BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for March, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

JUST HOW IN TUNE AND INVOLVED AM I WITH GODS WORKING AMONG MEN?

As Jesus was going down the road, he saw Matthew sitting at his tax-collection booth. Come, be my disciple, Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. The Pharisees were indignant. Why does your teacher eat with such scum? they asked his disciples. When he heard this, Jesus replied, Healthy people don’t need a doctorsick people do. Then he added, Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.’ For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough."  (Matt. 9:9-13 NLT)

  Am I aware that God is in the business of choosing the most unlikely among us

Or do I already have a fixed idea in my mind as to the types God is calling? 

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (Jn. 3:8)

  Do I have a God-directed sense of timing as to what He is doing in a persons life?  Am I moving in concert with Him?

Or am I blithely unaware or indifferent as to the working of God in the lives of the people in my world 

We are God’s fellow workersAs God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  (1 Cor. 3:9a; 2 Cor. 6:1)

  Am I able to move with ease among the lost? Even among the most egregious of sinners? 

Or do I find myself coolly distant from their often unattractive and tragic lives?

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners." (Matt. 11:19a)

  Do I possess genuine compassion for the lost, as evidenced by my willingness to become vulnerable and involved in their lives?

Or do I, like the Pharisees, judiciously keep a safe distance?

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, If you are willing, you can make me clean. Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. I am willing, he said. Be clean! Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.  (Mk. 1:40-42)

CONCLUSIONGodgave us the ministry of reconciliationHe has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us (2 Cor. 5:18-20 Selected).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

PRIDE AND HUMILITYA STUDY IN CONTRASTS

On a recent trip I encountered two high profile men whose influence in matters Christian are widely knownand impressive.

The one gentleman is deeply revered and highly accomplished at his relatively young age.  That is, he is published, a sought out speaker, rubs shoulders with key Christian leaders of global influence, and is of course esteemed in his city as a respected spiritual leader. Impressive.  During our 1 hours together he spoke in hushed, revered tones of how God is using him; of his remarkable academic achievements; of his global plans to accomplish this and that for God. Etc., etc. I was bemused that during our time together there was not one inquiry about me, my family or ministry. Nothing.  Finally after this interminable period of listening to his impressive accomplishments, the meeting was abruptly terminated, and I was ushered out of his office.

Phew!  What was that?

As I made my way to my car, attempting to sort out what had just transpired, a number of passages pulsated through my mind: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the worldFor I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified……I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me. (Gal. 6:14; I Cor. 2:2; Rom. 15:18a)

For the next two weeks I shared the speaking platform with a friend whom I have known for over 40 years. Now in his 70s, he is known around the world, and has been wonderfully used of God to create a true movement of the Gospel across a continent. He is widely published, a sought out speaker, and advisor to leaders around the globe, and certainly is one of the most brilliant, strategic, and insightful thinkers I have encountered in my life.

In our time together, he uttered not one word about himself or his considerable accomplishments.  The focus was always on Christ, His word, the cross, etc.  And his demeanor? Quiet, gracious, and understated. As he focused on others, his speech was always thoughtful and measured.  In a word, he was Christlike.

Now I know that you, the readership are accomplished people of influence.  In all probability, you have the respect of friends and colleagues alike.  Doubtless, you have stature, influence and a wonderful area of expertise.  Here is Gods admonition: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delightI will not yield my glory to anotherGod opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (Jer. 9:23, 24; Isa. 48:11b; Jms. 4:6)

QUESTIONS:  Are you and I secure enough in Christ to relax in social settings to allow the attention to be focused on others, rather than on ourselves? Are we conscious of the fact that God desires to reflect His fragrance and beauty through us to others in a manner that draws people to Himself rather than to us?  That being the case, our attitude, speech, and manner must bear the very imprimatur of Christ. If in our interaction with people the focus is usually on us, we would do well to take note of the Lords caution: "I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another. (Isa. 42:8a)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

MENTORING MEN FIVE POINTERS

Mentoring definedMentoring is a relational experience thorough which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.+ Jesus said, The greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.  (Jn. 15:13 NLT)  One way to lay down your life for another is to invest your life into theirs.

Here are five truths to keep in mind when mentoring men:2

  Men enjoy getting down to business and reaching goals: So cut through the fat and determine the bottom line on what the two of you want to achieve: An improved marriage, victory over lust; a consistent time alone with God, etc. What men must have from you is empathy and compassion,  and a reasonable model to follow. Come up with a plan on how you will build into their life. For example, lets say they need to develop an intimate walk with Christ that is centered on consistent, personal time alone with God:

Teach them from the Scriptures as to why spending time with God is important. (ICor. 1:9; Jn. 17:3; 15:4,5; Mk. 1:35)  This can only be caught by meditating on Gods word together.

Train them in the skill of prayerfully meditating on Gods word.  This can only be caught by meditating together.

Build the quiet time into their life as a conviction; as a way of life.  It is only when they own the truth as evidenced by a changed mindset and a change in lifestyle that you can assume you have succeeded in mentoring.

  Men can maintain their vision for the big picture: Paint a picture in their mind of what will happen as a result of the mentoring relationship. That is, help them think results. For example, consistent time alone with God will translate into victory over lust, anger and fear. He will become a joyful, victorious, gracious man of God.

  Men like action and generally dont waste time on words: Most men would rather act than talk. Therefore, help them set up a few challenging but attainable goals. Such as:

– Fifteen minutes a day with God and His word.

– Live 10% under budget; invest the difference.

– Loose a pound a week for ten weeks.

– Help out at the soup kitchen once a month.

  Men are natural problem solvers:  This morning I had breakfast with a brilliant scholar who is intent on changing unhealthy patterns in his family.  Ten years ago I broached this issue with him, but the pain level was not acute enough at that time for him to be motivated to make a change.  This morning I listened carefully to his problem and then asked him if he was seeking my counsel. When I was sure he wanted my input I said, You have three problems here to deal with.  I defined them, and gave him illustrations to paint the picture clearly in his mind. I then gave him key Scriptures on each problem, and asked him to tell me what he believed the answers to be from those Scriptures. Together we worked out a simple plan toward how the problems could be resolved. 

  Men tend to think logically and objectively: Therefore in your mentoring, appeal to them on that basis.  Successful business and professional men have learned to carefully analyze and solve problems, create solutions and see the big picture.  Expect them to bring the same skills to the process of spiritual growth. For example, What would it take for you to gain control of your temper? What steps would you need to take to get out of debt; to work a maximum of 45 hours a week? To date your wife and kids on a regular basis?

QUESTION: Are you willing to pay the considerable price of giving your life away by investing in another person? I hope the answer is yes, because that is precisely what Jesus did, and it is what he and the Scriptures bid us do: Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day.  The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Your children will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as the people who rebuild their walls and cities. (Isa. 58:10-12 NLT)

+ The five key ideas are drawn from, Mentoring:  How To Invest Your Life in Others, Tim Elmore, Page 16, 43, 44

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A FRESH APPROACH TO EVANGELISM FOR PEOPLE IN OUR POST MODERN WORLD:

To effectively communicate the Gospel to the post modern mind, we need to understand how they are thinking today. The post modern period in which we are living, has stressed the limits to human knowledge, and encouraged a toleration of those who diverge from the one size fits all philosophy of modernity.  The world in which we live is now seen as a place in which nothing is certain, nothing is guaranteed, and nothing is unquestionably givenThe best we can hope for is to know partially rather than totally.1 That is, everyone is free to choose whatever belief system he so desires. The very idea of absolutes is taboo. But even if there were absolutes, I reserve the right to determine whatever I want the truth to be, irrespective of the facts. (See Judg. 17:6) Put simply, it doesnt matter what you believe as much as that you choose to believe it. You, after all, are not only the center of reality, you can create it.2

Given the reality of the post modern mind, the traditional approach of defending or proving the truth of the Gospel proves to be relatively ineffective. Thus we need to think of communicating the Gospel more as a process than as an event.  We are farmers planting the seed of the Gospel, rather than salesmen confronting people with a pitch. (See Mk. 4:26-29) On the practical level, here is how you could start: Sit down with a person and write CRRC down the left side of a piece of paper.3  Then proceed with telling the story of the Gospel:

Creation: From chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis, explain in narrative form the story of creation. Keep it simple and short, but cover the main ideas:

Rebellion: From Genesis 3, tell the story of Adam and Eves rebellion.  Walk him through Genesis 6:5, 6: The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.  (See Rom. 3:10-18, 23)  Clarify that when Adam and Eve rebelled they infected the human race with sin and spiritual death. Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. (Rom. 5:12) Explain the alienation from God that our rebellion brought: At that time you were separate from Christwithout hope and without God in the world. (Eph. 2:12)

Redemption: Point out that Christ took the punishment for our sins to satisfy Gods anger against us. Explain that we are made right in Gods eyes when we turn from our sins to God, believing that Jesus shed his blood in sacrificing his life for ours. His death freed us from our sins by taking them away.  (See Rom. 3:21- 25) The resurrection of Christ validates His claim to be the Son of God.  (See I Cor. 15:12-20)

Consummation: Help them to understand that from all eternity, God has loved and chosen us. (Jeremiah 31:3; Ephesians 1:4).  Christ is currently preparing a place in heaven for those who have repented of their sins and embraced Christ as their Savior.  (Jn. 14:1-3). He will return to take us to our heavenly home to live in the presence and glory of God for all eternity.  (See I Thes. 4:13-17; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:11-14; Rev. 19:1-10; 21:1-27)

If after telling this person the story of the Gospel they are not yet ready to commit themselves to Christ, you might consider continuing the process of evangelism by reading through one of the Gospels with him. Choose key passages that reveal the Person of Christ.  Frame questions on the passage that cannot be answered with a yes or no. For example, if you were going through the Book of John, you could start with 1:1-5. Ask:  Who is the Word? (Answer in verses 1, 14).  What role did the Word play in creation?  (Answer in verse 3). Who is the source of life and light? (Answer in verse 4). What do think is the meaning of verse 5?

 

1 The Twilight of Atheism, Alister McGrath, pages 218,219 Doubleday

2 Gnostic Nonsense by Carl E. Olson, Touchstone Magazine, pages 21-24, April 2005

3 Drawn from a broadcast of Family Life that was aired on April 21, 2005. Their website is www.familylife.com