The Ultra-Lean Years

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)

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Ever notice that there is a purpose for every season of one’s life?

Joseph was sold into slavery, imprisoned, and forgotten for thirteen years. Then through a series of “consequences” he became the governor of Egypt second in command to the Pharaoh.

David was anointed King of Israel at seventeen and wasn’t crowned until thirty. For thirteen years he lived in the fields with a bounty on his head from the current king. His companions were the undesirables of his day. Yet he was being prepared to lead a country as he followed God.

Moses was raised as a prince in the Egyptian household. Fleeing for his life at forty for murdering a fellow Hebrew, he took up the occupation of a shepherd for his father-in-law. The lowest of jobs in his time. For forty years he worked in the desert countryside until the Lord had prepared him at the age of eighty to lead his people back to their own country.

Each person had a call in their life from God, but the preparation time were the dry years. We would classify them today as the ultra-lean years.

When you look at the life of others throughout history, the down years were the building blocks for the next season of life. During these years, one learns to cry-out and trust their Maker. One also learns humility and living graciously in preparation for greater service. Though greater service may never come, one becomes available for more opportunities as one is being prepared.

In business, the lean years allows oneself to streamline operations, upgrade systems, and enhance the customer experience through more personal contact with less monetary costs. For those businesses that survive, they come out stronger and more committed in serving their customers and stakeholders. If they didn’t survive, maybe it was time to try something else. One never knows what good is going to come out of a bad situation until it is written in history many years down the road. Until then, we learn to trust our Lord and we walk with Him with our business and personal challenges.

In my own case, the best of times and the worst of times was in-between companies. It is during this time when cash flow dwindles, but the walk with God intensifies. At the end of day, when doors open again for the next opportunity, I always find myself stronger in my walk with our Lord and prepared to serve another employer with God’s gifts and love.

So remember, when you find yourself thinking you are forgotten by God, lean heavier. He is always there. He is simply preparing you for the next season of life.

Remember, we are always rooting for you!

 

Yours 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Undesirables of Jesus

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Luke 7:34 (ESV)

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How many of us would condemn a person who spent their time partying with the low-life of humanity? (There is no low-life in God’s eyes; but from mankind’s perspective, there is).

You would of course need to define low-life. In Jesus’ time, if you were not living the high-life, then you must have been considered the other.  The high-life would be the people who had all the material aspects that life makes available. They would be seen high on the social ladder. They would be formally educated and successful in what they did. They would be recognized throughout the community. They may even be highly respected in the neighborhood. On the other hand, the low-life would be the undesirables of their day. In Jesus’ time, that would include women, children, and the elderly. It would include slaves, the physically challenged, and the religiously inept. One doesn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a low-life; life happens. The result generally is a life without great purpose, meaning, or self-sustenance.  One has to rely on stealing, prostituting oneself, or obtaining help from others just for the basic necessities of life.

Yet Jesus not only conversed with the undesirables of his time, He loved them. He enjoyed spending time with them and was accused of being a “glutton and drunkard.” His circle of friends and acquaintances included tax collectors, prostitutes, adulteress’, criminals, and the working class. His greatest supporters were women who provided for Him from their means. In Jesus’ day, most women had no rights, couldn’t own property, and were treated as collateral on the household books. Yet Jesus loved spending time with them.

He didn’t spend time with them for a few moments as a political campaign video. He ate with them, drank with them, and conversed with them as a friend and teacher.  He healed them. He fed them. He cared for them. He shared stories, laughter, and tears for them. He demonstrated the love of God, the service of God, and the heart of God with everyone He met. He treated others with respect and dignity. Wherever and whenever He could, he changed their world for the better.

How about you and me? Who are the undesirables in your world? What can you do today to impact the life of another that you wouldn’t normally associated with in your daily walk?  What if the next time you drove to work or went out for lunch, you took a closer look at the people you came into contact with. Maybe you can ask God right then and there how you can participate with Him in the life of another. Just be ready for another adventure.

We are always rooting for you!

 

Yours 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Blessing

During a recent breakfast conversation, the question arose; “what is the greatest blessing you can receive in this life?” The answered varied depending on each person’s journey through life. Some answered “a large family,” another “financial independence,” yet another stated “totally in love with one awesome person.” Each person’s answer typically reflected their complex value system. For most of us though, the answer was the “one thing that would truly make us happy for the moment.” Yet would it?

The answer that grabbed my attention though was one that has taken years for this disciple to realize. In one of our recent small group meetings, one of the men (grandpa many times over) made the statement that he never realized until recently what life could be like living in a personal relationship with the living God. He grew up in a rule-oriented culture and didn’t experience the grace-based, life-giving life style until several years ago. Now looking back, he is amazed at the quality of life that fills his insides and expresses itself from the inside-out. For him life is not about the physical toys or accomplishments anymore (that is how he measured his life in the early days). Today it is about a personal relationship with the living King of Kings.

Yes the greatest blessing one can receive in this life is a personal relationship with the living Triune God. Yes, the same God who created the heavens and earth; implemented a plan for human redemption; and has big plans for humanity in a new age. A relationship built not on a contract but a commitment. Theologians like to name it a covenant. But a covenant is simply a committed promise between a faithful God and a double-minded mankind. God always fulfills His side of the promise no matter how many times we fail on our side. But more than his promises, the joy of knowing Him and Him knowing us is greater than any promise. Knowing Him is better than heaven, eternal life, or salvation itself. When one begins to enjoy hanging out with the living, Triune God for no other reason than the joy of the relationship, than one truly experiences the greatest blessing that this life has to offer. Anything else doesn’t even compare.

OUR PRAYER

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Holy True God, thank you for being true. Thank you for being real. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you for designing our life to experience you more and more each day. Help us to become more intimate with you. No matter the circumstances, help us enjoy life the way you have created it to be. Help us to focus more of you and less of us each day. Whenever the circumstances may stink, help us truly to be grateful for life. You are always good. Let your goodness rub-off on us. Wherever we go, whatever we do, however we think, let it bring you glory. Let your blessings bless others. Help us to truly enjoy all of you forever and ever. Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God
Portal: EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

If You Are Seeking a Faith-Building Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

The Flourishing God

Have you ever met a person that exudes confidence with humility, love with justice, and strength of character with a compassionate attitude for others? I personally haven’t yet met such a human in my walk through life. But, as we read the Bible, commune with God, and witness His work in our life and in others, we become more amazed at someone such as this. The story of Jesus is such a person. What the writers of the gospels reveal about Him leaves us with an awe of wonder. He not only amazes us, but also gave us a glimpse of who the Father is like. When we look through the frosted lens of our glasses, we then truly realize why He is God and we are not.

Another attribute that astounds us of God is His life-giving nature. Wherever God goes, whatever He touches, it flourishes. There is a character in the “Lord of The Rings” series (book version, never made it into the movie) that the author portrayed him as a person who made everything around him to flourish. The Newsboys sang a song several years ago (that made it as my ring tone for the iPhone) entitled “Wherever We Go” whose words showcase how life blooms wherever they went: the grass grows greener, the stock market goes up, the sun shines, and the birds sing joyfully. The imagination only limits what the God-Life must be like.

Our narrow view of God limits us in our understanding of a life that flourishes. Typically in the western world we associate flourishing with personal material gain. Though it is a part, it is a small part. For God, flourishing involves so much more. It is an outer expression of His internal divine nature. It is the standard of who He IS. When he asks humanity to live up to His ways, it is because that is how he lives. It involves healthy, mutual submissive relationships; it emphasizes community along with the individual. Its basis is real love that sacrifices for the sake of others. It emphasis is not what is in it for me but how can I participate with God as He continues His work of completing His plan for humanity.

God wants us to flourish. However, he doesn’t want us to perish along the way. For most of us, we are like a rebellious teenager that wants to learn how to drive a car, but still lacks the maturity, responsibility, and accountability for his actions. As parents we want them to enjoy more, but providing gifts to early in one’s growth may quickly turn deadly for that person and others. Therefore, it is best to wait until the proper time. God is no different with us. His nature is to bless and share His world with others. Yet many of us are just not yet ready to handle a life that flourishes. But through time, discipline, and obedience we prove to Him that we are ready. Yet when we are ready, we have most likely matured at a level that it isn’t important for us any longer. We are thankful that God in His wisdom knows what is best for us at the right time.

OUR PRAYER

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Our great Father, Son, and Spirit: thank you for hearing our prayers. Thank you for allowing us to know you. As we walk with you, open our eyes, heart, and mind to participate you as you bless others. As you bless us, in small ways and large ways, help us to likewise to bless others. Let you river of life continue to pass through us and into the people we meet. Let everything we do, say, and think bring glory to you and your kingdom. Let whatever we touch, magnify you. Let whatever we become involved with prosper for your name sake. Let this life flourish for your glory. Amen.

 

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God
Portal: EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

If You Are Seeking a Devotional Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

Joy of the Lord

“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” Nehemiah 8:10

Israel was a nation chosen by God for His purpose of ultimately adopting humanity into the Triune God circle. With Abraham, God began moving history towards His foreordained purpose. From the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we have the twelve tribes of Israel; that turned into the nation of Israel under Saul, David, and Solomon; that eventually led to the birth of Jesus Christ and the redemption of humanity. So whenever we look at the nation of Israel and are honest with ourselves, don’t we view our own life through a similar mirror? How often do we look at the nation of Israel and shake our heads in amazement of their disbelief and behavior in their walk with the Lord? Yet if we be honest with ourselves, are we any different?

Around 500 B.C. Nehemiah was a governmental leader and Ezra the high priest. After the nation came out of another painful stupor of being disciplined, they rediscovered the Torah and the Words of God written for them. So on this day, the 1st day of their 7 month, they celebrated the Feast of Booths, a celebration of their harvest season. The feast was a seven day event followed by one last great day. The first and last day of the feast were Sabbatical Holy days and the nation would assembly and worship their God. This day though the nation rediscovered the Words of God and celebrated by reconfirming disciplines that they had previously stopped conducting.
In the midst of their celebration, Nehemiah expressed the concept that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Not Israel’s joy. Not Nehemiah’s joy. Not anyone’s joy but the Lord’s. In fact, doesn’t this imply that our Lord has joy that he wants to share with others? Doesn’t this also imply that His joy is stronger and more effective than any joy we may experience apart from him? Also, doesn’t this imply that our Lord wants us to experience His joy?

A recent poll revealed that most parents want their children to grow up happy and successful. The poll didn’t ask the parents to define happy or successful, but that they wanted the best for their children. Yet many parents have difficulty in separating happiness from joy. Happiness as many of us old timers have discovered, is a byproduct of the surrounding circumstances and physical components in our life. The challenge is that many of the circumstances we desire and believe need to be happy are outside of one’s control and are dependent on physical stimulus or expectations that may or may not occur. In other words, happiness is a temporary condition that always seem slightly out-of-our-reach. Yet on the other hand, joy is the fruit of a Spirit that perpetually and naturally exudes real, in-depth rejoicing from the inside-out. It doesn’t rely on outside or physical stimulus to celebrate; it simply and naturally expresses itself because Joy is an attribute of the Triune God that lives in the soul of a believer.

So when we say our strength is in the joy of the Lord, we acknowledge that God’s Spirit resides in us, empowers us, and expresses His life through us. That our courage and backbone is found in Christ, celebrated with the Holy Spirit, and uplifted by the Creator’s own divine nature that passes in us, through us, and from us. As we desist, He increases. As we view life through His eyes, His plans, and His purposes, we rejoice with Him and He rejoices with us. We become one in Spirit and one in Purpose and one in Joy. And with such joy, wouldn’t that be a strong attribute that glorifies God and His people? Isn’t this the type of joy (and real happiness) we all truly want?

OUR PRAYER

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Our heavenly Joyous Father, Lord, and Spirit: thank you for expressing your life in us and through us and with us. Thank you for allowing us to experience your life in us and through us and with us. Thank you for sharing your life and especially your attribute of joy. Shower upon us you joy. Let your joy influence the people around us. Let your joy come alive and captivate the people we meet. Let your joy be contagious. Let others capture your joy and experience your love and peace along with it. Let everyone we meet; every place we go; every word we share; let it be sprinkled, covered, and saturated with your joy. Let your joy be our strength through calamities and trials and tests. Let everything we say, think, and do explode with your joy. Amen

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God
Portal: EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

If You Are Seeking a Devotional Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.

 

 

 

How Do You Measure Success?

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In the business world, everything that is important and valued is monitored, measured, and evaluated for improvement.  But in our personal walk with the Triune God, how do we measure real success?  For example, when we view the world’s religious landscape, what do we notice?

There are those who place emphasis on keeping rules.
There are those who emphasize a specific denomination.
There are those who observe special days.
There are those who place trust in Jesus plus…(something else).
There are those who place trust in their ability to do good work.
There are those who place trust in their service toward others.
There are those who place trust in pursuing causes for social justice.
There are those who place trust in maintaining a loving relationship with others.
There are those who place trust in yoga, in karma, or in the cosmos.
There are those who place trust in their ability to recall scripture.
There are those who place trust in attending church services on a regular basis.
There are those who place trust in participating in local, Christian fellowship.
There are those who place trust in observing unique rituals.
There are those who place trust in their ability to pray.
There are those who place trust…(add your own observation)

The point is many of us place trust everywhere but in Jesus. Yet, trusting His claim as Savior, Lord, and King from our heart, head, and will in everyday life’s circumstances is all we really have to show.  A total, dependent trust that His life, death, and resurrection gives us birth unto a new life. A life that we can taste now. A hope that we can believe.

The real measure of spiritual success is simply our faith (trust) in Him.  No matter the trial; no matter the situation; no matter the challenge we face, our faith is constantly being tested and strengthen through the circumstances of life.  Though we may fail to live up to our expectations, He is committed to being faithful and will complete the task. We simply have to hang in there with Him.
The fact is Christ knows our human condition. Most of the time we are simply discovering where we really do stand before God, and it’s not pretty. I am one believer who is very thankful that Jesus is my Judge and jury and He includes us within His story. We are simply his servants enjoying the ride.

How goes your trust in Jesus? Jesus himself wondered whether or not there would be real, trusting faith in this world when he returns (Luke 18:8).  However, no matter where you stand, Jesus loves you and enjoys you just as you are. He only wants you to truly enjoy spending time with him as he invests heaven’s and earth’s resources for your journey with Him unto the promise land.

Our Prayer

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Our Holy Father, Holy Lord, and Holy Spirit – Thank you for opening our mind and heart to come to know you. To know your love, joy, and peace. To know that no matter the situation, the struggle, or event, you are always with us. Whatever we lack in trusting you, continue to shower us with your favor and grace as you sanctify and grow us to always trust you no matter the circumstance. Help us to glorify your name every time we trust you for your intervention in our life. Complete your work in us; help us to participate with you in your Story for mankind.  Amen

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, and Encourager

Author of Great Business Emulates a Good God
Portal: Be Radical…EnjoyLifeInChrist.com

How Does Preaching Effect Us?

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Faith comes by hearing the Word. That is how God made it.  Preaching is a gift God bestows on certain people to expound the Word with more power than just plain teaching of the Word. Teaching explains the Word, but preaching personifies the Word.

To be preached up means that we have taken the Word to a personal level today. Personal means as it applies to us and not our neighbor, nor what we write in preparing a sermon or chapter in a book. Today means today. Not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today. Today, we have been filled with the Word till it is brimming over in our actions, thoughts, and deeds. Yesterday, we learned from life, and tomorrow we shall plan for life, but today we live life.

There are days when we only preach to our self. There are days when we listen to Christian music preaching His word in song. There are days when we walk with nature and just  listen to His creation. There are days when we are corrected by non-believers. There are days ministers of different denominations expound His word via the airwaves hammering home a specific truth that applies to us at that moment. And of course, there are days when just reading the Word in prayer that enlightens our mind and heart. But of all the ways, there is nothing like agood, old-fashion, Bible-believing, faith-building, spirit-filled sermon by a brother of the cross. There is something good about hearing God’s word from the mouth and heart of another believer. Maybe it just reassures that what is happening in us is not strange but happening in the lives of others. Or maybe, it just restores our faith in the universal church.  Either way, there are many ways to be preached up.

As a student of His we always want to be ready with an answer to those who ask. Sometimes we are not. There are moments when the words come out of our mouth that is proper for the time. Then there are times when nothing comes out. Even when we pray for a quick answer, nothing comes out. We hope and pray that the silence at that time is the answer. Like all His disciples, we want to be faithful stewards of His word. And in today’s highly, informational driven society, we need to be more effective than ever to expound His Word in a more personal and effective manner. It’s easier to preach the Word when we are preached up ourselves. When we are preached up, our cups are overflowing and we can’t help but preach the Word in season.  Lord, keep your Word coming!

OUR PRAYER

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Our Faithful Dad, thank you for your wonderful plan of salvation and allowing us to be a part of it. We also thank you for your Word, the Bible. We thank you for allowing us to come to understand its applications and Truths in our life. We thank you for Jesus, His life, His sacrifice, and His intervention in our life each and every moment. We also thank you Holy Spirit for being involved in our life each and every moment. You are one fascinating, heavenly Being.

Help us each day to focus on your teachings, principles, and Truths as it relates in our life. Let them be real to us. Let them be effective in our life. Let them come alive in everything we see, think, and do. Let your Word be a living example in our life.

Thank you Jesus as we pray in your name. Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Coach, Consultant, and Encourager

Author of Great Business Emulates a Good God
Portal: Be Radical…EnjoyLifeInChrist.com