BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for July, 1998

Wednesday, July 29, 1998

IF YOU ARE AN ACHIEVER, HERE ARE THREE TEMPTATIONS YOU UNDOUBTEDLY FACE:+

Good Morning!

#1   To be self-sufficient

To be the master of your fate!
To control your destiny!
To make it happen!

Jesus however, calls you to a life of dependence:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.” (Jer. 17:5,6)

#2  To be spectacular

To wow ‘em with your brilliance!
To dazzle ‘em with results!
To break all existing records!

Jesus however, calls you to be “nothing:”

“Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”  (Jer. 45:5a ; Phil. 2:3))

#3  To be powerful

To win at all cost!
To manipulate the circumstances!
To let ‘em know who’s boss!

Jesus however, calls you to be His voluntary bond-servant.:

 “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”  (Gal. 1:10, NASB) 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 22, 1998

“WHY IS IT SO MANY BELIEVERS GROW COLD, LOSE THE FIRE AND PEAK OUT

Good Morning!

This was part of a conversation I had this morning with a 74 year old war horse of the faith who is still going strong for God. My mind reflected back on my early morning meditation on the passage in Revelation where Jesus admonished the Asian churches to stay on track spiritually. In effect he told them:                            

WAKE UP!”+

That is, stay vigilant like a person anticipating a thief: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”  (I Cor. 16:13)  Don’t be lulled into the spiritual doldrums. 

HOLD ON!”

Seize what is already yours! Retain it. Don’t let it go! Don’t go back on what God has already given you! “…If he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” (Heb. 10:38)

KEEP YOUR FIRST LOVE!”

Recently I received an e-mail from a Christian friend of long-standing. Anticipating a spiritual challenge, my heart sank in disappointment as he launched into a discussion of his twin passions of soccer and the stock market.  Scant mention was made of the things of God.  Retaining his first love?  One wonders.  (Jer. 2:2; Matt. 24:12)

DON’T COMPROMISE SIN!”

In two areas:  (1)  Idolatry“Is there anything that commands your affections more than the Lord Jesus Christ?”  (2) Sexual impurity“Is the trend in your thought life and actions moving toward increased purity, or increased enslavement?”  (2 Cor. 11:3; I Thes. 4:3-7)

BE FAITHFUL TO THE DEATH!”

Tough times lay ahead, warned Jesus, so be prepared to suffer, even to the point of death. Many times I have rehearsed what I would do if it came down to a choice between preserving my life or confessing Christ.  If pressed, I would, by His grace, point to my forehead and say, “Put the bullet right here!”

QUESTION:  Music scores are often characterized by the diminuendo and the crescendo. With that metaphor in mind, are you moving toward a diminuendo-type existence of selfish refuge, self-indulgence and limited vision, or toward a crescendo of faith, sacrificial service, and investment in that which is eternal?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 15, 1998

SPIRITUAL SMUGNESS AND DRY ROT:

Good Morning!

A smug faith dulls the spirit and closes the door to intimacy with God.

The twin sins of pride and lust severely hobble the best among us. 

Listen to Blaise Pascal:

“You wanted to make yourself your own center and do without [God’s] help.  You withdrew from [His] rule, setting yourself up as [His] equal in your desire to find happiness in yourself.  And [so He] abandoned you to yourself…

“Your chief maladies are the pride that withdraws you from God, and the lust that binds you to the earth…We are in fact so vile that, left to ourselves…are incapable of knowing [or] reaching Him.”+

I am reminded of the self-satisfied religious professional who stood in the temple and rehearsed to God his spiritual attainments — and went away empty.  By contrast, the tax collector, cowed by his wretchedness,  beat his breast and muttered “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And God heard his prayer. (Lk. 18:9-14)

Pride – Assuming the mental posture that “I’ve got it figured out. I can pull this off on my own.”

Lust – Failing to reign in our wandering eyes, un-checked imagination, and self-indulgence.

So…let me ask you:

Are you smugly satisfied with your spiritual attainments?  With your spiritual life? 

Or are you profoundly aware of and grieved over your need for more of God?

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise…Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  (Psa. 51:17; Matt. 5:3,4)

If you are spiritually satisfied, it is my guess that you probably have too high a view of yourself and too low a view of God. Isaiah addresses our spiritual dry rot in stating,

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”  (Isa. 30:15b)

QUESTIONInto which camp do you fall: Spiritual dry rot? Or profound awareness of an inner need?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 8, 1998

ALICE AND THE MAD HATTER

Good Morning!

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who said the wheels were coming off his personal and professional life as he struggles to juggle all the balls in the air. His life, he said, seemed to consist of one mad rush to keep up with the rest of the pack.

As he talked, I was reminded of a scene at Disneyland where Alice in Wonderland dances with the Mad Hatter. Actually, it is only an illusion inventively created with lights and mirrors.  A hologram.

We live in a world of holograms – where Christians are often caught in an enslaving scramble to keep up with those smooth characters who seem to be two or three steps above us on the professional, social, economic or educational ladder…Just out of our reach… 

From our vantage point, “they have arrived,” while the rest of us mortals, (who are numbly unaware that the hologram is only an illusion of reality) sweat, scrabble, and puff, to get where we think they are, as we spend money we do not have to purchase things we do not need, in order to impress people we do not like.

Talk about enslavement!

So why are we chasing the holograms in our frentic pursuit to “arrive”BeCause we love what we perceive to be their “Designer”  lifestyles: There are never any holes in their socks; their teen-age kids are never plagued with acne, and there is never a cash flow problem in their business. And they always vacation in the exotic spots. In blissful harmony, of course.

The true disciple of Jesus who is walking by faith however, sees through the holograms to the reality of the eternal, (“we walk by faith, not by sight” — II Cor. 5:7) and as such is increasingly becoming a  “stranger” and  “pilgrim” on the earth — out of step (and sorts) with societies’ fixation on the revered hologram:

“These people…living by faith…admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth…(and were) looking for a country of their own…longing for a better country–a heavenly one.” (Heb. 11:13, 14a)

QUESTION: Judging by your lifestyle, would you say that you are captivated by the illusive and illusionary holograms? Or by a vision of the eternal? How would the folks next door answer that question of you?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 1, 1998

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?…ACCORDING TO YOU?

Good Morning!

 “You are writing a Gospel, a chapter every day,
By the things that you do and the words that you say.
Men read what you write – distorted or true,

What is the Gospel, according to you?”   (Unknown)

It doesn’t take much to leave a negative mark upon those lost people in your life:

An unkind remark 

A critical spirit

An off-color joke

Conversely,

An act of kindness,

A gentle touch

A restrained tongue

Also leave an impressionPerhaps plant a seed and initiate a hunger that is the beginning of their quest for God.

Many of our friends who are outside of Christ will rarely, if ever, darken the door of a church. 

But you can  be sure they are  reading  the Gospel through your life…for good or for bad.

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.  You show that you are a letter from Christ…”  (II Cor. 3:2,3a)

 

SO, WHAT IS THE GOSPEL, ACCORDING TO YOU?

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!