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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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The Lord is trying in this life – during our time on Earth – to prepare us for the age to come, to guide our investments for the most heavenly gain, and to secure the greatest opportunity for service in the kingdom of God for all of eternity (Matthew 25:14-30). We have limited time to benefit from God’s good work in us, individually and corporately.

Faith is given in measure (Romans 12:3). God is a generous giver, but I dare say He is not wasteful. Perhaps we receive in proportion to the measure we give back in surrender, submission, sacrifice, obedience, etc. Our participation with Him requires time and attention. We do not understand the opportunity cost of earthly distractions, or we are simply foolish Christians (you can think immature, if you wish).

…we have such a short time to prepare for such a long time. By that I mean we have now to prepare for then. We have an hour to prepare for eternity. To fail to prepare is an act of moral folly. For anyone to have a day given to prepare, it is an act of inexcusable folly to let anything hinder that preparation. A. W. Tozer

For example, why do we labor to make more money than we need on this side of eternity? Not to dismiss the potential value of inheritance, but how much is enough? Only God knows what will benefit or harm those that remain. As with all important decisions, we must leave our vocation and its length in God’s hands. We are in desperate need of spiritual ears that recognize God’s voice.

Personally, I will be 60 years old this year. Jesus has been my savior for almost 50 years, and I have been submitted to the Father’s work for more that 35 of those. That seems like a long time. Still, I have not matured as much as I would like. I have allowed too much distraction and compromise.

I wonder how much I have missed and squandered. Paul encourages us to run the race to win. I feel as though I must pick up the pace if I am to finish anywhere near what winning looks like. Based on the promises and expectations revealed in Scripture (e.g., John 14:12), I am under-achieving by a considerable margin.

By the way, we are not competing against others for the winner’s prize, but with ourselves, with what God has determined is our potential (one, five, or ten talents).

This may be heard as a “do more” injunction. That is a dangerous notion (and I am not exaggerating). The Bible’s encouragement is to know God more and to participate more in what He is doing. There is an “even more” life (Romans 5:8-10). Seeking God with our whole heart requires time and attention, not more doing. Read the rest of this entry »

Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus contains some of the most incredible promises of God and declarations regarding our relationship with Him. It is filled with passages that stretch our imagination, challenge our faith, and call us to a transcendent life.

His power is toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Ephesians 1:19).

God made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (2:6).

We are His workmanship (2:10).

As amazing as these claims are, they serve as mere warm-ups for what may be the most audacious promise in all of Scripture.

…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (3:19b).

Read it again; notice the absolutes:

Not partially filled!

Not some of God’s fullness!

We may be filled with ALL of the fullness of God!!

This is one of those truths, so over the top incredible, that we are tempted to move on to the next verse. In this case, that’s not bad.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us… (3:20)

God alone is able to do this incredible thing!! It is His work and intention. This brings to mind another passage (from another letter).

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

Quickly (so we can get back to being filled), notice that the work of our salvation is cooperative; we work, because God is working. Furthermore, the work is a process.

So, how do we work with God to be filled with all His fullness? We find the answer – the prescription – in the process described in the preceding verses. Working backwards, our being filled with all the fullness of God is dependent on and proportional to several incremental steps. Read the rest of this entry »

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray… Matthew 6:7-9a

The denomination in which I grew up recited what we called “the Lord’s Prayer” (aka, the Model Prayer) during every church service. It was probably the first passage I memorized as a young Christian. Regrettably, it became “vain repetition”; I really didn’t think about what I was praying.

In a previous article, we proposed that the Model Prayer is something more than a prayer to recite once a week; it is a prayer of positioning. The Model Prayer is not the prayer to end all prayers, but the prayer to begin all prayers. It is through this model that we come into the Father’s presence – in humility, meekness and total dependency on Him. Without this positioning, all that we have to say are the vain repetitions of man.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9b-13

In this article, with this notion of positioning in mind, we would like to explore three foundational truths that have been lost to the modern church. All three are found in the prayer’s last acknowledgement: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. We will look at them one at a time. Read the rest of this entry »

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:24

One of our carnal minds’ more subtle deceptions is found in our response to the seemingly impossible requirements of God. For example, consider your response to “Be holy, for I am holy” (1Peter 1:16). When faced with such a command, we tend to identify it as impossible and move on to something else, not considering that our lack of obedience fails to make it less of a command.

In moving on, we miss one of the foundational pillars of our faith: Our sufficiency is not of ourselves, but from the One who requires our holiness (2Corinthians 3:5). Striving to enter is not a matter of self-effort and personal sufficiency; it is an attitude of the new man’s mind.

If we manage to move beyond this initial deception, we have taken an important first step, but even here our carnal mind attempts to play tricks on us. The recognition of God’s sufficiency does not leave us to passively wait on Him to do whatever He will do. We must strive to participate with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the work they would do to make us holy.

So, where do we start? It is really quite simple. Once we are born again – having become a new creation – we turn to the new heart God has given us (Ezekiel 36:26); for it is within the heart that the word of God becomes faith (Romans 10:10) – faith that appropriates God’s sufficient grace for even the most impossible commands.

Furthermore, striving to enter the narrow gate is primarily a matter of pursuing a relationship with God; our heart holds that desire, waiting for Him to give it to us (Psalm 37:4). The time we spend in pursuit of that relationship is a measure of our spiritual maturity (i.e., becoming holy). Some would say it is THE measure.

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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