BETA

Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for February, 1999

Wednesday, February 24, 1999

IN DISCIPLING OTHERS, AVOID THESE SIX MYTHS ABOUT SPIRITUAL MATURITY+

Good Morning!

#1  Spiritual maturity is automatic:

We should not assume that people will mature simply because they show up at church or religious activities: …By this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Heb.5:12)

#2  Spiritual maturity is mystical:

Some retain the idea that maturity is beyond the reach of the average person, and is reserved for a select few. Not so:  “…That the Body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature…” (Eph. 4:12b,13a)

#3  Spiritual maturity is instant:

Certain people believe maturity is bound up in a single experience, conference, person, etc. Rather, spiritual maturity is a process that takes time and involves a multiplicity of exposures. Mushrooms sprout over night.  Redwood trees take a bit longer!

 #4  Spiritual maturity is knowledge:

While Biblical knowledge is indispensable, it must be weighted along with righteous behavior: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (Jms. 1:22)

 #5  Spiritual maturity is personal and private:

 True spiritual maturity does not occur in isolation. There is no allowance in Scripture for an independent spirit, as God intends for us to engage in fellowship and accountability with other believers:   “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together…but let us encourage one another…Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…”  (Heb. 10:24, 25a; Col. 3:16b)

 #6  Spiritual maturity is Bible study:

While Bible study is vital, the process of growth also encompasses loving relationships, an appreciation of the gifts, and genuine worship.

CONCLUSION: Growing toward spiritual maturity is a process that starts with commitment, but also entails the development of spiritual disciplines, a Biblical perspective on life, Scripture based convictions, Christ-like character, and the skills necessary to help others find and mature in Christ. 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 17, 1999

THE SECOND REFORMATION

Good Morning!

The first reformation put the Bible in the hands of laymen; the second reformation will place the ministry in the hands of laymen. –  John R. Stott

Ever wonder why we are so sluggish in reaching the world for Christ?  If so, consider this:

A few years ago I was attending a conference of Christian leaders, when a businessman stood up and asked, “How many of you came to Christ through a ‘full-time’ Christian worker?”  Out of the 5,000 delegates, (98% of whom were “full-time” Christian workers) about 50 people stood up.

He then asked, “How many of you came to Christ through  a lay person?”  The rest stood up. 

Historian K. S. Latourette+ observes that throughout the history of the church, whenever the Word of God was put into the hands of laymen, the Gospel tended to spread like a prairie fire. When however, the Word remained in the hands of the clergy, evangelism ground to a near halt.

It is significant to note that Jesus’ primary approach to world evangelization was to selectively invest His life in 12 laymen for three years.  When He had completed His task of discipling, He then commissioned them to go out and repeat the process. The command of course applies to all of us: 

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have  commanded you…”  (Matt. 28:19-20a)

They obeyed, and that next generation of believers turned the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6)

 So, which method, do you think would prove more effective in impacting the world with the Gospel: (1) Billy Grahams daily reaching 20,000 people for Christ, or (2) One lay person discipling another for a year, after which the two of them would split off and each disciple another, etc., etc.? 

THE ANSWER:  In 30 years the Graham method would reach 2.9 billion people with the Gospel, while the one-to-one approach would reach 8.5 billion.

QUESTION: So, tell me, are you, as a lay person taking Christ’s “Great Commission” seriously by investing your life in others with a view toward their salvation and/or spiritual maturity? If not, what explanation do you plan to give your Heavenly Father the day you face Him in eternity?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 10, 1999

THE BATTLE WITH LUST

Good Morning!

At age 15 or 25 one expects the battle with the libido to border on the overpowering.

But shouldn’t the passions and lusts of youth abate as we approach middle or old age? 

Surprisingly, the answer is “No”. 

Old age,” observes Francois Mauriac, “risks being a period of redoubled testing because the imagination in an old man is substituted in a horrible way for what nature refuses.” +

The problem is that “lust involves the attraction of unknown creatures and the taste for adventure and chance meetings.”++

Perhaps you have concluded, as have I, that self-discipline, rational argument, and repression are simply inadequate in winning over one’s impure impulses.

May I offer what I believe to be the only solution to this acute problem

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  (Matt. 5:8)

It is only when our desperation to know God overrides our decision to cater to our lustful urges, that we experience victory in the sexual realm.  By definition, the “pure in heart” are those individuals, who,  by  virtue of their focused  desire to know God possess a “heart free from the tyranny of a divided self.”+++  

 Moses serves as an example to us, in that he “persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:27)  And so it must be with us: “Everyone who has this hope in Him, purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (I Jn. 3:2)   

When, however, we choose to bend to our lusts instead of embarking on an intense and disciplined quest for God, we stifle our hunger to experience intimacy with Him. It is at this point that we have lost the battle.

So the question we must ask of ourselves is this: “Just how desperately do I want to know God?  Is the desire strong enough to choose a life of single-minded pursuit of Him?

The reality is that  “the pure in heart are the truly blessed, for they will see God.  It is as simple, and as difficult as that.”++

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 3, 1999

SIX DISCIPLING PRINCIPLES FROM THE LIFE OF CHRIST IN JOHN 17 THAT WE CAN ALSO APPLY:

Good Morning!

#1  Jesus’ first concern was for the glory of the Father and the Son“Father…Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.”  (Jn. 17:1; also verses 5,10,24)

Therefore, everything we do in the ministry must focus on Him rather than us. (Gal. 6:14)

#2  Jesus appropriated His God-given authority in order to do the ministry“For You granted [Christ] authority over all people…”  (Jn. 17:2)

Therefore, as sent ones, we must not be deterred by the fear or opposition of man.  (Jn. 20:21;  Prov. 29:25)

#3 Jesus was given men as a gift from the Father“I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to Me…”   (Jn. 17:6; also verse 2)

Therefore, we are to prayerfully ask God to give us the people whom we are to disciple.

#4  Jesus’ mission was to get people into an intimate relationship with Himself and the Father:  “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You…and Jesus Christ….I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out of the world.”   (Jn. 17:3,6; also verses 21-23)

Therefore, we must focus on developing intimacy with God over engagement in activities.

#5  Jesus recognized the centrality of God’s word in His disciples’  spiritual growth“…I gave them the words You gave Me and they accepted them…Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”  (Jn. 17:8,17; also verses 5 and 14)

Therefore, we are to make every effort to build God’s word into our disciples’ lives. (Act. 20:32)

 #6  Jesus’ disciples came to understand that they were to be “in” the world but not “of” it:  “The world has hated them…My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one…As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”  (Jn. 17:14,15,18; also verse 11)

Therefore, we must prepare our disciples to utilize the weapons of spiritual warfare in order to win over the enemy in his territory. (Eph. 6:10-18)

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!