Conformity or Transformation?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 ESV.

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We live in the world were acceptance of another is important too many. Studies have been conducted proving that people have a tenancy to lean towards a particular point of view because the majority adhere to it. The idea that just because a majority believe in something does not necessarily make it right or truthful or the best approach.

This world’s system (governments, business, education, culture, etc.) naturally operate apart from God’s best.  When God is left out of any equation the outcome is generally a feeble attempt toward excellence. When we compare the natural created order with man-made systems, we have a long way to go. God’s created order, unless interrupted by man’s touch, is built on a natural process of inter-dependency, self-renewal, and non-prejudicial growth.

God is in the business of making everything good: good for you, me, and others. God doesn’t make junk. He makes unique masterpieces of art that scientifically functions and serves a purpose for the benefit of others.

He is also in the business of restoration. He takes what is broken and transforms it into His original intent.  Whether we are speaking about one of His adopted children, or His ultimate goal for heaven and earth, He has a multi-dimensional plan that involves the entire universe.

When we try to conform to the world around us, we close the door to allow God’s best. However, when we are open to His influence, discipline, and knowledge, He slowly renews our perception of Him and His ways that opens paths toward a more fulfilling life.

How many times have you driven by the same corner without noticing the sign in the store front window? Then one day, there it is. It’s been there for years but you just never noticed it because you weren’t looking. You weren’t looking because no one brought it to your attention. What made the sign so important to you then and not before? Maybe the sign advertised what you have been looking for in all the wrong places. And there it is; the answer you have been seeking.

Don’t seek to conform to this world’s ways. Instead allow the Triune God to morph your thinking towards His worldview. When you begin to see the world like He does, you will see, hear, touch, and smell things like never before. Your only complaint is you wish you could have started earlier in life.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Director & Founder
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

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What Is Real Success?

“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:3-8 ESV

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What is real success?  Some say the accomplishment of a goal. Others say a healthy life. Others a caring family. Than others add financial independence, recognition from one’s peers, or the power to do whatever you want. Yet what does God say real success is? Is real success something you make happen or is it a gift?

Like teenagers sowing their wild oats is how humanity generally functions with God. We are the prodigal child or the son who remains home (Luke 15:11-32). We believe we need to venture out and satisfy all our internal desires. Or we need to stay home and live by all the rules. In so doing we believe we shall become successful. Yet for most, only through the trials, tests, and challenges that this life takes us through do we eventually realize that Father God has a better way to live. Only then do we repent, return, and seek after God.

Without God, we try to imitate success. We wear high fashion cloths. We sell our soul for work that pays the most money. We buy material goods that we believe will make us more satisfied. We play extreme sports to battle the demons of fear. We hang around people who we label as successful. We more or less pursue the outer trappings of success. But we fail to capture the real success that comes from the inside-out through His grace.

Real success is grace-based. It’s not earned, stolen, or passed on from others. Real success is a gift from God. It is being the recipient of His Grace. As we acknowledge, accept, and act upon His grace, we experience the fruit of real success.

Real success is an inner quality that manifests itself through external showings. We may at times be easily fooled through external showings, but the heart is the foundation of the soul. When the heart is a conduit of God’s Spirit, the fruit is real.

Real success is allowing God to live in you, with you, and through you. It is the result of submitting to Him. It is accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is becoming one with Him. As we become one with Him, we learn to live in Him, with Him, and through Him. It is a personal, covenant marriage relationship between you and the Eternal.

As we walk with Him, we become the recipient of His divine nature. He showers us with His character. The fruit of His Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control: Gal 5:22) empowers us. We become more like Him as a child becomes more like their parent. We learn to live life from a grace-based foundation instead of a performance model. We begin to experience the fruit of salvation. We live in freedom. Instead of trying to make ourselves feel good through our activities, we learn to rest in Christ. Instead of viewing life only through our eyes, we see life also through the heart of our Maker. What we learn by walking with God, we share with others. We want all to experience real success as God intended mankind to have since the beginning of time.

Real success is God’s work, not ours. The earlier we learn that, the quicker we experience the genuine fruit of real success.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Director & Founder
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 a Friend…Share Today’s Message!

Beaten, Busted, Broken

” For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.” Job: 3:25-26 ESV

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Life has a tendency to throw us lemons. Those who are positive thinkers, state that we need to transform the lemons into lemonade. Yet what about us who are not equipped to make it happen? Not everyone has the talent or character to pick up one self and rise up to the occasion. Or maybe this time the challenge is larger than anything we have faced before and we don’t know where to turn to. Now what?

At times like this I am comforted by God’s reply to Job’s challenge. Job was the wealthiest person in his neck of the woods. He had a large family and was known throughout the community for his philanthropic work. He was the picture of success. Even God claimed that He was blameless.

Yet bad things do happen to good people. In Job’s case, he was the pawn in a wager between God and Satan. God gave Satan authority to do whatever he wanted but spare his life. So with his walking papers, Satan destroyed Job’s business, family, and health. By the time Satan was done, Job was beaten, busted, and broken.

He was physically disabled with chronic pain. He was financially ruined. His wife deserted him. His immediate family taken away. He was left alone beaten, busted, and broken. Yet he never disowned His God. In fact, besides his three companions who tried to comfort him, but ended up throwing spiritual daggers into his side, he spent the time seeking answers from God. As the events unfolded, God finally granted him his day in court where Job eventually repented from his thinking and acknowledged God’s greatness and faithfulness.

God restored Job with more at the end of his crisis than before his broken, busted, and beaten state. What is it that I find encouraging about the entire ordeal?

Simply that God was always with him. Even when God wages a bet with others, he does so knowing that the final outcome is going to be better than if He did nothing. For most of us, we shall experience a Good Friday event in our life. Hopefully, if we hang in there long enough, we shall also experience a Resurrection Sunday.

God is good. He wants what is best for all of us. The immediate future may look bleak. But God in all his glory will carry us through the situation and bless us with character, virtue, and reward.

Yes we may be beaten, busted, and broken at this time. But it only allows us to place our trust in the hand of who will rise us up and restore us to a place for his glory. With Job, his story has become an inspiration for millions throughout history. For us, our story may likewise become a living testament for others on the grace of God.

Again, being beaten, busted, and broken isn’t bad unless we neglect to lean on Him. Then pity on us. I choose to trust Him who raises the dead, walks on water, and turns water into wine.

There is a purpose and meaning behind the BBB of life. As we learn from it, grow from it, and glorify God through it, in hindsight, we may have a better understanding of why we went through it. But for today, let’s just be pleasantly surprised on how He will intervene and save us from ourselves, for the sake of others, and for His glory.

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

Tweet Gospel

“…there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:7

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Twitter is one of those modern techno gadgets that I haven’t had time nor desire to take on at this season of life. My understanding is that one communicates the word in a short fashion using abbreviations and special codes. The entire sentence is limited to approximately 120 letters/numbers/characters. Since I have a difficult time communicating with 400 words via a blog, it probably will be a while before we attempt to tweet.

Yet, when I hear the gospel being preached through radio, television, or the pulpit, I sometimes feel that the good news of Jesus Christ is being limited in its presentation, just like a tweet. Instead of sharing the entire message of Jesus Christ, we only share one aspect of it. Usually that aspect is the forgiveness of sin. Though it is one reason that Jesus broke time and space as a human person, it is only one reason. And in my opinion, it isn’t the main reason.

For example, when one reads the four gospel accounts of Jesus, his message wasn’t solely about the forgiveness of sin. He introduced himself as the King of a government – The Kingdom of God. Some theologians like to only speak about the kingdom in our hearts and forget that the Kingdom He spoke about was also the fulfillment of the Messiah prophecies of an universal order that included heaven and earth. Kingdom reality is already here for those who are participating with Him in His work to restore creation back to His original intent.

In addition, when one reads the letters of Paul, one is introduced to God’s plan from the beginning of creation that included the adoption of humanity into the inner circle of the Triune God (Eph. 1:4). Before man was created and sinned, God already had a plan in motion. Sin and the forgiveness of sin was only a messy inkblot in His plan for the universe. His initial purpose was not to save us, but to adopt us into His world.

When we repent (change our mind of who God is and what He is doing) God impregnates us with his Spirit. As we abide in Christ, take up our cross, and follow Him, the Spirit begins to change our hearts and minds patterned after the character and attitude of Christ himself (2 Timothy 1:7). The Holy Spirit of God begins to remove the darkness of sin from our life. The addictions, lies, self-righteousness, pride of life, vanity, anger, hatred is being replaced with the fruit of the Holy Spirit and the virtues of God.

There is also the good news of grace, freedom, justice, and resurrection. In other words, it is far more than just being saved from our sins and acquiring a one way ticket to heaven. It’s about people flourishing with other people within God’s governmental order. It’s about being adopted into a royal and priestly family that rules the universe. And yes, it’s about transformation – being prepared and equipped with the character of God to serve others and God now and for eternity.

The good news of Jesus Christ is truly more than we really know or imagine.

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

Christian Crutches

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” Romans 41:1 ESV
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One of the most puzzling aspects of the Christian faith for unbelievers is the various denominations built around a specific interpretation of scripture. Somewhere I recently read that there are over 30,000 different denominations in the United States alone. These of course include non-denominational organizations which think of themselves not as one of the mainstream Christian bodies but really are a single-body denomination.

Whether these faith communities place unique emphasize on communion, baptism, prophecy, gospel message, healing, prosperity, etc., the vast majority truly believe that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. Therefore, according to Scripture, they are my brothers and sisters in the Lord. The challenge is they have a strong preference and opinion. In some circles, they follow the formula that to be a Christian requires Jesus plus “x”. The emphasis placed on the “x” factor separates them from others.

What they may not see is that this “x” factor is really a spiritual crutch that they currently need until the Holy Spirit completes its transformation within the Believer. Since this crutch helps them in their walk with the Lord, they sincerely believe everyone else should have the same crutch.

Most transformational processes take considerable time. Yet upon completion, one only then recognizes the crutch of the matter.(sorry for the pun).

In Jesus’ time on earth, he kept correcting the religious leaders of his day. They would emphasize the importance of the crutch while Jesus was healing the person so they wouldn’t need the crutch any longer. It is not a shame to have a crutch. It is simply a means that allows us to continue walking with Christ until we are healed in that area of life. Until that day, we aspire for unity in all essentials beliefs (Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior), encourage liberty in beliefs which are gray or uncertain (interpretation of scripture, baptism, end-times, etc), but exercise love in all beliefs.

Remember, we all use crutches. We all will walk with a limp into the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, let’s just recognize what is a crutch, continue to abide in Jesus Christ and allow God’s Spirit to transform the heart, mind, and soul for His glory and purpose, and mutually serve one another through the maturity growth process.

Crutch or no crutch, I for one am thankful that Jesus is the one we all have to answer too.

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.

 

Feelings

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11 ESV

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I don’t feel like it!

How often have we expressed the same?

What did we do with that feeling?

Did we follow through as a victim of our feelings?

Or did we balance the feelings with God’s Character?

Did we weigh the feelings with His Word?

What is the truth when you compare your feelings with His Word?

Yes, there are times when our feelings will be correct. Other times your feelings will blind you to the truth.

Be a wise person. Stop, pull back, and evaluate the situation. Don’t let your feelings lead you unless you already know they are built upon the foundation of God’s love, grace, and truth.

 

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.

 

 

Turning The World Upside Down

“This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” Acts 17:3-7 ESV

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Have you ever noticed that to become truly successful in today’s world, there are many times you have to go opposite of the norm? One eventually learns that success measured by worldly standards enslaves one to passions that are self-defeating. Real, long-lasting success however, produces freedom, flourishing, and virtuous growth for the self and others. For many people without a Triune God worldview, the Christ-centered life is simply the opposite of how they have been educated through the world’s systems. Therefore, when the world looks at Kingdom living, they focus on what they are going to personally lose rather than what they and others will gain.

The world’s educational, governmental, judicial, commercial, and scientific institutions are generally built upon humanistic principles. To espouse that Jesus is King of all these entities would be ludicrous in the eyes of many of its leaders. Yet, the early church didn’t mince words. They stated profusely that Jesus is King. Not just King of heaven, or the Jews, but King of all the heavens and earth! A bold statement then and still a bold statement today.

When one acknowledges that Jesus is King, one’s world begins to turn upside down. However, overtime one realizes that what is truly upside down is today’s world. That the Messiah came to restore humanity onto a path that eventually will birth universally upon the whole earth at the consummation of all things. Today his children are gaining experiences and knowledge of what it means to live the abundant life in Christ. We capture a glimpse of the vision and a small taste of Kingdom living now.

Yes in the eyes of others who may not truly realize their homeland, priest, and king is Jesus, the Christ-follower is someone who is strange. Yet in the eyes of God, who gives Christ-followers His Spirit to transform us, His domain to encircle us, and His faithfulness to encourage us, we are His living examples. We demonstrate and witness to others what it means to live under Kingdom freedom, Kingdom economics, and Kingdom growth.

So if you think we are turning the world upside down, think again. Could it be we are just following Christ as He turns the world right-side up?

 

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.