BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for March, 2004

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

LIVING DAILY BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Years ago I took a group of college kids from New Mexico State University to the ocean. Most were sons of ranchers in the high desert where water is a scarce commodity. Never had they seen water in such abundance! Overwhelmed with delight, they thrust themselves into the water, clothes and all, joyfully splashing, diving and whooping it up!

That is a picture of Gods abundant grace, which He beckons us to dive into and freely enjoy! Paul invited Timothy to jump into the middle of Gods grace in stating, "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim. 2:1b)

So, how do I know whether or not I am experiencing Gods grace in my life? Here are a few indicators:

I am sensing His pleasure in a deep, personal way:

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,

brothers. Amen." (Gal. 6:18) (See 2 Cor. 13:14)

I am careful to credit God, rather than myself, for the life changes He is affecting in me:

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."

(I Cor. 15:10) (See 1 Cor. 4:7; Eph. 3:7)

I am choosing not to abuse the grace of God through willful patterns of chronically sinful behavior:

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace."

(Rom. 6:1,2,14) (See Rom. 6:15; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16; 2 Pet. 2:18,19; 1 Jn. 1:7-10; 2:1-6)

I am enjoying His restoration and renewal thorough personal knowledge of His forgiveness:

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

. (Eph. 1:6b,7) (Psa. 32:1,2; 86:5; 130:3,4; Isa. 43:25; 55:6,7; Jer. 31:34;1 Jn.1:8-2:1)

I am extending His grace to those around me:

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you

." (Eph. 4:32) (See Lev. 25:35; Lk. 6:27-31,35; Rom. 1:7; 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 Thes. 3:18; Rev. 1:4,5)

I am engaged in getting His message of grace out to others:

"I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his powerThis grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."

(Eph. 3:7,8b) (See Eph. 3:2)

QUESTION:

Are you choosing to appropriate and live in His grace today?

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

THE JOY OF A GODLY SON

The other day I received a letter from my 32 year old son. Following are excerpts:

"I feel like I am working in my nitch which is a good feeling. Sometimes I feel guilty as I am doing what I enjoy doing most of the time. God has blessed me beyond my imagination at this stage of lifeThank you for your ongoing and unbelievable support of me during these past 32 years. You and mom are much of the reason that I live in confidence, peace, joy and success. Your role and example have given me the confidence to get to this placeI want to spend more and more time with family and ministry"

To be sure, I, as a father am experiencing the truth of Proverbs 23:24, "The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him."

I am reminded of Proverbs 29:17: "Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul." That little word discipline by the way, conveys the idea of correction, instruction, punishment and reproof. (See Psa. 16:7; 38:1; 39:11; 118:8; Pro. 9:7; 19:18; 29:17) In raising Wes, we were sparing in fostering corporal punishment, but administered it when verbal instruction or punishment failed. The Scriptures are clear in their caution, "Fathers, dont over-correct your children, or they will grow up feeling inferior and frustrated. (Col. 3:21 Phillips Translation)

Here was my response to Wes letter

:

"Dear Wes, 30 years from now, Hayden (Wes 2 year old son) will write you a letter…similar to the one you have written me. Only then will you comprehend the joy a father feels toward his child. In the Scriptures, III John 1:4 states, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. There simply are no words to convey what I feel toward you, Jeanna, and Hayden. I am convinced that God sincerely desires to favor us, if we will just live righteously, on His terms (2 Chro. 16:9).  I believe that is what you are experiencing.

"You asked, but there is no way I can predict your future. But I suspect that what you have experienced these past 16 years (since you re- committed your life to Christ) is a pre-curser of the next 5,10, or 20 years. Like an eagle, you will gain altitude, growing in grace, poise, confidence, humility (hopefully), and perspective (Isa. 40:29-31). You will discover your ceiling – and it will be OK.

"As you mature into your 40’s, stuff won’t mean very much to you. You will enjoy and appreciate it, but you will not be impressed by it. Increasingly, you will embrace such enduring values as relationships, kindness, generosity, excellence, serving others, integrity, intimacy with God, and advancing His Kingdom. Increasingly you will come to realize the sacredness of life due to its brevity. Andyou will welcome that reality.

"I love you Wes, and I am proud of youDad."

QUESTION:

Dads, given your present pattern of input into your sons life, do you have reasonable cause to be optimistic about his future? If you are in doubt, what changes do you need to make now, before it is too late?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

TAKING CARE OF THE TEMPLE

At age 33, I was physically and emotionally spent,

having recently returned to the U. S. from living for several years in the tropics. When I tried to run around the block, my back ached, I got a headache, and of course I gasped for air. Hey, I had not exactly been a couch potatoRather a former Marine who had gone to pot!

Having made up my mind that I had to do something about my abysmal condition, I went over to the local pool and swam a few laps, feeling at any moment through the ordeal that I was going to loose my breakfast!

Somehow surviving the swim I decided to give my depleted body a rest and return at noon in two days. The plan would be to make it a Monday/Wednesday/Friday regimen, adding one lap each time I swam. To trim off the encroaching blubber around my middle, I elected to eat raisins and nuts, and drink O. J. for lunch on the swim days.

Well, it took six months for me to get my distance up to a mile (about the equivalent of running four miles). As anticipated, this self-imposed ordeal came replete with aching muscles, gulped in water, a chronic shortage of air, and an erratic swim style,

One day, after about two years into my exercise program, I realized to my surprise that I was actually enjoying the work out. The headaches and the pain in my muscles had disappeared, and my stroke had become smooth and rhythmic. The "tire" around my middle had vaporized. And I found myself crawling with energy!

Well, that was 34 years ago.

For the past couple of years Ive kicked the distance up to 1 miles, five days a week, and Im loving it! Most mornings there are older people in the pool (by "older" I mean 60+) who are seriously overweight, stroke victims, etc. All are trying to recoup what they have lost or failed to maintain in most cases through negligence. You know, a hard truth is that like it or not we will reap what we sow.

My next goal when I turn 70 in three years, is to swim Donner Lake in Northern California. Its 2.7 miles in length, at 6000 feet. The water is a relatively cold 69 degrees. Ive never been 70, so I have no idea if it is possible for me to swim it again (I previously swam it at ages 54 and 59). But at least thats my goal!

You know, I have never enjoyed life more than at this stage

! Had I neglected my body over those many years, I doubt I could make such a claim. Personally, I have discovered that the mental, physical, spiritual and social aspects of life are inextricably linked. Certainly we should learn from the balance observed in Jesus life in these areas: "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Lk. 2:52)

QUESTION:

How are you doing in the physical fitness department? Im reminded of the bumper sticker that humorously advises, "Live long enough to be a problem to your children." Surely you wouldnt want to miss that opportunity! (Im joking, of course)

"Your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit?

Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body." (I Cor. 6:19b,20 Msg) (See I Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:21; I Tim. 4:8)

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

LOOSING ALL YOUR MARBLES

"A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the kitchen with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the otherI turned the volume up on my radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning talk show. I heard an older sounding chap(who) was talking about a thousand marbles to someone named Tom. I was intrigued and sat down to listen to what he had to say.

Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital. He continued, Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities. And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a thousand marbles.

You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years. Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me Tom, I’m getting to the important part. It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail, he went on, and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.

So I went to a toy store and bought[a]1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear, plastic containerEvery Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.

Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday, then God has blessed me with a little extra time to be with my loved ones…It was nice to talk to you Tom

"I had planned to do some work that morning, then go to the gym. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast. What brought this on? she asked with a smile. Oh, nothing special, I said. It has just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles."+

"My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy. They skim past like boats of papyrus, like eagles swooping down on their preyTeach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom"

(Job 9:25,26; Psa. 90:12) (See Job 7:6,7; 14:1,2; Psa. 39:4,5; 89:47; I Pet. 1:24)

"May you have many happy years after you lose all your marbles."+

+Author unknown

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

A TRIBUTE TO WARREN MYERS

Martyred missionary pioneer Jim Elliott once prayed, "Lord, make my life a crossroad in the life of every person I meet."

For forty years, Warren Myers, (who recently was promoted to his eternal home) was that crossroad in my life. His life was characterized by a singular passion for Christ, as evidenced by an unparalleled focus and perseverance. Modest in appearance and demeanor, I know of few men who have so affected continents with the Gospel, as did Warren.

He once confided that if he could claim any accomplishment, it would be based on 1 Corinthians 15:10b, "By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."

Back in the 1960s I observed Warren as he literally prayed into existence a ministry at an inaccessible, elitist private institution of higher learning. Hundreds of future military leaders came to Christ there.

On numerous occasions, while in my 20s, Warren confronted me on character issues, which if left unattended, would undoubtedly have derailed my walk with God in the ensuing years.

Warren was unsurpassed in his mastery of the Scriptures, in terms of disciplined study, and depth of understanding. One of his practices was to circle the verses in his Bible he had committed to memory. On most any page, the un-circled verses seemed to be the exception!

Warren often reiterated – and lived William Careys now famous statement, "Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God." His and his wife Ruths vision, selfless service, incessant prayers, and larger than life faith, built Christ into the lives of men and women around the world. So today, untold numbers of these people are evangelizing and discipling the un-reached with the Gospel, both in urban centers and in little noticed rural regions.

At his gravesite, Warrens son Brian could not have been more affirming of Warren as he eloquently and passionately spoke of his authentic life and unwavering heart for God.

My purpose here is not to elevate a man, but to raise the bar of what unreserved commitment to Christ looks like amidst our pedestrian "Christian" culture of slouch and casual.

Surely we need to ask what the quality of our spiritual legacy will be

. Is it in fact our desire to be a crossroad in the lives of those whom God places in our path? Are we, like Warren Myers willing to pay the price in terms of focus and perseverance to truly live as impassioned warriors of Christ?