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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 »

This book may not be for everyone. If your mind is completely renewed and continually set on things above, and if you continually take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, then you will not profit from the revelations and strategies offered here.

For the rest of us, there is a desperate need to give attention to the carnal mind’s methods and maneuvers; it’s deceptions and distractions. I know this first hand. My carnal mind has played tricks on me for the entirety of my life. God continues to reveal the foothold it has established and the damage it has done.

There are others who would rather not be bothered and challenged by self-examination. They are holding on to the possibility that these things will work themselves out without too much involvement and effort on their part. Some have gone so far as to assume that the war for our souls is over.

Beware! This is exactly what our carnal minds would have us accept and believe. Passivity and procrastination are two of its favorite weapons; for they draw very little attention – allowing our carnal mind to remain undetected within the camp. I speak from personal experience.

This hiddenness is quite the phenomenon, particularly when you consider the power and importance that has been awarded to the canal mind in this Age of Reason. Indeed, the carnal mind has been placed upon something more than a pedestal. The carnal mind now occupies a throne! Guess who put it there.

The carnal mind (our collective carnal minds, to be exact) has managed to place itself on a throne for all of mankind to worship!

This truly is an incredible accomplishment. Think about it. Consider our carnal minds’ creative trickery in the American education system. From kindergarten through high school, we are trained to depend on our ability to reason until finally, at the university, it is worshipped. Indeed, mankind believes in the power of reason. Few question the destruction it has wrought.

That brings me to the purpose of this book – to encourage Christians to think about how they are thinking; to recognize we not only allow the enemy to reside in the camp, but we turn to it for counsel and advise. It is no wonder we cannot get the lost world to think differently. Generally speaking, we are not thinking right ourselves.

The “grace of God” is foundational to the Christian faith. So why is there so much confusion regarding its meaning? Here’s an exercise to prove my point. Ask ten of your friends, separately, what grace means to them. How many different answers did you get? How many come close to the Biblical definition?

If your experience is like mine, many of the answers you receive will be limited to some work of God. Most Christians in America equate God’s grace with Jesus’ death for their salvation. This is what they have been taught or allowed to believe.

From the Outline of Biblical Usage (https://www.blueletterbible.org), we find that the charis of God is “the merciful kindness [goodwill and favor] by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”

Did you get all that?

Grace is not an act of God, nor is it an event. Talking about grace in this way diminishes its meaning – and our understanding of God. Grace is a facet of God’s nature. God is gracious. Those that enter His presence are blessed by His gracious character.

I have heard someone say that grace is the disposition of God toward mankind. This sounds right to me. They go on to say that the grace of God produces things that are beneficial to man: justification, salvation, gifts, fruit, etc. It is important to remember that these benefits are not grace, but its products.

Furthermore, most have been taught or left to believe that grace and its benefits are free. This is wrong on two accounts. First, grace, as a nature of God, cannot be labeled as free (or costly). The Bible never speaks of grace in this way.

Some will acquiesce to this point, and move to argue that the benefits of grace are free. There are several passages they might reference. Let’s start with a couple from Romans. 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 »

SEPTEMBER EDITION

The Lord recently ordered me to dedicate the first two hours of my day to writing. As many of you have heard me say, “I am just the pen.” Those words fail to communicate the depth of joy I find in this relationship with the Author. Let me explain.

I discovered a passion for creative writing in the 12th grade. I wish I could remember the name of the teacher that encouraged me. I would like to thank her – and use her name on the “Who was your favorite teacher?” security question. I also want to encourage her for the way God used her for His eternal purpose in my life.

Regrettably, the only creative writing I did in college was to my best friend and future wife. My course work and subsequent vocation did not require it, and there was no one there to encourage the passion. And so, it just got away from me.

That lost and forgotten passion did not show up again until we launched inLight Consulting – roughly 30 years later. Honestly, I was more than a little surprised to discover that God had a use for something I had completely forgotten. It was like discovering a treasure I had unknowingly misplaced in my attic (ahh, what else might be up there?).

Recently, I have been wondering about “joy” – particularly its presence in my life and the overflow of it on to others. Frankly, I wonder why there is not more. I’m searching out the matter and hope to share some of my discovery in the future.

For now, I just want to recognize and testify that I find joy in being God’s pen. I am so very grateful for those of you that have encouraged and supported that part of the inLight adventure. I very much want you to appreciate that God has used you, much like my 12th grade teacher, to accomplish this purpose in my life. 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 »

Obedience to the Faith

Through Him [Jesus] we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ… Romans 1:5-6

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith – to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. Romans 16:25-27

As you can see, the New King James Version (my favorite translation) identifies the second phase of the faith process as “obedience to the faith”. Other translations have “obedience of faith”. In either case, Paul is describing a phase of the faith process distinctly different from our  third and final phase, the work of faith.

Obedience to the faith and the work of faith are closing related – even dependent. However, the relationship and dependency of two things does not make them the same thing; and, while it is easier to consider them the same, we must resist the temptation. Our minds are capable of understanding the important differences and will be better off for the effort.

Faith does not empower obedience; faith demands and requires our obedience. It can also be said that obedience must be given to faith for faith to flourish. This begs three significant questions:

  1. If faith does not empower obedience, then what does?
  2. How does obedience meet the requirements and demands of faith?
  3. How does one give their obedience to the faith?

Romans 1:5 (above) gives us the answer to our first question. Obedience to the faith is empowered by God’s grace and His calling (e.g., to be an apostle). As we’ve discussed previously, God’s grace is appropriated by faith (Ephesians 2:8). Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).

God’s calling naturally comes by His word, as well. And so, we discover that God’s grace and calling originate in the hearing of faith – the first phase of the faith process.

In regards to our second question: Obedience ultimately meets faith’s requirements and demands through the work of faith (the subject of our next article).

Here, we seek to discover the answer to our third question: How does one give their obedience to the faith? Or, said another way, how does someone transition from the hearing of faith to that hearing’s perfection in the work of faith? As you might have guessed by now, we do so through a disciplined life. Read the rest of this entry »

For the love of money is a root of all the evils, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1Timothy 6:10

Materialism is a mindset that substitutes the things of this world for the promises of God. This includes security, comfort, peace, joy, etc. In the Scriptures, materialism is called by another name:  Idolatry.

The use of “wandered” – in the verse above – is interesting. In the Greek, it means “to go astray, stray away from”.  It is a passive action; like a child wandering away from his mother.

In other words, materialism is not something we actively set our minds to pursue, like adultery or murder. It comes to us like an unseen toxin or cancer, many times wrap in attractive packaging. We don’t have to ask for materialism; it is an active agent – a catalyst for many kinds of sin.

Most American Christians are born into materialism. It is a big part of our culture – an inherent measure of the American Dream. “Keeping up with the Joneses”, once viewed as a negative pursuit, has now become an obligation. Homeowners’ association and our kids demand it. We have been deceived into thinking that making our neighbors and children happy is a redeeming activity. In reality, it is simply an excuse to procure more stuff.

From a Romanian pastor: “In my experience, 95% of the believers who face the test of external persecution pass it, while 95% of those who face the test of prosperity fail it!” Church leaders in China are recognizing the same threat. While persecution serves as a catalyst for church growth, China’s newfound prosperity is drawing believers away.

Assuming that Americans are somehow immune to this disease is both arrogant and dangerous – for ourselves and our children. To avoid or break free from the poison of materialism, we must recognize and respect it as our enemy. We must set our minds against it.

Once we acknowledge the potential for brokenness in the set of our mind, we become free and empowered to a healthy suspicion of the way we think and the affect that thinking has on our hearts. At this point, we must be particularly cautious.

Read the rest of this entry »

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:19

The birth of inLight Consulting came when God asked me, “What is the desire of your heart?” I looked into my heart to find that He was stirring the desire “to help Christian leaders find joyful, Spirit-filled ministry” (and yes, that is a quote).

Through many subsequent conversations with Him, and His careful orchestration of events, I discovered that His mission for us is to “encourage, edify and equip workplace leaders to become disciple makers and transformation agents in their spheres of influence.” One product of our mission has been the capture and communication of a disciple-making and transformation process, in a book entitled The Map Maker. Note: I was just the pen.

Several years ago, God began stirring a new and related desire: To be His instrument in building houses that will stand in a storm (from Matthew 7:24-27). When storms come into the lives of individuals and groups in our spheres of influence, many will experience the destruction of their house. In that season of chaos, they will turn to God or to the world for help. My hope is there will be a strong house standing nearby – a Christian leader that can show them the way to restoration; and to walk with them into a strong relationship with the LORD.

The Church at this moment needs men, the right kind of men, bold men… They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious act out of mere custom; nor will they allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation (A. W. Tozer; Of God and Men, pp. 11-13).

Tozer wrote Of God and Men in the middle of the 20th Century. “The right kind of men, bold men” are needed now more than ever before. For some reason only known to Him, God has determined to use me to help Christian leaders become bold and courageous. If you want that kind of help, here is your invitation.

The Invitation

An individual I have been discipling for some time recently asked me to teach The Map Maker to a group of workplace leaders in his church. This has been a triple blessing: Coming along-side a disciple to help him make disciples is what inLight is all about. Being used by God to teach the foundations and mysteries of the Kingdom is my passion. Developing new approaches to teaching The Map Maker will enable us to reach similar groups.

I believe God would have me continue teaching The Map Maker to small groups – either in person or online. This can be done in as little as eight weeks. As always, He would have me do it at no charge. It is His investment of me for the advancement of His kingdom. That is blessing enough.

This offer is my part. I will wait to hear from those that desire to be encouraged, edified and equipped. Please share this with Christian leaders that God puts on your heart.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

There once was a steward. We’ll call him Stewart. Stewart the steward – catchy name.

Stewart was given responsibility for a vineyard. It wasn’t a big vineyard, but it had potential. The Master of the vineyard, after encouraging Stewart to invest himself wisely, left for a faraway land.

For a time, Stewart enjoyed watching over the vineyard that had been left to his keeping. He cherished and nurtured each vine. He did his best to help every vine produce the best tasting fruit possible. Stewart felt that he was accomplishing something important for the Master.

As He had promised, the Master periodically looked in on Stewart. He always had an encouraging word – a “well done, faithful steward.”

Stewart the steward had done well. Each year, the fruit produced by the Master’s vineyard tasted sweeter than the year before. The fame of the vineyard began to spread, first in the town and then across the country side.

One day, Stewart decided to ask the Master to give him a larger vineyard to manage. The Master, pleased by Stewart’s request, asked His Father. The Master’s Father, without an explanation we are aware of, said, “No”. Forever obedient, the Master passed along His Father’s decision.

Regrettably (and predictably), Stewart the steward was not happy. He knew he could do more for the Master’s kingdom. He knew he could make his vineyard (oops!) the biggest and sweetest in the whole region; maybe even in the whole land.

Looking out over his vineyard, Steward decided to take matters into his own hands. He would grow his vineyard with or without the Master blessing. And that is what he set out to do.

Read the rest of this entry »

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