BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 2000

Wednesday, October 25, 2000

SEVEN GUIDELINES ON MAKING REQUESTS OF GOD:

Good Morning!

Yesterday, while driving golf balls, Jim, a young entrepreneur, asked, “Dwight, what is faith?”  How can I know I am asking God for the right things?”  “How do I know whether my requests are based on faith, or presumption?”  Cash flow had been a problem lately, and a venture capitalist was offering to buy into his company. “In making requests, can I be sure that I will receive what I ask for?”   

For starters, here is Hebrews 11:1’s definition of faith,

“…It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen.It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.”

In response to Jim’s questions, let me offer seven guidelines in making requests of God,

  1. Our petitions must not be selfish: Because Solomon unselfishly asked God for wisdom in governing Israel, his request, (plus rewards) was granted. (I King. 3:5-15; see Jms. 4:2,3)
  1. We must ask in faith, believing: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matt. 21:22; see Jms. 1:5-8))
  1. Our paramount concern in asking must be for His glory: “And I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”    (Jn. 14:13)
  2. When we ask, we are to be in an abiding, obedient relationship with Christ:If you remain in me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (Jn. 15:7; see I Jn. 3:22; Psa. 66:18)
  3. Our requests are to be centered in God’s calling upon our lives, and in God’s great purposes: “…I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My Name…If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (Jn. 15:16; I Jn. 5:14b,15)
  4. In our requests, we need to be careful not to presume upon the grace of God, as did Israel when they demanded a king. By the way, God did grant them their selfish and costly request.  (2 Sam. 8; see Psa. 19:13 [KJV,  NASB, NKJ]; Psa. 106:15
  1. Remember, it is God’s intention to give “good” gifts to His children, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you…Your Father in heaven [will] give good (beneficial) gifts to those who ask Him!”  (Matt. 7:7, 11b; see Psa. 84:11)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, October 18, 2000

RECEIVING CORRECTION

Good Morning!

I was between planes when I heard someone shout, “Hey Dwight!”  It had been a couple of years since Wilber and I had seen each other. The last word I had heard about him was that he had been fired (for the second time) for breaching legal and ethical standards in his profession. In the few moments we had together he sardonically mentioned that Christian friends had recently taken him aside and challenged him over the fact that his wife was now supporting the family in the long-term. Then, I heard my boarding announcement, and we parted.

On the long flight home I found myself mulling over my many years of experience with Wilber:

  • 20 years ago a mutual friend had tried to point out attitudes and practices in his life that he felt would ultimately prove destructive. But to no avail.  Wilber was unapproachable.
  • A dozen years ago I remember visiting him in his town, and asking if he and I could work out at the local swimming pool. So, lacking the necessary passes, he manipulated our way into the university pool. 
  • Once, on one of my visits, while traveling in the car, a policeman stopped him for a traffic violation. In an abusive manner, he managed to talk his way out of a ticket.
  • One evening, several years ago, while barbecuing steaks in his back yard, he said, “You know Dwight, some day my irresponsibility is going to catch up with me. I have got to get my act together, or I am going to get into serious trouble.”  I think that day has come.

Brooding over Wilber, I couldn’t help but recall Solomon’s warnings,

“He who loves discipline (correction, instruction), loves knowledge.  He who hates reproof is stupid…He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” (Pro. 13:18; 12:1)

And the reason he has persisted in his aberrant behavior over these many years?  He is “cute.” Brilliant. Highly educated. Unimaginably talented in business. Able to manipulate others. And I think his friends, entertained by his cleverness, have often made allowances for his mis-conduct. 

QUESTION: Do your Christian friends find you approachable when you need correction?  Are they able to share with you their concerns about your life, attitudes and practices?  Or are you “cute”, manipulative, and clever enough to get away with it?  If in fact you are not teachable, where do you think this will take you in the years ahead? 

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, October 11, 2000

I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE…

Good Morning!

  • For my hot temper. I’m Irish.
  • For my life-long indulgence in sensual behavior. I was molested at age 12.
  • For wallowing in self-pity and under-achievement. I come from a broken home.

Living as we do in a crybaby society that encourages blame-casting and personal irresponsibility, it is interesting to note that the Scriptures allow us no such luxury

You don’t see Jesus, for example, saying to Peter, “Pete, your dad was a pretty harsh taskmaster, growing up as you did the son of a fisherman. When you get around to it, and are feeling better about yourself, perhaps you would consider tagging along with Me. Give Me a buzz when you think you are ready.”

Or to Nathaniel, “You know Nate, you have a pretty sensitive disposition. I’d like you to trust and believe in Me, but your alcoholic father scarred you for life. Perhaps we can work on the ‘trust’ thing, when of course you have the time…and the inclination.” 

Today I had lunch with Sam+ and his lovely wife Kerry+, and their three adorable children. Frankly, I was blown away because Sam is the product of multiple foster homes and irresponsible parenting. Women, who are loved and treated with respect, “glow.”  Kerry “glows.”  And the kids? Alert. Confident. Well mannered. Secure.

In his teens, Sam became a high priced con artist. In his mid-20’s he met Christ. At 40, he is a successful businessman who gives large portions of his income to God’s work. Sam also travels the world, meeting with heads of state, and sharing Christ in the most dangerous of environs. On the side, he raises millions of dollars for propagating the Gospel. In a word, Sam has assumed responsibility for his life. 

While the Scriptures express compassion for human weakness,

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak…” (Rom.15:1b; See Psa.41:1-3)

 They do not temper Christ’s call to discipleship,

“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”*

RESOLVE: That whatever my background or situation, I assume responsibility for my life. I choose to trust Christ for the necessary grace and healing to conform me into His likeness. By His grace and enabling I purpose to follow Him as a true disciple. (2 Cor. 12:9; 1 Cor. 1:27)

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, October 4, 2000

THE RIPPLE EFFECTS OF SIN

Good Morning!

 Yesterday, a close friend shared the living hell in his marriage, and the constant pressure he felt to seek companionship elsewhere. Over the years he has made a noble effort to salvage a tragic situation. But to no avail. Every instinct within me says, “Leave. You don’t deserve this. Find someone who will love you and help you raise your children in a sane environment.  Get a life!”

Then in my devotions this morning, I  read of David’s sin with Bathsheba. Amazingly, at that juncture, David was at the apex of his career: Powerful. Loved by his people. Magnanimous. And lounging instead of warring. (2 Sam.  9:1 – 10:1,2a; chapter 11)

What really caught my eye in the narrative was the number of people effected by David’s sin

  • Bathsheba – Morally corrupted; lost a husband and baby. (2 Sam. 11:26; 12:24)
  • Uriah – Bathsheba’s husband whom David had killed in battle. (2 Sam. 11:6–21)
  • David and Bathsheba’s baby – Whose life God took. (2 Sam. 12:19-21)
  • Abimelech – Died unnecessarily in battle alongside Uriah. (2 Sam. 11:21)
  • David – Committed adultery and murder. Suffered multiple family tragedies. Weakened as a leader. (Psa. 32; 2 Sam. 12:19-21; 13:23-29, 37-17:29; 15:13-19A)   
  • Joab – David’s Chief of Staff: Corrupted; committed murder. (2 Sam. 11:6-21; 17:25;18:14,15; 2 King. 2:5,6,28-35)
  • Nathan – The Prophet, whom God commissioned to expose David’s sin. (2 Sam. 12)
  • Tamar – David’s daughter, who was raped by her brother Amnon. (2 Sam. 13:1-22)
  • Amnon – Murdered by Absalom’s men for the rape of Tamar. (2 Sam. 13:23-29)
  • Absalom – Committed murder, insurrection, and fornication. Was estranged from David.   Murdered by Joab. (2 Sam. 14,15,18; 16:21,22)
  • Ahithophel – Bathsheba’s father: Rebelled against David. Committed suicide. (2 Sam. 16:20–17:23)
  • David’s wives,  concubines and children – (I Sam. [5:13-16] 16:21,22;  25:42-44)
  • David’s fighting men – Humiliated and weakened. (2 Sam. 19:5-8)
  • The Nation – Weakened, and ultimately divided. (2 Sam.19:9-15a,40-43; 20:1,2; I King. 11, 12)

Little did David realize the price tag for his adulterous action. In his delusion, he thought he could cover it up, failing to realize the Scripture’s warning, “…You may be sure that your sin will find you out…A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction…”  (Num. 32:23b; Gal. 6:8a)

Perhaps a worthwhile exercise for us would be to jot down the names of the people who would be adversely effected if we were to fall into sin.  Then we should ask the question as to whether the immediate gratification would be worth the long-term consequences? I rather doubt that it would! What do you think?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!