Thursday, December 20, 2012

What Should Parents Tell Their Kids About Santa?

When I was a kid rumors were swirling around the school that Santa Claus didn't exist. After I got home, I asked my mom, "Is Santa real?" My mom smiled and admitted, "No, he's not."

I thought it over and asked, "Is the Easter bunny real?" "No, he's not real either," she confessed. Finally I asked, "Is God real?" Immediately she tried to assure me, "Oh yes, God is real!" I couldn't help but wonder if she was telling me the truth this time, since she had already admitted to lying about the other two.

Christian parents are faced with the same dilemma today. What should you tell your small children (who are too little to separate fact from fiction) about Santa? You have three options:

Option #1: You can lie and tell them Santa's real. But later when they are older, you'll have to admit that you lied to them. They might even start questioning God's existence, like I did.

Option #2: You can tell them up front that Santa's not real. The downside is you're taking away much of the fun experience at Christmas. Think about it, you don't need to grow them up that quickly. You withhold a lot of information from children about other issues until they are old enough to process it. Here's a better idea:

Option #3: You can tell them that Santa's a game that you play. This is what we told our young children when they started talking about Santa. "Santa and giving each other gifts is a game that we play." They never really thought to ask what the game was about. When they got older and asked about the reality of Santa, we told them, "It was all pretend and you figured out the game!" We never lied to them and we all enjoyed the fun of Christmas.

Remember, small children think like small children, and there's nothing wrong with that. As they grow and mature, they are able to grasp the truth. The apostle Paul explained this when he said, "When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11).  So then, have a fun Christmas and remember to teach them that Jesus is real.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Was the Bethlehem Star?

We all know the Christmas story about the wise men from the east following the star to Bethlehem. "And lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was . . . and they came into the house and saw the Child" (Matt. 2:,9,11).  Was this really a literal star that they followed? Let's think about that.

How could a literal star go before them and stop over a house?  Don't you think the heat from a star would have burned up the house, not to mention the rest of the planet?  Some people think the star was millions of miles away and it just looked like it was over the house from the wise men's vantage point. However, if the wise men had walked around to the back door instead of the front door, the star would have been behind them and not over the house. So what was this star?

Many Bible scholars believe it was a supernatural phenomenon--that God created what looked like a star to lead them to the Messiah. He did something similar to this in the Old Testament when He led the children of Israel through the wilderness by cloud and by fire. "The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night" (Ex. 13:21).

Others believe the star may have been a brilliant angel that led them to the house. Angels in Scripture are also called stars (See Rev. 1:20, 9:1, 12:4,7-9, Job 38:7, Isa. 14:12).  Since a host of angels appeared to the shepherds to announce Christ's birth, it's not unreasonable to assume that God used an angel to lead these Gentiles from the east to the Messiah. However you look at it, God supernaturally led them to the Christ child.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Why you should read "10 Secrets to Life's Biggest Challenges"

In this final book that author and Bible teacher Peter Lord will write, he passes along the wisdom and insights he has gained about 10 difficulties in life. 
In this book you will discover:

  • The 5 guidelines in making a decision.  If you miss one, you might be making a bad choice.
  • The 6 levels of relationships.  Many marriages are in trouble because they haven't worked though all 6 levels.
  • The 7 keys in overcoming temptation.  This is the best information you will ever read on temptation and how to overcome it.
  • How to be healed of past hurts.  You can be free from your past by learning how to forgive and let go.
  • How to get out of debt and save money. 

The perfect book for:

  • Small Group studies (10 lessons).  Each chapter covers a different life-lesson with questions for group discussion at the end of each chapter.
  • Married Couples.  Provides important advice about how to resolve conflicts, make decisions, manage money, and changing your attitude. 
  • People struggling with life.  Wisdom comes from heeding the advice of wise people. 
To read customer reviews and how to order click here:  Customer Reviews & How to Buy
(Save shipping charges by buying at your local Christian bookstore)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Giving Cupcakes to God

I was sitting in the living room when my son Scott, who was 4 years-old at the time, came walking up behind me. He said, "Dad, I want to share my cupcake with you."

I'll admit that I felt proud at the moment. Patting myself on the back, I thought, My 4 year-old son is already learning to be a gracious giver. I've taught him well!

When I turned around, he was holding out his cupcake to me. Scott asked, "Do you want to eat the cupcake with me?" He had eaten all the icing off the top and was offering me the bottom half he didn't want!

What Scott did with the cupcake is similar to what we often do with God. After we've bought everything that we want (eat the icing), we'll give him a little offering if anything is left over (the bottom of the cupcake). The prophet Malachi rebuked Israel for doing that very thing. God wanted them to offer the very best of their flocks as sacrifices. Instead, they brought their sickly and diseased animals to the altar--the ones they didn't want and would die anyway. The Lord told them, "I am not pleased with you, nor will I accept an offering from you" (Malachi 1:10).

If our offering means nothing to us, it means nothing to God. We need to start thinking about what exactly we're giving to our Savior. Our loving God deserves to be honored in our worship. He's pleased when we give Him our best with a thankful heart. But He has no use for the bottom half of the cupcake. He's already received enough of those.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Trusting God and Not Government

King David said, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Ps. 20:7).  In those days, people put their trust in their number of horses and chariots.  It’s easy to put our trust in the government instead of God.  David, who was himself a warrior, warns against doing that.  He tells us to place our trust in God and not in the government.

The election returns are in, and God is still on His throne (even though it might not appear that way to you.)  Yes, it grieves me to see our country drift further and further from God.  But it doesn’t surprise me that lost people act, think, and vote like lost people--not just for candidates, but also on moral issues.  While winning an election might or might not change a few things here on earth, winning souls will make a difference for all eternity. His kingdom will outlast the temporary governments of this world.  

So what are you to do now that the election is over? 

1.Share with others how to be saved.  Let them know that Jesus died for them and offers them a new life.

2.Pray for those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1-3). God wouldn’t tell you to pray for your elected officials if it didn't make any difference.  Pray for them to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ and make right decisions.  I believe that when you pray for someone, the Holy Spirit works on that person’s heart and it becomes easier for them to yield to God.

3.Enjoy life!  Jesus came to give you His joy (John 15:11).  Don’t lose your joy because your candidate didn't get elected.  You don't have that much time on earth, so enjoy the journey through life.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Key to Solving Problems

Patrick Webster holds the world's record for the most sneezes in a lifetime. For over 35 years, the man from Hampshire, England sneezed every two minutes, which equaled 600-700 times a day. His 7 million sneezes placed him in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Webster saw more than 60 doctors, taking skin tests and drug treatments, but nothing stopped the attacks. "I sneezed hundreds of times a day, all year round. It was exhausting," he explained. "I was so desperate that I took six months off work and ended up in three different hospitals. One doctor even told me I must be allergic to myself."

A private clinic specializing in nutrition finally discovered the cause of his problem. Patrick was allergic to egg yolk and oats, which had been eating every day since he was 17 years old. "As soon as I gave up eating the foods they indicated, the sneezing stopped."

To solve any problem, you must first find out what's causing it. That sounds so simple, but many of us are treating the symptoms to our problems instead of digging deep enough to uncover the root.  We're buying more handkerchiefs and pinching our noses, while our sneezing continues. But if you don't pinpoint the real cause, you will never find the cure.

Most marriage problems are rooted in selfish attitudes. Financial debt is usually caused by covetousness and a lack of disciplined spending. Most problems are rooted in wrong attitudes in your heart. Jesus said, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders" (Matt. 15:19).

What problem is bothering you? If you'll think it through, you will eventually find what's causing it. When you fix that, the problem will be solved.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blind Spots

If you follow NFL football, you know that replacement referees were working the first few games of the season because the experienced refs had a contract dispute with the NFL. The “real” NFL refs are now working the games again, thanks to a blown call on the final play of a recent game. 

The Green Bay Packers were winning with just a few seconds left, so the Seattle Seahawks’ QB threw a long desperation pass into the end zone on the last play of the game. Green Bay intercepted the ball, but the replacement referee mistakenly called a touchdown for Seattle. The replacement ref robbed Green Bay of the victory and gave Seattle the win 14-12.

The referee who made the incorrect call was interviewed last week and was asked if he would want to change his call. Even though replays proved conclusively that he was wrong, he still maintained that he had made the correct call! His pride kept him from admitting his glaring mistake, which verified the fact that he was truly a “blind referee.”

While it’s easy to cast stones at the blind ref, we must not forget that we are often blind to our own faults. Blind spots are flaws that we can’t see in ourselves, but they are obvious to everyone else. When I’m driving my car and I look behind me toward the passenger side, a blind spot in the car’s design blocks my view. I can’t see if a car is coming on that side, so I have to ask my wife who is seated in the other front seat to tell me what I can’t see. Without her help, I could easily get in a wreck if I changed lanes.

This is why we need others to point out the blind spots in our lives. If your spouse or a close friend happens to point out an area where you are blind, do not get upset. They are only trying to help you, just as my wife keeps me from getting in car wrecks by pointing out the areas I can’t see. Don’t become defensive, like the proud replacement ref who won’t admit his error. Instead, humble yourself and ask God to show you truth. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Follow me on Twitter @KentCrockett  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Was Jesus Married?

The picture on the left is a recently published fragment of a fourth century Coptic manuscript which supposedly quotes Jesus saying that He had a wife. Of course, the Bible doesn’t teach this, so how do you explain its existence?  People living today write some crazy things, and so did people back then. Just because a fragment of a manuscript was discovered doesn’t make it true.

The first thing that jumps out is how messy it is, with letters written over other letters. The Scriptures were revered as sacred and would have never been written like this. They were carefully copied by scribes and if a mistake was made, the copy was destroyed. This fragment was written by someone who was making up a story about Jesus. 

Stephen Emmel, a professor of Coptology at the University of Muenster, questioned whether the document was authentic. "There's something about this fragment in its appearance and also in the grammar of the Coptic that strikes me as being not completely convincing somehow." Alin Suciu, a papyrologist at the University of Hamburg, said, "I would say it's a forgery. The script doesn't look authentic" when compared to other samples of Coptic papyrus script dated to the 4th century.

More than a century after the four Gospels were written, some unknown authors began writing counterfeit gospels, trying to pass them off as Scripture. These counterfeit manuscripts are known as the Gnostic gospels. They are forgeries, fraudulently written using the names of the apostles to give them legitimacy in the early church. 

These other writings were not included in the Bible because they didn't past the tests required to be included in the New Testament. The true Scriptures were written near the time of Christ by the apostles and those who were closely associated with them. These false gospels were written 100-300 years later. In addition, these forgeries are often confusing and make little sense, and clearly are not inspired by the Holy Spirit. The "Gospel of Thomas" was not authored by Thomas the disciple but someone else who lived a century later. The ridiculous verses highlighted below clearly explain why the false writings like the Gospel of Thomas were rejected as part of the Bible.
The Gospel of Thomas

 7 Jesus said, "Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human. And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion still will become human.

8 And he said, "The person is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the little fish back into the sea, and easily chose the large fish. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!"

11 Jesus said, "The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. During the days when you ate what is dead, you made it come alive. When you are in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?"

19 Jesus said, "Congratulations to the one who came into being before coming into being. If you become my disciples and pay attention to my sayings, these stones will serve you.

21 Mary said to Jesus, "What are your disciples like?" He said, "They are like little children living in a field that is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, 'Give us back our field.' They take off their clothes in front of them in order to give it back to them, and they return their field to them."

22 Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]."

33 Jesus said, "What you will hear in your ear, in the other ear proclaim from your rooftops."

The above verses seem to have been written by someone who was trying to make fun of Christianity. Now do you understand why the Gnostic Gospels were not included in the Bible? So the next time you hear of "lost gospels" being discovered, remember that they were only written to deceive and confuse people.

Follow me on Twitter @KentCrockett  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dented Cans

While grocery shopping with her father, Janet picked up the last can of peaches on the shelf. She noticed the can was dented, so she put it back.
"Why'd you put it back?" her father asked.
"Because the can has a dent in it."
"The container doesn’t look good, but the peaches inside are fine," he said. "Don’t judge what’s on the inside by how the outside appears."

First Samuel 16:7 says, "For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Have you ever rejected someone because they weren’t physically attractive? It’s easy to forget that an eternal soul is living inside that body. On the outside, that individual looks like a dented can, but Jesus sees that person as someone He died for. In God's eyes, the homeless person lying in the gutter is worth every bit as much as the most admired movie star who just won the Oscar.

Your assignment today is to view everyone you encounter, not according to their attractiveness, but as a person who will exist forever in eternity. Paul said, “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer” (2 Cor. 5:16).

Follow me on Twitter @KentCrockett 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Running the Wrong Way

Since football season is almost here, I want to tell you about one of the strangest plays in the history of college football. In the 1929 Rose Bowl, Roy Riegels, a University of California football player, picked up a fumble by Georgia Tech and started running toward the end zone. He raced 65 yards down the field until he was finally tackled on the 1-yard line. What’s strange is that he was being chased by his own teammate who tackled him so he wouldn't cross the goal line!

Why would a player on his own team tackle him? The reason was because Riegels got spun around after picking up the fumble, which sent him in the opposite direction. He was the only one in the entire stadium who didn’t know he was running toward the wrong goal line. He could hear the cheers of the crowd, but didn’t realize they were coming from the other team. A few plays later, Georgia Tech scored a safety and went on to win the game 8-7. Riegels has gone down in history as "Wrong Way Riegels."

Many people today are running toward the wrong goals in life. Some people are running after pleasure. Others are running after money or fame. They never realize that they've spent their entire life running in the wrong direction. Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."

The right goal in life is to love God will all our hearts and seek to please Him in all we do. "We have as our ambition ... to be pleasing to Him" (2 Cor. 5:9). So if you've been running in the wrong direction, don't get upset if someone on your own team tackles you. They're just trying to keep you from making a big mistake.

Follow me on Twitter  @KentCrockett

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Will You Win a Gold Medal in Heaven?

I loved watching the Olympic events in London. Imagine how thrilling it would be to win a gold medal and be called the greatest athlete in the world. As they were being awarded the medals, I actually pictured myself wearing one of the gold medals and showing it off to everyone. It was great! (although it was only in my mind)

But to win that medal, they had to go through rigorous training. Some of those athletes trained for four years to run a 10-second race! What motivates them to train so hard for something that will be over so quickly? They are all trying to win a gold medal. Michael Phelps said the reason he didn’t win a medal in his first event was because he only trained hard for two years instead of four.

In Paul’s day, the Isthmian games in Corinth were like the Olympics today. Paul refers to these games when he says, “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. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Cor. 9:24-25 NIV)

Paul uses an earthly event to demonstrate a truth about heaven. When this life is over, God will award His “gold medals” to His followers who have faithfully lived for Him. Judgment Day for the believer is a day of rewards, where He will repay us for all the offerings we gave during our lifetime and our sacrificial service to further His kingdom. These rewards will be far better than any Olympic gold medal and will last forever. Unfortunately, some people will make it into heaven but will have no rewards because they never did anything for the Lord (see 1 Cor. 3:12-15).

We need to be as determined to win these eternal rewards as an athlete is to win a gold medal. Jesus said to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:20). To read more about how your life on earth will determine what you are doing in heaven, read my book Making Today Count for Eternity. (You can order a used copy for one cent plus shipping)

Follow me on Twitter @KentCrockett   

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Have You Lost Your Fire?

When you cook outside on a grill, you’ll pile all the charcoals together to set them on fire. You do that because it’s easier for the fire to spread when all the charcoals are connected together. The fire flames up when all the coals are burning as one.  

But if you take one charcoal from the pile and set it off by itself, the coal will cool off. It’s the same charcoal. It’s the same fire. But it dies out because it is no longer connected to the other burning coals. 

That pile of charcoals is a picture of being in fellowship with other believers. When you gather together in small groups for Bible Study, prayer, and fellowship, everyone gets spiritually encouraged. You catch the fire and excitement of others. But when you withdraw from fellowship, it is like pulling that charcoal off the fire and setting it off by itself. You lose your fire and cool off. You get discouraged, which often leads to depression.

However, if you will take that the charcoal that has cooled off and put it back with the other hot coals, it will catch back on fire again.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” If you have pulled yourself away from Christian fellowship, put yourself back in the pile of burning coals. You will be surprised how quickly you’ll catch on fire again.

Follow me on Twitter @KentCrockett    

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Keep Being Persistent

Persistence means refusing to quit. It is your determination to overcome the obstacles in your path. You’re going to run into barriers that will try to keep you from reaching your goal.  Persistence is what you will need to overcome those obstacles. Here are four things you must keep doing.

1.Keep going when everyone else has quit. Gal. 6:9 says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Once you quit in your heart, you will then quit in your actions. The National Sales Executives Association states that 80% of all new sales are made after the fifth call to the same prospect.

2. Keep being faithful even when it seems you aren’t making progress.  Psalm 37:3 says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” I read about a woman who planted over 50,000 daffodil bulbs in her backyard—one at a time—for over 50 years! If you will keep doing a little bit over a long time, you will accomplish a lot. 

3. Keep getting up after you get knocked down.  Prov. 24:16 “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.” Andy Andrews wrote the The Traveler’s Gift, which was rejected by 53 publishers. The 54th publisher accepted it. The book made The New York Times bestseller list!  What if Andy had quit after the 53rd rejection?

4.Keep praying until the answer comes.  "Jesus was telling them . . . at all times they should pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Jesus knows what it takes to get a prayer answered, and he specifically told us to not quit praying—even when the answer seems impossible. Sometimes it takes a long time to get our prayers answered, so don’t give up.

Do you get the message? Don't give up!

Follow me on Twitter  @KentCrockett

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Breaking Habits

The picture on your left show ruts formed by wagons in the 1800s on the Oregon Trail. When the rut first started, it was shallow. But the more it was traveled on, the deeper the ruts became—and the harder it was to get out of it. It is said that years ago someone posted a sign that read, “Avoid this rut or you will be in it for the next 25 miles!” Even so, it was possible to get out of the rut if they were determined to do it.

Maybe you are in a rut that’s taking you down the wrong road. The “rut” has been caused by your bad habits. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as is the habit of some.” Christians who isolate themselves from fellowship tend to become cynical and critical of churches. To get back into fellowship, you must get out of your chair and discipline yourself to do it. If you don't live near a good church, then start a Bible study group. Do something to interact with other believers.

A Princeton University study found that if you do the same thing every day for 28 consecutive days it will become a habit. A habit is simply reinforced behavior. Perhaps you don’t like where you’re going or what’s happening to you as a result, but you don’t know how to get out of it. How do you break free from your rut? Several things are necessary.

Getting Out of Your Rut
1.Envision yourself out of the rut. The first step is to see in your mind your goal or end result that you want to happen. If you need to lose weight, envision yourself as skinnier. This vision in your mind must become greater than your desire to eat the wrong things. You must see yourself out of debt before you will ever get out of debt.

2. Make a decision to get out of your rut. You must decide to change in your heart, not your head. Your head will say, “I need to change” but your heart is what motivates you to do it. Your heart must turn before your habits turn. If you aren’t determined to get out of your rut, you will never get out of it. You will make a few attempts, but then go back to it.

3. Change your behavior. Now comes the hard part. You can’t keep doing what got you in the rut. If you are in heavy debt, you must stop spending and start paying it off. I usually have cookies in my house that I snack on every day. They are so good! But I’ve noticed that I’ve been slowly putting on weight, and I think I have figured out that those cookies have something to do with it. I’m trying to lose a few pounds, so I have removed the cookies from my house. If they are in the cupboard, I will eat them! It is much easier to not have them so easy to get to.

4. Monitor your progress. I step on the scale every morning so I can monitor my progress. It’s amazing how effortlessly I can put on weight, but how slowly it comes off! Nevertheless, I know if I will stay the course, the goal will be reached.

You can’t do it in your own power, but you can get out of any rut through the power of the Holy Spirit. Follow me on Twitter @KentCrockett

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

When is it right to NOT submit?

It pleases the Lord when we submit to the authorities in our lives. “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority or to governors as sent by him…” (1 Peter 2:13-14). Submission is an attitude that yields the right-of-way to person in authority over you. When you come to an intersection at the same time as another car, you yield to the car on your right, which means you let that vehicle has its way. The Lord wants us to both humble ourselves and submit ourselves to our government rulers, spiritual leaders, and employers.

But what are we to do if an authority tells us to do something that’s wrong and contradicts God’s Word? In those cases, this is where we use the “exception rule” where we submit to the higher authority—the Lord. When the high priest told Peter and the apostles to stop preaching about Jesus, they responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Instead of angrily rebelling against him, they chose to humbly submit to their higher authority. Whenever we encounter situations where two authorities are in conflict, we should yield to the highest one without despising the lower one.

I once drove up to an intersection where an accident had occurred. A policeman stood in the intersection directing traffic. Although the traffic light was red, the policeman waved for me to drive through the red light. Which authority should I obey—the traffic light or the policeman? In that instance, the traffic cop was a higher authority than the traffic light. I submitted to the higher authority. I didn’t rebel against all traffic lights from then on. I respected both, but I couldn’t obey both at the same time.

Suppose you’re at your job and the assistant manager tells you to move a display to a certain location. A few minutes later, the manager tells you to move it to a different place. Which one should you obey? You need to obey the manager because he’s the higher authority.

Always cheerfully obey the authorities in your life, but remember the Lord is your highest authority. In the rare case when you must use the exception rule, don’t get angry and rebel against your boss. Keep a good attitude and humbly submit to your highest authority.

Follow me on Twitter. @KentCrockett

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Learning to Trust God

When I was a kid, I took swimming lessons at the local neighborhood pool. The easy part was when I grabbed on to the side of the pool while someone held me up as I learned how to kick. Then came the hard part. I had to learn how to float.

It was hard for me to believe that the water would hold me up without any effort of my own. I would try to float, but then my feet would immediately drop down so I could stand up. I didn’t fool anyone when I did that awkward “half swim” where I walked along the bottom of the pool while moving my arms like I was swimming.

The instructor kept telling me to trust him—that the water really would hold me up if I would just relax. But that was the problem. I couldn’t relax when I thought I was going to drown. Then one day, I quit trying to float and I just went limp. To my surprise, I didn’t sink. For the first time in my life I floated, without any effort on my part. When I totally surrendered to the water and quit struggling, it held me up.

That’s how we trust God. Inwardly we go limp. We quit struggling and submit to His control. In absolute surrender, we say, “Lord, I’m totally depending on you to come through.” David said, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You . . . In God I will put my trust; I shall not be afraid” (Ps. 56:3, 4). He learned how to float by relaxing and placing his complete trust in God rather than himself. And you must do the same.

Follow me on Twitter @KentCrockett

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

God's Provision During Famine

After the Lord stopped rain from falling in Israel, He told Elijah to go to the brook Cherith. "And it shall be that you shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there. . . And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook” (1 Kings 17:4, 6).

Notice that God commanded the ravens to provide for Elijah. This gives us an insight into how the Lord can provide for us in unusual ways. God spoke to the birds and they understood what they needed to do. The ravens went out and found food, and God showed them exactly where to fly to find Elijah. Do you understand the lesson here? He knows exactly where you are and how to get provision to you.

Every morning and evening the birds flew in breakfast and supper (the first airline food). Elijah didn’t worry about where they got the food or if they would show up in time. God simply wants us to obey Him and He promises to take care of the provision.

After a while the brook dried up. “And it happened after a while, that the brook dried up because there was no rain in the land. . . .The Lord said, ‘Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." (1 Kings 17:7, 9).

God could have commanded the brook to keep flowing, but He didn’t. When the brook dries up, it’s time to move to a new place. Again, the Lord commanded a widow to provide for him. When you read the story, she doesn’t seem to be aware of this command (see 17:10-24). Nevertheless, she did what the Lord commanded. God can command people to do things for you even though they are not aware of it! This shows that the Lord uses a variety of ways to provide for His people.

Elijah walked in godly obedience and that’s the key to God’s provision. If you will do what God has told you to do, you will never have to worry about the provision being there for you. Do what you can do and God will take care of what you can't do.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Selling Cracked Pots

The apostle Paul wrote, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1:5). A sincere faith is a faith that's genuine.  It’s not fake.

The word sincere comes from two Latin terms sine and cere meaning “without wax.”  In those days, sometimes potters would accidentally crack their vessels they were making. If they were crooked, they would try to deceive the buyer by patching the crack with wax, painting over it, and then selling it.  After the people took the jar home and set it in the hot sun, the wax would melt and it would start leaking.

When honest potters cracked a jar they would throw it away.  When they made a pot in perfect condition they would stamp it "Sine Cere" —without wax.  They guaranteed that their jars didn’t have cracks in them and that they weren't patched with wax. What the seller made was genuine. It wasn’t a fake.  

When Paul says he wants your faith to be sincere, he means having a faith without any cover-ups. What you see is what you get.  It's not a patched-up fake.  Do people see a sincere faith in you? 

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Fake Watches and Fake Faith

Years ago someone showed me a fake Rolex watch that he had bought in Mexico for $15. It looked exactly like a real $5,000 Rolex. He said, "Do you know how you can tell that it's fake? The second hand ticks every second and a real Rolex doesn't do that." A counterfeit item looks like the real thing, but a trained eye can tell that it's fake.

Jesus warned us about having a counterfeit faith. He said, "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"  (Matt. 7:22-23).

Jesus is talking about Judgment Day and apparently these people had deceived themselves into believing they were saved--but they weren't.  Jesus has a trained eye and can identify fake faith. They called Him "Lord" and even used His name to apparently carry out ministries, but Jesus says He never knew them.  They didn't lose their salvation. They were never saved in the first place!

Are you reading about yourself in this passage? I hope not. Counterfeit faith is such a huge problem that Jesus gave us a preview of Judgment Day and told us that "many" will say this to Him. When you come to God with a sincere heart and ask to be saved, He will save you. But don't try to fake Him out because He can see right through it.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Moses' Little Mistake

When Israel was in the wilderness, they had no water to drink. So the Lord commanded Moses to speak to a rock and water would come out of it. Instead of speaking to it, Moses took his staff and struck the rock twice, and water came out. Even though he wasn’t obedient, it still worked! (See Numbers 20:2-11). Because of his disobedience, the Lord told Moses and Aaron that they would not be leading the Israelites into the Promised Land because they didn’t trust God or treat Him as holy.  

It seemed like such a little mistake. At an earlier time, Moses had used his rod to hit a rock to bring forth water (Ex. 17:6), but this time God changed the method. Now instead of hitting it, God wanted him to simply speak to the rock to get water. 

Why did God ask him to speak to the rock rather than hit it? He wanted Moses to obey Him and not depend on a method. Just because it worked the last time that way doesn’t mean God wants us to keep doing it that way.

The amazing thing is hitting the rock still worked. Even though he disobeyed, the water gushed out. Just because something works doesn’t mean it’s right. Books make the bestseller lists and God has nothing to do with them. People can achieve great success without God’s blessing. The thing that matters most is obedience. 

Moses died in the wilderness because he wanted to keep doing what he was familiar with instead of obeying what God told him to do. Don’t make the same mistake. Do what the Lord says, even if it’s something as silly as talking to a rock.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

It's How You Look at It

While Timmy was playing in the yard a bee stung him on the hand. He ran to his mother, crying, "I hate bees! I wish God had never made them." His mom put some ointment on the sting and said, "Do you want some toast and honey to cheer you up?"

Timmy perked up. "Yeah, I love honey!"
“Did you know that it takes bees to make honey?" she asked.
He looked at the honey and said, "I never realized there was a good side to bees!"

Nearly everything in life has a good side and a bad side, and everyone gets to choose what they will focus on. It’s easy for us to always look for what’s wrong. It takes more effort to look for what’s good and positive in every situation.

Paul said, “Whatever is true…honorable…right…pure…good…anything worthy of praise let your mind dwell on these things” (Phil. 4:8). If you will discipline yourself to control your thoughts (and it will take discipline), you discover the secret of happiness. I challenge you to spend today finding the positive side of every situation and thanking God for each thing you see. Doing this every day will change your life.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Lest Something Worse Happens to You"

The Titanic telegraph operators ignored the numerous warnings they received about icebergs because they believed their ship was unsinkable. Other ships would sink when they hit icebergs, but not the Titanic. At least that’s what they believed. Of course, we now know they believed something that wasn't true. 

When Jesus healed a man at the pool of Bethesda who had been paralyzed for 38 years, He gave him this warning: “You have been made well, so stop sinning or something even worse may happen to you (John 5:14). Jesus was warning him about a potential danger that awaited him in the future that would be connected to a sin.

After the paralyzed man was healed, an entirely new life was ahead of him and he needed to understand that with his new freedom also came a new responsibility. With his ability to walk, he was now capable of sinning in ways that he hadn’t known before. So Jesus warned him to not give in to those temptations because the consequences would actually be worse than his thirty-eight years of being paralyzed!

What could be worse than being paralyzed for nearly four decades? I don’t know but whatever it was, Jesus saw the very real possibility of this happening. It was up to him to navigate around the icebergs.

Jesus gives the same warning to each one of us—turn away from temptations lest something worse happens to you. When a high school graduate goes off the college, there are new opportunities to sin like never before. When a person becomes successful and wealthy, there are new opportunities to sin that weren’t there before. Yielding to those temptations can also bring on something worse than before.

You are navigating your own ship through life. Are you staying away from the icebergs? 
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Freedom from Guilt

Peter was praying on a rooftop in Joppa when suddenly he saw a vision of a sheet descending from heaven, being lowered by its four corners. Inside the sheet were unclean animals that Jews were forbidden by the Old Testament Law to eat. The vision was repeated three times and a voice told him, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy" (Acts 10:15).

At that moment, three Gentiles came to the house looking for Peter. The purpose of the vision was to let Peter know that he was to accept the three "unclean" Gentiles, who had been sent to him by God (Acts 10:20). The Gospel was to be preached to the entire world and wasn't just for Jews.

But there is also another meaning of the vision. If God has cleansed you with His blood, you must not consider yourself unholy. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness, not just some. God has imputed His righteousness to you, so that you are completely clean in His eyes!

Did you do something bad in the past that's still bothering you?  If you have received Christ into your life, He has cleansed you. That means you must no longer consider yourself unholy. If God forgives you, you must forgive yourself. Don't just take my word for it. Take it from God. He said it, not me.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Seeing Isn't Believing

"Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus, for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length, but He answered him nothing." (Luke 23:8-9)

The enemies of Jesus had undoubtedly tried to dismiss Jesus' miraculous powers, but king Herod had received so many reports of people being supernaturally healed and raised from the dead that he had to find out the truth for himself. Perhaps if Jesus would perform a miracle before his very own eyes, he too might become a follower.

What a great opportunity for Jesus to share truth with the man holding the highest position in Israel!  Just think, if king Herod would get saved, then maybe all the leaders in Israel and all of Rome would take note, and they too would follow Jesus. All He would need to do was answer a few of Herod's questions and perform a miracle or two. Simple enough.

However, when Jesus stood before him, Herod kept asking Him questions but Jesus refused to respond. Not a single answer. Why would He do that? Didn't He realize that He was blowing a huge opportunity?

The reason Jesus didn't answer or perform a miracle was because He wanted Herod to believe in Him on His terms.  Herod wanted to first see and then believe.  Jesus wanted him to first believe and then later he would see.  Real faith doesn't have to see a miracle first.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He could have appeared to Herod and said, "Remember Me? Now do you believe?"  Instead, He didn't go to Herod, or the high priest, or the Pharisees, but only to those who already believed in Him.

Are you trusting in Jesus, even if He doesn't perform a miracle?  He wants you to see Him with your heart and not your eyes. Some things won't make sense to you until later.  Trust Him right now, whether He performs a miracle or not.  God makes this promise, "He who believes in Him will not be disappointed!" (1 Peter 2:6).

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Putting Your Child in God's Hands

Pharaoh ordered all the male Hebrew babies to be killed, so Jochebed made a bold decision. She put baby Moses in a tar-covered wicker basket and placed it in the reeds by the Nile River. (See Ex. 2:3-9). Moses could have easily been eaten by a crocodile or swept downstream. Jochebed made a decision to let go of her child and place him in God's hands.

When the daughter of Pharaoh came down to the river to bathe, she discovered the baby and had pity on him. Moses' sister Miriam saw her pick up the baby, so she went to her and asked, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?" (v.7)  Miriam ran and got Jochebed, the mother of Moses. Pharaoh's daughter paid her wages to nurse her own baby! God had a plan for Moses, who grew up to be the man who delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage.

Looking back on the story, we can clearly see God's hand at work. But God's hand isn't so obvious when you're doing something risky, like letting go of your child. That's why we must trust God's heart when we can't see His hand.

Have you placed your children in God's hands? Just as Jochebed "let go" of Moses and put him in God's hands, you must do the same with your children. Perhaps you have a wayward child that you are worried about. Maybe your child is in a dangerous situation and needs God's protection. Can you trust God to take care of your child even as Moses' mother placed her trust in God? You must turn your child over to the Lord and let Him take care of the situation. If he or she is rebellious, the change in your child's behavior might not happen instantly, but will happen ultimately. So put your child in the basket, give him or her to God, and quit fretting.

Prayer: "Lord, I let go and place my child in your hands.  I trust you for protection.  I'm going to stop worrying about him (her) because I trust you to do what I can't do. Thank you for what you are going to do in my child. Amen."

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Solution to Your Problem

Most people want a quick, easy solution to their problem without any effort on their part. If that’s what you’re looking for, it’s likely your problem will never get fixed. Often the correct solution will require a great deal of effort on your part.

The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh had a problem. They claimed to be “a numerous people” and needed more living space, so they asked Joshua to expand their boundaries, which would give them more room. But Joshua had a different idea. He said, “If you want more land, go clear the forest and you’ll have plenty of room to live.” (See Joshua 17:14-18).

Imagine how hard it would be for you to clear a forest in those days. You don’t have any chain saws. You have to take down all those trees, once chop at a time. Imagine working under the hot sun, and how tired you would be. Think about the blisters on your hands. And then you have to dig up all those stumps. This was not the easy answer but it was the right one. Would you be willing to chop down a forest to solve your problem?

I see so many people who want a counselor to solve all their marriage problems but they won’t put forth any effort to make it happen. They don’t change their attitudes, or their behavior, or how they communicate, yet they are furious because their spouse won’t change! They aren’t willing to chop down the forest.

You can fix just about any problem if you are willing to do what’s necessary. It won’t be easy. It’s going to take time for that first tree to fall. After you knock down that one, you move on to the next tree. It will require perseverance and patience. But if you will keep chopping away, one whack at a time, one day you’ll look back and see the forest has been cleared. It’s then that you will be glad you did it, as you enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why was the Veil in the Temple torn in two?

Have you ever wondered why the veil of the temple was torn in two after Jesus died? Matthew 27:50-51 says, "Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yield up His Spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom."

That veil was 60 feet high and six inches thick, and it separated the room called "the Holy of Holies" (the holy place) from the rest of the temple. Only the high priest could go through the veil into the room once a year on the Day of Atonement. He sprinkled goat's blood on the mercy seat, which was the top of the ark of the covenant (the one Indiana Jones looked for).  See Lev. 16:12-14.  This atoned for the sins of Israel for one year.

The holy place was an exact copy of the temple in heaven (see Heb. 8:5, 9:23-24).  If God hadn't told them to sacrifice animals for centuries, they never would have understood why Jesus had to die for them. If God hadn't told them to build a temple and for the high priest to put blood on the mercy seat, they never would have understood what Jesus did just after He died.

When Jesus died, He committed His Spirit to the Father (Luke 23:46).  At that moment, Jesus in His Spirit (not His body), went to heaven and placed His blood on the mercy seat in the heavenly temple. Heb. 9:11-12 says, "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption." The earthly high priest had to do this every year, but Jesus did this once for all time.

When He sprinkled His blood on the mercy seat in heaven (Heb. 12:24), God tore the veil from "the top to the bottom" which meant He tore it from heaven to earth.  He opened the way for everyone to come to Him. Have you come to Him?  Have you gone through the veil?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Unmasking "Self"

Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me" (Luke 9:23).  Notice that He put a condition on following Him.  He didn't say you must deny the devil, but you must deny yourself. Why? Because "Self" is the number one thing that keeps you from following Jesus. Self is even a bigger obstacle than Satan. "Self" is the most selfish person in the world, always demanding his own way. And guess what? He's living inside you!

Self is also hard to recognize. In fact, Self is so good at disguising itself, you can act selfishly and then deny that you're acting that way!  Here are some ways to unmask Self so you can identity him.

1.Self wants to exalt itself. (Luke 14:11).  It loves to be in charge and craves attention.
2.Self doesn't admit to being wrong. (James 4:6) It is so arrogant that it never thinks that it's wrong.
3.Self is mostly interested in being comfortable. (Luke 9:57-58).  Jesus often calls us to do uncomfortable things, and Self doesn't want to do them.
4.Self is easily offended. (Matt. 15:12). It gets offended at the smallest things.
5.Self says "this is mine" instead of "this is God's." (Mark 10:21-22) It is unwilling to give to God.
6.Self refuses to do God's will. (Matt. 21:28-31). It will say, "No one is going to tell me what to do!"

Now you know why Jesus said you must deny yourself.  The only way to stop Self from controlling you is to nail him to the cross every day. By an act of your will, you tell him, "I'm not listening to you. I'm going to follow Jesus today!"

Monday, March 19, 2012

Entering the Promised Land

When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, they were now in the Promised Land.  Whenever you obey what God has called you to do, He will bless you for taking that step of faith.  Here are four blessings awaiting you in the Promised Land.

1. God will give you a new respect.  Joshua 5:1 says, "When all the kings of the Amorites...and the Canaanites...heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel." The Amorites and Canaanites had probably sent spies to watch them come into their land. When they saw the waters parting, they were terrified!  They had a new respect for Israel and knew they would never be able to defeat them. Your enemies will also be afraid of you when you do what God says.

2. God will give you a new reputation. Joshua 5:9 says, "Then the Lord said to Joshua, 'Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.'" What does that mean? After they had left Egypt, the Egyptians had mocked them for wandering in the wilderness for so long.  They probably said, "Israel has no vision. They don't know where they're going!" (See Ex. 14:3).  The Egyptians didn't realize that God was leading Israel by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  The timing wasn't right for them to enter the land.  But now that they had crossed the Jordan, God says, "I'm now vindicating you.  I'm removing the reproach of the Egyptians. You are now in the land I have given you!"

3. God will give you new provision.  God stopped sending manna to them on the day they started eating from the land (Joshua 5:12).  By entering the Promised Land, God gave them something much better than what they had been eating.  Now they had more food and a better variety.

4.God will give you a new protection. Joshua saw a man with a sword and asked who he was. It was the Angel of the Lord who said, "I indeed come as the captain of the army of heaven" (Josh. 5:14).  The Angel never appeared to them in the wilderness, but as soon as they entered the Promised Land, he shows up to assure Joshua that he now had greater protection.

Have you entered the Promised Land or are you still wandering in the wilderness?