Its all in the Mind!

Extreme Makeover was the highest rated TV show in the USA just a few years ago and highlights our culture’s obsession with image. There’s no problem with people looking after themselves through exercise and nutrition or having great fashion sense but unfortunately too many of us are trying to change external symptoms rather than deal with root issues. We are so enamored with the external that we are missing where true change comes from.

God is into extreme makeover, it’s just that he works from the inside out, not the outside in. With God, what is without is what is within. When you get saved your spirit is born again and your sinful nature is erased. Your old self is crucified (Rom 6:6), your sinful nature no longer lives but Christ lives in your spirit (Gal 2:20) and you are now a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).

Once saved, you have a divine nature, however, your mind has memory patterns of the sinful nature and must be renewed. Thus the mind becomes the central battlefield of your life because the mind is still conformed to the patterns of the sinful nature and must be transformed to be aligned with your spirit nature in Christ.

Romans 12:2 says, ‘Don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God.’

‘Stinkin-thinkin’ doesn’t just disappear when you become a believer, it must be actively confronted. If we don’t continually renew our thinking, our minds default to the old program. The pattern of this world is alienated from the patterns of God’s kingdom. To repent is to change your mind and think differently.

In Isaiah 55:8-9 God says, ‘My thoughts aren’t your thoughts and my ways aren’t your ways.’ If our ways are going to become his ways, our thoughts must be renewed by his truth. It’s all in the mind!

The Oracle!

By Faith!

The phrase ‘By Faith’ appears 19 times in Hebrews 11 (Read it some time today). It’s a phrase that describes how the great people of old lived their lives and followed God’s call upon them. What these heroes of faith did, pleased God because they did them by faith in God. Their testimony has been given to us to inspire us and challenge us to live by faith. What God has started in their faithful example, He wants to complete in us by faith!

Too many of us live by fear rather than by faith! Fear is False Expectations Appearing Real. Fear is Failure Expected And Received. Fear makes you Forget Everything And Run. Too often we behave in a certain way due to our fear of opinions or circumstances rather than by faith in who God is and what his Word says.

Isn’t it funny how the devil tries to discourage your faith in God when God asks you to do something for him. He puts in front of your face all the negative reasons why you should give up and not believe in God’s grace and promises to you. The devil is a liar!

Living by FAITH is Forsaking All I Trust Him. Faith is Full Assurance In The Heart. Faith positions you to experience Fantastic Adventures In Trusting Him. Faith is a Fact Accepted In The Heart. Faith says, ‘Fear Aint In This House’. Habakkuk 2:4 ‘The righteous shall live by faith’. 

Everyone exercises faith in something at sometime. Whether it be flying in a plane, giving driving lessons to your ‘L Plated’ son or daughter or starting a new career, we all exercise faith to some degree. Spiritual faith is different, in that, it has as its object heavenly realities. Faith is the assurance of ‘things’ hoped for and the conviction of ‘things’ not seen.

Faith is the eye of the soul and the bible is the eye-glass through which faith looks. In the natural realm, seeing is believing but in the spiritual realm, believing is seeing. Faith in God grasps unseen realities based upon God’s testimony of himself and revelation to us and acts by faith towards what is not yet revealed.

Are you living by faith or by fear? Do you profess Jesus with your lips but deny him in your heart because you are directed more by your fears than by your faith in God’s Word? Mental assent to bible truths isn’t enough. Personal trust in a personal saviour is required. It’s time we lived By Faith!

The Oracle!

The Goal of Ministry!

Over a decade ago I began the journey of full-time ministry, failing to realise that as a follower of Christ, I was already in full-time ministry. Every single Christian is called to Ministry (Eph 4:11-16), every single Christian is gifted for ministry (1 Cor 12:7) and every single Christian can find enjoyment in their ministry (Ecc 2:24). However, unless you understand the goal and purpose of your ministry, you will never fulfill the point of it.

Colossians 1:24-29 is a key passage that points us to the goal of our ministry. Some of the key themes found within it are:

  1. God uses suffering as a means to advance the goal of ministry (v24)
  2. God’s called you to be a steward of the ministry he’s entrusted to you (v25)
  3. The mystery is fulfilled in Jesus Christ in us, the hope of glory (v26-27)
Paul brings us to verse 28 which is the crescendo of the text and outlines to us the GOAL of Ministry:
“Him, we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone, with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
The GOAL of ministry is to present everyone mature in Christ. In between justification and glorification, there is this precious labor of love called sanctification. Some pastors and believers are only focused on the justification of the saints or even the glorification of the saints but Paul says, the goal of ministry is presenting everyone mature in Christ. This is discipleship 101.
The problem with some of our current approach to ministry is that we feel so overwhelmed by secularism, that we want to make Jesus look so cool, so badly and be liked by everyone that instead of aiming our ministry at presenting everyone mature in Christ, we get distracted by party tricks to get people in the door and once we get them in the door, we have no idea what we’re going to do with them.
If the goal of ministry is attracting a crowd only and getting a temporary bunch of decisions, then party tricks will work in the short-term but Jesus didn’t say GO and make converts, he said, GO and make disciples… this is the process of maturation in Christ and where there is no maturing in Christ, something is wrong in our approach to ministry.
Paul outlines to us how we are to go about the GOAL of presenting everyone mature in Christ: There are 3 key actions emphasized in this passage:
  1. Our ministry must be Christ-centered – It’s Jesus we proclaim because Jesus is the hero of the story from Genesis to Revelation.
  2. Our ministry must warn people of the consequences of sin – Romans 6:23 reminds us that the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. If our ministry removes the doctrine of sin then what need has anyone to be saved.
  3. Our ministry must teach people to grow in Christ – We must be an example in our teaching and lifestyle of the re-prioritizing of kingdom values instead of worldly values.
I encourage you to not serve up a diet of candy, pizza, coke and cheeseburgers to attract a listening. This won’t truly serve them but instead nourish people’s souls with what will produce the full measure and stature of Christ in their lives.
Grace!