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The following is an addendum to An Enemy Lies Within, where, in the section on liberating others, we expose several ways Christians in America are being deceived by their carnal mind. Here, we address the way God views wealth and His prescription for investing it.

Warning: this will be one of the most threatening articles we have written. The reader will be tempted to dismiss it as impractical nonsense. Be encouraged: God is the wisest wealth manager and investment counselor. More importantly, He loves His children and knows what they need before they ask. Hear Him out on this; His objective is your highest return on the investment He has made in you.

As we begin, let’s first address the notion of wealth. Because we are community people – members of the Body of Christ and one another – it is important that we consider wealth relationally. Wealth is a relative consideration. Some of God’s people are wealthier than others, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. We learn in the Parable of the Talents that God entrusts more to some than to others (Matthew 25:14-30). Furthermore, Jesus instructs us that “to whom much is given, from Him much will be required (Luke 12:48)”. In His sovereign omniscience, God determines the amount of wealth each one should have.

So, who is wealthy among you? Let’s take a look at some surprising statistics. According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the average net worth of all U.S. families is $692,100. Using the calculator provided by the Global Rich List, we discover that the average American family is worth more than 98.74% of everyone else in the world. Using the more conservative median figure ($97,300) puts the average American in the top 8.31% wealthiest people in the world (i.e., wealthier than over 91%).

The statistics relative to income are even more startling. A U.S. worker making the federally mandated minimum wage ($7.25/hour) earns more salary than 92.2% of workers in the rest of the world. The statistics don’t lie: American Christians are rich.

Given these statistics, it is easy to understand why Christians should be giving more careful attention to the way we manage our wealth. Jesus put it this way: Read the rest of this entry »

Those of you who faithfully read this newsletter and our blog articles will have noticed a more urgent – some would say harsher – tone to the recent messages. I hope and pray the frankness with encourage you to do the same. Simply saying, “We are living in desperate times”, does not lessen our desperation. Faith without works is dead.

At least for now, my work is being the best pen I can be and discipling those who are interested in God’s adventurous life. The good work God created you to walk in may be something else altogether different. You will find your adventure and assignment in the desire God has placed in your heart for this season.

Galatians 1:10 has been an increasingly convicting and encouraging word for me:

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Most of us were born with a desire to please others, and we were nurtured in that desire for most of our lives. As we all know (and many of us have experienced), this can be a doubly dangerous trap. First, we may find ourselves trying to please others instead of God. Second, our desire to please others gets in the way of our persuading them in the truths of God’s kingdom.

Ironically, our desire to please others often harms them. Our failure to persuade them leaves them captive to deception (John 8:32). As we have written in An Enemy Lies Within, the deceptions of our carnal minds run much deeper than we think or imagine. The damage has and will continue to be catastrophic, if we do not begin speaking the truth in love. Withholding God’s truth from someone is the opposite of loving them.

In closing, allow me to encourage and challenge you with three things that have been on my mind lately.

  • How much of our religion is Biblical Christianity? How much is the civil religion of America? Do these religions have the same god? Are they compatible? One was secured and is advanced by “power under” (i.e., Calvary-like service); the other by “power over” – raising the sword against the perceived enemy. One submits to the will of a King; the other celebrates and violently defends the rights of the individual.
  • The greatest value of the abundant life is the relationships offered in that life: Walking in the Spirit; Christ living in us; bearing fruit that glorifies the Father; being an instrument of light and glory. I could go on. Why are we willing to settle for less? These things must be pursued. Why are we not desperate to put away every weight and sin that so easily entangles us?
  • It seems we must decide if it is safe or warranted to ignore the conditions, warnings, and prescriptions of Scripture. Only those who do the will of the Father shall enter into His kingdom (Matthew 7:21). Will ignorance of His will excuse us? Does anyone think God hides His will from His children? Is He not working in us to will and do to His good pleasure? How would we judge ourselves to know we are not resisting His will and work?

I strongly believe we should be discussing these things with people in our spheres of influence. Who else will?

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Updates and Prayer Requests

We are grateful to God for the prayers and support for the An Enemy Lies Within project. The eBook is available at all major publishers. Please continue to pray and consider supporting the project, as we are preparing the printable version.

In regards to my school adventure, I have one class remaining in this semester. It begins in two weeks and will run for five. Some exciting news: I recently learned that I will be graduating in May of next year. Your prayers for wisdom and perseverance have been effectual.

We continue our search for fellowships and ministries to partner with us at 2:2 Collective.  Please pray for God’s guidance and wisdom; that He would connect us with those who have a heart for unity – to advance the kingdom together. The board recently approved the pursuit of a partnership with The College of Prayer International – to establish a prayer campus at 2:2 Collective.  Pray for grace and courage to glorify God in my roles as President and Treasurer.

Continue to pray for the workplace leaders you know – for their transformation into mighty men and women of God; that they would boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let me know how I can help you minister to them.

I am eternally grateful to all who pray for inLight, my family, and those to whom we minister.  Your prayers are effectual and much needed.  Please continue to pray as the Lord leads you.

I strongly encourage you to ensure your prayers are foremost for the glory of God; and that you first worship Him.  He is the Giver of all good things.  He deserves our focused attention.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you… to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

It is within the will and power of our Father in heaven to grant that we be filled with His fullness. The wonder and mystery of this truth should not distract nor dissuade us from pursuing its fulfillment in our lives.

Both “filled” and “fullness” are absolutes. God desires to fill all of our life – every moment, thought, and activity – with all of Himself. How does that happen when we fill so much of it with something else? Can a cup be filled with water when there is dirt inside?

We Christians have turned to the world for much of our security, wellness, entertainment, and justice. We assume a certain measure of it is provided by God – that it is a part of His grace. On the other hand, we know that much of what the world offers is contrary to God’s purpose and glory.

It is easy to get confused about the things of this world and their place in God’s purposes and plans for His children. After all, the Scripture encourages us that… Read the rest of this entry »

The following is written particularly for my United Methodist friends and family members who are entering into the pastor reassignment season. However, there is encouragement here for anyone facing a difficult transition; and let’s face it: most transitions are difficult.

For those of you that don’t know, the United Methodist Church (UMC) has a practice of moving its pastors on a regular basis. While the local church fellowship has some say in the process, the denominational hierarchy – as the ordained authority – ultimately decides where pastors will serve. Growing up in the UMC, and serving in various local leadership roles, I have experienced the confusion and heartache that comes with losing a pastor to the reassignment process. My heart goes out to those that are experiencing it now.

When I was younger, transitions of this sort were difficult – perhaps mostly because I did not have a say in the decision that was so negatively affecting me, my family, and my fellowship. Of course, this was not unlike other transitions I have been forced to navigate; the loss of a job and my daughter moving away from home come quickly to mind.

Others have suffered the loss of parents, spouses, and children. They have had to learn to move on to a life that is significantly different. Transitions are difficult… but they do not have to be defeating. God has a way for us to navigate the most difficult transitions of life, and help others do the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Warning: You will not like this. I don’t like this. If it is false, ignore it. If it convicts, let’s do something about it.

What is wrong with the American church? Are we not an exceptional bunch? After all, in the American church, what the Bible says applies to everyone, except us.

In the American church, it is okay to store up for retirement, worrying about what we will eat and wear tomorrow.

In the American church, it is okay to take care of me and my own and let others – even the brethren – fend for themselves.

In the American church, it is okay to make our plans (e.g. career, standard of living, leisure activity) and expect God to bless them.

In the American church, it is okay to promote our programs more than our God.

In the American church, it is okay to turn a blind eye to the debilitating sin of our brothers and sisters.

In the American church, God is forever for us regardless of our concern for, or obedience to, His desires and expectations.

In the American church, we are not required to be disciples of Jesus Christ to enjoy the benefits of heaven.

In the American church, ministry is the responsibility of the hired hands, and an option for everyone else.

In the American church, it is okay to avoid danger – even when that means ignoring injustice.

In the American church, we are allowed to cover our light with a basket in secular, or otherwise uncomfortable, settings.

In the American church, we turn to our government to protect us, secure us, and empower us.

In the American church, we celebrate a nation that looks more like Babylon than does any other nation on earth; and we believe God will bless it.

In the American church, we blame Satan and the world for our low estate, seemingly ignorant of our responsibilities as disciple makers and agents of transformation.

In the American church, the systems and treasures of this world are preferred over those of God’s kingdom.

In the American church, individual rights are more important than submission to authority.

What is wrong with the American church? Simply put, we are an exceptionally deceived bunch. Our brothers and sisters in less exceptional conditions are concerned for us. From an Indian evangelist (via Open Doors):

“They (western churches) have managed to turned a dangerous God into a safe one…instead of a God that burns with fury against hypocrisy, idolatry and injustice, they have a God that turns a blind eye to all our faults, just keeps on loving us with a disinterested air, and seems not to care whether we stand out for him or not.”

God have mercy on us! Open our eyes to our true condition! Lead us to fear Your fury! Lead us to mourning! Lead us to true repentance!

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

P.S. Most who read this far will likely assume that Satan is the primary source of our deception. That too is a deception. Our #1 enemy – our carnal mind – would have us blame the one who must flee at our resistance. In the meantime, hidden away, it rationalizes and excuses our ungodly behavior. We are our own worst enemy.

Stories are best understood from the perspective of the author, not the reader. In fact, it is one of the reasons we read: to entertain and learn from someone else’s viewpoint. When reading a letter, we best understand what the writer is trying to communicate when we “put ourselves in their shoes”. In regards to the Bible story, most Christians believe that God is the author; it is His perspective and “shoes” we should adopt when we read and share it.

Generally speaking, most Christians struggle to understand the central purpose of God in the Church Age. Most of us think the story of the Bible is about us. This misguided thinking centers around our perspective of the next three days – what we observe and give focus to on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

Therefore, it should be helpful to consider the next three days from God’s perspective. What do those days mean to Him? What is His purpose in them? What’s in it for God?

For those of you struggling with the notion that Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are about God and His benefit, we offer the following passages. First, there is God’s word to Ezekiel regarding the new birth.

Therefore, say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.'” Ezekiel 36:22

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

“Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!” Ezekiel 36:32

We learn from this prophecy of the new birth that God blesses His people for His name sake. The New Testament carries the same message, captured powerfully in Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and
for Him.
Colossians 1:16
Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, how we have insulated ourselves from the lost and wandering children of God. What do our hearts feel toward those who are seeking to enter but are not able, those who do not know that striving to enter is encouraged by Christ (Luke 13:23-25)?

What should we feel toward a world filled with injustice and deception? Are we allowed to govern our thoughts and emotions – to build a protective covering from the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of others? Is that what our hard work has accomplished for us – separation, numbness, and blindness? Are we excused to desensitize ourselves?

Even a “strong house” (i.e., Matthew 7:24-25) without compassion is hollow and uninviting; and its doors are barred to anyone desperate enough to seek assistance. Are we willing to close our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds, to those people and conditions that Jesus died to redeem? Are we willing to refuse God’s heart and grace for those created in His image – even those who are His children and our brethren?

I dare say that any response constructed on an argument of condition or sufficiency is a deception of our carnal mind; responses like:

  • I do not have time.
  • I cannot help everyone.
  • My company will not allow it.
  • People do not want to hear it.

These and many more defenses are worthless in God’s kingdom, for at least three reasons:

  1. Our sufficiency is from God and He is limitless;
  2. These are responses of the head, not the heart; and,
  3. He is our King, or He is not.

The starting point of our response to the lost and wandering must begin in our heart – the desire to do His will, and receive faith from His word. If we do not allow Him to search our hearts, we are refusing His grace. If we do not lean into His will – working out our own salvation with fear and trembling – we risk becoming branches that bear no fruit.

To wake up rested at 3:30am is a grace of God and an offering of time. To roll over for more sleep is a refusal of His grace. To subsequently change the alarm for even more time is a consequence of that refusal (i.e., my carnal mind now in control). The fact that I am more tired with two additional hours of sleep is the proof of my foolishness. I refused and missed the grace of God for sleep I did not need.

This is a wake-up call. Let us receive the grace God offers. Let Him search; let Him speak. Let Him continue to save us, putting off every sin and weight which so easily ensnares us, and running with endurance the race that is set before us.

May this encouragement, to whom God intends, haunt our souls unto surrender, for His will and doing.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Except for a dear friend, A. W. Tozer has been God’s most instrumental disciple maker in my life for the last two to three years. Before Tozer, there was Andrew Murray. Neither of these men (Tozer and Murray) are alive today; they have discipled me through their writings. Many other writers, both alive and dead, have played their part in God’s plan for my being made into a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am grateful to God for each of them.

God created language and gave men the idea and knowhow for paper and print; Gutenberg was God’s man. All good things come from God (James 1:17), including mass book production, word processors, and eReaders. He works all things to the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28). God continues creating methods and mechanisms that put the truth into the hands and hearts of His children.

For me personally, God used many patient people to teach and encourage me to read. My friend taught me that giving away good books was a great way to make disciples. Consequently, God has used the written word to greatly bless me and those for whom I am responsible.

Of all the good works I have been created to walk in, writing is my favorite. Beginning with a senior class English teacher, God has used several people to encourage my writing. I am grateful for each one. On many occasions I have experienced being nothing but God’s pen. And so, I write as often as God allows.

My hope is that millions would be encouraged by the articles and books God has used me to write. My attempts at promotion, however, have been less than visibly successful. I am left to trust that He has and will get them into the hands and hearts of those He has determined, when the time is right (a great advantage to writing things down).

Those of you who have supported this ministry (in any way) must recognize your place in God’s orchestration – to get the truth into the hand and hearts of people He loves. You are part of the legacy we are leaving behind.

With that in mind, I add my thank you to His, “Well done!”

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

I am old enough now to sense my time in this temporal world coming to a close. I may have 20 (or 30) more years left to produce the fruits of righteousness – to make a significant impact for the kingdom of God. That is half (or less) of the time I have already been here… and there is so much more I want to walk in for my Lord, my Father’s glory, and my future usefulness in eternity. I do not have a particular expectation; although, I will confess a strong desire for experience of the greater than life all believers have been promised (John 14:12).

I am grateful that my current work does not require good knees and shoulders; I am just a pen. More than anything, I find solace knowing He has numbered my days and has a plan to glorify Himself with this vessel, instrument, and weapon. I am concerned that I may have disqualified myself from some great exploit – and may continue to do so. I truly do not want to leave anything on the road (as cyclists say). God help me!!

The closer I get to the end, the more important choices become – not just the ones I am forced to make, but those that I may be avoiding. To know what to do and to not do it is as much a sin as doing something that you know you should not. Furthermore, I suspect my carnal mind has a way of distracting me, not only from what I know to do, but from seeking to know what I should. It concerns me that this latter distraction is akin to not having “the love of the truth” that saves (2Thessalonians 2:9-11).

In my study of the carnal mind, I discovered that its development has been much helped by the environment in which I have been raised. From my formative years, I have been inculcated into the American mindset and dependence on its systems. It is important to recognize that much of what we think as Americans has been adopted by the church here as christianly thinking, without much thinking at all.

Objective consideration should at least give one pause, if not fear, regarding the eternal ramifications of an Americanized gospel. For example, how are Christian’s supposed to think about wealth? Should it not get more of our attention – particularly since we are the wealthiest nation in the world? 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 »

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