The Fear of the Lord

the-fear-of-the-lord2The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.  Proverbs 9:10

     We have very little understanding of the fear of the Lord in our era. If anyone does think about it, an image of an awe-powerful God sitting on a throne on Mt. Olympus comes to mind. He is the awful, powerful God lording his power over us. For most of us, that is ancient myth, Greek fable, and not a real reality. Nor do we rarely give a thought to a real Satan, a roaring lion, prowling about seeking to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8)  Our world has moved beyond such myths.

     Nonetheless, should we, in some way, fear the Lord? For those who live outside our faith, the answer is yes. But what about us who have placed our lives in Jesus’ hands, should we fear our Lord?

     It might be noted that we do have a way of constantly stepping outside of the perimeters of God’s protection for us. I would dare say that if we continually stray from the Truth and the practice of the Christian life we have something to be concerned about.

     The question is not Am I saved? Rather, it is— Am I abiding within God’s grace and living by the principles of the Christian faith laid down in Scripture? Not that our outward actions necessarily reflect an inward reality, but they do go a long way toward clarifying what is important to us.

     So, the real question then becomes, Where is your heart? What is the general direction of your passion, your direction in life, how you use your time and how you spend and give away your resources? “Where your heart is…” (Matthew 6:21) These things are measurable, not measured by deeds-done alone, but by inspiration and devotion. These are the internal qualities the drive us toward God. To not have them makes us mere actors in a play. Play-acting the Christian life is always an alarm for fearing God.

     You can run… .

     Besides, a HEALTHY fear of the Lord is a good thing, especially if it draws us into the presence of the Holy One. C.S. Lewis gives us a wonderful image of God. “he’s not a tame Lion, you know.” Who doesn’t approach a Lion with some healthy fear?

     Or, maybe gaining a deeper knowledge of God through Scripture and silence does produce a proper fear of him. Hummm?

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,
Gary

NEXT— “ad astra per alas porce…”.  

The Word of the Lord came to…

One of the most repeated phrases in our Scriptures is “The Word of the Lord came to … .” [e.g. – Jeremiah 1:1-19, Ezekiel 1:3, 21:18, ].  It seems that God spoke to many of His prophets and leaders far more directly than He does today. Maybe our generation is just too dense to hear God. Or could it be that we have the Scriptures revealed to us?

     Although, there have been times when even our ancient prophets could not (or would not) hear what the Lord was saying. Numbers 22:21-34 gives us such an example. Look it up. A little embarrassing.

     Does God speak directly to us today? Some say all we need is found in Holy Writ. Nonetheless, there have been times when people have heard God speaking to them directly. What are we to do with that?!? On a personal note, some people, Christians & otherwise, have told me they were directed by God to do a certain thing; and that I was to clarify what it was they were to do. No really, put me on the spot!

     The Word of the Lord, as the Christian Bible, is a revelation to us all. God gave it to us because He knew we could not understand Him by just looking around. Scripture is clarifying God to us. He knew us, as creatures who turned our backs on His grace, and could not see His Truth in the natural world. Thus, His Word is clarified and explained in the stories, poems, actions, and letters of Scripture. Frankly, though, many of us are still clueless as to how He wants us to honor Him and love one another. The word Dense comes to mind. Worse, we read the Bible and toss it aside, writing our own rules for living.

     This is not smart. To the contrary, it is dangerous.

     Nonetheless, there are some Christians to whom God has spoken specifically— Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Paul the Apostle, Constantine, Patrick, Graham, Wimber. Personally, I heard God command me to become a Christian. [It was not a comforting voice.] Then again, to marry my wife…, 48 years ago.

     So the question bounces back to you. Have you heard God speak, individually, to you? It certainly would not be binding upon all Christians; but it would most certainly be binding upon you; as long as it does not contradict anything in Scripture.

     My suggestion? Listen carefully, seek confirmation from Church Elders, clean up your life, and obey.

NEXT— Forgiveness

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Lese Majesty Notre Dame Cathedral

notre dame
(Photo credit LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)

     This is the image that blazed across our local newspaper in Colorado Springs this morning. Like many of us, it pierced my heart. I’m not that much a religious person, but I am a genuine Christian, one who doesn’t strap his faith onto the rest of his life; rather one who integrates his faith into everything he does.

     What struck me about this picture, being part art historian, is the juxtaposition of the alter, the cross, the statue of Mary holding her son Jesus, with the total devastation that lay at their feet. What a depiction of our present world’s quandary.

     Within less than 3 days of this tragedy, almost one billion dollars has been raised to rebuild this Parisian landmark. Pledges have poured in from across the world, from small churches in Arkansas, to major European conglomerates, to individuals, to tycoons, to common folk.  This incredible generosity bespeaks of the love and honor that people held for this global landmark— this personification of Paris. As one Parisian said,

 “Notre Dame is our history, it’s our literature, it’s our imagery. It’s the place where we live our greatest moments, from wars to pandemics to liberations.” [https://wnep.com/2019/04/15/first-photos-show-damage-inside-notre-dame-cathedral/]

May God bless all those who are contributing to the restoration of this majestic icon of Western Civilization!

     But what of the ruble that lay at the foot of the cross, at the feet of Jesus? These are the 850 year old oak beams that held the roof of the cathedral, now devastated and burned. What can replace them? Surely not more oak beams. But what?

     In so many ways this is an image of our postChristian world. A billion dollars will easily repair the cathedral, but what of the lives of people who have lost faith in their church, in their personal relationship and trust in God? What of them? What will become of them? A billion dollars doesn’t come near to rebuilding or restoring, their faith.

     I put it to you that genuine Christians around the world have a responsibility to reexamine their faith in the God of the universe who has created and who will restore all things to an greater glory, even greater than this glorious Notre Dame. We have the responsibility to repair and rebuild the faith of so many who have lost faith in Christ in these pluralistic and often convoluted times.

     So as we contribute to repairing this magnificent cathedral, may we also spend some time, and money, rebuilding others’ lives, to honor God, in Christ Jesus. May this tragedy remind us again of our mission to bring this broken, charred world to the offer of a new life in the Lord who sustains it all— Jesus Christ!

A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so everyone would have life, and have it fully.
[John 10:10 CEV]

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED!

Gary

Ugly Feet

Gary_ Davis_ Hobbit_ Christian_ NEED_ Feet_ uglyThanks to J.R.R. Tolkien, Hobbit feet are IN! Well, maybe not so much in real life, but at least in alternate specie realities. Progressive Cubist artist Marcel Duchamp thought that feet were the ugliest part of a woman’s body. Today’s cosmetic advertising would have us believe otherwise; that we must have the cute widdle feet of Tinkerbell. As for men’s feet…, that’s why God invented shoes.

Feet take us where we want to go. Feet kick futbols & footballs. Feet balance the rest of the body vertically. Feet ride snowboards & surfboards.

Best of all, feet tickle.  ‘Nough said. STOP IT!

To the point—where do you want your feet to take you? Your feet can place you out in front of the tribe, and you will become a paradigm pioneer. [Do guard against the arrows aimed at your back.] Your feet can place you on the right track of a disciplined, purpose-driven life, where you can accomplish great things. Or your feet can lead you to become a faithful follower of a great cause or person. Still one more path is available for our feet— dragging feet can leave us behind as stragglers in life’s great adventures. We adopt a wait-and-see-what-happens attitude.

In any case, our feet, well, my feet (not pictured above), will remain ugly. But we can train them to get the job done, or pamper them while others get on with the work of life and make a difference.

Just don’t ever settle for de-feat. (I’ll keep my day job.) Also note Isaiah 52:7, Christian Bible. Maybe there’s a chance for our ugly feet afterall!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Serenity

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Serenity
Even the word feels good as it rolls off your tongue-  s  e  r  e  n  i  t  y. Like a magic word that calls forth a Genie from a bottle, the word beckons us to come apart to a peaceful place, to find solace, to rest, to be waited upon by a flood of servants! Or merely to be able to close our eyes on a warmed beach under a palm tree, or in a chaise lounge at a mountain retreat.
The serenity I need I find in front of a warm fireplace at the confiscated Lakehouse, deep within the Fall/Winter woods of northern New Hampshire. It is there that I contemplate the deeper questions of life-  like…, why my navel is an inny, or how did I ever wind up with such a wonderful wife. Or why God has honored us with His blessings and the privilege of serving others?
It seems that every now and again I push myself so hard that I border on collapse. Such was October, and September, and the prior Summer en toto. I don’t notice it so much as my wife. When she puts her foot down, “That’s it. You’re about to give way to the pressures of caring for people. You’re LEAVING! Go to the Lakehouse and get some rest!” Thus, I go! Granted, it’s only a day or two, but that’s enough for me, I think.
If you haven’t gotten the point of this emPulse yet, let me make it perfectly clear. Any of us can get caught up in the business of life, and work, and family, and other people, especially on a day when we are excited (or forced) to be around friends and relatives stuffed with turkey, so unsuspectingly, that we forget to take care of ourselves-  our bodies, our emotions, our spirits, our souls. We start to come apart because we have forgotten to come apart to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, I have a wife who knows when I’ve had enough…, even though I am clueless to the actuality. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. Remember to view yourself as expendable. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. You will be missed when you get away; but you will come back a renewed man, a refreshed woman.
A little serenity goes a long way to clear the mind and restore the soul.
27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
–           John 14:27 Christian Bible
Have a good Thanksgiving.
 
Gary

You are Not Welcome in This Church

locked doorIn a world where most normal people find very few reasons to go to church some of the biggest roadblocks come from the other side— from within the church. Gone are the days of churches trying to be “seeker-sensitive.” People are not seeking anymore; at least not in the direction of the church. The Christian religion is no longer seen as a place to find the answers to life’s deeper question.

            Of course, fewer people are even asking those deeper questions any longer. There are just too many other things that demand our complete attention all the time. ALL the TIME! If it’s a choice between sleeping in on a Sunday morning and going to church, guess what wins? If it’s a choice between finding baby sitters for the kids so you can have your car repaired and a quiet coffee with a friend or going to church, guess what wins?

            So if you ever get to church and the door locked, the posted information inadequate, or the preacher to be the judge-from-hell, you are most probably NOT going to return. Lousy coffee is also a great deterrent to keep people away. In my opinion, every church should have Starbucks™ level coffee, even if you have to charge for it. Few things in a church better communicate we-don’t-think-much-of-ourselves-or-of-you than bad coffee. End of rant.

            Except maybe, the “Them & Us” syndrome. If you’ve ever visited a church and felt totally alone, you are not alone. I’ve been in churches where not one person has said hello to me! And I was the guest-speaker. Things that make you go Hummmmm?

             Allow me to suggest that you read further in this article by Joe McKeever. And for Christ’s sake, literally, let’s do something about this stuff.

            It seems that some churches have the social savvy of a door knob— which is also locked.

Getting lost

Lost, Thoreau, Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, risk, reflectionMost of us, at some time or another, will get lost. It may be as simple as getting lost on back roads or forgetting where your glasses are; or, more seriously, getting lost in life; that is, losing your sense of direction, purpose, and/or identity. In short, you no longer know where you are, who you are, or where you are heading.

A dead stop.

In the midst of that empty confusion certain questions start to arise—

How did I get here? What could I have done differently? How do I start to dig out of this mess? More importantly— How do I find myself again? Who am I now? What do I do next?

Anxiety starts to immobilize your spirit; you cannot take any action for fear of further failure. But you have to do something. Anything! Here are some of the things I’ve done when I’ve gotten lost.

1.      I start taking small steps. What are the little things you can definitely accomplish that will bring some semblance of stability or order to your life? Do that. Then do another one.

2.      Keep in mind that when you are lost everything is a risk. Things you used to do as a simple matter have now morphed into insurmountable monsters. Nonetheless, you must face those monsters to overcome them. I had to. And I corralled a cadre of friends to stand by me as I faced them.

3.      Don’t ask God to do for you what you must do yourself. He is definitely in charge. But we are not mindless robots. He expects us to act responsibly with the time He has given us.

4.      God can’t direct a parked car. Start moving. If it’s in the wrong direction, He’ll redirect you.

5.      Establish NEW points of reference for your journey. The former points of reference are gone; you’ve already passed them. If you want to find your way again, you’ll need to discover a whole new set of reference points to guide you. I find I need to cut back on my activities to give my mind, and heart, time to process the mental & emotional shift. What will most likely be the next sign along your path that you are getting back on track?

With all the variables we have to juggle these days it’s easy to get lost along the way. You have to work hard to get back on track. So get to it. Drive! You will not stay lost for long. [Proverbs 16:3.]

Honor God, honor people…, make a path,

  Gary