BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for January, 2000

Wednesday, January 26, 2000

WHO IS SERVING WHOM, ANYWAY

Good Morning!

I just came back from lunch with George who is struggling in his young marriage. If he and his wife are to survive their union they will need a great deal of help right away. During lunch, George mentioned the fact that the leadership of his church wanted him to serve on the executive committee.

George,” I explored, “Before asking you to serve, did they inquire about the health of your marriage, or about how you are doing spiritually?”
“No.” 
“Are they aware of the struggles you two are going through?”
“No. I think they assume that if we show up at certain functions, we are doing fine. They never ask.”
“Did they ask you if serving on the executive committee would strengthen or weaken your marriage?”
“No.”

In reflecting back on that conversation, I was reminded of God’s stinging indictment of Israel’s shepherds, who were self-serving, indifferent to the flock’s needs, and harsh in their leadership style:

“…Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves!…You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.”  (Ezek. 34:2b,4)

Just yesterday a pastor confided in me of the pressure he felt to build a large congregation, even at the expense of his flock, in order to guarantee his acceptance into the elite fraternity of “successful” pastors.

By way of contrast, I was reminded of Jacob’s tender concern for the most vulnerable of his flock,    

“…The children are tender and…I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die…I [will] move along slowly at the pace of the droves before me and that of the children…”  (Gen. 33:13b-14)

QUESTION: In shepherding the flock, whose primary needs are being met? The shepherd’s? Or the sheep? Who is serving whom, anyway

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

ARE YOU A THRIVING “TREE” OR A WITHERING “BUSH”?

Good Morning!

Dwight, unless we sign a new contract within the next two months our company is finished.” “Bob” I responded, “Let’s take a look at Jeremiah 17:7, 8,”

“…Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” 

We observed that this “blessed” person is:

Joyful in soul, trusting God amidst life’s circumstances, as he draws nourishment from the stream.

Producing healthy fruit; undaunted by draught. 

After spending considerable time pondering the passage he said, “Yes, that’s nice Dwight, but we still don’t have a contract!”  (Translated:  “It’s pleasant to read the Scriptures, but I have to face reality.”)  So I said, “Bob, let’s take a few minutes and look at Jeremiah 17:5,6,”

“…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.”  

We noted that this “cursed” individual is:

Cooled in his heart toward God, having become dependent upon his own ability for survival.

Spiritually dry and impervious to surrounding prosperity; dwelling alone in a dying environment.

In the weeks that followed, Bob began to draw nourishment from his daily times of meditation on the Scriptures. As an inner peace settled in, it became obvious that he was changing from a withered “bush” into a healthy “tree.” 

And yes, two days before the dreaded expiration of the contract, Bob and his company signed an agreement that literally overwhelmed them with work for years to come.

 QUESTIONSo which are you?  A thriving “tree”, or a withering “bush?”  If you are a bush, what steps will you now take to begin the process of becoming a healthy, fruitful tree?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Saturday, January 15, 2000

“SOME GUYS ARE JUST LUCKY, I GUESS.” – NOT ACCORDING TO SOLOMON:

Good Morning!

“He whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but he whose ways are perverse will suddenly fall.” (Prov.28:18)

 Bill+ is a sincere, and plodding hard worker, who in his school days never made an athletic team or served on student government.  Today, he heads the second largest accounting firm in town and is known for his integrity and godliness.

Richard+ exploded onto the business scene some years ago, highly leveraging other people’s money in the volatile property development business.  “It’s God is blessing,” I was informed.  Today, he faces 42 lawsuits, the bank has foreclosed on his upscale estate, and he and his wife split a duplex with relatives.

He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.”  (Prov. 28:19)

Dan+ is a high school graduate, who met Christ while in the military. Upon discharge, he went to work as a farm hand for a widowed women.  After years of diligent service, the lady bequeathed her sizable holdings to Dan. Over these many years he and his wife have substantially impacted scores of students for Christ at a nearby private university for the rich and famous, while faithfully tilling their land.

Gene+ inherited a sizable business from his father, and within a decade managed to reduce it to red ink. Recently over lunch, he excitedly spoke of an enterprise half way around the world that would soon make him rich. “It is God’s will,” he disclosed to me. Meanwhile, his wife struggles to feed and cloth their children.

A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” (Prov. 28:20)

Sheldon+ grew up in foster homes, too poor to attend college. At age 21 he met Christ, and taught himself the machine repair business.  Successful in business, Sheldon and his wife choose to live on a portion of his income, giving the remainder to missions. On the side, he raises millions for the Gospel.

Forrest+ is actively involved in his church, while chronically struggling to meet his financial obligations. Every bit the executive — if appearances were the determinant — Forrest maintains a posh office, waiting for “The Break”.  Meanwhile he declines employment opportunities that offer modest, but steady income.              

QUESTION: In dealing with our own, or others’ rationalizations, are we willing to get down to gut issues, calling a spade a spade? If not, what do you think are the long-term consequences?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, January 5, 2000

VALUES WORTH LIVING AND DYING FOR IN THIS THE NEW MILLENNIUM:

Good Morning!

Loving and serving Christ with a passion+

“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…We proclaim him…so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”  (Phil.  3:7,8; Col. 1:28, 29)

Living and ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit

“…Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature….My message and my preaching were… with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power…”  (Gal. 5:16; I Cor.  2:4,5)

Living by faith and obedience to God’s Word

“…I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me…Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me….” (Act. 27:25; Jn. 14:21a)

Sharing the gospel by life and word

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  (Col. 4:5,6) 

 Multiplying spiritual laborers

 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  (2 Tim. 2:2)

Ministering life-on-life

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”  (I Thess. 2:8)

Possessing a vision for the world

“He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’”  (Gen. 15:5)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!