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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, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

CATTLE DRIVING OR SHEPHERDING. WHICH IS IT ? (Part #2 of #3)

REVIEW FROM LAST WEEK’S FACTS : American Christianity unwittingly has adopted and exported a church model fashioned after corporate America’s fast paced, results driven culture that is often devastating to the lives of sincere, but over-extended church laborers.

It was imperative for the Children of Israel to understand the importance of moving with God’s timing with the cloud and the pillar of fire in the wilderness: Go at His pace and live. Go at your own pace and you wither and die: By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night ” (Exo. 13:21). (See Psa. 78:14)

So often, in our fear, impatience, and pride we foolishly rush ahead of God. Sagacious old King Solomon cautions us: It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the wayA patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly” (Pro. 19:2; 14:29).

Jesus beautifully modeled operating on God’s time table. At age 33, amidst a cacophony of suffering and spiritual ignorance, He could say to the Father, I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (Jn. 17:4).

How was this possible? Luke 5:15, 16 gives us a clue: “… The news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed .”

In spite of the crushing demands of the crowd, Jesus did not allow opportunity or expediency to dictate his priorities. Therefore, He would carve out time to be alone with the Father for purposes of intimacy and instructions. Thus, Jesus could say,“…The Son can do nothing by himself; He can do only what He sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also doesI do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me” (Jn. 5:19b; 8:28b) (See Jn. 5:30; 17:8)

There is a mystical pace and rhythm that characterizes God’s ministry that can only be discovered by stealing away with Him to hear His voice: My soul, wait (Lit: Tarry, forebear, to stop)only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him…But those who hope (Lit: To expect, tarry, wait for) in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Psa. 62:5 – Amp; Isa. 40:31- NIV).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

CATTLE DRIVING OR SHEPHERDING: WHICH IS IT ? (Part #1 of #3)

On a recent trip abroad, I encountered pastors and lay people who were exhausted, over extended, and spending precious little time with their families as they labored to advance the church. Generally, their time with God was on the back burner. These are good people, who are well intentioned, but off balance and over-extended.

I was reminded of a successful business owner several decades ago who had a marvelous ministry in winning and discipling men. Some years later I called on him for lunch to reminisce over the “old days.” Before parting, I asked him about his family and dejectedly he stated that his 29 year old son wanted nothing do with him. When his son was 19 he informed him that he deeply resented the fact that during his formative years he never had time for him as he rushed out most evenings to do church work. He then broke down and wept like a baby.

Could it be that we in the West have adopted and exported a business model for advancing the church by utilizing corporate type objectives and strategies? That is, success is measured in terms of size and numbers. To achieve their lofty numbers and objectives the “ministry” is often fast paced, highly professionalized and production driven. The staff “produces” or they are out because it is all about the three big “B’s”: Bodies, Bang, and Bucks.

Could it be that high powered leaders in attempting to satisfy their own ego needs have often transferred their hard-driving modus operendi from a secular venue to a spiritual one – the church? By way of contrast, First Century Christianity was a family affair. They met in homes with a profound sense of community. Slamming and jamming to get people in the door was not their way. It was all about nurturing, loving, worshiping, feeding, and equipping fellow believers. In a word, Acts 2:42: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” Thus, in a most natural fashion, the church went organic and grew spiritually and physically without a program centered agenda.

If we possess any illusion that we are in fact to co-labor with God, it is imperative that we operate with Him on His time table for the advancement of His Kingdom:

  • “…When the time had fully come, God sent his Son…” (Gal. 4:4)
  • Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass…” (Isa. 37:26). (See Isa. 22:11)

  • “He has made everything beautiful in its time …” (Ecc. 3:11b). German scholars, Keil and Delitzsch comment: “The beauty consists in this, that what is done is not done sooner or later than it ought to be, so as to connect itself as a constituent part to the whole of God’s work…In His world-plan, all things beautiful, falling out at the appointed time.”

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ISN’T THERE A BIT OF PETER IN ALL OF US?

Here is this exuberant, charismatic, high energy natural leader with a big heart, (and a big mouth), who stumbles all over himself to follow Jesus. Yet, Jesus loved Peter, and over time patiently worked out the kinks in his character, surrendering him at one point to the forces of the Enemy to experience the excruciating pain of total failure and brokenness – a prerequisite for doing true Kingdom work. “ Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Lk. 22:31, 32). Peter’s devastating failure in denying Christ was the Master’s tool for transforming him from a blustering wanna be, to an effective instrument in God’s hands.

Men, tell me: Isn’t there a bit of Peter in all of us ?

Is there anything more deeply engrained in us than our insufferable male pride? Is it not true that we spend much of our lives posturing, strutting, name dropping, competing, elbowing and manipulating our way to get ahead in order to prove our worth? If we are honest, most of us will do whatever it takes to curry the favor of our superiors, and polish our image to get out in front. The name of the game is to be noticed. To win. To prove to our fragile egos that we are somebody – a cut above the rat pack surrounding us.

Let me ask you: Have you ever been truly gutted of your insufferable male pride? The simple truth is that unless we are broken of it, God will not use us: “ 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…If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. (Jn. 12:24- NIV; 2 Tim. 2:21- NLT).

“To be free from the ‘me,’ is equivalent to being free from the enervating ‘what’s in it for me?’…From the stifling egocentrism and complacent materialism of class-conscious vanity…Freedom from self absorption is freedom for service” (Peter Gorday).

Let us resolve to be that rare specimen of manhood in whom the Spirit of God is resident and operative : 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).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM TWO MEN WHO’S LIVES WERE TRULY CHANGED BY THEIR ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST? (Luke 18:35- 19:9)

One was a destitute blind man, the other a financially bloated tax collector (Zacchaeus).

One was in desperate need of physical healing, the other in desperate need of spiritual regeneration.

Both men were intent on getting close to Jesus, and took the necessary measures to overcome the obstacles in front of them: The blind man hollered his head off, against the stern objection of the crowd, and got Jesus’ attention. Zacchaeus ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a tree so that he could see Jesus.

The blind man received his sight. Zacchaeus experienced spiritual rebirth.

The blind man followed Jesus. Zacchaeus offered restitution for his dishonest business practices.

At the end of the two narratives, Jesus states his purpose for his incarnation: “…The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Lk. 19:10). In similar manner, Jesus is seeking us out as he sought out these two needy men.

Let’s ask ourselves :

Am I seizing the moment when Jesus comes my way seeking me out? Or am I so pre-occupied with my stuff that I miss the moment? (See Isa. 10:3; Mk. 4:19; Lk. 9:57-61; 10:38-42; 17:26-28)

Do I truly believe Jesus can meet my needs, whatever they may be? The blind beggar certainly did!

Am I willing to circumvent all obstacles to get to Jesus? (See Lk. 5:11-26)

Am I living my life business as usual? Or do I possess an intense desire to encounter Christ, especially when he seems to be drawing near to me? (See; Rev. 3:15-20; Lk. 13:34, 35; Psa. 42:1,2; 63:1; Jer. 29:13)

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

R. Dwight Hill