BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for March, 1996

Wednesday, March 27, 1996

EVER FEEL ABANDONED BY GOD?

Good Morning!

  • Your prayers seem to go unanswered.
  • Evidence of God’s working is scarce.
  • You and fellow-believers languish while the godless appear to flourish.

Is this God’s cruel joke?  Or could there be a Divine reason behind our sense of abandonment?

Is it possible that God, who is intent on teaching us to live by faith, purposely removes evidence of Himself from us in order to strengthen our faith? What quality of belief is required when His documentation is everywhere present?                       

Our faith is in its purest form when, amidst scant evidence for the existence of God we still choose to believe.

This was precisely Job’s experience: Seemingly abandoned by God, and having sustained great personal loss, he exclaims,

Though He slay me, yet will I trust HimI go forward but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him.  But He knows the way I take and when He has tried me I shall come forth as gold…He performs what is appointed for me…” (Job 13:15; 23:8, 10, 14a) 

A person who elects to walk with God in those bleak periods of spiritual desolation is indeed a lethal instrument in the hand of God. 

Consider C. S. Lewis’ perspective from his writings in “The Screwtape Letters”.  In the following monologue Satan is coaching his protégé Wormwood:

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood.  Our cause is never more in danger than when a human looks (around)…a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

QUESTION:Have you resolved in your soul to follow the Master, whether there is evidence or not?  Whether He blesses you or not?

Of such a person God is well-pleased!  (Heb. 11:6)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 20, 1996

ARE WE HARSH OR COMPASSIONATE IN OUR MINISTRY TO OTHERS?

Good Morning!

Cowboys drive cattle.

Shepherds lead sheep.

There is a difference, but occasionally in our efforts to minister  we confuse the two.

One way to assess whether we resemble cattlemen or shepherds is to observe our reactions when people fail to perform up to our expectations:

  • Are we irritated by their failure, or driven to our knees in intercession?
  • Is our approach characterized by law or grace?

“…The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”  (Jn. 1:17)

Jesus, like Moses gave us the truth…but shrouded it in grace:

“We all have received grace upon grace”  (Jn. 1:16)

That is, we have received grace that is continuous and never exhausted.

Surely that is also to be our approach in ministering to others.

When our primary objective in ministry is to help people toward an intimate relationship with Christ,  the tenor of our service will be that of tender care rather than demands for  rigid compliance.

If however, we view people primarily as an important cog in achieving our ends of building a larger  organization, or enhancing our image as a spiritual leader, those under our charge will be driven toward external conformity rather than nurtured toward internal transformation:

Driven like cattle rather than led like sheep.

When Jesus asked Peter if He loved Him, the Master suggested that the way to express that love was to feed His sheep.  Shepherd His flock.

And that is our calling as well.

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 13, 1996

ON FIRING GREATNESS IN OTHERS:

Good Morning!

All of us have known or observed those rare individuals who seem to be able to take what is average  and forge it into greatness:

–  A dis-interested student
–  A failing company
–  A discouraged athlete

Look into the eyes of the person on the street and more often than not you will see disappointmentUnfulfilled aspirations. People who have settled into second best. In all probability whatever dreams they once had have failed to translate into reality.

Oh, there are the exceptions to be sure.

But what you don’t often see in people’s eyes is that  spark…that  sense of anticipation…HOPE.

I have a question for we who have tasted of the richness of Christ and  have come to understand the greatest  challenge ever meted out to mankind – that of  going and  making disciples of every nation:

Must we too be consigned to  that same  category of dashed dreams, disappointment, and  run of the mill subsistence?”  I  would like to believe the answer is a resounding  “No!”

Listen to Robert K. Greenleaf:  “Servant leaders are healers in the sense of making whole by helping others to a larger and nobler vision and purpose than they would be likely to attain for themselves.”

The prophet Isaiah gave us the secret to fulfilled dreams and hope in writing, “…If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your  light rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desires…and you shall be like a watered garden…”  (Isa. 58:10, 11)

Back to Mr. Greenleaf:  Those servant leaders who are great for God understand what it means to  take that  “average” person and serve him in Jesus’ name.  They know what it means to bring healing to him by helping him  “to a larger and nobler vision and purpose than [he] would be likely to attain for [himself].”

That is, the servant leader knows the importance of believing in him, investing his life in him, and  pouring out his soul for him.  He understands what it means to take him to the top of the mountain and help him gain a vision of what he can become for God…To fire in his soul a passion for greatness that is characterized by a life of sacrificial service to others.

And in so doing,  the servant leader himself will also be lifted out of the quagmire of self-absorption and despair to become a watered garden from which others may freely drink.

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 6, 1996

IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE HIGHLY KNOWLEDGEABLE AND YET REMAIN IGNORANT OF THE TRUTH

Good Morning!

Paul thought so as he observed the religious practices of his day.  They are“always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (II Tim. 3:7)

That being the case, let me suggest three reasons as how this is possible:

#1  We are learning too much

Information overload

Because knowledge spells power and survival, we are continually packing our minds with new information and knowledge. We err however if we assume the Holy One will be known in such fashion.

Spiritual truth is revealed to us by the Spirit in moments of quiet and unhurried reflection and contemplation. The seeming slowness of that process is often difficult for us to accept, especially if we are conditioned to stuffing in knowledge through condensed articles, tapes, and other forms of mini information  bites.

#2  We are learning the wrong “stuff

Much of what we learn lies outside the boundaries of God’s intended knowledge for us, thus polluting the inner springs of our soul.

“I want you to be wise in that which is good, and innocent in what is evil.” (Rom. 16:19b)

#3  We are hindered in our learning by our pride

In their blinding arrogance, the Jews and Greeks demanded of God that He package His truth through the medium of attesting miracles and human wisdom:

“For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom.”  (I Cor. 1:22)

In response however to their obdurate conceit, God reminded them that He would only be known through humility and brokenness:

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish (literally:  a “moron”) that he may become wise.”  (I Cor. 3:18b)

So today, if you sense you are lacking in your knowledge of the God of truth, it may be well to reassess what you are learning and how.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!