BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for April, 1998

Wednesday, April 29, 1998

LEARNING TO PRACTICE THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Good Morning!

Brother Lawrence (1611-1691) was a layman with no formal training, who worked during his adult years in the kitchen of a monastery in France. This devout disciple discovered the practice of living moment by moment in “the presence of God “ Following are exerts from his writings+:

“I renounced, for the love of God, everything that was not God, and I began to live as if there was none but God and I in the world… “

“I worshipped Him as often as I could, keeping my mind in His holy presence and recalling it back to God as often as I found it had wandered from Him…”

“I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence… an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God .. “

I imagine myself as the most wretched of all, full of sores and sins, and one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his king. Feeling a deep sorrow, I confess to Him all of my sins, I ask his forgiveness, and I abandon myself into His hands so that He may do with me what He pleases.”

“This King, full of mercy and goodness, far, from chastening me, embraces me with love, invites me to feast at His table, serves me with His own hands, and gives me the key to His treasures. He converses with me, and takes delight in me… This is how I imagine myself from time to time in His holy presence… “

My most useful method is this simple attention, done with a passionate regard toward God to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at its mother’s breast. So much so that – if I dare use this expression – I choose to call this state the bosom of God because of the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there.”

If sometimes my thoughts wander from God because of necessity, I am recalled back to God soon after by inward sensations so charming and delicious that I am afraid to speak of them.. “

“You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all our heart.” (Jer. 29:13)

 

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, April 22, 1998

WEARINESS

Good Morning!

You especially feel it in the evening after an exhausting day at the office, as you wend your way home in a rumpled suit, lugging an overloaded briefcase. Perhaps you find yourself wondering if anyone else understands – or cares about your fatigue, as you reflect back over a day fraught with unresolved problems, unrelenting pressures, and incomplete projects.

One Person who cares is Jesus. He also understands because He has been there:

  • After a demanding stretch of meeting people’s needs, He fell asleep in a storm-tossed fishing vessel. (Matt. 8:23-27)
  • After butting up again and again against obdurate slow-to-believe fellow-travelers, He expressed a  sense of wearing angst,

“O unbelieving and perverse generation…haw long shall 1 stay with you? How long shall I put up with you ?… “ (Matt. 17:17)

  • After an exhausting journey under the mid-day sun, He sat down at a well to rest. (Jn. 4:6)

And that is why  He and your Heavenly Father are able to say to you,

“Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and 1 will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

“…Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa. 41:10)

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isa. 40:31)

 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. (Jer. 31:25)

Amidst unrelenting demands, Jesus wisely knew when it was time to take a break:

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to (the twelve disciples), ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”‘ (Mk. 6: 31 )

Do you?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, April 15, 1998

CYNICISM

Good Morning!

My friend, my guess is that you have every reason to be cynical about life! After all, haven’t you been short-changed, not given due respect…exploited, and shunted aside?

Of course you have! But isn’t that how most of us have been treated from time-to-time?

Sadly, cynicism brings with it the seeds of spiritual paralysis  and ineffectiveness in ministering to others…

After all, who wants to be around a bitter, brittle fud who expends his energy decrying life’s injustices?

SO HOW CAN WE AVOID THIS CANCER OF THE SOUL? HERE ARE A FEW SUGGESTIONS:

  • Stop grousing over the way  it was… Especially if you were right.
  • Accept the fact that in time your influence will probably diminish, and you will receive increasingly fewer accolades.
  • Focus on what is right, not on what is wrong.
  • Stay active in ministering personally to others. Getting “down and dirty ” into people ‘s lives will help keep you fresh and on your knees, and too busy to bother with pampering yourself in cynicism.
  • Affect what you can and should, and then commit the rest to God, keeping in mind that He probably has not yet designated you to be “The Chancellor of the Universe.”
  • Instead of being a critic of the next generation, be a source of encouragement, and their champion.
  • Don ‘t let unresolved conflicts remain.

Jesus’ response to His unjust treatment should serve as our model:

“When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.”  (I Pet. 2:23)

In observing older people around us, it is apparent that many have become sullen over their situation in life.

QUESTION: Do you plan to be one of them, or one of those rare, joyful, senior citizens around whom young people love to collect?

Given your present mind-set, into which camp do you think you are heading?

 

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, April 8, 1998

THE SOLITARY LIFE OF A DISCIPLE

Good Morning!

The path of the serious disciple is a lonely one indeed. In the past couple of weeks, three professed believers have indicated to me that for various reasons they are choosing not to pursue a thoughtful commitment to follow Jesus Christ:

  • For one it has to do with the crushing pressure of getting a new business up and running.
  • Another, it seems is seduced by the pleasure his newly acquired affluence now affords him.
  • And a third honestly admitted to me that applying Biblical ethics to the operation of his business would prove his financial undoing.

Why should I be surprised or chagrined, as the life of the serious disciple has always been a lonely one:

  • Jesus faced the prospect of the cross alone.

“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled…He fell with his face to the ground and prayed…Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked…?” (Matt. 26:36-39)

  • Paul faced the trial for his life alone.

“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.” (2 Tim. 4:16)

Over a period of time, as the Holy Spirit puts His finger on various issues in our lives, we are faced with the choice of obedience, or of going our own stubborn way.

The more we obey, the greater will be the sense of alienation from the vast bulk of fellow-believers who have long since chosen the easier path of compromise.

During one of Jesus’ critical interactions with His followers,“…many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’”  (Jn. 6:66-68) 

QUESTION: Are you prepared to walk the passage of obedience alone with Jesus – at whatever the cost – while most fellow-believers are surrendering to the world’s seductive forces? I am sure you are!

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, April 1, 1998

CREATING GOD IN OUR IMAGE

Good Morning!

As our society continues to slide into its moral and spiritual abyss, We believers tend to follow suite by calibrating our view of God downward, in order to insure the fact that the stark contrast between our duplicity and God’s holiness is not too obvious. 

After all, it’s tough to keep one foot in each camp if the contrast between the two is too great!

In truth, the gap between man’s perception of God and the reality of the true God is shockingly greater than most of us can ever imagine. Isaiah the Prophet, for example, when visited by the Holy One declared,

“Woe to me!…I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isa. 6:9)

One way we calibrate our view of God downward is through rationalization:

  • We rationalize the filth we regularly drink into our system through “entertainment”.  God’s standard however is that,

“[You] will set before [your] eyes no vile thing…If anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on these things.”  (Psa. 101:3a; Phil. 4:8a)

  • We rationalize our self-indulgent life-style. Christ’s calling however is that,

“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.”  (Lk. 9:23, 24)

  • We rationalize our work ethic. Christ’s warning however, is that,

“…Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matt. 5:20)

CREATING GOD IN OUR IMAGE by rationalize our flesh-driven behavior? The word of God does not allow us that option:

Make every effort…to be holy.” Because, “without holiness no one shall see the Lord.” (Heb.12:14)

           

My prayer is that you are having a great week!