The Suffering God

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” Hebrews 5:8

Suffering in many cultures is typically looked upon as if the person is doing something wrong. In some faith-communities, suffering is typically viewed as the result of personal sin. Yet when one views the spectrum of the entire Bible one learns that is not true.

First there is Jesus Christ. As the writer of Hebrews states: Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered. Jesus of course never sinned. In the beginning of his ministry, he was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit where he suffered physical exhaustion from lack of food and water. His suffering was not the result of sin, but the deliberate choice of obeying His Father. In his last days, he suffered death on the cross. Again, not because of his sin, but his deliberate choice to fulfill the Godhead’s plan of redemption.
Jesus stated in John 9:1-3 that a certain blind man was born sightless not because of sin, but for God’s glory. The Book of Job 1:1,8 states that God considered Job blameless (sinless) yet his entire world came crumbling down. He suffered physically, emotionally, and financially. Yes, many other religions and faiths have difficulty in believing God knows anything personal about suffering. Yet the Incarnation demonstrates what Jesus learned through suffering.

There are those in the Protestant ranks who emphasize the cross without an image of Christ because of the resurrection. However, those in the Catholic faith maintain a statue of a suffering Jesus on the cross as a reminder of the crucifixion. Both images are correct. Yet one-side likes to focus on one side of the spectrum and ignore the other. The fact is joy and suffering is a part of life.
To enjoy life in Christ is to admit the reality of suffering. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:24 that his suffering is for the benefit of others in the Body of Christ. Yet even in suffering, Paul rejoiced in the Spirit that lived in him and help him through the pain. In I Corinthians 12:26, Paul writes that when one suffers in the Body of Christ, the entire Body of Christ suffers. Also, in Acts 9 Jesus is speaking with Paul (then Saul) asking why is Paul persecuting Him? Paul was persecuting believers, the Body of Christ, not the physical Jesus; yet Jesus’ reply was he was taking the pain personally when the Body of Christ is being attacked. Isn’t it the same when one member suffers within the Body of Christ? When one suffers, isn’t Jesus already there in Spirit? Doesn’t he recall what it was like walking in his physical temple? And as our mediator with the Father, doesn’t he groan with the Spirit working out what is best for all parties involved?

Yes, God created life to be enjoyed. Yet when one realizes that joy comes from the Spirit, not the physical surroundings that we live in, the more comforting it becomes to continue the journey knowing Christ is with us, empathizing in our suffering, and providing the means to move through the pain where God will be glorified and we will be acknowledged by our Creator for the faith we exercised in those moments of truth.

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 9

Our Great Empathic God: thank you for experiencing humanity in person. Thank you for knowing what pain and suffering is all about. Thank you for mediating between heaven and earth. Thank you for always walking with us through our suffering. Help us to have the courage and conviction to always trust in you. You have made everything possible through your life, death, and resurrection. You are victorious and triumphant in your ways. You learned obedience through your suffering. Help us to likewise learn to trust you and follow your lead no matter how ridiculous the decision is in the eyes of others. Help us to walk through our suffering and learn from it. Help us walk through our pain and glorify you through it. Help us baffle those around us by allowing your Spirit to reside in us full of joy and the fruit of your divine nature. No matter the circumstances, no matter the challenges, and no matter the results, help us enjoy everyday life in you for your glory. Forever and ever. Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God

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

Enjoy Life

When you take the time to look at people in your workplace, home, neighborhood, church, gym, or family, how many do you know that truly enjoy life? Doesn’t it seem like most people are hurriedly jumping from one activity to another without truly rejoicing in what they do? How many people do you know that truly sing when they are actively working? No, not listen to the music of others, but truly deep inside rejoice with beautiful (to them) joyful noise? Doesn’t it seem most people we meet have a plastic smile on their face as they force themselves to complete whatever they are doing so they can move on to the next item on their daily to do list? Then again, how many people say that IF they had a different job, or made more money, or were married (or single), or whatever, that they would definitely be enjoying life more? But would they?

There are many factors that may cause a person to lose their joy, and I am not going to dwell on all of them. But the one that I am going to shout out today is my personal favorite: Life in Christ. For most of us this is simply a religious expression within the Christian culture. For myself, it is the core of life. Life only makes sense when one truly comes to know who Jesus is, understand who He is, and apply His teachings in their daily life. When one comes to that point in their journey, one truly begins to be free, amazed, and rejoicing in life’s adventurous relationship with the Creator God.

When one walks with Him, one acknowledges that his purpose is supreme over any personal plans. And one rejoices that He allows us to participate with Him in His purpose. As we participate with Him, we begin to experience the freedom that comes from serving the King who made us all free from the darkness of Satan and the rebellion of godliness. Not only are we free, but gracefully amazed at His loving nature and supreme care for each of us. He will pursue us even if one of us leave the 100-fold in pursuit of our personal desires. But more importantly, after one has an intimate relationship with the Supreme Lover of the universe, who else is there? what else compares? When one reads such scriptures as:

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:17

“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:23-24

“These things I have spoken to you, that my (Jesus) joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God.” Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

These are only a few of the scriptures that immediately come to mind when we behave radically in Christ – that is enjoy life in Him. What if you became a committee of one and ask our heavenly Father to open the gates of heaven and earth so you may fully enjoy life the way He created life to be? And as you do so, and as you let His blessings flow to those you know and meet, what a wonderful testimony of Kingdom reality as God is glorified. So why not today, Be radical – Enjoy Life in Christ!

OUR PRAYER

prayer 5

Our great Father God, Lord God, and Spirit God: thank you for everything you have provided to us at this time for our enjoyment. Thank you for our mates. Thank you for our children. Thank you for all the people in our little world. Thank you for our struggles and challenges that allow us to learn more from you and trust in you. Thank you for your words and promises of encouragement. Thank you for letting us to be grateful. Thank you for everything you have created for our enjoyment. Thank you for allowing us to share our joy with others. Thank you for everything you give and everything you provide and everything you are and everything you do and everything you share with us for your sake. Help us to truly appreciate and enjoy everything you have given us to enjoy. No matter how small or how large, help us always to be grateful. Amen. 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.

Witchcraft in the Marketplace

Most of the time when we speak about witchcraft we think of potions, wands, and black pointed hats worn by ugly women with a bitter facial expression. We may recall witches from such movies as “Harry Potter and ….” or “Wizard of Oz.” For most of us, witches are a make believe fantasy. Yet, God’s word strongly recommends us to stay away from them (Deut 18:10). Are they for real or have witches gone away along with the devil in red underwear and pitchfork?

The Bible most often uses the word sorcerer or sorceress to identify people who practice black magic or wizardry. They are people who practice the art of dark magic, creating harmful illusions, or playing with ungodly spirits that point others away from trusting the Triune God. There base of operation is built on falsehood. The Bible gives unpleasant examples of sorcerers and their outcomes. There is Pharaoh & Moses (Ex7:11), Daniel & the Chaldean King (Dan 2:2), and Micah’s prophecy of the end times (Mic. 5:12). The Book of Revelations likewise mentions what becomes of sorcerers at the end of the age (Rev 22:15).

What does sorcery look like in the marketplace? It comes in many forms but here are a few examples: 1) The illusion of success typically built on the back of others (picture of a 20 story office building on a brochure as the corporate office when in reality one has only 500 SF rented space in the building). 2) The distorted numbers of monthly reports(government inflation and unemployment numbers is a good example). 3) Keeping two sets of books (One that the public sees and the other telling the true picture [Enron]). 4) Building a business organization through a Ponzi scheme. Typical in an investment community where new money must be attained to distribute to the earlier players. (examples too many to mention.) 5) Portraying the ideal through media and advertisement. (eg. glamor magazine touch-ups). 6) Happiness through materialism (name your favorite product). 7) Dress for success (focus on form rather than substance). 8) Lies in Advertisement (we see this come alive in political campaigns). The list is endless.

What witchcraft sells is falsehood. Witchcraft denies accountability to a Final Judge. It removes God from the picture, and pushes for personal agendas no matter what the cost or price. It typically places the outcome and means more important than people, truth, and God’s sovereign plan. In the end, it is a lie that eventually hurts and destroys individuals, families, and institutions. It is generally self-centered and does not take into consideration the ramifications and impact into the lives of others. It prevents people from having a truly authentic relationship with God and others. It destroys character, damages eternal values, and ruins lives in the process. As faith-builders in the marketplace, we are called to restore God’s Kingdom reign in the businesses we own, manage, and work in. It begins with one person’s commitment to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit within the marketplace. It begins with you and me.

So next time when you see witchcraft within the workplace, call it out. Provide a better solution that is built on godly principles of honesty, truth, and authenticity. Your clients, supervisors, and peers may disagree with you, but at least you have taken a stand for Christ and those around you. In the end, your example may lead others along with you toward the real promise land.

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 4

Holy Father, Holy Lord, Holy Spirit – thank you for revealing your truth to us. Thank you for giving us the scriptures to read, study, and learn about you and your ways. Help us to place into practice your righteousness. Help us to glorify you in the marketplace. Help us to glorify you in our relationships. Help us to glorify you with our words, thoughts, and actions. Help us be a beacon for you in the marketplace. Help us to restore the marketplace under your sovereignty. Help us.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God

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

Sin: Problem or Symptom?

As an independent consultant, I am called upon to help solve problems. Sometimes the problem is easy to identify and a solution quickly implemented. Other times, the problem is cloudy by all the smoke. Most of the time people focus on the symptoms of the problem rather than the actual cause.

For example, if you are having a cash flow problem, is that the actual problem or the symptom of something deeper; like not having a job. Many of us will focus on the symptom – no money, rather than on the actual problem – no job. Isn’t sin like that?
In our early walk with the Lord, we want to eliminate sin from our life. So we adhere to the Ten Commandments, read our Bibles to find out all the do’s and don’ts, and then find ourselves frustrated when the results are negligible. It has taken many of us multiple years to learn that sin is not the problem, but the symptom. The real problem is an absence of an intimate relationship with the Living God. Isn’t sin simply the absence of God’s influence in our life. By influence, we mean a strong desire to walk intimately with Him where His divine character expresses itself in us and through us because He lives in us. We gladly yield our self for Him to express Himself through us.
C.S. Lewis once wrote that we don’t learn to be Christ-followers; we catch it. Like a good virus it impregnates us and grows in us. The more we hang out and come to know God, not know about God, the more we enjoy Him and learn from Him. We surrender ourselves and follow the King of Kings via the Holy Spirit that lives in us. It is not just about removing sin from our life, but more so, it’s about have a strong, intimate relationship with our King. When we live a Christ-centric life, our love, joy, and peace comes from Him. As He blesses us, we simply express the same blessing toward others.
Again, sin is not the problem, but only the symptom. A close, intimate relationship with the Living God where we are daily infatuated and memorized by His love and involvement in our life leads us away from sin’s darkness and into His wonderful light. So next time we find our self on the wrong side of sin’s darkness, ask yourself these questions. “Did I really submit to God’s heart on the matter or just followed my natural desire to please myself?” How deep and strong is my current relationship with the Triune God? Am I walking with God or am I trying to make God walk with me? And lastly, what are you going to do about it?

Our Prayer

prayer 5

Holy Father – Holy Lord – Holy Spirit: Thank you for removing the eternal penalty of sin. And more so thank you for hiding us in Christ were your righteousness covers our humanity. More than anything else, help us to walk with you, to follow your story and narrative, to seek you diligently in every aspect of our life. Help us to love you with our whole heart, mind, body, and soul. Help us make you the center of our lives. Let everything we say, think, or do be done for your glory, your Kingdom, and your name. Remind us daily that you are alive in us; and also remind us to submit to your influence in our life. Help us see you each and every day wherever we go, in whatever we do, and with whomever we meet. We place our trust in you. Glorify your name through us and in us.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, Encourager
Author of Great Business Emulates A Good God

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

Bless My Business

How many business operations do you know that actually glorify God in their service to others? How many of those are operated/owned by believers? How many are operated/owned by non-believers, but their work exemplifies quality of godliness? These questions challenged me when I completed my dissertation. The final results ended up in a book entitled “Great Business Emulates a Good God.”

One of the items that surprised me the most was how many non-Christian business operations practiced godly principles and exercised eternal values that magnified the qualities of the Triune God. Yet the main difference between the two pertained to motive. Christian-focused business’ operated to glorify God. Faith-neutral operations focused on glorifying their brand. Yet both sides operated businesses that the world would say were successful. At least from the outside looking in.

Why bring up these facts? Simply because we know people, if not ourselves at times, that want and desire God’s blessings on our business, but still operate with self-centered motives. We want God’s favor, but refrain from being honest with Him in our dealings with others. We typically haven’t come to a place yet where we have surrendered the business under the domain of King Jesus.

How do we know if we have surrendered the business to God’s domain? Do we actually operate under Kingdom economic principles or follow the ways of the world? Do we practice decision-making that benefits ALL stakeholders of the enterprise; that means partners, employees, vendors, government agencies, and investors. Do we actually seek God’s will before making decisions that impact the business’ mission? Is the business’ mission and aim to glorify God, serve the common good of others, and promote the well-being of all parties, or simply too benefit a few insiders?

These may be tough questions, but how can one expect to be blessed if one is conducting business outside of God’s character, nature, or will? The transition doesn’t happen overnight. But God is merciful and if our heart is open he will lead us to the economic promise land. For most of us, it is a process of repentance, change, and redirecting our hearts to see the world as He does. And even though we may fall far short from perfection, God rewards and blesses those that fulfill His purpose in life. Yes, catch His vision for your life and business and even your business will learn to rest in the favor of God and His graceful blessings.

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 8

Holy Father-Holy Lord-Holy Spirit: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to pursue a business that will create opportunities that will glorify you, serve the common good of others, and reward us for the risks that are taken. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all ungodly decisions. Help us to inspire those around us to follow your lead. Help us to walk with you through each business process, strategy, and client to glorify you. Help us to be true to you, our self, and others in building eternal relationships that buildup your Kingdom now. Help us to surrender our business for your glory. Bless us so we may be a blessing for others

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.

THE CHRIST-CENTERED LIFE

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11-12 (HCSB)

christ centered 1

There are many concepts thrown around each Sunday from Pastors with the desire to influence their congregations for Christ. Most are Biblical based. Some though require an advance degree in theology to comprehend the practicality of the topic. My hope over the next several months is to share some of these paradigms in a more practical surrounding.
Take for instance the concept, living a Christ-Centered Life. What does it mean to live a Christ-Centered life? Can one live a Christ linear life? Can one live a Christ oblong life? Or what about a Christ-Cliff Hanging Life? I’m not making fun of the concept, simply the changes culture places on us to effectively communicate the gospel message of Jesus Christ, His Domain, and His Spiritual influence in today’s world.
In the apostle’s Paul day, he would continually write expounding the concept of life “In Christ.” The concept was to explain Paul’s theology of Christology. For Paul life in Christ can be summarized into four segments of relationship: Identity, Fellowship, Participation, and Union. He would reiterate that our identity is “Hid in Christ.” That we have been redeemed by Christ and therefore are now included in Christ before the eyes of God the Father. When our Father God now looks at humanity, He looks through the prism of Christ.
We are likewise in fellowship with God and other believers who are likewise included in Christ. We belong and share life together on a journey that started at the foundation of creation. We share God’s truth, love, and grace with each other as we learn how to live the divine life.
In addition, we participate with Christ. In baptism we publicly acknowledge Christ’s life, death, and resurrection until he comes. We become his hands and feet throughout the world. We suffer as he suffered. We rejoice as he rejoices. We serve as he serves. We are His Body and continue the work that he started.
Now being in union with him, we abide and have our strength through Him. Like he said to His Father that he can’t do anything without Him, we likewise can’t do anything for God without Him. Whatever we do in non-union with Him, we do for ourselves. Everything we do in union with Him, we do for his glory. Our life, our rewards, and our hope is all included in him. We, as members of His universal Church, are engaged to be married to Him. We are in a committed relationship bound by a covenant. Not a contract where if one side fails to perform, the other can walk away. This is a covenant where both sides promise to fulfill their obligations for life no matter what the cost. A real commitment.
So for the short definition, when we speak about the Christ-centered life, we are making a 21st century statement that Paul outlined in the 1st century. The Christ-centered life is simply catching the divine life “In Christ.” More to come…

OUR PRAYER

PRAYER 1

Holy Father, Holy Lord, Holy Spirit — thank you for showering us with your grace, truth, and love. Thank you for revealing a small part of your plan of salvation to restore all creation per your original intent. Help us to follow your lead in our daily walk. Help us to serve others with you. Help us to truly understand the depth, and height, and magnitude of your love for us. Help us to truly live a Christ-centered life for your glory. In your name we pray.

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.

Graceful Love or Legalized Affection

LOVE 8

Love is one of those expressive words that has been overused and underperformed in the 21st Century.Typically, if you asked 10 people for a definition of love, you would probably receive as many remarks.They would include such catch phrases as:

an emotion that makes one feel good

a decision to act

a sexual encounter

a worshipful moment

an exhilarating experience

an intimate friendship

a temporary relationship

a hookup

an act of giving

There are other statements you have heard that you could also include on the list. Yet, at the end of the day isn’t the best standard of love the source itself: the Triune God. We witness that love in the relationship between our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Both sides totally giving of themselves for the other. Not a 50%/50% partnership. But 100%/100% of total sacrificial blessing toward the other. Totally unconditionally as exemplified through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for humanity. He died for us while we were still rebelling against him. A graceful love is a totally, unconditional, freely given sacrificial expression without any strings attached.

On the other hand, how often have we experienced the legalized affection that some label as love. We have all witnessed that love somewhere in our lives. For example:

The parent that denies their emotional praise unless the child behaves according to specific demands.

The boss that manipulates others with a caring facade for the purpose of achieving their objectives; if not accomplished according to their desires, you end up in their dog house with no option for restoration.

The politician that kisses each baby in exchange for your vote. (every see a politician kiss a baby after the election?)

The wife or husband who refrains from sexual activity unless their mate meets their specific demands.

The little female princess that behaves accordingly to get what she truly wants from her Dad.

The neighbor who forcefully smiles across the fence at you yet internally mutters that life would be better off if you simply dropped dead.

The list is endless. The bottom line is we exhibit loving affection as long as others live up to our level of expectation. But the moment our standards are not met, we want to throw the bum out.

Legalized affection is “playing nice for what we want out of the relationship.” Graceful love is sacrificing ourselves for the betterment of the other with no other conditions except that God is glorified in the end. When God is glorified, Love gracefully wins. Which do you believe is the one God wants us to live?

OUR PRAYER

prayer 5

Holy Father, Holy Lord, and Holy Spirit – thank you for revealing to us what makes love work. Help us out of our ignorance, pride, and lust. Let your heart manifest our actions, thoughts, and words so that you are always glorified. Whatever we lack physically, mentally, socially and financially, provide us with the means and the resources to bless others as you bless us. Thank you Jesus for showing us the way. Amen.

Yours In Christ,
Dr. Mike
Consultant, Coach, Encourager
If You Are Seeking a Devotional Study, Check Out My New Book Be Radical…Follow Christ.