BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for January, 1997

Wednesday, January 29, 1997

GREED…RATIONALIZATION…COMPROMISE

Good Morning!

Recently, in the course of counseling a young businessman, I was asked  if I thought “insider trading+was wrong.

Is it against company policy I inquired? “Yes,” he replied. Is it against the laws of the land,” I queried? “Yes,” came his response.

After an awkward pause I asked, “Joe, why then, are you asking me this question?” 

Silence.

In frustration I then directed him to look at  Job 27:3 – 6:

“As long as I have life within me… my tongue will utter no deceit…Till I die, I will not deny my integrity…My conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.?”

As we read this passage from his Bible, I noticed that he already had it circled and underlined. “Had he not previously  pondered and perhaps even wrestled with the truth of this passage,” I wondered? “How is it that he could consider these profound teachings and still ask whether ‘insider trading’ is wrong”? 

The answer lies in the fact that many believers who are committed to, and immersed in the cut throat climate of the business environment have developed an amazing ability to rationalize and side-step the Bible’s high standard of integrity. They are able to do this simply by living in the two worlds of the spiritual and the secular as did the Old Testament Jews:

While these people  were worshipping the Lord, they were serving their idols.” (II King. 17:41)

And by so doing, they make Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde look like a novice.

At the heart of the problem lies our stubborn refusal to allow Christ to be the Lord of our work because we  fear that if  we abandon ourselves to a Biblical ethic, either:

(1)  Our business will collapse under the competition, or

(2)  God won’t provide for us at the standard to which we have become accustomed.

The first fear centers on a carnal lack of faith, and the second on greedBoth are sin.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, January 22, 1997

ACCOUNTABILITY OR ANONYMITY?

Good Morning!

A popular buzz word bandied about in Christian circles these days is “accountability.” The question is often asked, “Are you accountable to anyone?”

I would suggest that in reality most of us are more anonymous than we are accountable. We may appear to be accountable in our Christian world, but in the highly secularized environment of values that conflict with ours we become anonymous.

We soon learn that “to get along is to go along,” since today in most circles it’s not considered acceptable to have strong convictions on anything…except not to have strong convictions! Those who are overly vocal with their beliefs are soon labeled social or religious bigots.

And so to “get along”, we soften our stance, which in time has an eroding effect upon our convictions and values…and upon our behavior. We learn to live in two worlds.

Often, in attempting to cope with our duplicity however, we find ourselves privately riddled with tension and guilt. 

But not to worry: We will discover that if we sublimate our convictions long enough, they will eventually be neutralized and our guilt will be numbed. 

You will then be able to recognize us by our passivity, stoic resignation, and socially acceptable “niceness”.

If you are caught in this kind of a pressure cooker and are tempted to abandon personal ACCOUNTABILITY in favor of a more comfortable ANONYMITY, keep in mind the Scripture’s warning:

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known…He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts…For God will bring every deed into judgment…”  (Matt. 10:26; I Cor. 4:5b; Ecc. 12:14a)

QUESTION:  To resist the temptation of receding into anonymity, have you made the decision to make yourself accountable not only to God, but to one or two brothers or sisters in the faith?

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, January 15, 1997

COMPLACENCY – STAGNATION – DEATH

Good Morning!

This morning I had breakfast with a businessman who is coasting spiritually. Basically, he’s bored with his Christian experience…and under-challenged with life in general.

At mid-life he has mastered his profession, enjoys the easy life-style of private clubs, trips abroad, and the respect of his peers. His time with God is bland. His involvement in ministry is dutiful, uneventful, and…predictable.

There is no overt sin in his life, you understand. Basically, he’s a nice guy, who faithfully shows up each week at church and Bible study.

But he’s dying from within. — Bloated from too much intake and too little outflow.

What is missing is the very life of Christ pulsating through his veins:

–  Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

–  Jesus washed people’s feet.

–  Jesus climbed into an electric chair and died.

–  Jesus cautioned us:

Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”  (Lk. 9:24)

So I asked him, “If you are stagnated now, what will you be five years from now?”

I then challenged him to find the highest piece of real estate in his city: “Go to the top, look over the city and pray, asking God to allow you to see your city through the eyes of Jesus who wept over Jerusalem as He viewed their tragically lost condition.”  (Matt. 23:37-39)

I urged him to ask God to give him a vision for his world that was larger than his safe and diminished life…A vision that would demand faith and sacrifice.

Is it not true that unless we are involved in a life of sacrifice in fulfilling a God-given vision,we too are  in the process of dying?

QUESTION:  What is your vision?  What is your passion?  For what are you expending your life?  Is it the life of the cross or simply “business as usual.?”  If it is “business as usual,”

you may be a spiritual cadaver in the making.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, January 8, 1997

BRUTALIZATION

Good Morning!

Why is it that we often find:

  • God so distant?
  • Our hearts so cold?
  • The Scriptures so flat?
  • Our efforts at ministry so fruitless?

WHY IS CONNECTING WITH GOD SO DIFFICULT?

One reason may be the fact that in the work environment we are brutalized

My guess is that to survive, we feel we have to be tough. Thick-skinned. A person who is impervious to pain, pressure…problems. Someone who has the answers.

So our work day is often characterized by a high degree of stress. Politics. Manipulation: Doing whatever it takes to win

We become hardened. Jaded. Cynical. Cold. Exploitative. brutalized. (2 Tim. 3:1-4)

Much in our professional world caters to prideTo impressing and being impressed.  And when we carry this hardened attitude over into our approach to God, He simply will not be known, as our Heavenly Father responds only to the humble…To the poor in spirit. (Jms. 4:6; Mt. 5:3)

Since the brutal work environment probably will remain with us, let me propose two solutions:

(1)  That we settle in our soul the fact that it is God, not us, who meets our needs. “But remember the lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth…”  (Deut. 8:18).  Once we understand God to be our provider, we are then free to serve people rather than manipulate them to our advantage.

(2)  That we settle in our soul either that God’s grace is sufficient in the circumstances, or that He will provide a way of escape from the circumstances.  (II Cor. 12:9,10; I Cor. 10:13)

Once we choose to rest in the provision, grace, and sovereignty of God, intimacy with Him will become an increasing reality, the Scriptures will begin to come alive, and fruit in and through our lives will start to bud!

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, January 1, 1997

ARE YOU ENGAGED OR ENTANGLED?

Good Morning!

“No one engaged in warfare ENTANGLES HIMSELF with the affairs of this life, that he may  please Him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Tim. 2:4)

You and I have a challenge before us: “How to be ENGAGED in fulfilling our earthly responsibilities and yet remain UN-ENTANGLED in the affairs of life in order to fight Christ’s battles.”

What is the difference between being ENGAGED and ENTANGLED?:

– The trolley cars in San Francisco are ENGAGED in the cable beneath the surface of the street.

– The bird is ENTANGLED when it cannot get its foot out of the trap.

How do we know when we are ENTANGLED?

  • When we are irritated or consumed over our situation.
  • When we fail to see God in control of our circumstances.

Strategically, we become ENTANGLED when we make the pursuit of the secular our primary focus, and then try to fit the spiritual around it.  Remember the aspiring disciples of Christ in Luke 9:57-61 who expressed interest in following Him?  But first they had to attend to their private affairs and interests.

When the “but firsts” dominate our lives, we are entangled.  Jesus allows us no such privilege:

“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”  (Lk. 9:62)

Let me ask you:

  • When you open your Bible to spend time with God, is your mind easily distracted?
  • Would you be free (within a reasonable period of time) to uproot and move to another part of the world to minister, if God were to call you?
  • When spending time with your spouse or children, are you there 100% or are you just putting in an appearance?

Whether we are ENGAGED or ENTANGLED is a question of focus, values and priorities.  It is a question of whether we WANT to invest in the eternal, or simply expend our lives on the temporal.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!