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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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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It’s Not Too Late For Christians

John and I regularly listen to The Dividing Line webcast with Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries. Yes, people, I know James White is a controversial figure, and sometimes he aligns himself with teachers he really shouldn’t (most notably, Michael Brown). At the same time, White holds tightly to Reformed Theology, and has an excellent understanding of history in general. We value his insight and carefully consider his perspective — even when we don’t share his conclusions.

White has made various predictions about our country’s trajectory that cause many to accuse him of wearing a tin foil hat. He firmly believes that the Biden administration will plunge the United States into a dystopian society. And he thinks the damage will be irreversible.

I hope he’s wrong. I believe he’s right.

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My Fear For Evangelical Ostriches

Generally, ostriches are among my favorite animals. I love their flirtatious eyes, if you really want to know (which you probably didn’t). I love emus for the same reason, and had my husband photograph this one at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo:

But ostriches — and probably emus — have a reputation for burying their heads in the sand. Our culture has consequently turned their practice into a metaphor describing someone who tries to avoid unpleasant realities.

I’m thinking about that metaphor after a recent conversation with a Christian we know. John and I had watched a documentary about Corrie ten Boom, a Christian woman from Holland who had been imprisoned in a Nazi Concentration Camp during World War II. Corrie and her family had provided a hiding place for Jews fleeing persecution, only to be caught for doing so. Her father and her sister both died in Concentration Camps, while Corrie was unintentionally released due to a clerical error (and of course, God’s providence).

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The Person Christmas Celebrates — Hymn 2

It’s no accident that my articles on this blog tend to emphasize God’s holiness. Unlike generations before us, present-day Christians care little about fearing the Lord, preferring to see Him as a Butler, a Buddy or (worst of all) a romantic/sexual Partner. Such casual attitudes towards the Creator and Sustainer of the universe very much require a counterbalance. I have no problem helping to provide that counterbalance.

Ah, but I must guard against being unbalanced in the opposite direction!

Providentially, I spent most of last week working through Psalm 103, in which David lists the Lord’s tender qualities. This psalm brings out His beautiful sympathy towards those who fear Him, illustrated by His commitment to completely separate our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west.” Out holy God is also our compassionate Father. Jesus is our sympathetic Friend.

Our sympathetic Friend should be celebrated this Christmas. As we remember Him coming into the world as a Man Who understands our frailties, we rejoice that He is our dearest Friend.

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Preaching The Gospel To Myself As I Pray

I don’t know where people get the idea that those of us with physical disabilities are especially proficient in prayer. I definitely struggle in that spiritual discipline, quite frankly. Thankfully, E-Sword, the free Bible software that I use, includes a feature that helps me organize my prayer life.

So this past year I’ve been taking time during my daily prayers to thank the Lord for saving me. In so doing, I have developed the practice of thanking each Person of the Trinity for His specific role in bringing me to that salvation. Prayers along those lines has both heightened my awareness that my salvation comes completely from God and deepened my love for the Trinity.

Writing about aspects of my prayer life makes me nervous, fearing that I come across as boastful. Believe me, I’m all too aware that I have a very long way to go before I could consider my prayer life to be exemplary! In writing this article, I most assuredly don’t mean to hold myself up as a standard to follow.

Rather, I write this article in hopes that I might honor the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit while demonstrating how each of Them has worked to save me from the due penalty of my sins. Although time doesn’t allow me to give you all the Scriptures substantiating my points, perhaps this little blog post might encourage you to study the matter for yourself.

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A Song To Make Us Think

As a teenager, I liked the music of B.J. Thomas — especially “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” So I praised the Lord when, somewhere around 1979, he made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I bought both of his Christian albums and wore out my cassette player by playing them.

Monday John put “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” on YouTube in honor of the weather. I then asked him to search for Thomas’ Christian songs (he had no idea that B.J. Thomas had recorded Christian songs), and we were pleasantly surprised that YouTube had quite a number of them.

Of course they were simplistic and a tad smaltzy. Most popular Christian music during that time period was. But John and I listened to several songs, hoping B.J. Thomas had a genuine conversion.

One song captured my attention.

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Thanksgiving For God Himself

Typically on the Sunday before Thanksgiving I post a hymn emphasizing giving thanks. That’s something readers expect from Christian bloggers who post Sunday hymns. And it’s by all means a perfectly reasonable expectation.

But 2020 has been anything but a typical year, and I want to look at this holiday from a slightly different perspective. Instead of emphasizing thankfulness in and of itself, I’ve selected a hymn that centers on the One Who deserves our thanks — not for what He gives us, but for Who He is.

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A Brief Update

After some phone conversations with the nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office, we suspect that I’ve been suffering from acid reflux due to a hernia in my diaphragm. I’ll get examined Wednesday.

The metallic taste of nearly everything I eat plus the queasiness in my stomach has, as you might expect, greatly diminished my appetite. In turn, the lack of nutrition has made me very tired. Thus, writing blog posts (particularly the type of posts I want to write at this point in time) isn’t too probable.

I may try writing a post over the course of a few days. I prefer writing all in one sitting, but perhaps I need to learn new ways.

My greatest fear is hernia surgery. Hospitalization is always scary for me due to my speech defect. Now with COVID I fear being without someone to advocate for me.

I’d appreciate your prayers. I have no idea what God is doing. I only know I miss blogging.

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