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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for August, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER (Part #7 of 10)

#7 He possesses a servant’s heart

True discipline will cost you your life. That is, you cannot have a casual approach toward helping others grow in Christ and produce the true fruit of the vine. Paul said of his relationship with those he evangelized and/or discipled:

  • I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace ” (Act. 20:24b).
  • “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race” (Rom. 9:2, 3).
  • Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possibleI have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (I Cor. 9:19, 22b).
  • I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well …” (2 Cor. 12:15b).
  • My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” (Gal. 4:19a).

  • “… I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God …” (Phil. 2:17b – NLT). (See I Thess. 2:8)

Jesus embodied the life of sacrifice to which he calls his laborers: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friendsI lay down my life for the sheep” (John 15:13; 10:15b).

When Jesus challenged Peter to feed his sheep, he gave him this dire warning, I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’” (Jn. 21:18, 19) History records that Peter was crucified upside down at the hands of the Roman emperor, Nero.

He demands nothing less of us. The question is, are you and I up to the challenge?

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER (Part #6 of 10)

#6 He is filled with and led by the Holy Spirit

We can approach the ministry of discipleship God’s way or our way. His way is easier.

Sam Jones 1 is an accomplished businessman who knows how to pile drive a business into success. He’s 6’ 3”, commanding in appearance, bright, driven, and a natural leader. When Sam shows up things happen.

Sam left the concrete jungle for a full time ministry of evangelism and discipleship. In short order he burned out his staff, got fired from a Christian organization (“Was not able to blend in”), and by his hard driving, type A approach, proceeded to build and dismantle another ministry with great potential.

By way of contrast, seasoned, Spirit filled and Spirit directed laborers have learned to move with the quiet, mysterious rhythm and timing of the Spirit of God in the ministry to which they have been called. They make it a practice to steal away in quiet waiting and rest in order to listen for the Spirit’s gentle but firm prompting as to when and how to proceed. “In quietness and trust is [their] rest” (Isa. 30:13b). Seasoned warriors know from experience that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” Thus, the prayer of their hearts echoes that of Psalm 143:10b: “Teach me to do you will…May your good Spirit lead me…”

Let us ask ourselves if we truly know the Holy Spirit as a divine person who is worthy of equal love and reverence with the Father and Son. Are we in fact experiencing His empowering in our daily lives? Or is He simply a distant, mysterious, ill-defined concept? In fact, the “Holy Spirit is the mysterious third Person of the Trinity through whom God acts, reveals His will empowers individuals, and discloses His presence.” 2

In 2 Corinthians 13:14 Paul wrote of the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit.” The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia and refers to our partnership with the Spirit in His ministry. I sometimes wonder if there are times, either through ignorance, bad theology, or neglect that we unwittingly relegate the Holy Spirit to a junior partner status. Could it be that many of our failed attempts at ministry have been because we arrogated the Spirit to secondary status? After all, it is only “the Spirit [who] gives life” (Jn. 6;63).

So much of what passes today for ministry is program centered, numbers and ego driven frenetic activity that reflects the bump and grind of the flesh in manipulating and pressuring things to happen on our terms. The end product is hay, wood, and straw. As with Sampson, the Spirit has long since departed without our awareness. (See Judges 16:2) When we approach the ministry led by the Spirit, He does the work through us, and we bear fruit that lasts into eternity. (See I Cor. 3:10-15)

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

R. Dwight Hill

1The name is fictitious – 2Holman Bible Dictionary –

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER (Part #5 of 10)

#5 He has a heart of compassion

When God places a person in our life to disciple, we are probably inheriting someone with all kinds of problems: Bad habits, battles with the flesh, fear, anger, pride, et al. In all probability they have a jaded view of God and are duplicitous in their commitment to him. In all likelihood, their world view is warped and clouded compared to the Scripture’s view of reality and truth. Our response can easily be one of shock, disgust, and withdrawal. And Jesus’ response to the world’s troubled masses? He was “moved with compassion” and saw people as “ harassed, distressed, dejected and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36 – Amp). Isaiah wrote of Jesus’ gentleness toward broken humanity: “A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench…” (Isa. 42:3).

The quintessential example of compassion toward a struggling disciple is the account in John 21 where, in despair, Peter and his cohorts return to a night of unsuccessful fishing. In the early morning Jesus shows up unannounced and calls out from the shore for them to re-cast their nets, thus capturing a huge cache of fish. He then prepares and serves them breakfast. During the meal there were no words of rebuke, no looks of rejection, no demotion for Peter’s miserable failures. After breakfast Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, and then proceeds to challenge him to invest the rest of his life feeding his sheep. Talk about compassionate grace!

The process of discipling is arduous to be sure. Inevitably, your disciples will disappoint you by proving at times to be unfaithful, experiencing battles royal with sin, forgetting appointments, not completing their assignments, even despairing of the training they are receiving. To anguish over their sluggish progress is understandable. Even Jesus became exasperated with his disciples when he grasped their lack of faith, “ How long shall I put up with you” (Mk. 9:19)? (See Mk. 6:36; Lk. 9:54)

Surely, if we are to significantly impact our struggling charges, they must know that they are not on trial, sitting under our judgment. Rather, they must sense that they are in the company of someone who truly loves and believes in them unconditionally. I doubt that that such an attitude is possible unless we cultivate Paul’s mindset of living “in the pains of childbirth until Christ [is] formed [in them]” (Gal. 4:19).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER (Part #4 of 10)

#4 He will not take the glory to himself.

If you are effectively being used of God to shape people toward spiritual maturity, you are in a wonderful but dangerous position. You are held in high esteem – even revered, thus possessing a leveraged place of power. Talk about heady stuff! It has been my observation that “success” in ministry and deep humility rarely go hand in hand. Unwittingly, we begin to believe our own press reviews. And to this God does not take too kindly: “ I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (Isa. 42:8; Jms. 4:6). (See Deu. 8:15-18; Psa. 52:1; Isa. 48:10, 11)

People in the Scriptures who took the glory to themselves paid a severe price. For example:

King Uzziah presumptuously assumed the role of priest; was struck by God with leprosy and lived out the rest of his days in isolation. (II Chron. 26:16-21)

  • King Nebuchadnezzar ended up eating grass like cattle. (Dan. 5:22-31)

King Herod was consumed by worms and died. (Act. 12:20-23) (See Dan. 5:22-31)

Encouragingly, the Scriptures are replete with examples of those who chose to give God the glory:

  • Solomon : “ Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all” (I Chron. 29:11, 12)
  • Jeremiah : “…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 delight,” declares the LORD” (Jer. 9:23, 24).
  • Paul : “…By the grace of God I am what I am…We…glory in Christ Jesus, and… put no confidence in the flesh” (I Cor. 15:10b; Phil. 3:3 – Selected). (See Dan. 9:24-27; Psa. 115:1, 2; 1 Tim. 1:12-15; Jn. 17:1,4)

John the Baptist epitomized the humble servant of God in stating, “ He must become greater; I must become less…After me will come one who is more powerful than I , whose sandals I am not fit to carry…” (Jn. 3:30; Matt. 3:11b). Jesus instructed us, “… When you have done everything you were told to do, [you] should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’” (Lk. 17:10b). After all, “…The LORD… looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar” (Psa. 138:6b)

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

R. Dwight Hill