Soft Love; Tough Love

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV.

One day when the world wakes up and recognizes that the central core attribute built in every nook and cranny of this planet is from a heart of Love, then life will be actively lived out like God’s original intent. But until then, we who have already met our maker in the shadows of life, have the honor and privilege to share his ways with others today.

Love is one of those terms which means different things to different folks. The only example that I have learned to respect and weight carefully is how the Triune God relates and deals with me. He knows when to hold and comfort me. He also knows when to hold and discipline me. I call this soft love and tough love.

The basic heart is the same. He cares for me and knows what is best for me. He knows when to push me and when to rest me. He knows my limits and my potential. He is the Master love mechanic.

Isn’t that the way we need to learn to be with others?

When my daughter misbehaved, I didn’t have to take a rod to her. Instead, one look from the eye of Dad and she knew she needed to change. On the other hand, when I did something that was disapproving to my Mother, she knew the look wasn’t going to change anything. Instead, she took the frying pan and let me experience the full impact of a good swing.

Aren’t we the same way with each other? Some circumstances require soft love; other situations require tough love. Jesus himself extended mercy and compassion (soft love) to many of the common folk around him. Yet when he faced the religious leaders and lawyers of his day, he came at them with stronger language and emotional cuts to the heart (tough love). He knew the people involved and the best method to employ.

We need to learn the same.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

 

Broken Bodies, Pristine Souls

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matt. 10:28 ESV.

This life goes by quickly.

It seems only like yesterday we graduated from high school, married, raised a family, and retired from work. Today, we barely recognize the same man in the mirror.

Hard muscles, trim abs, and smooth skin is now replaced with soft hands, a stout belly, and  bruised wrinkles. The aging process reinforces inner beauty over outer dress. The character of soul easily replaces the facade of dress.  Bodies that at one time were fully functional are now dragging along. Yet beauty becomes more alive as the soul of life takes preeminence.

We have all witness those who are physically challenge do what we believe is the impossible. Without mentioning names, there are those who have no arms nor legs yet fully  function within society. There are those wheel chair bound yet move about experience everything good that life has to offer. There are those who are blind, yet travel through life seeing more than you and I.

Physical limitations are just that – self-imposed strait jackets we place upon  ourselves. The real battle begins at the soul level. This is where the emphasis is on our heart, mind, and character. Every long lasting triumph worth pursuing begins here. Today we may call it attitudes, smarts, and inner muscle. The Bible calls these a matter of the heart, wisdom for the mind, and godly character developed through life’s battles.

The bottom-line – teach your children and grandchildren to first focus on developing the soul. Let them discover the hidden nuggets written through the pages of the Bible. Learn to listen and follow the Spirit of God. And develop a Jesus-Centered, Incarnate Triune God worldview. The end result? A soul that will positively influence every aspect of your life.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Pop Theology

“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 ESV.

pop-t

Pop psychology, fantasy football, and social networks have one thing in common. They distort reality. A little knowledge may make one feel invincible for the moment. Professionals know. They cringe whenever another book is written to provide a simple solution to a complex problem. It only makes their role more challenging. Or general managers of sports franchises laugh when one compares their role with the football fan who gains a little knowledge of building a winning team. And of course, social networks make one feel connected with others even though the person on the other end may not be who they present themselves to be. Yet each industry fulfills a need and thereby creates a large following enriching its creators.

Christianity in the western world is no different. We have distorted the knowledge of who God is through our pop theology. Typically a well-meaning author slices a small piece of the Gospel message into a short statement to emphasize its value. Instead of digging deeper into the subject matter, most of us simply take the musical one note and build our internal heavenly vault. Over time though we become frustrated. Instead of experiencing a full, enriching life with God, we struggle with anxiety and begin questioning whether or not Christianity really works.

Take, for example, the concept of Holiness. Western Theology has built a view of God based on a moral science of law. So when we discuss a Holy God, western theology generally speaks about Holiness as defined along the lines of righteousness. When one takes this legal view of God, our view of God becomes distorted. Instead of a loving Father, God becomes a judge looking to punish people. This one attribute of God then becomes our distorted major view of who God is.

However when one comes to know who God truly is, one comes to see Father-Son-Spirit as a mutual supporting Being full of love, joy, and peace. A God who is full of grace for others. A God who is for you, not against you. A God who created the entire universe and included you in His plan to share His life with you. Holiness isn’t defined any longer from a legal aspect, but from a relational sphere within the Triune God. God is Holy. Holiness is simply the full reflection of the total divine nature of God Himself.

So be careful of pop theology. Seek to understand the foundation of any statement that emphasizes one point of the gospel. Realize it is only one small part of a larger picture. And of course, continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ so you will not fall victim to the latest pop fad.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

The Great Dance

“How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.” Ephesians 1:3-6 Message.

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Abundant joy, overflowing love, insurmountable peace, ridiculous generosity, impeccable goodness, eternal patience, heartfelt kindness, child-like gentleness, and atomic-clad self-control are only a few of the elaborate notes that penetrate our souls as we dance with the Triune God. Like two people waltzing in step across the dance floor to the music of a large orchestra is how our relationship with God manifest itself on those unpredictable days. They make up for other days we find ourselves sitting in a funeral parlor of life leaning on God’s shoulder in tears listening to the dirge of pain and hoping that this day will quickly past so we can again recapture the richness of His presence. Both days have their place in life. But of the two, we would much rather spend time on life’s dance floor in the arms of the Man-God, Jesus Christ.

To observe the setting sun over the gulf coast on a warm sunny beach day, or the breath-taking majesty of the Grand Canyon, are simple times we witness the beauty of our Creator’s work. When we study quantum theory or simple geometry, we recognize a mind greater than ours. To witness the birth of a baby and the loving devotion of a mother with her children makes one realize life is so much more than work, eat, and sleep. When one comes to know Father-Son-Spirit and begins to move in step with Him, the dance comes alive. The music, rhythm, and movement of life are enriched with the presence of the Almighty.

We learn to dance with the Triune God through life’s challenges and opportunities. We discover there is a time to dance the waltz, cha-cha, and polka. Other times we do the jitterbug, rock-and-roll, or disco. Sometimes we simply hold on to each other and slowly two-step capturing the moment.

When we observe others around us, they are either moving to the rhythm of life’s great dance partner or bewildered and lost. Like a  young daughter with her father at a pre-teen Valentine dance, the movements may be awkward at first but the moment is captured for eternity. The same is true in our relationship with the Eternal. He wants to dance with each of us. To show us how much more life can be. To reveal what this world has blinded us too. He has already given us a home with an awesome dance floor. We just have to accept the fact that He is the One and be willing to follow His lead through the Great Dance.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

You Belong

” By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;  for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;  and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.  Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”1 John 3:19-24 ESV.
“even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:17 ESV.
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People need people. Humans were made for companionship. We are wired to be connected with each other. We seek to belong. In fact, we shouldn’t be surprised because of the Creator of mankind, the Triune God: Father-Son-Spirit, is likewise a relational Being.

Yet instead of first realizing we belong to God, we seek others to satisfy all our inner desires. We desire immediate gratification to have our emotional cup filled by various social means. Instead of first accepting our identity in Christ, we search for who we are through other social organizations. Whether the workplace, gym, school, bar, church, or non-profit mission, we may know God is out there someplace, but admittedly He is not the central core of our relationship. What this means is we are simply missing out in life’s greatest dance.

Whether we are not aware of God’s residence within us, or we have been blinded by our faithless glasses, Scripture reveals the truth of the matter. When God is active within you, you know. You know because your behavior aims to please him. You find yourself in love with Him and others to the point you want to help them succeed in life. Your conscience is clean without any regrets as you serve Him. You realize the Spirit of God is producing fruit in your life. You find yourself magnifying your God through your actions and words. You know you belong with Him because His assurance lives within you.

When you are wrong He convicts you, not condemns you. His hand on you is like a loving Father who wants what is best for you. You find yourself changing from the inside-out through a process of His Spirit. Because of this Godly fruit in your life, you know you are in Christ and included with Him in the great dance of life. You know who you belong too. You know who you are.  You know whose Spirit lives in you. You know you belong. Yes, no one needs to tell you, you simply know – YOU BELONG!

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

“Jesus Christ is the Good News!”

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” Acts 8:35 ESV.

good-news

The Good News is about the person Jesus Christ, His relationship with Father God, and the inclusion of humanity within the Triune God circle.

In the last century, the gospel message has quietly shifted away from the person of Jesus and toward the events of His life. Rather than emphasize his personhood, his incarnation, and his connection with Almighty God, the message we most often hear today reflects the events of his life. Most specifically his death and resurrection. Both acts are significant. However, both events are important solely because of who HE IS.

Again, these last several hundred years, the gospel message has shifted away from the Triune God (Trinity) toward a moralistic Holy God. Today when asked to describe God, many people would first state He is a Holy Being. The Holiness concept though emphasizes a God of righteousness rather than a God of relationship. Today’s main stream view of God has more to do with rules and regulations than unconditional love, unlimited joy, and overflowing peace.  Many people still view God as a stern, faraway grandfather figure rather than a Heavenly Father whose desire is an abiding, familial relationship with His adopted children.

Likewise, the good news of the Incarnation has been displaced by the passion of the Cross. Rather than emphasize the inclusion of the incarnation, today’s preachers like to highlight the god of sin and the accomplishment of the cross. Again, the personhood of Jesus seems to take a second position even at the cross.

As stated, the Good News is more about the person Jesus Christ than an event in his life. For instance, if the Good News was solely about his death, why did he wait thirty some years before dying. Couldn’t he have died earlier as a two year old babe under Herod’s killing of children in Bethlehem after His birth?  Again, the Good News in not just about His resurrection. Yes, like all the events in his personhood, they fulfilled Scripture and His eternal plan for humanity. However, if He wasn’t God become human, all He achieved would be worthless for mankind.

Could there be more about Jesus than you ever realized? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that God was reconciling the world through Jesus’ life. For example, when Jesus was baptized, he didn’t do it for himself, but for you and I. When Jesus walked in obedience to His Father, again he didn’t do it just for himself, but for you and I. When Jesus exercised faith, again he also did it for you and I. The Incarnation is Jesus wrapping human flesh around his Godhead. From then onward, humanity became permanently connected with Jesus Christ. He entered humanity’s darkness and walked out victorious for your sake and mine. As water baptism pictures, you and I are included with Christ in his life, death, and resurrection.

His ministry also restored the truth of His Father and the mutual submissive love relationship which existed between both.  In addition, His personhood is also the bridge that connects you and I with His Father. And since we are connected with Jesus, everything He has done or will do includes you and me. The Bible states approximately three hundred times that you and I are “in Christ.” Such statements remind you and I that we have a personal union with Him, that we participate with Him in His life, that we are also incorporated with Him in fellowship with others, and most importantly, our identity is found in HIM.

This is the Good News.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

A Vicarious Life

“…that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NASB).

recon

The entire life of Jesus Christ is more than any one event or situation. For many believers, we seem to focus on his miracles, teachings, death, and resurrection. All these are important as they reveal what Jesus’ believed as He fulfilled Scripture as the Messiah. Yet when we focus only on portions of a person’s life, we may often leave out the larger impact they leave behind.

As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, God was reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus’ life. Theologians call this the vicarious life – living life as a substitute for another. In Jesus’ case, God became man clothing himself with humanity’s flesh and blood. He took on mankind’s skin.

What this means is that everything he did he did so for you and I. As he worked, played, prayed,  taught, and served others, he did so as our substitute and for our sake. For example, His obedience toward our heavenly Father’s Will He did for our sake. The faith he exercised, he did so for you and I. The love he shared with others, he did so for you and I. Ultimately, even his death he did for you and I. Everything he did, he did so as humanity’s substitute before the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

So now when our heavenly Father looks at you and I, He does so through the prism of Jesus’ life. It is not solely our obedience or faith he sees, but the obedience and faith of Jesus Christ. Even when we pray, Jesus being our High Priest, takes those prayers before His Father who hears them through the words of Jesus himself. Again, it is not our righteousness that the Father witnesses, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ that He sees.

Jesus Christ lived the vicarious life for you and I. Everything he did, he did so you and I can participate through Him with the Triune God in their eternal plan for mankind.  C.S. Lewis called it the great dance. Two beings, one leading and the other following to the rhythm of the music around life’s dance floor; life the way God originally created it to be. And we don’t have to be expert dancers to enjoy the journey. For He made it all possible. This is why we are thankful for the vicarious life Jesus lived for you and I.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved