BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 1998

Wednesday, October 28, 1998

THE OSCAR AWARD FOR ACTING

Good Morning!

The Oscar Award for Acting should not be given out in Hollywood, but throughout the land to those outside of Christ, who, as Solomon observed  put up a bold front.” (Prov. 21:29)

On a recent talk show, a well known icon of show biz and big business projected the air of self-sufficiency, and a cool togetherness that would intimidate “Tinsel Town” ’s “Rocky”. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is he really that good?  That together?”  I doubt it. I am betting he should get an Oscar for acting!  And the fact is, he is lost!

The Prophet Isaiah described the condition of the lost as:      

Poor                                                              
Brokenhearted
Captive
In darkness
Imprisoned
Mourning
In ashes
Despairing
In shame                                                         

The Prophet then spoke of Christ’s saving grace that offered them:

His favor
His comfort
His beauty
A heart of gladness and praise.  (Isa. 61:1,2,7)

The demoniac and townspeople of Luke 8:26-39 graphically typify the lost who are living in chained bondage among the dead. They are isolated, self-destructive, and wrongfully fearful of what commitment to Christ might entail. 

It is hard to imagine that our lost associates are in that condition as many of them brilliantly cover their “lives of quiet desperation” (Henry Thoreau) with Oscar-level acting.  Indeed, many are “putting up a bold front.”

My sister and her husband were two such people. As well known public figures with six lovely children, and an attractive home, they lived what appeared to be a privileged lifestyle that was the envy of many. Beneath the surface, however, existed two individuals who were living lives of quiet desperation. At age 33 she was dead, and four years later he followed suit.

So, we must not be intimidated or fooled by our lost acquaintances’ impressive pattern of life or “bold front.” Rather, we need to comprehend the fact that behind the brouhaha may well exist people of “quiet desperation”. People who need to be liberated from their bondage to sin, into the joyful freedom found only in Christ. 

Today, will you courageously choose to be His messenger of love and liberation to them?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, October 21, 1998

FACING DIFFICULT TIMES?

Good Morning!

Then here are four truths you may want to consider:

#1  God is in control of the situation:

“I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.  Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you…” +

#2  God allows us to go through tough times for our refinement and His glory:

“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”+

#3  God has a plan for us:

“This is what the Lord says–your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’” +

#4 God assures us of a great future if we choose to obey Him:

“If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.  Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed from before me.”+

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, October 14, 1998

NON-TOXIC CHRISTIANITY+

Good Morning!

Most professed followers of Christ live a “non-toxic” brand of Christianity. That is, their “Christian” lifestyle tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. Their lives exhibit little, if any self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an otherworldly outlook, zeal for souls, or a fear as well as love for God. In their theology, there is little guilt and no punishment, and the payoff in heaven is virtually certain. 

Let me propose five root causes:

#1  Religious Individualism –  We have come to believe that religious authority lies in us rather than in the Bible or in church leadership. Thus, we have become our own final court of appeal as to what is right or wrong: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judg. 17:6)

#2  Shallow Superficiality – Most of us have only a scant acquaintance with Biblical truth, because our exposure to, and understanding of the Scriptures lacks discipline, focus and scholarship. If the Word of God is not spoon fed to us in touchy-feelie bite-size portions, we soon loose interest. 

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear…” (2 Timothy 4:3,4a)

#3  Religious Consumerism – Exercising our ‘divine right’ as religious consumers, we buy as much Christianity as we seem to want. The cost is low and customer satisfaction seems guaranteed. If our present religious “provider” fails to cater to our whimsical fancy, we flutter across town to one that will.

#4 Cultural Christianity – Our values, norms and modes of interpreting reality have been entirely emancipated from any dependence upon God. Overwhelmed as we are by the pervading culture, we have accommodated our beliefs to fit in with its norms and values to the point that our Christian witness has lost its authenticity. Thus, the persecution mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:12 is alien to our experience:  “…Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

#5  Frenzied Materialism – While we slave away at obtaining the “finer” things in life, we openly profess a strong distaste for materialism. Yet we have become amazingly adept at learning how to deliberate an uneasy union between the spiritual and material.

QUESTION:  How would you evaluate your brand of Christianity?  Is it of the non-toxic variety that offends and affects no one?  If so, what changes do you need to make at this time?

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, October 7, 1998

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE A SIMPLE METHOD OF STUDYING KEY VERSES IN THE BIBLE+?

Good Morning!

First, copy the verse from one or more versions of the Bible. Write it under the heading VERSE FOR STUDY

Second, under the heading MESSAGE, write out in your own words what the verse says – what it commands, teaches, warns of, or promises.

Third, look at the verses immediately preceding and following the verse. These are known as the context of the verse. Under the heading CONTEXT, record first the thoughts added by the verses preceding your study verse. Record the thoughts added by the verses following the study verse

Fourth, record the questions that the verse raises in your mind, or the problems you think it might pose for yourself or someone else. These can be recorded under the heading QUESTIONS

FinallyAPPLICATION: Describe one specific way you can change your attitudes or actions because of the teaching of this verse.

Suggested verses to study:

Matthew 4:19  (18 – 20) – Follow Christ
Matthew 5:6 (5-7) – Hunger for Righteousness
Matthew 5:11 (10-12) – Persecution
Matthew 5:44 (43-45) – Love your enemies
Matthew 6:6 (5-7) – Prayer
Matthew 9:37 (36-38) – Laborers
Matthew 23:11 (10-12) – Spiritual coldness
Matthew 28:19 (18 – 20) – Make disciples
Romans 1:16 (15-17) – Not ashamed of the Gospel
Romans 1:22 (21-23) – Becoming fools
Romans 6:13 (12-14) – Offer your bodies to God
Romans 8:34 (33-35) – We are not under condemnation
Romans 12:15  (14-16)  – Empathy
Romans 15:2 (1-3) – Build others up
Galatians 4:2 (1-3) – Humility
Galatians 4:30 (29-31) – Do not grieve the Holy Spirit
Galatians 6:2 (1-3) – Carry each others burdens
Galatians 6:8 (7-9) – What you sow, you reap

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!