BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for August, 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

HAVE YOU GRASPED THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SPIRITUAL MULTIPLICATION?

Jesus command to "make disciples" is costly, but the pay off can be remarkable.

In a world that demands immediate results, such as rosy quarterly earnings to placate investors often at the expense of the long term good of the company – the idea of investing for years into the life of an individual, or a small group, comes off as tedious, arcane and just too slow. "The fact is that disciples will not be developed through methods of mass production that attempt short cuts to maturity."1 "One must decide where he wants his ministry to count in the momentary applause of popular recognition or the reproduction of his life in a few chosen men who will carry on his work after he has gone."2

If the Creator of the Universe demonstrated the importance of investing three years of His short 33 year life into twelve men, what does that suggest to us about how we are to conduct our ministry? Just before departing for heaven, Jesus told his key disciples "Teach them (the disciples future disciples) to observe all that I have taught you." The Master was talking about spiritual multiplication. (Matt. 28:19)

To help us comprehend the importance of spiritual multiplication, compare the numeric difference between one person a day coming to Christ and one person a year being discipled and equipped to disciple another, thus doubling the number of laborers each year:3

Year

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Evangelist

365

730

1095

1460

1825

2190

2555

2920

3285

3650

4015

4380

4745

5110

5475

5840

Discipler

2

4

8

16

32

64

128

256

512

1,024

2,048

4,096

8,192

16,384

32,768

65,536

My challenge to you is to prayerfully seek out one person who has a heart for God, and is faithful and teachable. Invest into his life toward his spiritual maturity to the point where he in turn begins to reproduce it in the life of another

.

"The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly." (Isa. 60:22) (See Dan. 2:44; Mic. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 2:2; Rev. 7:9)

1 Greg Ogden, Discipleship Essentials (Inter-Varsity Press, 1998), p. 21

2Robert E. Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism (Old Tappan, J.J.: Revell, 1964), p. 21

3Keith Phillips, The Making of a Disciple (Old Tappan, N. J. : Revell, 1981), p. 23

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

CHALLENGING TODAYS SACRED MANTRA: “TOLERATION”

In the ivory halls of todays liberal culture, toleration of everyone and everything has become the sacred mantra…Toleration of everyone and everything except those who do not subscribe to the notion of cart blanch toleration, that is. So anyone who holds a conviction that challenges the cult of total toleration is branded a right wing extremist, or a close minded bigot. Absolute values are out. "Toleration" as they define it, is in.

The opposite of a person of "tolerance", is someone who proselytizes. By definition, a proselyte is a person who holds a conviction and seeks to influence others to "come over" to his point of view. As a swimmer I am proselytizing when I attempt to influence others to become physically fit. Used in a Biblical sense, a proselyte could be a person who,

Leaves an old community, whether of belief or practice, and enters a new one

: St. Paul, for example, in speaking of his conversion: "Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of ChristOne thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:7,13b,14)

Acts in such a way as to help create proselytes

: This was St. Pauls passion: "So naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. This is what I am working at all the time with all the strength that God gives me." (Col. 1:28,29 Philips Trans.)

Is motivated by the thought that it would be good for those still alien to become kin

: Again, St. Paul: "O Israel, my people! O my Jewish brothers! How I long for you to come to Christ. My heart is heavy within me, and I grieve bitterly day and night because of you. Christ knows and the Holy Spirit knows that it is no mere pretense when I say that I would be willing to be forever damned if that would save you." (Rom. 9:1-3 Living)

John Lock, in his classic Letter on Toleration took exception to the idea of proselytizing in stating that in order for religion to be tolerated it must be privatized. In other words, if you must be religious, keep it to yourself, and out of the public arena. In our world of "political correctness", for example, the uncompromising words of Jesus or Peter stand in direct opposition to our current worship of toleration:

Jesus

: "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born againI am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Peter addressed the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish political/religious counsel), "Salvation is found in no one else [other than Jesus Christ], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Jn. 3:3; 14:6; Lk. 3:7,8; Act. 4:12)

QUESTION

: In a society run amok with the notion of cart blanch toleration, are you willing to openly identify yourself with the authoritative teachings of Scripture, and yes, to proselytize for the Gospel? If so, you will need to be prepared to suffer the inevitable consequences. Because consequences there will be. (See 2 Tim. 3:12)

+Many of the concepts in this" Facts" are taken from, Proselytizing for Tolerance by Paul J. Griffiths First Things, November 2002, pages 30-36

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

ACCOUNTABILITY OR “LONERANGERISM”

In our highly individualistic world of can-doism, the temptation for the Horatio Hornblower/Arnold Schwarzenegger types of the world is to go it alone as they hack their way through the asphalt jungle of life. Such is the "I am the captain of my fate" cult of self-sufficiency and self-determination. Jeremiah observed such types in stating, "Each [man] pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle." (8:6b) For the follower of Christ, that formula will ultimately spell disaster.

Nowhere in Scriptures do we find self-sufficient isolationism and John Wayne-esk go-it-aloneism valued as the Biblically sanctioned pattern that leads us toward spiritual maturity or effective Christian service.

Moses was enjoined by his father-in-law after near drop dead exhaustion of go-it-aloneism, to develop a team of co-workers. (Ex. 18:13-27)

When Jesus sent the Twelve out for training and ministry, it was in pairs. (Mk. 6:7)

Paul made a practice of traveling and ministering in pairs or with a team. (Act. 13:2; Act. 20:4, etc.)

Pauls pattern for church growth was that of a united effort through Christian community. (See Eph. 4:11-16; I Cor. 12-14; Heb. 10:24,25 etc.)

As Im writing this "Facts", I am meeting for a couple of days with four of my buddies who have taken it upon themselves to check in with me once or twice a year to encourage me in my walk with God, and to lovingly ask the hard questions:

How is your walk with God? How is God speaking to you? Whats going on in your thought life?

How are you really doing down in your gut? How is He leading you in terms of your ministry?

Hows your marriage? How is your family doing? How are your finances? How is your health?

How can we pray for you? Support you? Etc., etc.

Surrounded as I am by these men reminds me of Ecclesiastes 4:9,10, and Proverbs 13:20a; 27:6a "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him upHe who walks with the wise grows wiseWounds from a friend can be trusted" (See 1 Sam. 23:16; 2 Sam. 11:11,12; Job 4:3,4; Pro. 17:17)

How about you?

In a world where fellow believers are dropping like flies to immorality, discouragement, isolation, loneliness, and lack of true accountability, are you out there hacking it out alone? Perhaps even twisting in the windalone? Or are you choosing to travel with a company of committed like-minded warriors like my friends who are intent on helping this needy pilgrim remain on the right path until he crosses the line into eternity? If you are electing to go it alone, I wonder what the odds are that you will end well with God?

"Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives."

(Jer. 17:5,6)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

PRACTICAL HELP ON HOW TO MEDITATE ON THE SCRIPTURES

The art of meditating on the Scriptures is key to gleaning its truth and making practical application:

Heres how I approached Luke 19:1-10

: Step #1: I slowly and prayerfully read over the passage. Step #2: I summarized the key idea/truth for each verse. Step #3: I asked myself a personal application-type question for each verse. Step #4: I chose verse 7 as the focus of my application, highlighting it along with #7 under the "Summary of Key Ideas" column and #7 under the "Personal Application-Type Questions" column. Step #5: I then prayed over the truth of verse 7, and wrote out this application: "Jesus sought out an individual. I need to do exactly the same. Lord, give me a heart to win one person to you. Tomorrow I will call Dave and ask him to lunch, as the beginning step toward winning him to Christ."

THE PASSAGE

"Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ " 8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." 9Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

SUMMARY OF KEY IDEAS/TRUTH

1. There is a critical time to encounter Jesus.

2. Knowing Jesus knows no class/caste.

3. The most unlikely may be the most hungry.

4. Jesus knows us with out an introduction.

5. God honors hearts eager to know him.

6. Zacchaeus response to Christ was immediate.

7. Jesus demonstrated the worth of the individual.

8. Repentance was validated by restitution.

9. Jesus knows/deter-mines who is to be saved.

10. Jesus mission: seeking & saving sinners like Zacchaeus.

PERSONAL APPLICATION-TYPE QUESTIONS

1. Do I recognize when God seems to be working?

2. Am I classless in my thinking?

3. Have I stereotyped those I think are hungry?

4. Am I OK with the idea that He knows about me?

5. Do I have an eager heart like Zacchaeus?

6. Is my response to Jesus immediate or delayed?

7. Am I seeking out individuals for the kingdom?

8. Do my actions reflect true repentance?

9. Do I participate with God in reaching the lost?

10. Am I seeking out the lost?

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE, I LEARNED FROM NOAH’S ARK

+

One: Don’t miss the boat

. "For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, Peace and safety, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape." (I Thes. 5:2,3) (See Matt. 26:42-44; 25:1-3; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15)

Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat

. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isa. 53:6) (See Rom. 3:9-12,19,23; 11:32)

Three: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

"Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accuratelyas wise (sensible, intelligent) people." (Eph. 5:15 Amp. See Gen. 41:28-36; Pro. 6:6-8; Pro. 30:25; Matt. 25:1-13)

Four: Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.

"But the godly shall flourish like palm trees and grow tall as the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted into the Lord’s own garden and are under his personal care. Even in old age they will still produce fruit and be vital and green. This honors the Lord and exhibits his faithful care" (Psa. 92:12-15a) (See Pro. 14:30; 15:30; 16:24; 17:22; I Cor. 6:19, 20; 1 Tim. 4:8)

Five: Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

"We stand true to the Lord whether others honor us or despise us, whether they criticize us or commend us. We are honest, but they call us liars" (2 Cor. 6:8 Living). (See Neh. 4:1-3; Psa. 141:5; Act. 8:24; Gal. 4:16)

Six: Build your future on high ground.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." (Matt. 7:24,25)

Seven: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.

"And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two." (Mk. 6:7a) (See Gen. 2:18; Ex. 4:14-16; Num. 11:14; Pro.. 27:17; Act. 13:2; 1 Cor. 12:18-21)

Eight: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

"It is dangerous and sinful to rush into the unknown." (Pro. 19:2 Living) (See Eph. 5:14-17)

Nine: When you’re stressed, float a while.

"Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." (Mk. 6:31) (See Gen. 28:11; Psa. 55:7; Jer. 9:2; Mk. 3:7; Lk. 5:15,16)

Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

"Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these nobodies to expose the hollow pretensions of the somebodies? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God." (I Cor. 1:27-29 The Message) (See. Matt. 4:18-22)

Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting. See Genesis 9:12-16

+ Author unknown The addition of Scriptures is mine.