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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 »

Conflict is inevitable. What we do with it can have far-reaching consequences. The attitude we take into a conflict (planned or otherwise) greatly effects the outcome.

It is amazing what we do not realize about the way we think – our mindset, paradigms, attitudes. I had no conscious thought of my approach to conflicts until God hit me with the contrast. Two meetings, both occurring within a week of each other, forever adjusted my conflict attitude. Here’s my story:

In the first meeting – a Bible study of Romans – we had arrived at Paul’s exhortation on baptism (chapter six). As the teacher introduced the topic, you could literally feel and see the tension rise in the room. At least half the participants moved to the edge of their chairs waiting, it seemed, to hear the teacher say something with which they did not agree. Looking back, I am convinced that many ears were closed to hearing, and the Holy Spirit was grieved.

The second meeting was a blessed contrast. As with the first, there were people from various church fellowships and denominations. The passage being discussed was Jesus’ instruction regarding the consumption of His flesh and blood. Someone in the group asked, “What did Jesus mean when He said, ‘unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you (John 6:53).'”

After some time of quiet contemplation, one brother said he wasn’t sure, but thought it meant “so and so”. A second brother added, “And it means ‘such and such’ to me.” Several others offered their opinions.

To be honest, I can’t remember what any of them said about the meaning. All I heard in my spirit was the “and” of their responses – the “and” attitude of their hearts. At no time during the conversation was “no” or “or” used. No one corrected or disagreed with the others. It was truly amazing; so amazing that I almost missed the most amazing thing. Read the rest of this entry »

We will close out this series with a renewed consideration of God’s purpose for it; namely, our sanctification. As we know, sanctification is the process whereby we are set apart and cleansed from the world – separated unto the Lord and for His use (2Timothy 2:21). Few realize how vehemently our carnal minds fight against our sanctification. To be used by God to His greatest advantage, our carnal minds must be overcome.

The church began with Peter’s charge to repent and be saved from this perverse generation (Acts 2:38-41). At the end of this age, we will be called out a final time by God Himself (Revelation 18:4). In between, we struggle mightily with our allegiances.

God has given us disciplines as an invitation and the means to come out of the world – into a deeper relationship with Him. Jesus uses the disciplines to make us (Mark 1:17) and to build His church (Ephesians 4:11-16). The Holy Spirit uses them to transform us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

Repentance is first a change of mind. From parents to preachers, we have focused on changing behavior to the detriment of this first and vital step. Coming out of this evil generation – out of Babylon, the great harlot – begins with a rejection of secular, humanistic and carnal thinking about everything… including church.

Our carnal thinking about church has become so ingrained, we hardly know it exists. We are so surrounded by it, we cannot see how it has infected us. It is like an enemy that has entrenched itself behind our strongest line of defense. Going out to Jesus Christ, outside the camp (Hebrews 13:12-14), may be the only way we can rightfully assess what has become our prison.

Lest anyone misunderstand, we are not suggesting an exodus from existing church fellowships. This encouragement is about the way we think and about the way we relate to God. A. W. Tozer prophetically wrote of our condition over sixty years ago:

To me, it has always been difficult to understand those evangelical Christians who insist upon living in the crisis as if no crisis existed. They say they serve the Lord, but they divide their days so as to leave plenty of time to play and loaf and enjoy the pleasures of the world as well. They are at ease while the world burns… I wonder whether such Christians actually believe in the fall of man! Renewed Day by Day, A. W. Tozer

This series began with the argument for, and proof of, our carnal mind’s status as enemy number one. Satan may be more powerful (and easier to blame); and the world may be more aggressive in its attempts to conform us. But, it is the carnal mind that has become – not just the enemy in our camp – but a trusted friend and advisor. As such, it has become a dangerous distractor and deceiver.

Our hope is that you will respond to God’s invitation for greater intimacy through the disciplines He has so graciously provided. With this hope in mind, we offer a line of questioning for your conversations with Him and those in your spheres of influence. Read the rest of this entry »

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