BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for December, 1998

Wednesday, December 30, 1998

OF FISH, RADAR DETECTORS AND CACHES

Good Morning!

  • Yeah, we came out of the Ozarks with 900 fish. Stashed ‘em in sleeping bags and under the floorboards of the trucks. The game authorities never had a clue that we over-fished the lakes’ limits by the hundreds!”
    The next day this same fellow took great care to get his tithe to the church on time.                    
  • A friend darts in and out of traffic, pushing the speed limit with the help of a radar detector. All a game, it seems, to beat the police’s effort at enforcing the law.
    In a couple of days he will lead a couples’ Bible study on “Biblical Principles of Marriage.”
  • Another associate stashes thousands of dollars away in an attempt to out-smart the IRS in paying back taxes.
    He is renown in his church circles for helping fund numerous missionary projects abroad. 

This morning in my devotions, while pondering these conflicting patterns of life, I was arrested by Prov. 20:7:

The righteous man leads a blameless life….”

Isn’t it intriguing that there are, at best, only a handful of references in the New Testament urging believers toward church attendance?+ Yet there are hundreds of Scriptural calls to righteous living. Professionally religious people love the pious church atmosphere but demonstrate little appetite for uncompromising obedience to God’s word:

“I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me…What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son”  (Psa. 50:8,16-20)

Can there be anything more displeasing to God than religiously-minded people who exhibit little correlation between their profession and their practice? Is there any greater stumbling block to the lost? 

QUESTION: Do your associates outside of Christ view you as religious and hypocritical? Or as blameless?

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 23, 1998

THE CRUCIBLE

Good Morning!

The other morning I wept through breakfast with a businessman who has been whip-lashed into financial oblivion in a “down economy” through circumstances beyond his control. Highly capable in his field of expertise, he has chosen to tough it out and pay off his creditors rather than declare bankruptcy and walk away from debt.

 Another friend who recently lost his wife through a sudden, devastating attack of cancer, is now left to raise their two young boys. 

 And a third, who was falsely accused of sexual incest, has endured years of litigation, coupled with unimaginable financial and emotional stress; only to be vindicated by the eventual recantation of his accuser. 

Today, each of these men exhibit an uncommon spiritual depth and intimacy with Christ, unknown to them prior to their “crucible” experience.

It was C. S. Lewis who observed that “God whispers to us in our pleasure, but shouts to us in our pain.”  Someone has sagely noted that God rarely uses a man greatly until He hurts him deeply” — including His own Son.

Before his devastating losses, Job was indeed a righteous man (1:1-5), but it was only after the agony of his “dark night of the soul” that he made the greatest journey of his life: The 18 inches from his head to his heart:

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)

So, where are you today? Cruising above the circumstances of life in blissful affluence and good health? 

Or do you find yourself in the crucible of adversity through a state of affairs allowed or orchestrated by our loving Heavenly Father who cares infinitely more about the development of your character than in the comfort often afforded through easy circumstances?

 “…Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed”. ( I Pet. 1:6,7)

QUESTION: If you are in the middle of a “crucible” experience, are you choosing to praise and thank Him for the wonder He is working in your soul? 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 16, 1998

PARENTS IN PAIN

Good Morning!

Where did we go wrong?  Isn’t that the question you are asking yourself if you have offspring who are giving you fits?  Kids grow up, make their own decisions, some of which are disastrous.  Like us they are sinners, perfectly capable of rebelliously going their own way.  In a society where everyone is blaming someone else and refusing to take responsibility for their own actions, don’t fall prey to unfounded accusations. 

If you are struggling with a difficult situation with your teen  or young adult here are a few words of encouragement and advice:+

  • Realize you are not alone. Other parents have similar experiences. Most important, remember that God is with you (Isa. 41:10,13).
  • Find a few trusted friends to share your concerns and pain. Don’t hide them, or put on an everything is okay front (Prov. 17:17).
  • You are not obligated to explain your family situation to everyone. If curious people probe, merely ask them to pray (Prov. 10:19).
  • If you know you have sinned against one or your children or treated them badly, confess it to them and to God, asking their forgiveness (Prov. 28:13).
  • Hold them accountable for their actions. God does (Prov. 20:11).
  • Refuse to feel guilty or ashamed. Don’t let your children lay guilt upon you when know you served God and them with integrity.
  • Love them deeply. Be there for them, but don’t always rescue (Lk. 15:11-32).
  • Wait and pray.  God is a God of patience and hope. Wait for them to respond. In most cases there will be reconciliation (Rm. 12:12; 5:3-5)
  • Keep going and keep ministering. One of Satan’s tactics to attack our family (Rom. 11:29; Prov. 24:10).
  • Submit yourself to God’s sovereignty, both in your life and in the lives of your children  (Rom. 8:28,29).           

Keep in mind that God’s children, too, rebelled:  “…The Lord has spoken: ‘I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against Me’”(Isa. 1:2 )

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 9, 1998

WHEN INTERPRETING THE SCRIPTURES, INACCURACY IS NOT AN OPTION:

Good Morning!

If you were anticipating brain surgery, I suspect you would want to be sure the surgeon got an “A” in “Brain Operations 101”! There are some things in life where inaccuracy is not an option! Interpreting the sacred Word of God is one of them: 

“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present  yourself to God  approved… a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth….Ignorant (literally: untaught) and unstable people distort [the]…Scriptures, to their own destruction.”(2 Tim. 2:15 – Amplified; 2 Pet. 3:16)

As lay people, we have a responsibility to correctly examine the Scripture, since bad doctrine usually leads to bad living. Following are 10 basic principles of Biblical interpretation+:

#1  Work from the assumption that the Bible is authoritative.

#2  The Bible interprets itself; Scripture best explains Scripture.

#3  Interpret personal experience in the light of Scripture and not Scripture in light of personal experience.

#4  Biblical examples are authoritative only when supported by a command.

#5  Scripture has only one meaning and should be taken literally.

#6  Interpret words in harmony with their meaning in times of the author.

#7  Interpret a word in relation to its sentence and context; a passage in harmony with its context.

#8  Since Scripture originated in a historical context, it can be understood only in the light of biblical history.

#9  Historical facts or events become symbols of spiritual truths only if the Scriptures so designate them.

#10  When two doctrines taught in the Bible appear to be contradictory, accept both as scriptural in the confident belief that they resolve themselves into a higher unity.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 2, 1998

IN DISCIPLING PEOPLE, WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY VALUES WE SHOULD SEEK TO BUILD INTO THEIR LIVES?

Good Morning!

Is it to help them develop a strong prayer life, or a disciplined pattern of Scripture memory? Or to be a faithful witness to the lost? Very possibly but…

Infinitely more basic is to  help them  form rock-rib convictions in three fundamental  areas (I Cor. 13:13):

FAITHDoes your “disciple” believe God? 

Does he (or she) demonstrate faith in God by a willingness to lay it on the line when the chips are down, even to the point of climbing into the fiery furnace (so to speak), as did  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?  (Daniel 3) Does your disciple authenticate his faith by demonstrating congruency of life between the secular and the spiritual?   (Psa. 24:3,4)

“…Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him…The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.”  (Heb. 11:6; Jn. 6:29) 

HOPEDoes your disciple have a “Pilgrim Mentality”? 

Is his primary focus on the temporal or on the eternal?  Does he, by his life demonstrate the fact that he understands the transitory nature of our earthly existence, and the importance of investing in the eternal?

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth…looking for a country of their own…longing for a better country–a heavenly one…” (Heb. 11:13-16-NKJ)

LOVE  – Does your disciple live a life of selfless sacrifice?

Has he been so impacted by Christ’s love that he is compelled to live a life of loving service rather than selfish indulgence?

“For Christ’s love compels us…that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor. 5:14,15)

By the way, you and I both know that the way you build these qualities into the life of another is by modeling them first in your own life.

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!