BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for February, 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

REACHING THE LOST WITH THE GOSPEL

ENGAGE – That is, take the initiative to make small talk with folks.  Get into their world by asking questions and expressing interest in their interests. At the health club yesterday I met a man who went to great lengths to tell me about a multi-million dollar project he had piloted. When he was finished I asked him if we could get together so that I could hear about his project in more detail. He gladly obliged.

Over the past several weeks I have been receiving physical therapy on my arm.  Consequently, the 31year old therapist and I have gotten to know each other. Gently, I probed him about where he was spiritually. As he has opened up, I planted the seed of the Gospel.  Yesterday we had lunch together, and he eagerly accepted Christ into his life. So, at the super market, in the office, and on the road, make the effort to engage people. Play sports together, have them over for a meal, visit them in the hospital. But become engaged in their lives.

Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, Please give me a drink The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink? Jesus replied, If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water."  (Jn. 4:7, 9, 10 NLT)

MODEL – That is, give them access to your life. Yesterday I had breakfast with a gentleman, who along with his wife is reaching the under belly of society.  He told me that when his sister-in-law visited them for several days, they purposely said nothing to her about Christ. Yet, she was exposed to their ministry to the down and out. At the airport, as they were seeing her off, she burst into tears, proclaiming, I have learned so much about Jesus from you these past few days.   It was only a matter of time before both she and her husband came to Christ.

My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angryIf you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak evil against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.  (Jms. 1:19; I Pet. 3:15b, 16 NLT)

INSTRUCT – That is, teach them the truth.  Graciously, simply, and with great compassion and humility inform them of the truth of the Gospel. I have yet to see a book on Jesus Principles of Sharing the Gospel.  The reason is that there simply was no set pattern to His bringing the Gospel to people. Each situation warranted a tailored approach.

Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of GodRemember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.  (2 Tim. 2:24, 25; Act. 20:27, 31b)

DISCIPLE – That is, once they have embraced Christ, help them grow.  Discipleship involves getting down and dirty into their lives.  Assisting them in building the disciplines of prayer, bible study, scripture memory and witnessing into their lives.  Dealing with character issues, helping them put their marriages on a biblical footing, assisting them in working through past wounds; addressing the issue of trusting God for their business, etc., etc.  In a word continue to help them to the next level of commitment and spiritual maturity.

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 Jesus. (Col. 1:28 Phillips)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

WHO I AM IN CHRIST

After a 10 12 hour day of traffic congestion, impossible deadlines, manipulative clients, lawsuits, cash flow problems, and seductive co-workers, you often reach home feeling more like a piece of ground hamburger than a Child of the King. You may want ponder, and then post the following reminder in a prominent place to be reminded of who you are in Christ:

I Am Accepted in Christ 1

I am Gods child: To all who received himbelieved in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  Jn. 1:12

I am Christs friend: I no longer call you servantsinstead, I have called you friends  Jn. 15:15

I have been justified: Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Rom. 5:1

I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit:  He who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  I Cor. 6:17

I have been bought with a price; I belong to God:  You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.  I Cor. 6:20

I am a member of Christs Body: Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it I Cor. 12:27.

I am a saint: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesusto the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus… Eph. 1:1

I have been adopted as Gods child: He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.  Eph. 1:5

I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit: For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Eph. 2:18

I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins: In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Col. 1:14

I am complete in Christ: You have been given fullness in Christ Col. 2:10

I am Secure in Christ

I am free forever from condemnation: There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Rom. 8:1,2

I am assured that all things work together for good: We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him  (Rom.  8:28)

I am free from any condemning charges against me:  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Rom. 8:33, 34

I cannot be separated from the love of God: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  Rom. 8:35

I have been established, anointed and sealed by God: Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us.  2 Cor. 1:21

I am hidden with Christ in God: For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Col. 3:3

I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected:  He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Phil. 1:6

I am a citizen of heaven: Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior there… Phil. 3:20

I have not been given a spirit of fear: God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Tim. 1:7 KJV

I find grace and mercy in time of need: Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Heb. 4:16

I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me: The one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.  I Jn. 5:18

I Am Significant in Christ

I am the salt and light of the earth:  "You are the salt of the earthLet your light shine before men Matt. 5:13 16

I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His love: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit Jn. 15:5

I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit:  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruitfruit that will last.  Jn. 15:8, 16

I am a personal witness of Christs: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses Act. 1:8

I am Gods temple: You yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you.  I Cor. 3:16

I am a minister of reconciliation: Christgave us the ministry of reconciliationHe has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors  2 Cor. 5:18, 20

I am Gods coworker: As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  2 Cor. 6:1

I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm:  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.  Eph. 2:6

I am Gods workmanship: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10

I may approach God with freedom and confidence:  In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.  Eph. 3:12

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me: I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:13)

Living Free in Christ  Neil Anderson

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

FEAR AND COURAGE

When I was 9 years old I spent the summer at a boys camp. The rite of passage to become one of the boys was to jump off a 20 foot tower into the water. Every time I climbed the ladder and looked down, I was immobilized by fear.  In the 7th grade I was suppose to sing a solo in front of 900 of my fellow students. Well, one look over the audience and I froze. I remember fear seizing me in a high school football game as the sole receiver of the kick off by the opposing team. From time to time over the years an irrational fear has gripped me that we would run out of money, or that some terrible thing might happen to us as a family. At times I have felt the fear of being rejected when I knew it was time to share Christ with a person.

What are some of the root causes of fear?

  Rebellion against God in refusing to take responsibility for our actions:  Adam and Eve hid from God; Adam blamed Eve for giving him the forbidden food. Gen. 3:8-12

  Self-serving concerns at the expense of others:  Abraham and Isaac look out for their own safety at the sacrifice of their wives. Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-18; 26:1-11

  Choosing not to believe God amidst challenging circumstances: The 10 spies returned from Canaan, whining about the giants in the land.  Num. 13:28-33 (See Matt. 8:23-27)

  Fatigue:  Elijah, after a great spiritual victory, fell apart emotionally and spiritually when he received a threatening message from wicked Jezebel. 1 Kin. 19:1-18

  Forgetting Gods promises of protection:  Isa. 51:12-16; Deut. 7:17-23; 8:2,18; Josh. 1:13

  Seeking the approval of man over God:  Lk. 16:15; Jn. 12:42,43

What are some of the root causes of courage?

  Godly character:  Daniel determined not to defile himself with the kings food. Dan. 1:8. Joseph expresses concern for Gods glory when confronted by a seductress. Gen. 39:8-10

  Choosing to believe the promises of God amidst challenging circumstances:  God promises Moses and Joshua success in taking the land.  Deut. 31:6-8, 22,23

  Past successes:  David killed a lion and a bear before encountering Goliath.  1 Sam. 17:34-37

  Obedience to Gods commands: God enjoined Joshua to courageously obey the law as a precursor to victory in entering Canaan.  Jos. 1:3-9

  Waiting on and hoping in God: That is, expect, look patiently, tarry, and trust in God. Psa. 27:14; 31:24

  Rock rib convictions as to your God-given mission amidst intense opposition:  Peter and John fearlessly face adversarial authorities.  Act. 4:13-22; 5:27-32

  Prayer:  Daniel courageously defied idolatrous authorities through a consistent prayer life. Dan. 6:10-13

It is Satans intention to make cowards of us all.  Conversely, it is Gods intention to make spiritual warriors of us all. If you are plagued with fear, you might want to prayerfully mull over the following promises and claim them as your own. Then step out in faith, choosing to believe and appropriate them today:

  • Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the Lord means safety.   (Pro. 29:25 NLT)
  • Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.  (Isa. 41:10 NLT)
  • For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Tim. 1:7 NLT)
Wednesday, February 7, 2007

LEGALISM OR FREEDOM IN CHRIST?

How do I know when I am overstepping the boundaries of my freedom in Christ and sinning? When am I being legalistic and when am I walking in accordance with the Scriptures?  Basically legalism is an attitude, a mentality based on pride.  It is an obsessive conformity to an artificial standard for the purpose of exalting oneself. A legalist assumes the place of authority and pushes it to unwanted extremes.1 Legalism clings to the law at the expense of grace, to the letter in place of the spirit.2 Thus, legalism is allowing myself to be bound by man made standards of performance.

Note Pauls instructions to not give in to the law: Do not lose your freedom by giving in to those who urge circumcision.  Plant your feet firmly therefore within the freedom that Christ has won for us, and do not let yourselves be caught again in the shackles of slavery.  (Gal. 5:1 J.B. Phillips) It is clear that Paul had broken free from the tyranny of mans rules in stating, Im not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christs servant. (Gal. 1:10 NLT) Consider the illustration below:

  Negative Commands

 

  Positive Commands

 

 

  Self-imposed Convictions

 

 

Anything outside the larger box represents the Negative Commands (fornication, stealing, etc). The Positive Commands (loving God, neighbor, etc.) lie within the boundary of the larger box. The good news is that we are given the choice of determining the extent of our Self-imposed Convictions/freedoms, as illustrated by the smaller box.  The sobering news is that one day we will explain our choice to God.3

As a general guideline I have found it helpful to keep in mind the fact that what the Scriptures forbid, I am not free to embrace.  Where the Scriptures are silent, I am free to act. St. Paul reminds us that, everything is permissiblebut not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissiblebut not everything is constructiveBe careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. (1 Cor. 10:23; 8:9) 4

Paul Tournier, in his classic work, Guilt and Grace writes, In all fields, even those of culture and art, other peoples judgment exercise a paralyzing effect.  Fear of criticism kills spontaneity; it prevents men from showing themselves; expressing themselves freely, as they are.  Much courage is needed toformulate an independent opinion or an original idea.

Eugene Peterson lends this delightful insight:  The word Christian means different things to different people.  To one person it means a stiff, uptight, inflexible way of life, colorless and unbending. To another it means a risky, surprise-filled venture, lived tiptoe at the edge of experienceIf we restrict ourselves to the biblical evidence, only the second image can be supported: the image of the person living zestfully, exploring every experience pain and joy, enigma and insight, fulfillment and frustration as a dimension of human freedom, searching through each for sense and grace.  If we get our information from the biblical material, there is no doubt that the Christian life is a dancing, leaping, daring life.5

Perhaps Paul best summarized this issue of whether we will live in legalistic bondage or in freedom by stating,  It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love  (Gal. 5:13a Msg.) As always, the choice is ours!

  • 1 Charles Swindoll, Grace Awakening, Dallas, TX, Word Publishing, 1990, 81

  • 2 The Myth of Certainty, Daniel Taylor, Waco, TX : Word, 1986), 34

  • 3 Mr.Gayle Jackson presented this illustration at the Lake Tahoe, California Business and Professional Conference, May 2004

  • 4 A careful study of Romans 3-5,14; Gal. 2:11-5:15, Col. 2:8-23 will prove helpful on the subject of legalism and freedom

  • 5 Eugene Peterson, Traveling Light Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers and Howard, Publishers, Inc.,.1988i),  57-58)