BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for January, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

ISOLATION OR ACCOUNTABILITY? WHICH WILL IT BE?

Isolation is one of Satans strategies in destroying men; a strategy that parallels a predatory mountain lion who seeks out, isolates, and annihilates a member of the herd. (See 1 Pet. 5:8). In junior high, three of us ran around together and knew each other from the inside out. Few of us in adulthood experience that level of camaraderie. As we move through life, we become comfortable with where we are, as we nibble and imbibe on worldly pleasures and distractions that deaden the soul, and obscure the larger vision God has for our lives. Incrementally we seem to loose our passion for God, His purposes, and His glory as we rationalize our deteriorating condition in order to feel good about ourselves.  Thus, the last thing we want is for another person to see into the dry rot that has seeped into our soul.

If this is our situation, what we desperately need is renewal, which begins in repentance and continues in obedience, strengthened by accountability.+  Accountability is being willing to be called to account.  It is being willing to risk opening our lives to be answerable to another person(s) for our attitudes and actions. Realize it or not, you and I desperately need a spiritually wise person near us who can see into our soul as to whether we are playing games or living authentically before God. We desperately need people who are willing to lovingly, but firmly call us to account. For several years now a dozen business and professional men and I have been meeting for Bible study, and sharing our lives. Because a deep sense of love and trust has developed among us we have become transparent and accountable to each other. To the man, we relish our times together!

Accountability is a biblical concept:

  • Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.  (Pro. 27:17)
  • Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.  (Pro.. 13:10)
  • He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.  (Pro. 13:18)
  • As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.  (Pro. 27:17)
  • Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  (Ecc. 4:9-12)

Tom Eisenman, in his book, The Accountable Man suggests accountability questions to ask each other as it relates to our relationship with God:+

  1. When did you take time to worship God this week?
  2. How much prayer time did you find this week, and was it quality time with God?  Describe your prayer life this week to your partner(s). 
  3. Did you find adequate time to do devotional and reflective reading this week?  In Scripture? In other sources?
  4. How did you and your spouse meet with God together this week?
  5. What did you thank God for this week?
  6. What has been a struggle area for you in your devotional life this week?
  7. What do you see as the number-one need to address in the coming weeks in your relationship with the Lord?
  8. Do you feel you have accomplished your spiritual aims for the week?
  9. In what ways did you feel God was blessing you this week?  What disappointment (if any) consumed your thoughts this week?

QUESTION:  If you are choosing isolation over accountability, what does that reveal about who you are at the core?

 

+ The Accountable Man, InterVarsity Press, Dowers Grove, IL, Pages 139, 140

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MEN WITH WOUNDED HEARTS

Chad is in his mid 50s. Brilliant, gifted, but in a so-so job, compared to his God-given talent. Somewhere along the way, he probably pulled the string on his own success.  His dad is on his 3rd or 4th marriage;  lives an hour away but never visits Chad, or the family.  Grand parenting isnt in his grid.  In fact Chads dad was never there for him. You can see through the hesitation in his eyes that he is wounded. The product of a kid who never got atta boys from his ole man.

Then there is Dan. His dad built an empire. A big fish in a small town.  Powerful, eminently successful. A bulldozer of a guy. Chased skirts and ran rough shod over his wife and kids.  Crushed their spirits. Dan went on to the best schools and got the advanced, prestigious degrees and achieved brilliantly in business. But he has spent his adult life trying to live up to his fathers expectations. He always seems to have 20% 30% more on his plate than he can possibly achieve. I get the sense that he feels he is mediocre. When I look into his eyes I see anxiety and fatigue.  Dan is absolutely sterling in his walk with Christ.  But wounded.

At 15 John showed up at home after school with straight As.  His ole man, soused in booze, told him that he could care less what he achieved or didnt achieve.  With that, he tossed the report card into the trash, and muttered To hell with it, and then proceeded to descend into mediocrity. Years later his own son disappeared into a life of sex and drugs. Deeply wounded again, John was immobilized emotionally for a decade as he agonized over his sons ruin.  Slowly, he was able to receive Christs healing, in part at least by facing his own deep seated woundedness that he had stuffed and denied. In recent years he has achieved brilliantly in his profession.  And, along with his wife is experiencing fruitfulness an intimacy with Christ, beyond anything he could have imagined a few years ago.

I could mention Craig, Gordon, Hal and a score of other wounded men.

In my 20s some wonderful mature men in Christ taught me the basics of walking with God. Indeed it was a magnificent time of spiritual growth.  But, without realizing it, I too had stuffed and denied my fathers abusive treatment. Actually, I was embarrassed by it, viewing it as an annoying distraction. One of these men in my life, gently led me back into my past and helped me unearth those crushing wounds, and gain a mature perspective on what  actually happened and why. He assisted me in coming to a place where I was able to receive Christs healing touch, and forgive my father. And yes, begin honoring, rather than tolerating him.  And guess what? Deliverance.

What about you? Christ not only has forgiven you but also desires to heal you.  That is, to bind up your wounds and fully restore you.  Consider this:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  (Psa. 23:1-3) (See Psa. 19:7; 51:12)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  (Psa. 147:3)  (See Job 5:17,18; Isa. 61:1; Hos. 6:1,2)

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. (Jer. 17:14) (See Deut. 32:39; Psa. 103:2-5; Isa 58:18; ; Lk. 9:11; Heb. 4:15, 16)

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. (Mal. 4:2)  (See Psa. 103:3; 147:3; Isa. 53:5; 57:18; Hos. 6:1; 14:4)

To gain freedom from our woundedness, it seems to me that we need, with Christs help, and perhaps with the help of a friend, to go back and revisit the experiences that injured us, and to ask for His insight and His healing. We then need to forgive the offender, and thank God for His sovereignty in having allowed the situation to have occurred. If a parent was the offender, we then need to choose to obey the Fifth Commandment to honor him or her.

QUESTION:  It is the Enemys intention that you and I limp our way through life wounded. Christ, the Divine Healer however, offers us restoration, deliverance, and freedom.  He is waiting with outstretched arms, inviting us to take that first step. If you carry a deep seated wound from the past, are you ready and willing to respond now to Christs healing and restoration? 

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

FIVE GUIDELINES THAT WILL ENHANCE THE PROBABILITY OF ENDING WELL:+

A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.  (Pro. 22:3)

#1 Need does not determine the will of God: A persons need does not necessarily translate into your obligation to help them. It is through prayer that we determine Gods will. The report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.  (Lk. 5:15b, 16 – NLT) We need to pray, Lord, what would you have me to do.  Because we tend to be compulsive and perhaps a bit insecure, we feel the need to do something; the need to get involved.

#2 Be very selective who co-signs your emotional checking account: The fact is that we simply do not have unlimited emotional resources.  Thus, the ability to say no is a life and death issue.  Scores of laborers are lost because of burnout and emotional exhaustion.  After the resurrection, Jesus dialogued for a short time with two of the disciples. It interesting that he did not feel the need to continue to engage with them.  But at their request he spent the night:  By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus would have gone on, but they begged him to stay the night with them, since it was getting late. So he went home with them. (Lk. 24:28, 29). Christs balanced approach to the ministry is demonstrated in the fact that he loved the world, preached to thousands, but discipled the twelve. In similar fashion, Paul felt no obligation to solve every need before him:  But if anyone still disagrees–well, we will leave him in his ignorance.  (I Cor. 14:38 – NLT) Yet he was willing to give himself without reservation to responsive hearts:  I will gladly spend myself and all I have for your spiritual good…  (2 Cor. 12:15a NLT)

#3 Always operate with margin: Never in a rush, Jesus walked everywhere he went.  So, we, in similar fashion do not need to go through life in passing gear. Passing gear is for passing. Lets learn to slow down and to breath deeply.  After all, we are crafted to be human beings, not human doings. Someone has suggested that the cell phone is an electronic leach. More electronic gadgets does not necessarily make a sane life. Elijah killed 450 prophets, climbed Mt. Carmel, prayed and received rain; then fearfully fled Jezebel, running about 105 miles from Mt. Carmel to Beersheba in Judah. He then took a days journey into the desert. Exhausted, he became suicidal. (I Kin. 18:16-19:5) One of his problems was lack of margin. Christ, by way of contrast, built margin into his life: Then Jesus said, Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest. There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. (Mk. 6:31 NLT)

#4 Whom you associate with is as important as what you believe:  Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm. (Pro. 13:20) Your best friend is your spouse. Both husbands and wives need one or several close friends other than their spouse, who can meet needs in a friendship that a spouse simply cannot supply.  It is axiomatic that we also need to seek out relationships with godly mentors. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. (I Cor. 4:15 Msg)

#5  The longer you live, the more you need time with God and your spouse:  When you were young, you needed a little pup tent, so to speak, for your small, emerging family. When you are old, you will probably need a circus-sized tent to accommodate your extended family (children, grandchildren, etc).  You have no control over the size of your tent, but you can control the depth of the stakes. The larger the tent, the deeper the stakes need to be. "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. (Isa. 54:2 NKJ)

QUESTION:  Are you prudently building guidelines into your life and ministry?

  

+ Adapted from a message given by Skip Gray, January 21, 2005 at Glen Eyrie, Navigator Headquarters, Colorado Springs, Co

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

EIGHT QUESTION TO ASK IN RESOLVING ETHICAL QUESTIONS:+

1.   Would Jesus do this? Would Jesus question it?

Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did (I Jn. 2:6) (See Jn. 13:15; Eph. 5:2; I Pet. 2:21)

2.  Does it violate clear biblical teaching about right and wrong?

Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.  (Hos.14:9) (See Exo. 15:26; Judg. 17:6; Ezek. 18:5; Jms. 4:17) 

3.  Does it go against basic Christian teaching and tradition?

Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."  (Matt. 22:37 40)  (See 1 Jn. 5:2,3) 

4.  Does it violate your (or anothers) conscience

We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have been honest and sincere in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own earthly wisdom. That is how we have acted toward everyone, and especially toward you. (2 Cor. 1:12)  (See Job 23:10-12; 31:4-8; Isa. 38:3; Rom. 9:1; 1 Tim. 1:5)

5.  Would you like this done to you or your loved oneDo to others as you would have them do to you. (Lk. 6:31) (See Matt. 22:39; Gal. 5:14; Jms. 2:8-16)

6.  Could someone be seriously harmed?

7.  Would this practice continue if it were publicized

Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (Jn. 3:19) (See Lk. 3:19,20; Eph. 5:11; 1 Tim. 5:20)

8.  Is it illegal?

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (Rom. 13:1) (See Deut. 17:12; Tit. 3:1; 1 Pet 2:13-17)

CONCLUSION:  In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.  (Jms. 4:17)

  

+ Adapted from Doing it Right by David W. Gill, page 28, Inter-Varsity Press, 2004