BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for November, 2001

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

ARE YOU A STEPPING STONE OR STUMBLING BLOCK?

Good Morning!

I remember a conversation I had with a business man who had resisted coming to Christ for many years. His reason? The innumerable professionals with whom he had done business who were also leaders in their churches. The inconsistency between their faith, so-called, and their practices in business triggered serious questions in his mind as to the authenticity of anything Christian.

 One of the greatest challenge we will face in our walk with Christ is how to make our profession of faith and practice in business one and the same. The operative word is  “blameless”.    

“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman.” (Ps. 15:1-3)

Blamelessmeans conducting our business in such a manner that no one can point the finger at us and utter the word “hypocrite!”

…Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” (Rom. 15:13)

To help you determine just how blameless you are in your business practices, consider the follow questions:

  • Is it wrong to create a “need” in order to market a product? (Job 31:5)
  • When there is a clash between Biblical principles and expediency, which one usually wins? Why?
  • Is the nature of your product in harmony with Biblical values?
  • How do you view your employees? As expendable, once their usefulness wanes? Or as people whom you desire to assist in reaching their highest potential?  (Job 31:13)
  • Are the brand properties you attribute to your product honestly represented? (Deut. 16:19; Pr.16:11)
  • Is the message you are communicating in your advertising and promotion consistent with Scriptural principles?
  • Do you view the competition as a necessary evil? (2 Cor. 5:16)

-As the enemy whom you must crush?  (Job 31:29,40; Zech 7:9; Luke 6:31)

-Or as people for whom Christ died; people to whom you are His Ambassador?  (2 Cor. 5:18-21)

  • Is it possible to love and serve people with whom you are in competition? Do such truths as “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Let all that you do be done in love” find application in your business environment?  (Matt. 22:39; 1 Cor. 16:14)
  • When you are in doubt about a marketing strategy or a business decision, do you stop and ask, “What would Jesus do?” Or do you just plow ahead, business as usual? (Jn. 13:16; Eph. 5:2)

QUESTIONHow do your lost associates view you?  As a stepping stone or as a stumbling block?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

PRACTICING PRUDENCE OVER PRESUMPTION

Good Morning!

The other day I visited a Christian young man who inherited a debt from his recently deceased father that was into the 10’s of millions of dollars.  Loans leveraged at 90% were made on future investment projects based on the assumption that a best case scenario would continue in the economy and business environment. Without warning, however, the bottom fell out, and the projects went into the tank.

 It is difficult to see how this fine young man will not be strapped with a multiplying debt service for decades to come – if not for the rest of his life. The only visible way out of the quagmire is to declare bankruptcy. Since his father was known in the region as a Christian leader, such action will leave massive numbers of people angry and disillusioned with him and his “Christian” company.

 Admittedly, the practice of extensive borrowing and leveraging is common practice in business. But is it right for the believer?  Are such practices Biblical? 

 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender…Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…” (Prov. 22:7; Rom. 13:8a)  (See Neh. 5:4,5; Mt. 18:25)

 As I reflected upon this situation,  Proverbs 16:9 came to mind“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  When we borrow and leverage to the hilt, are we not presuming upon God to control the future in a manner that guarantees the success of our pre-determined game plan? Could this be the kind of sin against which the Psalmist prayed?  “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me…”?  (Psa. 19:13a KJV)

 According to the dictionary,+  presumption is to take upon oneself without warrant or permission; to dare; to act or proceed over-confidently; to be offensively forward, audacious, or arrogant.  Consider,

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’  As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil…In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.”  (Jms. 4:13-16a; 1:11)  (See Gen. 11:3,4; Prov. 27:1)

Prudence+  means exercising sound judgment;  being careful to avoid errors; sagacious; judicious“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Prov. 22:3)

Could the practice of heavy borrowing and leveraging signal an unhealthy rush to make money?  Could it be that we want the “perks” wealth affords, before we’ve rightfully earned the substance?  If this be true, we would do well to heed the Scripture’s call to moderation,  “He who gathers money little by little makes it grow….Don’t weary yourself trying to get rich. Why waste your time? For riches can disappear as though they had the wings of a bird!”  (Prov. 13:11b; 23:4 [Living])  (See Prov. 28:20; 1Tim.6:8-10)

QUESTION:  In your business routine are you practicing prudence over presumption?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

RECENTLY, I WAS DEEPLY HURT BY SOMEONE CLOSE TO ME: My immediate reaction was anger. Grief. Disappointment. Wounded pride. I had expected so much more in the relationship! Because I hate pain, I wanted to:

Good Morning!

Run from it.
Criticize the person inflicting the pain. 
Pout – Have a pity party!

In other words, do anything to get rid of the pain.

Such reactions are not condoned in Scriptures. Rather,  we are to respond with,

Compassion   (Matt. 9:13,36; Mk. 1:41; Lk. 6:36; Eph. 4:32; I Pet. 3:8)

Kindness    (Prov. 14:21; Matt. 5:42; Lk. 6:34,35; I Cor. 13:4; 2 Pet. 1:7)

Humility    (Num. 12:3; Prov 16:19; 29:23; Isa. 57:15; 66:2; Matt. 5:3)

Gentleness, and  (Jms 3:13; Tit. 3:2; I Thess. 2:7; I Tim. 6:11; Eph 4:2; 2 Cor. 10:1)

Patience.   (2 Tim. 3:10; 4:2; I Thess. 5:14; Eph. 4:2; Col. 1:11)

And we are to:

Bear  (literally,  endure) the pain inflicted upon us

Forgive the person – even when they keep sticking it to us“If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”  (Lk. 17:4)

Here’s how the Apostle Paul put it, “…Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  (Col. 3:12, 13)

For example, Jesus, in his dying breath uttered“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  (Lk. 23:24)  And Steven, as they were crushing in his skull with rocks whispered,   “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Act. 7:60b)

We all know brittle, sour prune-types that reek with anger and bitterness. And that’s where we are headed unless we embrace the spirit of Jesus and Steven. So let’s make a decision today: That by His grace we will allow no one to rain on our parade.  And we will accomplish this unprecedented feat by choosing to be the very embodiment of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, November 7, 2001

A PRAYER TO HELP US START THE DAY ON THE RIGHT TRACK:+

Good Morning!

“Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought be of You.”

“Let my first impulse be to worship You.”

“Let my speech be Your Name.”

“Let my first action be to kneel before You in prayer…”

“…Let me not, when this morning  prayer is said, think my worship ended and spend the day in forgetfulness of You.  Rather from theses moments of quietness let light go forth, and joy, and power, that will remain with me through all the hours of the day;”

 Keeping me chaste in thought: (“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  Psa. 19:14)

Keeping me temperate and truthful: (“Do not let any unwholesomeness talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Eph. 4:29)

 Keeping me humble in my estimation of myself: (“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”  Rom. 12:3b)

 Keeping me honorable and generous in my dealings with others: (“…Freely you have received, freely give…Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.” Matt. 10:8b; Rom. 12:10)

Keeping me loyal to every hallowed memory of the past: (“Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.”  Pro. 22:28)

 Keeping me mindful of my eternal destiny as a child of yours: (“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.”  I Pet. 1:3b,4)

“…Let me then put back into Your hand all that You have given me, rededicating to Your service all the powers of my mind and body, all my worldly goods, all my influence with others.  All these O Father, are yours to use as You will…Speak in my words today, think in my thoughts, and work in my deeds…”  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!