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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for January, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

SEVEN CREATIVE TENSIONS BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONALS FACE IN THE MARKET PLACE (Part #1) 1

Tension 1: The Love for God and the pursuit of profit :

How do you balance the two? What are we to do with Matthew 6:24: ” No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money .” No one would deny the fact that the demands to succeed in business can sidetrack a Christian from his primary responsibility, the pursuit of God: Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33a). The Matthew 6:19-33 passage does not condemn work itself, but is a warning that our focus on work and wealth must not become our first priority.

While Jesus had a great deal to say about poverty – “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk. 6:24) – (See Matt. 6:19), he supported resourcefulness and monetary stewardship, encouraging his followers to utilize their gifts and abilities. (See Matt. 25:14 – 30) Clearly, the Scriptures teach us to work, starting with God’s instructions to Adam: “ By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground” (Gen. 3:19a). (See 2 Thess. 3:14)

Here is how several top notch businessmen pondered this issue of the tension between the love for God and the pursuit of profit:

  • Bob Slocum : My work is successful as long as Christ becomes real each day in the arena of my daily work. I work for and pray toward business success, but, once that I have done all I can, I am learning to relax in the knowledge that blessings in terms of profit and loss are ultimately in God’s hands .” 2
  • Fred Smith : “My work is my worship.”
  • Charles Olcott (Former president of Burger King): “I’m not so sure that a ministry in the church is more important than one in the work place. Your time might be better spent ministering to people in the workplace where your visible witness is very strong.” 3
  • J. Phillips Wogaman : “We are concerned here not just with high moral standards but with personal holiness. To be a Christian businessperson is to care passionately about doing good…Such a Christian wishes to approach the business world as his or her special calling, recognizing that business life can be a form of ministry.” 4

CONCLUSION : In interviewing numerous business leaders, Dr. Laura Nash, author of Believers in Business, found the primary ways in which these men resolved the tension between materialistic financial concerns and personal focus on God was by stewarding their resources to be a credible witness for Christ in the marketplace, exhibiting a genuine concern for employee welfare, job creation, and rendering quality products and service. The story of the good steward in Luke 12:42-48 was frequently cited as their motivating example. (See Matt. 25:40)

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

R. Dwight Hill

1In this series, we will be drawing heavily from Dr. Laura Nash’s book, Believers in Business,”Thomas Nelson, Publishers 1982 – 2 Ordinary Christians in a High Tech World, 1683 Believers inBusiness, p 67 – 4 Christian Faith and Personal Holiness, 47, 48

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

HOW NOT TO NUKE YOUR CHRISTIAN WITNESS IN A NEW YORK MINUTE

The other morning I left my health club while it was still dark and raining. As I backed my car out of the parking space I heard a scraping, crunching sound. Gag. A utility truck had carelessly parked behind my car in a manner that I would hit him, simply by backing out of the parking space.

Later that day I learned the cost of repair would be about $700.00. A couple of hours later I decided to stop by the health club to inform them of the damage. I was cordial, and asked for no compensation. I – justwantedthemtoknowthatsomeoneontheir teamhadscrewedupAT – MY – EXPENSE!!

The moment I got back into my car, the Holy Spirit brought Philippians 2:14 to mind: Do everything without complaining or arguing.” In that instant, the sense of His presence and peace – which I had been enjoying throughout the day, evaporated. He, the Spirit, had been grieved. (Eph. 4:30) I bowed my head and said, “O Lord, forgive me. Forgive me.” Graciously, His presence returned. I prayed, “O Lord, help me to never complain again. About anything.”

Why is not complaining so important, anyway? Well, the passage goes on to explain:

“So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing” (Phil. 2:15, 16).

Translated means :

Blameless and pure, children of God without fault:” By being blameless and pure, we become a living example of authentic Christianity to our lost friends. Hey, everyone belly aches about stuff. So when they observe someone who doesn’t , it arrests their attention, “ What’s with this guy? What’s he got anyway?”

In a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe : They already know they are twisted, and it grabs their attention when they see someone who is not.

As you hold out [offer] the word of life :” Authenticity can create a receptive, inquisitive environment for hearing the Truth.

The opposite of complaining is praising God. By so doing, I acknowledge the Father’s goodness and sovereignty. After all, isn’t it the pain and adversity of life that He uses to chisel us into His likeness…if we praise Him instead of complaining?

PRAYER :“Lord, deliver me from my arrogance, my sense of entitlement, and my insufferable impatience. Daily, remind me of Jesus’ condition for discipleship: ‘ If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself’ (Lk. 9:23a – Philips Trans.). I so desire to represent you in the marketplace. Help me to not nuke that privilege by complaining.’” (See Exo. 16:2–9; Num.14:27-20; Psa. 105:25; I Cor. 10:10; Jms. 5:9; Jude 1:16)

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

IF YOU HAVE ANTS IN YOUR PANTS, READ THIS :

I have had ants in my pants since I was prenatal. In fact, I invented ADHD and modeled it with zest before I could soil a diaper. The T. V. clicker was invented for me: If it isn’t hot, CLICK IT. I am out of here! No wonder my new bride had 3 nervous breakdowns the first week of our marriage.

We live in a restless, narcissistic, and indulgent world that is forever seeking the next kick, buzz, or jolt. Thus the advent of extreme sports, throwaway/interchangeable marriages, continuously evolving and shifting job conditions.

Restlessness is about running away when things get tough, rather than sticking it out . It’s about being unquiet; thinking or feeling that there is something better somewhere else.

Often contributing to our restlessness is the gnawing sense that our work is unimportant; that the real work of God is done by missionaries who go to Timbuktu and sleep on boards in 140 degree heat, and eat ants for breakfast. According to Martin Luther, “…The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks… We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God.”

According to one study, about 80% of the working force does not like their work. Rather, they grind their way through it. That’s tragic, as God intends for us to find fulfillment in our work. A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God” (Ecc. 2:24). (See Ecc. 3:13, 22; 5:18). Certainly Jesus found satisfaction in his God-appointed work: My…nourishment is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish and completely finish His work” (Jn. 4:34 – Amp. – Selected).

Patience and endurance are about hanging in there when things get tough , and asking God to use your circumstances to mold your character to conform to his. We could learn a thing or two in this regard from:

Jesus who “endured the cross, scorning its shame…” (Heb. 12:2).

Paul who wrote Timothy, “You…know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance…” To the Philippians he wrote “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…In any and every situation…I can do everything through him who gives me strength…(2 Tim. 3:10; I Tim 6:6; Phil. 4:11 – 13 – Selected). (See 1Tim. 6:6)

The Thessalonians , to whom Paul wrote, We boast about your perseverance and faith in all the…trials you are enduring” (2 Thess. 1:4).

CHALLENGE: If you want to get rid of the ants in your pants and mature from restlessness to patient endurance,

  • Celebrate the fruit that comes out of suffering : “…We…rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3,4 – Selected).
  • Imitate godly heroes “…who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Heb. 6:12 ).
  • Cultivate the practice of stillness before God : “Do not fret…Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land…Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him…Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (Ps. 37:1,3,4,7 – Selected)

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

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

SIX IMPORTANT TRENDS IN AMERICA THAT BELIEVERS NEED TO UNDERSTAND (Part 6 of 6)

In this series thus far, we have explored Idols of Modern Culture, Secularism, Materialism, The vilification and marginalization of Evangelical Christianity, and the gutting of the middle class: Our subject in this “Facts”:

(6) The quest for spirituality/transcendence:

One writer defines this present generation as disenchanted, dissatisfied, disenfranchised, disgruntled, discomfited, and disconnected; 1 a generation trapped in the disillusioning muck and vacuum of a vapid pop culture that puts a premium on fast money, faster food, and turbocharged technology. Thus, they find themselves trapped in a society without a cause, identity or religion that they can rally behind to find solace. Little wonder then that many are on a search for a sense of purpose and spiritual peace in order to cope with their loneliness and anxiety in a secularized, materialistic world of disintegrating cultural values and broken family structures. Consequently, significant numbers are turning to postmodern cults, the occult, and drug abuse in their search for transcendent values or some unifying thread to explain the world in which they live.

Josh McDowell writes, “’We are the first generation in 300 years to go through a distinct cultural change.’ Francis Schaeffer once stated: ‘We no longer live in a Judeo-Christian culture; we live in post-Judeo-Christian culture.’ But we no longer live in a post-Judeo-Christian culture; we live in an anti-Judeo-Christian culture. In post-modernism there is no objective truth. And truth is not to be discovered; truth is to be created. Whatever you think is true, is true. It doesn’t matter what an author wrote in a book. Whatever it says to you is just as true as what the author wrote.” 2

If we are to reach this generation, they will be won not by shoving the truth into their face but by observing authentic Christianity in action. Consider Paul’s summation of what affected change in the lives of the Thessalonians: ” …We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. Affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives ” (I Thess. 2:7, 8 -NKJV). It was primarily the witness of their lives, coupled with the presentation of the gospel that won them over.

With the Thessalonians in mind, may I suggest three things we must do to reach this generation:

#1 We need to demonstrate Christ – honoring communities: With this hurting generation from fractured homes and relationships, they need to see and experience a sense of community as demonstrated in John 13 – 16.

#2 We need to live lives of deep compassion to demonstrate the credibility of the Gospel. (See Hos. 11:8; Matt. 9:12, 13; Heb. 4:15, 16)

#3 We need to model strong marriages and families: The leading desire of young singles is a happy marriage and home life. Marriages that reproduce authentic biblical models serve as a powerful platform to influence young adults today. The role of the father and his healthy relationship with his spouse and children speaks loudly to youth who are in desperate need of credible examples to emulate.

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

R. Dwight Hill

1Douglas Coupland – 2This is an excerpt from a message Josh McDowell preached at the 1998 Ministerial Enrichment Conference at Central Assembly of God, Springfield, Missouri