Your Cross. Your Responsibility.

Luke 9:23

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

What is your cross?

As this Scripture indicates, to follow Jesus requires each of us to place our wants and desires secondary to Him, and accept daily our responsibility toward God and others.

But this still begs the question, what is your cross to carry?

Jesus’ daily cross was to fulfill the mission he accepted from the foundation of the world from His God. His daily exercise to cross the “T” and dot the “i” in a godly manner involved working in the carpentry shop before his public ministry and then the pronouncement and teaching of His Kingdom before others in the last three years of his earthly venture. He carried the responsibility of moving events toward his trial, execution, and resurrection. He laid the foundation for a Church to outlast history. His incarnate actions were done as a substitute for you and I. He reflected God’s intentions in all his actions and words. He learned obedience through his daily struggles. He experienced pain and suffering as a human. He knew the hatred others had for him yet lived each day resting in His Father’s Will and bore the responsibility of teaching and serving others in God’s name.

That was His cross. But what is the cross you carry?

As we mature in life, we begin to accept greater and greater responsibility. Some people seek it out which is normal in our earlier adult days. Others have responsibility thrusts upon them by others and either meet the call or succumb to its weight. Then others accept commitments toward a personal goal or relationship and hold themselves personally accountable toward fulfilling that decision.   

Your cross in the eyes of others may be a minor stone you have to carry each day. But to you the perception is the other way around. Your cross is a large boulder which requires all your strength and focus each day while your friend’s cross is a pocket stone. And they likewise see it the other way around.

Your cross may be the burden of a broken relationship; financial hardship caused by outside forces outside your control; or maybe the outcome of back to back poor decisions which has left you beaten, broken, and busted. Yet, these are the cards you have and Jesus says accept your situation and take the responsibility to fix it by following him toward your new future. You may be a single mom working three jobs and raising two children. You may be a widower in poor health caring for someone else who likewise is struggling through life. Or you may be an entrepreneur putting yourself together again after failing in your third business venture.

Your cross may be a defective health issue that has you struggling each day simply to get around. Or maybe even the threat of your life for leaving your previous religion to follow Jesus. And yet others, it may simply be to marry the person who birth your child out of wedlock and give them a father and home-life as a foundation for a successful life.

As a Christ follower, it is not about you. Each of us has a boulder to push, a mountain to climb, or an ocean to cross. To follow Jesus requires us to accept the responsibility of completing the race before us with all its obstacles. Not as a victim nor an evil rabble rouser, but as a child of the living God. As we accept personal responsibility for our actions, and trust Jesus to lead us via the Holy Spirit, we will find meaning and purpose with our life. In fact, you will find yourself growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ unto maturity as a believer and finisher of your faith.      

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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The Ungodly vs. Godly Life

2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Want a description what life is like without accepting God’s authority in one’s world?

2 Timothy 3:1-5 outlines the characteristics one will exhibit when the power of God is absent in a person’s life. It is not pretty yet does describe many areas of our current political and university communities today. When God is thrown out of the equation, His values for peaceful cohabitation and social flourishing is buried beneath the ugliness of human nature. It takes the execution of real wisdom to navigate through the lies and hypocrisy which blind people to behave in such ungodly fashion. They are trapped in their ignorance of history, solid facts, and human nature to do Satan’s bidding for destruction of families, communities, and nations. There is nothing new under the sun which has already happened and will happen again by people being pawns in a global war to destroy what is good.     

I’ve rewrote 2 Timothy for myself taking into consideration the opposite perspective – what a godly life is like. Dr. Mike’s reverse translation:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

Yet Christ followers will continue to be lovers of God, generous with money, humble, meek, respectful, honoring their parents, grateful, godly, caring, satisfiable, commendatory, exercising self-restraint, hospitable, passionate for good, trustworthy, cautious for the sake of others, focused on factual reality, lover of God before pleasure, emphasizing substance of character rather than outward form of godliness, and allowing the power of the Holy Spirit into their lives.”

Wouldn’t you want neighbors with such attributes living in your community?  That is what Jesus Christ offers us in living out His Kingdom on earth today.

So, whatever “ISM” you may think is better, please review your facts and history. Those of us living in America have been privileged to live in a nation with freedoms unknown by most previous countries throughout human history. Yet freedom comes with a steep price. And many people are turning away from it. Real freedom comes from the Triune God. When we ignore His authority in our life, hell moves closer to the neighborhood. 

The outcome of a godless life is what Paul describes in 2 Timothy. As we see a nation focus more on race, gender, and Marxist values rather than the God of grace and His proven ways of flourishing for all, the more a nation will fit into the description of 2 Timothy.

Yet people can change. Nations can change. But are you willing to pay the price for freedom? Ask your heavenly Father what you can do to help build His kingdom in your little world today. And be ready for some adventure. It’s how we grow and how God is glorified. And how you and I and those around us benefit the most.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-2020 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Grace and Forgiveness

Colossians 1:14

…in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Both my parents were prisoners of war during World War II. They each worked in separate labor prisons in southern Germany for a good portion of the entire war. How each responded afterward throughout their life from the negative impact of such an ordeal is a lesson I remind myself each day.

They both carried scars from their ordeal as slaves under the Nazi regime. Yet Dad’s was less noticeable than Mom’s. In fact, Dad seem to take those ugly events, put it behind him, and gracefully launch himself into a productive, fulfilling life even with health battles. Mom on the other hand, never seem to forget the past, continually blaming everyone whose hand she suffered under, and always considered herself a victim of circumstances. In hindsight, their 50+ year marriage is a good case study of the after effects between freedom and slavery.

Dad and Mom were both religious, but Dad quietly practice his faith while Mom only played the part.

As Dad would always remind us, God protected him so many times during the war and throughout life, he was grateful to live in America and build a comfortable home for his family. He only had an eighth-grade education, but a strong character developed through hard work, personal responsibility, and love of God which molded him and was expressed through his skills and temperament.

Mom though never let the past die. She was a very intelligent woman and hard worker likewise with only an eighth-grade education. She could speak five languages, and cook a banquet for an army. Yet her personal demons never died. She never forgave the people who hurt her, always blaming others for her suffering, and viewed the world from a victim mentality.  

Both Dad and Mom suffered similar trials. Yet both responded in different fashions. Dad yielded himself to God, besides praying twice a day on his knees in the living room early mornings and before bedtime in the evening, he related with others through a mirror of humility and strong character. He didn’t understand theology but knew His God was real and with him.

Mom believed God, but wouldn’t allow Him full access to change her from the inside-out. She always had to maintain control and her pride blocked anyone entrance into her heart. Like many people today who unbeknownst struggle with victim mentality, she had everything physically around her that was the good life, but inwardly continually and repeatedly fought a war which technically ended in 1945 but remained active in her heart and mind till her death some 70 years later.

People who haven’t learned the importance and necessity of forgiving others live lives being suffocated from their own bitterness and anger. Instead of accepting the beauty currently around them in the present, they keep reliving the past. They find it difficult to let go of the emotional hurt and gladly join others who share in the same misery. In many ways, they don’t realize or accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.         

As Christ-followers, we know our heavenly Father has adopted us into His family and given us a Spirit of freedom. But we need to allow His Spirit full access into our heart and mind to change our values, perspective, and worldview. Freedom requires personal responsibility and strong humility. Anyone can abuse freedom, but to maintain and unify relationships requires the freedom to respect others even when we don’t agree with the other. And most importantly, when we are done wrong, the quicker we learn to forgive and move on, the more freedom grows and opportunities abound.

I am thankful for Dad and Mom giving me life and allowing me to learn from them. I am also most thankful for our Great God who continues to shower His grace upon us and teach us how to live through the struggles, trials and tests of life that shapes and prunes the eternal character being developed within this soul. For the same reason, I believe you and I have more in common than we openly want to admit.  All because of the central work of Jesus Christ.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Uncommon Grace

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you… 

God pours His common grace upon the entire human race. Yet He also gives more or less to each person based on His purpose and decision. He provides an orderly universe and seasonal structure on the earth which provides sun, water, and air for all its inhabitants. Yet he also gives more or less unmerited favor to each individual for the work He would like done through them.

We have the example of Paul who asked God to remove the thorn in his flesh but God replied the grace He bestowed upon him was sufficient to carry him through each day.

We read other scriptures where God provides artistic abilities for individuals to complete their work, victory in specific battles, and food in time of need. These unmerited events come to us because of His unlimited love and care for each person of the human race.

He showers each of us specifically for the purpose and character being developed through us and for others. His grace is given not because of our obedience, or faith, or good works, but because HE knows what is best for you, what is best for those in your tribe, and how best to address each taken our limitations and potential into account.  

Therefore, when we compare ourselves with each other we are being foolish. Each of us are wired differently but yet similar in nature and design. Each have been given an opportunity to discover their purpose. But most of us are operating with only one-half of the resources at our disposal. The other half comes from God. His grace. His Spirit. His value system. When you and God come together, than the dance of wholesomeness and purpose and meaning for living becomes real and alive. Every moment is rich in love and joy and peace. Even the pruning moments where our character is being reshaped and our soul is being repositioned to serve others is a reflection of His glory.

The uncommon grace God gives to you is specifically for you alone. It may seem so little at times and other times so much, but it is being showered upon you as you need.

And only God knows what you are going through and the amount of intervention required to allow you to grow and experience the richness of His presence.

Come to know God and you will come to know His grace.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-2020 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Saved by Grace Not by Faith

Ephesians 2:5 ,8

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Prosperity gospel preachers love to emphasize the need of faith to obtain all of God’s blessings. They constantly imply that faith is the cause of whatever you desire. And when you don’t get what you desire, the problem is because “your faith isn’t strong enough – you need more faith.” A misunderstanding of faith, your belief, has caused the harm of many disciples within the Church over the ages. 

First, your faith doesn’t save you. You are saved by the finish work of Jesus Christ. Before you even knew Him, before you even asked for forgiveness, and yes even before you realized what His life and death and resurrection meant to you and humanity, your relationship with God was already restored. You were just ignorant of the event.

Faith is the pathway to the promise land; the escalator to God. Grace is God’s unmerited favor upon you. God so loved you and me He orchestrated world events to restore mankind’s direct access to Him. Faith is the tunnel that gives you and I access to Him. And that tunnel is Jesus Christ.

Through Jesus Christ we have direct access with His God. When Father God looks at you and me, He is looking through the prism of Jesus Christ. This is why He considers you and me as righteous; because He is looking at you and me through the righteousness of Jesus.

When people ask me when was I saved. I tell them about 2,000 years ago when Jesus completed his human mission on earth. However, I didn’t start to accept that truth until my 17th birthday when I began to follow Him. Jesus restored humanity’s relationship with God 2,000 years ago and I didn’t become His apprentice until my late teen years. His grace and faith saved me. When my head and heart came to the realization of this truth, I began to walkout through faith His way of life – the Bible calls it “being saved.”

Yes, we all “been saved” by the Grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. And we are “being saved” as we follow Him and allow the Holy Spirit transform our hearts and minds into His image. And we shall “yet be saved” when our bodies are resurrected and changed into eternal souls.

So, remember you have been saved apart from faith; faith doesn’t save you. You and I have been saved by God’s unmerited favor upon us. However, faith is the pathway to see, understand, and experience the richness of God’s salvation now and into eternity.     

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-2020 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Enough Grace for Everyone

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

Us humans, often mistakenly view life from a very limited perspective. We see all the limited resources around us and fight to grab a little piece for ourselves before the next person takes it from us and we are left with nothing.

And then there are some of us, who are so afraid of what so little we have, we want more and more until someone questions us that maybe we should have our own hoarder reality show. As a nation we recently witness the hoarding of toilet paper and cleaning supplies during the pandemic crisis.

Yet if God be our provider, why do we panic? Isn’t it true one’s character and heart are always revealed during a time of crisis?

When Jesus finished preaching to the crowd, he instructed his disciples to feed them. But his apprentices were dumbfounded. How could they feed 4,000 – 5,000 men, women, and children? All they could find around them was a young lad with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Limited resources compared with the problem to solve. Yet God’s grace was on display. At the end of the day, all the people were fed and 12 baskets of leftovers were collected.

Today some of us would have taken the lad’s food just for ourselves, or maybe only fed the disciples and left everyone else fend for themselves. But Jesus, showed that there is always enough for everyone when God is involved.

God is able to provide all our needs, in every area of our life, so we may continue be his witness as we work and share His goodness with others. God’s grace is not limited to only a few. He loves us all; and is willing to give us more than we deserve. Yet He is also very wise and knows how much we can manage without destroying ourselves and others.

So, don’t limit God. He makes the impossible possible. He has enough Grace to share with every single one of us.      

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-2020 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Grace for All

Matthew 5:45 

…For he (God) makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

God chooses favorites. And the human race is His favorite.

Through Jesus Christ, He has inclusively brought all people together in Him as one.

Though many may ignore Him, disassociate themselves from Him, and even throw insults against Him, He still looks at us as His children because of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus gave His teaching on the love of God and how God demonstrates His love towards all, He is showing us His grace is open for all.

He wants all to know His kindness and generosity is for all of us to experience His way of life. Yet He also knows that some will choose the opposite. But still it doesn’t refrain Him from changing His character of showering us with His Grace whenever He chooses.

No one on earth has the corner market for God’s Grace. We can’t earn it through good work. We can’t control it through rituals or secret anecdotes. God gives as God chooses.

He doesn’t give out his grace only because you are a Christian. He bestows His grace on every person no matter their religion, political affiliation, nationality, ethic origin, sexual orientation, education bias, financial condition, or age.

When Jesus came walking on this planet, he hung around more with the undesirables rather than the elite, famous, or influencers of his time. His associates included women, fishermen, tax collectors, terrorists, the uneducated, and the working nobodies of the community. Yet He fed them with God’s words and teachings and gave them a taste of the Kingdom life. And yet, He also had contact with certain religious leaders and heavy market makers of his time. No one was left out.

God’ Grace is open for all.     

 

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-2020 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved