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The Greek word translated as “repentance” literally means “to change one’s mind”. When Jesus began His ministry, He came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15, NKJV). With that in mind, I want to challenge you to consider how you might change your mind about the Sermon on the Mount.

The Sermon on the Mount is a description of character and not a code of ethics or of morals. It is not about what we must do to be a Christian, but what God does once we become one (Lloyd-Jones, 1976). In other words, it is not a list of requirements for entering the kingdom of God, but a description of the life we are empowered to live as we enter in.

As we consider hearing these sayings and “doing” them, the greatest challenge we face is coming to terms with not only not being able, but also not being expected, to do them in our strength, power, intelligence, etc. This is not a high-minded spiritual concept. It is a very practical principle for life in the kingdom of God (i.e., our salvation). It is by grace (alone), through faith (alone) that we come to understand and enter God’s kingdom.

In his book, The Sermon on the Mount, Roger L. Shinn (1962) recognizes the salt and light passage as the first half of a kingdom paradox. The second is found in Matthew 6:1, 5, and 16, where Jesus warns His disciples to avoid giving charity, praying, and fasting to be seen by others. So, how is one to be light to the world and not let others see what they are doing? The resolution to the paradox is found in Matthew 5:17-20, the subject of our next lesson.

Before we go there, we must first understand Jesus’ metaphor of salt and light, which itself contains a mystery requiring our repentance (i.e., thinking differently). Doing so will also shed some light (pun intended) on Shinn’s paradox. Read the rest of this entry »

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, a spiritual amnesia set in; they no longer recognized who they were and who they were created to be. Eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil bound humankind’s ability to reason with our rebellious nature. In the process, mankind’s #1 enemy was unleashed. The carnal mind has been at enmity with God and His children ever since.

Our carnal mind, with help from Satan and the world, labors tirelessly to keep us trapped in the amnestic condition into which we are naturally born. Regrettably, Christians have not fared well of late in this regard. Many do not realize the attack continues even after we are spiritually reborn. One particularly critical battle front involves the way we think about the new life we have been promised in Jesus Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live… Galatians 2:20a

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

For whoever wants to save their life
will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Mark 8:35

As Jesus took our place in death, He must also take our place in life. Even after we become a new creature in Christ, we must lose our life to fully exist in His. Death and resurrection are not the same; they do not accomplish the same outcome. The transactions, so to speak, are different.

Even on this side of rebirth, God’s promises are conditional. We don’t get to keep our life and Jesus’, too. There is a connection that remains between the old and the new that cannot be fully severed until the new has been surrendered AND sacrificed. Read the rest of this entry »

I pray this letter finds you and yours well, and well blessed. I hope it will leave you encouraged.

Encouragement – the act of putting courage in – is truly something we all need in this season. Courage is contagious; it can be drawn from others, and it can be shared.

Let’s begin with this:

Serving the King,

That you love and admire,

Is neither burden nor responsibility;

It is opportunity and privilege.

Instruments are useless,

Until they are put to good use.

They lay in the dark drawer,

Lonely,

Until the Master selects them,

For His good work.

The most useful tools,

Are the ones placed out,

Within easy reach.

They fit the Master’s hand,

And His hand fits them.

Perhaps the greatest courage we need in this hour is to commit our way to the LORD, trusting in Him to bring to pass whatever He desires. Our hope is to be used, but we must learn to wait patiently on Him.

As this pandemic began, sequestering most of us in our homes, many I spoke with believed God was trying to get our attention, that we would draw closer to Him, for rest, reset, and renewal, in preparation for opportunities to advance His kingdom in the coming storms of this decade. Since then, the chaos of economic crisis and the lawlessness that has gripped this country have threatened to distract and draw us from God’s presence and peace.

So, we offer you this encouragement: Read the rest of this entry »

Back in 2015, we wrote a series of articles based on the theme, A Storm is Coming, eventually collecting and publishing the series as an eBook. At the time, many were preparing physically for what they expected to be an economic storm (myself included). A Storm is Coming was written to redirect our attention to the spiritual preparation Christians should be making.

What follows is a reconstruction of one of the first articles in the series. It is offered as a reminder that preparation is necessary for those who will be used by God during the chaos that lies before us. As the chaos intensifies, we must be diligent to avoid worldly distractions (Colossian 3:2), that we might focus on participating with God as He works in us to will and to do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).

It’s the Same, but Different

We must recognize that the spiritual preparation we are talking about is something we, as Christians, should have been doing anyway. There is nothing new under the sun. The church today is suffering in many of the same ways it has suffered over the past 2000+ years (e.g., division, apathy, worldliness). The solutions, though daunting, are unchanged (e.g., surrender, die to self, love God and love others, sacrifice, serve).

However, there are least two things that are different for the church during this season. First, there is a growing urgency. Whether from those that sense a storm is coming, or from those that have experienced the slow but growing decline of the church’s influence in society, those that will take their heads out of the sand and truly consider the situation will sense the growing urgency. Read the rest of this entry »

This article is the third in a series based on the assumption that God is after something, He is doing something to get what He is after, and He is willing to tell us everything that we need to know for our participation. God is using this time of chaos (like so many others) to prepare His children for a season of opportunity that will be exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think.

Conditions can be viewed in two opposing ways. We can consider them as responsibilities forced upon us for some desired outcome, or as opportunities for reward. Our mindset in this regard has a great deal to do with our relationship and interaction with the one setting the conditions, as well as our response to them.

A classic example is our view of labor for income. Those who appreciate labor as an opportunity to earn income enjoy their work and make better employees. Persons who feel their labor is forced on them are generally disgruntled workers, slaves to their jobs.

In regards to God’s conditions for His promised blessings, this is another battleground with our carnal mind. At enmity with God, the mind of our flesh would have us perceive and relate to God as oppressor. This is a mindset that must be cast down (2Corinthians 10:5).

The Father’s good pleasure is to give us His kingdom (Luke 12:32). His desire is for a people who will surrender to His reign, welcome His habitation, and enjoy the intimacy of His presence. Recognizing our weak estate, our loving Father has graciously and lavishly provided motivation for pursuing what He is after. Read the rest of this entry »

This and several subsequent articles are based on the assumption that God is after something, He is trying to do something to get what He is after, and He is willing to tell us all that we need to know for our participation. God is using this time of chaos (like so many others) to prepare His children for a season of opportunity that will be exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think.

The purpose of this specific article is to direct our perspective and meditations beyond the current situation and our spiritual condition, even beyond what He is requiring of us, to what He is after in and through those who will join in His good work. At some point (perhaps next week), we will consider His conditions for our participation but, for now, we strongly encourage you to look ahead.

You might be wondering why we are starting with the future. For so many of us, it is difficult to shift our focus away from our current situation and condition. We become captivated by its comfort or its concern. In our attempt to maintain or manage the status quo, we forget that God desires to transform us from one level of glory to another (2Corinthians 3:18).

Furthermore, our first thoughts about joining God in His transformative work tend to be “what will it cost me?”. Believe me, we all do it. Counting the cost is both normal and encouraged by Jesus. The problem comes when we fail to weigh the cost against the return/reward. And that’s what looking to the promised future will help us to do. We will use Isaiah 58 as an example. Read the rest of this entry »

If we are not careful, chaos will drive us to carnal reasoning and the resultant carnal response. The best defense is a good offense. Our best offense against the wiles of our carnal mind is the process of faith. That process is dependent on an intimate relationship with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Luke 11:10

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

As a bit of a side note, it is interesting that the door of intimacy with the Lord opens both ways. He desires our intimacy like a groom for his bride. Truly, nothing but our reluctance stands in the way.

Recognizing that intimacy requires conversation, let me suggest three conversation starters:

Lord, what are you saying?

Lord, what are you doing?

Lord, what are you after?

There is an assumption behind these questions: God is after something; He is trying to do something to get what He is after, and; He is willing to tell us all that we need to know. God is using this season of chaos (like so many others) to prepare His children for a season of opportunity that is likely beyond our imagination. Read the rest of this entry »

“Almost 19,000 children have been sexually groomed in England in the past year, according to official figures that have prompted warnings of an ‘epidemic’. Campaigners say the true number is far higher…” – The Independent, December 2019 (“Sexually groomed” is the politically correct phrase for abducted and raped multiple times by gangs of men).

This is what the Bible calls wickedness and evil. Satan is not to blame (James 4:7); neither is the world (Galatians 6:14). This is the depravity of mankind. This is carnality, the product of mankind left to their own reign and control. This is what Jesus Christ came to die for, to redeem.

I am reminded how much of a bubble I live in. And for that I am grateful; I have not experienced this kind of evil. I am also remorseful and concerned, for my senses have been dulled and mostly blinded to the evils of mankind.

Consequently, I have underestimated and undervalued what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have done and are doing to restore what they lost in mankind’s rebellion. I have undervalued and underestimated what they desire to do through me and my brethren. And I recognize how incompetent, how insufficient I am for even the smallest part of this endeavor. It is imperative that I become a vessel and instrument of God’s grace.

As far as I know right now, God has not called me to rescue exploited children (as much as I would like to). He has not called me to punish the men and women that exploit them (again, as much as I would like to). Read the rest of this entry »

As it is with many who will read this article, God is working graciously and persistently to prepare me for the opportunities this pandemic will create – opportunities to advance His kingdom and hasten the day of His Son’s return. I pray the following will both encourage and edify you in your participation in the good work He is doing to prepare you.

In pursuing God’s intention for the coming season, I determined to search out the matter of overcoming – particularly in relation to the seven Revelation churches. What were they required to overcome? What were His promises for those that were able? I fasted sleep in the mornings to make time for the Bible study and time on social media at night to mediate on what I had learned.

Initially, this seemed to go well. I developed a spreadsheet of the church, requirement, and promise for overcoming, using this as an exercise to hear which of the churches I was to consider further. This turned out to be the churches at Ephesus, Sardis, and Laodicea. From there, I developed four questions I hoped God would answer.

It was at this point that my troubles began; God was not answering my questions. Increasing the frequency of my prayer and fasting each day did not help. Neither did putting the questions on a 3×5 card (to remember to meditate on them and lift them to God’s attention). My process of analysis was getting me nowhere.

Fortunately, I have been around the mountain enough times to know that when God is not speaking, it is because I am on the wrong trail. It became clear that God had something else in mind, and He was not going to accommodate my attempts to figure Him out in this way. In my defense, I must say that He has allowed this in the past. However, hindsight being twenty-twenty, He was looking for a more mature approach. Read the rest of this entry »

When the message of The Map Maker was coming into focus, several well-meaning workplace ministers counseled me to lead with something other than surrender, sacrifice, and submission. Had I been the pen, the book – and the ministry of inLight Consulting – might have followed their advice. To their credit, they were right in a way. The call to sacrifice has been a particularly difficult message for workplace leaders to hear.

But God would not have it. As The Map Maker, He insisted on the truth: Christian leadership requires counter-cultural sacrifice. At no other time is this more evident than in the midst of crisis and chaos. The COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point.

Perhaps a bit of context would be helpful. The Map Maker was written to help Christian leaders find joyful, Spirit-filled ministry in the workplace, by becoming disciple-making transformation agents. Of course, becoming a transformation agent first requires transformation. From The Map Maker perspective, transformation begins with surrender to the desires God has deposited into our hearts. It ends with the good work He created for us to supernaturally walk in, as we submit to the Holy Spirit.1

The preparatory journey from desire to good work requires sacrifice and includes chaos; the two go hand in hand. We know this from at least two perspectives. First, consider the Greek word translated as “transformed” in 2Corinthians 3:18 and Romans 12:2: Metamorphoo. Do you get the picture? How would you describe what’s going on inside that cocoon? Is it not the messy chaos of a caterpillar sacrificing some part of its previous life to become what God intended it to be?

God created the Greek language to help us understand the process He uses to make us into the instruments of His good work. Then He sent His Son to walk through the process with us. Read the rest of this entry »

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