BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for November, 2004

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A BIBLICAL PRIMER ON WEALTH

One of the most vexing areas of life is that of finances

. Can I trust God to provide for my needs? When is enough, enough? How do I maintain my priorities between seeking God and providing for my family? Perhaps the most poignant passage on this subject is found in Matthew 6:19-34 and summarized in verse 33:

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Following is a brief Biblical primer on wealth:

Dont trust in or set your heart on riches. Ps. 62:10; Deut. 6:10-12; 8:12-14; Job 31:24-28; Lk. 12:15

Because wisdom and understanding are superior to wealth, choose the former over the latter. Pro. 16:16; Psa. 119:127; Pro. 3:13-18; 4:7; 8:10,11,19; Ecc. 7:12; Matt. 16:26; Luke 12:21

Because riches can easily disappear, dont make them your main focus. Pro. 23:5; 27:24; Ecc. 5:13

Those who please God gain wisdom and understanding, while the rebel is relegated to the meaningless task of gathering and storing wealth (only to have his acquisitions to be handed over the those who please God). Ecc. 2:26; Pro. 3:13-18; 13:22; 28:8; Isa. 3:10; Job 27:13-23

Lovers of money (Ecc. 5:10-14):

– Will never be satisfied with what they possess, because "leaches" will diminish their holdings. Ecc. 6:7; Hab. 2:5-7

– Will live with angst from their financial enslavement, compared to the laboring man who is content with what he has. Psa. 119:36,37; Josh. 7:21-25; Ecc. 6:9; Jer. 17:11

– Hoard their resources to their own detriment. Gen. 13; Pro. 1:19; 11:24,25; Lk. 12:16-21

When Gods judgment falls, our wealth cannot save us. Zeph. 1:18; Psa. 52:5-7; Pro. 11:4; Jer. 9:23,24; Zeph. 1:10-13

Hoarding for selfish pleasure is sin. Lk. 12:13-21; Jms. 5:1-3; Psa. 119:36,37; Mi. 2:2; Hab. 2:9; Col. 3:5; 2 Tim. 3:2; 2 Pet. 2:14

The rich young ruler illustrates the point that an idolatrous relationship with wealth will cost us our souls. Lk. 18:18-25; Ezek. 33:31; Lk. 8:14; 19:8; Eph. 5:5; Phil. 3:8

A godly person who is content with lifes basics is the truly rich individual. I Tim. 6:6-8; Hebrews 13:5; Matt. 6:34; Phil. 4:11-13; 2 Cor. 9:8-11; 12:9,10

The person lusting for wealth will pay a high price for its acquisition. I Tim 6:9,10; 2 Kin. 5:20-27; Pro. 15:27; 20:21; 21:6; 22:16; 28:20-22; Isa. 5:8; Hos. 12:7,8; Amos 8:4-6; Zech. 11:5; Jude 1:11

Those blessed with wealth bear the responsibility of humility over arrogance, trusting God over their vulnerable resources, and exercising generosity in the sharing of their wealth. I Tim 6:17,18; 1 Jn. 2:15,16; Deut. 15:7-11; Psa. 37:3; Pro. 11:24,25; Ecc. 11:1,2,6; Isa. 58:6,7; Lk. 6:33-36; Act. 9:36; Rom. 12:8,13; 2 Cor. 8:19; 9:6-15; Gal. 6:10; Tit. 2:14; 3:8; Heb. 13:16; 1 Jn. 3:17

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

“THERE MUST NOT BE EVEN A HINT OF SEXUAL IMMORALITY”

+

In a culture awash with sexual obsession, how is a follower of Christ to live? Recently, while watching the half time festivities of a college football game, I was taken back by the raw sensuality of the youthful performers. I found myself mulling over the fact that most of our earlier institutions of higher learning (Harvard, Yale, etc) were founded and headed by clergy to train pastors and missionaries. In order to feed the demands of the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, our educational focus shifted from developing godly disciples to producing a technically qualified work force. Thus began our path down the slippery slope of secularized education, which was void of spiritual values.

This morning in my devotions, with the memory of the football festivities still fresh in my mind, I pondered Ephesians 5:3b-5:"Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."

Just what are some of the "hints" of sexual immorality we are to avoid? To name a few:

Lustful looks: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heartI made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl." (Matt. 5:28; Job 31:1)

Question:

Do I have control of my eyes in terms of looking lustfully at someone? Am I using my eyes in a seductive manner?

Impure imagination: "The Lord sawthat every inclination of the thoughts of [mans] heart was only evil all the time The fruit of the Spirit isself-controlWe take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (Gen. 6:5b; Gal. 5:23b; 2 Cor. 10:5b)

Question:

Is my thought life under the control of the Holy Spirit, or do I allow my imagination free reign?

Inappropriate emotional intimacy: "Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of himFor God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.Treatyounger women as sisters, with absolute purity." (I Thes. 4:4-6a,7; I Tim. 5:1b,2b)

Question:

Am careful to not to defraud another person emotionally? If married, am I reserving all my emotional intimacy for my spouse?

Offensive language: "Do not let any unwholesome talk (worthless, rotten, corrupt) come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." (Eph. 4:29; Matt. 12:36b)

Question:

Does my speech have an uplifting, or a degrading effect on others?

+ Ephesians 5;3

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

WARRIORS OR WHIMPS?

Today, they would have labeled me A.D.D., + or hyper-active. And they probably would have drugged me to tame my wild spirit. In the third grade sitting quietly in a classroom or riding in a vehicle for more than seven minutes was pure torture. Once home from school, it was cowboys and Indians until I dropped, or racing my horse bareback at breakneck speed (age 8!) across the desert and down country roads. Its called boyhood. And its the way God created young warriors-in-the-making.

Because boys like my three grandsons are endowed with warrior hearts, they play with big red jumbo trucks, and cant get enough of G. I. Joe, swords, and wrestling. But in our vanilla, lily white, no-risk society, we tend not to nurture our sons to become tender warriors, heroes, risk-takers, or the noble head of their family. Rather than recognizing, releasing, and channeling their warrior spirit, we often squelch it by conditioning them to act "nice", conform, fit in, and become politically correct, pleasant, gender-neutral persons. Yet God put a warriors heart into Adam, and then commissioned him to conquer the earth. (Gen.1:28-30; 2:19,20) So men, its ok to dream about conquering and achieving something big or great. Its an Adam thing! Imagine the warrior spirit in David and his fighting men. Are we producing warriors of this caliber today? Would men with their spirit even be allowed to function today in our society? Get this:

– "Josheb-Basshebeth raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter"

– "Eleazarstood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword"

– "Abishairaised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed"

(2 Sam. 23:8,9,18).

So what is the most noble role that you as a true warrior can play today? For starters, consider,

#1 Serving as the family provider:

"If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." (I Tim. 5:8) Which, by the way releases your spouse to focus primarily on her domestic calling and responsibilities as a wife and mother ("train the younger womento be busy at home" (literally "domestically inclined") [Titus 2:5b]). (Consider Pro. 31:10-31)

#2 Serving as the leader of the clan:

"He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respectFor the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church"(I Tim. 3:4; Eph 5:23a)

#3 Serving as the family protector:

To shield the family from danger; teach them how to cope with life; be available to family members; defend your wife and her honor.

#4 Serving as the spiritual leader of the family:

To build the Scriptures into your childrens lives. (See Deut 6:6-9; 11:18-21; 32:46; Pro. 4:1-4) To teach them the fundamentals of the faith. To insure they become integrated into the Body of Christ.++

QUESTION

: Are you warrior enough to fulfill your God-ordained role as the Biblical head of your home?

+ A.D.D. Attention Deficit Disorder; ++ Adapted from "Bringing up Boys", Dr. James Dobson, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Wheaton, IL Pages 70, 71; The "Facts of the Matter" is also available through the Internet:http://www.factsofthematter.org

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

A FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON A VERY PERSONAL AND VEXING ISSUE Part #2

Last week we discussed the hushed "M" word that is rarely addressed in public: Masturbation. Our material was taken from a book by Dr. James Dobson, "Bringing Up Boys".+ In last weeks Facts, Dr. Dobson made the point that there is no medical evidence that the practice is harmful to the body. In fact between 95 and 98 percent of the male population engage in the practice.

As for the emotional consequences, Dobson instructed that when masturbation is associated with oppressive guilt it has the potential of doing serious psychological and spiritual damage. Secondly Dobson stated that the practice might be harmful when it becomes extremely obsessive. Continuing with his comments:

"The third situation around which we should be concerned is when the young person becomes addicted to pornographic material.

The kind of obscenity available to teenagers today has the capacity to grab and hold a boy for the rest of his life

"The fourth concern about masturbation refers not to adolescents but to us as adults.

This habit has the capacity to follow us into marriage and become a substitution for healthy sexual relations between a husband and wife. This, I believe, is what the apostle Paul meant when he instructed us not to deprive or defraud one another as marital partners. The apostle Paul wrote, Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (II Cor. 7:5).

"As for the spiritual implications of masturbation, I will have to defer to the theologians for a more definite response. It is interesting to me, however, that Scripture does not address this subject except for a single reference in the Old Testament to a man named Onan. He interrupted sexual intercourse with his sister-in-law and allowed his semen to fall on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother, which was his duty (Genesis 38:8,9). Although that verse is often cited as evidence of Gods disapproval of masturbation, the context doesnt seem to fit

"When [my father and I] were riding in the carmy dad said, Jim, when I was a boy, I worried so much about masturbation. It really became a scary thing for me because I thought God was condemning me for what I couldnt help. So Im telling you now that I hope you dont feel the need to engage in this act when you reach the teen years, but if you do, you shouldnt be too concerned about it. I dont believe it has much to do with your relationship with God.

"What a compassionate thing my father did for me that night in the car. He was a very conservative minister who never compromised his standards of morality to the day of his death. He stood like a rock for biblical principles and commandments. Yet he cared enough about me to lift from my shoulders the burden of guilt that nearly destroyed some of my friends in the church. This kind of reasonable faith taught me by my parents is one of the primary reasons I never felt it necessary to rebel against parental authority or defy God."

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