Just say “Thank You”

Thank YouRecently, I received a note from someone I had the joy of helping this past year. As I read their thoughtful words it reminded me that a simple “Thank You” still has power. Just as much as kids these days need to be taught to respect their elders, all of us need to know the importance of saying “Thank You.” I’m hoping these words prompt you to say a more than deserved “thank you” to someone who’s blessed your life. Here is why…

“Thank You” says I’m grateful for what you’ve done. Don’t ever assume those around you feel appreciated. From the total stranger that stopped to help you in your time of need. To the family member or friend who has always been by your side. Hearing your words of thankfulness is the least you can do to let them know their efforts were not in vain.

“Thank You” breathes life into a possible weary soul. Sometimes we feel that we’re just wasting time and making little difference. A sincere thank you has a way of picking up a person’s soul and motivating them to keep on keeping on. Your letter, email, phone call or personal words could be just what someone needs to gain a second wind. Your “thank you” will motivate someone to continue being a blessing.

“Thank You” confirms that a life has been touched. In a world full of negative news and things that need to change. Nothing feels better when you lay your head down at night than knowing you touched someone’s life. Believing that someone, somewhere has a smile on their face and joy in their heart because of your contribution to their life. A thank you becomes a keeps sake that is forever in a person’s heart.

Don’t ever forget the power of saying “Thank You.” Someone could be on the verge of quitting their job and your simple, sincere thanks could change their mind. A thank you cost you nothing, but still matters much in a world that tries it’s best to steal our self-worth. Whether it be a pastor, teacher, friend, parent, grandparent, or someone you just met when a thank you is deserved, a thank you should be given.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Why I Love Walterboro

Nearly a year has passed since I began writing for the Colletonian. It’s blown my mind how many people read this paper and how it touches lives. I can’t tell you how many relationships and opportunities it has brought my way. I run into countless folks on a weekly basis that not only read my articles, but share those articles with those outside this area. I thank God for a paper that sincerely tries to support its community and touch lives in the process.

I feel its time I get a little more personal and share with you my heart about Colleton County. I’ve only lived in Walterboro for 2 ½ years, but I’ve been in more homes during that time than most will in their lifetime. Here is what I’ve observed about this place we called “The Front Porch of the Low Country.” I would like to share with you my inside/outside perspective.

1: IT FEELS LIKE HOME. As I travel this rural county I encounter simple folks who are just trying to find their way in this life. I grew up in St. George and I always believed Walterboro was just a bigger version of my hometown. Here the tea is still sweet, the people are still friendly, and it’s a great community to raise a family. I realize it’s not perfect, but you can’t have it all folks. Considering our population and demographics I feel we do a pretty good job.

2: THE SCHOOLS ARE GREAT. There are many options here for your child’s education. Church schools, Prep Schools, and Public schools. I was a youth pastor for 11 years from South Carolina, Texas, and Georgia. I’ve been to more school lunches than I can count. You may not believe this, but our public schools here are above average. Why? Because they are full of dedicated local teachers, great administration, and backed by a community that really cares. We have four boys that take part in preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school. I honestly have no complaints and have been very encouraged by the education and love they have received. I didn’t say they were perfect, but I would put them above most.

3: THE RECREATION CENTER ROCKS. In case you haven’t heard, the Colleton Recreation Center is encouraging countless kids and families every day. Their facilities are second to none, their workers give their best, and it provides a safe and fun place for families to come together. If you’ve not recently taken in a little league game, watched a pee wee football game, or enjoyed a gathering underneath the picnic shelter you’re missing out.

4: THE PARKS ARE BEAUTIFUL. I felt when I moved here that the parks in this area were a blessing to the community. Recently, several of the local parks have been remodeled only adding to the beauty and family friendliness of Colleton County. Every park in the area has something to offer whether a great playground, walking course, fish pond, ball field, or just a nice place to get away.

5: THE NEEDS ARE GREAT. I want to be in a place where I feel I can make a big difference. I say this with much firsthand observation of knowing the needs here are great. I run into many folks who struggle to keep their lights on, put food on their table, and find hope beyond their circumstance. Many here never complete their education, aren’t raised in a church, and don’t know how to live life as God intended. I prayerfully waited two years before I started Refuge Church a place where we exist to love, lift, and lead people to Jesus. I’ve see daily the brokenness of our children to our seniors. I personally feel called by God to be in this challenging, yet full of potential place called Colleton County.

If God has put you here for a season or reason, I encourage you to make the most of your stay. Be who God created you to be, set a Godly example for others, and look for ways you too can leave Colleton County better than you found it. That’s all I have to say for now my friends.

*Pastor Craig Crosby invites you to visit him at www.RefugeChurch.com which meets at the Colleton Recreation Center every Sunday night @ 6p.m. He is presently leading out a message series called “Finding Peace.”

 

Carolina or Clemson: Who’s Better?

CarolinaGameFace

This time of year, you are bound to run into someone who is passionately cheering on their favorite college team. Here in the state of South Carolina its either “Go Gamecocks” or “Go Tigers”. If you’re standing beside a passionate fan you can bet they will quickly let you know where their allegiance stands. I’m a huge Gamecock Fan and my older brother is a full blooded Tiger maniac. We both would do anything for each other, but when the two teams play in late November there is no doubt who we’re each cheering for. Now, here is what I know about most passionate fans.

1: You are loud and proud. Passionate fans are known for doing things out of the ordinary. No telling what they might wear on their head, paint on their body, or yell until they’re hoarse. They are full of team spirit and they hope to convince the world that their team is the best.

2: You will do anything to watch the game. You show me a guy who loves his team and I will show you a guy who will just about do anything to watch his team play. Outrageous prices are paid for tickets and parking. Schedules are rearranged and many special events are missed all for the sake of the game. To the passionate fan, watching the game is not an option.

3: You will do whatever it takes to support your team. The passionate fan makes great sacrifices to see his team succeed. He gladly gives up time, money, and even certain relationships in hopes that his team gets a victory.

This all got me thinking about the people of God. Where is the passion? Where is the sacrifice? Where is the relentless commitment that it will take for us to the reach the world for Jesus Christ? Believers, we are all on the same team. Churches we are all on the same mission.

I’m convinced that believers everywhere must rise up and live passionately for their God. Believers everywhere must become willing to do whatever it takes to build the kingdom of God. Believers everywhere must come off the bench and get wholeheartedly in the game. Otherwise, we will continue to see our churches decline and this world will continue to fall apart. Why? Because we’ve lost our passion for what matters most and many actually think a football team winning is more important than soul winning. What is your greatest passion?

“Jesus said,  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. … Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. … – Luke 12:34

Jesus With Skin

Everywhere I look there are people who are going crazy, not sure what to do next, and desperately praying that somebody gives a rip. I do my best to wrap my arms around all of them, let them know God cares, and I pray others are willing to do their part in being God’s answer to prayer.

My friends, I’m afraid the scriptures have never proved truer than in the day and age we live in. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Jesus when he looked out on the crowds his heart broke because he saw to their deepest needs. What about you? What are you doing to reach out to those in your family, your workplace, and your community who need to encounter some “Jesus With Skin”.

It’s a proven fact that most will not enter the church looking for help. They will not be lined up this Sunday or the next Sunday begging your church to open its doors. For this reason, God has called every believer in Christ to be “Jesus With Skin” to those around us. Here are some ways you can do this on a daily basis.

#1 Get Over Yourself.

“Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.” He did not go around looking to get his needs met, but instead looked to be an answer prayer to others. Too many people I know are full of themselves, only care about their problems, and live with tunnel vision. To call yourself a Christ Follower and yet live incredibly selfish only hurts the kingdom of God.

#2 Look Around You.

All you’ve got to do is open your eyes and you’ll run into more needs than you can meet in a day. No, you can’t be their God, but you can take the time to be that good Samaritan who shows you care. Too many professing Christians walk right past those in need, seemingly carefree as those beside them are dying inside. Lift your head, get over yourself, and look for divine appointments God has prepared in advance.

#3 Listen To Their Heart.

Reaching people is not about us fixing others and getting our message to their ears. Listen to what is really going on inside the person. Where have they been? What have they been through? Why might their heart be so heavy and their anger be so great. There is always a reason behind the madness in someone’s life. Too often we are quick to judge someone who has gone through something we’ve never experienced. People don’t need to just hear you preach, they need to know you care. Seek to understand and earn the right to be understood.

#4 Pray, Pray, Pray.

In my past, I’ve been very guilty of telling people I would pray for them, but I rarely did. I used to see prayer as something I did after every other effort. Now, I realize that prayer is the most I can do for my family, my friends, and even total strangers. Reaching out to people who have complicated hurts and lots of baggage takes a lot of divine intervention. Don’t ever think you can play God, but know that you can always choose to be Jesus.

#5 Love People To Death.

I’m convinced that one of the greatest things missing in today’s Christianity is genuine, unconditional love. Those around us don’t need any more stones thrown their way, people sizing them up, and haters in their life. They do need to experience God’s amazing love for them and that begins with you allowing that love to pour through your veins. You choosing to be “Jesus with skin”.

My friends, I know I sound like just another preacher. But, my heart just breaks as I breathe in the needs around me. The more I look, the more I see. I don’t have to turn on CNN to see desperate people who need someone to reach out, love them like Jesus, and help them get back on their feet again. These kind of people live all around us. God has called us all to share His hope and love with our neighbors. Its time for many of you to get off the bench, open your eyes, look beyond your own needs, and love your neighbor as yourself. I pray everyday for believers everywhere to rise up, get up, and get busy in this world of opportunity. Jesus said, “The Harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.” What are you doing to make a difference and not just talk about the problems in our country?

What The Average American Needs To Hear

Will It Take Another 9-11?

Will It Take Another 9-11?

I consider myself a very blessed man. I have a wonderful family, great friends, a job that I love, a roof over my head, food on the table, and peace in my heart. So, what keeps me up at night? Simply put the Average American. You see the average American I know is struggling to find their way. The average American I know is looking for love in all the wrong places. The average American I know is stressed out to the max. The average American I know doesn’t have a clue when it comes to having a healthy life, marriage, or family. The average American I know is living quite frankly, average. 

I’m going to use this window God has given me to communicate some things the average American needs to hear. Why, because I’m tired of seeing people take their lives, families torn apart, and people living average. I’m sharing these things out of sincere love, compassion, and knowing that Jesus didn’t die on a cross so that you could live an average life. In fact, Jesus said, “I have come so that you might have life to its fullest.” Here are some keys to you reaching you God given potential instead of living like just another average American.

1. WAKE UP. You’ve heard it said that “Knowing is half the battle.” You can’t change anyone around you, but you can allow God to change you. This begins with you realizing things need to change, your life isn’t on track, and you need God’s help. Most people I know, even professing Christians are sleep walking through life. We all need to wake up, quit letting the Devil have his way, and turn to a God we all desperately need. Ephesians 5:14 – “This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

2. MAKE THAT CHANGE. Often times the greatest difference between average and great is are you willing to do what is necessary for greatness. We’ve all been guilty of saying what we need to do, yet never doing it. One of my favorite sayings is “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.” Recently, I was driving down the road and Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror” came on the radio. I found myself singing to the top of my lungs and being reminded in my heart that change starts with me. I have to decide to not live like everyone else unless I want my life to be like everyone else around me. Most around me following the world’s way are miserable, self-centered, and living foolishly. I don’t want to waste my short life on anything less than God’s best for my life. Every day I wake up and ask God, What needs to change in my life? James 1:22 –  “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”

3. GET IN CHURCH. Here is where most will quit reading, but hear me out on this one. We live in a culture that can’t stand accountability, thinks they are invincible, and fully believes church is not important. Here is why you need to do more than just watch a sermon on television.

*YOU NEED THE FELLOWSHIP. There is something powerful about being in a place where believers are seeking God’s face and God’s will. At that time, you are reminded that you are not alone in this battle called life and there are those around you that care. We all need Jesus with skin from time to time. Hebrews 10:25 (LB) “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.”

*YOU NEED THE ACCOUNTABILITY & SUPPORT. Any of us are capable of getting off track in this life. We all need people in our lives that love us enough to speak the truth. Trust me, if you don’t have the right support and accountability around you when the bottom falls in your life you will be sorry. The church is full of imperfect people seeking a perfect Savior. God’s word is clear we are always stronger together than we are apart. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 – “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.”

*YOU NEED WEEKLY DIRECTION & INSPIRATION. The church exists to guide people like you and me to God’s never changing truth. God’s word will give you the answers you are looking for, the encouragement you so desperately need and lead you to the above average life God has for you.

I want to personally invite you to join me at Refuge Church. Starting September 15th, 6p.m. at the Colleton Recreation Center as we start a weekly series of messages called “Finding Peace.” If this is what you are looking for in your heart, your marriage, your family, and your day to day life please join us. If you don’t visit www.RefugeChurch.org  then get involved in some church, somewhere, soon!

Refuge Church “We’ll Change The Way You Think About Church”

Are You Hired or Called?

I Hate My JobRegardless of the job at hand, there is a drastic difference between those who are hired to do something versus those who feel called by God to do that same thing. I’ve often said, “Many are hired, but few are called.”Not everything is for everyone. Here are some things that separate the hired from the called.

Hired men are THERE FOR THE PAYCHECK. Called men are THERE FOR THE MISSION.

Hired men COME TO WORK. Called men ARE COMPELLED TO WORK.

Hired men DO THE MININUM REQUIRED. Called men GO THE EXTRA MILE.

Hired men are THERE FOR A SEASON. Called men areTHERE FOR A REASON.

Hired men LOOK FOR MAN’S APPLAUSE. Called men LIVE FOR GOD’S APPROVAL.

Hired men WORK ONLY IN SHIFTS. Called men NEVER FEEL OFF DUTY.

Hired men MAKE A LIVING. Called men MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Hired men are DRIVEN BY THE JOB. Called men are DRIVEN FROM ABOVE.

Hired men LONG FOR A NEW JOB. Called men CAN’T IMAGINE ANYTHING ELSE.

Hired men SEE ONLY THE CLOCK. Called men SEE ALL THE LIVES TOUCHED.

Hired men are ALWAYS FOR SALE. Called men CAN’T BE BOUGHT.

Hired men LOOK FOR WAYS OUT. Called men LOOK FOR WAYS THROUGH.

Hired men SEE A JOB. Called men SEE AN OPPORUTNITY.

Hired men LEAVE A JOB. Called men LEAVE A LEGACY.

Hired men FEEL EMPLOYED BY MAN. Called men FEEL APPOINTED BY GOD.

All of This is not meant to make you quit your job or feel bad about your profession. What position you hold and what job title you have does not define you as a person. There is a drastic difference between a hired hand and a God called man. For those who feel called to do anything in this life you know exactly what I mean. Your calling is often that thing you would do whether paid or not paid. Not because anybody makes you, but because you feel called to.

My friends, I wholeheartedly believe God has called us each to do something of significance. Its not our job to create that call, but instead embrace God’s call on our life. Its through that embrace that we discover our God given potential.

The Parent’s Job Description

Family2013VacationParents, none of us have really been given an official job description, but here is a top ten list of things I’m pretty certain should be included. Before I attempt to share any of this with you, I’ve taken note of this in my own heart. Parenting is a journey that will test you, breaks you, and requires every ounce of you staying focused on the task at hand.

1. PRAY DAILY. Anyone who thinks they can raise a child alone is in for a rude awakening. You need God’s grace, strength, divine intervention, and daily wisdom. Many times a parent will have done all they could do humanly speaking and the rest must be put in God’s hands.

2. LOVE THEM TO DEATH. Love is the bridge to a child’s heart. Love them, kiss them, and make sure they know that nothing can change your love for them. However, make sure they know your love does not give them a license to do what they want when they want.

3. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. One of the greatest challenges of a parent is the fact that our kids observe the good, bad, and the ugly about us. They see how we interact with our spouse, others, and        them. We have to admit when we are wrong and do our best to practice what we preach.

4. REMEMBER YOU’RE THE PARENT. The moment you put yourself on your child’s level you’ve reached a very dangerous point. I love my kids to death, but I’m not trying to win their best friend award. My job is train them up in the way they should go, not win a popularity contest. I just finished telling one of my boys “Son, my job is not to just be your best friend. There is a new sheriff in town and I’m it.”

5. ENDURE HARDSHIP. I was a youth pastor for 11 years and I’ve observed many in this rodeo called parenting. I’m well aware that as a parent I might as well buckle my seat belt and get ready for a rough ride. Hardships are a part of any worthwhile journey and parenting is full of them.

6. SEIZE TEACHING MOMENTS. God has called us to teach our children right from wrong based on His way and His word. Lessons are learned best when we seize the teachable moments. When bad things happen, show them hope. When good things happen, teach them gratefulness. Everyday offers us teachable moments that we must seize while our children are still teachable.

7. DON’T COMPARE YOUR CHILDREN. We have four boys in our house and no two are exactly alike. You have to get to know the heart and the love language of each child. What works for one may not work for another. Don’t compare your children with each other or with any other person’s child. This only builds major resentment.

8. LEARN HOW TO DISCIPLINE. I have a feeling that my belt will have to stay on standby in the years ahead. No, I’m not planning on flogging my children until they bleed. However, I do believe they need a healthy fear that poor behavior will not go without major consequence in this house. Life has laws and every home must have rules. When those rules are broken discipline should follow. Remember, if you don’t deal with the children in your home society will have to deal with them outside of your home.

9. DEAL WITH THINGS EARLY. I’ve said many times that each of my boys have been raised by different dads. Today’s dad has learned how important it is to deal with things early. Behaviors set in early and we must realize that we must parent intentionally early and often. It is much easier to lead a preschooler than a teenager who now thinks they are grown.

10. STAY THE COURSE. Too many parents start out well, but don’t stay the course. Parenting is not a one day event, but a long journey that is worth your best efforts. Stay the course, do your best, and God will take care of the rest. Don’t quit parenting in the 4th quarter of the game (otherwise known at the teenage years). Your efforts still matter.

Parents we’ve not been called to be our child’s best friend. Our job is to love them, lead them, and prepare them for life without us. Our goal should be to raise children that are best prepared for life’s challenges and who will make God smile.

After 3 Days With The Monks

IDivine Journey I’m writing this shortly after spending three days with a bunch of monks. I was the first of many to come who will stay in the newly dedicated spiritual retreat center. Starting the following week www.MepkinAbbey.org  a Monastery located in Moncks Corner, SC will be booked for the next three months solid. Obviously, you don’t have to be a monk to plan a retreat. Men or women are allowed. There you will feel miles away from normal, everyday, busy life. No television, no internet, no demands, and no crowds. Many areas don’t even allow conversation. You have provided for you a nice room with a huge open window view, meals, and many beautiful places to meet quietly with God. This was my third time in the last few years to stay on the property. Here are some key things I took home from this experience.

1. God gave me a warning that I’m At least Halfway Done. Statistics prove and scripture says I will be very blessed to live 80 years on this earth. I don’t plan on wasting any of my remaining years or days ahead. I took some much needed time to make sure my life was in proper perspective. Periodic pit stops are much needed to renew my strength, rekindle my faith, and refocus my life. Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

2. God gave me a Renewed PerspectiveLIFE IS A DIVINE JOURNEY. We don’t orchestrate it, but we are called to surrender and trust God our creator who has pre-ordained all the days of our lives. It is not my job to figure everything out or question God’s divine plans. One day I will look back and see how God was building a masterpiece. Until I reach the end of this life I will take up my cross daily and follow Christ. Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

3. God gave me a New World Order. God wrote it deep in my heart that this must always be the order of my life here on this earth.

(A) FAITHMy faith life will always impact every area of my life. My marriage, my kids, and all I come in contact will be impacted by my healthy or unhealthy relationship with God. When things aren’t right with God, nothing is right in my life. I must stay clean and close to God’s heart. Listening for His voice and obeying His commands. This will lead to health in all other areas of my life.

John 15:5 “Jesus says, I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

(B) FAMILYScripture is very clear to us all that anyone who does seek to love and care for his own family, his religion is worthless. My family will not get leftovers anymore as I will fight daily to keep things in proper order. Before I know it my kids will be all grown up with families of their own. My prayer is that I teach them how to treat a lady and how to love & lead a family. These guys are my first priority in ministry and I pray that I never forget it. Preachers & Believers listen up to these words.

1 Timothy 3:5 “If anyone does not know to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church.”

1 Timothy 5:8 “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worth than an unbeliever.

(C) SERVICEWith the moments I have, the breaths God gives, and the days I have left on this earth I plan to be a living sacrifice. I can’t worry about what is going on around me, but I can seek to be a blessing to the world around me. It doesn’t matter where I am or what job I have at the time. I will choose to love deeply, go the extra mile, and give God all the glory for all He has done in my life.

Matthew 20:28 “Jesus, the Son of Man did come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

LOOKING FOR A CHURCH HOME? Join me at www.RefugeChurch.org starting on September 15th at 6p.m. We begin a brand new series of messages entitled “Finding Peace”. We’ll talk about how peace can be found at home, at work, and even in this crazy, uncertain world.

The Preacher’s Wife

My Better Half

My Better Half

In this life, there are many who never get the recognition they deserve. Some are teachers, coaches, caregivers, rescue workers, parents, grandparents, and even pastors to name a few. One of the most unnoticed, under rated heroes I know is “The Preachers Wife.” On August 23, 2016, my wife Aimee and I will celebrate not just 19 years of marriage, but 19 years of her being “The Preachers Wife”. You may or may not know, but being married to a preacher is far from the easiest task. Ask any preacher’s wife and they can tell you it’s not easy riding the ups and downs of ministry, loaning your husband to everyone else, and standing by quietly when many times you get leftovers.

Back when I was in Seminary (Graduate School) for ministry I recall an award my wife received. After earning my seminary degree the school I attended in Ft. Worth, Texas gave my wife a certificate that said she had earned a P.H.T. Degree. This stood for “Putting Him Through.” Why? Because they understood that without the love, support, encouragement, sacrifice, and prayers of this preacher’s wife there is no way I complete my degree. In recognition of my wife and preacher’s wives everywhere let me just fill you in on just a few things you might not realize these ladies go through.

#1 She Accepted God’s Call Too.

When my wife chose to marry me she too embraced God’s call on “our” lives. She signed up for a roller coaster ride that neither of us really knew was ahead. She has journeyed with me from South Carolina, Texas, to Georgia, and back to South Carolina. From my times as a youth pastor, associate pastor, and now founding pastor of my second church start www.RefugeChurch.org. At every God given assignment we both had to say yes to whatever God wanted us to do.

#2 She Endures Many Hardships.

My wife has often told me that my mood and ministry dictate the tempo and atmosphere of the entire household. If I’m struggling they are struggling. If I’m stressed, they are stressed. She hears about my daily struggles and on top of that has many hardships of her own. For us there are four boys behind the scenes that just want a normal mom and dad to love them and spend time with them. Many times while the pastor is God only knows where that wife/mother is the rock that keeps the family together. Quietly behind the scenes the preacher’s wife makes every second of ministry possible. On top of this, the preacher’s wife has to embrace the impossible expectations many put on her and her husband. She constantly deals with the pressure, criticisms, and feelings of never feeling in control that are often associated with ministry.

#3 She Make Countless Sacrifices.

Most people make their decisions based on where they would like to live and where they have the best opportunities to work. I’ve been blessed with many job opportunities, but we have never made a decision based on finances or preferred location. My wife knows what it’s like to walk away from everything that man holds dear to go wherever God says go. We have actually lived in 13 different homes whether that was for a few months or a few years. If at any point she had said no, I could have never moved forward. Thank God she was willing to sacrifice greatly so that we could continue to follow God’s plan for our lives. Many preachers’ wives have left good men because they could not handle the hardships of ministry, nor were they willing to make the sacrifices that come along with following God daily.

#4 She Is My Cheerleading Captain.

After a long day of helping and listening to countless other people’s problems she is the one God uses to doctor this preacher back to health. The preacher’s wife feels what the preacher feels if their relationship is close. My wife and I talk about everything and she is my number one cheerleader. When no one else cares to understand she listens to my concerns until I fall asleep. She believes in the man God has called me to be. She encourages me to follow with no hesitation all that God leads me to do. Her one vote of support many times is the difference maker between me moving forward versus being frozen in fear. When I don’t feel like I can go on and the feelings of defeat begin to rise she is the one God uses to ignite my passion to weather just one more day. I have learned over time that her insight is priceless and that her vote of confidence is critical if I’m to be even half the man God has called me to be in this life.

#5 She Determines A Pastor’s Effectiveness.

I have never met a very effective pastor who didn’t have behind him a woman who has been right by his side for better or for worse. The most effective pastors I know have behind the scenes a woman with great faith, patience, and character. A preacher’s wife is not only raising children, but with every word or deed she is building up or tearing down the preacher’s ministry. Her words speak life or death. Her commitment or lack of commitment makes the difference between success or failure, integrity or chaos, and effectiveness or total ineffectiveness. The preacher’s wife will determine more about a man’s ministry than even his personal bible study because without her he is only half the man God has called him to be.

I wholeheartedly believe that if I had married anyone else I would never have reached my God given potential. This preacher’s wife makes me a better man, loves me when it is often undeserved, and has been by my side for technically all twenty-two years of my ministry experience. Nineteen of those were under the commitment of marriage. I will always be grateful and point out that she is not just the preacher’s wife, but my partner in ministry as long as we both shall live. Aimee is her name for the many who just know her as “The Preacher’s Wife.”

Why I Sleep With Monks?

MonksYes, I’m headed back to sleep with a bunch of monks. This will be my third retreat at Mepkin Abbey a Monastery located in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. There a bunch of Trappist Monks reside and devote their entire lives to prayer, spiritual study, work, and hospitality. There I will find beautiful scenery, quiet places, and for a few days feel a million miles away from normal civilization.

I’m getting away for some much needed rest and refreshment. I’ve reached another one of those points where I just have to step away. As a non-stop pastor, chaplain, counselor, husband, and father of four young boys I can quickly find myself exhausted, burnout, and in need of being recharged. Physically, emotionally and for sure spiritually I hope to find healing. Sometimes, I just need to open God’s word and spend more moments in prayer. Then, there are times like now when I know I have to go sleep with a bunch of Monks.

In most sports, using your timeouts wisely is critical to winning a tough game. There are moments you have to use your timeout are things can quickly get out of hand. You might not only lose your momentum, but the entire game. We often find ourselves in the same position in life. Timeouts are necessary for us to catch our breath, settle down, and refocus for the season ahead.

Luke 5:16 says,“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

 I believe Jesus was extremely effective in life because he knew how to use his timeouts wisely. He got away from the crowds early and often. He prayed all night when facing an extremely big decision. He understood that in order to hear God’s voice you have to seek God’s face. Many times in order to refocus and regroup we need way more than just a sermon or pep talk. Instead, what we need is a step away from the norm that allows us to focus deeply on God’s will for our life. Here are a few things I’ve found are critical to a great spiritual retreat.

#1: I NEED TO BE FREE OF ALL DISTRACTIONS

We live in a culture that is bombarded by social media, gadgets, and lots of other distractions. On this retreat, none of these things will be joining me. I will do my best to remove anything that might keep me from focusing on God. Seeing life through God’s eyes is often hindered by our own busyness, interruptions, and many distractions. I love social media so this is a huge deal for me to be away from television, internet, and my phone.

(Hebrews 12:1-2) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.”

#2:I NEED TIME TO BE REFRESHED, RENEWED, & REFOCUSED.

 I typically need at least 2 days to unwind, and to allow God to redirect my heart. For me it takes at least a day to unclutter my mind and present thoughts. To rest, relax, and prepare myself for what God wants to show me. I will rise before daylight each day to spend time with God. I will take time to reflect on what is actually going on in my life at this time. Then I need time to process what God has impressed upon my heart. This is a process, not an event. Overall, I need time to connect and possibly reconnect with God on a more personal, deeper level. This doesn’t happen on my terms, but as I seek God on his terms.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”-Jeremiah 29:13

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24

#3: I HAVE TO BE STILL

Anyone that knows me knows that I am constantly on the go and having conversation with someone. When I get away I won’t have the interruption of television, internet, phone calls, obligations, crisis, or even people. My overall goal during my getaway is not to come back with some profound insight. My goal is to find “soul rest” which can only be found by putting all that is in my little hands in God’s big hands. I have to find peace in God’s presence, strength from God’s word, and direction from God’s will.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Maybe you need to take a major timeout. You need to “Be still and know that He is God.” You need to seek God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will. And, You need to step away from the day to day grind for that to be possible. I pray you will understand as I do that we all have times where we have to go and sleep with a bunch of Monks.

Mepkin AbbeyWelcomeMepkinAbbey

Fear Grips Us Most When….

 

We'll Change The Way You Think About Church

We’ll Change The Way You Think About Church

Looking to God’s word for help, I would like to share with you how we can each learn to live “Fearless”. How we can learn to FEAR NOT? First of all you must understand:

A.  Fear PARALYZES.

B.  Fear STEALS OUR JOY .

C.  Fear is NOT OF GOD.

D.  Over 365 TIMES, God’s word tells us to FEAR NOT. That’s at least one “fear not” for every day of the year..

Why does God tell us so many times throughout scripture to fear not? Because its human to fear.It’s human to feel overwhelmed, outmanned, and wonder how will I ever get through this.There is always a giant in front of us that we can’t slay alone.

God doesn’t want us to fear OUR PAST. God doesn’t want us to fear THE PRESENT. God doesn’t want us to fear THE FUTURE.

Now, there is no way we can tackle completely a topic such as fear. But, I’m going to share with you some difference makers when it comes to dealing with Fear. I’ve entitled it “WHEN FEAR GRIPS US MOST”?

#1: Fear grips us most when we QUIT PRAYING.

It is very normal and often that we get so wrapped up in what is going around us and our concerns in this world that quit praying. And, when we do pray, too often our prayers are reactive, but rarely proactive. Too often we only pray when we want something , only after we’ve exhausted all other options. When prayer should always be our first option.

When we quit praying we quickly become overwhelmed by what we can’t handle. When we quit praying we focus way too much on the storm in front of us, instead of the God who is with us. For sure, any time we find ourselves feeling anxious we need to PRAY IT OUT.

(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.

*Peace doesn’t come from fixing things around you…because there will always be something out of your control..Peace comes from giving everything around you to a God who loves you, Who is all knowing, Who is all powerful, and always there for you.

There is no doubt that fear grips us most when we feel outmanned, overwhelmed, and helpless to do anything about it.This is when we must give all that we can’t handle to a God who can handle it all.

(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) 16 Rejoice always, 17 PRAY CONTINUALLY, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

#2: Fear grips us most when we BUY SATAN’S LIES.

Scripture tells us that Satan….our greatest enemy is always looking for ways to discourage, depress, and ultimately destroy us all.

Satan whispers in your ear that…..You are Worthless!….God says you are priceless…

Satan says, the situation is hopeless….God says, hope can always be found in Him..

Satan says, You might as well give up…God says, With my help you can climb any mountain.

Satan says, You should be very afraid….God says, Fear Not I am with you…

(1 Peter 5:7-9) 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

(John 10:10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.

Now, in order to remove the lies Satan will tell you….You must mediate on the Truth God has spoken….The Bible is God’s love letter to His children…Every word is filled with hope and guidance to face even your greatest fears. From disaster to death to eternity….

In order to live fearless, you have to replace Satan’s lies with God’s unchanging truth. That truth is found from Genesis to Revelation.

#3: Fear grips us most when we WALK BY SIGHT.

So many days, we find ourselves overwhelmed by what is going on around us. At home, at work, and even in our world as we turn on CNN. Looking through our eyes all we see is reasons to be afraid everywhere we look…God’s word tells us that in order to have peace and live life to its fullest…We have to choose to walk by faith, not sight.

(2 Corinthians 5:7) For we live by faith, not by sight.

(Proverbs 3:5-6) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Just this past week, I was having a conversation with my oldest son Matthew about some financial concerns and adjustments we were having to make. In the midst our conversation, I started remembering all the times God has come through in the past and has provided all that we’ve needed.

*That time we couldn’t get our car from the mechanic and someone gave us a $1000 check at just the exact time. No one even knew about this, but God provided.

*That time we just needed a hundred dollars and we were at Wendy’s splitting a jr bacon cheese burger. And, someone travelling to Florida walks over to our table. With tears rolling out her eyes she handed us a $100 bill and said, God laid it on my heart to give this to you. We just sat there with our mouths wide open in awe of God’s faithfulness.

Many times we have to remember God’s faithfulness in the past, in order to have confidence in that same God today…

#4: Fear grips us most when we try to RUN AWAY. Some of you might recall the Southwest Airline commercials, where something happens to someone and they say, Don’t you just want to get away.Often our first thought when faced with great adversity is to run the other way.To leave that job, to leave that town, and just put everything out of sight and out of mind. But, you can’t run from your fear…..And, God doesn’t want you to….

(2 Timothy 1:7) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Learning to face your fears head on increases our faith in God and teaches us how to persevere even under the most extreme situations.

#5: Fear grips us most when we FEEL ALONE.

As I mentioned earlier….there are over 365 “Fear Not” passages throughout God’s word. Most of them are all connected to the fact that WE ARE NEVER ALONE. We are never forgotten, never abandoned, never on our own.Now, we may feel alone at times when family and friends are nowhere to be found when we need them most…

(Deuteronomy 31:6) “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them, for the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” 

(Isaiah 41:10) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

(Joshua 1:9) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

FINAL THOUGHT:
You will always face something BIGGER THAN YOU,
but no matter what GOD IS ALWAYS WITH YOU.

These are some of my message notes from a sermon I preached at www.RefugeChurch.org. on 8/11/13. If you don’t attend church anywhere I promise you’ll feel right at home with us at the Colleton Recreation Center. Every time we meet you will feel God’s presence, understand God’s will for your life, and never leave the same.

It Feels Good To Do Good

charlesJuliesarahAs I write this I’ve just gotten home from an annual event called Do Good Day. Today many came together from all over to accomplish something worthwhile. A group called Do Gooders has for the last six years chosen to help someone within their community who is battling for their life and is in great need of others support. This year Do Gooders helped a young lady and her family that I know well who has battled cancer for the past three years. This experience has inspired me to write some things that the church must learn.

            First of all, Do Gooders is doing what the church has been called to do. We are to seek out the hurting, the harassed, and helpless and shower them with God’s love. The church is not for the healthy, but the sick. The church is for those struggling physically, mentally, emotionally, and for sure spiritually. We accomplish this best when we all rally around an unselfish and worthwhile goal that is greater than ourselves. Today, I watched as people from all walks and backgrounds rallied together to help a family that needed support in their time of need. It will always hold true that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

            Secondly, Do Gooders understands we do more together than individually. Everyone who came out, donated their time or money, and made it a priority to offer their support made a difference. The church must understand that without unity nothing great will be accomplished. We must recognize the needs around us and then work together to do all we can to meet those needs.  Churches must quit worrying about the color of their carpets and choir robes. Churches must quit worrying about their own agenda and recognize the needs around them. We must come together if we ever expect to accomplish great things and leave a lasting mark on those around.

            Finally, Do Gooders is not trying to fix everyone’s problems or shove God down anyone’s throat. Unfortunately, most churches are way more known for what they are against, then what they are for. At this event, there were people who went to church, people who didn’t, and yet a house full of people who sincerely cared. By the way, we purposely located our Refuge Church booth near the Bud light because we wanted to be closest to the people. Jesus loves people more than anything. Do Gooders did not preach the gospel, but they did exemplify God’s love to all who walked through the doors.

            Here is my biggest take away that has been brewing in my heart for some time. I’ve been in the ministry for 20 years and I’ve seen very few churches that really understand or care about what it takes to reach people. Church is not about getting what you want done. Church is not about you even feeling comfortable about all that takes place. Church is to be a place where believers come together, get over themselves, and work together to make the world a better place. As we strive to be like Christ opportunity will come where we can share Christ with those we meet.

            I commend anyone who is seeking to make a real difference in the lives of others. For all those who chose to Do Good on this 6th Annual Event thanks for showing me how to love and lift someone’s heart and spirit. As a pastor, I do believe that Jesus is the answer for all of life’s problems. However, there are many times we all need to encounter some Jesus with skin. Today, you were all his hands, his feet, and his heart. May we all remember that it is always better to give than to receive.

          Should there be any of you who were involved in today’s events that don’t have a church home we would love to have you come visit us at Refuge Church. Our vision is the same as Do Gooders. We aim to love people where they are and leave them better than we found them. Join us sometime at the Colleton Recreation Center. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or sign up for our newsletter at www.RefugeChurch.org .

             

A Key Family Moment

BoysRunningAtBeachThis summer we decided to split our week of family vacation into two long weekend getaways. Our last step away from normal life was to Myrtle Beach. As expected with four boys there was never a dull moment. Now, I could bore you with what we did, but I would like to share with you my favorite moment of vacation.

We were all gathered around the kitchen table playing a dangerous game of Yahtzee. You know, those dice always have the potential to blind someone when in the hands of a young man. It was great to do something together after many weeks of feeling a million miles apart. We never did finish the game, but we did have one of those family moments you just don’t create.

Everyone was hoping to go out to eat at least two nights while we were away, but due to unexpected expenses that was not going to happen. I informed the boys our plans had changed and money was tight. Of course, they instantly asked, “Why Daddy, you promised we would go out to eat another night?” I responded, “Well, plans have changed and we’ve got to be wise with the money God has given us.”

I used this moment to share with my boys things they need to hear from time to time. I told them that plenty of kids don’t get to do the things they take for granted. That many kids around the world were just hoping they might have anything to eat for lunch or supper. You see, I’ve been at too many local homes where the floors are collapsing, the pantry is bare, and the families are struggling to keep the lights on. In fact, you might not be aware that a recent study showed that over 14,000 throughout Colleton County live below poverty level. I then shared with them the top three goals we have for our family.

One, we pray our family stays in God’s will. If this means moving to Africa, staying in Walterboro, or making countless life adjustments, we will do it. I want my kids to understand that all that matters in this life is God’s will for our life. God will not lead us to a dead end street. Where God guides, He will provide. Living in God’s will brings favor and the confidence of knowing God is with us. My kids know by now that we aren’t marching to the beat of our own drum, but every day we ask God, “What is God’s will for our lives?”

Secondly, we pray our family stays together. Our kids know from living in this world that any family can fall apart at any time. We don’t plan on being one of those if we can help it. I shared with them that it’s more important that their mother and I stay together and our family stays together than whether we go out to eat or experience the next thrill. Of course, each of them agreed that our family staying together was more important than any other single event we could experience.

Thirdly, we pray our family stays healthy. God doesn’t just want our family to survive, but to thrive. We don’t want time to pass us by and the kids are all grown up. We want to grow together, spend time together, and love another every step of the way. None of these things require money, nor can money buy any of them. I want my kids to look back and be grateful for their family. I want my kids to know what it looks like to live by faith. And, I want my boys to lead out healthy homes of their own, one day. The only way any of these things become reality is for us to exemplify what is really important.

At the conclusion of our talk that night, we grabbed hands and had a family prayer. Why? Because, I needed my boys to know that without God’s help and everyone’s efforts we could never reach any of these God-size goals. However, if we stay in God’s will, stay together, and stay healthy we will be one blessed bunch.

Out Of Order

I am deeply sorry for the following. I apologize to my wife and I will be begging my kids for forgiveness. No, they didn’t tell me I have a problem, but a person knows when they are living life backwards. I’m afraid there are many more like me all around.

As I write this, I just finished a day that seemed like it would never end. Yes, I helped many people through crisis and encouraged many other families. However, I must admit that for weeks I have more than neglected my own family. For that I am not only deeply sorry, but I will be making some major changes.

Now, if most were observing my behavior they would probably let me off the hook. Saying, hey pastor you were just thinking about others and being there when others were down. They likely would say that from their view I was a very above average dad because at least I come home every day, don’t beat my wife, and I seek to be overall responsible in the way I handle my everyday affairs.

Yes, I try very hard to be a great husband and dad. However, nothing spells love more than TIME. And for some time I have been giving all my time to everyone else except my wife and kids. They have constantly watched me running from one urgent matter to the next. In the car, on the phone, at a funeral, preparing for my next sermon, writing my next article and always making room for someone else. The Bible I read says I’ve got a priority problem.

Now, we all have seasons that are more hectic than others. However, it’s when things become more than a season, but a way of life that we must look in the mirror. And, as I look deep into the mirror of God’s word I’ve decided these things must change.

#1: I will set healthy boundaries, doing everything I can to guard my time and use it wisely. I will not say yes to everything and everyone. I will say no as much as necessary in order to say yes to being the husband, dad, and spiritual leader of my home.

#2: I will make weekly appointments for quality time with my family. I have always believed strongly that every week there should be a designated family night or day.  I believe I should put my own family on the calendar before I even make a single appointment with someone else.

#3: I will not work my life away. I love to get things done and I love to help people. I will not be one of those pastors who later wished he spent time with his own family. The greatest investment I can make is in the hearts of my four boys. I plan to raise them to know how to be Godly men and manage their own families. And, the past few weeks especially I have not been the family man I won’t them to be when they grow up.

I am so grateful for God’s grace.  I’m also glad for God’s many wakeup calls where He shows us there is a much better way. I pray God uses my story to maybe help you should this be an area of your life that has gotten out of whack.

Allie Murdaugh: “Gone, But Never Forgotten”

Gone, But Never Forgotten

Gone, But Never Forgotten

Hard to believe it’s been a year since God took home such a precious young lady named Allie Murdaugh. July 26th, 2013 marked the one year anniversary when many throughout Colleton County and beyond were forced to say goodbye to a young lady they will never forget. She was only 19 years of age, beloved by family and friends, and no one saw that day coming. After being involved in a single car accident, the hours seemed like days that night as we all waited for Allie to draw her last breath there at MUSC hospital.  Many lives were touched then and her passing is still touching countless lives to this day. I believe in my heart that even if you didn’t know Allie personally God wants to use her story to touch your life.                                                  

I had the honor of being a part of her funeral service and would like to revisit what I shared that day. At that time, most were in shock and it was very hard to digest much of anything else at that point. This article is not intended to awaken anyone’s grief, but help all involved move forward in processing their faith and feelings.               

By the way, it was Allie’s eternal transitioning that inspired me to start writing. I gained hundreds of new friends over the following months. I still run into people all over who knew Allie, loved her, and miss her very much. Maybe you are one of those people. Here is practically word for word, what I shared a year ago at Allie’s service, which still holds true this day.

3 QUESTIONS I STILL BELIEVE ARE BURNING IN THE HEARTS OF MANY:

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. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a plan.

“In their hearts human beings plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”– Proverbs 16:9             

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: A time to be born and a time to die” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

You see, from our view things appear to be accidents. But, God only has APPOINTMENTS.                                       

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” – Hebrews 9:27

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’s more like a bad dream where you wish you could just wake up and it not be true.But, here is what we must do if we are to move forward…

A:  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) I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm —he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

B: TRUST GOD’S PLANS –

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”- (Jeremiah 29:11)

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,   and he will make your paths straight.”– Proverbs 3:5-6                                                                                                

It is perfectly normal and human to ask ourselves, Why did this happen? 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. His ways are not our ways.

C:  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. 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 the Friday before Allies’ death that you posted the following scripture on your facebook status (I think it’s worth reading).

“I place myself in your care. You will save me, LORD; you are a faithful God.” Psalm 31:5

Question #3: WHERE IS ALLIE NOW?

As some of us saw and others heard about, Allie was in a very bad car wreck late that Wednesday afternoon. Those who saw her last didn’t see the beautiful girl they once knew as Allie Murdaugh. But, 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. We miss them and want them to be around forever. 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 or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away, behold all things will become new.”  (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.”

Although Allie was not on this earth nearly as long as many would like, she is now forever in the safe arms of Jesus.  She resides eternally in a place of complete peace, joy, and eternal happiness. Why? Because she received Gods’ 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.”

Earlier in the day of Allie’s burial, one of the men who work at Herndon’s Funeral home was getting the chapel ready for the service that day. 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 Sunglass window. The only thing lit up was the face & 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. The new life that she has because of God’s grace and through her faith in Jesus Christ goes beyond our wildest imagination. I sang at her funeral service, “I can only imagine” what it must be like where Allie Murdaugh lives today. I know that if she were here with us today….She would say, “If you could only See Me now.”

As we recognize a year since her passing my thoughts and prayers are with all of Allie Murdaugh’s family and friends who I know miss her daily. May God continue to give you all comfort, peace, and closure.

Link to her obituary:http://colletontoday.com/obituaries/alesa-allie-murdaugh/article_d59e273a-d7f1-11e1-9302-0019bb2963f4.html

What No One Wants

Recently, I started back working out at the gym. I’m not as young as I once was, but I still enjoy playing sports. The other day I went out to play a game of pickup basketball. It was pretty obvious to me that the young guys had no plans of putting this old man on their team. I left that evening never having played a game, but most of all remembering what it feels like to not be picked. No, I didn’t go home and cry tears on my pillow, but God did use this to remind me what everyone on earth is feeling deep within.

 #1: NO ONE WANTS TO BE LEFT OUT.                       

I observe many people (adults included) who are not mindful of those around them. All they seem to care about is getting higher up the ladder and in the game themselves. Nothing could be further from what God would have us to do. God’s will is that we always be mindful and sensitive of the thoughts and feelings of others. It’s called the golden rule which was created by Jesus who said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I don’t care what you’re doing you should always seek to be as inclusive as possible. The opposite of this would be called Selfish.

#2: NO ONE WANTS TO FEEL WORTHLESS.           

Our job as God’s ambassadors is to come along side, encourage, and inspire those around us to understand just how crazy God is about them. God created you, formed you in your mother’s womb, and God doesn’t make accidents or junk. Making people feel like they don’t measure up, aren’t good enough, and below your level does nothing to make this world a better place. Doing this only makes that person feel worthless, when they are indeed priceless in God’s eyes.

#3:  NO WANTS TO NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Many people will do many things they would not otherwise do just to feel loved and accepted by others. They just want to fit in, be normal, and most of all feel accepted by others. Unfortunately, many people create clubs and clicks that are for certain members only. God wants us to love people just the way they are, unconditionally, with no strings attached. God never operates out of favortism and neither should we at anytime. If you like to be selective in who you accept into your made up club, shame on you. I pray you’ll consider the impact it has on so many.

I do have great news for all who at some point will feel left out, worthless, or not accepted. God loves you just the way you are. God sent his only son Jesus to die on a cross because your soul is priceless to him. My friend, if you choose to accept God’s grace and believe in Jesus as your Savior, God will gladly accept you into His kingdom.

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son. That whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

WARNING: Don’t Visit Refuge Church

Do Not Enter

This past Sunday, Refuge Church celebrated its 1st year anniversary. Since kicking off morning worship @ the Colleton Recreation Center, Refuge has seen hundreds come through those doors. This church is designed for the multitude of unchurched living both in and around Colleton County. Now, before you or someone you love comes to visit, I thought I might warn you about a few things. HERE ARE FIVE REASONS YOU SHOULD NOT VISIT REFUGE CHURCH.

#1: YOU LIKE NORMAL CHURCH. Refuge is not your average church. These people will do anything short of sin to reach someone for Christ. They set up and hold worship in a gym, no body dresses up, and everyone is accepted. The messages are so understandable and relevant to your everyday life. The music is always great and the presence of God is so strong. I couldn’t believe these guys don’t even pass around an offering plate. On top of all of this, they provide coffee, water, donuts, and even have things for the kids (Birth-5th grade) during the worship hour. Oh that’s another thing. It’s just one hour long.

#2: YOU DON’T LIKE FEELING LOVED. The love these people have for each other is incredible. They seem to love newcomers even more. The moment you walk into the building you feel welcomed and at home. It’s like you’ve been there all your life. They don’t care what others say about you, where you’ve been, or what you’re up to in the present. They love you unconditionally and never make you feel judged.

#3: YOU DON’T NEED ENCOURAGMENT. Forget about going to church just to say you did. At Refuge, if you don’t leave feeling better than when you came in then you went to the wrong place. No one has ever visited this church and not left feeling more encouraged than before. It’s like these people aren’t there because they have to be, but they want to be. Oh, that’s another negative thing, it’s highly addictive. People can’t wait to get back the next Sunday.

#4: YOU DON’T NEED SUPPORT. Refuge doesn’t just like to have church, but they strive to be the church. It’s like they don’t think anyone should go through life alone. The preacher says they are just real people, with real problems, seeking a real Jesus. At Refuge, they don’t care to add just another event to your calendar. They want to offer support as you journey through this life. They go the extra mile to meet the needs of those around them. Don’t go to Refuge unless you want to feel a lot of support and prayers.

#5: YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW GOD’S WILL. They talk about everyday life and teach God’s word in a way anyone can understand. They teach you how God can give you peace, promise, and hope. How you can become a better person, spouse, parent, and everything God created you to be. They share with you ways you can reach your God given potential and make it through the storms of life.

If you’re reading this and you have a church home that is great. If you’re reading this and you’re looking for a place like Refuge Church we pray you might come visit us soon. I promise we’ll change the way you think about church. We meet every Sunday morning 10:30am @ the Colleton Recreation Center. Come as you are, never leave the same! www.RefugeChurch.org

What Defines Success?

I don’t believe there is a person on the planet who wants to be considered a failure. Unfortunately, there are many who feel they have failed and even more that have a wrong perspective of success. Please allow me to explain myself.

For many, success is having more than everyone else around them. A better job, a bigger house, a nicer car, and being a person that others just wish they could be like. We live in a very competitive culture where everyone is fighting for top dog, wants to win the lottery, and just simply believes that bigger is better. The more I have the more successful I have become. Unfortunately, many who have chased this idea of the American dream have discovered that it has little to do with success or true happiness.

Then there are those who just stay busy. They want others to see their many accomplishments and popularity. They want be a part of every club, win every type of award, and surround themselves with trophies that make them feel better about themselves. It’s as if life is one big pageant and they have to win the crown. After all, we all know there can only be one winner and the rest are losers.

We don’t say that, but that’s the way culture presents it. Only problem with this is it would mean not everyone can achieve success. After all, there is only one champion and we can’t win every competition. So, this measure of success leaves many feeling unsuccessful.

Finally, there are those who think that success is all about who works the hardest. If I just try harder and spend longer hours working harder success will come. Sorry, but worker harder alone does not determine success. I actually think many try hard every day to accomplish great things only to still feel empty, sized up by humanity, and still feeling like a failure. This brings me to this very important question we all must wrestle with, “What Defines Success?” I think I’ve got a good idea if you’re interested.

Success is relative to who you are, where you are, and what God has called you to do in this life. In other words, success is going to look different in each of our lives, but the process is the same for everyone. Success according to God’s word is completely dependent upon you surrendering everything to God. This is more than you just asking God for His blessing, but a sincere act of the heart.

(Proverbs 16:3) says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” In other words, seek His way, His path, and His will in your everyday life.

This and this alone is the measure of success. My dad used to sing a song when I was a child that said, “When it’s all been said and it’s all been done. He will ask you, “Did you go my way child? Did you know my son?” The “He” being referred to here is God our creator, the one who breathed life into us all, and has destined each of us for greatness.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Too many times we take the present and the future into our own hands. We determine our own measure of success and we march to the beat of our own drum. But, the Bible is clear that at the end of this life we will each give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore, only what God thinks will matter in the end and measure success.

When you die, it won’t matter how much money you have in the bank. It won’t matter how many friends thought you were a success. But, your success will be determined by what God told you to do and your response to His orders. Did you go where He wanted you to go, do what he wanted you to do, and say what He wanted you to say?

Maybe in the past you’ve done things your way and tried to play your own God. My friend, God is rich in mercy and is more than willing to forgive your sin. You can turn things over to God right now and begin a new journey. But, if you let this world determine your definition of success you will end up brokenhearted and disappointed in the end.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3

Join Pastor Craig Sundays 9:15 or 11am @ Refuge Church located at 203 Eddie Chasteen Dr, Walterboro. Come as you are, Never leave the same!

When You Can’t Take Anymore

If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard these words, “I just don’t know how much more I can take.” Of course, this is often an indication that someone is about to either blow up or experience a nervous breakdown. Someone reading this right now is feeling like they’re going to crumble if just one more thing happens. I hope you’ll keep reading.

Before I go any further, you need to know that you are not alone. We all have limits and we all face adversity. Jesus told us that “In this life we will have trouble.” As long as you breathe there will always be trouble. Every day you wake up you will face challenges from sun up to sun down. It is a great misconception to think that the chaos around you will completely come to an end. Many things transpire that we have no control over, but we must learn to cope.

One, you must understand that God uses adversity to shape us, grow us, and bring glory to himself. None of us enjoy storms, but each one is an opportunity to grow. To grow in our perspective of what really matters most. To grow in our realization that we aren’t in control and never will be. And, to grow in our faith that God will always be there for us. Even if all else fails God will not let you go and He will even use the chaos around you. That is if you let Him!

Secondly, you need to understand that your response to life’s adversity does matter. Go ahead and scream, cry, and pour your heart out to God. The first place to turn is your Heavenly Father who loves you more than anyone, who is big enough to handle all your emotions and powerful enough to calm every storm. The first storm God wants to calm is the one raging within you. You must choose to trust God totally with all that is weighing so heavily on your heart and mind. You can choose to fall apart or you can choose to fall on your knees. God promises to lift up and restore those who humble themselves before him. I can speak from firsthand experience that God will give you the strength you need and the peace that nowhere else can be found.

Thirdly, you need to understand that God doesn’t make mistakes. Yes, everything happens for a reason and in his hands everything becomes an appointment, not an accident. Sure, we will continue to make mistakes. But, God’s grace is sufficient and His mercies are new every day. Don’t over analyze everything that has happened in your past, that is happening in the present, and that could happen in your future. Trust God to be God, lay all your burdens at his feet, and move forward by seeking His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Listen to me, when it comes to finding peace there is only one way it can be found. It’s not found by more money in the bank, a new house, a new job, or a better family. The only way to find peace in this life is to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s son who gave his life for you. He will not disappoint, He will not forsake, and He will supply all your needs. Giving you just what you need when you feel you can’t take anymore.

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.” (John 16:33)

A Healthy Perspective Of Marriage

This August my wife and I celebrate 16 years of this journey called marriage. Four kids and many adventures later we are still together. By God’s grace our relationship has grown deeper with time, but so has our understanding of what marriage is really about. I would like to share with you some lessons learned that have not only helped our marriage survive, but thrive over time.

 #1:  Marriage is a WORK IN PROGRESS. Never can you say we’ve arrived or our marriage is perfect. This is not possible when two imperfect people come together as one. With hard work and dedication things can improve, but you can never afford to grow complacent in your relationship. If you give Satan an inch he will take a mile. Just check out the divorce rate if you don’t believe me.

#2:  Marriage is a PROCESS OF UNDERSTANDING. Many times couples communicate to one another, but not with one another. That’s because most communicate to be understood, rather than to understand. Until you really take time to listen to what your partner is saying, you can’t really get to know their heart. We are all different and we think different. You don’t have to agree with everything your spouse says, but understanding what makes their heart tick builds a bridge from your heart to their heart.

#3: Marriage is a ROLLER COASTER.  It is very common to feel so close in body and soul one moment, but then to wake up the next day feeling miles apart. Especially as you add stress, bills, kids, and throw in a few pets. Life is a roller coaster and can easily spill into your marriage. You have to watch closely your life processes because you can easily choke your relationship. Many people think their marriage is awful when many times they are just transferring the overall life frustrations onto their partner. No spouse can fix all your problems or give you total peace.

#4: Marriage is a NEVER ENDING LOVE AFFAIR.  I know we like to act like love is just for young people. The marriages that thrive consist of two people who continue to pursue one another for better or for worse. Special dates should always be on the calendar and you should daily express your love to one another. After all these years, I still can’t wait for our next date night or weekend getaway. Honestly, I still look forward to coming home each day. The moment you quit investing in your marriage is the moment you can expect things to start going downhill.

#5:  Marriage is a GOD THING.  God meant it when he said “It’s not good for man to be alone.” When two people take seriously their wedding vows, continue to grow in their love and understanding, and allow God to lead their marriage a thing of beauty is created. Having someone to share life with is priceless. Sharing life with someone who knows you inside and out, but still loves you anyway is a God thing. Marriage done God’s way and on God’s terms beats living single any day of the week.

Well, I could share with you many other lessons learned, but these are my top five for now. I pray God blesses your marriage and that you might take to heart the things I’ve shared. God wants your marriage to not only survive, but to thrive. And with God’s help your marriage will last the test of time.

5 Keys To A Healthy Family

Family2013VacationMaybe it’s because I see so many unhealthy families I’m writing this. Maybe it’s because I’m trying myself to discover the answer to this question. As I write this I understand that every family is different and there is no one size fits all. However, I do believe there are key ingredients that are critical to making any family a healthy bunch.

#1: FAITH     Faith 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.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

#2: HOPE     A healthy family is a hopeful family. Hope is found where there is a true sense that God is in control and has a plan no matter what happens. Our hope must be in something and someone greater than ourselves. Hope gives us reason to wake up each morning and to look forward to tomorrow. Our kids must know that our hope does not stem from our paychecks, our circumstances, or any of our abilities. Instead, our hope is found in a one and only loving Heavenly Father who has and always will prove Himself faithful. God is our creator, our sustainer, our savior, our provider, and has plans of hope that none of us deserve.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

#3: LOVE     A healthy family is a loving family. Home should be that place where every member feels they can let their hair down, show all their cards, and still be loved. Kids especially need to feel a love that is rarely experienced outside of home. A love that is spoken through words and deeds. Love creates a feeling of security and an unbreakable bond. Within every healthy home you will find an unconditional love that takes everyone beyond their differences and through the many storms each family will face.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

#4: FRIENDSHIPS     I have to be honest and say I’ve always felt like families who alienate themselves from everyone else are a bit strange. Now, I’m not saying these people don’t have good reason for what they are doing. But, healthy families generally have healthy friendships. In this journey called life, friends are critical to battling loneliness, discouragement, and we all need some healthy ones. For instance, I’m not against home schooling if a parent believes it’s the best choice for their child. But, I am not in favor of alienating your child from all of society. We all have to learn how to live in this world, but yet not act like this world. We all need friends who can sharpen us and support us through the ups and downs of each day.

“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18)

#5: FUN     If you can’t share a few laughs with your family you probably don’t enjoy being home. I sincerely believe God wants us to enjoy our time with one another and not take ourselves so seriously. Yes, we need to seek to live with focus and purpose. But, nobody says you’ve got to be miserable along the way. This may not be as important as the things I’ve already mentioned, but I believe families need to learn how to have fun together. Live, laugh, and have a ball every step of the way.

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.(Proverbs 17:22)

I’m tired of families waking up to the American nightmare, when God has plans to bless us, prosper us, and guide us to greener pastures. Please understand that there will never be a perfect family this side of Heaven. We are all works in progress. But, I’m convinced these five ingredients will make any family a healthy bunch.

Getting Ready For The Work Week

I know the feeling when you think to yourself “Its Monday already.” Truth is you’ve got to find some way to cope with it. I’m a big believer in mind over matter. Your perspective cannot only change your outlook, but your entire week. Here are some reasons to look forward to the work week.

#1: Thank God, You’ve Got A Job….Let’s face it, jobs are not easy to come by these days. Businesses are struggling, the econcomy is sinking, and people are finding it harder and harder to put food on the table. Thank God, you’ve got a job that at the very least can help put a few needed dollars in your pocket.

#2: Thank God, You Can Work….If you’ve ever been sick as a dog and not able to operate as normal you know its not fun. I visit people everyday that would give anything to be able to show up to work and experience life as normal. Thank God for the strength, the skills, and health necessary to get the job done.

#3: Thank God, You Can Serve A Purpose…..No, your job doesn’t define you. But, whether paid or non paid every job gives us something to accomplish. Its good to know that your hard work does matter and that someone is being touched by your efforts.

Well, I bet if you try real hard you could come up with some other positives concerning the work week. However, these three alone should put some pep in your step as you start another work week. Hope its a great one.

Can’t You Do Something?

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just too worked up about other people’s business. But, it still keeps me up at night, on my knees daily, and sometimes in tears when I consider how most people live on this earth. Maybe I should just live carefree like many, mind my own business, and let those around me worry about themselves. Only one problem, the Jesus in me won’t let me.

My friends I would be lying if I said I’m not upset about many around me who act like they could care less about their fellow man. Can’t you see that family in need? Can’t you at least take time to listen to that person who is dying inside? Can’t you try to share Jesus with that soul that was not brought up around the truth? Can’t you do something other than sit there like you have nothing to offer?

The Bible tells us that our attitudes and our actions are to be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Jesus loves people more than anything. Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in his sight. Jesus lived a life of unselfishness. Jesus considered others needs before his own. Jesus went out of his way to do what he could for every hurting, helpless, and harassed soul he encountered. He was moved by compassion, genuine love for people, and the need that was before him. If you aren’t daily seeking ways that you can be a blessing to others it’s likely because of one of the following things.

One, you aren’t opening your eyes. The needs are everywhere and God wants to use you to answer someone’s prayer. Two, you have grown cold to what you’ve seen around you. I sincerely believe it’s not awareness, but true Christ like compassion that moves one to action. If you’ve become calloused to the needs around you then you need to ask God to awaken your heart. Even most churches have quit trying to reach beyond themselves. That is one of the reasons no one is running to many of those churches. Thirdly, many are just too busy. If you’re too busy to help others then you are too busy. Loving your neighbor should be a lifestyle, not an event. Your church shouldn’t have to sponsor an event for you to do a good deed. You simply need to look for ways to show God’s love and be Jesus where you live, work, and play.

Well, I pray this article does one thing for sure. Moves you, moves me, and move others to reach out to our neighbor. Take the time to do what will not only bring a smile to their face, but warm your heart in the process. After all, I think you can do something to help.

You’re Gonna Miss This

If I’ve got to choose between being a parent or pastor its not even a close race. God wants me to manage my own family before I try to manage anything or anyone else. My kids will be grown before I know it and I don’t plan on living with regrets later. Parents with kids still at home please read

Pastor Craig Crosby

       God has blessed me with four boys ages 13, 11, 9, and 3. As a pastor of a brand new church and a full time hospice chaplain, I must admit it’s very hard to find time and energy to spend with my family. Of course, I love them dearly, but some weeks are just about survival. However, I’m well aware that one day I’m going to miss these days.

        I believe many moms and dads can identify with my daily struggle. You feel torn between many things and many people. You want to be there for your kids, enjoy moments together, and take time to teach them how to live life. But, life drains you dry and steals precious moments from us all. Here are some things we must remember in order to stay on track as parents. 

#1 GOD GAVE THEM TO YOU

The bible tells us…

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Keys To “REAL RELATIONSHIPS”

My friends, some things you have to see to believe. Others things you have to hear to understand. Most people have surface relationships, not real relationships. Recently, I was reminded how real fellowship with one another takes place. It has nothing to do with where you’ve come from, where you are, or who you are with at the time. A forever bond is created between two or more folks when the following principles are at work.

#1: There Must Be REALNESS.

Whether at church, at home, at work, or driving in a car with a friend you can’t have closeness without realness. Being real requires that you acknowledge the truth and the war that is within you. If you’re hurting you say it. If you’re mad you admit it. And, if you care you show it. Realness is the process of taking off your mask, letting down your hair, and discussing life as it really is the good, the bad, and the ugly. If realness is not present all you’ve done is gathered together, but realness will bring you together. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Realness is the beginning of real relationship. It’s the beginning of you connecting your life story with someone else’s story.

#2:  There Must Be BROKENNESS

Talking to anyone who is full of themselves is rarely a pleasant experience. Only brokenness can put us all on the same level. When a group of broken people come together we each share hurt, pain, and disappointment in common. No one feels better than anyone to their right or left. Because we each realize that we are each broken just in different ways. Brokenness levels the playing field and knocks down the barriers of pride that often stands between us.

#3:  There Must Be CONFESSION.

Scripture tells us that confession brings healing. It also brings us one step closer in our knowledge and understanding of one another. You can’t have a deep relationship with anyone until they know your story and you know their story. We must not be afraid to bear our soul to those around us if we expect to have quality relationships. Our past ups and downs shape us into the people we have become. And our confession of our struggles and stress help those around us know who they are really dealing with. Only through confession can the barrier of misunderstanding start to be removed.

#4:  There Must Be UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

Unconditional Love must be present in order for friends or family to feel safe in bearing their soul to another. In order for real relationships to be cultivated there must be a lavishing of God’s grace, forgiveness, and sincere compassion. When someone shares their sorrows, struggles, or frustrations there should be no pointing of fingers or casting of stones. Condemnation will push us apart, but love will pull us together.

#5:  There Must Be CHRIST

Every church and every group of people is full of differences. We all have many different interests and preferences. There are so many things that can separate us from oneness. Jesus Christ creates a bridge like nothing else. We must all see ourselves created by, loved by and accountable to the same God. We must each recognize our need for Jesus Christ our Savior. And, we must understand that Christ wants us to love one another, walk with one another, and encourage one another in this journey called life.

My friends, these principles are critical in producing real relationships anywhere and anytime. These work at home, church, school, your workplace, or with total strangers. Wherever these principles don’t exist there will only be surface and superficial relationship. I personally want no part in any relationship that is not real and rewarding to all involved. Because how can you have a “real relationship” when you’re not able to be real with each other?

10 Reasons I Love My Dad

Before I go any further, I want to wish all you dads a belated Father’s Day. As a father of four boys myself, I know that being a dad is not a small order, unless you choose to water it down. I’m also afraid that due to all the dads missing in actions, dads that are trying their best get overlooked. I will say that I’m a momma’s boy, but I also realize that my dad played a very significant role in the man I am today. Here are the Top 10 Things I’m Most grateful my dad while raising me from a boy to a man.

#1:  He Loved Me – I’ve never doubted my dad’s love for me. He told me and he showed me he loved me everyday of my life. I can’t ever remember a time where I felt unloved. Thanks Dad!

#2: He Loved My Mom – In this day and age, I realize I’m very fortunate that my parentsare still together after all these years. He may not have been a perfect husband, but he meant it when he said “Until Death Do We Part.” Thanks Dad for loving my mom and being committed to your marriage. 

#3 He Did His Best to Provide – My dad taught me how to work hard and do what you can to make sure your family has what they need. We were not rich, but we never went without. Thanks dad for your diligence, hard work, and commitment to providing for our family. 

#4:He Did His Best to Protect– I know my dad can’t protect me from everything, but he did his best to make sure we were safe and sound. I still know he’s my body guard. So, watch out are he might kill you. Thanks Dad! 

#5:He Introduced Me To Jesus– There were many who influenced my faith, but I still remember praying to receive Jesus into my heart on my dad’s bed. He made it clear that the most important decision a person could ever make is to accept Jesus in to their heart. Thanks Dad for leading me to Jesus. 

#6: He taught me to fear and serve God. In my home, there was no doubt who created us and who we are to serve in this life. My dad lived with  a healthy fear of God and a unwavering commitment to serving God in his everyday life. Thanks Dad! 

#7: He used his belt. Anyone in my family can testify that spankings were my least favorite. But, I’m glad that I had a dad who would not allow bad behavior to go unnoticed. He disciplined me out of love and kept me out of world of trouble in the process. Thanks Dad for using that Big Black Belt that made me leap all away across the bed in single bound! 

#8: He sought to live with Integrity. Listen, my dad wasn’t perfect. He had many faults, but he always tried to be a man of integrity. To be honest, fair, and live right in the eyes of God. Dad thanks for living with integrity. 

#9: He taught me how to love others. My mom and dad have always been willing to do anything for anyone. My dad showed me how to put others above myself and how to come alongside those who are less fortunate. I’ve always loved that he has not favorites and does not take sides. Thanks Dad for teaching me how to love others.

#10: He still cares to this day. Honestly, my dad has just gotten better with age. He makes it known that he cares and He still goes above and beyond to support me. I’m so grateful for a dad who has stayed committed to loving me, coaching me, and caring for me as long as he has breath.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my dad is not Superman. But, I’ll put his efforts and heart above most. Thanks Dad for all of the above and many other things I did not have time to mention.

*If you’re a dad reading this please know that your value is priceless. You need to be involved or get involved in your child’s life. They are watching you and will often follow in your footsteps.

3 Things God Hates

I actually encountered each of these things today in one form or another. These aren’t the only three things that we should be concerned about, but they should definitely top each of our list.

 #1: God hates RACISM. 

I don’t care what you’ve been through or how you feel about other races. God hates racism and any favoritism for that matter. Even as churches we reflect a segregated culture. Did you know Sunday mornings is still the most segregated time in America? God created every soul and ever soul matters to God. We must refuse to allow racism to grow roots in our hearts, in our families, and for sure in our churches.

“My dear brothers and sisters,how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” (James 2:1)

 #2: God hates SELFISHNESS.

I’m so tired of seeing people hurt, relationships ruined and families torn apart because of people only concerned with their own selfish desires. Dads, Moms, Brothers, and Sisters, we must get over ourselves. Don’t allow greed, bitterness, and your own selfish agenda to ruin what matters most. I meet families every week who are torn apart over a family estate or because someone simply chose to go their own selfish way. We must refuse to be selfish, pig headed fools otherwise it will ruin countless lives.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves..” (Philippians 2:3)
 
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:16)

#3: God hates PEOPLE DYING AND GOING TO HELL.

I left a patient’s house today with a heavy heart. I knew from talking with him before that he was raised in a Godless home. Never did he go to church in over  80 something years of his life. Now with only days or weeks left to live, I pray that He chooses to accept Jesus into his heart. I’ve done my very best to share and show God’s love to him and his family. But, the wall around his heart is as thick as I’ve ever encountered. However, I can’t just stand by and do nothing knowing this man is in for a very rude awakening. I must pray earnestly and do my very best to lead this man to Jesus. Why, because Jesus went to the greatest degree to make a way for his salvation.

Each of us must realize that 7 out of 10 in this world don’t know Jesus. As Believers we have all been called by God to spread the good news that Jesus died, Jesus cares, and Jesus Saves. There should not be a day that goes by that we don’t each share Jesus with at least one lost soul.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)

When Life Throws A Curve Ball

     Recently, my oldest son Matthew spent eight days at MUSC Children’s Hospital. The surgery had been expected for months to repair his sunken chest, but what would happen next was not expected. Sure, I knew in my mind his recovery would be painful and the results would be worth it. What I didn’t expect was seeing my son, holding his chest, struggling to breathe, while begging for relief. I felt helpless and overwhelmed as the man in the recovery room said, “I’m sorry sir, but this is one of the most painful procedures we do here. Right now there is nothing else we can do to ease his pain.” It was at that point that I left his mom by his side, while I took a much needed prayer walk.

     Obviously things worked out because my 13yr old son is home and recovering well. But, at that moment, I felt rocked to the core, powerless, and all I could do was fall on my knees. I have a feeling that many of you have been there and will likely find yourself there again. Whether you’ve watched a loved one suffer, watched life as you once knew it disappear, or experienced firsthand some other unexpected life crisis. This I know, it always feels different when things happen in your own backyard.

     I must admit, I was a bit disappointed in my own crisis management skills. As a pastor and hospice chaplain, I have been by the bedside of so many experiencing every imaginable kind of life crisis. However, none of those experiences seemed to help when faced with my own crisis. As I sought to gather myself and find peace amidst the uncertainty, here are the only things that brought me through the storm.

#1 GOD IS STILL THERE. We may feel alone, but we’re never alone. We may wonder where God is at the moment, but the truth is He has never left our side. “God is our place of safety. He gives us strength. He is always there to help us in times of trouble.”(Psalm 46:1)

#2 GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL. When life as we know it comes unglued we are tempted to come unglued as well. Quickly, we can find ourselves in panic mode and feeling like everything is spiraling out of control. That’s when our faith must not be in our limited ability, but God’s unlimited ability. “Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)

#3 GOD IS STILL AT WORK. It’s hard to see when caught up in the moment. But, God is always at work even when man says there is nothing more that can be done. One of the most quoted scriptures found in God’s word is Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

#4 GOD STILL HAS A PLAN. I’m a firm believer that there are no accidents, only appointments. What takes us totally by surprise never takes God by surprise. All our days are numbered and life’s moments are orchestrated by a God who holds today and tomorrow in his hands. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

#5 GOD IS STILL GOD. Nothing settles the soul more than knowing that God is still God. God is ALL knowing, ALL powerful, ALL loving, Always there and ALWAYS able to do immeasurably more than we could ever dream or imagine. “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Life is full of ups and downs. There are times when you really don’t know what hit you. A sudden and unexpected storm can send shock waves to your heart. Before you know it your mind is flooded with uncertain thoughts as you quickly find yourself somewhere you’ve never been before. These are some things we must each remember when life throws us a curve ball.

Why God Likes Facebook

Back in 2004, Facebook had only 1 million active members. That number has grown to well over 1 Billion active users here in 2013. Many children, teenagers, adults, moms, dads, and even grandparents are daily posting pictures and comments for the world to see. Many on the outside looking in can’t make sense of all the craziness, but I actually think God likes Facebook.

#1: Facebook brings people together.

We live in a world that does everything possible to tear us apart from family and friends. Facebook is doing all it can to reunite us to our friends and loved ones. With just a few clicks we can see what’s going on in the lives of many we could never visit in one day. Considering the fact that God never meant for man to do life alone, I believe Facebook does as good of job as any at bringing us all together.

#2: Facebook encourages many people.

As I write this, I am sitting by the hospital bed of my 13 year old son, who is recovering from a major surgery. Through Facebook, I am encouraged by countless folks letting me know they are thinking of us and praying for us. As I share updates, others are able to share words that lift me up and keep me feeling we are not alone in this journey called life. You can bet that anyone on Facebook will receive many more birthday wishes than the ones without an account.

#3: Facebook touches a lot of lives.

Facebook gets messages out quicker than CNN. It makes us aware of someone passing, someone having a hard day, or someone celebrating a memorable event. Our church Facebook page Refuge Walterboro connects us with at least 2,000 folks weekly. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know personally that Facebook touches hearts and souls. I’ve actually read posts before that moved me to tears and a better life perspective. As people share life changing stories, post meaningful scriptures, and choose to communicate positive messages the world becomes a better place. Trust me, people read your posts and you never know how a soul is touched by your post.

#4: Facebook keeps people connected.

Not only does Facebook bring us together, but it keeps us together. It has become a network that has drawn over one billion folks together. Through pictures, messages, and life events we are often brought together. At times we rally together for causes greater than ourselves. When life is too busy we’re able to make a quick post that lets someone know we’re thinking about them. Through Facebook we can keep in touch with classmates, friends and family no matter how far we live apart. You feel sometimes like you’re able to see into the hearts and lives of each other. It keeps us connected as we share life’s ups and downs with one another.

#5: Facebook gives my Grandma something to do.

I use to think, “Why would my Grandma want to be on Facebook?” Now, I think, “Why Not?” Even if a person can’t leave their home, is bed bound, or can’t speak Facebook becomes a great wayt to connect with others. I still can’t believe my last living Grandparent just joined the Facebook family. When my Grandma friend requested me recently, I really did think it was a sign of the end times. Now, I just see it as a sign of the times. I think Grandma finally decided that even God likes Facebook.

Seize The Moment

Refuge Church Message Notes: June 2, 2013

Series: God’s Will Is … Message: SEIZE THE MOMENT

A. Yesterday is GONE.           (One Author I was reading recently wrote) “The fact that we live to see a new day is an opportunity to praise God. When we arise, we can command our day to be all that God has created it to be. The older saints used to sing a song “Just another day that the Lord has kept me. He has kept me from all evil with my mind stayed on Him”. Faith is predictable. If we keep our mind on Jesus every day, we can predict the outcome: WE WIN. If we failed to set our faith in proper position yesterday, God gives us a new day to do new things.”

 (Isaiah 43:19)(NLT) For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

 “Do not let yesterday’s mistakes hinders today’s growth. The same God that gave us new grace and mercy yesterday is the same God who will do it again today. Make every day count. Be not dismayed, discouraged or distressed, for God has a plan for our life today. And when tomorrow comes, He is committed to giving us a fresh start again.

Today, I encourage every person to embrace the new mercies of God. Forgot about what did not work yesterday. Praise God for the people walked out of our life yesterday. Thank God that yesterday is gone and today is going well.

B.  Tomorrow is NOT PROMISEDI can’t tell you the number of people I’ve sat down with heart broken after they’ve lost a loved one. They say, “We planned to do this or we planned to do that.” Scripture says…”Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord determines his steps.”

(James 4:13-15)(NLT) Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”

C.  Today is a GIFT. Every day is a gift from God filled with God given opportunities.

(Psalm 118:24)(NLT) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

 It’s been said, “Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow is not promised, and Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” God’s will is that we seize the moment……I want to share with you how God’s word says we can best seize the moments God gives us….

1.  Put the PAST BEHIND you.  You can’t and you won’t move forward until you quit living in the past, worrying about the past, an  d holding on to the past.” Many times it’s a matter of find forgiveness ourselves and offering forgiveness to others.

(Philippians 3:12-14)(NIV) 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. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

2.  Seize the MOMENT IN FRONT of you.

I used to do nothing but student ministry for 11 years. And, one of the things I did weekly was spend about 10 hours a week at nothing but school lunches.. Meeting with high school and middle students I did know and building relationships with ones I didn’t know.

I’ll never forget meeting a 16 year old girl that came through our ministry. Through one of our mutual friends, we struck up conversation. I invited her to join us for our midweek worship service that would take place that night. She said, “I don’t have a ride.” I said, “We’ll have someone pick you up from your house.” So, around 5p.m. that afternoon she was picked up and brought to our Youth Worship Service…She was one of several students that were picked up that day and brought to a service that was focused on introducing them all to Jesus Christ. That night, She gave her life to Christ…

It was two years later that I heard this story out of her own mouth. She stood up in front of our youth group and said, “Two years ago I had plans to kill myself. I  couldn’t take my home life anymore. So, I planned to take my life and put an end to my misery two years ago. One thing happened that changed that. Pastor Craig came to my school that day and invited me to a service. He said, God cared about me and that he cared about me. Long story short, that night I gave my life to Jesus Christ and discovered that God has a purpose for my life….It saved my life.”

(Ephesians 5:14-17)(NIV) This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Listen to me, my friends! When you don’t seize the moment in front of you, you may cause someone else to miss their moment to be changed forever.

3.  PRAISE, PRAY & THANK God continually.  All three of these things are things I personally don’t do nearly enough… But, these are critical to our sanity, to a positive mindset, and to us staying in the will of God….    

(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)(NLT) Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

 4.  Don’t WORRY about the FUTURE.

(Matthew 6:31-34)(NLT) So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

5.  Embrace your GOD GIVEN SEASON.

 (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…

6.  Live with a SENSE OF URGENCY.

If you’ve ever watched a ball game like football or basketball before you’ve seen a game or two that came down to the wire. Ever notice how a team who is trailing in a game, and may not have done much of anything the first three quarters of the game, all of sudden they come alive. WHY? Because they start operating with a sense of urgency.

It’s only when we live with a true sense of urgency that make the moments God gives us.

(Proverbs 6:4)(NLT) “Don’t put it off; Do it Now! Don’t rest until you do.” 

 

5 Ways To Get Rid Of Your Pastor

I accepted God’s call into ministry nearly 20 years ago. At that time, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew was that God was calling me to be a pastor and I said YES. It didn’t take very long to understand why so many pastors leave the ministry way too early. Studies reveal that at least 1700 pastors leave the ministry every month. There are many reasons for these statistics, but I would like to share with you at least five ways you might cause your pastor to quit.

#1: Don’t Pray For Him.

Several times in my life I’ve been asked, “Sir, are you in the military?” To that I’ve often responded, “No, but I’m in the ministry.” Pastors aren’t physically shot at like those who fight so bravely for our country.  However, a pastor is exposed to daily crisis, daily criticism, and is engaged in daily spiritual warfare. Satan relentlessly attacks pastors in hopes of ruining their integrity and discouraging them in every way imaginable.

#2: Don’t Worry About His Family

I know without a doubt that my wife and my children should be my first priority. However, ministry can easily become so consuming that you rarely talk with your spouse and barely see your children. If you want to get rid of your pastor make sure he never has time to spend with his family. Ignore the fact that his wife seems completely unhappy. Make sure your pastors feels forced to play super hero to everyone else and I promise his family will fall apart. Right behind that will be his ministry credibility.

#3: Don’t Support His Leadership

Many pastors in your typical southeastern, rural church start out without a chance. The leadership boards are full of people with their own agendas and the church is full of people who are determined to do things their way. A pastor must be allowed to lead with the vision God has given him. That vision must be supported by the members, otherwise his time at that church will be limited. There are many reasons why pastors are in and out of churches so quick. One for sure, is the fact that few are willing to follow leadership.

#4: Don’t Give Him a Break

Being a pastor is a 24/7 job that never feels complete. A pastor rarely feels he can rest because there is always something or someone calling his name. Many pastors aren’t great about taking necessary breaks away from the ministry, but breaks are more than necessary. If you love your pastor, I suggest that you make sure he has time away from the ministry. Send him and his spouse on at least one annual retreat where they can be encouraged, inspired, and re-energized. Make sure he does not work seven days a week. And, don’t make your pastor feel that he has to do all the work.

#5: Don’t See Your Pastor as Human

Before he answered God’s call into ministry, he was just a man. After he answered God’s call into ministry, he is just a man. Respect his calling, but don’t expect him to superhuman. Pastors don’t have all the answers, don’t have unlimited strength, and can get overwhelmed by unhealthy expectations. A great way to get rid of your pastor is to make him feel like he can’t ever measure up to what is expected. Yes, the pastorate is a high calling, but in the end he is still a man.

 Now, here is what you might do with these words. One, understand that being a pastor is not easy. Otherwise 1700 pastors per month would not be leaving the ministry. Secondly, consider how you might encourage your pastor with a call, a letter, or an unexpected surprise of appreciation. Finally, take care of your pastor as he does his God-given best to take care of you and so many others.

 

 

 

 

Tribute To Big J.O.E.Y.

Joey BranchI’ve been a part of a few hundred funerals, but none more inspiring than recent. Cars lined the street and the parking lot was full as many gathered to celebrate a man who touched so many lives. Death never comes at a welcome time when you lose someone you love, but there is no doubt this man left plenty behind. His wife should feel loved, his children should be proud, and his friends should thank God just to have known him. I wanted to reshare some of the words I spoke at his funeral that came from the heart. Feel free to add comments below that many can read for years to come!

Joey was a man as many would say, with a BIG HEART. He loved his family.He loved his friends.And, he even loved total strangers. As a pastor, celebrating a pastor. I felt compelled to share either 3 points and an invitation or use an acrostic to share with you what God has put on my heart. I chose the acrostic, J.O.E.Y. To describe this dearly loved man of God.

The J stands for JOLLY.

Joey loved to laugh and to have a good time. He often had some joke to share and could find some reason to laugh with you, for you, or at you. I can see Joey’s smiling face right now.Dressed up like Jolly Old Saint Nick. With a child on each leg, grinning from ear to ear. (Proverbs 17:22) A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

 The O stands for ON A MISSION.

Joey was not a perfect man, but there was never a doubt in my mind that He had been called by God to preach the gospel. Everywhere he went he lived ON A MISSION. I know his family had to make many sacrifices and endure many hardships because of this mission. Joey took very seriously God’s call into the ministry. And, he was not your average pastor. He had a sincere love for the down and out,those who were fatherless, those who were struggling, and most of all those who were lost. I guarantee you there is someone here today who is a better man or a better woman because Joey Branch lived ON A MSSION. Joey and I had many conversations that were dominated by the theme…How Could We Touch One More Life…..And ignite others to do the same. Joey lived to make this truth known. (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.

 The E stands for ENCOURAGING.

I’ve seen Joey when he was up and when he was down. No matter what he always sought to encourage me. Back in early 2005, when God led me back to South Carolina and my hometown, St. George,SC to start a church, Joey was the first pastor to come alongside me. He met with me, listened to me, and encouraged me to follow God’s call in my life.  Joey Branch encouraged us all to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Joey Branch encouraged us all to LOVE OUR FAMILY. Joey Branch encouraged us all to LOVE JESUS. Don’t use your past as an excuse, but a platform that God can use. Joey was always encouraging someone to seek God’s best and nothing less. (Hebrews 3:13) says, But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,”

 FINALLY, The Y stands for YEARNED FOR GOD’S WILL

I wholeheartedly believe, that until Joey drew his last breath here on this earth, he Yearned for God’s will to be done. In His life and in the lives of those around him. He prayed as Jesus prayed, “Not my will Father, but your will be done. On earth, as it is in Heaven.” How many times did he preach that you heard the words….“Here is what God has laid on my heart.”And, I believe if Joey were able to speak today, He would say this to his family and friends:

*Smile or “Rejoice” , God has blessed us all in many ways. Live for Jesus every day. Be encouraged by the fact that I am with God and God is with you. And, seek God’s will daily because you don’t know when your day of departure from this life to the next is coming.

(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.

 *May we all live with the same passion, compassion, and purpose as our dear friend Joey Branch!

 

Parents Must Monitor Online Activity

I think we all can agree that we live in an online world. Kids growing up today don’t know what it’s like not to have the internet and immediate access to just about anything. Every parent should have a healthy fear of the internet. You need the kind of fear that compels you to monitor your child’s online activity. Yes, you can ignore t this warning, but I promise most will live to regret it. Here are just a few reasons you should monitor your child’s online activity.

 #1: The average child won’t monitor themselves. God has given every child parents for a reason. Our job is to raise, protect, and correct them. Children can easily access things online they are not ready to see or hear. Yes, I know they can learn plenty on the street, but at home they are under your watch. Our children aren’t allowed to take their computer to their rooms so we can see what they are seeing. My almost 14 year old son knows that at any moment I will do a random check of his smart phone. These are just a few examples. The point is my kids know that we monitor their online activity.

#2:  We live in an evil world.  Every day people are busted online for manipulating, seducing, and taking advantage of young people. Anyone can disguise themselves online, while gaining information about your child. Just last year I was at the home of a 14 year old girl being raised by her grandmother. This granddaughter and her friend were online looking at their Facebook accounts. Her friend starting telling me about this encounter she had recently online. While on Facebook, some guy friend requested her and kept talking with her online for days. Evidently, he gained all the information he needed to show up at her door. One afternoon while this girl was home alone this 50 year old man shows up and does God knows what to this little girl. This 14 year old girl said, “I had no idea the guy I was talking to was that old and I was terrified.” She said, “I told my mom what happened and she said she might press charges on this man.” I don’t even want to tell you what I said, but I was like you’ve got to be kidding me. What kind of mom takes this kind of thing so lightly? Doesn’t she understand that her daughter could have been raped and even killed. *Parents, especially of young ladies, WAKE UP and realize the world we are living in. You can’t trust others to take care of your children, but you can do everything possible to keep them safe.

 #3: Reputations Are Being Ruined. I realize some who read this don’t have a Facebook account, but most of the world does. I can see daily just through my Facebook account that the average teenager doesn’t need a Facebook account. My oldest son knows that should he open an account we will know the password and we will monitor his every activity. Parents, as long as your child is under your roof you have the right and responsibility of guarding them, training them, and watching over them. Their behavior may not be what you’ve taught them to do, but very well a reflection of what you have allowed them to do. Yes, I understand my kids will make poor decisions. but I plan to do everything I can to guide them towards good decisions.

Now, I could on and on with this article, but that is not my intent. My intent is to urge every parent to get in the game. Be concerned, be aware, and stay involved in your child’s life and online activity. The moment you quit caring is the moment you quit parenting. And, the moment you quit parenting is the moment you have given the devil permission to have full access to your child.

(1 Peter 5:8) “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

*I’m sure there is going to be some extremist who wants to tell me to chill out. To allow my child to decide for themselves what they watch and read. To you I simply say, I care way too much about my kids to not do everything possible to protect them!

DIVORCE PROOF YOUR MARRIAGE

Family Sideways PicOne of my highest goals in this life is to stay happily married to the same woman for a lifetime. I honestly believe many couples want to grow old together, but based on statistics the majority won’t make it to the finish line. Every day thousands of marriages that started out with such high hopes end in an ugly divorce. If you care deeply about your marriage lasting the tests of time I hope you will take these keys to making your marriage last to heart.

1. Take Your Wedding Vows To Heart. Plenty of married folks said I Do with their mouth, but never meant it in their heart. Listen, when I said I do over 20 years ago I meant it then and I mean it now. For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and as long as we both shall live. People who really mean it when they SAY I DO, don’t look for a way out, but always look for a way through the adversity before them.

2. Guard Your Marriage. Too many married folks do nothing to protect their marriage. One, make sure you make time for each other. Distance for any marriage will take its toll. Don’t work all the time. Don’t let everything revolve around the kids. Don’t put hanging out with your friends before hanging out with your spouse. Set healthy boundaries that position your marriage to grow. In my house, outside of my relationship with God my marriage is top priority. I have to guard our time and guide our direction towards healthy ground.

3. Quit Following The Crowd. If you follow the average couple, you will end up in divorce court. Most couples chase the American dream, but are headed for the American Nightmare. If you don’t want to end up just another marriage statistic then don’t follow patterns that have proven not to work. Build your marriage on Godly principles, healthy processes, and patterns set by those whose marriages have stood the tests of times.

4. Learn How To Communicate. I believe couples when they say “we love it each other, but we just can’t find a way to work things out.” What they really mean is we don’t know how to communicate with each other. Here are things that will help this. One, seek to understand more than to be understood. Don’t worry about proving your point more than working out the relationship. Two, shut up and listen. Many times it’s not that we can’t understand each other, but we don’t care enough to listen. Three, don’t allow things to just build up inside. Daily discuss things together and make big decisions together. Bottom line, you must form a partnership based on love, trust, and devotion. You must learn how to talk through your differences and operate on the same page.

5. Put God First. Too many people put their faith life last. But, later when life falls apart they find themselves running back to what should have been first all along. LISTEN TO ME, don’t wait another minute or for your spouse to make things right with God. You need to get on your knees, seek God’s ways, and ask God to help you be the person that only Christ can help you to be. Otherwise, expect your marriage to struggle and don’t be surprised when your marriage doesn’t last.

(Matthew 7:24-27)“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

*For those reading this who have experienced a divorce I pray you might find healing. Also, I pray that you will allow God to use your experiences to help others who might be headed this same direction. God Bless!

What Makes A SUPER MOM?

As I write this, I realize that every mom is priceless. I also realize that not everyone has been blessed with the kind of mom I was raised by in this life. I thank God every day for my mom and her commitment to doing her best to raise me up in the way that God would have me to go. Here are some things about my mom that makes her a SUPER MOM.

#1: A Super Mom WALKS WITH GOD. My mom has always walked with God as far back as I can remember. I’m sure she wasn’t perfect, but there was never a doubt that she was seeking to follow God day by day. Drawing from God her strength and studying God’s word for guidance.

#2: A Super Mom LOVES UNCONDITIONALLY. My mom has not always agreed with everything I’ve said or done, but her love has always been unchanging. Her love was never dependent upon certain performance or expectations.

#3: A Super Mom LEADS BY EXAMPLE. My mom always led us by example. She didn’t tell us to do one thing and then do another. She understood the importance of integrity and that actions speak louder than any words.

#4: A Super Mom EXPECTS GOD’S BEST. My mom taught us God’s word and impressed upon our hearts God’s will for our lives. She did not force it on us, but made very clear what God says is right and wrong.

#5: A Super Mom LOOKS FOR TEACHING MOMENTS. Anytime the window presented itself my mom warned us, corrected us, and confronted on the way we should go in this life. I remember many morning devotions prior to going to school.

#6: A Super Mom MAKES GREAT SACRIFICES. My mom did without many things and invested countless hours into helping us grow and develop into the men we are today. She got us to every practice, ready for each school day, and through life’s many challenges.

#7: A Super Mom NEVER STOPS CARING. She has always made time to be there when I needed her most. Listening, loving, and making it clear that what I was sharing with her was the most important thing at that moment.

#8 A Super Mom NEVER STOPS PRAYING. My mom understood there was a lot she could do, but much more that only God could provide. She wore her knees out many a night lifting us up and praying God’s will for our lives. I’m convinced the only way I ever made it through high school, college, and graduate school was her relentless prayers.

#9: A Super Mom NEVER GIVES UP. I’m sure she was more than exhausted raising three boys because our boys wear us out. But, my mom never gave up on us no matter what the situation or how she may have felt inside.

#10: A Super Mom NEVER STOPS PARENTING. To this day, she is still just as super as she has always been. Still loving, still praying, still leading by example, and still letting me know when she thinks I’m headed off track.

There is no doubt that a mom’s work is never done. They are always caring for or thinking about their babies. I know mine was always the first to rise and the last to lay her head down at night. Regardless of how she felt or was dealing with she kept being Super Mom.

A 103 Year Old Atheist

Sometime back I was having conversation with a man that was 103 years old. He had been in the nursing home so long that he called it home. Believe it or not, this man still looked healthier than most and I’m not sure he was convinced that he would ever die. After much small talk, I asked this man to share with me what he believed would happen after he died? He replied, “I’ve never really thought about it because it won’t matter to me. I’ll just be asleep.” My first response was, “Sir you’re  a 103 years old  and you’ve never thought about eternity. I believe that once a person hits triple digits they really ought to start thinking about life after death.”

Now, I would love to share this great story of how I reached this guy for Christ. But, I’ve never seen this man again and the last time I did he was the coldest, most unbelieving man I had ever met. I left that nursing home wondering how anyone could live that long and yet claim to have absolutely no faith or belief in God. Here are the only possibilities I could come up with in my mind.

#1: He Never Looked Outside. Scripture tells us that Creation speaks for itself giving every man no excuse not to believe in God. Surely, this man had seen the moon, the sun, the ocean, the mountains, and many other countless creations that man could never take credit for making. Had he been up for taking a walk, I believe I would have taken him outside. I would have asked him to look around and explain to me how such amazing beauty was ever created.

#2: He Was Raised Around Unbelievers. From the little bit I gained from our conversation this man did not grow up in a Christian family. Maybe he was raised by those who were faithless. Maybe he was surrounded by those who claimed to have faith, but never exemplified that faith in a genuine, loving way. Maybe he was turned off by all those who preach one thing and practice another. Maybe he never had anyone take the time to even ask him about his faith condition and share with him the gospel. Honestly, this man did not even seem to have a reference to past faith and my words appeared to be words he rarely, if ever heard from others.

#3: He Never Read The Bible. The Bible tells us that faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God. Every time we open the pages of scripture we are reading God’s love letter given to mankind. I believe that anytime God’s word is spoken or read it has power. The kind of power that can cut through any heart, change any mind, and save any soul. Yes, we each have to make a choice to accept or reject that word. However, I wonder did this man know that God loves him? Did this man know that Jesus died for him? And, did this man know that one day we will all die and then give account of ourselves to God?

Now, I personally don’t think there is any such thing as a smart atheist. But, there are many people who are confused, ignorant, and turned off by what has transpired around them. I honestly believe that 7 out of 10 people living around us don’t know Jesus. Many people do believe there is a God.  But, they need to know that the only way to that God is through Jesus. Here is what we can do about this.

One, BE JESUS where you live, work and play. Allow your life to reflect God’s goodness, grace, mercy, and love to those who may not yet believe. Two, SHARE JESUS with your family, friends, co-workers, classmates, and even total strangers. It doesn’t matter if a person is 3 or 103, we all need Jesus. Don’t assume someone else has shared the gospel with anyone. Finally, PRAY FOR THE LOST around you. One of the things that is killing the church today is its lack of compassion for lost people. There is nothing more important than the salvation of someone’s soul. Pray that hearts would be open, seeds would be planted, and be God’s faithful ambassador everywhere you go.

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? 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)

Can I Hear God’s Voice?

Many people wonder “Does God Speak?” And, if so, “Can I hear His Voice?”  I believe we can say a strong YES to both of those questions. I’m not sure who’s reading this a believer or non-believer. But, no matter who you are God has a message for you.

            Throughout scripture we find that God speaks to those he created. He spoke audibly to Adam and Eve in the garden.  God spoke to Moses through a burning bush. God spoke to Joseph in a dream. God spoke to Mary (The Mother of Jesus) through an angel. We even find in Numbers 22:28 that God spoke through a donkey. God speaks through many simple and unique ways. Here are some ways we know he still speaks today.

#1: God speaks through CREATION. (Romans 1:20)  Recently, I was underneath a huge and very old oak tree. Just my observation of its beauty and statue made me think to myself, “How great is our God.” No man could have made something such as this and no man could have kept this alive for so many years. I feel the same way when I watch the ocean waves and drive through the mountains. Scripture says that creation speaks of God’s existence so every man is without excuse.

#2: God still speaks through HIS WORD. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) God will never lead you to say or do anything that contradicts His Word. The Bible is still God’s primary way of speaking to man today! Unfortunately, this is also the dustiest book in most homes. Every word is God inspired, God breathed, and words of life from God to man. The best description I have ever heard is “The Bible is God’s love letter to mankind.” Read, study it, and discover God’s will for your life.

#3: God speaks through HIS SPIRIT. (John 14:15-17) Most people start freaking out when they hear the words “Holy Spirit”. The Bible tells us that all who have invited Jesus Christ into their hearts as Savior and Lord have God’s spirit living within them. God’s spirit is there to counsel, comfort, convict, and remind us of the truth. The Holy Spirit will either give us a peace or a lack of peace when it comes to moving forward with something. The moment a person invites Jesus into their heart “God’s spirit” comes to live inside them. THAT’S WHAT MAKES THE CHANGE! God’s spirit…Convicts us, Reminds Us, Directs Us, and Assures Us that God is with us! God’s spirit will not give us a peace about something that is not God’s will.

#4: God speaks through CIRCUMSTANCES. (John 9:1-3) I’ve seen many a person turned around by circumstance in this life. Many times it takes seeing all that is out of our control before we realize who is in control. God speaks through events, failures, tragedies, and circumstances everyday of our lives. And, either we allow the circumstances to lead us closer to God or we decide to get bitter with God. There is no circumstance we go through in this life that God doesn’t have something to tell us through it.

#5:God speaks through PEOPLE. (2 Corinthians 5:20) God calls not only pastors, but all believers to be his arms, feet, and mouth piece in a world full of uncertainties. God called his earliest disciples to take up their cross and follow him. Then, he commanded them to go and tell others to do the same. God uses people to confront, convict, encourage, and guide others to a God who loves us all dearly and unconditionally. If God didn’t speak through people the Bible would have never been printed and the gospel would have never made its way to us.

My friends, There is no question that God still speaks today. The real question is, “Are you listening?” My sheep LISTEN to my voice; I KNOW them, and they FOLLOW me. (John 10:27)

*These are notes from a message Pastor Crosby Crosby preached at Refuge Church on May 5th. His church meets every other Sunday night, 6p.m. @ the Colleton Recreation Center. Anyone is welcomed to attend. Like us on facebook, follow on twitter or follow his blog post by going to www.RefugeChurch.org .

 

Never Give Up On Anyone

9-11THIS IS AN AMAZING STORY OF A MAN CHANGED THROUGH THE FAITHFULNESS OF A FRIEND AND CIRCUMSTANCES. I found this man’s story on the internet and believe its worth sharing!

Some of you may already know my story or parts of it. Others have no idea. It’s amazing what it takes for God to finally get our attention. In my case there were two things that worked together that God used to shake things up in my world and get me to look at Him once and for all. Those two things are a childhood friend and the days immediately after 9/11.

I won’t go into all of the detail of what my life looked like pre-9/11 but a summary would be, I was a selfish, self-centered, former drug dealer and drug user that though it was all about me and that I had everything figured out. If you asked I would say I believed in God, was a pretty good person, and because I had never robbed a bank or killed anyone, I would go to heaven.

Fast forward to 1999 when I ran into a childhood friend I had seen off and on throughout the years named Ben Garcia. We were partners-in-crime in many adventures growing up but now there was something different about him and he wanted to tell me all about it. Because “I had it all figured out” I didn’t need to hear about how his life had changed and the role God played in it. In my mind me and God were cool and I had nothing to worry about.

For two years, 730 long days, he continued to invest in me without giving up. It didn’t matter how much I avoided him or blew him off, he hung in there. How many times have you tried to invest in someone and wanted to give up because you weren’t seeing any progress being made. I’ve been there. What he was doing was planting and watering the seeds that God would make grow later.

 Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 shocked me and shook me like it did most people that were witnessed to the horrific act of terrorism. But what really got me was what I witnessed during the days to follow. I remember watching television and seeing images of women and children holding up poster board signs with pictures of their loved ones that were missing after the buildings collapsed that said, “Have you seen my father?” “Have you seen my husband?” It made me think of all the guys that went to work that day never dreaming that they would lose their life when the World Trade Center crashes to the ground after having 747′s slam into them.

I thought about all of those men who went to work thinking how fortunate they were to have awesome jobs in the World Trade Center, nice houses, cool cars, and great families. I thought about all of those men who went to work that day thinking they had it all figured out like I did. I think thought, “What if they were wrong?” which led to me think, “What if I’m wrong?” What if I didn’t have everything figured out the way I thought I did? What if God and I really aren’t cool like that?

I called my buddy up and asked him what time church started that Sunday and he told me. Sunday, September 16th, 2001 I walked through the doors of a converted warehouse in South Fort Worth that Waves of Faith used to call home. I was blown away. I had no idea a church like that existed. That was 11 years ago this Sunday. I won’t recap everything that’s happened since then but I will tell you that I, along with half of Fort Worth (maybe only a slight exaggeration…), would have never imagined that as I write this I am now a pastor, getting ordained at the very same church I walked into in 2001. That I’ve been to India three times on mission trips. That God would use me in spite of me in the ways He has. I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined that. But God did. He knew how He would use me long before I was ever a thought, a blip on the radar on anyone on planet earth. But not only does God have a plan for me, He has a plan for you too. It’s an awesome plan and beyond anything you could ever imagine.

Think for a minute about the people in your life that God wants to use you to reach them? How many times have you wanted to give up? Hang in there, you never know how long it will take or what God might want to use to shake things up in their world just like He did in mine.     

My friends I see this type scenario play out time and time again @ Refuge Church. People relentlessly, unconditionally love those on the outside. Then, suddenly life happens and hearts end up changed on the inside. 

When “Quit” Is Not An Option

You feel like everything is coming down on you at once. It’s hard to breath, to see beyond what’s in front of you and everything within you just wants to yell, “I QUIT.” Been there, done that, got several T-shirts. I bet anyone who has ever taken on the noble task of commitment or leadership has been there. Here are some suggestions on what to do when quitting is not an option.

#1 Remember what you’re fighting for.

I’ll never forget a gentlemen who was about to take his own life. He had the gun in hand, bullets to spare, and said he had enough of this life. While on the phone with him I pondered what I could say that might change his mind. I asked, “Do you have any pictures in your wallet?” He said, I do and he pulled out a wallet size photo of his little boy. I said, “Sir, look at that little boy, who you know loves you very much. He is worth fighting for.” This man agreed and began weeping. He said, “My boy would not know what to do if I took my life.” My friends many times we need to remember what we’re fighting for in order to make the journey worthwhile.  Whether a marriage, a child, or any other cause much greater than yourself, remember what you’re fighting for. This will motivate you when many things fail.

#2 Increase Your Support Group

It’s been said, “No man is an island.” And, no man alone will be able to accomplish great things alone. Too often our pride keeps us from reaching out for help. Many leader types are guilty of trying to put the whole world on their shoulders. Be honest with those around you. Many times those nearest to you can see that your plate is full and they are just looking for a way to help. Be honest about your limitations, the fact that you are overwhelmed, and your need for others to step up. People who genuinely care about you and the mission will step up to the plate.

 #3 Adjust Your Approach

You’ve heard it said, “If at first you don’t succeed then try, try, try again. Life is a series of adjustments as we live and learn what is best. Sometimes, we have to punt the ball away and live to play another down. Every day will not go as smooth as others. Sometimes we discover that how we are going about things just isn’t the best for us or those around us. Ponder and seek advice and how you might adjust your approach to life and reduce some stress in the process.

#4 Get Some Rest

It’s been said, “You can’t fix stupid.” Well, it’s definitely true that you can’t fix tired except to get some much needed rest. Take it from someone who has tried to keep going and going even when my body was exhausted. Being tired affects everything from your energy, your perspective, and your ability to deal with adversity. If you need to take a few days off work, take them. If you need to get in the bed early, get in it. I’ve often said, you should never make a big decision when you know you are too tired to think straight.

#5 Pray About Everything

Too often we plan before we pray. Too often we talk to everyone else about our problems, but we’ve not really lifted those burdens up to our almighty, all-knowing, all-loving God. (Philippians 4:6-7) says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.

#6 Realize, you are not alone.

Too many times we think we’re the only one on the planet that has hit a brick wall. Anyone who has ever succeeded before us has failed, gotten frustrated, and felt like giving up. The difference between those who succeed and those who do not is staying the course. Wake up every day and ask God for direction, strength, wisdom, and to continue to carry you through the storms of this life. If you know you’re where God wants you to be, doing what God wants you to do, keep moving forward.

“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)

 

You’re Gonna Miss This

       God has blessed me with four boys ages 13, 11, 9, and 3. As a pastor of a brand new church and a full time hospice chaplain, I must admit it’s very hard to find time and energy to spend with my family. Of course, I love them dearly, but some weeks are just about survival. However, I’m well aware that one day I’m going to miss these days.

        I believe many moms and dads can identify with my daily struggle. You feel torn between many things and many people. You want to be there for your kids, enjoy moments together, and take time to teach them how to live life. But, life drains you dry and steals precious moments from us all. Here are some things we must remember in order to stay on track as parents. 

#1 GOD GAVE THEM TO YOU

The bible tells us every child is a gift from God. Every parent has been entrusted with the responsibility of impressing upon their children the way they should go and the way they should live. This requires that each of us take parenting very serious. No, kids don’t come with instructions and no matter what you will make countless mistakes. But, it’s your God given job to raise and prepare your child for life. Don’t try to pawn this role over to anyone else, but accept this God given responsibility.

#2 NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT

Weeks ago I had a hospice patient who grew up a preacher’s kid. This guy looked at me at said, “My dad was a very good man and successful pastor of a very large church. But, he told me something that over 50 years later still hurts my feelings. He said, “Son, you need to know that my call to be a pastor comes before you and your mother. You see, its way up here and you are somewhere way down here.” I told this man with tears in my eyes, “My friend, your dad was wrong. I’m sure he meant well, but that is not what God’s word says.” Many mirror the kind of parents they grew up with, but many who have gone before us had their priorities out of order. Parenting is not just another hat you wear in this life, but should be at the top of your list. If God has blessed you with the title of mom or dad, you need to be mom or dad. I’ve said this several times and I’ll say again, if I have to choose between being a parent or a pastor, I’ll step down from the ministry tomorrow. For this season in my life, I have a clear calling from God to love and lead four boys, before I even think about helping someone else.

 #3 THEY ARE ONLY YOUNG ONCE

I would argue that being a parent is one of the hardest jobs on this earth. It takes a lot of time, money, and can more than try your patience. But, those who still have kids at home  need to be reminded that with every age comes opportunity. Enjoy that baby, train that child, and walk alongside that teenager. These times before us will be gone before we know it and we must seize the moments of opportunity.

#4 YOU HAVE TO MAKE TIME

My wife can testify that my phone never quits ringing and someone is always asking for my help. I could literally work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and I would still have a steady to do list. It doesn’t matter what your career or obligations, you have to make time to be with your children. You have to strive for balance and intentionally set aside family time. Otherwise, your family will never make it on your calendar.

 #5 YOU’RE GONNA MISS THIS

For over a month now the ringtone on my cell phone has been Trace Akins’ hit song “You’re Gonna Miss This.” I intentionally set that as my ringtone to remind me that no matter what I find myself in the middle of day or night, my family is important. One day these boys will have grown up and these moments will have passed. And, even though there are many days that it takes all the strength I have to make time for them, it’s worth every effort and sacrifice. My friends don’t miss out on being the mom or dad that God wants you to be this season of your life.

Why Men Should Do Housework

I grew up in a traditional two parent home where it was an unspoken rule that Dad’s work on the outside and mom’s work on the inside. In many respects, I’ve carried this unspoken rule into my marriage for over fifteen years. Yes, I’ve washed dishes, cleaned a toilet, vacuumed a room, and I’ve even picked up my own dirty underwear once or twice. And, one day when I grow up I’ll actually wash more than one load of laundry. Let me explain, why men should help around the house no matter what their career or obligations.

            One, IT’S YOUR HOUSE TOO. I’ve been convicted that for way too long I’ve expected my wife to do all the cleaning, all the laundry, cook all the meals, and make sure our four boys finish their homework and don’t kill each other. My friends, keeping a house going and clean is way more than a one woman job. I commend every single mother who has to wear both hats, but for those who have a partner at home you need to get off the couch. There should be at least one time a week that every man puts forth the effort to pick up some trash, wash some dishes, and scrub some dirt away. Your wife did not create all the mess by herself and should not be expected to keep it all sparkling alone.

            Two, ITS A NEVER ENDING JOB. Men, when we come from a hard day’s work we may feel like we’re off the clock. A diligent wife and mother never feels off duty. There is always another meal to prepare, clothes to be washed, a kid that has to be somewhere or do something, and they need our help. Any effort to lighten her load and give her a break will be greatly appreciated and lighten her load.

            Three, WE NEED TO BE REMINDED. Every time I take time to do some housework I am reminded that it’s an endless job and I have at times very unrealistic expectations of my wife. Dishes are constantly dirty, laundry piles up quickly, meals don’t cook themselves, kids are messy, and combine this with an already busy life its next impossible to do all of it by yourself. Earlier I did some deep cleaning in the kitchen and living room. I discovered things I forgot we had, I worked up a good sweat, and I was reminded that my wife deals with this day in and day out. I decided then and there, its’ time to come off the bench and help her out a whole lot more than I have recently.

            Now, ladies and gentlemen I do not care to debate who should do what chores in a household. All I’m saying is that husbands and wives should work together to keep things going. A woman can cut the grass and take out the trash. A man can wash some dishes and vacuum some floors. My point is there is no such thing as it’s her job or my job. It’s our job, our family, our kids, and our responsibility. We are a team and we should operate as a team. I hope this helps at least one man on this planet get out or stay out of the dog house.

 

When You Feel Like Giving Up

Keep on keeping on my friend!

Pastor Craig Crosby

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.

 1. PERSPECTIVE

            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…

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What Next? Addressing A World In Crisis

Once again, the world is blown away by another sudden tragedy. This time the unexpected happened at a Boston Marathon where most assumed they were safe and sound. There have been so many surprise attacks over the last year alone to make any American ask themselves WHAT NEXT? Listen my friends, we don’t have time to sit around and speculate about what might happen next. This is not a time to lay down, but for sure a time to rise up. Here are some things you must know during this time of worldly chaos.

#1: GOD IS NOT DEAD   Yes, I see all that is going around us and so does an all knowing and all powerful God. God gives us all free choice and many have chosen evil over good. I don’t expect the craziness around us to stop anytime soon as evil breeds evil. But, what I do expect is for the same God who has always been with us in the past to continue to be with us in the present and the future. God promises those who put their trust in Him that “Never will I leave you, nor forsake you.” As much as you might be rattled by what is going around you, be comforted by who is and always will be with you. “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

#2: PEOPLE NEED JESUS   No, we don’t know what might happen today or tomorrow. Times are very uncertain, but what is certain is that people need an anchor, a refuge, and hope beyond this life. Now is the time to share it with them, not after something else happens. If the times we live in today don’t motivate you to cling to your faith and share your faith you will never be motivated. Listen, people everywhere need to hear the good news and every believer has been called by God to share the good news that Jesus saves. Christians it’s time to get out of the closet, get into the streets, and share Jesus with an otherwise hopeless world. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

#3: THIS IS AN AGE OF OPPORTUNITY   I’ve heard many people say, “Times just aren’t what they used to be.” I agree, but the times have never presented more opportunity. People are hurting, longing, and searching for a peace they have never known. Instead of dwelling on how bad things are, we must seize the moments God has put in front of us. Crisis opens hearts that may normally be closed. Do what you can, while you can, to show God’s love and share God’s peace with a world that is desperate for answers. Otherwise, you will have wasted these times of deep grief and sorrow. “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

#4: WE ARE LIVING IN THE END TIMES   I don’t need CNN to show many anymore footage to be convinced that we are living in the end times. Every day more and more prophecy and revelation is fulfilled. We see a world that is spiraling out of control, a government that doesn’t know what to do and a world that is every man for himself. God’s word has proven its accuracy and relevance as many scriptures of old come alive today. This is why we should live with a sense of urgency and surrender everything to God at once. Quit fooling yourself that you’ve got it all in control, and humble yourself before a God who is our only real refuge. “You should know this: that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!  (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

#5:  MAN’S HOPE IS NOT IN THIS WORLD   As I watch the bombs explode and innocent lives taken on a daily basis, I am reminded that my hope is not in this world. It’s not that crisis changes much, but rather it reveals to us what we rarely seek to acknowledge. There is a God and we aren’t him. And, although we may have times we feel in control we have never been in control. Yes, this world is full uncertainty and disappointment, but God offers us all a hope that can’t be swept away regardless of what happens today or tomorrow. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)

“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.” (John 16:33)

My friends may these times bring us all to our knees. May these times, bring us all together. May these times compel us to live like tomorrow is not promised.

Lessons From Little League

I’ve been involved in Little League since I was a young man. I can still recall the butterflies, excitement, and the crowds that came to watch us under the bright lights.. Years later, I’m now a coach watching my own boys take their turn on the baseball diamond. Today, Little League is not near as much of a big deal to me, but I realize its a very big deal to each of them. And, I’m afraid some things may never change.

One, there are still coaches that seek to live vicarously through their boys. Many of them take the game way more serious than their own children. The looks on their faces tell you they believe this is the major leagues as they all hope their boys grow up to play for the Atlanta Braves. These coaches will do whatever it takes to get their boys on the all star team and I really do mean anything. On one hand, I applaud their efforts and time spent with these young men. On the other hand, I pray they don’t allow basesball to become bigger than life. After all, it is just a game.

Two, there are still parents who make a lot of noise in the stands. Parents who are just waiting for a reason to cheer on their baby. Parents who are just waiting to put in place any coach who does not give their son preferencial treatment. Its not that they don’t care about the other kids, but they do want their son to be at the front of the line. I meet these kinds of parents every year I coach and they always have strong opinions. Fortunately for parents, most umpires are not allowed to throw parents out of the ball park for unnecessary conversation and unsportsmanlike attitudes. Otherwise, the stands might be a lot thinner.

Finally, there are still great teams and there are some not so great teams. One thing for sure about baseball, its a team sport. My kids have played on those teams that were fortunate enough to go undefeated and they’ve played on those teams that were lucky if they won a game. In fact, the team I help coach presently, is a very young bunch of kids who at this point just hope to keep the game even close. So far we’ve been blown out in every game, but the kids are having fun. And, that’s what it’s all about RIGHT, PARENTS? Now, there is a lot baseball can teach us about life.

#1: In life you are not always going to feel like a winner. It is during those times that we have to realize that the man made scoreboard does not determine our success. Our success instead should be measured by our effort, our attitude, and our thoughtfulness of others alonge the way. All we can do is make the most of the time, talent and opportunities that come our way. The results are in God’s hands.

#2: In life things won’t always go your way. There will always be calls from the referees that you won’t agree with. There will always be decisions made by the coaches that you second guess. And, there will always be winning moments and losing moments. Life is full of ups and downs and we have to learn to take the good with the bad.

#3: In life your attitude will always matter. Personally I would rather teach a child how to handle adversity with class than to win a ball game any day. One of the reasons I help coach baseball is the opportunity to shape the hearts of both the kids and the parents. There are always kids on the team who have never had a Christ-like role model, love at home, and someone to encourage them in life. No matter what we’re dealing with in life our attitudes matter. We must learn to see the glass half full, not half empty. We must learn how to have peace and enjoy ourselves even when the scoreboard makes us sick.

To all involved in this great sport called Little League. Please continue to support these young men on the baseball field. Keep in mind that every player represents someone special and full of God given potential. And, as you cheer them around those bases make sure you raise them up to be fine young men that make God smile. Men who understand life will throw us all curve balls, our attitudes do matter, and that in the end baseball is just a game. God bless you all.

“Train a child in the way he should go. When he is old, he will not turn away from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR TIME

“…How short is life, and how full of trouble! 2 Like a flower, we blossom for a moment and then wither. Like the shadow of a passing cloud, we quickly disappear. 5 You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. (Job 14:1,2,5)

I still can’t get out of my head what that 94 year old lady told me at the nursing home that day. She said, “I just blinked and I was here.” Wow, I thought to myself. This lady feels like life has passed her by in the blink of any eye. I was like, God help me make the most of what little time I have on this earth. Here are things I seek to do everyday of my life so that at the end of my life I won’t feel like life has just passed me by.

#1: Make the most of the PRESENT MOMENT. Too often we miss what’s right in front of us because we’re too busy planning ahead. We look back and realize that when we were children we had no real worries. Teenagers many wish they could trade places with you as you are living in the golden years. Adults we all know how quickly times change and we better make the most of the season we’re in because before we know it a new season will be upon us.

#2: Make the most of EVERY DAY. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not promised, and today is a gift that’s why they call it the present. Today we all have opportunities that will not come again. Today, you can make a difference in the lives of those around you. Today you can choose to love like you’ve never loved before. Today you can choose to give God your whole heart, life, and future. Today, you better do whatever it is you know you should do because tomorrow is simply no promised. Statistics prove that at least 10% (1 out 10) of us will die suddenly. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you may only be able to do today! Make that phone call, forgive that friend or family member, and make things right with the one who knows all, sees all, and will judge all.

#3: Make the most of YOUR DASH. One day each of us will have a head stone that reads BORN ——- DIED. Just so you know the lady I quoted above is no longer with us here on planet earth. She passed on from this life to the next and it was as if “she just blinked” and it was her time. My friends, we all must learn to live like we’re dying before we’ll ever begin to live life to its fullest.

I pray these words transform your life as much as they’ve transformed mine! I love this song by Rascal Flatts….Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUUSB5JzuqA

7 KEYS TO A GREAT MARRIAGE

Marriage is always a work in progress. Keep investing in yours if you want it to last.

Pastor Craig Crosby

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…

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5 Keys To A GREAT FAMILY VACATION

I just finished cleaning out the family van which resembled the aftermath of a severe hurricane. This experience was something I would not wish on anyone, but I was motivated by the fact that tomorrow morning we leave for family vacation. Here are five goals I have for this special week of our lives.

#1: QUALITY TIME

Vacations never last long enough in my opinion. Before you know it, you are back to reality and day to day responsibilities. For this reason, you need to make sure your vacation is packed with quality moments together. We have already told our kids that computers will not be making the trip. Also, we will not be focused on running from one adventure to another. Instead, we want to make sure that we make intentional plans to spend quality family time together. For example, I will personally take each of my four boys out for breakfast or a late night snack individually to talk and share time together.

#2: RECONNECTING TIME

So much can happen over a few months and families can easily grow apart. Getting away with each other reminds you that you’re a special group of people that God has put together to share life. If your family vacation does not draw you all closer to one another in my opinion it’s a HUGE failure. Look for every way possible to bring your family together. This doesn’t happen just by being the same room, but by having meaningful conversations that merge your hearts.

#3: FUN TIME

I know you’re tired mom and dad, but we all know kids like to have fun. Put something on the agenda that allows everyone some play time. Whether it be a goofy game, a funny movie, or an activity that everyone will enjoy and possibly share a few laughs. From swimming, bowling, laser tag, miniature golf to games that don’t cost a dime. Just have some fun!

#4: RELAXING TIME

I’ve gone on a lot of vacations. And, one thing I have learned is that you have to create relaxing moments. Sleep in as much as possible. Don’t plan every second of every day with obligations. Give yourself a break from anything that can wait until you get back home. Dads and Moms don’t take work with you.

#5: MEMORABLE TIME

One of the main reasons I plan way in advance for our family vacations is the opportunity to create memories. We all know kids grow up very fast and each year is a different exciting season of their lives. I plan to enjoy every minute possible of my kids growing up. The main goal of any family vacation should be to make memories that will last a lifetime. It’s not just the act of going away, but making the most of the time you have away.

Well, I’ve got to get up very early to take some excited boys to Tennessee. This vacation has been planned for over eight months and I plan to make the most of every moment. Hope all of you have a wonderful Spring Break.

 

 

I THOUGHT I HAD CANCER

My heart is still pounding as I process the news I earlier received. I had gone to the doctor for what I thought was just a routine visit, only to hear those dreaded words, “You’ve Got Cancer.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and was desperately hoping it was just a dream. I quickly realized that the doctor was more than serious and I had to embrace this truth.

            At first I was just stunned by this news that was clearly the darkest moment in my life. Even though I’ve been by so many bedsides, dealt with so many other people’s cancer, this was breathtaking to receive personally. That night I tossed and turned like never before in my bed. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone and I just kept crying out to God. “This can’t be happening”, I continued to say out loud. I felt like my heart could literally jump out my chest as I was already planning my own funeral.

            Days later, I began to realize that I really do have cancer. And, there is nothing man can do about it. My cancer is so bad I was sent home right away with hospice, which was another thing I just couldn’t believe. Working for hospice, I knew this couldn’t be a promising sign. The next day, I was visited by a nurse who kindly and lovingly confirmed what the doctor had tried to make clear, but at that time I just wasn’t hearing it. She says, “You’ve got cancer and unless God chooses to do a miracle, you’ve got six months or less to live.” I just sat there stunned, but this time the tears are rolling down my cheeks. Because I know this woman is telling me the truth and I really am dying.

            I was visited later by a social worker who helped me process further this painful reality. She asked me a bunch of questions I can’t really remember. Yet, several I could never forget like, “What do you want done with your body when you die?”  “Do you have any specific funeral arrangements?” “Do you have a life insurance policy, that might cover the expenses?” At this point, I was more than overwhelmed by this news that was becoming more and more real by the moment.

            The next day, after a little more time to toss and turn over this matter, I was visited by the hospice chaplain. I’ll never forget what this guy said to me. He said, “You know, God is still in control? You know, God has a purpose for even this time in your life and there are no accidents? Nothing takes God by surprise, but I can tell sir you are still in shock. You must know that the only thing that is going to save you is a personal faith and relationship with Jesus Christ?”

            I said, “Pastor, I know every word you are saying to me is true. But, it is so different when you’re the one lying in this bed with the cancer. It’s so different, when you realize you’ve got a cancer that no man can cure.” The pastor replied, “But, my friend healing can come in so many ways. Yes, you have a very bad diagnosis that I am sure is more than hard to swallow. But, there is still hope for you. You see, when Jesus died on that cross over 2000 years ago, he had this day and time in mind. He knew you were dying. He knew you were hopeless. And, he knew he must die if you were to have any hope in this life and the life to come.”

            Right then and there, I got down on my knees like never before. I prayed this prayer like never before. “Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. And, I realize that my sin is just like cancer. It can’t be cured by man and it has sentenced me to death. Thank you Jesus for dying on that cross for my sins and saving my soul. I believe in you with all my heart and soul. I will accept whatever comes into my life from this point forward and I will let you be Savior and Lord of my life.”

            What a peace that came over me at that moment as I turned my cancer all over to God. Tears rolled down my face and my prayers were never more sincere. I accepted the fact that I had cancer and I began to trust God literally with every fiber within me realizing He was all I have in this life. Yes, I still have many ups and downs, but I found a greater peace that no chemo or man could give me. It was the peace of God and it was my miracle.

            My friends, I just woke up five a.m. in the morning from this bitter sweet dream. And, trust me my heart is still pounding. This was one of those dreams that you’re just glad was just a dream. But, listen for many I visit every day of every age, this is the cold, hard truth. I’ve been by the bedside of countless folks who’ve received this kind of news, but also countless folks who have reached this kind of peace that only a life changing relationship with Jesus can give someone.

            Now, I can’t believe I just had this experience by accident. As we celebrate this weekend the Resurrection of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I know I will do so realizing this event did not just bring us some hope. Jesus is our only hope both now and forever more. He bore our sins (our cancer) on that cross that whoever believes in him will not die, but live forevermore with hope for today, tomorrow, and all eternity. I pray this touches you as deeply as this has touched me.

 (Hebrews 6:19) “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”

 

5 REASONS TO QUIT YOUR JOB

Without knowing your exact situation, I would never say, QUIT YOUR JOB. I understand we all have to work and make a living to pay the bills. However, here are five reasons you might need to look for new employment.

#1: YOUR HEART AIN’T IN IT

At any organization, some people are hired and others are called. People who are hired do just enough to get by and go home. They are just there for a paycheck. People who are called believe God has appointed them to their position. The job may be challenging and the pay may not be a fortune. But, when you feel God has called you to do something, compensation is just icing on the cake. At Amedisys Hospice, where I serve as chaplain we’ve adopted a worthwhile slogan, “If your heart ain’t in it, don’t put your hands on it.”

#2: YOUR HEALTH CAN’T TAKE IT

I’m a big believer that health must come before help. If you aren’t healthy you can’t do much of anything in a very healthy way. We all know that some jobs are more taxing than others. But, with any job you have to consider whether you are physically and emotionally healthy enough to do the job. No job on the planet is worth taking years off your life or causing you to have a complete nervous breakdown. Some issues may be related to the season you’re in right now. But, some things may be overwhelming for health reasons. Whatever your job, you must consider your present health and its potential on your health.

#3: YOUR FAMILY IS DYING

There is no amount of money in the world worth losing my marriage over. There is no pay check worth missing my kids growing up. If your job does not allow you to keep your priorities in order, you should definitely start looking around. Too many people have worked their lives away while losing everyone they were working for in the process. Don’t do the same!

#4: YOUR GIFTS DON’T LINE UP

Sometimes you and the job just don’t match up. I’ve worked with people who were just not cut out for the job they were doing. I’ve worked a few jobs that weren’t good fits for me. You need a job that allows you to live out your God given passions. You need a job that matches up with your God-given gifts and experiences. You will never be happy doing a job where nothing comes natural. If you and your job don’t match up there will be many times you will want to throw up and so will those around you.

#5: YOUR CONSCIENCE IS KILLING YOU

Your conscience is… “An inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.” If you are ashamed of what you’re doing then you shouldn’t be doing it. If what you are doing is dishonest, selfish, and just plain wrong you shouldn’t be doing it. You don’t have to be selling drugs on the street corner to be doing something wrong. If any part of your job brings into question your integrity you either need to get it fixed or put in your resignation tomorrow.

Well, this is an article I’ve been working on for weeks. I’m just getting a chance to bring these thoughts to you and I pray they help you find God’s best for your life. This was not intended to be some exhaustive check list, but I hope it provides some guidelines towards discovering healthy employment.

DON’T FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS

I know way too many people who have chased the “American Dream” only to discover a real American nightmare. Sure, every one of us would like to be somebody and make something out of our lives. But, the way most go about it will not lead to a happy ending. Here are some thoughts that need to be changed by most Americans.

#1: “Make Something Out Of Yourself”

We live in a society that loves to size up our worth. In fact, we’re all guilty to a certain degree of judging one another. People are often measured by their clothes, cars, careers, and even the company they keep. My friends, God doesn’t show favoritism and he already thinks you’re somebody. You are God’s prized creation and there is no one else exactly like you. You don’t have to do anything to be someone special because God made you awesome. You have nothing to prove, you are not an accident, and you are somebody.

(Ephesians 2:10)  For we are God’s Masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

 #2: “Be All That You Can Be”

On one hand, this statement sounds great. We all should make the most of our time, talents, and opportunities. But, being all that you can be is so limited. Being all God has created you to be will take you to places you could never dream possible. Why? Because it’s not about what you can do, but what you are willing to allow God to do through you? As children of God, we don’t create our purpose in life, instead we discover it. God has wired us all for certain jobs, certain relationships, certain paths, and certain missions. God tells us in his word that He has created us for good works that he has prepared for us in advance. In life, you don’t have to chase down opportunity. Rather, you need to seek God’s face, God’s will, and walk through the doors God opens for you. You can settle for alternatives, but only God knows the perfect plans for your life.

(Proverbs 19:21) Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

(Jeremiah 29:11) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

#3: “It’s My Life”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say this, “It’s my life, I can do whatever I want with it.” You’re right it’s your choice what you do with your God-given life. However, at the end of this life it will be God who will fill out your report card. The Bible is clear that “Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”  This life is simply preparation for the next. This life is temporary, but eternity is forever. When you draw your last breath you will stand before God. And, either you will have gone God’s way or your way. Scripture says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Why? Because a wise man is one who realizes that God is in charge and only what God wants will matter in the end.

(James 4:13-17) Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

My friends, God has amazing plans for your life. I pray you slow down long enough to discover those plans. Don’t look at the world through your own eyes. Don’t chase the American dream which continues to lead countless people down a dead end street. Seek God’s will and trust God’s plans for your life. You will then find a life that is both fulfilling and rewarding.

WHY I JUST CAN’T WAIT?

Its after midnight and I should be sleeping. However, my spirit is so stirred within as I prepare for the second pre-launch worship service for Refuge Church. Maybe God would have you visit, maybe God would have you pray, or maybe God would have you support this new work in some other way. I don’t know, but I would love for you to hear my heart concerning this God called mission.There are so many reasons I am ecstatic about this work, but here are seven reasons I just can’t wait to move forward.

#1: The need is so great!

I know countless folks who are starving for what Refuge Church will provide. A place to be loved, A place to find hope. A place to discover purpose. A place to belong. A place to become. A place to bring their friends and family who would never walk through the doors of your average church. You see, Refuge is for the 75% of the culture that doesn’t care about the size of your building, your billboards, or the empty promises you make. Refuge is for the 30,000 throughout Colleton County that just want hope.

#2: Every day matters!

Everyday someone is hurting, searching, dying and desperately needing someone to care. Refuge Church will be that place made up of people who sincrely desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus. At Refuge everybody will be treated like somebody. When Jesus died on the cross he was not just thinking about a select few of us. He died so that the world might find everlasting life.

#3: Doors Continue To Open

Man made windows of opportunity are very limited and often short lived. But, when God parts the Red Seas you can expect the incredible to continue. God has clearly been shining his favor on Refuge Church in recent days. He has been providng people, finances, and opportunities needed to continuing moving forward. I can’t help but be excited as I sense and see God at work daily.

#4: People Continue to Express Interest

I encounter a lot of people on a daily basis. Many have contacted me over recent days expressing their excitement for Refuge Church. Its so much more than just hosting  a church service, but its about helping people have  a real encounter with a living God. I fully expect hundreds to walk through the doors of Refuge  Church this year alone. We have what they are searching for and God will take it from there.

#5: My Call Continues To Strengthen

I would never move forward with this if I did not believe wholeheartely God was leading. Apart from Christ, I know I am nothing. God has given me such clear vision and confirmation that He wants Refuge Church to happen. When God is in it, you can bank on the results blowing your wildest imagination. By this Sunday alone, we will have out grown our present large meeting room

#6: Lives Will Be Changed

From the opening kickoff, lives will be put back together, marriages will be saved, and families will have gotten on the right track. Refuge Church is going to radically impact people who have wandered helplessly and hopelessly for far too long. Jesus is the King of makeovers and I can’t wait to see the many lives changed.

#7: Souls will be Saved

Because of our intentional efforts to love, lift, and lead people to Jesus many souls will be saved. Some will be dads, moms, husbands, wives, students, grandparents, and many will be those the world has given up on ever changing. One soul saved will be worth every dollar and bit of effort. I believe there will be times when my arm will be sore from baptizing people who’s souls has been saved.

I ask each of you reading this for your prayers that God will give me daily wisdom, strength, and courage to endure what lies ahead in this journey. There are so many things I don’t know. But, what I do know is “If God is For us, Who Can Be Agains Us?”

WHEN LIFE IS KILLING YOU

There are times you feel stuck, overwhelmed, and without a moment to breathe. You wish you could take a vacation, but you just can’t get away. You wish you could stop the madness, but things just keep getting crazy. You wish a hot bath and a good night sleep would make things all better. But, you wake up still feeling stuck and stressed. Here are some thoughts on how you might find some relief at this time in your life.

#1: Rest When You Can.

When life is wide open your pit stops matter more than ever. You can’t stay wide open every minute and expect to feel your best. You’ve got to make yourself get in the bed, take a break, and step away from the madness.

(Luke 5:16)Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

 #2: Take One Day At A Time.

If your life is anything like mine, its best you just look at what’s in front of you at the moment. Adding tomorrow’s concerns to today’s will only increase your stress and can keep you from getting anything done. Many times you just have to take one moment and one day at a time.

(Matthew 6:34) Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

#3: Work smarter, not harder.

Sometimes the way we are approaching life just isn’t working out. Adding more to your plate if you’re already exhausted is not the answer. Figuring out a much wiser approach to life in order to reduce the chaos could be a huge step to peace. I’ve always said, “Keep doing what you’ve been doing and you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.” Life is not a race, but a marathon. Pace yourself, yet aim for God’s best.

(James 1:5)If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

 #4:  Put First Things First.

Not everything in your life is urgent. Too often we schedule every minute of our lives and then we wonder why life feels so crazy. Sometimes you have to back up and punt. For example, if your family and your faith development are last on your list then you need to make some serious changes. Don’t allow some hobby, some sport, or even your job to put things that should be first, last on your list.

(Matthew 6:33)Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

 #5: Run To Jesus

There are seasons in life that all we can do is hold on to Jesus. Sure, you can seek to drink your blues away and medicate your pain. However, you still have to wake up eventually and face reality. The reality is life is hard, but God is good. We all need to take responsibility for our choices in life and never forget that Jesus is the key to life. Jesus is the only one who can fill your emptiness, heal your broken heart, calm your greatest fears, and give you peace despite your situation.

(Matthew 11:28) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

My friends, I will be the first to admit that I have to remind myself of these things daily. Life can quickly get out of hand and we can all lose focus of what matters most. I do know this, we are not alone in this battle and there is always hope in Jesus for a brighter tomorrow.

What Its Like Being A Pastor

     I typically don’t write anything like this for people to read. But, for some reason I was compelled to tonight. I find that most people haven’t got a clue as to all their pastor puts up with from them and others. I hope this note is enlightening, not just the sounds of someone rambling. I hope this makes you appreciate your pastor just a little more.
     Being a pastor is something I don’t know I can fully explain. I often say, for me its like being expected to be Santa Clause. You feel so many people are depending on you to always be jolly and always deliver something. You feel like you are never off work because duty could call at any moment. From weddings to funerals, counseling, comforting, preparing & preaching there is always something you could be doing. And even if duty doesn’t call you are always thinking about those you are serving.
     In these times, there seems to be an unspoken pressure for pastors to produce. The majority of pastors feel overwhelmed. Most pastors feel there is hardly anyone looking after their best interest. You rarely hear the words “Good Job”, “You’ve done enough”, “Let me give you a break”, or “Go Home.” You have to rely on God above for approval & recognition. You have to tell yourself when it’s time to go home and be there for your wife & spend time with your kids. Unlike most jobs overtime is a must if you’re to get the job done and unfortunately you won’t get paid for it. Most people think you get paid for weddings & funerals, but rarely do you earn a dollar. Fortunately, it’s not a job you choose based on the money, but its a calling from God.
      Overall, I consider the pastorate a HUGE privilege. I know that I have been chosen by God to do what I am doing. Why? I will never know. I know I don’t deserve the title and I could never do this job alone. But, when God calls you to do something he always equips you to do it. I really don’t do anything but what God tells me to do. I have had to learn over time how to take things day by day and just follow God’s clear orders.  There will always be many voices and opinions.
      Probably, the most underrated superstar is the pastor’s wife. Without mine I would not have enough joy, strength, or support needed to get through all the job demands. God definitely hand picked Aimee for me as a help mate. What is most frustrating? I don’t like the weight it puts on my family. I feel they do have to sacrifice often so that I can be there for others. But, probably my greatest overall frustration is just with myself. I really don’t get upset with the people.  I just want to stay out of God’s way, which is easier said than done. It is not easy dealing with people & their issues. I often feel that I am so busy trying to help others do their jobs that I have limited time to do my own.  That being said, I do believe a pastor must first love God, his family, and then minister to others out of the overflow of a healthy heart.
      I could go and on and on in describing the many roles you play as a pastor. It is not something you could ever describe, but you would have to experience. I just thank God that he is using me in even a small way to make an eternal difference.  If you attend a church where your pastor loves God, loves people, and seeks to be the best shepherd he can be you need to make sure he feels appreciated. Trust me, most pastors are only informed of their shortcomings, but remember we’re all human. Go out of your way to say thanks. Just a simple note or thoughtful act will mean the world to him and his spouse. I appreciate every God called pastor out there who is seeking to love and lead people to Jesus.

The Last Pork Chop

Being by the beside of so many you see and hear more than you can ever imagine. Every family has things unique and dysfunctional about them. I just had to share this brief recent experience of a brother letting go of his brother the day he was passing. This is not intended to make fun of anyone, but to share a real encounter that forced the truth to surface. And, in the process has given me this story called “The Last Pork Chop.”

We had a 41 year old patient who’s days were definitley numbered after he spent years drinking himself to death. I do believe he made peace with God in his last days and his parents he lived with understood his death appointment was very near. However, the patients brother was not on the same wave length. This brother was close in age, but he too had some high mileage on rough roads if you know what I’m saying.

The morning of the patients death that evening I had a final visit with this family. The patient was very comfortable, resting, and obviously hour by hour. I was in the living room talking with the patient’s mom, dad, and sister. All of sudden, enters the patients brother with words I have never heard all together.

The brother says, “What are we doing just letting him die?” I replied, “No sir he’s been dying. We’re just making sure he’s comfortable as the end of his earthly life draws near.” He looks at me and says, “Are you serious? That boy needs to eat. I can’t believe it, I went to jail just one night last week and everything falls apart. Before they took me away, I fed my brother some pork chop and collard greens.” I said, “Man, I am very sorry, but I’m pretty sure your brother has eaten his last pork chop!”

Now, this is the same brother that would not listen to the truth at my previous visit. He just kept telling his dad,  “I need to go the gas station and buy me some lite bread and a honey bun.” He just could not accept this reality and therefore he had never prepared for this day. Therefore, it caught him by surprise, not ready, and even more heartbroken.

My friends, I’m not sure what we can learn from “The Last Pork Chop”, but I do know this for sure. How you live in this life matters. Your choices greatly affect not just you, but those around you. We all need to take accountablity for our actions and our decisions. If you need to grow up, grow up. If you need to step up, step up. And, if you need to let go and let God have control of your life, LET GO AND LET GOD HAVE THE REIGNS!

10 Reasons To Smile

In this world full of doom and gloom it’s so easy to get caught up in what is going wrong. We can quickly decide to throw a pity party and of course we love to invite others to join us. I wholeheartedly believe the only way to get rid of the negativity is to counter it with lots of thanksgiving.

 (Philippians 4:6-7) tells us that the key to peace is bringing our requests to God WITH THANKSGIVING and then God will give us a peace that passes all our understanding. Here are some things you might thank God for today!

 #1 PROVISION

Thank you God for providing for my daily needs physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

#2 PROTECTION

Thank you for watching over me day and night and shielding me from Satan’s countless arrows.

#3 PEACE

Thank you for a peace that goes beyond my understanding, my circumstance, and my feelings of certainty.

 #4 PURPOSE

Thank you for giving me a reason to wake up each day and opportunities to serve you.

#5 PRAYER

Thank you for the honor of calling on your name anytime and anywhere. Thank you for the answered and unanswered prayers in my life.

#6 PRESENCE

Thank you for always being there through the good and the bad. Thanks for never leaving my side even when I’ve strayed from your side.

#7 PROSPERITY

Thanks for working things out for my good and your glory. It amazes me how you can turn so little into so much.

#8 PROPHECY

Thank you for your eternal word which never changes. Thanks for giving us revelation of things to come and preparing us to face eternity.

#9 PARADISE

Thank you for sending Jesus to save my soul and securing me a place in Heaven. I can’t wait to inherit my mansion and live forevermore in that place where every day is perfect.

#10 PEOPLE

Thank you for family, friends, and even total strangers that touch my life in so many ways.

(Philippians 4:8)(The Message) says, Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

 

Had trouble loading this before so sorry if you’ve already received this yesterday.

Pastor Craig Crosby

This weekend my wife and I will be getting away without our four boys. For months I’ve been waiting for our next getaway. One of my boys said, “Daddy you can’t go to Myrtle Beach without us, that’s not fair! You don’t love us?” I said, “Son, it’s because I do love you that we are getting away without you.” Of course, my 11 year old can’t fully understand all the reasons, but one day he will understand that our couple only getaways are very important and good for our family. Here are five reasons we “R” getting away this weekend without our four boys.

#1: To REFRESH

I’ve been on a lot of great family vacations with my four boys. We’ve made a lot of memories together and I look forward to our next family getaway this coming spring break. But, every time we get away on a family…

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Why Parents Need To Get Away ALONE

This weekend my wife and I will be getting away without our four boys. For months I’ve been waiting for our next getaway. One of my boys said, “Daddy you can’t go to Myrtle Beach without us, that’s not fair! You don’t love us?” I said, “Son, it’s because I do love you that we are getting away without you.” Of course, my 11 year old can’t fully understand all the reasons, but one day he will understand that our couple only getaways are very important and good for our family. Here are five reasons we “R” getting away this weekend without our four boys.

#1: To REFRESH

I’ve been on a lot of great family vacations with my four boys. We’ve made a lot of memories together and I look forward to our next family getaway this coming spring break. But, every time we get away on a family vacation with our boys ages 13, 11, 9, and 3 I come back completely exhausted. Most of what we do centers around the kids and there is not too much time for refreshment. We love our time with our boys, but we all need a vacation ourselves. We can have that when it’s the two of us. No alarm clock set, no kids to watch, and some long overdue adult relaxation.

#2:  To REGROUP

A parent get away allows you not just time to rest, but to regroup. Usually we get a second wind and eventually we’re even ready to go home. During this time we can discuss better ways of approaching life, love, and parenting. We need to be away from normal life so that we can put things into an even healthier perspective. It’s hard to catch your breath when you’re busy running from one thing to the next. However, when it’s just the two of you there is more time and energy to process how life is going and how things might need to be adjusted.

#3:  To RECONNECT

We all know that the combo of work and parenting can be all consuming. Often times our marriages takes a back seat due to the many hats we all wear in everyday life. Only a parent only getaway allows the two of you to reconnect with one another. You can actually have a conversation without being interrupted. You can focus on one another instead of the day to day grind. If not constantly monitored, two people can live together for years and grow miles apart. Every couple needs intentional points of connection and sometimes reconnection.

#4: To REKINDLE

Let’s be honest. It’s very hard to be romantic when you’ve got a kid screaming, a diaper to change, kids fighting, homework to get finished, or supper to prepare. Life can suck the romance clean out of any marriage and that is where marriages begin going downhill. The best gift you can give your children is a healthy marriage. Sure, they want to have fun, but at the end of the day they want you guys to be together for a lifetime. A couples only getaway done right allows you to remember how much you love each other and to rekindle that flame between the two of you.

#5: To REMEMBER

I know many parents don’t want to recognize this reality, but one day your kids will grow up. And, when they do you will be left with the marriage relationship you did or did not develop. I remind myself often that I am raising my kids to live without me, not to live me forever. Hopefully, my wife and I will be living together for the rest of our lives. Everything we do in life should be done with the end in mind. Your marriage should be a top priority and a healthy marriage is one of the greatest gifts you can share with your children. Trust me, later they will be blessed by the health of your relationship in so many ways.

 *So, when is your next getaway, just the two of you?

HOW I MET MY WIFE

It’s really hard to believe this story took place nearly 20 years ago. I still recall going back to the high school where I had just graduated. I thought I was just going to watch a football game, but actually I was there to meet my future wife. Aimee and I had known each other for several years and actually had a class together. You could say we were definitely acquainted with one another, but really knew very little about one another.

            Then came the day where our eyes met and our hearts connected. I still remember her smile and how drawn to her I became. Things grew from that night to countless dates, hours of phone conversations, lots of hugs and kisses and learning how to deal with a lot of adversity together. Now, let me confess that I broke things off with my wife many times as I wondered if we were really meant to live the rest of our lives together. After all, that is a really big decision that no one should take lightly. And, as a 90 plus year old lady once told me, “Son, love is such a strong word.” It took me four and half years to finally learn what it meant to love someone. It meant making a commitment that for better or worse, richer or poorer, through sickness and health, as long as you both shall live you will say, “I Do.”

            I guess you could say I tested the waters during our time together. I considered others that God might have for me. And, then one day I came to the conclusion that I was running from the one I could not live without. Call me sappy, but I remember writing in a prayer journal I had at the time the following. “Dear God, I am confident today that it is your will that I marry Aimee Lynn Perrin. After coming to this conclusion I didn’t waste any more moments. I went straight to making plans hoping she would say YES.

            After getting a loan from my mom at that time, I went to a local Charleston jeweler and purchased a diamond ring. Next, I contacted California Dreaming and booked a table with a perfect window view. Dressed in my Sunday’s best I popped a question that has forever changed my life. Aimee, will you marry me? Thank God above, she said YES. Some six months after that we walked the aisle of the church, stood before my pastor, and exchanged sacred vows that are still holding true to this day.

            Now, after 15 years together, four boys later, and a lot of ups and downs we are still walking hand in hand. Not because we’re perfect, not because we never fight, and not because life has been easy. But, we have chosen everyday we’ve woken up that no matter what comes our way we’re “All In.” Now, this is not intended to blast anyone’s marriage that has not lasted. Things happen, commitments fail, and many times people walk the isle clueless as to what or who they are committing the rest of their life too. In the end, a successful marriage is all about a match made in Heaven. God brings two people together and those two people learn how to fall in love with each over and over again. I am way more in love with my wife today than I ever was twenty years ago. One, I understand more now that love is a matter of commitment, not just a feeling. Also, we’ve shared even more together over the years and I’ve learned even more her value, her love, and her trustworthiness.

            My friends, these same things hold true about our relationship with Jesus. Many people are acquaintances with Jesus. They know of him, they’ve heard a lot about him, but they really don’t personally know him. Then there are those who are convenient followers of Jesus. They call on him and refer to Him when life is weighing them down. They call on him when death is near, a relationship is about to crash, or a child has gone astray. But, they never really give him their hearts. They cry out to God for mercy, but not in repentance.

            Here is when your life is forever changed. The day you realize that you need not date another God the rest of your life. That Jesus loves you so much he gave his life on a cross so that you and Him might have a forever relationship. You see, Jesus doesn’t just want to meet with you during crisis or just on Sunday mornings. Jesus wants to walk with you morning, day, and night. He promises to forgive you of all you sins. He promises to save your soul if you’ll wholeheartedly believe in Him. And, Jesus promises to never leave you nor forsake you both in this life and throughout eternity.

            My friend, have you just been referencing or dating Jesus for years. If so, your life won’t ever change until you decide to totally commit your heart. Jesus has already said, I do when he died on that cross for your soul. The question is WILL YOU SAY I DO TO JESUS? I pray you make this eternally life changing decision soon!

            Just sincerely say this prayer, “Dear God, I admit my sin to you. Please forgive me for all the times I’ve failed you. I believe in you Jesus, that you died, that you were buried, and that you arose from the grave. And, because you conquered death, I too can live forever because of you. Jesus, come into my heart. And, lead my life from this point forward. Thank you God, for saving my soul.

            Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, you will be saved.”

*Please contact me personally should you want to know even more about this life changing decision to follow Jesus.

God Bless

 

 

WE MUST WAKE UP

BibleCoverWhat I’m about to share with you keeps me up at night, wakes me up in the morning, and burns in my heart like nothing I can describe. Thousands around us are crying out for someone to care and for someone to share a hope that can’t be taken away by this world. I can’t speak for you, but I refuse to stand by and do nothing while people continue to feel harassed, helpless, hopeless.

Over 150 churches exist throughout Colleton County alone yet only 8,000 of a population of 38,000 attend any of them. Every day church attendance continues to decline. Believe it or not, throughout the entire Southeast (otherwise known as the Bible Belt) 75% of the culture is totally disconnected from any church. It is believed that 7 out of 10 people in this world don’t know Jesus. But, what breaks my heart and God’s heart even more is that very few Believers seem to care. Maybe its ignorance, maybe its religion, or maybe many are just that self- centered.

I’ve said many times to many people that whether you’re 7 or 77 you need Jesus. According to the Bible Jesus is the key to our present hope and future hope. It won’t matter how good a person thought they were, how many Sundays they attended church, or if their dad was the preacher. The only ticket to Heaven is to personally admit your sin, believe in Jesus as your Savior, and confess Jesus as Lord of your life. By grace, through faith the Bible says you will be saved. Now if a person doesn’t meet Jesus and accept him into their hearts they are destined for an eternal Hell. That’s not my opinion, but that is God’s word written in black and white. To know Jesus = Eternal Life. To not know Jesus = Eternal Hell.

Here is the main problem that we can do something about my friends. People can’t know what they’ve not heard. And, people won’t know if believers don’t get off the bench, out the church, and get to where these people live, work, and play. The truth is most lost people have no interest in most of the churches around them. And, quite honestly I don’t blame them. I blame the churches, the leaders, and the members. We have spent most of our time planning church for church people, but rarely being the church. We’ve worried more about the potluck dinners then lives being changed. Most of the churches money has gone to fixing things inside the church instead of touching someone outside the church. We’ve put up signs that say “Everyone Welcome”, but have done little to make those on the outside looking in feel welcomed. We celebrate Jesus on Sundays, but he is nowhere to be found in our lives Monday through Saturday. I hope this makes you mad and sad all at the same time. I hope it challenges you to look in the mirror and ask, “Am I just doing church or am I being the church?

Written in the front of my bible is a statement I plan to never erase and always remember. “Dear God, help me never get used to men, women, boys, and girls, dying and going to Hell.” Listen to me, the church is not about a building. The church was never intended to be a members-only club. The church’s primary mission is not to keep church people happy. The church has been called by God to reach out to a lost and dying world who is desperate for Jesus.

If I really believe that 70% around me don’t know Jesus. If I really believe that someone who doesn’t know Jesus is headed to Hell when they die. And, if I really care about people I will be moved to do whatever I can, while I can to point as many people as possible to a Savior who loves them more than anyone in this world. My friends, we can’t continue to sleep walk as believers. We can’t continue to do church as usual. And, we can’t continue to live with zero compassion and commitment in a world that grows more chaotic by the moment.

If you don’t care, this will just be another article to read. But, if you do care you will beg God to break your heart for lost people, use you in every way possible, and you will be intentional on sharing Jesus to a world that so desperately needs Him. My friends I promise every word I share comes out of a sincere compassion for the lost, not an effort to point a finger at anyone.

One day, every one of us will give an account for what we’ve done and not done while we had the opportunity. God has called me to start a church that will be committed to doing whatever it takes to love, lift, and lead people to Jesus. I ask you to pray for this movement www.RefugeChurch.org and to pray for every church around. Pray that God would put within us all a sincere brokenness and compassion for the countless lost, harassed and presently hopeless who live all around us.

(Matthew 9:36-37) When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

IF I DIED TONIGHT….

I know none of us want to think about the what if. But, the what if could happen at anytime. Maybe its because I see the what if take so many by surprise that I feel so compelled to prepare myself for what lies ahead. Here is my top 5 prayers if I should not wake up tomorrow.

#1: I pray I’m ready to meet God.

God’s word is clear that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). None of us know when our eternal departure is scheduled, but we know its coming. I pray that I’m ready and fully prepared to meet God face to face when my time comes.

#2: I pray my family is ready for my departure.

Of course, death always takes us by surprise. But, I pray my loved ones are sure of my love, my faith, and my hope. I realize my actions will have spoken louder than my words. I want to leave no doubt that I cared for them each deeply through all that I said and did while with them. I want them to feel certain that I’m in Heaven and that if they die in Christ we will see each other again.

#3: I pray I pointed all I could to Jesus.

I don’t want my success measured by my busyness. I pray that hundreds attend my funeral that I had the opportunity to share Christ with during my days on planet earth. I pray others just remember me as a man who loved like Jesus, lived like Jesus, and did all I could to point them to Jesus.

#4: I pray the preacher doesn’t have to say a thing.

I don’t want a preacher or anyone else having to make up good things to say about me when I die. I pray there is testimony after testimony of people who feel their lives were touched through God working through my life. I pray my funeral is a celebration of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and greatness.

#5: I pray I leave faithful.

I have always believed that it’s not how you start, but how you finish that counts. Regardless of my many shortcomings I want to be seen as finishing strong. No matter what I pray I hold on to my faith, remain faithful to my wife and kids, and continue to grow in Christlikeness everyday. I want others to say this about me, “He fought the good fight, He finished the race, and he remained faithful” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Now, I could write many more things, but these would top my list. What about you?

 

Just felt led to push this blog out one more time.

Pastor Craig Crosby

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…

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7 Ways To Cheat-Proof Your Marriage

Recently, I was watching the video for Carrie Underwood’s hit song “Two Black Cadillacs” and it reminded of a matter that is just not discussed enough. As I write, there are countless men and women living a lie, running around behind their spouse’s back, and secretly cheating on their spouse with someone else. I’ve dealt directly with so many marital affairs that I can’t even begin to recall each of them. How does this happen and is this something I should be concerned about in my marriage? Here are some ways to cheat-proof your marriage…

#1  MARRY SOMEONE WITH CHARACTER

Many marriages start out destined for disaster. People marry someone hoping to fix them later or barely knowing them from the start. My wife and I dated for 4 ½ years before we walked the isle and said I do. Anyone can put up a front for a few dates, but you spend enough time around them and their character will be revealed. You have to marry someone with character before you can expect them to have character. Who you marry should be the pickiest decision you ever make in this life. Remember you are choosing someone who you plan to share the rest of your life with on this earth. Integrity should be at the top of your list. You can’t make someone be honest. But, you can marry an honest person who hopefully has a healthy relationship with God.

#2  PROACTIVELY PROTECT YOUR MARRIAGE

There is never a time that you should quit investing in your marriage. Every marriage will go through seasons never experienced before and in order to survive those seasons you have to build a strong foundation. Communicate when things are misunderstood. Be sensitive when your spouse is struggling to move forward. Always be willing to do the little things that are key to any relationship staying healthy and growing. Be proactive in your marriage, not reactive. This means do the daily things needed to maintain a healthy marriage, don’t won’t on all Hell to break lose.

#3 DON’T EVER THINK IT CAN’T HAPPEN TO YOU

Christian or Non-Christian, character or no character, anything is possible if Satan is given an open door. Every marriage is under fire daily and you need to always be mindful of this fact. Circumstances you face with either push you apart or draw you closer than ever. You are creating an open door anytime you think you’ve arrived in your marriage and that it’s alright to put things on coast mode. Listen, many bad things happen while partners are complacent and therefore no longer pursuing one another.

#4: KEEP YOUR MARRIAGE FIRST

Marriage is much easier when it’s just the two of you. But, later when children come along and life is demanding you have to fight to keep your marriage first. I’m a dad of four boys and I could not love them anymore. However, long after they are gone I will still be living with their mother, hopefully! There is no child, no job, and no other relationship that I should put above my marriage. Too many good intending people allow their children or their careers to come before their marriage. You have to keep your marriage first and always make time for each other. If you don’t make time for them someone will. And, as you two drift apart, they may drift into someone else’s arms. Not because they don’t love you, but because they don’t feel you love them anymore. Most affairs start out emotional and then become physical.

#5 DEAL WITH THE CANCER EARLY

Any good marriage doesn’t dissolve overnight. It is a slow fade that happens one day at a time. The moment you realize your priorities are out of order, do everything you can to get them back in line. The moment you sense a wedge between the two of you deal with the issues at hand. Issues are like cancer cells they must be treated or they will prove fatal. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, forgive quickly, and deal with the cancer in your relationship early and often. The key to a great marriage is dealing with things as they come and working through those things together. It is much easier to treat a stage 3 cancer, but a stage 5 rarely gets turn around.

#6  SEEK COUNSEL SOONER NOT LATER

The moment, I repeat the moment you sense your marriage could be in jeopardy reach out for help. Don’t assume things will just work themselves out, because they rarely do. Sometimes, there is a strong need for professional intervention. Your marriage is worth every penny of investment so don’t let money be your excuse. Put aside your pride, reach out for help, and do so immediately if needed.

#7  NEVER LEAVE JESUS OUT

I don’t include this just for good gesture. I could easily put this one above all the others. You can’t be the spouse you need to be without God’s help. You can’t have the marriage you desire without doing things God’s way. Jesus Christ being the head of your household is the only secure refuge any marriage has going for it.

Jesus said in (Matthew 7:24-25) Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

5 KEYS TO MAKING A BIG DECISION

If you live long enough you will be faced with a BIG decision. Big decisions are those decisions that will affect our life and the lives of many around us. Before you make that BIG commitment, before you make that BIG purchase, before you take that BIG job, before you make any BIG decision please ask yourself the following:

 IS THIS MY IDEA OR GOD’S IDEA?

I have to admit that I’ve made some hasty decisions in my past. Decisions that if I had the opportunity to make again I would approach them quite differently. The first thing I would ask myself is “Has God brought me to this point or am I just exercising my free will? Sure you can do whatever you want it’s your life, but this is God’s world. If I’m choosing between my gut instinct and God’s will I know which one I am banking my future success. Sometimes we have great ideas, but it’s only God’s plans that really matter. Sometimes we think its God, but it’s really gas.

(Proverbs 19:21) Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

 #2: HAVE I REALLY PRAYED ABOUT THIS?

We’re all guilty at times of saying we’re praying for someone or about something, but rarely do we get alone with God and pray. Big decisions require extra thought, focus, and concentrated prayer. Big decisions should never be made on the fly and should be saturated with much prayer. Scripture tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”(Luke 5:16) That Jesus before he made the big decision of calling his first twelve disciples “Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.”(Luke 6:12)

(Philippians 4:6) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:17) Pray continually.

(Matthew 6:9-10) “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

 #3: AM I PREPARED TO MAKE THIS DECISION?

I didn’t just decide on the first date I would get married. I didn’t just decide one day that I would become a pastor. God led me one baby step at a time. Through much prayer, processing, and experiences God prepared my heart for his service. After believing God had called me into the ministry I spent over 6 years in college and seminary allowing God to teach me and prepare me to lead others. God’s preparation process is different for all of us, but big endeavors call for big preparations. I need to consider what this commitment will cost me, whether I’m willing to make the necessary sacrifices for this succeed, and have I prepared myself for what lies ahead.

(Luke 14:28) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?

(2 Timothy 4:2) …Be prepared in season and out of season…”

#4: HAS GOD GIVEN ME THE GREEN LIGHT?

In other words, has God said its time to move forward with this decision? I’m not asking is this something you believe God wants you to do, but is it God’s timing for you to do this now. Sometimes God tells us to STOP, sometimes GO, and many times WAIT. Just because something makes sense doesn’t mean it’s God’s perfect timing. What matters is if God has impressed this upon your heart and led you to this point. It may not make sense to you right now, but may be exactly what God wants you to do right now. Or, it may make total sense, but not be God’s will for you right now. Scripture is clear that timing does matter.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1)There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under heaven.”

(John 10:27) “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

 #5: DO I HAVE GOD’S PEACE?

 You will always have nerves, fears, critics and concerns. But, after your prayer, processing, and preparation do you have a peace in your heart that God wants you to walk through this door? You can have total peace about something and still be scared to death about what lies ahead. Trust me I’ve made some big decisions in the past like moving 18 hours away from home or starting a new ministry that the only thing I could rest on was the peace that God was leading me to move forward. At the end of the day, all I need to know is that God is for me and with me. But, until I reach that total peace that God is in this thing there is no way I’m moving forward.

(Philippians 4:6-7) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Psalm 4:8) In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.

(Psalm 139:23-24) Search me, O God, and know my heart;test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

 Trust me when I tell you that these five things will help you make better decisions and have greater peace as you face God-sized endeavors. I pray these steps processes help you as much as they’ve helped me!

10 WAYS AMEDISYS HOSPICE CAN HELP YOU

      As I write this article, I am well aware that there are several misunderstandings when it comes to hospice care. Many people see hospice as a death sentence. Many see hospice as a place that just knocks you out with pain medicine. Many see hospice as a group of people who just take away people’s hope and interfere with doctors finding a cure. My friends, nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately, hospice care is misunderstood by many and I hope to clear up some of the misunderstanding. Many times I have told patients and families who just weren’t comfortable with the word “hospice” that I wish I could change our name to Amedisys “HELP US.” Because when we come to your home we are not there to add to your anxiety or steal your hope, but we’ve come to help you in so many ways.

#1 WE WILL…..DEAL WITH THE REALITY. Many people aren’t comfortable or willing to talk about the reality of death. Everyone who is dying needs to know the truth of their situation. Dealing with this reality properly and quickly will pave the way for the patient, family, and friends comfort and closure as death draws near. Every minute living in denial equals precious moments that are slipping away. The sooner you embrace the truth the more time you have to make necessary life adjustments, find peace, and move towards a necessary closure. Just because you don’t accept reality doesn’t mean reality has changed or will change. People need to hear the truth, spoken with love, and then be given the support necessary to get through this difficult season of life called “death.”

#2 WE WILL…. “GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER”. 

This journey called dying can be very lonely. Our compassionate and professional staff can give you support in so many ways. Every patient and family has available to them the assistance of a registered nurse, home health aide, social worker, chaplain, and even volunteers when needed. We can’t replace you, but we can come alongside you making the journey a lot easier as together we take one day at a time.

#3 WE WILL… “MAXIMIZE YOUR COMFORT”. Our nurses make sure that your pain is kept under control 24/7, while providing you the opportunity of staying in the comfort of your own home. It’s a proven fact that when possible patients experience much greater comfort under hospice care and while being surrounded by family and friends.

#4 WE WILL…. “GIVE YOU A BREAK

Taking care of someone you love is never easy and for sure not a “one man” job. We can provide volunteers that can sit with your loved one when necessary. Just having the hospice team involved will relieve you from carrying this burden alone. We will be there when you need us most to help you carry on when you desperately need a break.

#5 WE WILL…“INCREASE YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE

After embracing the reality of death comes the process of putting life into a new perspective. We want to help you make the most of what time you have left. No one wants to spend their last days or months going back and forth to doctors. No one wants to spend their last days without saying what they need to say and doing what they need to do. When you find yourself living on borrowed time, it is then time to focus on quality time, not quantity.

#6 WE WILL….“BRING YOUR FAMILY TOGETHER

Death can scatter or gather a family. In the midst of your sickness, we aim to bring you and your loved ones together. Everyone needs to find peace, process this season, and come together. We will do all we can to help you find closure and deepen your connection to your loved ones. Death is a family affair and everyone needs to be brought together especially at this time where moments are precious.

#7 WE WILL…. “STAY BY YOUR SIDE

Hospice care happens 24/7. Outside of daytime hours there is always help available. Several staff members are on call every moment of everyday. Anytime you need our support all you’ve got to do is pick up the phone. We will be by your side and stay by your side through it all.

#8 WE WILL…. “MAKE THIS TRANSITION EASIER

Death is an appointment and a transition from this life to the next. With our help this transition can go smoothly and peacefully. From the moment a patient comes on our service we begin helping them and their family prepare for what lies ahead. We will remain by your side until your loved one draws their last breath.

#9 WE WILL ….. “HELP YOU DISCOVER SPIRITUAL PEACE”.

Death speaks louder than anything. When a person hears the words “You are dying” it can cause extreme panic and steal their joy in life. We believe God can give us peace even in the midst of this difficult time. Many who become very ill become disconnected from their faith community. We can bring the church to you and help everyone sort through the realities of this life and the life to come. Nothing is greater than dying with a smile on your face and peace in your heart.

#10 WE WILL…. PROVIDE YOU WITH “FREE” RESOURCES.

At this point, most are asking, “What’s all this going to cost me?” Hospice care won’t cost you a dime, but we may be able to save you quite a few. We provide you with competent staff, certain medications associated with your diagnosis, periodic respite care, a social worker who can connect you to outside resources, and even a chaplain who can help with spiritual support and funeral services. Whether you’re rich or poor, hospice can come along side you and your family and provide many much needed resources absolutely free to you.

“There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven, a time to be born a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2)

When your time comes Amedisy Hospice WILL be there for you!

 

 

VALENTINE’S DAY REMINDS US

 Every February 14th, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. Dating back to the early 1700’s people have exchanged homemade valentines and today that tradition continues through many acts of love. Here are three things that Valentine’s Day reminds us that we should never forget!

#1 LOVE IS A PRICELESS GIFT

Valentine’s Day reminds us that many things may come and go, but love is a gift from God that should be cherished and celebrated every day we live. God’s word puts love above everything else on the planet. God says without love things are meaningless. Without love I am nothing but a bunch of noise and eloquent words. (1 Corinthians 13:13) tells us that at the end of this life only “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

#2 LOVE IS AN ACTION VERB

 Valentine’s Day reminds us that love is not something meant to be contained, but rather expressed loudly. Love will express itself through our words and deeds. (John 3:16) says, “ For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God’s love for us compelled Him to give the ultimate sacrifice His son Jesus. When we genuinely love someone we will willingly go out of our way to show that person just how much they mean to us. This February 14th  is not about you spending lots of money, but you going out of your way to show that loved one just how much they mean! 

#3 LOVE SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED

Valentine’s Day reminds us that we should not take our loved ones for granted and that each moment with them is a gift from above. It’s so easy to assume that your loved ones knows how much you really love them. I hear many people say “I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because that should be an everyday thing.” I agree, but so many of us fail to go out of our way to express those words and  thoughts that need to be heard by those we love. This Valentine’s Day why don’t you make sure that those you love so much hear the most powerful words ever spoken: I LOVE YOU!

 (1 Corinthian 13:1-8)(The Message)

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

8 Love never dies.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

 

10 KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL LEADERSHIP

One of the toughest things on the planet is being a leader. It requires courage, determination, and ongoing character development. Too often as leaders we have our eyes on the development of others, but leaders must continue to develop themselves. Here are some things I’ve learned are critical for any leader to be successful.

1.WALK WITH GOD

You were not created by accident nor did you create yourself. God created you with His purposes in mind. You must allow Him to refresh, refocus, and direct you in all you do and say. Apart from you keeping your little hand in His big hand you will never have long term success.

2.LISTEN AND LEARN FROM OTHERS

We can learn from others experiences, successes and failures. No matter what your field of leadership there are others who can provide you with much needed insight. Listen to what they have to say and learn from their experiences good and bad.

3.DEVELOP YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE

Just as no two people are alike neither are two leaders alike. We all have different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. Be the best you that God created you to be. Don’t try to be someone else because it won’t work. Also,realize that every leader is at a different point in their journey and you can’t compare someone with two years experience to someone with 10-20 years experience.

4.CONTINUE TO MEET WITH OTHER LEADERS

You will always have need for encouragement, understanding, and growth as a leader. Continue to meet with other leaders who are in the same battle as you. It is never a good idea to walk alone as  a leader. Too many things can happen that aren’t good.

5. BUILD A TEAM AROUND YOU

Are we really a leader if we don’t develop other leaders. No leader can do all the work or succeed alone. All of us have limitations when it comes to time, talents, and even energy. You have to make sure that in your absence the mission will continue and the vision will be executed.

6. MAKE THE VISION CLEAR

You can’t repeat yourself too much when it comes to casting the vision. You must find every way possible to instill and remind everyone why they’re dong what they’re doing. You have to believe in the vision, communicate the vision, and make sure everyone understands the vision.

7. KEEP THE PROCESS SIMPLE

Too many times we make things way more difficult that they have to be. The great thing about a clear vision is it simplifies things. It reminds us what we should be doing and what we aren’t trying to do. Whatever you do, make the process as simple as possible to follow so that everyone can move forward together.

8. EXPECT HARDSHIP 

If you want things to be easy, free of conflict, and with little responsibility don’t sign up to be a leader. Being a leader requires total heart, total focus, and total determination. There will be continual mountains to climb and valleys along the way. The role of a leader is to make sure no matter what everyone stays the course and crosses the finish line.

9. PACE YOURSELF

This one probably hits home for most leader types more than anything else. We try to fix everything at once and before we know it we’re completely burnout. Every leader must find balance, get adequate rest, and have a life beyond their position.

10. REMEMBER, YOU’RE NOT GOD

There are no perfect leaders because there are no perfect people. There is a God, but you’re not Him. Leaders can do a lot of things, but only God can bring the growth. Plant the seeds, invest in people, and leave the results to God.

(1 Timothy 3:1) “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.”

A LETTER FROM GOD

Dear Child,   

I just wanted to take the time to put these things in writing so that you can be sure about a few things. Of course, I am aware of everything that goes on in your everyday life. Like I told you before in Psalm 139, “I am familiar with all your ways. I know when you sit and rise. Before a word reaches your tongue I know your thoughts. In fact, I’m the one that formed your unborn body and planned your entire life out before you were even born.” But, enough about that I really need to remind you of some other things.

            First, I love you VERY much. More than words can express and any act could display. More than your earthly mom, dad, children, or spouse could ever love you. Sure, it broke my heart to let my son Jesus die on that cross, but it was the only way I could restore our relationship that was hindered by sin. I’m so glad you chose to admit your sin, believe in Jesus and receive my free gift of salvation. I have written your name in the “Book of Life” and nothing can ever deny your eternal reservations in Heaven. My child when you get to Heaven you aren’t going to believe your eyes or ears because this place is amazing. I know you’ve stayed in a few really nice places in your lifetime, but those places have nothing on the mansion I’ve built just for you.

            Secondly, I am very proud of you. I know you’ve had a lot thrown your way and people pulling on you day and night. I’m fully aware of every good deed and hardship you’ve endured for my sake. Sure, you’re far from perfect, but that will always be the case. I just want you to know that I’m proud to call you my child. Anything you do that brings a smile to someone else’s face brings a smile to mine. You are certainly storing up treasures in Heaven with every move you make for my glory. Please remember, my love is not dependent upon performance or perfection. It does mean a whole lot to me that you are willing to do whatever I ask you to do every day you wake up. I wish all my children were as obedient.

            Now, I know you know this, but this is worth repeating. You need to stop trying to make sense of everything happening in and around you. I am still large and in charge. Everything I allow is for a purpose. Everything I’ve done in your life up until now has been by grand design. There are still greater days ahead and challenges. I just simply need you to “take up your cross and follow me daily” (Luke 9:23). Don’t question my orders, don’t doubt the outcome, and for sure don’t try to make sense of it all. Your job is simply to obey. My faithfulness will prove itself time and time again. I’m not trying to yell at you, but you do need to remember “Who’s Your Daddy.”  Enough of that let’s move on.

            Of course, there are many more things I could say, but most of it I have already written in my word (The Bible). In closing please know that you can’t live by sight, but must keep pressing on by faith. Storms will continue to come and go. Temptations will always be there. And, just like my son Jesus you will feel overwhelmed at times. Just know, I will fight for you, I will carry you, and I will be there for you always even until the end of this age. Even if everyone abandons you, your friends forsake you, and your plans fail you. I will not let you go!!!!!!!!  I hope you never forget these things.  I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU,

Love,

Your Heavenly Dad

(Philippians 1:6) “Be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

7 Ways To Kill Your Marriage

LACK OF COMMUNICATION

Did you know you could sleep in the same bed with another person and still never know each other. Most marriages operate this way every day. Without clear communication everything is left up to speculation and everything is a guessing game. Communication between two people does not come easy, but does get easier with practice. How can your spouse know what you’ve never told them? How can you get to know your spouse when you rarely take the time to listen to their heart. Communication is more than just words, but taking time to understand each other. Many relationships are killed due to poor communication and great misunderstanding.

 LACK OF QUALITY TIME

Distance for a long period of time rarely helps with closeness. Whether due to busyness, careers, children, or other things you have to make time for your marriage relationship. You never outgrow the need for a date night. You never arrive to the point where life can’t come between the two of you. In fact, the longer you’ve been together the more you must fight the complacency in your relationship. Many marriage partners tell me after their relationship has blown up that they never dreamed this could happen. Listen, if you don’t “Make Time” for your marriage you will wake up one day to a nightmare.

 LACK OF COMMITMENT

Marriage is a mutual, lifelong commitment between a man, woman, and God. There are two perspectives when it comes to the marriage relationship. One, no matter what comes our way I am committed for better or worse, richer or poorer, to make this relationship work for a lifetime. The second and most popular approach is, I am committed to this relationship as long as it feels right to me. Thoughts of divorce are often fed by a lack of commitment and therefore an attitude that says, “I’m looking for a way out instead of a way through issues that will attack any relationship.” My relationship with my wife is far from perfect. But, both of us have a strong commitment to one another and to God when it comes to our marriage. Commitment makes a huge difference!

LACK OF FAITH

God has never had total control of a marriage and it not work out for a lifetime. If both partners are growing in their relationship with God it will only lead them closer to one another. And, I’m not asking if you got to church, but do you have a growing relationship with God? Every day of my life I have to allow God to adjust my attitude, redirect my thoughts, and change my heart in areas that have grown cold. My spouse will never be able to fill all the God shape voids within me. Every relationship will go through storms where they have to know that Jesus is in the boat with them. Otherwise, their marriage is destined for disaster.

 LACK OF TRUST

We all know that trust is huge in any relationship. And, it is built over time, but can be lost in one instance. Each partner has to go to every length possible to show the other person their commitment is solid and they can be trusted. My first piece of advice is for you to draw clear lines in the sand to protect your relationship. Don’t say or do anything that gives your partner a reason not to trust you. However, if you have already fallen in this area then you have to make some radical changes. Go the extra mile to show you’re sorry, you’ve changed, and you can be trusted again. Building trust back will take time, but with God’s help your relationship can heal and trust  can be restored. But, be mindful that until things heal, you are dealing with an open wound called a “Lack of Trust.”

 LACK OF RESPECT

Respect, I can’t say this word without mentioning other words such as value and appreciate. When a person feels unappreciated, de-valued, and not respected they will not like you very much. It doesn’t matter how many times you say “I love you”, you have to value your partner. You can’t pick apart everything they do, treat them like a second grader, and expect them to feel warm and fuzzy towards you. Going through my mind is Garth Brooks singing, “Somewhere other than the night she needs to hear I love You. Somewhere other than the night, she needs to know you care.” Respect is all about appreciating the other person for who they are, what they  do, and what they mean to your everyday life. “We all want to be loved, we all want just a little respect.”

 LACK OF COUNSEL

I have counseled a lot of couples prior to them getting married. I have found that most were in desperate need of some pre-marital guidance before they said, I do. Most young couples have no idea what they are getting themselves into when they get married and they’ve not observed many healthy marriages. If you are not yet married please consider sitting down with someone who can give you some healthy insight as to what challenges most marriages will face. On the other hand, someone reading this right now is married and needs to call Marriage Nanny 911 in hopes of getting help as soon as possible. Most marriages that reach a point of near explosion need outside assistance and counsel to have a fighting chance of working through the mess between them.

 *I pray God uses this to save at least one marriage! God Bless!  

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR THE CHURCH

DEAR CHURCH,  Those who have believed, received, and confessed Jesus as Savior and Lord of your lives. We are the “Called Out Ones” who have been entrusted with the mission of making Jesus known all throughout the world. This is a tall order, but Jesus promised we would never be alone on this journey. The following are ten things God’s word says are key ingredients to a healthy and effective church. And, as a Christian you are a part of the church and need to play your part. This is not an attempt to rewrite the “Ten Commandments”, but regardless of where you attend church these things should make your top ten.

#1 LOVE GOD

(Mark 12:28-30) 28 ….“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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.’

Everything we do and say should flow out of a personal love relationship with God. We should worship God out of adoration, not obligation. We should seek that which he wants, not what we want. The church was created to bring glory to God. And, the way we bring the greatest glory to God is for our hearts to be in tune with his heart. The moment our hearts are not right with God is the moment things turn upside down. God’s word says that man looks at what man does on the outside, but God looks at our hearts.

 (Revelation 2:3-5) 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

#2 LOVE PEOPLE

(Mark 12:31) The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

God loves people more than anything. God commands us to love people more than programs, processes, and anything else. One of the greatest things missing in churches all over is “God’s Love.” We have been commanded to love others as God has loved us. Well, God loves us no matter what, unconditionally, regardless of race, position, past, or present. God was willing to go to any extent to show His love to us! We need to go to every extent to show that same kind of love to those around us.

The Bible says without love everything I say and do is meaningless. (1 Corinthians 13)

#3 LOVE ONE ANOTHER

(John 13:34-35) 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

People who experience chaos outside the church don’t want to come and experience chaos inside the church. Brothers and sisters in Christ we have to figure out a way to put aside our differences and love one another in a way that others want to be part of God’s family. It’s been said that “Christians” are the only soldiers who shoot their own soldiers.

#4  SHARE THE GOOD NEWS

(Romans 10:14-16) 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Every believer has been called by God to be ministers of the gospel. Each of us have good news that needs to be shared with everyone we come in contact with. The good news is Jesus saved our soul. And, that Jesus can save anyone’s soul that chooses to receive God’s forgiveness and believe in Jesus’ death burial and resurrection.The message has not changed and the way to Heaven hasn’t either. Whether you’re 7 or 77 people need to know that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. People need to hear the gospel that Jesus loves them, died for them, and will save them.

#5 GET OUTSIDE THE WALLS

(Mark 16:15-16)  15 Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

As church attendance continues to decline (Only 25% of Americans attend any church) churches still act like they expect people to just start running through the doors. This is about as likely as someone out fishing expecting fish to just jump into their boat. Sure, it could happen from time to time, but it’s not likely. We have to “GO” where they are. We have to get outside the walls of the church and be Jesus to a lost world.

#6  MAKE DISCIPLES

(Matthew 28:19) “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,

 Discipleship is not an event, but the process of one believer walking alongside another believer. Every one of us should have people that we are intentionally investing time and teaching into. Discipleship is simply you showing and sharing with someone what it means to take up your cross daily and follow Jesus.

(Proverbs 27:17) As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

#7  TEACH THE WORD

(2 Timothy 3:16-17) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that all God’s people[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Our approach to connecting with people in a relevant way must continue to adjust to be culturally relevant. But, the word of God will never change and must be preached with no apology or compromise. People need to the hear the truth in its entirety and they will give an account for what they do with what they’ve heard.

(Matthew 28:20) “and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 #8 SEEK TO SERVE NOT IN CONTROL

 (Matthew 20:28) …the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 As Christians we have been called to be “Little Christ”. This means we have to live, love, and look like Jesus in our everyday life. Our attitudes should be the same as that of Christ. Jesus did not seek control, but was a humble servant of God. The church today doesn’t need more control freaks, but a house full of Christ-like servants.  (Philippians 2) tells us how to have the attitude and mindset of Christ.

#9 VALUE EVERY MEMBER OF THE BODY

 (1 Corinthians 12:27) Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

 (James 3:2) We all stumble in many ways. Those who are never at fault in what they say are perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

The church is made up of a bunch of sinners all saved by the grace of God. None of us are perfect, but each are a part of the body of Christ. Each of us have value, gifts, and ways God wants to use us to grow His kingdom. We must value every believer, every church and seek to encourage one another in pursuing God’s will. No part is more important than the other, but every part has impact for good or bad.

#10 TRUST GOD FOR THE GROWTH

(1 Corinthians 3:6-7)6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

We live in a world that instantly thinks bigger is better. The measure of a church’s success is not its seating capacity, but is it giving full glory to God. I am confident, that any church doing things God’s way and in God’s time will experience God’s full blessing and growth.

SATAN IS OUT TO GET YOU

The bible is clear that we all have an enemy and it’s not your mother in law, your spouse, your neighbor, your boss or anyone else that comes to mind. Our enemy’s name is Satan and is he out to rock your world and totally wreck your life. Yes, God has plans for your life, but Satan will do anything possible to derail those plans. Just as its important we understand how God would have us to live, love, and carry out our everyday affairs on this earth. It is extremely important that we understand our enemy and how he plans to keep us from the abundant life God wants to give us all. Here are three things Satan seeks to do every day of your life.

 #1:  SATAN SEEKS TO KEEP YOU FROM THE TRUTH.

God has given us His word to provide light in an otherwise dark world. In a world that seeks to make up its on rights and wrongs we have to know the truth. The only way you will know the truth from the lies is you have to read and study God’s word. God gives us clear instruction on dealing with our finances, our spouse, our children, each other and with a world full of uncertainties. The only way you won’t live confused and clueless is you have to open up the word of God and embrace its life giving truth. Every word you read is God’s love letter to you and me. 

(Psalm 119:105) Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

REMEMBER: You have to know God’s truth, in order to not fall for Satan’s lies.

(John 8:32) Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

 #2:  SATAN SEEKS TO STEAL YOUR HOPE.

Many today feel like they are drowning and there is nothing they can do about it. Their circumstances have them convinced there is no way out and nothing but tougher days are ahead. You have to know that it is Satan’s chief goal to make you feel worthless, helpless, and hopeless. And, quite frankly apart from Jesus you are totally hopeless. But, the moment you put your total faith and trust in Jesus Christ your entire future changes forever. When it comes to finding hope in Christ it is available no matter who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done.

 (Jeremiah 29:11) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 (Hebrews 6:19) We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

REMEMBER: No matter where you find yourself in this life, there is HOPE.

(Romans 15:13)May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 #3:  Satan seeks to DESTROY YOUR LIFE.

I hear this often from people inside and outside the church. This world is just getting worse by the day and you don’t know what’s going to happen next. I agree, but it’s because Satan is having a field day. In most homes God’s word is not being taught, Christ is not Lord, and Satan can’t help but feel like his army is growing larger by the minute. Families are falling apart, shooting sprees are taking place, and many are still yelling at the government thinking this is just a physical problem. My friends we are in a spiritual battle and this battle will not be won by laws changed, a fixed economy, or a new president. This battle belongs to God and we’ve got to run to him for our refuge and ever present help in time of need.

(1 Peter 5:8-10) Keep awake! Watch at all times. The devil is working against you. He is walking around like a hungry lion with his mouth open. He is looking for someone to eat. 9 Stand against him and be strong in your faith. Remember, other Christians over all the world are suffering the same as you are. 10 After you have suffered for awhile, God Himself will make you perfect. He will keep you in the right way. He will give you strength. He is the God of all loving-favor and has called you through Christ Jesus to share His shining-greatness forever.

(Ephesians 6:10-18) 10 This is the last thing I want to say: Be strong with the Lord’s strength. 11 Put on the things God gives you to fight with. Then you will not fall into the traps of the devil. 12 Our fight is not with people. It is against the leaders and the powers and the spirits of darkness in this world. It is against the demon world that works in the heavens. 13 Because of this, put on all the things God gives you to fight with. Then you will be able to stand in that sinful day. When it is all over, you will still be standing. 14 So stand up and do not be moved. Wear a belt of truth around your body. Wear a piece of iron over your chest which is being right with God. 15 Wear shoes on your feet which are the Good News of peace. 16 Most important of all, you need a covering of faith in front of you. This is to put out the fire-arrows of the devil. 17 The covering for your head is that you have been saved from the punishment of sin. Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

REMEMBER: Satan wants to destroy you, but Jesus offers life both in this life and the life to come.

(John 10:10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE

          

Grandma

It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone you loved so much. When you least expect it you have one of those moments that just grabs your heart and takes you back in time. It may be a picture, a place, and many times a song that takes you back to those memories of yesterday. Our memories bring with them smiles, tears, joy, and pain. If you’re human you know what I’m talking about my friend.

            As I write this, I am listening to the song “Here Comes Goodbye” by Rascal Flatts and looking at a picture of my grandma who left this world a little over a year ago. On one hand I know how blessed I was to have her in my life for 37 years. We shared together many meals, conversations, and endless laughs. She was so strong, yet so loving. She was such a great listener, yet would be the first to tell you what she thought when you finished talking.

            I can still recall her bringing me ice cream when I was sick with countless sore throats. Every birthday she made me and most of her grandchildren a homemade carrot cake. Between you and me, she absolutely spoiled me all my life. My wife could never tell me no because she knew I could always call on Grandma for anything.

            Throughout my early years of ministry and beyond she was my biggest supporter and cheerleader. From Texas, to Georgia, and back to South Carolina I could always count on her to be there. Man, I miss that woman the more I think about all she meant in my life. But, I knew she wouldn’t be around forever. She lived a long, full life. She knew what it was to have very little growing up to having all she needed later in life. Regardless of what life brought, she remained humble, steady, and devoted to making this world a better place. I know she made me a better person.

             As the tears roll down my face even as I write this so does the thankfulness flow from my heart. What an angel sent from heaven to us. Now, that angel has simply transitioned back to her eternal home in Heaven. As my 9 year old said recently, “I bet Grandma has a really big porch up in Heaven daddy.” And, I replied, “Yes, and she is also drinking a cup of coffee with Jesus.”

            Well, so long for my pity party. I will continue to celebrate the good times we shared. I will continue to carry out the love she gave to me. And, I will continue to look forward to our great and happy reunion on the other side. I encourage you, if you’re missing someone in your life. Take time to process your feelings, work through the pain, hold on to the memories, and look forward to seeing them again!

 

I HAD A DREAM

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. 

Pastor Craig Crosby

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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5 Reasons You Should Get A Divorce

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.

BUD LIGHT YEAR

Six PackWho 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)         

2012 In Review

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.

Click here to see the complete report.

IF I HAD ONLY ONE YEAR TO LIVE

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!

Vision/Interest Meeting 1

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!

REFUGE CHURCH
Vision/Interest Cookout
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 scraigcrosby@gmail.com 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

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU

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!

Thanks,
Craig Crosby

Dear Santa

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.

Love, Seth

*Nothing profound here, but speaks volumes of his little heart!

We’ve Created A Monster

GrinchThatStoleChristmasAs 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!

Are You Dreading Your Family Gathering?

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!

Grieving Through The Holidays

Pastor Craig Crosby

           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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God’s Angels

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.

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.

10 REASONS I’M STARTING REFUGE CHURCH

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!

 

 

How Do You Respond?

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!

WHAT NEXT?

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!

THINGS YOU LEARN WHEN YOU’RE SICK….

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.

WE FAIL OUR CHILDREN WHEN……

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.”

 

I THINK WE’RE ALL BI-POLAR

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.

 EXPECT TRIALS

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.”

Grieving Through The Holidays

           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.”

           T

 

30 Years Apart

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.”

 

Do You Feel All Alone?

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.

5 THINGS EVERY LEADER SHOULD DO

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!

HOW WILL REFUGE CHURCH BE DIFFERENT?

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.

LOVE

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.

LIFT

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!

LEAD

(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!

 

 

Refuge Church

Loving, Lifting,  & Leading people to Jesus.

I’m Starting A New Church

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,

Craig Crosby

5 THINGS WE MUST REMEMBER

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.

SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE

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.

Gifts Every Child Needs This Christmas

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!

WHY HALLOWEEN SHOULD BE CELEBRATED

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!

WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?

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.

WE’RE MOVING AGAIN!!!!!

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.

I BOUGHT A SIX PACK OF BEER

six-pack.jpgA 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.

WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS HURTING…..

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.

5 THINGS A MAN NEEDS TO HEAR FROM HIS WIFE

#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.

5 THINGS A WOMAN HOPES HER HUSBAND WILL BE

A LEADER

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.

 A LISTENER

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.

 A LOVER

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.

 A LAWYER

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.

WHAT WILL YOU DO THIS WEEK?

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?

HOW FAR IS TOO FAR?

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.

JUST CAN’T CATCH A BREAK….

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.

7 Things That Could Make You HYPER SENSITIVE….

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

HOW TO HAVE A GOOD WEEK?

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!

YOU MATTER

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!

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

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!

7 THINGS EVERY PARENT MUST REMEMBER!!!

*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.

 

 

MY KIDS INHERITANCE

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.

WHY PEOPLE SAY HURTFUL STUFF

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.

IGNORANCE

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.

 BITTERNESS

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.

 MISERABLE

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.

 CARELESSNESS

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.

 ATTENTION

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.

 

 

 

Christians, Preachers, & Politicians

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.

 

 

OVERWHELMED

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)Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 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.”

WHEN SOMEONE HURTS YOU

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. 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.

7 KEYS TO A GREAT MARRIAGE

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)   Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 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.

15 Things You Might Not Know About Us

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!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“15” Reasons I Love My Wife

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”.

Her BEAUTY

Radiates both Inside & Out

Her CREATIVITY

Makes life more colorful

Her DEVOTION

Keeps her by my side

Her ENCOURAGEMENT

Makes her my greatest cheerleader

Her FAITH

Keeps her strong and focused

Her FRIENDSHIP

Never leaves me lonely

Her GRACE

Forgives my countless mistakes

Her INTELLIGENCE

Brings many words of wisdom

Her LOVE

Moves my heart to love her more

Her PATIENCE

Gives me room to fly

Her REALNESS

Keeps me honest and grounded

Her SUPPORT

Takes me places I could never go alone

Her THOUGHTFULNESS

Shines through countless acts of unselfishness

Her PROMISE

To honor, love, and cherish me daily brings joy to my heart

Her YES

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

-Love Craig

                                                                                                                       

 

 

Woke Up On The Wrong Side?

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.

FOOTBALL IS THE DEVIL

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.

SHOULD VACATION BE AN OPTION?

             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!

COMPLICATED PEOPLE

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,

GOD IS THERE

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.

God says,
“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)

Some Things I’ve Learned About Life

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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Money Matters

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.

3 Things Every Parent Should Know

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?

Aim to Win The Gold

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)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) 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,
but who delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on his law day and night.
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
.

 PACE YOURSELF

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)Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 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.

 KEEP SWIMMING

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)Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

 

A TRIBUTE TO MY WIFE

           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 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 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.

What’s Keeping You Up At Night?

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. 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; 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.”

 

           

Dealing With Change

     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)

Powerful Words Series

Complicated Grief

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:    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) I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm —he will watch over your life;
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;
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 scraigcrosby@gmail.com. Allie, rest in peace!

`

 

 

WHAT IF?

     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.

 

           

When You Feel Like Giving Up

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.

 1. PERSPECTIVE

            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.

 2. PROCESS

            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.

 3.  PRIORITIES

            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)