BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

AFFIRMATIONS OF A REVOLUTIONARY 1 (Part 3 of 4)

As a Revolutionary, I acknowledge the following

Worship is not an event I attend or a process I observe; it is the lifestyle I lead: With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by himThrough Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  (Rom. 12:1 Phillips Trans; Heb. 13:15, 16)  (See Phil. 2:17; 1 Pet. 2:5)

I do not give away 10 percent of my resources.  I surrender 100 percent. Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become richI 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 Christ. (Lk. 14:33b; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 3:8) (See Lk. 14:26; Mk. 10:21)

God has given me natural abilities and supernatural abilities, all intended to advance His kingdom.  I will deploy those abilities for that purpose: In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the othersWe have different gifts, according to the grace given usSo it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the churchEach one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various formsNow it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (Rom. 12:5,6a; 1 Cor. 14:12; I Pet. 4:10; 1 Cor. 4:2) (See Matt. 25:31-46; Lk. 9:23, 24; 19:11-27; 1Cor.12:4-7)

The proof of my status as a Revolutionary is the love I show to God and people: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ And he died for all, that 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 friendsThis is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (Matt. 22:37b-39; 2 Cor. 5:15; Jn. 15:13; 1 Jn. 16-18)  (See Jn. 13:34, 35; 1 Cor. 13; 16:14; Eph 5:2; 1 Pet. 4:8; 1 Jn. 4:7-11)

There is strength in relationships; I am bound at a heart and soul level to other Revolutionaries, and I will bless believers wherever I have the chance: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselvesNow that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart… And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his rewardWe know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in deathThis is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (Rom. 12:10; 1 Pet 1:22; Matt. 10:42; 1 Jn. 3:14, 16-18) (See Act. 4:34, 35; 11:29; Rom. 12:13; Heb. 6:12; 2 Cor. 8:1-9; 9:1-15; 1 Jn. 4:11,12)

1 Adapted from Revolution George Barna, pages 128-130 Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.  2005

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

AFFIRMATIONS OF A REVOLUTIONARY 1 (Part 2 of 4)

As a Revolutionary, I acknowledge the following

I am a sinner, restored by Jesus Christ in order to participate in good works pleasing to God: 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) (See Matt. 5:16; Act. 9:36; 2 Cor. 9:8; 2 Tim. 2:21; Heb. 10:24)

Every breath I take is a declaration of war against Satan and a commitment to opposing him: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from youBe self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devourBe strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Jms. 4:7; I Pet. 5;8; Eph. 6:10,11) (See 1 Cor. 2:11; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-18)

I anticipate and will gladly endure various hardships as I serve God; for this is the price of participation in winning the spiritual war: Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ JesusTherefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal gloryBlessed 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.  (2 Tim 2:3, 10; Jms. 1:12)  (See 2 Cor. 4:7-12; 6:4-10; 11:23-29; 2 Tim. 3:10-12; Heb. 12:2,3)

I do not need to save the world; Jesus Christ has already done that. I cannot transform the world, but I can allow God to use me to transform a part of it: For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purposeMay the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Philip. 2:13; Heb 13:20, 21) (See Act. 11:20, 21; 2 Cor. 3:5; 2 Thes. 1:11; 2 Tim. 1:9)

My commitment to the Revolution of faith is sealed by my complete surrender to Gods ways and His will.  I will gratefully do what He asks of me simply because He loves me enough to ask. I gain my security, success, and significance through my surrender to Him: I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heartMy food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his workBy myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent meGoing a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Psa. 40:8; Jn. 4:34; 5:30; Matt. 26:39) (See Gen. 6:22; Isa. 6:8)

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, as an act of worship, I surrender my life afresh to your sovereignty.  I ask you to privilege me with participation in your work.  By your grace, I am willing to endure whatever hardship you deem necessary. Amen.

1 Adapted from Revolution George Barna,  pages 128-130  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.  2005

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

THIS IS A MUST READ IF YOU WANT TO CONNECT WITH THE 40 AND UNDER CROWD

A few months ago I carefully studied Consumer Report Magazine to determine the best camera to purchase. By the time I got to the discount store the models recommended in CR were obsolete and had already been replaced by new ones. We live in a world of accelerated change that bends the mind.  If we hope to relate to the Busters (those born from 1965 through 1983) and the Mosaics (those born from 1984 through 2002) it is imperative that we understand their values and world view.  The question is not whether we like their world of changing values, but whether we are willing to relate to them in their world.

Busters and Mosaics: 1

  • Embrace constant change and innovation as normative.
  • Accept the premise that there are no moral absolutes. Truth is whatever one believes it to be. Thus, all points of view and behavioral preferences are tolerated. Its live and let live.
  • Believe that the means justify the end.  That is, engaging in the process is more important than the quality of the end product. 
  • Support the idea that the individual is king; thus only that which is germane to ones personal passions is tolerated. Therefore, irrelevancy is out. If its not real, its out. There is little patience for anything based on tradition, customs, or social acceptability.
  • Believe the supreme value in life centers around relationships. Thus:

–  The emphasis on excellence in performance is taking a back seat to personal authenticity.

–  The focus on principles and commands is being pre-empted by personal stories and experiences.

–  Charismatic and dynamic solo type leaders are being replaced by leaders who operate within a team context.

–  Organizations perceived as narrow or judgmental are giving way to organizations that demonstrate inclusiveness.

  • Are less and less willing to sit back and endure what the world throws at them.  Rather, they are seeking ways to exert greater control over their lives to insure more personally satisfying outcomes. 
  • Are searching for meaning in a world characterized by technology advancement, increasing complexity, fragmentation, frenetic and morally untethered standardsdysfunctional relationships, material excess, [and] abusive power. 2 It is in this context that two components are being seriously considered as the missing links to their maturation and fulfillment:  Sacrifice and surrender.

If we are to be relevant for Christ and the Gospel in todays rapidly changing world, it is imperative that we change with the times as long as we do not violate biblical absolutes. If we fail to adapt, we will become increasingly out of touch and perceived by the Busters and Mosaics as obsolete. Paul adapted his approach to winning and discipling: I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. (I Cor. 9:22a)  (See I Cor. 9:19-21; 10:23. Carefully study Act. 21:16-26)

I Chronicles 12:32 informs us that men of Issacharunderstood the times and knew what Israel should do  That is, they were knowledgeable men of wisdom, who grasped what was going on in their culture, and took appropriate action. The same was said of the experts in King Xerxes domain: Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times.  (Esth. 1:13) That is, King Xerxes experts understood what was going on among their people because they scrutinized and intently studied their culture.

QUESTION:  So tell me, are you moving with the times in seeking to comprehend the changes that are happening around you, and then adjusting your approach in a manner that connects? Or are you resenting and resisting change, and thereby running the risk of ossifying into a fossilized golden oldie? You know, a sort of a museum piece on the shelf that is respected, but perceived as out of touch with the times; a person who sadly is incapable of rendering the service God has called you to perform?

1 Most of the ideas in this Facts are drawn from Revolution George Barna, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.  2005

2 Ibid, Page 12

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

THIS IS A MUST READ IF YOU WANT TO CONNECT WITH THE 40 AND UNDER CROWD

A few months ago I carefully studied Consumer Report Magazine to determine the best camera to purchase. By the time I got to the discount store the models recommended in CR were obsolete and had already been replaced by new ones. We live in a world of accelerated change that bends the mind.  If we hope to relate to the Busters (those born from 1965 through 1983) and the Mosaics (those born from 1984 through 2002) it is imperative that we understand their values and world view.  The question is not whether we like their world of changing values, but whether we are willing to relate to them in their world.

Busters and Mosaics: 1

  • Embrace constant change and innovation as normative.
  • Accept the premise that there are no moral absolutes. Truth is whatever one believes it to be. Thus, all points of view and behavioral preferences are tolerated. Its live and let live.
  • Believe that the means justify the end.  That is, engaging in the process is more important than the quality of the end product. 
  • Support the idea that the individual is king; thus only that which is germane to ones personal passions is tolerated. Therefore, irrelevancy is out. If its not real, its out. There is little patience for anything based on tradition, customs, or social acceptability.
  • Believe the supreme value in life centers around relationships. Thus:

–  The emphasis on excellence in performance is taking a back seat to personal authenticity.

–  The focus on principles and commands is being pre-empted by personal stories and experiences.

–  Charismatic and dynamic solo type leaders are being replaced by leaders who operate within a team context.

–  Organizations perceived as narrow or judgmental are giving way to organizations that demonstrate inclusiveness.

  • Are less and less willing to sit back and endure what the world throws at them.  Rather, they are seeking ways to exert greater control over their lives to insure more personally satisfying outcomes. 
  • Are searching for meaning in a world characterized by technology advancement, increasing complexity, fragmentation, frenetic and morally untethered standardsdysfunctional relationships, material excess, [and] abusive power. 2 It is in this context that two components are being seriously considered as the missing links to their maturation and fulfillment:  Sacrifice and surrender.

If we are to be relevant for Christ and the Gospel in todays rapidly changing world, it is imperative that we change with the times as long as we do not violate biblical absolutes. If we fail to adapt, we will become increasingly out of touch and perceived by the Busters and Mosaics as obsolete. Paul adapted his approach to winning and discipling: I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. (I Cor. 9:22a)  (See I Cor. 9:19-21; 10:23. Carefully study Act. 21:16-26)

I Chronicles 12:32 informs us that men of Issacharunderstood the times and knew what Israel should do  That is, they were knowledgeable men of wisdom, who grasped what was going on in their culture, and took appropriate action. The same was said of the experts in King Xerxes domain: Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times.  (Esth. 1:13) That is, King Xerxes experts understood what was going on among their people because they scrutinized and intently studied their culture.

QUESTION:  So tell me, are you moving with the times in seeking to comprehend the changes that are happening around you, and then adjusting your approach in a manner that connects? Or are you resenting and resisting change, and thereby running the risk of ossifying into a fossilized golden oldie? You know, a sort of a museum piece on the shelf that is respected, but perceived as out of touch with the times; a person who sadly is incapable of rendering the service God has called you to perform?

1 Most of the ideas in this Facts are drawn from Revolution George Barna, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.  2005

2 Ibid, Page 12

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

WHAT IS TRUE MINISTRY?

How many times have you and I wanted to walk away from our ministry?  Call it quits? Is it possible that at least one of the causes for our discouragement is that we may have been fed a false idea of what true ministry is? Today many of us, without realizing it, worship at the idol of success.  If a ministry is big, growing, fast paced, contemporary, upscale, youthful and trendy, and is seeded with attractive, articulate people, then surly God is in it and its a success.  Then you look at what you are attempting to do in your ministry with a few struggling souls. They forget to show up, seem forever to be taking more steps backward that forward. I would imagine that in your vulnerable moments you have questioned whether its worth the effort. After all, your ministry is worlds apart from the powerful models paraded before you. My friend, dont even think about throwing in the towel! When you get down to it, both Jesus and Paul only had a few faithful followers. Not very glamorous.  Not exactly successful. Just take a look at the struggles and pain associated with their ministries:

  • When Christ raised the level of commitment, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.  (Jn. 6:66)
  • When the disciples lives were threatened at Jesus trial, [they] alldeserted him and fled. (Matt 26:56b).
  • Pauls life and ministry was anything but successful – as we view success today, I havebeen in prison flogged… severely, and been exposed to death again and againAt my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. (2 Tim. 4:16a; 2 Cor. 11:23)

If you are going to minister to people for the long haul, here are three truths you will need to understand:

#1 Ministering to others is fundamentally an act of worship, and as such has intrinsic worth to God, regardless of the results:  It is secondary whether or not your protgs show up, grow, catch what you have been teaching, or ever pass it on. The fact that you obeyed Christ in sacrificing your life for his glory is what matters.  Throughout Jeremiahs ministry both he and his message were summarily rejected. His life long success? Nil.  Yet in Gods eyes Jeremiah was a smashing success by virtue of his faithfulness to his calling. Many of the heroes of Hebrews 11 died without experiencing the fulfillment of Gods promises. Also consider:

  • Jesus: Well done, good and faithful servant He does not say, Well done good and productive servant. (Matt. 25:21) 
  • Paul: I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. (Rms. 12:1)
  • James: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (Jms. 1:27)

#2 Gods primary calling on our lives is to intimacy with him over service for him: In your zeal to help people, you run the risk of burning out and becoming another casualty on the ash heap of bitter, disillusioned laborers. His higher calling and first priority for you is to develop a life of intimacy with him, because it is out of that relationship that genuine fruit is born, It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitfulApart from me you can do nothing at allMany will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! (Jn. 15:5 (Philips), Matt. 7:22, 23)

#3 The worth of the individual is of paramount importance:  In a world obsessed with numbers, the very notion of focusing on  an individual is a foreign concept.  Not so with Jesus and Paul:

  • Jesus parable of the lost sheep:  "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? (Lk. 15:4)
  • Jesus example of singling out each of the Twelve to be his followers: On one occasion he walked 90 miles to recruit Philip to become his disciple.  (Jn. 1:43)
  • Pauls example of his deep concern for the individual: As you well know, we dealt with you one by one, as a father deals with his children. (I Thes. 2:22 NEB) (See 2 Tim. 1:16-18; 4:19;  Phil. 2:25, 29; Act. 16:1,2; 1 Cor. 4:17; Phil. 1:1)

QUESTIONS:  Do you view serving others as a duty to perform or as a privileged act of worship? Are you caught up in the numbers game, or have you grasped the value of one person? Are you focused primarily on knowing Christ or serving Christ?