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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 have spent much of my Christian life believing the false hyperbole of God’s unconditional love. Why? Because this notion has been promoted by many well-meaning icons of the faith, and repeated by many well-meaning pastors and teachers. And frankly, it just sounds good to me.

The problem is, neither the sound of a truth claim, nor the well-meaning behind its proclamation, makes a truth claim true.

At this point, I suspect more than a few of you are disturbed by this counter claim. That is what happens when our more comfortable paradigms are challenged. It may help you to know that other icons of the faith have also refuted this notion, most notably John MacArthur and R. C. Sproul.

I know what you are thinking: Perhaps MacArthur and Sproul are wrong. So, let’s see what the Bible has to say about the subject. We will do it quickly, because I am actually trying to get to another matter.

It seems to me that John 14:21 puts the matter quickly to rest.

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.

The love of the Father and His Son is conditional to our love for Jesus, which is expressed in our having (to hold fast) and keeping (to attend to carefully) His commandments. Some have tried to reinterpret this by exchanging the two phrases in the first sentence – something like, “he who loves Me will be empowered to keep My commandments”. None of the translations provided by BlueLetterBible.org support this understanding.

Others use John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 to argue God’s unconditional love. After refuting this argument, I will use the same verse to assert something very different and very critical to our relationships with God and the brethren.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

In John 3:16, we see that the love of God expressed in His offer of salvation is reserved for those that believe in Him (a condition). Furthermore, those that believe are the “us” of Romans 5:8. Our belief is another condition of God’s love toward us (along with the loving obedience of John 14:21). As difficult as it may be on our paradigms, we must either accept the conditionality of God’s love or remove these passages from our religious vernacular.

Before moving on, I must strongly encourage you to search out this matter for yourself. You will find that the “unconditional love of God” deception has created more damage than one might imagine. Raising those concerns is not my objective here; I have another matter to share. Read the rest of this entry »

As we have asserted in the past, God is a process-oriented problem solver. Salvation, transformation, sanctification, etc. – all the ways of God are processes, not events. This is a critical paradigm shift for anyone determined to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

In the New Covenant, God has taken responsibility for the lion’s share of these processes.

  • We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
  • He is working in us to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13b).

Our responsibility is to do what we can to participate with Him in the processes. His grace is appropriated by our faith. We must walk in the good works He has prepared for us (not do them, as most translations have it). We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:13a).

Let me stop here and quickly acknowledge that God has grace (i.e., enabling power) for even our part in the processes He has created and prescribed. We are left with little more than choosing Him and His ways. This includes the process of faith.

The Process

Faith is our entry point into every one of God’s processes. The righteous shall live by faith (Romans 1:17); and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). We do ourselves great harm in thinking that faith is passive and/or simply an event. The Scriptures are clear on this matter: the process of faith consists of three progressive phases.

The hearing of faith: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Genuine followers of Christ have been given ears to hear (Matthew 13:16). It is time we used them (Matthew 11:13). Hearing requires listening; listening takes time and requires attention.

Obedience to the faith: The preposition here is important. Our faith does not produce obedience (of). We must choose to obey the word of God that we are given for faith. We present our body as a living sacrifice and allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2), reckoning the truth of God’s word as true for ourselves – that we are instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:11-14).

The work of faith: The work of faith is an inward (Philippians 2:13) and an outward work (Ephesians 3:20). Faith without work is dead (James 2:14-26). The work of faith associated with the word of God is more than a product of faith; it is the catalyst that brings our faith to life. Read the rest of this entry »

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 used this young man and our conversation to challenge me on two fronts. First, He reminded me that the fear of conflict is unhealthy, and particularly so when it inhibits our sharing the truth with someone. We are encouraged to commit our way to the LORD, trusting Him to accomplish what He intends (Psalm 37:5). I must stop avoiding conflicts that sharing the truth might create.

I prefer to believe that my resistance in this area comes from genuine concern that I might injure someone with my version and presentation of the truth. 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; it is cowardice.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear (timidity, fearfulness, cowardice), but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2Timothy 1:7

I must 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 also used this young man and our conversation to challenge me regarding gaps in my own life – to vigorously seek and destroy the deceptions I have allowed. This conviction contains two applications:

  1. Leaders are responsible to God for helping others discover and overcome the deceptions of their carnal mind. We cannot effectively call or lead someone out of deception when we are willing to accommodate it in our own lives.
  2. Transformation requires the stripping away of our conditional responses to God’s offers of grace.

This second application requires some explanation. One of my heart’s strongest 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 into agents of transformation, we must join the Holy Spirit in searching out our conditional responses to God’s grace, and take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5). This prayer should 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

The activities we engage in are either good or bad; there is no gray area for the followers of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, righteousness is not the polar opposite of unrighteousness (i.e., the most vile of sins); these two conditions are separated by a very thin line – a line which is easily crossed from moment to moment.

While the good and bad of many activities are obvious, most lie somewhere in between the extremes and can only be identified as good or bad based on God’s will and our faith. This leaves room for a lot of interpretation, presumption, and deception. Even the best of persons can fall into the trap of excusing their choices (and our enemies are standing by to help).

To rightly discern the right or wrong of an action, activity, or general direction in life, we are best served by submission to a guide – to walk in the Spirit. Doing so protects us from fulfilling the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). This journey – walking in the Spirit and following Christ – requires an overarching relationship and an undergirding foundation. In between, we walk in the good works of our Father according to His willing and working in us to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

It will help us greatly to recognize each activity – no matter how short-lived or insignificant – as important to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are all collected for judgment; the “whatever” and “all” of “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17)” is not misplaced. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear precious child of God,

The fear of works-based salvation has pushed many into a terrible disadvantage. We have neglected the disciplines of faith for far too long. Of course, the deceptive fears put forward by our carnal mind are not totally to blame. We have allowed the world to make our lives too busy for any concentrated effort toward spiritual maturity. And then there is the Devil, constantly questioning God’s promise to work in us to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

Our latest book, An Enemy Lies Within, encourages the practice of Biblical disciplines for the exercise of our faith in overcoming our carnal mind. When we were reborn, God gave us a new heart; the mind must be renewed. It is with the heart that we believe unto salvation; and that is a lifelong process.

Several of the disciplines encourage, enable, and empower our joining the Holy Spirit is this work of transformation. They include solitude, contemplation, prayer, fasting, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

An Enemy Lies Within flips the script by leveraging our God-given heart against the deceptions and control tactics of our carnal mind. The eBook is available from all the usual platforms. We have left it at the introductory price of $3.99. Let me know if you need a coupon code for a free copy.

I also strongly recommend The Spirit of the Disciplines, by the late Dallas Willard. It is a bit more academic than An Enemy Lies Within, but well worth the read. I highly recommend it. Here are two excerpts:

“…what are the disciplines for the spiritual life? The disciplines are activities of mind and body purposefully undertaken, to bring our personality and total being into effective cooperation with the divine order (Willard, 1988).”

“Who are the great ones in The Way, what are the significant movements in the history of the church that do not bear the deep and pervasive imprint of the disciplines for the spiritual life? If there are none, what leads us to believe that we might be an exception to the rule and might know the power of the Kingdom life without the appropriate disciplines (Willard, 1988)?”

Please accept our challenge to pursue one or two of the spiritual disciplines this year. Let me know how I can help. Also, this is a particularly important matter for Christian leaders in the workplace. Share this newsletter as an encouragement for their spiritual growth. The church desperately needs them.

God bless you with renewed desire and passion for the advance of His kingdom in your spheres of influence.

Updates and Prayer Requests

  • We are grateful to God for the prayers and support for the An Enemy Lies Within project. A publisher has agreed to take on the project and is currently working on the first proof and edit pass.
  • In regard to my school adventure, I have one week remaining in this semester. Fall semester begins in approximately two weeks. Your prayers for wisdom and perseverance have been effectual.
  • The Father recently stirred the desire of my heart for teaching. It was unexpected – particularly given my current workload at Huntington University. A four-week opportunity has opened up, with a friend’s Sunday School class. The Father is an exquisite orchestrator!
  • 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. Pray for continued wisdom and courage 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.

Partnering with inLight Consulting

God’s purpose for inLight Consulting is beyond human capability. We are desperately dependent on Him; and would have it no other way. We are grateful for the continued support of those that trust God to use this ministry to further His kingdom.  Please pray for our vision and mission.

Share the truths you find here with the leaders in your life; it will make them free.

God bless you with wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; and may He give you the grace and courage to walk in the work He has prepared for you.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Willard, D. (1988). The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus contains some of the most incredible promises of God and declarations regarding our relationship with Him. It is filled with passages that stretch our imagination, challenge our faith, and call us to a transcendent life.

His power is toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Ephesians 1:19).

God made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (2:6).

We are His workmanship (2:10).

As amazing as these claims are, they serve as mere warm-ups for what may be the most audacious promise in all of Scripture.

…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (3:19b).

Read it again; notice the absolutes:

Not partially filled!

Not some of God’s fullness!

We may be filled with ALL of the fullness of God!!

This is one of those truths, so over the top incredible, that we are tempted to move on to the next verse. In this case, that’s not bad.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us… (3:20)

God alone is able to do this incredible thing!! It is His work and intention. This brings to mind another passage (from another letter).

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

Quickly (so we can get back to being filled), notice that the work of our salvation is cooperative; we work, because God is working. Furthermore, the work is a process.

So, how do we work with God to be filled with all His fullness? We find the answer – the prescription – in the process described in the preceding verses. Working backwards, our being filled with all the fullness of God is dependent on and proportional to several incremental steps. 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

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

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