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Approximately twelve years ago I attended a lecture at a workplace leaders’ conference on the physiology of the brain. It was really quite unusual. What was I doing at such a lecture? What was such a lecture doing at a workplace leaders’ conference? Looking back, I now understand that God orchestrated that lecture, at that conference, for my edification and encouragement.

The presenter showed us how scientists observe physical changes in the brains of patients recovering from alcoholism; that new electronic pathways are created over time. It occurred to me that this research scientist was talking about the renewal of the mind. I came to understand that the renewal of the mind is as much a supernatural miracle at the physical level, as the healing of terminal cancer through prayer (something I have also witnessed). The notion captivated me.

This discovery connected well with my prior vocation: working with a team of enterprise architects to change the way banking executives thought about the use of technology. Our ultimate purpose was to transform their business with technology. We called this “changing their paradigm.” The equivalent Biblical term for “paradigm” is “mindset.” Others prefer “worldview.”

I spent more than a decade in the technology field proving that changing someone’s paradigm is much easier said than done. As promising as technology was to their bottom line, the executives I worked with resisted us religiously. Why? Because the implementation of technology required them to transform their thinking about work and to change the way they did business.

The ensuing twelve years of workplace ministry have proven that the mind’s resilience to change exists in every sphere, and no less with my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is lamentable, for our transformation into the image of the glory of the Lord requires the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We must change the way we think!

Over the years, this matter of the mind has become increasingly important to me. I have tried to make it important to others. And so, we have come to the writing of An Enemy Lies Within to encourage and help Christians think about the way they think, and to empower them to think in line with God’s prescription for the renewing of our mind.

Ultimately, our hopes and prayers are for the transformation and reformation of the Western church.

Our Thesis

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Psalm 119 is like a mountain meadow, filled with beautiful flowers. Walking through it, we find ourselves surrounded by the author’s delight and joy in the statutes, testimonies, and commandments of God. And then we see it: a flower of a different kind. Not better, just different. Let’s take a look.

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Psalm 119:33-35

Throughout most of Psalm 119, the statutes, testimonies, and commands of God are the writer’s focus. Here we find a subtle and profoundly different awareness. It is the way of God’s statutes that he promises to keep, and the path of His commandments in which the psalmist will delight himself.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search them out (Proverbs 25:2). I think this is one of those hidden treasures that God would have us consider. The way and path speak of God’s process-orientation, the walk of faith to which we are called, and the following after Jesus Christ that positions us to become His disciples. As important as obedience is to God, He has a deeper place for us to travel with Him. Read the rest of this entry »

The church (not America) is meant to be seen by the world as the nation blessed by God. The nation of Israel is the Biblical example of this. God commanded Israel’s separation from the surrounding nations (and their gods) that they might be the example of an obedient people abundantly and unusually blessed by God. Furthermore, Israel was to be the counter-culture people who God used to bless the nations.

Israel’s prosperity and protection were dependent on fidelity to God, accompanied by deliberate and systematic rejection of all other gods. Regrettably, God’s people chose disobedience and became an example of those punished by a loving Father. Their persistent desire to be like the others was born out of the rebellious nature they inherited from Adam and Eve. Eventually, their rebellion led to captivity and destruction.

To recognize the warning, we must apply the natural example of Israel to the spiritual nature of the church. What exists in the spiritual realm of God’s kingdom ultimately manifests in the natural world. However, we must understand that the natural is symptomatic (i.e., result and evidence) of the spiritual reality of God’s supernatural kingdom. In other words, it is fruit on the tree, good or bad dependent on our fidelity to God (Matthew 12:33).

Regrettably, this explains why Western civilization has become so unimpressed by the church and why there is no fear of the God that seems to have abandoned her. This condition is not the world’s fault. Acts 2:42-43 comes to mind. Read the rest of this entry »

…it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given… blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear… Matthew 13:11-17

The children of God have been given eyes to see and ears to hear. Constrained in our earthly body, we tend to underestimate this gift and ability. We hope and pray the following will help provide a proper estimation and exercise of God’s grace – particularly as it relates to our relationships and fellowships.

Because of His great love, God has saved and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7). From there, we might enjoy His perspective of all that is going on around us… or we might choose not to. It is our responsibility to observe, process, and respond to our environment and all its activity from the heavenly perspective. Doing so exercises the mind of Christ, which we have (1Corinthians 2:16).

To lay hold of this grace, we must first believe the heavenly perspective is available, and then we must choose it (an act of our will). Some may hesitate, fearing the temptation of haughtiness. Such a fear should not be ignored. We must not think that we are sufficient for these things, but reckon that our sufficiency is from God (2Corinthians 3:5-6). We must remain humble, and allow the Holy Spirit to deal with our flesh (another reason daily communion with God, who is a consuming fire, is important).

Indeed, those who know the grace of God from the perspective of God are not concerned with their personal rights, nor easily distracted by injustice done to them. They see beyond these things, into eternity. They have been set free from temporal matters and considerations. Read the rest of this entry »

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?

And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

These questions are from the chorus of Our God, a song made popular by Chris Tomlin in 2010. It is one of the most popular worship songs ever produced. The official video has over 41 million views on YouTube; several other versions have a combined 23 million more views. That’s amazing.

Our God was used in a worship set for an event I attended just the other day (in 2020). Most in attendance knew the words by heart. It is a great and much-loved song… with two very good questions; indeed, questions we should more seriously consider.

In the song, these questions seem to be asked rhetorically, as if the answer is obvious: nothing can stop us, nor stand against us. The shift in meter and tone during this part of the song emphasizes the point, sounding something like a war cry: Our God is greater, stronger, higher, and awesome in power; therefore, we are unstoppable and irrepressible.

So, why is the Western church not only being stopped, but floundering in decline and retreat?

If one desires to worship God in Spirit and in truth, he must consider the truth of his words, in the light of the Spirit’s revelation. Sung inquiringly, these questions should cause every Christian to pause; a little bit of self-reflection is in order. Read the rest of this entry »

The Western church is in decline.

It is hard to imagine anyone disagreeing with that statement. The evidence of our failing condition is overwhelming. Here are two (of many) examples:

  • Based on a 2019 Pew Research study, only 69% of Americans identify as Christian – down from 77% ten years earlier.
  • In a 2018 Barna Research survey, when asked “Have you heard of the Great Commission?”, only 17% of churchgoers said they had heard of it and could explain its meaning. 51% said they had not heard of the Great Commission at all!!

More than a few well-meaning and conscientious individuals and organizations have offered their opinions on how we might reverse our trending decline. Most of these prescriptions address symptoms, not the source of our unhealthy state (i.e., start teaching the Great Commission). Consequently, much of the Western church seems to have checked into hospice care, rather than pursue the cure for our disease.

To state the obvious, the cure we have been offered is God’s grace. The simplicity of that assertion does not make it any less true – particularly when we understand the meaning of grace. From Blue Letter Bible’s Outline of Biblical Usage, grace (charis) is:

[T]he merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Grace is the cure for all that ails us. So, how do we, as leaders, acquire the grace of God for the restoration and transformation of the Western church? How do we participate with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the good work they have committed to accomplish in our midst (Matthew 4:19, Philippians 2:13-14, 2Corinthians 3:18)? Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

The three R’s we have in mind are responsibility, rebellion, and rights. There is a relationship between these three which we plan to expose in the next few hundred words to better prepare you for the battle against your carnal mind.

Let’s begin with something on which most of us agree: Rebellion corrupts everything.

Yes, everything! And the seed of it is in every one of us. As the Scriptures assert, every human being is born with the sin. Not just “sin”, but “the sin” (i.e., our rebellious nature). Adam and Eve’s fateful decision to eat from the forbidden tree was more than an act of disobedience, it was the evidence of their treason against God.

For His own good reasons, God does not free us from the influences of our rebellious nature when we are born again. Instead, He has given us the responsibility and the grace to overcome it. This is an ongoing battle. Those that choose to ignore their responsibility suffer the consequences. Responsible warriors enjoy alliance with the Holy Spirit.

That enemy – our #1 enemy – is our carnal mind. Our carnal mind, hiding away in our subconscious, encourages rebellion in subtle and destructive ways. The carnal mind is at enmity with God, working to turn what God intends for good into some of the worse kinds of evil. Take responsibility for example. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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