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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 »

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 »

Now that we have positioned ourselves to hear God’s instruction, and discovered the purposes of God in His call to more, we can begin to explore His process for planning. I feel the need to share – here at the beginning – that God’s way for planning is not like anything you may have experienced in the world.

There are many ways that the kingdom of God is contrary to the world (e.g., love your enemies, the greater serve the lesser). Planning is one of those things. In fact, planning as we know it – work breakdown structures, contingencies, etc. – have no place in the kingdom of God.

This is a hard thing for a process-oriented problem solver to share. I love planning. Task lists are my thing. It is hard letting go of what you are good at.

That is why, when God called me to the more of Workplace Ministry, the first thing I had to die to was my propensity to create and own the process. At first, I thought God’s issue with me was my desire to own and control. While that was something He would deal with, the bigger consideration was the method of planning itself. Read the rest of this entry »

God has blessed me with the desire and health to ride a bicycle. Cycling is not only a great way to stay healthy; it is also a fantastic way to meet with God. Exercise, being outdoors and communing with the Creator – what better way to spend a couple of hours?

Cycling is a joy to me. So, when I get the chance, I like to share that joy with others – helping them learn to ride. In the process, I have learned that learning to ride is a transformative experience.

  1. You must get over your fear of riding. Whether you are just learning, or venturing out on more trafficked roadways, fear will take the fun out of cycling. In fact, fear is a distraction that can make your ride less safe.
  2. You must learn, not only how the bike works, but how it works for you. Get caught in the wrong gear while climbing a steep hill will leave you walking. Shifting in anticipation of a change in terrain will become natural over time – but only with practice.
  3. You must trust your bike to get you home. A bicycle is meant to take you places – new places. Time spent on the bike builds trust in its dependability.
  4. Going with others is more fun; and it is safer. Finding a good riding partner – or better yet, a group – simply makes cycling a more enjoyable experience. As it is with most activities, there is safety in numbers.
  5. The more you ride, the stronger you will be; and the farther you will be able to venture out. The only way to get cycling strong is to cycle. The reward is an expansion of adventure possibilities.

I think it is fair to say that the kingdom of God is like learning to ride a bicycle. When God calls us to a new assignment (and He does so more often than we realize), the Holy Spirit commits Himself to our transformation. He becomes our cycling coach.

Read the rest of this entry »

The kingdom is like a mighty river, flowing over time. The river is a story – the story of God’s kingdom. It is the Kingdom River.

Like most mighty rivers, the Kingdom River has a deep channel; a channel that cuts through time, on the river’s way through eternity. The Kingdom River makes its own path. It determines, by its power, where it will flow.

In the channel of the Kingdom River, the current flows deep and with great power. It draws all of humanity to itself. But, the channel of the Kingdom River is a dangerous place. All who are swept up in it eventually drown.

The Kingdom River, as it is with most mighty rivers, also has its shallows and quiet pools; places where young and old first enter – where they find peace and comfort. In this part of the river, the waters rarely come up to your knees; and the strong current is rarely felt. Still, many are satisfied to stay there.

Regrettably, they are not aware of the dangers that are lurking nearby.

Removed from, but within view of the Kingdom River, is a broad road. Many are traveling down the broad road. Many – perhaps most – of those traveling on the broad road are irritated by the site of the river. They want nothing to do with it. They consider the people gathered at the river to be foolish and weak.

Many others, on the broad road, are comforted in knowing that the river is close. When they pause to look and consider the road, they feel drawn to come near. But that would require them to leave the broad road, and they are not ready for that. Perhaps some other day. In the end, they never make it to the river’s edge.

This is a sad tragedy, but not so much as that which unknowingly threatens the shallow and quiet pool dwellers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Summary

  • The parables of Matthew 25 are very clear about the Final Judgment of mankind. Neither mentions the word “faith”, or “believe”.
  • John 3:16 must mean something more than many (most?) are being taught.
  • Paul encourages us to judge ourselves; Peter, that we would make our call and election sure.
  • Is it wise to presume about any of the qualifications found in these parables?

In a previous article, The Sky is Falling!! Again?, we proposed that – in speaking about the signs of His coming and the end of the Age, Jesus strongly encouraged His disciples (including us) to avoid deception, endure to the end, resist being troubled; and, above all, be prepared.

Continuing His discourse, Jesus explains what that preparation looks like. He also highlights the rewards for preparing; and the consequences of failing to do so. With that in mind, take all the time you need to read Matthew 25… prayerfully and carefully. Then, please prayerfully consider the following.

The parables of Matthew 25 are very clear about the Final Judgment of mankind. If you have enough oil you will get in to Heaven. If you properly invest the talent that has been entrusted to you, you will get in. If you feed, clothe, etc. the brethren of Jesus Christ, you will get in.

If you fail at these, you will be shut out, cast into outer darkness (where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth), and cursed to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. In simpler terms: You will go to Hell.

I know this is challenging to many. Jesus said – right there in John 3:16 – that God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son; that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Nothing there about bringing enough oil to the party, being a wise investor, or ministering to the brethren.

At this point we must ask ourselves a few questions: What does believing in Jesus mean? Does it include the requirements of Matthew 25? Is what we know as “faith” enough for salvation; without oil, or return on invested talent, or ministry to the brethren? Is faith without works dead (i.e., ineffectual for our salvation)? How will our faith be judged? Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

God is a process-oriented problem solver. Take the problem that Adam and Eve created in their rebellion. God lost His reign over, intimacy with, and habitation in His people. The Bible chronicles the process He has chosen to solve that problem – culminated in Revelation 21.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:3-4

The second half of this passage – the part we most remember – represents the problem’s solution from mankind’s perspective. It too was solved via process – particularly, the process of salvation.

As a side note: The Bible regularly speaks of God’s processes as His “ways”. God’s ways are prescription for the normal Christian life. God has a way for everything – particularly the BIG things – and He is generally clear about them.

The process of salvation includes another critical process – the process of faith. Faith is not a static element of our salvation. It is important that we understand God’s way for its growth and vitality. Let us begin with an oft quoted passage. Read the rest of this entry »

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