Friday, October 24, 2008
Many people misunderstand what it means to have a fear of the Lord. They see it as being afraid of God or punished and unfairly judged by Him. But that's not what the fear of the Lord is. The fear of the Lord is a respect for God that makes us want to please and obey Him; a respect that causes us to feel Godly remorse when we don't. This fear of the Lord is not for God's benefit--though surely God delights in His children when they follow His precepts--but it is for our benefit! Yes, the fear of the Lord is more about our well-being than God's!
I think Tony Evans of The Urban Alternative says it best:
"When you fear the Lord, you take God seriously. You give God the appropriate respect, reverence, honor and awe for His person and His position. It also means that you live your life understanding that because God loves you, He will hold you accountable for your actions. In other words, you know that God is God and you're not. Over and over the Bible promises great blessings to the man or woman who walks in the fear of the Lord. Psalm 128:1 says, 'How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.'" Tony Evans
Evans asks the question, "Do we have that kind of respect for God?" I think that's a great question! Many of us don't respect God because it means we have to submit to Him and listen to what He's telling us. We don't want to be held accountable, because that means we have to change our ways, which is often hard work. But the question I ask others and myself is, "How is ignoring God working for me, or you?" Is life really any easier by not respecting God?
Those who refuse to fear God are often the most fearful of life and death. They're fearful not in a respectful sense, but in the sense of being scared, anxious, or worried. I know this because it used to be me. Death terrified me. I obsessed over relationships. I worried constantly about what other people thought of me. In my fretting over the present, I put unrealistic expectations on the future. In all of this there was no respect, awe or reverence for anything; just a constant striving on my own part to create and control my world. I think we can agree that that is no way to live.
Is living in the fear of the Lord ever scary? Well, sometimes. Sometimes it's scary to know that God reads my mind and knows every thought that crosses it. It's unsettling to know he heard every word I spoke over coffee with a friend, and that every word wasn't Christ-like. But you know what? When I wasn't a Christian, the guilt over these things would eat me up. I knew I was a gossip, or had any number of failures in integrity. But I had no where to go with it! Talk about scary!
But God does give us a place to go with this stuff. Under His loving hand of conviction, knowing that Jesus died for these very lapses in character, I repent to Him. I commit to relying on Him so that I won't sin in this way again. He forgives me and wipes the slate clean, making me desire to work towards being more Christ-like. And I keep going to Him until together we get it right, and then start dealing with the next thing! That's something I never achieved when I lived in fear of myself and life and not God. I never achieved peace of mind. I never found right motivation to improve.
The fear of the Lord is about a trust in God and accountability to Him that allows us to live with a clear conscience and to change our ways for good. And there's nothing scary about that!
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
"But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24
"The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." Psalm 147:11
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Proverbs 1:7
"He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge." Proverbs 14:26
"The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor." Proverbs 15:33
"Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble." Proverbs 28:14
"He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure." Isaiah 33:6
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Well, I've finally figured out what happened to my Hewlett Packard Pavilion laptop. It seems there has been problems with the motherboard on some of these units, so HP is going to extend my warranty (which expired in September) and fix my laptop.
Not even Best Buy (where the laptop was purchased) was aware of this problem when I took it to the Geek Squad. In fact, they basically gave my laptop back to me and said "call HP." Before doing that, however, I took it to the computer experts at Milwaukee PC in Sheboygan, who ran more diagnostics and who then informed me that they had just learned of the motherboard problem, and that I should contact HP because I'd probably get an extended warranty to fix it.
If you have an HP Pavilion laptop, you may be interested in going to http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01087277&lc=en&dlc=en&cc=us&lang=en&product=1842155 to see if you are eligible for an extended warranty. If you are having problems with the models mentioned in this link, contact HP.
Not having my computer has caused some delay in writing my blog, but I hope to keep posting while my computer is away.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
My laptop died over the weekend and is now undergoing diagnostics tests by the computer experts.
A word to the wise: procrastination and computers don't mix. In other words, I put off backing up my writings and photographs and now they might be lost forever! Why didn't I play it safe and back stuff up and print out photos as I went along?
Isn't that just like life? We sail along, putting things off, thinking maybe the repainting of the house, the fixing of the car, or the long over-due doctor check-up will just go away. We'll never get sick any way, and the house and car will hold up for another year. Until we do get sick with an ailment that could have been caught early, and we notice the wood on the house is beginning to rot in places from lack of protective paint!
Spiritually, it's easy to fall into the same trap. We think "I'll read my Bible tomorrow;" "I’ll start going back to church one of these days;" "I'll devote time to prayer when things settle down." But tomorrow is just as busy as today and our church and prayer life never materializes. And then out of the blue, our life crashes. It's then we realize we haven't been backing-up our life with Bible reading, prayer and church. We have no foundation on which to stand because our relationship with God hasn't been built.
The time for me to save my documents and photos was before my computer crashed and before my hard drive may have to be erased. The time to prepare for life's stresses and tragedies is before they happen. A relationship with the Triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the best and only back-up to life that I know of. And that relationship works wonderfully on good days too!
"The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." Matthew 7:25
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." Luke 6:46-49
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
This story by Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press is making headlines this morning:
WASHINGTON - Days after it got a federal bailout, American International Group Inc. spent $440,000 on a posh California retreat for its executives, complete with spa treatments, banquets and golf outings, according to lawmakers investigating the company's meltdown.
AIG sent its executives to the coastal St. Regis resort south of Los Angeles even as the company tapped into an $85 billion loan from the government it needed to stave off bankruptcy. The resort tab included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for AIG employees, according to invoices the resort turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The retreat didn't include anyone from the financial products division that nearly drove AIG under, but lawmakers still were enraged over thousands of dollars spent on outing for executives of AIG's main U.S. life insurance subsidiary.
"Average Americans are suffering economically. They're losing their jobs, their homes and their health insurance," the committee's chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., scolded the company during a lengthy opening statement at a hearing Tuesday. "Yet less than one week after the taxpayers rescued AIG, company executives could be found wining and dining at one of the most exclusive resorts in the nation."
For the full story go to http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081008/ap_on_go_co/meltdown_aig;_ylt=Ark47SsgVWiat_GbXbYmWNKs0NUE
The minute I read this article, the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18 came to mind. In the parable, a servant of the king could not pay what he owed the king. The king ordered the man, along with his wife, children and personal belongings, to be sold to repay the debt. The servant, however, fell on his knees and begged the king to be patient, promising that he would pay everything back. The king “took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go” (18:27).
The parable goes on to show how the servant who was forgiven his debt turned around and did not have the same compassion for someone who owed him money. Instead of forgiving as he was forgiven, the servant had the debtor thrown into prison.
In this parable, the servant did not go out and throw a big party, spending money he claimed not to have. But he did hold someone else accountable where he himself was not. And that's exactly what AIG did, and, apparently by their recent actions, plan to continue doing. By throwing this lavish party just days after being forgiven, i.e. "bailed out," they celebrate and make merry with money they claim not to have, showing no compassion whatsoever for those suffering financially, and indicating that it's back to business as usual...self-centered greed and no accountability, quickly forgetting how much they've been forgiven.
I guess to AIG, $440,000 is just peanuts, a drop in the bucket, nothing to get wigged out about. But I wonder, how many times was a "mere" $440,000 looked at this way before it all added up to 85 billion?
"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" Matthew 16:26
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Some pastors recently broke the provision in the tax code that prohibits tax-exempt non-profit organizations from endorsing a political candidate: they endorsed a candidate from the pulpit.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life recently did a survey in which it found that:
"While a strong majority of Americans support religion's role in public life, a solid majority also expresses opposition to churches coming out in favor of particular political candidates. Indeed, an August 2008 survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that two-thirds (66%) of the public opposes churches and other houses of worship speaking out in favor of one candidate over another."
The survey found this to be the case regardless of whether someone considered religion to be very important to them or not at all important, and regardless of denomination or church affiliation.
I would have to put myself in that same category. Does that mean Christians are not to be involved in the political process outside of church? No. I believe that volunteering to work in a political campaign, putting up a yard sign, running for office, or discussing politics over the dinner table with family and friends are all okay for Christians to do. In fact, we must be informed voters and we must always vote. I believe public service is a gift from God, as is the interest some have in following, writing about and teaching politics. Like anything, however, it must be kept in check so that our political passion doesn't overtake our relationship with Jesus Christ and the applying of God's Word to our lives.
And therein lies what I see as the biggest risk of politics in church: the nature of campaigns and partisanship are such that it is very difficult to be involved with them and not sin. As I watch the debates between presidents and vice presidents, all I can do is think about how each candidate will be held accountable before God for every word they utter, either in person or in advertisements. All of us will be held accountable to God for the words we say.
There isn't a lot of speaking the truth to begin with in campaigns, much less speaking it in love, as Ephesians 4:15 calls us to. And there is much bearing false witness against each other (Exodus 20:16). The morning after the debates, pundits expose how the candidates from both parties misstated facts, exaggerated, or got their opponent's record wrong.
The other temptation that lies in wait to trap us is that of mockery and pride. We mock the opposing candidate and haughtily point out their every fault. We think we are so much better than Joe or Jane Candidate on the opposing ticket and that I, Joe or Jane Citizen, have all the perfect answers! We believe our candidate thinks exactly like we do and will do everything we want or expect him or her to do. And while we're busy taking pride in ourselves and our candidate, Satan uses that pride to breed hate for the other candidate and all who support him or her.
I know this because I've been guilty of this very thing. Personal pride in our party or candidate breaks up families, friendships and, I believe, would break up congregations if politics were added to the pulpit. There are very few people in this world, I've found, who can have a calm, non-partisan discussion when it comes to politics.
And that is why I believe we should not let political campaigns and all the sin they tempt us with to enter into our sanctuaries. Better instead to do what the Bible calls for when it says "Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). We need to test our political candidates and their record against the Bible and the values and precepts it teaches, remembering that our candidates will not be in line with Scripture on every count. So we need to decide, some say, for the lesser of two evils. Or we decide, others say, for the candidate who most closely stands for Christian values. That is the responsibility of every Christian.
While we may want to privately seek the Godly council of Christian friends and leaders as to how we can be a Godly voter, none of us should be waiting for our pastors to tell us who to vote for. And all of us should be discussing who the next president will be with the person who counts most: God.
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity." Proverbs 11:2-3
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I applaud the scrutiny being given Planned Parenthood. Never a fan of this organization, it has always given me pause that tax dollars support them. This is the main thought to take away from the article, which states that:
"Ray Ruddy, president of Gerard Health Foundation, is leading the call for a federal investigation. He says, unlike other federal contractors, Planned Parenthood does not have to bill the government at cost, but is able to bill at what they call "normal and customary rates."
So why the special treatment for Planned Parenthood, and who has been overseeing this so called "normal and customary rate?" Apparently nobody, until now. If we're going to give tax money to Planned Parenthood, they need to be held accountable just like everybody else.
Read the short article here:
"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" Matthew 16:26