BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for September, 1998

Wednesday, September 30, 1998

MODERATION

Good Morning!

Men driven by ambition often succeed outwardly and fail inwardly

“Their outer resources multiply at the cost of their spiritual energy. Yet they go blindly forward with small consideration that happy leisure is worth more than drive; for nothing belongs to us except time. Precious existence is squandered in stupid drudgery.

Overwork is the mother of greed and the substitute for boredom.

“…Be not crushed under success, and be not crushed under envy! To be so is to trample upon life and suffocate the spirit. Enjoy a little more, strive a little less. The wise man extends his life’s work to prolong his life.” +

At age 70, can you imagine anyone lamenting:

“If only I had spent more time at the office and less time at home with my wife and kids!”

Hardly.

So…just what is success?

Well, to win the track and field event known as the “pentathlon”, it is not necessarily triumphing in any one of the five events that guarantees the prize. Rather, it is adequately excelling in each event well enough to garner the highest aggregate score.

So it is in the game of life: Success may be defined as placing God at the center of our lives, and then balancing the remaining competing demands:

Family – Ministry – Career – Personal, and ________________(you fill in the blank)

Like a teenager surfing the waves of  Waikiki, maintaining balance in life is the continual act of adroitly adjusting to life’s changing demands and circumstances. The ability to understand the balance, and then respond by making the necessary adjustments is only possible my maintaining a clear orientation to Biblical values and priorities.

Perhaps Solomon’s wise counsel is appropriate here:

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.”  (Prov. 23:4)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, September 23, 1998

PRUDENCE

Good Morning!

Yesterday, after speaking to a group of adults, an attractive gal in her late 20’s came up and asked if she could meet with me. She wanted to be discipled. She looked so sincere. So innocent…so helpless. 

My wife is excellent at discipling,” I replied. “No, but you are really good,” she responded. “Well, I don’t  meet with women on a personal basis,” I explained. “But I need your help,” she persisted. “No…but let me introduce you to Ruth.” And with that I pointed her to my wife and turned away.

This morning as I reflected back on that conversation, I wrote down the names of ten spiritually powerful men whom I’ve known over the years who got derailed in their walk with God: Missionaries, leaders in Christian circles, winners of souls, authors of Christian books, etc. 

One fell over a money issue: Cheated people in his business.

Two developed huge egos over “successful” ministries. Became un-teachable. One of the two fell into adultery.

Another, in his struggle for acceptance, allowed himself the luxury of letting women fawn over him.  Some,  (against his wife’s wishes) he counseled through correspondence.  In time, he too fell into adultery.

A couple of others, it appears, just went out and played around.  Seemed to need a “fix” now and then. 

One got into trouble with his buddy’s wife.

Another got sexually involved through counseling a distressed marriage in his neighborhood.                       

And finally, one fellow who traveled a great deal simply could not resist the temptations on the road.

And where are they today

Two died prematurely, while still in their ‘40’s.
Seven divorced.
None have regained their previous stature or standing in the community

I am reminded of Solomon’s warning, “The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him…He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own folly.”  (Prov. 5:22a,23)

QUESTION: In relating to the opposite sex, do you immediately “nip in the bud” the slightest opportunity for cultivating imprudent thoughts or behavior that ultimately could lead to actions you would live to regret? If the answer is not an immediate “yes”, what do you think that reveals about the condition of your spiritual life?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, September 16, 1998

SEVERAL RESOLUTIONS FOR THOSE WHO ARE SERIOUS ABOUT THEIR CALLING

Good Morning!

William Law (1686-1761 A. D.) in his classic work, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Lifeputs forth some thought provoking ideas for the committed follower of Jesus Christ:

”The devout…are people who do not live to their own will, or in the way and spirit of the world, but only to

 the will of God.  Such people consider God in everything, and make every aspect of their lives holy by doing

 everything in the name of God and in a way that conforms to God’s glory.” (Scriptural references added)

[The Savior and His apostles] teach us:

To renounce the world and be different in our attitudes and ways of life (Eph. 4:17-24)

To renounce all its goods  (Lk. 14:26-33; 18:22,23; Phil 3:7,8)

To fear none of its evils…  (Lk. 12:32; John 14:1,27; 16:33; Heb. 13:5,6))

To have no value for its happiness  (Psa. 37:1,2,7; 73:2-20; Prov. 3:31;24:1)

To be as newborn babes who are born into a new state of things  (I Pet. 2:2, 3)

To live as pilgrims in spiritual watching, in holy fear, and heavenly aspiring after another life (I Pet. 2:11; Heb. 11:13-16; I Pet. 1:15-17)

To take up our cross daily, to deny ourselves  (Lk. 9:23, 24; Jn. 12:25, 26)

To profess the blessedness of mourning, to seek the blessedness of poverty of spirit (Matt. 5:3,4)

To forsake the pride and vanity of riches… (I Tim. 6:6-10,17-19; Prov. 23:4)

To live in the profoundest state of humility (Jer. 45:5; Matt. 18:2-4; Rom. 12:3, 16; Gal. 6:14)

To rejoice in worldly sufferings  (Act. 5:41; Matt. 5:10-12)

To reject the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I Jn. 2:15-17; Col. 3:1,2)

To bear injuries, to forgive and bless our enemies… (Matt. 5:43-48; Lk. 6:27-36; Rom.12:14-21)

To give up our whole hearts and affections to God (Deut. 10:12,13; I Jn. 5:2-4)

“To strive to enter through the straight gate into a life of eternal glory.”   (Matt. 7:13, 14)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, September 9, 1998

TAKING CARE OF GOD’S TEMPLE, YOUR BODY

Good Morning!

In the mid-19th Century the American evangelist, D. L. Moody paid a visit to the renown English preacher, C. H. Spurgeon.  Moody bordered on the obese and Spurgeon enjoyed his pipe. During their visit, Moody gently chided Spugeon for smoking a pipe. In response, Spugeon leaned forward, and with a wry smile poked his pipe into Moody’s belly. 

Does the Bible address the issue of physical fitness? I Timothy 4:8 makes this point: “Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things.”  Literally: Physical training has value for a few days, with little application outside its own discipline, while training in godliness has extensive application.

It is interesting to observe that the preponderance of Scriptures dealing with health draw a strong correlation between inner peace and soundness of body. For example:

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Prov. 3:7,8)

It is difficult however, to imagine Jesus being out of shape physically. Certainly Luke 2:52 gives us a clue as to the balance in His life in the mental, physical, spiritual and social realms:

“And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” 

 As Christ’s Ambassadors, does it not stand to reason that we should take care of His temple in such a way that we are attractive to the people we are attempting to win? Certainly a reasonable, disciplined approach to physical fitness is an appropriate step in that direction. (2 Cor. 5:20; I Cor. 3:17; 6:19)

On a personal note:  In 1969 I returned from Asia physically shot at age 33. To regain my health I slowly and determinedly involved myself in a swimming program, and have over these years continued to sustain a fairly demanding regimen. I have observed that in my life there seems to be a direct correlation between physical fitness and maintaining a sharp spiritual edge. At age 62, the dividends I’ve reaped from staying physically fit are much more than I could ever have imagined. 

QUESTION:  What are you doing to maintain your “temple” in a manner that is honoring to God?

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, September 2, 1998

WHAT ARE YOU PUTTING INTO YOUR MIND?

Good Morning!                                                                                

Much of the “Christian literature” available to you today  is fast-paced, trendy, byte-sized, touchie-feelie dribble that  dumbs down the mind and stunts the soul. With the current bastardizing of the language has come the peddling of trite monosyllabic mediocrity. You deserve better. You must demand better.

Dear friend, let me ask you:  Just what are you reading? Material that is, by its enduring truth and beauty enriching your mind and deepening your soul? Is it material that stands the test of Philippians 4:8:

“Finally…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

Or are you ingesting intellectual junk food that temporarily titillates or quells your inner life?  A significant portion of the contemporary “Christian” material pawned off on us today is little more than market-driven, re-cycled prattle. A substantial amount of this material is narcissistic in flavor, and more often than not focuses on simplistic “how to’s” that purportedly are able to jump-start your faith, give you quick-fix solutions to life’s problems, or promise you an immediate path to spiritual maturity. 

Precious little emphasis it seems, is devoted to such themes as knowing God intimately, the life of the cross, personal discipline , understanding and dealing with suffering,  individual holiness, and the like. 

If you are looking for quality Christian literature, you may want to consider the following as a sampler:

 “My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers   Celebration of Discipline – Richard Foster
 Imitation of Christ” – Thomas  A’ Kempis   “Knowing God – J. I.  Packer
 Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis    Pilgrim’s Progress – Paul Bunyan
 Orthodoxy – A. K. Chesterton  “Songs of Ascent – E. Stanley Jones
 Purity of Heart – Soren Kierkegaard     The Pursuit of Holiness – Jerry Bridges
 The Saving Life of Christ – Ian Thomas    “With Christ in the School of Prayer”  – Murray
 “Calvin’s Institutes”  – John Calvin   “The Pursuit of God” A. W. Tozer

 

  My prayer is that you are having a great week!