BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for November, 1997

Wednesday, November 26, 1997

“I CAN LIVE ON A GOOD COMPLIMENT FOR SIX MONTHS.” – Mark Twain

Good Morning!

Recently two senior Christian leaders visited my wife and me.

One of them conveyed a cool, censorious, and detached manner as  he doled out dry, emotionless suggestions on how we should improve. For several days we carried his bags, pampered him in his whims, and catered to his idiosyncrasies.

As he departed to “minister” at his next destination, we found ourselves left with a curious mixture of angst and relief.                         

A few days later the other Christian leader visited with us. Traveling as he was with his severely infirmed wife, his circumstances were extremely trying. Yet he managed to convey a gracious, sensitive, and caring spirit.

In the course of his inter-action with our friends, he commented (in my presence), “Dwight is a faithful man.”

I am amazed at how that one brief encouraging remark has bolstered me in the week or two since it was uttered: “This fine Christian leader believes I am a ‘faithful man’”!

Hey! I can live on that compliment for six months! And it cost him nothing to offer it.   

As I reflected back on these two men, two Scriptures came to mind:

  • Regarding the censorious  gentleman:  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”  (Prov. 18:21a)
  • Regarding the gracious gentleman: Paul said of Onesiphorus, “He often refreshed my spirit…” (II Tim. 1:16b)

QUESTIONHow are you doing in the compliment department? Do you come off as coolly detached, or as compassionately involved?  When was the last time you took a colleague aside and gave him or her a word of encouragement? Or put your arm around your spouse or one of your kids and said, “I think you are dynamite! I am proud of you!” 

The cost of giving a compliment is infinitesimal, but the reward to the recipient could be immeasurable: Perhaps six months of a bolstered spirit!

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, November 19, 1997

SURVIVING PROSPERITY

Good Morning!

When I met Jerry he was making preparation to become a missionary pilot. But a sad thing happened to him on the way to the mission field:  He got rich. 

And turned cool spiritually…married a non-Christian…disavowed the faith…and died a premature death. 

Why is it so few believers endure the deadening effects of prosperity upon their soul? My guess is that for every ten who  survive adversity you will find one who survives prosperity! 

Is it any wonder Jesus made the poignant observation that  it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”?  (Matt. 19:24)

Let me suggest three reasons why prosperity and spirituality rarely go hand-in-hand:

(1) Because wealth  often robs us of our sense of dependency upon God:

“…When…your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’”  (Deut. 8:13,14, 17)

(2) Because wealth often cools our spiritual fervor by giving us a false sense  of well- being:       

Of the wealthy Laodicean believers, Jesus observed, “…You are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!…You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”  (Rev. 3:15,17) 

(3) Because wealth usually gives us the option of easy living which is antithetical to Christ’s call to discipleship:

We can effortlessly identify with the musings of the wealthy farmer, “…You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” (Lk. 12:19)

QUESTION: How are you surviving your prosperity? Is your heart as warmed today toward God as it was in the days when you had little of this world’s material goods and trusted God for your simplest needs? 

If you cannot answer that question with an honest “yes”, then there is a pretty good chance that your soul has been seduced by prosperity.

 

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, November 12, 1997

IMPACT!

Good Morning!

I live 14 stories above two busy crossroads. From time-to-time I will hear the screech of tires…silence…and then IMPACT!

IMPACT! Isn’t that the effect we are to have with the Gospel upon our lost friends. But the IMPACT is to be primarily through the power of example: Salt that penetrates, and light that illuminates from  our life to theirs.  (Matt. 5:13, 16)

Paul told the Philippians,I have given you a patternby which to live.  (Phil. 3:17)  That is, he had left an  impression, a stamp, or imprint upon them. He had  IMPACTED their lives by the power of his godly example.

I am reminded of missionary martyr Jim Elliott’s prayer, “Lord, make my life a crossroads in the life of every person I meet.”

Years ago I played racquetball each week with a professional man who had given scant attention to spiritual matters.  He did however pride himself on his self-control.  Yet, occasionally in the course of a heated contest  he would  “loose it” by cursing or throwing his racquet across the court. 

I can remember praying on numerous occasions during those intense moments of competition, “Lord, help me to exhibit your love and character on this court.  Help me to keep my cool.”

One day, after six months of intense competition, he asked if we might study the Scriptures together. Today he is a committed follower of Christ.  Again, the power of example. IMPACT.

QUESTIONIf it is  true that the non-verbals do in fact speak more loudly than the verbals, what messages are you sending to your lost friends?  To your children?

–  Messages of anger…greed…pride…and self-centeredness?

–  Or of brokenness…kindness, humility, servanthood, and dependence upon God?

How you answer that question spells the difference as to whether you are penetrating and illuminating them with the Gospel, or impeding them from the Gospel.

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, November 5, 1997

“SPIRITUAL ADULTERY”

Good Morning!

Perhaps we have had the experience of finding ourselves attracted toward someone of the opposite sex…someone other than our spouse.  Subtly…inadvertently, we could be drawn into an emotional involvement of “spiritual adultery” that could ultimately lead to the act of adultery.+ 

Here are a few of the vital warning signs:

The tendency to share private, intimate matters with a certain acquaintance before having talked it out with our spouse.

Finding more delight in being with a certain person other than our spouse.

Spending inordinate amounts of time with one member of the opposite sex. Catching ourselves inventing unnecessary reasons to be apart with this person and away from the scrutiny or interference of others.

Thinking that a certain person understands us better than our spouse.

Comparing our spouse with this other person and finding our mate coming up short.

Feeling youthful or “high” around that one particular person. 

Denying the fact that we are into something wrong by projecting on others an aggressive defensiveness  whenever anyone tries to give us a timely warning.

Stubbornly maintaining that the relationship is a “platonic” one. Being unwilling to hear the warnings of others; becoming wounded when others can’t see it our way; offended that they seem unwilling or incapable of trusting our judgment.

Finding reasons to disqualify or alienate ourselves from longtime or wise friends’ warnings, while finding new “friends” who condone or are indifferent to what we are doing.

Our prayer in dealing with this difficult and sensitive issue could be, “Lord, ‘…Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.’”  (Psa. 86:11b)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!