When we asks God to forgive us of our sin He forgives and forgets it all. When we allow Jesus to change us from the inside/out we become new creations. The only thing your past does is give God even more ways to receive glory as He takes you to new heights and solid ground.
#4 YOU HAVE A BRIGHT FUTURE
When you put your little hand in God’s big hand you are then walking with God. God will carry you places never dreamed or imagine. I can tell you from first hand experience that it all begins with just surrendering all you are and are meant to be to the one who created and loves you most. Let go, Let God, and look forward to what He has in store for those who put all their trust in him. Once you discover and remember WHO’S You are and Who you are in Christ you are then destined for a bright future in this life and especially in the life to come!
I pray this blog encourages someone today and should you have any questions on how you can discover life as God intends it to be for you please don’t hesitate to private message me! May God bless you and your family!
I hear people constantly talking about how bad this world has become. I hear parents talking about how terrified they are when it comes to the schools their children attend. I will not attempt to argue with either of these concerns, but I will say that there is no place like home. The home is and always will be the greatest place of influence upon a child. Good or bad, nothing will impact a child more than the home. The reason I don’t worry near as much about my children’s outside influences is the fact that I realize I have the greatest opportunity of influence in my own backyard. At the end of the day they are only in school for so many hours, but they live with me. I consider it my God given responsibility to do everything I can to make our home the place God would have it to be for them. I want my kids to say “THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.”
HOME SHOULD BE A SAFE PLACE.
Kids experience conflict and challenge everywhere they turn. Home should be a refuge from the storms. We should do everything we can to make our homes a place of peace and protection. We should always be concerned about the bickering, the internet surfing, and the developing hearts of those we are blessed to call our children. No, you can’t guard your kids from everything. But, you can with God’s help create a place that is safe and secure in your arms and care.
HOME SHOULD BE A PLACE OF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
In our house we are not perfect. But, love is not an option. We want our boys to know that no matter what they do or will do they will always be loved. Our love is not dependent upon their performance, their grades, or their behavior. Sometimes you have to go that extra mile to prove to your children that your love is unconditional and not performance based. This is real easy to say, but much harder to live out on a daily basis.
HOME SHOULD BE A PLACE OF FAITH.
It’s been said that a family that prays together stays together. This doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen to good people. But, it is true that the only house that will stand tall and thrive through the years of ups and downs will be the home built on a foundation of faith. Your personal faith or lack of faith in Christ will overflow into everything you do and impact everyone you love. Put Christ first in your marriage, your family, and make God’s word the foundation of your home. If you do what’s right you can’t go wrong! The winds and waves will come, but your house will continue to stand.
HOME SHOULD BE A FUN PLACE.
To this day I still love being crazy with my crazy family. I grew up where home was a fun place to be. It wasn’t that we went a million places or had everything we wanted. But, we enjoyed each other’s company, played together, and shared a lot of laughs. Every home needs to learn how to loosen up and share the good times of life, love, and laughter. Don’t allow your home to just be a place of function, but have some fun together. Plan something that everyone will enjoy and don’t allow the stresses of life to steal your joy. Make time for fun times!
HOME SHOULD BE A PLACE OF INSTRUCTION.
I understand that anything can happen when my kids leave my sight. I realize that others will expose my children to things that they won’t have been exposed to at home. It’s my job to do my best to instruct my kids along life’s way on the way that they should live. I have to teach them how to love their neighbor, deal with life’s challenges, conduct themselves, and most of all walk with God. This takes time and being intentional in my efforts to prepare them for the many challenges in this life.
HOME SHOULD BE A PLACE OF HOPE.
Matthew would like to be a great tennis player and a preacher. Joel would like to be a famous singer and the best trumpet player in the world. Seth would like to play football and baseball for the University of South Carolina. Who am I to tell them what they can and cannot do in their lifetime? My job is to give them every opportunity I can to be encouraged, to spread their wings and believe they can fly anywhere God desires for them to be. We can’t beat our children into submission, but rather we must love them towards reaching their God given potential. Look for ways to encourage your child and let them know that God has BIG plans for their lives. Don’t limit their hope, but give them wings to fly!
*DISCLAIMER: Please know that I am not saying this because I think I am a perfect parent. I miss the mark daily! However, I do believe that these are ageless and priceless principles that can keep us all on track as we seek to be the parents God designed us to be! Every word I share is biblical and even practical ways to stay on track in your parenting journey!
#1 EVERY CHILD IS UNIQUE GIFT FROM GOD.
I have four boys, but each of them have entirely different personalities. I have to get to know each child’s skill set, interest, and mindset in order to connect with them in a way they understand. My job is not to control everything they do, but to help them reach their full God-give potential. Don’t ever try to live out your dreams and wishes through your children. Don’t ever push them into a sport, career, or relationship just because it’s what you want. In most all cases your plans will back fire on you. Let them be who God made them to be and look forward to what God is going to do through them in this life.
#2 LOVE IS BEST SPELLED T.I.M.E.
Your kids must have no doubt that you love them and that they are worth your time. If you are too busy to spend time with your kids then you are too busy. Most of us never feel like there are enough hours in the day to do all that we would like to do with our kids. What is most important is that we consistently spend quality one on one time with each child. This lets them know they have not been forgotten, are dearly loved, and it will keep the communication lines open as they grow up. This should not change as they get older, but becomes even more important as it is real easy to go your separate ways. Many parents quit doing the little things that matter as their kids get older and therefore their hearts grow apart from one another. Love is the bridge to effective communication and parenting.
#3 ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS…
I spent 11 years as a youth pastor and I once had a parent ask me the following question. What is the hardest thing to deal with as a youth worker? I said kindly, “Parents who tell their kids to do one thing while they’re doing another! It never works. Your words will never override your example. Your words will only carry weight when accompanied by your example. For sure this true statement scares me the most. Statistics say that 80% of children will return back to the roots of they learned at home. From how we treat our spouse, other people, and especially them throughout the years we are making lasting impressions. Daily we must ask ourselves, what kind of men and women will my children be if they follow my example?
#4 EVERY MOMENT MATTERS
Every age is precious and presents opportunity. I’ve got to do the best I can do while I can do it. At every point in your child’s life they need you to be present, alert, and seeking to make the most of the times you have together. From cheering them on at the ball game to talking with them late at night the first time their heart is broken it all matters. Seize the moment and don’t ever overlook their feelings or perspective.
#5 YOU HAVE TO LEAD THEM……
A lot parents make sure their children have a roof over their heads, food on the table, and that they don’t play in the road. But, very few parents have an intentional plan for leading their children in the way they should go. Fortunately, we do have a manual and its call the Bible. We must allow it to lead us, our parenting, and we must encourage our children to let it lead them. We can’t expect the school house or the church house to raise our children. Parents, we must take time along life’s way to instruct and impress upon our children how God has designed for us to live. Trust me, your children will either develop naturally a world view of things or a God view of things. The world’s view will lead them to major disappointment and countless heart aches. God’s view will point them in the right direction and help them keep life in the right perspective.
#6 PARENTING IS A JOURNEY……
I don’t know about you but one day of parenting wears my wife and I completely out. Diapers, baths, school, work, sports, homework, supper, bedtime (OH WHAT FUN), and then you get to wake up tomorrow and start all over again. We all must remember that we are on a journey and that parenting is a daily learning and growing process for us and the kids. Don’t judge things by what you see today, but keep pressing forward on your parenthood journey. Do your best every day and make adjustments as necessary.
#7 LEAVE THE RESULTS WITH GOD….
After you’ve done your best to lead them God’s way you have to trust God completely with them. When you drop them off at school, when they go off to school, when they go out with friends, when they get married, and when they reach that age where they have to take responsibility for themselves you have to let God be God. You continue to make yourself available, coach them when you can, but then you have to pray and trust God to continue to develop them into all that He and you want them to be.
I don’t think there is a parent on the planet that in their right mind doesn’t want the best for their kids. That is something that I rarely question. What I do question is “Do they really know what is best?” Many dads and moms will work countless hours hoping to give their children the American dream. Many will make sure their children have every opportunity possible to succeed. If that means running from one activity to another most parents are willing to sacrifice it all hoping that their son or daughter has even a better life than they had in their life journey. This got me thinking in the midst of a rambling world, “What should I be trying to give my children while I have the opportunity of influence?”
Here is what I’ve seen in my short life here on this earth. Money won’t guarantee happiness. Being voted “Most likely to succeed” doesn’t mean they will. And, giving your kids “things” that only have earthly value won’t make all their dreams come true. Unfortunately, I believe we’ve all been guilty of focusing on the things that later won’t really matter, instead of parenting with eternity in mind.
The bible tells us that there are three things that remain beyond this life….FAITH, HOPE, & LOVE. Seasons of our lives will pass away, trophies will collect dust, and accomplishments will be forgotten. But, FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE will endure forever. This should compel us to do everything we can to give our children all three of these priceless gifts.
#1 FAITH…..The Bible says “What good it it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul.” Many don’t want to face this reality, but we are all going to die. And, when we die we are going to stand before God and face judgement. And, depending on whether we have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ we will either go to Heaven or Hell. This is not my opinion, this is what we read in God’s word. Knowing this compels me to make sure that I am ready to meet my maker, since death can come at anytime and any age. But, it also compels me to do everything I can to make sure that my boys understand that there is a life beyond this life….it’s called eternity. And, I want them to know that they have a choice in front of them. The can either live by the flesh or live by faith. They can either reject Jesus or accept Jesus. If they accept Jesus into their hearts by grace and through faith they will be saved and go to Heaven. If they do nothing about their sinful condition they will get what we all deserve eternity in Hell.
Now, I don’t just want to make sure that each of my boys have prepared themselves for eternity. I want to teach them to live by faith and with eternity in mind. I want to show them how they can trust God fully regardless of their circumstances, income, setbacks, or short comings. Now, here is the problem for most. You can’t share with someone, something you don’t have yourself. You can’t lead someone, somewhere you’re not going yourself. Living by faith is a lifestyle and must be modeled before our children. If all they think we care about is worldy stuff they too will put their stock in things that will disappoint and fade away. But, if they see our lives being built upon and anchored by faith they too will know how to build a life that will last.
#2 HOPE……There is no doubt kids growing up today see and hear a culture that is in distress and panic. Many don’t know what tomorrow will bring and they are popping pills and downing drinks trying to extinguish their anxiety. I want my children to know that we each have somewhere we can turn for help. God will hear and answer our prayers. God will take care of us and never leave nor forsake us.
My kids have seen my wife and I on several occassions when money was tight and things were uncertain gather everyone together for prayer. I want my boys to be well prepared for the pressures and stresses this world will throw their way. Therefore, I have to make sure they understand that their hope is not dependent upon their circumstance, their parents, or their abilities. Our HOPE is found in God and God alone. He is our refuge, our provider, our sustainer, our redeemer, our captain, our rock, our coach, our savior, our everlasting prince of peace, our ever present HOPE in time of need. My boys need to see that in the darkest of times we have a constant hope even if everyone else abandons us.
#3 LOVE……We all throw this word around loosely and quickly. We love our kids. Well if we love our kids we should do what is best for them not sometimes, but all the times. A)Love them Like Jesus…..This means love them despite who they are and who they become. A parents love should go beyond all others and beyond what we feel about situations. We should be their greatest cheerleader and their greatest coach. We should love them enough to talk with them about the everyday issues of life. We should love them enough to walk with them through dark valleys and assure them that we will remain by their side through it all. B)Love them to Jesus. I sincerely believe that my greatest job as a parent is to prepare my boys to live without me, not to live with me. I want them to their own faith, hope, and love. I want their marriages to be way above average and their families to be a blessing for all they come in contact with. Everyday is an opporuintiy to lead, guide, and model faith, hope, and love. I don’t want to look back as many parents have shared with me through the years and say, “I wish I would have done that…..”
My friends if you still have children living within the home that are under the age of 18. We have a responsibility and a tremendous opportunity to prepare our children for life. Make sure that you’re living each day with the end in mind. Make sure you do everything you can from this moment forward to model and pass on to your children these greatest gifts.
(1 Corinthians 13:13)And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
If you live on this imperfect planet full of imperfect people you will be hurt, misunderstood, and treated unjustly at some point. Even Jesus the only perfect person to grace this planet faced this reality. It is so important that each of us understand where much of this behavior comes from and that each of us are capable of this hurtful behavior. Here are many of the reasons people say and do hurtful stuff.
We’ve all been guilty of saying things about people that we have not observed first hand or received from a credible source. We’re ignorant of what we’re sharing, but we share it as if its certain truth. What is spoken out of ignorance becomes a rumor that can hurt someone deeply and majorly disrupt their life.
This is probably the chief reason people say hurtful stuff. Anytime a person is still operating out of an unforgiving heart, a jealous spirit, and a deep rooted bitterness expect that person to operate like an animal with rabies. When we operate out of bitterness we naturally do and say things that we believe could make the other person hurt like us and make the score at least even.
LACK OF CHARACTER
I have always said that trials in this life either make us bitter or better. Adversity does have the potential to build our character, but it for sure reveals our character. As we grow up and develop greater character we learn how to step back and not be so quick to react in the heat of the moment. Character is a reflection of someone’s heart condition and out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
Many of the grumpiest and most defensive people you know fall in this category. It’s been said that misery loves company. The most miserable people I know are the loudest, most defensive, and most destructive people I know. Like a person drowning they quickly pull others under water even though you may sincerely be trying to help them. These people only want what we all want, PEACE. But, because they are miserable they make others miserable simply by association.They are acting out the overflow of where they are and not everything they do should be taken so personal.
Tell me you’ve not spoken words that you wish you could take back. Anytime we speak before we think it’s rarely a good thing. Anytime we speak everything we are thinking we are bound to say careless words that negatively affect others lives. The Bible makes it clear that we need to be slow to speak because our words do matter.
We all deep down are like little kids. We will take attention anyway we can get it….Positive or Negative. Feeding a negative person with attention associated with their behavior is just adding fuel to a fire. It just keeps it burning and burning. Believe it or not, one of the best ways to limit “potty mouth” is to not be quick to react and feed them with attention that only fuels their behavior.
NO HOME TRAINING
Parents our kids will follow our patterns and examples. There are a lot of grown children raising children these days. There are for sure a lot of homes where God’s way is never mentioned. Behavior and for sure attitudes are contagious. There does come a point where each of us can’t just blame the homes we grew up in and the things we deal with in this life. We have to take responsibility for our actions and realize we will give account for every action and word spoken.
FULL OF THE DEVIL
We are all instruments made for God’s glory. However, there is some truth to someone saying, “The Devil Made Me Do It.” At all times, we are either being led by the Spirit of God or the Flesh. The flesh is sinful and can quickly spout out words that pierce like a knife and make people around feel worthless. Anytime I’m not being led by God, I’m allowing the devil to lead my thoughts and my actions. We can’t ever expect someone full of the devil to act like they are full of God.
I would like to wrap all this up by saying the following. We need not compare ourselves to one another or point the finger at others for all they have done. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness! Rather, we need to pray for each other and deal with the junk in our own trunk. Yes, someone may have hurt you for one of the above reasons, but you have to let it go. God will bring justice in the end and you won’t fix anything by dwelling on the uncontrollable. Take account for your own actions and pray for even those who persecute you. God loves you and God loves them. Jesus died for us all……Praise God, Praise God!
(Matthew 12:36)But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.
Anyone that knows me has rarely if ever heard me talk about politics. Over the years I’ve heard many imply that preachers and politicians have a lot in common. Honestly, I have never liked the comparison, but I will admit that I can see some comparision. Personally, I have never felt like I was trying to win man’s approval or was I trying to make a name for myself. All I know and still know is that God has called me to be a pastor and I accept that responsibility. Now, I will admit that I have watched a good bit of this year’s republican and democratic conventions for probably the first time in my life. And, though I am still praying and processing my vote, several things stood out that I feel preachers, politicians, and any professing Christian needs to hear.
#1: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
When people look into your eyes they want to see your heart. They want to know that you genuinely care about them. People are surrounded by people who just use them and treat them like they don’t really matter. As Christians we are ordered by God to love others as ourselves. This love is more than a sales pitch, more than a kind gesture, but an ongoing display of genuine love for mankind. It’s ok to say you don’t like everything others do, but love for someone is not an option. There has never been a time and there will never will be a time that love doesn’t matter. People matter to God and they should matter to us. Your love for people should always trump your opinion of people.
#2: No one likes to be force fed the truth.
I don’t have to tell anyone that there is a huge disconnect between most churches and their surrounding communities. Some would say it’s just the signs of the times. Others would say it’s because churches have not kept up with today’s times. Now, I would not argue that either one of those haven’t played a part of the problem. But, here is something that I know is a barrier. Anytime, Christians, Preachers, or Politicians seek to force their beliefs upon someone else it rarely works in a positive fashion. I know countless people who grew up feeling they were forced to abide by certain religious practices that to this day want nothing to do with those practices or those people. This has nothing to do with whether there was truth to what they were taught or that these were intended for their good. The bottom line is your approach to carrying any message to another matters a lot. For example, when I preach I never back down from telling the truth regardless of my audience. I preach what I best interpret the Bible has to say about life and eternity. However, I never do so without laying a foundation of clear love for people and that I am speaking on behalf of God. It is time for us each to realize that the truth will not and should not change. But, the way we deliver most truth to others must! We must do so with grace, understanding, compassion, and a Christ like love. And, then once we’ve spoken the truth and the facts, leave the choice of accepting that truth to others.
#3: Trust is built over time.
I’ve always believed that I must earn the right to be heard by someone. Some people are quick to trust anyone, but most of us have been burned over time. We all walk around with scars and even some open wounds from past hurts and disappointments. Trust must be built and can’t be bought. Whether a politician, preacher, or Christian we have to gain people’s trust before we can expect anyone to listen to our message. This is built through the display of true character, compassion, and consistency over time. Remember, building trust is a process, not an event. We must all do the little things that will make a big difference when it comes to earning the trust of those we hope to lead.
#4: People want hope, not more chaos. Many people won’t listen to any debates because they’ve heard enough politic bashing over time. Many people won’t walk into a church because they’ve seen as much chaos within the church as they have outside the church. Many don’t want what most professing Christians have because their lives and lifestyles appear more chaotic than theirs. Not that life is full of butterflies and sunshine, but people are looking for hope. In the midst of chaos and great stress people are looking for hope. People are looking for a reason to wake up another day and look forward to the future. Often times we are heard more for what we’re against than what we are for in this life. Our greatest words of hope are covered by chaos and criticism of one another.
Are you drowning in stress? Tired of carrying the same burdens, getting the same calls from bill collectors, and dealing with the same constant chaos both at work and home? I believe most of us feel we’re caught on a merry go round that is making us both sick and tired. What can we do? What should we do when we feel overwhelmed by life’s demands?
Here are three great places to start……
#1 TALK WITH SOMEBODY….Often times we just need a shoulder to cry on and a safe place to vent. Confessing our heartache, frustrations, and many short comings is often times the begining of healing. Like the relief that comes from throwing up when you have a bad virus is the relief we find when we just get things off our chest that aren’t meant to stay there. You just feel better afterwards! Maybe you need some advice and a fresh perspective as you approach life issues. Maybe you don’t need answers or fixing, but just someone who cares by your side as you process your overwhelming feeling. *Don’t look for someone you think has all the answers, but someone you know that cares about you and what you’re going through.It can make a world of difference and bring some instant relief!
(James 5:16) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
#2 TURN “EVERYTHING” OVER TO GOD….There is nothing in your life that doesn’t matter to God. God tells us to “Cast all of our cares upon Him because He cares for us.” Prayer is the only way to find true relief and the assurance that you’ve placed things in good hands. Some things you just need to give to God and trust him with the results. Some things are a matter of ongoing prayer as you seek God’s ongoing strength, guidance, and peace in the midst of an otherwise unbearable situation. So, why don’t you turn “everything” over to God right now. Your marriage, your children, your finances, your work, your past, your present, and for certain your future. It will take a mountain off your shoulders as you put things on God’s broad, loving shoulders.
(Philippians 4:6-7) 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
#3 LET GOD BE GOD……I tell myself this often. Craig, there is a God and you’re not him! I am convinced that most of us think we’re Super Man or Wonder Woman. You can’t do everything and you can’t be everything to everyone. Trust me, I’ve tried in the past only to realize that I am not “All Powerful”, “All Knowing”, or able to be “All Present”. The great news is God is aware of everything, able to do anything, and able to be everywhere at once. *Trying to hold the world in our hands will always be far beyond our abilities. So, Let Go and Let God Be God!
(Psalm 46:10) He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
If you live long enough you will have someone hurt you. Most heartache comes from relationships that seem so promising and secure, but blow up before we can really make sense of anything. Yes, things develop over time and we can see signs as we look back, but the pain is still real. Picking up the debris from a 9-11 encounter with someone is not an event but a process. Because I counsel so many people dealing with relationship hurt this topic is very dear to my heart and possibly relevant to your life. Here are some things you must know when you feel hurt deeply by someone you really cared about and thought this would never happen.
#1 Step away and cool down It’s been said that sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. Even Jesus had to step away from the crowds, cool down, and refocus on the task at hand. If you react out of your heaviness you are bound to say and do things that are out of character. These things will just add to your regret and prolong your pain.
(Luke 5:16)But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
#2 Recognize your real enemy. Satan is always seeking to destroy relationships and people in the process. Understand that you are in more of a spiritual battle than a physical battle. Otherwise, your words and actions will resemble that of a school boy who feels they have something to prove. As we mature, we have to learn that some of the biggest battles in this life aren’t won with our fists or with words but on our knees.
(1 Peter 5:8) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
#3 Process the Misunderstanding. Whether you or they were mistaken I promise you there was some level of misunderstanding. Often the misunderstanding works both ways as we don’t always know what we think we know. We are often so blinded by our own perspective, feelings, and pain that we can’t see the bigger picture. It is very easy for there to be a breakdown of communication between two people. Process what you may have misunderstood about them and what they may have misunderstood about you. This may not fix anything immediately, but it will help you deal with things with a much greater understanding. Not everything has a rhyme or reason. However, many times someone’s behavior is fueled by their level of understanding or misunderstanding.
(James 5:16)Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
#4 Pray for peace. We will never be able to fully know how, but peace comes when we let go and let God have control of the situation. Turning things over to God assures you that everything is in good hands. Turning things over to God takes the weight of the world off your shoulders. Just a word of great importance…Don’t just ask God for mercy, but repent of any way you may have stepped out of line in your actions. Your prayers should not be about God just fixing them, but you asking God to heal you both.
(Philippians 4:6-7) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
#5 Leave Justice to God. There is always a great temptation to take matters into your own hands. We want to show them they don’t mess with us. We want to prove that we were right and they were wrong. We want to make them hurt like they hurt us. These are all normal feelings to have when your heart is racing and your blood pressure is rising. Fortunately, we don’t have to take justice into our own hands. God will have the final say and justice will prevail in the end. Either on this side or the other side of eternity.
(Galatians 6:7) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow.
Knowing that 60 % of marriages end in divorce I decided to reflect on some things I’ve discovered make the difference between a marriage that is lucky to survive versus one that thrives. Here are seven things that set great marriages apart from the average. I pray it encourages your relationship in some way, shape, or form.
1. GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER
Aimee and I both knew each other before we got married. We dated for over 4 years before getting married. No, I don’t think there is any magic number of months or years that a couple must date before marriage. But, I do believe that two people should at least have a true idea of who they are marrying before they walk that aisle and say “I Do”. You need to do a background check and most of all a character check of the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with on this earth. Time reveals a lot of things and character is one of them.
2. LEARN HOW TO FIGHT
We learned how to fight before we got married and we continue to learn. Over time we’ve learned how to fight and make up each day. Until you’ve had some major disagreements and learned how to resolve those together you can’t have a deep relationship. Don’t be afraid of conflict, but see it as an opportunity to grow closer together even if you are worlds apart. No relationship is without conflict and there will always be differences that must be worked out. Any time I hear a couple tell me that they’ve never had a major disagreement that lets me know two things. One, they aren’t married. Two, they have not really gotten to know each other. They just have a surface, puppy love relationship. Learn how to fight and deal with everyday conflict with love and understanding. Don’t let things pile up until you explode or the other person is packing their bags to leave.
3. DON’T FORSAKE YOUR FAITH
Feelings come and go. Beauty is fleeting. But, faith is eternal and the glue necessary for keeping any marriage solid and two people on the same page.Does it matter that they aren’t a Christian? You bet it does. Does it matter that one of you see faith as a huge priority and the other person doesn’t? Absolutely. Most marriages that end in divorce do so because their relationship is built around circumstantial feelings and wishful thinking. The scripture is clear that unless a house or a “marriage” is built on Christ “The Rock” it’s foundation is destined to collapse. We started out united in faith and that continues to be the greatest bridge in our relationship.We both know that faith is the glue. For most couples “Faith is an after thought and something that each person keeps in their pocket. The truth is without God’s help and grace, no marriage can be what God created it to be. The only thing that separates a great marriage from a train wreck is God’s goodness and power to bring oneness between two imperfect people.
4. MAKE TIME FOR EACH OTHER
Nothing is a greater “Red Flag” to me than a couple who says the kids come first and they are our world. Well guess what, you are raising your kids to one day leave, but you and your spouse will be living together the rest of your lives. If you build everything around the kids now you will have no relationship apart from them later. Maybe you don’t have kids, but the two of you never spend quality time together due to work or outside interests. Make time for each other or you will drift apart even if you live in the same house. We have always taken time for “US”. A lot can get in the way of a marriage. Work, Kids, etc…You have to make time for your relationship. You can’t build around kids, work, or anything else. I love my kids to death, but my kids know that “Momma” comes first. I love being a pastor, but I don’t put it above being a husband.
5. TAKE YOUR VOWS SERIOUSLY
A great marriage takes two people wholeheartedly committed to loving, cherishing, and honoring one another as long as they both shall live. We have never seen divorce as an option. We don’t look for a way out of our issues, but for the best way to get through the adversity in this life “Together”. I’ll never forget a gentleman I worked with several years ago who was happily married. This man had been married for over 20 years and one day we were eating lunch together. While he was eating lunch I saw him reading something he pulled out of his wallet. I said, What are you reading so seriously over there? He said, “This is a copy of my wedding vows I promised to my wife years ago. I pull them out from time to time so that I can remember what I promised her.” Wow, I thought to myself. This man takes his wedding vows very seriously and he had a great marriage to prove it.
6. REALIZE THERE ARE NO PERFECT MARRIAGES
Many ignorant people think the grass is always greener on the other side. Oh, if I could only find the right person and the perfect person things would be perfect. We both know there are no perfect marriages. The grass is not always greener on the other side. When you get married you go from one imperfect person to two imperfect people seeking to become one. Every marriage is a challenge and every couple has to learn over time how to love and understand the person they’ve chosen to marry.
7. UNDERSTAND WHAT TRUE LOVE IS…
We both understand LOVE is more than feeling. You hear people saying all the time that they’ve fallen in and out of love with someone. You may grow frustrated, grow apart, or grow not to appreciate the person they have become. But, love is a choice. Love is to choice to care for someone no matter what they may do or say. This doesn’t mean you just let someone do whatever they want to do with no consequence or accountability. But, it does mean that love is risky. You have to put your whole heart out there. Love should not be dependent upon how I feel otherwise you will leave early. But, Love is a commitment to love , cherish, and honor your partner come rain, snow, or sunshine. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health as long as you both shall live.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Every marriage made in Heaven has a story of how God brought two people together. Looking back it is always amazing to see how God’s will is not limited by distance or circumstance. In celebration of our 15 Years of Marriage here are :
15 THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT US
1) Aimee was born in El Paso, Texas and I was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Her dad served in the Army and my dad served in the Marines.
2) We met at St. George High School, but never started dating until I graduated and Aimee was a junior.
3) Early into dating, Aimee and I both attended a Youth Bible Study. Later that night, out in my car I had the joy of leading my wife into a life changing relationship with Jesus.
4) Aimee did not grow up going to church often and I never even thought about being a preacher.
5) Aimee and I both attended Charleston Southern University. GO BUCS!
6) We went to seminary at SWBTS in Fort Worth, Texas. We moved 18 hours away from all family and friends with our first child Matthew who was 5 months old at the time.
7) In just 15 years of marriage we’ve moved all of our stuff and belongings to 12 different locations and homes. We still have things that have been boxed for years.
8) In the last 15 years God has called us to serve at seven different churches as youth pastor, associate pastor, founding pastor, and presently chaplain at Hospice.
9) Aimee and I have both been in what could have been life ending car wrecks. Aimee broke the windshield with her head, was covered in blood and came home two hours later from MUSC hospital. I was hit head on by a drunk driver who ran straight through a stop sign at 55 mph. Both cars were more than totaled and we both walked away with no major injuries. I guess that proves we both have hard heads and that God has the final say!
10) In October 2004, we literally left everything to start a church in St. George, SC my hometown. We left all income, lived with family for six months, and our boys were 5, 3, & 1 at that time. All we knew was God was in charge and we were clueless. I worked two jobs, plus the church, and within six months GracePointe Church was the largest church in Upper Dorchester County.
11) On our 10th anniversary Aimee and I went on our first every cruise together to the Bahamas. I sang her about a 100 songs at karaoke, whileshe rolled her eyes until I quit.
12). Aimee has put together practically every piece of furniture in our home. I do however, cut the grass and help with house work! I may turn my man card in after telling you this, but the truth is the truth. It just boils down to she actually reads the directions!
13) In 15 years we’ve been blessed with four healthy boys. They are now in 8th, 6th, and 3rd grade…(Oh and there is a 2 ½ yr old that runs wild . Aimee deserves 4 gold medals because each of these big boys came into this world basically 9 pounds or bigger a piece.
14) We have gone on some kind of “Couple Only” retreat every year we’ve been married. We both have always believed that we must make time for our relationship.
15) Aimee and I have a much closer relationship today than we ever had when we first started out. We’ve learned and are still learning how to communicate and live with one another in an understanding way. I’ve gotten a lot smarter over time. I actually listen to my wife!
WHO KNOWS WHAT THE NEXT 15 YEARS WILL BE LIKE……Can’t Wait!!!!!!!!!!
I still recall that night God spoke clearly to my heart, “Craig, you have found the one you can’t live without. “ It was then, I knew my search was over and that Aimee Lynn Perrin was meant to be my lifelong partner. By God’s grace, she said YES after I proposed to her at a window seat in California Dreaming. Finally, after dating 4 ½ years we both walked the aisle, exchanged sacred vows, and began this amazing adventure called marriage on August 23, 1997. Today, we celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary. As part of this celebration I’ve written the following: “15 Reasons I Love My Wife”.
Radiates both Inside & Out
Makes life more colorful
Keeps her by my side
Makes her my greatest cheerleader
Keeps her strong and focused
Never leaves me lonely
Forgives my countless mistakes
Brings many words of wisdom
Moves my heart to love her more
Gives me room to fly
Keeps me honest and grounded
Takes me places I could never go alone
Shines through countless acts of unselfishness
To honor, love, and cherish me daily brings joy to my heart
Changed my life on August 23, 1997…..I can’t imagine life without her!
Aimee, as long as there is breath in me I will Love, Cherish, and Honor You
For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer
As long as we both shall live
I woke up earlier than usual to help my wife get our boys ready for their first day back at school. Aimee headed one way with our middle school boys, while I headed to the elementary school with a 3rd grader and a two year old by my side. I must admit that I woke up with the wrong perspective. Thinking to myself, “Oh Lord, why do I have to get out of this bed so early and why do I have to take these kids to school?” Man, did I need a major attitude adjustment. By 8a.m. my entire perspective was changed as I found myself saying, “thank you God for another day with my kids, teachers who care, and a job where I know we have the opportunity to make an eternal difference.
What about you? Are you looking at life as a glass half empty or half full? A pessimistic attitude can be very contagious and someone like me could be contributing to ungratefulness. Now, I know deep down that we’re all thankful for the blessings in our everyday life. We are thankful for jobs that pay the bills. We are thankful for family and friends by our side. And, we’re even thankful for the opportunities our children have to learn (we just wish they could do that in the evenings)! Seriously, we all know we’re blessed by God with anything we have, but sometimes we fail to thank him amidst our present frustration.
I have decided that from this moment forward I will wake up and say, “Thank you God I woke up” instead of “Oh Lord, Do I have to get up?” I will give thanks to the God who created me, has given me a daily purpose, and a family to share the ups and downs of life with. What about you? Will you give thanks for what you do have or throw fits over what you don’t? Will you see this day as just another day or a God-made day? Well, I have to get to work. God bless you all!
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(James 1:17)Every good and perfect gift is from above,coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,who does not changelike shifting shadows.
College football is about to kickoff not that I’m counting down the days. Millions will tune in to watch their favorite teams. Gamecocks, Tigers, Panthers, and countless other fans will fill the stands or enjoy the game on TV, internet, or radio. Will you be one of them? Before you get swept away by football mania let’s put this sport into perspective. My wife will quickly tell you that my favorite television station by far is ESPN and my favorite sport by far is college football. I’m one of those guys who hopes to watch every game regardless of who’s playing, but I don’t want to take things too far. Here is when football is the devil…
When football IS YOUR LIFE…They call them football widows. Just like some ladies won’t see their husbands much this fall because of their hunting obsession the same will hold true for those who live for the upcoming football season. When the sport itself becomes bigger than life it will throw your entire life and priorities out of order. Don’t let it!
When football CHEATS YOUR FAMILY…Everybody needs a hobby, but when it becomes an obsession everyone around you pays dearly. Several years back my wife asked me a very fair question. She asked, “Do you think on Saturdays you can limit yourself to just one ball game so that we can actually do something together as a family.” It was at that moment that I realized my family was suffering from what I viewed as a harmless game. It’s fine to enjoy watching ball games, but if your spouse and kids hate you during the season it’s not worth it.
When football is MORE THAN JUST A GAME….I love South Carolina football, but I remind myself before and after every ball game that it is just a game. One team will win and another team will lose. To put things into greater perspective, a year from now no one will care who won that day. It’s just a game! You’re not playing and it won’t affect your overall future in life. Don’t forget it or you are bound to be disappointed because undefeated seasons are rare.
When football is YOUR GOD…There is no arguing that many worship the game of football. Countless hours and billions of dollars will be spent on the sport. You worship whatever you care the most about, give the most to, and do the most for. People who can barely pay their light bill will purchase season tickets. People who give nothing to support their local church will pay hundreds to watch a sport that holds no eternal value. When football itself dictates your life and perspective more than God’s word you have crowned football as your God, which is a very dangerous play to be.
(Matthew 6:19-21) 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
My granddad was one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known. He was a very successful business man, made a lot of money, and helped a lot of people throughout his 87 years. The only thing he never learned how to do was take a vacation. Maybe it was his upbringing, his generation, or just his preference. If he ran into you enjoying a weekday apart from work he would call it “unapplied time”. I would tell him then what I still believe now, “I love me some unapplied time.”
I was raised to work hard and to carry your weight in this life. Every day I wake up and ask God to use me as a living sacrifice that brings joy to His heart and hope to others. However, I believe we all need to know when it’s time to get away. Granddad worked six days a week and then went to church all day Sunday. I can’t recall a single time he really got away the entire time I knew him. He did take us to his lake house periodically. But, even those days consisted of picking up pine cones, burning debris all day and then heading back home with a belly full of sardines. I thought we were going to have fun, fish and go swimming. It never happened. Here is why I’m so passionate about vacation.
VACATION IS A TIME TO “RUN AWAY” from the everyday, routine, and stressful things of life. Yes, it will all still be there when you return, but you need a break. Whether you go to the beach, the mountains, or somewhere you’ve never gone before make sure you leave behind the demands and deadlines.
VACATION IS A TIME TO “RELAX”. Catch up on sleep, prop your feet up in the air, and make life as easy as possible. I feel really sorry for those who never learn how to relax, have fun and enjoy “unapplied time”.
VACATION IS A TIME TO “REFOCUS” on what matters most. If you don’t break away and slow down you’ll never be able to evaluate where you are and where you’re headed in this life. Maybe some family time is long overdue. Maybe you and your spouse are drifting apart. Maybe you need time to ponder and pray about some very important decisions that lie ahead.
VACATION IS A TIME TO “RECHARGE”. The longer you keep going through the motions of life the closer you are to burnout. Everyone needs their strength restored, their stress reduced, and their passion in life renewed.
VACATION IS A TIME TO “REFRESH”. Anything gets old after a while and you just need a change of sights and sounds. Get out, smell the roses, and put your toes in the sand God made. When it’s all said and done you will return to work better and stronger.
I wholeheartedly believe that a good vacation is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, a healthy family, and a healthy perspective. I usually plan our vacation time months in advance because I don’t see it as an option, but a necessity!
They are family, friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, acquaintances and even church members. You stumble into them and know that a war awaits. They raise your blood pressure and always seem ready to fight. They are “Complicated People.”
Usually we do our best to avoid them. If we see them coming our way we seek to run or hide. If we recognize their name on the caller ID we don’t answer. Should we have to encounter them we pray God gives us patience and deliverance. Sometimes complicated people are avoidable, but sometimes they aren’t. Complicated people force us to put together a different game plan when it comes to dealing with their unpredictable behavior. Here are some things we should do….
1. DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONAL
Complicated people aren’t trying to be complicated, they just are complicated. There is no rhyme or reason as to what they say or do. They are like a baby full of milk who has been shaken and then throws up on whoever might be near them at the moment. It’s not personal, but simply a reflection of a battle raging within them. Complicated people are dealing with a volcano on the inside that keeps erupting on the outside. Each of us operate out of where we are and out of the overflow of our heart’s condition.
(Luke 6:45) “Good people bring good things out of the good stored up in their heart, and evil people bring evil things out of the evil stored up in their heart. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”
2. BE SLOW TO SPEAK
Saying too much to a complicated person is like pouring gasoline on a fire. It just flares things up and increases the chaos. Complicated people wait for you to say anything that might even seem the slightest bit offensive so that they might have a cause to defend.Don’t ever think you can win a battle of words with someone who is not healthy enough to carry on a healthy conversation. Listen to what they are saying and consider deeply what is necessary and beneficial to say. Saying a bunch of words may make you feel better at the moment, but if all you do is stoop to their level nothing good will come from it.
(James 1:19-20) 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
3. LOVE THEM LIKE JESUS
The most complicated people are flat miserable. They feel unloved, unappreciated, and that no one really cares. They take on a seemingly carefree attitude when in all actuality they just want to be accepted, loved, and appreciated. Often times when someone is starving for attention they will take it any way they can get it (Positive or Negative).The greatest sign that God lives within us is God’s love pouring through us. Complicated people don’t need some love, they need more love.
(1 John 4:11-13) 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.
4. STEP AWAY WHEN NECESSARY
There are times we have to step away. You stick around complicated people too long and you will soon become like the company you keep. Scripture tells us that even Jesus found it necessary to step away from the crowds and complicated people. Notice, I did not say run away, but step away. Take time to refocus, regroup, and recharge in God’s presence. This will allow you the opportunity to look proactively instead of reactively at life’s challenges.
(Luke 5:16) Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
5. PRAY FOR THEM…..
Only God can heal the hurting, harassed and helpless. None us can fix anyone or change someone’s heart. Only God can heal them and give them peace from the inside/out.
I believe one of the areas we fail miserably in as Christ followers is our lack of prayer and especially prayer for those we feel oppose us. Instead of wishing them harm, pray they find God’s peace and purpose in their life. They matter to God, so they should matter to us. Their words may be sharp, but their pain is deep. They may act very careless, but inside they feel hopeless. Pray that God heals the root of what is bothering them and that they might soon be able to process what is tormenting them.
(Matthew 5:44) But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
If you don’t know by now, God uses the toughest times in your life to speak to you the loudest.
I guess its the only way he can get our full attention….Here is just a little something I felt inspired to share with you all.
There are times in life you aren’t sure what’s going on around you.
But, you know GOD IS THERE.
There are times when everything and everyone seems to be falling apart.
But, you know GOD IS THERE.
There are times when you feel like giving up and giving in.
But, you know GOD IS THERE.
There are times when you question everything in your life
But, you know GOD IS THERE.
There are times when you wonder what’s next
But, you know GOD IS THERE
There are times when the future feels so uncertain
But, you know GOD IS THERE
There are times when you think you are going to break
But, you know GOD IS THERE
There are times when you wonder how much more your heart can take
But, you know GOD IS THERE
There are times when you wonder how you’ll get through this alone
But, you know GOD IS TEHRE
My friends, what an awesome thing to know
That no matter where you go or what you are facing… GOD IS THERE.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”
So, we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
Recently, I took some much needed time to reflect on things that God has taught me through the years. Of course, we’re always learning, but I think the following top ten is worth sharing. Hope you’ll read it and make comments…
THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT THIS LIFE.
1. LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME. I definitely believe it’s when you understand life is all about God’s glory and not your own agenda that you began to separate yourself from the everyday crowd.(READ: 1 Corinthians 10:31)
2. LIFE IS SHORT. Most of us when we were younger thought we would live forever. But, after you attend enough funerals and lose enough loved ones you quit taking this life for granted. It’s not until you start living like you’re dying that you begin to make the most of this life.(READ: James 4:13-17)
3. LIFE IS HARD. Over the last 20 years I have attended a lot of high school graduations. At, at every one of them I have wanted to run down, grab the microphone, and let every graduate know that life is not going to get any easier. I wake up each day not wanting trials, but expecting trials in this life. And, I ask God to help me be prepared when they come. (READ: John 16:33)
4. LIFE IS NOT FAIR. If you live in the same world as me you see what you would call a lot of injustice. And, there is temptation to want to take matters into our own hands. But, God has impressed upon my heart that no this life will never be fair, but in the end God will bring justice.(READ: Romans 14:12)
5. LIFE IS NOT MEANT TO BE LIVED ALONE. Anyone who says I don’t need others in my life or I don’t want others in my life doesn’t realize the necessity of relationships. God said in the book of Genesis, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We all have times where we need encouragement, accountability, and an out pouring of God’s love through friends, family, or even a perfect stranger.(READ: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
6. LIFE HAS ALREADY BEEN PLANNED. One of the most freeing and exciting things is knowing that God has a plan for your life. And, you don’t need to create your purpose, but rather you need to discover your God given purpose. Rick Warren makes this very understandable and clear in his best selling book “The Purpose Driven Life”. (READ: Jeremiah 29:11)
7. THIS LIFE IS NOT THE END. When I realize that I am just passing through this life on the way to the next I find it dramatically changes my perspective. This life is temporary. The Bible says that we will die someday. And, when we die we will stand before God where it will be determined where we spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. I know I am just passing through this world on my way to the next. Therefore, I live each day with eternity in mind. (READ: Matthew 6:19-20)
8. THIS LIFE WILL NEVER SATSIFY ME. I meet too many people who are still looking for that perfect lover, that perfect job, or that perfect something. The older I get the more I realize that this life and what it has to offer will never give me fulfillment. Only through my personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ am I able to find peace, comfort, and satisfaction. We all have a God shaped void within us. Nothing else and no one else can fill that emptiness inside of you! (READ: John 4:13-14)
9. LIFE DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. God has taught me that it is not my job to try to figure out all that goes around me. Instead, I need to trust God not matter what happens around me.(READ: Proverbs 3:5-6)
10. THIS LIFE IS EVER CHANGING. Everyone one of us are somewhere in life that we’ve never been before. A high school student, a college graduate, just married, a first time parent, a grandparent, on top of the world, then on our way out of this world…..(READ: Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
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I think we can admit that money is a hot topic in every household. Especially these days when things are tight for most and tough decisions have to made. Maybe you are at a point where you need a financial makeover? Or maybe you just need a renewed perspective when it comes to money? Here are ten things I’ve learned about money and still learning……
1. Society should never be my role model. (Most people are drowning in debt)
2. If I don’t manage my money, my money will manage me.
3. A budget is always necessary and it frees me to focus on more important things.
4. Money is something to be utilized, but never idolized.
5. God is my provider and will always make sure I have what I NEED.
6. Worrying about money all the time FIXES NOTHING.
7. You will never have enough…Learn to be content with what you have…
8. Honor God with every dollar and He will bless your every dollar!
9. It really is more blessed to give than it is to receive.
10. I will give an account one day for how I manage what God gave me in the first place.
*Not only are these things practical, but everyone one of them are biblical.
1. Your kids need you! More than the bills paid, more than pop corn and the movie, your kids need you. Yes, I know you’ve got to work and you are very busy. But, you must make time to spend with each of your children. As you know, they grow up quick and you will wish you spent more time with them later.
*I have four boys of my own as most of you know. I try as often as possible to have daddy days with each one of them individually. During that time I may take one of them fishing, to get ice cream, or just on a ride with me to do something for someone in need. The main goal is that I spend time with them, letting them know I care, and listening to what is going on in their life. Nothing spells love like TIME. Your kids know when they are a top priority to you and whether they are more important than your work, your church, and any other commitments you might have.
2. Your kids are watching you! Yes, I know that’s pretty scary, but so true. Kids are smarter than we give them credit. They see how we treat our spouse, they see how we spend our time, they see how we handle life. One thing we all have to remember is that each day of parenting is an opportunity of preparation. My kids won’t live with me all my life, so it is my God given role to prepare them for life without me. We teach loudest by what we do, not just by what we say. What is your life teaching your child.
*I sincerely believe most parents dearly love their children, but most of us are failing miserably in the area of leading by example.
3. Your kids are following you. It’s been said that 85% of children will follow in their parents footsteps. So, where are you leading your children. If they follow you dad, what kind of man will they become? If they are following you Mom, what kind of woman will they become? They will learn from you how a marriage should or should not work. They will learn from you how a family should or should not function. Yes, others will have influence on your children, but the primary influencer in the end will be parents. For good or bad, for better or worse, your influence will matter.
*I pray that everyone one of us will fully accept the God given blessing of raising up our children in the way God would have us to do.
I could write much more on this matter. But, I would love for you to add your thoughts. What are some things you believe parents really need to know and make priority in raising their kids?
Have you been watching the Olympics? Last I checked Team USA and China were leading the pack with gold medals. One of the events we’ve racked up the medals in has been swimming. I can only imagine how much hard work, laps, and exhaustion have gone into each participant training for the Olympics. Most of those who win a gold medal have trained all their life, put in countless hours, and dealt with much adversity before they could proudly see their countries flag raised in their honor. We live in a day and time where everyone wants the prize, but few are willing to endure what it takes to get there. Here are some things you want to keep in mind if you’re aim to win the gold.
NEVER SWIM ALONE
I used to work as a life guard at a camp where every fifteen minutes we blew our whistles and yelled, “BUDDY CHECK”. At that time, everyone had to grab the hand of their buddy and lift them high. Those found without a buddy had to sit a while outside the water. Why? Because everyone needed a buddy just in case something happened. We all need buddies to be there when we’re discouraged or maybe even drowning as life knocks us down. Who’s your buddy? I can promise you that none of us will make it far without others around us, with us, and at times even there to carry us through tough times.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)9 Two are better than one,because they have a good return for their work:
10 If one falls down,his friend can help him up. But pity the man who fallsand has no one to help him up!
PLAY BY THE RULES
Whether we accept them or reject them, God has given us a rule book (THE BIBLE). Those who choose to live by it can’t go wrong, but those who choose to just ignore its instruction and commands will live to regret it. In the end “lack of integrity” will prove costly. Just ask Joe Paterno and his family who not only saw his statue removed, but his legacy ruined.
(Psalm 1:1-3) 1 Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but who delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on his law day and night.
3 They are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
We live in a world that loves to run from one thing to the next. Instead of taking one day at time we long for instant success with our fast food and pay at the pump mentality. Slow down and view life as a marathon, not a forty yard dash. Seek to do things God speed, not your speed. Don’t miss the moment in front of you because you’re rushing to get to the next. Those seeking to live at the frantic pace of this world often burnout and never finish what they started.
(James 4:13-15)13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE
A greater purpose and goal can keep us motivated when circumstances make us feel like giving up. It’s real easy to get side tracked by details and it’s critical that we keep in mind why we’re doing what we’re doing. There are times that only my desire to please God keeps me pressing forward. There are many times that the greater good being accomplished takes my mind off the distractions surrounding me.
(1 Corinthians 9:24) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
(Philippians 3:14) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
VIEW ADVERSITY AS A BUILDING BLOCK
Things are going to happen and come your way that you did not invite. During this time God is shaping you, developing you, and building you into the person He has created you to be in this life. God will use even the most painful times to make you stronger and ready for what lies ahead in your life. God is in the business of taking what appears to be a mess and creating something beautiful.
(James 1:2-4)2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(Job 23:10) But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
Maybe you can’t see it and you certainly don’t feel like it, but you have come a long way. Don’t give up now. Keep swimming, keep striving, and keep trusting God for the growth and the victory that only He can bring in your everyday life. God has created you with His purposes in mind. As long as you have air to breathe God has a purpose for your existence. Don’t let anything and anyone take you off course, but keep swimming towards God’s best for you and your family. Through your faithfulness and because of God’s faithfulness, God will take your further than you ever dream or imagine.
(Galatians 6:9)9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
I bet you didn’t’ know that I have four kids and my wife has five. Some people have wondered if our house is a zoo, I would like to confirm those thoughts to be accurate. Ok I must admit that we don’t have nine kids, but my wife does count me as one of her boys. She actually says I am not only the biggest, but by far the highest maintenance. This post is not about information, but giving affirmation to a woman I dearly love and value.
Aimee and I dated for 4 ½ years and have now been married for 15 years come this August 23rd. During this time we have been blessed with four boys who are very close to turning 13, 11, 9, and then you have Asher who is a 2 ½ year old bundle of energy. Needless to say, they keep us busy. In fact, one of us stays really, really busy. Her name is Aimee Crosby. I wanted to take the time to give this more than deserving tribute to my wife.
First of all, her support is off the charts. I knew before I ever got married that I would have to marry someone way beyond average if they were to endure the ups and downs of being a pastor’s wife. We have physically moved our entire family and belongings ELEVEN times in only 15 years of marriage. Our biggest leap was when we moved to Fort Worth, Texas while our first son was only five months old. My wife has supported me through college, seminary, youth ministry, church planting, and now hospice chaplaincy. She has stood by my side when others would have run away and she has loved me when others would have only been bitter.
Secondly, she defines “Real Love”. Aimee has taught me true love not by what she says, but what she embodies. As, a 94 year old lady once told me, “Pastor, love is such is strong word.” Yes, I have been as guilty as any of just using love as a word. I recall that moment a little over five years ago that I realized my wife was not the problem, but that I had a lot to learn from her. From her I have learned that “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Some people talk a lot (That’s me) and then some people love a lot (That’s her). It is the love displayed greatest that speaks the loudest. I have come to understand that my wife may not be as verbally expressive as me, but her actions speak for themselves.
Finally, she is irreplaceable! I admit that in the past I have joked that if something happened to her, I would quickly remarry. Well, maybe I would and maybe I wouldn’t. Actually, I don’t want to think about life without her. What I do know is that I will never find someone with such love, support, and patience to put up with me and all that goes with my calling in this life. You see, Aimee does not see us as individuals, but as partners in this life. She knows that we are a team and has always gladly been willing to play her irreplaceable part behind the scenes. Nothing against many other ladies, but she is not one of those ladies who demands things her way. She is not one of those people who thinks “Me first” in a me first world. She just wakes up each day and seeks to be the best wife she can be and the best mother our kids could as for in this life.
Some of you may never get the opportunity to meet my wife Aimee or to know what she does behind the scenes. But, trust me when I tell you that she is more than just my bride of 15 years. She is why someone came up with the saying “Behind every good man is a good woman.” Aimee Crosby I love you and appreciate you more than you will ever know.
It’s been exactly one week and counting since the tragic loss of my co-worker’s 19 year old daughter. My heart is still heavy and my mind still racing at 4 a.m. in the morning. Shouldn’t I be moving on by now? After all, not only am I a Christian, but I ‘m a hospice chaplain. Shouldn’t I have enough faith and experiences to soar through this time in my life. Why is knowing that she is in a much better place than me not enough to settle my every thought? Here is the truth about grief.
Grief is a process, not an event. You don’t just wake up the next morning after a deep loss and say, “Hey, I’m ok, let’s put all this behind me.” Sure, we all just want to move forward, but grieving is never that simple. When someone you love is missing in your life it takes time and a whole lot of adjustments before a person can find a new normal in this life. You need time to accept the reality that they are really gone. You need time to process your deepest thoughts and feelings. And, you need time as you learn daily how to trust God time and time again with this new reality.
Here is what I am deeply afraid is the perception of even most Christians. Most people believe that if I have faith, then I shouldn’t still battle the flesh. If this is the case, then everyone’s faith is shallow. The truth is that the flesh is always pulling on me, which is why I need faith to pull me through the days and the nights. You can wholeheartedly believe that God has a greater plan and will take care of you, yet still be processing your human emotions. Yes, there is a God, but you’re not Him. We can’t see what He sees and we don’t know what He knows.
God’s word talks about there being a battle within us. There is a tug of war between the flesh of man and the spirit of God. Only the spirit of God can give us peace, joy, and happiness. However the flesh can make us stir crazy and worry to death about everything. In our heart of hearts we know that only God can handle things, but in our flesh we feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders.
Now, I don’t know what might be keeping you up at night. But, I do know that grief is a journey. A journey we can’t get through alone. A journey that usually takes longer than we would like it to take. A journey that is necessary if we are to find real peace and real perspective in this life. Here is what God has led me to continue to do…..
KEEP PRESSING FORWARD….(Philippians 3:12) 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
KEEP PRAYING….(Philippians 4:6-7) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
KEEP PERSPECTIVE… (2 Corinthians 4:8)We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
KEEP PEACE…(John 14:27) Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
There are many things we are still trying to figure out about this life, but one thing is for sure, life is a series of changes. At home, at work, and in society we deal with constant change. Some people like change, most people don’t, but regardless of your preference things are always in the process of changing. Here are three keys to dealing with change!
1. EXPECT Change….If you don’t expect change you will daily be taken by surprise and disappointed. Change and trials often go hand in hand. Usually what makes something a bigger trial is that we just didn’t see it coming our way. No, we cannot predict what will happen today or tomorrow. But, we can ask God to help us to be prepared for the changes that are sure to occur both in and around us.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4)(The Message)
2. EMBRACE Change….. You either see things as accidents or divine appointments. I believe that everything happens for a reason and will either leave us bitter or better. A person who fights with change is always trying to turn back time and make things like they used to be. The person who embraces change may not like what is happening, but is determined to see something good come from their present season of life.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)(NIV)
3. TRUST GOD through Change….God is the only one who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Despite what is going on around you, God is always with you and for you. God will protect you. God will provide for you. God will develop and anchor you on the inside, while everything is changing on the outside.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)
I’ve buried countless people and have been by the dying bed side of a couple hundred. But, this time was different for some reason. Maybe it was because it was so unexpected, maybe it was because it hit so close to home, and maybe it was because it just felt terrible in so many ways. Earlier that day we had no idea that our co-worker and friend would tragically lose her 19 year old daughter in a car accident later that evening. Days later we are left with the God sized task of not only accepting this reality, but figuring out a way to move forward. After many tears, prayers, and searching God’s word I think I’ve found some comfort and direction as we seek to move forward. I sought to answer these three critical questions during the funeral of Allie Murdaugh, a very special young lady who has touched the lives of so many in her short life here on this earth.
Question #1: WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
To that I quickly confess….I DON’T KNOW, but GOD DOES.
None of this makes sense from our perspective.
But, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a plan.
(Proverbs 16:9) In their hearts human beings plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens:2 a time to be born and a time to die….
From our view things appear to be accidents. God only has APPOINTMENTS.
Hebrews 9:27 it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Now, I realize that many will say, “How can you say this is God’s will?” I’m not saying that everything that has happened was God’s will, but I am saying that God is never taken by surprise and that God has numbered our days. Only God knows when we will be born and when we will die.
Question #2: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
I believe most of us are still in shock and the reality of this has not clearly set in.
Right now, it is more like a bad dream where you wish you could just wake up and it not be true.
Here is what we must do if we are to move forward…
1.RUN TO GOD
*You can turn many directions to drown your pain but only God can give you true help and healing.
(Psalm 121:1-8) 1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm —he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore
2. TRUST GOD’S PLANS
(Proverbs 3:5-6) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.[a]
It is perfectly normal and human to ask, “WHY?”
But, ultimately we have to trust that God has a higher purpose than we can see at this time.
Scripture says God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.
3. WALK WITH GOD DAILY
God sent His son Jesus so that He could have a personal relationship with each one of us.
Our feelings and circumstances will change like the weather but God is the only one who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Alesa, one thing I have learned during our time of working together at hospice is that you have a real and ongoing relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ.
It was just last Friday that you posted the following scripture on your facebook status…
(Psalm 31:5) (GNT) I place myself in your care. You will save me, LORD; you are a faithful God.
Question #3: WHERE IS ALLIE NOW?
As some of us saw and others heard about…
Allie was in a very bad car wreck late Wednesday afternoon.
Those who saw her last didn’t see the beautiful girl they once knew as Allie Murdaugh.
Let’s make this very clear. Allie is not only ok, but she is better than that.
You see, when a believer in Jesus Christ dies we don’t grieve for them, we grieve for us.
Why? Because we miss them and want them to be around forever.
A couple of days ago, when Allie drew her last breath on this earth she did not die, but she transitioned to a real and unbelievable place called Heaven.
(Revelation 21:4) says this about Heaven…He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away
(2 Corinthians 5:17)“If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.”
No, Allie Murdaugh was not here on this earth nearly as long as many would like but she is now in the safe arms of Jesus.
She is in a place of complete peace, joy, and eternal happiness.
Why? Because Allie received God’s grace and forgiveness and placed her faith in Jesus Christ.
(John 3:16) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(Romans 10:9) If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Many ask, but how can we know she’s in Heaven)(1 John 5:13) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Yesterday, one of the gentlemen who worked at Herndon’s Funeral home was getting the chapel ready for the service. For a few moments he sat that big picture of Allie you saw on your way in (leaned up against the second to last pew) as he went to go get something. When he got back what he saw gave him chills and I believe will give us some confirmation. The sun was beaming through the stained glass window and the only thing lit up was the face and the smile of Allie. He said it was as if she was glowing, radiating with joy. It was such a sight that he ran and got some of the others to come and look at it themselves.
Today, we celebrate not for ourselves, but for Allie and the new life that she has because of God’s grace and through her faith in Jesus Christ.
*We all must continue to keep this family in our prayers and offer whatever support we can.
*Should anyone reading this want to know more about how they can know Jesus Christ as their personal savior and ever present friend, please feel free to message me on facebook or email me at email@example.com. Allie, rest in peace!
We all know deep down inside that anything is possible in this life. We have dreams, hopes, and we have fears. Our greatest fears normally consist of those “What If” moments that we know are possible, but we pray we never personally face in our lifetime. Tonight, one of my dear friends and co-workers faced one of those “What If” reality moments that we all pray we never face.
Her daughter was on her way back home when the SUV she was driving flipped and ejected her through the window. Allie was her oldest daughter and a freshmen in college. Shortly after her accident a police officer knocked on their door to inform them that their daughter had been in a very bad accident and was rushed by helicopter to a nearby Hospital.
Upon arrival at the hospital, her mom and dad were informed that not only was their daughter in critical condition, but that unless God chose to perform a miracle there was nothing doctors could do to keep her stay alive. Practically anyone would have said before this car accident occured that their daughter had all of life in front of her.Even with this not being my child, I found myself standing there in shock, disbelief, and hurting so deeply for this couple who I know dearly loved their little girl.
So many things go through your mind. Could this really be happening? Is this reality or am I having a bad dream. Earlier that day, things seemed like just another day. Everything seemed safe and certain until that officer showed up at their door. All of sudden a “What If” moment that no parent wants to experience was experienced. About six hours later when Ali’s heart quit beating in that ICU room that “What If” became reality.
Now, I would never suggest that we should ever wake up and hope for bad things to happen. However, I do believe that we all have to live each day with the realistic perspective that the “What If” could happen at anytime. What if one of my loved ones are not here tomorrow? What if I never have another chance to talk with my wife, my children, or one of my friends again? What if things don’t work out the way I planned?What if, What if, What if?
There are endless possibilities to what could happen at the end of any day. And, I would like to suggest that we don’t dwell on the “What Ifs”, but rather live with the “What ifs” in mind. Don’t wait on that “What If” moment to happen, but do all you can while you can to make the most of the moment in front of you. Because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow or even by the end of the day. Make sure God is your anchor today, so that you won’t fall apart tomorrow. Tell those you love how much they mean to you now and don’t take a single moment you have together for granted. Because as I was reminded tonight a “What If” moment can happen when you least expect it.
(Colossians 4:5) says, …”Make the most of every opportunity.”
(James 4:13-17) 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
We’ve all been there…..tired, frustrated, and just ready to throw our hands up in the air. I QUIT is what we want to shout, but for some reason we continue to hold on with everything we have to keep things together. Usually this indicates at the very least that something has to change and it needs to change soon. So, what do you do when you feel like giving up, but you know in your heart that you can’t? There are three things that will always be a factor regardless of our season in life.
Sometimes we just find ourselves in a funky place emotionally due to stress, fatigue, or frustration. It’s been said that our attitude will determine our altitude. Maybe you need to surround yourself with more positive people and places. Maybe you need to quit seeing the glass half empty and instead look at it as half full. Maybe you just need to step back and allow God to give you a more positive perspective towards work, home, and others. Maybe you have some pain from the past or present that needs to be dealt with before you can see anything through a healthy set of eyes. I can tell you this for sure, anything healthy begins with a healthy heart because perspective flows out of the heart.
Sometimes our approach to life just stinks. Maybe you are clearly just trying to do too many things at once. Maybe you need to develop self discipline. Maybe you need to learn how to set healthy boundaries. Maybe you need to allow someone with greater insight to assess your life processes, which may be creating way more difficulty than you might think. Processes are always subject to change, but process is always important. How you approach something or someone will either create peace or absolute chaos. Some people never make process changes so nothing changes. You have to recognize when your approach to life must change in order for you to expect a positive change.
These are things you value most. We all have them, but many times they are put on the back burner. For instance, many say their family is top priority, yet their family continues to get leftovers. Time is like money, you have to tell it where to go. Every one of us needs to determine our priorities and then make every effort to guard those priorities. For example, I purposely plan time with each of my boys. As a pastor, there is always someone who would like to talk and needs help. But, raising my boys is a high priority for me so I purposely make time for them. And, I do the same for my marriage. Knowing and establishing priorities is huge. Having the best processes in place is critical and maintaining a healthy perspective will always determine our life persective.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.(Galatians 6:9)