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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

IN YOUR DISCIPLING EFFORTS, ARE YOU PLAYING CHECKERS OR CHESS WITH PEOPLE’S LIVES ?

In the last couple of months I have had two men whom I was seeking to influence toward a deeper walk with Christ politely pull away from me. One gently stated that the turn off was that I had been “didactic” with him. Mirriam-Webster informs me that synonyms to didactic are dogmatic, prescriptive, and holier-than-thou. Yikes, no wonder these men pulled away! Apparently I had assumed that “one size fits all” in how we are to minister to people.

According to Marcus Buckingham, good spiritual directors play checkers, great spiritual directors play chess. “In checkers, each piece moves exactly the same way. One checker is pretty much interchangeable with any other checker. But in chess, the possibilities vary according to the piece. Skill at helping people grow spiritually, like skill at playing chess, depends on understanding and valuing differences.” 1

Consider Jesus’ varied approach in his dealings with people: He was genial with children, severe with the rich young ruler, gracious with the thief on the cross, and kindhearted toward the woman caught in adultery. In his evangelism he never approached two people the same way. Being omniscient, he knew exactly what each person needed from him and how he could influence them with the right approach.

How freshly original is the Father in his dealings with people: “He has Abraham take a walk, Elijah take a nap, Joshua take a lap, Adam take a rap. He gave Aaron an alter, Miriam a song, Gideon a fleece, Peter a name, Elisha a mantle. He gave Jacob a limp, Esther a crown, Joseph a dream, and Naaman a bath.” 2

If our inclination is to assume that how we think, process, and respond to people is normal for the rest of humanity, dream on! If we are to operate at the chess level in our discipling of others, we need to respect…even celebrate each person’s uniqueness by listening, caring, observing, and praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance before speaking into their lives. Clearly, Paul understood and practiced this flexible and measured approach: To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (I Cor. 9:22). (See Pro. 18:13, 17; 19:2)

QUESTION : Do we?

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 “Spiritual Direction for Weird People.” Leadership Journal, Summer, 2013, page 71;2 “Spiritual Direction for Weird People.”Leadership Journal, Summer, 2013, page 72;

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

FIVE REASONS AS TO WHY I’M STILL IN THE BATTLE . JOYFULLY!! (Part 3 of 3)

In the previous two “Facts” we emphasized (1) I embraced the Sovereignty of God, (2) I gleaned from Mentors, (3) I built the basics into my life. We continue:

#4 I MARRIED THE RIGHT WOMAN: How many good men have I known; men who had a heart for God and wanted to be used of him who simply married the wrong woman. I have to tell you that I am simply nutszoid over Ruth! Looking back, here are a few key reasons as to why our marriage succeeded:

While in our 20’’s, both Ruth and I sought out godly counsel concerning marriage, and chose not to marry until we were well established in our walks with God. (See Pro. 15:22; Ecc. 8:6)

I married a woman with whom I shared a common vision as to our life work (calling), and who was committed and equipped to helping me fulfill it. (See Gen. 1:26,28; 2:18-20)

I married a woman who was emotionally and spiritually mature, who possessed the character and the commitment to make our marriage work.

We both clearly understood the biblical imperatives for marriage and were committed to living them out. (See Eph. 5:21-33)

#5 RUTH AND I SINCERELY SOUGHT TO LIVE OUT THE LIFE OF THE CROSS: In the starkest of terms Jesus laid out the challenge, “ If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luk. 9:23, 24 – Phil. Trans.).

So, what does it mean to deny one’s self? “It is to treat the self as if it did not exist…To take up our cross…means to be ready to endure the worst that man can do to us for the sake of being true to him. A man must spend his life, not hoard it…The questions are not, ‘How much can I get?’ but, ‘How much can I give?’ Not, ‘What is the safe thing to do?’ but, ‘What is the right thing to do?’ Not, ‘What is the minimum permissible in the way of work?’ but, ‘What is the maximum possible?’ The Christian must realize that he is given life, not to keep for himself but to spend for others; not to husband its flame but to burn it out for Christ and for men.” 1

This has been our goal for over 50 years. We are cast on His mercy as to whether we succeeded in His eyes. But the mindset to live the life of the cross has returned to or lives that have been rich beyond our wildest imagination.

QUESTION: How about you? Is your life about you and your happiness and fulfillment? Or is it about Him and His glory?

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

R. Dwight Hill

1Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT).

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

FIVE REASONS AS TO WHY I’M STILL IN THE BATTLE . JOYFULLY!! (Part 2 of 3)

Our first point, in last week’s “Facts” was I embraced the Sovereignty of God.

#2 I GLEANED FROM MENTORS: Solomon informs us that, “he who walks with the wise grows wise…” (Pro. 13: 20a) Joshua had Moses, Paul had Barnabas, and Timothy had Paul. In my formative years God brought four godly men into my life: Skip Gray, Jim Peterson, Lorne Sanny, and Warren Myers who modeled what a spiritually mature man looked like. They also encouraged, challenged, instructed and even rebuked me when it was warranted.

QUESTION: Are you choosing to surround yourself with godly discipler/mentors types? Lone Rangerism is not an option for the serious follower of Christ. “ Two 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!” (Ecc. 4:9, 10)

#3 I BUILT THE “BASICS” INTO MY LIFE: King Solomon stated that his purpose in writing the Book of Proverbs was “ to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives” (Pro. 1:3a – NLT). Paul admonished the Ephesians to live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)” (Eph. 5:15b – Amp.). Paul said of himself, I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (I Cor. 9:26, 27 – NLT).

One reason I am, by His grace, still walking with God, is that in my formative years, I was helped to get serious about the “basics.” I’m talking about disciplined, prioritized time with God on a regular basis. I’m talking about prayerful meditation on, and application of the Scriptures to my life. I am talking about serious, in depth study of the Bible with a view toward mastery of the Scriptures. I am talking about systematic and disciplined Scripture memory. How can we help others spiritually if we do not have command of the Word of God? How can we live pure lives unless the Scriptures have gotten down into the very depth of our soul? Generally speaking, the Body of Christ is slovenly in its approach toward spiritual growth. Paul admonished Timothy, “ Train yourself toward godliness (piety), [keeping yourself spiritually fit]” (1 Tim. 4:7b – Amp.)

QUESTION: Are you in hot pursuit of truly knowing Christ as evidenced by a purposeful, informed, and disciplined approach to spiritual maturation? Or are you just lollygagging along like the wisp of the wind? We would do well to heed Paul’s warning, “…W e must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10a).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

FIVE REASONS AS TO WHY I’M STILL IN THE BATTLE . JOYFULLY!! (Part 1 of 3)

Sixty two years ago, this troubled teenager was angry, in trouble with his parents, the police, and himself. My mother had just died in an auto accident from drinking; my father was on his second troubled marriage and I’d been shunted off to live in the basement (“out of sight, out of mind”!?)

Then I was wonderfully changed by Christ.

Today, Ruth and I are enjoying our 50th year of marriage along with two great adult children and five grand children. Looking back: What a joy! What a privilege, knowing and following Christ these many years. Looking back, there are at least five reasons we are still here, joyfully in the battle:

#1 I EMBRACED THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD: In life we can either choose to be a victim of circumstances or embrace the fact of God’s sovereignty in shaping our lives. Looking back over my life, I don’t believe God caused the pain of my formative years, but he used it to prepare me for my life work/calling.

In his later years Joseph stated to his evil brothers, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20).

The day I thanked God for the difficult years, and assumed responsibility for my life, I became free. From Romans 8:18 – 30 I became aware that God had been using the “sand paper” of life to conform me into His image.

QUESTION : Have you chosen to embrace, yes celebrate the sovereignty of God in your life? If you have, you are enjoying a joy and freedom in your inner spirit like few professed believers in Christ. (See. Heb. 12:15)

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

R. Dwight Hill