“If Only” Trap

John 11:21 

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here…

One of the biggest traps that prevents a person from seizing the opportunity before them, is living the “if only” excuse. We play the recording so often that many of us are not aware what we are even doing.

If only I married the other person. If only I majored in accounting rather than biology. If only I said yes. Or if only I said no. We not only glance at life in the rear-view mirror, but we drive the car looking behind us rather than what is right in front of us. Try it some day and see how difficult and dangerous it is.

John writes in his gospel the story of Lazarus’ death. Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary and all three loved by Jesus. When Jesus delayed his coming by two days, Lazarus died. When Jesus finally showed up, Martha threw the “if only” card at Jesus. Jesus didn’t catch it but simply focused on the current situation and again rose someone from the dead. Jesus didn’t accept the ‘if only” card.

When we play the “if only” card, we try to justify it. The fact is, if we could have, we would have. But, maybe because of responsibility at the time, or health, or incomplete facts, we made a decision. Most likely, if you had the same information today that you had back then, you would make the same choice.

The next time you catch yourself stating the “if only” excuse, slap your face. Then was then; today is today. Learn from yesterday, plan for tomorrow, but live for today. All you have today is in front of you. Ask God for the wisdom to seize the opportunities that lie in front of you today. Learn to distinguish God’s activity at the moment, and look for ways to join Him.

As you mature in your relationship with our Lord, you will find yourself using the ‘if only” card less and playing the “what’s next Lord” track more. As a child matures into an adult, you will likewise mature in your walk with Father-Son-Spirit. You will receive constant reassurances during the day that you are important to Him and learn to trust Him more and more each day.

Again, forget the “if only” trap. Instead, learn to pray and walk with the “what’s next Lord” attitude. You will be pleasantly surprised by the transformation.    

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 2013-2020 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Behavior Trap

Titus 3:5

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

In business, performance is the name of the game. It doesn’t matter what you did yesterday, you are constantly being measured and compared with others. We see this in sports. To make room for someone else who is younger, stronger, and less expensive, people are traded or just given their unconditional release. We basically grow up in a world where our behavior is constantly being monitored and evaluated.

So, when people come together to form a faith community, some if not many of these same values are carried over from the world’s playbook into the Church. The result is another worldly system operating under the disguise of a faith community.

One such value is to solely focus on behavior. When you ask someone in your faith community “what saves you?”, the response hopefully is a quick Jesus Christ. However, when the person’s reply is anything else, then maybe one needs to investigate a little further to determine the person’s perspective and relationship with our Lord.

The behavior trap is when you totally focus on the behavior of a person without knowing the heart. A Believer walking with the Lord will express their relationship with the same humility and attitude as the Holy Spirit. However, when one doesn’t know the Lord, the only emphasis a person has is the outward appearance. Without knowing a person’s heart, one can quickly condemn another saint without justifiable evidence.

This is why we need not so quickly judge one another. The behavior is easily recognized. But the intent, purpose, and motive are much deeper. For example, when one sees a person’s driving substantially faster than the posted speed limit, one can quickly state they are speeding, but to judge them for their actions without all the facts is almost impossible to do. It is very possible, the person driving the car is a doctor rushing to a life-threatening moment. Or a parent rushing home to a tragic event, or and you can add any seriousness situation where even you would be doing the same. This doesn’t change the behavior; but does place motive behind the action.   

When you truly realize our salvation is what Jesus did for us, and that he included us with Him in His relationship with Father God before we even knew Him, before we asked for forgiveness, before we were even born, puts his accomplishment into perspective. He chose us before the foundation of the world means before we raised one finger or even had one thought.

For now, behavior is all we initially recognize. It’s the starting point. But to effectively evaluate the situation you need to get to the heart of the matter. And that takes time. So remember, God is always working in the lives of those around us and the same grace God extends us is the grace we need to extend them.

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

The “Only One” Trap

Ecclesiastes 11:6 (ESV)

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Some estimates state that us humans make about 35,000 decisions every day which equates to about 2,000 decisions every hour if you are one who sleeps around 7 hours a day. Many of these choices may already be habitual, but if a person doesn’t have a sound system for making decisions, the anxiety and worry could neutralize one’s response.

Early in my business career, a mentor taught me his technique of making a decision when one has many viable choices. He was a very successful real estate operator and basically would practice Ecclesiastes 11:6. He would list the top five possible options and then pursue each of them with a full gusto as if that one was the best solution. However, he wouldn’t make a final decision until the very last moment. When he came to the gate of the bridge when a decision had to be made regarding that one choice, he would again evaluate the choice with his other options. Many times, he would say no and keep pursuing the other four options with full intensity. Many times, the options would be 180 degrees opposite of each other. And we would pursue them as if each one was the best solution.

The bottom-line: Eventually the choices would narrow down to one or two strong possibilities. And then we would select one and work it with all the gusto and resources at our disposal. This practice taught me that there was more than one option to choose from and one never knew the outcome from the beginning until many years later.

Life is like that in many ways. Some people feel that there is only one person destined for them to marry. The fact is God has given us an abundance of selections. We can witness that in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve could eat from the thousands of trees except one. God gave them multiple options. But they kept coming back to the one which eventually led to the fall of mankind.

In business, we generally have many options to choose from but because of resource limitations, we select what will do the job. Many of the choices would probably work. Some may cost more than others; others may provide more convenient features. However, whichever one you choose, is the one you learn to make work and to maximize its capabilities within the working environment.

Only hindsight will dictate whether it was a good, better, or best decision at the time. But the fact is, there rarely is “only one” choice. It’s more about you making a choice and executing the plan. Socrates got it right when he quotes that hard work after you make your choice really determines the outcome of your decision. Think about that the next time you think you only have one choice on the matter.

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

Comparison Trap

2 Corinthians 10:12

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

Who do you compare yourself with?  Your neighbors?  Work associates? Family members? Your peers?

How does that make you feel? Superior? Proud? Or Cast down? Disappointed?

Comparing yourself one to another only leads to frustration and self-pity or if you are one of the select few, pompous and arrogant It may take time or may occur immediately, but the end result is realizing we all don’t have it. Someone will always be #1 in your industry, your peer group, and your family. But eventually #1 takes a back seat to someone else in due time.

However, when you truly realize you are included in Jesus Christ which means your identity is found solely in Christ, you can breathe a sense of fresh air knowing you are worth more than you believe, and possibly if you hold a high opinion of yourself, less than what you believe. Jesus Christ evens out the playing field.

In Christ, we all have what God designed us for. He designed us for good work and equip us with the necessary abilities for successful fulfilling His desires for us. When you realize each of us are uniquely empowered to glorify God in our work, relationships, and conduct, the praise goes to Him and not ourselves. Only God truly knows the effort we have employed to take our natural abilities and align them with Him in support of His kingdom.

For example, John the Baptist’s public ministry preceded Jesus and was very short term – approximately one year. Yet he even realized that his service was secondary to Jesus and even commented that his ministry must decline so Jesus’ may increase. He didn’t get caught up with the comparison trap but instead fulfilled his unorthodox mission and gladly stood aside for God’s glory. Jesus’ own reply-paid greater homage to John stating that no prophet was greater than him.

So, when you view the pages of your Facebook friends, or your associate gets the promotion you sincerely desired, or your neighbor drives home with a brand-new sports car that you always wanted, thank God. Thank God for your friends, associates, and neighbors, For, without them, you wouldn’t recognize how God’s Spirit of love was lacking in your heart without these events occurring. Thank God to make you aware so you can draw closer to Him until He becomes your prime joy and measurement of comparison. Then you will learn to walk humbly with your Lord, and serve Him, without expecting anything in return but to experience the love, joy, and generosity of your Creator. 

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

Church Trap

Matthew 6:24

No one can be slave to two masters; for he will either hate the first and love the second, or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can’t be a slave to both God and Mammon.

Are you serving the Church or the institution? Are you serving the Church, or yourself? Are you serving the Church or Christ? These three questions I have asked of myself a number of times over the years. And I didn’t like the answer most of the time.

When you truly understand Church are people and not the building, nor institution, nor any denomination, then you have a better grasp than I had back then. Over the years I have witness many heart-driven, God-loving servants slowly change their demeanor as they begin serving within their faith communities. Initially, their attitude is child-like and open to helping out wherever. But over time, as they are drawn into the various responsibilities of operating an institution, the business side begins to over shadow the people’s needs.

The A.B.C.s of operating a Church begins to become the measurement of success and the idolatry of self-importance. Attendance, Baptisms, and Cash become the units of measurement. Church slowly becomes a weekend hobby or sport to impose their brilliance in operations. People become the means of stroking their personal insecurities. Christ is no longer the center of anything but an icon to get what they want.

Transactional thinking becomes the norm. Relational giving a façade. The intense need to collect funds for large building debt and salaries becomes the principle driving force for weekend services. The gospel message doesn’t become the goal to communicate but the means for self-preservation. The switch from serving people for the Lord’s sake to serving a dream or goal for self-sake happens so quickly that most of us didn’t know it happened until 20/20 hindsight kicked us in the behind.

You cannot serve God and money without one having a greater priority than the other. Whether we act within our families, business, or the Church, the truth always is revealed through the actions of the heart moving the hands and head away from God. We can justify and put a spin at the moment of decision-time, but the truth eventually will slap us in the face.

Church is people serving people as the hands and feet of our Lord. Jesus Christ is the central-core of every meeting between two or more saints. The purpose of the Church is not the self-aggrandizement of the institution, but the love, freedom, and spiritual development of God’s children serving others as Christ serves us.

The trap is when all the activities, rituals, and traditions become the central-meaning of people gathering together rather than allowing the life-giving Spirit conduct God’s work in and through his people. When the trap door of cultural influence dictates the interpretation of Scripture rather than the proven historical facts built on the text, than in hindsight people wonder why their affairs are in a mesh. Whenever Jesus Christ is not the center of one’s motives, actions, and thoughts, the trap door initially looks very enticing but eventually leads to an empty grave.

So be involved with a faith community, but don’t get pulled away from who you are truly serving – Jesus Christ. Keep Him the as the central-core wherever you go and whatever you do and you will experience His abundance and not get trapped into the political, business side of Church. That is why I enjoy listening to the music group Newsboys sing one of my favorites “Wherever We Go.”  The words remind me what life is like when Jesus Christ is my central-core wherever I go.  I left the link below for those who enjoy listening to contemporary Christian music.

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

Commitment Trap

Psalm 89:8

O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you?

One of God’s attributes that I admire most is His faithfulness to humanity. He is totally committed to bring forth the family He desires.

He created a Universe and took one ball of rock in one small solar system to build humanity’s habitat. He crafted and engineered all the details with practical function and beautiful form to what we call Earth. He created various life forms small and large each operating independently but also interdependently. And to top it all off, He capped His creation with Man and Woman – made after His image.

He has a vision and a plan which He started eons of time ago and slowly moving the pieces toward His ultimate goal. We witnessed how He introduced Himself to Abraham, and then his son and grandson. As the family grew into a tribe, He continued to move among them leading each generation until they became a nation.

When Adam & Eve rebelled against God, mankind’s Sin didn’t make God flinch. He could have immediately destroyed everything and started over again. But He didn’t. Instead He promised a Messiah to restore humanity back on the track He has always planned for them.

When Jesus appeared on earth, He continued God’s plan in fulfilling the prophecies of Scripture and making humanity more aware of who God IS and His plan for mankind. Not only did Jesus restore the relationship divide between God and humanity, but He also demonstrated what God is like in His actions, words, and teachings.

Today, two thousand years later, God continues to fulfil His commitment made at the beginning of creation. He continues to direct history toward the culmination of a new age when heaven and earth will be merged together into a new world order.   

Life without commitment is a purposeless one. God demonstrates throughout history He is totally committed for our success. Every time the nation Israel messed up, He was there to brush off the pain and restore the people. Every time you and I mess up, He is there too quickly respond at our request. In fact, He has already forgiven us before we even ask Him. He is totally committed toward raising children to become mature, seasoned adults in the world tomorrow.

How committed are we in our families, marriages, and relationships? Or do we shy away to make commitments because of the work involved or the risk of failure?

If you want to live a purposeful and meaningful life, then you need to make commitments. Rarely does anything good happen without commitment. A life without commitment is an irresponsible and cowardly act built on fear and immaturity. Without commitment, wars are loss, relationships are destroyed, businesses fail, nations disappear, dreams lie empty, innovation is a fantasy, and lasting failure becomes your friend.

Jesus is our role model. He made the commitment. He left heaven for earth, lived a vicarious life for you and I, fulfilled Scripture, raised a Church, and returned to heaven actively engaged intervening for humanity working toward the culmination of all things.

Remember, commitment is not the trap. The trap is the failure of living life without commitment. So what commitment are you afraid to make?

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

Faith Trap?

Matthew 17:20

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Sometimes the simplest of concepts are difficult to grasp.

Take for example, Jesus’ statement above. He associates faith with the smallest known seed of his time. He didn’t associate faith with the seed fully grown into a mustard plant; nor did He compare faith with the seed when watered and roots are developed or leaves bloom. Instead He focused on the seed itself.

Most often, those of us in the Western world emphasize faith as a mental exercise of what we know. We hear the phrase, “grow one’s faith” and think if we spent more time reading the Word or listening to tape sermons our faith will grow. Yet, when our prayers are not answered (we think), or God is not blessing us (our opinion), we fall into the trap of thinking our faith isn’t large enough to generate the results we desire in life.

To grow one’s faith isn’t necessary a mental exercise of enlarging our “faith muscle”. Instead to grow one’s faith is more of taking what little we already know and acting on it.

The Hebrew word most often translated faith is “Emunah” (Strong’s #530). It is an action-oriented word meaning “support”. Unlike Western thinking which places the emphasis on having faith in God, the Hebrew word places the action on the one who “supports God.”  It is not knowing that God will act or can act, but rather I will do what I can to support God.

So, if you want to grow your faith, it takes more than just reading the Bible and listening to Christian music and sermon messages. It’s about taking what you already know and living it out in your daily life.

The early Church didn’t have the tools (smart phones with Bible plans, YouTube with video sermon topics, Google and blogs of Biblical knowledge) at their disposal as we have today. Instead, they took the gospel message and found ways to express God’s Way through their everyday work, speech, and relationships.

To grow one’s faith is about becoming more like Jesus in everyday life. It’s asking God how can we support His Kingdom work right now from where we are currently residing. It’s about walking and communicating with your heavenly Father on a continuous basis.

When you act upon His vision and purpose of life in your tiny corner of the world, you will find yourself growing in faith. The fruit of your actions will exhibit the depth of your faith.

Head knowledge is valuable, but not enough. Heart knowledge is more meaningful, but still not enough. Yet when both are combined with action, supporting God’s vision and purpose for life, faith comes alive and grows.  

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