Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for January, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


7.   A failure to use the right criteria to measure spiritual growth:  We wrongly assume that because our protges are involved in Bible study, memorizing Scripture, having a Quiet Time, etc., they are growing.  The Pharisees also studied the Scriptures, prayed and witnessed, yet they were accused of hypocrisy by Jesus. (Jn. 5:39, 49; Matt. 6:5; 23:15; 23)

May I suggest a more Biblical approach to accessing spiritual growth:  These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (I Cor. 13:13b)

FaithResting in the character of God.  When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?  Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Lk. 18:8b; Heb. 11:6)

  Is your disciple choosing to believe and apply Gods word to his life without equivocation, whatever the cost or circumstances? (Jos. 1:8; Deut. 5:29, 32,33; 6:1-3; Matt. 7:24; Jms. 1:22 25)

  Is he claiming and applying Gods promises to his life?  (2 Cor. 1:20; Heb. 6:12; 10:36; 11:17, 33)

  Do you see him developing healthy patterns of faith over greed, fear, lust, etc? (Lk. 12:15; 2 Tim. 1:7; Phil. 4:6,7)

  HopeMaintaining an eternal focusWe have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secureEveryone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (Heb. 6:19a; I Jn. 3:3) (See Rom. 15:13; 2 Cor. 1:9,10; 1 Tim. 4:10; 1 Pet. 1:21)

  Determine the direction of his hope:  Is he squandering his life on the temporal, or investing it in the eternal? One way to make that determination is to observe how he utilizes his time, talent and resources.  [Moses] chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward…Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Heb. 11:25, 26; Col. 3:1-3) (See Rom. 8:24, 25; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:7)

  What is the object of his passion? His investments? Golf? Or knowing God and accomplishing His mission for His glory? Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I 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 ChristI 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. (Phil. 3:7, 8; Act. 20:24) (See Eph. 1;17, 18; 3:18, 19; Phil. 3:10; Col. 2:2,3; 2 Pet. 3:18; Jn. 4:34; I Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; Heb. 12:1-3)

  Love:Loving people as Jesus loved: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friendsDo nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Jn. 13:34,35; 15:13) (See 1 Cor. 13; 2 Cor. 4:5; Gal. 5:13-15; Eph. 5:3; Phil. 2:3, 4; 1 Thes. 3:12)  .

  Is your disciples life increasingly characterized by loving service over selfish indulgence?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


4.  A failure to get to the core issues:  A false assumption in discipleship is that if we can just get people into the word of God they will grow to maturity.  That may have been true a generation or two ago, when people were (1) Raised with biblical truth as their foundation, (2) Not as damaged in the formative years (divorce, alcoholism, etc.)  It is very possible to process people through the basics (Bible study, etc), and yet the deep-seated, unresolved issues (woundedness, fear, bitterness, etc.) can remain deeply buried in the sub-conscious.  To help facilitate the healing process, we need to create an atmosphere of grace where they are free to work through deep, personal issues, without the pressure to perform. 

Unless core issues are identified, addressed, and resolved, your protge could well be a disaster waiting to happen. Ray Miller, a dynamic and natural leader, affected scores of young adults for Christ over several decades. But buried beneath the surface was a deep-seated cry for his fathers acceptance, which he never received. In time the whole foundation of his life collapsed, resulting in a broken marriage, estrangement from those closest to him, and a diminished ministry. 

While in my 20s I was in a wonderful atmosphere for spiritual growth, spending prolonged periods of time alone with God in prayer and bible meditation, etc.  Yet without realizing it I was living with unresolved issues dating back to childhood. A wise and benevolent counselor helped me face those painful childhood years, and receive healing and liberation. I am convinced that without his help, those unresolved issues in time would have been my undoing.

As a mentor, here are two steps you can take to get to core issues:

1)  Understand the power of observation:  Look for patterns of thought and behavior.  Ask what is said and what not said? What do these patterns suggest? 

2)  Cultivate the art and discipline of listening:  Effective mentors, by their gentle, grace-based demeanor, create an environment where mentees, almost without realizing it, choose to share at the deepest level of their lives: The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out (Prov. 20:5)  (See Prov 18:13; Jms. 1:19)

5. A failure to maintain a healthy balance between structure and flexibility:

Mentoring, so called, can run the risk of resembling an auto assembly line.  You know, just run people through a curriculum, and slam bam, out comes a disciple! Much that passes today for discipling is simply mass class indoctrination. Thus, we substitute the dissemination of information for the difficult and time-consuming work of building character, discipline and convictions.  The erroneous assumption seems to be that informing people of truth changes their lives. In most cases it only increases their guilt.

In Irving Stones The Agony and the Ecstasy, Michelangelo purchases a large piece of marble, visualizes young King David entrapped therein and determines to chisel him out.  The marvelous result is the product of the artists agony and ecstasy.  As Jeremiah put it, Precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little." (Isa.. 28:10 NKJ) As a conscientious parent you have imbedded in your mind values, skills, character, and perspectives that you intend to build into your children during their impressionable years. The same is true in the discipling process.  Ask the question, What are the non-negotiables that they must know, be, and do to become mature followers of Christ?  Once you have determined what they are, set about to build them into their lives.

I have put together an informal syllabus of what I want to develop in a protges life (a deep walk with God, a biblically based marriage, a heart for the lost, trust in the sovereignty of God, humility, etc., etc.).  Before meeting with him, I may pray over the list to have a topic of discussion in mind. But I will try to create an atmosphere during our time together where he feels free to bring up issues important to him. Often I will defer to his immediate need, rather than follow my original game plan.  However, I am forever checking on how he is doing in the basics. (Quiet Time, Scripture Memory, Bible study, etc.)  These are necessary disciplines, empowered by the Holy Spirit that help fuel his ability to make life changes.