BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for May, 1997

Wednesday, May 28, 1997

WE ALL ADMIRE THE GUY WHO “MAKES IT”

Good Morning!

We’re talking about that “Fortune 500” type who grabs the brass ring and makes things  happen!

Here’s the brief autobiography of one such man:

“I built

“I made

“I bought

“I owned

“I amassed

“I acquired…”

And finally

“I BECAME…” 

In other words, he arrived, having achieved affluence. Visibility. Status. Perhaps even respect.

And then he indulged!  I denied myself nothing…” (Ecc. 2:1-10)

But here is the kicker: According to his  autobiography,

“…When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”  (Ecc. 2:11)

How is this possible? Had he not achieved it all? The answer is, “No, he had not.” And the reason?

  • None of his achievements could fill his inner emptiness. As Pascal sagaciously  observed,  “Inside of every man there is a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill.” 
  • Jesus Christ cautioned, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?…A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Matt. 16:26; Lk. 12:15)

How tragic it would be to have climbed the ladder of success, only to realize too late (as did Solomon) that you had leaned it against the wrong wall.

QUESTION“Which wall is your ladder leaning against?”

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, May 21, 1997

“IS IT POSSIBLE TO LIVE A RIGHTEOUS LIFE IN A GODLESS ENVIRONMENT?”

Good Morning!

The answer of course is “”YES!” Daniel of the Old Testament is probably our best example of someone who did it with class.

You may remember that as a Jewish lad, Daniel, along with his three compatriots, was taken captive into wicked Babylonia. Throughout his life, he demonstrated God’s faithfulness by choosing to live righteously amidst life-threatening pressures to conform otherwise.

HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINEDaniel lived in Babylonia, but Babylonia did  not in Daniel.

FOUR OBSERVATIONS ON HOW DANIEL DID IT:

#1 – DETERMINATIONDaniel determined in his heart not to eat the king’s defiled food.+

QUESTION:  Working as many of you do in the market place where compromise is a daily occurrence, have you determined in your heart to not take the first step toward defilement?

#2 – DELIVERANCEDaniel chose to believe God for deliverance amidst humanly impossible circumstances.

One example was Daniel’s commitment to interpret the king’s dream before God guaranteed him the interpretation. Failure would surely cost him his life.  (2:1-23; Key: 2:16 [See also 6:6-23])

QUESTION: Are you willing to take steps of faith (when warranted) that could cost you an account, diminish  your production, or otherwise adversely affect your career?

#3 – DEPENDENCE – In times of crisis, Daniel chose to be dependent upon his compatriots.   

In the instances cited in #1 and #2 above, Daniel enlisted the support or prayers of his three Jewish companions. (1:9-20; 2:17, 18)

QUESTION:  Are you locked in with a team of friends whom you look to for mutual moral and spiritual  support? Or are you choosing  to tough it out alone?  (Ecc. 4:9, 10)

#4 – DECENCYDaniel chose to live a life of un-compromising decency.

After interpreting the king’s dream he chose not to yield to the king’s influence by accepting his gifts. (5:17; Consider also Daniel 6:1-5)

QUESTION: Has your moral integrity been compromised by receiving gifts or favors from those in positions of power or authority? (Prov. 23:1-3)

THE BIG QUESTION: You are in the world, but is the world in you?”   (Jn. 17:13-19)

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, May 14, 1997

OVERCOMING SPIRITUAL DRYNESS IN OUR DAILY TIME WITH GOD

Good Morning!

Last night a high-energy  buddy of mine who lives on air planes and thrives on the high voltage culture of the corporate world confided in me of his long-standing sense of spiritual dryness. 

Following are a few simple suggestions I made to him in overcoming dry Quiet Times:

  • In approaching God, it is important to slow down, relax, and give Him adequate time to break through to the core of our encrusted, pressurized souls. God simply will not be rushed!
  • In our time with God, be sure our focus  is not primarily on gleaning truth from the Scriptures, but on experiencing intimacy and fellowship with Jesus. Christ cautioned the Pharisees:

“You diligently study the Scriptures…yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.”+

  • Prayerful meditation over a relatively small portion of Scripture usually proves more meaningful than attempting to cover a larger portion.  Scheduled readings can have a stultifying effect on us.
  • Keep in mind that meditation involves visualization and application.

In focusing on Psalm 23:1, for example, our prayerful meditation might go something like this:

THE LORD  is my SHEPHERD, I shall not be in WANT

O God, I pray that you are THE Shepherd of my life…I belong to you alone.” 

“O Father, I surrender to your LORDship: My finances, career… everything.”

“Lord, because You are my SHEPHERD, I know I shall never be in WANT.”

Strike a balance between intercession and worship. While petition is important, we need also to understand that (1) God seeks our worship, and (2) worship touches at the core of our need for intimate communion with Him. Using worshipful music tapes  and a hymnal can prove helpful.

“…True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”  (Jn. 4:23)

  • Keep in mind that Christ went to the Cross so that we could enjoy intimacy with Him:

God…has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” ++

What a shame it would be to miss a life of intimacy with our Savior this side of eternity!

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, May 7, 1997

TWO MEN OF PASSION:

Good Morning!

King Solomon and the Apostle Paul.

The difference between them lay in the focus of their passion:

Solomon’s passion was directed away from God by his affection for unbelieving foreign women:

“…His wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God… (I Kings 11:4)

Paul’s passion, by contrast, was re-directed from self-righteous legalism toward knowing Christ:

“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 Christ.”  (Phil. 3:7, 8) 

Solomon expended his life on pleasure:

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.”  (Ecc. 2:10)

Paul, by comparison, invested his life in making Christ known:

“We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom. To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy….”  (Col. 1:28, 29)

HOW DID THESE TWO MEN OF PASSION END UP?

Solomon became bitter and disappointed in his old age:

“…I hated life…[and] I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun…”  (Ecc. 2:17a, 18a)

Paul, however completed his life with a profound sense of accomplishment and anticipation:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day…”  (2 Tim. 4:8)

TWO QUESTIONS:

(1)  Where  is  the focus of your  passion? On yourself, or on the Glory of God?

(2)  How will you end up? Like Solomon, or like Paul?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!