BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for July, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

PING PONG AND WORLD RECORDS

Its not often that you get to break the world record three times in one day!  Well, it happened today!

I was jealously grabbing a couple of cherished hours, busily preparing talks for a conference that is rapidly rushing in upon me, and in walks my six year old grandson, Landon. Hey Papa, ya wanna play ping pong with me?  So we put up the ping pong table in the garage, and decided to set a world record for how many times we could make the ball bounce over the net. The first record was seven times! Then fourteen, and finally twenty four!

Two memories come to mind on this game of ping pong.  One is of my dad and how important his work always seemed to be.  It had to be, because he never had time in his busy schedule to play with me. Except once when I was in the 7th grade and we had just moved into a lovely new home where the previous owners had left a ping pong table. He came into the garage and we began hitting the ball back and forth for a few minutes, until he became annoyed with my level of play. I vividly remember how wounded I felt when he briskly exited the room, muttering a caustic remark. It was in that moment that I also pulled back emotionally from him, never to return.

My second memory of ping pong was at the memorial service of a godly old friend of many years, Bill Greenaway, where a couple of his grandchildren spoke adoringly of him because, among other things, he played ping pong with them. It seems that they caught the idea that they were significant enough to him to command his valuable time. And it was in this and similar contexts that he left  the powerful imprimatur of his Christ-honoring life on them. 

A few days ago I sat with a high powered missionary who only recently realized how sparing he has been in giving his children his undivided time and attention.  So this week for the first time, in an effort to correct his error, he took each of his five children aside and individually asked them what they were thinking about and how they were doing.  Two of them broke into tears, overcome he said by the fact that he actually cared enough to give them personalized time. He seemed to them, perhaps for the first time to actually care about what they thought and felt.

So dad, how are you doing with spending ungrudging time with your kids?  Are they important enough to you to put aside your work or play,  in order to build in them a sense of self-worth? 

I hope so, because the quality of their adult life may significantly be affected by it.

The Spirit produceslovepatience, kindnesstolerance and self-control…Love is slow to lose patience-it looks for a way of being constructive…Love knows no limit to its enduranceFathers. Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord  (Gal. 5:22, 23; I Cor. 13:4-8 Selected. Phillips Trans. Eph. 6:4 NLT)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A SIX POINT STRATEGY ON LIVING KINGDOM VALUES IN THE POST MODERN WORLD (Part 2 of 2)

In last weeks Facts we discussed the realities of our post modern world of eroding absolutes, and put forth two of six principles from Richard Fosters Renovare to help you victoriously live out Kingdom values: 1

1.  Contemplation The prayer-filled lifeFocuses upon intimacy with God and depth of spirituality. This spiritual dimension addresses the longing for a deeper, more vital Christian experience.

2.  Holiness The virtuous life: Focuses upon personal moral transformation and the power to develop "holy habits." This spiritual dimension addresses the erosion of moral fiber in personal and social life.

3.  Charismatic The Spirit-empowered life: Focuses upon the charisms of the Spirit and worship. This spiritual dimension addresses the yearning for the immediacy of God's presence among his people.

Be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts (Eph. 5:18b-19). (See Act. 2:42; Gal. 5:22-25; Eph. 5:18, 19; Heb. 10: 24, 25)

QUESTION: Are you part of a vital community of believers who are mutually committed to growing in Christlikenes, through the spiritual disciplines, fellowship, accountability and encouragement?

4. Social Justice The compassionate life:  Focuses upon justice and shalom in all human relationships and social structures. This spiritual dimension addresses the gospel imperative for equity and compassion among all peoples.

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream (Amo. 5:24). (See Job 29:12-17; Pro. 21:3; Hos. 6:6; Amo. 5:14, 15; Mic. 6:8)

QUESTION: Are you aware of the social injustice in your midst?  Are you prayerfully asking God what responsibility you have  to influence change?

5.  Evangelical The word-centered life: Focuses upon the proclamation of the evangel, the good news of the gospel. This spiritual dimension addresses the need for people to see the good news lived and hear the good news proclaimed. (See Col. 1:28, 29; 1 Thes. 2:7; Heb. 10:24; 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:15)

"I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die" (Jn. 11:25-27).

QUESTION: Are you becoming skilled in offering the message of the Gospel in a manner that the unconvinced can understand and respond to?

6.  Incarnational The sacramental life:  Focuses upon making present and visible the realm of the invisible spirit. This spiritual dimension addresses the crying need to experience God as truly manifest and notoriously active in daily life. (See Matt. 5:13, 16; 2 Cor. 5:19, 20; Eph 3:8; Col. 1:27)

We have this treasure in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7).

QUESTION Are you, by your Christ-honoring life creating spiritual hunger and thirst for God among your lost associates?

1 For further amplification of these foci, read Streams of Living Water by Richard J. Foster

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A SIX POINT STRATEGY ON LIVING KINGDOM VALUES IN THE POST MODERN WORLD (Part 1 of 2)

 

U. S. News and World Report makes the disturbing observation that America has becomea troubled nation, beset by violent crime, broken families, and deteriorating cities. The social critics among us, and the consciences within us, increasingly wonder if we have lost our moral compass and forsaken our spiritual heritage. 

 

Imagine: 

 

 The number of unmarried couples living together has increased tenfold between 1960 and 2000.1

 Children living in families with two parents dropped from 85% in 1968 to 68% in 2003.1

 Four in ten children (37%) in the U. S. are born out of wed lock (2005).

 

Let me ask, are you too being swept away by the torrent of moral and spiritual decay that surrounds you, or are you implementing a plan on how to conduct your life in such a way that you not only withstand the secular pressures of change, but are victoriously living out Kingdom values as salt and light in an increasingly dark world? William Wilberforce (1759 1833), cautioned, If the affections of the soul are not supremely fixed on God, and if our dominant desire and primary goal is not to possess Gods favor and to promote His glory, then we are traitors in revolt to our lawful sovereignwhether we are the slaves of avarice, sensuality, amusement, sloth, or the devotees of ambition, taste, or fashion, we alike estrange ourselves from the dominion of our rightful sovereign.

 

If you do not have a plan on how to live joyfully and victoriously in our increasingly post modern world of relativistic values, may I suggest you consider the six point plan formulated by Richard Foster of Renovare: 2

1.  Contemplation The prayer-filled life: Focuses upon intimacy with God and depth of spirituality. This spiritual dimension addresses the longing for a deeper, more vital Christian experience.

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psa. 42:1-2b).  (See Psa. 63; Act. 6:4; Phil. 3:7-14)

QUESTION: Are you committed to developing intimacy with Christ through regular, disciplined times alone with him in worship, solitude, and prayerful meditation of the word of God? If you do not have a plan,  you may want to  stop now and write one out, and  then commit yourself implementing it.

2.  Holiness The virtuous life: Focuses upon personal moral transformation and the power to develop "holy habits." This spiritual dimension addresses the erosion of moral fiber in personal and social life.

Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Tim. 4:7b-8). (See 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:22-24; 1 Thes. 3:12; Heb. 12:14; I Pet. 2:11)

QUESTION: Have you determined in your heart that you will pursue a life holy unto God; that you will not allow yourself to be swept along with the crowd in cultivating habits that wage war against your soul? 

Next week we will consider the final four points.

1 U.S. Census Bureau,

2 For further amplification of these foci, read Streams of Living Water by Richard J. Foster