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The Hearing of Faith

In this, the seventh installment of our series, we offer four spiritual disciplines for the hearing of faith.

Let’s begin by acknowledging that God is working in us to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). His work is that of a loving Father (Hebrews 12:5-11), bringing us up in His nurture and admonition (Ephesians 6:4). Incredibly, His good pleasure is to give us His kingdom (Luke 12:32).

Furthermore, it helps us to recognize that our Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit operate in process. They are process-oriented problem solvers. As we are discovering, the problem of overcoming our carnal mind is dependent on the process God has created for the maturing of our faith. The process of faith consists of at least seven discrete steps beginning with the word of God and being perfected in His good work (James 2:22) – the good work we are created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

For the purposes of our study, the disciplines are presented in four categories: Foundations, the hearing of faith, obedience to the faith, and the work of faith. The four foundational disciplines are covered in Part 1. Before we move on to the disciplines God has provided for the hearing of faith, let’s take a quick look at the definition and use of “discipline” in the New Testament. It should be enlightening. Read the rest of this entry »

This is the sixth article in our series on overcoming the carnal mind. I appreciate and applaud those of you that have come this far. I pray that you have been encouraged, edified and equipped – not only for yourself, but for those in your spheres of influence.

If these articles are blessing you, then they will be a blessing to others. Please pass them along – with encouragement – to the leaders you know. The church is in dire need of leaders that will search out deeper kingdom matters (Proverbs 25:2).

For those that are just joining us, we have, in previous articles:

  1. Made the case for attaching enemy status to our carnal minds;
  2. Provided five ways for exposing the carnal mind’s deceptive practices;
  3. Recognized our responsibility in taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ;
  4. Introduced the process of faith as God’s design for overcoming our carnal mind’s influence; and,
  5. Provided a layman’s explanation of the codependent relationship between faith and the mind.

While each of these stands alone fairly well, there is much to be gained by reading through them in order AND taking the time necessary for God to bless you along the way.

You will likely find that the second article is particularly challenging. Let me suggest that, rather than identify every deception before proceeding, you focus on one of two through an initial pass of the series – applying a few of the disciplines in overcoming those deceptions. You will then be better equipped for another iteration.

Speaking of disciplines, I appreciate your patience. If you are like me, nothing is more frustrating than to discover a gap and not know how to fill it. I have been looking forward to this myself, wondering how God would lay this out for us. Here we go. Read the rest of this entry »

In previous articles, we have:

  1. Made the case for attaching enemy status to our carnal minds;
  2. Provided five ways for exposing the carnal mind’s deceptive practices;
  3. Recognized our responsibility in taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ;
  4. Introduced the process of faith as God’s design for overcoming our carnal mind’s influence; and,
  5. Promised to introduce the disciplines God has provided to initiate and maximize His grace in the process of faith.

Begging your forgiveness, we have decided on a brief segue to share a relatively simple explanation of the relationship between our mind (or minds, should it come to that) and our faith. We will introduce the disciplines next time.

For those of you that require a summary statement:

Faith appropriates the grace of God that overcomes the influences of our carnal mind. This is accomplished throughout our lives as an iterative process – the process of faith – which is also an integral part of our ongoing salvation, transformation, sanctification, etc.

Now, for those interested in a layman’s humble explanation:

The Process of Faith and the Renewal of Our Minds

To begin, let me recognize that others may find exception to the following explanation. I think I would be surprised if someone did not. Much smarter theologians have explained it differently – and they don’t agree with each other. We are, it would seem, one of God’s most mysterious creations.

If you find yourself disagreeing, by all means, let me know what you think. In the meantime, don’t let disagreement get in the way of whatever blessing God may have for you here.

Before we are born again (as Jesus explains to Nicodemus in John 3), the physical organ we call “the brain” functions on behalf of our carnal mind and, to the extent that they influence that mind, on behalf of Satan and the world.

The mind and brain are not the same. The brain is the most incredible physical organ designed and created by God. Much has been written about the brain’s capabilities; we will not discuss those here.

In the most basic case, the brain processes sensory input, interacts with the mind concerning a response, and then directs the body in that response. Additionally, the brain is being programmed – beginning before birth – to respond automatically to external stimuli (e.g., smiling at a mother’s voice, shutting eyelids when something gets too close). These auto-responses can be self-protective, destructive, or neutral.

The mind functions at a higher level, in response to input from the brain and information that it retrieves from its storage cells. The mind gives direction to the brain both – and this is important – consciously and subconsciously. Our mind is where we think and reason; where we imagine and create. This too occurs consciously and subconsciously. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week’s article was primarily written to encourage you in identifying and exposing the ways our carnal mind attempts to deceive us (Phase One). In doing so, I may have also inadvertently communicated Phase Two of the strategy. You may recall two suggestions:

  1. Invite and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth.
  2. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.

These are certainly mission critical parts of our strategy. We should know where they fit by the end of this series (I am still working some things out). In the meantime, allow me to address the promise I made last week – to update “The Process of Faith” article (from 2017).

That faith would be one of our greatest weapons against deception is not something the average Christian would intuitively recognize. However, as we will see, God has designed the process of faith with necessary and critical steps which involve our minds (spiritual and carnal). The 2017 article broke the process down into five steps. Since then, some additional revelation (related to our mind) has come to light.

As you read through the process, consider the carnal mind’s active resistance in each step. It is aggressively working to distract us from the hearing of faith (steps 1 – 3), to reject or confuse our belief and reckoning of the truth (4 – 5), and to resist or subvert our obedience to the work of faith (6 – 8). Notice also how the mind of the new man is edified and empowered to overcome our enemies’ attempts at deception. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week I shared with you that the first phase of overcoming our carnal mind is identifying and exposing its deceptive ways. I listed five exercises to test the deception that has found its way into your life. Of course, these exercises are only effective as we invite and allow God to participate in each search and destroy mission.

Each of these exercises is essential and could take weeks to complete. Please, be encouraged: It will be worth your time and effort. Proceed as the Holy Spirit directs. By the way, it is encouraging to remember Jesus’ promise:

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth… John 16:13

As you discover, with the Spirit’s help, the deceptions of your carnal mind, He will guide you into a process that will empower you to overcome each and every deception that has been perpetrated against you. Remember, it is the truth that makes us free (John 8:32).

The process I am speaking of is the process of faith. That process is described – in part – in this article. The good LORD willing, I will write a part 2 that describes the remainder. Go ahead and read the first part; it will be helpful.

In conclusion, let me share something the Holy Spirit brought to my mind this morning.

When you are listening to someone, or reading something, and your mind says to you, “Oh, I’ve heard that before.”, be suspicious. That may be your carnal mind’s attempt at preserving the mindset it has helped create.

What should we do with such thoughts? The same thing we are commanded to do with every thought:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ 2Corinthians 10:4-5

The more I search this out, the more convinced I become that this subject is mission critical for the Western Church. There is much that we should be doing better (e.g., prayer, making disciples, seeking unity, ministering to the brethren). However, these things will be nothing but wood, hay, and stubble if they are not done in Spirit and in truth. We – I mean leaders in the Western Church – have got to get our minds right.

God bless you for your attention to these matters. Persevere and He will make you a catalyst for restoration. Please share with the leaders you know.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

The way we think affects our reception of external stimuli, our processing of it, and our response to it. Most of us think without thinking about the way we think. In a sense, thinking comes naturally to us.

So why think about thinking?

Consider the young baseball player who wants to be a great hitter. If he is the rare “natural”, he will step in the batter’s box with little forethought and hit most anything thrown to him. The vast majority are not so gifted.

At the most elementary level, a hitter must think about the way he is standing in the batter’s box. He must think about how to hold the bat, and to rotate his wrists when swinging. He must learn the strike zone and the field of play.

Beyond the elementary, if he has a good batting instructor, he will learn and consider the repertoire of pitches he will be required to hit. He will come to recognize that the pitcher is trying to deceive him with the change-up and slider.

At a deeper level, an accomplished hitter will start to think about the way he is thinking when he steps into the batter’s box. He will have a plan. He will have mentally rehearsed the plan. The best hitters “get into the head of the pitcher” – both discerning what the next pitch will be, and affecting the choice.

In summary, those that think before they do something are more successful at the task than those that don’t. Similarly, those that think about their thinking become better thinkers (and doers).

The lies of our life

Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowPlease allow me a bit of recall: Back in November of 2014, the Lord encouraged me to write a series of articles on what we are calling “The Foundations”. Convinced (and I still am) that “A Storm is Coming”; I put down the foundations to focus on the spiritual preparation of my house and the houses of people in my spheres of influence.

The preparations are ongoing and have included “The Sayings of Mine” series. That work is now finished; and I find myself drawn back to the foundations. I hope you will join me in searching out these matters and mysteries (Proverbs 25:2).

The Foundations are a dozen or so fundamental truths that have been lost by most of the church in America. I admit these are limited by the perspective the Lord has allowed for me. If you know of other lost foundational truths, I encourage you to share them.

For more on the series, and why God has encouraged me to write it, check out The Foundations – Confession and Introduction. If you are encouraged to do so, you can read the first nine foundations by following these links:

  1. The Story is About Him
  2. Fishing is More than Evangelism
  3. The Fear of the LORD
  4. The Gospel of the Kingdom
  5. First, Count the Cost
  6. Salvation is a Process
  7. The Doctrine of Christ
  8. The Way is Difficult
  9. There is Work to be Done
  10. Repentance from Dead Works

These are not your normal 500 word blog articles. They will require some dedicated time to digest; and additional time for processing (I mean them processing us, not the other way around). Take all the time you need. They are not going anywhere; and neither is our Teacher.

In closing, let me encourage you to use these foundations in your discipling of others. The word of God contained in each article will speak for itself. It does not need you or me to defend it. It may not mean exactly what we think it means, but it must mean something. In fact, it may mean even more than we think. God speaks in community.

God bless your searching with His glory and your transformation.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Multi-ethnic pile of handsThere was a time in my life when I would pass over sections of Scripture because they were beyond my understanding. At the time, I didn’t understand how serious God was about our being faithful stewards of the mysteries of His kingdom. I didn’t realize that there were things hidden for me to search out. I also wasn’t aware that He had a “way” of searching that would open up the mysteries of His word. I call this way: The “and” of searching in community.

I discovered this way through a contrast of meetings that providentially happened within a week of each other. In the first meeting, I saw – even felt – the tension rise in the room when the teacher introduced the topic of baptism. At least half the participants moved to the edge of their chairs waiting, it seemed, to hear the teacher say something that they did not agree with. I am convinced that their ears were closed to hearing, and the Spirit was grieved.

The second meeting was a blessed contrast. As with the first, there were people from various denominations. I am sure that each had a different understanding of the topic: Communion. But their hearts were softer towards God word, and each other. They were not looking to be right. They just wanted to know the truth; and knew they didn’t know it all. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowMost of Jesus’ sayings in the Sermon on the Mount – you know, those saying that we are to do – are truly beyond our human ability. They are only accomplished by the life of Jesus Christ, Who is in us. However, there are some sayings that appear quite easy to obey; making it all the more amazing that we would chose to do something in complete opposition to what He has said. I truly don’t understand how we excuse ourselves.

Consider the matter of oath taking. Jesus said:

Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’  But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.  But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. Matthew 5:33-37

It could not be more clear: Whatever is more than our “yes” and “no” is from the evil one. Why then do so many followers of Jesus Christ submit to the courts of this nation, put one hand on a Bible, raise the other, and swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Is this not taking an oath? Does it make it okay – or does it make it worse – that a Bible is used in this evil process?

These questions lead us to a deeper kingdom principle; something deeper than dos and don’ts. For those with eyes to see, this is a great example of the subtly of the evil one’s deception; leading to our conformity to the world.

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

We would be wise to examine ourselves in light of this discovery. Our minds may be less renewed than we presume. If we would so casually do something that is from the evil one, what other deceptions might there be in our minds? Just how conformed to the world are we?

Make no mistake about it: Deception is our enemies’ greatest weapon, particularly in these last days. We must remain suspicious of the way we think. We must be on guard against the wiles of the Devil.

God’s will in this matter of oath taking is good, acceptable and perfect. Jesus made it abundantly clear; and He gave us a very simple task/test for our doing “these sayings of Mine”. Let us renew our minds in this area, and in the many other sayings of our Lord and Savior.

God bless you with an awareness and diligence for rooting out the deception in your life.

Humbly Yours and Forever His,

the light of GodSearching out the matters of God is a great adventure. Sometimes we find connections that expand the meaning of both passages and enlarge our faith. Other times, it is what we don’t find – initially – that leads to the treasure of truth.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. John 8:12 NKJV

Before I tell you what I didn’t find and what it means, let me point out that my discovery would not have been possible had the man that is discipling me not shown it to me. In turn, as Jesus commands, I am showing it to you. And so, what are you going to do with it?

What my friend showed me is that most translations – including word-for-word translations like KJV, NKJV and NASB – omit the direct article “the”, in many places; as many as eighty, though I suspect there are more. John 8:12 contains two of them. Can you guess where they are? Young’s literal translation will help.

Again, therefore, Jesus spake to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who is following me shall not walk in the darkness, but he shall have the light of the life.” John 8:12 YLT

That’s right; darkness and life have direct articles in the original Greek manuscripts. To understand the meaning of the first, let’s look at the definition. Read the rest of this entry »

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