BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for December, 2000

Wednesday, December 27, 2000

WHAT IS FAITH?

Good Morning!

 Dwight, just what is faith anyway?”  So asked a businessman of me recently. Of course the verse that immediately came to mind was Hebrews 11:1, “…Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  But what does that mean? Well,

  • Faith is the title deed of things hoped for.
  • Faith is confidence in the reality of things we cannot see.+

Ponder Elizabeth Elliot’s comments“Faith is a decision. It is not a deduction from the facts around us. We would not look at the world of today and logically conclude that God loves us. It doesn’t always look as though He does. Faith is not an instinct. It is certainly not a feeling – feelings don’t help much when you’re in the lions’ den or hanging on a wooden Cross.

“Faith is not inferred from the happy way things always work.  It is an act of the will, a choice, based on the unbreakable Word of God who cannot lie, and who showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean in the person of Jesus Christ.” ++

Basically, faith is a product of knowing God. And one cannot know God without exposure to Him through thoughtful and careful pondering of His character, as revealed in the Scriptures. I doubt that one  can know God intimately without solitude: Listening to the Spirit through the ears of faith. Not easy in a world gone amok with its beeping, ringing, honking, and screeching. Not easy, but expected by God:

“Be still, and know that I am God”  (Psa. 46:10a)

 And why is faith so important?  Because,

“…Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him… But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”  (Heb. 11:6, 10:38)

We can get by with a small amount of faith:  “…If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20b)

But it is not what Jesus desires of us: “…You of little faith…why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31b; Mk. 16:14; Lk. 24:38; Heb. 10:38; 11:39) 

QUESTION:  Are you taking the necessary steps toward intimacy with God to develop your faith?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 20, 2000

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE BUNGE CORD SNAPS?

Good Morning!

It’s easy when the cash is flowing and you’re in mint physical condition  to speak of God’s blessing and provision. But what happens when the bunge cord snaps: Funds dry up? Your health breaks, and your “friends” silently withdraw?  (Job 1:16-19; 2:7; 19:13-20)

Job’s wife had a solution, Curse God and die!”  (Job 2:9b)

In recent months I have observed various friends go from wealth to poverty. Some were pillaged. Others were threatened with physical harm or death. One friend died of cancer, leaving a wife and six children. And these are all God’s people, who love and follow Him. 

I think Job had it right: Languishing in his loss – and in his boils, he responded,Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”  (Job 2:10b)

 Shaping God as we do, to conform to our self-serving ouija-board brand of Christianity, we often find His sovereign design unpalatable, particularly when it grates across our theological grain. Yet He reminds us,

“I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things… Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?”  (Isa. 45:7; Lam. 3:38)

Paul, (who himself almost buckled under a severe test of faith) reminds us how to respond in tough times,   

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  (Rom. 12:12) (See 2 Cor. 1:8-11)

 Is it not true that the genuine measure of our faith…and mettle, are revealed by our response to Him at our  lowest point?  Upon learning of his calamitous loss,

Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’”  (Job 1:20, 21; See Job 23:8-10)

Oh yes, you may recall that God did restore Job’s life two-fold. (Job 42:10-17)  But that is no warranty for us, as God reserves the right to deal with us as He so chooses (Compare Job 12:17-25 with Psa. 37)

QUESTION: Will you still elect to follow Him if or when the bunge cord snaps and there remains no guarantee of health and wealth?  

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

PHONY BALONEY OR THE GENUINE ARTICLE?

Good Morning!

When it comes to “ministering” to others, there seem to be two types of people: The “Phony Baloney types, and the “Genuine Article types.    Into which category do you fall? Here’s an inventory:

 SELF-PROMOTING: Do you promote yourself as a spiritual authority, or do you unobtrusively serve others in the Name of Christ?

“The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses…They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’ Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates.”   (Matt. 23:2 [NIV],6-8 [The Message])

OPPRESSIVE: Do you impose unnecessary burdens and “standards of performance” on others?  Or do you seek to liberate people from spiritual bondage and legalism?

“They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”  (Matt. 23:4)

RELIGIOUS” :  Do you parade your  piety?  Or do you  obscurely pray, give,  and serve?

“Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next.” (Matt. 23:5 -The Message)

 SIDETRACKED:  Do you major on the minors? Or are you focused on the important issues?

“…You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it.”  (Matt. 23:23b – The Message)

HYPOTICRITICAL: Do you project one image while living another? Or are your profession and your practice the “genuine article”?

“The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.

The teachers of the law and Pharisees “are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”  (Matt. 23:2,3 – The Message; 23:27, 28 – NIV )

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, December 6, 2000

LIFE UNDER THE BOARDS

Good Morning!

 Last night I watched the seventh game of the NBA semi-finals (a re-run). With six minutes left, the teams were tied. And that’s when it got rough…under the boards: Elbows in the gut. Knees in the back. Shoving, muscling, overpowering. Bruising!

Only one thing counted: Getting control of the ball – without getting caught by the ref.

Then it occurred to me – Hey, life under the boards is a lot like doing business in the Marketplace: No rules.  Just do whatever it takes to get control. Get the job done. Don’t get caught…Win.

Proverbs describes a similar environment, so typical of many sectors in the Marketplace,

“Wicked men…whose words are perverse…who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight  in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.”  (Pro. 12:a-15)

As a follower of Christ what am I to do?  Flee? Join a monastery? Pretend it doesn’t exist? 

No, just the opposite. Notice Jesus’ prayer to the Father, and His instructions to the Twelve,

My prayer is not that you take out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one…I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Jn. 17:15; Matt. 10:16)

The way to survival; the way to victory, is to become a person in passionate pursuit of God’s wisdom,

 “If you accept my word and store up my commandments within you, turning your ear to wisdom, and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and search for it as for hidden treasure…”  (Pro. 2:1-4)

then you will make it in the Marketplace. Because it is to such a person that,

“The Lord gives wisdom…knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright…He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful one. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair…For wisdom will enter your heart…Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse.” (Pro. 2:6-12, excerpts)

QUESTIONDo you want to succeed in the Marketplace in a manner pleasing to God? Only a passionate pursuit of Him and His wisdom will make it possible. Are you up to the challenge?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!