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There’s a difference between a fact and a problem.

There’s a difference between a fact and a problem.

APRIL 12, 2023

/ Programs / Key Life / There’s a difference between a fact and a problem.

Steve Brown:
There’s a difference between a fact and a problem. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
Welcome to Key Life. I’m Matthew, executive producer for the program, and our host is author and seminary professor, Steve Brown. The church has suffered under do more, try harder religion for too long. And Key Life is here to proclaim that Jesus sets the captive free.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. Yesterday we started talking about a subject, and I’m an expert in it because I’m a person who likes to control my environment. I go to the same restaurants, control. I have the same friends, control. I put on a mask so that people won’t know if I’m silly or sad, that’s called control. When anybody is hurting, I try to fix it. When I’m hurting, I pretend it didn’t happen, that’s called control. And that’ll kill you. It’ll kill you when you don’t laugh, when you want to laugh. And when you don’t cry, when you need to cry. We spent a long time talking about that, and I mentioned Fred Smith, my late mentor’s comment, that there’s a difference between a fact and a problem. And we have far more facts than we have problems, and Fred said that the essence of maturity is to know the difference between a fact and a problem. A fact is something that just is, you don’t fix it, you can’t make it better. It is what it is. That may be your divorce, or death, or the diagnosis you got, or your children that aren’t doing what you taught them to do, or maybe it’s your preacher, or maybe it’s the politics that we’re going through right now, maybe, and I could just go on and on. So much of that is a fact and we can’t fix it. Now, problems that’s different, you can give some effort to that and change some things, but not often. As I spend this time, writing this book, some of my oldest and most beloved friends are struggling horribly. The wife has Alzheimer’s and they sold their home and moved to an extended care facility after they moved into the new apartment and everybody who helped them move had left, my friend told me that he and his wife just held each other and they cried together. That’s, that’s so sad, I can hardly stand it, but listen to me, there’s more to the story. I’m friends with another couple where the wife is also dealing with the same horrible disease and asked him how they dealt with that tragedy. And he said, you know what we do, we laugh a lot and some things that happen are really funny. We both know that it’s bad and we can’t remedy the situation. So, we’ve learned to make jokes about it and they do. One time when we were having dinner together at a restaurant, his wife excused herself, got up and left and she was gone for a long time. When she came back to the table, he asked her why she had taken so long. She said, I got lost and I went into the men’s room instead of the women’s room. It took a long time for me to explain my being there to the men who were surprised to see me. Then she laughed and said, only joking, and we all laughed. I told my friends who had moved into the extended care facility about that incident and how sometimes the best way to deal with the dark was to make jokes about it. It’s still hard for them as it is for you, I said, but they do laugh at the funny things that happen. Later my friend told me that the advice about laughing was the best advice he had ever received. I think it’s going to be okay. It was as it were, like growing flowers in hell. That’s an arresting phrase, isn’t it? Growing flowers in hell. Who does that? Let me tell you, people who have stopped trying to control everything, they do that. People who know the difference between a problem and a fact, they do that. And people who know God, they do that. Frankly, I have no idea how atheists deal with the dark, for them growing flowers in hell would seem insane. There’s an old story of a dying gangster who offered an incredible amount of money to his doctor, if the doctor would keep him alive, that was his MO. It’s called control and without God, it’s all he had. That’s particularly sad because we control far less than we think we control. Now, I’ve got some more bad news for you, but I’m going to save it until tomorrow. But right now say a prayer, say.

Lord Jesus, let me know in my life the difference between a problem and a fact. By your Spirit, allow me to see the truth. I’ll go where you want me to go and I’ll do what you want me to do and I’ll say what you want me to say because I’m your servant and maybe I’ll be helpful. But Father, let me see those places where if I go there and I say that and I do that, it won’t change a thing. Help me to understand the difference between a problem and a fact, and help me to accept the fact and to leave it with you and to laugh and laugh and laugh.

By the way, that’s good advice and that’s Biblical advice. And that’s what Jesus meant when he said, don’t be anxious. He was telling us there are things you can’t control and you’ve got to trust God. Isn’t that awful? That you have to trust God? He won’t fail you. You think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown continuing to guide us through the Biblical foundations of his latest book, Laughter and Lament. And today we resume this vein we’ve been mining. Weighing out the difference between a problem and a fact and exploring the idea of growing flowers in hell. So much more to discover tomorrow, do not miss that. Well, we recently had the Richard Foster join us on Steve Brown Etc. and in that conversation we discussed the virtue of humility. Take a listen to part of that conversation, then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer.

George Bingham: It seems like in our age, people could easily tend to hear the word humility and think humiliation. Can you just basically give us what it is? Tell us what humiliation or humility is.

Richard Foster: Yeah. Humiliation is the opposite, it is the destruction, the pressing down, but humility is, think of the word humus. It brings us to the earth. It’s a, it’s a recognition of who we really are. We don’t puff ourselves up beyond what we should be. We don’t try to denigrate ourselves. In fact, it is a sort of self forgetfulness in a way. Here’s a statement from C.S. Lewis who was so able to just capture an image of something, and here he’s describing humility, he writes.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man or woman, of course, he will be what most people call humble nowadays. He will not be a sort of greasy, smarty person who is always telling you that of course he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him, it will because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility. He will not be thinking about himself at all.

Isn’t that lovely?

Cathy Wyatt:
Wow. I love the way Richard was talking about how he began the whole process and where there things that were just incredibly surprising as you worked your way through this whole subject matter of humility.

Brenda Quinn: Early in the book, I think it’s in the very first chapter, Richard talks about Jesus, and that Jesus is our model for humility. And he uses the passage from Philippians 2:5 to 8. And I’m just going to quickly read this passage, it says.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness and being found in human form. He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

And I’ve known that passage for years and years and memorized that passage, but the more I have thought about this passage and the fact that if Jesus had not humbled himself, he would not have come to this earth as a human being. Right? And he would not have given himself and his life for us to take our sin away and we would not have an eternity with God. And so, we can, we can think about the quality of humility as just one of the many virtues and one of the things that, like the Fruits of the Spirit, we’re all seeking to exhibit these things in our life. But really when you think about what Jesus did and the humility that it took for him to come to this earth as God and put himself in a human body, when he didn’t have to do that and he had the glory of all Creation that he deserved and that was due him, our lives are eternally changed because Jesus humbled himself. And so, when I think about that in the context of, we’re not just supposed to take on a little bit of humility so we can be a little bit like Jesus a little bit more. But think about if every Jesus follower in our world took seriously humbling themselves as Jesus did. What, how would our world be affected?

Matthew Porter:
That was Steve, the etcetera gang, plus Richard Foster and Brenda Quinn, who helped him with the book. We want you to hear that entire episode on CD, for free. So, call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. Or to mail your request go to to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Just ask for the free CD featuring Richard Foster. Finally, a question, a request really, would you prayerfully consider partnering in the work of Key Life through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or simply text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950 and then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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