BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for July, 1999

Wednesday, July 28, 1999

OFTEN, IT’S WHAT IS NOT SAID THAT IS CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Good Morning!

We cruised along in a top-of-the line chauffeur-driven limousine. Soft music permeated the air. 

Dwight, I am going public with the Company. The move should increase our Corporation’s net 25%.” As he continued, I could not help but notice how artfully his words were chosen. I was also struck by his exquisitely tailored suit. And the watch. A Rolex, of course.

“We’re putting together a coalition of companies that could corner the market,” he continued.

I’m delighted at the successes you are enjoying,”  I replied. And so the conversation went. But somehow inside, I felt hollow. Like there was something missing in our exchange. Later, upon reflection, it occurred to me that my unease was based not on what was said, but on what was not said.  Such as,

–  “Dwight, there is this fellow on the Board whom I believe is close to coming to Christ!”

–  “My wife and I are seeing the couples in our home Bible study growing spiritually!”

–  “Dwight, this morning in my time with God, I was impressed from the Scriptures…”

I doubt that there is any blatant sin in his life. No womanizing. No underhanded manipulation of funds. During our conversation, he was simply expressing what was on his heart. After all,  “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45b) 

Jesus, in calling Peter and Andrew said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Matt. 4:19)  Fishing for people is the natural outgrowth of following Christ. The fishermen I know are obsessively passionate about catching fish! But when their passion wanes, the topic of fishing fades from their conversation.

In our previous talks, I heard nothing from his lips about fishing for people. So I find myself with an unsettled feeling that in his rocketing success, he has been surreptitiously ensnared by “the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things… [thus choking] the word, [and] making [him] unfruitful?” (Mk 4:19b) 

Obedient followers of Christ fish for people! It’s a passion and a priority! They talk about it!

The question you and I may want to ask of ourselves is,Judging from our conversation, where does our passion and primary focus lie? In catching men? Or in expanding our portfolios, and in increasing our net worth?

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 21, 1999

WHEN WE DALLY IN SIN, OUR BOND OF INTIMACY WITH CHRIST IS BROKEN

Good Morning!

A spiritual dullness and hardness of heart sets in. We began to wander from God by growing  indifferent to Him. We find our heart easily seduced by other affections. (Heb. 3:13; 5:11;  Jms 5:19; Prov.  4:23; 2 Cor. 11:3)

When King David broke that bond of intimacy with God through his liaison with Bathsheba, rationalization and self-deception became a way of life. (Psa. 32)

In David’s prayer of repentance, he implored God for three attitudes of the heart (Psalm 51), 

Renew a steadfast spirit  within me.”  (Verse 10) – That is, he prayed that his broken relationship with God would be repaired. Rebuilt. He asked God for a spirit of stability, faithfulness,  and  firmness as he sought to be reestablished in his walk.

Grant me a willing spirit.”  (Verse 12) – By this request, David was appealing to God to uphold, or sustain him in his spirit. He may also have been asking God for a renewed spirit of nobility.

You may recall that David, after 15 years of eluding King Saul’s murderous pursuits, was crowned King of Israel. Once his position as monarch was established, he inquired if there were any good he could do for Saul’s family. Aids brought Saul’s crippled son Mephibosheth to his attention. And in response, David offered to provide for his material needs which included sitting regularly at his table. Now, that is a noble spirit!  (2 Samuel 9)

 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.”  (Verse 17) – Here, David acknowledged the importance of a crushed spirit in repentance.  When we began to grasp the cost Jesus paid for our redemption, we will find no place for a caviler or “oops” attitude in our confession. Rather, we will be crushed over our sin. 

Recently, I had lunch with a Christian businessman who had cheated clients in several financial transactions. I had been told that he had “repented” of his actions. Yet, while chatting over lunch, he chided me for not responding to him during his backslidden state in a manner that was to his liking. Upon reflection of our meeting together, it seemed to me the element of “brokenness” was missing from his so-called repentance.” 

 Perhaps today, our prayer could be, “Lord, grant me a steadfast, willing and broken spirit.” 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 14, 1999

WHEN LESS IS MORE

Good Morning!

An automobile ad depicts a family holding hands, blissfully skipping through the park toward their newly acquired $75,000 car. Fostering family values of peace and solidarity, the advertisement infers that by obtaining the car, everything in the family is now at a near perfect state.

Yet, we live in a society where people are ripping their lives apart to get that car…and the appropriate house to match.

The Scriptures challenge material acquisition, when it is at the expense of peace and truth,

“Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.” (Prov. 15:16)

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” (Prov. 17:1)

“Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.“ (Prov. 16:8) (Also Psa.  37:16;  Prov. 15:17;   Ecc. 4:6)

Proverbs 23:4, puts the issue into the right perspective in cautioning us,

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” 

God assures us of His provision — and more, if we will but make the pursuit of Him our supreme goal,

“Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”  (Deut. 5:33)+

Yesterday, a businessman friend of mine wrote a note of appreciation to me after several of us had discussed the importance of carving out quantity and quality time with our children,

“Thank you for the rich session we had. I had a wonderful time with [my daughter] this  morning. We had breakfast and talked for nearly an hour. All the money in the world would not be able to buy what I experienced…”

By the way, are we under the illusion that  we can get quality time with our kids without quantity time?

QUESTION: In your family and personal life, is there a pattern of love, righteousness, and peace? Or turmoil, strife, and a sense of chasing after the wind? How would your spouse and kids answer that question of you and the family?  If their response is in the negative, perhaps you need to re-assess your focus and priorities.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, July 7, 1999

THREE GODLESS VALUES THAT CONFRONT YOU DAILY:

Good Morning!

#1  “Reason is superior to faith.” 

That is, facts and faith inhabit two separate realms and must not be mixed. In this age of reason, most folks view God as irrelevant. Redundant. Therefore, Christianity is “severely questioned, contemptuously repudiated, or studiously ignored.” +

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.”  (Rom.1:28)

#2  Business practices are amoral. Value-free.”

That is, pragmatic realism dictates the modus operandi. Just get the job done. Religious idealism has no place in the hard-nosed business world of Machiavellian reality.

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Rom.1:29-31)

#3  “We are emancipated, self-sufficient individuals who are free do as we so choose.”

That is, democracy means I am owed individual freedoms as I understand them. Personal responsibility for my actions does not enter into the picture. 

“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”  (Judg.17:6)

CONCLUSIONA cursory review of the 20th Century (Auschwitz, Hiroshima, etc.) makes it self-evident that this philosophy  has led to a profound sense of isolation, “fear, [and] disenchantment…A feeling of abandonment, doubt, a sense of danger, alienation, and anxiety.”+ 

“The wicked man flees though no one pursues… There they were, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread.”   (Prov. 8:1a; Psa.53:5a)

CHALLENGE:That as Jesus’ disciple we take counsel of the Scriptural injunction, “Be sure that no one leads you away with false and empty teaching that is only human wisdom, which comes from the ruling spirits of this world, and not from Christ.” (Col.2:8 – New Century Version.)                    

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!