BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for January, 2002

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

SAM AND JEAN HAD A HELLISH MARRIAGE.

Good Morning!

With a history of promiscuity, personal insecurities, etc., etc., both brought excess baggage into the relationship that contributed toward constant conflict. Both however, had recently become followers of Christ and were committed to living out their marriage vows His way.

That was twenty years ago. Today I was on the phone with Sam as he mused over the fact that he and Jean had become “best friends.” 

It seems to me there are several reasons for this remarkable transformation:

1 – Both were willing to humble themselves and seek out competent and godly counsel to help them identify and root out the origins of their problems:

“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.”  (Pro. 11:14)

2 – Both were committed to spiritual growth:  Consistent times of prayerful meditation upon God’s word:

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  (Jos.1:8) 

3 – Both  surrounded themselves with godly people to whom they chose to be accountable;  people from whom they gained supportive strength:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”  (Col. 3:16)  (See I Thess.  4:18; 5:11; Heb. 12:12-15)

4 – Both were committed to persevering through their problems. In their minds divorce was never an option. Thus, they chose to face, rather than deny or ignore the critical issues:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  (Gal. 6:9)  (See Rom. 5:3 ; I Cor. 15:58;  1 Thess.  3:13; Heb.  12:1-3; I Pet. 3:8-11)

Over the years, I have met few couples who did not face daunting challenges in their marriage. I have come to believe that marital success or failure is determined not by the size of the problems, but by whether or not the couple is willing to face and deal with the problematic issues, whatever the pain, whatever the cost.

Living as we do in a crybaby “if it feels good do it” society where marriage vows often read, “as long as we both shall love”, instead of  “till death do we part,we need to comprehend the fact that God hates divorce, and only granted it because of people’s hardness of heart. (Mal. 2:16; Mk. 10:2-9) 

QUESTION: Are you demonstrating your commitment to your marriage by taking whatever steps are biblical and necessary  to resolve the difficult  issues that inevitably could destroy it?  If not, why not?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

MONOPOLIZING THE LISTENING

Good Morning!

“The first time I meet with a man, I talk to him about how he handles his money, and about his sex life.” 

So stated a self-proclaimed  “discipler”.   

 PHEW!

 What this wannabe “discipler” failed to realize is that generic to the art of discipling, is the discipline of listening. How else will we tap into the wellspring of a person’s soul to know what is going on in their life“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”  (Pro. 20:5)  (See Psa. 64:6; Pro.; 18:4; 1 Cor. 2:11

 Here are three principles that will help us in practicing the discipline of listening:+

#1  STOP TALKING SO MUCH

Isn’t it true that we simply talk too much?  “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”  (Pro. 10:19)  (See Pro. 17:27, 28; Ecc. 5:3; 10:13; Jms. 3:2)

 #2  VALUE THE OTHER PERSON AND THEIR INPUT

If you don’t, you will not believe they have anything to contribute in a conversation. President Lyndon Johnson kept a sign on his wall, “You ain’t learning nothing when you’re doing all the talking.”  Isn’t there an object lesson in the fact that God gave us one mouth, and two ears? Apparently, Solomon concurred,  Let the wise listen and add to their learning…”  (Pro. 1:5a)  (See Job 34:16; Pro. 9:9)

#3  LISTEN WITH THE INTENT TO UNDERSTAND

French psychiatrist, Paul Tournier taught that true communication is “the meeting of meanings.”  That is, grasping the definition behind the words. That takes disciplined listening!  Steven Covey says, “many people do not listen with the intent to understand.  They listen with the intent to reply.”  If we are to connect with people communications-wise, we must assume the attitude, “I am more interested in what you are saying than in thinking of what I’m going to say, once you’re through talking.”

David Swartz reminds us that  “big people monopolize the listening.  Small people monopolize the talking.”  And James asserts,  “…everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  (1:19)  (See Pro. 13:3; 15:2; 18:13; 21:23; Jms. 1:26; 3:1)

Dewey Knight relates, “My best advice came from a friend immediately after I was named to a top…job:  ‘Son, in this job you will have millions of opportunities to keep your mouth shut. Take advantage of all of them.’”

 QUESTION:  Are you willing to demonstrate your respect for others by sublimating your ego needs and truly listening to them?  If not, forget any notion that you are in fact a mentor or discipler.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

SIX QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF ABOUT YOUR PRACTICES IN BUSINESS:

Good Morning!

The common perception among people in business is that if you operate with total integrity, the playing field is no longer level. Because the odds are stacked against you, you can’t successfully compete with those who bend the rules. So, the natural reaction is to live in two worlds: The “religious” world one day a week, and the “real” world six days a week. By so doing, we demonstrate our stubborn refusal to trust God in operating our business. And we negate His ability to miraculously intervene on our behalf. For example, if we would allow Him, God would:

  • Impress customers to respond to our initiatives when it is appropriate.
  • Plant creative ideas for business in our minds.
  • Move in the hearts of good men to assist us in our endeavors.
  • Shield us from those who are bent on doing us harm, etc., etc.

Perhaps these six questions will help us determine in which world we are operating:

#1  Do  I trust God to move in the hearts of people on behalf of my business?  Or do I find myself manipulating circumstances and people to accomplish my ends“The king’ s heart is in the hand of the Lord;  he directs it like a water course wherever he pleases.”  (Pro. 21:1)  (See Pro. 16:9; 20:24; Isa. 14:24; Dan. 4:35)

#2  Am I profoundly influenced in my decisions by the fact that God knows my motives?  Or do I rationalize the gray areas, assuming compromise doesn’t really matter all that much?  “All a man’s ways seem right to him,  but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Pro.  21:2)

#3  Do I understand that God values my obedience over religious “sacrifice”?  Or do I mask questionable business practices with a “Christian” facade“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”  (Pro.  21:3)  (See I Sam. 15:22)

#4  Am I continually checking my heart against insidious pride?  Or do I insure the fact that one way or another, I will get the credit“Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin!”  (Proverbs 21:4)  (See Pro. 8:13; Isa. 2:11,17; Lk. 18:14)

#5  Do I realize that there is no substitute for old fashioned hard work?  Or do I let things slide here and there when no one is checking up on me?  “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”  (Pro. 21:5)  (See Pro. 10:4; 27:23-27)

 #6  Do I truly believe that integrity  lies at the very foundation of a healthy business?  Or do I cut corners and shade the truth when it is to my advantage“A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.” (Pro. 21:6) (See Pro. 13:11;30:8; Jer. 17:11)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

MOST OF OUR LIVES ARE AFFLICTED WITH HARDSHIPS OF ONE TYPE OR ANOTHER:

Pressure at work, ill health, overwhelming temptation, strained relationships, financial obligations, etc., etc. Just in case we, as followers of Christ possess the illusion that we will escape life’s hardships, consider Acts 14:22b,  “We [believers] must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God…”

The Greek word used in Acts 14:22 for hardship is “thilipsis”, and conveys the idea of pressure, anguish, burden, persecution, trouble and distress. Here are eight observations about life’s hardships, derived from “thilipsis”,

#1  The end times promise to be a period of  “ great distress,

 “For the there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.”    (Matt. 24:21)  (See Matt. 24:29; Mk. 13:9; Lk. 19:24; 21:24)

#2  If a person who has recently embraced the Gospel is not rooted in the word of God, he will disregard the faith once “trouble” arises because of his attempt to apply the Scriptures to his life,

“But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time.  When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”  (Mk. 4:16,17)  (See Mk. 12:17; Jn. 5:25; Act. 24:25)

#3  Christ promises us victory a midst the “troubles” of the world,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  (Jn. 16:33)   (See Rom. 8:37; Gal. 1:4; 1 Thes. 3:7; 1 Jn. 4:4; 5:4)

#4  Amidst our “afflictions”, we are to cultivate a joyful, eternal perspective through patience and prayer, 

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  (Rom. 12:12)  (See Rom. 2:7; 2 Cor. 7:4)

#5  The “sufferings” of life can produce character and an eternal perspective (“hope),

“…We…rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  (Rom. 5:3,4)  (See 2 Cor. 4:8-10; 6:9, 10; Jms. 1:12; 1 Pet. 1:6,7; 5:10)

#6  God will not allow our “troubles” to separate us from His love,

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”   (Rom. 5:3,4)  (See Matt. 5:10-12; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Phil. 1:29; 2:17.18)

#7  As we “suffer” in our trials, we become prepared to comfort others in theirs,

 “[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  (2 Cor. 1:4)  (See Jn. 14:16,26; 2 Cor. 1:5; 7:6; Phil. 1:14)

#8  God will “trouble” those who trouble His people,

“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.”  (2 Thes. 1:6)  (See Zech. 2:8; Rev. 16:5,6)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, January 2, 2002

COULD THIS BE NEXT?

Good Morning!

 “January 2, 2023

 ‘Dear Mom,

‘Gosh, can you believe it’s 2023 already?…It seems just yesterday I was sitting in first grade celebrating the century change. I know we haven’t really chatted since Christmas.  Sorry.  Anyway, I have some difficult news and I really didn’t want to call and talk face-to-face. Ted’s had a promotion and I should be up for a hefty raise this year if I keep putting in those crazy hours. You know how I work at it. Yes, we’re still struggling with the bills. 

‘Timmy’s been ‘okay’ at kindergarten although he complains about going. But then, he wasn’t happy about day care either, so what can I do?  He’s been a real problem, Mom. He’s a good kid, but quite honestly, he’s an unfair burden at this time in our lives. Ted and I have talked this through and through and finally made a choice. Plenty of other families have made it and are much better off.  

‘Our pastor is supportive and says hard decisions are necessary. The family is a ‘system’ and the demands of one member shouldn’t be allowed to ruin the whole.  He told us to be prayerful, consider all the factors, and do what is right to make the family work. He says that even though he probably wouldn’t do it himself, the decision is really ours. He was kind enough to refer us to a children’s clinic near here, so a least that part’s easy. 

 ‘I’m not an uncaring mother. I do feel sorry for the little guy.  I think he overheard Ted and me talking about ‘it’ the other night. I turned around and saw him standing at the bottom of the step in his PJ’s with the little bear you gave him under his arm and his eyes sort of welling up.  Mom, the way he looked at me just about broke my heart. But honestly I believe this is better for Timmy, too. 

 ‘It’s not fair to force him to live in a family that can’t give him the time and attention he deserves. And please don’t give me the kind of grief Grandma gave you over your abortions. It is the same thing, you know. We’ve told him he’s just going in for a vaccination. Anyway, they say it is painless. I guess it’s just as well you haven’t seen that much of him. 

Love Dad,

 Jane’”+

“You shall not murder.”  (Exo. 20:13)

 

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!