Solid Fear

For some time now I’ve been digesting this verse:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;  A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.  His praise endures forever.  Psalm 111:10

I wrote it on the chalkboard in my kitchen about a month ago.  I like to do that when a verse sticks in my mind.  I put it up on the board and then my understanding starts to grow and the Lord brings things from all corners of my life to show me a little more of who He is and how His word applies to life.  This one little verse is a big one.  There are some people who don’t want to see God in this light.  They only want to focus on the loving and graceful God, not the fearsome God who has the power to cast into hell.    I think by glossing over the command to fear God, we are not acknowledging the truth of who He is or the truth of who we are in relation to Him.  This makes it really easy for us to go on with our lives arm and arm with our imagined BFF and never truly turn from our sin and turn to our holy God in repentance.  This weak, watery message also makes it an easy message to reject when our real human lives speak of something deeper, darker, and much more dangerous.

“We must continually focus and firmly place our faith in Jesus Christ— not a “prayer meeting” Jesus Christ, or a “book” Jesus Christ, but the New Testament Jesus Christ, who is God Incarnate, and who ought to strike us dead at His feet.”  Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

This quote from O.C. is more like it.  Fear God?  Yes.  The real, pee your pants, lose your breath, dissolve into dust in the face of His pure light kind of fear!  But not the fear that leads to despair.  It’s the fear of a holy and good God.  The creator of the universe and the one that holds your very existence in His hand.   If we don’t acknowledge with fear our sinfulness and His pure holiness than the gospel has no power for us or for anyone else watching or listening to us.  In the “west” we don’t always understand a lot about the master/servant relationship, but this is the relationship of the believer to Christ.  We don’t come to Christ and decide we are going to be friends.  He extends Himself in friendship to us once we are properly related to Him.  He decides, not us.  He leads, we follow.  He speaks, we listen.  We assume a posture of supplication.  Flat on our faces.  It’s after His right hand reaches down to touch us that we are able to stand up.  If we can truly absorb this into our hearts, it is the beginning of wisdom.  Who could puff themselves up into a prideful, self-righteous state of mind?  Who could advocate for their right to their life the way they want it, if the fear of God is engraved on our hearts?   How can we not be moved to love and serve our fellow humans, who suffer from the same affliction of sin as we do?    If we are rooted down to the earth with fear of our Lord,  it is the firm foundation for every move the body of Christ makes.    

“Take a look at some of the things that cause despair. There is despair which has no delight, no limits whatsoever, and no hope of anything brighter. But the delight of despair comes when “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells . . .” (Romans 7:18). I delight in knowing that there is something in me which must fall prostrate before God when He reveals Himself to me, and also in knowing that if I am ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God. God can do nothing for me until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do the impossible.”   Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

This past Sunday, our Pastor talked about the summary of Ecclesiastes. 

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments, 
For this is man’s all.   Ecclesiastes 12:13

That was Solomon’s summary of all the wisdom and experience he had in his life.  The only thing that wasn’t vanity, fear God and obey Him.  This little book of Ecclesiastes is one of my favorites.  If you’re human and living in this world, this book is chock full of good healthy perspective. 

This message has the power to transform me.  I can see relationships and priorities shifting into more graceful patterns as I carry this verse around in my heart and mind.  When I am conscious of Him in this way, my natural strength goes out of me and the only strength available is from Him.  I can shut Him out and choose to muscle my way through situations and relationships, but I always come up short (ie. stressed, angry, arrogant, empty).   So…that’s what has been on my  mind lately.  I am going to try to lighten things up a bit here ( just a little bit) and post more regularly.  Do you like the pics?  Took them this morning.  The purpose in starting this blog was to document God’s Word as the foundation of my life.  My everyday, wonderful, challenging, grace-filling, imperfect life.   So, I hope to steer things back in that direction.  Hope you enjoy!


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Hello dear readers…

I am well aware that I have been neglecting this space.  I am so grateful to those of you who keep checking in on me despite my neglect.  I’ve decided that I need to make this blog a little more personal (as in, sharing more about my whole life…not just my thought life!)  I’m still thinking about what exactly that’s going to look like.  So…bare with me!    More to come soon!

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God Has A Color Scheme


I decided about a month ago that I needed to read the bible from cover to cover.  This was not a New Years resolution.  It was definitely a conviction.  I had a couple of conversations and then I heard a man talking on the radio about how he had no “system” for reading the bible, but simply opened the front cover and read it through to the end and then when he had finished, he did it again.  I have chosen books at random or done specific bible studies.  But I have yet to read from cover to cover this book I am building my life on.  That’s kind of nutty.  I can’t say exactly where I picked up this lax attitude toward bible reading, but I decided that it was a really hard book to read and that I shouldn’t overwhelm myself by trying to read it all at once.  What?  I read War and Peace when I was like, ten years old.  I like hard books.  I like big books.  I like books you read over and over and they just get better and better.  That is the bible.  Duh.  

So, I’m in Exodus and I’m getting into God giving His specs to Moses regarding the tabernacle.  I’m starting to get that whiny voice in my head complaining about how boring this all is and how I could maybe skip this part.  Then I remembered that guy on the radio and he said that he even was blessed by the genealogies.  So, I asked the Lord to meet me where I was at and we kept at it. 

Well, He turned the whole thing around for me.  Before I knew it, I was totally into it.  Now, give me a little grace here…I told you He met me where I was at.  I know there is deep and meaningful symbolism in every aspect of the tabernacle.  I know the floor plan is the gospel message and I love that my God is so amazingly consistent, even as an architect.  That to one side, I started to see Him as the designer, talking with Moses (face to face, as a man talks with his friend) and explaining His vision for His dwelling place on earth.  He picked out all the materials specifically.  He dictated proportion and scale.  He had a color scheme!  God chose gold, blue, purple, and scarlet as His color scheme.  I can’t explain exactly how this has brought us closer, but it has.   There are moments when the walls of religiosity crumble just a little bit more.  This was one of those moments.  My God has an amazing personality and He has favorite colors.

There were a few other things that stood out to me.  I loved that there were aspects of the design that had to be just a certain way (for His good reasons), but there were parts that He delegated to skilled artisans.  Specific designs He left up to the discretion of people skilled in making beautiful things.  The other thing that I loved was that He didn’t spell out His purpose.  He didn’t spill the beans on what exactly His glorious plan was, even as it was hidden in the very design of the tabernacle. 

He is the master of mystery.

So that is how I’m going to do it…all the way through Leviticus to the very end! 

Exodus 25

 1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. 3 These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; 4 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 5 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather[a]; acacia wood; 6 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 7 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

 8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

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The Language of Love Isn’t English

When talking with a person from a different culture, it becomes painfully obvious how much we rely on cultural references to communicate our thoughts, opinions, and express our personalities.  American’s may have a slightly easier time, because so much of American culture is exported to the rest of the world.  However, that doesn’t usually mean that the rest of the world appreciates it or understands the nuances.  Being married to someone from a different culture, I get a front row seat as I watch people crack jokes that fall flat or are politely acknowledged, but not necessarily understood.  I also get to live these moments myself.  The moments of frustration as things are lost in translation and relationships are harder to build because of language barriers and just being different.  Sarcasm becomes dangerous due to usually being totally misunderstood.  Quoting lines from movies or TV shows leaves the other person looking at you as if you just lost a marble.  All those slightly tacky ways of communicating become more of a nuisance than an enhancement to communication.  Fun, huh?  Well, it can be.  There’s an ethnocentric attitude that accompanies these cultural references, that’s actually kind of rude when it’s brought out into the light.  The assumption that other people are just like you.  What it requires is listening and looking for ways to genuinely relate to people.  Usually it means being more direct, because beating around the bush causes more confusion and frustration.  You have to drop your persona and instead access your personality.  There are things that are genuine and easily understood between humans.  There are moments that cross cultural lines.  When you find those things together, they are somehow more meaningful, because it’s mixed with the relief of finding common ground.  This awareness has changed me.  Changed the way I see and listen to other people. 

This is what I’ve learned…

Listen carefully

Avoid assumptions 

Accept differences

Extend grace

Seek common ground and celebrate it and stand on it.

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Where does your water come from?

I have not been posting much lately.  I have had my attention focused on other things and I really don’t like to speak a lot when I don’t think I know what I’m talking about.  Hence the silence.   Lately, I’ve been hearing this verse a lot:

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.   Jeremiah 2:13      

It keeps coming up and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.  What does it feel like to be forsaken?  It’s different from overlooking someone.  It’s more significant than disregarding or forgetting.  To forsake someone is to intentionally reject them.  Abandon them.  Have you ever loved someone who didn’t love you back?  If so, did they intentionally act or say something to let you know that they did not want you?  I think that feeling is one of the most painful experiences a human being can endure.  We act in all kinds of weird ways in relationships to try to insulate ourselves from that very feeling.  So….in this scripture, God is saying that this is what his people have done to Him.  Not only have they rejected the One who loves them so much, (He is their life source) they will be miserable without Him.  They will try to recreate what He gives them with their own skills, but it won’t work.  The free, never-ending source of all things that they needed to love and thrive as human beings and they rejected Him and built their own cisterns.    Holes that could only capture rain when it fell.  Holes that would attract bacteria and bugs.  Holes in the ground that leaked.

The nobles send their servants for water; they go to the cisterns but find no water. They return with their jars unfilled; dismayed and despairing, they cover their heads.  Jeremiah 14:3

I’m not a farmer, but if I understand correctly, a cistern can be very gross.  Stagnant water and sometimes animals fall in and there is all kinds of nastiness.   If  you used water from a cistern it wasn’t for drinking, sometimes not even for animals.  Cisterns can’t sustain a person, a family, a community.  They were unreliable and they were nothing like the spring.  The spring is fresh and constantly available.  The spring can quench the thirst.  The spring never runs dry.

I wonder how God feels when His people reject Him and forge their own way.  I think He is heartbroken.  In a more significant way than we can know, but because we are like Him, we can remember our own heartbreak and think of what His heart must feel.  The pain of possessing the love that will heal the brokeness and being told that you and what you offer is not wanted. 

I am guilty of this in my life.  I’m past the part where I reject Him wholly.  I love Him.  I reject Him in other ways.  I choose not to spend my time with Him.  My constant friend and companion and some days I forget to talk with Him.  My teacher and wise parent and I forget to thank Him for His love and guidance.  My Lord and King and I forget to worship Him.  I make cisterns out of money, food, relationships, etc…  I come up empty and I wonder why I feel so unsatisfied.  Stupid, no-good cisterns.  I’m giving up cistern survival.  My cisterns may not appear to be nasty holes of cholera infested water, but they are toxic to me and they are polluting the life that God intends for me. 

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Isaiah 58:11



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That Slippery Word: Grace

Hello again.

I’ve been occupied with life lessons lately and have lacked the perspective to write it all down.  The perspective is coming, but slowly.  So we’ll just revise if necessary.  The main theme the Lord and I are working on these days is GRACE.  Grace is now (in my mental dictionary) a descriptive word or another name for God.  He is GRACE.  He is the source of all grace.  He gives grace because HE IS.  You follow me?  He knows all about sin and knows the complete effect it has had on each one of us, our families, our communities, our governments, our planet.  He wants so much for us to choose Him and let Him cleanse us and wrap us up in a blanket of His grace.  This blanket protects us from the harsh and painful realities of our broken world and provides healing for our bodies, hearts and minds.   It allows us to move and participate in our lives and relationships.  Our methods of insulating ourselves, however effective or not, impede our ability to move and participate in love.  Whatever we hide behind-perfectionism, pride, food, drugs, alcohol, money, work, etc.-in someway impedes our ability to love.  It is only through submission to Him that we are supplied with what is essential (what we are really craving) and it’s His free gift of grace that gives us the security we are seeking.  Our life  in this place is hard, there is no way around that.  But whatever problems we have, it will be better when we come to Christ.  Not because he removes our problems and makes everything just the way we want it, but because of His grace.  Because He will provide for us exactly what we need to move through our circumstances.  Him.  His presence in our lives. 

 love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control

Can you think of any situation you are facing that would not be easier to endure if He was allowed access into your life to manifest these (His essential qualities) in you?  I can’t.  I love Him soooo much and I still struggle to let go of my false idols and fall into his arms.  But the lesson for me right now is to let go and trust  Him.  Follow Him into the crapper if I have to and he will lead me out.  If through the crapper we must go, then go we must.  I don’t know why my all-powerful God uses the crapper as part of His plan for redemption.  I think it wasn’t his first choice, but here we are and to debate it at this point would just be a stalling technique.  So, let’s trust God and let Him surround us with His GRACE as we surrender all those things that really aren’t working.  Let’s live this out with His GRACE and LOVE supernaturally released into our lives.  

Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5: 20-21

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A Broken Heart Is the Only Useful Kind

via Sit a Spell

There is a power in poverty that breaks principalities and brings the authorities down to their knees.

There is a brewing frustration, an ageless temptation to fight for control by manipulation

The God of the Kingdoms and God of the Nations, God of Creation sends this revelation; through the homeless and penniless Jesus the Son, “The poor will inherit the Kingdom to come”

Where will we turn when our world falls apart and all of the treasures we’ve stored in our barns, can’t buy the Kingdom of God?

And who will we praise when we’ve praised all our lives, men who build kingdoms and men who build fame, but Heaven does not know their names?

And what will we fear, when all that remains is a God on the throne with a child in his arms and love in His eyes?

via Sit a Spell

And the sound of His heart cry.

– Jason Upton.


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