Richard Craig, Author at GraceAndWorks

HE TOOK CONTROL!!

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This is a story about a person that has battled with alcohol for nearly 30 years. I may be a little bit all over the map with this, but I felt it needed to be told. There are those who have been in these shoes and will fully understand and there are those who will have a hard time wrapping their head around it.

Alcohol played a big roll in his life, but he never thought he had a problem….until the last few years. It had control of him even though he wouldn’t admit it. There were lost marriages. There were lost jobs. He had lost the trust of family and friends and finally had his brother to the point he wouldn’t talk to him. It wasn’t because his brother didn’t love him, it was because his brother needed to show some tough love to hopefully set urgency into the situation. It gets to the point where a person can’t wait to get home and just crawl up with a friend (Bottle of alcohol). I look at the situation as he was a “Functioning” alcoholic. Go to work, get home and start the drinking and get up the next morning feeling horrible and stumble off to work. It becomes a vicious cycle!! Most will say that a person has to hit rock bottom before they can begin the trip out of the deep dark dungeon. But what is rock bottom? It is different for different people. Some have to lose everything….the family, the home they have, the jobs, and all their money. For some it won’t go that far before they seek help. Some never  seek the help and drink themselves to death.

Well, this story has a REALLY happy ending. He has gotten the help he needed and has reached a milestone. He is 1 year sober!! His Mom and Dad flew in and his Brother and his wife flew in for a celebration and the presentation of his 1 year medal. The first time he and his brother had spoken for about a year. The love was still there. The forgiveness was there. He had to feel so good to have his family back. Then………..after he was presented the medal, he gave it to his brother. To me this was an act of love and compassion and a thank you for the tough love. A tremendous way of showing the appreciation and love for his brother. If you’ve never been in these shoes, it will be hard to wrap your head around what really transpired. He is finally up out of the dungeon and climbing up the mountain. He has finally got control over his life instead of the alcohol controlling him. I’ve been in these shoes. Not as far down as he was, but I can appreciate where he is now and what the giving of that medal means to him. CONGRATS on your 1 year of sobriety and many more years to come!!

SMILE God loves YOU!!

DEPRESSION IS HORRIBLE!!

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Most of us have probably, at one time or another, have had to deal with depression. We maybe didn’t even know we were depressed. It’s almost impossible to deal with it on your own. The following may shed some light:

Depression is a widespread condition, affecting millions of people, Christians and non-Christians alike. Those suffering from depression can experience intense feelings of sadness, anger, hopelessness, fatigue, and a variety of other symptoms. They may begin to feel useless and even suicidal, losing interest in things and people that they once enjoyed. Depression is often triggered by life circumstances, such as a loss of job, death of a loved one, divorce, or psychological problems such as abuse or low self-esteem.

The Bible tells us to be filled with joy and praise (Philippians 4:4; Romans 15:11), so God apparently intends for us all to live joyful lives. This is not easy for someone suffering from situational depression, but it can be remedied through God’s gifts of prayer, Bible study and application, support groups, fellowship among believers, confession, forgiveness, and counseling. We must make the conscious effort to not be absorbed in ourselves, but to turn our efforts outward. Feelings of depression can often be solved when those suffering with depression move the focus from themselves to Christ and others.

Clinical depression is a physical condition that must be diagnosed by a physician. It may not be caused by unfortunate life circumstances, nor can the symptoms be alleviated by one’s own will. Clinical depression is not always caused by sin. Depression can sometimes be caused by a physical disorder that needs to be treated with medication and/or counseling. Of course, God is able to cure any disease or disorder. However, in some cases, seeing a doctor for depression is no different than seeing a doctor for an injury.

There are some things that those who suffer from depression can do to alleviate their anxiety. They should make sure that they are staying in the Word, even when they do not feel like it. Emotions can lead us astray, but God’s Word stands firm and unchanging. We must maintain strong faith in God and hold even more tightly to Him when we undergo trials and temptations. The Bible tells us that God will never allow temptations into our lives that are too much for us to handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). Although being depressed is not a sin, one is still accountable for the response to the affliction, including getting the professional help that is needed. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Depression is REAL and it is HORRIBLE!! If you are suffering from it, GET HELP!!

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

THE “2020” VISION…….

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20/20 is know as having a perfect vision. In this blog I want to take a look at what we would call “A Perfect World”. Maybe it is more wishing than an actual happening. I have a Perfect Vision”.

Everyone would come to Jesus and be obedient. They would attend all Worship Services, all Bible classes, accept Jesus as the Son of God and be Baptized, be loving towards ALL fellowman, be kind and courteous, help those that are needy, not be judgemental, repent of sins, open their Bibles and study everyday, be diligent in the Lord’s work, and stand steadfast in what they learn and have been taught.

All families would care for one another, love one another, communicate, no arguing, help where help is needed, and just be there for one another.

All government officials would be elected by a unanimous vote with the best person being elected, no agenda except what is best for the people they represent, no taking money “Under the table”, no arguing or bickering, the American people would all be happy, everyone is employed, no debt–all bills paid each month, health costs are affordable and you would know the costs before any tests or procedures are done, no wars, no needless deaths, and no criminal acts.

A wish list–maybe. A utopian society–maybe. Wild dreams–maybe. Things to strive for–absolutely!!

God has laid out, in His written living word, a Utopian society. If we would do what He says and stay obedient to what He has laid out, the above mentioned statements could and would become real. Think about that!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!! SMILE God loves YOU!!

 

I WANT THAT!!

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“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1st John 2:15-17  Just what is the “Lust Of The Eyes”?

Simply put, the lust of the eyes is the want or desire to gain what we see or to have those things which have a visual liking or appeal to us. The desire for money, possessions, or other material things is not from God, but from the influence of the world around us. This passage, in 1st John, states that material things don’t last, they will pass away. Whereas the child of God is guaranteed eternity.

In Exodus 20:17 covetousness (“Lust Of The Eyes”) is addressed in the 10 Commandments. You shall not covet: 1) Your neighbors house 2) Your neighbors wife 3) his male servant 4) his female servant 5) his ox 6) his donkey 7) Or anything that is your neighbor’s. Coveting includes the desires to have people , possessions, money, and/or status.

In Genesis 3:6, Satan uses the lust of the eyes to temp Eve. It says she looked at the forbidden fruit and saw it was “pleasing to the eye”. In Matthew 4:8 Satan used a similar tactic on Jesus when he “showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their greatness”. He then promised to give them to Jesus–for a price. Jesus did not give in to the lust of the eyes, and Satan was defeated.

We must resist the “Lust Of The Eyes”. The world is full of good looking “Stuff”. Materialism comes at us with a promise of being happy and contented. Society is bombbarded with advertising that might as well say, “Covet This!!”

It’s been said that “All That Glitters Is Not Gold”, and a Christian knows that fame and fortune quickly fade away. Let’s not focus on the newest product or the latest fashion, but let us keep our focus on knowing Christ and the Power Of His Resurrection, keeping fellowship with those of like minds.

EYES SET ON JESUS so OUR VIEW IS ETERNITY!!

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

LOST YOUR JOB? NOW WHAT?

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Throughout life jobs will usually come and go. Sometimes we get that  one job and make a career out of it. Then we get that one job that we really like and all of a sudden it’s gone. The company downsized, they just did away with your position, or they let you go. Sometimes there is a reason and sometimes not. They say they are going in a different direction. REALLY? What does that mean? How do you deal with it? Throughout my life I have lost 4 different positions. One was devastating!! All was going well, I thought, then one day the owner walked in and said, “pack your stuff, you’re done.” No reason–just done!! It was a great job and paid well. I thought, now what? I can tell you this, nothing was ever the same!! I never enjoyed the happiness in the work place that I had running the 10 man sales crew I had built and having my daughter working side by side with me. The company was very successful and I couldn’t figure out, WHY was I let go. I said all the things, “I’ve been let go from better jobs that this (Lie), I was looking for a job when I found this one, they can’t fire me, I quit.” I laughed with my “Friends”, but inside I was torn apart. NOBODY knew how bad I felt, until now. I dealt with depression on my own. I felt like I was on an island by myself and I was going to have to figure this out by myself. Yeah, my family was there for me, but they would never fully understand what I was going through, or completely went through. To this day it still bothers me. We say, “All is good, life goes on, I’ll bounce back, I can handle this”, but deep down you know these are falsehoods.

The only real answer is God. I got more involved with the Church, talked to God more, and leaned on the scriptures to see what God was saying to me. I taught more classes, preached more sermons, and now I have this blog site. Much of my teaching and preaching is built around life experience. I try to relate things to people that might be struggling to make “Life” work. It has helped me, and from comments I get, it has helped others. For those of you that are struggling, let God help you work things out. Will everything be normal or back like they were? Probably not. But you find a new path and “Life” goes on.

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

AS A CHURCH, CAN WE DREAM A LITTLE?

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The Church was established on the Day of Pentecost. The Christians spread across the nation and the early focus was all about fellowship. Everyone on the same page with their Christianity, getting along, and fellowshiping one with the other. Their focus was on the resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit working inside them, the devotion to teaching and preaching God’s Word, and following the example Jesus set before us. Now let us dream a little about the future of the Churches of Christ.

A future where foster care shortages no longer exist because Christians take in all the children in need of care. (Sounds like the early Church)

A future in which churches don’t sell their buildings and move to the suburbs, but stay in the struggling communities that need Jesus. (Sounds like the early Church)

A future in which congregations recognize different nationalities and age groups. (Sounds like the early Church)

A future in which orphans and widows see the Church of Christ in any town as a place where they can turn for love, support, peace, and safety. (Sounds like the early Church)

I know that these are just dreams. Or are they? It seems to me that we are in an age where we need to study what the early Church was all about and what it stood for. We as Christians need to be steadfast in our fellowship and care on one another.

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

 

THERE IS ONLY ONE SOLID ROCK!!

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We have desert landscaping in our yard and I was looking at all the rocks. They are different sizes and shapes and it got me to thinking about “Rocks.” Rocks make up sand, pebbles, boulders, and mountains. They lay in the yard, on the sidewalk, out in the street, on the highway, and make up beautiful scenery in the way of mountains. We can step on them (Ouch), throw them, kick them, build sidewalks, streets, highways, and buildings, view them in mountainous landscapes, and sometimes have them break windshields and windows. They come in a multitude of different colors. We, often times, refer to precious stones , as rocks. They have a variance of different sizes, shapes, and colors just as the standard rock. There are a multitude of problems with rocks, however. They can erode away, be moved, reshaped by human hands, cause destruction, lose their luster, and their color. By now you all probably think I have “Rocks” in my head. Maybe so…….

There is, however, one rock that is unmovable, doesn’t cause destruction, won’t lose it’s luster or color, won’t erode away, can’t be reshaped by human hands, and never changes shape or size. That “Rock” is JESUS!!

2nd Samuel 22:2-4

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So I shall be saved from my enemies.” Thank you Jesus for always being there and being the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

WHY ATTEND BIBLE CLASS??

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It is always disappointing to me that these kind of articles are necessary. It seems to me that every Christian should love to attend Bible study. Bible classes should be just as full as worship services. The truth, however, is that in most local churches some people just do not come out for Bible study. On Sunday morning they feel like the assembling does not get started until the worship service that includes the Lord’s supper begins. On Wednesday evenings (or whenever a church has mid-week Bible study) many who attend on Sunday feel it unnecessary to come out for the Bible study. Why is that? I can’t say because I do not have the ability to read the hearts and minds of men. It does give an impression, however, of a lack of commitment to Christ and an overall lack of interest in the Word of God and spiritual things. It would be wonderful if, at least on Sunday mornings, we had just as many attending Bible study as we do in the worship service. A little drop off on Wednesday nights is understandable because some are not able to get out at night, but there is no legitimate reason, so far as I can see, for Christians not to come out an hour earlier on Sunday morning to study the Word of God.
Just why should you attend Bible Study anyway? Let’s look at a couple of good reasons.

1. Bible study is profitable. It is in our own best interest to study the scriptures. It is good for us spiritually to make an effort to come out to Bible study and to have the opportunity to search the scriptures as often as possible. Paul tells us that the scriptures are profitable (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). Five things are mentioned by Paul in this passage. The scriptures are
profitable for (1) doctrine, (2) reproof, (3) correction, (4) instruction in righteousness (5), and to furnish unto all good works. These are not five insignificant things. They are all very important to the welfare of our souls. At any given Bible study, we can profit in one of these areas, and many
times more than one. This alone is a good reason to attend Bible study.

2. Bible study causes growth. Every Christian who is concerned about growing will attend Bible study. Sufficient spiritual growth is impossible without a proper diet of God’s Word. There are too many Christians who are not as mature as they should be because they do not spend enough time in the Word of God (Hebrews 5:12-14). Do you study the Word of God like you should? Do you take advantage of opportunities to attend services that might enhance your spiritual knowledge? I have observed that people who avoid making a commitment to attend Bible study usually do not study very much outside of Bible class. They become stagnant and grow weak spiritually.
Are you allowing that to happen to you? If so, the only person who can do something about it is you. Make a commitment to Christ. Make the effort to start going to all Bible classes so that you can grow in the Lord the way you should.

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

CHRISTIANS BEWARE….

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As we deal with all the different types of media, we need to be aware of what we are doing and saying. Here are some verses that tell us what God thinks, says, and wants from us as Christians.

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with ALL men.”

Titus 3:9 “But avoid foolish disputes”

1st Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adornment be merely outward–arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel–rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” Christians possess a quiet and gentle spirit.

Colossians 3:8 “But now you yourselves are to put off ALL of these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

Matthew 5:22 “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement. And whoever says to his brother, `Ra’ca`! shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says `You fool!` shall be in danger of hell fire.”

Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, wrath, ANGER, clamor, and EVIL SPEAKING be put away from you, with all malice.” No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort.

2nd Timothy 2:23-24 “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, KNOWING that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord MUST NOT quarrel but BE gentle to ALL, able to teach, patient.”

1st Peter 2:1 “Therefore, laying aside ALL malice, ALL deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and ALL EVIL SPEAKING.”

Be careful what we are posting (That is us speaking), especially political. Don’t let words and speech cost us our salvation.

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

HELP!!

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Soooo…There was this scientist that thought he had everything figured out so he didn’t need God. He told God that he didn’t need Him anymore because he had figured out how to make animals from cloning and from test tubes. He told God because of that he would have plenty of meat to eat. Then he told God that he had developed seeds to grow crops for him and the animals to eat. God asked him how he was going to grow the seeds because they would have to germinate in order to make edible plants. He told God he would plant them in dirt. God said, “That’s My dirt and if you don’t need Me, you can’t have/use My dirt.” As you can see, the scientist did indeed need God.

In Matthew chapter 7, there is a story about a Centurion. After Jesus preached to the crowd on the mountain, the Centurion approached Jesus and asked for His help to heal his servant. Jesus told him he would come to his home and heal the servant. The Centurion told Jesus to just speak the words and he knew the servant would be healed. Jesus commended him on his great Faith and told him when he got home the servant would be healed. Even as powerful as the Centurion was, he still needed Jesus’s help.

In our lives today, we tend to think we don’t need all that God can do for us and proceed to do things on our own. How does that work out? OK, most of the time, then we get in a pickle and ask for Gods help. We can’t do as the scientist did and basically tell God we don’t need Him. There will be times that we do need Him.

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.