The Fear of the Lord


Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. – Psalms 25:12-14 (NIV)

We hear a lot of sermons on the love of God, many on His grace and on His mercy, but the fear of Lord does not get as much attention.  Fearing God has become underrated.  We live in an age that lauds fearlessness and celebrates the brash.  It is not courage that we hold up as valuable, but a lack of fear and there is a difference.

Too often we equate courage with fearlessness, but it is fear that is a prerequisite for courage.  Fearlessness is a form of sociopathic behavior.  It is an indicator that someone also lacks love or hope or faith.  Even Christians can sometimes fall into this pitfall.  We need to remember that it is not our fearlessness that equips us to live good lives, but our fear of the Lord casting out all other fears.

Fear of the Lord gives us courage to overcome all other fears.  It is the beginning of wisdom according to Proverbs.  Fear keeps us humble before God instead of calling Him our homeboy, copilot or buddy.  He is the everlasting, ever present and all knowing God and we do right to fear Him, but it is not a fear without hope.

The fear of the Lord is not where we end up, it is where we start.  It leads to a greater appreciation and gratefulness for His love, mercy and grace.  It opens our eyes to the future hope of heaven and our present power to live life abundantly.  The fear of the Lord gets us places that our fleshy fears would keep us from.

The world wants to hold us in fear, hold our children in fear, and we have a God who is not okay with us living timid and fretful lives.  The challenge of keeping our children from giving in to their fleshy fears is a long road.  At every twist and turn of growing up a new fear is introduced.  As we walk them through this terrain, we will need to draw them back to the fear of the Lord so that all other fears diminish.

Lord, help me be a man that fears the Lord.  May I live courageously in this life, unafraid of what the world may bring against me.  Give me all I need to raise my children to fear You and You alone. Amen.

Pagan Kings and the Will of God


“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.  Anyone of his people among you–may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.  And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.'” – Ezra 1:2-4 (NIV)

I think there is an assumption among Christians that the only place our kids can get shaped by God is in and by the church.  We can work towards insulating them in a cocoon of church activities and groups because we think that will protect them from sin.  This view, however, makes God less powerful and providential than His omnipotence would suggest.  God used numerous situations to shape His people that were outside the community of faith.  In the passage above, God is using a pagan king to replant His people in the promised land.  A pagan king.

The world is a scary, treacherous and sometimes dangerous place, but it is small compared to God.  If He chooses to work through a pagan king to bring His children home, who are we to question?  When I consider the different choices that face our family, I have to remind myself that fear is not a factor.  We are His children and He will bring us safely to His side, but we don’t get to decide who or what He uses to get us there.

I want my children to be safe.  I want them to be protected, but more than that, I want them to walk the road that God has set before them.  This is going to be a challenge, because I may have to trust people and situations that seem “unsafe” for my children.  I don’t relish those moments of decision where God is calling my child to be in a worldly place under worldly people.  I pray that I will be ready when those moments come.  I hope that I will see God’s hand at work in those situations and trust in His will and wisdom rather than my own.

Lord, help me to trust You with my children.  Give me the strength to let them go into the world, trusting that you can use even the things of this world to shape them for Your glory and honor.  Remind me of Your faithfulness and mercy when those moments arise.  Amen.

Describing God’s Wonders


Due to an amazing lightning storm that passed through our area, I spent about three hours troubleshooting our internet connection.  That said, I will be posting today’s post tomorrow.  However, I did want to share an experience I had with my daughter on our drive home last night.

Due to the normal juggling of rides, schedules and available drivers, I was bringing my oldest daughter, Keely, straight from her volleyball game to my writer’s group.  This would present her the possibility of finishing up some homework and staying up past her bedtime.  Unknown to us, a storm moved into the area during our meeting and we walked to the car gaping at the lightning scattering across the night sky.

While we were driving home, it was clear that Keely was a little unnerved by the quantity and quality of the lightning.  I tried to explain how we were safe since the rubber of the tires insulated the car and that most of the lightning was in the hills or travelling from cloud to cloud.  These scientific statements did not comfort her, and then it struck me. (horrible lightning pun intended)

I told her we were going to play a game that went like this: I would begin with a word beginning with the letter “A” that described lightning.  She would then have to come up with a word beginning with the letter “B” to describe lightning and so on until we reached the letter “Z.”  This seemed to help her focus less on her fear and more on the lightning.  Although she did use the word horrific for the letter “H.”

God can be scary and beyond comprehension, but when we take the time to concentrate on His character instead of on our fear, we begin to see Him differently.  We can appreciate the beauty of His power instead of worrying about how tiny we are in comparison.  This is why worship is so important – it gets our eyes off of us and our worries and on Him and His amazing qualities.  What is your alphabet description of God today?

With God There are No Giants


They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.  They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.  But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.  The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”  And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.  We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” – Numbers 13:26-33 (NIV)

It is hard to be a true believer.  It is difficult to trust what you have been told when everyone else seems to be turning a deaf ear to the truth.  No one said following God would take us through friendly territory, just that He would take us through.  Joshua and Caleb were true believers.  Apparently, they were a very small minority.

Teaching our children to stick to their faith, to follow through with their commitment to God, is critical.  We live in a culture of shifting beliefs and smorgasbord spirituality.  When we don’t like something, we go to a philosophical grab bag and pick out the ideology en vogue at the time.  This nonsensical atmosphere can seem like a land of giants, but with God there are no giants.  There is nothing, no one bigger than our God.

I want my daughters to be like Joshua and Caleb.  I want them to walk into their friendships, schools, groups and gatherings unafraid of the giants they may meet there.  My hope for them is based on the command and promise that God gave to Joshua later in his life: “Be strong and courageous … for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)  I want my daughters to be brave.

Lord, make me into a giant killer.  Help me to be brave when giants are in the land.  Give me the strength and will to overcome and the faith to believe.  Let me show my children that You are above all things. Amen.

A Child Among the Reeds


Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. – Exodus 2:1-3 (NIV)

My wife and daughter recently had an opportunity to go on a mission’s trip to Mexico with our church.  It was an established ministry with a number of trips already behind them over the last several years.  There were several adults in the group and a number of safety measures were in place.  It was very difficult to let them go without any fear or anxiety, to trust that they would be safe, but it was clear that this was the direction God was moving our family.

Trusting our children to the river and the reeds, trusting them to the care of God, is not an easy discipline.  We sometimes get being responsible for our children mixed up with having control over their lives.  When Moses was placed among the reeds, he began a journey that changed the course of history.  It was only through his mother’s willingness to let him go that kept him alive and moved him closer to fulfilling God’s purposes.  I don’t know what his mother felt like.  I can’t put myself in her shoes.  But I remember what I felt like when my wife asked if our little girl could go with her to Mexico.

Those feelings of fear, anxiety and doubt revealed a weakness in me.  It uncovered a crack in the armor; I needed to learn more about trusting God.  Instead of responding with excitement at the opportunity for my daughter to experience ministry, I reacted with trepidation.  It took some time, prayer and the patience of my wife for me to finally work it out, and I hope I will be more prepared the next time I need to let one of my children go into a situation that causes me discomfort.

God gives us responsibility over our children, but our ability to trust them to God’s care is at the heart of that responsibility.  We need to be willing to let our children be the people God created them to be, and that may take them directions we aren’t comfortable with.  As a matter of preparation, we need to turn our children over to God each day.  We need to pray that our children will be sensitive to God’s call on their lives, even if that means going places that cause us stress.

Lord, help me to trust you with my children.  Give me the courage and humility to trust you with their future, no matter where that leads them.  Release me from my false sense of control.  Amen

The Fear of the Lord


Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. – Psalms 25:12-14 (NIV)

We hear a lot of sermons on the love of God, many on His grace and on His mercy, but the fear of Lord does not get as much attention.  Fearing God has become underrated.  We live in an age that lauds fearlessness and celebrates the brash.  It is not courage that we hold up as valuable, but a lack of fear and there is a difference.

Too often we equate courage with fearlessness, but it is fear that is a prerequisite for courage.  Fearlessness is a form of sociopathic behavior.  It is an indicator that someone also lacks love or hope or faith.  Even Christians can sometimes fall into this pitfall.  We need to remember that it is not our fearlessness that equips us to live good lives, but our fear of the Lord casting out all other fears.

Fear of the Lord gives us courage to overcome all other fears.  It is the beginning of wisdom according to Proverbs.  Fear keeps us humble before God instead of calling Him our homeboy, copilot or buddy.  He is the everlasting, ever present and all knowing God and we do right to fear Him, but it is not a fear without hope.

The fear of the Lord is not where we end up, it is where we start.  It leads to a greater appreciation and gratefulness for His love, mercy and grace.  It opens our eyes to the future hope of heaven and our present power to live life abundantly.  The fear of the Lord gets us places that our fleshy fears would keep us from.

The world wants to hold us in fear, hold our children in fear, and we have a God who is not okay with us living timid and fretful lives.  The challenge of keeping our children from giving in to their fleshy fears is a long road.  At every twist and turn of growing up a new fear is introduced.  As we walk them through this terrain, we will need to draw them back to the fear of the Lord so that all other fears diminish.

Lord, help me be a man that fears the Lord.  May I live courageously in this life, unafraid of what the world may bring against me.  Give me all I need to raise my children to fear You and You alone. Amen.

Pagan Kings and the Will of God


“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.  Anyone of his people among you–may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.  And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.'” – Ezra 1:2-4 (NIV)

I think there is an assumption among Christians that the only place our kids can get shaped by God is in and by the church.  We can work towards insulating them in a cocoon of church activities and groups because we think that will protect them from sin.  This view, however, makes God less powerful and providential than His omnipotence would suggest.  God used numerous situations to shape His people that were outside the community of faith.  In the passage above, God is using a pagan king to replant His people in the promised land.  A pagan king.

The world is a scary, treacherous and sometimes dangerous place, but it is small compared to God.  If He chooses to work through a pagan king to bring His children home, who are we to question?  When I consider the different choices that face our family, I have to remind myself that fear is not a factor.  We are His children and He will bring us safely to His side, but we don’t get to decide who or what He uses to get us there.

I want my children to be safe.  I want them to be protected, but more than that, I want them to walk the road that God has set before them.  This is going to be a challenge, because I may have to trust people and situations that seem “unsafe” for my children.  I don’t relish those moments of decision where God is calling my child to be in a worldly place under worldly people.  I pray that I will be ready when those moments come.  I hope that I will see God’s hand at work in those situations and trust in His will and wisdom rather than my own.

Lord, help me to trust You with my children.  Give me the strength to let them go into the world, trusting that you can use even the things of this world to shape them for Your glory and honor.  Remind me of Your faithfulness and mercy when those moments arise.  Amen.