BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for February, 2002

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE NUMBING EFFECT OF THE DAILY GRIND?

Good Morning!

Upon your spirit? Upon your relationship with your spouse? Upon that reoccurring desire to escape it all?

Recently I was on the phone with a friend who spoke about his dying marriage. Rarely are harsh words uttered between them. The family functions with clock-like efficiency. But slowly, almost imperceptibly, he and his wife are moving emotionally into separate orbits. The gentle touch, the tender word…the lingering together over coffee. Gone. Rarely do they find (or make) time to be together without the kids.  And when they do, they seem to have nothing to talk about. Underneath, he finds a smoldering resentment building as he asks himself,  “What is the purpose of it all?  Will it ever end?

Then there is the incessant complexity of juggling finances. The unending encroachment upon his time.  The unrealistic job demands. How, he asked me, does a person resolve the issue of forever giving out while receiving little back in the way of affirmation or appreciation? Especially from those closest to him?  So what is the answer? Does he simply continue to grind it out?  How does he handle his anger and resentment, as he finds himself continuing to withdraw emotionally?  Is the answer to follow his impulses and leave?  Hardly.

There is a better way that can strike at the very core of the issue.  A way that will move him from the coping level,  to gaining the necessary inner strength and godly wisdom to deal victoriously with these vexing challenges. For starters, I wondered if he had discovered how to allow Jesus to become his ‘Hiding Place?” 

  “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance…You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God…”   (Psa. 32:7; Col. 3:3) 

Jesus, in his preparation to face the crushing experience of the cross, hid himself alone with his Father – an experience of intimacy that saw him through to ultimate victory. (Matt. 26:36-46; Lk. 22:40-46)  Today the Savior avails himself to us as our  “Hiding Place” in enabling us to also deal victoriously with life’s formidable tasks,

“…How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”  (Matt. 23:37b; Psa. 46:1,2) (See Psa.17:8; 18:2; 27:5; 31:20; 46:1,2; 57:1; 143:9; Matt.14:13,23; Mk. 1:35; Lk. 5;15,16; Jn .6:15)

Tragically, it seems that most us  run to him as a convenient source of last resort – only after every other avenue has been explored and found wanting (counselors, friends, escape into work, self-help books, entertainment, alcohol, drugs, sex, et al).  (See 2 Chron. 36:15,16; Psa. 81:10-12; Jer.11:7,8;25:3-7)

 It is his intention that we experience him as our “Hiding Place” amidst the daily cacophony of demands. To help us toward developing that level of intimacy, let me ask you a question:  When was the last time you, with your Bible in hand, disappeared to a private “hiding place” to encounter Him? Encounter Him until all sin was rooted out, confessed, forgiven and relinquished? Encounter Him until the Spirit calmed you down, and filled you up? Encounter Him until the Father reassured you from His Word of His love, and gave you promises and direction for your life and family?

QUESTION:  So…when is your hideaway with God planned?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

PLAYING TO THE GRANDSTAND

Good Morning!

Babe Ruth “played to the grandstand” back in the ‘20’s when he, on a count of 3 balls and 2 strikes pointed to the right field bleachers to signal his intention of hitting the next pitch out of the park. When he slammed that next pitch into right field, the fans went wild!

 Like “the Babe,” we also  “play to the grandstand.”  That is, we “play” to the people in our lives whose approval we most cherish, be it parents, colleagues or competitors.

Recently, I spent the afternoon with Bob, who only of late has come to the realization that he has spent his entire life “playing to a grandstand” of one: His father. Now Bob’s dad is a cool-headed, tall in the saddle, Charlton Heston type: A paragon of self-control, inner strength, and high achievement.  A loner.  Aloof. A man’s man. “Rawhide.”  A “saddle up, let ‘em ride!”  kind of guy.  (We won’t discuss his father’s earlier hurts and insecurities that created this masked masterpiece of outward perfection.) 

From boyhood, Bob’s every move has been calculated to somehow win his dad’s approval.  Approval that is parsimoniously meted out in grudging, muted fashion.  Approval that is based on his father’s definition of  “acceptable” performance.

As Christ’s followers, our calling in life lies in exactly the opposite direction: We are to “play to a grandstand”  of one:  Jesus. Here are two reasons why:

The fear of God“So we make it our goal to please him…For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men…”  (2 Cor. 5:9b-11a)  (See Gen. 4:7; 1 Sam. 2:3; Matt. 25:31-46; 1 Pet. 4:5)

 The love of Christ:  “For Christ’s love compels us…And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”  (2 Cor. 5:14a,c,15)  (See Matt. 10:37,38; 21:15-17; Jn. 21:15-17; Rom. 14:10; Eph. 3:18,19)

If we are to enjoy the freedom that is ours in Christ, we must come to the conclusion that it is only His view of how we conduct our lives that really matters. (Ponder Daniel, chapter 6)

 “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ….Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.”  (Gal. 1:10; Eph. 6:7)  (See Matt. 22:16; Col. 3:23;1Thess. 2:4; Jms. 4:4)

 QUESTION:  To which grandstand are you playing: Gaining the whimsical approval of others?  Or  receiving the affirmation of your loving Heavenly Father who longs to say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant…come and share your master’s happiness.”  (Matt. 25:21b,c)  (See 1 Pet. 1:7)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

CATCH! LIVE! IMPART!+

Good Morning!

 Want to change your world for Christ?  Then consider this:

CATCH the passion for God and the knowledge of the Holy from extended time alone with Him, or from people who are infected with Jesus Christ. Get around those who are impassioned with being used of God to make a difference in this tired world. Keep in mind that “it is easier to cool down a fanatic than to liven up a corpse.”  

“…You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.”  (1 Thess. 1:5b-7)

LIVE – Prayerfully delve into the Scriptures with the anticipation and trust of a child at Christmas time. Dare to unconditionally live out the truth God reveals to you from His word. Respond sensitively to the conviction and leading of the Spirit. Claim and appropriate God’s promises to release you from life’s bondages: The fear of man, the love of money, the lust of the flesh, the desire to impress others; a wounded or embittered spirit; the ruts, the familiar, the safe…perhaps even the traditional. (Jms. 1:22; Rom. 8:14; Heb. 6:11,12; Rom. 8:2; Psa. 34:4; Pro. 29:25; 1 Tim. 6:6-10; 1 Jn. 2:15-17; Heb. 12:15; Matt.15:8,9)

“…If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  (Jn. 8:31b,32,36b)

Allow the Spirit to lead you into areas that demand trust and stretching. Be prepared to be surprised by the goodness of God upon your life. That is because God loves to bless those who dare to take Him seriously!  (Acts 4:31; 1 Cor. 2:10-12; 1 Sam. 3:9; Psalm 30:5

“…The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…”   (2 Chron. 16:9b) 

IMPART – As Biblical truth becomes living reality, pass it on to others. That is, fish for men. Engage and infect people’s lives with yours.  Take it a step further by making a sustained investment of your life into theirs. Embrace missionary martyr Jim Elliot’s impassioned heart cry, “Lord, make my life a crossroad in the life of everyone I encounter.”  (Matt. 4:19; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Cor. 16:14)

QUESTION:  Today, is your life “business as usual,” or is there a fire burning in your soul?  If the fire is flickering close to extinction, ask yourself what root issues need to be re-examined?  What changes need to be made?  Jesus’ word of encouragement may be timely,

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out…”   (Matt. 12:20a)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 6, 2002

EVERYONE NEEDS A PAUL, A BARNABAS, AND A TIMOTHY IN HIS LIFE

Good Morning!

 PAUL:  Yesterday, I had coffee with an old friend who set out a decade ago to affect the business community of his city for Christ. God graciously granted him a reasonably fruitful ministry.  Along the way, however, his marriage fell apart.  “Dwight, if I had had a Paul in my life, my marriage would not have failed.”  As he spoke, I was reminded of I Corinthians 4:14,

 “Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.”  (See 1 Cor.  4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:7;4:9)

QUESTION:  Do you currently have a  Paul in your life?  Someone who knows the real you? Someone who challenges you?  Someone who models godly character and discipline, and builds them into your life?  Someone who lends a more mature perspective to your life?  Someone who has earned your trust enough to probe the sensitive and hidden areas of your life?  Someone who is committed to walking with you through the difficult times?  In a word, a Paul.  A spiritual father.

BARNABAS  (“Encourager” – Act. 4:36) was used of God to bring Paul out of Antioch and into a fruitful ministry where the two of them teamed up. (Act. 11:25,26) (See Act. 11:30; 12:25; 13:1,2,14,43,46,50;14:1-3,23;15:12, 22,34) 

QUESTION:  Do you have  a Barnabas  in your life?  A buddy with whom you can freely share the good, the bad, and the ugly?  Someone who will tell it like it is when you don’t want to hear it?  (Pro. 27:6)  Someone who is committed to hanging in there with you through thick and thin?  (Pro. 17:17; 18:24)

TIMOTHY:  In his travels, Paul ran into a young follower of Christ named Timothy (Acts 16:1-4).  For the next decade or so, the Apostle invested deeply into his life.  Reflecting back on their friendship, Paul wrote,

“You…know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings–what kinds of things happened to me…the persecutions I endured…”  (2 Tim. 3:10,11a,c)  (See Act. 20:18)

In similar fashion, Paul encouraged Timothy to also invest his life into others,

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  (2 Tim. 2:2)  (See 1 Thess. 1:5,6)

QUESTION:  Do you have a Timothy in your life?  Someone into whose life you are currently investing?

Having a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy in our life will indeed play a significant role in (1) fostering our growth toward spiritual maturity, and (2) helping us fulfill Christ’s Great Commission.

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!