The Core of All Relationships

John 15:1-8

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

We all have spiritual roots leading to Jesus Christ. He died for ALL mankind. And in his life, death, and resurrection, he restored what collapsed in the Garden of Eden. He redeemed mankind from the death trap solicited by Satan and again has given humanity direct contact with the Almighty.

Today, some may know Him better as a Friend, others as an Elder Brother, and others still as their Lord. Generally, most are originally introduced to Him as their Savior. And yet for many unbelievers, he is simply another historical figure with a few quips to live by.

Yet history and experience show when one accepts Him as He claimed to be, one begins to experience a richness of life that includes knowing God. With this understanding when one meets a stranger, one has a better understanding that Jesus Christ also died for this person; which means they also have direct contact with the Almighty but have either built walls to keep Him away or are simply ignorant of their relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

In other words, Jesus Christ directly involved Himself into every single person’s life whether or not they ask for his assistance, or even heard about him. And now he reiterates to his disciples the principle of mutual cooperation. He has already fulfilled his part. He now reminds us we need to complete our part.

Our part is to abide in him. To submit to Him. To allow Him to have access into our heart and mind. To follow Him wherever He goes. In the process we will become more like him in attitude and character. His Spirit will begin to transform us into His image. We will eventually spiritually morph from a caterpillar to butterfly. In the end, Jesus’ Father will be glorified.

So, the next time you meet a stranger, remind yourself Jesus has already committed Himself to help this person become more like Him. We are simply the conduit that may provide the hands, feet, words, or ear for them to learn more about who they are in Christ. They are already included in the circle of the Triune God. But like many, they are totally ignorant of the richness and quality of life that awaits them by engaging into the Man from Galilee who paid the supreme price for their benefit.

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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Temptation

1 Corinthians 10:13 

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Sin destroys relationships and life; and temptation is the doorway to sin. Temptation is not sin, but only the desire to commit an act which immediately or eventually leads to a destructive end result. Yet even before the sinful behavior takes place, many times the destructive attitude is already in place waiting to be released through an act of physical means.

Temptation is the circumstance you find yourself in that may consume into sin depending on how you handle the matter. Temptation is the test of your character. God knows who you are, and the outcome of the test only reveals to yourself where you stand. You either have the character to totally trust God or you do not. The outcome is your measuring bar.

The secret to avoid sin is to constantly pray beforehand that you are not led into temptation. Again, temptation is not sin, but only the test of your character. If you find yourself continually in situations repeating destructive vices, you need to change something.

Jesus recommends us to “watch and pray”; that our spirit is willing but our human flesh is weak. The Lord’s prayer even outlines we need to ask our Heavenly Father not to lead us into temptation (Matt. 6:13).

Temptation befalls all humans. It started with Adam and Eve who fell and led humanity into a broken, rebellious state of relationship with God. Jesus himself was tempted in the wilderness and came out victorious over Satan, and even today with yours truly who messed up again this morning. This time around I had to ask myself, what must I change. The answer: review what Jesus did in the wilderness.

First, he was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit knowingly to be tested.

Second, he fasted for forty days – leaving him in a physical weaken state but spiritually strong. As Paul writes in Corinthians, “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When Jesus was confronted with three different options to satisfy his desires, he replied to Satan with Scripture that reflected his faith and trust in His Father. He denied himself and trusted God will provide rather than take matters into his own hand to bring about the results he knew was his immediately rather than wait unto Him.

Though unlike Adam & Eve in the garden, Jesus had total trust in His father to bring about the results he desired without destroying the relationship with Him. After the temptation, he was ministered and physically revised to commence his public ministry.

Temptation will come to all. And all will somewhere fail. Failure though allows us to experience the grace of God and help us realize the need for a savior. We become more grateful for Jesus Christ who lived a human vicarious life for us all. He was our substitute and knows the war between the flesh and the spirit.

He knows the flesh is weak. But if weak flesh and weak spirit is the culprit, what is the solution? How about weak flesh and strong Spirit?

When our eyes are on God and we truly seek to serve Him and bring glory to Him, temptation will have minimum influence and pull. It is when we allow our carnal desires to take the lead instead of the power of the Spirit that we fail.

Real freedom comes when there is no temptation because there is no desire to satisfy selfish needs. As perfect love has no fear, perfect love also has total trust in God’s deliverance. We may suffer through the process, but endurance builds godly character. We know our eternal Coach and Trainer is with us through the entire process as the foundation for godly fruit is being built through the entire ordeal.

Escaping temptation doesn’t mean we will not suffer; but shows we will not rebel against our Maker. We will endure; and we will trust Him who loves us more than anyone. For we know when this trial is over, we will stand stronger in Him than before.

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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Copyright 2013-2019 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

The Real Thing

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Gal 5:22-25.

In my early walk with the Lord, I took upon myself to start a self-improvement program to develop the fruit of the Spirit in my life. Like the eastern religions, I subjected my body through discipline to become more godlike. At the time I didn’t understand the workings of the Spirit but only that I wanted to experience the riches of God’s Spirit.

Eventually (some ten years later) God opened my eyes to His awesome work in me through the Holy Spirit’s influence on my heart. In hindsight, the first ten years of being a disciple, I was led through humanism to make myself into the image of God through the mastery of self-discipline. Like I have said elsewhere, I did become more loving, kind, and joyful but nothing compared to now by allowing the Holy Spirit to have full access into our heart and mind.

Humanism works through habitual discipline to change exterior behavior. God works through His Spirit to change the interior emotional heart that leads to changed behavior.

When you read the above passage in Galatians, you note that the fruit is not from one’s human heart but from the Spirit. When we deny ourselves and submit to the Spirit’s influence in our life, the essence of God becomes more alive in us. God’s Spirit intermingles with our spirit influencing our soul. The Source is God. The recipient is us and those who we come into contact.

Humanism works from the outside-in. God works from the inside-out.

Humanism is like the imitation wedding ring made from glass. It may look like a diamond, but is made with inferior material. A real diamond can cut through glass; a fake diamond cannot.  

Humanism likes to look good from the outside. It acts like the real McCoy, but lacks the internal fortitude. In many cases, it is all form without any substance.

God’s Spirit is the real deal. As we submit to His Will and lean on Him, He resides in us and allows His presence to be made known through us. After you experience the real thing, you will more quickly notice the illusions and fakes around you. If you are tired of working hard to experience God’s presence in your life, maybe you are trying too hard. Maybe its time to rest in Christ and ask Him to position you to experience the real deal.

You only need to ask Him.

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 2013-2019 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Being Fully Human

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
An Easter Message: Reprint from Feb 2015

In the Book of Genesis, we discover that God made man in His image after His likeness (Gen.1:26). In Psalm 8:4, King David asked the question “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” The writer of Hebrews in 2:6 likewise refers to the same question and adds more thought behind the remark. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes that life in Christ makes us a new creation.

What does this all mean for you and me?

There are times when I look at our culture, I cry. My heart hurts for the people who don’t really understand what Jesus means in their everyday life. For example, people may know about Him, the Cross and Resurrection, but not realize the importance of the Ascension.

The fact is Jesus ascended into Heaven not only as a divine being but also as a resurrected human. As a human, he experienced the same emotional, psychological, and physical stress that every person deals with on a daily basis. More so, hanging on the cross the sins of every person past, present, and future was transported into his inner humanity. He knows what it means to be human. He experienced the pain of sin without ever committing sin himself (Heb.4:15).

Our connection with Father God is through Jesus Christ. Jesus’ union with Father God is because of his divinity. His union with humanity is because of his bodily life. Mankind has union with Jesus because of His humanity. When we pray to our Father God, Jesus intercedes on our behalf. When we pray not knowing how and what to say, His Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-7). He is our High Priest.

He is more involved in yours and my life than you and I may ever realize. He cares about you in ways you haven’t even considered yet. He wants what is best for you. He knows what it means to be human. He is our standard for what it means to be human.

He wants you to experience the same love, joy, and hope he carried with him when he walked the earth. He wants you to grow and experience the same thrills he does. Jesus wants to hang-out with you.

When Father/Son/Spirit created the world, earth, and mankind, he said it was “very good.” He wants us to experience the same sense of accomplishment through our work. When Jesus healed the sick, he experienced the power of God changing people’s lives. He wants us to experience the same when we serve others. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he became the first fruit of a new creation. The merger of humanity with divinity. The physical merging with the spiritual. The future new heaven and new earth being lived in the present. Heaven on earth.

Being fully human is really living and experiencing everyday life in 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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Copyright 2013-2019 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved


Lonely Hearts

Exodus 20:3

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

Ever sat in a room with hundreds of people and felt alone? Ever spent an evening with a person who you enjoyed being with yet still felt disconnected? Ever wonder how come the person you’ve been married too for over ten years doesn’t quite fill the empty hole which still remains in your heart?

What’s missing?

Most of us look for love and fulfillment on a vertical sphere. If not satisfied, we change partners, careers, locations, and even cloths, thinking a change will fill up our inner cup.

Yet each may satisfy for the short term, eventually the feeling disappears and we look for something else to change. These typically are the “gods” in our life. They are generally good things, but by themselves they are incomplete.

So if this is you, maybe it is time to change one’s perspective. Instead of chasing vertical relationships and material consumption, how about refocusing and adding horizontal connections into your life.

In hindsight, with our married life and with many of my associates, when one made the Triune God the center of their domain, reaching upward before stretching vertically, the satisfaction, meaning, and fulfillment we failed to find from other people and things, found their home through Christ Jesus.

Today, He via the Holy Spirit fills our inner longings without us even realizing or many times not even asking. God knows what we need and what tickles our fancy and fills our joy with cups overflowing; for us to enjoy and to share with others. He creates in us everything we lack. He lives in community with himself and enjoys sharing His experiences with us all. When he is the center of everything, everything becomes more satisfying and fulfilling.

He created everything for our long-term enjoyment. Yet without him, the same people, things, and events are empty. With Him, life adds more color, deeper meaning, and emotional connection with all people. Until you experience life with God, you never know what you are truly missing. You are never lonely again, for He lives in you and will be with you, your entire life. 

With Him, you may find yourself alone, but you are never lonely. He is always with you; and you know that you know which allows you to live out what you know. You know what I mean? Probably not, unless you know.

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 2013-2019 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Less Self, More God & Others

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

three focus

Being selfless isn’t reducing your worth as a human being. You are created in the image of God and your worth is hidden in Jesus Christ. You are priceless in God’s eyes. You are worth more than you even imagine. Your worth isn’t measured by what or how you do something; your value is in what Jesus has done, is doing, and yet will do.

However, we are instructed to focus our minds to look at others as more important than ourselves. What does that mean?

First being selfless doesn’t mean you think you are less important than others. It means you simply spend less time thinking about yourself and your needs and instead invest more time thinking how you may better serve others.

The best decisions you make will be a win-win-win scenario. You will follow God’s lead and Will, you will want what is best for the other person, and you will also want what is best for yourself. There most likely will be compromise. However, the end result will generally be fruitful for everyone involved. Sometimes one side must sacrifice more than the other. But when God is in the picture, sacrificial love is His specialty. And he has a way of rewarding us in serving with Him as He works in the lives of others.

In this world economy, many people have a limited pie view. They don’t understand God’s economy of multiplication. Jesus took five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000. He directed Peter and his fishing team where to find a large spool of fish that almost flooded the boat. He also fed millions of people during the Exodus where no grocery store was to be found in the area. When serving others, we know we are being held in His Grip. Though we may fall occasionally and be hurt, we also know he is always there to walk us through the situation.

Humility is simply knowing God and the value he places on all people which includes you and everyone you meet. Like Jesus, we wash the feet of others because that is the way of God. Our value is in Him. From that perspective, whatever he did and does is what we do. He emptied himself to become human and full of the Holy Spirit. We try to do and be likewise. As we empty ourselves, He makes his home in us and fills us with Himself, the Holy Spirit, and our Father God.

His Kingdom is built on service for others through Him by you. A threefold cord that works wonders in every aspect of life.

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 2013-2019 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Is God Unsafe?

2 Timothy 4:18

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

safe god

There is a human expression that occasionally makes its appearance during tough trials. This past week I heard it again. The saying is “God is not safe; but God is good.”

From a human perspective, one could quickly sake their head in agreement. Most often this thought appears when we are blindsided from events, and instead of God preventing such occurrences, He allows them to happen. These times usually are accompanied by pain, loss, and grief. However, when one begins to understand and live-out the love God has for us, when that love grows into uncompromising trust, no matter the circumstances, the goodness of God overflows even in stinking times.

God is not safe for us because at times instead of granting our expectations, he allows the opposite to occur. Instead of preventing bad things to happen to good people, he allows them to experience the impact of evil. So how can you trust a God who doesn’t meet all your heavenly expectations when you need it most?

Because He is GOOD!

In His unsearchable character, we capture a taste of his goodness throughout his creation. Like a prudent grandparent who knows when and what and how to best present a solution to a child’s problem, God knows you and what is best for you and your love ones and your community. I don’t understand how, but I’ve seen HIM do it over and over again in my life and in the life of others. One gains wisdom and trust with fifty plus years of hindsight.

He is unpredictable; otherwise He wouldn’t be God. We at times seem to think that we know what is best for us and everyone around us. We play god and forget that there is someone who is GOD. God is good. And the perspective he is unsafe comes when we haven’t totally yielded ourselves into the master craftsman’s hand.

This life isn’t meant to be permanent but a training ground for the new age tomorrow. You and I are being molded into the image of our creator. His character is slowly being morphed into you and I so one day we will stand with Jesus and serve His people with the same love, hope, and purpose as he serves us. This is His story and you are included. Complete your part and He will fulfill his.

Evil will come against you. God may not prevent it, but he will rescue you. And from this rescue, you will grow your trust in Him. If there was a better way, He would bring it about. But He knows what you lack and what you need. From a human perspective he may be unsafe; but He is a good God. Trust Him.

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 2013-2019 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved