BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for June, 2005

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

COURAGEOUS MANHOODA BREED FACING EXTINCTION?

Alexandra Solzhenitsyn stated, "A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today

and the decline in courage, at times attaining what could be termed a lack of manhoodA statesman who wants to achieve something important and highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly; thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics cling to him at all times; he is constantly rebuffed by parliament and the press. He has to prove that his every step is well-founded and absolutely flawlessThus mediocrity triumphs under the guise of democratic restraints"+

Contrast Solzhenitsyns comments with the accomplishment of Johnny Unitas, quarterback of the Baltimore Colts,

"Unitas was famous as a quarterback who ran the team exactly as he saw fit. The field general demonstrated his command of tactics in whats called the greatest football game ever played, the 1958 National Football League championship match. Heres how the game went [January 5, 1959]:

"Baltimores Colts trailed the New York Giants 17-14. Johnny Unitas, Baltimore quarterback, glanced quickly at the clock. In the next 2 minutes, 30 seconds he had to move the Colts from their own 20-yard line into field-goal range, tie the score and force the first sudden-death playoff in a National League championship game. Unitas had to do the job against the toughest defense in Pro Football. Unitas went to work. Throwing hook passes to the side lines that got just enough for vital first downs, he drove the Colts to the Giants 13. There, with a precious 9 seconds left, Steve Myrha booted the tying field goal. Once the Colts got the ball in overtime, Unitas put the game away. He waited until the last second in the face of Giant tackling, hit his receivers with bullet passes, sent fullback Alan Ameche the final yard for a hair-raising 23-17 victory and the Colts first N. F. L. title."

++

The Scriptures are replete with men of unbridled courage. For example:

Eleazer

"stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword." (2 Sam. 23:10a)

Josheb Basshebet

"used his spear against 800 men whom he killed in one encounter." (2 Sam. 23:8)

St. Paul: "I know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace." (Act. 20:23b,24) (See Num. 13:30; 14:6-12)

Robert J. McCracken stated, "The world is not perishing for want of clever or talented or well-meaning men. It is perishing for the want of men of courage and resolution who, in devotion to the cause of right and truth, can rise above personal feeling and private ambition."

QUESTION

: With Gods help are you choosing to be such a man or woman of courage? (See Ezek. 22:30)

+

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, imprisoned and later exiled by the Soviet government, came to the United States in 1976 and delivered this commencement address at Harvard University on June 8, 1978

++Time Magazine, October 14, 2002

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

EVER WONDER WHY THE WORLD DOES NOT TAKE “CHRISTIANITY” SERIOUSLY?

An article+ featuring Bill Eagleton++ stated he was worth more than $1 billion

. "Now the company he has founded is in shambles, his debts far exceed his once unfathomable assets, and hes all but bankrupt. But whether hes teaching Sunday school, drinking beer at his favorite nightspots or calling former colleagues, those whove talked with the former Worldweb++ CEO in the past few weeks say one thing resonates: He acts like nothing has happened

"Eagleton is clearly buoyed by his religious faith (hes a born-again Christian)When hes out sociallyhe talks about how an ill bartender is, whats new in others business, his church and tennisOn Sundays, Eagleton is at Westwood Baptist Church,++ where he teaches Sunday school for an hourAnd every week or two, he and his wife visit Tisons,++ usually for lobster and drinksJohn Caldwell++, a minister at Eagletons church, says members want to give him the benefit of the doubt.

"Eagleton appears to be a devout Baptist[stating]I am a child of the King, and the King is still King Jesus, and I am absolutely content and happy. Still, he flouts some of the basic tenants of the religion, which, Caldwell says, opposes divorce, infidelity and drinking. At Worldweb, Eagleton was known to stay up drinking with colleagues until the wee hours of the morning, even before board meetings, which he always opened with a prayer

"Eagleton and his wife of about 30 years, Jane++, divorced about five years ago. He openly courted Cathy++ a former top Worldweb sales associate while the two were married to othersYet he teaches a Sunday school class for young couples interested in learning about the gospel and how it relates to marriage.

"It is so inappropriate the way he wears his Christian banner, says Johnson++ real estate agent George Long++the people down here refuse to accept the hypocrisy.

"If any of his apparent incongruities are bothering him, Eagleton isnt showing it."

So tell me, fellow believer, are you clean as a whistle toward those outside of Christ?

Above reproach? That is exactly the standard God holds you and me to: "So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." (Phil. 2:15) (See Eph. 1:4; 5:27; Phil. 1:10; I Thess. 3:13; 5:23; 2 Pet. 3:14)

The consequences of failing in the standard?

"Jesus said to his disciples: Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin." (Lk. 17:1,2)

As to Eagletons caviler approach to the Christian lifeespecially as a teacher

: "Be careful that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weakNot many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (I Cor. 8:9; Jms. 3:1)

+ USA Today, September 19, 2002

++Name changed

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

ARE YOU REAL? LESSONS FROM THE NURSERY

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others.

He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out-handle?"

"Real isnt how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "Its a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are REAL you dont mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesnt happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You have to become. It takes a long time. Thats why it doesnt often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things dont matter at all, because once you are Real you cant be ugly, except to people who dont understand."

+

The Apostle Paul reminded us, "Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him." (I Cor. 13:4-7 – Living)

C. S. Lewis comments: "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no oneWrap it up carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will change, it will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."++

QUESTION:

Are you Real? Or Un-Real

+The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams

++ The Four Loves C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE

Living the Christian life is impossible

. By you, that is.

An old friend whom I had not seen in years called the other day and asked if we could have lunch together. During the course of the conversation, I was struck with how tightly wound he was, as he related the stress in his work and home life. Finally, I commented, "Norm, do you ever get tired pushing the peanut up the mountain with your nose?" "How about a watermelon?" came his response. I am convinced that Norm is a believer in Christ but has yet to discover the peace and rest available to him by allowing the very life of Jesus to live through him.

The vine-branch union that Jesus spoke of in John 15 illustrates the effortless aspect of the abiding life. Christ is the vine and we are the branches. The branches are not called upon to struggle, strive, or worry in their effort to bear fruit. Rather, they are simply called upon to live connected to the vine, "Remain (live) in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (Jn. 15:4,5)

Recently I flew from Los Angeles to Phoenix. Actually, the plane did the flying. As a passenger I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. Similarly, Christ is available to empower and live his life through us, his willing vessels.

When we live in union with Christ, pruning, cleansing, and fruit bearing naturally happen, "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." Jn. 15:2,3)

To thrive and grow, a branch requires a particular environment

: Water, sunshine, pruning, fertilizer, etc. In similar fashion, as Christs followers, we need certain essentials to bear fruit:

Uncompromising obedience to Gods word. This will only be accomplished by prayerful meditation on the Scriptures, with a view toward application, "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." (Josh. 1:8)

The fellowship, stimulation and encouragement of fellow believers, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb. 10:24,25)

A life of selfless service to Jesus Christ, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. (Lk. 9:23,24)

Let us determine from this moment forward to cease striving and allow the very life of Jesus to flow through us. Attempting to live the Christian on our own strength is an exercise in futility that is doomed to frustration and failure.