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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for February, 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SEVEN RESOLVES THAT HAVE KEPT ME THESE 60 YEARS OF KNOWING JESUS (Part 7 of 7)

 

#7 Take care of your body

 

To stay physically healthy, you will pay now through dieting, physical exercise, and adequate rest, or you will pay later through premature debilitation and possibly a shortened life span. Like it or not, the law of sowing and reaping is inviolable.  How many godly, gifted men have I known who refused to discipline  themselves in their eating habits, working out, and pacing their lives, only to pay dearly in their senior years.  Do we grasp the fact that our body belongs to God and is to be stewarded according?

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body (I Cor. 6:19, 20).

We live in a high paced, highly stressed society that places immense demands upon us.  Compared to a century ago, we are living life on steroids.  Jesus warned us that in the world you will have trouble. That word trouble in the original language conveys the idea of anguish, distress, affliction, pressure; to be squeezed.  The good news is that Christ also said in the same breath, In me you may have peacetake heart! I have overcome the world" (Jn. 16:33). Other biblical notables have commented on this issue of our trouble in life:

  JobMan is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upwardMan born of woman is of few days and full of trouble (Job 5:7;14:1).

  David:  All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan (Psa. 90:9).

  PaulI wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tearsI face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches (2 Cor. 2:4a; 11:28b). (See Act. 14:22)

At age 33 I returned from a missionary stint in Asia, so physically depleted that I could not run around the block once!  Determined to get myself into shape, I began swimming 3 days a week until I got up to a mile.  It took six months and I hated every minute of it.  After two years of swimming, there was a breakthrough where I actually began enjoying it. Since 1970 I have been swimming 3 5 miles a week. Five years ago I added a rigorous gym workout to my regimen. I have become convinced that the spiritual and the physical aspects of our lives are inextricably linked together.  I have noticed that when I am down physically I tend toward having the blahs spiritually. (See Pro. 3:7, 8; 16:24)

Physical discipline is part and parcel of the serious disciples life: PaulDiscipline yourself for the purpose of godliness[Like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit] (1 Tim. 4:7b NASB; 1 Cor. 9:27 Amp. N. T.). (See 2 Tim. 2:3-7)

QUESTION:  We learn from the life of Jesus that He was well orbed:  Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Lk. 2:52b)  Shouldnt that also be true of us, His disciples?

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SEVEN RESOLVES THAT HAVE KEPT ME THESE 60 YEARS OF KNOWING JESUS (Part 6 of 7)

 

#6  Choose not to become bitter and lose the joy bells

 

Weve all been around bitter people. Life threw them a curve and they got mad and shook their fist at God. He didnt protect them or come through for them in the manner they expected.  Or perhaps they are living with the residual poison of a failed relationship: Marriage, kids, parents, a partnership gone sour.  Someone stuck a knife in them, ripped them off.  Or they lived through the horror of seeing a loved one die an ugly, untimely death from cancer or some other frightening disease.

When you have been body slammed by life where nothing makes sense; the natural default position can easily be cynicism, or anger that metastasizes into bitterness. The writer of Hebrews cautions us: See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Heb 12:15).

Romans 8:18-30 informs us that life, as difficult as it often is, is Gods crucible to conform us into Christs image.  If we, by faith accept the fact of Gods infinite, incomprehensible love for us, and His sovereignty over our lives, we can choose to believe that behind our veil of tears and fog of unanswered questions, He is working His good and sovereign purpose. It is only then that we can let go of our bitterness and begin to praise Him for whatever. By faith that was Jobs decision: In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.  Said he, Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him (Job 1:22 – NIV; 13:14a NKJV). Tragically, his wife chose the route of bitterness, lecturing him to curse God and die!" (Job 2:9) (For a mini study on Gods love, see Eph. 1:3-14; 2:1-10; 3:14-19; for a mini study on Gods sovereignty see I Chron. 29:11, 12; 2 Chron. 20:6; Neh. 9:6 Psa. 22:28; 50:10-12; 115:3; 135:5, 6; Pro. 21:1; Dan. 4:35; Rom. 9:15-18)

As I look back over my life, I can now see His sovereign plan in it all. I can recall at least nine exceedingly difficult experiences where I was tempted to become bitter. In each case I chose to forgive the offending party and thank God for the sand in my shell that He was using to produce the pearl. I can identify with Joseph who came to a similar conclusion concerning his murderous brothers, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Gen. 50:20).

If we are honest, we have to admit that some (if not most) of our suffering and bitterness in life is due to our own rebellion and reaping the consequences of our bad choices in life.

CHALLENGE:  Picture Jesus on the cross, absorbing verbal and physical abuse from his captors and their fellow-travelers, as He cries out to the Father, "Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk. 23:34a).  Today, lets exercise the same spirit of forgiveness toward those who wrong us!

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

SEVEN RESOLVES THAT HAVE KEPT ME THESE 60 YEARS OF KNOWING JESUS (Part 5 of 7)

 

#5  Invest in people,  not programs

 

Admit it or not, we are impressed with large numbers like churches with 5, 10, or 15 thousand people. One church in America boasts 45,000.

 

Im not so sure however that God is all that impressed.  What arrests His attention, it seems, is  unheralded  acts of love and servicelike giving someone in need a glass of water, or compassionately listening to their broken story; investing personally in liveslike Jesus and Paul did.  The Master spoke of the importance of one lost sheep whom the shepherd was willing to risk his life to rescue:  The incredible worth of the individual!

 

St. Paul reminded the Thessalonians, we dealt with you one by one, like a father deals with his children (I Thess. 2:11a NEB) As busy  as he was, he made time for individuals.

 

As Jesus walked along, He observed people in need and responded to them in the natural flow of His daily activities.  You never see Him nervously pulling out His iPhone to check His next appointment, and then brushing people aside as He rushed on to his commitment. 

 

At age 19 a godly man singled me out, poured his life into me, and literally saved my life. I am sure glad I wasnt just herded into a classroom – cattle style – for religious indoctrination. Thats the approach to take if youre in a hurry to produce big numbers.  But if you are interested in quality results you know – getting down deep into peoples hearts to deal with the critical issues, there is no substitute for investing one-on-one.  Just a few days ago, a 60 year old businessman tearfully confided in me that for years he has been looking for a man to disciple him.  All it seems were too busy with their own agendas, and in some cases, too busy with running church programs.  (See Eze. 22:30)

 

Looking back over my life I recall men with whom I invested untold hours.  Today, after years of investment, Will is a missionary in Asia, deeply rooting Christ in the soul and soil of that area of the world.  Then there is Matt, a wild, hard driving, make it happen kind of guy whose personal life was a train wreck when we met.  Years of one-on-one discipling helped produce a godly businessman who is literally influencing thousands of leaders for Christ across Asia.  When I met Don, he was a womanizing party animal with a criminal record.  Myriad hours of counseling and discipling were poured into him over 6 or 7 years. Today, he is transformed, living out the Gospel as he raises his kids sired with different women. 

 

What turned these men from living spiritually defeated lives to that of victorious and fruitful living, was the deep work of the Word and Spirit of God in the context of a Christ centered community, augmented by an intense effort put into them at the individual level.

 

CHALLENGE: The order of the day seems to want quick results and big numbers.  Are you willing however, to go against the tide, and pay the price of investing deeply into one or twoor perhaps just a few? Christ only invested deeply in twelve.  There will be no public accolades to be sure. Except from Jesus.

 

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

SEVEN RESOLVES THAT HAVE KEPT ME THESE 60 YEARS OF KNOWING JESUS (Part 4 of 7)

 

#4  Seek Obscurity

 

That is, step back from the spotlight.  Relax, and let God be the one who puts you into leadership or the limelightif He so chooses. After all, it is God whobrings one down, [and] exalts another (Psa. 75:7b).  Dr. V. Raymond Edman, the former President of Wheaton College once stated, It is our job to develop servants and it is Gods responsibility to choose the leaders.  Jesus went from heavens glory to the cross as a common criminal.  It was God who then exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name (Phil. 2:9b)

Interesting, is it not that Jim Collins discovered  from his research of excellent companies in the U. S. – as reported in his book From Good to Great – that  their leaders were men who generally stayed in the background, working and  leading from behind:  understated, self-effacing, uncelebrated.  In their quest for building companies of excellence, pursuing the spotlight was too small a goal.

As His disciples, ours is a calling to do the unheralded kingdom work of investing sacrificially and deeply in the lives (for the most part) of the little people of this world who did not graduate as one of the ten top seniors, and probably did not letter in athletics, or star on the cheerleaders squad.  Paul put it this way, Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don't see many of the brightest and the best among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these "nobodies" (I Cor. 1:26-28a Msg.).  The religious leaders scolded Jesus for associating with disreputable sinners and scum. (See Mk. 2:15, 16 TLB)

At the last supper after Jesus informed the twelve that He would die, Dr. Luke reports that [the disciples] were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles.  It's not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant. Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You'd rather eat and be served, right? But I've taken my place among you as the one who serves (Lk. 22:24b-27 Msg.)

CHALLENGE: In a world that feeds on narcissism and self-promotion, are you willing to walk the less traveled path of playing to an audience of one: God. And defer your true reward that will be yours to enjoy for all eternity?

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

R. Dwight Hill