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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.

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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.

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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

It is common practice for a struggling company to call in a consultant – someone that can help the management team identify underlying problems and make improvement recommendations. While Senior Managers tend to focus on the standard financial reports (e.g., the balance sheet and income statement), the wise consultant knows that financial “struggling” is most often a symptom of poorly managed and measured activities further up the production lifecycle.

And so, they go looking. What they usually find are areas of the company that are trying to manage themselves using production and performance measurements that no longer match the vision and values of the company.

Take the church for example. I mean the church that Jesus Christ is building. That church has come upon hard times – particularly in North America and Europe. We have gotten to the point where measurements are no longer needed to recognize our struggles. The end product is certainly not up to the Master’s standards.

There are at least two reasons the Western church is struggling. First, we are measuring the wrong things. Secondly, we are not doing things God’s way. Put those together and we can say that the Western church is failing to measure itself in the way God has prescribed.

So, where do we start measuring in the right way? Scripture makes it clear that the shepherds will be held responsible for the health of their flocks (Hebrews 13:17). If I was the Master’s consultant, that is where I would begin.

Sometimes it is hard to point out the right way to do something without first identifying what’s being done wrong. In this case, I am relieved that such an approach is not necessary. Why is this? Because whatever way is not God’s way is the wrong way – and get this – no matter how successful that way may appear.

But who am I to judge? Exactly! Judgment is not my intent, nor is it my responsibility. I’m just the consultant. We are called to judge ourselves… and for good reasons.

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 1Corinthians 11:31-32

If we will not judge ourselves, the Lord will judge us. In either case, the chastening and correction are for our good and the good of our ministries. No one is perfect. The wise leader makes an assessment on a regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »

There is, I believe, a process the mind must go through to fully comprehend the Word of God. At some point in our lives – perhaps what we call the age of accountability – every student of God’s Word becomes responsible for navigating this process.

Buy the truth, and do not sell it,
Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.
Proverbs 23:23

Acquiring the truth is a costly proposition – time being the most obvious investment. However, merely showing up for Sunday School, Church Service, or a Bible Study is not enough. Kingdom truth has been given for us to search out (Proverbs 25:2). We are to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God (1Corinthians 4:1-2). These passages suggest activity – activity on the part of the learner.

Indeed, faithfulness to the truth is not the sole responsibility of preachers and teachers. These individuals are responsible for delivery, but learning does not happen without faithful students who will accept their responsibility to acquire what is being offered.

Furthermore, our rebirth did not include a new mind. God determined to leave us with a mind bent on conformity with the world – a mind that must be renewed. At times, I wonder why He did such a thing – our carnal minds have caused so much trouble. Still, we must trust God in His determination and commit ourselves to participating in the renewal effort.

The carnal mind – or the carnal part of our mind (I am not sure which is more accurate) – is at enmity with God (Romans 8:7). The truth that will make us free is a threat to the mind set on earthly things. Consequently, there is at least a portion of our minds that actively resists our procurement of the truth, doing so at nine critical steps in the acquisition process.

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If we keep doing the same thing, we will continue to achieve the same results. The crises within the church will continue. The societal chaos that is eroding our footing – and infecting our spiritual health – will continue. We must quickly find God’s way through and out of the crisis and chaos (and I don’t mean the rapture).

Somewhere, somehow, we took a wrong turn. When this happens during a road trip or hike, our inclination is to forge on ahead while attempting to find our way back to the main path. Sometimes this works. Most times, we discover that it would have been better to turnaround and backtrack to the where and how we first got lost.

With that in mind, I want to recommend a couple of resources. In doing so, I need to be clear: I am not suggesting either one as a program – something to go do. You will get the most out of these resources if you use them as conversation starters with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Ask the Father, “What is your will here?” Ask the Son, “How do these fit into your church building plan?” Ask the Holy Spirit, “What parts of this are for the renewal of my mind?”

The subtitle for The Benedict Option is “A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation”. This is our reality, and we desperately need a strategy. The Benedict Option will raise your awareness and give you some good points of conversation with the LORD.

Just this morning, I came across a concise and thought-provoking article on church worship. You can access it here. As you read, keep in mind that what matters is what God says. Is this God’s truth? If so, how does it line up with the way we have been worshipping Him? Again, use this for conversation with Him.

In closing, let me encourage you: These are must reads for every workplace leader. We are called to use our influence to advance the kingdom of God. That includes returning to the foundations upon which Christ will build His church. I entreat you to prayerfully, grace-fully, and intentionally use your influence to restore your church fellowship. Be God’s instrument of righteousness.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

This article is a bit of a walkabout. It reminds me of a tourist group out for a sight-seeing adventure. Not every sight will be for everyone, but each one will find something here to encourage, edify and equip them for the good work we have all been created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

Every Jesus follower is responsible to be (or become) a faithful steward of God’s mysteries (1Corinthians 4:1-2). So why do we so often play the mystery card to avoid our responsibility as stewards? For example, the fact that we have been made one in Christ Jesus is a mystery (Galatians 3:28). We would rather keep it that way than commit to the hard work of agreeing with Jesus’s prayer for the manifestation of that reality (John 17:23). And another: The Bible suggests that church discipline is necessary for strong healthy fellowships. Rather than search out its proper application, most church leaders treat it as a mystery – avoiding it altogether for fear of running off the wrong people.

God’s expects us to steward His mysteries for the advancement of His kingdom. Playing the mystery card for our own motives (e.g., to avoid difficult responsibilities, or excuse error in our teaching) is rebellion; many times unintended, but nevertheless adversarial to the purposes of God.

We must search out the mysteries of God. To the best of our ability? Yes, and no. With the help of others? Again, yes and no. Under the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit? Yes and yes.

With the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we search out the mysteries of God with our whole heart and the help of others – the purpose of our search being His glory and the advancement of His kingdom.

Let’s practice our searching with Ephesians 6:10:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Paul is encouraging us to be strong in two distinct ways. We are to be strong in the Lord, and we are to be strong in the power of His might. In my humble opinion, this is the most power-filled verse in the entire Bible. Three of God’s “power” words are included:

  1. Be strong (endynamoō): The root is dynamis – the explosive power of God.
  2. Power (kratos): The dominion of God – the power of His authority to reign.
  3. Might (ischys): The ability and force of God – to accomplish what He intends.

This is what Paul is talking about when he goes on to encourage us to put on the whole armor of God. This is what it takes to stand against the wiles of the devil. Get your head around that!

As leaders in the Workplace – that includes all segments (business, religion, education, government, etc.) – we are responsible for leading others into this kind of radical life. Note carefully: This is the normal Christian life!

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There once was a steward. We’ll call him Stewart. Stewart the steward – catchy name.

Stewart was given responsibility for a vineyard. It wasn’t a big vineyard, but it had potential. The Master of the vineyard, after encouraging Stewart to invest himself wisely, left for a faraway land.

For a time, Stewart enjoyed watching over the vineyard that had been left to his keeping. He cherished and nurtured each vine. He did his best to help every vine produce the best tasting fruit possible. Stewart felt that he was accomplishing something important for the Master.

As He had promised, the Master periodically looked in on Stewart. He always had an encouraging word – a “well done, faithful steward.”

Stewart the steward had done well. Each year, the fruit produced by the Master’s vineyard tasted sweeter than the year before. The fame of the vineyard began to spread, first in the town and then across the country side.

One day, Stewart decided to ask the Master to give him a larger vineyard to manage. The Master, pleased by Stewart’s request, asked His Father. The Master’s Father, without an explanation we are aware of, said, “No”. Forever obedient, the Master passed along His Father’s decision.

Regrettably (and predictably), Stewart the steward was not happy. He knew he could do more for the Master’s kingdom. He knew he could make his vineyard (oops!) the biggest and sweetest in the whole region; maybe even in the whole land.

Looking out over his vineyard, Steward decided to take matters into his own hands. He would grow his vineyard with or without the Master blessing. And that is what he set out to do.

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At inLight Consulting, our mission is to encourage, edify, and equip Workplace Leaders to become disciple makers and transformation agents.

Isaiah 58:13-14 contains some incredible promises.  I read it every Sunday morning.  Check it out and consider the following:

The way we remember and honor the Sabbath Day is a shadow of our appreciation for the LORD’s Sabbath Rest.  Do we call it a delight and honor Him in it?  On that day, do we do our own ways, find our own pleasures, and speak our own words?  Is the Sabbath Day still important to us?

Remembering the Sabbath Day was important enough to the LORD to include it in the Ten Commandments. Many who read this will be quick to say, “But Rob, we are no longer under the Law.”

Of course, of course!  Praise God for the work of the Lord of the Sabbath! We walk in liberty. However, we are not free to do as we please. We are bondservants. Our pleasure should be His.

Let’s be careful not to confuse ourselves. Would we say that the LORD is no longer concerned with murder, adultery and worshipping other gods? Of course not! The Ten Commandments are still important to the LORD.

This raises some interesting questions. Could it be that our neglect of one commandment has led to back-sliding with the others? Is it possible that our failure to honor the Sabbath Day inhibits our pro-life message? Are we hypocrites to push for movies without the vain use of God’s name? 

What must our children be thinking?

Furthermore, we must recognize and acknowledge that this is more than a practical, observable issue. As with all things important to God, the spiritual ramifications of this are much more significant. 

What must the LORD be thinking?

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The church once owned the concept of servant leadership. When I say owned, I mean the church defined and demonstrated what it meant to be a servant leader. Throughout its history, the church transformed societies by leading as servants. We are now witnessing a reversal of this trend.

For its part, the world has done what the world does. As it has with so many Christian concepts, it has pirated and twisted the meaning and application of servant leadership. Make no mistake about it, the world’s definition and demonstration differ greatly from that of the Bible.

The purpose of this article is not to prove that point, but I will offer one example. In the kingdom of God, the ultimate leader genuinely humbled Himself unto death (Philippians 2:8). He subsequently commanded His followers to do the same (John 20:21). In the world, all things are ultimately motivated and constrained by the potential for greater profit.

The contrast between the world’s ways and those of God’s kingdom should not surprise us. Jesus came to establish a kingdom contrary to the world in every way. He is building His church as a counter-culture (i.e., not sub-culture) to the kingdoms of this world. Jesus Christ’s church is His catalyst for transformation.

So, what has happened to us?

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