The time has come to say some hard things. That is not my determination to make. Indeed, I am a conflict avoider. The pen must write what it is used to write. I am confident that the source is a Father who out of love, chastens, rebukes, and scourges His children.

Pastors and churches in our hectic times are harassed by the temptation to seek size at any cost and to secure by inflation what they cannot gain by legitimate growth. The Next Chapter After the Last; A. W. Tozer

A. W. Tozer recognized the beginnings of our compromise in the middle of the 20th Century (he died in 1963). Since then, many pastors and churches have succumbed to the temptation about which he spoke and wrote. The results have been catastrophic.

A recent Barna survey reported that 51% of church attenders (in America) did not recognize the phrase “the Great Commission”. Only 17% claimed to know the meaning of it!

Think about that for a minute. What does this say about the church in America? How does someone not know about the command that supposedly got them there? What has replaced the Great Commission?

For those of you that love and lead millennials, it is important to know that new church trends are not helping. Only 11% of church attending millennials understand the Great Commission of our Lord! What does this say about our approach to youth and young adult ministry? Are we going to keep doing what continues to fail our King’s commission?

If this single statistic does not knock off and stomp our rose-colored glasses to bits, I don’t imagine anything will. There are dozens – perhaps hundreds – more indicators like it. Tragically, the church in America has been overrun with deception. Read the rest of this entry »

In God’s economy, we have no right to a particular standard of living, nor to pursue one. Like Paul, we must learn to be content regardless of our standard of living (Philippians 4:11-12). Indeed, this mindset is prerequisite to our doing “all things through Christ, who strengthens me (v.13).”

We have what we have either because God has given it to us, or we have claimed and carved it out for, by, and to ourselves. For the vast majority of us, there is a mixture; and it is hard to determine what falls into each of these two categories. It may be time for an assessment of the situation.

It is also difficult and threatening to consider what needs to go. Some things we possess will never be anything but the weight and sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). Or, alternatively, God may consecrate an ill-gotten possession for His eternal use. Recognizing that presumption is an unsafe tactic, how do we know what God would have us do? Read the rest of this entry »

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

How much attention do we give – and should we give – to this instruction? Is this optional, prescriptive, or a command? How prevalent is this theme in the Scriptures? Two things come to mind:

  1. Under the Old Covenant, the nation of Israel was commanded to remain separate from the surrounding nations, lest their worship and obedience to God be compromised.
  2. Under the New, Jesus’ prayed for His Father to sanctify (i.e., set apart) those that He had been given – a continuation of the Old Covenant theme. We are to be “in the world”, but not “of the world”. There seems to be a fine but hard line between these two conditions.

What are the “things on the earth” Paul refers to in his letter to the Colossian church? Are they limited to the previously mentioned world philosophies and religious legalism? What about the list of personal sins that follow?

Bringing this matter forward, what would the Holy Spirit lead Paul to say about our world? What new “things on the earth” has mankind created? Should we be concerned about the set of our minds in regard to sports, news, social media, online gaming, DIY YouTube videos, etc.?

Beware of the first answer that comes to you. It is likely your carnal mind trying to distract or otherwise deter you from considering the matter. It does that… regularly. Just tell it to shut up. Read the rest of this entry »

This book may not be for everyone. If your mind is completely renewed and continually set on things above, and if you continually take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, then you will not profit from the revelations and strategies offered here.

For the rest of us, there is a desperate need to give attention to the carnal mind’s methods and maneuvers; it’s deceptions and distractions. I know this first hand. My carnal mind has played tricks on me for the entirety of my life. God continues to reveal the foothold it has established and the damage it has done.

There are others who would rather not be bothered and challenged by self-examination. They are holding on to the possibility that these things will work themselves out without too much involvement and effort on their part. Some have gone so far as to assume that the war for our souls is over.

Beware! This is exactly what our carnal minds would have us accept and believe. Passivity and procrastination are two of its favorite weapons; for they draw very little attention – allowing our carnal mind to remain undetected within the camp. I speak from personal experience.

This hiddenness is quite the phenomenon, particularly when you consider the power and importance that has been awarded to the canal mind in this Age of Reason. Indeed, the carnal mind has been placed upon something more than a pedestal. The carnal mind now occupies a throne! Guess who put it there.

The carnal mind (our collective carnal minds, to be exact) has managed to place itself on a throne for all of mankind to worship!

This truly is an incredible accomplishment. Think about it. Consider our carnal minds’ creative trickery in the American education system. From kindergarten through high school, we are trained to depend on our ability to reason until finally, at the university, it is worshipped. Indeed, mankind believes in the power of reason. Few question the destruction it has wrought.

That brings me to the purpose of this book – to encourage Christians to think about how they are thinking; to recognize we not only allow the enemy to reside in the camp, but we turn to it for counsel and advise. It is no wonder we cannot get the lost world to think differently. Generally speaking, we are not thinking right ourselves.

The “grace of God” is foundational to the Christian faith. So why is there so much confusion regarding its meaning? Here’s an exercise to prove my point. Ask ten of your friends, separately, what grace means to them. How many different answers did you get? How many come close to the Biblical definition?

If your experience is like mine, many of the answers you receive will be limited to some work of God. Most Christians in America equate God’s grace with Jesus’ death for their salvation. This is what they have been taught or allowed to believe.

From the Outline of Biblical Usage (https://www.blueletterbible.org), we find that the charis of God is “the merciful kindness [goodwill and favor] by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”

Did you get all that?

Grace is not an act of God, nor is it an event. Talking about grace in this way diminishes its meaning – and our understanding of God. Grace is a facet of God’s nature. God is gracious. Those that enter His presence are blessed by His gracious character.

I have heard someone say that grace is the disposition of God toward mankind. This sounds right to me. They go on to say that the grace of God produces things that are beneficial to man: justification, salvation, gifts, fruit, etc. It is important to remember that these benefits are not grace, but its products.

Furthermore, most have been taught or left to believe that grace and its benefits are free. This is wrong on two accounts. First, grace, as a nature of God, cannot be labeled as free (or costly). The Bible never speaks of grace in this way.

Some will acquiesce to this point, and move to argue that the benefits of grace are free. There are several passages they might reference. Let’s start with a couple from Romans. Read the rest of this entry »

Christians have an enemy entrenched and hidden in our camp – behind our lines, distracting and deceiving us. Most are oblivious to this enemy’s presence. Many have turned to it for counsel and advice.

This enemy aligns itself with Satan and the world to resist the wisdom, influence and work of God. It is not as powerful as Satan, nor as influential as the world; but make no mistake about it, this enemy is capable of much mischief and mayhem. Indeed, this enemy should be labeled, “Enemy #1”.

Enemy #1 is our carnal mind.

God would have us recognize and expose our carnal mind. He would have us overcome it, and repair the damage it has wrought. God would transform us by the renewing of our minds – if only we would let Him; if only we knew how.

It is no wonder we (the American church) are failing to convince the lost world to think differently. Generally speaking, we are not thinking right ourselves. God would have it otherwise. There is a battle to be fought and won. There is a greater-than life in the kingdom of God – right here and now. But first, we must win the battle that is taking place in our own camp. We must overcome our carnal mind!

That is God’s purpose for writing the new book we are pre-announcing today. Much of the book has been written as articles for the inLight Adventure blog. We are working now to pull it all together for publication as an eBook, on December 26th.

For this, we need your help.

Note to the moderators of blogs and groups with whom we provide content: This article is promotional and includes a request of support for a new project. Please consider that we are only interested in getting the word of God out to as many as possible. We understand if you still prefer to exclude/remove it.

First and foremost, we desire your prayers. Pray as the Holy Spirit leads you for the Father’s will throughout the publication process. Our heart is to put this book in the hands of as many leaders as possible. This is certainly the most important project we have attempted since The Map Maker. Read the rest of this entry »

SEPTEMBER EDITION

The Lord recently ordered me to dedicate the first two hours of my day to writing. As many of you have heard me say, “I am just the pen.” Those words fail to communicate the depth of joy I find in this relationship with the Author. Let me explain.

I discovered a passion for creative writing in the 12th grade. I wish I could remember the name of the teacher that encouraged me. I would like to thank her – and use her name on the “Who was your favorite teacher?” security question. I also want to encourage her for the way God used her for His eternal purpose in my life.

Regrettably, the only creative writing I did in college was to my best friend and future wife. My course work and subsequent vocation did not require it, and there was no one there to encourage the passion. And so, it just got away from me.

That lost and forgotten passion did not show up again until we launched inLight Consulting – roughly 30 years later. Honestly, I was more than a little surprised to discover that God had a use for something I had completely forgotten. It was like discovering a treasure I had unknowingly misplaced in my attic (ahh, what else might be up there?).

Recently, I have been wondering about “joy” – particularly its presence in my life and the overflow of it on to others. Frankly, I wonder why there is not more. I’m searching out the matter and hope to share some of my discovery in the future.

For now, I just want to recognize and testify that I find joy in being God’s pen. I am so very grateful for those of you that have encouraged and supported that part of the inLight adventure. I very much want you to appreciate that God has used you, much like my 12th grade teacher, to accomplish this purpose in my life. Read the rest of this entry »

You may recall the images from Iraq during the onset of Desert Storm. Having done their reconnaissance, American forces were bombing Bagdad, seemingly without mercy. The military commentator explained that we were trying to kill Saddam Hussein – which was unlikely – and/or destroy his command and communication centers. In other words, we were trying to separate the snake’s head and its body.

As it turns out, this is the strategy of every offensive force, in every war. Separate the commanders from the troops and you create a decided advantage for yourself and your allies. Consequently, threatened nations go to great length to protect their communication centers.

Regrettably, our enemies have made significant progress is cutting off the Western church from its High Command. Communication centers have been destroyed. Little effort is being made to rebuild and retrench. Consequently, we are separated from God and each other. Our efforts are disorganized, even divisive.

While it would be easy to blame the devil, those of us in leadership know better. In many respects, we are our own worst enemy. We have allowed the world to distract us and our carnal minds to deceive us into thinking we can get by with our own strategies, plans and programs.

Reestablishing communication is where we must start. Sacrifices will have to be made, but they will be worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears. God has all the grace we need to turn the tide in this war.

As hard a time as we seem to be having with prayer, prayer is not hard. The Father is standing by waiting on our attention. He loves speaking with His children.

Much has been said about the decline of prayer in the Western Church. We have simply lost site of the importance of personal and corporate communion with God. This is so obvious, it hardly seems worth the time and effort to say it again. Just how much encouragement is enough?

Fortunately, God has not given up on us. He is aware of our weaknesses in this area. We are not the first generation of church leaders who have needed an attitude (re)adjustment about prayer.

Now, I’m no expert on prayer; but I know some people who are. I don’t know them in-person personally; in fact, quite a few of them are dead. I know them personally through the books they have written on prayer. You can learn a lot about a person through their attitude towards prayer. After all, prayer is their heart tie with God; a connection to the center of their being.

I learned from a dear friend and mentor that giving away books is a great way to disciple someone. This is particularly true with subjects like prayer. Better to let the authors speak than try to speak for them.

So, what I would like to do here is introduce three of my favorite books on prayer. I will include some thoughts and encouragement in the way they will help you and those in your spheres of influence renew your minds regarding the importance of personal and corporate prayer. Read the rest of this entry »

Conflict is inevitable. What we do with it can have far-reaching consequences. The attitude we take into a conflict (planned or otherwise) greatly effects the outcome.

It is amazing what we do not realize about the way we think – our mindset, paradigms, attitudes. I had no conscious thought of my approach to conflicts until God hit me with the contrast. Two meetings, both occurring within a week of each other, forever adjusted my conflict attitude. Here’s my story:

In the first meeting – a Bible study of Romans – we had arrived at Paul’s exhortation on baptism (chapter six). As the teacher introduced the topic, you could literally feel and see the tension rise in the room. At least half the participants moved to the edge of their chairs waiting, it seemed, to hear the teacher say something with which they did not agree. Looking back, I am convinced that many ears were closed to hearing, and the Holy Spirit was grieved.

The second meeting was a blessed contrast. As with the first, there were people from various church fellowships and denominations. The passage being discussed was Jesus’ instruction regarding the consumption of His flesh and blood. Someone in the group asked, “What did Jesus mean when He said, ‘unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you (John 6:53).'”

After some time of quiet contemplation, one brother said he wasn’t sure, but thought it meant “so and so”. A second brother added, “And it means ‘such and such’ to me.” Several others offered their opinions.

To be honest, I can’t remember what any of them said about the meaning. All I heard in my spirit was the “and” of their responses – the “and” attitude of their hearts. At no time during the conversation was “no” or “or” used. No one corrected or disagreed with the others. It was truly amazing; so amazing that I almost missed the most amazing thing. Read the rest of this entry »

We will close out this series with a renewed consideration of God’s purpose for it; namely, our sanctification. As we know, sanctification is the process whereby we are set apart and cleansed from the world – separated unto the Lord and for His use (2Timothy 2:21). Few realize how vehemently our carnal minds fight against our sanctification. To be used by God to His greatest advantage, our carnal minds must be overcome.

The church began with Peter’s charge to repent and be saved from this perverse generation (Acts 2:38-41). At the end of this age, we will be called out a final time by God Himself (Revelation 18:4). In between, we struggle mightily with our allegiances.

God has given us disciplines as an invitation and the means to come out of the world – into a deeper relationship with Him. Jesus uses the disciplines to make us (Mark 1:17) and to build His church (Ephesians 4:11-16). The Holy Spirit uses them to transform us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

Repentance is first a change of mind. From parents to preachers, we have focused on changing behavior to the detriment of this first and vital step. Coming out of this evil generation – out of Babylon, the great harlot – begins with a rejection of secular, humanistic and carnal thinking about everything… including church.

Our carnal thinking about church has become so ingrained, we hardly know it exists. We are so surrounded by it, we cannot see how it has infected us. It is like an enemy that has entrenched itself behind our strongest line of defense. Going out to Jesus Christ, outside the camp (Hebrews 13:12-14), may be the only way we can rightfully assess what has become our prison.

Lest anyone misunderstand, we are not suggesting an exodus from existing church fellowships. This encouragement is about the way we think and about the way we relate to God. A. W. Tozer prophetically wrote of our condition over sixty years ago:

To me, it has always been difficult to understand those evangelical Christians who insist upon living in the crisis as if no crisis existed. They say they serve the Lord, but they divide their days so as to leave plenty of time to play and loaf and enjoy the pleasures of the world as well. They are at ease while the world burns… I wonder whether such Christians actually believe in the fall of man! Renewed Day by Day, A. W. Tozer

This series began with the argument for, and proof of, our carnal mind’s status as enemy number one. Satan may be more powerful (and easier to blame); and the world may be more aggressive in its attempts to conform us. But, it is the carnal mind that has become – not just the enemy in our camp – but a trusted friend and advisor. As such, it has become a dangerous distractor and deceiver.

Our hope is that you will respond to God’s invitation for greater intimacy through the disciplines He has so graciously provided. With this hope in mind, we offer a line of questioning for your conversations with Him and those in your spheres of influence. Read the rest of this entry »

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