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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 »

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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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It has been some time since I last presented the following. I encourage you to consider it prayerfully – even if it seems like an obvious truth. Ask the Father to give greater meaning to it, for you and those you love.

Much of our thinking is subconscious (i.e., we are not conscious of it). Our minds filter input through a paradigm that has been forming since before our birth. We should be suspicious of the way we think.

It is ironic that though life is a process, we give so much attention to events. It takes more mental energy to think of the process. Life is harder to consider than the events of birth, birthdays, graduation, death, and the multitude of events that lie in between.

But, it is the “in between” that matters most – the process of life that connects and blankets the events of our lives.

Generally speaking, the church has fallen victim to the same event-orientation – most damagingly in regards to salvation. Many think of salvation as the initial event – justification, reconciliation, and rebirth. Some would add the end – glorification. It seems very few talk about the in between; and I don’t mean sanctification – that is a different process altogether.

So, let’s look at the evidence of salvation as a process.

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Theological facts are like the altar of Elijah on Carmel before the fire came, correct, properly laid out, but altogether cold. When the heart makes the ultimate surrender, the fire falls and true facts are transmuted into spiritual truth that transforms, enlightens, sanctifies. The church or the individual that is Bible taught without being Spirit taught (and there are many of them) has simply failed to see that truth lies deeper than the theological statement of it. A.W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian

I believe it was Andrew Murray that confessed to teaching beyond personal practice. The same was true of Paul (Philippians 3:12); so, I am in good company in regard to the following.

God has used my study of microeconomics to shed some light on His economy. The truth can be both convicting and encouraging. I pray your consideration of the following will also make you free.

  1. If what we are doing has no current or future value to the kingdom of God, then we are devaluing the time and life we have been given.
  2. The way we invest what has been invested in us either adds to, or subtracts from, the value of it.
  3. The cost of time is the explicit time spent in the activity PLUS the implicit lost opportunity cost (i.e., what could have been earned doing a more profitable activity). Lost opportunity cost is many times greater, but often hidden from our consideration.
  4. The issues of cost/investment also apply to our talent, money, belongings, etc.

This kind of thinking raises the bar considerably. Is it too much to expect? Beware of your soulish reasoning. Don’t let your mind play tricks on you.

Most would agree that Jesus perfectly invested what the Father was investing in Him. This Son of Man, knowing what the Father was capable of, said a couple of interesting things.

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Discovering God’s ultimate purpose in His story is something of a double-edged sword. On the one edge, the fact that He is ultimately interested in more than saving humanity is a revelation that can free us, from ourselves, to participate in the most exciting adventure of our lives.

At the same time, a discovery of such magnitude often leaves us with a fractured paradigm. This will leave many people uncomfortable, confused and spiritually disoriented. Don’t be alarmed; this is normal.

God uses the truth to make us free. With God, that can be like cutting our tether while floating in deep space. What we do next is critically important!!

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

When God frees us from one thing, it is always to focus on something better. He intends for us to focus on Him; and (this is the most important thing) He intends to help us. This you must believe!!

Here are three practical disciplines that will – in a very personally way – comfort, clarify and re-orient our minds toward God’s purpose in His call to more. As you will see, they are based on the three primary purposes of His story.

What you will discover in exercising these disciplines is a strong bond to His heart, and the desires that are waiting there for you.

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Navigating God’s call to more based on the trajectory of our past, is profitable and encouraging; but it is a limited perspective. To understand and follow God’s purpose for the next season, we must also look to the future.

You may be tempted to balk at this. The future is unknown. It can be an uncomfortable consideration for many; and our subconscious minds seem to always be playing tricks. Resist the temptation. Be suspicious of your mind. Embrace the mind of Christ; and the heart of God.

Here’s a good word: God’s call to more is an adventure. There’s just no getting around it. Adventures are a mix of excitement and fear. Deal with the fear, and it is all excitement. Behind every fear is a lie. Deal with the lie, and the fear will fly.

Welcome to the most exciting adventure of your life!!!

Now, back to the heart of God. That’s where we will find the light we need to discern the purpose God has for our next season, and the transition that will guide us into it. Read the rest of this entry »

Our ability to navigate God’s call to more rises and falls on our understanding, belief and obedience to His greater purposes. To understand them, we must surrender to His will (John 7:17).

It is in our hearts – where man believes – that God stores His desires for “greater than” things. These are the desires He will give us as we surrender to His will (Psalm 37:4).

The LORD’s greatest commandment is that we love Him with all our being. Love is more than an emotion. It is a choice that catalyzes our obedience to His will. If we love Him, we will obey His commandments (John 14:15).

To understand the greater purposes of God is to know His heart; for those purposes are His greatest desires. We appropriate His grace for them through the faith He has given us in them. The joy of participation in the greater work of God is found in our obedience to them.

So, how can we know the greater purposes of God? Let me suggest we look at the beginning and the end of His story. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Heavenly Father desires nothing more for His children than for them to become fruitful citizens of His kingdom. Our contribution is ultimately for His glory; for His name’s sake. However, He loves us with a father’s love; a love that desires the best for His children.

When God calls us to more, it is important to consider how we are thinking about the call. Is it a burden to us, or a privilege? An obligation, or an opportunity? Are we dreading the journey, or looking forward to the adventure?

On April 18, 2009, my wife and I watched helplessly as firefighters did all they could to save the house we had lived in for most of our marriage – the home where we had raised our children. The fire, smoke and water destroyed practically everything. It could have been the beginnings of a burdensome tragedy.

As we stood watching this tragedy-in-progress, God whispered three things into our hearts,

“I am sovereign. Nothing happens outside of my will.”

“I am a good God, I love you, and I have a plan for you.”

“Reckon these things to be true.”

And so began God’s call to more. As we settled into our first temporary quarters (the Holiday Inn Express), we turned to our Heavenly Father. Beth began, “Father God, whatever you have for us in this, we receive it.”

Praise God for His encouragement, in the prayers of a godly wife!

This was the surrender our Father was looking for; and it opened the storehouse of Heaven. With one word (our “whatever”), we had entered into the purpose of Almighty God. Our tragedy immediately became an adventure. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Having learned that the Scriptures speak extensively of believers disqualifying themselves (Part 1); and,
  • Having learned that salvation is a process that must be completed to be effectual (Part 2); and,
  • Having explored the inseparable relationship of grace, faith and works (also, Part 2);
  • We now search out the deeper meaning of several passages that speak to disqualification. These include burying our talents, rejecting holiness (and thus rejecting God), failing to endure to the end, desiring to save one’s life, and choosing something other than the sacrificial life.
  • Finally, we recognize that appropriate fear is a blessed motivator in our pursuing salvation, God has promised to provide all that we need to make our election sure.

Introduction

A Storm is ComingIn Part 1 of this series, we learned that Jesus, Peter, and Paul encouraged us to avoid becoming disqualified in our salvation; even going so far as to clearly describe the conditions that lead to that disqualification. We also recognized that God does not disqualify us (He desires that all be saved). We disqualify ourselves.

Understandably, this raised a number of issues; primarily with those that hold to a “once saved, always saved” theology, and those concerned that I was supporting a works based salvation. Part 2 has been offered to address these two issues. The first – of which I respectfully disagree – is better understood in light of salvation as a process, and the timing of God – and Jesus’ – judgment.

The second objection gave opportunity to briefly discuss the relationship of grace, faith and works. In a nutshell, neither can be understood with the others. Recent theological error has been introduced by our attempts to analytically separate and teach them.

Here in the third part, we will look at a few of the more obvious passages that speak to the potential for our disqualification. As you read each passage, I encourage you to trust the Holy Spirit with your mind; to renew it as necessary. As you read my limited commentary, keep in mind that the passage must mean something – even if it is not what I think it means. Read the rest of this entry »

CompassBeth and I are having a particularly blessed Christmas season. I find myself – like so many others – wanting to hang on; and I will, at least through the end of the year. Thankfully, the reason for this season stays with us for eternity.

But still, 2017 is coming up the driveway; and will be soon knocking at our door. I am already thinking about next week’s meetings and writing deadlines. There is no stopping the movement of time.

So, how do we move on from Christmas? How do we hold onto the reason for the season, as we move into the promise of New Year adventures?

Being a child that likes to ask questions, I asked those questions of our Father in heaven. Being a Father that likes to talk to His children, He answered. Being a brother who likes to pass on the Father’s encouragement, I am sharing with you, the beginnings of that answer.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8

Finding the mind of Jesus, in His “coming in the likeness of men”, is the beginning point for our transition into the New Year. As the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us (John 20:21). The parallels here are astounding. Read the rest of this entry »

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