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Recently, we wrote about Suffering’s Role in Overcoming Our Flesh – how God uses suffering to drive a wedge between our spirit man and our flesh. You may recall that suffering exposes the character of our flesh (whiny, self-centered, blame-shifting, etc.) while at the same time encouraging us, as born-of-God spirit beings, to turn to God for comfort, endurance, and direction.

In the same way, the chaos we will continue to face through much of the 2020s is intended by God to drive a wedge between our spirit man and the world. The individuals, families, and fellowships who choose God’s way through the chaos will enjoy His grace and glory. Sadly, others will allow the chaos to further conform them to the world.

So, how do we join God in the process and help others do the same? The answer can be found in a few familiar passages.

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:3-4

Separation from our flesh and the world begins with trust in the LORD – for His grace and faithfulness in the process (Step 1). It will help to know that “the land” is His kingdom, and “delight” means to be soft (i.e., surrendered to His molding hands). The LORD owns the process and knows best how to apply it to His people.

Furthermore, the LORD puts His desire for separation into our hearts. These heart ties draw us into His presence and love, and sustain us when separation from our flesh and the world becomes difficult and painful. The Holy Spirit patiently waits for us to invite Him to stir up the desire of our heart for separation unto the LORD (Step 2). Read the rest of this entry »

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Romans 12:2 reveals two important things about the Christian mind. First, there is something wrong with it; it must be “renewed, renovated, and completely changed for the better (Blue Letter Bible, Outline of Biblical Usage, 2020).” Second, without this renewal, the Christian will remain both conformed to the world and unable to know and obey God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will.

The renewal of our minds – required for our transformation into Kingdom citizens – is more challenging than most Christians recognize. We are born with a nature that works hard to interpret the things we hear and read in ways that will not disrupt our established paradigms. We prefer to trust existing interpretations of Scripture and are encouraged to do so by our teachers.

Holding fast to sound doctrine is important, but resistance to paradigm shifts can leave us short on the truth. Therefore, it is important to recognize that the combined doctrines of man fall short of explaining God and His kingdom. Our maturation as Christians requires a humble approach to learning. We would do well to maintain an objective consideration of God’s word and the vastness of its truth.

What if, instead of relying on comfortable interpretations, we accepted the word of God as it is written, allowing it to challenge our paradigms? What if, instead of applying assumptions of hyperbole or metaphor to every passage that threatens us, we wrestled to grasp the depth of God’s word? With these challenges in mind, we offer a case in point from two statements found in John’s first epistle:

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 1John 3:9

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. 1John 5:18

Taken literally, the Holy Spirit (through John) claims that every Christian does not and cannot sin, because he has been born of God, because he keeps himself (i.e., attends to carefully, takes care of, guards), and because the wicked one has no influence over him. Take a moment to consider this claim literally; resist the temptation to explain it away. The implications are astounding!! Read the rest of this entry »

Jesus gave ten examples to help us understand that the kingdom is a matter of the heart. We will conclude our review of these here, as well as draw some general conclusion from Chapter 5. In these final examples, it is particularly easy to identify the “doing” associated with Jesus’ sayings – and that is a good thing.

However, we must remember that Jesus’ focus remains on our hearts, not our performance; the goal is to be made into kingdom citizens, not to make or justify ourselves. This is a very good thing; only the most immature Christian would think they could do these sayings in their own strength.

Love, Bless, Do Good, and Pray for Your Enemies

Several times in this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has used “You have heard…” to extend and enrich our understanding of the Father’s heart desire in the Law and the Prophets. As we will now discover, not only is our understanding potentially more limited and shallower than we would like, in at least one case, it might just be wrong.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:43-45

In this case, Jesus is addressing a humanly devised extension of the Law which was not intended by God. While they were told to love their neighbor (Leviticus 19:18), God never commanded the Israelites to conversely hate their enemies.

Israel had many nations as enemies, and God did identify a few who would suffer for their opposition to His people. However, these were exceptions. In fact, it was God’s intention to bless the nations through His people (a promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3). The religious rulers of Jesus’ day had turned a few specific references into a general rule. In doing so, they caused the entire nation to lose sight of God’s eternal plan. As a side note: We would be wise to recognize our own tendencies to do this very thing, particularly those of us who are teachers and preachers of the Word. Read the rest of this entry »

Jesus gave ten examples to help us understand that the kingdom is a matter of the heart. We will explore the first three here. As with most examples, it should be easier to identify the sayings we can be doing to build stronger houses, and that is a good thing. However, we must remember that Jesus’ focus remains on our hearts, not our performance; the goal is to be made into a kingdom citizen, not to make or justify ourselves.

Guarding Our Tongue

As you might expect, the sayings of Jesus are contrary to the ways of the world. In fact, they serve as a means of inspection: Has our house been weakened and compromised by conformance with the world? With the Holy Spirit’s help, the sayings of Jesus can get us back on the right track – being transformed.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

One of the more subtle and pervasive worldly deceptions can be found in the way Christians use their tongues. What we hear in the world tends to find its way into our vocabulary. In between the hearing and the saying, our minds are at risk of being conformed to the world.

It is time we went on the offensive in this regard. For most of us, there is a lot of conformance that must be undone; and replaced with the image of the glory of the Lord (2Corinthians 3:18). Before considering the following passage, ask the Holy Spirit to use it to renew your mind.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:21-22

The way we live with our brothers and sisters in Christ – particularly in the way we speak to one another – carries far greater consequence than we believe; for if we believed this passage, we would be truly fearful about the words we throw around at each other. James 3:6 warns that the tongue is a fire. Perhaps we should consider the “hell fire” it can be for those of us that fail to guard it. Read the rest of this entry »

And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of [Babylon], my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” Revelation 18:4

What is this Babylon of the Revelation? Some see it as a real city, the capital of the Antichrist’s new world order at the end of the age (the early church thought it was Rome). Others see Babylon as a symbol of sinful humanity and its capacity for self-delusion, pride, and depravity. This would include the systems of this world – government, education, entertainment, etc. – which war against the kingdom of God.

I am encouraged to ask a more important question: What is this Babylon to you?

What wars against the kingdom of God in your life?

The voice from God encourages us to come out of Babylon. The Holy Spirit draws us and stands by to guide us outside the camp to Jesus, to bear and share His reproach (Hebrews 13:13).

For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Hebrews 13:14

This journey out of Babylon and into the city of God passes through a narrow gate and down a difficult road (Matthew 7:14). Jesus encourages us to strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many will seek to enter and will not be able (Luke 13:24).

As much as our carnal minds would like to convince us otherwise, we must at some point move from seeking to enter, to striving. Seeking and striving are not the same. The seeker-friendly church and its message may serve some purpose, but it alone will leave untold numbers standing at the gate, wondering if there is more or deceived and camped out, only to be surprised when the books are opened.

God has provided the means and methods for avoiding such a surprise. Psalm 37:5 holds the key. Read the rest of this entry »

When the message of The Map Maker was coming into focus, several well-meaning workplace ministers counseled me to lead with something other than surrender, sacrifice, and submission. Had I been the pen, the book – and the ministry of inLight Consulting – might have followed their advice. To their credit, they were right in a way. The call to sacrifice has been a particularly difficult message for workplace leaders to hear.

But God would not have it. As The Map Maker, He insisted on the truth: Christian leadership requires counter-cultural sacrifice. At no other time is this more evident than in the midst of crisis and chaos. The COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point.

Perhaps a bit of context would be helpful. The Map Maker was written to help Christian leaders find joyful, Spirit-filled ministry in the workplace, by becoming disciple-making transformation agents. Of course, becoming a transformation agent first requires transformation. From The Map Maker perspective, transformation begins with surrender to the desires God has deposited into our hearts. It ends with the good work He created for us to supernaturally walk in, as we submit to the Holy Spirit.1

The preparatory journey from desire to good work requires sacrifice and includes chaos; the two go hand in hand. We know this from at least two perspectives. First, consider the Greek word translated as “transformed” in 2Corinthians 3:18 and Romans 12:2: Metamorphoo. Do you get the picture? How would you describe what’s going on inside that cocoon? Is it not the messy chaos of a caterpillar sacrificing some part of its previous life to become what God intended it to be?

God created the Greek language to help us understand the process He uses to make us into the instruments of His good work. Then He sent His Son to walk through the process with us. Read the rest of this entry »

The entire New Testament was written during a time of chaos. Indeed, God used each of the main characters as His instruments in creating the chaos that surrounded them. When God manifests Himself, chaos ensues. Chaos is not only normal for a Christian, it is a sign of God’s presence. In the chaos, the part of us that belongs to God has access to the peace of God that transcends all understanding. Still, we must allow the chaos to test and purify; we must allow it to shake out that which shall not remain (Hebrews 12:25-29).

When chaos finds its way into our lives, it creates a tension between our desire to maintain current normalcy and our finding the new normal which God is trying to work in us and through us (see Philippians 3:12 and 2Corinthians 3:18). Our carnal mind attempts to inhibit God’s work by distracting us and/or dissuading us of the notion that God is up to something. Those that notice themselves focused more on maintaining the status quo than on finding the next level of glory, should immediately suspect their carnal mind and invite the Holy Spirit to renew their thinking (Romans 2:12). Only then will we know the will of God in the chaos. Read the rest of this entry »

In times of uncertainty and chaos, it is important and possible for all Christians to avoid worldly fearfulness and carnal foolishness. This is particularly true of the Christians whom God has positioned with authority for leadership in the workplace. People in your spheres of influence will be looking to you.

Our prayer is that they will find you to be a house standing in the storm – a refuge of peace and sensibility. To that end, I humbly offer a few encouraging thoughts. These may not be new for you; meditate on them nevertheless, recognizing they are also for the edification of those in your spheres of influence.

First, it will help you to know that, for the Christian, chaos is normal. Almost every book in the New Testament promises it. 2Corinthians 3:18 is one of my favorite examples:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Greek word translated as “transformed” is metamorphoo. Metamorphoo offers a perfect word picture for the process God employs to mature us as Christians. Anyone who has ever seen the inside of a cocoon knows what a mess it is for an ugly caterpillar to become a beautiful butterfly. This transformation is “by the Spirit of the Lord”. In other words, the Holy Spirit is our transformer.

As leaders, we are blessed with the opportunity to be the vessel and instrument of God for the metamorphoo of those in our spheres of influence. Our only responsibility is to choose to participate in the work God is doing.

Second, it is particularly important in times of chaos to resist the temptation of turning to our carnal mind for advice. This is exactly what we have been taught for most of our lives. It is a lie and a deception. Read the rest of this entry »

I suspect, like me, you could use a little encouragement. It seems that we are turning the calendar into an increasingly uncertain and chaotic future. Perhaps God is stripping away our earthly foundations and shaking us free from the deceptions and distractions of the world, to get our attention and draw our gaze to His Son (2Corinthians 3:18).

Since the beginning of this ministry, we have taught that chaos is normal for the child of God. The Holy Spirit uses it to transform us from glory to glory – to work the bad stuff out and to work the good stuff in – all in preparation for God’s next assignment. That is our hope for you and those in your spheres of influence.

We can be encouraged that those submitted to His preparation (Philippians 2:13) will walk in the exceedingly abundant good work He has planned (Ephesians 3:20-21). Be encouraged that every good work is possible when it is by God’s grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). Patience in the preparation is necessary and critical, but the moment will come when we will walk out into His assignment – for His glory and our reward.

Year-end Report and Hope for the Future

2019 has been a year of faithfulness and preparation. By God’s grace, we have been faithful to make disciples who are transforming their spheres of influence. By God’s grace, we have been faithful to lead the ministries He has entrusted to our keeping. By God’s grace, we have been faithful to His preparation for more.

By God’s grace…

Two substantial matters of preparation will culminate in 2020. By God’s grace, I will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in Not-for-Profit Leadership. Please pray with us as we seek God’s purpose and plans for this education and the degree He has invested with us.

Secondly, An Enemy Lies Within will be published in early February. By God’s grace, this new book will expose the carnal mind as our #1 enemy and help Christians change the way they think and believe. God will use it to restore and renew the Western church. You can check out the preface here.

Of course, we want you to be a part of God’s good work through An Enemy Lies Within. Our marketing strategy depends on organic, grass-roots distribution of the book. We hope that you will buy An Enemy Lies Within for yourself, for those in your spheres of influence, and for the leaders you know. As you plan your end-of-year giving, please consider your participation in this life-changing endeavor.

We are also looking for a few individuals, companies, or ministries that wish to play a more substantial role in this project. If that is you, or someone you know, please contact me.

We are eternally grateful for your participation with us as instruments of God’s grace and glory. Your prayers, encouragement, and financial support are essential elements of His grace; and by His grace, we will continue to advance His kingdom together.

God bless you in the coming year with discernment, encouragement, and His presence in the chaos.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Last week, we suggested that the most important thing every disciple of Jesus Christ needs to know is the identity of their number one enemy. I lamented not knowing sooner in my life that my carnal mind has been an active and aggressive ally of Satan and the world since my childhood.

Not knowing for myself means I have been unable to share the same with the hundreds of people I have attempted to disciple over the years. Furthermore, every time I brought my carnal mind into the church, I was helping the enemy gain or strengthen their position in the camp I was at least partially responsible for protecting. The same is true for every sphere of influence God has entrusted to my responsibility.

Yes, it is a sobering thought.

It is counter-intuitive to think that well-intending Christians can be enemies of the church. Only as we recognize that an enemy lies within each one of us will we come to understand how this can be so. Failing to identify and deal with our carnal mind, we have not only injured ourselves; we have brought into our fellowships and ministries, the number one enemy of God’s kingdom. In doing so, we have helped open the door to Satan and the world.

Furthermore, concession to our carnal mind is a blatant form of double-mindedness. We have been given the mind of Christ; to trust in any other is idolatry. The carnal mind is at enmity with God, and can be nothing else (Romans 8:7).

These are hard words to write and read. Perhaps they are too harsh. Perhaps I am missing something. You be the judge of yourself and your ministry. As for me, I stand convinced and convicted. Something has to change. I must deal with my carnal mind.

If this has also cut you to the heart, then I dare say you and I are in good company… and the response remains the same. Read the rest of this entry »

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