BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for March, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

HERES A GUIDE ON HOW TO START YOUR DAY WITH PRAYER 1

Confession:  Begin by confessing specific sins to God: But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. (I Jn. 1:9 NLT)

  Thank God for His provision for forgiveness.  (I Jn. 2:1)

  Ask God to search your heart for hidden sins.  (Psa. 139:23,23)

  Tell Him how you feel about the sin.  (2 Cor. 7:10)

  Thank Him for relational restoration. (Psa. 32:1,2)

Adoration/Affirmation:  Continue by expressing your adoration or praise to God: Shout with joy to the Lord, O earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.  (Psa. 100:1,2 NLT)

  Praise Him for His nature: His holiness (Rev. 15:4), His love (1 Jn. 4:8), His Mercy (Ex. 33:19), etc.

  Praise Him for His works: in creation and salvation (Gen. 1; Lk. 19:10). 

  Praise Him for His names: Lamb of God, Wonderful Counselor (Jn. 1:29; Isa. 9:6), etc.

  Affirm to Him that you are in a spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10-20)

  Affirm to Him that you are dependent on Him (2 Cor. 3:4-6).

  Affirm to Him your desire to possess an eternal perspective (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Supplication:  Next, present your needs and desires to God, and make your requests: "Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. You parentsif your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? (Matt. 7:7-9 NLT)

  Pray for: Yourself

  Your family and extended family

   Your friends

   Your co-workers

   Your finances

   Your spiritual leaders

   Your government leaders

Thanksgiving: Finish by thanking God for the things which He has done or is doing in your life: No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18 NLT)

  Thank Him for: Your salvation

   His provision and protection in your past

   Significant people

   Special opportunities

   Material blessings

   The trials you are experiencing

   Your future

1 Adapted from Foundations, page 67, Search Ministries, 5038 Dorsey Hall Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21042, 1991

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

WANT TO WIN YOUR WORK ASSOCIATES TO CHRIST? CONSIDER THESE TIPS:

For starters, begin by looking at your job as one of the greatest opportunities in which to build redemptive relationships.

  1. Help make your company and its people successful. Co-workers are interested in how you handle problems.  Help others to become successful.
  2. Make sure that anything labeled Christian with which you are involved is as sharp or sharper than anything sponsored by your company.
  3. Pray for yourself Ask God to give you a love for people around you.
  4. Pray for your co-workers by name.
  5. Get involved in their personal lives. Invite them out for lunch, dinner, coffee, sporting events, plays, etc.  Do things together.
  6. Invite an individual or a couple for dinner to provide an opportunity to relate personally. 
  7. Remember special days of your business associates: birthdays, weddings, sickness, accidents, births.  Send cards, make telephone calls, drop by, etc.
  8. Join a local service club.
  9. Become active in your business athletic team(s): softball, bowling, basketball.
  10. Participate with associates in regular sporting events such as racquetball, tennis, golf.
  11. Dont embarrass non-believers by your witness. Be sensitive, look for a relaxed setting where you are alone.  People rarely share their deep feelings in a crowd.
  12. Reflect a positive outlook in every aspect of your work.
  13. Dont pressure anyone. Talk only to people who seem to be interested.
  14. Dont try to make an impact for Christ alone! Seek out Christian co-workers and work together on a plan to reach fellow employees.
  15. Get training.  We may be offending people. Zeal without knowledge builds barriers rather than bridges.
  16. Plan your strategy.  Always be ready to flex but planning helps you keep your goal.
  17. Plan a night during the month you can devote to entertaining co-workers and associates.1

It is important that we view evangelizing our work associates as a process, rather than as an event.  Most non-believers erect at least one of three barriers that need to be processed through:

#1 The emotional barrier is a set of negative feelings that a seeker has toward Christianity based on bad experiences with believers or with organized religion. (Consider utilizing I Cor. 9:19-23; Col. 4:5, 6)

#2 The intellectual barrier is a predisposition to disregard or reject Christianity based upon bad information, misconceptions, or unanswered questions. (Consider utilizing I Pet. 3:15)

#3 The volitional barrier is a predisposition to resist examining spiritual things, or to reject Christianity outright, based upon pride and independence caused by a sinful nature.  (Consider utilizing Col. 4:2, 3) 2

We will be less inclined toward anxiety during the process of evangelism if we keep in mind the fact that God is responsible for the results: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things growFor we are God’s fellow workers (I Cor. 3:6, 7, 9a) (See Mt. 16:15-17; 2 Tim. 2:23-26)  

1 Adapted from The Secular Bridge, by Glenn Pate

2 Adapted from Foundations, pages 56-59, Search Ministries, 5038 Dorsey Hall Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21042, 1991

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

IF YOUR PERSONAL TIMES ALONE WITH GOD ARE DRY, READ THIS CAREFULLY

George Muller, (1805 1898) who is famous for establishing orphanages in England, joyfully depended on God to meet all his needs and the needs of the thousands of children under his charge.  In the text below, he lays out how he sustained a vital daily time with God. I have read nothing better:

It pleased the Lord to teach me a truthI saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourishedBefore this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayerNow I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into experimental, communion with the Lord. I began therefore, to meditate on the New Testament, from the beginning , early in the morning

The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lords blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God; searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake or preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul.  The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession or to supplication; so that I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer.

When thus I have been for awhile making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it; but still continually keeping before me, that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened and that by breakfast time with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart.  Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, very soon after, I have found to become food for other believers

The difference between my former practiced and my present one is this.  Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the timebut what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often after having suffered much wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray.

Now what is the food for the inner man: not prayer, but the Word of God: and here again not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts

How different when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials and the temptations of the day come upon one.1

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and nightI meditate on your precepts and consider your waysLet me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wondersI lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decreesOh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day longI have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutesMy eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. (Psa. 1:1, 2; 119:15, 27, 48, 97, 99, 148)

1 Autobiography of George Muller, comp. Fred Bergen (London: J. Nisbet, 1906, 152-4.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

RAISING KIDS AND THE WAR OF THE WILLS

My wife and I recently spent the evening with a couple and their two pre-schoolers. From the onset, it was clear that the children had won the war of the wills.  Two teeny weenie balls of butter obviously were kings of the mountain in that home! Imagine it. My guess is that the parents either do not understand or are unwilling to apply Biblical principles of discipline and training to their children.  In all probability, they have bought into current popular trends of child-rearing: Dont even consider the possibility of spanking the children. Rather divert them, reason with them, explain everything to them.  Do anything but corporal punishment. Forever thank them when they comply. In a word, we no longer are parental authority figures, but their buddies.

Ever watch the civil war between a 3 year old and the parent? From both the parent and the child comes the whining, the threats of rejection, the manipulation, negotiations, love withheld, bribes. You name it.  The parents crave the childs love and often feel guilty for not having spent enough time with him. Thus they are afraid of saying with authority, No, you cant have it.  Or thats enough. And then enforcing the no with appropriate disciplinecoupled with a lot of love.

Few modern day parents today seem to possess the strength of conviction based on a clear understanding of Scriptural principles of child rearing. And thus they lack an inner sense of security and authority to stop the manipulation at its inception, by simply saying, This is the way it is. If you choose to disobey, there are consequences.  Then consistently following through with punishment that is appropriate for the level of disobedience.  And by that I mean raising the level of pain to the point where the child takes you seriously enough to obey. My daughter recently told me the light went on in her head when she realized that the childs intention is to take as much territory as possible, and that it is her responsibility as a parent to keep the child from doing so.

So, an adult comes to Christ from a background conditioned by this mushy environment of negotiated authority.  His assumption is that he can play the same game of manipulation with God. That is, he reserves the right to determine the terms upon which he will surrender his pampered will to God.  He casts God in the role of his personal Heavenly Bell Hop who, like his parents, exists to love and serve him on his terms. But because God refuses to play the game he has been conditioned to expect, he lives in a continual state of anger, frustration and discontentment.  Often the assumption by fellow Christians is that the solution for this angry, frustrated soul is more exposure to God, the Bible, church meetings, etc., etc.

No, what he needs is to have his stubborn will broken. Hopefully by taking himself by the nape of the neck, repenting and surrendering to God.  If not, God will, over a period of time either arrange the circumstances in his life to get his attention, or will leave him to his own self-destructive devices. (See Pro. 1:23-32)

Societal trends in discipling children will vary with each generation. The Scriptures give some absolutes that often challenge our secularized ideas of parenting.  For example:

  • Corporal punishment is endorsed:  He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.  (Pro. 13:24) (See Pro. 22:15; 29:15)
  • Both fathers and mothers bear the responsibility of instructing and disciplining their children: Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. (Pro. 1:8) (See Deut. 4:9; 6:6-9; Pro. 6:20)
  • Disciplining your children may save them from self-destruction:  Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death. (Pro. 19:18) (See Pro. 30:17)
  • The blessing of God on your life may be affected by your obedience to disciplining and training your children: For I have chosen [Abraham], so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him." (Gen. 18:19)
  • Other Scriptures to consider: Pro. 3:12; Psa. 78:3-6; Eph. 6:4; Heb. 12:6-10

QUESTION: Solomon conveyed a sober warning for those parents who miss the mark with their children: To have a fool for a son brings grief; there is no joy for the father of a foolA foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him. (Pro. 17:21, 25) Are you willing to apply biblical principles of parental discipline?  If not, what guarantee do you have that your children will not be a source of grief to you in your old age?