Our Purpose

Approximately ten years ago, I attended a lecture on the physiology of the brain – at a workplace leaders’ conference. What was I doing at such a lecture? What was such a lecture doing at a workplace leaders’ conference? God orchestrated that lecture, at that event, for my edification and encouragement.

The presenter showed us how scientists observe physical changes in the brain of patients recovering from alcoholism; that new electronic pathways are created over time. It occurred to me that this research scientist was talking about the renewal of the mind. I came to understand that the renewal of the mind is as much a supernatural miracle – at the physical level – as the healing of terminal cancer through prayer (something I have also witnessed). The notion captivated me.

This discovery connected well with my prior vocation, where I worked with a team of enterprise architects to change the way banking executives thought about the use of technology. Our ultimate purpose was to transform their business with technology. We called this “changing their paradigm”. The analogous term in Scripture is “mindset”; others prefer “worldview”.

Whatever you prefer to call it, I spent more than a decade in the technology field proving that changing someone’s paradigm is much easier said than done. As promising as technology was to their bottom line, the executives I worked with resisted us religiously. Why? Because it required them to change the way they did business – to transform their thinking about work.

The ensuing twelve years of workplace ministry have proven that the mind’s resilience to change exists in every sphere – no less with my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is lamentable; for our transformation into the image of the glory of the Lord requires the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2; 2Corinthians 3:18).

Over the years, this matter of the mind has become increasingly important to me. I have tried to make it important to others. And so, we’ve come to the writing of this short thesis and study – to encourage and help Christians think about the way we think, and to empower them to think in line with God’s prescription for the renewing of our minds.

Ultimately, my hopes and prayers are for transformation and reformation of the church in America.

Our Thesis

The church in America desperately needs a reformation. Where do reformations begin if not with repentance? According to Strong’s Concordance, repentance means “a change of mind”. Not what you expected, right? I too was surprised. Most consider repentance to be a matter of behavior. As we will discover, true repentance leads to a change in behavior for those that first change their mindset.

This brings us to Romans 12:2, where we are encouraged to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Perhaps, in the Age of Reason, we need a reformation in the way we think. We need to start seriously and soberly thinking about the way we think as Christians. This is easier said than done.

We have gotten lazy with our thinking. We trust our thinking way too much. Those of us that preach and teach trust the thinking of others more than we should. The results are obvious; and they are not good. It is time we tried something different.

God is a process-oriented problem solver; He uses processes to solve problems. For example, God uses the salvation process to solve the problem of our rebellious separation from Him. Our lack of holiness is also a problem – solved by sanctification. More to the point of this study, we have a problem with our minds. We need a process from God.

The process God has given us for the renewal of our minds is the process of faith. The process of faith, beginning with the word of God (Romans 11:17), produces the good work of God which we are created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). The renewal of the mind must occur for His word to manifest in His good work.

Indeed, the perfecting of our faith is co-dependent with the renewal of our minds. It is heartening – and not surprising – to know that the key to our reformation is the process of faith. We will search this out extensively in this study.

The Study

God has given me a mind for process. Almost everything we write about is related to one process or another. God and I also share an affinity for war imagery. Consequently, this study follows the process for overcoming an enemy.

  1. Recognize and acknowledge the enemy
  2. Discover the enemy’s tactics
  3. Intercept and analyze the enemy’s communications
  4. Tear down the enemy’s operation
  5. Undo the damage that has been done
  6. Turn that which was intended for evil into good
  7. Repeat until the enemy has been completely eradicated

The enemy that we must overcome is our carnal mind. Its influence is far greater than we imagine. This study will empower Christians to overcome that influence – one building, field and town at a time. I have been through this process myself – several times. As with most of God’s processes, it is iterative and continuous.

Those that practice this process and come to understand the process of faith will be empowered to use this study to disciple others. That is the underlying purpose of everything we do at inLight Consulting: To encourage, edify and equip leaders to become disciple makers and transformation agents.

This study is a journey – with battles along the way. Don’t take this journey alone. Find another to go with you – perhaps your entire platoon. You will go farther and with greater impact.

You will find that this battle is divided into three parts. Here are a few thoughts about each one.

Part One – Reconnaissance : Encompassing the first two steps in our process, this section is dedicated to identifying, recognizing, and understanding more about our enemy. The infamous Pogo quote, “We have met the enemy, and he is us”, comes to mind.

Harry Blamires opens his seminal book, The Christian Mind, with a surprising statement: “There is no longer a Christian mind.” He goes on to argue – quite convincingly – that Christians have forgotten how to think Christianly. Now get this: Blamires made this observation over sixty years ago!

Generally speaking, Christians no longer realize this is even an issue. The deception runs deep. By exposing the carnal mind and several of its tactics, we hope to encourage a renewed level of Christianly thinking.

Part Two – The Mind and Faith Connection: God has a way for everything. His ways are exquisite, amazing, and mysterious in their design. Graciously, He gives them to us in ways that babes can enjoy. Notice, I did not say understand. Sometimes we have to commit our way to Him, trust also in Him; and He will bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5). Understanding only comes through obedience and exercise.

The process of faith is a wonderous example of God’s intelligent design. The relationship that exists between the perfecting of our faith and the renewing of our mind is awesome. I mean AWESOME! Neither is possible without the other; they are co-dependent. We hope that understanding the process will encourage and empower you in your faith journey.

This section addresses battle steps three through six. It introduces sixteen disciplines that can be used to overcome the carnal mind and its effects on the rest of our being (e.g., heart and soul), our relationship with God, and our relationship with others. Don’t freak out; you will not be encouraged to incorporate all sixteen into your already busy life. The Holy Spirit will guide you; trust in Him.

Part Three – Liberating Others: You’ve seen it in the movies (some of you in real life): men rescued from enemy captivity wanting nothing but to return to the battle to liberate others. Those are our heroes – the ones we hope to emulate. Jesus calls it “making disciples”. He was sent to set the captives free (Luke 4:18-19). As the Father sent Him, so He sends us (John 20:21).

With this in mind, the third section provides encouragement and guidance in step seven of our process – the opportunity to more fully eradicate the enemy from our lives and from the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ. It presents four ways in which Christian thinking should be challenged.

These challenges are offered humbly by one who recognizes his own contribution to the issues – one who is not so naïve as to think he has it all figured out. That’s why I prefer platoons. They keep it real and keep me honest.

Definition of Terms

As a steward of the mysteries of God – as we all should be – I have found the definition of terms to be incredibly edifying. For example, understanding that metamorphoo is translated as transformed (Romans 12:2 and 2Corinthians 3:18) and transfigured (Matthew 17:2) sheds a whole new light on the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. We now know to expect a bit of messiness in the process; and to anticipate an over-the-top supernatural result.

Here are two words we will focus on in this study.

Flesh or Carnal (Sarx; G4561): flesh (the soft substance of the living body) of both man and beasts; the body of a man; a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh) whether man or beast; the sensuous nature of man, “the animal nature” (without any suggestion of depravity); the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin; the physical nature of man as subject to suffering; the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.

It is helpful to understand that “flesh” and “carnal” are the same. Also, the “flesh” describes both our physical substance and our nature. It is important to recognize that the latter is “apart from divine influence… and opposed to God.” The former, once surrendered and sanctified, becomes a necessary instrument of righteousness and good works. It is important to keep in mind that our brain is a part of our physical flesh – and an instrument of our mind.

Mind (phroneō; G5427): to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think (including: to have an opinion of one’s self, to think of one’s self, to be modest, to not let one’s opinion (though just) of himself exceed the bounds of modesty; to think or judge what one’s opinion is; to be of the same mind (i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious)); to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for.

Minded (phronēma; G5427): what one has in the mind, the thoughts and purposes.

Every being has their own mind, including the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Born-again Christians have at least two minds: the mind they were conceived with (and has been developing ever since), and the mind of Christ (1Corinthians 2:16). We look further into this in Part 1.

For the purposes of this study, it is most important to understand that our mind has been alienated from God (Colossians 1:21), that it requires renewal (renovation, overhaul; Romans 12:2), and that we are free (and responsible) to set our minds on things above and not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2). Indeed, this is the crux of the matter in our study: From what mindset – heavenly or earthly – are we thinking?

Knowing and Knowing About

I have been told on several occasions that I think too much. While I agree that over-thinking and analysis paralysis are to be avoided, too much thinking is not our problem. Indeed, most Christians fail to think much at all. We have become lazy in the exercise of our minds. We have grown accustomed and comfortable with others telling us what to think. This is as dangerous in the church as it is in the world.

Some will say that knowing God is more important than knowing about God; and we should therefore pursue relationship above understanding. While I agree with the first assertion, I propose the second is a bit short-sighted. You cannot have one without the other.

It is possible to worship a god of our own imagination. This is a foundational issue for the church in America. Knowing about someone is key to knowing them. The reverse is also true; you cannot separate the two. In our seeking to know about Him, God reveals Himself – to draw us into ever deepening intimacy. Our knowing Him is directly proportional to our knowing about Him.

Here is the exiting news: There will always be more to know about God. It is the glory of God to hide a matter, and the glory of kings to seek out a matter (Proverbs 25:2). We are to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God – and He is the greatest mystery of all time.

A Word about Prayer

Have you noticed how quick and casually our minds come up with excuses not to do something? How we can turn a genuine concern for one thing into a reason to avoid an otherwise healthy activity?

For example, spiritual disciplines can be legalistic; they can be done in the flesh. That does not mean that spiritual disciplines are legalistic. That does not make them something to avoid.

We avoid legalism by not being legalistic. Legalism is “dependence on moral law rather than on personal religious faith (www.dictionary.com).” This is a helpful definition; from it we learn that disciplines exercised through dependence on personal religious faith is not legalistic.

So, how do we do that?

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 11:17). To avoid legalism and fully enjoy the spiritual disciplines of faith, we must practice the discipline of relational prayer. This is a critical success factor for this study. Without prayer, your reading here will be a poor investment of your time.

In fact, this is so critical, that we are going to do something entirely unorthodox. We recommend you put this book down until you have addressed that area of your spiritual life. The PAPA Prayer, by Larry Crabb will help you tremendously.

A Word for Workplace Leaders

If you have a sphere of influence in the workplace, then you are a potential workplace leader. We use the word “potential” because you can choose, in the workplace, to be (or not to be) God’s transformation agent. You can choose a work life of conformity to the world, or you can choose to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

These choices follow two very different paths and arrive in two very different places. I hope and pray that you choose the latter – for the sake of our Father’s glory and the reformation of the church. God has positioned Christians in the workplace to make disciples. That is our primary responsibility.

I encourage you to be a good steward of all that God entrusts to you.

A Brief Disclaimer

The mind and brain fascinate me – particularly in our relationship with God and others (i.e., the Christian faith). However, let me stop here and concede that I am not a scientist of either one. I admit that what follows is based more on divine inspiration and observation than scholarly research.

Our objective is not to teach – in a critically teaching fashion – about the mind and brain. Instead, we endeavor to elevate the mind as a topic of warranted consideration, concern and conversation among Christians.

Furthermore, we are not here to prepare Christians for debates with secular scientists. We are here to learn how to overcome our carnal minds – individually and corporately – and to begin repairing the damage it has perpetrated on the church in America.

Lastly, this study is not evangelistic in nature. The unredeemed will not understand it. This study is for the church – that by the truth, and serious consideration of it, she would be made free. Only then will we be capable and empowered to do the same for the lost in our spheres of influence.

The Work Ahead

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

It bears repeating: For reformation to occur in the church, committed Christians must begin challenging the way they are thinking and what they are thinking about.

God has me exploring this issue of the mind for a couple of reasons. First, such explorations are always for my own transformation. God is trying to show me something that is inhibiting my walk in the good works He has created for His glory (and my joyful, Spirit-filled adventure).

Secondly, and because I am a disciple maker of Christian leaders, whatever He shares is always for others. This is, of course, true for all disciple makers – yourself included.

So, what is God up to in this for you? It is best that you ask Him. My hope as His pen has always been to encourage, edify and equip. In this particular case, I feel a particular hope to make Christians free. Christians in the church are being held captive – distracted and inhibited from the promises and prophecy of Christ:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:12

Why are we so far from this? I have become suspicious – through my own experiences and observations of others – that the carnal mind is playing a more significant and sinister role than we imagine. It is time we expose the deception.

Foundational convictions control the way we think. The stronger our convictions have become, the harder it will be to reform our thinking. Our minds do not like their foundations challenged.

Suggesting that you reconsider your convictions is likely to set off alarms. Who am I to challenge the way you think and what you think about – much less your foundations? It is a great question.

The appropriate answer is:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2Corinthians 3:5-6

I am just the pen. You don’t have to answer to me. You don’t have agree with everything written here. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ! Hold these things up in the light of His Gospel, and the truth of His word.

I pray that you will consider me as nothing more than God’s instrument – to challenge the way you think and what you are thinking about.