BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for February, 2001

Wednesday, February 28, 2001

HOW ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND AND RESPOND TO SUFFERING?

Good Morning!

For example:

  • A friend’s twelve year old boy dies of cancer.
  • An unforeseen change in tax laws suddenly wipes out an established business.

Why do people suffer? Is it the result of sin? Circumstances?  Bad luck?  Evil forces winning over good? 

 How much suffering is self-inflicted through our sloth, greed, ignorance,  or stupidity?    

It seems that a considerable amount of the pain we suffer happens at random. Few would disagree that life,  taken at face value,  appears to be unfair. (Ecc. 7:15; 8:14)

In my recent reflections on suffering from the Book of Job, five observations emerged:

  1. In the struggle between good  and evil, God may allow the righteous to  suffer without their knowledge of the issues at stake. (Job, chapters 1,2)
  2. Because our lives are  expendable  for  the glory of God, He is the One who determines  their quality and duration. (Job 1:9-20; 2:6-10; 42:10-15)
  1. Our friends may well mis-judge the cause of our suffering by failing to comprehend God’s  inexplicable purposes at work behind the scenes.  (Job 42:7,8)
  2. How we respond to suffering reveals the quality of our faith. (Job 1:21, 22; 13:15; 23:8-12)
  1. This side of eternity, God may choose not to explain the reasons for our suffering. He gave none  to Job. (Dt. 29:29; Ecc. 8:17)

HOW THEN ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND AND RESPOND TO SUFFERING?

Certainly Job’s response to the destruction of his family and fortune is worthy of our consideration. Upon learning of his losses, Job

“…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.’

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:20-22)

 THE QUESTION IS: DO WE?

 

My prayer is that you are having a good week!

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

QUESTIONS THAT CAN HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER LEADER+

Good Morning!

 Have you ever broken yourself of a bad habit?  To lead others, one must be master of oneself.

 “’Everything is permissible for me’–but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’–but I will not be mastered by anything.”  (I Cor 6:12)  (See 1 Cor. 9:24-27)

 Do you think independently?  While using to the full the thoughts of others, the leader cannot afford to let others do his thinking or make his decisions for him.

 Agabus…took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, ‘The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ‘When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, ‘Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’  When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, ‘The Lord’s will be done.’” (Acts 21:10b,11b-14) (See 20:22-24)

Do you possess a strong and steady will?  A leader will not long retain his position if he is vacillating.

 “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58)  (See Isa. 50:7)

 Can you use disappointments creatively?

“…What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”  (Phil. 1:12b-14) (See Prov. 24:16a)

 Are you really interested in people…of all types and all races?  Or do you entertain respect of persons?  Is there hidden racial prejudice?  An anti-social person is unlikely to make a good leader.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.”  (Rom.1:14)

 Are you in the grip of a master passion?…Such a singleness of motive will focus all one’s energies and powers on the desired objective.

 “…This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 3:13b,14)  (See Isa. 20:9; Acts 4:19, 20; 1 Cor. 9:16)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

CHRISTIAN CLASSICS

Good Morning!

“My son, make books your companions and make your book cases and shelves your groves and pleasure gardens.  Graze in their beds and cull their flowers…and if your soul grows weary and exhausted, move from garden to garden and from flower bed to flower bed…For then your will shall be restored and your spirit will become beautiful.” +

The following Christian Classics are unsurpassed in their spiritual depth of insight for the hungering soul:

If by Amy Carmichael: Writings on the meaning of the cross.

The Saving Life of Christ by W. Ian Thomas: Help to allow the life of Christ to live through us.

Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton: Pithy insights on Christian truth in contemporary society.

Pensees by Blaise Pascal: Apologetics of the faith; profound and searching aphorisms.

The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sawyers: Provocative.  Penetrating. Tightly packaged insights on philosophy, psychology, and how our lives parallel the Trinity.

The Silver Lining by John Henry Jowell: A British pastor from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Strong on grace, Jowell catches the mystery, beauty and strength of Christ.

Christian Classics in Modern English – Harold Shaw – Publisher: This is a collection of three influential classic writers in modern English:  “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence, “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a` Kempis, and “The Confessions of St. Augustine” by Augustine.

The Early Christians In Their Own Words by Eberhard Arnold: A compilation of documents from the first two centuries following Christ’s crucifixion.  Writers include Poluycarp, Pliny, Justin, and others.

Invitation to the Classics  by Louise Cowan and Os Guinnes:  Surveys the most important contributions to Western literature from the time of the Greeks to the present.

C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaffer by Scott Burson and Jerry Walls: Focuses on their legacy, and thinking on critical issues such as biblical authority, God’s sovereignty, apologetics, etc.

 Devotional Classics edited by Richard Foster and James B. Smith: 52 devotional excerpts from Christian writers through the centuries; writers include Jonothan Edwards, Henri Nouwen, Augustine and others.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 7, 2001

THE LUST OF THE EYES

Good Morning!

 Let’s face it men, this is one tough area in our lives!  The other day I was in the shopping mall with my wife, and what I saw was appalling…Yet so part of the fabric of our society that we are half numbed by such trash:

 –  A woman’s apparel shop window displayed the picture of a supermodel, scantly dressed in a suggestive pose, with a fetchingly naughty look in her eye.  

–  Young women in skimpy skirts and revealing blouses, frolicking along in the mall, seemingly oblivious to the seductive power they emit to any red-blooded male within sight. 

 If this is a difficult area for you, here are a few suggestions that may prove helpful:

  • Understand the nature of our eyes: They are never satisfied:

“Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.”  (Prov. 27:20)

  • Make a pact with your eyes to keep them pure:

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl…Let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you…” Because, “everyone who is looking at a woman in order to indulge his sexual passion for here, [has] already committed adultery with here in his heart.”   (Job 31:1; Prov. 4:25; Matt. 5:28b, Wuest Translation) (See II Pet. 2:14)

  • Keep guard over your heart, understanding that the heart is led by the eyes:

“Do not desire her beauty in your heart, nor let her catch you with her eyelids…Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”  (Prov. 6:25; 4:23)  (See Job 31:5-8)

  • Commit your body to God – including your eyes – as instruments for His use and glory:

“…Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”  (Rom. 6:13)

  •  Make it a practice to regularly hide God’s word in your heart:

 “How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your word…I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”  (Psa. 119:9,11)

 By His grace we can keep our eyes pure.  Just think what effect that would have on our walk with God…and what it would mean to our wives?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!