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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for April, 2002

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

POUTING OR PONIES? +

 

The story is told of two psychologists who sought to determine whether heredity or environment decided a childs mental outlook. So they placed a pessimistic child in a lovely room chucked full with beautiful toys, and an optimistic child in a room filled with horse manure. Hours later the pessimistic kid was found in the corner, pouting. Why arent you playing with your toys, the psychologists inquired? Cause — soon as I do, someone will come and take them away from me! By contrast, they discovered the optimistic child enthusiastically swimming and diving through the manure. His reason? Man! With all this manure, theres gotta be a pony in here somewhere!

Naturally, we are more drawn to the optimist! Here are a few reasons why:

 

Optimists see faith in God as their only way to ultimate fulfillment: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psa. 37:4) (See Josh. 1:5-9; Psa. 33:11; 40:5)

 

Optimists have great love for others, starting with family and close friends: We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to usWe were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little childrenYou know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God (I Thess. 2:8a,7,11,12a) (See 1 Cor. 13; 16:14)

 

Optimists are cheerful, always seeking a favorable twist to the world around them: Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe (Phil.2:14,15)

 

Optimists love what they do, and they put all their heart into it: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Col. 3:23) (See 2 Chron. 31:21; Ecc. 9:10)

 

Optimists learn to forgive, thus minimizing the paralyzing emotions of anger, hate and selfishness: Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matt. 18:21a,22) (See Gen. 32:1-33:17; Pro. 19:11; Matt. 6:11,14; 11:25; Eph. 4:31,32)

 

Optimists have can-do attitudes. They refuse to let unfavorable odds get them down: I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:13) (1 Sam. 23:1-5; Psa. 18:29; 2 Cor. 3:4)

 

Optimists are not born. They are molded by their own attitudes: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8) (See Rom. 12:1,2; Col. 3:1-3)

Thomas Carlyle once wrote that the block of granite which was an obstacle in the path of the weak, becomes a steppingstone in the path of the strong. Today, by His strength lets choose to turn our obstacles into steppingstones! After all, isnt our future as bright as the promises of God? (Josh. 21:45)

 

+ Seed thoughts from Finishing Strong, by Richard G. Capen, Jr., pages 130,131, Zondervan Press

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

EVER FEEL ABANDONED?

 

Disconnected? Cast aside? Isolated? Take heart my friend, because God is a father to the fatherless… and sets the lonely in families. (Psa. 68:5a, 6a) (See Psa. 10:4; 107:14)

 

Have you ever been crushed by circumstances? Overwhelmed by life? Whip-lashed by a situation that seems out of your control? Take courage, because your loving Sovereign is concerned for the most defenseless among us: A defender of widows. (Psa. 68:5a) (See Psa. 72:2,4)

 

Ever feel like a prisoner to your surroundings? Or to your sins? Or to life itself? The good news is that God leads forth the prisoners with singing. (Psa. 68:6) (See Psa. 107:10,14; 147:6; Isa. 61:1)

 

Perhaps you feel exhausted. Dried out. Stale. Look up because your Father promises to give you abundant showers as He refreshes His weary inheritance. (Psa. 68:9) (See Hos. 6:3)

 

You may be worried about meeting your financial obligations. Be at rest. From your bounty, O God you [provide] for the poor. (Psa. 68:10) (See Psa. 37:25; Phil. 4:19; Heb. 13:5)

In case you are wondering if He is there, or even cares about your situation,

Muse over the words from Mozarts Requiem, Remember, merciful Jesu, that I am the cause of your journey.

Ponder the profundity of Brenan Mannings story of an Irish priest who observes an old peasant kneeling by the side of the road, praying. Impressed, the priest says to the man, You must be very close to God. The peasant looks up from his prayers, thinks a moment, and then smiles, Yes, Hes very fond of me.

Identify with Karl Barths* response to someones inquiry as to the most profound thought he had learned in all his theological studies, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

 

Just how do we daily experience His grace? By total surrender to the lordship issues God has already identified in our lives. It is He, after all who gently reminds us that only the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. (Psa. 68:6b) All He asks from us is radical honesty, and radical dependency, thus releasing Him to do what is so dear to His heart: Daily [bear] our burdens. (Psa. 68:19b)

 

That being true, let us offer this prayer to Him, Lord, thank you for what you have allowed to come my way. I repent of my rebellion, fear, anger and stubborn self-will. In this moment I surrender to your Lordship, and choose to believe that for today you are my sufficiency and the answer to my every need. Thank you in Jesus Name. Amen.

 

 

*Perhaps the 20th Centurys leading theologian

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

THE HIGH COST OF SEXUAL PROMISQUITY

Recently I attended a gathering where I unexpectedly ran into an old college flame. As we chatted, I sensed the resurgence of old emotions from decades past.

Yesterday a flirtatious babe in a racy convertible verbally toyed with me in a shopping mall parking lot as we negotiated who should take the parking space.

The other night, unable to sleep, I found myself tempted to view a program laced with soft porn.

A few days ago I received the following email from a friend, I would like to know what other Christians think about going without sex in marriage! I have had no relationship with my wife for four years! Ever since her hysterectomy and her gaining weight, she has totally lost interestI never use to have a roving eye, but after four years its getting rough.

So tell me, are my friend and I alone, or do you also find yourself faced daily with sexual temptations?

This morning, while meditating on Proverbs 5 — with these issues in the back of my mind, I came across the following consequences for those who choose to yield to sexual temptations:

  You will expend the best of your energy on others: Do not go near the door of [the immoral woman] lest you give your best strength to others (vs. 9a) (See Pro. 6:29-35)

Your life will take on a grim quality: [You will give] your years to one who is cruel. (vs. 9b) (See Gen. 38:23 26; Judg. 16:19-21; Neh. 13:26; Hos. 4:13, 14)

 

Your hard earned resources will be exploited and depleted by others: Strangers [will] feast on your wealth and your toil [will] enrich another man’s house. (vs. 10) (See Hos. 7:9)

 

Your latter years will end with a groan as your burned out body gives way: At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. (vs. 11) (See Pro. 7:23)

 

You will live to regret the fact that you rejected warning and reproof: You will say, How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin…" (vs. 12-14b) (See Psa. 50:17-21; Pro. 1:7,22,29,30; 15:5; Zech. 7:11-14; Jn. 3:19,20,36)

As I concluded my time with the Lord, I was struck by St. Pauls prayer that could be yours and mine as we anticipate future temptations that will seek to compromise our commitment to sexual purity,

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. (2 Thes. 3:5) Amen!

Wednesday, April 3, 2002

HEY…IF YA GOT IT, FLAUNT IT! RIGHT?

Good Morning!

Let’s face it.  We live in a society where the powerful, the beautiful, and the bright usually get the recognition, the accolades and the promotions.  It is a pride-driven world of self that takes on at least five forms of expression:

 #1 – SELF-PROMOTIONIn our effort to command center stage, we have become masters at crafting just the right image, and uncommonly adept at manipulating people and circumstances. Thus, we artfully name drop, apply pressure at strategic moments, flatter, pout, and intimidate.  The Scriptures, however, do not allow us the luxury,

“Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not…”  (Jer. 45:5a) (See Gen. 13; Rom. 12:16)

#2 – SELF-PITY  – As a people, we have nurtured a “victim mentality” by refusing to take responsibility for our lives: “No one appreciates me.”  “No one understands me.”  “I had a rough childhood.”  “They took advantage of me.” By way of contrast, consider St. Paul’s response to his severe victimization,

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…As servants of God… [we are] known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Cor. 4:8,9; 6:4b, 9,10)  (See I King. 19:10; Job 10:1)

 #3 – SELF-SUFFICIENCY  – Hey…with enough guts, brains and raw hard work I will make it happen!” While God affirms a can-do spirit, He despises self-sufficiency that is rooted in pride,

 “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”  (Psa. 10:4)  (See Gen. 6:5,6; Psa. 138:8;Pro. 3:34;11:2;16:18; Isa. 2:11,12,17; 14:11-15; 65:2; Rom. 1:21, 28; Jams 4:6)

 #4 – SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS –  There are a lot of people out there doing a lot worse stuff than I.”  “I’m doing the best I can.”  “I lead a clean, moral life.”

 “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”  (Rom. 3:10,11) (See Isa. 64:6; Lk. 18:9-12; Rom. 3:10-17; 10:1-4; Phil. 3:9)

 #5 – SELF-WORSHIPHey, if ya got it, flaunt it!  Right? ‘Cause if you don’t toot your own horn, who will?” 

 “…Herod…delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man’ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”  (Act. 12:21b,23)  (See 2 Chron. 26:16-21; Dan. 6:6-9; Jms. 4:5,6; I Pet. 5:6)

 The only hope – the only focus – the only option for the sincere follower of Christ is to climb up on the cross with him and die.  And then  allow his life, moment by moment to live through ours,

 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (Gal. 2:20)

 QUESTION: Today, are you willing once again to climb back up on that cross?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!