BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for February, 2005

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

YOU CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IN A PERSONS LIFE

"Dwight! I just got in from Minneapolis where I met Gordon Glenny who said God used you to change his life."

"Really?"

I blurted out, as I fumbled to remember who on earth Gordon Glenny isor was. Then I recalled some 20 years ago approaching a young fellow who was headed for the mission field. I remember wondering if he faithfully practiced, or even understood how to spend time with God meditating on His word. So I sat him down and said, "Gordon, I dont know what you know or dont know but Ive lived in foreign countries as a missionary and I know how tough it can get. Unless you know how to sustain yourself spiritually, you will not survive. May I show you how?" And with that I spent about 45 minutes with Gordon, teaching him this skill of prayerfully meditating on Gods word. 45 minutes and it changed his life?!

Some years ago we dined with a couple who were also on their way to the mission field. I remember thinking, "These people are not ready for this." But I felt constrained not to say anything. They were so excited. So young and idealistic. And so immature spiritually. Well, they lasted 3 years as missionaries. The husband had an affair and the family disintegrated. I wonder if 45 minutes with them might have made a difference.

When I was a college freshman, Dr. John Alexander, a university professor, took me aside and listened to my woes and frustrations. He listened and cared. And it was life-changing. I could not get over the fact that this remarkable man of God valued me and took me seriously.

As a college student I read a book by missionary veteran, David Adeney that profoundly affected my life. 30 years later I ran into Dr. Adeney, who was now in his late 70s. Late in the evening I was able to have about 10 minutes with him as I accompanied him back to his room at a conference center. That brief exposure to this gracious man of God continues to influence me. And of course, he had no idea of his profound influence on me.

All around us are struggling folks with good hearts. Many have never had any personal coaching on how to walk with God. Many would welcome a kind word of affirmation or encouragement. In our self-absorption, we can so easily walk past these people and miss a God-ordained opportunity to make a significant difference in their lives.

My friend, if you are walking with God, dont underestimate the unimaginable impact you can have on another person by simply loving them, and caring enough to risk by getting into their life. Could it be that most of our relationships with fellow believers are characterized by benign indifference? Not hate, not angerjust indifference. May God help us to not miss His ordained opportunities for us.

St. Paul:

"We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives meYou’ve been a good apprentice to me, a part of my teaching, my manner of life, direction, faith, steadiness, love, patience, troubles, sufferings" (Col. 1:28b, 29; 2Tim. 3:10,11a The Message)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

WHEN OUR RESOURCES SEEM TO TURN PAPER THIN

This month our income took a severe dip.

The first thing I found myself doing was penciling out our finances, trying to determine what to eliminate. And wrestling with a gnawing inner fear, "Will we have enough to survive?" It seems that the very demons of Hell were lurking around the fringes of my heart and mind, waiting to pounce on me. "What about next month?" "Where am I going to find the resources?" Etc., etc.

Then in my morning time with God I "happened" to turn to Psalm 37:21-40, and our gracious Father reassured my floundering heart that as His child,

I will be exalted to inherit the land, and dwell in it forever. (vs. 22, 27 29,34)

I will be strengthened by Him in my steps. (vs. 23)

I may stumble, but I never will fall; in fact I will be upheld by His hand. (vs. 24, 31)

I will never be forsaken, nor will I see my children begging bread. (vs. 25, 28)

I will be protected forever. (vs. 28)

I will not be left in the power of the wicked. (vs. 33)

I have a future. (vs. 37)

I can count on God as my stronghold and refuge in times of trouble. He is my helper and deliverer. (vs.39, 40)

Then the peace returned as God somehow reassured my intrepid heart that He is here walking with me. Before I knew it, I was asking myself, "How could I have doubted you Lord? How could I have faltered?"

I am reminded of the question Jesus asked the disciples: "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Lk. 18:8b) That is, faith to trust God when resources are paper thin or Im dealing with a cancer report.

I am also reminded of Jesus startling statement in John 6:29: "The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent." You mean to tell me that the work of God is not primarily winning the lost, discipling the saved, and helping the poor? No, it is believing God when your finances are paper thin. It is believing God when the doctor tells you that you have cancer.

Well, once again, I determined in my heart to believe God. I determine that when He looks over this troubled earth, He will find at least one person who truly believes Him. Me. And so I prayed, "Lord, once again today I again choose to put my hand in yours and rest in your promises. Amen."

Oh, I almost forgot

. There are conditions to the wonderful promises cited above in Psalm 37:21-40: I am to live righteously before God. That is, I am to give generously and lend freely – (vs. 21, 26). I am to live in such a manner that God finds delight in my way (vs. 23). I am to practice justice, faithfulness and wisdom (vs. 28, 30). I am to retain Gods laws within my heart (vs. 31). I am to choose to live a blameless life (literally: straight, upright, conscientious; integrity) (vs. 37). I am to be a man or woman of peace (vs. 37). I also need to understand that God is not demanding Christian perfection but integrity of intent. The Scriptures assure me that if I fall, He is there for me: "Though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." (vs. 34)

So, my friend, let us covenant together to believe God for today, and choose to rest on His promises for our provision for the future. And, by His grace to live Biblically.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

NINE QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF IN EVALUATING YOUR LIFE AND MINISTRY

:+

How strong is my passion to know and love Christ

?

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain ChristI want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death" (Phil. 3:7-8,10)

Am I personally being transformed into Christlikeness

? "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Rom. 12:2) (See 2 Cor. 3:18; 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 1:21; 3:10; Tit. 3:5)

Do I view the Scriptures as foundational to my life and ministry

? "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16,17) (See Psa. 19:7-11; 119:97-104; Matt. 7:24-27; Jn. 8:31,32)

Do I have an expectant faith that is rooted in the promises of God

? "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires…" (2 Pet. 1:3,4) (See 2 Cor.1:20,21; Heb. 6:12)

Just how dependent am I upon the Holy Spirit and prayer as it relates to my life and ministry

? "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." (Gal 5:25; Acts 6:4b) (See Acts 1:8; Rom 8:5-14)

How involved am I in getting the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the nations of the world

? "Jesussaid, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt. 28:18-20) (See Mk. 16:15; Lk. 14:21-23; 24:47; Jn. 15:16; 20:21; Act. 1:8)

Am I developing spiritual generations of laborers who are living out Christ among the lost

? "[Jesus] said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Matt. 9:37b) (See Jn. 4:34-38; I Thes. chapters 1,2; 2 Tim. 2:2)

How much value do I place on the worth, dignity and potential of all persons

? "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3:28) (See Rom. 10:12,13; Col. 3:11)

Am I developing authentic grace-based relationships that are rooted in love for one another

? "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Col. 3:12-14)

+Adapted from The Navigators National Leadership Team Assessment Guidance.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

WHEN THE FIG TREE IS BARREN

Yesterday, while on the 12th hole, my cell phone rang in my golf bag!

(How could anyone enjoy golf with the phone on?!). Sam wanted me to pray for his partner Bob, who was going in for open heart surgery.

A friend wrote recently that his wifes increasing blindness is something she is learning to accept: "Jeanie has made progress towards recovery from the emotional turbulenceAfter much prayer and reflective reading, God has clearly shown her that she does indeed still have many uses. I vehemently agree! However, she continues to work towards a full embracing of the losses she has sustained." I wept inside as I read those words. He continues, "…Ask that she surrender to Gods purposes, with a joyful spirit." Imagine her angst; her struggle to see God amidst a life-threatening debilitation.

This morning in my time with God, I read Habakkuk 3:17, 18,

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."

Contemplating its meaning, I penned in the margin of my Bible, "Do I have a threshold at which I cease to praise or trust God?" It seems that somewhere in my pilgrimage with God, I must determine that I am not His judge on how He chooses to conduct the affairs of His universe. (See Isa. 29:16; Jer. 18:6; Rom. 9:20, 21)

This morning I also mused over Psalm 115:1-3 in this regard,

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness": In the overall scheme of Gods economy our lives are not so much about us, but about His glory. Being the self-centered creatures we are, we find this almost incomprehensible. (vs. 1)

"Why do the nations say, Where is their God?": Derisive pagans, in observing the God of believers, point their accusing finger when He does not perform to their expectations. (vs. 2)

" Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.": God will not be contained or dictated to, as He reserves the right to operate in a manner of His own choosing. (vs. 3) (The good news is that God is good and cares deeply about our circumstances.)

Our task then, is to trust, wait, and not demand explanations, because in His time, we will know,

"At present we are men looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!"

(I Cor. 13:12 Phillips Translation) (See Rom. 8:18; 1 Cor. 13:9, 10; 2 Cor. 5:7; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 22:4)