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Grace is appropriated through faith for the renewing of our minds – that we might be obedient to the faith and experience the perfecting of our faith through the work of grace.

This is not a play on words; it is the way we mature as children of God.

The grace I am thinking of:

  • The Father working in us (Philippians 2:13);
  • Jesus making us (Matthew 4:19); and,
  • The Holy Spirit transforming us (2Corinthians 3:18).

Isn’t it amazing and incredibly encouraging that each person of the Godhead has taken responsibility for our spiritual development and progress!!

So, how do we appropriate this inward grace? We do so by choosing to join the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the work they are doing (note: “choosing” is the operative word).

How does that happen? What can one do to engage in the sanctifying, transforming, and faith-increasing work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? How does one respond to their invitation of a good work, done in us?

We do so by practicing the grace-empowered disciplines God has provided!

For example, we are encouraged by Paul to set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2). This is a process and a challenge. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2Corinthians 3:5). To join in His process for the (re)setting of our mind:

  1. We must choose to hear Colossians 3:2 as God’s word for each of His children (Romans 10:17). That requires the disciplines of Bible study and prayer.
  2. We must choose obedience to the faith that now resides in our heart (Romans 1:5).
  3. We must choose to meditate on His word (another discipline), that faith and desire would increase.
  4. We must choose to commit our way to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, trusting them to bring our transformation to pass (Psalm 37:5).
  5. We must choose to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting when opportunities present themselves for the work of faith (James 2:22).

We must choose! Choosing is a big part of spiritual discipline! Read the rest of this entry »

Neuroscientists have concluded that 80+ percent of our thinking occurs subconsciously. In other words, a lot of our thinking happens off the radar, below the surface of our attention and consideration. Think about that in light of Paul’s assertion that the normal Christian brings every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5).

Of course, we are not sufficient for such things; our sufficiency is from God (2Corinthians 3:5). Lest we forget and become discouraged: we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). God has not commanded anything that He does not empower. He is working in us to will and do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). We need only participate in the Holy Spirit’s transformative work (Romans 12:2; 2Corinthians 3:18)

Unfortunately, our subconscious is the playground and base of operations for our carnal mind. From there, it attempts to distract and deceive for its self-focused intentions. It does so by affirming the voices of Satan and the world, and by adding its own words of deception and destruction. Yes, the carnal mind speaks to us… continuously.

Now get this: We are responsible for rejecting what the carnal mind is attempting to speak over us. Here is an example to illustrate the sinister and destructive consequences awaiting those who shirk this solemn responsibility. Read the rest of this entry »

I suspect, like me, you could use a little encouragement. It seems that we are turning the calendar into an increasingly uncertain and chaotic future. Perhaps God is stripping away our earthly foundations and shaking us free from the deceptions and distractions of the world, to get our attention and draw our gaze to His Son (2Corinthians 3:18).

Since the beginning of this ministry, we have taught that chaos is normal for the child of God. The Holy Spirit uses it to transform us from glory to glory – to work the bad stuff out and to work the good stuff in – all in preparation for God’s next assignment. That is our hope for you and those in your spheres of influence.

We can be encouraged that those submitted to His preparation (Philippians 2:13) will walk in the exceedingly abundant good work He has planned (Ephesians 3:20-21). Be encouraged that every good work is possible when it is by God’s grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). Patience in the preparation is necessary and critical, but the moment will come when we will walk out into His assignment – for His glory and our reward.

Year-end Report and Hope for the Future

2019 has been a year of faithfulness and preparation. By God’s grace, we have been faithful to make disciples who are transforming their spheres of influence. By God’s grace, we have been faithful to lead the ministries He has entrusted to our keeping. By God’s grace, we have been faithful to His preparation for more.

By God’s grace…

Two substantial matters of preparation will culminate in 2020. By God’s grace, I will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in Not-for-Profit Leadership. Please pray with us as we seek God’s purpose and plans for this education and the degree He has invested with us.

Secondly, An Enemy Lies Within will be published in early February. By God’s grace, this new book will expose the carnal mind as our #1 enemy and help Christians change the way they think and believe. God will use it to restore and renew the Western church. You can check out the preface here.

Of course, we want you to be a part of God’s good work through An Enemy Lies Within. Our marketing strategy depends on organic, grass-roots distribution of the book. We hope that you will buy An Enemy Lies Within for yourself, for those in your spheres of influence, and for the leaders you know. As you plan your end-of-year giving, please consider your participation in this life-changing endeavor.

We are also looking for a few individuals, companies, or ministries that wish to play a more substantial role in this project. If that is you, or someone you know, please contact me.

We are eternally grateful for your participation with us as instruments of God’s grace and glory. Your prayers, encouragement, and financial support are essential elements of His grace; and by His grace, we will continue to advance His kingdom together.

God bless you in the coming year with discernment, encouragement, and His presence in the chaos.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Thoughts fly in and out of our subconscious like bats from a cave. This wouldn’t be such a concern if our subconscious were not the base of operation for our carnal mind. Given that 95% of our thinking is off the radar of our conscious awareness, it is important that we force ourselves to make conscious decisions regarding the ways of this world which potentially contradict the principles of the kingdom and the commands of Christ.

Many times, reasoning drives us to compromise, and we find ourselves trying to live from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – a poor substitute for the Tree of Life. When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, mankind’s ability to reason was forever tied to the rebellion which separated us from God.

Each one of us is born into this rebellion and its result, our incredible self-centeredness. Just ask any parent. We are subsequently trained – through grammar school, middle school, and high school – to rely on our reasoning capabilities. In college, we are convinced that mankind’s ability to reason is worthy of worship. We have grown up into the Age of Reason and its doctrines.

Thankfully, 95% is not a fixed number. In fact, Christians are commanded to actively expose what naturally remains hidden. We are commanded to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5) – a discipline required for the renewing of our minds.

There are several methods of capture, each with their own measure of effectiveness. Most attempt to capture thoughts with a butterfly net, as they fly by our consciousness like bats. We eventually learn that method is not very effective. Others try securing a net over the cave opening, attempting to trap their carnal thoughts before they get out. But nets tear and those pesky bats have a way of finding other openings. All the while, Satan and the world are busy digging new ones. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week, we suggested that the most important thing every disciple of Jesus Christ needs to know is the identity of their number one enemy. I lamented not knowing sooner in my life that my carnal mind has been an active and aggressive ally of Satan and the world since my childhood.

Not knowing for myself means I have been unable to share the same with the hundreds of people I have attempted to disciple over the years. Furthermore, every time I brought my carnal mind into the church, I was helping the enemy gain or strengthen their position in the camp I was at least partially responsible for protecting. The same is true for every sphere of influence God has entrusted to my responsibility.

Yes, it is a sobering thought.

It is counter-intuitive to think that well-intending Christians can be enemies of the church. Only as we recognize that an enemy lies within each one of us will we come to understand how this can be so. Failing to identify and deal with our carnal mind, we have not only injured ourselves; we have brought into our fellowships and ministries, the number one enemy of God’s kingdom. In doing so, we have helped open the door to Satan and the world.

Furthermore, concession to our carnal mind is a blatant form of double-mindedness. We have been given the mind of Christ; to trust in any other is idolatry. The carnal mind is at enmity with God, and can be nothing else (Romans 8:7).

These are hard words to write and read. Perhaps they are too harsh. Perhaps I am missing something. You be the judge of yourself and your ministry. As for me, I stand convinced and convicted. Something has to change. I must deal with my carnal mind.

If this has also cut you to the heart, then I dare say you and I are in good company… and the response remains the same. Read the rest of this entry »

It is frustrating to discover something at sixty that you really needed to know when you were thirty. Of course, I might not have listened, or the information may have had little application in my life at the time, but I still wish someone had made the attempt. Maybe they did and just I don’t remember.

Those of us that place an importance on obeying the Great Commission would do well to ask God, “What does this person I am discipling need to hear right now that will dramatically change their life?” God will answer that question, over and over again. I hope and pray you will consider the following as one installment in that process.

Enemy #1

Perhaps the most important thing every disciple of Jesus Christ needs to know is the identity of their number one enemy.

Most would suggest that Satan is the number one enemy of God and His children. “The devil made me do it,” popularized by Flip Wilson in the 1970s, has found its way into the Western church. It is the way we like to think. The devil is our most popular enemy. In our confusion, we have ignored one of the most astounding claims in all of Scripture:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Satan has no power over the resisting Christian! Perhaps something else is inhibiting our resistance.

Other well-meaning Christians point to the world as our number one enemy. The government and big business are particularly favorite targets. Turning to Scripture, we again find a flaw in our thinking. Read the rest of this entry »

We are settling for far less than we have been offered. We are either very stupid, or we are deceived. I do not think most Christian leaders are generally stupid. We are a well-educated people, and we tend to address our stupidity when we discover it.

On the other hand, a deceived person does not know they are deceived – at least not until someone reveals the deception that has held them captive. Fortunately, the truth will make us free. Here is some, just in case.

God’s Promises

…to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2Peter 1:3-4

The Danger

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation… Hebrews 2:1-3

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work… according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2Thessalonians 2:7-10

Our Response

Read the rest of this entry »

I met a young man the other day who runs a successful executive coaching business. This is not unusual; there are many men and women running successful executive coaching businesses. What intrigues me about this young man is the uniqueness of his approach. He operates fundamentally and foundationally from the exercise of discernment and the application of truth – discerning what is false and apply the truth to close unhealthy gaps.

As best as I can tell, this young man does not dilute, wrap, or compromise his operating model with secular and humanistic schemes. It is the purest kingdom approach to business coaching I have ever encountered. It is inspiring…

And challenging.

God used this young man and our conversation to challenge me on two fronts. First, He reminded me that the fear of conflict is unhealthy, and particularly so when it inhibits our sharing the truth with someone. We are encouraged to commit our way to the LORD, trusting Him to accomplish what He intends (Psalm 37:5). I must stop avoiding conflicts that sharing the truth might create.

I prefer to believe that my resistance in this area comes from genuine concern that I might injure someone with my version and presentation of the truth. This is a poor excuse for conflict avoidance. Am I willing to deprive someone of the truth and its freedom in order to maintain a sense of peace between us? That is not Christian love; it is cowardice.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear (timidity, fearfulness, cowardice), but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2Timothy 1:7

I must allow the Holy Spirit to transform me into a surrendered instrument of the Father’s grace – dying to myself for my brother’s sake.

God also used this young man and our conversation to challenge me regarding gaps in my own life – to vigorously seek and destroy the deceptions I have allowed. This conviction contains two applications:

  1. Leaders are responsible to God for helping others discover and overcome the deceptions of their carnal mind. We cannot effectively call or lead someone out of deception when we are willing to accommodate it in our own lives.
  2. Transformation requires the stripping away of our conditional responses to God’s offers of grace.

This second application requires some explanation. One of my heart’s strongest desires is to experience the “greater than life” with others. Jesus promised such a life to all who would believe in Him (John 14:12). The result of that life is the glory of our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16), through the good works we were created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

The “greater than life” is what we were created for!

The Holy Spirit will transform us for this life, through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2, 2Corinthians 3:18), but only as we submit to His work. With God, “conditional submission” is an oxymoron; our conditions clog up the flow of God’s grace.

To be transformed into agents of transformation, we must join the Holy Spirit in searching out our conditional responses to God’s grace, and take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5). This prayer should help:

Search me, oh God, and know my mind;

Try me and know my self-deceptions;

Expose the wicked thoughts that are hidden in my subconscious;

Lead me to freedom by the truth of your word.

God bless you with grace for the exercise of discernment and the application of truth – for yourself and those in your spheres of influence. Please pray the same for me.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

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 »

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 »

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