BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 2001

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

CAN WE REALLY TRUST GOD?

Good Morning!

Back in my mid-20’s I made the decision to take God literally. That is, to live Biblically and trust Him to meet my needs. Clearly, He had asked me to give full time to winning and discipling men. Shortly after responding to His “calling,” I was severely tested by the Enemy. Amidst the spiritual struggle, I got down on my knees and held my Bible in the air to God, claiming Matthew 6:25,33,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Following are four measurable illustrations of how God specifically  honored His word over these many years:

 #1  In 1963 when Ruth and  I met and fell in love, I was in an intensive Christian training program, living on a few dollars a week. After a number of months of secret letter-writing, (she had moved from Colorado to California) it became apparent that I should go and  visit her. I asked God for the necessary funds to make the trip and determined to tell no one of my need. In the following weeks, inexplicably people began putting money into my mail box, under my pillow, etc. When I made the trip, the necessary funds were at hand.

#2  In 1970 Ruth and I returned from overseas missionary work , and needed funds to purchase a house to began a ministry among university students. We had not mentioned our needs to anyone. One morning in my devotions I felt God laid a verse on my heart from Psalm 107, assuring me the necessary funds would be forthcoming. Later that morning when I opened my mail, there was a check for several thousand dollars which covered the down payment on the purchase of a house.

#3  In 1973 while preparing my income tax I found a mis-placed stock certificate. When I mentioned it to Ruth, she informed me that the couple next door were filing for bankruptcy in two days. So we went over to their house and signed over the stock certificate to them. When we specified the stock’s value, the wife let out a scream and broke into tears. The amount was exactly what her Christian mother two days earlier had asked God to provide them. Within days both the husband and wife received Christ.

#4  When our children were studying at the university, unexpectedly I incurred a whopping tax bill.  Shortly thereafter, I paid a visit on my 90 year old uncle.  Without explanation, he handed me six envelopes totaling the  amount of the tax bill. We had not discussed our need with anyone except the Lord.

Over the years, we have wonderfully experienced the reality of Jeremiah 33:3 and Ephesians 3:20, 21:

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know…[He] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within…” (See Psa. 25:14; 50:15; 91:15; Jn. 10:10; 1 Tim. 1:14; Psa. 37:25)

Can God be trusted? Can He be taken literally? From my 50 years of walking with Him, my answer is a resounding and unequivocal “Yes!.”

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

QUICK FIX CHRISTIANITY

Good Morning!

There is a mis-conception in certain Christian circles that somewhere out there exists a quick fix solution to my spiritual struggles that if discovered will catapult me into instant spiritual bliss.  In a world of instant coffee and fast foods, why not instant spiritual maturity?  Instant victory?

So religious practitioners blow into town promising fast track spirituality and simplistic relief from the spiritual blahs, defeatism, and dryness…if we buy their particular brand of spiritual snake oil.  The Scriptures warn us against these slippery characters,  “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”   (2 Cor.11:13,14) (See Acts 15:24; 20:30; Rom. 16:18; Gal. 1:7; Eph. 4:14; 1 Jn. 4:1)

What most of us don’t want to hear is the fact that the path to spiritual maturity translates into work.  Perseverance. Focus. Priorities.  Obedience.  Discipline.  Study.  Endurance.  Because salvation is by grace, it is all to easy for us to assume we can sloth our way through the Christian life by maintaining a barely passable, respectable minimum. 

Not so, according to Evelyn Underhill, “Spiritual achievement costs much, through never so much as it is worth.  It means at the very least the painful development and persevering, steady exercise of a faculty that most of us have allowed to get slack.”

So if you are inclined to operate as a spiritual slug, consider the following:

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised…Train yourself to be godly.”  (Heb. 6:12; 1 Tim. 4:7)  (See Mk. 1:35; Hos. 12:6; Matt.10:22; Rom. 2:6; 1 Cor. 15:1,2,58; Gal. 6:9; Eph 6:13; Col. 1:22,23; Heb. 3:14; Jms. 1:4,12,25; 2 Pet 1:10; Rev 2:10,11)

“…Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”  (I Cor. 9:24b-27)

The path toward spiritual maturity is a “joint-venture” between God and you, where both are engaged in the daily process of transforming you into Christlikeness:

…Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose…But whatever I am now it is all because God poured out such kindness and grace upon me–and not without results: for I have worked harder than all the other apostles, yet actually I wasn’t doing it, but God working in me, to bless me.” (Phil. 2:12b,13; I Cor. 15:10 Living) (See Eph. 3:7)

QUESTION:  For a “joint-venture” to succeed, both parties need to uphold their end of the agreement.  How do you think Christ feels about your contribution to this arrangement? 

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

EVERY PERSON HAS THEIR PASSIONS! WHAT’S YOURS?

Good Morning!

 For security, “success”, social status, etc?  Or for such eternal values as:

A Passion for God+

 “…As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you…” (Psa. 42:1,2; 63:1a)

A Passion for the Lost.

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.  Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’ Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”  (Jn. 4:34,35)

A Passion to Mentor Others in Becoming Laborers and Leaders.

“…We proclaim Christ!  We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ Jesus.  This is what I am working at all the time, with all the strength that God gives me…Ask the Lord of the harvest…to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Col. 1:28,29 – Phillips; Matt. 9:38)

 A Passion for the Nations of the World.

“…You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth…Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Act.1:8; Matt.28:19a)

 One of these days a nurse will enter your intensive care unit, observe the flat signal on the electronic heart monitor, unplug the life-support system, and quietly walk out of the room. 

 At that moment, you will find yourself in eternity face-to-face with God.  One question He plans to ask you is whether you shared the passions of His heart, or whether you followed your own.   How you answer that question will determine the quality of your existence for all eternity.*

QUESTION:  Given the focus of your present passions, is that a pleasant thought?

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

THE SEDUCTRESS

Good Morning!

A couple of days ago Ruth came home, deeply disturbed, commenting, “Well, another Christian leader has fallen…”  Because she was sworn to secrecy, I have no idea of whom she is speaking.

“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association” lists a clinical description of the seductress personality (histrionic personality disorder):

  1. Is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention.
  2. Interaction with others is often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior.
  3. Displays rapidly shifting and shallow expressions of emotions.
  4. Constantly uses physical appearance to draw attention to self.
  5. Has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail.
  6. Shows self-dramatization, theatricality, exaggerated expression of emotion.
  7. Is suggestible, i.e., easily influenced by others and circumstances
  8. Considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are.”+

Perhaps the seductress from Proverbs has similar characteristics:

“Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) She took hold of him and kissed him and with brazen face she said: ‘I have fellowship offerings at home; today I fulfilled my vows. So I came to meet you; I looked for you and have found you!  I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink deep love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love!  My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon…’With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk,”  (Pro. 7:10-21)

 If we are to remain pure, it behooves us to recognize the temptress type and respond accordingly,

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer from it.” (Pro. 22:3)

According to Scripture, here is what awaits for us if we fail, “Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.  Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.”  (Pro. 7:26, 27)

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, October 3, 2001

SELF CONTROL

Good Morning!

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”  (Prov. 16:32)

 Only hours after roughing out this material, I found myself irritated with an individual over a petty infraction of my “rights.”  So I am unqualified to write on the subject!

In our sophisticated society, patience is often mistaken for indecision or weakness, while power and action are given respect. 

God, however is not impressed with our power, but holds patience in high regard – patience being the product of humility. 

If you (like me) tend to be the impatient type, (I have an excuse: I’m an ex-Marine) here are seven guidelines from Scripture that may prove helpful (except of course in the case cited above):

  1.  Make a concerted effort to overlook others’ shortcomings:  “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”  (Prov. 19:11) (See Prov. 10:12;17:9)
  2. Practice self-control: “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  (Jms. 1:19b, 20)  (See  Prov. 12:16; 17:27, 28; 18:13; 29:22; I Cor. 9:25; Titus 1:8;2:2)
  3. Speak less: “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”  (Prov. 10:19)  (See Ecc. 5:3; 10:13,14; Jms. 3:2; Psa. 39:1; 141:3)
  4. Avoid situations with the potential for strife:  “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”  (Prov. 17:14)  (See Prov. 26:17, 21)
  5. Avoid contentious people: Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered.”   (Prov. 22:24)  (See Prov. 14:16; 17:14; 20:3; 29:22)
  6. Practice humility: “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (Prov. 13:10) (See Psa.147:6; Prov.16:18; Isa. 57:15; 66:2; Rom. 12:3; 1Pet. 3:4;5:5)
  7. Forgive offenses: “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.”  (Prov. 10:12)  (See Prov. 17:9; 24:29; Matt. 5:43-48; 6:14, 15; 18:21-35; Eph. 4:32)

Is there any greater evidence of true godliness than self control?  Because it is a fruit of the Spirit, self control is achievable only as we surrender to the Spirit who is already at work within us.  (Gal. 5:22,23)  (See 1 Cor. 9:25; Titus 1:8; 2:2; Phil.2:13)

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!