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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 »

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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

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

At the end of last week’s article on the carnal mind, I promised to answer the question, “What shall we do?” As it turns out, I’ve answered this question in part through several previous articles. If you are interested in reviewing them, click here for a list.

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 with Him 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, of course, is true of all disciple makers – yourself included.

One thing is different about this particular line of study: I don’t feel the need to get all my ducks in a row before sharing. It is likely that I never will. If the carnal mind was so easily understood, someone would have written a best seller on the subject by now (if you know of one, please share). Read the rest of this entry »

The carnal mind has one primary objective (maintain control) and one primary method for achieving it (deception). One of its greatest and necessary deceptions is its passivity, even to the point of apparent non-existence. The carnal mind works diligently to remain undetected.

Satan and the world use our carnal mind to inhibit our relationship with God and conform us to their evil ways. Now get this: Together, they form an alliance that is more destructive than either would be separately. I am confident that even now they are working hard to minimize your consideration of the danger. Please don’t let that happen. Fight back!

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Committing our ways to the LORD is a process of incremental victories whereby our will is submitted to His. Failure along the way is not so much taking back control as it is never truly giving it up to begin with. Our carnal mind is far more adept and agile at deception than we imagine. It benefits from our perception of progress and it is practiced at building a false sense of security.

When our ways are truly submitted to God, there is no getting them back, short of a repeat (mini-) rebellion. This is not possible for those born of God, who have died to the sin. When this point of no-return occurs is beyond my understanding. However, it is valuable to recognize the seriousness of our commitments – that they be full and sincere – and that God does all we will allow to secure them, and us.
Read the rest of this entry »

If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:14

If we are not careful, our carnal mind will play tricks on us through this passage. It will – ever so subtly and most often subconsciously – encourage us that this promise is for anything we want – as long as we attach Jesus’ name to the request.

So, let’s take a moment before we go on – just to be sure we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. When Jesus said, “If you ask anything…”, He was clearly not talking about a bigger house, another car in the garage, or a change of eye color. We can work hard and afford these things (and many more) but attaching His name to it will not make one bit of difference.

Of course, no one would think to use Jesus’ name in such a selfish way. The problem is: A lot of our thinking is subconscious; and we take a lot of our thinking for granted. Sometimes, we simply don’t think; at least not in this way. Most would agree (myself included) that we pray with His name attached, not really considering what it means to invoke His name.

I wonder if Jesus ever thinks, “Is that really what you want to be asking for?”

Prayer with Faith

Most of us, when we think about it, know that prayer must include faith. We may say, “That’s right! We must pray with faith in Jesus’ name.”

I hate to be the one to tell you, but that’s still missing the mark. It is not even faith in His name (i.e., “Jesus”) – as powerful as that name is – that makes the difference.

Stay with me; this will make good sense soon. Read the rest of this entry »

To hear sound doctrine is not enough; for hearing without doing produces self-deception (James 1:22), and a house that will not stand in the storms of life (Matthew 7:26-27).

To have faith in what we hear is not enough; for faith without works is dead (James 2:26).

To work – even supernaturally – is not enough; for only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 7:21-23).

How do we know the will of the Father? We ask Him; AND we wait patiently for the answer.

The sufficiency for these things is not in ourselves; our sufficiency is from God (2Corinthians 3:5).

For this, there are conditions: Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow after Jesus (Luke 9:23), obey His commandments (John 14:15), abide and bear fruit (John 15:2), etc.

The sufficiency for this is not something given to us as an empowerment of our life – something we own and control. It comes from the Life that is now present and reigning within us. Read the rest of this entry »

For the love of money is a root of all the evils, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1Timothy 6:10

Materialism is a mindset that substitutes the things of this world for the promises of God. This includes security, comfort, peace, joy, etc. In the Scriptures, materialism is called by another name:  Idolatry.

The use of “wandered” – in the verse above – is interesting. In the Greek, it means “to go astray, stray away from”.  It is a passive action; like a child wandering away from his mother.

In other words, materialism is not something we actively set our minds to pursue, like adultery or murder. It comes to us like an unseen toxin or cancer, many times wrap in attractive packaging. We don’t have to ask for materialism; it is an active agent – a catalyst for many kinds of sin.

Most American Christians are born into materialism. It is a big part of our culture – an inherent measure of the American Dream. “Keeping up with the Joneses”, once viewed as a negative pursuit, has now become an obligation. Homeowners’ association and our kids demand it. We have been deceived into thinking that making our neighbors and children happy is a redeeming activity. In reality, it is simply an excuse to procure more stuff.

From a Romanian pastor: “In my experience, 95% of the believers who face the test of external persecution pass it, while 95% of those who face the test of prosperity fail it!” Church leaders in China are recognizing the same threat. While persecution serves as a catalyst for church growth, China’s newfound prosperity is drawing believers away.

Assuming that Americans are somehow immune to this disease is both arrogant and dangerous – for ourselves and our children. To avoid or break free from the poison of materialism, we must recognize and respect it as our enemy. We must set our minds against it.

Once we acknowledge the potential for brokenness in the set of our mind, we become free and empowered to a healthy suspicion of the way we think and the affect that thinking has on our hearts. At this point, we must be particularly cautious.

Read the rest of this entry »

I ride my bicycle to commune with God; the exercise is icing on the cake. Our conversations are most often about people He has me praying for, conversations I need to have with others, or lessons we are preparing to write or teach. Every once in a while, God uses the ride to show me something about myself and/or His kingdom.

Here’s one from the other day.

Distractions are a big part of cycling – passing cars and approaching dogs in particular. Most are not a threat, but it only takes one. Having to deal with them on a regular basis has taught me to allow distraction when necessary, and then get back to matter at hand. It has become a natural part of the process.

I wish I could say the same about hills.

Hills are different than cars and dogs. They don’t generate the same adrenaline spike as a ferocious dog on the loose or a driver passing on a hill. In fact, they don’t scare me at all. On the other hand, they last longer, the distress builds over time, and the distraction is real and present discomfort and pain.

Hills are a major distraction to my communion with God.

For me, hills are a metaphor for the challenging seasons of our lives. These may be momentary, lengthy, or any amount of time in between. God has used the hills in my life to reveal a few things about myself and my relationship with Him:

  1. The more I focus on the pain, the greater the pain becomes.
  2. When I set my mind on things above, the hill is not only less of a distraction, but easier to navigate.
  3. The approach I take has a dramatically positive effect on my mental and physical response to the effort after cresting the hill.
  4. It occurs to me as I write this that having a riding partner to remind me of these things – and encourage me in them during the climb – would be an incredible blessing.

Read the rest of this entry »

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:19

The birth of inLight Consulting came when God asked me, “What is the desire of your heart?” I looked into my heart to find that He was stirring the desire “to help Christian leaders find joyful, Spirit-filled ministry” (and yes, that is a quote).

Through many subsequent conversations with Him, and His careful orchestration of events, I discovered that His mission for us is to “encourage, edify and equip workplace leaders to become disciple makers and transformation agents in their spheres of influence.” One product of our mission has been the capture and communication of a disciple-making and transformation process, in a book entitled The Map Maker. Note: I was just the pen.

Several years ago, God began stirring a new and related desire: To be His instrument in building houses that will stand in a storm (from Matthew 7:24-27). When storms come into the lives of individuals and groups in our spheres of influence, many will experience the destruction of their house. In that season of chaos, they will turn to God or to the world for help. My hope is there will be a strong house standing nearby – a Christian leader that can show them the way to restoration; and to walk with them into a strong relationship with the LORD.

The Church at this moment needs men, the right kind of men, bold men… They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious act out of mere custom; nor will they allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation (A. W. Tozer; Of God and Men, pp. 11-13).

Tozer wrote Of God and Men in the middle of the 20th Century. “The right kind of men, bold men” are needed now more than ever before. For some reason only known to Him, God has determined to use me to help Christian leaders become bold and courageous. If you want that kind of help, here is your invitation.

The Invitation

An individual I have been discipling for some time recently asked me to teach The Map Maker to a group of workplace leaders in his church. This has been a triple blessing: Coming along-side a disciple to help him make disciples is what inLight is all about. Being used by God to teach the foundations and mysteries of the Kingdom is my passion. Developing new approaches to teaching The Map Maker will enable us to reach similar groups.

I believe God would have me continue teaching The Map Maker to small groups – either in person or online. This can be done in as little as eight weeks. As always, He would have me do it at no charge. It is His investment of me for the advancement of His kingdom. That is blessing enough.

This offer is my part. I will wait to hear from those that desire to be encouraged, edified and equipped. Please share this with Christian leaders that God puts on your heart.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

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