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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for July, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER (Part #3 of 10)

#3 He has a clear vision of the end product and how to achieve it.

There is no doubt that Jesus had a clear vision of what he intended to accomplish with eleven of the twelve disciples as revealed in his prayer to the Father the night before the cross: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (Jn. 17:4). John 17 reveals that the work he accomplished was the training of these men to carry on his mission. So it must be with us that we also have a clear vision of the intended goal for our disciples.

The following list is a suggested guideline of what you may want to emphasize in the life of your disciples. Because each person we work with is uniquely called and gifted a great deal of sensitivity and prayer must accompany any effort to mold them. One size does not fit all. Our ultimate goal is that they “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13b).

Faith : He demonstrates that he truly believes God when the chips are down. (Heb. 10:22, 38, 39; 11).

Hope : His primary focus and hope is on the eternal, rather than the temporal. (Rom. 8:24, 25; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Heb. 11:1, 25-29).

Love : He loves others as he does Jesus. (Jn. 13:34,35; 12, 13; Gal. 5:6; Eph. 5:2 Col. 3:12, 13).

He is a person of the Word of God. That is, he has learned to meditate on the Scriptures, intelligently study them, and possesses a heart to apply it’s truths to his life. (Ezra 7:10; Psa. 1:2; 119:47, 48, 92; Job 23:12; Jer. 15:16; Rom. 7:22; 2 Tim. 2:15).

He is a person prayer : (Psa. 119:47, 48, 92; Job. 23:12; Jer. 15:16; Lk. 11:5-8; 21:36; Rom. 7:22; Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17).

He has a servant’s heartas evidenced by selfless labor for God’s kingdom and glory. (Jn. 13:1-17; 2 Cor. 4:5-12; 6L3-10l I Pet. 4:16; 5:2,3; I Jn. 3:16-18).

He understands and applies biblical principles in discharging his responsibilities as a father and husband . (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21; 1 Tim. 3:4, 5; Eph. 5:25-29; Col. 3:19; I Pet. 3:7).

He is surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ . (Lk. 6:46; 9:23, 24, 57-62; 14:26-33; 18:28-30).

He possess a Scriptural understanding of the gifts of the Spirit and their communal importance in building up the body of Christ . (Rom. 12:3-8; I Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4:11-16; I Pet. 4:9,10).

He lives a disciplined life : (I Cor. 9:24-27; Phil. 3:11-14; I Tim. 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:3-6; Tit. 2:11-13; 2 Pet. 1:5-8).

He lives a life of integrity : (Gen. 6:9; I Kin. 9:4; Psa. 7:8; 25:21; 26:1; 102:1; Job 1:1, 8; 2:3; Matt. 5:8; Tit. 2:7).

He is committed to accomplishing the Great Commission : (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:46, 47; Jn. 20:21; Act. 1:8).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER (Part #2 of 10)

#2 He is equipped in God’s word

If we entertain any ambition to effectively disciple people, it is imperative that we take informed and disciplined measures toward mastering the word of God. After all, “the Scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God, and fit him fully for all branches of his work” (2 Tim. 3:17 – Phillips Trans.).

From my personal experience, and from a life time of observation, the true laborers are those who engage in serious, systematic study of the Scriptures. They work diligently at committing to memory critical passages not only for their own lives but portions that enable them to effectively minister to others. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “ Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15 –Amp.)

As God’s ministers, it is our responsibility to:

  • Present the word of God with total integrity: “ We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor. 4:2).
  • Be everlastingly at it: “ Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine… ” (2 Tim. 4:2,3a) (See Ecc. 11:1-6; 2 Tim. 2:24-26)
  • Be vigilant because:

– “Ignorant and unstable people [will] distort [the] Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16b).

– Charlatans will seek to profiteer off of the word of God: “…Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit…” (2 Cor. 2:17a).

Training people to get the word of God into their lives is no simple task. It involves patience, time, and struggle. It also involves helping them make a major change in their lifestyle by totally re-ordering their priorities…All necessary in building into them the discipline of spending regular time with God in meditation and prayer; time in systematic study of the Scriptures, and time developing the discipline of cultivating a regular and sustained pattern of memorizing the word of God.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER (Part 1 of 10)

Clearly Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all nations.” (See Matt. 28:18-20) Many people talk about discipling, and classes are taught on the subject. The truth is that true disciple makers are in rare supply. In this 10 part series we will put forward ten characteristics of a biblically based disciple maker.

#1 He maintains a consistent vine-branch relationship with Christ

  • He chooses to be under the pruning discipline of the Father : “…Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (Jn. 15:2b). It is God’s intention to purge the disciple’s life of all dross so that he become complete in his mental and moral character; spiritually fit like an Olympic athlete, “ attaining the whole measure of the fitness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13b). We are talking here about a painful process of sanctification: “ …Endure hardship as discipline…that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Jn. 15:2b; Heb. 12:7a, 10b, 11).

QUESTION : Are you willingly surrendering to the Father’s discipline in order to become a more effective laborer in his harvest field?

He is being cleansed by the word of God: “…You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (Jn. 15:3b). Hence, he is a vessel God can use: “ In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work ” (2 Tim. 2:20, 21). (See Eph. 5:26)

QUESTION : Are you regularly experiencing His cleansing as a result of consistent exposure to the Word of God?

He maintains an intimate relationship with Jesus that results in abundant, lasting fruit that glorifies the Father : Remain [reside] in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing ” (Jn. 15:4, 5). (See Jn. 15:8,16)

QUESTION : Have you resolved to spend whatever time necessary with Jesus in prayer and intake of his Word to cultivate intimacy with him? If so, the fruit will naturally happen on the Master’s time table.

He is vitally united to Christ, whose word is alive in his heart. Thus, God answers his prayers that are in agreement with the Father’s plan : If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you….This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (Jn. 15:7; I Jn. 5:14). (See Jn. 15:10)

QUESTION : Do you consistently petition God for answered prayer in accordance with His will?

He loves others as Christ loves us: My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep ” (Jn. 15:12, 13; 10:11).

QUESTION : Are you in love and willingly sacrificing your life for those you seek to disciple?

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

HOW DO WE GO ABOUT WINNING OUR LOST COLLEGUES AT WORK ?

To be sure, it can be a daunting challenge:

Do I confront them head on with the Gospel?

Do I invite them to church?

Do I give them a booklet explaining the Gospel?

Do I go slowly, attempting to build a relationship with them?

If we believe with Paul that the greatest thing in the world is love (I Cor. 13:13) why don’t we make loving them our primary emphasis in winning them to Christ?

Evelyn Underhill has stated that “love is…that tender, cherishing attitude; that unlimited self-forgetfulness, generosity, and kindness which is the attitude of God to all his creatures.”1

Our colleagues want to see authentic Christianity in action before they will even think about buying in with us. In practical terms what does that look like in the marketplace? Perhaps a personal evaluation would help: 2

Are you willing to do small things, even when no one is watching?

Do you look out for opportunities to show kindness to people who are usually ignored, shunned, or overlooked?

Do you rejoice with the success of your colleagues and peers?

Do you resist the temptation to draw attention to yourself?

Do you treat everyone with respect and courtesy?

Do you actively choose not to provoke other people?

Do you consciously choose to frame things in a positive manner, giving your colleagues the benefit of the doubt (while not being blind to their foibles)?

Do you restrain yourself from inflating other people’s faults or exposing their weaknesses in order to tear them down?

How true and relevant is Jesus’ command to us:

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

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

R. Dwight Hill

1Underhill, The Fruits of the Spirit p. 14 – 2 Adapted from “ Taking Your Soul to Work”– R. Paul Stevens & Alvin Ung –Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, p. 83

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I DON’T KNOW IF I AM ANGRY OR GRIEVED, OR BOTH

I am watching our Country go to Hell in a hand basket. Like the people partying on the Titanic we “Christians” seem to be oblivious of the eminent disaster before us. And guess what? The problem is not our Country, but us, the professed followers of Christ, who instead of standing tall in the crisis, resemble the dead bodies, houses and cars that were swept away to destruction in the Japan Tsunami. Just as the Tsunami eroded whole cities, so our foundational values as a society are being eroded. (See Psa. 11:3)

Aren’t we supposed to be the salt and light that preserves and enlightens the world around us? (See Matt. 5:13, 16) God holds out a powerful challenge to his people, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14) I don’t see a lot of “believers” who are taking this challenge seriously. Do you?

What I do see are a lot of professed believers who are having a secret love affair with the world, as they pander their primitive desires, feed their greedy ambitions, and boast about what they have and do. (See I Jn. 2:15-17) What part of James 4:4 do we not understand? “ You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God “ (Jms. 4:4).

Do you mind if I ask you a few hard question ?

Are you dawdling around in your time with God, catching it when it is convenient? Or are you in dead earnest pursuit of knowing God? (See Jer. 29:13; Phil. 3:7, 8; 12, 13)

Are you exposing your eyes and mind to material that wars against your spiritual life and grieves the heart of God? (See Matt. 6:22; Eph. 4:30; I Pet. 2:11)

Have you openly identified yourself as a follower of Christ among your lost peers and relatives, or are you conveniently blending in with the landscape? (See Matt. 8:38; Lk. 12:8, 9)

Would those who know you best testify to the fact that your life exhibits the fruit of the Spirit, or the fruit of the lower nature according to Galatians 5:19-22?

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

R. Dwight Hill