BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for July, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

WHAT DO YOU GIVE PEOPLE IN THE MENTORING PROCESS? +

Give them handlesThat is, give them something to grab on to. Help them discover and internalize truths they can own and live by. When they possess them, they will then able to pass them on to others, who in turn can multiply them in others. Many people today, especially young adults, simply do not possess basic life skills. So build into your protgs such basics as how to meditate on the Scriptures; a method for memorizing Gods word; show them how to pray, give them practical help on how to manage their time, finances, thought life, weight, etc. Show them how to claim the promises of God, and how to listen for the voice of God. Teach them how to gain wisdom by observing life; how to problem solve.  Etc., etc.

Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)  (Eph.5:15 Amp.)

Give them road mapsThat is, help them discover Gods will and direction for their life.  Help them gain a view of the big picture as to what God is accomplishing in the world, and how he intends for us to participate with him in his mission?  Facilitate your charges in identifying and dealing with such key issues as moral purity, personal holiness, servanthood, intimacy with God, how to be empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, etc.  Help them discover their gifts and how to apply them in accomplishing Gods mission for their life. Modeling, of course, is the most effective teacher: You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings–what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured (2 Tim. 3:10, 11a)

Give them laboratories That is, provide them with an environment in which to practice the truths you are exploring together. A lab is a safe place to conduct experiments without inordinate risk. It furnishes a beginning and an ending point. An experiment in a lab can be observed and evaluated.  It affords ideas for application in real life. Jesus, for example, produced a lab of sorts when he sent out the 72 on a short term mission trip as preparation for their future life of ministry. (Lk. 10:1-24)

Give them roots That is, Scriptural foundations. In the storms of life they are going to need deep convictions based on the truths and promises of God. There simply is no substitute for unrushed, sustained prayerful intake of Gods word to discover and own Gods truths and promises for their life. 

Continue to live in [Christ], rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulnessBlessed is the man [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.  (Col. 2:6,7; Ps. 1:1-3 Selected)  (See Jer. 17:7,8; Matt. 7:24-27; Eph. 3:16-19; Heb. 6:12)

Give them wingsThat is, give them the freedom to soar to the heights of their potential for God and his glory. Celebrate the day they soar past you, their mentor/disciplier. In mentoring, it is imperative that we discern when to release them.  If we err, it is usually on the side of not letting them go soon enough. So give them as much freedom as they demonstrate they are capable of handling. Imagine, on the day Jesus gave his Great Commission to his disciples, some were still doubting his deity! Yet he commissioned them. (Matt. 28:17-20)

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isa. 40:31) 

+ Key ideas drawn and adapted from Mentoring by Tim Elmore, pages 77-80, Published by Equip, Atlanta, GA, 2001

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

PRACTICAL STEPS TOWARD LIVING A LIFE OF VICTORY OVER SIN

The other morning in a mens Bible study, the consensus was that victory over sin was, for the most part, a distant hope. The best we can expect in this life is to sort of muddle through. I dont think so!  Sure, life is tough, and we are faced with a constant barrage of trials and temptations, but amidst it all, it is Gods intention that we live victoriously!

As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Rom. 8:36, 37)

But how? Consider the following principles and supporting Scriptures:

Surrender your life and will to the Lordship of Christ and His transforming power:  Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to GodDo not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom. 12:1,2 – selected)  (See Rom. 6:13,16, 19)

Surrender your pride and humbly acknowledge your utter dependence upon God:  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!… My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (1 Cor. 10:12; 2 Cor. 12:9, 10 – selected)  (See Pro. 16:18; Matt. 26:33,34)

Relentlessly pursue GodMy son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of GodYou will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  (Pro. 2:1-5; Jer. 29:13)

Allow the Holy Spirit to empower youLive 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 death. (Gal. 5:16; Rom. 8:2)

Claim and appropriate Gods promises of victoryNo temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1Cor. 10:13) (See 2 Thess. 3:3)

Persevere under trials and temptations: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.  (Jms. 1:12-15; Pro. 24:16a) (See Rom. 5:3-5; Jms. 1:2-4)

Avoid people and places that tempt youDo not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your wayHe who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.  (Pro. 4:14, 15; 13:20) (See Pro. 3:11, 12; 2 Tim. 2:22)

Travel with a band of like-minded brothers for the purpose of support and accountabilityTwo are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!…Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly brokenConfess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  (Ecc. 4:9-12; Jms. 5:16b) (See Pro. 27:17)

Be aware of the high consequences of living a sinful life, and the rewards of living a righteous life:  Proverbs 1:20-32; Deut. 28; Gal. 6:7, 8

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BRIBERY IN THE MARKETPLACE (Part 3 of 3) +

As we conclude our study on bribery you may want to review your findings from the two previous issues in preparation for the following study:

Question:  If the giving of a gift enables justice to be done (i.e. I receive what is legitimately mine), is this acceptable?  Give reasons for your answer. What part does motive play in the giving of a gift?  In light of the question, let us look at Amos 5:12, 13.  Amos is lamenting the injustices of the nation of Israel and its leaders.  Three observations can be made from these verses that may give further light to the question:

  You oppress the righteous and take bribes.  Observation: It would appear that with the corruptions of the judges (and other leaders in Israel) the righteous were forced to give bribes to get justice done, and receive what legitimately belonged to them. The Childrens Bible freely translates this passage as follows, God wants justice in the courts.  As it is, no one gets a fair trial, unless he can hand the judge a fat bribe.

  And you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.  Observation: The poor were unable to pay the bribes demanded by the judges, and consequently were deprived of justice.

  Therefore, the prudent man keeps quiet in such times.  Observation: The NIV Study Bible makes the comment, The prudent man knows he cannot change the state of affairs, and, therefore only awaits judgment.  Sometimes people feel we must take a stand against an unjust system.  However, this verse would imply that we usually cannot change a corrupt system. Therefore, there is no point in saying anything about the system.  Judgment will come from God, in due course.  Our responsibility is to bring the Good News of the Gospel to individuals in the system as opportunities arise. In light of these verses from Amos, record below any additional thoughts on the original question at the top of the page.

Question:  If I do give a gift to an official to get what is legitimately mine, is this contributing to the corruptness of the official and the system, and, therefore, ruining my testimony? You may wish to consider four other questions first:

  Am I giving a gift or a bribe?

  Am I causing him to pervert justice?

  Am I responsible for the way he behaves?

  What is my responsibility towards this man? Consider Mark 16:15 and 1 Corinthians 5:12,13, regarding the person who does not know Christ.

Now record your answer to the above question.

Questions:  How would you describe a bribe from the Scriptures?  What is the biblical position on how we handle bribes?  How would you relate the question of giving gifts to obtain what is legitimately yours with the issue of bribery?

Summarize the outstanding truth(s) from this Facts as it relates to you and your situation in the marketplace. Is there a practical application do you need to make at this time?

+ Adapted from Bribery in the Marketplace Dr. John Ridgway

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

BRIBERY IN THE MARKETPLACE (Part 2 of 3) +

In last weeks Facts we discovered that the receiving (and also giving) of money or gifts in order to pervert justice or to show partiality can be described as a bribe, and is therefore condemned. (Deut. 16:18-20)  Let us now consider other passages that relate to the question of bribery:

  Firstly, we will examine the role that a national leader should exercise with regard to bribery.  What is required of a king (or national leader) when he exercises judgment? How does he handle the oppressor/the exploiter/the person who perverts justice? Psa. 72:1-4

–  How does a national leaders approach to bribery affect his country?  Proverbs 29:4

  Pro. 17:23 tells us what happens when a bribe is accepted by a wicked man.  Describe the consequences of such bribes, and the context in which they are usually received.

  What would be the primary motivation for a person to accept a bribe?  Pro. 16:8, Mich. 3:11 and Act. 24:26

  How is a person who is skilled in doing evil described? Mich. 7:3

  What effect does accepting a large bribe? have on you? Job 36:18. In this case, what would you feel is the motivation of the person who is enticing you with a large sum of money?

Conclusion: In all the verses we have examined so far, the condemnation of God has been on those who accept bribes. In fact, Psa. 15:5 tells us the righteous man does not accept a bribe against the innocent. The same verses say nothing about the person who gives the bribe (money, gift, etc). Why do you think the Scriptures have this emphasis?

The following verses talk about the value of giving gifts (financial, king, etc).  In some translations the word is also translated bribe.  Record these benefits:

Pro. 17:8 (bribe, NIV); Pro. 18:16 (gift, NIV); Pro. 19:6 (gifts, NIV); Pro. 21:14 (gift, bribe, NIV). In what situations do you think you can apply these verses i.e. the giving of a bribe or gift? Explain your answer.

Rom. 13:1-7 tells us to obey the governing authorities.  What courses of action are open to me, if the concerned official requests a bribe in order to process my paperwork?

Note:  There are situations when we may have to disobey the authorities e.g. Daniels situation and the early disciples (Act. 4:20), where the Gospel is at stake. However, in the above situation, obeying the officials request is my option, and I can choose to exercise this option or not. And both options are biblically acceptable.

If the processing of my paperwork is not perverting justice or showing impartiality, how would you describe the officials request for money?  Is it a bribe, gift, recompense, fee or present?

Summarize one or two truths that particularly apply to you and your situation.  Is there a practical application you need to consider making at this time?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

BRIBERY IN THE MARKETPLACE (Part 1 of 3) +

If you operate in the marketplace, you are faced with the bribery issue. The following three issues of the Facts will explore this issue from the Scriptures.  My guess is that you will be surprised by what you discover.  The bottom line is, that we have been called to a lifestyle of righteousness, Matt. 6:33.  Thus, we will not engage in the exploitation of others, Pro. 22:22.

However, in our interaction with the society in which we live, we face a recurring problem of money and gifts being required to influence decisions, or to get some action to be taken or some paper work to be processed, etc. The necessity for money or gifts to be involved often results in one of the parties feeling exploited.  This approach to getting things done is usually termed bribery and for most people it is an accepted way of life.

Generally, the problem is most prevalent when interfacing with authority structures, and in particular, the government infrastructures.  Normally, most governments condemn the practice of their officials receiving bribes, but in reality the problem continues.

For the believer the problem is compounded, since he is usually taught that the very act of giving money or gifts to get things done is wrong, regardless of the motive or the particulars of the situation.

The dilemma we face is: How can I live righteously in my society, and yet get things done in a corrupt society?  Let us examine the Scriptures to help us with this issue.  In fact, bribery is first mentioned in the Book of Deuteronomy.  So, the problem is at least 3000 years old.

To understand what a bribe is, examine Deut. 16:18-20.  In these verses, God is talking about the kind of leadership (judges and officials) that should be appointed in every town to handle the affairs of the people:

  • Describe the way these leaders should make decisions.
  • Why were they advised not to accept bribes?
  • How do you understand:

–  Perverting justice (v19)

–  Showing partiality (v19)

  • Describe what happens to a nation when its leaders are judging its people fairly.

Conclusion:  It would seem from Deut. 16:18-20 that the receiving (and also giving) of money or gifts in order to pervert justice or to show partiality can be described as a bribe, and is therefore condemned.  This would seem to be very much in line with the character of God Himself, when Moses says in Deut.10:17, For the LORD your God is God.  He is God of gods and LORD of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

+ Adapted from Bribery in the Marketplace  – Dr. John Ridgway