BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for January, 2005

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

WOULD YOU LIKE A SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE WAY TO STUDY THE BIBLE?

Then choose a chapter or a section of a chapter in the Scriptures

, such as Jesus healing a deaf mute (Mk. 7:31-37). Read over the passage several times, meditating and praying over the material as you go along. Follow the acrostic A TOPIC:

A

pplicaiton

T

itle

O

utline

P

roblems

I

llustrations

C

ross-references

But complete the acrostic in this order: (1) Outline, (2) Cross-references, (3) Problems, (4) Illustrations, (5) Title, (6) Application

Outline

:

I The Setting 31+

– Jesus leaves Tyre for Decapolis

II The Miracle 32-35

A. People bring a deaf man to Jesus for healing

B. Etc. (you complete the outline)

C.

III The Result 36, 37

A. Jesus commands the people to tell no one

B. Etc. (you complete the outline)

1.

2.

Cross-References

: Choose several other key verses that relate to the passage with ideas you would like to explore. To assist you, many Bibles have a "cross reference" section with verses or passages from other portions of the Bible that amplify or supplement the verses in the passage you are studying. Look some of them up and write down the correlating thought that ties the two Scriptures together.

Problems:

From the passage, record your questions, struggles or the need for further amplification.

Illustrations:

Record other portions of Scripture that illustrate the spiritual truths found in the passage.

Title:

Assign the passage a title (make up your own!), such as "Jesus Heals a Deaf Mute".

Application:

Record: (1) What truth in this passage speaks to a need in my life? (2) Where do I fall short? (3) What specific change can I make to become more Christ like in my attitude and actions? (4) Do I need to be accountable to someone to insure the fact that the application will be completed?

+

Hannahs Outlines

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

THE DAUNTING EXPERIENCE OF AGEING

I awoke this morning a bit dismayed. I see myself ageing. Forgetting things. Slowing down. Wondering if my life has really accounted for much. And concerned that perhaps I might be morphing into a dithering, befuddled old codger whom youth walk around and look pastOr glance at with condescending indifference or pity.

I thought of my ageing aunt and uncle, who are now in their mid/late 80s. As I observe their struggle with physical pain, and the death of their peers, I am reminded of the bumper sticker, "Ageing aint for sissies." Its tough on them, this ageing thing. But you know, they are handling it with courageand with class.

So this morning, as I meditated through Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon brought some clarity to this thing we call "life":

Life has its seasons (1-8): "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die" (etc., etc.)

Behind it all, God has an eternal often fathomless plan (11a,c, 14a): "He has made everything beautiful in its timeyet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to endI know that everything God does will endure forever"

Amidst the mystery of life, with the imminence of death before him, man is to enjoy his lot and his assigned toil while he can (12, 13, 22): "I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil–this is the gift of GodSo I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?"

Ultimately all mankind will face Gods judgment (17a): "God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked…" +

Perhaps a portion of the lyrics from that beloved old hymn, "Day by Day" apply here:

"Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here. Trusting in my Fathers wise bestowment, Ive no cause for worry for fear. He whose heart is kind beyond all measure gives unto each day what He deems best. Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest

"Help me then in every tribulation so to trust Thy promises, O Lord. That I lose not faiths sweet consolation offered me within Thy holy word. Help me Lord, when toil and trouble meeting, eer to take, as from a fathers hand, one by one, the days, the moments fleeting, till I reach the promised land."

+ In the New Testament, for the believer, judgment "has nothing to do with justification, which is credited to the Christian fully and forever through faith in Christ; instead, it refers to what we have done with our lives as Christians." (cf. 1 Cor. 2:11-15; 1 Cor. 5:10). Adapted from NIV Study Bible notes, page 1768

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

ANXIETY

Anxiety seems to be the mantra of most business and professionals

who fail to see God rather than themselves as their provider. Jesus, who clearly understands our inclination toward stress as it relates to material matters stated,

"Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

(Matt. 6:25b,33)

Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told to take a cavalier approach toward things material

:

"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds."

(Pro. 27:23)

"He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

" (Eph. 4:28)

"For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat." (2 Thess. 3:10)

But what Jesus does warn us about in Matthew 6:25 is the danger of being wound so tight over material issues that:

  •  We are driven by fear to the point that we can no longer enjoy the inner rest Jesus promises us (John 14:27).

  • We are so consumed with gaining the material that our pursuit of God is relegated to secondary status.

  • We are so entangled with our daily affairs that we loose sight of the eternal.

When we are driven to this state of mind, our priorities inevitably become eschewed, often at the irrevocable expense of other important areas of our life. Bryan Dyson, CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises offers this penetrating illustration:

"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them work, family, health, friends, and spirit, and youre keeping all these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four ballsare made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. Understand that, and strive for balance in your life. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. Thats why we call itthe Present."

QUESTION

: When you are old and gray, and looking back over your life, will you be living with the regret that you allowed the rubber ball to gain priority over the other important, more fragile balls? Based on your current practices, what do you think your answer will be then?

"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs."

(Jonah 2:8)

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

PRACTICAL STEPS FOR FORMULATING YOUR LIFE PURPOSE

If you are out of focus or off balance in terms of understanding and living out your life purpose, here are a few practical steps you can take to get back on track

:+

1. Set aside half a day several hours where you will have little or no interruption.

2. Ask God for wisdom and insight as you think in this area. Read one or two of your favorite portions of Scripture (if you dont have a favorite, read Psalm 139).

3. Reflect on your apparent current purpose. It may help to jot down some of your major activities and active passions.

4. Reflect on this question: In what way do I sense dissatisfaction with my life and current purpose?

5. Write out what you think your primary purpose should be. This should relate to what you view as your gifts, abilities, and skills. You might consider an overall statement of purpose and then some secondary purposes related to the major areas of life:

Personal life

Spiritual life

Family

Work

Finances

Health

Responsibility to others

6. Explore these questions: What chaos am I presently encountering that impacts fulfilling my purpose and giving me real meaning? Is it external? Is it internal?

7. What can I do to specifically refocus my life around my purpose?

Immediately?

In a month?

In six months?

In a year?

One final word: Remember, you are unique, and need not meet anyones expectations, except Gods. Two basic purposes seem to be universal for the Biblically-based life:

First, love and serve God with all your heart, mind, and soul (Matt. 22:37-39). Second, make your family a primary component of your purpose, whether single or married. (Mk. 7:9-13; I Tim. 3:4,5; Tit. 1:6)

+ Adapted from "Making Peace with Reality" Dr. Jerry White, Nav Press, pages 108-110