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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for October, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ARE YOU CHOOSING TO DRINK THE CUP ?

When Bill Alexander was nine his father grabbed him and his brother, and banged their heads together, exclaiming, “You two are bums and will never amount to anything.” At that moment Bill resolved to prove his father wrong. And did. Brilliantly. His brother slumped his shoulders and gave up on life.

Jose Salvador grew up in the slums of Manila, Philippines. When his fellow students taunted him about his impoverished background, he retorted, “My parents are poor but I am not,” and went on to a successful career in business. Both Bill and Jose credit their “success” in life to Jesus Christ.

God informs us: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deu. 30:19). The secret to deliverance from a rugged past is to recognize and celebrate God’s sovereignty in choosing your parents, intelligence, temperament, early circumstances in life, et al. – for good or for bad. In a word, drinking the cup God has assigned you. Choosing to make lemonade out of life’s lemons. Stopping the whining and commencing the celebration that life is awaiting you to be lived to the fullest…with the inner resources that only Christ can furnish you. (See Isa. 40:29-31; Rom. 8:34, 38; 2 Cor. 3:5; 12:9,10; Eph. 6:10)

“The great figures in history looked deeply into their cups and drank from then without fear…They knew that the life which was given to them was given to live to its fullness in the presence of God and God’s people, and thus bear much fruit.

“Spiritual greatness has nothing to do with being greater than others. It has everything to do with being as great as each of us can be. True sanctity is precisely drinking our own cup and trusting that by thus fully claiming our own, irreplaceable journey, we can become a source of hope for many.

“How than can we, in the midst of our ordinary lives, drink our cup, the cup of sorrow and the cup of joy? How can we fully appropriate what is given to us? Somehow we know that when we do not drink our cup and thus avoid the sorrow as well as the joy of living, our lives become inauthentic, insincere superficial, and boring. We become puppets moved up and down, left and right by the puppeteers of this world. We become objects, yes victims of other people’s interests and desires. But we don’t have to be victims. We can choose to drink the cup of our life with the deep conviction that by drinking it we will find our true freedom. Thus, we will discover the cup of sorrow and joy we are drinking is the cup of salvation.” 1

[Jesus] …Knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done ’…I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Lk. 22:41b, 42; Phil. 4:13).

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

R. Dwight Hill

1Can You Drink the Cup?”– Henri J. M. Nouwen, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana – pgs. 88-90 –

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

14_10_22

ON EXTENDING GRACE…

QUESTION : Are you and I extending to ourselves, and to the people whom we are seeking to influence toward spiritual maturity the same grace that God extends to us in our failings? Consider:

Lot offered to throw his daughters to the perverse men of Sodom and Gomorrah who demand homosexual relations with Lot’s angelic visitors. (Gen. 19:1-17; 20:31-38) Lot, who loved living in the decadent city, was delivered along with his family from its destruction by an angel of God. Thereafter, Lot was seduced by his daughters to insure the continuation of the family line. Imagine that Lot with all his failings is referred to in Scripture as a “righteous man.” That is the grace of God! (2 Pet. 2:7)

Abraham gave his wife over to a pagan king to insure his safety. Yet God mercifully delivered Sarah through a dream that warned the monarch not touch her. When God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, they both laughed in disbelief. Yet, even in their vacillating faith, God graciously granted them Isaac. That is the grace of God! (Gen. 20; 21:1-7)

In spite of Abraham’s gross failings, he grew in spiritual maturity to the point where God severely tested him by ordering him to offer up his beloved Isaac on an altar. Clearly Abraham believed God would spare Isaac in stating to his servants, We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Gen. 17:15-22; 18:10-15; 21) Abraham’s spiritual growth over his many years is clear evidence of the grace of God!

We see this same quality of grace in Jesus as he sought to develop the Twelve:

In Luke 9 Jesus referred to the present generation as “faithless and corrupt” – which included the weak faith of the disciples as they failed in their effort to cast out an evil spirit.

Jesus then corrected the Twelve when they began to jockey for the position of leader, having just learned of his imminent death on the cross.

Later in the narrative Jesus rebuked James and John when they heartlessly asked him if they should call down fire on a village of disbelievers. (Lk. 9:37-55)

Yet for three years Jesus patiently and lovingly continued to shape this ragtag group of rather mediocre men, ultimately entrusting them with the responsibility of spreading the Gospel to the world. That is the grace of God! (See Matt. 28:18-20)

“… Where sin increased, grace increased all the more…Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? ” (Rom. 5:20b; 6:1b, 2).

PRAYER : Lord, grant me compassion toward those in my charge who are failing. In truth, I am one of them. Grant me the ability to extend to them…and to myself the same grace you exhibited in your dealings with the disciples.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON DEATH

Why is it so many of us live in dread or denial of death? Probably because it is so foreign to our experience: The unknown, shrouded in mystery. What we find difficult to grasp is that for the believer in Christ, death is a gateway to a new life in God that is infinitely richer and meaningful than anything we can began to fathom… For all eternity. Imagine:

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Cor. 2:9).

During World War II, the famous German theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer joined the resistance movement to assassinate Adolf Hitler. When the attempt failed, Bonheoffer was imprisoned. In anticipation of his impending execution, he penned these immortal words:

No one has yet believed in God and the kingdom of God, nor has yet heard about the realm of the resurrected, and not been homesick from that hour, waiting and looking forward joyfully to being released from bodily existence. Whether we are young or old makes no difference. What are twenty or thirty or fifty years in the sight of God? And which of us knows how near he or she may already be to the goal?

“That life only really begins when it ends here on earth; that all that is here is only the prologue before the curtain goes up. That is for young and old alike to think about.

“Why are we so afraid when we think about death? Death is only dreadful for those who live in dread and fear of it. Death is not wild and terrible, if only we can be still and hold fast to God’s Word. Death is not bitter, if we have not become bitter ourselves. Death is grace, the greatest gift of grace that God gives to people who believe in him. Death is mild, death is sweet and gentle, it beckons to us with heavenly power, if only we realize that it is the gateway to our homeland, the tabernacle of joy, the everlasting kingdom of peace.

“How do we know that dying is so dreadful? Who knows whether in our human fear and anguish we are only shivering and shuddering at the most glorious, heavenly, blessed event in the world.

“Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.” 1

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (Jn. 11:25). With this knowledge, our response as believers in Jesus Christ should be exactly that of St. Paul’s: “Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57). (See Jn. 6:39, 40; Rom. 8:11; I Cor. 15:20-26, 43-57; Rev. 20:10-15; 21:4)

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

R. Dwight Hill

1 Bonhoeffer” –Thomas Nelson Press, 2010, p. 531 –

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

If you have become indifferent or callous toward the fact that you have friends, relatives and associates who are outside of Christ, you may want to rethink how God views them. Colossians 1:21 informs us that they are alienated from God. That is, they are estranged, and excluded from Him because of their indifference and hostility toward Him. Other Scriptures put it this way:

They are dead in their transgressions and sins.

They are without hope.

They are darkened in their understanding of God and all things spiritual.

Their thinking has become futile.

They have become fools although they claim to be wise,.

They have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. (Read: The worship of wealth, position, influence, power, sexual indulgence without restraint, pride, etc.).

  • They are hostile to God.

They do not submit to God’s law.

They are enemies of believers.

They are enemies of God because of their evil behavior.

They have no spiritual understanding and are not seeking God.

They have no fear of God.

They stand condemned because they have not believed in the name of Christ.

They love darkness instead of light because their deeds are evil.

They will not come to the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

They will not see eternal life.

They have incurred the wrath of God by their rejection of Christ. (See Jn. 3:18, 20, 36; Rom. 1:20-23; 3:11,12,18; 8:7; 11:28; Eph. 2:1; 4:18; Col. 1:22)

This truth is heartbreaking, is it not ? It also breaks the heart of God: “ How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you were not willing… When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd ” (Matt. 23:37b; 9:36b).

May I implore you to ask God to break your heart for the lost in your world; to love them with His compassion; to determine to be the very life of Jesus to them; to intercede to the Father for them?

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE IN A SPIRITUAL FUNK, READ THIS :

I suspect that most of us who are serious in our walk Christ can strongly identify with the tax collector who stood at the back of the temple, beating his breast saying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Lk. 18:13b). We are painfully aware of our failings before God. Perhaps what we need to hear is an encouraging word about how deeply our Heavenly Father loves us. Following are several observations from Psalm 139:

Our Heavenly Father takes great delight in knowing everything about us :

O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD” (Vss. 1-4 – NLT). (See Psa. 11:5; 17:3; Jer. 17:10; Heb. 4:13)

Our Heavenly Father is compelled by his love to surround, bless, support and guide us :

“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.” (Vss. 5-10- NLT). (See Deu. 33:27; Job 23:8, 9)

Our Heavenly Father personally and marvelously hand crafted us :

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb” (Vss. 13-15 – NLT). (See Job 10:9-12; Psa. 22:9; 71:6; Jer. 1:5; Gen. 1:27)

Our Heavenly Father, from eternity past, planned, and has taken note of each day of our lives :

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Vs. 16 – NLT). (Mal. 3:16; Rev. 20:12)

Our Heavenly Father’s thoughts about us are precious and innumerable :

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me”
(Vss. 17, 18 – NLT)! (See Psa. 31:19; 36:7; Jer. 29:11)

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

R. Dwight Hill