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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for December, 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

WEAK FATHERS…AND THE TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES (Part #2 of 3)

Jacob, Shechem and Dinah

Shechem, a Philistine, violated Jacob’s daughter Dinah and then demanded that his father, Hamor get her for his wife. Hamor sought reconciliation with Jacob, offering land, and trade agreements. Shechem offered a generous dowry. Two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, used religion, prostituting the sign of the covenant (circumcision) by their scheme of deceiving the father and son into circumcising all the males in their city. While in pain they were slaughtered, including Hamor and his son Shechem. Simeon, Levi and their brothers then proceeded to loot the dead bodies and the city, seizing all their assets, and carrying off their women and children.

Surely the sins of Jacob’s sons far exceeded the sin of Shechem. (See Gen. 34) Where did Simeon and Levi learn such evil? From dad, who deceived his brother Esau, stealing his birthright for a bowl of stew. And what was the birthright?

A double portion of the father’s inheritance. (Dt. 21:17)

The rule over the brethren and the entire family. (Gen. 27:29)

The title blessing to the promise which included the future possession of Canaan and of covenant fellowship with Jehovah. (Gen. 27:4, 27-29; 28:4)

David, Amnon, Tamar and Absalom

About three years after David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah (2 Sam. 11), David’s son Amnon rapes his half sister Tamar. Amnon’s brother Absalom takes up the offense and murders Amnon. (2 Sam. 13:1-20) Clearly, David’s unbridled sins of lust and murder built the same values and patterns into his two sons, Amnon and Absalom, and set in motion the decline of David’s family and the nation of Israel.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

WEAK FATHERS…AND THE TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES (Part #1 of 3)

Two days ago I listened to a father who lamented that he had lost control of his rebellious teenage daughter because of his weak leadership in the home. Yesterday I received a letter from a missionary who belatedly realizes that his feeble leadership in the home has resulted in dysfunctional patterns in the family to the degree that will now necessitate their return to the U. S. Both of these men are woefully ignorant of the Biblical mandates of what God expects of men heading a household. Both are victims of ingesting the pagan mores of our decadent culture and are paying a high price for that ignorance in terms of what they are producing in their marriage and progeny. (See Gen. 18:19; Jos. 24:15; I Tim. 3:4,5, 12; Tit. 16)

Looking back over these many years, one of the highest points of my life was the night of my son’s wedding rehearsal when he whispered in my ear, “Dad, I made it.” Translated: “We stayed pure.” In his teens I told him, “ Your mother and I were virgins when we married and we expect the same of you.” Today, what he has become as a man is to God’s glory.

Dads, whatever you presently are sowing in your marriage and family, you no doubt will reap in the values and actions of your children for generations to come. (Gal. 6:7, 8; Exo. 20:50)

In this and two subsequent “Facts” are four weak fathers in the Old Testament who powerfully bear this truth out :

Samson and the Philistine woman

Samson was attracted to a young Philistine woman and demanded that his father “get her for [him] as [his] wife.” Insipidly the father and mother reply, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson again demanded of his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me”(Jud. 14:1-3).

Here is a weak father who knew the law God had laid down that disallowed inter-marriage with pagans. Yet he did not have the guts to stand up to his own son. Samson’s life became a comic tragedy. Would it have been such if his father had possessed a steel spine rather than a yellow streak? (See Deu. 7:2, 3; Exo. 34:12-16; Jud. 13 – 16)

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

So tell me: How, in these troubling times can I respond to the command in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

As I write, economic, political and social gyrations around the world leave us unsettled, portending an uncertain future. In this past year, numerous madmen have gone amuck, randomly slaughtering innocents across the globe; innumerable financial scams at the highest levels of commerce have defrauded untold millions. Daily, it seems, terrorists unleash their irrational fury in the public square. In my small community families are unraveling at an alarming rate.

It appears to me that most people around me live with an internal angst over these and other troubling events that daily crash in upon them. Few, it seems truly experience the peace of Christ in their daily lives. Yet, the Scriptures call us to “be still and know that [He is] God.” (See Hab. 2:20; Zech. 2:13)

Psalm 46 gives us assurance that such a tranquility of soul is possible:

  • God promises us that amidst our troubles, he is our refuge, strength and fortress:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…The God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah” (Psa. 46:1,11b). Therefore, we can choose – moment by moment – to rest in Him over our circumstances.

  • We choose not to fear by surrendering to him the events that are out of our control:


Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah ” (Psa. 46:2, 3). (See Psa. 23:4; 27:3; Heb.13:6)

  • We also choose to rest in his sovereign assurance that by his presence he controls the outcome of calamitous events in our world :

God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it…He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire ” (Psa. 46:5, 9).

Ultimate freedom in life is the will to choose the right attitude. We can either be paralyzed by fear, or liberated from its tyranny. It all depends on our view of God: We can choose to believe he is the Sovereign God of the universe, or a bit player on the world stage. One choice leads to inner solitude, the other to inner turmoil.

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ACCEPTING GOD’S INSCRUTABLE PLAN

There are times in our lives when comprehending the ways of God are about as baffling as unlocking a three dimensional aerobics’ cube.

As I write, I am thinking about a godly friend of mine who is suffering through his third round of cancer. Excruciating. Grinding. Confusing. Numbing to the soul. Not to mention the emotional and financial toll on the family he supports. As Eugenia Price once wrote, there are no easy or pat answers to life’s enigmatic issues.

This morning in prayerfully pondering my way through John 11’s account of Lazarus’ death and resurrection, I jotted down three observations that may give us a glimpse into the inexplicable workings of God:

  • Unbeknown to us amidst our suffering, God has his own purposes : Jesus: “This sickness…is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (Jn. 11:4b). (See Jn. 9:2,3)
  • There are times in our doubt and confusion when we are tempted to seriously question God’s wisdom as to how he is conducting his affairs : When Jesus informed the disciples that they would be returning to Judea to visit Mary and Martha, they replied, But Rabbi…a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?” (Jn. 11:8b). (See Jn. 11:16) Upon hearing of Jesus return “…Mary…fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (Jn. 11:32). (See John 11:21) When Jesus ordered the stone removed to raise Lazarus, Martha replied, “But, Lord…by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days” (Jn. 11:39b).
  • Often in God’s mysterious plan, what appears to be reality is not : Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him upThis sickness will not end in death…[Jesus] told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead….Whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (Jn. 11:4b, 11, 14, 26b).

In seeking to make sense out of God’s ways, we choose to rest in our Sovereign Lord’s affirmation: “’M y thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ ” (Isa. 55:8b, 9). And we affirm with Paul that this side of eternity “we see but a poor reflection in a mirror” (I Cor. 1312a). Paul further affirmed the inscrutability of our Sovereign Lord, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond finding out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor” (Rom. 11:33, 34)? (See Job 36:23; Isa. 40:13; I Cor. 2:16; Eph. 1:11)

Looking back over my 61 years with Christ, I am now gaining glimpses into the wisdom of God behind the scenes as he worked for his glory and our betterment. “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?…As for God, his way is perfect…” (Pro. 20:24; Psa. 18:30a).

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

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

REVIEW FROM LAST WEEK’S FACTS: 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).

WE CONTINUE : This is the Father’s calling for us. Yet, in our frantic, frenetic, insecure activity-driven lives we often resist His invitation: 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’” (Isa. 30:15).

Jesus echoed a similar invitation: ” O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” And the cost of our rejection? Look, your house is left to you desolate” (Matt. 23:37-39).

In observing the goal driven approach to ministry where people become pawns and the pressure to increase the numbers is king, our spiritual leaders often look more like cattle drivers than shepherds. When Jacob and Esau met for reconciliation, hard driving, hunter-provider Esau stated, “Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you.” Jacob, concerned that his sheep and children not be driven like cattle, countered, “You know, my lord, that the children are tender and delicate and need gentle care, and the flocks and herds with young are of concern to me; for if the men should overdrive them for a single day, the whole of the flocks would die” (Gen. 33:12 -Amp. 13b- NIV).

To help determine if you are a cattle driver or a shepherd, you may want to prayerfully ponder the following passages, and then thoughtfully consider the questions below:

The Lord is my shepherd…He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake…He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young…The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full…I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Psa. 23:1-3; Isa. 40:11; Jn. 10:10, 11).

Is the pace and tone of your life reflective of the beauty and measured tempo of Christ’s life?

If your life is your message (and it is), what message are you sending by the tenor of your life: (1) God is in sovereign control? Or (2) It’s panic city, because it’s all up to me?

If you are running at a frantic pace, what does that suggest about the quality of your times alone with God?

So, tell me, are you a cattle driver or a shepherd? Or the victim of a crushing man made religious system?

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly ” (Matt. 11:28-30 Msg.).

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

R. Dwight Hill