Who Jesus?

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
Matthew 16:13 ESV

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Whenever you want to gather information on a person’s worldview, you can start the conversation with the simple question, “What is your opinion of Jesus Christ?” Be ready though for anything. The person’s reply may range anywhere from very friendly to strong animosity. However, depending on how you reply, you may have the best twenty minute discussion with a believer or non-believer than you would have every expected.

I like to throw the question out in the most unlikely places just to see people’s reaction. Whether they are comfortable in discussing their relationship with Jesus, or keep their faith low keyed, the conversation is always very revealing. On the other side, if they are agnostic or spiritually minded, it opens the door for further discussion. For I find that more and more people want to discuss questions about life because most people shy away from the big three: Religion, Politics, or Money. Yet each one is critical and important to discover one’s purpose and freedom for living.

I am not being judgmental; nor am I seeking to evangelize. My goal is simply to seek-out a starting point of reference. From that reference point, we begin a conversation that is personal and meaningful for the other person. In other words, we begin from their point of view rather than mine. And since everything begins and ends with God, why not start with Him?
Over the years, I have always been pleasantly surprised by some of the answers. Sometimes, I even found myself speechless; which according to my wife is one of the most rare activities found under heaven. Yet, I have become more comfortable over the years to meet total strangers and even extended family members to start off with the question: “Who Jesus?”

So if you find yourself bored and seeking some excitement in your life, then become a little more daring and begin to ask others, “Who Jesus?” Just be ready for anything.

We are 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.

Measureless Goals

“…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” Romans 3:22

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In business, we are trained to measure all important outcomes. In fact, the old adage is if it is not being measured, then it isn’t being managed. By measuring performance, we gather the necessary feedback to determine what changes or adjustments are necessary to improve the outcome. Yet aren’t there objectives that are more difficult to measure than others?

Take for example one of life’s undesirable outcomes: sin. The Bible defines sin in several different ways. John writes that sin is lawlessness (I Jn. 3:4). James writes that “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin”( James 4:17). Paul in addition writes that whatever is not done in faith is sin (Romans 14:23). How does one measure the outcome of faith? Yes we can probably keep a journal log listing all behavior during the day and then record next to each on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 is best) how faithful were we in that action. But would you give yourself a passing grade if you only scored a 2 out of 5? Would anything less than a 5 be labeled a sin?

How many of us want more faith? Yet didn’t Jesus say that if we had only “a very little amount of faith” we could accomplish great things (Luke 17:5-7)?

Don’t we typically measure sin by the outcome? If a person’s behavior doesn’t measure up to what “is Biblical” then we categorize it as sin. Yet Jesus came along and said that sin is even deeper than that; that sin is a matter of attitude and emotional heart. That we don’t have to follow through with behavioral response, but just the inner thought of doing or not doing something can be classified as sin.

Am I being hard on managing sin? Or are we just looking at the wrong side of the picture? Maybe instead of focusing on measuring sin which can become quite depressing, we need to focus on the opposite side. Maybe we need to focus on righteousness. Not our righteousness, but the Incarnate God’s righteousness. Maybe if we allowed more of His righteousness to abide in our life, we wouldn’t even have to write about sin.

For isn’t sin simply the absence of God’s perfect love? Isn’t sin simply the absence of trust in our Triune God? Isn’t lawlessness the absence of failing to mutually yield to the King of Kings in our lives? Isn’t God’s grace the answer to sin? Isn’t His divine love, faithfulness, and influence immeasurable? Instead of trying to manage the sins in our world, maybe we need to simply abide in the one who is measureless and secure in His love, faith, and obedience. Maybe there are some goals that don’t need to be measured, but simply covered with God’s grace. What do you think?

We are 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.

How We Draw Near To God?

 

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8

 

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How does one draw near to God? For many of us, we walk the Christian journey with only a few tools in our soul-box. We focus on prayer, bible study, and fellowship. These are important. Yet most Christ-followers seem to stop there. They just keep repeating the same three over and over again until it becomes so rote that the joy disappears and routine duty takes over. Want to have other tools that will reawaken the romance between you and our Lord?

A variety of Disciplines may be the spark that draws you nearer to God. For those who are unfamiliar with disciplines, let me explain. They are the practices that help us focus our minds and bodies toward God. Mr. Richard Foster wrote a book entitled “The Celebrations of Disciplines” which outlines many of the practices that saints have used throughout history to draw nearer to God. I would recommend that book for anyone who wants to add spice to their spiritual walk with the Lord.

These disciplines are the means of grace that allows us to imitate the mind and soul of God. Typically the best discipline to choose in your season of life is the one opposite of your natural disposition. For example, if you are very selfish with your possessions, you may want to practice the grace of giving to others. When you practice the scripture that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” you will find yourself slowly breaking down the chains that bind you. You will begin to experience the joy that the Lord shares in blessing others.

If money controls you, you can practice the discipline of tithing. By giving away a portion of your income to others like your local church or food pantries on a regular basis, you find again the chains of ownership breaking away and the spirit of stewardship taking over.

Again, these acts by themselves will not cure you. It is the Spirit working within you that renews your heart and mind as you practice these disciplines that draws you closer to God by emulating Him in everyday life. You begin to see life as He views life.

You also have to be careful that the discipline does not become more important than Jesus. We all have a tendency to find a discipline that drastically improves our walk with the Lord and we believe that everyone else should practice the same thing in their life. We forget that we are all wired differently, yet the same. The disciplines that I need to practice to draw nearer to God may be different than yours. Yet our purpose is the same. We both want to walk closer with our Lord in our journey through life. Now, if that is being radical in Christ, please give us immeasurably more.

We are 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Rest in Christ

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30 ESV

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Martin Luther, the initiator of the Protestant reformation movement, was a monk in the Catholic Church struggling to find God before his eyes were open to understand grace through faith in Christ. Like many of his contemporaries, he would pray, fast, and subdue his body seeking answers and direction from God. Yet each practice, discipline, and works that forced him toward God only led him to become more despondent. Then God in His almighty mercy and grace revealed to him the truth. When that moment occurred, Martin Luther discovered real peace for his soul like the Scriptures promises for those who find rest in Christ.

In Christ time, the religious leaders practiced 613 rules in their interpretation of Scripture for everyday living. These rules became the order of importance and the way each person would measure their righteousness before God and man. Many of these rules became a duty and burden for the people. Instead of experiencing the freedom that God intended the people to have, the people felt pressured to perform or be ostracized from their community. Jesus frowned upon this and gave the people an alternative way to live life. Thereby Jesus, per the above quote from Matthew’s gospel, lifts the burden from the people’s shoulder’s and gives them the rest that God originally intended mankind to have before Adam’s rebellion.

Instead of focusing on DOING a long list of things, Jesus stressed having a relationship with him. The rest comes from following Christ; in BEING in a relationship with Him. When we truly realize what Jesus has done for us, that He is our Substitute, He is our Savior, and He is our King, then and only then, will we begin to experience the joy of His Spirit living in us and the freedom He shares with all His subjects.

Jesus does not put burdens on people; people put burdens on each other. Jesus provides uplifting, refreshing joy. His ways allows people to fulfill their design in Him. He wants people to experience the same joy He does. When we connect with Him, follow Him, serve Him, and rejoice with Him, then we experience the abiding relationship of being one with Him, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. And where God is, there is abundant rest. Isn’t that what we mean to be radical in Christ?

We are 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.

 

Jesus is Our Reference Point

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“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV

Most people quote the above scripture to emphasize that Jesus is the only way to salvation. I like to quote this scripture to let people know that it is through Christ that we have a relationship with the living Creator of the universe. When we have Jesus as our reference point, life begins to make sense. When we focus on developing a relationship with the Triune God, salvation is the byproduct. When people focus on salvation before the relationship, then it becomes a contractual arrangement. That is how many people may first accept Christ, yet is it the way He mentored?

In today’s world, relationships are being torn apart. Whether we speak about marriage, friendships, business partnerships, or treaties between countries, the emphasis is on satisfying the self before others. The reference point becomes the self. This of course leads to a world without godly influence. Without a godly influence, the reference point becomes a moving target. This is what has happened in our so called secular world.

The secularization of the western world has developed a culture without a reference point for making wise decisions. The spread of relative morals has likewise produced a culture without a reference point for logical decision making. By throwing the Triune God away from the public arena, youth and adults begin to question the value of God through the reality of the world around them. Life becomes meaningless. They question what good is it to have a relationship with a living God.

When people don’t have a reference point to refer too, anything goes. History demonstrates over and over again what becomes of a people who forget God. When Jesus said He is the way, life, and truth, He quickly summarized what He brings to the table for humanity. To follow Him, one gains the real treasures of life and builds on the foundation of reality. When He becomes your reference point, your life becomes more purposeful and meaningful. When He becomes your reference point, your ideas, values, and decisions have a measuring stick to associate potential outcomes against. When He becomes your reference point, you have a mentor, hero, and teacher to show you how to succeed in relationships, business, and personal agendas.

When Jesus is your reference point, you read the Bible hungry and thirsty to learn everything you can about Him, His plans, and His method of operations. You want to fully understand His Kingdom, His Church, and His Work. Over time you learn to appreciate everything He has done, is doing, and will be doing. You realize it takes time to build a relationship to know Him, walk with Him, and talk with Him. You realize how blessed you are to have Him as your reference point. Whether or not heaven arrives, all you know is that heaven is now when you are fully engaged with life in Christ. So ask yourself, which way will you choose to live: superficially or radically in Christ?

We are 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.

God’s Plan For You

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“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:10-14 ESV

Every time I hear a message about God encouraging the nation Israel through Jeremiah with the above words, I cringe. Most of the time I hold my breath because someone most likely will extract a portion of this scripture to illustrate a point without fully expounding its ramifications. I have been taught to read scripture in context first, understand its cultural and historical significance in its time, and then expound its application into today’s world. Most of the time lately this scripture is used from the pulpit as a short cut to motivate people to trust in God with their future plans.

When read in context, one quickly recognizes that the Lord made a specific promise to Israel. After being disciplined through seventy years of exile, He will restore their nation. A specific prophecy for a specific nation for a specific time in history. What this scripture truly reveals is that the Lord’s purpose will always be accomplished.

What does this mean for you and me?
* God has a plan He started at the foundation of the universe that includes you.
* It is God’s plan, not yours or mine.
* Our plans most likely are not God’s plan.
* The earlier we learn to accept God’s plan and join him in it, the quicker we will experience a deeper relationship with Him.
* As we develop a deeper relationship with Him, the greater His Spirit lives in us, influences us, and empowers us to live life the way He originally created life too be.
* The brokenness of sin slowly dissipates from our lives and is replaced with the riches of His eternal glory.
* We don’t have to wait for heaven; heaven arrives now in Christ as He lives in us.

We do not have to take scripture out of context to make a point. God has a plan that includes you and me. His desire is for all humanity to join him within the Triune God circle. Today, we are heirs, children, and servants of the King of Kings. He joyously and lovingly invites us to now participate in His work to redeem all creation into His original intent (Romans 8:20-21).

So why misuse scriptures to make a point? Isn’t the truth already radical enough?

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.

 

Jesus Wows Me Again

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It seems most of the time when I study the scriptures into the life of Jesus, another Instagram moment hits me.  Ever notice whenever Jesus meets someone who exercises faith in God, He affirms the moment with words of praise and encouragement?

Take for instance:
The Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30;
The centurion in Luke 7:1-10;
The prostitute in Luke 7:44-50;
The hemorrhaging woman in Luke 8:40-48.

In each of these moments He recognized the person’s faith in Him; not a blind faith in something out in the universe. He not only recognizes it, but uses it as a teaching moment. Like a sales meeting acknowledging someone’s achievement for the week, He praises the act and the person’s belief and trust in Him. Whatever the situation, He would recognize God’s influential impact at the moment and express it for the sake of others.

How about us? Do we acknowledge the theophanies (God’s manifestation in our journey) with people we meet and associate with each day? Marketplace Bible Institute & Resource Center has just started a comment page for people to share what God is doing in their workplace. Why not take a moment and share your experience with others? You may enter the blog from here. What better way to share your faith with others? Just another way to be radical in Christ for God’s glory and the sake of others.

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.