BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for January, 2004

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

THE CONSEQUENCES OF TAKING GODS TIMING INTO OUR OWN HANDS:

+

Cruising speed on the freeway yesterday was 81 miles per hour. My email is received and transmitted in micro-seconds. The Dow drops or rises in the wink of an eye affecting ga-zillions of dollars. Living as we do in this now environment, learning to move with God on His timetable does not come easily. Or naturally!

In Genesis 12 God promises Abraham an heir and a great nation

. A significant period of time later (Genesis 15), Abraham complains that the heir has not been forthcoming. Sarah picks up on Abrahams frustration and decides to take matters into her own hands. Following is a chronicle of her foolish impatience due to her lack of faith:

She angrily blames God

– "Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no childrenSo she said to Abram, The Lord has kept me from having children."

She superimposes her plan over Gods

"[Sarai] said to Abram, Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."

She violates others

"Abram agreed to what Sarai saidSaraitook her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceivedSarai said to Abram: Your servant is in your hands, Abram said. Do with her whatever you think best. Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her."

She despises and blames others

"When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me"

She is responsible for producing a long term "solution" with dire consequences

God said, "[Ishmael] will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." Thus the birth of the Arab people and the on-going, mutually hostile relationship between them and Israel over these many centuries.

In our impatience to see God act, it behooves us to understand that He sovereignly chooses His own "appointed time.

" (Psalm 75:2b) The frustration for us lies in the fact that Gods timing usually does not mesh with ours. "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (2 Pet. 3:8b) As we wait for the fulfillment of His promise and will, we need to learn to rest in the fact that it is His intention to make "everything beautiful in its time" ++ (See Heb. 11:11-13)

Somy fellow pilgrim, are you and I choosing amidst the madness of our micro-second, warp speed culture – to step back and rest in the character and promises of our Sovereign God, as He wisely accomplishes His will in His time?

If not, are we willing to live with the inevitably dire consequences?

+Genesis 16 Selected; ++Ecc. 3:11b

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

CAPTURING THE MOMENT

"Life is what happens to you while youre making plans."

(John Lennon) While we may not concur with Lennons personal values or lifestyle, we would agree that the saying, nevertheless is true. Do we not tend to:

Live in the future,

Question the past, and

Push toward the next event on the calendar?

If this is indeed our pattern, perhaps we need to learn how to:

Lighten up,

Slow down,

Smell the flowers, and

Take a deep breath.

And just why cant we seem to enjoyyes, even celebrate the moment? Cause we gotta rush on ahead to:

Gratify our titillations,

Worry about whats next,

Make impressions, and

Climb the ladder.

Surely we need to pause and question whether this is Gods idea of how we are to conduct our lives. Imagine, our Heavenly Father "has freely given us all things to enjoy" + Such as:

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The exquisite beauty of tropical fish, a sky red sunset, a fluttering butterfly, a childs unsullied wonder.

The stringed section of a philharmonic orchestra.

Unrushed friendship over a cup of coffee.

All are ours for the satisfactionif we will but take the time to capture the moment. Jesus, who brought into existence those missed sunsets, un-smelled flowers and fallen leaves, was never rushed, uptight or late. Thus, at age 33 He was able to report to His Heavenly Father that He had completed His assigned task. (Jn. 17:4)

The Scriptures remind us that "whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

" (I Jn. 2:6) In other words, we can emulate the Lord Jesus measured lifestyle. So lets once again determine to relax, temper the pace, and regain the eternal perspective as to what is truly important in life. Because this moment is "it." Life is now. Tomorrow is like a receding skyline. If we fail here, we will demonstrate the truth of John Lennons claim that "life is what happens to you while youre making plans."

And that would be a tragedy.

+(I Timothy 6:17b)

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

BALANCING THE COMPETING DEMANDS IN LIFE

In this chaotic, frantic world, three pressures that Satan may use to derail your walk with God are intensity, velocity, and complexity. Here are three principles you can use to countermand his tactics:

Focus:

Do I have a clear picture of where I am going and how I plan to get there? Does my focus mesh with Biblical values? Or is it the ole pinball principle of bouncing off the pressure points of least resistance? You know, "aim at nothing and youre sure to hit it." If you are out of focus, you can be sure that others are more than willing to play billiards with your life.

"So be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don’t be fools; be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to."

(Eph. 5:14-17 – Living) (See Isa. 50:7; Lk. 9:62; 2 Cor. 11:3; Phil. 3:12-14)

Balance:

Am I balancing the legitimate but competing demands in my life? One key to maintaining balance is making peace with my human limitations. Perhaps I should practice standing in front of the mirror and saying, "No!" True balance is when I am fulfilling my responsibilities in each Biblically based, God-ordained area of life (God, family, work, ministry, church, etc.). Satan majors on getting me off balance by pushing one or more of these responsibilities to the extreme. As I sincerely seek to balance these competing demands, I may not be a gold medallist in each arena, but God sees my faithfulness and is pleased.

As Dr. Luke records, Jesus obviously knew how to live a well-orbed, balanced life: He"grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Lk. 2:52) It has been suggested that these areas involve the intellectual, physical, social and spiritual aspects of his life.

By way of contrast, Solomon warns us against extremes: "Be not morbidly exacting and externally righteous overmuch, neither strive to make yourself pretentiously appear over wise why should you get puffed up and destroy yourself with presumptuous self-sufficiency?" (Ecc. 7:16 Amp.)

And St. Paul urges self-restraint: " Let your moderation be known unto all men…" (Phil. 4:5a KJV)

Margin:

Am I intentionally building space into my schedule? Or am I overwhelmed by intensity, velocity, and complexity? A person without margin will be hard pressed to nurture godly character. If I am chronically short on time, I may want to ask myself whether I am I "driven" or "called?" Just what is it that motivates me: The fear of failure? The quest for acceptance? The need to prove something? Mature, well-balanced followers of Christ build breathing room into their daily lives. After all, how long can any of us survive by chronically pushing "the pedal to the metal"? At some point the unreasonable pace will manifest itself in strained relationships with God, my spouse, my children, and with myself.

"Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it."

(Heb. 4:1) (See Ex. 23:12; 34:21; Mk. 6:31,32)

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

ONE SOLITARY LIFE

 

Dear Colleague,

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.

 

He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenters shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.

 

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He did not go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness.

 

He had no credentials but Himself.

 

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away.

 

He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

 

Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he remains the central figure of the human race, and the leader of mankinds progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this planet so much as that one solitary life. (Anonymous)

Though he was God, [he] did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross. Yet it was because of this that God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:5b-11 – Living)

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 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.)