BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for July, 2002

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

JOE AND HIS PEG LEG

Joe is a 68 year old former Marine with a peg leg, who shows up each morning at the local swimming pool to work out. Years ago during training maneuvers the wind blew his parachute into high tension wires. As thousands of volts coursed through his body, his leg was burned off and a significant portion of his flesh sustained severe burns. Clinically, Joe died, but the crash to the ground revived his heart and somehow he survived!

From all appearances, Joe has made peace with his peg leg, as he hobbles from place to place, swims, and generally gets on with his life.

Perhaps Joes experience illustrates the paradox of the Christians earthly pilgrimage: We live with pain and imperfection. Yet we learn to get on with out lives.

The Psalmist wrestled with lifes peg leg – our pain and imperfections, when he cried out:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Psa. 13:1,2)

 

Yet amidst his anguish, he tasted faith and joy:

I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. (Psa. 13:5,6)

The reality is that even with Christ, we will live life with a peg leg, so to speak, in our:

Struggle to gain victory over sin: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I doFor I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it outWhat a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through , Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom. 7:15,18b,24,25a)

 

Striving for triumph surrounded as we are by crushing pressure: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:8,9)

Could it be that our biggest problem with discontentment or disillusionment is that we want even demand Utopia with Christ while on this earth? And could it be that God allows imperfection, pain, and struggles into our lives a peg leg if you please – to teach us the uncommon traits of patience and contentment?

It is comforting to know that Christ assures us of His conquering power and inner peace amidst lifes afflictions:

In Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (Jn. 16:33b)

QUESTION: With His help, are you Marine enough to choose to live graciously with your peg leg?

 

 

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

FOUR CORPORATE GOALS OF A CHRISTIAN-BASED COMPANY

Many adherents of Christ in the world of businesses see little correlation between living for Christ and dealing with the harsh realities in the marketplace. Thus, they have concluded that commerce is a nasty affair, but someone has to do it. Computer Management and Development Services (CMDS), (Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA) is demonstrating a healthy merge between Christian values and the business realm. Their four corporate goals are:

TO HONOR GOD

We believe that our Christianity is something that is a part of all we do. Therefore, we commit ourselves to operate CMDS within our understanding of Christian ethical and moral beliefs. We believe Christ should be honored by all that we do and say.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Col. 3:23)

 

TO DEVELOP PEOPLE

We believe that people employed by CMDS are our most important asset. We commit ourselves to pay fairly, treat one another honestly, and promote development of the individual. We believe that people we work for are also important and commit ourselves to training them in the operations of the system, treating them honestly, and assisting in the development of the individual in any way we can.

 

…We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Cor. 4:5b) (See Matt. 22:39; Lk. 6:31; Jms. 2:8-16)

 

TO PURSUE EXCELLENCE IN SERVICE

 

Service is our most important product. We recognize the importance of service to our customers and commit ourselves to responding promptly to requests and/or problems. We will continue to refine and improve our products. Only by providing an important service to our customers will we continue to exist as a company. We commit ourselves to excellence.

 

Then God looked over all that he had made, and it was excellent in every way (Gen 1:31 Living)

 

TO MAKE A PROFIT

 

We recognize the need to make a profit in order to operate a viable business. We are nonetheless committed to meet goals one, two, and three and will sacrifice a larger profit in order to meet these goals.

"A man called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money The man went at once and put his money to work and gained five more’Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things…’ (Matt. 25:14-21 – selected)

QUESTION: Have you determined to personally incorporate Biblical values into your marketplace practices?

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

FOUR REASONS FOR DISCOURAGEMENT IN FOLLOWING CHRIST:

In the last couple of days, I have interacted with fellow-believers with unimaginable trials:

–  Parents struggling with an abusive teenager who is disrupting family harmony.

–  A friend working in an environment where achieving the bottom line steam rolls over human limitations.

–  A couple with a 20 year old bed-ridden son who has been in the process of slowly dying for the past 7 years.

 

My guess is that you too have your own set of tribulations as well. Here are four reasons why we may get discouraged in our walk with Christ,+

#1 The hardness of the way: [The Israelites] traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way. (Numb. 21:4) Plodding across the desert with Moses, the Jews lives translated into hot, sweaty long marches. Day in and day out there was not enough water; the food remained the same. Seemingly, there was no end in sight, with little prospect of any improvement in the future.

The word of God comforts us who are in similar situations, Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love himNever tire of doing what is right. (Jms. 1:12; 2 Thess. 3:13b) (See 2 Tim. 2:3; Heb.12:1-3)

#2 The difficulty of the task: Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall." (Neh. 4:10) Ever ask yourself, Why am I always the one who picks up the pieces for others? Why am I the one who covers for others sloppy work? Why am I the one who lives with little appreciation both at the office and in the home?

The Scriptures assure us, "My dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. (1 Cor. 15:58b- Msg) (See 1 Pet. 1:6,7; 5:10)

#3 The prosperity of the wicked: But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psa. 73:2,3) It doesnt seem fair that following Christ and taking a stand is often so costly, while wicked unprincipled people get away with murder, prosper, and cruise above it all!

 

The Psalmist puts it in perspective, When I tried to understand all this (the prosperity of the wicked), it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed completely swept away by terrors!(Psalm 73:16-19) (See Psa. 1:4-6; 9:17; Pro.14:32; 37:1,2,8-15,20,32,33,38; Matt. 13:49,50; 2 Pet. 2:9,12)

#4 The delay in the fulfillment of desires: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Prov. 13:12) I have to admit that often I dont want to sacrifice for others at the expense of enjoying lifes pleasures now.

The Scriptures however, encourage us on, Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people(Gal. 6:9,10)

QUESTION: Shall we today, resolve once again to surrender to Him and live our lives His way?

+Adapted from Thompson Chain Reference Bible, item #1018

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

SIMPLICITY

 

All of us believe in itbut few of us practice it. Secretly we long for a simpler life. Solitude. Less stress. Fewer commitments. But were caught in a quagmire of our and societys making. The fact is that life is complex. But often we exacerbate the problem. In fact, we may be the problem. If you seriously want to simplify your life, take a few moments and prayerfully ponder these questions,+

  What does simplicity mean to you?

  What role do others expectations play in your daily or weekly schedule? Are you comfortable with the proportion of your resources currently devoted to servicing the requests or demands of others?

  Is it possible to have simplicity without frugality? Explain.

  Do you have a tendency to run from silence? Why or why not?

  In our hectic, materialistic society, people living a simple life are looked at as nonconformists. How do you feel about being looked at that way?

  Some say it is impossible to be happy until we know what we love. What do you most love? How could you reorganize your life so that you could give more attention to what you love?

  In what ways, if any, are you sacrificing quality of life (more joy) in order to achieve a higher standard of living (more stuff)?

  What is your idea of success in life? How simple or complex would your life have to be for you to achieve that success?

  What is enough? How can we know when we have it?

  According to author Christopher Lasch, advertising causes consumers to be perpetually unsatisfied, restless, anxious, and bored. If true, how does this make life more complex? How does advertising create dissatisfaction in your life?

  Adventurer Elsa Buchner once said, Security is certainly wonderful to have, but not at the price of inertia. Ill have plenty of that in the grave. In what ways might your desire for security win the tug-of-war over your desire to simplify your life?

  The Bible often speaks of moderation. What does moderation look like in a society of abundance? In what ways would moderation help simplify your life?

  Does generosity go hand in hand with living a life of simplicity? Why or why not?

  If you were to move to a place where no one knows who you are, would it be easier or harder to live a life of simplicity? Why?

  How do you distinguish between your wants and your needs? If you were counseling a child or a friend, how would you help that person tell the difference?

  When it comes to living a life of simplicity, what cultural influences will require the greatest resistance on your part? Why?

 

Walk with me and work with mewatch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matt. 11:28-30 Msg)

+Jerry D. Jones, To Help Simplify Your Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1999, pages 3-152 selected

Wednesday, July 3, 2002

BITTER OR BETTER?

Forget the beauty — macho thing! In this fourth quarter of life everything seems to be either bulging or sagging. Art Linkletter was probably right in telling seniors, The best deterrent to promiscuity is nudity. I cant possibly look as old as the photos depict. Sleep or no sleep, when I look in the mirror the bags under my eyes make my nose look like a pack horse. My sixty something carcass seems to be falling apart! A friend (a friend?) recently told me, Dwight, youll never be as old as you look. And then had the nerve to ask, Do you get out often? What? Do I look like I am growing barnacles, or something?

Well, Paul had it right, Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Cor. 4:16b) I hope that is the case with you and me (the latter part about renewal, that is)

 

One thing is sure: As the years pass, we will either get better or bitter. A lot of it depends on how we treat our spouse, relative to Scriptural imperatives:

Live in harmony with one another Rather than pick at each other

Be sympathetic – Rather than criticize each other

Love as brothers – Rather than compete as adversaries

Be compassionate – Rather than maintain an attitude of benign indifference

Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult. (I Pet. 3:8b-9a)

 

And the reason we need to live this way? "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. (I Pet. 3:10,11) Translated: If you want peace at home, conduct your marriage affairs Gods way.

In an unguarded moment, a 70 year old acquaintance said of his marriage, Well, we tolerate each other. Tolerate each other? Tell me, has your marriage slipped to the toleration level? Gone stale like cold potatoes? Perhaps what you thought you were getting in a mate, and what you ended up with are not the same. Perchance thats the difference in marriage between infatuation and true love,

Infatuation is when you think that hes as sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Conners. Love is when you realize that hes as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Conners, as funny as Ralph Nadar, as athletic as Henry Kissinger, and nothing like Robert Redford youll take him anyway.+

One definition of maturity is the ability to live gracefully with situations you cant change. By that definition, are you a mature person, as it relates to your marriage and aging?

+ Eugenia Price, Woman to Woman (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959), p.7