BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for August, 2001

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

FORGET THE IRS OR THE SEC. IT’S THE SEARING EYES OF JESUS WE NEED TO BE AWARE OF

Good Morning!

“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw…someone ‘like a son of man,’ dressed in a robe…with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.”   (Rev. 1:12-14)

Yesterday I had lunch with a senior officer of a conglomerate who is intimately knowledgeable of the inner workings of the organization: Keeping double books, the cannibalizing of one company to shore up another, and the manipulation of reports to satisfy SEC and IRS scrutiny are all standard practices.

The CEO and CFO  (who are also the controlling shareholders) determine senior management procedures. They are also professing Christians, who are known around town for their involvement in Christian missions and other programs related to the Gospel. 

 This senior officer went on tell me that because of their hypocrisy, the non-Christian executives in the conglomerate mock anything that is labeled “Christian” and view the CEO and CFO with great contempt. Clearly, these two men have become stumbling blocks to their non-Christian employees. As he talked, I thought of the Scriptures’ warning,

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You 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. 23:27-29)

“…If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  (Matt. 18:6b)

“[When] the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts….What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”  (1 Cor. 4:5b; Lk. 12:31)  (See Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 14:25)

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither…thieves nor the greedy nor…swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Cor. 6:9,10)

QUESTION: On the inevitable, and forthcoming day of judgment for believers, will your current business and professional practices withstand the searing, and all-knowing eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ – Let alone the more immediate prospect of an inspection by the SEC or IRS? (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15)

Are there specific changes you need to make at this time relative to your business practices?

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

“BAD COMPANY CORRUPTS GOOD MORALS” (I Cor. 15:33a)

Good Morning!

George, an upwardly mobile, fast track yuppie – and a professed follower of Christ, made the mistake of becoming the chief operations officer of a company owned by a wheeler-dealer with a reputation around town as a “Slime Ball”.  But the six digit income and the numerous perks proved irresistible.  Aware of Solomon’s warning, I watched at a distance, wondering if he could survive the association,

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.  If they say, ‘Come along with us…let’s waylay some harmless soul; we will get all sorts of valuable things…Throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse’– my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths.”   (Prov. 1:10, 11a,c, 13a, 14, 15)

At one point, I remember asking, “George, how can you stay clean in that environment?”  But he readily assured me that he had it “under control.

I am reminded of King Rehoboam who rejected the sage advice of his father’s advisors for that of his brash peers.  Soon thereafter his career ended in disgrace.  (I Kings 12 – 14; 2 Chron. 10:1-11:4)

 Or King Jehosophat, who ignored a godly prophet’s counsel, while aligning himself in battle with a godless king.  He too experienced ignominious defeat.  (I Kings 22; 2 Chron. 18:1-34)

 Recently I learned that the “Slime Ball”’s company had dissolved, leaving scores of investors in crisis.  Both George (who had also borrowed heavily to invest in the stock market – which crashed shortly thereafter) and his boss have fled the country to avoid prosecution, angry creditors and investors.

How applicable is Proverbs 13:20,   “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

To put this issue into perspective, I think it is important for us to understand that we, as Christ’s disciples  are to mix it up with the lost rather than  retreat into a monastery.  (Matt. 9:10-13; I Cor. 1: 5:9-11) But, we are not to become unequally yoked with them. (I Cor.6:14-18)  In other words,

 We are to be in the world, but not be of the world

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”  (Jn. 17:15,16)

 QUESTION: Are you making business alliances with people whose values are not centered in Biblical truth? Do you, like George, believe God need not be taken seriously when He states, “Bad company corrupts good morals”?  If so, are you prepared to live with the inevitable consequences?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

THE FISHERLESS FISHERMEN:+

Good Morning!

“’Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’” (Matt. 4:19)

There was a group called “Fishermen’s Fellowship”.  They were surrounded by streams and lakes full of hungry fish.  They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, the abundance of fish and the thrill of catching fish.  They got excited about fishing.

Someone suggested they needed a philosophy of fishing.  So they carefully defined and redefined fishing and the purpose of fishing.  They developed fishing strategies and tactics.

Then they realized they had been going at it backwards.  They had approached fishing from the point of the fisherman and not from the point of view of the fish.  How do fish view the world?  How does the fisherman appear to the fish?  What do fish eat and when?  These are all good things to know.

So they began research studies and attended conferences on fishing.  Some traveled faraway to study different kinds of fish with different habits.  Some got Ph.D.’s in Fishology.  But none had yet gone fishing.

So a committee was formed to send out fishermen.  As prospective fishing places outnumbered the fishermen, the committee needed to determine priorities.  A priority list of fishing places was posted on bulletin boards in all the Fellowship halls.

Still no one was fishing.  A survey was launched to find out why.  Most did not answer the questionnaire but from those who did respond, it was discovered that some felt called to study fish, a few to furnish fishing equipment and several to go around encouraging fishermen.  What with meetings, conferences and seminars, others simply didn’t have time to fish.

Jake was a newcomer to the “Fishermen’s Fellowship”.  After one stirring meeting of the “Fellowship”, Jake went fishing.  He tried a few things, got the hang of it and caught a choice fish.  At the next meeting he told his story, was honored for his catch and was then scheduled to speak at all the “Fellowship” chapters to tell how he did it. 

Soon he began to feel restless and empty.  He longed to feel the tug on the line once again.  He cut the speaking, resigned from the Board and said to a friend, “Let’s go fishing.”  They did-just the two of them-and they caught fish.

The members of the “Fishermen’s Fellowship” were many, the fish were plentiful, but the fishers were few.

QUESTION:  When was the last time you and I did some serious fishing for men?  What are we waiting for?  After all, Jesus did say, “’Come, follow me…and I will make you fishers of men.’”

 

 

 My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, August 8, 2001

FOUR AREAS WHERE WE AS GOD’S PEOPLE MAY NEED TO REPENT: (2 Chron. 7:14)

Good Morning!

#1  Our Pride:  “…The desire to impress (others) is not of the Father, but is of the world…”(I Jn. 2:16)

Prayer“Lord, I confess to you that I have focused too much on what others think, rather than on what You think.  I confess the sin of trying to impress others rather than seeking to please You.   I ask your forgiveness, and for the strength to make the necessary changes.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

#2  Our Misplaced Priorities:

With GodBut seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  (Matt. 6:33)

With our family: “If anyone does not provide (maintain; have regard) for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”    (I Tim. 5:8)

With our job:  “…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. 12:15b)

Prayer:  “Lord, I confess that I have often not put You first.  I have often neglected my time with You.   I have often put my family needs aside for my career.  I have allowed the seduction of work, the fear of failure and the love of money to take priority over seeking to know You and over serving my family.  By your grace I will re-order my priorities.  I ask your forgiveness in Jesus’ Name, amen.”

#3 Our Questionable Ethics: “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.   (Matt. 5:37)

Prayer“Lord, with the pressure of surviving in business in an environment where honest and integrity are often absent, I confess that I have not always been totally honest.  I have not conducted business according to Your standards.  I confess that I have allowed myself to believe that I, rather than You are my provider of our needs.   Therefore, I have not always had the courage to say ‘no’ when my integrity and personal ethics were on the line.  I ask Your forgiveness, and for the determination to make the changes.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

#4 Our Flirtation with Impurity:  “…Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”  (2 Cor. 7:1)

Prayer:  “Lord, I confess that I have been taken by the glamour of the ‘world’, at the expense of knowing You.  I confess that I have often been double minded in my walk: seeking to follow You on the one hand and allowing my sensual nature take control on the other.  I repent and ask Your forgiveness, and for help to live a life of single-mindedness, focused on You and Kingdom values.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, August 1, 2001

THE REWARD FOR INTEGRITY AND THE CONSEQUENCES FOR DUPLICITY

Good Morning!

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”  (Prov.11:3)

Bob danced around SEC regulations for years before finally getting caught.  Twice.  And twice he lost his broker’s license. Today his wife supports him, since his name is mud in the business community.  Yet he continues to excuse his aberrant behavior.

Sam covertly exploited young men sexually for 3 decades before being exposed…All the while carrying on a public ministry in the Name of Christ.  Today he is divorced and alienated from most of his friends of many years.  He continues to deny any wrong doing.

 Andy finally let his Christian brothers know of his alcoholic struggle of many years…After his wife demanded that he move out of the house.  For years I surmised there was a serious problem of some type, but he would never allow me, or anyone access to his personal life.

Proverbs compares the righteous with the duplicitous:

RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE:

UNRIGHTEOUS PEOPLE:

REF.

 

“Righteousness guards the man of integrity,

 

but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”

 

 

13:6

 

“He whose walk is blameless is kept safe,

 

but he whose ways are perverse will suddenly fall.”

 

 

28:18

 

“The man of integrity walks securely,

 

but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”

 

 

10:9

 

“The righteousness of the upright delivers them,

 

 

but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.”

 

 

11:6

(See Psa. 25:21; 73:18-20; 125:5; Prov. 26:11)

The reality of it is that God rewards people of integrity, while the double minded can look forward to harsh consequences for their actions. 

 QUESTION:  Given the present state of your secret life, into which column do you fall?  If it is the “unrighteous” column, are you prepared to live with the inevitable consequences of your double life?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!