Flashback Friday: Not Afraid To Fear The Lord

Originally published May 19, 2017.

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Evangelicals in the past 50 or so years have carefully minimized (or avoided altogether) the subject of fearing God. When, in the course of a group Bible Study, they inadvertently encounter verses about fearing God, they cough out a few sentences about simply revering Him before rapidly moving on to more manageable verses.

Fearing God isn’t politically correct anymore, even among Bible-believing Christians. We much prefer dwelling on the Lord’s goodness, compassion and love. That way, we keep Him much more approachable, even when we persist in our pet sins. Even more to the point, we make Him more attractive (we think) to non-Christians when we evangelize them. Talking about fearing Him, we reason, makes Him less marketable.

Scripture, however, never seems all that concerned with the Lord’s marketability, nor with keeping us comfortable even in our disobedience. Even the beloved book of Psalms, which often consoles false converts with poetic assurances of God’s love and mercy, insists that we need to fear Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all those who practice it have a good understanding.
    His praise endures forever! ~~Psalm 111:10 (ESV)

Does fearing God mean feeling literally afraid of Him? Well, yeah. Sometimes such fear is highly appropriate, actually. Such fear acknowledges His authority to establish His standards of how Christians ought to behave, and to discipline us when we violate His standards.

In considering the fear of the Lord, we must clarify that genuinely saved Christians can fear Him without doubting His love for us. Hebrews 12:6 explains that, as our heavenly Father, He disciplines the ones He loves. I realize that postmodern parenting, influenced by psychological models, often consider it unhealthy for children to fear parents, but God graciously allowed me to grow up in a time when I both knew the security of my mom’s love and feared her discipline.

I was a willful child (and, to my shame, I’m still very willful). In school, I had no problem defying a certain teacher. If he chose to punish my disobedience, I was perfectly fine with that. But I always begged him not to tell my mom. He always did, once even going to her workplace! And, although she really wasn’t as harsh with me as he was, I feared her discipline far more than I feared his.

Fearing God helps me obey Him more consistently. I know He won’t revoke my salvation because of my sin, but I also know that facing Him in judgment and accounting for ways I squandered opportunities to serve Him will be painful. I fear dishonoring Him, even as I rejoice in knowing that I will spend eternity with Him.

Fearing God gives me discernment to live in a manner that pleases Him. It teaches me holiness. Maybe fearing Him isn’t fashionable in the 21st Century, and maybe psychologists would disapprove of my fear of Him, but the Bible recommends this holy fear. It calls it the beginning of wisdom.

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Discernment In A Time Of Persecution

John is graciously typing this blog post as I dictate to him from bed. Because I cannot type this entry myself, I will not include Scripture quotes or links to verses — doing so would be difficult to teach John. Please don’t interpret this absence of Scripture as an abandonment of God’s Word.

Regardless of your eschatology, you must admit that evil is escalating. The political situation in the United States indicates that Bible believing Christians will face varying degrees of persecution in the next few months. Regular readers of this blog know that I have been warning about this probability for the last five and a half years, yet I’m not sure any of us (including me) have really let the truth sink in.

It’s not a truth we want to face.

As Elizabeth Prata shows us in her recent post about James Coates, Canadian Christians have begun to experience real persecution. In our prayers for this pastor and his family, American Christians must keep in mind that our pastors may soon experience the same suffering that James Coates and his family are going through.

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That’s The Kind Of Boldness We Need

John is graciously typing this blog post as I dictate to him from bed. Because I cannot type this entry myself, I will not include Scripture quotes or links to verses — doing so would be difficult to teach John. Please don’t interpret this absence of Scripture as an abandonment of God’s Word.

He was only at Terra Linda High during my Junior Year (if I recall correctly). During that year, the Lord saved him, and he was part of the Christian group that I was in. None of us noticed him very much since he was quiet and unassuming — unlike the rest of us. Due to his withered arm and slight limp, he didn’t impress us as being particularly strong or assertive.

We did notice him that day that we went to witness to the tough kids at school. As he presented the Gospel, one of the kids threatened to burn him with a cigarette stub. To our surprise, he puffed up his chest, took a step toward the kid and quietly said, “God ahead. I’ll take it for Jesus.”

Of course the kid with the cigarette backed down, but my girlfriends and I stared at each other in amazement. Where did he get that boldness? Did he know the kid wouldn’t really burn him? Was he really willing to suffer physical harm for the sake of the Gospel? My girlfriends and I could only gasp at his courage and wonder if we would have the same boldness.

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A Living Illustration

John is grIaciously typing this blog post as I dictate to him from bed. Because I cannot type this entry myself, I will not include Scripture quotes or references — doing so would be difficult to teach John. Please don’t interpret this absence of Scripture as an abandonment of God’s Word.

Many nights I lay in bed half praying and half thinking. As someone who struggles with insomnia, I spend many hours in this lovely state of vacillation — and usually it pleases me. Throughout the years, my thoughts have covered a wide variety of topics ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, and often the ridiculous wins out.,

In recent weeks, my nighttime meditations have been a little sublime as I pray for the man sleeping next to me. Usually I begin by thanking the Lord that I am married at all. That gratitude morphs into a time of reflecting on the kind of husband that John is, provoking even greater gratitude.

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A Necessary Eclipse Of Thought

John is graciously typing this blog post as I dictate to him from bed. Because I cannot type this entry myself, I will not include Scripture quotes or references — doing so would be difficult to teach John. Please don’t interpret this absence of Scripture as an abandonment of God’s Word.

January 20th, 2021 should have been a joyous day for me to blog. It marks 50 years since Christ brought me to salvation, and I had looked forward to writing a post celebrating all He has done in my life. Sadly, events in Washington, D.C. and around the country have eclipsed personal celebration, as Christians around the United States mourn the violence of January 6th and the inauguration of an administration that will surely result in persecution for us.

But haven’t I been warning about persecution over the last 5 years of this blog? Should we be surprised at actions of social media that seek to silence conservative voices (and specifically Christian voices)?

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I Needed A Snappy Title

Getting up Sunday morning, my back went out again. Yup, I probably fractured it, so I’m once again on bed rest for awhile. I needed a snappy title to reflect snapping my back bone a third time. I appreciate John for typing this on his laptop as I dictate to him. I’m not sure if I will dictate a few short blogs in the next month — maybe if I’m a good girl, John will agree to type for me.

The first time I had fractures, I told people that I injured myself skydiving. Last year, my story was that John made me carry him up three flights of stairs. This time, I struggled to come up with an outlandish explanation for my injury, but finally settled on snowboarding. You gotta have fun with these injuries!

This time around, the Lord is helping me pray in an orderly fashion. Normally I need to be at my computer where I can use my prayer lists in order to keep focused. But the Lord has given me inexplicable grace to pray through my list from memory yesterday and today. I cannot express the encouragement I feel at keeping up my communication with Him in this way.

Although I am not able to read my Bible, I have been watching Seed Family Worship videos on Youtube. These videos are a great Bible memorization tool for kids, and maybe for old ladies like me. At least it’s a way of getting a little Bible intake. I also intend to watch Sons of Korah videos on Youtube, since they put Psalms to music.

John and I wish each of you a merry Christmas filled with the wonder of God Incarnate. I look forward to blogging early in the new year.

The Person Christmas Celebrates — Hymn 4

Silent Night

O Come, All Ye Faithful

What Child Is This

Angels We Have Heard On High

All these beloved Christmas hymns exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, boldly proclaiming Who He is and why He came. Since my childhood, I’ve cherished each of them, growing more fond of them once I became a Christian. I love these hymns because they celebrate God’s incarnation. All Christians probably love them for the same reason.

Another beloved Christmas hymn stands out to me as perhaps the one that most magnifies Who Jesus Christ is. Its lyrics beautifully portray His glory and His humility. Maybe the other hymns I’ve mentioned do the same, but this hymn strikes a chord with me far more deeply. Over the years, it seems to grow more profound and wonderous in its depiction of the mighty God as the offspring of a virgin’s womb.

Enjoy these powerful lyrics that exalt our precious Lord Who was born to give us second birth. May your Christmas be filled with glory to the newborn King!

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Saturday Sampler: December 13 — December 16

Some blog posts are so tender that added comment would ruin them. When All Seems To Be Gain, Plan For Loss is one such blog post. You’ll appreciate Tim Challies for writing it.

Sometimes you can’t ignore the outlandish and ridiculous statements that crop up on Beth Moore’s Twitter feed. In The End Time, Elizabeth Prata analyzes Moore’s latest Twitter tirade by writing Beth Moore and the Danger of Dwelling on your Abuse. This essay isn’t about brow beating Beth Moore, however. Notice the beautiful encouragement in the concluding paragraphs.

With precision, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life shows us How the Church Was Fooled by enumerating various compromises and deceptions that have infiltrated churches in recent decades. Praise the Lord for Leslie, who boldly stands for Biblical truth! Her assessment of today’s culture is accurate, and something that each of us needs to carefully consider.

The Cripplegate features Joe Lum’s compilation of 10 reasons why singing is essential to worship. Particularly now, with more lockdowns threatened, Christians need encouragement to continue in congregational signing.

Alan Shlemon of Stand to Reason says that Reading the Bible Requires We Already Know. I love the way he takes the mystique out of properly understanding God’s Word. This article is by far my pick of the the week!

Where are our priorities? In The “Merry Christmas” Melee, Michelle Lesley questions the uproar over saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Her article asks us to examine ourselves and our commitment to the Gospel. If this annual debate grasps your attention, I hope you’ll consider Michelle’s point of view.

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What God’s Word Says Depends On What God’s Word Says

I once heard someone ask a pastor what to do when Bible reading seems dry. The pastor answered (quite seriously, I’m sorry to say), “Just keep reading until something jumps out at you.” He went on to explain that a verse that catches our attention is what the Holy Spirit has for us that particular day.

Never mind the context. Never mind the intent of the human author, or the way his original readers would have understood the verse. Above all, never mind that God spoke that verse very specifically, with a meaning that doesn’t change in order to accommodate our individual circumstances. All too often, professing Christians read the Bible with the expectation that they can arrive at a personal, subjective interpretation.

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What Should I Write?

Now that I feel better and I no longer have a Hickman catheter that requires visiting nurses to come daily, I have both energy and freedom to blog more often. After Christmas, I hope to blog every day (with occasional exceptions). Actually, I thought daily blogging would happen this week. Um, no — a couple things popped up to change that plan.

Still, I’m getting back into frequently producing blog content after five months of dealing with my illness. I lay in bed waiting for my PCA this morning with the frightening realization that I have no idea for a blog post. Yikes!

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