God Speaks

“Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” John 8:47 ESV

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How many different ways does God speak to us?

The Bible is the means that most evangelical Christians claim God speaks to us. This is true. Yet, is it the only way?

How about in prayer? (Psalms 66:19)
How about in our dreams? (Matthew 2:12)
How about through visions? (Luke 1:22)
How about through angels? ((John 20:12-13)
How about through other people? (Jeremiah 35:15)
How about through a burning bush? (Exodus 3:2)
How about through secular poetry? (Acts 17:22-31)
How about through creation? (Romans 1:20)

There are probably many other ways that don’t quickly come to mind. If you can add to the list, I would love to hear from you.

Bottom-line: don’t limit the way God speaks with you. He only wants an attentive, believing heart that makes himself or herself available to listen.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, 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

Relate or Influence

” For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” 1 John3:11 ESV

love lead

What do you seek from your relationships? Friendship? Love? Intimacy? Or do you simply use people for your personal agenda?

The older I become the more thankful I am for the friends and family in my world. What I realize now more than ever is that I didn’t go about asking them to change for me nor I for them. Instead, we accept each other as who we are and learn to appreciate each other as God created and gifted us. Whereas in the workplace in those early years, I made the immature mistake of wanting to change others. The focus was on influencing them by whatever means at my disposal. My goal wasn’t to build a mutual, beneficial, unconditional relationship, but to accomplish my agenda for the day.

Isn’t that how many of us relate with others? We either accept them for who they are or we try to influence them to change. That includes our children, parents, siblings, and yes our mates.

The other day I overheard a young woman who was recently married state that she loves her husband but there are a few things she is going to have to change about him if they are going to have a successful marriage. It brought back memories of my early married days when there were certain habits that my wife had (and still has) that I was going to change. Likewise, she would admit that there were many habits that I had (and still have) that she was going to change. Thankfully, we learned early enough that one can’t successfully change the other person from the outside-in. Instead we focused on building up the relationship rather than persuade the other person to our point of view.

Think about your relationships. Is the goal to mutually enjoy the love, friendship and maybe even the intimacy of marriage? Or is the goal to influence the other person to change for your sake?

I am always amazed at how Jesus related with other people. Have you ever noticed that His tenancy was to first relate with people by actually taking the time to love them and respect them for who they were? When verbally attacked, he would defend himself with the appropriate answer. The only time he emotionally exploded was in the temple with the money changers and again with the self-righteous religious leaders who constantly tried to trap him (even then it could be debated that he was practicing tough love techniques). Otherwise, he spent his time solving people’s problems. He healed them. He ate with them. He partied with them. And as a rabbi, he taught them.

His primary focus was to first love the people wherever he went. His influence came later through the people who he invested time with during his 3 1/2 year ministry. His influence was a byproduct of his relationship. He loved first; and then let his love be the influence that transformed lives in and through others. Isn’t that a good plan for all of us to follow?

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

God, Family, Character

“You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” Psalms 128:2

life liberty 1

Thanksgiving is one of the national holidays that I supremely enjoy. A time to give thanks to our Awesome Benefactor for the bountifulness of this great country.

To reflect on this unique country and its history makes one realize how blessed as a nation we truly are. From the pilgrims first settlement, to my parents immigrating after World War II, to the illegal aliens willing to risk their own lives to come to this country, makes one realize how special this nation truly has become. Yet we also cry inside as we watch this country throw out the baby with the bath water.

When you read the writings of many early American historians, you note at least three common characteristics most often expressed that made this country great: God, Family, and Character. This God of our early history wasn’t an idealistic idea, but a Providential Ruler. Thomas Jefferson, a deist, was even inspired to acknowledge that America’s independence from England was a right bestowed by this Creator when he framed the Declaration of Independence. This God was allowed to be involved in early governmental affairs. Today however, we disavow His involvement in public affairs and the price paid is becoming more costly each year.

In the early years of American life, family was the backbone of community success. Families would need labor to operate farms and therefore having one dozen children was not unusual but a necessity to assist with the chores. Families learned to depend on each other for survival and entertainment. Children learned practical survival skills that included hunting, farming, and Biblical common sense. Today, we don’t depend on family for such necessities of life. As a result the nuclear family is disappearing and the favorable fruit it produced is likewise dying. Instead of learning how to work-out problems between two people, we now exit the situation. We have placed our individual needs before others. Wonder why today’s younger generation has been labeled as the most narcissistic generation since the keeping of records?

Of course, it took work and sacrifice to build America into the economic powerhouse under the Providential Benefactor’s blessings within an idealistic land and climate. It wasn’t about seeking easy street. It was about discipline, hard work, sacrifice, and willing to risk everything for a better life. Why is it that families coming into this country with nothing leave an estate for their children that rivals wealthy people around the world? They know the sacrifice and hard work that is required to live a dream. Today we have raised a generation where many want the American dream, but lack the character to make it happen.

Jesus came so we may participate with Him in His new creation. A life of abundance. A life that is a transformation from the Old Human to a New Human. That new Human involves the development of godly character. The same character that God employs in His eternal travels through the universe. His goal is for you and I to fully realize what it means to be human in this life and the life to come. Apart from Him though, it cannot be done. So when you accept His authority in your life, allow His Spirit to lead you and influence you in your decisions and choices, you participate in a journey of transformation in Christ that leads to an enjoyable life now and for eternity.

That is why I am truly Thankful this time of year. It always reminds me that no matter what is going on around, God is Good. Family is Good. Godly Character is Good. And I enjoy the Good in Life.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving 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.

 

Twenty Minutes, Twenty Days, Twenty Years

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14 ESV

 

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One of our small group member’s Mom passed away this week. This past year along, his father and sister likewise died.  The loss of three of your family members in one year is more grief than most of us sustain in any year. Yet, for us still alive and dealing with the challenges of life, death is sobering and allows us to pause for the moment to reflect on what is most important in our world.

This is when I most often think of the 20/20/20 concept. If you knew you only had twenty more minutes to live, what would you do?  If you knew you only had twenty more days to live, what would you do? And what if you knew you only had twenty more years left to live, what would you do? At least once a year I ask myself these questions to be sure we are intentionally redeeming the time in our life.

By asking the twenty minute question, I focus on those people who are most important in my life and let them know I love them, appreciate them, and am rooting for them. I don’t like to say good-byes. Instead, I let them know good tidings until we meet again.

The twenty day question helps me focus on those important items that need to be completed. If I knew I had only twenty more days left, would I be doing this? If it is important for someone in my world that I truly care about, I would probably do it. Otherwise, if we only had twenty more days left, what are those items that I always wanted to do, but always postponed them with the lazy excuse. If it is not important, admit it. If it is important, do it.

Then there is the twenty year question. If you knew you had twenty more years to accomplish something in this life, what would you do? This question helps you focus on your career or mission in life.  Instead of trying to accomplish everything overnight, you could easily start today and slowly work towards your personal worthwhile goal. As long as you are realizing your goal, you are being successful in your pursuit. It adds flavor to life, allows you to fully express your talents, and you can take on other temporary assignments knowing this is only a temporary obstacle and you will eventually accomplish your goal over time. It helps you to keep focused on the important aspects of life. You may occasionally deviate from you plan, but always return to it knowing that in twenty years you can look back and appreciate the people and events that God has allowed you to experience and share in preparing you for eternity.

So why not take the time today and ask yourself: twenty minutes? twenty days? twenty years? You may be pleasantly surprised by your answers.

 

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.

 

 

 

Who Are You?

“…you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:6-7 (ESV)

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Whenever we meet someone new, the conversation eventually reaches the question, “what do you do?” Typically the reply is the job we have or the number #1 responsibility currently in our life like being a full time mom or a volunteer for a nonprofit. From this reply we quickly summarize a person’s identity and whether or not we have something in common to discuss. Yet what we do and who we are may not fit into the standard cultural box of the time. That sometimes leads to an awkward conversation with the new person in our world.

One of the challenges that many people face travelling through time and space is separating the roles in their life from their identity. We typically see this with people who identify themselves though their roles. If they have a great day at work, they feel good about themselves. If they have a bad day at work, they feel less worthy. If the current fad is to be a celebrity or entrepreneur , they will pursue it as the answer for their life. The struggle is realizing that the roles we choose will only temporarily fill our identity cup but will never sustain it.

One of life’s big questions is to answer “who am I?” What are my strengths, weaknesses? What is my purpose in life? Where do I fit in this world? The answer, as you may already be aware, is Jesus Christ. He is life’s reason. He is the central character of the Bible. All of life is built around Him. When we come to that realization, than and only then, will we discover our identity.

We will realize that He is the beginning of a new creation; a creation that includes you. You have an identity that is permanently engraved in heaven and in your heart through the Holy Spirit. No role can match it. Nothing in this world will complete you and fulfill you like He will.

Whatever role you may pursue is simply something you do, not who you are. In your role you can learn new skills and improve your performance. Who you are is not measured by performance, but by the grace of God. Who you be is expressed by who you follow and serve.

Performances may measure outcome, but grace identifies the heart. Both are needed to survive in today’s world. Yet, who you be will always survive your roles. Your role as a husband, wife, father, mother, executive, teacher, scientist, musician, athlete, actor, or whatever, will come to an end. However, who you are and be, will continue into eternity. God is more concern of who you are than the role you perform. His purpose is to prepare you for eternity, not necessarily for you to climb the corporate ladder, win the super bowl, or marry your childhood sweetheart.

Let’s not confuse our roles in life with our identity. It only leads to more frustration and heartache. However, when you accept and live life in Christ nothing will take away your identity. You are already included in the work Christ has accomplished. Therefore, enjoy your life in Christ and be thankful for the various roles you are able to perform for the glory of God.

 

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.

 

 

Growth Involves Discomfort

“…strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort”  2 Corinthians 1:3

growing pains

 

Ever notice how much effort we spend as a society seeking comfort in all that we do?  We purchase comfortable clothes, drive comfortable cars, eat comfort food, sleep on comfortable beds, associate with friends who are comfortable, parade through the day following our comfortable routine, sit on our comfortable lazy chair, and eat comfortable ice cream.

If anything happens to disrupt our comfortable lifestyle, we become upset and possibly even traumatized. Yet when we strive to maintain comfort, doesn’t life have a way to interrupt our status quo? You think maybe life is designed to force us into situations that require us to expand our comfort zone?  Whether we intentionally choose our discomfort, or “meteors from outer space” force us to change our routine, isn’t it when we find ourselves outside our comfort zone and exert energy toward a favorable outcome that we actual grow from it?

When we (the physically challenged) start and complete an exercise routine that builds muscles, shapes our body, and improves our food intake which may be difficult at first, but eventually it becomes a routine, isn’t it very satisfying?  When we start a new job outside our natural gifting, it becomes challenging to do the simple routine at first; however over time, we eventually master it and grow from it. It may have been uncomfortable at first, but afterward we have grown by integrating the new into the old. Have you noticed that anything worth pursuing starts off at the uncomfortable level?

Paul wrote that entrance into the Kingdom of God is going to introduce tribulation into one’s life. To move from comfort to discomfort is the necessary prerequisite for entrance into God’s Kingdom. To grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ is naturally discomforting. Get use to it! Quit your complaining. Get on your knees and cry out to God. It is the way faith in God is built; it is the way we grow in the faith; it is the way of God to help us grow.

So when you find yourself discomforted, thank God. Roll up your sleeves, strengthen your praying arms, and cry out to God. It is the most successful way; it has been done since the dawn of life; and you are privileged too participate with the Holy Spirit in one of the God’s greatest projects at this time: the redemption of creation.  Besides, how else are we going to learn that He is our Comfort?

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.

 

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.