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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

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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 »

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.

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

The following includes excerpts from a recently released eBook, An Enemy Lies Within, which is available at each of the major distributors (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.).

The title of this article is the subtitle of The Christian Mind, a fascinating book written by Harry Blamires in 1963. Beginning with the statement, “There is no longer a Christian mind”, this student of C. S. Lewis and contemporary of A. W. Tozer, argues that the church and its members have surrendered to secular thinking (even in regards to Christian subjects). He goes on to describe “the marks of a Christian mind”. I offer them here for your edification and encouragement.

As you consider these foundations of christianly thought, you may want to test yourself and your platoons. How much of your thinking is contextualized and guided by a Christian mindset? Calculate a percentage; give yourself a grade.

According to Blamire, the Christian mind is marked by:

  • Supernatural orientation: The Christian mind sees human life and human history held in the hands of God. It makes decisions in the context of eternity. It considers physical life as the smaller subset of Creation. It recognizes the existence of Heaven and Hell.
  • Awareness of evil: It is conscious of the universe as a battlefield between good and evil. It is aware and sensitive to the power and spread of evil upon the human race, beginning with mankind’s rebellion in the Garden. It recognizes that the world, and the powers of it, are in the grip of evil – an evil that manifests in three enemies: Satan and his hordes, the world and its systems, and the flesh with its carnal mindset.
  • Conception of truth: It recognizes the truth as: Absolute and uncompromisable; supernaturally grounded, not developed in nature; objective, not subjective; revealed, not constructed; discovered by inquiry, not determined by majority vote; and authoritative, not a matter of personal choice.
  • Acceptance of authority: It rejects rebellion – in all its forms – to willingly bow before the Sovereign God. It considers authority as estimable and something to pursue over one’s self, family, and friends. It understands the image and reality of loving authority – our Father in Heaven. It accepts surrender as the door to relationship with God, and giving preference for relationship with the brethren.
  • Concern for the person: It considers the human person as the only being created in the image of God. It appreciates the value God placed on the person – in Him becoming one. It values people above machines, and is wary of the life those machines provide for, and force upon, society. It embraces love for one another – and the same for enemies – as Christian distinctives. It rejects the classification of people based on temporal criteria, while recognizing that the weak are to receive particular attention.
  • Sacramental perspective: It recognizes the omnipresence of God in all of life, and the desire of God to make life joyful and rewarding. It looks for God and His influence in nature – and particularly in the creatures of His image. It appreciates the desires and longings and the hopes and dreams that have been deposited by God in every person.

Read the rest of this entry »

The following includes excerpts from a recently released eBook, An Enemy Lies Within, which is available from each of the major distributors (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc.).

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness… Romans 10:10

The heart of man desires – perhaps more than anything else – to be filled with faith. Consequently, the Christian heart is hungry for the (rhema; spoken) word of God.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Jesus explained to His disciples that our ability to hear and understand God’s voice was proof of our belonging to Him.

And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Luke 8:10

However, having ears to hear does not guarantee hearing. Sixteen times in the New Testament, Jesus encouraged His listeners with:

He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matthew 11:15

It is the heartfelt desire of everyone involved – Father, Son, and children – to know, hear and understand God’s voice. So, why are so few hearing and understanding? Why are so many disappointed and frustrated regarding their ability to know it is God’s voice? Should it really be this difficult?

How do we respond to Jesus’ command to let ourselves hear? Consider the following three simple and easy keys for our knowing, hearing, and understanding the word of God.

Hearing – even for those blessed with ears to hear – is not a passive exercise. As with any conversation, the hearer must give attention to the one speaking (Mark 4:24). Perhaps we do not hear more from God because we fail in this area. Who would continue speaking to someone that is obviously disinterested or unaffected by what is being said?

Key #1: Become an active listener during quiet times of prayer.

Hearing God’s voice has been compared to listening to the radio, as if God is continually talking to us, waiting for us to “tune in”. The comparison is preposterous; an insult to the Living God. He is far too relational to communicate in this way. He waits for us to turn a listening ear and attentive mind to His words of faith.

Consequently, the carnal mind seeks to distract, discourage, and discredit. It distracts us with a thousand other thoughts, discourages us when we fail to hear, and discredits God for seemingly ignoring our pleas for attention and asking impossible things of us. The carnal mind seeks to convince us that investment in hearing from our Creator is a waste of time and energy.

Key #2: Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5).

If God speaks to you and you are not obedient, then you have sinned against Him, and 1John 1:9 is your only recourse. It does not matter that you did not hear, or you were distracted, or you did not understand. God does not speak to be ignored or misunderstood. Excuse-making, deflection, and blame-shifting are tactics of our carnal mind in its war against God and His children.

Key #3: Take responsibility for your obedience to God.

If you are feeling uneasy about hearing and understanding, receive that feeling as loving conviction to pay more attention, and/or clean your ears of whatever is messing with the message, and/or spend more time listening for clarification. If you seek Him with your whole heart, you will find Him. God truly loves speaking with His children.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Praise God!! An Enemy Lies Within is now available for download at all major eBook outlets: Amazon Kindle, iBooks, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Goodreads, Kobo, etc. To those of you that prayed for us, donated to the project, and/or voted on the cover art: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for investing in this project.

Please continue to let others know about the eBook. Encourage them to join our community on Facebook. Let them know that introductory pricing ($3.99 versus $7.99) will continue for the month of February.

If you qualified for a free copy, let me know the eBook platform you prefer – so I can order the appropriate coupons. Some of you qualify for more than one free copy (one for every $10 donated toward the project). I encourage you to take full advantage of the offer. Sharing An Enemy Lies Within will help us expose and overcome the carnal mind throughout the Western church.

Let me know how many coupons you are expecting. I will give everyone a week to respond before ordering the coupon codes. For those of you that do not use an eBook reader, I can send you a copy in PDF or EPUB format. Just let me know.

There is still time to invest in this project. The eBook is only the first phase of our distribution strategy. We are working on the printable version now. I have engaged a copy editor and hope to also hire an illustrator and someone to help with social media promotion. Furthermore, I would like to print a few hundred copies to share at teaching events.

Lastly, please pray for wisdom (and resources) in three specific areas. First, I am considering whether or not to approach the larger publishing companies with this project. Secondly, someone has suggested that we develop an accompanying study guide. Both of these decisions affect the distribution strategy, budget, and timing.

Thirdly, please pray for Christian leaders with whom we might share An Enemy Lies Within; and opportunities to raise awareness of our #1 enemy through teaching and preaching. Call me (770.367.7612) with any leads or suggestions.

God bless you with courage to boldly speak the truth – particularly to the brethren.

Humbly Yours and Forever His,

Rob

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. Romans 8:5-7

The carnal mind is, by its very nature, self-seeking and rebellious; it can be nothing else. This is the source of its enmity with God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the desire to reason like God was forever linked to our fallen state.

This does not end when we are born again. We are given a new heart and spirit, but the mind remains carnal. Turning to our carnal mind – something most have been trained to do since kindergarten – invites the rebellion and sin of our carnal flesh.

Consequently, our carnal mind must be exposed and overcome. This is accomplished by the renewing of our mind – an iterative and ongoing process that depends on our submission to, and active participation with, the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2; 2Corinthians 3:18).

Our reckoning (logizomai) the truth of God’s word serves as a catalyst for the renewing of our mind. Together, reckoning and renewing are important steps in our becoming obedient to the faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26). Read the rest of this entry »

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