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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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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

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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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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Thinking “outside the box” is a popular notion in the workplace. Consultants are paid good money to free company executives from the constraints of their day-to-day mindsets.

Most “outside the box” thinking focuses on strategic planning, product development, and operational efficiency. As important as these are, there is another area that promises even greater return: Thinking “outside the box” about relationships. In fact, failing to consider relationships will inhibit – perhaps doom – all other “out of the box” efforts.

So, let’s take a moment and think about it.

Our mind does not willingly explore what we know about someone, beyond the minimal requirements of our relationship with them. There exists a subconscious boundary, based on an unchallenged desire for comfort. We don’t want to discover things we might be responsible for addressing – things that might steal from the time we spend thinking about ourselves.

This is a tragedy, for people are more than we might imagine – even the people we think we know well. Haven’t we been warned not to accept things (or people) on their face value? Does that only apply to things (and people) we are unfamiliar with? Doesn’t that kind of thinking limit our intelligence and response?

Where is human curiosity when you need it? Read the rest of this entry »

As we begin, it is important to note that this is not a thesis on the Trinity. Nor is it intended to be a theological argument. I just have some questions – born out of concern – that I believe God would have us consider.

Growing up in the United Methodist Church, I was taught the Nicene Creed. Every Sunday, we recited the Triune nature of the God-head: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Somehow, I came away an understanding of the Holy Spirit as “Jesus in you”; in essence, that the Holy Spirit was nothing more than the personification of Jesus Christ living inside of me. I am sure this was not done intentionally, but that’s what I came away with.

In those days, the Holy Spirit simply wasn’t a topic of conversation… or teaching.

I have since learned that He (the Holy Spirit) is much, much more. The person and work of the Holy Spirit is unique to Him; and without Him, the followers of Jesus Christ are severely handicapped.

I did not recognize that the Holy Spirit was an equal person of the God-head until I aged into my thirties. I believe it grieved Him. I had to confess, apologize and ask His forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit has since been an intimate Comforter, Teacher and Transformer. His fruit and gifts are much more evident in my life, now that I know Him and His role in my faith journey.

God works all things to the good of those that love Him. My ignorance of the Holy Spirit has made me sensitive to the unique personalities of the God-head – and sensitive to Their absence.

Recently, I have noticed a new kind of replacement theology. It seems to me that God the Father is being replaced in our Christian consciousness by His Son. Are you sensing the same thing?

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Long ago, Thomas a Kempis wrote, “The Lord has many lovers of His crown but few lovers of His cross.” This is hardly understood in our day. Most of us would say we love the Cross. Why?

Because we only know the Cross for what it has done for us (its work). We know little of what it should be doing to us – the death of self and crucifixion to the world (its way).

 

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:35

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

The way of the Cross is the difficult way that leads to life.

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:14

It is the way that Jesus is referring to when He says, “Come, follow me.”

Is this the Cross you love?

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Before we delve into another article on the way we think, what we think about, and how our thinking impacts our faith walk, I would like to clarify something.

These articles are for Workplace Leaders. In fact, this is true for every article that God uses me to write – whether or not they are workplace focused. Why? Because God has positioned Christians in the Workplace to make disciples. That is our primary responsibility.

Furthermore, God created inLight Consulting to encourage, edify and equip Workplace Leaders for that purpose. Consequently, every resource that comes out of this ministry is for Workplace Leaders to use in making disciples and transforming their spheres of influence.

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

Foundational Thinking

As we have proposed previously, for reformation to occur in the Western Church, committed Christians must begin challenging the way they are thinking and what they are thinking about.

The way we think (i.e., paradigm, mindset, worldview) is built on foundational convictions. The stronger our convictions have become, the harder it will be to reform our thinking. Our minds do not like their foundations challenged.

I recognize that to even suggest such a thing 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 answer is better:

I am just the pen.

You don’t have to answer to me. You don’t even have to like or agree with everything I write. 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 truly believe that I am simply the instrument God is using to get you to challenge the way you think and what you are thinking about.

The Old and New Covenant

The following is intended to get you thinking about what (if anything) you think about your covenant with God.

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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

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The church in America desperately needs a reformation. Where do reformations begin? Romans 12:2 encourages us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Perhaps, in this Age of Reason, we need a reformation in the way we think.

We have gotten lazy with our thinking. We trust our thinking way too much. Those of us that teach trust the thinking of others more than we should.

I grew up in church hearing about “Jesus’ substitutionary death”.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

For the longest time, I assumed this meant that He died so I wouldn’t have to. Fortunately, God encouraged me to ask someone to disciple me. He introduced me to Romans 6:8:

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…

And Luke 9:23.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

And Mark 8:35:

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Obviously, there is something more to His death than I – and many like me – were taught. Many have no clue that to live abundantly in Christ requires our own death. Tragically, there is no one discipling them. Read the rest of this entry »

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