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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for May, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

IS IT REALLY POSSIBLE TO DAILY EXPERIENCE QUIET INNER REST?

Do you and I really believe God can be trusted? That He will show up in times of crisis?  Or in the small details of our daily lives? Can we really live free of anxiety? Can we experience a quiet inner rest when the circumstances surrounding us seem to dictate otherwise?

The answer is a resounding yes! I say this both from personal experience and from the promises in Gods word:  "I am leaving you with a giftpeace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.  (Jn. 14:27 NLT) (See Jn. 16:33; Rom. 5:1; 8:6; 15:13; Phil. 4:6,7)

The problem if we are indeed anxious and stressed out, lies not with God but with us. By our refusal to give Him regular, sustained, unrushed access to our lives; by our allowing lifes incessant pace, seductions and demands to dictate our priorities, God gets the crumbs, time wise, focus wise, intimacy wise.  Inner peace and rest are the products of consistent periods of unrushed solitude alone with God, pondering His truths coupled with worship, reflection, and application. I am not talking here about dutifully racing through 5 chapters of the Bible a day in order to click off a chart.

This morning I pondered the life of Daniel and his unwavering resolve to obey God rather than the King. I mulled over his subsequent rescue from the lions den, etc.  And in so doing, I found deep comfort from his courage, and from Gods faithfulness toward him. (Daniel 1,6) I then mulled over Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus called the fishermen and demonstrated His sovereignty by overloading them with a cache of fish.  Like dye penetrating deep into a fabric, the profound idea that God is there, meets us at our point of need; that he can indeed be trusted whatever the circumstances, was driven deep into my heart.  I closed the book, turned out the light (still dark outside) and worshipped Him. How could I not rest and trust in Him? And then get busy about His work? (From now on you will catch men. Vs. 10)

Consider carefully 2 Chronicles 16:9: The eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are perfect (Literally: blameless, at peace, whole) toward him, so that he can show his great power in helping them  (Living)

Only times alone with God as evidenced by the fact that he has first priority in my daily schedule will allow me to sustain a blameless heart and thus experience his great power in helping me.  [God] will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concernYou will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  (Matt. 6:33 NLT; Jer. 29:13)

Just how badly do you want His peace and presence in your life?  How badly do you want his great power in helping you?  It will not come cheaply. The price is focused, disciplined priorities, time wise. Discipline in purposely shutting out the noise and clutter around us as we elect for quiet times alone with God. There is no other way. There is no short cutif I am to be free of anxiety and experience inner peace.  But you have to come to a point ofI am hesitating here to use the D word: Desperation.

Consider this: "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with mewatch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly."  (Matt. 11:28-30 Msg)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

PI IN THE SKY – ONE WAY TO CHALLENGE YOUR EVOLUTIONIST FRIENDS: 1

Ask them, Have you ever seen a circle?  They respond that they haveYou mean youve seen a set of points of no dimension, equidistant from a given point, on a plane of infinitesimal thinness? Well, no, not when it is put that way, theyve never seen one of those. 

So youve never seen a circle?

Um, no, I guess not.

In fact, you could never see a circle, because circles are not material objects.

I guess not.

But you know things about circles.

How can I know things about circles, if Ive never see one?

  Good question. But you do: You know that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter is a number called pi.

  Yes, 3.14.

Well, actually the number is the limit of any of infinite series.  But would you say that pi exists, and that people discovered what it was, or that pi didnt exist until someone invented it, and that, if there were not human beings, there would be no such thing as pi?  Be careful: pi shows up in equations dealing with electrical current, number theory, the probabilities of coin tosses, you name it.  Was pi discovered, or was it only invented?

At this point they are trapped. They will say what any mathematician without a philosophical ax to grind will say. They will say what Archimedes said when he discovered the law of displacement of fluid.  They say that pi was discovered.

Then pi exists?

Yes."

But pi is not material.

No.

Then at least one immaterial object exists, namely pi.

Yes.

How can an immaterial object evolve?

The fool says in his heart, There is no God." (Psa. 14:1a)

In the beginning God (Gen. 1:1a) (See Job 38:4-11; Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-18) 

1 Adapted from Pi in the Sky, Anthony Esolen, Touchstone Magazine, July/August, 2004, page 28

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

WHY ON EARTH ARE WE HERE?

If you could use some clarification as to your mission in life, you may want to carefully ponder the following: 1

I Gods Mandate: In Genesis 12:1-3 God informs Abraham that through his seed, all the nations of the earth will be blessed: The Lord had said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Further, it is through belief in Christ, who is the seed of Abraham, that we are the recipients of that promise and blessing: The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say and to seeds, meaning many people, but and to your seed, meaning one person, who is ChristIf you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (Gal. 3:16, 29)

From all eternity, God has already determined that the promise to Abraham will be fulfilled: "You [Jesus] are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain,  and with your blood you purchased men for God  from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."  (Rev. 5:9, 10)

In summary, from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation God accomplishes his a plan to bring his creation into his Kingdom.

II Christs Method: The Deitys method in realizing His will has always been through men:  "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John… Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men." (Ez. 22:30; Jn. 1:6; Matt. 4:19)

Thus, Jesus, in fulfilling the Fathers Mandate to bless all the nations of the world, recruited and developed a band of men: He appointed twelve–designating them apostles–that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach. (Mk. 3:14) (See Lk. 6:12, 13) His prayer the night before the cross reveals the fact that he saw the reaching of the world through them: I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yoursMy prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.  (Jn. 17:9 ,20)

III Our Mission: God has given us the privilege and responsibility of participating with Him in the accomplishment of His Mandate.  Then Jesus came to them and said, 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 ageGodgave us the ministry of reconciliationAnd he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Cor. 5:18-20)

God motivates us to participate in the fulfillment of his Mandate by (1) Fear of accountability, and (2) His compelling love: So we make it our goal to please him.For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade menFor Christ’s love compels us…that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them.  (2 Cor. 5:10- 15 – selected)

QUESTION: Are you clearly focused on the fact that whether you are a banker or homemaker, it is Gods intention that you, as his follower, participate with him in this grand enterprise of reaching the lost and discipling the saved?  The very quality of your eternal reward hinges on how you respond to fulfilling his Mandate. (For further study on rewards:  Matt. 5:12, 46; 6:1; 10:41, 42; 9:41; Lk. 19:17; Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:8-15; 9:16-27; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:7, 8)

1 Some of the key ideas in this article are derived from Dr. John R. W. Stott, The Bible in World Evangelization Perspectives Pages 3-9, William Carey Library, Pasadena, CA 1981

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

ON RESTORING A FALLEN BROTHER

An old friend of 25 years is in trouble.  Basically, he cooked the books of his company to keep it from going under. The parent company finally figured it out after several years and now is closing him down. Hell loose it all: His house, business, and his good standing in the community. (Disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.  Psa. 25:3b) This is a guy who came out of a dysfunctional, abusive family, and met Christ in his 20s when he was well on his way to becoming an alcoholic. He took over the family business, raised a family, and at age 50+ hit the wall.  Yesterday we met. Together we wept.  He then asked if I could help him restore his walk with God.  Here is my letter to Sam:

Dear Sam, A guy named George Tilton once said, Success is never final. Failure is seldom fatal. It is courage that counts. I thought that was pretty good.

Sam, thank you for coming over yesterday and sharing honestly from your heart. This is, and will continue for some time to be a bone-crushing period for you, your family, and your friends. Probably worse than death. I am truly sorry that this has happened. As you go through this difficult time, you may want to hold on to Isaiah 43:2:  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Sam, once you are restored with the Lord, you can look forward to years of sweet intimacy with Christ and a fruitful life and  ministry. But there is some building (re-building?) that needs to transpire first. I am reminded of Hebrews 12 Worth pondering afresh:  As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own childrenSince we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live forever?…No discipline is enjoyable while it is happeningit is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet  (Verses 7 12 selected NLT)

No doubt you are also familiar with Galatians 6:1:  Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.  The word restore here means repair and adjust, like the breaking and re-setting of a bone.  It seems to me Sam that there are a number of areas of rebuilding, repairing, and restoration that you and I, with the Lords help, will want to work on together.  For example:

  • Genuinely repenting of sins committed, and receiving Christs unconditional love and forgiveness. (Jn. 8:10,11; 2 Cor. 7:10) 
  • Doing what it takes to rebuild relationships with those you may have offended. (Matt. 5:23, 24 Lk. 19:1-10; Act. 24:16)
  • Getting help on understanding the unhealthy, even destructive dynamics within your family while you were growing up.  You and I may want to walk back through your childhood, accompanied by the Lord Jesus, asking him for insights, healing and forgiveness. 
  • Forgiving your parents for their numerous failings in parenting.  Thanking God for sovereignly assigning you your parents, imperfect as they were, and understanding from the Scriptures that neither you nor I have any rights: To wonderful parents, to a Pollyanna childhood, etc. Coming to a point of honoring them.  (Matt. 21-35; Psa 33:11; Lk. 14:33; Ex. 20:12)
  • Researching the Scriptures in areas where you have been hurt, such as your sense of self-worth, deep-seated fears, etc.  It is important for you to know the truth of Gods word rather than believing the lies you were fed, starting in childhood.  It is imperative that you allow the word, through the power of the Holy Spirit to rebuild your world view from the ground up.  (Rom. 12:2; Matt. 7:24-27)
  • Getting back into consistent time alone with God and his word, thus developing a renewed sense of intimacy with him as evidenced by uncompromising obedience and integrity.  (Psa. 119:9-11; Jn. 15:5)

If, after a few days you still feel that we should work on this rebuilding process together, give me a ring.  Well begin the journeyone step at a time.  Together. Your brother and friend for life. Dwight Hill.

Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises againTwo are better than onebecauseif one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  (Prov. 24:16; Ecc. 4:9, 10 – Selected)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

THE McDONALDIZATION OF OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES (Part 3 of 3)

THE McDONALDIZATION OF OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES (Part 3 of 3)

In the last two issues of the Facts we have talked about how the McDonalds Company has incorporated three values into the production and marketing of their products; values that increasingly dominate sections of American society, including our spiritual lives:  They are efficiency, calculability, and control. 1

Control: To insure the quality of their hamburgers, McDonalds carefully controls the feeding and slaughtering of the cattle, the processing of the beef, and the cooking and presentation of the hamburger. In many areas of our lives we also seek to control the outcome:  Our budget, our weight, our investments, our future, etc.  Thus, it is easy for us to live with the illusion that we are in fact in control of our lives.  But are we? Did you, for example choose your:

Parents?

Date of birth?

Intelligence?

Athletic ability?

Country of birth?

Giftedness ?

Temperament?

Are you really in control when you drive your car, fly in an airplane, or take medicine?  Tomorrow you could be killed by a drunk driver, the plane you are riding in could crash, or the pharmacist could make a fatal mistake in filling your prescription.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.  (Prov. 16:9)

If you are in business, the control of expenditures, production, image, timing, standards of performance, etc. is essential to the success of the company. Yet when it comes to our spiritual lives, Jesus calls us to relinquish control:  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in himI urge you… to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…. (Psa. 37:5a; Rom. 12:1a)

I doubt that there is a greater struggle that you and I face in our walk with Christ than that of relinquishing control of our lives:  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other (Gal. 5:17a)  But why? I suspect that for many of us there lingers deep within us the unspoken fear that if we really give God total control of our lives he will mess it up.  We no longer will be able to have any fun. Or hell demand that we do something that we simply dont want to do, like go to Tibet as a missionary.  The irony is that when we choose to retain control, God grants us our request by releasing us to our own self-destructive impulses:  God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurityshameful lusts, [and] to a depraved mindThe evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28 selected (Prov. 522).  (See Jn. 8:34; Rom. 6:12-16, 19; 7:14, 25; Tit. 3:3)

Christ, on the other hand seeks to liberate us from ourselves and our sin into his wonderful freedom: If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  (Jn. 8:36) (See Jn. 8:31,32)

After walking with Christ for over 50 years I have learned that God truly gives the best to those who leave the choice with him.  It is his intention that we live lives that are rich in purpose, significance, relationships, and experience.  But we must trust him by allowing him to plot the course on his terms: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeedFor I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Prov. 3:5,6; 16:3, ; Jer. 29:11 NLT)

QUESTION: Are you relinquishing control of your life to Him on a daily basis.  How about on a moment-by-moment basis?  If not, what is holding you back?

1 Alister E. McGrath, The Future of Christianity, Pages 52,53, Malden, Mass., Blackwell Press, 2002