Is Human Nature Inherently Good?

Mark 10:18

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Ecclesiastes 8:11

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.

Matthew 15:19

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Luke 6:45

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Matthew 12:34

You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

God is the standard of goodness. Even Jesus acknowledges this when he was called a good teacher. He pointedly stated only God is good. Yet there are many in today’s culture who believe humans are naturally, inherently good. They claim evil is the exception. But is this true?

What does history reveal? Nation’s dictatorships killing innocent people by the millions. Nations hating other nations for no other reason but jealousy or being different. Adults being predators of children. Thieves who would rather steal from others than work for a living. People lying to cover up their shortcomings. Gangs selling destructive drugs to others. Organized criminals looting stores. We could spend the day listing all the ways evil resides and is expressed in and through people.  

What does the Bible reveal about the natural inclination of people?

The emotional heart is the central organ of evil. The spirit that influences the heart needs to be changed for goodness to shine. Only after Satan is removed from the scene as pictured in the Book of Revelations, and humans receive the Spirit of God as outlined in Gospel of John, will goodness become the central core of a person’s life. Until then, the battle to control one’s behavior is a never-ending proposition.   

Thankfully, until that time totally arrives, God has provided us with HIS truth of values and goals as outlined in the Bible which help us to continually reposition ourselves unto the path of proper behavior; plus HE continues to shower us with HIS amazing grace that embraces us with HIS favor until that time arrives.

HIS biggest favor is sharing HIS life with you by living HIS life in you and through you. When we accept the Triune God’s authority in our life, HE comes to live in us. The Bible identifies HIM as the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit enriches us with HIS presence and shares HIS fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. All are the basic values which leads a person to experience the richness of life as God created us to enjoy.

The longer we live, the more we see man’s natural inclination is to lean toward evil. Only when the heart has been changed towards accepting God’s authority (Truth) and HIS Spirit merges with ours, is there a semblance of good. Yes, you can be ignorant of God’s ways and still live them out. (Mankind implementing the Ten Commandments in their lives is a good example). But humans still need to learn good; it doesn’t come naturally. All of us are endowed with the internal struggle to channel good over evil. Its not easy. But the reward of being free to express oneself without harming self or others is the outcome. Otherwise, society will suffer and burn while one person indulges themselves into narcissistic behavior until eventually they find them self alone and miserable and empty of any emotional happiness. Which would you prefer?

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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Pride of Life

1 John 2:16

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

What is your standard of a successful life? How does your heart measure such success? What are the basic values you pursue to make your dreams come true?

John wrote his letter to the Church warning them of placing their ladder on the wrong wall. How many of us have learned the hard way?  We pursue certain goals built on values we believe are good only to find out many years later how empty and unfulfilling the achievement felt. Looking back, we realize only then that our climb up the ladder may have been fun but eventually ended up on the wrong side of the building. Instead of climbing the north wall, we found ourselves on the opposite side looking across the vast emptiness of space wondering where did we go wrong.

The pride of life blinds many of us from eternal truths and values which produce the more abundant life that we all desire but seem to escape us through the jungle of everyday decisions.

What is the pride of life?

A simple answer is everything and anything which places more importance on the things of this world rather than the eternal habitat God created for you to experience.

God is the author of GOOD. And many of the items we pursue are by themselves good. But our inability to manage them leads to paths of destruction and pain for ourselves and others.

For example, water is a good element. We all need water to survive. We use water as a healthy liquid to drink. We use water to bathe and clean ourselves. And we use water to cook. We even swim in water for relaxation or exercise. But we can also drown ourselves in water. Hold your head underwater for a length of time and you will run out of oxygen and drown.

This is what happens when we wrap our hearts around what makes us feel important. Our status, career, and achievements are only a few of the measuring marks our culture emphasizes as important. Do you?

The pride of life consists of the values this world emphasizes as important at the detriment of leaving Father God out of the picture.

Fame, winning, and academic success are a few more values the world glorifies. Sometimes the world counterfeits God’s concerns but their methods and ways are anti-God. One example is social justice. The human heart has a natural tendency to classify, segregate, and exclude whoever the power base decides is important or unimportant.

At the same time, the culture with an ungodly center, has a tendency to group people together and treat all of them the same rather than individuals. Whereas God looks at each individual’s heart to evaluate their behavior and the action required for justice to be measured, the ungodly establishment seek to punish the entire group for the infraction of one.

When God is not the center of life, the human spirit becomes empowered with pride which blinds the person from separating fantasy from reality and eventually leads toward harming those around them.

Pride is the downfall of many who have a high opinion of themselves. The sad truth is they rarely suffer alone. They normally take along all those who have followed them through the maze. From Lucifer whose pride turned him into Satan, and from many of the dictators, politicians, cult leaders, and business mavericks, pride has led to the destruction of many. The opposite of pride is humility. Humility is God’s path toward learning to walk together in community. Humility places God in the center of every relationship, decision, and plan we make. We acknowledge HIS presence; respect HIS authority in our life; and work to restore HIS values into everyday living. Without God, pride rules. With God, humility leads. Which way will you choose?    

   

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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First and Last

Revelation 22:13

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Mark 10:31  &  Luke 13:30

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Our culture admires those who come in first. We give them recognition, rewards, and hold them up as a standard of greatness. On the other side, those who finish last are not even mentioned nor rarely identified. We generally classify them as a loser of losers.

Yet Jesus destroyed the concept of first and last from a humanistic perspective and reserved the title for himself.

With two parables, Jesus superimposed the concept just because one is first or one comes last doesn’t give them priority in God’s eyes. In Matthew’s writing, the narrative of Labors in the Vineyard emphasizes he who owns can distribute how he wants too without any outside conditions. In this case God owns and he can adhere to your conditional promises or he can choose to be generous and give more than agreed too. Since it is HIS, HE doesn’t have to comply to someone else’s rules or expectations.

Again, Luke writes a similar statement in chapter thirteen that being chronologically first or last may be a human perspective of importance, but God works on a different value system. HE will shake up people’s semblance of fairness and determine people’s position of leadership as HE chooses for HIS Kingdom’s government.

Jesus’ own life blows apart the importance mankind places on being first or last. He preached a message of the Kingdom of God which will rule the world. His disciples believed it would happen in their life time. During the three plus years Jesus trained and prepared them for leadership, he also mentioned several times that his mission will eventually lead to his death. They didn’t truly understand that message until after his ascension into heaven. Until then, they continue to jockey for position of leadership within HIS kingdom where even onetime John’s mother asked Jesus to make both her sons sit next to HIM on his throne.

Our culture emphasizes winning over losing. Jesus’ value system places greater emphasis on first serving others. To win or to lose are temporary states of events. Serving others though is a lifetime process which leads to help others win. Losing is the school of discovering oneself and improving oneself for better service for others.

The real winner who has already taken the title is Jesus. He is the Alpha and the Omega. The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He started the entire human process called LIFE and he will be there at the end when humanity is totally resurrected into a new age.

We are his students putting into practice values which create a world which allows all to flourish. In our lifetime, we will win and lose. There will be times we will be first in line and times we will be last in line. It doesn’t matter. What matters is God freely living HIS life in you where you reflect HIS glory for the sake of others.  Remember, Jesus has already taken the first and last position of the most important event you are involved with – your 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

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Integrity

Proverbs 28:6

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

There are generally at least three types of authority in this world. Positional authority, expertise authority, and moral authority.

Positional authority is temporary. Your role as a supervisor, CEO, parent, or community leader is given for you to serve others. The authority you have is yours only because of the position you hold.

Expertise authority will last longer. Your knowledge of computers, your skill set to solve problems, repair automobiles, and build houses places you in the position of being an expert at your craft. People who take their natural abilities and develop skills upon their natural abilities, gain expertise in their field of study and become experts. They gain authority by their expertise.

Moral authority is yours for your entire life. People will follow you because of the fruit in your life. You may have position, be poor, lack knowledge in anything useful or practical, but your life enriches others simply by the way you live. Moral authority is built upon integrity. Doing what is right all the time even if it costs you. Whether or not someone is watching, people with integrity surround themselves with shields of conscience godliness. Integrity gives you moral authority.

You can build a successful career by exercising positional or expertise authority. However, without moral authority, your path will be short lived. Moral authority allows you to sustain yourself for the long term. People with integrity in the marketplace maintain relationships that helps each other grow for the long term. People without integrity slowly find themselves without associates who are willing to risk working with them because of the distrust of prior experiences.

Integrity is the backbone and foundation for a fulfilling life. Integrity demands the exercise of character. If you want a mate or friend with character, that you can trust and build a life around, analyze the fruit of their character. How do they manage in a crisis? What are they like when no one is watching? How do they relate with others, especially those who are different than them? Do they respect authority? What are the values they live by?  When you meet a person with integrity, count it a blessing and add them to your list of associates you want to spend time travelling through life. They will make you stronger and support you in the moral authority you flame.  

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

Excellence

Ecclesiastes 9:10

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

There are certain proven values pursued over time that produce the good life. When these nuggets of gold are placed at the top of your priority list, you will experience the tasteful fruit of your actions. Proverbs 22:29 reinforces that a skillful person in their work will stand before kings.

This is not a cultural thing; it’s not a racial construct; and it’s not an ethnic privilege. Instead, it is the outcome of a person exemplifying the attribute of the Creator.

Those in positions of authority seek out the best and most highly skill people to manage their enterprises. Whether they be kings, CEO’s, or parents wanting the best for their children, the people who have discipline themselves to focus and exert all their energy, strength, and mindfulness toward the work at hand typically produce the best outcomes.

If you had a brain tumor, wouldn’t you want the best surgeon to operate on you? Don’t you seek out the most qualified cosmetologist to bring out the best image of you? If you need help on a certain subject, don’t you shop around for the best tutor or mentor?

Yet to become that person requires developing your natural abilities into the necessary skill sets plus cultivating the attitude and desire to be the best at what you do. You don’t have to be the world’s #1 expert on the matter, as there is plenty of demand for those who do excellent work. You only need to develop the God-given abilities you were born with into marketable skills and find ways to serve the people around you. Overtime as you master your craft, you will be recognized for the work you do by your peers and God himself may even draft you into his service.

Then again, you may be serving him already and now have become better at what you do. Yes, for a good life, remember, whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

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

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Matthew 7:15-20

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit…Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

These past few months I found myself negotiating with a very successful business person on the purchase of a large real estate transaction. The deal never closed. Throughout the discussions, they would negotiate a fair deal but never live up to any of their commitments. They made promises but not once delivered on their word. After several attempts to finalize the deal, we walked away. How can you negotiate with someone who isn’t honest and doesn’t live up to their word?

Jesus discusses in Matthew how to identify false prophets. You can recognize them by their behavior. Their appearance may impress you, but what is the fruit of their life?

You can use the same analogy toward any person who comes to you looking like a saint, speaking like a saint, but whose actions don’t live up to their appearance. These are people who promise you anything and everything to follow them. Their intention is very self-centered and they have no problem using you for their personal satisfaction.

Most of the people we meet in life, we quickly (and most often wrongly) judge them by their appearance. Most of the people who we come to know through the media are presented to us from the bias of the reporter. We quickly make assumptions based on which tribe or education or social position or economic status they seem to belong too.

Yet most likely we are wrong. Until you spend time with a person, getting to know their worldview, their values, their life goals and ambitions, and how they manage themselves through a crisis, you are only guessing. Until then, you can only watch how their actions align with their words.

Politicians are in many ways today’s false prophets. They promise you freedom, but implement programs that enslave you to the state. They cast visions of utopia for you if you elect them, but at the end, they are building their utopia at your expense.

The fruit Jesus speaks about is the character attributes of the Triune God: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, humility, honesty, freedom, good work, etc.  The fruit of a dead tree follows the attributes of Satan who is the antithesis of God. John records Jesus stating that the devil’s role is to lie, steal, enslave, kill, and destroy.

So, when you look at the fruit of people’s lives, what do you see?  A life flourishing with the treasurers of God or a life drowning in the destructive path of Satan? You will know them by their fruit.

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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Look at the Evidence

Proverbs 18:13

Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.

We live in a world of in-your-face social and institutional media that everything we read and see and hear is quickly digested and generally believed without facts. A 10-second video clip is shown and conclusions quickly drawn. People and actions are immediately judged and condemn on hearsay, gossip, and tribal affiliation. The Bible identifies people who act this way are foolish and immature.

One of my early mentors taught me the importance of gathering all the facts before being swayed by the initial story. One time an employee presented us with an accusation of another associate. The event if true would be grounds for termination. When I initially heard the story, anger arouse, and I wanted the person immediately removed from the company. But my mentor remained calm, thank the person for the information, and proceeded to complete his work for the day. I was dumb-founded. Wasn’t he going to act on this manner?

He did. He finished the task in front of him, then scheduled meetings with several of the people involved. After meeting with each person, and interviewing several other people involved, the whole story became known. The facts showed otherwise. The accuser’s perception of the events was an error. A person’s reputation and job were saved. And when all the real evidence became known, everyone involved could breathe fresh air again.

The moral of the story – don’t jump to conclusions until you gather all the facts from as many sources as possible. And like Steve Covey always said, First understand, then be understood.

When you allow your feelings to lead, you will fall far short of your goal. Instead, gather the evidence, study the facts, and reach a rational decision which you can uphold before others.

Facts don’t lie, feelings do. Liars may distort and twist facts toward their personal agenda, therefore the importance of you knowing the facts in their pure form becomes more necessary if you truly want to know the truth.  

When 10 facts overwhelm one fact, the answer is obvious. Yet many people know one fact of the situation and ignore the nine. They are people with a hidden agenda and don’t want the truth. They have a personal crusade and don’t care of the truth. The rational person though will want to take the whole picture into account. They will look at the entire evidence before reaching a conclusion.

So, before you jump into the shadow of your feelings, be rational, gather the evidence, and then reach your conclusion on the matter. It always sounds true when the first person speaks, but after you hear from the other side, you will most often find your initial impression is not the real picture of the entire event. The more you do this, the better you will become in evaluating the situations in your life – It’s called maturing in wisdom.    

PS: If you haven’t yet included the Book of Proverbs into your devotional reading time, you may want to practice reading a chapter per day for one month on an annual basis. There is a whole lot of practical wisdom waiting to be digested between those pages that is very applicable for the 21st century.

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