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

PRAYER 1

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.

People Who Need People Are the Most Blessed People in the World

blessed 4

What would your life be like without being involved with other people? As a child, how would it be like without having parents to deal with on a daily basis? As a sibling, what would life really be like with no brother or sister to argue with over petty differences? As a parent with married adult children, and no grandchildren to spoil on those special occasion? As a friend without companions to share those high moments of life? No close intimate relationship with someone that cares for you and you care for them?

Someone once wrote that no man is an island. That whatever success, comfort, or luxury we part take in this life is the by­product of someone’s labor. From the day we are born, until the day we die, our life is molded, shaped, and influenced by other people. Whether we like to admit it or not, isn’t that a fact?

Or do we think all we need is God? That people are a pain to live with and deal with on a regular basis. We all probably felt that way at times until we came to the realization that our concept of God is mostly shaped by relationships with other people. For example, as children don’t we picture God to be like our father or mother, or a grandparent, or maybe even just the opposite?  As a youth, didn’t some of us believe that family slowed us down from accomplishing our hearts desires? But as we mature and see the fruits of a healthy family, don’t our views change? As we age, doesn’t family become very important to our concept of self and of God? In most healthy families, don’t we support, encourage, and provide for the need of the other? Don’t we work to build up our relationships and not destroy them? Don’t we accomplish much together and likewise share in life’s joys and sorrows together? Don’t we anchor one another and hold a candle for each other? Isn’t our success now measured individually and collectively?. Don’t we sacrifice for our family and the family sacrifices for us? Don’t we learn what teamwork means and how cooperation produces greater results than individual selfish efforts?

Isn’t the Christian life a familial relationship where walking the journey alone is almost impossible? Doesn’t our faith require us to reach out and care for others? Isn’t it a selfless way of life?.A way of life that gives? And don’t we need recipients to receive what we give? Doesn’t that means then that there needs to be other people involved in our life?

God did not intend man to live alone; otherwise why create Eve? If there was no Eve, then to this day there would only be one person still on the earth, Adam (if God would allow one person to live that long all alone). But God doesn’t live in a vacuum. He enjoys sharing life with others. He created animals. He created angels. He also created us. We can choose to have a relationship with Him or choose otherwise. The choice is ours to make.

Remember Jesus Himself didn’t have a people-less ministry. He spent time with people. He surrounded Himself with others. His vision was that others continue to reach out. That the cycle will continue until He returns. Isn’t Jesus Himself only a part of the church? Yes, He is the cornerstone, the head of the body, our Chief. Yet, isn’t He only one of many? We each have been called and assigned a part in the family of God for the sake of others. Doesn’t our elder Brother want all of us to be a part of something larger than just ourselves? He has made it possible. We only have to choose. For truly, as that old melody slightly revised states “People Who Need People Are the Most Blessed People in the World.

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 9

Our Heavenly Dad, we thank you for your love and concern for us each and every day. We thank you for giving us the gift of life and to share that gift with others. We especially thank you for the people in our life. Help us to appreciate them for who they are; your children. And more so, help us to serve them as you serve us. Help us to buildup each person in the Body of Christ. To be available always to lend a helping hand for a brother or sister in need. We thank you for the privilege of your calling and coming to know you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you Jesus.  Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant,Coach, and Encourager

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

A Mirror Image of Jesus

mirror image 1

In Jesus’ time, people knew you were a Jew because you kept the law.  A visible part of that law was the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath.  As a Christ-follower, our sign to the world is not how well we keep the law but how well is Christ formed in us.  What advertises us to the world is a way of life rooted and built on the foundation of Jesus Christ and expressed through the power and love of the Holy Spirit.  When people see something different in us, that difference is the heart, mind, and soul of God.  In our relationship with our Heavenly Dad, iron sharpens iron.  Our Triune God’s influence in our life is changing us to reflect His glory, love, and nature before others.  If we are an authentic disciple of Jesus, than isn’t Jesus living in us and expressing Himself through us?

When Jesus sees us, isn’t our hope and vision that He sees a mirror image of Himself?  Though most of us would have to admit that is not always true of us.  Aren’t there many times a day when the mirror becomes gray, cloudy, and difficult to see?  Like many of the saints before us, isn’t it a daily discipline to keep the mirror clean?  What we find though that works best for many of us is simply to keep our focus on strengthening the relationship between the Triune God and ourselves.

One of the best analogies is the relationship with our spouse.  From the day we were infatuated with her to the day we married, and from the day we married till today, our love has grown deeper and our relationship stronger.  It didn’t happen via fiat.  It has happen because we both focused on exercising the necessary disciplines in our relationship to make it happen.  It is important for us and we therefore invest the time in nurturing and enjoying one another’s companionship.

Isn’t it likewise with God?  Ever since our Heavenly Dad grabbed our attention, led us to our Lord Jesus, and introduced us to the Holy Spirit, life has been one infatuated, passionate journey of discovery and relationship-building.  Just like we will not do anything deliberately to harm our relationship with our spouse, don’t we likewise not want to harm the relationship that has been built with our Eternal Partners?  In fact, just like we work to strengthen our marriage relationship, don’t we likewise work to improve our relationship with our Eternal Partners?  Just like it takes time and priority to build a strong marriage, it likewise takes time and priority (even more so) to build a strong relationship with our Invisible God.

Our daily goal is that nothing comes before or between our relationship with each other. When Jesus returns, doesn’t our heart, mind, and ears deeply desire to hear His words, “Well done my faithful servant?”  Until then, we gladly lift our banner as high as we are capable each and every day.  For our banner is Jesus Christ fully expressing Himself in us each and every day.  Like Paul wrote in the book of Galatians, ”I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”  And with that we say Amen.

OUR PRAYER

PRAYER 1

Our Heavenly, Awesome Dad,  thank you for everything you are and everything you represent and everything you do for us.

Now we only ask that you continue to create and complete within us your divine nature.  That you bestow upon us your great favor and compassion.  That you always shower upon us your mercy and love.  In return, help us to live a life that glorifies you.

We have tried everything that this life has to offer.  You know our heart.  The only passion that we have left is living the spirit led life rooted in Jesus for your glory.

Help us to live it with your honor and glory always first.  Thank you for making everything possible.  Thank you, Jesus. As we always pray in your name and authority. Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, and Encourager

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

Are We Not His Masterpiece?

reflection 3

In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees believed they were the righteous people known by God and everyone else rejected by God.  Jesus would illustrate many a parable to them drawing comparisons from everyday life contrary to their opinion.  In addition He would even illustrate where people performed miracles and works in His name but He didn’t even know them.

Can you confidently say to yourself that Jesus will have no problem recognizing you as His brother or sister when He returns?  Or is there some hesitancy?  Paul warned of being overconfident in our relationship with God.  He stated (1 Cor. 10:12) that we should be careful unless we likewise fall from His Grace.

Frankly, isn’t our hope that He recognizes us not because of our accomplishments or works, not because of our yielding attitude and trustworthy relationship built over time, but because of who He is.  If He is looking for us because of our accomplishments, then most of us may as well forget eternity.  Our best efforts probably haven’t generated much of a return.  Even in our relationship we may question our honesty and faithfulness.  How many times have we failed Him?  Like Peter during Jesus’ ministry, we may jump into activities with great faith only to have Him pull us to dry land.  Or we deny Him with our actions even when we know better.  Oh, how great is His Grace!

What we hope He sees in us is a reflection of Himself and our Dad.  We hope that He sees the spiritual masterpiece that He is creating and not what we have thrown together.  As we mature, it doesn’t become any easier for us to deny our self and allow Jesus through the Holy Spirit to have full access into our inner sanctuary.  Yet, isn’t it our heart, attitude, and soul that He is changing?  Oh saturate us Holy Spirit and change our heart to conform to Your will!

As a disciple of His we long to become like our Lord & King.  We may have an image of what that is, but over time doesn’t it change?  The Jesus that we knew yesterday is not the same Jesus we know today.  Isn’t He even greater?  Likewise, the Jesus that we know tomorrow, will he be more than the Jesus we know today?  Isn’t it an everyday process of search and discovery.  But isn’t this the one process that we are committed to living each and every day?  What else is more fulfilling than living a spirit led life rooted in Jesus Christ for the glory of God?  Can we agree like many others before us, that we have tried it all and nothing compares with it?

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 8

Our loving Dad, thank you for starting the task of producing a new creation within us.  Thank you for not allowing us to quit when we felt like quitting.  Thank you for being committed to our success.  Thank you for revealing to us what real success is all about.

Help us always to focus on your plans and work.  Let us not measure our success with our neighbors.  Instead, let us be thankful that you have uniquely designed us, gifted us, and disciplined us for your sake, for others, and for our self.  That you are preparing us for eternity for a special assignment that only you know for sure.  Help us always to trust you no matter what the circumstances or situation.  Let your faith, love, and hope always precede us.  We thank you Jesus and ask all this in your name.  Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant,Coach, and Encourager

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

 

Does God Really, Really, Really Loves Us?

ashame

Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed (Gen.2:25).  Have you ever wondered why?  Was it because they lived in a world apart from sin until they placed their selfish desires before obedience to their Creator?  Wasn’t it only after they sinned did they realize that they were naked and ashamed of it?  Then they tried hiding from God(Gen.3:8).  Hasn’t mankind been trying to hide from God ever since?

Generally speaking. don’t we hide from God because we feel no worth to Him?  Don’t we hide from God because we cannot live up to His expectations?  Don’t we hide from God because we are ashamed of what we truly are?

Could we argue that shame comes because of our fears, guilt, and pride?  Or in other words, isn’t shame the result of sin?  Sin, in this case, being defined as living life without faithful trust in our Lord (Rm.14:23) and/or without love.

As a disciple of His we are thankful that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ cleans us of our sins.  That through His life, sacrifice and resurrection, we have been given a new life built on godly hope. faith and love (I Cor 13: 13).  We have no more fear of punishment because perfect love replaces fear (I Jn 4: 18).  We have no more guilt because the blood of Jesus removes the eternal penalty of sin.  And we have no more pride of life, because we have been made empty and refilled with Him.

We are the unashamed because we are the children of the Living God.  We do not live in shame anymore, but live in the glory of our Creator.  We do not play with sin anymore, instead we repent of it.  We do not hide from our sins anymore, but instead we confess them.  Sin is not our master anymore; instead we are bond-servants and slaves of Jesus Christ.  And as servants of Jesus, we are free from the eternal penalty that sin produces.  We are not ashamed anymore of who or what we are.  We have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ.  Our heavenly Dad has invested the entire universe with its spiritual powers to protect and provide for our safe journey through this life until we meet Him in His Heavenly Domain.  We have been given a new life now and will receive a spiritual life for all eternity. What do we have to be ashamed of?

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 8

Our Heavenly Dad, we can never repay you for all that you have done for us.  You have given us the tools to live life with real abundance.  You have taught us and are teaching us how to live in active faith with love our central focus.  You have changed us.  You have surrounded us with your arms of compassion.  You have expressed your love to us each and every day.  Though circumstances and events may occur that causes pain and suffering, we know that you are there to strengthen us and to help us walk victorious.  Help us to eradicate the sins that so easily befall us.  Help us see the evil and pain of what sin does in our life and the life of those around us.  Help us be a light to those who don’t know you; someone who you can be pleased with each and every day.  Thank you for sharing your plan of salvation with us.  Help us share it effectively with others when the time comes.  Everything we are and have that is good and of value has come from you.  Thank you.  And thank you Jesus for your awesome love and sacrifice.  For in your name and authority we ask and pray this.  Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant,Coach, and Encourager

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

What Is Wrong with Work?

work

What is wrong with good, old-fashion work?  When we mix work with solid faith, godly values, and diligent application, doesn’t work become the creative expression of oneself?  When we remove the exterior facade of status, importance, or prestige, are we not left with the outer expression of our inner character?  Since our character is revealed through our choices and actions, isn’t the real us manifested through crisis on the job and through conflict with others?  Isn’t it a fact that the real us is showcased through the challenges and responsibilities we face each and every day?

All this begs the question, what does your work express about you?  Is the fruit of the Holy Spirit manifested in our most challenging moments?  Or do we crumble because our life is built on shifting sand(not the solid rock of Jesus Christ)?  Have you ever noticed that work is our test for the day?  Doesn’t how we handle the decisions between personal gains versus outward service to others reveal what is truly in our heart?  God notices.  We may be disappointed many times throughout the day for not living up to His standards, but God notices.  He knows what we are made like.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses.  He allows us each day to face the challenges so we discover how much we need Him.  Over time He chisels at the blemishes in our lives until one day they are gone.  Then we realize the glory and honor goes to Him for the new masterpiece He is creating in us.

Each and every day we keep plowing forward moving towards the personal goals in our lives yet ready to deviate from them upon the Lord’s assignment for that day.  Each day we go about our normal routine until the Lord tugs at our heart.  Then we respond faithfully, sometimes reluctantly, to His lead.  Each day we surrender ourselves to Him.  We may have personal plans, objectives, and desires that we are working towards to turn into reality, but the real mission of other daily life is to serve our Lord and Master.  We are His disciples first.  Our work is to serve Him first and last every day.  Our relationship is built on trust, faith, and hope.  Our walk is surrounded with His love and passion for life. He is the real reason we work.

Our work will only stop when our life stops, when we are laid to rest.  Afterward, we wait for the resurrection when our body puts on immortality and the testing is behind us.  That is when the real work begins.  It is then our Lord will give us an assignment that will be one hundred percent fulfilling in service to others, to self, and to God.  Today, we serve faithfully waiting for our next assignment.  Tomorrow, we will serve faithfully waiting for our next assignment.  In eternity, we will also serve faithfully, waiting for our next assignment.  It all comes together with good, old-fashion work.

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 4

Our Faithful, Wonderful, Heavenly Dad, thank you for your gift of work.  Thank you for giving us the ability and talent to exercise them for the benefit of others.  Thank you for giving us a mind and spirit to express ourselves and to find fulfillment in the work we produce.  Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Help us to be successful in our work for your glory.  Help us to share that success with our families, friends, and community.  Let that community be more than our local neighborhood.  Help us to reach out and discover those people struggling with their situations.  Help us have the wisdom and resources to assist them on the road to recovery.  Help us take the opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus through our actions to all that has an eye to see.  Let the work of our hands, mind, and body be service to you.  Let your Spirit be exemplified through our work.  Jesus we thank you.  Amen.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant,Coach, and Encourager

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

Wear Your Servant Crown Daily

crown

When we study the life of Jesus, one of the characteristics that many find fascinating is His approach to dealing with Satan and sin.  He always proactively pushed sin away from Himself.  He never played with it.  He never entertained himself with it.  He never dwelled long on its “benefits.”  He simply dismissed it out of His life by quoting the Word which refocused His attention to the source of all His power and energy -His Heavenly Dad.

Maybe He had the experience of knowing the effects of Satan’s ways throughout history and knew the outcome of his craftiness.  One reason history so often repeats itself may be the characteristic of Satan doesn’t change.  His approach with dealing with mankind has been universally victorious the majority of the time so why change.  It worked back in the time of the Garden of Eden and it works now the same way.  He is the devil or adversary in our relationship with God.

Yet we always need to remind ourselves that strength as a people is found in Christ.  It is not found in keeping laws, principles, or rituals.  It is not necessary us knowing scriptures.  It is our desire and passion to keep focused on Jesus, on the work of the Holy Spirit, and the Source of everything good and perfect, our Heavenly Dad.  Jesus defeated Satan at Calvary.  He didn’t defeat Satan with deceit or cunning.  He didn’t defeat Satan with lustful power, prestige, or wealth.  He humbly sacrificed Himself in love for all people.

When confronted by our adversary, we are to draw near to God and He will draw near to us.  We are to flee from sin, not visit it.  We are to remind ourselves through scripture; Who is in control?  Who is our faith in?  Where does our hope lay?  and Where does our allegiance belong?  We are not to drag our feet, shuffle our toes, or gaze into the sky looking for an excuse to sin.  We are to nip it at the bud.  Fling it away.  Run away.  Keep it away.

Remember Job’s life.  It’s possible that Satan could make your physical world miserable.  He specializes in it.  He could even destroy our body.  But he can’t destroy our soul.  We have a crown.  Wear it daily.  We are brothers and sisters of the King of Kings.  Satan knows that and wants us to forget it and live our life separate from our King.  But no matter what the Rebellious one does to us, he only does with permission from our heavenly Dad.  Satan is limited in His authority.  And God has a special plan for us in His project of redemption.  If He allows Satan to work us over for a time, it’s only for our good.  Trust Him.  Ask Him for the strength and endurance to survive whatever Satan throws our way.  Our Lord will protect us as long as we walk with Him.  Listen to Him in our prayers.  Watch His work in the people around us.  Enjoy His creation.  And pray for daily deliverance from temptation and sin.  He always provides a way of escape for us.

As a disciple of His, we will encounter Satan in our life.  But Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Satan may be a rebellious character, but God knows how to handle Him.  We simply need to put our faith and trust in the living God.  Don’t hesitate when confronted by evil, sin, or our adversary.  Be proactive in the faith.  Be vigilant in our relationship with God.  Remember, we are children of the living God.  Act accordingly.

OUR PRAYER

PRAY 9

Our Righteous Dad, thank you for victory.  It is difficult at times to deal with the problems and inconveniences that this life has to offer.  But it is encouraging to know that Jesus lived His life victoriously for us.  Help us to live a proactive life in the faith against sin and against Satan.  Help us to focus our energy in service for others.  Help us live a life as an extremely passionate disciple of Christ.  Bless those who bless you with all your abundance.  Bless those who don’t know you with your Truth.  Bless us all.

Yours In Christ,

Dr. Mike

Consultant, Coach, and Encourager

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