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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 2004

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON A VERY PERSONAL AND VEXING ISSUE Part #1

The "M" word is rarely spoken in public. Yet it represents an issue that most every man, and a high percentage of women find vexing. I am talking about masturbation. What is the Biblical perspective on this subject that has been so vexing and confusing to so many? Following are excerpts from a book written by Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, about raising boys.+ The principles apply to adults as well. I think most of us will find this material both enlightening and liberating.

"First, lets consider masturbation from a medical perspective

. We can say without fear of contradiction that there is no scientific evidence to indicate that this act is harmful to the body. Despite terrifying warnings given to young people historically, it does not cause blindness, weakness, mental retardation, or any other physical problem. If it did, the entire male population and about half of females would be blind, weak, simpleminded and sick. Between 95 and 98 percent of all boys engage in this practice and the rest have been known to lie. It is as close to being a universal behavior as is likely to occur. A lesser but still significant percentage of girls also engage in what was once called self-gratification, or worse, self-abuse.

As for the emotional consequences of masturbation, only four circumstances should give us cause for concern

:

"The first is when it is associated with oppressive guilt from which the individual cant escape. That guilt has the potential to do considerable psychological and spiritual damage. Boys and girls who labor under divine condemnation can gradually become convinced that even God couldnt love them. They promise a thousand times with great sincerity never again to commit this despicable act. Then a week or two passes, or perhaps several months. Eventually, the hormonal pressure accumulates until nearly every waking moment reverberates with sexual desire. Finally, in a moment (and I do mean a moment) of weakness, it happens again. What then, dear friend? Tell me what a young person says to God after he or she has just broken the one thousandth solemn promise to Him? I am convinced that some teenagers have thrown over their faith because of their inability to please God on this point.

"The second circumstance in which masturbation might have harmful implications is when it becomes extremely obsessive. That is more likely to occur when it has been understood by the individual to be forbidden fruit."Cold showers, lots of exercise, many activitiesare ineffective. Attempting to suppress this act is one campaign that is destined to fail-so why wage it??

This discussion will be continued in next weeks "Facts of the Matter".

+Bringing up Boys, Dr. James Dobson, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL Pages 78-80 (selected)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

WHO WILL WIN? YOUR ADVOCATE OR YOUR ADVISARY? ITS UP TO YOU

As you enter the concrete jungle of deadlines, cash flow crunches, failed expectations, re-shuffled priorities, and an uncertain market economy, your Advocate, the Good Shepherd assures you of his peace and provision. Your Adversary, Satan, however aims to capitalize on the worst the concrete jungle can deliver in order to destroy you:

"A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."

(Jn. 10:10 Msg)

For starters, your Adversary, the "thief" will take pains to play on your fears that your needs wont be met. Jesus, your Advocate however, promises his provision: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want."+

Your Adversary will attempt to drive you to the point of exhaustion. Your Advocate however, will direct you to restful replenishment: "He makes me lie down in green pastures."+

Your Adversary will seek to jumble your mind and emotions, as you respond to the multiplex of market demands. Your Advocate however, will escort you into an inner calm: "He leads me beside quiet waters."+

Your Adversary will try to distract you from carving out private times alone with the Good Shepherd. Your Advocate however, intends to usher you into opportunities for spiritual renewal: "He restores my soul."+

Your Adversary will seek to blur your sense of direction. Your Advocate however, will direct and enable you to do what honors him most: "He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake."+

Your Adversary will work at playing on your fears as to what lies beyond. Your Advocate however, promises you his consolation as you anticipate the unknown: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."+

Your Adversary will undertake to produce in you a sense of uncertainty, surrounded as you are by a hostile and dangerous world. Your Advocate however, assures you of his provision, protection, and blessing: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."+

Your Adversary will strive to paralyze you with a dread of the future. Your Advocate however, offers you his favor and welfare here on earth, as you live in anticipation of your eternal hope: "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."+

QUESTION: Today, as you enter the concrete jungle, are you willing once again to surrender your life to His Lordship so that he can shepherd you into a life of peace and rest? As always the choice is yours.

+ A portion of Psalm 23

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

HONORING THE “WEAK” AMONG US

As I drove into the Interstate "Rest Area" to take a break, I noticed a uniformed man raking leaves on the expansive lawn one laborious stroke at a time. "Man! Get a blower and get the job done with", my mind raced! Then I remembered the posted sign at a previous "Rest Area". Something about the State hiring the mentally challenged to do the maintenance at these facilities.

In a society that is moving at mach speed

, where time and getting the job done spells the difference between success and oblivion, theres not a lot of room for the weak. Efficiency, brains, and results loom at the top of our values. Miss a rung on the ladder on your way to the top and 20 people are climbing over your back to replace you or shove you aside. Its "lead, move, or get out of the way" city. Thus we kill our unborn and shunt aside the old and unproductive. I believe the correct term for such a culture is barbarianism.

Tell me, how do you personally respond to the clumsy, inarticulate, unattractive, non-athletic, frumpy, cant quite get-it-together types in your office, neighborhood or church? If you do what comes naturally, you ignore them, reject them, judge them, exploit them, wound them, and ride rough shod over them on your way to "success." If you and I are responding in this fashion, could it be because we feel they might assault:

Our pride: Basically, we believe we are above them. (Rom. 12:16)

Our "rights": If we get involved, they will drain us and inconvenienced us. Slow us down. (Phil. 2:2,3)

Our privacy: We selectively invite those into our world who stroke us. The "weak" are an intrusion. (Lk. 14:12-14)

We can be sure that this is not the way of the Cross. Scriptures give clear instructions – and warnings, on how we are to treat the weak among us (or what most would term the "losers"). Essentially, we are to:

Patiently accept them. (I Thess. 5:14; Rom. 14:1,15:1)

Rescue and defend them. (Psa. 82:3-5; Jer. 5:28)

Not wound them or cause them to stumble. (Rom. 14:13; I Cor. 8:8-12)

Minister to their needs. (Matt. 25:31-46; Jms. 1:26)

In a word, we are to show them the compassion of Christ:

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

(Matt. 9:36) (See Prov. 14:20; 17:5; Lk. 1:53; Jas. 2:1-5)

If this is a difficult area for you, perhaps your prayer could be

: "Lord, I have to confess that I am not naturally inclined to befriend and express compassion toward the less fortunate among us. I am asking for your forgiveness, and for a renewed sense of compassion toward them. Would you lead me into practical ways I can love them on your behalf? In Jesus Name, amen."

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

WHERE IS THE PRIMARY FOCUS OF YOUR MINISTRY?

Where is the primary focus of your ministry?

Inside the walls of the church? In your neighborhood? At the fitness center?

Think about it

: If you sleep 8 hours a night and work a 45 hour week, 40% of your waking hours is spent on the job. Who else is better positioned, access-wise to overcome the barriers, understand the culture, and reach into the hearts of the people in your work environment than you? Could your pastor do it? Doubtful. So, by natural affinity and sheer opportunity, this could well be your primary God-appointed mission field. Pray about it.

The challenge is not to shout the Gospel at your fellow workers. Rather, it is to live out the implications of the Gospel in such a compelling manner that you literally create thirst by your saltiness (Matthew 5:13), and dispel darkness with the light of your life. (Matthew 5:16). My guess is that if you authentically model the life of Jesus by reflecting the Beatitudes (Matthew 57), some of your associates will be induced to enquire as to why you are so wonderfully different. (See Philip. 2:14-16)

Here are a few simple suggestions on how to begin a ministry in the marketplace with your lost friends and associates:

Make a list of several people in your work environment who need Christ, and then begin praying daily for them by name. Confess to God that frankly, their lost condition is, for the most part, immaterial to you. Ask God to supernaturally give you Christs compassion for them. My guess is that in time, they will begin to sense your new found concern and will be drawn toward you. (See Matt. 9:36-38; I Sam. 12:23)

Ask God to impress upon you his timing as to who on the list you should single out first say for lunch, or golf, or whatever. Look for those whom God seems to softening and preparing. (See Colossians 4:5,6)

Earn the right to be heard. During your time together focus on them, their family concerns, etc. Listen carefully to their heart. Pick up the tab (use your tithe money, if you need to). Be sure there is no hidden agenda (getting them to your church or into your Bible study, etc. The cultural shock of entering your "religious" world too early may prove too much of an adjustment). Look for ways to quietly serve them: A book, networking, helping them clean out their garage, etc. Whatever you do, dont bonk them over the head with the Gospel. Go slowly. Wait a few weeks and then do it again. (See 2 Corinthians 4:5)

When the time seems right, ask them if they would like to "explore" the Scriptures in order to determine who Jesus is, and whether he has any relevancy to their lives today. Set up only one or two sessions at a time so they will not feel they are being trapped. Add more sessions as they respond. Create an environment of grace that invites the Holy Spirit to do his work. "Think lost." That is, see life through their lens. Be real. Put as few barriers between them and the Gospel as possible. Discuss small bite size passages from the book of Mark or John that specifically reveal the Person of Christ. Keep each session short and simple. Leave them hungry. Dont preach. Ask questions and listen carefully. Admit it when you dont have the answer(s). View evangelism as a process, rather than an event. (See 2 Tim. 2:23-26)