Oh, did I type that outloud?
The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7).
As a domestic violence advocate and counselor – and in the wake of such violence across our nation… I have to constantly reflect on my own past choices… and ask myself really hard questions…
I begin with, “Who did I fear?”
Why on earth would I have ever chosen to be in relationships that were unholy and unhealthy? Did I fear not being loved?
Why did I allow individuals to abuse me? Did I fear they would no longer be my friend?
Why did I become so hateful and abusive to others? Was I fearful that they would hurt me first?
I used to think that it was because I had a low self-esteem. That somehow, I felt that I was unworthy of anything or anyone else, after all that is what society has taught us for years – that’s what the church has taught us for decades –those who do not “choose Christ” … those who do not chose to be in healthy relationships… those who follow after the world… feel that they are just too unworthy of His love… His grace… His mercy.
“Free grace for all” – The message of the 1970’s.
But, I have come to believe that, that is a Scripture-twisted, Satan-led, view of reality – the same ole’ trick found in Genesis 3:4…
Throughout the course of my 52 years on this planet, each decade of my life has focused its lens on the “self” – and how important we are, how much God loves us and desires for us to “choose” … Him.
That we, human beings, are an intrinsic and substantial part of God’s kingdom, that He somehow needs us… is pining for us… chases us…
And His plans for us are that we “prosper.”
The universal belief of the day.
But the reality of that whole bunch of garbage is that God is God and He does the choosing – He does not need us – nor does He follow us around like a little puppy, begging for our love…
As a matter of fact, The Bible is quite clear on the issue: Those who love Him, follow Him. (John 10:27).
No “feelings” required.
The Bible also tells us that if we do indeed, love Him, then we will humble ourselves (James 4:10), follow His commandments (Jn. 14:15) and live to do His will “from the heart” (Eph. 6:6b).
I believed for years that I could fix the world. I would take in these misfit, strays and through my submission, dedication, and love for them – I would change them… love them into righteousness… by showing them the “love of Jesus…”
I lived with them, had immoral sexual relationships with them, put my children in danger, left the church behind – and completely disregarded reading my Bible.
“loving them into righteousness,” she was saying…
Never once did I consider the fact that I was leading others straight to hell.
I fell into the trap of believing because I walked the aisle, and said a “sinner’s prayer,” that I was saved! I was a child of God, I was forgiven!
I believed that His mercy and love for me somehow expunged my personal responsibility to “be found without spot or blemish,” (2 Peter 3:14) … because, after all – all my sins were forgiven – forever… no more repenting necessary… because God loved me “just as I am.”
The theme of the “Campus Crusade for Christ” of the 1970’s.
I came to believe that we were called to show the love of Christ by our silence, tolerance, and complacency – To show them Jesus by “hate the sin, love the sinner.”
The theme of the church through the 1980’s.
I wish, just once, that someone would have told me that in order to “love others” – we had to first love God – not just in our man-made image of god… But love God for who HE says He is – consistent with His true, biblical attributes (not the one’s we have made up for Him) – but with “fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), as to Who He Is, the power He holds, and the commands/demands that He has put on the life of the believer.
The holy and righteous – and only, “I AM.”
He is God. He demands repentance, holiness, humbleness, and reverence – or else there are consequences –
Because: He. Is. God.
“They have not humbled themselves even to this day, nor have they feared, nor walked in my law and my statutes that I set before you and before your fathers. “Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah” (Jer. 44:10-11).
And that’s not just an “Old Testament” story…
“Thus, you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (Matt. 23:31-33).
But that part of the Gospel has not been consistently preached in my life time… and the pulpits where it is being preached today are very, very far and few between.
Today, we have a world that has demonstrated their love for Jesus by their blatant disregard for His Word. And Luke 18:2 tells us that when men don’t fear God – they do not respect man.
If man has no respect for anyone other than himself – and no fear of God – then he does not fear consequences – and evil reigns. The two-year old fits of child-like, undisciplined behavior – grow up into violence resulting in bloodshed… All in the name of none other than the violent one who is “offended”… and obviously fearless of consequences.
The current state of the deprived heart of mankind – and the fear of man that keeps the Christian from fighting back.
Christians are those individuals who fear God and hate evil.
All evil. Including the unrepentant, evil, sinner.
“If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed.” (1 Cor. 16:22).
We don’t preach that.
I’m not sure we live in a world that believes that.
Because – we are not a nation that fears God!
We are simply a fearless nation.
We must change. We must repent. We must fear God. Showing Him the ultimate respect, reverence, and holiness that He deserves.
But that can only happen when we die to ourselves.
I didn’t die to myself.
As a matter of fact – I embraced myself. I told myself that I was “good enough, strong enough, self-sufficient – and I deserved to be ‘happy’” – and so I pursued all things that made me “happy.”
The church of the 90’s (with a little help from SNL).
All while being very careful to “love” everyone and to “not judge” them.
The theme of the new millennium.
I convinced myself that I was the “master of my own domain.” That I controlled my own destiny –
The theme of the 1990’s (with even more help from television).
Somehow, I learned that “the fear of the Lord,” didn’t really mean “fear”.
I became so “fearless,” that I did not fear God’ wrath. I did not heed the warnings of Christ to the Pharisees – those who claimed to be the “righteous” of His days on the earth… I never feared the wrath of God, I did not fear His consequences. But rather, I became arrogant, self-righteous, boastful, haughty, and prideful… and hateful.
Because I did not fear God, I did not love people, I did not live out the Gospel message. I did not live in The Way, The Truth, or The Life.
I was fearless.
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking… for you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Eph. 5:4).
I chose to please man rather than God. I chose to please myself, rather than God. I was on a mission to the world to “prove myself.” Determined to do it “my way”.
The worship leader of our church actually sang this song during an evening worship service when I was in high school.
I chose men who were not Titus men.
“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works” (Titus 2: 6a).
I chose to marry a man who was addicted to pornography. And through that relationship, I became a stripper – and was headed straight to hell.
“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”
I chose an abortion to free myself of the burden of a child.
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore, DO NOT BECOME PARTNERS WITH THEM” (Eph. 5:6, 7a).
I chose “free grace” over the Gospel of Christ.
I chose victimhood over repentance. (see John 4).
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16).
I was fearless.
Do not be foolish – understand the will of the Lord (Eph. 5:17) – What is the will of God? For His creation to bring Him glory.
I spent many a morning recovering from hangovers.
Anger was a way of life. After all, I was a victim of childhood molestation and a victim of sexual assault. Bitterness, malice, wrath, and revenge were my goals.
“But that’s so outdated…” right?
“define unbeliever… wait – define “unequally”
This could only be done if I was taught to study my Bible and heed its warnings. But my Bible had long since been put on a shelf…
“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.”
The way I spoke, the way I dressed, the way I carried myself – did not reflect God’s holiness or righteousness –
Because I did not fear God… I was fearless.
So, what does all of this mean? That Christians don’t sin?
Well, frankly, that is just stupid.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn. 1:8).
What it does mean, however, is that we cannot stand our sin. We hate it. We mourn it. When we are confronted about our sin by others, it cuts into our hearts (Acts. 2:37).
Yesterday @KathieLGifford ( #Kathleegifford ) Spoke about the impact that Billy Graham had on her life and the life of her family – Her testimony demonstrated the deep love of her savior and her heart-felt desire to spread the Good News of Jesus.
Listening to her wonderful message yesterday, I almost missed it…
But, if you listen for it, you will hear it…
Kathie Lee stated that during a Billy Graham crusade on television, that [she] came home to find her mother and sister, who had been watching the broadcast, on their knees… crying…
There it is!
“On their knees… crying.”
That’s the key.
And I don’t mean the theology of Billy Graham got them there… Not that it is a salvific issue – but it did lead me astray for many, many decades…
God wants our broken spirit, our broken and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17).
I remember a certain point in my life when this happened to me – It wasn’t when I prayed the “sinner’s prayer…” or any of the countless number of times I “walked the aisle” at my Southern Baptist church…
It was in my deepest, darkest hour of desperation – When I lay prostrate before my Lord, exhausted from my life choices, drained and desperate… absolutely powerless – and fearing that I was not worthy to stand in His presence, let alone carry the name of Christian- that I cried my eyes out, heart breaking over the fact that I did not fear His Holy name and I asked Him, “Lord, if you will – you can make me clean.” (Luke 5:12).
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Cor. 7:10).
I was dead in my sins. I was a hateful, bitter, self-centered, mess of a woman who needed the Savior.
We don’t talk about “that” anymore… Gone are the days of songs about our wretchedness, our brokenness –
As a matter of fact, the new wave of this decade is to sing songs of how “in love” with Jesus they are – and in every worship service I have been to in the past decade has sung this disgusting and incestuous version of their vision of the relationship they want to have with the Lord God Almighty!
They are the new generation of church. They are fearless.
And because they have no love for Christ, they have no fear of God – and therefore, they do not preach the reverent, holy, attributes of God – and therefore, the blood as the result of the violent is on their hands.