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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for June, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

TWO WAYS TO DISCIPLE PEOPLE. WHICH IS THE RIGHT APPROACH? (Part #2 of #2)

In last week’s “Facts” we discussed the importance of one-on-one discipleship, coupled with a healthy blend of exposing our disciple(s) to The Body of Christ. The church. The Christian community.

We continue on the second point:

Picture a family clan settling into the mid-west of America around 1850. Because life is difficult on the plains, everyone had to pull together to survive. The members of each family possess different skills and strengths they lend to the other families in the clan. Together they make a beautiful collage of harmonious accomplishment, leading them toward prosperity and a rich life together. Living life on those mid-western plains in a pioneering environment without the community could well spell defeat and even death. So it is with the Body of Christ and the maturation process.

Another interesting aspect of living and ministering in community is the character development that occurs in me as I rub shoulders with people who are different from me. Perhaps I feel I have little in common with them. And frankly, some of them rub me the wrong way! But as I choose to love and accept them, and do life together with them, I am being transformed into Christlikeness. How relevant is Paul’s admonition:

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity ” (Col. 3:13, 14).

If the person I am discipling gets his input exclusively from me in the discipling process, without the balancing effect of other members of the body of Christ, he runs the risk of not only absorbing my strengths, but also imitating my weaknesses.

We also see this team effort at the leadership level of the Body of Christ:

It was[God]who gave [to the Body of Christ] some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Eph. 4:11,12).

“I [Paul] 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 grow” (I Cor. 3:6, 7).

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds” (I Cor. 3:10). (See: Jn. 4:35-38)

CONCLUSION : In our discipling efforts lets seek a healthy blend between the one-on-one approach, coupled with significant engagement in the community: The body of Christ. The church. The Christian community.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

TWO WAYS TO DISCIPLE PEOPLE. WHICH IS THE RIGHT APPROACH? (Part #1 of #2)

Most of you who read “The Facts” are sincere in your efforts to obey the Great Commission: Making Disciples (Matt. 28:19, 20). The question is: How are you going about it? One-on-one discipleship? Or through the Body of Christ. The church. The Christian community. In fact, both approaches are biblically correct.

Paul demonstrated the power of one-on-one discipling, for example, through his personal impact on Timothy and the Thessalonians :

“…The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2).

You…know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings…” (2 Tim. 3:10, 11a).

“We dealt with you [Thessalonians] one by one as a father deals with his children …” (1 Thess. 2:10a – NEB Trans.). (See 1 Thess. 17-10; 2:8-12)

The Body of Christ also plays a central role in the maturation process of discipleship.

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (I Pet. 4:10).

“…Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:15b, 16). A careful study of Romans 12:6-8, I Corinthians 12-14, and I Peter 4:10, 11 will present a clear picture of the Body’s role in discipling.

Henri Nouwen, in his book, “Can You Drink the Cup?” beautifully illustrates the importance of Christian community:

“Community is like a large mosaic. Each little piece seems so insignificant. One piece is bright red, another is cold blue or dull green, another sharp yellow, another shining gold. Some look precious others ordinary. Some look valuable, others worthless. Some look gaudy, others delicate. As individual stones, we can do little with them except compare them and judge their beauty and value. When, however, all these little stones are brought together in one big mosaic portraying the face of Christ, who would ever question the importance of any one of them? If one of them, even the least spectacular one, is missing, the face is incomplete. Together in the one mosaic, each little stone is indispensable and makes a unique contribution to the glory of God. That’s community, a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

“AN EYE TO SEE, A HEART TO FEEL, AND A HAND TO PERFORM”

Famous art critic John Ruskin once stated that a good artist must possess three qualities: (1) an eye to see and appreciate the beauty of the scene he hopes to capture on canvas; (2) a heart to feel in order to arrest the beauty and atmosphere of the scene; (3) a hand to perform, thus enabling him to transfer onto the canvas what the eye has seen and what the heart felt.

As I thought about it, these are precisely the qualities of one who truly labors for God in his harvest field:

(1) An eye to see : I don’t know about you, but generally as I make my way through the day, I have places to go, people with whom to engage, and things to accomplish. Internally, I am wired to slam and jam. And the people obstructing my path? “Kindly get out of my way.” Obviously, this is not how Jesus conducted his daily affairs. As he made his way through his day, he was on the alert to minister to people whom the Father placed in his path:

  • As he went along , he saw a man blind from birth ,” and proceeded to stop his day, and attend to the man’s needs (Jn. 9:1ff).
  • As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,” and proceeded to recruit them to himself and his cause (Matt. 4:18ff).

Prayer : “Lord help me today to see and respond with compassion to the people you have placed in my path.”

(2) A heart to feel : As Jesus moved among the masses he felt great compassion for them because he saw them as “confused and aimless…like sheep with no shepherd (Matt. 9:36 – The Message). Conversely the disciples often seemed to view the masses with indifference, or as an annoying intrusion. (See Mk. 6:35-44).

Prayer : “Lord, grant me a heart that breaks over the things that break your heart.”

(3) A hand to perform : In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25-37), the priest and Levite avoided the wounded victim of robbery lying by the side of the road. Doubtless, these were busy, responsible men. Could it be that they had lined out an agenda for their day that made no provision for interruption or inconvenience? What they failed to understand is that the ministry ordained by God was already woven into the very fabric of their daily lives. For them ministry was agenda and program driven.

However, as the Samaritan came upon the wounded man, he aborted his day’s activities and responsibilities to help him. Loving a stranger in crisis trumped accomplishing the planned activities of his day.

Could it be that today we need to get our antenna up in anticipation for the “interruptions” that our Sovereign Lord has placed in our path for us to compassionately respond to?

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A GENTLE REMINDER ABOUT YOUR TIME ALONE WITH GOD

My guess is that most of us struggle to carve out time to meet with God. And a large majority of us who do, find it rather dry and obligatory. For most, establishing a meaningful pattern of encountering God is a battle royal.

Part of winning this battle relates to the discipline of cultivating good habits that make for spiritual growth. It is here that the Enemy of your soul attacks, as he knows that if you lock in this practice, you will become a serious threat to his kingdom. Be assured that he will be relentless in seeking to thwart your progress. (See Job 1:7; Jn. 10:10; Eph. 6:11; 2 Tim. 4:17; I Pet. 5:8)

However difficult as it may be, it is imperative that we resolve to develop the habit of giving time with God our first priority…preferably in the morning of each day. “It is most helpful to establish a regular routine that enables one to breathe the incense of heaven before inhaling the smog and fog of the earth.” 1

Attempting to have your time with God later in the day usually spells defeat because of established routines, obligations, and unanticipated interruptions. For most who try to negotiate time in the middle or end of the day, they end up with little more than spiritual fumes. Receiving God’s spiritual manna at the first light of day prepares you mentally and spiritually for the rest of the day. God often gives you just the right word or message for the challenges and opportunities you will encounter throughout your day. Perhaps he will give you a special verse that you may want to jot down and carry with you through the day as you pray its truth into your life; even committing the verse to memory.

As you process through a passage you may want to ask the following questions: 1

– Are there principles to guide my life?

– Are there commands to obey?

– Are there warnings to heed?

– Are there examples to follow?

– Are there promises to claim?

As you retire before sleeping, consider cultivating the habit of mentally rehearsing your day, thanking God for the victories, and asking him if there were any sins of commission or omission that need to be confessed.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

1 Spiritual Discipleship –Oswald Sanders, p. 88; Moody Publishers, 1994