BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for April, 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

WHY MEN ARE JOLTED BY A SENSUAL WOMAN

Ever wonder why you jump out of your skin when a sensually attractive woman breezes past you? There is a little thing called the automatic nervous system, or ANS.1  Our bodys sexual response is activated by ANS which is  controlled not by the will, but by the environment.  Thus, your initial sexual response is involuntary.  The visual stimulation in particular tells the brain that it is time to get sexually aroused. The brain then sends chemicals through the body. As men, we know what happens next:  Our pulse rate increases, our body temperature often rises, and blood begins to pump rapidly through our body. The arousal process is activated like a herd of stampeding buffaloes.  And the force can be overpowering. 

Once your sexual appetite is aroused, it screams to be satisfied.  Attempting to alter the natural biological urges can be excruciating.  Thats because every impulse in you cries out for satisfaction.  Yet those stampeding buffaloes inside of you do not absolve you from taking control of that arousal and responding in a godly fashion. You must choose how you are going to respond to that seductive skirt that just sauntered by.

ConsiderThe temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.  There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new lifeIf by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.  (Jms. 1:14, 15; Rom. 8:13b Msg)

So, just how do I deal in a godly fashion with a seductive woman and the raging buffaloes?

  I need to know and intelligently appropriate what Gods word says about sex, temptation and victory: Personally, I have memorized most of the verses in the Bible on the subject of sex.  You and I need to arm ourselves for this warfare because our very survival depends on it. I need to master and claim the biblical passages dealing with temptation, and the promise of victory.  A good place to start is with a careful analysis of the passages in Proverbs 5 and 7 that address the issue of the loose woman.  Also examine Matt. 5:27-30; Eph. 5:1-7; Eph. 6:10-18; Col. 3:5; 1 Thes. 4:3-8; 2 Tim. 2:22)

  I need to understand the importance of the Spirits empowerment:  Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  (Gal. 5:16) I need to get with Christ and get my heart full of Him before entering the war zone of sensuality that is persuasive everywhere I turn.  I suggest that you carefully analyze Romans 8:1-4,12; Galatians 5:25; 6:7, 8; 1 Peter 1:22, and Jude 1:19. Also consider doing an in depth study of Romans 6 8.

  As a man, I must determine to avoid like the plague the places that sexually assault my senses: Trash on the internet and media; places that pander to my lower nature, etc. (See Psa. 101:3; Pro. 4:14,15; 2 Tim. 2:22)

  If I am married, I need to explain to my wife how men are wired sexually:  Many women have little knowledge of the differences between the sexes in terms of sexual stimulation and drive.  I need to explain to my wife that a mans sexual drive must be met. At home. If there is a difference in sexual drive between you and your wife and in most couples there is an agreement steeped in sensitivity and compassion needs to be worked out that meets both partys needs: The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband also gives authority over his body to his wife. So do not deprive each other of sexual relations.  (I Cor. 7:3-5a NLT)

  I need to be accountable to an individual or to a band of brothers:  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. 4:9-13) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  (Jms. 5:16)

  If I fail, I need to get up and start again: Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. (Pro. 24:16) (See Psa. 37:24; 2 Cor. 1:8-10; 2 Cor. 4:8-11) 

1  Key idea drawn from, Secret Keeper, by Danna Gresh, Moody Press, Chicago, pages 33-35

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

VICTORY IN THE WAR ZONE

Once again, as a business or professional person, you will enter the war zone, commonly known as the market place. A place where righteousness and evil compete for supremacy.  You will face people who envy you, and hate what you represent as a follower of Christ. Some will attempt to exploit you. The other day, as an example, I received the following letter from a buddy of mine who is in business: Dwight, a couple of years ago we sold our company and followed legally prescribed protocol as it related to the sale transaction.  Today, I am being summoned to court to respond to a lawsuit initiated by the purchaser that is contrived and exploitative. A  lot of money and time is going in to proving our innocence.  This situation has caused my family and me a great deal of anguishPlease pray for us.

Because you are entering the war zone, you will need to know that God is with you.  You will need His spiritual armor, not just to survive, but to win the victory over the evil one. (Eph. 6:10-18) Before entering the war zone, how about prayerfully walking your way through the following passages.  Claim and believe them as you arm yourself for the battle(s) ahead:

The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield,  your very great reward." (Gen. 15:1)

In I Samuel 14, Jonathan, King Sauls son taunts the enemy, believing God will win the victory on his behalf: "Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by fewAll those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands." (I Sam. 14:6; 47 Selected)

King David, who for many years of his life was at war with evil wrote, The Lord is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.  Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.   (Psa. 27:1-3)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea  (Ps. 46:1,2)

In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me? (Psa. 56:4)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.   (Psa. 84:11)

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me?  Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up. (Psa. 50:7-9)

No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me, declares the Lord.  (Isa. 54:17)

QUESTION: Do you make it a regular practice to put on the whole armor of God before entering the war zone that is controlled by the enemy? Or do you blithely saunter into the marketplace, assuming that you have it covered? How you answer that question will spell the difference between the crushing of Bambi in King Kong Country, or one who is allowing the King of Kings to fight his battles for him.  It will spell the difference between living in frustration and continual defeat, or experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit, as He fights and wins your battles on your behalf.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

LONELY AT THE TOP

Recently I received the following letter from a senior executive.  Some of you will identify with him.  (The Scriptures are my addition.)

Dear Dwight,

A few months ago, you asked me to list the top 5 challenges I face as a senior executive in my company. Here are 4 of them:

Loneliness:  It really is quite lonely near the top (I can’t imagine what it’s like at the top). When I face complex problems (and they are always around), my peers tend to stay away. That is, they don’t want to get involved. My bosses also tend to stay away. That is, they don’t care about the problems; they only want them fixed. I could hardly find anyone who can sympathize with me.

[Helpful Scriptures: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Heb. 13:5)  At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. (2 Tim 4:16, 17)  (See Ps. 25:16 38:11; 88:18; 102:7; 142:4; Isa. 63: 5; John 16:32; 2 Thes. 4:9)]

Fear and anxiety:  With this kind of loneliness comes fear and anxiety. Having no one who is really on your side, in the midst of all the problems, is quite scary. 

[Helpful ScripturesSo do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  (Isa. 41:10) For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Tim. 1:7) (See Psa. 55:22; Philip 4:6,7; 1 Pet 5:7)]

Pride: I meet our chairman and CEO and other top executives regularly to discuss matters.  Being in the inner circle does inflate your ego. Also wherever I go within the group (there are about 70 companies in the group) I get the VIP treatment. It gives you a sense of power and prestige.

[Helpful ScripturesWhen pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  (Prov. 11:2) Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.  (Prov. 18:12)  "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word  (Isaiah 66:2b). Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.  (Jer. 45:5a) (See 1 Sam. 2:3; Prov 29:23; Matt. 23:12 James 4:6)]

Temptations: I have never made as much money as I am making now (and it is a lot of money).  Suddenly, many things become "cheap."  I can buy most anything I want, if I so desire.  With money and power comes the admiration from a lot of people, including female colleagues.

[Helpful ScripturesYou, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (I John 4:4) For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  (Heb. 2:17, 18) (See 1 Cor. 10:12, 13; James 1:12-15; I Peter 5:8, 9)]

I guess there is nothing new here. But I can tell you that they are very real and very tough challenges. They cannot be simply brushed aside. This is what the Lord has been teaching me to do: Consult with Him all the time. Read the Word regularly and pray often. And you simply would not believe how the Lord has come to my aid time and time again. He delivers. And His Word literally has a lot of insights into these problems. So Dwight, every time you remember me, please pray that I walk closely with Him; continually and consistently.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

THIS VEXING ISSUE OF MONEY

The issue of money has got to be one of the most troublesome areas of life.  When is enough, enough? How much do I save? Invest?  Give away? How do I stay (or get) out of debt? What is debt? What is the balance between prudence and generosity? How do I know whether I am being greedy or generous?  Lets be raw honest: Reading Matthew 6:19 34 leaves us unsettled. Can Christ be serious? He seems so relaxedalmost caviler about this money thing.  To be sure, Jesus clearly warned us that there is no compromise on this subject: "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) In this passage, it seems to me that Christ is addressing three areas of tension:

Hoarding verses generosity"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.(Matt. 6:19-22)

Imagine that tomorrow morning you learned that all your assets had been wiped out.  Period. What would your reaction be? Panic?  Anger? Worship? I suspect that your reaction would be a barometer as to whether you are stockpiling or generous as it relates to the resources God has given you to steward.  Upon learning of his losses, Job fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.  (Job 1:20b-22)

Coveting verses contentmentYour eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.  If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have. (Matt. 6:22, 23 Message)

I drive a ten year old Volvo with 113,000 miles on it. Im told it will give me excellent service easily through another 100,000 miles. Several of my friends are purchasing a particularly popular new model of car.  Hey, its gorgeous! In fact it glistens! Everything worksperfectly!  And its in style. How do I know when I am content and when I am coveting?  For example, how do I understand the balance between 1 Timothy 6:6 and 17: Godliness with contentment is great gainGodrichly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Sodo I pour my resources  into a new(er) car or delay, so that I can respond to some of the  needs that continually confront us, such as the one that recently came from a friend in a third world country: Our little preschool has about 25 children on the list.  There are still many children who are out-of-school.  Many parents cannot send them to a preschool.  We ask a donation of (U. S.) twenty eight cents  a day, or six dollars a month. No pay – no school

Worrying verses believing"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?…Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matt. 6:25-27,34 – Selected)

At some point I must settle the question as who truly is my provider?  God or me? Abraham had already settled that issue when God called him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.  Said he to the servants accompanying him to the mountain, We will worship and we ( Isaac and I) will come back.  (Gen. 22:5) As Isaac and Abraham approached the sight for the sacrifice, Isaac quizzed his father as to the sacrificial lamb. To which Abraham replied, God will provide the lamb. (Gen. 22:8)  Is it fixed at the core of your being that God will provide your needseven in the 11th hour, as he did with Abraham?  Or do you live with a chronic, subliminal gnaw in your gut that God might not come through for you?

Conclusion: Because God understands our earthbound nature, and our need for provision, He promises to meet our legitimate needs with this proviso, Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (vs. 33)  That is, He invites us to make Him our primary pursuit, as evidenced by holiness of heart and purity of life. When we do, He assures us that the necessary stuff of life will naturally follow.

QUESTION:  In your heart of hearts have you settled the issue that your primary purpose in life is the pursuit and knowledge of the Holy One?  Is knowing Him your consuming passion?  Or are you still wallowing around in fear and anxiety as to where the resources for survival or opulence will come from? Just what does your daily schedule reflect about your priorities? One of idolatrous pursuit of the temporal? Or of a passionate pursuit of the Eternal One?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A SPIRIPTUAL INVENTORY

Where is my primary focus? Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. (Col. 3:1, 2) + (See Psa. 17:14; 73:25; 2 Cor. 4:18; Philip. 3:20; Heb. 11:13)

Do I have a real, secret inner life with God? For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.  (Col. 3:3) (See Jn. 17:21,23; 2 Cor. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Col. 2:11-14; I Pet. 1:8; 4:1,2)

Am I taking prudent steps to avoid sexual sins? So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires  (Col 3:5a) (See Psa. 119:9-11; Pro. 4:14, 15; Rom. 6:6; 8:13; I Cor. 6:18; Gal. 5:16, 24; 2 Tim. 2:22; I Pet. 2:11)

Who is winning the battle? Contentment or greed?  Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.  (Col. 3:5b) (See Psa. 119:36; Mi. 2:1,2; I Cor. 6:9, 10; 10:2-8; Eph. 4:19; 1 Tim. 6:6; I Pet. 2:11

How am I dealing with anger, impure speech, and dishonesty? But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. (Col. 3:8,9)  (See Psa. 37:8; Matt. 5:22; Eph. 4:29, 31,32; 5:4; 2 Pet. 2:18; Lev. 19:11; Jer. 9:3-5)

What practical steps am I taking to renew my inner life toward knowing Christ more intimately?  In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.  (Col. 3:10) (See Psa. 51:10; Ezek. 18:31; 36:26; Eph. 4:22-24)

Is my life characterized by love, as evidenced by mercy, kindness, humility, patience and forgiveness?  Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness. .You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. (Col 3:12-14) (See Matt. 18:21-37; Lk. 6:35-37; Jn. 15:12; Rom. 12:9,10; 1 Cor. 13; Rom. 15:1,2; Gal. 6:2)

Does Christs peace rule in my heart as evidenced by a thankful heart?  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.  (Col. 3:15) (See  Psa. 29:11; Isa. 26:3; Jn. 14:27; Rom. 5:1; 14:17; 15:13; Phil. 4:6,7)

Is the word of God alive in my heart, as evidenced by my joyful sharing of it with othersLet the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.  (Col. 3:16) (See. Dt. 6:6-8; 8:18-20; Jer. 15:16; I Cor. 4:26; Col. 1:28,29)

Do my actions reflect the very character of Jesus?  And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Col. 3:17) (See 1Chron. 31:20-22; Col. 3:23)

Am I cultivating a secret life of prayer? Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.  (Col. 4:2) (See 1 Sam 12:23; Psa. 55:16; Lk. 18:1; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6,7; Col. 1:19; 4:12; I Thes. 5:17,18)

Am I prayerfully and wisely seeking to win the lost to Christ?  And am I praying for others of like mind and heart? Don’t forget to pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to preach about his secret planthat Christ is also for you Gentiles. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone.  (Col. 4:3-6) (See I Cor. 2:4,5; 2 Cor. 2:14-17; 4:1-3; Eph. 4:295:25-32; 6:19, 20)

In my pilgrimage, am I deeply engaged in a community of like-minded followers of Christ? (Col. 4:7-18)

+  All Scriptures are in the New Living Translation (NLT)