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Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Dear Colleagues,

THE ONE THING

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Today a large segment in our society tends to define itself and its sense of worth by its busyness.  If you are engaged in some form of ministry you also run the risk of defining yourself not only by your ministry but by your being chronically busy. Both can easily become a form of idolatry and bondage.

The media and other powerful forces in our culture create an atmosphere of chronic emergency, false expectations and continual needs.  A recent Time Magazine article informs us that we have become Crisis Junkies. In the Christian arena certain forces, if left unchecked will eschew our priorities to the effect of putting us out of touch with God. Oswald Saunders in his classic work Spiritual Clinic has a section on the over sensitive conscience that can easily be exploited by a false feeling of guilt, and an unrealistic standard of ministry performance.  This overly sensitive conscience can become unduly burdened with a sense of obligation to fix everyone and everything. Left unchecked, the pressure of these forces upon our lives can and will stifle the Spirit of God from freely flowing through us in order to renew and empower us in order to use us.  In time we can easily feel manipulated and exploited by people, and by forces outside our control. Increasingly, we may experience a sense of resentment, a paralyzing feeling of disconnectedness, isolation, fragmentation, loneliness and anger.  Left unchecked, we will become depressed, lose heart and grow cynical.  And probably withdraw from a life of fruitful ministry.

What is the answer to the external pressures of the world and our own (often self-imposed) demands upon ourselves to overtake us?  Well, Jesus intends that we move from bowing to the many voices and demands of our ageand of our heart, to focusing on the One Thing:  Knowing Him.  (Phil. 3:7; Matt. 6:33; Lk. 10:41)  The sweet pursuit of knowing Him must possess us.  It must intoxicate us. It must become our magnificent obsession.  At the center of truly knowing Him, of developing intimacy with Him is learning to listen to the voice of God in an atmosphere of unrushed solitude, only made possible by creating space in our lives from the noise and pressure of the world and ministry. The fundamental nature of the ministry must be born out of the One Thing, rather than the One Thing being relegated to a supplementary place of relevance to our busyness and ministry.

In the Western world we tend to be highly cognitive, systematic, and rationalistic in our thinking and in our approach to spiritual formation/growth.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with these patterns of thought.  But when they are out of balance in relationship to the contemplative life, they rob us from experiencing a deeper level of intimacy with Jesus.  It is importantNo, it is imperative that we learn the delicate balance between the cognitive processes of the mind, and the sensitive response of the heart to the Spirits prompting.  I am suggesting to you that there is a Spirit guided intimacy a mystical intimacy if you please, with Him that He desires for us, but we must put ourselves in a position where He can lead us into that experience with Him.  Information based as we are, we run the risk of gathering too much information/knowledge, and thereby choking out the Spirit and the quiet voice of GodChoking out the sweetness of His healing and loving touch that needs to reach us at our very core of our being.

When we approach the study and meditation of the Scriptures, we must invite the quiet voice of God to lead us. There are times, I have discovered when He gently impresses upon me to put the Book awayturn off the light, and be still before Him. (Psa. 46:10). Perhaps just listenand wait. Or simply allow Him to love me. Or engage my heart in worship.

In summary, are we being released from the internal and external forces that would rob and restrict us from experiencing the free movement of the Spirit of God that will woo us into a deeper intimacy with Him?  I believe it is the Fathers heart to draw us toward new levels of relationship with Him. Beyond anything we could to this point imagine?

But [now] I am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Cor. 11:3 Amp.)

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

 

R. Dwight Hill

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