Archive for September, 2022

A Word to the Wise

9-22-2022 – A Word to the Wise – FEAR OF THE LORD

The one quality, the trait that is central to breaking down resistance to killing, the aspect of the personality that the successful Christian warrior seeks to possess is a fear of the Lord.

Acquisition of the fear of the Lord might be compared with putting on a heavy coat in mid-winter or an armored vest worn by a police officer or combat soldier. Fear of the Lord is a protective coat that protects us from evil and dangerous temptations.

The Scriptures tell us that understanding the fear of the Lord and how it is acquired is one of the most profitable endeavors that man can undertake. Unfortunately, there are some difficult barriers to reaching this goal.

The chief barrier is man himself. When I was a child, my mother raised me believing and trusting in fear of Him. She would point out the ridiculous notion of popular preachers of the time, that one need only ‘respect’ God, or perhaps revere but never fear. This notion persists today.

After forty years of studying God’s Word, I can confidently say there is no biblical basis for such nonsense. God expects us to fear Him. This is evident in the words used in Scripture to denote the concept of fearing God.

It is unfortunate that linguistically the concepts of reverence and respect in our time are somewhat diluted and do not actually represent the power and majesty originally invested in them.

When reverence and respect are terms used in the sense that recognizes the tremendous power of God, then they most certainly become good synonyms for the Greek and Hebrew words that describe the experience that one is to have before God Almighty.

Perhaps the following experience from the life of Isaiah gives us a more accurate view of reverence.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’). Isaiah 6:1-6

Oh yes. I strongly suspect that this experience defines reverence rather nicely, particularly when the earthquake occurred. Any idea what it would be like to experience force ten earthquakes? I do imagine the experience would put the fear of God in you. It most certainly has others.

But we do not like thinking of God as one to be feared. We wish to use words like love, kindness, and gentleness to describe what we feel, and who He is. If we see reverence as a bit of patriotism as when one salutes the flag at the playing of the national anthem, then we miss the point.

I doubt that anyone near Mount St. Helens, when it exploded with a force of 27,000 atom bombs, felt anything but pure terror. One can hardly sit in a cellar while an F-5 tornado sweeps away everything in its path without shuttering—so it is with the reverence or fear before God. No matter how righteous one may be. Even Moses and Daniel quaked with fear before the living God.

So how does one learn how to fear God? Fear of the Lord is grounded in laws, ordinances, and statutes. Fundamentally, fear of God is rooted in authority. This is significant when we see how difficult it is for some to fear God. They might love, adore, believe, trust, but somehow, they find it difficult to fear. That is because we tend to be a rebellious people. Rebellion is against authority, and fear of God is fear of authority. Authority is established by God

Fear of the holy one is not something that is acquired accidentally, or inborn in the nature of a person. Teaching is a must. After the fall of the northern kingdom in 722 B.C. the inhabitants of the land started experiencing severe difficulties. They were advised to have someone come and teach them the laws of the land. “So, one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel and taught them how they should fear the LORD” (II Kings 17:28).

This passage spells out the necessity of teaching one to fear the Lord. The context of the passages emphasizes the continual danger the people were in because they were strangers in the land and knew not what God required. Therefore, they are told how to resolve the issue. Call for someone who can teach what the Lord requires is what they were told.

Acquisition of the fear of the Lord is essential to our warfare against the authority and power of Satan. The fear of the Lord defends against destruction by the enemy. It protects the heart by humility and the spirit by meekness.

Studying the fear of the Lord is in itself protective and beneficial. One of the assignments I use with clients who suffer from panic attacks is founded in studying the fear of the Lord. Here is how that assignment is given.

Any time we fear anything, some of the physiological experiences attending the fear may be shortness of breath, dizziness, faintness, smothering sensation, palpitations, trembling, shaking, sweating, choking, nausea, numbness, discomfort in the chest and other similar symptoms. These symptoms are experienced in varying degrees of intensity, depending on the object which we fear. Sometimes only one symptom may be present, at other times several.

Now the unique thing about these symptoms is that as one begins to read, write, or study the passages on the fear of the Lord, the symptoms begin to abate.

Another way of expressing this is that if we fear anything other than God, we experience a physical discomfort. Fear of the Lord brings a sense of peace and well-being even in the midst of chaos.

The whole context of Egypt with the plagues, the Red Sea, provision of food, water and all the necessities of life were for the purpose that these people learn to fear God. Once obtained and embraced they could stand before any enemy, and any resistance to killing was removed.

Several scriptural references indicate that God disciplined those who refused to obey the directive to kill the enemy. In Numbers 25:6 Phinehas is complemented for taking decisive deadly action against two violators of the law.

Sections of the Torah spell out specific rules of warfare, treatment of prisoners of war, and even laws about not violating the land during sieges.

Apparently, confusion still reigns in the hearts of many Christians as to killing. I would add to the confusion several insights that most neglect to consider.

When God authorizes or gives authority to man to do something that person then is acting on the Lord’s behalf. As long as one acts within the bounds of that authority, he is safe. But in reality, it actually goes beyond this. When God authorizes a person to take action, He expects that action to be taken.

Practically speaking if you are authorized in a given situation by the State to take a life and that action is necessary to protect the community then you no longer have the freedom not to take the life. Moreover, there should be no emotional repercussions for doing so. If the State requires it and God authorizes it, then it is not you are acting. This is not the case in accidental deaths different rules apply. If you fail to act and someone subsequently loses their life due to your neglect, then before God you are responsible.

Unfortunately, this is not taught to law enforcement personnel or soldiers, and they frequently suffer emotional distress because of it. Often, we fear what others will think or how we might be judged. This is of no importance for our responsibility makes us accountable to the Lord whether our friends or enemies agree.

Going further it is also apparent that if you take a life in the line of duty in protection of your own life then you are not violating Jesus’ directive about turning the other cheek. Your protection of your life is a protection of the community you have no choice. Too fail to prepare yourself properly, to arm yourself appropriately, and condition yourself physically is a neglect of God given responsibility.

It is certain that courage in the face of the great enemy is the key to winning intense spiritual battles. A courage rooted in the fear of the Lord ensures that one will not run and hide, nor cave in when the enemy comes in like a flood. When the dark night of the soul sets in, when others quake in fear, when surrounded with the night terrors or overwhelmed with the most intense pain, when calamity is to be found at every turn, when the storms of life drown us in sorrow beyond measure, even then one cannot be induced to curse their God.

Buried in the midst of overwhelming difficulties complacence does not set in, rather the paths of justice remain guarded with even greater zeal. This is the heritage of the God trained warrior. One, who in the words of John, “does not cling to life even in the face of death.”

A central issue for any Christian studying killing in the Bible is the contrast between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The godly person in the Old Testament was expected to kill in combat in the New Testament one is almost persuaded to be a pacifist. How is this possible? The chief characters of the Old Testament for which we have enough material to consider these points are Moses, Samson, Gideon, Samuel, and David. Scripture in each case records personal kills for each of these men. In the New Testament, we have the sole individual of Paul.

How did killing personally affect these men? How does killing affect the normal person in today’s world? Grossman struggles with this in his book On Killing. Alternatively, is there a difference between a person who is a godly warrior and the normal human in matters of justified governmental authorized deaths?

Consider first the normal consequences and effects of killing on a person. Does godliness somehow protect the individual from the consequences of killing?

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A Word to the Wise

9-19-2022 – A Word to the Wise – A major indicator of a lack of gratitude in one’s life is the presence of addiction. How is addiction and lack of gratitude intertwined?

The addictive person is a self-absorbed person. His existence has been centered in “getting” for himself. By changing direction from how much can I get to how much can I give, the covetous person is able to set aside addiction. How does one come to the point where they are willing to give instead of get?

By experiencing gratitude. The characteristic of gratitude is the central truth by which the addict changes. Gratitude is an inward attitude directed towards the Lord, expressing appreciation for all benefits received from Him. It is experienced in the spirit of man.

Gratitude is manifested in an outward expression called thankfulness. It originates in the heart. Giving is a result of the inward attitude of gratitude and an outward expression of thanksgiving.

This change is imperative if the addict is to find peace. Whereas most treatments for addiction tend to modify the outward behavior or mental imagery, they have little effect on the spirit-soul of man. As attendance at any 12-step meeting will reveal, rarely does the addict change his personality. Rather the lifelong nature of the “illness” is emphasized.

The Lord’s approach to treatment is different. The person changes from the inside out. The behavior is not the focus of attention, nor is it the central problem. As anyone who is an addict, or who has lived with one knows the addict pleases only him/herself. Even when doing for others the addict’s actions are motivated by “what can I get out of it.” Nine of the ten lepers that Jesus healed had this problem. Cleansed on the outside, they still bore the attitude of ingratitude, which resulted in little faith.

Thanksgiving and gratitude are forms of worship expressed to God the Father through Jesus Christ. Gratitude’s initial expressions are towards God. Overflowing thanksgiving towards God results in a variety of attitudes towards His creatures.

Gratitude is achieved by choice, never by duty. As one examines the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual gifts that God has bestowed, expresses thanksgiving to God in each of these areas for these gifts, then our gratitude batteries recharge.

It is not how many gifts God has given, rather how one feels, what one does, and how one expresses thanksgiving for those gifts received.

Gratitude is not focused on “what is not” but on “what is.” It is not focused on losses, but on one’s gains through those losses. This quality does not focus on one’s afflictions, but rather on the results of those afflictions. The depth of gratitude is determined by humility. The greater the humility, the deeper the gratitude. Levels of gratitude are reached through sacrifice. Thus, the greater the sacrifice, the greater the level attained.

Gratitude may be offered on an event-by-event basis, but it loses much of its impact on the spirit of man when offered in this manner.

Thanksgiving should be a state of mind that we exist in which reflects the joy experienced by seeing the sacrifice the Father made in giving His only Son for our sins.

This experience of the spirit flows like a mighty river washing away prejudice, pride, and pretense. When gratitude is exercised, it acts as a protective cover shielding one from the addictive forces of the world. Gratitude, like faith is dead without works. The works of thanksgiving are charitable, unmerited acts towards others. How does this effect the spirit of man? Perhaps a comparison helps.

We understand that certain medicines may affect one type of illness and yet not affect others. Thus, while one type of antibiotic may destroy bacteria in the lungs it has no effect on infection of the kidneys.

How would you respond, if having pneumonia, you went to a doctor and he told you just to take a bath, and you will get well? As if cleansing the outside of the body would cure the inside. Yet, how often we try to cure heart problems with cognitive behavior or spiritual problems with radical emotional changes.

Addiction is a malady of the heart. Effective treatment means getting to the root of the problem and employing the cure that is most effective with the problem.

Addiction is not a sin—addiction is the consequences of sin. This explains why one cannot stop the addiction until the root sin is discovered and repentance occurs. If one fights the addiction, it becomes stronger, and if perchance one conquers it then it will break out in other areas.

This is the implicit warning in Colossians 2:20 ff. Paul clarifies for the reader that abstinence (humanistic attempts to heal addiction), lack any value in restraining indulgence.

Again, Paul tells us in Rom 6:16 “if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin which leads to death or of obedience which leads to righteousness.” The slavery of addiction—and who would deny the heavy burden of addiction, is the result of disobedience.

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A Word to the Wise

9-11-2022 – A Word to the Wise – I have seen a virus infecting many of us. It may be observed in this manner. Ask a person what they are thankful for, and this blank look crosses the persons face along with dead silence. It is as if the person goes through labor, and delivery by themselves, changed every dirty diaper all by themselves, provided all the food, clothing, and shelter all by themselves. I know in my mind this is a hyperbole, yet I fear we just do not get it sometimes. In 45 years, I have never heard a person express thankfulness for the care they received the first year of life, never.

What is gratitude? It takes humility for a person to experience gratefulness because gratitude is acknowledgment of one’s inability to provide for or accomplish a task. Without humility there is the lack of desire to express appreciation. We see it clearly in Jesus’ ministry.

Notice please the number of miracles that Jesus performed throughout the Gospels yet the infrequency the healed expressed appreciation.

There are few things that amazed the Lord. Circumstances like the Roman Centurion who understood authority and realized that healing did not require anything but the word of God. Jesus, in contrast was amazed at the ignorance of His own disciples who though seeing miracles day to day still found the breath of those miracles astounding.

But the most amazement expressed by the Son of God was the lack of gratitude on the part of man when healed from disastrous illnesses. Can you imagine being sick unable to walk or move for 38 years. Jesus comes along and heals the man. Not only does he not thank the Lord but in the next breath turns Jesus into the authorities who want to kill him?

This also is so much like mankind though Jesus healed a great many men often they failed to give the Lord praise. Interestingly there is not a biblical example where a woman does not praise the Lord for her healing!

So, the question arises why is it necessary to express appreciation? Simply, appreciation is also an expression of faith. Whether belief in the divine or the profane. A simple expression of gratefulness encourages deeper faith and discourages narcissism.

Gratitude in a very real and practical sense is the antidote to addiction. Over the years I developed several methods to try to get individuals to grasp the importance of acquiring the quality for gratefulness in their life.

Reviewing the results, it always seemed people just did not get it. There were some improvements, but it seemed to me most of the things they were asked to write about gratitude seemed so shallow.

A major indicator of a lack of gratitude in one’s life is the presence of addiction. How is addiction and lack of gratitude intertwined?

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A Word to the Wise

9-5-2022 – A Word to the Wise – Wisdom is not knowledge, rather the use of knowledge. Wisdom is power and is capable of transforming mankind. The results of the gift of wisdom benefit all of society. Wisdom is even the primary source of longevity. Wisdom is not religion but requires godly boundaries if it is to be utilized for good. Wisdom flows from the heart but is regulated by the mind. Most women are born with it, few men seek it, and all of us need it.

The purpose of wisdom is to render justice. Wisdom’s purpose is seen in the nature of its creation. According To Proverbs 8:22, wisdom was created by the Lord before the creation of the universe. Moreover, wisdom accompanied the Lord in the creation process. Wisdom is the chief testimony for God’s existence and His intervention in the affairs of men. Now, if all of this seems rather complex –then believe me, it is. The subject of wisdom and its acquisition is a complex subject. Solomon says however, obtaining wisdom surpasses any other goal one could hope to achieve. Ultimately, the wisdom received will glorify the Lord and not us.

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A Word to the Wise

9-4-2022 – A Word to the Wise – Now we turn to the lie. The lie for abandonment is different than the lie for rejection. The lie for abandonment usually comes very early. This lie is highly emotional in nature it is the belief that the caretaker is gone and will not be back. Usually because of some behavior of the early child.

In my case it came about in this manner. The first incident that laid the foundation occurred when I was about two. I was a terribly sick child. Two months premature and a twin. Physical problems worsen to the state that by the time I was hospitalized with little to no hope of survival. I was in isolation 2 weeks abandoned as perceived by a child. For comfort I sucked my thumb. Physically I recovered because my mother begged the Lord to heal me.

Two years later my parents divorced and I was placed in the home of a drunken family who drank and fought incessantly. I had allergy problems and could not breath with out making a lot of noise. This resulted in being yelled at and threatened. Subsequently I would hide under the cover and suck my thumb for comfort. The fear placed in my heart by Satan was I would never see my parents again or be rescued.

At the same time Satan taught me to withdraw to survive. This behavior continues even until today. It seems to me that Satan always reinforces the feeling to enhance the lie.

So, at 9 years of age, I ended up in the hospital with polio. I clearly remember that first night after all the shots and testing being in a baby bed an IV in my left arm which hurt, I moved my arm thought it was painful because my thumb allowed some measure of comfort. But the pain was worth the ability to suck my thumb. As mentioned in a previous article this was an abusive home in which I finally decided to just die.

This second hospitalization reinforced Satan’s lie resulting in the familiar compensation. One side effect not intended by the Satan is a very high tolerance for pain.

However, with age other reactions occurred. Abandonment results in a strong reaction usually seen in anger, acting out and unpredictable. All these symptoms were observed in my behavior from nine on magnified by the death of my father at 12. What others see is an abbreviated panic like reaction usually with anger or withdrawal. It is always the same reaction and out of proportion to the event being experienced.

I have recognized this same pattern in many others with abusive or early loss of a parent. We shall continue

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A Word to the Wise

9-3-2022 – A Word to the Wise – I said the Lord offers consolation. The form is the introduction of a gift or special talent. The lie in contrast is always disabling.

So, let’s consider the gift/talent first. Actually, there are two gifts granted at the same time. The first is an open invitation to communicate with him. What does that mean? The closest I am able to describe it comes from II Corinthians 1:3-4. “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Notice Paul states that there are two classes of individuals before him. One is the person who is comforted directly by the Lord. Individuals in this group find it very difficult or impossible to be comforted by people. It does not feel comfortable and does not result in peace. The interaction feels empty and unfulfilling.

In contrast the second group finds comfort from people and rejects a close intimate relationship with the Lord. This group finds if fearful. Do not make the mistake suggesting that this group is in any manner inferior or loves the Lord less. They just crave the intimacy of relationships.

The Lord opens an automatic door for entrance into the former group for anyone who is abandoned. Others may acquire it in a different manner.

The second gift/talent is locked in the mind, emotions, or spirit of the individual. As far as I can tell it is random. It is not passed through DNA. Another may learn secondhand components of the talent, but it is not instinctive. Some examples might be a young child who has a special talent for numbers. Another may have abilities in hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, memory. The examples are endless, but they are offered by the Lord I compensation for the abandonment and when trust in the Lord exists alongside the talent with practice the gift grows.

One will find when either of these states exist the feeling of abandonment fades into the background.

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