BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for April, 2006

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

JUST WHAT ARE WE, AS FOLLOWERS OF JESUS CHRIST TO BE ABOUT? (Part #1)

As Christs followers, what is the work God would have us engage in for His Kingdom and Glory? What is our ultimate mission in life to be that is eternal in its significance?  Perhaps the following illustration will prove instructive: 

(1) Evangelize (Col. 1:28,29) (2)  Establish (Col.2:6,7; Isa. 37:31)

 

(4) Laborer (Matt. 9:36,37)  (3) Equip– (2 Tim 3:16,17; Eph. 4:11.12)

 

Overview:  As followers of Christ we are to be engaged in evangelizing the lost. Once they respond to Christ as their Lord and Savior we are to help them become established in the faith. Our goal is also to equip them on how to live in a Christ like manner and minister to others.  Our final objective for them is that they become laborers in evangelizing, establishing and equipping others, who in turn will do the same.  In a word, spiritual multiplication. Lets unpack this concept a little further:

Evangelize:  We are to be involved in bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ the Gospel – to the lost in such a way that they have the opportunity of accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior and becoming responsible members of his Body, the Church.

A study of Luke 8 will reveal how Jesus communicated the message of salvation by word and deed.  Also, capture Pauls passion for winning the lost in the following passages of Scripture:

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of ChristWe proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.  (Rom. 15:18,19; Col. 1:28,29)

QUESTION: Does the focus, tenor, and pattern of your life give clear evidence that you are co-laboring with God in the process of bringing people into his Kingdom by word and deed?

Next week we will continue our discussion of evangelizing, establishing, and equipping believers to become laborers for Christ.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A SINGULAR PASSION

Passion is the central issue of the Christian life.  Not a passion to save the world. Or a passion to raise godly children. Or a passion to feed the hungry. Or a passion for any noble cause or ideal.  But simply a passion to know Jesus Christ on the most intimate of terms. Everything else by way of comparison is rubbish.  Literally, that which is thrown to the dogs.

I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I my gain ChristMy soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.   (Phil. 3:8b; Psa. 119:20)

Jesus summarized the sum total of Old Testament teaching with two commands:

(1)  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mk. 12:30) That is the essence of passion: Loving God without reservation or compromise with every fiber of your being. With all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The validation of our love for Him is our unequivocal obedience to His word.  Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me… (Jn. 14:21a) 

(2)  Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mk. 12:31) This second passion is subservient to the first and naturally flows from it: (Mk. 6:31b) Thus, service done in the name of Christ is the natural result of ones passion to know and love God.

Our vocation, our mission in life, our one thing is simply to know Jesus Christ; to walk in union and communion with Him; making the knowledge and pursuit of Him our one consuming obsession. As Paul stated, For to me, to live is ChristChristis your life  (Phil. 1:21a; Col. 3:4b) Possessed by this singular passion, He will begin transforming us into his likeness as evidenced by purity of heart, compassion, gentleness, humility, sacrificial service to others, etc.

But we are to allow Him to accomplish the transformation in and through us. There are two ways to utilize an automobile:  (1) Get behind it and push it down the road, or (2) Get in and let the engine do the work for you. Thus, the process of inner transformation can either be a laborious but futile endeavor on our part, or a Divinely empowered progression. It all depends upon whether or not the Source of the power is released for its intended purpose.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me  (Gal. 2:20) (See Phil. 4:13; 1 Thess. 5:10)

Fruitfulness will naturally follow from this inner transformation, because the very life of Jesus is being lived out through us, his cleansed and available vessel.

If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good workI am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (2 Tim. 2:21; Jn. 15:5)

QUESTION:  Would a careful observer of your life conclude that your primary passion in life is in fact knowing and loving God?  Or that your primary passion is service for Him?  Or, God forbid, that your principal passion in life is chasing the perishing tinsel of this world?

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

IN CASE YOU ARE WONDERING IF INVESTING IN ANOTHERS LIFE IS WORTH IT

Are you finding it difficult to juggle your multiple responsibilities and still stay on track in terms of investing your life in others? If so, than you will identify with Ralph Longrens+ letter below, as he seeks to live out Kingdom values as a professional in a high pitched society:

Dear Dwight,

Please remember me in prayer as I have been approached by several young men to disciple/mentor them on a one to one basis. Theyve heard that I meet with others in the same way and are asking if they can do the same with me. My heart goes out to them; while my mind is struggling to juggle work, wife, children and personal spiritual discipline. A still small voice says, Dwight, faced the same choices. He chose to spend time with you.  My wife told me to meditate on Gideon.

They are young men, with excellent jobs, lovely wives and some with small kids.  All are crying out for a spiritual father figure to walk with them in their journey. I know what I have to doPlease pray that I have the strength and stamina to discipline myself to order my time to take up the challenge…as you did with me.

I just want you to know that your time of sowing into my life and others is bearing much fruit. I can’t think of a greater challenge right now than to seek after Christlikeness in my life and to disciple other men to take God seriously and His Word unconditionally. The harvest for men in the marketplace is RIPE.  I want so much to be his good laborer.

Love you more than I can say.

Ralph Longren+

How many times during those long trips to Ralphs+ office did I despair wondering if the effort was really worth it. You know, it took at least two years before Ralph trusted the fact that I did not have a hidden agenda.  And now, years later it is clear that he has caught the vision of discipling others, as the letter illustrates.  Over the years while attempting to invest my life in men – often with little immediate fruit to show for it – I have had to constantly keep in mind passages like:

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (I Cor. 15:58)

The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his labor.  (I Cor. 15:58)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give upGodwill not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Gal. 6:9; Heb. 6:10)

+ Name obscured to protect identify