God Wants Your Friendship

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

When someone wants to be your friend, how do you normally respond?

Do you immediately welcome them into your world without hesitancy?

Or do you quickly put up a wall and slowly keep them a distance away until you are more comfortable with them?

Do you allow anyone be your friend or are you selective? What criteria do you use to evaluate any potential friend?

Do all your relationships require them to become a friend?

Jesus wants you as a friend.

Abraham was a friend of God (James 2:23).

The Lord considered Moses a friend (Exodus 33:11).

Jesus even called his twelve disciples’ friends (John 15:15).

In this Scripture Jesus is inviting you and I to eat with him. In the Jewish custom, when you had a meal with someone you are letting them and the world know you are welcoming them into your world as a friend. Friends share time and their possessions with one another. The relationship Jesus wants with you and I include being a friend.

Of course, HE is still King, Lord, and Savior which carries all the responsibility and authority along with the titles. But even a king desires friendship; not because of his riches and influence, but because He simple enjoys hanging out with you. And you enjoy Him for being himself without all the trappings of royalty, power, and fame. Is not that what true, close, and abiding friendship means?

I for one am thankful He is my friend. In fact, HE is my best friend; and also happens to be my Lord, King, and Savior – which I always respect and hold in honor in our friendship. And I am OK that He also wants to be your friend. There is more than enough of him to go around. So, if you haven’t done so yet, take up his invitation and learn what real friendship is all about. You have my recommendation. You truly will be more than pleased with the relationship.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & 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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Holiness

1 Thessalonians 4:7

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.


What do you picture when you think of holiness?

I recall back in my bachelorhood days an incident which help me crystalize how misguided religious and non-religious people classified holy people.

After an afternoon date with someone who was visiting the area for the first time, and before we went our separate ways, she looked at me in a stunning poise. Her words slowly out of her mouth were half being spoken to me and the other half as if she was thinking out loud. Simply paraphrasing, she was amazed that someone who was a baptized believer could have so much fun without harming anyone or doing anything semi-destructive in the process. I was dumbfounded. For me, being a recent follower of Jesus Christ was more exciting than anything I have experienced at that time and I wanted to live it out.

Yet she explained that she grew up in a household where dancing and even playing cards was considered taboo. Where “Christians” didn’t laugh and joke but carried on with serious discussions about life. That life was serious and there was no time for unproductive enjoyment.

I don’t recall my exact reply, but did mutter something about God must be the most enjoyable Being in the universe to hang around and I wanted to be like Him. Maybe I was fortunate to understand early in life that holiness wasn’t just about doing the right thing all the time like God, but being like God.

Think about it. God is holy. Therefore, holiness is the natural characteristic of God. What is God like?

From the natural inclination to express Himself in a loving manner at all times, he does ALL things from a heart of love. Yes, even when He disciplines or reproves us, He does so from a position of love. We may not think so, but like an adult looking back at their childhood, we realize that most of the time our imperfect parents disciplined us for our own good. God does the same.

His holiness includes not only doing the right things at the right time, but also being the person of love. From the position of love, He expresses His holiness with imagination, creativity, and foresight; He plans and executes his work to perfection; He laughs, cries, and even uses humor to illustrate a point. Yes, He is gentle and kind and merciful, but also spanking, chastising, and disciplining those He loves. He is the embodiment of joy and the author of faithfulness and competency.

What you soon realize is holiness contains more than just doing the right thing. It is being fully human by experiencing the divine nature of God. From the divine position, one learns to live life to the fullest without the worldly, imposed conditions. Love, joy, and peace aren’t goals to strive for but the outer expression of Him who lives in us. As we submit to His authority in our lives, we become more and more like Him in character and being. The work is not ours but his. We may put in the effort, but at the end of day we know without Him, the rock we push all day will not move without his cooperation. At the end of day, He is glorified.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & 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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Good and Evil

Romans 16:19
…but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

How do you determine what is good and what is evil? What is the basis of your knowledge? How do you justify your standards of judgement?

Without a real God, your basis and mine is only an opinion. Only a Being who is always naturally good has the qualifications to determine what is and is not good. Otherwise, your view is only as good as the next person.

What human do you know is always good? Always makes the good decision? Always says the good word in a time of need? Always leaves you impressed with the goodness that flows from them? I know no such person.

I know many who believe they are good. They compare themselves with others and though admit they are not perfect; they believe they are better than most.  They create standards of righteousness which they themselves cannot adhere too but expect others to live by. And when people don’t live up to their standards, they feel superior in their ability to live such a holy life.

History has demonstrated, when one loses contact with the living God, one becomes isolated and empty of the love of God. When the love of God is not freely allowed to be activated within a person, that person lives a life of darkness; searching for goodness, but never actually experiencing the power from within. The end result is evil behavior.

Evil is simply the absence of goodness. Just as cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light, so is evil the absence of good. The evil heart is absent of goodness. Goodness is the basis of God’s character; including love and joy. When God is allowed full access into a person’s inner being, His attributes become alive within one’s attitude and values. The end result is behavior which produces goodness in the world.

The Bible lists acts of goodness and evil. The history of mankind is a record of good behavior and bad behavior. The inspired writings throughout the Bible gives knowledge to mankind on how to properly relate and produce goodness in one’s actions. The source of that knowledge is God himself.

You and I can argue all day long on what is good and what is evil. Neither of us is an authority on what is good or evil. But God IS. He designed life which is an outgrowth of HIS character. Only HE has the absolute authority to determine good from evil. So, if you want to have the same knowledge and be able to sort through the garbage that our culture calls good, start by reading the Book. And likewise, ask God to give you the Spirit of discernment to separate the good from the evil, and the character to act upon that basis. And as you grow in maturity, you will come to know HIM who deserves all worship and help HIM become known to others through your good actions and words.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & 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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Making Marriage Work

Hebrews 13:4

Marriage should be honored by all…


A recent poll by Time magazine revealed that twenty-five percent of millennials are likely never to marry and only six percent wanted a traditional marriage. The remaining majority either will choose to live together out of wedlock or remain single. On the other side, only six percent of married couples make it to their 50th anniversary.

Marriage, from a worldly view, is often looked at as a social construct rather than a God-ordained institution. As a Christ-follower though, marriage is the bedrock for social stability and spiritual growth. Within the partnership of another and Christ the center, one learns more effectively how to relate, work, and enjoy the richness of life from God’s perspective.

The Creator Being of the universe designed marriage for our good. However, people, like everything else we touch without God’s knowledge, have the tenancy to pervert and destroy what is good.

When two people grow together and become one, the relationship is a foretaste of the relationship lived out by our Triune God. God is Father-Son-Spirit in community with himself. One God consisting of three persons. The ideal marriage likewise is a threesome community relationship consisting of a man, woman, and God. A threefold cord not easily broken.    

I have the privilege of spending time with several men whose marriages are almost as long as I am old. They gladly share their successes and failures learning to become better husbands and fathers with others. The below are some Biblical high-points which they reiterate more often with the younger men in our group.  Like most of them admit, they view these items from the rear-view mirror of life which is twenty-twenty vision. They only wish they had learned them much earlier in life.

The most important value which they all agree is being sure Jesus Christ is the center of both husband and wife and family affairs. When HE is the base of operations, there is an agreement in values and life purpose. Everything flows from there.

And just as important, marriage is a life-long commitment. The only way it ends is at death. With that understanding, both sides are in it for the long haul. They realize commitment is a Godly standard as HE has demonstrated over and over again HIS commitment to us. The Bible is loaded with examples where HE is always faithful to HIS people no matter what happens. He is always there restoring the relationship no matter how stupid we may behave. He is there for the long haul.

To stay committed, requires that both sides continue to communicate openly and honestly with each other. In the early years of their marriage, they would hide behind their fears. But as the two grew together, they learn to share and be transparent with each other. To accept the other for what God has designed and help the other person to become what GOD wants with them became their motivation. They want their marriage to be a witness for others how God behaves and acts in doing good work.

Of course, a majority of time communications will be about compromising one’s position for what is best for each other and the whole family. There will be battles, arguments, and heated exchange at times, but knowing each are committed to make the relationship work, will end with both sides reaching a mutual agreement. Both sides will take turns to sacrifice. Both sides will also pursue their goals. The outcome may not be ideal, but they will be glad to work it out together for the mutual benefit of all.

One of the biggest compromises will be about cash – how is the money going to flow. Who earns it, who controls it, and how it is going to be spent? The earlier this is resolved, the quicker and easier the marriage will prosper.

Another compromise will be about children. Again, the more honestly discussed upfront, the less surprises later in the marriage.

Lastly, find a faith community to keep each of you accountable to each other and family. When you live life with others within the faith community, you witness lives being transformed by Jesus Christ and you are constantly reminded what life’s endgame is all about. You and your children develop friendships and have a safe space to socialize with others who accept you and your values.

Marriage is hard work. Yet these men would do it all over again. Their only regret is learning the hard way. They wish someone would have shared what they know now with others. Hopefully, these words may help you in your marriage walk with God and your spouse as you live out your purpose serving God and others in preparation for life now and tomorrow’s new age.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & 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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Christ-Centered Character

Galatians 4:19

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you

The nucleus of a Christian life is Jesus Christ. He is the central core for all of life. When we acknowledge HIM as who he is, only then do we discover a path which leads toward fulfilling our human potential.

In business, we are trained to start with the end result in mind and then work backwards filling in all the steps necessary for its attainment. The same can be said about your life and mine.

In the above Scripture, the apostle Paul states the goal for each believer is to be made in the image of Jesus Christ from the inside-out. A process of having yours and mine attitude and character shaped into the very carbon copy of Jesus. Later in Chapter five he emphasizes the building material being the character attributes of the Holy Spirit being fully expressed through us. Paul compared the entire character-building process to childbirth.

C.S. Lewis in his writings like to define Christians as “little Christs”; like children being molded after their parents. A life-long process over time which ends with the son or daughter grown up with similar characteristics of their parent. The same is true of us believers.

When you start with the end of life, you will quickly acknowledge that we came with nothing into this world and we shall leave with no material possessions at the end. However, there is something we will take with us into the next phase of our lives – our soul.

The soul, which includes the entire bastion of one’s emotional attitudes, mental bank, and characteristic willpower, will one day be resurrected into a new body. Until then, like the new born child awaits in the womb of their mother being prepared for life outside of the womb, we likewise are being prepared in this life for a new adventure in the world tomorrow when we will be resurrected into eternity. The last chapters of the Bible showcase the new resurrected life we are currently being prepared to enter.

So, what does all this mean?

As a mother nurtures her begotten child, being careful to eat and drink healthy items which will assist in her child’s positive development, so must we the Church, nourish and feed believers until they mature into the image of Christ being formed in each one of us. Just as a responsible mother makes it her primary purpose for nine laborious months doing everything in her power to give birth to a healthy baby, likewise the Church needs to do the same.

Yet, just as there are mothers who have failed to fulfill their responsibility, there are also believers who have failed to participate in the process. The end result are children of the faith who may be mature in the eyes of the world, but are yet babes in the eyes of God. One Pew research study showed that most Christians understanding of their faith stopped when they quick going to Sunday school in the 8th grade. In other words, their growth and understanding of God’s work stopped at the same time. Physically, they grew up, but spiritually they are still baby’s drinking milk.

If you are unsatisfied with your spiritual walk with the Lord, maybe its time to join a small group of believers who understand the importance of sharing life and growing together in preparation for eternity. More Jesus and less me is a motto used by one of the small groups I had the privilege to participate for a number of years. Like iron sharpens iron, so one believer sharpens another. Of all the church activities I have participated in, the small group is where I believe the work of the church comes more alive in helping Christ be formed in you.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & 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!


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Your Spirit

1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 6:63
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I (Jesus) have spoken to you are spirit and life.

1 Corinthians 2:11-12
For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

Romans 8:5-6
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

You are a triune entity consisting of a spirit governed by a soul residing in a body.

When you align yourself with the knowledge and understanding of the relationship between your body, your soul, and your spirit, then you have a stronger grasp of how you can best operate to fulfill your human potential. In our previous writing, we highlighted your soul and body. This time we emphasize your spirit.

The Bible discusses different type of spirits:

Spirit of man (Zechariah 12:1, Proverbs 20:27, Job 32:8)

Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28, Romans 8:14, 1 Corinthians 2:14)

Holy Spirit (John 14:26, Luke 1:41, Luke 4:1)

Unclean spirits (Mk 5:8, Matt 12:43-45, Lk 6:18)

Evil spirits (Lk 8:2, Acts 19:12, Lk 11:26)

There is a constant battle going on between your spirit and the spirit in the world. We read of the encounter between Jesus and Satan in the desert at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Satan (evil spirit) tried to seduce Jesus with immediate gratification of his life goal if HE yielded to Satan’s temptations. Jesus prevailed and the rest is history.

Most of us allow outside spiritual influences to invade and overcome our spirit. When the spirit falls, the soul and body soon follow into decay. But Jesus came with a solution. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you become engaged to marry him; and the Holy Spirit and your spirit become one with the Triune God. The more you submit yourself to Him, the more you become like Him. And you join Him in his victory over Satan and the evil spirits of this world.

The Bible explains the continual struggle between our physical desires and spiritual needs. Most of the time, we satisfy the physical rather than the spiritual which leads to immediate satisfaction but produces long-term frustration and pain. Instead of placing the spirit first on our list of priorities, we make the outer casing, the body, the short-term winner. Only after we come to the place of realizing when the spirit is given top priority, the outer body also reaps the benefits of a wholesome, full life. And even when there may be short term pain for the body for emphasizing the spirit, the eternal reward makes it worth the effort.

In short:

Your spirit is a conduit which networks with God and others. You have direct access to the God who sustains the universe via your spirit. Likewise, your spirit bonds with others in a unified fashion. When two kindred spirits meet, there is a mutual bonding of mind and thought. On the other hand, when one walks in spiritual darkness, there is a repulsive battle between themselves silently screaming for help. Those who have been there recognize the situation and approach with their spirit on guard to help.

Your spirit is influenced by other spirits – some good, others bad. The good spirit is the Holy Spirit, God Himself. He produces good fruit in his children. The evil spirits are your demons and the dark forces working within the culture. Everyday, people are being swayed by the spirit of greed, fear, lust, covetousness, hatred, lies, etc. If you allow your spirit free range to inhale everything that comes your way, you will find yourself captured by unwanted hosts. Like a computer without virus software, you will find yourself soon non-operatable. Without a strong defense, which a healthy soul provides, the path only leads to destruction and pain. However, God has given us equipment to battle and defend our internal habitat. The solution is found in Jesus Christ and expounded throughout the Bible.  

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & 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!


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Your Body

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.

Your body is a wonderful masterpiece of form and functionality. The precise detail of each cell and organ integrated together and working in harmony is a marvel beyond scientific and engineering design. A combination of your brain, skeleton, nerves, veins, and muscles working together to form an organic machine designed for the purpose of duplicating God’s image (in a limited, physical capacity) glorifies HIS genius. When combined with your soul and spirit, you have a triune entity we simply call a human person.

Though wonderfully made, the body requires maintenance to fully function at its highest capacity. The majority of us understand the importance of exercise and nutrition to keep the body operating at peak performance. However, what many of us ignore and abuse is the relationship between our bodies and our soul and spirit.

Mankind, apart from God, has made the body the central core of life. The body is glamorized, adored, and pampered by western civilization. The commercialization of products and services are designed around glorifying the outer shell of the person. The soul and spirit may be implied, but never given their time under the sun.

From God’s perspective, HE doesn’t look at humans from our outer image, but from our inner heart. For example, He chose David, the youngest of his family to be king of Israel. Samuel, who was sent by God to identify the next king, was more impressed by his older brothers. But God looks at the soul of a person. Again, Jesus himself would repeatedly get upset when he looked at people and recognized the hardness of their heart (their soul). Throughout the Bible, people would choose leaders based on their physical appearance, but not God. He chose based on the condition of their soul.

The body is the outer casing that houses your soul and spirit. The body and soul complement and submit to each other. When both are healthy, along with your spirit, we experience the fullness of being human. When one of the three is hurting, the scars are felt by the person.

Yes, we need to care for our bodies which have been redeemed by Jesus. Now as HIS, our bodies house the Spirit of God. This is why Paul writes that we are God’s temple and our bodies are to glorify HIM.  

Our biggest challenge is to bridle the passions of our human nature which causes harm for our soul. I Peter 2:11 reads Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul”.

When we understand the soul is the governing agency and needs to be buildup and strengthen to effectively manage our bodies rather than allow our carnal desires to influence the soul; only then will we maturely experience the Christ-like life HE spoke about.

The daily struggle for us Christ-followers is to channel more of God’s Holy Spirit toward our soul and deflect more of our carnal desires away from our soul.

Paul writes in Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires”.

Or how I like to state it, “More Christ, less me.” When you place Jesus as the center of your life, your soul will begin to take the lead instead of the physical desires to satisfy the self-centerness of our flesh. You realize your body is designed to glorify God and not you. You will take care of your body as best as you can so you can move through life serving your King and physically ready for every opportunity to do good work.

I left below a few Scriptures highlighting the challenge and battle between the body and soul. Read responsibly.

Romans 6:12

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.

Luke 11:34

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.

Colossians 2:23

These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Romans 7:18

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

Mark 14:38

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Jeremiah 17:5

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

Psalm 90:10

The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.

Next week we will discuss your spirit.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & 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!


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