Taking Every Thought Captive

King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 23:7, “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is: eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee” (KJV). Another way to read this is, we are what we think about. For anyone who has spent time in the Bible, it’s no surprise that the wisest man to live pointed out this truth. What we think about captures our attention, and what has our attention determines our action. Try this exercise for yourself. Write down the two or three things that have your attention in life. What do you think about most these days? As they come to mind, look at how you are spending your time, money, or talents. It’s likely the resources God provides are being used to pursue what has your attention. We move in the direction of our strongest thoughts. Unfortunately, if our direction is off course, it will impact our relationship with Christ. The apostle Paul provides powerful instruction in 2 Corinthians 10:5 when he writes, “We are destroying speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” If taking every thought captive is an essential practice for the follower of Jesus, what is the best way to do it? Praise God that the answer is found in the pages of scripture. In Colossians 3:2, Paul challenges the church to “set their minds on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.” The King James translation uses the phrase, “set your affection” on...

Choosing Fear (Part 2)

Some hold that fear and love contradict one another–that fear is contrary to love.   But in actuality, these go hand in hand.  Love and fear are necessarily related. Below are three points of perspectives on this relationship. Firstly, that which we cherish and hold dear, we love.  We love that which is precious and hate the thought of losing that which is so important to us.  We don’t want to lose that or whom we love or have it or them taken from us. Thus we fear losing that which we love.  And hence, in effort to mitigate the fear of loss, to what extent will we love the beloved?  Fear drives us to the action of faith. To illustrate, if my wife is diagnosed with cancer, what would I not do to effectuate a cure and insure her future? We know in His sovereignty, He holds control of the beloved, and not us. As much as we want to control the well-being of those we love, we find we don’t control outcomes.  And so we fear God, because as our actions of love do not determine the well-being of beloved, His do. We fear God because He determines the plight of us all, the things and people we love. Secondly, the fear of God and the love of God is commanded.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and will all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).   This is demonstrated by “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me…” (John 14:21).  The fear of the...

Choosing Fear (Part 1)

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” –Matthew 10:28 There is no respect in fear:  It is just plain terror.  God has set the terms of how man relates to Him:  It’s through terror, for He is the God who determines our future. The word that is translated as “fear” in the original Greek is phobos.  The word phobos means terror.  Had Jesus intended to mean “respect” there are other more appropriate words in the original language that could have been used. We will fear that in which we hope.  Fear follows our hope.  And behavior (faith) follows our fear.  Therefore, our fears and actions reveal that in which we hope for and hope in.  What do your actions tell you about your fear and your hope? Fear has a bad reputation.  It is associated with weakness and cowardice.  But if placed with the right object (God), it is meant for our protection, for our good, a driver to obedience, and motive of avoidance of sin and pain–and to do what is ultimately in our best interest.  It leads to positive changes in our lives, pushes us to love and good deeds, strengthens us, unchains and frees us up.  Fear can become our strength! “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) and “Conduct yourselves in fear of God while on Earth” (1Peter 1:17). Fear of God is not only the best beginning but the necessary foundation for in a walk with Jesus...

Success, Significance, Sufficiency and The Serpent’s Siren Song: Part II

God teaches what is of ultimate importance: Jer 9:24  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD. God also warns us, what not to boast about: Jer 9:23  Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; The serpent wants you active in your pursuit of Success, Significance, and Sufficiency on man’s worldly terms (which will not satisfy). And when you have spent your life in the pursuit of wealth, wisdom, and power you will come to the end of your life and conclude (as Solomon did) it was vanity, striving after the wind. In the meantime, you lose opportunity to know God, participate in His plan and model Jesus. To this end, you will suffer appreciable loss: 1Co 3:11-13  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 1Co 3:15  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. To be clear, God raises Christians to positions of increased power, wisdom, and wealth...

Success, Significance, Sufficiency and The Serpent’s Siren Song: Part I

Gen 3:3-5  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The serpent and the world sing the siren’s song consistently, loudly, every day and in every way. The song goes like this: “You can make yourself Successful, Significant and Sufficient”. The second stanza: “You don’t need God to realize your best self” (just like Adam/Eve before the fall).  Meanwhile, the worldly back-up singers affirm: “You are the man!”. The remaining question, however, is have you prepared your convictions now to avoid wrong pursuits for wrong motives? Developing your convictions today is the act of a reasonable man. The book of Ecclesiastes provides an unflinching and thought provoking picture of our lives (from man’s perspective) assessing the true value of the worldly pursuits to which we can give our lives: Ecc 1:14  I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. In this book, Solomon severely and repeatedly challenges man’s definition of Success, Significance and Sufficiency to only one conclusion; what men can spend their lives to “produce” is in reality vanity, striving after the wind. It is noteworthy, this is the conclusion of a man who was the wisest man on earth (by God’s grace) who possessed, pursued and indulged...

Do I Want What He Wants?

Romans 7:15-20 (NASB) reads: “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.  But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.  So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.  But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” I became a Christian at age 34 at a businessman’s outreach breakfast on May 8, 1992 listening to a talk by Adolph Coors IV.  That was almost 30 years ago.  How can it be possible that I would still be sinning?  I have to acknowledge after years of studying scripture, leading bible studies, teaching at men’s retreats and discipling men that Paul’s words found here describe me perfectly.  I say to myself like Nathan said to King David: “You are the man!” Having studied Romans numerous times, Chapter 7 has always gripped me.  I have been deeply comforted to know that the great Apostle Paul wrote these words about himself toward the end of his life— explaining the struggle of...