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Last week, I shared the various encouragements which I had received from our heavenly Father during a season of chastening. I want to expound on one of those here; but before I do, I need to share something about the word “encouragement”.

Words are important and should be carefully chosen. In this case, a more natural word to use would have been “corrections”. So, why did I choose “encouragements”?

Encouragement is something a person does to put courage into someone else, and Christians today need all the encouragement we can get. When we submit to the Father’s chastening, He provides the courage we need to positively respond. Conversely, withdrawing from the Father’s chastening leaves us without the courage we so desperately need in this desperate time. I hope and pray that you will find and receive a large dose of courage as we search deeper into this matter of doing.

Neither restoration nor reformation will come until we stop treating the truths of Scripture like Christian clichés. For me, the challenge of this has come in two well-known passages: “…without Me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).” Think about it.

Have you been thinking about it? If so, I am very interested in what the Holy Spirit has brought to your heart and mind. If you have not had the time or inclination, perhaps I can help. This matter of “doing” requires more of our thinking.

Thought #1: Jesus and Paul chose their words wisely. I am referring to the words “nothing” and “all”. They are absolute and extreme opposites. Read the rest of this entry »

I have just completed a welcomed five-week break from school. During that time, our heavenly Father decided to chasten me on several fronts. Indeed, He is a careful orchestrator of our time and attention. Without getting into the messy details, I would like to share a few encouragements picked up along the way.

Only the humblest person can trust their opinion of themselves. Our subconscious mind gives more attention to ourselves and thinks more of ourselves than we imagine.

Jesus Christ loves His bride regardless of the state of her health. Assessment is best left up to Him. Judgment and correction are dangerous activities when made by any mind other than Christ’s.

God delegates authority and imparts discernment and grace proportionate to our submission as instruments only. We can fake it, but we will never truly make it, until we die to ourselves.

Concern can degrade into hopelessness and cynicism when faith and joy are not nurtured and shared with others. Yes, there is much to be concerned about; but we must trust the LORD and rejoice in the good works He has created us to walk in.

Neither restoration nor reformation will come until we stop treating the truths of Scripture like Christian clichés. For me, the challenge of this has come in two well-known passages: “…without Me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).” Think about it.

And finally, the Father is working in us to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). The Son is making us and building His church (Matthew 4:19 and 16:18). The Holy Spirit is transforming us by the renewing of our minds (2Corinthians 3:18; Romans 12:2). How can we neglect so great a salvation as this?

God bless you with faith and courage for surrender, sacrifice, and submission to the inward work of grace.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

We are settling for far less than we have been offered. We are either very stupid, or we are deceived. I do not think most Christian leaders are generally stupid. We are a well-educated people, and we tend to address our stupidity when we discover it.

On the other hand, a deceived person does not know they are deceived – at least not until someone reveals the deception that has held them captive. Fortunately, the truth will make us free. Here is some, just in case.

God’s Promises

…to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2Peter 1:3-4

The Danger

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation… Hebrews 2:1-3

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work… according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2Thessalonians 2:7-10

Our Response

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Sunday School class that is studying its way through Exodus. It should not have surprised me that the story of Moses and the people of Israel included some good workplace lessons. But honestly, I never thought about it. Someone should write a book: Workplace Lessons from the Wilderness. Hmm.

Anyway, go ahead and read Exodus 32. I bet there are some things there that will surprise you, too. Give those things some thought. Ask God a question or two (He loves talking with His children). Here are four lessons from the Golden Calf affair:

  1. People are incredibly susceptible to self-deception and compromise. And just to be clear, it was not Satan that made them do it. There is no mention here of Satan’s involvement. The people decided to disobey God on their own. The carnal mind is a trickster.
  2. Poor leaders (i.e., Aaron) are quick to blame-shift and invent the most ridiculous lies – particularly when their authority is questioned or their reputation threatened. This is one of the dangers of authority.
  3. Good leaders care deeply for their people and their people’s future – even to the point of severe discipline. They take responsibility for their people’s actions and take action to ensure their people don’t make the same mistake again.
  4. Consequently, good leaders have access to God and influence with Him on behalf of their people. This is one of the great blessings of authority – intimacy with God.

It is this last point that strikes me as the most profound. Greater authority not only requires a higher degree of integrity and responsibility – it also offers deeper intimacy with the One to whom we are to give an account. This is God’s way, and Moses is not the only example in Scripture. It is tragic that so many fail to take advantage of God’s open-door policy.

Now, about that book: If anyone knows of one in print, I would like to read it. Otherwise, we will add it to the list of potential writing projects.

God bless you with grace for the authority He has entrusted to you, and the wisdom and courage to enter into His presence on a regular basis.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

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