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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 has used this conversation to challenge me on two fronts. First, He has reminded me to stop avoiding conflicts that sharing the truth might create – to commit my way to Him, trusting Him to accomplish what He intends (Psalm 37:5).

My resistance in this area comes from genuine concern that I might injure someone with my version and presentation of the truth. As I’m sure you recognize, 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; that is cowardice.

What I must do is 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 has also challenged me to seek and destroy deception in my own life. This conviction contains two applications:

  1. God has called me to help others discover and overcome the deceptions of their carnal mind. I cannot call or lead someone out of deception if I am willing to accommodate it in my own life.
  2. Transformation requires the stripping away of my conditional responses to God’s offers of grace.

This second application requires some explanation. One of my heart’s greatest 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, we must join the Holy Spirit in searching out our conditional responses to God’s grace, and then take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5). This prayer will 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

Dear precious child of God,

The fear of works-based salvation has pushed many into a terrible disadvantage. We have neglected the disciplines of faith for far too long. Of course, the deceptive fears put forward by our carnal mind are not totally to blame. We have allowed the world to make our lives too busy for any concentrated effort toward spiritual maturity. And then there is the Devil, constantly questioning God’s promise to work in us to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

Our latest book, An Enemy Lies Within, encourages the practice of Biblical disciplines for the exercise of our faith in overcoming our carnal mind. When we were reborn, God gave us a new heart; the mind must be renewed. It is with the heart that we believe unto salvation; and that is a lifelong process.

Several of the disciplines encourage, enable, and empower our joining the Holy Spirit is this work of transformation. They include solitude, contemplation, prayer, fasting, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

An Enemy Lies Within flips the script by leveraging our God-given heart against the deceptions and control tactics of our carnal mind. The eBook is available from all the usual platforms. We have left it at the introductory price of $3.99. Let me know if you need a coupon code for a free copy.

I also strongly recommend The Spirit of the Disciplines, by the late Dallas Willard. It is a bit more academic than An Enemy Lies Within, but well worth the read. I highly recommend it. Here are two excerpts:

“…what are the disciplines for the spiritual life? The disciplines are activities of mind and body purposefully undertaken, to bring our personality and total being into effective cooperation with the divine order (Willard, 1988).”

“Who are the great ones in The Way, what are the significant movements in the history of the church that do not bear the deep and pervasive imprint of the disciplines for the spiritual life? If there are none, what leads us to believe that we might be an exception to the rule and might know the power of the Kingdom life without the appropriate disciplines (Willard, 1988)?”

Please accept our challenge to pursue one or two of the spiritual disciplines this year. Let me know how I can help. Also, this is a particularly important matter for Christian leaders in the workplace. Share this newsletter as an encouragement for their spiritual growth. The church desperately needs them.

God bless you with renewed desire and passion for the advance of His kingdom in your spheres of influence.

Updates and Prayer Requests

  • We are grateful to God for the prayers and support for the An Enemy Lies Within project. A publisher has agreed to take on the project and is currently working on the first proof and edit pass.
  • In regard to my school adventure, I have one week remaining in this semester. Fall semester begins in approximately two weeks. Your prayers for wisdom and perseverance have been effectual.
  • The Father recently stirred the desire of my heart for teaching. It was unexpected – particularly given my current workload at Huntington University. A four-week opportunity has opened up, with a friend’s Sunday School class. The Father is an exquisite orchestrator!
  • We continue our search for fellowships and ministries to partner with us at 2:2 Collective.  Please pray for God’s guidance and wisdom; that He would connect us with those who have a heart for unity – to advance the kingdom together. Pray for continued wisdom and courage in my roles as President and Treasurer.
  • Continue to pray for the workplace leaders you know – for their transformation into mighty men and women of God; that they would boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let me know how I can help you minister to them.
  • I am eternally grateful to all who pray for inLight, my family, and those to whom we minister.  Your prayers are effectual and much needed.  Please continue to pray as the Lord leads you.
  • I strongly encourage you to ensure your prayers are foremost for the glory of God; and that you first worship Him.  He is the Giver of all good things.  He deserves our focused attention.

Partnering with inLight Consulting

God’s purpose for inLight Consulting is beyond human capability. We are desperately dependent on Him; and would have it no other way. We are grateful for the continued support of those that trust God to use this ministry to further His kingdom.  Please pray for our vision and mission.

Share the truths you find here with the leaders in your life; it will make them free.

God bless you with wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; and may He give you the grace and courage to walk in the work He has prepared for you.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Willard, D. (1988). The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Those of you who faithfully read this newsletter and our blog articles will have noticed a more urgent – some would say harsher – tone to the recent messages. I hope and pray the frankness with encourage you to do the same. Simply saying, “We are living in desperate times”, does not lessen our desperation. Faith without works is dead.

At least for now, my work is being the best pen I can be and discipling those who are interested in God’s adventurous life. The good work God created you to walk in may be something else altogether different. You will find your adventure and assignment in the desire God has placed in your heart for this season.

Galatians 1:10 has been an increasingly convicting and encouraging word for me:

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Most of us were born with a desire to please others, and we were nurtured in that desire for most of our lives. As we all know (and many of us have experienced), this can be a doubly dangerous trap. First, we may find ourselves trying to please others instead of God. Second, our desire to please others gets in the way of our persuading them in the truths of God’s kingdom.

Ironically, our desire to please others often harms them. Our failure to persuade them leaves them captive to deception (John 8:32). As we have written in An Enemy Lies Within, the deceptions of our carnal minds run much deeper than we think or imagine. The damage has and will continue to be catastrophic, if we do not begin speaking the truth in love. Withholding God’s truth from someone is the opposite of loving them.

In closing, allow me to encourage and challenge you with three things that have been on my mind lately.

  • How much of our religion is Biblical Christianity? How much is the civil religion of America? Do these religions have the same god? Are they compatible? One was secured and is advanced by “power under” (i.e., Calvary-like service); the other by “power over” – raising the sword against the perceived enemy. One submits to the will of a King; the other celebrates and violently defends the rights of the individual.
  • The greatest value of the abundant life is the relationships offered in that life: Walking in the Spirit; Christ living in us; bearing fruit that glorifies the Father; being an instrument of light and glory. I could go on. Why are we willing to settle for less? These things must be pursued. Why are we not desperate to put away every weight and sin that so easily entangles us?
  • It seems we must decide if it is safe or warranted to ignore the conditions, warnings, and prescriptions of Scripture. Only those who do the will of the Father shall enter into His kingdom (Matthew 7:21). Will ignorance of His will excuse us? Does anyone think God hides His will from His children? Is He not working in us to will and do to His good pleasure? How would we judge ourselves to know we are not resisting His will and work?

I strongly believe we should be discussing these things with people in our spheres of influence. Who else will?

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Updates and Prayer Requests

We are grateful to God for the prayers and support for the An Enemy Lies Within project. The eBook is available at all major publishers. Please continue to pray and consider supporting the project, as we are preparing the printable version.

In regards to my school adventure, I have one class remaining in this semester. It begins in two weeks and will run for five. Some exciting news: I recently learned that I will be graduating in May of next year. Your prayers for wisdom and perseverance have been effectual.

We continue our search for fellowships and ministries to partner with us at 2:2 Collective.  Please pray for God’s guidance and wisdom; that He would connect us with those who have a heart for unity – to advance the kingdom together. The board recently approved the pursuit of a partnership with The College of Prayer International – to establish a prayer campus at 2:2 Collective.  Pray for grace and courage to glorify God in my roles as President and Treasurer.

Continue to pray for the workplace leaders you know – for their transformation into mighty men and women of God; that they would boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let me know how I can help you minister to them.

I am eternally grateful to all who pray for inLight, my family, and those to whom we minister.  Your prayers are effectual and much needed.  Please continue to pray as the Lord leads you.

I strongly encourage you to ensure your prayers are foremost for the glory of God; and that you first worship Him.  He is the Giver of all good things.  He deserves our focused attention.

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.

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

Most leaders have very little difficulty filling their calendars; many have people (invited and not) that help them squeeze the most out of every day. Sometimes we get so active in so much productive work, we lose consciousness of our purpose.

Rushing down the difficult path – even in a daze – is better than wandering off after the world. God has prepared good works for us to walk in. None of us want to miss an opportunity to please the Lord and be an instrument of the Father’s glorify.

However, there are times in most leaders’ lives when it all gets rather distracting, binding, and exhausting. We feel like we are losing focus, our calendar is managing us, and the good work has become a burden. Our attitude and productivity begin to suffer… almost as much as the people around us.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the work we forget to ask the most basic question:

Why am I here?

This is the question we should ask ourselves:

  • Every morning;
  • Before every meeting, activity, or encounter with another person; and,
  • Several times during the day.

This is critically important: The key to “why am I here?” is knowing who or what we have gone to for the answer. Many of us have been trained to solve such problems with our reasoning – reasoning born out of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; reasoning that is often under the control of our carnal mind. Ask your carnal mind and you will get a carnal answer.

Remember, take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5).

Now, if the carnal mind manages to sneak in some response (it is sneakier than we imagine), we can use that response to tell us something about our attitude. For example, if our carnal mind says we are here because we have to be, that’s a problem. First of all, this response is simply not true; it is a very base deception. We all have free choice. Read the rest of this entry »

The time has come to say some hard things. That is not my determination to make. Indeed, I am a conflict avoider. The pen must write what it is used to write. I am confident that the source is a Father who out of love, chastens, rebukes, and scourges His children.

Pastors and churches in our hectic times are harassed by the temptation to seek size at any cost and to secure by inflation what they cannot gain by legitimate growth. The Next Chapter After the Last; A. W. Tozer

A. W. Tozer recognized the beginnings of our compromise in the middle of the 20th Century (he died in 1963). Since then, many pastors and churches have succumbed to the temptation about which he spoke and wrote. The results have been catastrophic.

A recent Barna survey reported that 51% of church attenders (in America) did not recognize the phrase “the Great Commission”. Only 17% claimed to know the meaning of it!

Think about that for a minute. What does this say about the church in America? How does someone not know about the command that supposedly got them there? What has replaced the Great Commission?

For those of you that love and lead millennials, it is important to know that new church trends are not helping. Only 11% of church attending millennials understand the Great Commission of our Lord! What does this say about our approach to youth and young adult ministry? Are we going to keep doing what continues to fail our King’s commission?

If this single statistic does not knock off and stomp our rose-colored glasses to bits, I don’t imagine anything will. There are dozens – perhaps hundreds – more indicators like it. Tragically, the church in America has been overrun with deception. Read the rest of this entry »

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

How much attention do we give – and should we give – to this instruction? Is this optional, prescriptive, or a command? How prevalent is this theme in the Scriptures? Two things come to mind:

  1. Under the Old Covenant, the nation of Israel was commanded to remain separate from the surrounding nations, lest their worship and obedience to God be compromised.
  2. Under the New, Jesus’ prayed for His Father to sanctify (i.e., set apart) those that He had been given – a continuation of the Old Covenant theme. We are to be “in the world”, but not “of the world”. There seems to be a fine but hard line between these two conditions.

What are the “things on the earth” Paul refers to in his letter to the Colossian church? Are they limited to the previously mentioned world philosophies and religious legalism? What about the list of personal sins that follow?

Bringing this matter forward, what would the Holy Spirit lead Paul to say about our world? What new “things on the earth” has mankind created? Should we be concerned about the set of our minds in regard to sports, news, social media, online gaming, DIY YouTube videos, etc.?

Beware of the first answer that comes to you. It is likely your carnal mind trying to distract or otherwise deter you from considering the matter. It does that… regularly. Just tell it to shut up. Read the rest of this entry »

Christians have an enemy entrenched and hidden in our camp – behind our lines, distracting and deceiving us. Most are oblivious to this enemy’s presence. Many have turned to it for counsel and advice.

This enemy aligns itself with Satan and the world to resist the wisdom, influence and work of God. It is not as powerful as Satan, nor as influential as the world; but make no mistake about it, this enemy is capable of much mischief and mayhem. Indeed, this enemy should be labeled, “Enemy #1”.

Enemy #1 is our carnal mind.

God would have us recognize and expose our carnal mind. He would have us overcome it, and repair the damage it has wrought. God would transform us by the renewing of our minds – if only we would let Him; if only we knew how.

It is no wonder we (the American church) are failing to convince the lost world to think differently. Generally speaking, we are not thinking right ourselves. God would have it otherwise. There is a battle to be fought and won. There is a greater-than life in the kingdom of God – right here and now. But first, we must win the battle that is taking place in our own camp. We must overcome our carnal mind!

That is God’s purpose for writing the new book we are pre-announcing today. Much of the book has been written as articles for the inLight Adventure blog. We are working now to pull it all together for publication as an eBook, on December 26th.

For this, we need your help.

Note to the moderators of blogs and groups with whom we provide content: This article is promotional and includes a request of support for a new project. Please consider that we are only interested in getting the word of God out to as many as possible. We understand if you still prefer to exclude/remove it.

First and foremost, we desire your prayers. Pray as the Holy Spirit leads you for the Father’s will throughout the publication process. Our heart is to put this book in the hands of as many leaders as possible. This is certainly the most important project we have attempted since The Map Maker. Read the rest of this entry »

You may recall the images from Iraq during the onset of Desert Storm. Having done their reconnaissance, American forces were bombing Bagdad, seemingly without mercy. The military commentator explained that we were trying to kill Saddam Hussein – which was unlikely – and/or destroy his command and communication centers. In other words, we were trying to separate the snake’s head and its body.

As it turns out, this is the strategy of every offensive force, in every war. Separate the commanders from the troops and you create a decided advantage for yourself and your allies. Consequently, threatened nations go to great length to protect their communication centers.

Regrettably, our enemies have made significant progress is cutting off the Western church from its High Command. Communication centers have been destroyed. Little effort is being made to rebuild and retrench. Consequently, we are separated from God and each other. Our efforts are disorganized, even divisive.

While it would be easy to blame the devil, those of us in leadership know better. In many respects, we are our own worst enemy. We have allowed the world to distract us and our carnal minds to deceive us into thinking we can get by with our own strategies, plans and programs.

Reestablishing communication is where we must start. Sacrifices will have to be made, but they will be worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears. God has all the grace we need to turn the tide in this war.

As hard a time as we seem to be having with prayer, prayer is not hard. The Father is standing by waiting on our attention. He loves speaking with His children.

Much has been said about the decline of prayer in the Western Church. We have simply lost site of the importance of personal and corporate communion with God. This is so obvious, it hardly seems worth the time and effort to say it again. Just how much encouragement is enough?

Fortunately, God has not given up on us. He is aware of our weaknesses in this area. We are not the first generation of church leaders who have needed an attitude (re)adjustment about prayer.

Now, I’m no expert on prayer; but I know some people who are. I don’t know them in-person personally; in fact, quite a few of them are dead. I know them personally through the books they have written on prayer. You can learn a lot about a person through their attitude towards prayer. After all, prayer is their heart tie with God; a connection to the center of their being.

I learned from a dear friend and mentor that giving away books is a great way to disciple someone. This is particularly true with subjects like prayer. Better to let the authors speak than try to speak for them.

So, what I would like to do here is introduce three of my favorite books on prayer. I will include some thoughts and encouragement in the way they will help you and those in your spheres of influence renew your minds regarding the importance of personal and corporate prayer. Read the rest of this entry »

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