BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for November, 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

SEXUAL PURITY IS IT ACHIEVABLE? (Part 2 of 3)

What are the characteristics of sexual addiction?

  It is done in isolation: Mentally and emotionally we become detached or isolated from human relationships and contact.

  It is done in secret:  In effect the addict develops a double life.  Masturbation, porn shops, massage parlors, prostitutes, surfing the internet in private, etc. His life is filled with shame. His biggest fear is getting caught.

  It is devoid of intimacy: The sex addict is utterly self-focused. He cannot achieve genuine intimacy because his self-obsession leaves no room for giving to others.

  It is devoid of relationships:  It is sex for sexs sake. Sex divorced from authentic interaction. It becomes an almost mechanical process.

  It is victimizing:  A person becomes overwhelmingly obsessed with self-gratification. Thus the addict is blinded from the harmful effects it is having on others.  Especially on ones spouse.

  It leads to despair:  Sexual addiction leaves the participants feeling guilty, regretting the experience. Empty instead of fulfilled. They despair over who they had sex with and despair over how low they have stooped.  They probably feel abandoned by God.

What are the solutions to sexual addiction?

  • Accept Gods unconditional grace, along with your responsibility in working toward a solutionIf you, O Lord, kept record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgivenessShall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  (Psa. 130:3,4; Rom. 6:1, 2)

  Ask yourself just how concerned you are about the Name of Christ not being dishonored; not being drug through the mudYou were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.  (I Cor. 6:20)

  • Make the pursuit of knowing Christ the centerpiece of your dayOf your very lifeI look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Christ Jesus my LordI, in fact, am forgetting completely the things that are behind, and stretching forward to the things that are in front; bearing down upon the goal  (Phil. 3:7, 14,14 Phillips and Wuest Translations)
  • Ask God to instruct you on how to allow the Holy Spirit to empower you to walk in His strength that will result in victory over sin.  Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful natureFor if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Gal. 5:16; Rom. 8:13) (See Rom. 8:2-4)
  • Saturate your heart and mind with the word of God.  Jesus: If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (Jn. 8:31b,32) I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psa. 119:11b)
  • Be willing to take whatever measures are necessary to cut the problem off at the root.  Desperation is the operative word here.  "Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile.  (Matt. 5:29 Msg)

Next week we will continue the discussion with more solutions to sexual addiction, common sense rules for safe internet usage, and recommended reading material.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

SEXUAL PURITY IS IT ACHIEVABLE? (Part 1 of 3)

You and I both know that our Country is awash up to its eyeballs in sexual filth. Most men are drowning in this area. Here is a snapshot of the scope of the problem:

  On line pornography is up 1800% since 1998.

  Nearly 1 in 5 video rentals is a porn flick.

  27 Porn flicks (11,000) are produced for every Hollywood feature film.

  A survey taken at a Promise Keeper event indicated that half of the men admitted to using porno the previous week.

  In a survey of Evangelical pastors, 64% admit to struggling with sexual addiction, including porno.

 Just consider the high cost an adulterous relationship with a woman: (Proverbs. 5)

  • You will expend the best of your energy on others: "Do not go near the door of [the immoral woman] lest you give your best strength to others." (vs. 9a)
  • Your life will take on a grim quality: "[You will give] your years to one who is cruel." (vs. 9b)
  • Your hard earned resources will be exploited and depleted by others: "Strangers [will] feast on your wealth and your toil [will] enrich another man’s house." (vs. 10)
  • Your latter years will end with a groan as your burned out body gives way: "At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent." (vs. 11)
  • You will live to regret the fact that you rejected warning and reproof: "You will say, ‘How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin…’" (vs. 12-14b)

What are the origins of sexual addiction?

  Our childhood: Emotional and physical abandonment, along with sexual and emotional abuse.

  Poor coping skills: Not knowing how to solve existing problems, we escape into sex as a way to reduce stress and avoid difficulties.

  Society: Disintegrating moral absolutes, exacerbated by the media and other influences have conditioned us to believe that the unusual is the norm:  Soft porn, multiple sex partners, first date sex, etc.

  Poor life choices based on false beliefs about ourselves (low self-esteem, machismo, etc): When we fail to understand our inestimable worth before God we are inclined to slouch into decisions and activities that are self-destructive.  (See Gen. 1:26, 27; Psa. 139:11-16) 

  The engagement in little indulgences that can easily develop later into irreversible and destructive patterns: Flirting, touching, sharing confidences, dipping now and then into pornography, etc.  (See Song of Sol. 2:15; 2 Tim. 2:22)

Next week we will continue the discussion with the characteristics and solution to sexual addiction.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

THREE GUIDELINES FOR DEVELOPING A MULTIPLYING, DISCIPLING MINISTRY

THINK BIG

From all eternity God has had a huge vision for redeeming people from every tribe and language people and nation. (Rev. 5:9b) Early on, God pointed out to Abraham that from his seed all the peoples of the earth would be blessed.  Some time later He further clarified the vision in stating, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore…I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth…I will increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count. (Gen. 12:3; 13:16; 22:17 – NIV) Not only does God have a great vision, but he seeks to bring us in on it, as He did with Abraham.

Look out over your city, over the place where you work, live and play. What is it that God wants to do through you? Why not pray that God will use you to affect people in your world that will have global implications for ensuing generations? Think big enough that you know you cannot accomplish it, so that when it does happen, He, and He alone will get the glory.  (Isa. 48:10,11) Consider Matthew 22:39; 25:31-46; 28:18-20; James 1:27.

START SMALL

Perhaps with one person. Understand the power of Isaiah 60:22: 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."  Jesus spoke of a tiny mustard seed, yeast, and salt as having profound influence far beyond their size. (Matt. 5:13; 13:31-33) Take one spiritually hungry, teachable person and love him unconditionally. Disciple him. The reality is that most business and professional men and women today live exceedingly fast paced, complex lives. The very notion of influencing the world for Christ can seem overwhelming.  But we can begin with one hungry or lost person as Jesus illustrated in the Parable of the Lost Sheep. (Lk. 15:1-7)  Start there. Start small.

GO DEEP

The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. (Pro. 20:5) Invest your life in him. Listen carefully to his heart. Share the depth of your being with him. Become vulnerable by your transparency. Through developing a trusting relationship, peel off the layers and get to his core.  Help him identify and work through his hurts, fears, and bondages.  Stick with him through the ugly times, the discouragements, and the set backs. Help him on how to go deep with God. That is, walk him through the process of learning prayerful meditation on the word of God. Assist him in learning the disciplines of worship and solitude before God. Carve out unrushed times together for sharing of hearts; times in prayer together.  Guide him in understanding from John 15 that genuine fruit is the excess growth of a life abiding in the Lord Jesus.  Equip him in Gods word. Help him to begin trusting God by claiming and appropriating promises from the Scriptures. Guide him on how to walk in the Spirit. Facilitate him in discovering his gifts and Gods will for his life.  Assist him in paring down his life to a few essentials by removing the extraneous. In a word, help him become focused on knowing God. (Matt. 6:33)

If you do just that, your protg will quietly and powerfully multiply his life into others. For generations. The fruit will spread like the yeast and grow like the mustard seed beyond anything you could have imagined. You will indeed witness the truth of Isaiah 60:22: The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation…

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

WHY IS IT MOST CHURCH DISCIPLESHIP PROGRAMS DONT DELIVER THE GOODS?

The Great Commission:  [Jesus] told his disciples, I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this–that I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matt. 18:18-20 LB)

After 45 years of discipling, it seems to me that the most common mistake made in the discipling process is the assumption that informing people of truth will probably change their lives. How many of us have enrolled in a discipleship program with great expectations and hope.  Generally, the people appointed to lead those programs have not themselves been discipled. So the approach is relatively ineffective, as usually less than mature and victorious believers take their charges through material in a notebook. So after the program is completed we all get back to normal, left with a taste of the blahs, simply because the program didnt deliver the goods. That is, our carnal, vacuous spiritual lives remain unchanged. So we wait until another exciting program purportedly designed to revive and train our sluggish lives – arrives in town. Again we sign up once again, hoping And so it goes, year in and year out.  So, what is missing?

What is missing is a true discipler/mentor appointed to lead a group. A discipler/mentor who himself has been discipled by another mature disciple over an unrushed period of time. This mature disciplers character reflects that of Christ.  He is equipped in the word of God to intelligently train another person to walk with God and apply Biblical truth to daily living in the home and in the work place. 

Think of how you train your children. For two decades you mold their attitudes, teaching them discipline, priorities, and values. Yes there is information and truth mixed in. But it is primarily your example, your authenticity and your training and disciplining that forms their character into becoming responsible, healthy and productive adults. You must have the transmission of information inter-woven with character building to get the desired results: Godly, mature, equipped laborer/disciplers of Christ.

The most brilliant Person who ever walked this earth chose to invest 3 out of his 3 years of ministry into the lives of 12 select, but very average working men. What Jesus did was live with these 12 men 24/7.  By precept and example he modeled true godliness, molding them into his likeness. That is, He taught and tempered them by His truth and example. He got down inside them and dealt with core issues character issues that would in the long term either make or break them. At the end of that training period, Christ, speaking to His heavenly Father about them said, I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.  (Jn. 17:4) The Book of Acts states that these men (Judas excepted) turned the world upside down. (17:6) We are here today because the Master invested deeply and personally in the lives of these men, who in turn multiplied it on to succeeding generations.

The Matthew 28:18-20 passage The Great Commission – is simply His command that we replicate the process He lived and demonstrated.  Why are we in such a hurry that we refuse to simply do it His way?  And on His timetable?  One reason, I believe is that we fail to grasp the power and significance of spiritual multiplication. Another reason is the incredible personal cost of such an investment.  Were not really sure it will pay the dividends. And a third reason is because we are caught up in the pride-driven game of numbers (bigger is better), so endemic today in the Body of Christ.

If we are serious about equipping the laity to become effective disciple/laborers for a lifetime (Eph. 4:11-16), the element of personalized, in depth, unrushed life-on-life discipling that involves teaching the truth, training in spiritual disciplines, and building character must be at the very core of our approach. 

The question is, are you willing to pay the price of investing your life in another at that level?

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

GUIDELINES ON COMMUNICATING A VISION

What is your vision? If you are indeed a leader you have one. People just dont follow vision-less managers. They may comply, but if they are worth their salt, they wont follow. How are you articulating the vision for your company or for the ministry to which God has called you?  Vision is what a developer imagines when he looks over a piece of raw land and sees a lovely golf course or a mega-shopping mall.  Vision is what Jesus saw in the Eleven, as He anticipated reaching the world with the Gospel through them: "I am praying for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. (Jn. 17;20) (See Gen. 12:1-3)

John Maxwell states, People need to be shown the teams vision clearly, creatively, and continually… Whenever I endeavor to cast vision with the members of my team, I use the following checklist. I try to make sure that every vision message possesses:1

Clarity which brings understanding to the vision and answers what the people must know and what you want them to do. Could Jesus be any clearer than this? "Come, follow meand I will make you fishers of men."  (Matt. 4:19) (See Matt. 28:18-20)

Connectedness which brings the past, present, and future together: He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.  (2 Cor. 1:10) (See: Deut. 8:2 [The past]; Jos. 1:2a [The present] Jos. 1:3-5 [The future] ).

Purpose which brings direction to the vision: "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  (Jos. 1:6,7b, 8)

Goals which bring targets to the vision: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  (Act. 1:8)

Honesty which brings integrity to the vision and credibility to the vision-caster: We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.  You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed–God is our witness.  (I Thes. 2:4b, 5) (See I Sam. 12:3-5; Dan. 6:4)

Stories which bring relationships to the vision: Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.   (Deut. 4:9)  (See Ex. 12:26, 27; Deut. 6:1,2, 6,7; 11:19)

Challenge which brings stretching to vision: Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions  (Heb. 11:33) (See Num. 13:26-30; 14:6-9; Isa. 41:10-16)

Passion which brings fuel to the vision: Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the desert. They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains.  (I Chron. 12:8) (See 1 Sam. 13:23-14:23; I Chron. 12:21; 2 Chron. 13:3)

Modeling which brings accountability to the vision: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (I Cor. 11:1) (See 1 Cor. 4:16; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:9; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:3)

Strategy which brings process to vision: See Joshua 8:1-2

1 Key ideas derived and developed from Leadership Promises for Every Day The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John Maxwell