Boxes or Circles

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV

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Are you living your life through boxes or circles?

We live in a culture that loves to place people and activities into tiny boxes so they can be better classified and managed. We have a box for family, friends, work, career, church, investments, play, education, etc. The list could be almost endless depending on one’s resource.

I was one who grew up living the highly productive life juggling boxes throughout the day. I had a box for every person in my life. My spouse, daughter, parents, siblings each had a box that I would place in priority each day and week. In addition, all my work functions and relationships had a box. Yes, even church and God had their own box.

As an executive, time was my enemy. The best way for me to manage the daily routine was through boxes. It wasn’t until later that I discovered circles. Instead of segmenting my life, I opened myself to allowing Jesus Christ to become the center of my soul, heart, and mind. When that happened, life began to significantly change. Instead of creating boxes that I would continue to juggle, I began to draw circles. Now instead of treating God like any other box fighting for my time, He always has top priority.

The center of the circle is now Jesus Christ. The next circle around Him is my health. Next is immediate family. Followed by a circle of other family members, friends and associates.

Now instead of juggling boxes and feeling guilty for not investing more time with God, I let him into every circle of my life. He is the center of all my circles. No longer is he an independent box fighting for my time and attention. Instead he dwells within me and I seek to allow him full access into every area of my life. No longer do I have to fight to make Him #1 in my life. He is the center of my entire life.

Maybe this may be too strong, but I believe the person who uses boxes to cope with life still hasn’t surrender their total being to our Lord. Yet God’s patience leads us to repentance. As we draw closer to him, he draws closer to us. Eventually we catch on to what he is teaching us. He may initially accept being placed into a box if that is one way to grab our attention. But eventually He is going to want to be the center of your life. So why not help speed up the process and exchange your boxes for circles? You may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Director & Founder
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Live Like Larry

“…keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” Philippians 3:17 ESV

Larry

Larry passed away several months ago. Cancer caught up with him in his mid-seventies. He didn’t survive the surgery. He is now with his Lord.

I knew Larry for a couple of years. We shared the same table at our Tuesday morning small group. His life is like many of us. We could write a book or do a movie about him and it would probably be a top seller. He served in the arm forces; was a successful general contractor, and with his bride raised a couple of daughters. But more importantly, his testimony was written in his actions each and every day.

He walk the talk. He didn’t surrender to our Lord until about a year after he joined our small group. He was then baptized and enthusiastically put his faith into action wherever he went.

He wasn’t born with a glib to speak. He was introverted. But volunteered to lead and preach in a small venue for senior citizens of an independent living community. I’m sure it made him feel younger. But more importantly, his congregation loved him and he them.

He wasn’t highly educated in a formal setting. But had more common sense than most. He couldn’t read enough about Jesus, His Kingdom, and the power of the Holy Spirit. And whenever something he read moved him, he would make copies and share it with whomever he met. He wasn’t bashful.

He loved to pick up the check at restaurants without any fanfare or recognition. He simply enjoyed making people happy without having to be noticed.

He would volunteer without being asked to help someone who needed carpentry work done.

He knew his limitations yet didn’t let that get into his way. He simply trusted Jesus.

Paul wrote in Philippians that we need to keep our eyes on those who truly live out their faith. Therefore, one of the men in our small group had these buttons made with the caption “Live Like Larry.” It’s our way to pay tribute to a man who walk the talk. How many Larry’s do you know?

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Director & Founder
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!

Find a Mentor

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8 ESV

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In a conversation with several business men and women, the question was asked “what is the one thing you would do differently if you could relive life over again in the business world?”   My reply startled some of the them and made others quickly reevaluate their situation. For my answer was simple; “to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead in all my business undertakings.”

Even though I surrendered to Lord Jesus at 17 years of age, my understanding of how business, ministry, and faith integrated was almost non-existent.  I did not understand how my “business life” could be a ministry that glorifies God and serves others for the common good. At the time church pastors were not teaching about it and there were very few resources that addressed the idea. It has taken many years, much prayer, and sacrificial work searching to discover how this integration works. I often consider that if I had a mentor, how different things might have been.

That is why I now encourage men and women today to diligently seek-out spiritual business mentors willing to coach them on how to fully integrate all aspects of life that leads to the most adventurous journey rooted in Jesus Christ. Ask your pastor to refer someone. Ask someone in your congregation that you know is both success in business and has a heart for God. There are many who talk about faith in business, but there are few in comparison who “walk the talk.”

When you find that mentor, you will find an advisor and a spiritual guide who will assist you through the many challenges and opportunities that will come before you. They are not to make your decisions for you. They are there as a sounding board because they have already gone through the battlefield of spiritual warfare in the marketplace. You will find a mentor will increase your learning curve and move you faster toward achieving your dreams while staying true to God’s purpose for your life.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Director & Founder
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!

Vocational Discipleship

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 ESV

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What is your favorite church program? Sunday school, women’s ministry, choir, praise band, small groups, bible studies, missions, etc. My answer may surprise you. The reason why may even challenge your #1 choice.

Of all the programs I have been associated with over the last forty plus years, the one with the greatest impact in my life and in the life of many others is discipleship. Not just being mentored on how to live in Christ, but how to live each day in the workplace with, in, and through Christ. So when we speak about vocational discipleship, we are emphasizing how to integrate faith with our vocational calling.

The reason vocational discipleship rates so high in my book is it takes every area of one’s life into consideration. Most of us will spend more than a third of our waking hours working in the marketplace. When one practices the discipline of following Christ through mutual submission with another believer who likewise has surrendered his business kingdom to our Lord, personal and cultural transformation is exciting to witness.

Through discipleship one learns and puts into practice leadership, serving, giving, loving, communicating, and over one hundred other attributes that imitates our Triune God.

So when vocational discipleship is the prime program of every church, members exercise their gifts and talents for God’s glory and for the sake of others in the immediate church community as well as outside their four walls. Church becomes more relevant when one sees how God is involved in everyday life within the marketplace. In addition, vocational discipleship lays the ground work for saints to capture more ground for God’s Kingdom. Church becomes a 24/7 activity.

The believer grows to trust and rely everyday on God’s faithfulness and grace through the challenges and opportunities presented in the marketplace. When You see God move through the workplace each day, your faith and witness becomes stronger. You learn leadership by following your King’s lead. As you follow the Spirit’s lead, you relate with others by how God relates with you.

So if you have time to become involved with only one church program, my recommendation is vocational discipleship. If your church doesn’t have such a program, maybe the time has come to start one.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Founder & Executive Director
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!

“You Are Invited”

 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said,.. Mark 1:7 NIV

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It all begins with God. He created the world which included humanity. He not only planned, designed, and executed a God-size strategy, but He also opened the door for His creation to join Him in His journey.

He invited Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to join Him. He invited the entire nation of Israel to join Him. Through Jesus, he invited the entire remaining human race to join Him.

He doesn’t force, coerce, or manipulate you to join Him. He doesn’t threaten you, remove His common grace, or strike you with lighting if you don’t join Him.

He has given you the free choice to follow Him or not. He respects you as a person. He doesn’t interfere with your plans unless he is invited. This is why I appreciate the prayers of my parents, family members, friends, and fellow saints on my behalf. Their prayers invites God to intervene in my life to the point where I am able to willingly and joyfully accept His invitation into my personal space.

Isn’t it interested how the mature invites the immature to participate in something that they will benefit in the long run? The mentor who invites the mentee to learn from her. The trader who invites others to join him and learn how to trade the markets more successfully. The teacher who invites the student into a specific field of study that builds upon their strengths and desires. The carpenter who hires an apprentice to learn the business more effectively. We see it all around us.

Isn’t evangelism simply inviting others into a relationship with the living God?  They can choose to join or not. It is their choice. The best we can do is invite them, pray for them, and love them on behalf of Jesus Christ. He invites us into a personal relationship with Him. Can’t we do the same for others?

 

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Chair, Consultant, Encourager
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Learn. Integrate. Grow.

 

 

Fiat Character

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 3:3-5

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Wouldn’t it be great if our character could be molded and built overnight? Rather than having to discipline our thoughts, attitudes, and habits over years of practice, why couldn’t we take a pill and have instant Godly character?  We know that is not reality.  So if someone offers you such a “pill” or shortcut, beware. Only God’s love and grace is there for us to experience the downside of character building.

When God created man and women, He did so after his image and likeness (Gn. 1:26).  Of all of God’s creation, only humanity has the ability to reason, imagine, and create.  These characteristics are patterned after God’s likeness. Yet man also, because of the sin virus, is blacken with spiritual cancer. He needs healing. That healing comes to us via Jesus Christ. He sends the Holy Spirit into our lives to heal and restore our hearts and minds. Our participation involves building our Will through the choices we make. It requires obedience. Most often it requires obedience through the tough difficult times of life. Even Jesus learned through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

Paul writes that the purpose of life is for us to grow into the image of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:24). When the Bible speaks about image it doesn’t mean that everyone looks like Him. What it means is that we resemble His character and spirit. That character and spirit comes through the trials and tests that life presents. It doesn’t come via a pill. It doesn’t come by taking a class. It doesn’t come by joining a church. It only comes when we allow His Spirit to lead us, transform us, and walk with us through the challenges of life.

So forget about fiat character. Instead, learn to walk with the Triune God as He restores creation back to His original intent. That includes you, me, and all of creation.

Perseverance.  Endurance. Faithfulness. They may not be glorious words in a self-esteemed society, yet they are the marathon characteristics of a “little Christ” in today’s world.

 

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Chair, Consultant, Encourager
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Learn. Integrate. Grow.

 

Turning The World Upside Down

“This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” Acts 17:3-7 ESV

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Have you ever noticed that to become truly successful in today’s world, there are many times you have to go opposite of the norm? One eventually learns that success measured by worldly standards enslaves one to passions that are self-defeating. Real, long-lasting success however, produces freedom, flourishing, and virtuous growth for the self and others. For many people without a Triune God worldview, the Christ-centered life is simply the opposite of how they have been educated through the world’s systems. Therefore, when the world looks at Kingdom living, they focus on what they are going to personally lose rather than what they and others will gain.

The world’s educational, governmental, judicial, commercial, and scientific institutions are generally built upon humanistic principles. To espouse that Jesus is King of all these entities would be ludicrous in the eyes of many of its leaders. Yet, the early church didn’t mince words. They stated profusely that Jesus is King. Not just King of heaven, or the Jews, but King of all the heavens and earth! A bold statement then and still a bold statement today.

When one acknowledges that Jesus is King, one’s world begins to turn upside down. However, overtime one realizes that what is truly upside down is today’s world. That the Messiah came to restore humanity onto a path that eventually will birth universally upon the whole earth at the consummation of all things. Today his children are gaining experiences and knowledge of what it means to live the abundant life in Christ. We capture a glimpse of the vision and a small taste of Kingdom living now.

Yes in the eyes of others who may not truly realize their homeland, priest, and king is Jesus, the Christ-follower is someone who is strange. Yet in the eyes of God, who gives Christ-followers His Spirit to transform us, His domain to encircle us, and His faithfulness to encourage us, we are His living examples. We demonstrate and witness to others what it means to live under Kingdom freedom, Kingdom economics, and Kingdom growth.

So if you think we are turning the world upside down, think again. Could it be we are just following Christ as He turns the world right-side up?

 

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Chair, Consultant, Encourager
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
* Great Business Emulates a Good God
* Be Radical…Follow Christ!
* Simply The Messenger
* Unequally Married

Learn. Integrate. Grow.