BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for July, 2005

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

ARE YOU A SLAVE TO MONEY?

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

" (Matt. 6:24)

Perhaps the following questions will help clarify your answer:

Am I chronically anxious over money matters?

"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? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matt. 6:25b-27) (See Mk. 4:19; Lk. 12:25,29; 2 Tim. 2:4)

Do I see myself, rather than God as my provider?

"You may say to yourself, My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me. But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth" (Deut. 8:17,18a) (See Dan. 4:30; Isa. 45:7; Matt. 6:33; 2 Cor. 4:7)

Are my priorities as it relates to acquiring resources in balance with other responsibilities (God, family, etc)?

"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint." (Pro. 23:4) (See Jn. 6:27)

Am I chronically struggling with the issue of debt?

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the lawThe rich rule over the poor ,and the borrower is servant to the lenderThe wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously." (Rom. 13:8; Pro. 22:7; Psa. 37:21) (See Rom. 13:7)

Do I harbor a desire to be wealthy?

"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (I Tim. 6:9,10) (See Gen. 13:10-13; 2 Kin. 5:20-27; Pro. 28:20-22)

Am I sacrificing my integrity to get ahead?

"The merchant uses dishonest scales; he loves to defraud. Ephraim boasts, I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin." (Hos. 12:7,8) (See Lev.19:35,36; Pro. 11:1; Amos 8:5,6; Micah 6:10,11)

Am I personally self-indulgent, but miserly when it comes to helping others who are less fortunate than I?

"The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merryIf anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him." (Lk. 12:16b-19; I Jn. 3:17; Pro. 28:22) (See Psa. 112:9; Pro. 17:5; 22:9; Isa. 58:7; Jer. 22:16; Lk. 12:16-20)

Am I secretive and unaccountable in the area of finances?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

LESSONS FROM A NEGOTIATOR OF TERRORISTS ON HOW TO SHARE THE GOSPEL

Dominick Misino makes his living negotiating with terrorists

.+ Critical to his legendary success is his ability to communicate with and win the trust of extremely hostile people in highly pressurized situations. Surprisingly, his approach may have something to teach us about the art of winning a hearing for the Gospel. Consider these principles:

Be Willing to Risk Rejection

: I suspect that one of the main reasons we fail to share our faith with others is the fear of rejection. I am tremendously challenged by Peter and Johns courage to witness in the midst of severe hostility and danger, "Then [the authorities] called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Act. 4:18-20) May God grant us the same courage!

Be Comfortable With Who You Are

: Often people outside of Christ convey an air of smugness that can be intimidating. As I interact with the lost, I like to keep in mind the fact that I am a co-heir with Christ, chosen before the creation of the world. (Rom. 8:17; Eph. 1:4) If that doesnt give me poise, what will?

Be a Good Listener

: God Himself set the standard on quality listening, "I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy…" (Psa. 116:1,2a) Solomon cautioned, "He who answers before listening–that is his folly and his shame." (Pro. 18:13) And James reminds us, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." (Jms. 1:19) Mr. Mismo stresses the fact that good listeners strive to understand the meaning behind the words.

Be Polite:

In a repartee, you may in fact win the battle, but loose the war. Remember, "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." "Therefore, make the most of your chances to tell others the Good News. Be wise in all your contacts with [the lost]. Let your conversation with them be gracious as well as sensible, for then you will have the right answer for everyoneBe patient and you will finally win, for a soft tongue can break hard bones." (Col. 4:5,6 Living; Pro. 25:15)

Give Them Respect:

Notice the esteem the Apostle Paul afforded King Agrippa as he gave him his personal testimony: "Then Agrippa said to Paul, Go ahead. Tell us your story. So Paul, with many gestures, presented his defense: I am fortunate, King Agrippa, he began, to be able to present my answer before you, for I know you are an expert on Jewish laws and customs. Now please listen patiently! " (Act. 26:1b-3 Living)

Ask Them If They Want the Truth

: Inquire of them, "If I answered your questions to your satisfaction, would you choose to follow Jesus Christ?" If their answer is "no", you may consider dropping the discussion. Jesus instructed us not to "give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces" Paul and Barnabas walked out on those who rejected the truth, "The Jewstalked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles." (Matt. 7:6; Pro. 23:9; Act.13: 45b, 46)

+Key ideas extracted from "Negotiating Without a Net", Harvard Business Review, October 2002

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

PRUDENCE IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX

My wife Ruth and I had just completed a seminar at a lovely mountain resort.

God wonderfully met the attendees as together we explored life issues centered around the word of God and prayer. A few days later, after a restless night of sleep, Ruth told me that she had an uncomfortable feeling about one of the women at the retreat. During that time this lady had sought me out for counsel, and then asked if I could return at a later date to their town for further ministry. Ruth asked me if I would consider suspending any plans that involved further contact.

In a nanosecond I agreed. The reality is, this women is attractive. She also has a marginalized marriage and seems to be seeking affirmation from me. Now you tell me if that isnt an explosive formula for disaster!

This morning in my time in the Scriptures, I was impressed with, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or goldIn the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them. (Pro. 22:1,5) Talk about a word from God!

Just yesterday I learned of a high visibility Christian leader who had fallen into sexual sin. Only recently he had courageously and imaginatively brought other Christian leaders together in a bold thrust to influence their city for Christ. As I pondered my own encounter with this attractive woman, (with this leaders fall on my mind,) I asked myself these questions,

Am I harboring or fostering any emotional attraction toward anyone other than my spouse?

Do I choose to prudently communicate honestly with my spouse about this sensitive area of my life? Do we pray together over these issues?

Am I making myself accountable to a friend or a trusted group of friends for my actions?

In order to fortify myself against that inevitable day of temptation, am I consistently feeding my soul through personal time with God?

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful natureTherefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand

." (Gal. 5:16; Eph. 6:13)

QUESTION

: In a populace awash in its unbridled pursuit of sexual gratification, are you thoughtfully and prudently choosing to take the less traveled path of sexual purity? If not, are you prepared to live with the inevitable consequences, both here and in eternity?

"A mans temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires, which can be enormously attractive. His own desire takes hold of him, and that produces sin. And sin in the long run means death-make no mistake about thatDo not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenderswill inherit the kingdom of God

." (Jas. 1:14-16a Phillips Trans. I Cor. 6:9b,10b)

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

FIVE ESSENTIALS IN DEVELOPING INTIMACY WITH GOD

+

#1

Time Alone with God Amidst a busy schedule, Jesus carved out time alone with the Father. In fact, you never see Jesus spending time with the Father when it is convenient. "Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (Lk. 5:15,16 (Note Mk. 1:21-35)

John Ortberg observes, "Solitude requires relentless perseverance. I find that unless I pull my calendar out and write down well in advance the times when Im committed to times of solitude, it wont happen." ++

#2

Practical, Radical Honesty The more honest we are in our relationship with God, the deeper we will go with him. It is imperative that we bring our fears, concerns, pet sins, etc. to him. Job, in his intense affliction, was frank with God, "I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soulI despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaningWill you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant?If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?" (Job 7:11b,16, 19,20)

#3 Persistent Passion

God chooses to reveal himself to people who are serious about knowing him. Put another way, "God will manifest himself in direct proportion to our passion for him."+++ "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jer. 29:13) (See Deut. 4:29; 2 Chron. 25:2)

#4 Two Way Communication

"Authentic Christianity is not learning a set of doctrines and then stepping into cadence with people all marching the same way. It is a supernatural walk with a living, dynamic God. Thus the heart and soul of the Christian life is learning to hear Gods voice and developing the courage to do what he tells us what to do."++++

Observe Isaiah, who perceived and responded to God, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, Here am I. Send me! He said, Go and tell this people" (Isa. 6:8,9)

#5 Absolute Surrender

Intimacy comes when we surrender on the point he is currently working on with us. "We shall all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus on the point He has asked us to yield to HimTo get there is a question of will, not of debate nor of reasoning, but a surrender of the will, an absolute and irrevocable surrender on that pointObey God in the thing he shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. God will never reveal more truth about himself until you have obeyed what you already know." (Oswald Chambers)

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

(Jn. 14:21)

+ Seeds thoughts taken from a sermon by Pastor Mike Yearley, North Coast Church, Oceanside, CA, USA;++ "The Life Youve Always Wanted" John Ortberg; +++ "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire" Jim Cymbala; ++++ "Too Busy Not To Pray" Bill Hybels