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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

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray… Matthew 6:7-9a

The denomination in which I grew up recited what we called “the Lord’s Prayer” (aka, the Model Prayer) during every church service. It was probably the first passage I memorized as a young Christian. Regrettably, it became “vain repetition”; I really didn’t think about what I was praying.

In a previous article, we proposed that the Model Prayer is something more than a prayer to recite once a week; it is a prayer of positioning. The Model Prayer is not the prayer to end all prayers, but the prayer to begin all prayers. It is through this model that we come into the Father’s presence – in humility, meekness and total dependency on Him. Without this positioning, all that we have to say are the vain repetitions of man.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9b-13

In this article, with this notion of positioning in mind, we would like to explore three foundational truths that have been lost to the modern church. All three are found in the prayer’s last acknowledgement: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. We will look at them one at a time. Read the rest of this entry »

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:24

One of our carnal minds’ more subtle deceptions is found in our response to the seemingly impossible requirements of God. For example, consider your response to “Be holy, for I am holy” (1Peter 1:16). When faced with such a command, we tend to identify it as impossible and move on to something else, not considering that our lack of obedience fails to make it less of a command.

In moving on, we miss one of the foundational pillars of our faith: Our sufficiency is not of ourselves, but from the One who requires our holiness (2Corinthians 3:5). Striving to enter is not a matter of self-effort and personal sufficiency; it is an attitude of the new man’s mind.

If we manage to move beyond this initial deception, we have taken an important first step, but even here our carnal mind attempts to play tricks on us. The recognition of God’s sufficiency does not leave us to passively wait on Him to do whatever He will do. We must strive to participate with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the work they would do to make us holy.

So, where do we start? It is really quite simple. Once we are born again – having become a new creation – we turn to the new heart God has given us (Ezekiel 36:26); for it is within the heart that the word of God becomes faith (Romans 10:10) – faith that appropriates God’s sufficient grace for even the most impossible commands.

Furthermore, striving to enter the narrow gate is primarily a matter of pursuing a relationship with God; our heart holds that desire, waiting for Him to give it to us (Psalm 37:4). The time we spend in pursuit of that relationship is a measure of our spiritual maturity (i.e., becoming holy). Some would say it is THE measure.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you… to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

It is within the will and power of our Father in heaven to grant that we be filled with His fullness. The wonder and mystery of this truth should not distract nor dissuade us from pursuing its fulfillment in our lives.

Both “filled” and “fullness” are absolutes. God desires to fill all of our life – every moment, thought, and activity – with all of Himself. How does that happen when we fill so much of it with something else? Can a cup be filled with water when there is dirt inside?

We Christians have turned to the world for much of our security, wellness, entertainment, and justice. We assume a certain measure of it is provided by God – that it is a part of His grace. On the other hand, we know that much of what the world offers is contrary to God’s purpose and glory.

It is easy to get confused about the things of this world and their place in God’s purposes and plans for His children. After all, the Scripture encourages us that… Read the rest of this entry »

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 at each of the major distributors (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.).

The title of this article is the subtitle of The Christian Mind, a fascinating book written by Harry Blamires in 1963. Beginning with the statement, “There is no longer a Christian mind”, this student of C. S. Lewis and contemporary of A. W. Tozer, argues that the church and its members have surrendered to secular thinking (even in regards to Christian subjects). He goes on to describe “the marks of a Christian mind”. I offer them here for your edification and encouragement.

As you consider these foundations of christianly thought, you may want to test yourself and your platoons. How much of your thinking is contextualized and guided by a Christian mindset? Calculate a percentage; give yourself a grade.

According to Blamire, the Christian mind is marked by:

  • Supernatural orientation: The Christian mind sees human life and human history held in the hands of God. It makes decisions in the context of eternity. It considers physical life as the smaller subset of Creation. It recognizes the existence of Heaven and Hell.
  • Awareness of evil: It is conscious of the universe as a battlefield between good and evil. It is aware and sensitive to the power and spread of evil upon the human race, beginning with mankind’s rebellion in the Garden. It recognizes that the world, and the powers of it, are in the grip of evil – an evil that manifests in three enemies: Satan and his hordes, the world and its systems, and the flesh with its carnal mindset.
  • Conception of truth: It recognizes the truth as: Absolute and uncompromisable; supernaturally grounded, not developed in nature; objective, not subjective; revealed, not constructed; discovered by inquiry, not determined by majority vote; and authoritative, not a matter of personal choice.
  • Acceptance of authority: It rejects rebellion – in all its forms – to willingly bow before the Sovereign God. It considers authority as estimable and something to pursue over one’s self, family, and friends. It understands the image and reality of loving authority – our Father in Heaven. It accepts surrender as the door to relationship with God, and giving preference for relationship with the brethren.
  • Concern for the person: It considers the human person as the only being created in the image of God. It appreciates the value God placed on the person – in Him becoming one. It values people above machines, and is wary of the life those machines provide for, and force upon, society. It embraces love for one another – and the same for enemies – as Christian distinctives. It rejects the classification of people based on temporal criteria, while recognizing that the weak are to receive particular attention.
  • Sacramental perspective: It recognizes the omnipresence of God in all of life, and the desire of God to make life joyful and rewarding. It looks for God and His influence in nature – and particularly in the creatures of His image. It appreciates the desires and longings and the hopes and dreams that have been deposited by God in every person.

Read the rest of this entry »

Praise God!! An Enemy Lies Within is now available for download at all major eBook outlets: Amazon Kindle, iBooks, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Goodreads, Kobo, etc. To those of you that prayed for us, donated to the project, and/or voted on the cover art: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for investing in this project.

Please continue to let others know about the eBook. Encourage them to join our community on Facebook. Let them know that introductory pricing ($3.99 versus $7.99) will continue for the month of February.

If you qualified for a free copy, let me know the eBook platform you prefer – so I can order the appropriate coupons. Some of you qualify for more than one free copy (one for every $10 donated toward the project). I encourage you to take full advantage of the offer. Sharing An Enemy Lies Within will help us expose and overcome the carnal mind throughout the Western church.

Let me know how many coupons you are expecting. I will give everyone a week to respond before ordering the coupon codes. For those of you that do not use an eBook reader, I can send you a copy in PDF or EPUB format. Just let me know.

There is still time to invest in this project. The eBook is only the first phase of our distribution strategy. We are working on the printable version now. I have engaged a copy editor and hope to also hire an illustrator and someone to help with social media promotion. Furthermore, I would like to print a few hundred copies to share at teaching events.

Lastly, please pray for wisdom (and resources) in three specific areas. First, I am considering whether or not to approach the larger publishing companies with this project. Secondly, someone has suggested that we develop an accompanying study guide. Both of these decisions affect the distribution strategy, budget, and timing.

Thirdly, please pray for Christian leaders with whom we might share An Enemy Lies Within; and opportunities to raise awareness of our #1 enemy through teaching and preaching. Call me (770.367.7612) with any leads or suggestions.

God bless you with courage to boldly speak the truth – particularly to the brethren.

Humbly Yours and Forever His,

Rob

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. Romans 8:5-7

The carnal mind is, by its very nature, self-seeking and rebellious; it can be nothing else. This is the source of its enmity with God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the desire to reason like God was forever linked to our fallen state.

This does not end when we are born again. We are given a new heart and spirit, but the mind remains carnal. Turning to our carnal mind – something most have been trained to do since kindergarten – invites the rebellion and sin of our carnal flesh.

Consequently, our carnal mind must be exposed and overcome. This is accomplished by the renewing of our mind – an iterative and ongoing process that depends on our submission to, and active participation with, the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2; 2Corinthians 3:18).

Our reckoning (logizomai) the truth of God’s word serves as a catalyst for the renewing of our mind. Together, reckoning and renewing are important steps in our becoming obedient to the faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26). Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the voting for the cover of An Enemy Lies Within. Cover #3 received slightly more votes that Cover #1. We are hoping to have the eBook available by the end of the year; your prayers are appreciated. The following is an excerpt from the book.

The Hidden Enemy

“The devil made me do it”, popularized by Flip Wilson in the 1970s, has found its way into the American church. It’s the way we like to think. The devil is our most popular enemy.

If we cannot blame the devil, there is always the world to point our finger at. Our government is a particularly favorite scapegoat. I experienced this several years ago while discussing the decline of Christian values in society with a brother in the Lord. Expressing a genuine and deep-seated frustration, he pointed in the direction of Washington, D.C. and said, “If they just hadn’t taken prayer out of school!”

I started to agree and then it occurred to me: If Christian parents taught their children the importance of prayer before every meal (and every class), prayer would still be in school. If Christian parents encouraged their children that God answers their prayers, students would be praying for every sick friend and teacher. God would be glorified!

Only Christians have the power to take prayer out of school. Depending on the government to keep it there is submitting to the wrong authority. Pointing our fingers at the government is blame-shifting. It’s all a bunch of bad thinking – and we don’t think twice about it.

It is time we came to terms with the enemy that lies within. It is time we recognized that we have three – not two – enemies trying to deceive us. Read the rest of this entry »

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