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It has been some time since I last presented the following. I encourage you to consider it prayerfully – even if it seems like an obvious truth. Ask the Father to give greater meaning to it, for you and those you love.

Much of our thinking is subconscious (i.e., we are not conscious of it). Our minds filter input through a paradigm that has been forming since before our birth. We should be suspicious of the way we think.

It is ironic that though life is a process, we give so much attention to events. It takes more mental energy to think of the process. Life is harder to consider than the events of birth, birthdays, graduation, death, and the multitude of events that lie in between.

But, it is the “in between” that matters most – the process of life that connects and blankets the events of our lives.

Generally speaking, the church has fallen victim to the same event-orientation – most damagingly in regards to salvation. Many think of salvation as the initial event – justification, reconciliation, and rebirth. Some would add the end – glorification. It seems very few talk about the in between; and I don’t mean sanctification – that is a different process altogether.

So, let’s look at the evidence of salvation as a process.

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What would you think if someone gave you a car that ran on an unlimited and free power source? You would probably consider that a really cool blessing. Am I right?

What if they refused to identify the power source and/or where it could be obtained? That wouldn’t be so cool. The car would be a useless and frustrating gift. Right again?

If, as we read in Romans 10:10 (NKJV):

“…with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

and, as 1Corinthians 12:3 relates:

“…no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”;

What do we make of those raised up in denominations and streams that were not taught the operation of the Holy Spirit in salvation?

Are their teachers not only refusing to go in, but preventing others from entering (Matthew 23:13)?

I’m just asking.

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Being a disciple of Jesus Christ requires that one obey His command to make disciples. It is the commission He gave to everyone that would follow Him. If you do not currently understand, believe and commit yourself to obey this command, you should stop here and go search out this matter for yourself.

Those that have committed themselves to the Great Commission must realize that Jesus intends to use us as vessels and instruments, to make disciples to Himself. They are not our disciples. They may be “following us”, but that must only be true because we are following Him. When they look at us, it must be to behold Him as in a mirror.

Furthermore – and this is critical – we are not making disciples unless those we are discipling are also making disciples. This is a place we often get stuck; and a matter to which we should be giving more thought. For example, how do we know that they are making disciples if we only talk at them once a week?

You may need to stop here and consider the meaning of this for your ministry. That’s okay; you can come back later.

Now, to answer the question: Why is disciple making so hard? Or, put another way: What can we do to get our people involved again in the Great Commission? Read the rest of this entry »

Business Man with TabletFor which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  Luke 14:28-31

Counting the cost of following Jesus Christ has been lost by most of the church. If you have not been encouraged in this regard – or you have not been encouraging others – you will be blessed in reading our most recent lesson: The Lost Foundations – Counting the Cost… First.

Once you decide to count the cost (and/or encourage others to do the same), the following may help you get started.

  1. I have found that the most profitable starting point is a simple conversation with our Heavenly Father (imagine that). Here are some good conversation starters:
    1. Father God, stir up the desire you have placed in my heart – to hear your voice regarding the cost of following your Son.
    2. Father God, stir up the desire you have placed in my heart – to invest in Your kingdom.
    3. Father God, give me the opportunity to begin the investment strategy Your Spirit reveals.
  2. Keep in mind that a person’s perception of reality can be bent in one of two ways: Toward optimism, or pessimism. Both can be dangerous; pessimism, more so. Be wary of your mind’s leanings.
  3. Counting the cost may reveal areas where we are still reigning – in charge of our investment decisions. There is a fine line between what we would like to have, and what we demand, to be satisfied in life. If God and Christ are truly reigning, then everything we have been entrusted with is subject to their investment decisions. Repentance regarding ownership may be in order.
  4. Counting the cost may reveal areas where we are living in fear. Ask yourself: What do I fear losing? Remember, behind every fear is a lie, deal with the lie and the fear will fly. Ask God to identify the lie, and the truth that will overcome it. 
  5. NOTE: Beyond this point, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in determining which of these helps will best exercise your faith.
  6. One way to test your counting is to consider a past commitment. For example, you may have promised Jesus that you would follow Him anywhere. Or, you may have commitment some amount of time to serve those less fortunate. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the commitments you have already made.
  7. If you have not made a particular commitment, then allow the Holy Spirit to prompt your imagination for a particular kingdom investment opportunity. Be careful; our minds are tricky things. They have a tendency take what the Holy Spirit suggests out to something entirely farfetched; something to which we can easily say “no way”.
  8. Jesus did not hide, nor soft pedal, the investment required to follow Him. The lesson mentioned above highlights a number of specific costs. The Parable of the Sheep and Goats, the Sermon on the Mount and the Great Commission are also helpful challenges for our counting. Incorporate those in your time with the Holy Spirit (in #2).
  9. Our love of the LORD should be the primary motivator for counting the cost (and paying it). Ask yourself: Do I love Him so much that I would joyfully sacrifice my __________?

I trust and pray this will help you become a more active investor in the kingdom of our LORD. Please, let me know if I can help you further.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Bible with Cross ShadowBut I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. Romans 15:29

Imagine someone shows up at your door, with a message in their hand. You can tell they have a message because you are watching them from an upstairs window. Considering the look on their face, you suspect they have some good news to share. It also helps that the package they’ve brought with them has “GOOD NEWS” stamped right on the top.

Trouble is: you are very busy. Things to do, people to see, etc. Perhaps the news isn’t worth your time anyway; perhaps it’s just a scam. You could ignore them until they go away.

So, what do you do? Step out onto the porch; give them five minutes – and a stern warning not to waste your time? Encourage them to get to the point? Or, do you invite them in, ask them to sit down and offer them some tea?

It would help to know the nature of the good news; right? But how will you know, if you don’t take the time?

What if you knew the good news was from the king; and it was news that dramatically affected your life? How much time and consideration would you give for that good news? Would you, perhaps, invite the messenger to stay for dinner?

I believe you would.

So let me ask you: What is the “good news” of the Bible to you? What is the gospel? Is it “Jesus died for me, so I could go to heaven”? If so, what have you made of His burial and resurrection? Read the rest of this entry »

I was not surprised the day I became a part of my company’s reduction in force. The Lord had prepared me. I was expecting it. The surprise came when I finally realized that God wasn’t moving me on to something I thought was better. Among other things, I learned that His purpose for my life was not so much about me.

The nation of Israel was not surprised that the Messiah had come. They had been anticipating His arrival for hundreds of years. Their surprise was in the fact that it was not so much about them. God had a bigger plan.

One of the tragedies of a self-centered story is the loss of perspective. It is scary to think what I would have lost if God had settled for my plan; and it is sobering to recognize that I did not have a clue how much less I was fighting for Him to give me.

Much of the Western Church is in much the same danger; and we don’t have much more of a clue.

Suppose you had an employee that thought, believed and lived like your business was solely for his purposes, what would you do? Isn’t he right to think your business is for him? After all, you hired him, you are paying him a salary, and you are providing him with benefits. It’s about him; right?

Of course it’s not! Every wise business owner would fire such an employee (short of that employee having a significant attitude adjustment).

What if your employees thought you and your company should be subject to the interests of the community; that you should give your products away, regardless of the affect it has on your bottom line? Well, that would be socialism; and a strong sign that something has gone drastically wrong!!

Last set of questions: Does a good and wise business owner (or king) allow the story of his business (or kingdom) to be primarily about any other individual or group? Is it wrong for him to insist that the kingdom be centered on him and his purposes?

It’s not that we are lacking for clues. Jesus spoke often of the dangers: the rich young ruler, the prodigal son and the wicked, lazy servant, to name just a few. All were looking at the story from a self-centered perspective.

It is ironic that the most obvious thing can be the very thing we get wrong. So, let me ask you: Who is the Bible really about? Who is the writer, the producer and the director? Who is the main character?

Of course, you will say, the story is about God. It is about what He wants and what He is doing. I cannot imagine any Christian would disagree. Certainly, no one would say, “The story is about me.” Right?

But is that not the way we live our lives, here in the Western Church?

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