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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 »

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 »

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