BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

ACCOUNTABILITY QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DISCIPLE

#1 What is your God given mission in life? Do you have it written down? (For example: To live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in a way that is pleasing to God.) (Matt. 23:37-39; 28:18-20) How are you doing in living out your mission statement?  Explain.

#2 In light of your life mission statement, what are your immediate and long-range goals?

  – On a scale of 1 10, how are you currently doing on achieving those goals?

#3 Your time with God:

–  In the past two weeks how often have you had time with God in His word and prayer in a manner that meets your spiritual needs for intimacy and growth?

–  If your time with God is not up to par, what is your plan to rectify it? How can I help you?

#4  Stewardship: On a scale of 1 10, evaluate the investment/expenditure of your time/talent and resources these past two weeks. Has your focus been primarily on the temporal, or on the eternal? Explain.

How would the leadership of your church evaluate your contribution to the Body of Christ? Explain.

#5  Sexual purity:

–  How are you doing in terms of sexual purity as it relates to the internet, T. V., movies, reading material, music, etc.?  How does what you are feeding into your mind line up with the values found in Philippians 4:8?

–  In the past 2 weeks how have you done in terms of purity with your eyes? How would you evaluate your relationship with the opposite sex (other than your spouse) in terms of emotional bonding, discretion, etc.?

#6 Who is your Paul, Timothy and Barnabas?

–  Paul: Who is discipling/mentoring you? To whom are you accountable?

–  Barnabas: Do you have a buddy with whom you are sharing the deepest issues of your heart and life; someone who loves you but is not impressed with you; someone who will tell you what you need to hear, rather than what you want to hear?

–  Timothy: Whom are you discipling? Explain.

#7 How are you doing in terms of physical fitness?  That is, are you eating wisely, and getting adequate exercise and rest?  Are you keeping your weight under control? 

#8 Are you growing your mind? That is, what books/articles/tapes are you exposing your mind to?  Why those particular selections? What are you getting from them? Do they stand the test of Philippians 4:8?

#9 Men:  If I were to ask your wife how you are doing in terms of I Peter 3:7, Colossians 3:18,19, Ephesians 5:21 33, how would she answer?  How you are doing in terms of Colossians 3:20, 21 and Ephesians 6:4, 1 Timothy 3:4,5? Explain.

  Women: If I were  to ask your husband  how you are doing in terms of I Peter 3:1-3 and Ephesians 5:21-24, how would  he answer?

#10 How would you evaluate your effectiveness in your workplace as Christs ambassador? For example, how does your life stack up with Philippians 2:14-16 in your workplace?  If I were to ask your co-workers how you are doing in terms of modeling the life of Jesus, what would they tell me?

#11 Have you been honest with me in your replies to the above questions?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

WHY INTIMACY WITH GOD

Recently I sat with a businessman in his 60s who shared with me the excitement of truths God was teaching him about intimacy with Himself. Truth recently discovered after years of arid, dogged obedience void of true closeness with the Triune God. Years of Spirit-less Christianity. All his life he had sincerely sought to live the Christian life by applying truths learned in a Bible believing church. Haunted by his fathers demand for perfection, he had brought into his Christian life the same self-determination that he had applied to his considerable business acumen. 

When I shared with him the sweet communion I was experiencing these days with the Lord Jesus, he asked me to visit his fellow-seekers and tell my story. All, he said, including himself, were seeking that sweet intimacy, but somehow could not find the key to it.

Perhaps John Eldridges observations are worth consideration here: If youve settled in your mind to live as though this is a fairly neutral world and you are simply trying to live your life as best you can, then you can probably get by with the Christianity of tips and techniques.  Maybe. Ill give you about a fifty-fifty chance. But if you intend to live in the Story that God is telling, and if you want the life He offers, then you are going to need more than a handful of principles, however noble they may be. There are too many twists and turns in the road ahead, too many ambushes waiting only God knows where, too much at stake. You cannot possibly prepare yourself for every situation.  Narrow is the way, said Jesus. How shall we be sure to find it? We need God intimately, and we need Him desperately.

Gandhi was a remarkable man; so were Laotzu, Confucius, and Thomas Jefferson. They all had principles for a better life.  But only Christianity can teach you to walk with God.  We forfeit that birthright when we take folks through a discipleship program whereby they master any number of Christian precepts and miss the most important thing of all, the very thing for which we were created:  intimacy with God.

Only by walking with God can we hope to find the path that leads to life. That is what it means to be a disciple. After all arent we followers of Christ?  Then by all means, lets actually follow Him. Not ideas about Him.  Not just His principles. Him.

It takes time to learn to walk with God in a deeply intimate way, and many challenges face us before we are accustomed to the way of the heart. We must practice our chords; we must do our drills.

Walking with God is a way of life.  Its something to be learned; our ability to hear Gods voice and discern His word to us grows over time. As Brother Lawrence had it, we practice the presence of God.  We have an eye out for His particular Word to us, and we learn as we go along.1

Jesus reminds us, I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all.(Jn. 15:5 Phillips Translation)

Can you and I join the cry of Pauls heart? I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ.  For now my place is in Him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the LawHow changed are my ambitions!  Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by His resurrection: Now I long to share His sufferings, even to die as He did, so that I may perhaps attain as He did, the resurrection from the dead.    (Excerpts from Phil. 3:7-10 – Phillips Translation)

1 Excerpt from Waking the Dead by John Eldredge

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

WINNING IN A CULTURE THAT IS ADRIFT FROM ITS MOORINGS

As you navigate the treacherous waters of the rapidly changing currents of American culture, do you get the sense that you are on a raft on the Colorado River during the height of the flood season, being pulled along in a manner that literally is out of your control? Here, I believe is one way of understanding what is happening:1

In America today, we for the most part believe in nothing, or perhaps we should say we dont believe in anything. Whatever we believe in it is generally determined by mob consensus.  We believe we have total liberty to choose what we believe, want, need or possess. Our will, after all is sovereign. It is the highest good. By that we mean, it is ours to accept or reject, want or not wantwhatever.  But never to obey anything beyond what we deem to be the highest good. Perhaps Justice Kennedy best expressed it when he wrote, At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."2 

After all, we have to protect ourselves and society from any force that would impose on us any value or authority that  impeded the freedom of our individual lives.  Thus we have become morally indifferent to the natural order of things, or to our past history of values and absolutes.  So we are free to splatter feces on a surface and call it art.  Or gaze forever at pornography, or vicariously engage in brutal violence fed to us by the media, or to wallow in kinky sex of every variety, or to destroy our own unborn (40 million of them since Roe vs. Wade). It all is intrinsically good because it is all an expression of our inalienable freedom of choice. The only authority is our individual will whose impulses and decisions are their own moral index.1  We take as a given our individual right to not only obey or defy the moral law but also to choose which moral laws to adopt and which values to withhold.

If we are not too depraved to comprehend the long term implications of what is happening here, we should dread the rough beast that is being bred in our increasingly vulgar, nasty, inarticulate, empty-headed pop culture.  We have become a culture that is ascetically arid, culturally worthless, and spiritually depraved, [whose main focus is] to believe in and adore ourselves.1

Paul warned of such a society: As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people. (2Tim.3:2-5 Msg.)

So how do you and I, as follows of Christ not only survive, but win spiritually in such an environment? Consider Jesus statement:  "These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your lifeThey are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hitbut nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards." (Matt. 7:24-27 Msg.)

QUESTION:  Are you daily working the Scriptures into your life as a defense against the cultural storm that is engulfing us? Or are you blithely allowing yourself to be swept along wherever the current of pop culture happens to take you? If the answer is no to the former and yes to the latter, are you prepared to pay the high price of being party to the unprecedented disintegration of America, and to how that will impact you and your family in the years ahead?

1 Key thoughts and quotations derived from Christ and Nothing by David B. Hart, First Things, October 2003; 2 Writing for the majority in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

A PRACTICAL WAY TO SHARE THE GOSPEL WITHOUT FEAR:

To begin with, it is important to understand that this is Gods work in which he allows us to participate:

2 Tim. 2:24, 25 The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.

John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

Isaiah 55:11 My word that goes out from my mouthwill not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

When you study Jesus method of getting the Gospel to people, it is difficult to find a set pattern because there is none.  He crafted his approach to each person to fit their particular need.  The more experienced we become and the more familiar we are with Gods word, the easier it will be for us to mirror Christ in his fluid approach.  In the mean time, let me propose to you three simple steps that you can use with many of the people with whom you desire to share the Gospel.+

Step One: Use questions that determine where God is working in the persons life

  1. What is your spiritual belief?
  2. To you, who is Jesus Christ?
  3. Do you believe there is a heaven and a hell?
  4. If you died right now, where would you go?  If heaven, why?
  5. If what you believe were not true, would you want to know it?

If the answer to the last question is Yes, then proceed to Step Two.

Step Two: Let the Bible speak. Ask the person to read the verse aloud. Then ask, What does this say to you? Listen carefully to what the person is saying:

  1. Jeremiah 31:3- [God has] loved you with an everlasting love.
  2. Romans 3:23- All have sinned.
  3. Romans 6:23- The wages of sin is death.
  4. John 3:3- You must be born again.
  5. I Peter 3:18- Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
  6. John 14:6- I am the way…the truthand the life.
  7. Romans 10:9- If you confessyou will be saved.
  8. Revelation 3:20- I stand at the door, and knock.

Step Three: Close with key questions:

  1. Are you a sinner?
  2. Do you want forgiveness for your sins?
  3. Do you believe Jesus died on the cross for you and rose again?
  4. Are you willing to surrender your life to Christ?
  5. Are you ready to invite Jesus into your heart and into your life?

If they answer the above questions in the affirmative, lead them in this or a similar prayer: Heavenly Father, I have sinned against You. I ask forgiveness for all my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose again.  Father, I give you my life to do with as You wish.  Right now I am inviting Jesus Christ into my heart to live there forever.  I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

+ Adapted from Share Jesus Without Fear Edition of The New Testament, New International Version, Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1998