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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for November, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

EXPERIENCING DRY ROT IN YOUR SOUL? IF SO, READ THIS:

Our age constitutes a virtual conspiracy against the interior life. In our modern culture several factors are randomly flowing together in producing a climate that militates against believers in Christ developing spiritual depth with God.  They are narcissism,  pragmatism and unbridled restlessness.

Defined simply, narcissism means excessive self-preoccupation. Pragmatism means excessive focus on work, achievement, and the practical concerns of life. And restlessness means an excessive greed for experience; an over eating, not in terms of food but in terms of trying to drink in too much of life. Narcissism accounts for our heartaches, pragmatism for our headaches, and restlessness for our insomnia.  And constancy of all three together account for the fact that we are so habitually self-absorbed by heartaches, headaches, and greed for experience that we rarely find the time and space to be in touch with the deeper movements inside of and around us. 2, 3

Thomas Merton has pointed out that the biggest spiritual problem of our time is efficiency, work and pragmatism.  Once our operation is up and running there is little time or energy for anything else. Neil Postman suggests that we are amusing ourselves to death by distracting ourselves into a bland, witless superficiality. 4 Henri Nouwen reminds us that our greed for experience produces a restlessness, hostility and fantasy that blocks solitude and prayer in our lives. 5

The bottom line: Pathological busyness, distraction, and restlessness are major blocks today within our spiritual lives. 6

The net effect:  Were not angry or against God; simply too preoccupied to allow the cultivation of our inner life with Him. We are more busy than bad, more distracted than non-spiritual 6  Because we are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion, we have become spiritual pygmies.  In terms of spiritual fruitfulness: barren.

QUESTIONS:

1)  Just how vacuous, shallow, and inconsequential do we want our lives to become; tragically disconnected as many of us are from that which is holy and eternal? (I Pet. 1:14-16)

2)  How do we plan to explain to the Holy Presence in the day of accounting how we squandered our lives on the trivial and temporal at the expense of being significantly engaged in (1) the vine-branch relationship with Jesus (John 15), and (2) the overarching cause of God in the redemption and maturation of His children (the people of the earth)?  (Ecc. 3; I Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:18-20)

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.Our goal is to please Him. For we must stand  before Christ to be  judged. We will each receive whatever  we deserve for the  good or evil we have done in

this earthly body. (Isa. 30:15; 2Cor.5:9b, 10) NLT)

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

1 Jan Walgrave, Forgotten Among the Lilies (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1990), pp. 112 114; 2 The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser, (Doubleday, NY, 1999), pg. 32; 3 For detailed analysis of pragmatism, unbridled restlessness, and narcissism, see Ronald Rolheiser, The Shattered Lantern, pp. 24-43;  4 Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves To Death, Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness (New York: Penguin Books, 1985); 5 Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out, The Three Movements in the Spiritual Life (New York: Doubleday, 1975); 6 The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser, (Doubleday, NY, 1999), pp. 32, 33.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

MELLOWNESS OF HEART

Have you ever been put on edge by being  around a duty-bound person on a mission for God who came across as highly driven, ridged, and  perhaps a bit on the angry side? Of course they were very committed to their cause and intensely spiritual. But to be honest, you would rather hug a porcupine.

The older brother in the parable of the prodigal son was scrupulously faithful for years in service to his father, but with a bitter heart.  The parable teaches us that we can be away from the Father not only through infidelity (the younger brother) but also through bitterness and anger (the older brother). It is Jesus intention that we have the compassion of the Father that emanates from a grateful heart. 1 In the Old Testament God indicts the Israelites because they did not serve the Lord [their] God joyfully and gladly (Deu. 28:47).

Gustavo Gutierrez has suggested that to be healthy spiritually we must feed our souls through prayer, the practice of justice, and through having those things in our lives (good friends, good wine, creativity, and healthful leisure) that keep the soul mellow and grateful. 2 Wise old Solomon reminds us that the cheerful heart has a continual feastA man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This toois from the hand of God (Pro.15:15b; Ecc. 2:24).

Yes, you and I are keenly aware that our task is to reach out to our hurting world with the Masters love. But we will fail in our mission if it is accomplished out of an anxious, angry, guilt-ridden, or duty-bound heart. Only the grateful of heart transform the world. When the Ark of the Covenant was placed in King Solomons  newly built temple, mellow hearts burst forth in joyful praise-filled celebration.  The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: He is good; his love endures forever (2 Chro. 5:13a).

As a college student I was profoundly influenced by the biography of an Englishman whom God greatly used in Asia in the 1800s. His commitment and sacrifice knew no bounds. Years later I learned that over the years however, he had become so insufferably mission-driven that his fellow-missionaries found it nearly impossible to co-labor with him. Tragically he had become a bitter old man on a mission.

By way of contrast, Jesus easily co-mingled with common folks like you and me.  The masses loved to be around Him, viewing Him as kind, approachable, and deeply compassionate. No wonder children naturally gathered around Hdim.  To be sure He was on His Fathers all-important mission, but He approached it with an air of grace and calm. Clear evidence that Jesus indeed possessed a mellow heart.

QUESTION:  So how are you doing in the mellow heart department?  Are you angry? Over-taxed? Resentful?  Bone dry at the core? How would your kids, your spouse, and your co-workers answer those questions of you?  Is a renovation of the soul long overdue? 

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

1 Credit Roland Rolheiser with this key idea; The Holy Longing Doubleday, 1999, pg. 67; 2  Gustavo Gutierrez,  We Drink from Our Own Wells – Maryknoll, N. Y., Orbis, 1984.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO EXPERIENCE VICTORY IN THE AREA OF SEXUAL LUST?

In a society drowning in sensuality, one of the most vexing issues, especially for men, is the matter of sexual purity. 

In my 20s I, like most men I know was vexed by this issue.  Taking John 8:31, 32, and Psalm 119:9-11 to heart, I determined to memorize passages from the Bible on this subject.  The key was not so much the memorization, but the prayerful meditation that transpired as I memorized. The power of the Scriptures planted deep within my heart liberated me from sexual bondage.

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you freeHow can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. I have tried hard to find you dont let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Jn. 8:31, 32; Psa. 119:9-11 NLT)

Here is a simple suggestion on how to get the Scriptures into your life to experience His victory: Take time to study the passages listed below. Then choose the Scriptures that particularly speak to your heart.  Determine to commit a certain number of them to memory each week.  Be sure to daily review at least a portion of the verses memorized so that you retain them.  As you memorize, pray over the verses, asking the Holy Spirit (1) to plant the truth deep into your heart; (2) to help you apply the truth, and (3) to grant you the victory promised.

It is Gods intention that we live victoriously in this most challenging area of our lives. Victory will not be achieved however without hard work on your part, and through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:2-14; Gal. 5:15)

Key Verses:

Gen. 6:5,6;;39; Job 23:11,12; 31:1, 9-12; Psa. 51:10; 119:9-11, 37, 133; Pro.2; 4:10-14, 23; 9:13-18; 5; 6:20-35; 7, 9; Ecc. 11:9; 12:14; Matt. 5:27-30; Jn. 8:31,32, 36; 15:3, 17; Rom. 6; 7:5,6, 15-25; 8:1-14; 12:1,2, 14; 13:14; 14:12; 1 Cor. 6:13-20; 2 Cor. 5:9-11; 7:1; Gal. 2:20; 5:19-21,24; 6:7,8; Eph. 1:4; 2:1-7; 4:18-24; 5:3-5; Col. 3:5-7, 10; 1 Thes. 4:3-8; 5:23; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 2:12-14; Heb. 12;14; 13:4; 1 Pet. 1:14-16; 2:9-11, 16; 4:1,2; 5:8; 2 Pet. 3:10-14

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9, 2011

 

THE FACTS OF THE MATTER

 

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

 

HAVE WE LEARNED THAT JESUS IS OUR ONLY OPTION?

At a critical juncture in Christs ministry He told His followers, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.  He then turned to the Twelve and asked, "You do not want to leave too, do you?"  to which Peter responded, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (Jn. 6:53, 66-68 Selected) Obviously, Peter had figured out that there was no viable option other than Jesus.

Jesus call to discipleship means a tough, narrow path that one enters on His terms. (Matt. 7:14; Act. 14:22)  Sissies need not apply. (2 Tim. 2:3)  We, like the Twelve are faced with the question, Where else can we go?  Once we realize who He is, and that He holds the key to eternal life, and to an earthly life that is actually worth living, we joyfully embrace Him as our only option. Tell me, where else would we want to go? The Psalmist echoed the same conclusion: Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you (Psa. 73:25).

Looking back over almost 6 decades of following Christ, I can attest to the truth that everything pales in comparison to Jesus.  In terms of inner peace, joy, and satisfaction, I know from experience that the world by comparison has little, if anything to offer us.  Sadly, it is a place of pain, disappointment and despair.  Its values, ethos, and methods of operation have, for the most part proven to be destructive to the soul.

After the world seduces us to embrace its philosophy, it exploits, ravages, and uses us up, leaving us alone, broken, and void of hope. (Gen. 3:1-7; Jn. 10:10; Act. 20:29, 30; 1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:9)  Paul had it right when he spoke of our miserable lives before encountering Christ: Remember that at that time you were separate from Christwithout hope and without God in the world. (Eph. 2:12)

God is the one and only constant whom we can truly count on; the one source of hope and direction resulting in a genuinely meaningful life. (Psa. 103:17; 32:8; Jer. 29:11; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8) Every other hope offered by the world proves in time to be a sham. By that I mean its false hopes deceive us, leaving us confused, angry and disappointed because it fails to deliver on its hollow promises.  And guess what? The world does not care one wit about our disappointment.

But with Christ our hope is validated through the transcendent and transformational love and power of God that is wonderfully at work within us.  (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:24; Phil. 2:12, 13)  With Christ, our lives become a Song of Ascent, as we live life on an increasingly higher and richer plane (Psa. 120:1; Psa. 84:7; Isa. 40:31). We become like a seed that grows from insignificance into a fruitful orchard that reproduces itself in the lives of others. (Isa. 58:10, 11; Matt. 13:21-43)  We discover amidst the hard knocks of life that only God is capable of satisfying the cry of our heart for love, meaning, security, significance, belonging and hope. (Rom. 8:36-39; Deut. 31:6; Eph. 1:4, 6; 1 Pet 1:3,21)

QUESTION:  So, where are you in response to Jesus statement, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  And what is your response to His question,"You do not want to leave too, do you?"  The choices are either to buy in or walk away.  Fence sitting is not an option.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection

R. Dwight Hill

The Facts of the Matter is also available through the Internet: http://www.factsofthematter.org2011 R. Dwight Hill. Unlimited permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion to this copyright notice.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2, 2011

“THE FACTS OF THE MATTER”

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

REFLECTING ON GOD IN THEMARKETPLACE: HIS WRATH (Part 10 of 10)

 The very notion of the wrath of God goes down hard these days in our culture of mushy feel good, me-centered religiosity.  When, for example was the last time you heard a sermon on The Wrath of God? What we do hear is a great deal about the grace of God.  Did you know that there is considerably more in the Scriptures about the wrath of God than about the grace and love of God?  It is not a subject to be taken lightly, given the fact that the Bible informs  us (1) of both Gods goodness and His severity, (2)  that God is a consuming fire, and (3) that it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Rom. 11:22; Heb. 12:29; 10:31). (See Rev. 6:15-17)m Little wonder that Peter admonishes us to live [our] lives in reverent fear [of God] (I Pet. 1:17).

 Just what is it that unleashes Gods wrath:

  Our ungodlinessThe wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness (Rom. 1:18). (See Rom. 2:5-9; Rev. 16:16, 27; 19:15)

  Our idolatry: In the New Testament, idolatry has to do with giving to any creature or human creation the honor or devotion which belongs to God alone, or giving to any human desire a precedence over Gods will.1 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (Col. 3:5).

  Our obstinate unwillingness to repent: Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed (Rom. 2:5). (See Eph. 5:6)

  Our stubborn resistance to embrace Jesus Christ as our Lord and SaviorWhoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him  (Jn. 3:36) (See Rom. 5:9).

APPLICATION:  The mere idea of Gods wrath can be deeply unsettling; something we would prefer not think about. What to do?  First, we must personally search our own hearts for the slightest hint of idolatry, and deal with it accordingly. Second, as you and I engage with folks in the marketplace, we continually encounter those who through apathy, ignorance, or downright rebellion have excluded God from of their lives.  Doubtless, God desires to use us to bring them into a relationship with Himself. One way may be to share with them not only His love, but also warn them of His wrath. Do you have the courage to go there?

R. Dwight Hill

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

1 International Standard Bible Dictionary – The Facts of the Matter is also available through the Internet: http://www.factsofthematter.org2011 R. Dwight Hill. Unlimited permission to copy without altering the text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion to this copyright notice.