If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward.

If You are a Butterfly, Act Like One
If You are a Butterfly, Act Like One

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2a


I would argue that there is a negative consequence to not renewing your mind…that is, you will be conformed to this world.

Romans 12:1-2 is a classic verse of Scripture regarding the importance of transformation in the life of every believer.  Most teachers that I have heard stress the importance of transformation in a positive sense…that is, you ought to renew your mind because then you will know God’s will more clearly.  And this is certainly true and a blessing to us.  However, I would argue that there is a negative consequence to not renewing your mind…that is, you will be conformed to this world.  I think it’s one or the other…there is no middle ground.  Each day, you either renew your mind or conform to the world.

Recently, I engaged an online “discussion” with a person who calls himself an “Agnostic Catholic”.  He grew up Catholic, adopted reformed theology, felt certain he was regenerate, then turned away from the faith and to agnosticism.  During my interaction, I renewed an old struggle with the meaning of Hebrews 5:11-6:11 and uncovered some new insights.  Once of which is relevant to this post.

I think he is saying that a person who thinks he is regenerate can fall away if he does not act like a regenerate person acts.

“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened … and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit … and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance…”  Hebrews 6:4-6 (NASB)

“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking this way.” Hebrews 6:9 (NASB)

“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises”. Hebrews 6:11-12 (NASB)

I’m not going to write a commentary here, nor am I trained to do so.  So, please test these thoughts in light of Scripture.  But, I think what’s going on here is that the writer is frustrated that the disciples are not pressing on toward maturity, so he issues are warning.  That warning is, “look, if you are not maturing in your faith, you are at risk of falling away and proving yourself to be a fraud.  So get in gear and press on to maturity.” 

To be clear, I don’t think the writer is saying that a regenerate person can become lost again.  I think he is saying that a person who thinks he is regenerate can fall away if he does not act like a regenerate person acts.

My salvation is not tied to my works, but my assurance certainly is.  For, if I am not acting like a believer, why should I think I am?

And, I think Peter says the same thing.  After calling the saints to maturity, Peter says this …

“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” 1 Peter 1:10-11 (NASB)

And so, assurance of salvation is tied to maturity. If you are not pressing forward, you may indeed stumble (i.e. fall away), perhaps even to the extent that you prove that you were wrong about His “calling and choosing you” to begin with.

Have you ever interacted with someone who was a believer and now is not?  This is the first I have met…that fell as far and as hard as this.  Only God knows the condition of his heart, but it has awakened me to the reality that unless I am pressing on in maturity, I risk the same fate.  My salvation is not tied to my works, but my assurance certainly is.  For, if I am not acting like a believer, why should I think I am?

Announcing SeqHim Release 2!


I’m excited to announce that we have made some significant changes to seqhim.org!

There are two significant changes in this release.  First, the site moved from wordpress.com to a standalone instance of wordpress that I am hosting myself (through a hosting provider).  This gives us more flexibility to extend and customize the site in the future.

Second, the look and feel are clearly different.  The goal is to make more relevant information more accessible to you.  I would love to have your feedback…it’s very important to us.

I expect “point releases” to come out in relatively short order.  In these smaller, quicker releases, we’ll add incremental value to the site that is enabled by the new platform.  For example, two of the first quick hits will be a discussion forum and wiki functionality.  The former will be used as a way of facilitating conversation initiated by the community rather than by the blogger.  The later will be used by a small number of experienced disciple-makers to form community guidance in the hearing, believing, and obeying categories that I have been speaking of on my blog.

Beyond that, we’ll continue moving toward a vision that I have alluded to but have not spelled out.  That’s not because I’m afraid someone will “rip off” what I think is an innovative idea or because I want to sell it or whatever.  Honestly, it’s because the vision is advancing so quickly that I can’t stop to put anything down on paper yet.  The vision is moving forward faster than the implementation as a matter of fact!  But, hopefully I can at least put a stake in the ground once we get through the deployment of this second release.

Finally, to all of those who have been reading the seqhim blog…thank you!  We’re a modest-sized but like-minded crowd with which God can do great things as long as we humble ourselves before Him and remain obedient to “all He has commanded” us. 

Please continue with me in this journey…I’m convinced that the story God is writing here will be a benefit for many generations to come!

In great love for you and for our Savior,

Moving Violations … on Easter?

Funny, quick story…with a moral at the end.

Do you ever have those Sunday mornings when you just feel like all Hell is against your attempts at simply going to church.  I mean, it’s not like we were trying to go preach to millions…or feed a thousand starving children in the Congo…or even help my neighbor move his stuff across town.  We just wanted to worship…on Easter.

Well, after much suffering, we did make it…and we were only a few minutes late.  I think we upset the parking guy when we drove right past his waving arms to the front row, but by God’s grace, we were still allowed into the building.  Also by God’s grace, none of my kiddos caused a raucus which meant we were able to engage the entire service!  I mentioned to my beloved wife on the way home how I’m always glad we made the extra effort to fight through a rough morning to be with God’s people.  I felt like Ralphie with this Red Rider carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle…all was right with the world. 

Uh, did I mention my beloved wife…yeah, you’ll need to remember that in a minute.

One the way home…it’s wet…we’re one block from my house…approaching the ONE light within 100 miles of my house that has a red light camera.  You guessed it…it turns from green to yellow at that perfect moment where on a slick road, there seems to be no right answer….run the light going very fast, or slam on the breaks and slide through it.  In my mind, I decided the former…but, my beloved (catch that?) wife verbally, shall we say, disagreed with my approach to the problem.

And so, we skidded up to the line and through it before I had to let off the brake.  As we looked at each other, we both noticed the flick of the camera light…busted! (BTW, for those of you thinking, “hey, just be thankful no one got hurt” … awe, just be quiet.  Someone is going to be hurt…my wallet!)

I confess, for the next few minutes, I got very creative…perhaps the most creative I have ever been in my life.  I had two problems: a) how do I convince myself that this was not my fault; b) how do I convince the court this was not my fault.  My beloved bore the brunt of (a) for her “feedback” on my original decision; and, the slick roads were going to take the blame for (b).  If my beloved had not opened her mouth, then my original plan would have worked.  And, there is no way anyone could have avoided running that light given the weather.  If the police had an actual officer there rather than a camera, they would have seen and understood that!  Yeah, none of this was really my fault.  Not surprising, because it’s never my fault!

Do any of you have kids that constantly ask ‘why’?  Well, I’m still one of those kids, and I bother myself with the question more than anyone else.  Why am I trying to cast the blame?  Because that’s what people do when they feel like their reputation is threatened.  Ouch.

Here’s the encouragement: reputation among men has NO value, so stop worrying about it. 

But isn’t it good to have a Godly reputation, given that we are ambassadors for Christ?  YES…but, the means do not justify the ends.  In other words, you have to genuinely be Godly and not simply look Godly, otherwise it is a false testimony and not pleasing to God.  And so, my attitude is one where I will remain focused on growing in knowledge, character, and behavior by knowing God’s word, believing it, and obeying it as God enables me.  No where in any of this is a need to look like the “ideal” Christian, because there is no such thing. 

As a matter of fact, “ideal” Christians are “fake” Christians.  Remain committed to the journey, and you will please God…even if you look silly from time to time to other people.

Spiritual Assessment Teaser

Bob commented on the last post…

“If it’s not already in the works, I think a really cool component to the SeqHim library would be some kind of resources on how to phrase questions, how to calculate what kinds of questions to ask certain types of people, and how to take a conversation and come up with pointed questions on the fly. Clearly there won’t be a cookie cutter, formula approach, but it might be a useful tool for people to develop…this art of questioning!”

…and it reminded me of some very early discussions we had on spiritual assessment.  What tools are available?  Are they effective?  What would be the purpose?  Is it even appropriate?

After much discussion, brainstorming, etc we landed on yet another mind map.  You can access it here: assessment-questions-v02.

You’ll find that it is a mind map of questions that could be used to determine where a person is in their walk with Christ and how they got to where they are.  The information gathered would then be used to help them decide where to go next.  It’s not a form or a questionnaire…it literally is a mental model…a graph.  You don’t necessarily “interview” people…you just keep these questions in your mind and ask them when you need the information.

Anyway, I don’t have time to write-up the details this morning, but after reading Bob’s comments, I thought it might be good to share as is.  Would love to hear your feedback!

Do you allow people to surprise you?

I recently did some study on critical thinking.  One of the core principles is what I would call the art of the question.  That is, spend more time asking questions and less time trying to explain yourself.  While I agreed that understanding one another is good, I was bothered because the ephasis on questioning felt very pluralistic…like to be a critical thinker, you had to accept others views as being equal to your own.  I now understand that rejecting intense questioning simply because others use it in a pluralistic manner would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.  What I have discovered is that questioning is the only way we can learn about people…surprise!  The culture today needs us to learn about them in order to relate to them.  It’s amazing how hostile people become conversant if you just start asking questions rather than preaching dogma and defending yourself.

Those of you following this blog know that I believe the power to change a person’s heart resides in the gospel alone.  But, with some people, you simply have to earn the right to be heard.  We do that primarily by asking questions and genuinely trying to understand where they are coming from.  Once you know where they are coming from, then you can share the gospel in a way that they can understand and relate to.  This applies to all people…no matter where they are in their walk…no matter if they are world, fringe, or core.  If you want to help them move toward the middle, you have to be prepared to ask questions and be opportunistic with your teaching rather than dogmatic. 

You also have to ask questions to know whether your time is better invested in this person or if it would be better to move on, which brings me to my final point.  When you change your attitude away from dogma (here is the truth, take it or leave it) and move toward questioning (once I understand where you are coming from, I’ll communicate the true and full gospel in a way that you can understand), people will surprise you.  Hostile people will calm down.  Intellectuals will become emotional.  Facades melt away.  Issues are uncovered; hearts are softened.  Defensive people will begin to listen to what you have to say.  You will have earned the right to be heard.

I’ll add one more thing here…as an aside, but very important.  To be successful in this, you must have thick skin. You must have already placed your reputation on the alter as a living sacrifice.  If you take on a challenging relationship, you may be called out to your face or in public.  Are you strong enough to control your response?  Are you strong enough to resist the tempation to defend yourself, to strike back, to control your emotions and allow God to deal with how others perceive you, to focus on your objective which is to a) determine whether or not this person is being prepared by the Spirit to receive the gospel; b) share it in a way that they can understand it; c) be obedient to all of God’s commands, for the right reasons, throughout the process.

So, here is my encouragement, in three parts: 

First, you simply must know your Bible and be working on your own transformation.  Anyone can be dogmatic; it requires a different kind of Christian to engage people where they are. 

Second, ask questions before making assertions.  Know where people are coming from before assuming you know what they need to hear.  This is how you get past the natural defensiveness of a lost person in today’s culture.

Third, don’t become distracted from your ultimate purpose of sharing God’s gospel and His Truth.  As you question, the conversation may tend toward distracting topics…it’s ok to weave, but don’t forget where you are trying to head.  Look for opportunities to share God’s truth related to areas of confusion, difficulty, struggle that people have.

What is the purpose of a weekend church service?

There were several good and unique responses to the last post re: the “would you give up your seat in an easter service so someone else could have it” hypothetical scenario.  It’s actually a less hypothetical scenario than you might think.  I ran across a good friend of mine who was considering exactly that, and I was a little taken aback just because I had never really thought about it that way.

I thought about simply adding my comments to the last post, but decided to post what I think is an underlying and perhaps more important question.  I believe how you answer this question drives your response to the last question, so I’d like to pose it explicitly:

What, exactly, is the purpose of a weekend church service?

Note that the question is not, “what is the purpose of the local church”…I’m focusing in specifically on weekend services.  Why do we invest in them?  Why do we attend them?  What value do they bring?  What is the benefit?

What do you think?