Sin Stinks

“You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have given us over to our sins.” Isaiah 64:5-7 NIV

sin 1

Being a student of God’s grace, I marvel at how the Holy Spirit transforms us through the everyday occurrences of life.

Though God works with His children in different ways, he also works with us in a similar fashion. Take Sin. A concept that is becoming outdated in today’s modern world of humanistic faith. Yet it prevails and is more real today than ever before.

When a newly converted child of God first learns about the Truth, his internal spiritual light bulb starts flashing. It is a refreshing joy to witness their first love. They can’t find enough time to study the Bible. They want to inform everyone they meet what is happening in their life. They can’t seem to express the love and joy that emulates within them. For us longtime disciples, it brings back memories of our first encounter with God.

Yet after the “first love phase” begins to slowly dissipate, a new season of life appears. I call this the “sin stink’s phase.” It is when the Holy Spirit begins to convict a person of attitudes or behavior that is unbecoming of a child of God. All of a sudden, a person begins to recognize in depth what is wrong in the world. They begin to associate the sin with the evil. They begin to see the problem not just around them but more so within them. They begin to acknowledge that they are part of the problem. That their pride, selfishness, and independent thinking adds fuel to the problems in their surrounding world.

Then the Holy Spirit begins to illuminate the gospel message into everyday routine. Grace becomes real. Love becomes meaningful. Truth becomes personified. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ takes on a greater role than just a personal savior. His victory over Satan, death, and sin begins to have a greater influence in their life.

Now instead of focusing on sin and its ramifications, one understands the importance of living within the Triune God circle. Instead of beating a dead horse (sin), one begins to ride in the victory parade of the King (grace). Instead of participating in the problem, one begins to share the good news of Jesus Christ as the permanent solution.

Yes sin stinks. But Christ dismantled sin’s dominance and we now participate with Him in his victory march.

The Triune God wants humanity to recognize that sin stinks. That life at its highest level is living within the divine order of Father, Son, and Spirit God. Otherwise, why do you think God allows sin to hang around as long as it has?

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

Business is a Ministry

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 ESV

ministry 1

There are days when I sit in a church service the preacher seems to indicate that the only place God is working is in their church community. That God’s special blessing is only upon those who serve within their faith community. Somehow, what I do between Monday through Saturday is spoken like a lower-level necessity with the only real meaning to life lies between the four walls of the congregation. Now maybe it’s me, but after all these years I long for ministers whose pastoral is larger than their micro faith world. Somehow it seems we forget that God is attuned to the world and our faith community is only a microscope of a much larger picture.

Take service for example. I get tired after forty some years of listening to preachers emphasize church service over any other type of service. It’s like “church service” is the only service that is approved by God. Whatever else one does outside of the “church” doesn’t compare. Again, maybe it is me, but the Bible doesn’t delineate service into sacred and secular. Humans do. I have witnessed and been included with people who serve to satisfy a personal ego within the faith community. Instead of having God’s Spirit fill the void, they seek status, power, prestige, money, or fulfillment in the name of service.

Within the religious world, we call it ministry. In the marketplace, we call it service. The goal is the same; to provide and care for the people who have needs that we can satisfy. However, “ministry” makes it sound holy; “customer service” makes it sound self-serving. Yet haven’t we seen people within the ministry glorify themselves in service to others? And again, in the marketplace, haven’t we seen the same? Yet within the ministry haven’t we also seen (more than the other) people who serve for the glory of God and for the sake of others? Likewise, haven’t we also met people within the marketplace who serve their constituents and customers for the glory of God and for the real sake of others?

Am I too bold to say that God also created business? That business is a ministry for the economic benefit of others? Jesus quoted that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” In the church world we emphasize God’s Word. Outside of the church world, people emphasis the economic necessities. Is one more important than the other? Doesn’t it take both, the Spirit of God and the physical necessities of life to live a full, meaningful life? Maybe it’s time we stop segregating the world into us versus them. That we are more important than them. Maybe it is time we realize that the Triune God considers all labor and service important. That ministering the Word and ministering the food (clothing, shelter, transportation, entertainment, etc.) are both important and necessary. That one without the other leaves a person poor, hungry, and blind.

Therefore the next time someone asks if you want to participate in their ministry because you don’t seem to have one, let them know that you already are in a full time ministry: your business is a ministry for God’s glory and for the sake of others. Or is that just being too radical in Christ for you?

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.

 

Grace and Performance…

 

“For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”   

 Luke 11:10

 

Becoming 2.

The journey in Christ is a constant relearning of the basics of the Kingdom of God.

Take for example the concept of grace and performance. We live in a performance-oriented society. Whether we are working or playing, performance becomes the standard of measurement. We don’t normally give positive rewards, promotions, or recognition for finishing last.  Yet the Kingdom of God is built on grace and not performance.  Grace extended is how the Triune God relates to us. Grace is the foundation of who God is. Jesus knows our fragility, weaknesses, and the internal strife of sin always knocking at our door.  So how do we express the Kingdom of God in our life when the world around us operates in a politically charged environment that clamors for winners?

Maybe the problem isn’t society around us, but the internal desires of our heart that competes with God. Can we truly say that we desire to truly please Him in everything we do? Or do we want God to bless us with everything we want because we deserve it?

Someone once told me to pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on me. I don’t buy that anymore. Instead, I acknowledge that God owns it all, has the capability to bring everything I need to my door, and has promise to provide. So now I ask, seek, and knock. I ask him diligently knowing he is the owner and provider of everything. I seek diligently and expectantly the answer to my prayers; always pursuing all opportunities that come my way no matter how large or small; constantly seeking confirmation. And when a door presents itself to me, I don’t force it open. Instead, I gently turn the knob and allow it to open from the outside-in. I have found out when I force the door open, it is only me still pursuing what I want. Instead, I allow the Spirit to move the door. Whenever I did this, the domino effect occurs; like the tumblers of a safe all falling into place. The door opens easily and the ride toward the goal is like canoeing down the rapids with very little effort on my path. I simply steer the canoe and enjoy the ride.

Yes, learning how to live a grace-based life instead of a performance-based life is a life time journey. Yet, isn’t what this life is? Are we all not being prepared for leadership and service with others as we walk this adventurous journey of transformation in Christ?

 

Dr. Mike

 

Author of Great Business Emulates a Good God

 

 

HOW DOES ONE CULTIVATE A GODLY LIFE?

 

An Essay on the Book of II Peter

broken 1 

 

 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life

and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us

by his own glory and goodness.

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises,

so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and

escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”  2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV

 

What is the corruption in the world caused by evil desires? Is it not broken relationships, crime, murder, war, poverty, etc?

It has been said that doctors of old times tested the sanity of a mental patient with the following test: the patient was placed in a room with a sink. The faucet was turned on and a stopper was put in the drain until the sink overflowed. The patient was then handed a mop and the door was closed.

If the patient had enough sense to shut off the water, pull the plug, and then mop up the water, he was considered capable of going home. But on the other hand, if the patient mopped like crazy and never bothered to shut off the water and/or pull the plug, he was considered still insane and therefore needed to be detained a little longer in the mental institution.

Well, when it comes to practical spiritual application, there are people in this world that are mopping like crazy, but the water is still running, and the plug is still in the drain. They may be working hard, but getting no place.  Or they climb the ladder of worldly success only to find out when they get to the top that the ladder was on the wrong wall.  These people are not in mental institutions. Some are even people whom we’d consider quite sane, but they are plagued by their own personal demons and they haven’t figured out how to stop the floods in their lives.  And that includes Christians who still don’t quite understand what it means to follow Jesus as his apprentice.

Most of these people know there’s a problem they just haven’t figured out where to go to solve it. They hear and see what others have claimed Jesus has done for them, but they think, “I’m different”, or “I’m no weakling”, or “I don’t need help”, or “I’ve got my act together.” They want to experience Godly power in their life but refrain from making the commitment to diligently follow the “source of that power”.

It seems the apostle Peter had a similar dilemma on his hands when he wrote a letter (which we now call the 2nd epistle of Peter) to believers that they also needed to remember not to take their calling for granted, but always to focus on the proper goal.  If we were to summarize Peter’s letter in one sentence, we would say it this way:

          “Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ,

guarding yourself against false  teachings and

you will cultivate a fruitful, Godly life.”

grace 2

 

Which raises a Question: How does one grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ? And also, how does one guard against false teaching?

The writer of 2nd Peter provides us with solutions.

First, how does one grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue,

to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance,

to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren

nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure,

for if you do these things you will never stumble;

for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly

into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. 2 Peter 1:5-11 NKJV

And the kingdom is something not only in the future, but also a lifestyle for now. Also, to grow in grace and knowledge here doesn’t mean intelligent facts – but insight. It’s understanding the working relationship in practical application between you and Jesus.

Have you ever met someone who graduated top of his or her class; always had the answer, but didn’t know how to make it applicable in everyday life?

We are not talking about acquiring facts, but the practical application of building a relationship where iron sharpens iron.

Notice that each attribute (vs. 5-6) is built upon the other – and each attribute is God’s grace to us.  This is not a simple formula on how you can change yourself to experience Godly power.  Instead it’s the developmental process that God is going to take you through.  And as he does, you are going to be stretched, pulled, and challenged.  However, as you diligently pray asking for a transformed life, and seek his kingdom in your life, he will oblige.  This is what you will learn and become through the process.

 

Faith = “conviction, strong assurance”

Virtue = “moral excellence, goodness”

Knowledge = “correct insight”

Self-control = “self-discipline”

Perseverance = “bearing up under trials”

Godliness = “godly character out of devotion to God”

Brotherly kindness = “love toward brethren”

Love = “active goodwill toward those in need”

godliness 1

 

 

How can you experience sustainable, long-term Godly power in your life?

When you pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ these attributes become your method of daily operations; you will find yourself growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  And as you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, your life will become transformed into his likeness and image.  That is the by-product of discipleship.  You become an apprentice of Jesus Christ.  He becomes your mentor, teacher, and yes, hero, redeemer, and Lord.  In return, you find yourself growing into spiritual maturity where the power of the Godly life is yours to experience.

But Peter also writes something we all need to be warned of…false teaching.  False teaching will lead us away from experiencing the real power of Godly living.  And Peter shows us how to identify falsehood by looking at the character of the teacher.

Imagine a family from a remote area was making their first visit to a big city. They checked in to a grand hotel and stood in amazement at the impressive sight. Leaving the reception desk they came to the elevator entrance. They’d never seen an elevator before, and just stared at it, unable to figure out what it was for. An old lady hobbled towards the elevator and went inside. The door closed. About a minute later, the door opened and out came a stunningly good-looking young woman. Dad couldn’t stop staring. Without turning his head he patted his son’s arm and said, “Go get your mother, son.”

Now if one didn’t know any better and based on perception alone, one would believe that one can be transformed by an Elevator.

How about in Australia?  The Australian Jedi Council consisting of more than 70,000 people have declared that they are followers of the Jedi faith, the religion created by George Lucas for the Star Wars films.  Question: Is every following built on a foundation that will achieve Godly results today and for eternity?

Jesus states in Matt 7:15-20 that you will know false teachers by their fruit. Can apples grow from a banana tree?  Can oranges grow from a fig tree?  Likewise, you will know false teaching by looking at the teachers themselves.  But what are you looking for?   What is the standard of character?

Peter outlines certain characteristics that identifies false teachers whose words must be carefully scrutinized…
1. They walk after the flesh (v.10).
2. They despise authority (v.10).
3. They are presumptuous or arrogant (v.10).
4. They are self-willed (v.10).
5. They speak evil of dignitaries (v.10-12).
6. They carouse around in pleasure and they do it openly, that is, along with the unbelievers of the world (v.13).
7. They have eyes full of adultery (v.14).
8. They entice unstable souls (v.14).
9. They are covetous (v.14).
10.They have forsaken the right way and gone astray (v.15-16).
11.They are filled with emptiness and instability (v.17).
12.They speak great swelling words of emptiness (v.18).
13.They lure people through the lusts of the flesh (v.18).
14.They promise liberty, but they only enslave people (v.19).

What do you notice about all the characteristics mentioned?  Are these characteristics of Jesus Christ?  Or are they just the opposite? What is another by-product of growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ? Isn’t it that you will be able to more easily identify false teachers and teachings.

Most of us have been educated in the school of performance. In fact, Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players”. From the very beginning of our lives we’re taught that we must perform properly in order to get what we want. There’s a direct relationship between how hard we work and how much we’re rewarded. For example, be good & you’ll get a cookie. Clean your room and you’ll get your allowance. Practice hard and you’ll make the varsity team. Study in college and you’ll get a better job. And on the list could go.

The tragedy of this world’s philosophy is that we become so conditioned by it we carry it over into our Christian experience. The grace of God that saves us (Ephesians 2:8-9) loses its meaning when we’re bombarded with the pressure to perform. And this pressure often comes packaged in religious verbiage such as; God helps those who help themselves. It sounds good; the only problem is, it’s not biblical! There’s only one place where you and I can stop performing and that’s in the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus Christ – He who is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). The same grace that saves us is what sustains us and enables us to grow. It teaches us how to live here and now without performing!

What is Peter’s conclusion if we’re going to experience Godly power in our personal relationship, in the transformation of our inner self, and success in our outward behavior?

 

becoming 6

“Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this,

be on your guard so that you may not be carried away

by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”  2 Peter 3:17-18 NIV

Or to put it in another way:

Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ,

guarding yourself against false teachings

and you will fruitfully cultivate a Godly life.

By Dr. Mike

Question: What are some simple life applications that YOU do to continue growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?