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I am going to resist the temptation to restate the thesis of this three-part article and direct you back to Part One. There you will find a useful introduction and the individual application of what we are calling the anchor (think house, not ship) of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome.

Part Two explores the bridge between the individual application of Part One and the community application we are exploring in this last part. The order is important – individual application working its way into the corporate body. So, once you have read Parts One and Two, you should be ready to dig in here.

Community Application

As we begin, it is important to note that, as it is with individuals, fellowships small, large, and in between, are also instructed and encouraged to offer themselves to God – to be used as corporate instruments of His sacrificial love. Furthermore, resisting conformity with the world and being transformed are best accomplished in community. In fact, it is impossible for individuals who are “members of one another” to be transformed separate from one another.

Now on to Romans 12:4-8.

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:4-8

The “for” found at the beginning of this passage connects our humble and sober thinking to our functioning as God intends in the community of faith. Some members may have more visibility or a seemingly more important function; others, less. In humility, we recognize that this is an unimportant consideration. Indeed, as we learn from 1Corinthians 12:23, greater honor is bestowed on those we think to be less honorable. This is sober thinking.

There are three considerations here that warrant our attention. First, there is our unity. We are not only members of “one body in Christ”, but “individually members of one another”. Spiritually, regardless of function, there are no boundaries between us. Our unity is a mystery beyond reason; only by faith and practice do we know it to be true.

Through faith, we function together in the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:13). This is the desire, vision, and attitude of Jesus Christ. As we lay hold of the mind of Christ, we are anchored to the theological foundation, in Romans one through eleven, that He has established for our life in community. Read the rest of this entry »

Reading through Part One of this article, I discovered an oversight. Having referenced Romans 12:1-3 as the personal perspective of the Romans “anchor”, I failed to comment on verse three. As it turns out, verse three can be viewed as a bridge. So, rather than go back and update Part One, we will cover it here before exploring the church-in-fellowship perspective of Romans 12:4-8 in Part Three.

Those of you that have not already read Part One will find it a useful introduction. The order is important – individual application working its way into the corporate body. Furthermore, there is a connection between the renewal of our mind (Romans 12:2) and the way we are to think in the community of faith.

Humble and Sober Thinking

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3

As we endeavor to transition from theology to its practice, we must consider our mind and how it thinks. We have already learned from verse two that our mind requires renewal; it is not prepared for the life our theology requires. For many, this is a bitter pill to swallow. We have been encouraged since our formative years to trust our minds and our innate ability to reason. Our carnal mind has convinced us that it deserves the control most of mankind has given it.

We think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. We desperately need to sober up and recognize that much of our thinking is humanistic. Even in the church, we have come to rely on the doctrines of man. We attempt to live out of our reason, rather than our faith. It is high time we become suspicious of the way we think, because much of our thinking is outside the faith.

Consequently, the introduction of faith at the end of the verse above would seem strange to many in the church. What does a measure of faith have to do with the way we think? Our perplexity demonstrates how far we have drifted from the truth concerning our heart and mind. We have allowed our blame-shifting carnal mind to convince us that our heart is corrupt.

But, how can this be? What do the Scriptures tell us? Read the rest of this entry »

You may notice an oversight in this first part: after referencing verse three, I failed to explore its meaning. Part two addresses this mistake. Please do not let it distact you here. 

Anchors may be the least thought about, most important component of a building. In tornado or flood, the best built home on the strongest foundation will suffer tragic destruction without adequate anchoring. The same applies to spiritual construction. We can be sure that Jesus Christ, as the Master Builder of His church, has provided adequate “anchor” between structure and foundation. One such anchor can be found in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

I recently discovered something about Romans that many of you might already know. The first eleven chapters contain Paul’s theological foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The remaining five chapters then describe the church structure that Christ is building. This being the case, we can understand and explore the first eight verses of Romans 12 as the metaphorical anchor that secures the structure of the church to its theological foundation.

From a process perspective, this portion of Paul’s letter serves as a transition stage, containing the personal and corporate worldview, attitudes, and commitments required to become the church Paul envisions – the manifested reality of his most comprehensive theology. Moving from Paul’s revelation of the gospel to its application, one must pass through this mandatory stage. It is, therefore, critical for us to understand how to apply this anchor in our personal lives and in the spheres of influence entrusted to us.

Generally, this passage presents two perspectives. The first three verses speak to the individual; the remainder to the church in fellowship. This order seems important – individual application working its way into the corporate body. That is not to suggest that the former can be accomplished outside of community encouragement and accountability. As Paul states in verses four and five, we are members of one body and members of one another.

In this article, we will focus on the personal application of the Romans anchor. Read the rest of this entry »

As we have asserted in the past, God is a process-oriented problem solver. Salvation, transformation, sanctification, etc. – all the ways of God are processes, not events. This is a critical paradigm shift for anyone determined to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

In the New Covenant, God has taken responsibility for the lion’s share of these processes.

  • We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
  • He is working in us to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13b).

Our responsibility is to do what we can to participate with Him in the processes. His grace is appropriated by our faith. We must walk in the good works He has prepared for us (not do them, as most translations have it). We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:13a).

Let me stop here and quickly acknowledge that God has grace (i.e., enabling power) for even our part in the processes He has created and prescribed. We are left with little more than choosing Him and His ways. This includes the process of faith.

The Process

Faith is our entry point into every one of God’s processes. The righteous shall live by faith (Romans 1:17); and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). We do ourselves great harm in thinking that faith is passive and/or simply an event. The Scriptures are clear on this matter: the process of faith consists of three progressive phases.

The hearing of faith: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Genuine followers of Christ have been given ears to hear (Matthew 13:16). It is time we used them (Matthew 11:13). Hearing requires listening; listening takes time and requires attention.

Obedience to the faith: The preposition here is important. Our faith does not produce obedience (of). We must choose to obey the word of God that we are given for faith. We present our body as a living sacrifice and allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2), reckoning the truth of God’s word as true for ourselves – that we are instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:11-14).

The work of faith: The work of faith is an inward (Philippians 2:13) and an outward work (Ephesians 3:20). Faith without work is dead (James 2:14-26). The work of faith associated with the word of God is more than a product of faith; it is the catalyst that brings our faith to life. Read the rest of this entry »

The activities we engage in are either good or bad; there is no gray area for the followers of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, righteousness is not the polar opposite of unrighteousness (i.e., the most vile of sins); these two conditions are separated by a very thin line – a line which is easily crossed from moment to moment.

While the good and bad of many activities are obvious, most lie somewhere in between the extremes and can only be identified as good or bad based on God’s will and our faith. This leaves room for a lot of interpretation, presumption, and deception. Even the best of persons can fall into the trap of excusing their choices (and our enemies are standing by to help).

To rightly discern the right or wrong of an action, activity, or general direction in life, we are best served by submission to a guide – to walk in the Spirit. Doing so protects us from fulfilling the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). This journey – walking in the Spirit and following Christ – requires an overarching relationship and an undergirding foundation. In between, we walk in the good works of our Father according to His willing and working in us to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

It will help us greatly to recognize each activity – no matter how short-lived or insignificant – as important to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are all collected for judgment; the “whatever” and “all” of “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17)” is not misplaced. 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 »

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 »

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 »

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