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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, 1994

Monday, June 27, 1994

ENTANGLEMENT

Good Morning!

“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life.”  (II Tim. 2:4)

 The picture here of ENTANGLEMENT is that of a soldier who goes to draw his sword but gets it caught in his robe.

 QUESTION:  “Are you a soldier of Christ who is available on His terms for spiritual battle?”  Or are you ENTANGLED?  Christ expects us to be INVOLVED in life’s affairs.  Not ENTANGLED.

Writing in a Roman setting, Paul knew that all soldiers were characterized in two ways:

(1)  They were immediately available at the call of their commander: 

  • If Christ called you today to move to Bolivia, would you be available to go?

– Are you debt free?  Un-entangled with contracts?

– Are you free enough emotionally to break the bonds and go?

  • If Christ called you today to drop what you were doing for a few hours to touch someone…would you be available?

Picture in your mind the contrast between:

    •        Peter and the other fisherman who, upon Christ’s request immediately left their boats (business) and family members to follow Him. (Matt. 4:19, 20)
    •      The men in Luke 9 whom Christ called.  They responded with a “Yes” alright, yet with this qualifier:  “BUT FIRST LET US”  check out our investments and take care of family needs. (Lk. 9:57 – 62)

ENTANGLED!

(2)  They assumed they would suffer in the carrying out of their commander’s cause:

 “Suffer hardship…as a true soldier of Jesus Christ.” (II Tim. 2:3, ASV, TCNT)

 Tertillian, a Christian scholar of another age put it this way:  “No soldier comes to the war surrounded by luxuries, nor goes into action from a comfortable bedroom, but from the makeshift and narrow tent, where every kind of hardness and severity and unpleasantness is to be found.”

 Are you involved, yet AVAILABLE…or are you unavailable because you are so ENTANGLED?

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Monday, June 20, 1994

“I WANT A PRINCIPLE WITHIN, Of watchful, godly fear, A sensibility of sin, A pain to feel it near.” (Charles Wesley)

Good Morning!

The Principle Within is that commitment to absolute INTEGRITY… To uncompromising, honest living that squares with the character of God as revealed in Scripture.

If you abide in My word…you will know the truth…Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being.”  (Jn. 8:31,32; Psa. 51:6)

How would I know if I am living by that “Principle Within”?  Here are three specifics:

  •        Motives: I am resolved that in my dealings with people, there will be no hidden agenda:   No manipulation of others toward my own ends.

    “Let your love be without hypocrisy.”  (Rom. 12:9)

  •        Impressions:  I am resolved to not knowingly allow any impressions about myself or my business  that do not square with reality:  No shading of the truth. No delaying of payments.  No cutting of corners on the quality of  service or on the quality of the product.

    “…You…outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy…”  (Matt. 23:28)

  •        Speech:  I  am resolved to discipline my conversation in such a way that the verbalization and the reality are precisely the same:

    Whatever you have to say let your ‘yes’ be a plain ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be a plain ‘no’ — anything more than this has a taint of evil.”  (Matt. 5:37 Phillips Translation)

 Wesley went on to write:
“Help me the first approach to feel
Of pride or wrong desire,
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.”

 Principled men and women who are  determined to adhere to that godly “Principle Within” are sensitive to the slightest inkling of compromise within their breast.  QUESTION:  “Are you man or woman enough to belong to that rare breed of principled disciples of Christ in an age of unprincipled people?”  I know you are!

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Monday, June 13, 1994

QUESTION: IS IT OK FOR YOU TO LOVE YOURSELF?

Good Morning! 

Well, that depends on what you mean.

On the one hand, Christ calls us to relinquish ourselves:

 “If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give all right to himself…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.”  (Lk. 9:23, 24 –Phillips Translation)

 On the other hand He tells us to “love our neighbor as ourselves“.  (Matt. 22:39)

Which is correct?  Well…Both:

Scriptures clearly remind us that we do in fact love ourselves, but then goes on to instruct us to balance out that love of self with love for others:

  •      “Husbands ought…to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife, loves himselfno one ever hated his own body but nourishes and cherishes it.” (Eph. 5:28, 29 – NAS & Phillips Translations)
  •     “None of you should think only  of his own affairs, but practice looking out for the interests of others too…Greater love has no man than this that one lay down his life for his friends.”   (Phil. 2:4 Phillips and Williams; John 15:13)

 How do you know when you have crossed over the line into selfishness?

  •        When you do not love your neighbors as yourself.
  •        When you are so absorbed with yourself that you no longer have regard for others.

Perhaps the balance between loving our selves and loving others is simply this:  All of God’s creation is precious in His eyes – including you and your neighbors.  As a recipient of His unconditional love, it naturally falls that you will respond in kind by willingly and sacrificially passing  His love on to others. As did Jesus.

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Monday, June 6, 1994

BILLY GRAHAM OR THE ANIMATED VERSION OF SPORTS’ ILLUSTRATED’S SWIM WEAR EDITION:

Good Morning!

The other evening as I settled into my easy chair, I found myself flipping from channel to channel.  Here was Billy Graham speaking at one of his crusades.   Stately. Godly. PenetratingReassuring.  My heart was warmed  as he reiterated truths precious to my heart.

I think I’ll see what else is on the tube.”  And BINGO:  Blithe,  lithesome Twiggy-type females  frolicking in the surf, garbed with less than a kilo byte of clothing.  EnticementExcitementArousal.

“Oops…Back to Graham.  I’m safe there.”   Click.  “Ahh, Billy Graham.

But my imagination, now equipped with this explosive new fuel, began to go to work.  My curiosity, coupled with  the pull of my lower nature whispered,  “Pssst…Dwight…Just go back for a moment.  It won’t hurt anything.”

St. Paul and I were now soul mates in our struggle between the lower sinful nature and the indwelling Spirit:

 “My own behavior baffles me.  For I find myself not doing what I really want to do but doing what I really loathe…I often find that I have the will to do good, but not the power.  That is, I don’t accomplish the good I set out to do, and the evil I don’t really want to do I find I am always doing…It is an agonizing situation, and who on earth can set me free from the clutches of my own sinful nature.”  (Portions of Rom. 7:15 -24 –Phillips Translation)

 So, what is a person to do when confronted with this kind of inner battle?  Three suggestions:

#1  –  Recognize the fact that the conflict between the two natures will be with you to the grave.  Paul was a mature Christian when he penned the above account of his own inner war.

#2  –  Understand that in our struggle with the two natures, we are not under condemnation.  Take note that in the next breath Paul writes,

 “No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are ‘in’ Christ Jesus….”  (Rom. 8:1 — Phillips Translation)

 #3 –  Acknowledge the fact that it is only in appropriating the  power of Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit   that we can experience  victory over the pull of our lower nature:

 “I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord…Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh…The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin…” (Rom. 7:25; Gal. 5:16; Rom. 8:2)

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!