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I am going to resist the temptation to restate the thesis of this three-part article and direct you back to Part One. There you will find a useful introduction and the individual application of what we are calling the anchor (think house, not ship) of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome.

Part Two explores the bridge between the individual application of Part One and the community application we are exploring in this last part. The order is important – individual application working its way into the corporate body. So, once you have read Parts One and Two, you should be ready to dig in here.

Community Application

As we begin, it is important to note that, as it is with individuals, fellowships small, large, and in between, are also instructed and encouraged to offer themselves to God – to be used as corporate instruments of His sacrificial love. Furthermore, resisting conformity with the world and being transformed are best accomplished in community. In fact, it is impossible for individuals who are “members of one another” to be transformed separate from one another.

Now on to Romans 12:4-8.

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:4-8

The “for” found at the beginning of this passage connects our humble and sober thinking to our functioning as God intends in the community of faith. Some members may have more visibility or a seemingly more important function; others, less. In humility, we recognize that this is an unimportant consideration. Indeed, as we learn from 1Corinthians 12:23, greater honor is bestowed on those we think to be less honorable. This is sober thinking.

There are three considerations here that warrant our attention. First, there is our unity. We are not only members of “one body in Christ”, but “individually members of one another”. Spiritually, regardless of function, there are no boundaries between us. Our unity is a mystery beyond reason; only by faith and practice do we know it to be true.

Through faith, we function together in the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:13). This is the desire, vision, and attitude of Jesus Christ. As we lay hold of the mind of Christ, we are anchored to the theological foundation, in Romans one through eleven, that He has established for our life in community. Read the rest of this entry »

Reading through Part One of this article, I discovered an oversight. Having referenced Romans 12:1-3 as the personal perspective of the Romans “anchor”, I failed to comment on verse three. As it turns out, verse three can be viewed as a bridge. So, rather than go back and update Part One, we will cover it here before exploring the church-in-fellowship perspective of Romans 12:4-8 in Part Three.

Those of you that have not already read Part One will find it a useful introduction. The order is important – individual application working its way into the corporate body. Furthermore, there is a connection between the renewal of our mind (Romans 12:2) and the way we are to think in the community of faith.

Humble and Sober Thinking

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3

As we endeavor to transition from theology to its practice, we must consider our mind and how it thinks. We have already learned from verse two that our mind requires renewal; it is not prepared for the life our theology requires. For many, this is a bitter pill to swallow. We have been encouraged since our formative years to trust our minds and our innate ability to reason. Our carnal mind has convinced us that it deserves the control most of mankind has given it.

We think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. We desperately need to sober up and recognize that much of our thinking is humanistic. Even in the church, we have come to rely on the doctrines of man. We attempt to live out of our reason, rather than our faith. It is high time we become suspicious of the way we think, because much of our thinking is outside the faith.

Consequently, the introduction of faith at the end of the verse above would seem strange to many in the church. What does a measure of faith have to do with the way we think? Our perplexity demonstrates how far we have drifted from the truth concerning our heart and mind. We have allowed our blame-shifting carnal mind to convince us that our heart is corrupt.

But, how can this be? What do the Scriptures tell us? Read the rest of this entry »

You may notice an oversight in this first part: after referencing verse three, I failed to explore its meaning. Part two addresses this mistake. Please do not let it distact you here. 

Anchors may be the least thought about, most important component of a building. In tornado or flood, the best built home on the strongest foundation will suffer tragic destruction without adequate anchoring. The same applies to spiritual construction. We can be sure that Jesus Christ, as the Master Builder of His church, has provided adequate “anchor” between structure and foundation. One such anchor can be found in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

I recently discovered something about Romans that many of you might already know. The first eleven chapters contain Paul’s theological foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The remaining five chapters then describe the church structure that Christ is building. This being the case, we can understand and explore the first eight verses of Romans 12 as the metaphorical anchor that secures the structure of the church to its theological foundation.

From a process perspective, this portion of Paul’s letter serves as a transition stage, containing the personal and corporate worldview, attitudes, and commitments required to become the church Paul envisions – the manifested reality of his most comprehensive theology. Moving from Paul’s revelation of the gospel to its application, one must pass through this mandatory stage. It is, therefore, critical for us to understand how to apply this anchor in our personal lives and in the spheres of influence entrusted to us.

Generally, this passage presents two perspectives. The first three verses speak to the individual; the remainder to the church in fellowship. This order seems important – individual application working its way into the corporate body. That is not to suggest that the former can be accomplished outside of community encouragement and accountability. As Paul states in verses four and five, we are members of one body and members of one another.

In this article, we will focus on the personal application of the Romans anchor. Read the rest of this entry »

I recently read a small book that has given me hope for evangelism and discipleship in America. The book – God Guides, by Mary Geegh – chronicles her experiences as a missionary to India from 1924 to 1962. While on the mission field, she learned how to have the power of the Holy Spirit in her daily life and in her evangelistic outreach to Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and fellow Christians.

A visiting missionary told her, “The first step is to ‘wait’… ‘be still’… ‘listen’. Then be definite about your sins – daily; with notebook and pencil write down the thing the Holy Spirit speaks to your mind; determine to obey. Then share with others who come to you for help how the power of Christ changes you.”

Mary disciplined herself to this practice, and applied it to every problem she faced. She taught others the same way: to hear from the God Who Speaks. I will leave it to you to get the book and read her stories and the many lessons she learned. My purpose here is to share an epiphany and the hope it has given me for the church in America. I suspect this applies more broadly, and would love to hear from my international readers about this subject.

Mary Geegh’s approach to evangelism was based on a very simple statement made by Jesus during one of His more profound and mysterious messages (perhaps this is why it has been overlooked).

It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.  John 6:45

I feel the need to encourage you to resist the temptation to dismiss what you are about to read. You may do so for two reasons: it may seem too simple to be important, and/or it may not fit your doctrine or mindset for ministry. There is no danger in giving serious consideration to something that makes us uncomfortable. I too had to press through my initial reservations. If Jesus had not said it Himself, I would have difficulty accepting that:

People hear and learn from the Father before they come to Jesus!

Some may say, “Of course, the Father (or Holy Spirit) must draw them.” This is true; Jesus speaks of it in the previous verse. However, what many have failed to understand (myself included) is the method of that drawing; it is not some mysterious tugging at our heart.

The Father draws the unsaved by speaking to them, and teaching them!!

Individuals with a dead spirit and a heart of stone, without the Holy Spirit within them, and who worship other gods, hear and are taught by the Father… as a preliminary step to them coming to Jesus Christ. This is not a strange interpretation of the verse. The verse would have to be strangely interpreted to say anything else.

Please note: I am not suggesting a replacement for belief in Jesus, repentance, and baptism. The matter at hand is God’s method for drawing people to the Savior and our responsibility to that part of the salvation process. Is this not Biblical prescription? Why is it not being taught and practiced? What are we missing? Read the rest of this entry »

My experience in pursuing God has shown me that the farther down the difficult path we run, and the deeper we search out the mysteries of the kingdom, the more we discover things we do not have which He has either promised His children or He expects of us. This includes hearing, direction, discipline, fruit, gifts, faith, and understanding – just to name a few.

God has a way for us to receive and be faithful in all He has offered and commanded. He is working in us to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). His Son is making us and the Holy Spirit is transforming us through the renewing of our minds (Mark 1:17, Romans 12:2). It is by grace, through faith, that we are saved – to walk in the Father’s good work (Ephesians 2:8-10).

There is truly very little that we, the sons and daughters of God, bring to the table. We are not sufficient for such things. Knowing this, God has made provision. So, why is it so hard?

Most of us have a favorite and ready answer (e.g., “dying to self is hard”; or “our enemies are fighting us tooth-and-nail”). A dozen or more responses would be correct, but that’s not the direction we are trying to go with this. Here we hope to offer three spiritually practical steps every Christian can take to join the Godhead in the good work They are doing to save, sanctify, and transform us.

So, how do we lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of us (Philippians 3:12))? How do we become faithful stewards of the mysteries of God (1Corinthians 4:1)? How do we partake of the greater-than life (John 14:12)?

The following steps are God’s way for the deeper Christian life: Read the rest of this entry »

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. Matthew 10:24-25

Previously, we suggested there are two simple questions any Christian can use to assess their obedience to Christ and the effectiveness of their ministry:

  1. Who is discipling you?
  2. Who are you discipling?

The article seemed particularly challenging (I am only the pen); and more so for the shepherds of God’s people – pastors, preachers, teachers, etc. Being a member of this group, I was reminded: These two questions should be answerable by every Christian in every sphere of influence we have been given responsibility for as leaders.

A dear friend – and the man God has assigned to disciple me for the last 12-15 years – shared a perspective that may prove to be even more challenging. You may not like what you read. It may even offend some of you.

Generally, it’s best not to say such things at the beginning of an article. We are swimming against the current here simply because we do not want you surprised and distracted. This way, we can simply say it without a bunch of dancing around. I trust you will consider the truthfulness of it, and apply all that is worthwhile.

“Disciple Making Works”

That’s what my friend said, “Disciple making works.” He didn’t mean what I thought he meant. He went on to explain (this is the way I heard it), “Every leader is discipling everyone they lead into some understanding; and into the life that understanding prescribes. They are doing this whether they intend to, or not.

“We are either making disciples into some understanding about Christ and His Church, OR, we are making disciples to Jesus Christ Himself that He might make them as He is Himself. And it always works.” Read the rest of this entry »

There are two simple questions any Christian can use to assess their obedience to Christ and the effectiveness of their ministry:

  1. Who is discipling you?
  2. Who are you discipling?

If you cannot answer the first question, you are likely not being discipled. Unless you are in their inner circle, this is not your pastor nor your Sunday School teacher. Making disciples requires relationship.

It is impossible to underestimate the impact a disciple maker can have on a person’s life (mentor is the secular term). Much of God’s grace flows down the channels of authority He has assigned for every Christian. This is not limited to teaching, counseling, etc. The life of Christ is miraculously transmitted through the disciple making relationship (e.g., faith, courage, and peace).

The Great Commission is God’s prescription for our participation in the advancement of His kingdom. Finding those that He has designated for our spiritual apprenticeship is vital to our inclusion in His story. Furthermore, it is impossible to make disciples without first being made.

Regrettably, making disciples has fallen out of favor in the church that resides here in America. Consequently, you may have to ask someone to disciple you. Before you do, ask God to identify that person. He loves talking with His children about such things.

Failure regarding our second question is a strong sign of spiritual disobedience. This is a hard judgment. It is also fair, grounded in truth, and offered in love. Read the rest of this entry »

And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:2-3

In response to Jesus’ declaration that the Temple would be destroyed, His disciples asked three questions:

  1. When will this happen?
  2. What will be the sign of Your coming?
  3. What will be the sign of the end of the age?

Jesus could have answered the first of these questions directly (i.e., in about 40 years). He chose not to. Well, actually, His Father chose not to.

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. Matthew 24:36

Furthermore, notice that the disciples did not ask “when” in regard to His coming, nor the end of the age. Somehow, they knew better.

So, why has this become our focus?

Is the time and energy we spend trying to determine the day and hour a distraction from more important matters? I believe it is.  In fact, Jesus has promised that the day and hour we come to expect will not be accurate.

Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44

Jesus could have quickly, and succinctly, answered all three of the disciple’s questions. Instead, He used their questions to raise more important matters. There was something much more important that He wanted them (and us) to understand, believe and obey.

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.” Matthew 24:4

But he who endures to the end shall be saved. Matthew 24:13

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour
your Lord is coming.
Matthew 24:42

Take heed, endure and watch; for though you do not know the day or the hour, tribulation – and then judgment – is coming.

The primary purpose of this discourse is the disciple’s preparation. God help us to discover the same passion for those in our spheres of influence.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Mountain Climbers_1Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

The Western church is in desperate need of saints that will run with endurance. A cloud of witnesses is looking on; waiting with anticipation for the end of the race. Will they see us finish well?

Here on earth, people need more than instruction in running. They need more than stories about those that are running well. They need to see those in positions of influence running with endurance, as the followers of Jesus Christ. So:

“Let us lay aside every weight”. God’s people are to be hastening the coming of the day of God (2Peter 3:12)! What is slowing you down? What is slowing down those in your spheres of influence? I confess that for me it is the world’s entertainment. However harmless it seems, the world’s entertainment distracts us from things above (Colossians 3:2).

“… and the sin which so easily ensnares us.” Did you know that there is a narrow gate through which we must strive to enter the kingdom of heaven (Luke 13:24)? Jesus spoke of this as a matter of our salvation. What is preventing you from entering through the narrow gate? Ask the Sovereign Judge to search you (Psalms 139:23-24); then, exercise 1John 1:9 for your deliverance. Read the rest of this entry »

Let me begin by saying that I am not proposing an answer to this question. I honestly want to know what Christians mean when they ask me to pray for America. What do they mean when they pray for America?

You may be wondering why this is difficult for me. I suspect it has to do with the definition of terms. I suspect America does not mean the same thing to everyone. Furthermore, I suspect – if you are one of the “pray for America” folks – the following will not sit well with you.

Please don’t dismiss me. I am just looking for answers.

Did you know that America was the number one producer of pornography in the world; and the number one benefactor of the sex slave trade? America also leads the world in the number of incarcerated individuals; a strong indication that America is number one in the practice of lawlessness.

It may sound like I have answered my own question: America needs prayer because America is in grave danger of going the way of many kingdoms before her. And we can’t have that; right? We love America.

Honestly, if that was all there was, I wouldn’t be asking the question. Here’s another: Why do we love America so much that we would pray for her – and be offended when others question why? Read the rest of this entry »

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