BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for March, 2000

Wednesday, March 29, 2000

DO YOU WANT TO WIN YOUR LOST FRIENDS TO CHRIST?

Good Morning!

Then tell them how Christ is the answer to their four greatest needs or concerns:+

 GUILT

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more…If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Isa. 43:25; Psa. 130:3,4)

I am reminded of God’s grace when I reflect upon the fact that the three men whom God most used in the Scriptures were murderers:  Moses, David and Paul.

LONELINESS

“[God] satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…[He is] a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling  (Psa. 103:5; 68:5)

Jesus:  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”  (Matt. 23:37)

EMPTINESS

“‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”  (Lk. 12:15)

“But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (Psa. 81:16; Jn. 10:10)

THE FEAR OF DEATH

“…By his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  (Heb. 2:14, 15)

“…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.  (I Jn. 5:11-13)

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”  (Jn. 10:27-29) 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 22, 2000

HOW ARE WE TO RELATE TO THE POOR?

Good Morning!

The other morning as I walked from my guest house out on the street to catch a ride, I passed by a family of five sleeping on a cardboard mat.   Throughout the day I was plagued by the memory of that family.

 The next morning I again passed this family who were just rising from their night on the street. A short distance away I noticed a street vendor dispensing bowls of food to passersby. Motioning to the family, I asked if they might be interested in eating breakfast. Without hesitation they ran toward me to take up my offer. Moments later, as they were devouring their food, I caught a ride and was off to a hotel for a breakfast appointment. On a whim, while waiting for my guest, I picked up a copy of the British newsmagazine, “The Economist.

It then occurred to me that the cost of purchasing the magazine was about the same as feeding that family of five. For the family, sharing my loose change meant a few hours of relief from hunger; for me is spelled a couple of hours of informed reading. 

 I don’t know about you, but I am vexed when it comes to the issue of the poor. If I loved them as myself, would I have as many toys? Or live at a level so excessively beyond such economically marginalized people? Just how do I process Jesus’ statement,

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (Lk. 12:33, 34)

Certainly God will reward us if we reach out to the poor, and punish us if we don’t,

 “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.”  (Prov. 28:27)  (See also Dt. 15:10; Prov.19:17; Ps. 41:1-4; Isa. 58:7; Jam. 2:14-26)

Four truths come to mind as I wrestle through this difficult issue:

#1  Jesus did not attempt to meet everyone’s needs. (Jn. 5:1-8)

#2  Helping others is to be on a priority basis. (Gal. 6:10)

#3  Surely I must help others if I possess the capability. (Prov. 3:27, 28; I Jn. 3:16-18)

#4  Jesus placed  high value on sacrificial giving. (Mk. 12:41-44)

 QUESTION: When we do meet Jesus at the Judgment, will He view our earthly sojourn as one characterized by greed, or generosity? (I Cor. 5:9,10) (See also Rom. 14:10;Gal. 6:7;Eph. 6:8;Col. 3:24,25)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 15, 2000

“THE MAN WHO LOSES HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE WILL SAVE IT.”+

Good Morning!

Perhaps you remember the old Western ballad that depicts a lone cowboy plodding across a parched desert, near death in search of water. To his delight he happens upon a well that is equipped with a hand pump. A note is attached to a cup of water:

“Friend, you can drink the water in the cup and quench your thirst, but you’ll die before reaching the next water hole. If you will pour the cup of water into the well to prime the pump, water will gush out, and you’ll have all the water you can drink. And, kindly refill the cup for the next thirsty traveler.”

Likewise, Jesus calls us to pour out our lives in selfless service to others for Him. But we will never know whether He’ll return our lives to us until we offer them up to Him.

Early this morning, I lay in bed reflecting back over some 40 years, where as a youth, I gave Jesus that cup of water — my life, and in effect said, “Pour it out…Do with it whatever You choose.”  Of course, I had no idea whether it would dissipate into oblivion, or return to me in gushes of life-giving water. 

Recalling His faithfulness, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude, and compelled to offer up prayers of thanks, not only for watering my dried out soul, but for allowing me the privilege of watering other weary travelers along the way.

 QUESTION: Today, are you willing without reservation, to offer up your life to Him in selfless worship and service? If you are, then here is His promise to you:

 “…If you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”  (Isa. 58:10, 11)

It is a certainty that if you don’t offer up your life, you will shrivel and die in the deadly desert of self-centered existence:

“…Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.  For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.”  (Jer. 17:5,6)

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 8, 2000

THE SOBERING TRUTH ABOUT SOWING AND REAPING

Good Morning!

Let’s be realistic! We’re gonna get away with,

–  Shading the truth now and then in order to facilitate our business dealings

–  Refusing to clean up messy or unresolved relationships  

–  Dabbling with pornography and sexual fantasies

–  Muscling and manipulating people to our advantage

Guess again! God has a law most of us would like to pretend does not exist: That of sowing and reaping:

 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7,8)

45 years ago, as a teenager, I intrepidity shared with a teenage friend and her boyfriend how Christ had changed my life. Mockingly, they brushed me off as intellectually naive and emotionally unstable. A decade and five children later, infidelity, child abuse, drugs, and alcohol had eaten away at their troubled marriage.  

 Recently I learned that she had committed suicide, and that her husband died four years later of a degenerative disease, exacerbated by stress and high alcohol intake. 

 And their five children?  Well, to date, they have garnered six divorces; one is a professional criminal, and two struggle with chronic depression.  Now in their late 30’s and early 40’s, most it seems, are finally settling down into careers.

The Scriptures warn us that one of God’s methods of judging rebellion is by allowing us to live with the consequences of our actions: 

 “Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord…they will eat the fruit of their ways…” (Prov. 1:30a, 31b) (Also note Prov. 1:24-32; Lam. 1, and Rom. 1:24-32)

So, the question we must ask of ourselves is this, “Are we prepared to live with the inevitable aftermath of what we are presently sowing?”  Because reap we will.  Either for good or for evil.

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, March 1, 2000

PORNOGRAPHY ON THE INTER-NET

Good Morning!

Dwight, the other night I was surfing the net and a highly seductive web sight came up on the screen. My curiosity got the best of me and I clicked to download it. While a pornographic picture was slowly appearing on the screen, I asked myself, ‘Do I really want to ruin the intimacy I am enjoying with Christ with this?’ And with that, I deleted the emerging smut, and escaped.”

Today, the greatest single temptation Christian men face is with pornography. And the web is fraught with tantalizing and invasive opportunities to indulge.

 This friend, who won that victory at the critical moment has, in a sense been preparing for that temptation for 15 years. The fact is, he is obsessed with knowing Christ, as evidenced by his commitment to certain priorities and values:

–  Making daily time for worship, meditation and praise.

–  Knocking off work a few hours early at least once a month and disappearing for an extended period of time with Christ.

–  Maintaining tough, high standard decisions in business that rule out any suggestion of ethical compromise.

Most thoughtful believers are aware that it is only the joy of the Lord that “will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hook.”  (Matthew Henry)

A year or so ago, my son-in-law canceled his subscription to the inter-net, explaining, “Dad, I just don’t want the pressure.” Above his computer monitor now reads a sign, “Character is what God sees.”

It is only as we cultivate a hunger for intimacy with the Lord Jesus — It is only as we develop an appetite for tasting the sweetness of His moment-by-moment presence, that we will be able to counter-balance the flood of lust and sensual desire that is ever-present in our sexually aroused society.                     

 “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”  (2 Tim. 2:22)

 QUESTION: Are you having victory over pornography? If not, what does it suggest about the quality of your intimacy with Christ? What changes are you willing to make to gain the higher moral ground?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!