BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for February, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WORLD VIEW = PURPOSE = VALUES = BEHAVIOUR (Part #4 of 4)

The values we embrace determine the behavior we exhibit. Paul challenged the believers in Ephesus to lead a life worthy of [their] calling (Eph. 4:1).  Following are suggested indicators as to what worthy behavior looks like:

GROW:  A life that is being transformed into Christlikeness:  Slowly, deeply, and incrementally, the Spirit of God is changing this persons thinking (and consequently his behavior) to conform to the very character and image of God. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…Weare being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory  (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18 – Selected)  Instead of stagnation, there is growth.  The mind-set , the tone, the pattern, the decisions, and yes, the behavioral patterns increasingly reflect the very life of Jesus.  Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.  (I Jn. 2:6 Msg.) QUESTION: What would those closest to you conclude?  That you, by your attitudes and actions are increasingly reflecting the Lord Jesus, or that you are stagnating, and thus reverting back to your old self?

REST:  A life that is resting on the character and promises of God: Such a person is liberated by faith, rather than immobilized by fear: "If you hold to my teachingyou will know the truth, and the truth will set you freeBut my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Heb. 10:38,39; Jn. 8:31,32 – Selected) This is a person who feeds on and internalizes Gods word at a level where it becomes a part of his DNA.  He knows what God promises and is appropriating it into his life.   We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.  (Heb. 6:12) Consequently, there is a quiet center and sense of rest about him. QUESTION: At your core, are you learning to trust in Gods promises, or are you fearfully immobilized by the unknown?

FOCUS:  A life that is focused on knowing and surrendering to God, rather than on pursuing the shabby and fading props of the secular world: This is a single minded person whose heart is turned to God and has turned away from the lusts and pride proffered in Satans domain.  Such a life is characterized by integrity and holy behavior.  Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in GodAs obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do…  (Col. 3:1-3; I Pet. 1:14, 15; – Selected)  QUESTION: In your heart of hearts, just where is your primary point of focus? On the secular or spiritual? On the temporal or on the eternal?

EMPOWER:  A life that is sanctioned and directed by the Holy Spirit: Such a person naturally exhibits the Spirits fruit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22,23)  This person is learning how to allow the Spirit to strengthen and guide him as he relates to the uncelebrated daily tedium of life. Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful natureThrough Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and deathThose who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Gal. 5:16; Rom. 8:2, 14 Selected)  QUESTION: Are you grinding out the Christian life on your own strength, or are you learning to allow the life of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to live through you?

SERVE:  A life that is given to ministering to others rather than on gaining for ones self: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of othersFor Christ’s love compels us, because we are convincedthat those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised againGreater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends  (Phil. 2:3, 4; 2 Cor. 14,15; Jn. 15:13; – Selected)  QUESTION: Are you giving your life away for Gods glory, or are you selfishly holding it to yourself?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

WORLD VIEW = PURPOSE = VALUES = BEHAVIOR (Part #3 of 4)

Your core values are the deeply held beliefs that that authentically describe your soul. Values are that which we highly esteem and desire as a standard by which we choose to conduct our lives.  

Just what is it that we should value, as we pick our way through a society with eroding absolutes; a society where increasingly I decide whatever I value on almost any issue. Note the U. S. Supreme Courts recent declaration in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: At the heart of liberty is the right to define ones own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Really? I thought that was Gods job. By so doing, the Court has defined freedom as the freedom of the solitarily individual from any and all community standards and responsibilities he deems offensive.+ Reminiscent, is it not of Israel decline: In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judg. 17:6 KJV)

In defining our values, we need first to focus on and invest in that which is of eternal significance: 

(1) God and His WordYour throne was established long ago; you are from all eternityYour word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  (Psa. 93:2; 119:89)

(2) People: I am to invest in them to their eternal benefit, but on a priority basis: As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal. 6:10)  So, I begin with:

(a)  Myself: My first priority is to maintain the deep inner spring of my soul: Above all else, guard your heart (literally:  emotions, will, and intellect), for it is the wellspring of life.  (Pro. 4:23) It is imperative that I take the necessary steps to insure that my heart is protected and maintained before God, because it is only out of the abundance of my relationship with God that I am able to minister to others.  May I suggest that a spiritually healthy heart will manifest itself in at least four ways:

  A heart that is singularly focused on God: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  (Matt. 5:8)

  A life that is genuinely committed to loving people: "Love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matt.22:39)

  A spirit that translates into a lifestyle of humble servanthood toward others: Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:4) (See Phil. 2:5-8) 

  An attitude that forgives othersForgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.  (Lk. 11:4)

  (b) My family: If married, I am to fulfill my responsibility as a spouse and parent. (Eph. 5:21-6:4; Col. 3:18-4:1) That is, I am to be there for them, to nurture, lead, encourage, guide and influenceand at times to correct and discipline. Consider St. Pauls statement, If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (I Tim. 5:8) Provide in this passage means to think beforehand of the probable wants of my  family, and make arrangements to meet them. 

  (c) The Body of Christ also needs me to be there for them as a responsible participant. That is, I am not free to blithely float among believers without accountability, true fellowship and service.  Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another (Heb.10:24,25a).  And speaking of one another, observe the Scriptural admonitions to minister to one another: Rom. 12:10,16; 13:8; 14:13; 15:7; 1 Cor. 1:10; Gal. 5:13; 6:2; Eph. 4:32; 5:19; Col. 3:9,13,16; 1 Thes. 4:9,18; 5:11, 13, 15; Heb. 3:13; Jms. 4:11; 5:9, 16; 1 Pet. 3:8; 5:5.

  (d) The lost: Colossians 1:28, 29 pretty well sums it up:  Him we preach, admonishing every one and instructing every one, with all possible wisdom, so that we may bring every one into God’s presence, made perfect through Christ.
To this end, like an earnest wrestler, I exert all my strength in reliance upon the power of Him who is mightily at work within me. 
(Col. 1:28,29 – Wey. Trans.)

In the next issue we will explore our behavior, in light of our world view, purpose and values.

+ Freedom and Repentance, Touchstone Magazine, April, 2005, page 3

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

WORLD VIEW = PURPOSE = VALUES = BEHAVIOR (Part #2 of 4)

Purpose:  The Westminster Catechism states that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever. 

To glorify God is to give Him the worship and reverence which are His due. Three ways of accomplishing this are by:

  • Living our lives in a manner that reflects His character.: Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)
  • Bringing others to know Him in order to behold His majestyWe 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 (Col. 1:28, 29)

"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."  (Matt. 4:19)

  • Mentoring people toward maturity in Christ. Jesus, for example, glorified the Father by accomplishing His God given mission of discipling the Eleven: I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. (Jn. 17:4) A careful study of John 17 reveals that the maturation of the Eleven was his God-ordained mission. Certainly this is also to be our mission – as directed by Jesus in Matt. 28:18-20.

To enjoy God may well find expression in: 

  • A passion for intimacy with ChristBut whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, 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 may gain ChristI want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Phil. 3:7,8,10)
  • A lifestyle of worship: To worship and praise God is to learn the practice of joyfully acknowledging His sovereignty over every aspect of our lives.  Thus, our every action from washing dishes, to closing a business deal, to lifting anothers load becomes a sacred act of worship. Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. (Psa. 96:1-8)

QUESTION:  In a world gone amuck in pursuit of the material world, would the tenor of your life testify to the fact that your primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Himforever?

In the next issue we will explore our values, in light of our world view and purpose.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

WORLD VIEW = PURPOSE = VALUES = BEHAVIOR (Part #1 of 4)

World View: The term world view indicates no more than the habitual outlook that people bring to things.1 Living as we do however, in a pluralistic society characterized by instability, conflicting social change, growing complexity, and eroding values, it is understandable why so many of us lack a clear vision for our lives, and a biblical framework from which to conduct them.  Consequently, most of us wander through life from one endeavor to the next, wondering if we are in the will of God, searching for something anything that will give us meaning. Over the years this lack of fulfillment kills the wonder, spontaneity and idealism of our youth, often ossifying us into callous and disillusioned old men and women. What did we miss? What went wrong?  Let me suggest to you that we must get our world view right at the front end of our spiritual pilgrimage, because it has profound implications in determining our purpose in life, our values, and ultimately our behavior. 

According to Dr. Armand M. Nicholi Jr., Our world view informs our personal, social and political lives.  It influences how we perceive ourselves, how we relate to others, how we adjust to adversity, and what we understand to be our purpose.  Our worlview helps determine our values, our ethics and our capacity for happiness. It helps us understand why we exist on this planet, what drives us, our motivation; and where we are going, our destiny. 2 A Biblical world view has to do with looking at life though the very lens of Gods mind. As St. Paul stated:

  We are asking God that you may see things as it were, from His point of view  (Col. 1:9 – Phillips Trans.) 

  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus  (Phil. 2:5 KJV)

  We have the mind of Christ. (I Cor. 2:16b)

But thinking like God is not our natural inclination.  In fact, we resist it! The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (Rom. 8:7) As if that were not bad enough, Satan is out to seduce our mind to conform it to his values: But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Cor. 11:3)

During the three years Jesus invested in the Twelve, He implanted the very mind of God into their spiritual fiber: Everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to youNow [the disciples] know that everything you [Father] have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them (Jn. 15:15b;17:7,8a) Jesus assured the disciples that upon His departure, the Holy Spirit would continue the same course of action: When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truthHe will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.  (Jn. 16:13a, 14) And the result? They shook the known world.  (See Act. 17:6)

St. Paul passionately appealed to the Romans to allow God to renovate their minds:  Dont let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. (Rom. 12:2 Phillips Trans.)

The process of gaining a biblical world view will only take place as we, in an unrushed manner enlightened by the Holy Spirit, pour over Gods word and allow Him to transform our mind to conform to His. The process will not be rushedFor precept must be upon precept line upon linehere a little, there a little." (Isa. 28:10 NKJV) As our duplicitous, rebellious mind begins to conform to the mind of Christ, our purpose, values and behavior will also begin to reflect the very character of God.

QUESTION: Are you willing, in our quick fix society that voraciously demands instant gratification, to go against the grain and pay the considerable price in terms of time and discipline to gain a biblical world view?  My friend, your very future depends upon it.

In the next issue we will explore our purpose, in light of our world view.