BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for April, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ever feel like writing your kid a letter as he prepares to leave the nest? Heres one I recently gave a young buck:

Dear Bill,

Wow, eighteen years old and the whole world and most of your life before you! What a time to live! What extraordinary opportunities and challenges await you! We live in a very needy world. Imagine the difference you can make in it? Life is too short to be lived in a small way. Grab the brass ring and go for it 110%.

Think about the wonderful home God placed you in! And the first rate education you have been privileged to receive up to this point. I am reminded of Jesus statement, From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Lk. 12:48) With privilege comes increased responsibility.

Bill, I would like you to consider four concepts:

Intimacy: Christ wants to know you, and you to know Him. Deeply. Personally. But this wont happen on the back stroke. Regular time with Him in his word and prayer is a matter of spiritual life and death. Make it your intention to travel with a company of strong disciples of Christ. Make the pursuit of Him your number one priority, and you will be astounded at the quality of life He will give back to you. Paul laid it out in saying, All the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificantdog dung. I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ. (Phil. 3:8 Msg.)

Commitment: Half baked commitment to God or anything is a dead end street, and a losers game. It is Gods intention to enlist you in making a difference in the lives of people for His Glory and Kingdom. So give it your best shot. Here is how Jesus put it: If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what is the use of a man gaining the whole world if he loses or forfeits his own soul. (Lk. 9:23-25 – Philips Translation)

Accountability: Have a blast with this thing we call life. Push out the walls and live it to the fullest. Just keep in mind Solomons caution:  You who are young, make the most of your youth. Relish your youthful vigor. Follow the impulses of your heart. If something looks good to you, pursue it. But know also that not just anything goes; You have to answer to God for every last bit of it. (Ecc. 11:9 Msg)

Responsibility: Bill, we live in a hurting and confused world. Our country is in crisis both economically and spiritually. By any measure, we as a nation are in decline. Most of the rest of the world is in desperate straits. You and I have the solution: The Gospel of Christ. Whatever profession you choose, from driving truck to running a company, use it as a platform for helping people discover Christ, to feed the poor, to bring hope and solutions to a suffering world. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If 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?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 Jn. 3:16-18)

As a young man I chose to seriously follow Christ. After 57 years I can tell you it has been an extraordinary experience, worth every second of it! Join me in the adventure!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

LIFE LESSON #10: (Continued) DONT TOUCH GODS GLORY: (10 of 10)

In last weeks Facts we emphasized the fact that God takes offense when we take the glory to ourselves, I will not yield my glory to another. (Isa. 48:11). We saw Gods severe dealings with Herod and Satan. (Acts 12:21-23; Isa. 14:13-15)

By way of comparison, God clearly honors the humble, "I live in a high and holy place, but also with  him who is contrite  and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit  of the lowly and to revive the

heart of the contrite. (Isa. 57:15) (See Rom. 12:16)

I grew up in a family where you were severely judged by your family pedigree, the letters after your name, the universities you had attended, whom you knew, where you lived, your net worth, etc. Words like censorious, supercilious, judgmental, exclusivity, and snob come to mind.

 In my 20s after university, God took me to the woodshed in dealing with this issue of pride. While receiving discipleship training from the Navigators at their headquarters, I was assigned the jobs of packing and shipping  Navigator materials. In those days all I could think about was my dad, my uncle and my two cousins, all highly accomplished professionally. God forcefully impressing upon me, Dwight I will not use you until this ugly pride of yours is rooted from your life. How many times did I weep over Jesus word, I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (Jn. 12:24)

 In my agony of soul I told God, I will pack boxes the rest of my life if that is your choice for me. Forgive me and cleanse me from my insufferable pride. Over the years, God has worked with me on this issue, but I have to tell you that taking the glory to myself still rears its ugly head from time to time. Having a healthy appreciation for James 4:6, – "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" –  helps as me I do serious business with God in this area of my life.

 QUESTION: Does the prayer of your heart resonate with psalmist who cried, Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Or with Pauls powerful statement, May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world? (Psa. 115:1; Gal. 6:14)

 APPLICATION: Would you prayerfully ponder the following synonyms for pride and humility,  and then ask God where you stand on this issue of taking the glory to yourself?

 Pride: Arrogance, conceit, smugness, self-importance, over high opinion of oneself, haughty, delight in ones achievements and possessions, insolent, egoism, self-glory, self-opinion, cockiness, over confidence, and self-assured.

 Humility: Lowly, meek, submissive, unassuming, unobtrusive, unpretentious, modest, unostentatious, acquiescent, and compliant.

 Ask yourself: For whose glory am I living? His or mine? If its for your glory, what changes must you make today?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

LIFE LESSON #10: DONT TOUCH GODS GLORY: (10 OF 10)

Some months ago, Ruth and I connected with a couple over coffee. Subtly, with practiced suave, George oozed into the conversation the fact that he had taken his PhD at Yale University. Then, smooth as silk he proceeded to establish his place in the pecking with a rehearsal of his notable achievements in the professional arena.

God takes offense with us for taking the glory unto ourselves:

I will not yield my glory to another. (Isa. 48:11)

This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord. (Jer. 9:23,24)

Paul further drives this truth home,

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (I Cor. 4:7)

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:14)

I consider everything [that I have achieved] a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Phil. 3:8)

In our posturing and sense of self-importance, I wonder if we have grasped the magnitude of James 4:6: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Clearly James understood it. Others did not:

Herod: On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, This is the voice of a god, not of a man. Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12:21-23) Herods arrogance brings to mind a portion of William Henleys Invictus: Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soulI am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

Satan: You [Satan] said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit upon the mount of assembly in the uttermost north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol (Hades), to the innermost recesses of the pit (the region of the dead. (Isa. 14:13-15 Amp.) (See Lk. 10:18; Rev. 12:8,9)

Part #2 of this Facts will continue next week.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LIFE LESSON #8: (Continued) AVOID BITTERNESS LIKE THE PLAGUE: (9 of 10)

In last weeks Facts, we discussed one of three issues we need to come to grips with if we are to remain free from bitterness:  1 Recognize Gods Sovereignty in our lives.

2 Forgive those who have offended us:

Jesus cry while on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing," serves as a powerful example of Christs unconditional forgiveness toward his abusers. (Lk. 23:43) (See Matt. 18:21-35)

Years ago, before moving to Asia, I gave a Christian businessman power of attorney over our financial affairs, entrusting him with capital to invest for our kids college education and our future retirement. Well, he ripped us off royally. For years, pray as I may, I could not get the bitterness of what he had done to us out of my system. Finally he agreed to meet with me in my attempt to bring closure to this painful situation. While we bantered back and forth on the issues I felt the Lord speaking to me to let it go. So I interrupted the argumentation, looked him in the eye and said, You owe men nothing. I forgive you, and if you are ever in trouble Ill be there for you. In that moment I was liberated from the bitterness for the first time in years. Six months later, God restored the money he had stolen through another unexpected source.

QUESTION: Have you forgiven those who have offended you?

3  Surrender our rights

It is a given that throughout our lives people will violate our rights. It is only when we surrender our rights, as did the Son of God that we will be free from bitterness. (Matt. 26:39; Phil. 2:5-8)  Jesus laid down total surrender as a condition of discipleship, If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses his life for my sake will save it. (Lk. 9:23,24 Phil. Trans.)

James 3:14 speaks about two characteristics of a person who demands his rights, If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

1 Bitter envy: The reason we harbor bitter envy is because we feel we have the right to be on par with the next guy in terms of lifestyle, promotions, recognition, and our general quality of life. When these expectations are left unfulfilled, we feel our rights have been violated. So we pout and become bitter.

2 Selfish ambition: Lets be honest. Left to our natural inclinations, we believe that we are entitled to the best, the biggest, and the latest of everything. Now. And we are hell bent on getting it because we believe that life is all about fulfilling our egotistical needs. And if life does not play out our way we get angry and bitter.

QUESTION: Have you relinquished your rights up to God? Are you willing for Him to direct your life as He sees fit?