What Does The Christ-Centered Life Look Like? (3)

in christ“Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters.”
Luke 11:22-24

From the outside looking in, one would never know whether a person is living a Christ-centered life or a Christ-Religious one. Typically, a Christ-Religious life is doing things for Christ. However a Christ-Centered life is doing things with Christ. It may be a matter of semantics for some, but the heart speaks louder than words or actions.

For example, when you walk into a room, are you looking to “save” people for Christ? Or are you looking to see how the Spirit is navigating the room and where you can partner with Him?
The difference between the two is that in the first scenario one has a preplanned agenda that “they” want done and the second is seeking how they may best serve Christ at that moment. The believer has come to a place where they now realize that God’s ways and means are absolutely different than ours.

The apostle Paul prior to his conversion is an example of the first type of person and then after his conversion he became the second. His focus prior to conversion was destroying Christians because they didn’t comply with his standards of righteousness (Acts 9:1-19). After Christ engaged him on the road to Damascus, then Paul (known then as Saul) changed his method of operations. Thereafter, he sought out the Spirit’s intentions and partnered with Him in his ministry.(Acts 13:2, 16:6)

In summary, a Christ-Religious life likes to parade around using theological terms, mannerisms, and performance standards that look impressive, but they lack the power of God (2 Timothy 3:5). On the other hand, a Christ-centered life is hidden in Jesus and most of the time the right hand is not even aware what the other hand is doing (Mathew 6:3). A Christ-centered life seeks to serve others “with Jesus” instead of “for Jesus.” Jesus is the center of our relationship with all people. We serve others based on His standard, His desires, and His Spirit, not necessarily what we want or believe.

OUR PRAYER

prayer 5

Holy Father – Holy Lord – Holy Spirit: Thank you for engaging us and deeply desiring to have a familial relationship with us. Thank you for being faithful and committed to loving us and accepting us as we are. Yet thank you also for wanting to better us and changing us to truly reflect your glory and divine nature.

We realize whatever good we possess is you and only you. We thank you for living in us and expressing yourself through us. Help us to glorify your name in everything we say, think, and do. 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.

What Does The Christ-Centered Life Look Like? (2)

in christ

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:32-34 (NSRV)

From a practical aspect, we allow Jesus’ story to become the main plot in our life. The question no longer is “what do I want?” Instead the core question becomes “what is Jesus doing that I may join him?” We learn through life’s challenges that as we seek Christ’s Kingdom, we discover that our required needs are satisfied. They may not always be according to our expectations or what we are accustomed too, but in hindsight we learn to place our trust in his provision which is what we truly needed at the time.

How often have we heard a person share their story of answered prayer? When everything looked bleak and all they could do is muster a short prayer of desperation. Then suddenly, a knock at the door and their laid a bag of groceries so their children would not go hungry another day. Or the business executive who didn’t know where to go for help to meet his payroll, but cried out to God for a solution. Then a phone call from a person who hasn’t spoken to him for years with a check in hand that would solve his immediate problems and create more opportunities for others. Again, the engineer stuck with an unsolvable problem and in frustrating and humility asks God for help. Then suddenly the inspiration comes to mind and the problem is solved. All of these are simple daily events that makes one realize that we are not alone. That the God of the universe, Father-Son-Spirit, is active and involved in our lives.

In a brief summary, a CC life is focused on Jesus, not the self. The aim and motivation is to elevate Jesus in the eyes of all we come into contact. As we yield our self unto the Triune God’s hand, we develop a bond of trust with Him. As we ask and commune with Him, we witness His involvement that eventually brings about our requests for His glory. Over time, we build a close familial relationship like a child with a loving, engaged parent. For most of us, when the pride is gone, we eventually come to the end of ourselves. Typically, it is through the trials and tests of life that we realize our need of God. Like the apostle Paul, we come to realize that when we are weak, our strength (Jesus )rises to the occasion (2 Corinthians 12:9). Over time we give him more and more leeway to lead and influence us as his new creation. Then like David of Goliath fame, our Lord becomes our strength and refuge (Psalm 59:16). Outsiders begin to witness a divine change in your countenance and demeanor. God is slowly expressing Himself through you.

OUR PRAYER

PRAYER 1

Holy Father – Holy Lord – Holy Spirit: Thank you for your love, mercy, and grace upon us. Thank you for redeeming us Jesus and restoring the relationship between heaven and earth; between Father God and humanity. Thank you for your sacrificial love and continual empowerment through your Spirit. Thank you for covering us and hiding us in you. ; We long for the time to celebrate your plan, your work, and your glory. Whether at work, at home, or at play, we thank you and praise you as our King, Teacher, Savior, Helper, Friend, and Brother. Help us to hear you and follow your lead in our life each and every day. So Be It.

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.

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.

More God Less Me

more god

“There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.” Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”
“How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?” Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
“So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”   John 3:1-8 The Message

How does this born again from above process workout in everyday life? We read scripture where Jesus meets a religious leader at night and emphasizes that we must be born again. OK. Got it. Now what? Is this simply our meal ticket to the last great eternal party with Jesus? Or is there more? (Isn’t there always more?).

One of the great mysteries of life is the workings of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul writes that wherever the Spirit is, so is Jesus. Trinitarian theology also demonstrates that wherever one of the three, Father, Son, or Holy Spirit are present, so are the other two. In other words, wherever the Spirit is, Jesus and the Father are also there.

What does this all mean in a practical matter? It means that when you receive the Holy Spirit, you have also invited the rest of the Godhead. Jesus and our heavenly Father also make their abode in you. That is why the Bible says we are His Temple; we are also the Body of Christ: individually and collectively. So when we learn to let God fully express Himself in us and through us, we experience the adventurous ride of life with Him.

Paul also wrote that “when we are at our weakest, then we are at our strength (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). Why? Because the more we elevate Christ in our life, the less our human nature shows. The more we elevate the Spirit in our life, the less our human tendencies get in the way. The more we elevate the Father, the less our human carnality is revealed. Learning to allow the Spirit of God, that includes Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to lead, to influence, and to teach, is the way to fully enjoy God and life. The more God and the less me in the daily decisions, thoughts, and actions may make me worldly weak, but kingdom strong in Christ.

Now isn’t that a little more radical than just allowing religiosity too have its way?

OUR PRAYER

prayer 5

Heavenly Father, Lord, and Spirit, we thank you for your plan of life, redemption, and glorification. We thank you for sharing your life with us through your Spirit. Thank you for residing in us and making your home in us. Thank you for allowing us to share your home in the heavens in Christ.

Help us to listen and learn how to follow your Spirit in our life. Cleanse our hearing and open our hearts to see you and your work in our daily responsibilities and service to others. Help us to explore and enjoy you in our daily comings and goings. Help us as we help others. And help others as you help us. In everything we think, say, and do, help us to do our best for your glory.

So be it.

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 eBook:  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.

With God or Without God?

with god 4

Dallas Willard, author and minister, passed away last year. I for one truly enjoyed his work and will miss him. He was blessed with insight to take “religious concepts” and make them practical for us non-theologians.

One of his concepts was to explain life as “the with-God life.” A life centered in Christ and experienced through the Holy Spirit. The opposite would be a life apart from God.  So in reflecting, I wrote below a few reasons why I enjoy the with-God life.

With God we enjoy His Blessings; apart from God we are confronted by luck.

With God we experience His divine nature; apart from God we are left along with our human limitations.

With God we catch His Life; apart from God we are taught life.

With God we are found in Christ; apart from God we are lost in Christ.

With God we are comforted by his Spirit; apart from God we are left on our own.

With God we have purpose for life; apart from God, we act like an accidental blip that evolved from cosmic dust.

With God we realize our divine design; apart from God, we strive to make ourselves unfulfilled.

With God we discover wholesomeness; apart from God, we are never satisfied.

With God we participate in his Story; apart from God, we mess up our lines.

With God we have hope; apart from God, we walk plagued by fear.

With God we learn to love; apart from God, we are painfully lonely.

With God we are fully alive; apart from God, we are dead men walking.

You may notice, I have a bias toward enjoying life with God. How about you?  What else would you add to the above list?

OUR PRAYER

 

PRAY 9

 

 

 

Our Holy Father, Holy Lord, and Holy Spirit — Thank you for sharing your life with us and allowing us to experience life as you intended it to be.  Let our life glorify you.  Let your Kingdom be fruitful wherever we go.  Let your Spirit touch the lives of all with we come into contact.  Help us live our life with you.  Wherever you go; whatever you are doing in our little world, help us see and participate with you.  Whoever we can meet and speak about you, give us the wisdom, words, and grace to honor you.  Bless this life so we can be a blessing for others.  Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, and Encourager

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

Where is God’s Domain?

 

kingdom 9One of my disciplines is to read through the Bible each year. Though it may take longer some years than others depending on what concepts and verses jump out at me, I’m always amazed to discover something new about God or myself in the process each year.

This year we are reading the New Testament from a Greek Lexicon that contains the Greek and precise translation of each word in English.  Starting in the Book of Matthew, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that the Greek translation of “Kingdom of Heaven” in many of our English versions was originally written in Greek as “Kingdom of Heavens.”  The difference of course is that the Bible denotes three definitions for heaven. The first is the eternal habitat of God.  The second is the sky above the earth.  The third is the universal body of stars and planets that surrounds the earth.  Why does this matter?

The English translation of “heaven” implies that God’s government is only effective in his eternal habitat.  The Greek manuscript’s version “heavens” however reinforces that God’s domain includes all three heavens: everything in the universe, physically and eternally.  A larger domain than just the heaven that is God’s abode.  Whatever its worth, it simply reminds us that the Bible was not originally written in English and therefore requires us to do some homework before we accept what is written.  This is why it is good to have various translations that provide us with a more complete picture of the author’s intent and message.

So next time when we read Matthew’s gospel, remember that God’s kingdom and domain includes the entire heaven, earth, and universe.  But then again, you probably already knew that.

OUR PRAYER

prayer 5

Holy Father, Holy Lord, and Holy Spirit: Almighty God, we thank you for allowing us to live in your kingdom.  Thank you for also allowing us to experience your way of life through Christ Jesus.  Help us to share your life with others in our small world.  Help us to witness your way through our actions and if necessary through our words. Whatever we do, let it always glorify you.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, and Encourager

Author of Great Business Emulates a Good God