Preach What?

jesus 1

“But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Acts 8:12 ESV

 

The other day a pastor on TV emphasized that He preaches the Bible. Another preacher on the other station states that he preaches Jesus Christ. It raised the question. Which is the message of the Kingdom? The Bible or Jesus Christ?

Whenever one elevates the Bible or equates the written word with the personal Word, my historical journey is recalled and danger flags are now waved. It begs the question, how do you interpret the Bible? What is the basis of your preaching? Is the main thing the Bible or who the Bible points to?

When a person preaches Jesus Christ as Savior, Messiah, and Lord, the focus in on the main thing – Jesus. The Bible introduces the reader to Jesus. The Incarnate Jesus reveals God to us. As we read and study the life, work, and heart of Jesus, we learn more about God. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, we learn to follow in his steps. As we study the Bible through a Jesus-centered Triune God worldview, we have a more solid basis of interpreting scripture.

Our focus is to build a stronger relationship with the eternal God. The Bible is simply a means to this end.

Our partnership and participation is with Jesus; not the Bible. He is redeeming humanity; not the Bible. Our job is to abide and follow Him. To listen to His word as He communicates to us. The Bible serves as a means for God to communicate to us through His Spirit. As we read and study the inspired word, we are open to hear his voice. As we learn to hear his voice through scripture, we are more attuned to recognize Him during the activities of the day. It is His Spirit that inspires us, encourages us, and opens us up to serve those around us.

Again, the Bible is the means, not the message. The message is Jesus Christ, His Spirit, and His Domain. Secondary, but including in that message is how we participate with Him through the sanctification phase.

Jesus is the reason we have the Bible. Therefore, if the preaching is not centered around Jesus Christ, be careful. If the message doesn’t explain how Jesus is the foundation of your growth, service, and faith, be on guard. If the emphasis is on what you need to do and not what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do, be suspect. Remember, Jesus came with good news; not more burdens, yokes, and hurdles for you to climb.

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

Let Christ Lead

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 ESV

hearing 1

 

One of the traditions on January 1st is to establish a new goal for the coming year.

If you are one that makes such a commitment, how about making a covenant to focus more attention on hearing the word of God. No, I’m not saying spend more time reading the Word (though that wouldn’t hurt), or listening to more preaching (that always helps), but to actually spend time listening for God’s influence in your life.

One reason we read the Bible is to acquire knowledge of God’s Word. But knowledge doesn’t build faith. Hearing the Word builds the faith we need.  Otherwise, if God speaks to us, how do we know it is Him?

By reading the Word, we acquire a basic understanding of who God is. We study the life and relationship between Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit. We pray to communicate with our heavenly Father. Though we may not know what to say, we are assured that Jesus intercedes on our behalf with the appropriate request.

Have you always wondered how a sermon is preached centered around a specific topic but when asked the congregation what the message was, you receive a multitude of various answers? Isn’t it amazing how the Spirit is working through the words spoken by the minister making it personal for each of us.

Have you ever prayed seeking an answer from God and the answer came from the most unusual circumstances?  How often the answer you seek comes through a person at the checkout counter at the grocery store? Confirmed by the officer who pulled you over for speeding the same day? And reconfirmed by your child at the dinner table? God speaks to us in many different ways. However, it helps to know His Word, His Character, and His method of operations to be more aware of His influence in our life. For some it may be a word. For others in may be a nudge. For some it may be an inspiration. Others it may be like a rainbow in the sky. For each of us grasp information in different ways.  Doesn’t God know the best way to communicate with us?

How about this year focusing on one thing in regards to the Lord? How about listening to Jesus Christ who lives in you and allow Him to lead you in every avenue of your life? Forget the rules. Acquire knowledge of His Word and then listen for him to show you how it applies in your entire life. That includes your marriage, your parenting, your business, and your community service. Invite Him into everything you do. Let Him lead you. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

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.

 

 

 

Jesus, Merciful Judge

 And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:11 ESV

mercy 1

A woman caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus. The people wanted Jesus to agree with the Law which stated that such a person should be stoned to death. Jesus refrained from speaking. Instead, he began to write on the ground. What he wrote we will not know this side of heaven. But as he wrote, each person from the eldest to the youngest ran away until no one was left to accuse the woman. Jesus likewise did not condemn the person. Instead he gave her a warning and a personal mission; freedom and encouragement to change her ways.

When I read the last several chapters of the Book of Revelation which showcases Jesus as the person who will judge us on our walk in this life, I am very thankful.  We have a judge that has proven himself to be very merciful.  And I need more mercy than most. Yet, I am also very apprehensive.  Though he lives in us, leads us, and encourages us on a daily basis, we don’t always respond to him as quickly or enthusiastically as one fully empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Each season in life, we discover another area of self that is imperfect compared to our Savior.

Yes, sin is very deceptive.  Most of our human difficulties is buried under the disguise of sin. We need food, clothing, and shelter to survive. So rather than trust our Maker with the solution and seek-out work that is beneficial for all stakeholders, we turn to crime, prostitution, or free loafing.  We want intimacy, respect, and recognition from others. So instead of having Christ fill our inner desires, we manipulate, control, and bend people toward our way of thinking and goals.

Jesus knows how strong the inner desires of an unconverted heart can become. He also knows the solution.  He allows trials and tests in this life so we may mature in virtue, godliness, and Kingdom living.  We can be thankful that He is our judge and jury. He knows our frame. He knows our inadequacies. He knows our fears and doubts. Yet He also knows what it is going to take to prepare us for eternity. To be a vessel that will glorify God and productive toward others.

We may be guilty for a ton of stuff that has enslaved us to this world. Yet Jesus showers us with his grace and opens the door for us to change and follow Him in His Kingdom. So like Paul before us, we don’t even judge ourselves (I Corinthians 4:3). We place our trust and faith in our Merciful Judge, Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How about you?

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.

 

Build Strengths, Compliment Weaknesses

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV

strengths 5

Sometimes when performance doesn’t measure up to expectations, people have the tendency to focus on fixing their weaknesses rather than buildup one’s strengths.  Good coaches though help you to operate around your strengths and compliment your weaknesses.

We see this in sports. Take football as an example. We see how this year’s Cleveland Brown’s offensive coordinator has built a system around their quarterback’s strength.  The quarterback, Brian Hoyer’s strength is the mid-to-long ball arena. Therefore, the Cleveland team plays a horizontal game where Brian is constantly throwing down field rather than short routes. The short game is his weakness. The long game is his strength. Since implementing this strategy, Mr. Hoyer leads all quarterbacks in performance ratings for long throws down field. As a result, the Cleveland Brown’s are in serious contention for a playoff spot when no one gave them a chance in the beginning of the year.

The same is true in business. Almost every single successful business is built around the entrepreneur’s strengths. When the business owner starts to deviate away from their core strengths is typically when the business starts to falter. The process is usually slow because the owner is trying to save money by doing it herself.  The problem is it takes him twice as long to complete the job than someone else whose strength is a perfect match. We see this when a business is built on the sales skills of an owner. When he also tries to keep the company books he is travelling outside his area of expertise. Yes he may save a few dollars in the short term, but in the long term he is losing opportunities to sell which is how the company became successful in the first place.

This is also true in leadership. Abraham Lincoln is a good example of someone who understood this principle. When he was elected President. he surrounded himself with the best people knowledgeable in their field of specialty.  His cabinet consisted of “political enemies” and “self-seeking” businessmen.  He knew his strength was his gift of discernment and communications. Therefore, he exercised his primary strengths and complimented his weaknesses through the people around him. Most novice leaders surround themselves with like-minded people. President Lincoln was not a novice. He accepted the confrontations and egos knowing it provided him with the best support to effectively lead the country.

As disciples, we likewise need to learn to build our lives on our primary strengths. That means the foundation of Jesus Christ is firmly planted in our life. That we know His Word and follow His Spirit enthusiastically. We accept the natural gifts that God has bestowed upon us and find ways to express them for God’s glory and the sake of others. We realize our shortcomings and surround ourselves with people and boundaries that compliment us in our journey through life. As we lean on our primary Strength, the Triune God, we learn to integrate and grow God’s Kingdom through our work, family, and other pursuits.

Life in Christ is most enjoyable when our God-given strengths work together with others for advancing His plans. We experience what being fully human was originally intended when God created humankind. When God’s Spirit merges with our souls, God’s new creation becomes a reality in our world today: Build Strengths, Compliment Weaknesses. A proven principle that works!

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.

 

Jesus is King

They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” Revelations 17:14.

king 2

The theme of the first four books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, is about Jesus and the Kingdom of God. When you read each book through its entirety, you quickly realize that the four gospel accounts emphasize Jesus’ triumphant victory over Satan, sin, and death. The story is about God becoming man and being crowned King of Heaven and Earth.

From the angel Gabriel’s visitation to Mary (Luke 1:32-33) and announcing that she was going to give birth to Jesus who was to become the King of all Israel forever, to the shepherds (Luke 2:11) and Magi (Matt. 2:2) at his birth who came to witness and worship the Messiah and King, Jesus’ birth, life, and death highlights his office as King, Messiah, and Lord.

Through the Epistles and ending in the Book of Revelations, we are also reminded that Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings. He is King over all the earth and heaven.

I write this as a reminder. Like the parable that Jesus gave about the King coming and then leaving stewards to run his operations while he is temporarily away (Luke 19:11), we need to realize the same. The Kingdom of God is operating in today’s world. It is being managed by stewards appointed through the Holy Spirit. Those who recognize Jesus as the King of the earth live under His domain. Whether in business, government, education, or family affairs, His Kingdom is actively alive through his universal Church. Yes, there is conflict between His Kingdom and the kingdoms of this world. With dual citizenship between heaven and earth, many of us learn to take advantage of both domains. As subjects to the King, we have the freedom to choose whether we continue to serve our King first and foremost, or rebel and sell our soul to the dark side. Whenever the world’s government conforms to our Lord’s Kingdom, we faithfully serve accordingly. Whenever the world’s government rebels against our King’s mandate, we pray and seek solutions that will glorify our King.

Many of us in this county don’t understand the authority of a King. We place our individual rights based on law. However, when one realizes that a King is the law, then one learns about healthy fear. Thankfully, we serve a King who has proven himself through life and has a heart that properly balances justice with mercy.

I am thankful to serve Jesus Christ as my King. How about you?

 

We are also 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.

 

 

 

Lean On Him (LOH)

“Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.” Psalm 71:6 ESV

lean 1

When you find out you are no longer the smartest, strongest, fastest, or whatever you are good at, maybe it is time to start: LOH.

When you realize you can’t do it alone, others have failed you, and you don’t know where to turn too, LOH.

When you finally admit you are broken and need help, LOH.

When your dreams are shattered, your hope disappears, or you feel forsaken, LOH.

When you come to the end of yourself, and can’t go any further, LOH.

Or maybe instead of waiting until you reach that moment of truth, you get ahead start today. You may be pleasantly surprised of the outcome when you first learn to Lean On Him.

Our Triune God wants you to have a life like His. Though we are limited by physical boundaries, He has wired us as a mini reflection of Himself. He wants you to learn and grow into His complete image. It all begins when you learn to lean on Him. How radical is that?

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.

Undesirables of Jesus

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Luke 7:34 (ESV)

 Undesirable people 1

 

How many of us would condemn a person who spent their time partying with the low-life of humanity? (There is no low-life in God’s eyes; but from mankind’s perspective, there is).

You would of course need to define low-life. In Jesus’ time, if you were not living the high-life, then you must have been considered the other.  The high-life would be the people who had all the material aspects that life makes available. They would be seen high on the social ladder. They would be formally educated and successful in what they did. They would be recognized throughout the community. They may even be highly respected in the neighborhood. On the other hand, the low-life would be the undesirables of their day. In Jesus’ time, that would include women, children, and the elderly. It would include slaves, the physically challenged, and the religiously inept. One doesn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a low-life; life happens. The result generally is a life without great purpose, meaning, or self-sustenance.  One has to rely on stealing, prostituting oneself, or obtaining help from others just for the basic necessities of life.

Yet Jesus not only conversed with the undesirables of his time, He loved them. He enjoyed spending time with them and was accused of being a “glutton and drunkard.” His circle of friends and acquaintances included tax collectors, prostitutes, adulteress’, criminals, and the working class. His greatest supporters were women who provided for Him from their means. In Jesus’ day, most women had no rights, couldn’t own property, and were treated as collateral on the household books. Yet Jesus loved spending time with them.

He didn’t spend time with them for a few moments as a political campaign video. He ate with them, drank with them, and conversed with them as a friend and teacher.  He healed them. He fed them. He cared for them. He shared stories, laughter, and tears for them. He demonstrated the love of God, the service of God, and the heart of God with everyone He met. He treated others with respect and dignity. Wherever and whenever He could, he changed their world for the better.

How about you and me? Who are the undesirables in your world? What can you do today to impact the life of another that you wouldn’t normally associated with in your daily walk?  What if the next time you drove to work or went out for lunch, you took a closer look at the people you came into contact with. Maybe you can ask God right then and there how you can participate with Him in the life of another. Just be ready for another adventure.

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.