BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for February, 2000

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

WHEN THERE AREN’T ANY ANSWERS LEFT

Good Morning!

A week ago I received an e-mail from Mary, whose husband is languishing under the agony of advancing cancer.  “Don’s pain is excruciating.  I don’t know which way to turn.  The burden is too much. Please pray.

To add to their stress, Mary serves as Don’s “nurse”, all the while doubling as mom and dad to their four kids, who range in age from 10 months to 15 years.

 Yesterday when I visited them, Mary greeted me with red and tear-filled eyes. Ten minutes after notifying Don of my arrival, he haltingly entered the room. Shoes untied. Gaunt. Unshaved. His cancerous right arm seemed awkwardly  “pinned” to his side. Faintly, he managed a smile.

While Mary served tea, Don offered, “Dwight, I find myself deeply disappointed. Nothing makes sense any more. So much of what I taught from the Scriptures about God  doesn’t equate with what I am experiencing. I am struggling with depression. I am learning something about loosing everything for Christ. (Phil. 3:8)  All I have left to hold on to are God’s promises.”

Don,” I asked, “Do you think that the source of our agony lies in our assumption that if we keep our end of the bargain, (obedience, etc.), God is obligated to keeping His by guaranteeing us health, fruitfulness, a fulfilling job, etc.? When life doesn’t play out that way, we become disillusioned? 

 “Yeah…Dwight.  I think that is our problem.”

 We then read over I Pet. 4:12, 13a:  “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you…”  And we both admitted that we are  surprised at suffering when it comes! It is “strange”.  We feel it is unfair!  And we feel we deserve better!

 The passage goes on: “But rejoice that you [are now participating] in the sufferings of Christ.”  Now that seems a bit heavy. When we committed our lives to following Him, we did not anticipate that level of pain…or identification with Christ.  And to“rejoice” in it?  It is humanly impossible without Divine help.

 My friend, I don’t know what trial you may be facing today. Perhaps like Don, you are discovering that there are no pat answers to life’s vexing questions. But one thing we do know with certainty is that in eternity, our good and just God promises to  “…wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” (Rev. 21:4a)  That is our eternal hope. 

 QUESTION:  Today, amidst your  “painful trial” are you choosing to trust Him — with or without the answers?  If your decision is  “yes”, then you are experiencing hope, rather than paralyzing despair.

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 16, 2000

DEFEAT? NOT EVEN AN OPTION!

Good Morning!

Today, are you on the brink of sinking into defeat? Then consider Paul’s plight:

 “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.”  (2 Cor. 11:24-27)

 And what was Paul’s response to life’s would be “defeats”?  “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10) 

Defeat? Not even an option!

 Abraham Lincoln ignored “defeat” on his road to becoming America’s most beloved and greatest President:

 Failed in business in 1831  Defeated for election in 1840 
 Defeated for Legislature in 1832   Defeated for Congress in 1848
 Second failure in business in 1833      Defeated for Senate in 1855 
 Suffers nervous breakdown in 1836     Defeated for Vice President in 1856   
 Defeated for Speaker in 1838    Defeated for Senate in 1858   
   Elected for President in 1860

 

Defeat? Not even an option

Perhaps the birds have it best figured out:  “Said the Robin to the Sparrow: ’I should really like to know why these anxious humans rush about and worry so.’  Said the Sparrow to the Robin, ‘Friend, I think that it must be that they have no heavenly Father such as for you and me.’”(Elizabeth Cheney)

So today, choose to rest your hand in His as He grants you victory out of the jaws of defeat. “…Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again….A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” (Pro. 24:16a; Psa. 34:19)

 Defeat? Not even an option!

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 9, 2000

“I CAN GIVE YOU THREE REASONS WHY YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO GOD”:

Good Morning!

First, simply because of who you are:

“…He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight…I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness...“You [God] created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  Your works are wonderful…”  (Eph. 1:4; Jer. 31:3; Psa. 139:13,14)

Second, because of what you cost:

“…He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed… The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all…Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God…” (Isa. 53:5,6;I Pet. 3:18a)

Third, because of what you can become”+:

“The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation….If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundation…” (Isa. 60:22a; 58:10-12)

Why not take a moment, right now. Go over to the mirror and look at that unique individual whom God has beautifully crafted. Wow! Created in His image! Try to imagine the billions of DNA that have singly been arranged in accordance with His perfect plan. Because He delighted in creating you just as you are, there is no one quite like you in all the universe

And He knew from eternity past that the Savior would go to the cross for you

In His infinite wisdom, He has set forth a marvelous blueprint for your life that perfectly coincides with His eternal purposes, plan, and glory. No one else can, or should do what He ordains for you. 

Why don’t you pause for a moment now and thank Him. 

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 2, 2000

RETIREMENT?

Good Morning!

Is there a time limit on loosing our lives for the Gospel? I don’t think so. (Lk. 9:23,24;14:33;I Jn 3:16)

When does one fold up his tent to go and play?

In my weariness, I dreamed of hitting that magical age of  retirement and cruising a bit. You know, buy the big sedan, throw in the “sticks”, and meander across the country. Ease up. Back off. Slow down. In a word, “retire.” 

Then I read of missions’ expert, Dr. Ralph Winter, who along with his wife were diagnosed with terminal cancer. His response? “I can see the finish line, and I’ve decided to sprint for it.” Retirement? No way.

I thought of  Billy Graham, who, in his late-70’s with Parkinson’s disease, is still holding city-wide crusades and satellite conferences that affect millions…or more. Retirement? No way.

Or Bob Cockerel, who, in his 40’s took time away from business to  make trips to Africa to teach in a Bible school. When in his 60’s he was diagnosed with cancer, he bought a one way ticket and disappeared into the bowels of that Continent to finish what he had started.  Retirement? No way. 

Or Mother Teresa, who died at 87, with  3 garments to her name, and $100.00 in the bank. Herself feeble and ill, she continued feeding and loving the disenfranchised to the very end.  Retirement?  No way. 

I am reminded of that farmer who made it big. Or rather God allowed him to make it big by blessing his  land. So he dreamed of larger barns and “party time”. Wanted to cruise. And God’s answer? “No way!”

 “…The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself…’I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods…Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you…?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.’”            (Lk. 12:13-21)

QUESTION: Tell me, is there a fire burning in your soul for the things that break the heart of God? Most everyone in the world knows about Coca-Cola, but have yet to once hear the name  “Jesus.”  Yeah, let’s visit the grand kids, take the cruises, and play golf now and then. But retire? No way! Personally I have made a decision to sprint for the finish line, giving it 110% until I drop. How about you?

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!