Infectious

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22 ESV

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C. S. Lewis once stated that we can’t teach the Divine life, it must be caught. It took me many, many years to realize what he meant.

Like oxygen, we need to breathe it in to catch it.

Jesus stated it in another way. We need to be born again (Jn. 3:5). He also prayed that we would be one with him and his father (Jn. 17:11). Again, indicating that something must happen first before we can truly experience the divine life.

When one catches this divine virus, one’s heart begins a process of renovation. The Jeremiah heart of stone (Jeremiah 17:9) turns into a Spirit infected heart (Romans 5:5). The mind begins a transformation to rethink its position in the world (Romans 12:2). One’s perspective of reality shifts into a Triune God worldview.

Life takes on a new purpose. Meaning & values become align with the work of the Great Designer. The divine infection leads to a divine marriage relationship between the universe’s Greatest Lover and yourself.

You can’t teach this via rules, principles, or lectures. It is only caught when you hang out with the Creator of your soul. How about making today one of those days?

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Founder & Executive Director
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

Encourage your friends today…share this with them.

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Getting in the Way of God’s Spirit

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Acts7:51 ESV

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Stubbornness, which is a byproduct of pride and a heart that amplifies the self, has been the ruin of many people. As this scripture reveals through Stephen, the first known Christian to die a martyr’s death for Christ, aimed the above quote at the religious leaders of his day.

The problem which he identifies is the same one when dealing with religious and non-religious people today. I group them together because the issue is the same. They both have a hard heart and are convinced that their way is the only way of living a prudent life.

The religious person likes to emphasize the rules, the principles, and the methods. Whatever makes them feel good about themselves must be good for others. If it works for them, it must be good for everyone else. On the other hand, the non-religious person sees through their game playing, but likewise imitates them by throwing out the baby with the bath water. They see the hypocrisy and don’t want anything to do with it. However, instead of focusing on Jesus’ message, they only look at the misdirected fruit of religious people and close their eyes to everything else. Both sides miss the mark of realizing the problem is within them. As one person stated somewhere, ” when we point a finger at someone, three fingers are pointed back at oneself”.

Jesus once stated during a teaching moment, that a person pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). Most of us don’t look for God’s involvement in a situation until after the fact. By then, a difficult situation has become a worldwide crisis. Instead of asking, seeking, and knocking at the beginning of the process, we wait until after we have emptied ourselves with all our effort and resources. Only then do we begin to seek help from God.

However a person who looks past the human condition, who walks in the presence of the Triune God, is generally able to distinguish God’s work from man’s facade of righteousness. The reason is because that is where they came from. It takes one to know one.

The Holy Spirit is always at work. It is the Spirit that gives life (John 6:63). Like the wind, we may not see him, but we see the impact. However, we need to be attuned to him. We need to realize that God has given us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) that allows us to communicate and share in his fellowship. As we walk with Father-Son-Spirit, our harden hearts are displaced with the new heart that opens the pages of God’s universe and allows us entrance into his presence.

So the next time you think you are doing right, stop and ask God for confirmation. You may be pleasantly surprised with an answer that is more favorable for all involved parties. And yes, it is possible that you may not be initially correct. Yet with an open, attentive heart plugged into the Holy Spirit network, revelation in the workings of God has a way to change one’s opinion and worldview quicker than any other method. Or do you want to be known as the person who resists the work of the Holy Spirit?

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Oops: Too Far?

Notice how some of us love to take things to the far edge? When driving the car, we speed along approximately 9.9 miles above the speed limit because we know that is the limit police radars are set. (Unless we drive through Ohio, in which case we set our speed control at .1 above the speed limit.) Or, since we know 3 beers is our limit before we begin to get tipsy, we stop ourselves at 2 3/4 bottles. We watch movies with violence because we know it is all make believe, yet we twitch in pain when the scenes are so graphic that our stomach turns somersaults. Yet do we ever ask ourselves how much violence is ok for the heart to absorb before it becomes numb?

My mother had a very low tolerance for risk in her children’s lives. She didn’t want us to get burn with our hand on the stove, so she would tell us not to get close to the stove. But how far is to close? four feet? two feet? six inches? The closer we came to the stove and nothing happened, the closer we came the next time until that one day when we realized it wasn’t how close, but how close without touching it. However, one day when I realized mother’s instructions weren’t true, that one could get close to the stove without any harm, I began to question her instructions of not touching it. If she lied about being harmed by getting to close to it, maybe she is also lying about touching it. So there was only one way to find out: I touched it. Truth behold, nothing happened. Was everything my mother told me a lie? So everyday thereafter I started each day with the habit of touching the stove. I was invincible. No stove could hurt me. Then one day, I skipped through the kitchen and reached out to touch the top of the stove. However, this time what I didn’t realize was the stove top was turned on. Of course, by this time I didn’t just touch the top of the stove with a finger or two; I would slap my entire hand on the circular outlines. I will spare everyone the emergency details, but it is safe to say I didn’t intentional ever do that again.

Yet isn’t that how we operate within our relationships, business transactions, and life’s decisions? We know life is a bell shape curve with the two extreme ends easily discerning what is good behavior and what is not good behavior. It is the middle 80% that is gray and subject to personal interpretation. It is in the gray areas that we push the limits or simply accept the results in gratitude as a gift from God.

Studying God’s Word though opens the door for us to obtain understanding and wisdom from His perspective. His perspective is an eternal one. We generally view life like a four-year old that must stand on his toes and reach over his head to touch the top of a stove. We don’t see what is up there, but must rely on someone we can trust. Most of the time we learn it is our misunderstanding through poor communications that leads us into trouble.

When the serpent tempted Eve by questioning God’s instructions (Gn.3:1-6), Eve could have taken the issue directly up to God. Instead of dealing with conflicting testimony by bring both parties together to find the truth, Eve made a decision apart from having the total picture. She took it upon herself, having only half the story, to divorce God. In management we call that a poor process of determining the best outcome. In counseling, we call that poor communications. In the Book of Proverbs (18:17) it states that one side seems right until the matter is heard from the other side.

Could Eve have been hanging out more with the serpent than with the Lord or Adam? How far is too far before one slides over the edge within a relationship? How close did she travel by the tree on her daily walks? How far do we push the limits before we go over the edge? Where is the edge? Are we absolutely sure or just guessing? What happens when we lose our balance near the edge? Do we have enough rope in place to pull us to safety? Tough questions that only you can determine the answer. We all have different levels of tolerance for risk in our life. My recommendation though is seek wise counsel from all sides before leaning too far near the edge. Also always remember, when Jesus is the center of our world, it is rare that we say oops: too far. For He keeps us balanced between the edges. That is why the relationship is more important than the rules. Rules will fail us; but He did not, does not, and will not.

OUR PRAYER

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Our Heavenly Father, Son, and Spirit: thank you for your Word. For sharing yourself with us. For opening our eyes to see our spiritual poverty and your riches. Help us to keep you always the center of our lives. Help us to walk with you. Help us to become more like you each and every day. Lead us away from temptation and risks that cause harm to others. Lead us to glorify you always. You are what we want to become like. Deliver us from our stupidity, temporary brain damage decisions, and insane risks that we take with your truth. Help us to desist and you to increase in our life.

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.

We Are More Than His Student

Disciple 101

We have been purchased by the blood of Christ.  When we heard our Father’s calling and acknowledged Jesus as our Savior, we became one with Him.  We are now adopted children of God and brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus.  Jesus is our King and we are His royal citizens.  Jesus is our Teacher and we are His students.  Jesus is our Savior and we are His saints.  Jesus is our High Priest and we are His priesthood.  Jesus is our Friend and we are His.

Scripture reveals that it’s the Father who calls us to Jesus, after which, Jesus accepts us into the Family and promises to complete the task at hand.  That task is to prepare us for eternity.  It is Jesus who sent us the Holy Spirit into our lives.  It is Jesus who has made every eternal gift possible for us.  It is Jesus who sacrificed His life for us.

Jesus is our good shepherd.  He is not in the business for profit.  Instead, He is leading us because He cares.  Like the parable of the lost sheep, if one of us strays from the fold, He will go looking for its return.  In our current culture, we would do the opposite.  We would sacrifice the one for the sake of the majority, but not Jesus.

Jesus stated that His own hear His Word and respond to Him.  For those of us that slide into complacency, or lukewarmness as described in the Book of Revelation, He is knocking at our door.  He promised not to leave us but always be with us until the end of the age.  He cares for each and every single one of us.

We, like Paul, are bondservants of Jesus: a very high calling in the kingdom of God.  As a bondservant, we acknowledge Jesus is our Master.  We acknowledge His rulership and authority in our life.

We likewise accept His involvement in our life.  In exchange, we realize that our life is in very good hands.  We have a Boss that rules the universe.  Our Boss owns everything.  Our Boss is Boss of All.  What better opportunity or position could a person seek?  As His servant, we gladly follow His instructions and commands with the work that He gives us to do.  We may not be faithful all the time, but He is always faithful.  We may require discipline at times, so He is faithful and will discipline us for our good.  He cares for us.  We gladly accept Jesus as our Lord, Savior, Teacher, and Friend.  We are overjoyed that He accepts us as one of His own.  We can’t think of a better family we would rather belong with than the children of God.

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 4

Almighty Dad, thank you for leading us to Jesus.  Thank you for bringing Him into our life.  Thank you for opening our mind to hear and understand your calling and purpose in life.  Thank you for reconciling us to you through Jesus.

Help us always to walk with you.  Help us to have a close relationship with you.  Help us to know you, to learn from you, and to become like you.

Thank you for the opportunity to live life with you each and every day.  Help us always to be true to you and to our self.  Cleanse us from our sinful thoughts and actions.  Make our heart pure.  Let your Holiness abide in us forever.  Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Coach, Consultant, and Encourager

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

 

From Physical Difficulties Come Spiritual Masterpieces

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When we initially surrendered to God and began the journey with Him, many of us believed that all of the world’s successes and possessions were ours to attain.  We believed we were going to live on easy street.  Everything thereafter that we touched was going to turn to gold.  And why not?  God is on our side.  But reality soon appeared.  Somewhere in time we come to the realization that life is a series of problems that need to be resolved.  Every day brings new difficulties, challenges, and yes, opportunities. And one needs to learn how to handle them wisely, with patience, or they will come back to haunt us for the rest of our earthly life.

In our early walk with God we hopefully learned that not all opportunities of material gain are blessings from Him.  Many times they are only tests to measure our faithfulness, values, priorities, and character.  We recall one instance where a friend had the opportunity to purchase a business. He prayed, counseled, fasted and searched for the “right” answer. Finally, based on the physical events in his life it looked like the answer was to go for it. He did.  Three years later showed him that physically it was a dumb thing to do.  But spiritually, it taught him many valuable lessons of life that are with him to this day.  One such lesson is that from physical difficulties come spiritual masterpieces.

Physically he lost everything.  But spiritually, God was creating a masterpiece.  It was through this ordeal that he discovered joy in tribulation.  He discovered patience in overcoming obstacles.  He discovered peace in confrontation.  And most importantly, he discovered love at the bottom of the pits.  In other words, he discovered all of life’s greatest values while he was being kicked, abused, defeated, and ostracized.  Human pride was being displaced with humility.  Selfishness was being revealed.  Arrogance was being chopped down in size.  Vanity was being deflated.  The Holy Spirit was attaining His objectives while he was busy pursuing other things that he thought was more important.  The spiritual project being created in us is His work.  And it seems that He does His best work while we are going through the rough times of our lives.

Yes, we know that being a disciple of His places us on a road least traveled.  It may be a road without all the physical comforts that we in America are accustomed with living.  But the process has its rewards.  Likewise, the end result has a reward.  To other eyes, the road may be rough.  But as disciples, the road is that one, spiritual Olympic journey for the gold.  The process may look tough, but the reward now and for eternity is worth the challenge.

OUR PRAYER

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Our Great, Creator Dad, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your masterpiece under construction.  And a special thank you for caring and loving us even when our attitude and feelings are against you.  Forgive us.

Help us to always trust you, especially when the circumstances and times are difficult.  Help us to focus our attention and desire in you.  Lead us to your heavenly calling and help us to understand our part in your creation.  We pray for the strength, courage. and conviction to glorify you in all our undertakings.

No matter what the outcome, no matter what the events, no matter what the circumstances, let our heart, mind, and soul always praise you and trust you for the end result.  Help us to focus our eyes towards you and not our surroundings.  Take care of us as you do in mercy, compassion, and goodness.  Help us likewise treat others as you treat us.  Thank you, Jesus.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Coach, Consultant, and Encourager

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

 

Does God Make Sense?

When Job lost his family, and his earthly possessions were taken away, plus his health destroyed with boils, did he consider that time in life to make any sense? When Joseph was taken into slavery to Egypt and locked up in jail for over ten years, did he make sense of his current situation?  When the apostle Paul found himself left stoned to death, shipwrecked, beaten, pursued by his enemies of the cross. did he consider his current situation to make any sense?

When we stop and look at our present time, do we ever ask if it makes any sense?  Though most of us are not a Paul, Joseph, nor Job with no major specific mission in life; where history will not record our accomplishments to the masses. In fact, most of our lives are quite normal and most the time uneventful. And frankly, most of us enjoy it that way. But, does it make any sense?

We live in America, the Disney Country of the planet earth. We have the choice to live anywhere that is affordable for us. Wehave the opportunity to educate ourselves at any university if we apply our self. We could pursue whatever occupation interests us. We have the opportunity to select our own mate and have as many children as physically possible. We also have the opportunity to worship at the church of our choice. We probably have more than enough in physical comforts and may even begin to feel guilty whenever we acquire more. But does our present situation make sense?

If tomorrow we lost everything we own; if our world fell apart and we are taken into prison for something we didn’t do. If we are beaten and left .for dead, would our present situation make sense?

The answer of course is that as a disciple of His, everything makes sense. Nothing will separate us from the love of God. As His disciple, He is the center of our universe; the center of our life. He makes our situation make sense. No matter where we find ourselves, no matter what the situation, no matter what the outcome, He is in control. Our agreement with Him is to surrender all and He will make sense of it all.

He is creating a masterpiece in each one of us and collectively in His universal Church. In our almost forty years following Christ, no matter what ignorant decisions, actions, or events that have taken place, He has always been with me. When evil surrounds us or death knocks at our door, we may not have fully realized it at the time, but in hindsight, He is always around and in control. There is a great purpose being worked out here below and we are a part of it. Yes it takes faith. But isn’t that one part of the armor of a Christ­ follower? And shouldn’t a disciple of His be wearing that armor every day?

Does your present situation make sense? Or maybe the question really is, “Does God make sense?”  Only when we faithfully answer that question, will our present situation make sense.

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 9

Dear Purposeful Dad, thank you for being in control. Thank you for taking care of the small details of life. But mostly, thank you for being involved in our life.

Help us to yield ourselves into your hands, to trust you in all of life’s circumstances and situations. Help us to see the circumstances that you present to us as opportunities to witness to your great power in our life. We pray, glorify your name by creating your masterpiece in us. Take the circumstances that we find ourselves in and change our heart to be like yours. Change the heart of those around us to be like yours. Change the circumstances if you believe that to be the best solution, but more importantly, take the present situation and reveal your Greatness through it. Let others see your magnificence. Let us see your magnificence. Let others know that you know us and care for us. Let your life abide in us and in you.

Let us not try to make sense of the situation we are in. We do not ask why. Instead we ask that you take our present situation and magnify yourself through it.

Let your glory abound. Let your Word abound. Let the Holy Spirit abound. Let your  Kingdom abound. Help us abound for your name’s sake.  In Jesus we ask. Amen.

Dr. Mike