Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Odd Christian Voyage



Being a Christian is an odd voyage. You might be tempted to think that it's some sort of constant high.  You might picture a scene where I'm sitting in the meadow with Jesus and his presence is prescient and joyous. There are certainly moments like that and experiences like that. But more often, it's much like life was before. It's tough, there are certain low spots and dark nights of the soul. There are moments when Jesus seems far away. There are moments when worship itself seems impossible. There are times when I feel decidedly uninspired at church or during prayer. Yet there are other times when church is a time of shocking closeness with God. There are times when I'm filled with the peace and joy of Christ for days on end. There are times when prayer fills me to the brim and I know for certain I've communed with the Almighty. But it's not constant. There are ups and downs. Life is still life, and yes, it still sucks at times. Many a time I have to remind myself that Jesus Christ is indeed my savior, when I feel out and alone, frustrated with a seemingly eternal frown on my face. The battle continues, because within I have been reborn, purchased by the brutal sacrifice of the death of God on the cross, this terrible slaying of Jesus Christ. And thanks to his victory over death, his resurrection, I'm a new man. Yet until the return of the King of Kings Jesus Christ I'm left with a "sinful nature" a tendency to default back to selfishness, self pity, and fear. So I patiently wait for the coming of Christ, and yearn for it, to be freed from this final bondage to the desires of the flesh. Then, eternal life in complete righteousness in the full presence of the majesty of God himself.


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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Five Political Presentations that will Change your Worldview


Do you really understand the political situation in our country?  Do you truly comprehend the circumstances we face?  Perhaps you do.  Then again, perhaps you don't.  I'd like to present you with these five presentations that I hope will help prompt you to grow in understanding.

Don't be afraid of the political arena.  It's not really that complicated.  It's very simple actually.  It's about wealth and power.  It's also about liberty, justice, truth, and governing.  I encourage you to dig in and listen carefully.  We desperately need Godly men and women in this arena.  Begin to raise your voice for the truth.  And be active in this sphere.   

1. The People vs. The Washington Cartel by Ted Cruz


2. Dinesh D'Souza analyzes the Progressive Movement


3. The Liberty Amendments by Mark Levin


4. Mark Levin on the Establishment


5. Ted Cruz calls out the Majority Leader on the Senate Floor

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sermon: Fighting the Good Fight of the Faith

This message was originally given at Bishop Noa Home, in Escanaba, Michigan on 1/24/2016. 

Listen to the Audio Podcast of this Sermon Via this Player:


"Every now and then I guess we all think realistically about that day when we will be victimized with what is life's final common denominator--that something we call death.

We all think about it and every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don't think about it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself what it is that I would want said and I leave the word to you this morning.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy tell him not to talk too long.  Every now and then I wonder what I want him to say.

Tell him not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize--that isn't important. Tell not to mention that have 300 or 400 other awards--that's not important. Tell him not to mention where I went to school.

I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody." -Martin Luther King Jr.


Paul wrote in a letter to his young apprentice, a young man who he inspired, named Timothy... that he had fought the good fight.  He had finished the race.  Paul was elderly at this time in his life, yet continuing his work.  He wrote in his second letter to Timothy: 

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
 
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Today I'd like to urge you, as you are now, to keep the faith.  Don't turn away, don't turn to the left or to the right.  But stay the course, to the end.  One day at a time, Jesus Christ is Lord.  One day at a time, trust in Jesus.  

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
Psalm 18:28.


The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.
Proverbs 4:18-19


Do you feel left behind?  Do you feel useless?  Or do you feel blessed?  Do you feel the joy of closeness with God?

Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead it says.  This is true.  Once you pass away, you will come face to face with the mystery of life itself: Jesus Christ.  

Are you ready to meet Jesus?  Are you ready to see him in all his glory?  Do you long to be with him?  

It's a foundational truth of Christianity that all people will be judged by God on the last day.  Are you ready for that day?  The truth is we've all fallen short of God's perfect standard.  On judgment day, if I came before the Lord with my good works, that would not be enough.  Because he would see my sins.  And I would be sent to outer darkness.

That's the situation all of us find ourselves in.  But, thanks be to God, because God has made a way for us to be perfect, holy before him.  He has come as Jesus Christ.

 In Colossians chapter 1 it says that Jesus Christ is exact image of the invisible God.  One of the many names in the scriptures for Jesus is Immanuel.  Immanuel means: God with us.  The formula is this: God became a man, Jesus.  He came to offer himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of his people.  We all have many many sins.  And Jesus Christ paid the price for those sins on the cross.

Jesus Christ went to the cross for us.  He had nails driven through his hands.  He had nails driven through his feet.  Do you remember what happened on the cross?  It was toward the end of the terrible ordeal.  Jesus had whipped, forced to carry his own cross, jeered by the crowds, and the nailed to the cross.  Then he was mounted on Calvary.  That wasn't the worst of it though.

As Jesus slowly died on the cross, a terrible moment came when Jesus cried out, "Father, why have you forsaken me?"  It was at that moment, that God turned away from Jesus Christ, his own son, and left Christ alone.  And Jesus died alone, having been forsaken as a sinner.  He was made sin itself for us.  

But death couldn't hold him.  Three days later he resurrected from the dead.  And this was a message from Jesus to us: I have overcome death itself.  Have you ever seen someone overcome death itself?  Death comes to us all.  But there was one man who overcame death: Jesus Christ.  He gave the evidence in his resurrection that he can and will resurrect all of us from the dead to live in eternity with him forever.  

Believe this.  Believe in Jesus.  Believe Jesus died for you, personally on the cross, and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  It's the truth.  Jesus is no myth or legend, he's real.  I can testify to this personally.

I used to be lost.  I suffered depression, I was drinker and a drug addict for many years.  My sins kept piling up on my shoulders, more and more guilt.  But my mother started praying for me, my grandparents prayed for me, and God the Father led me to his son Jesus Christ.  I thought it was all a stupid legend.  I was wrong.  Jesus Christ is real, he's alive and he's really God.  He's really the savior who will connect us to God.  But we have to come through Jesus.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  Jesus is the way.  We have to come to the Father through the perfection of Jesus Christ.

It's written in the scriptures that once we believe in Jesus, trust in Jesus, and confess Jesus as our savior, that through this judicial arrangement, this exchange, we receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ as a "garment."  Meaning we wear the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Then when God the Father looks at us, he sees the perfect righteousness of his son Jesus Christ.

What is the righteousness of Christ?  The righteousness of Christ is the perfection of Christ, how he lived, how he cared, how he spoke the truth, and how he died a perfect death.  Jesus loved with a full heart.  He kept all 10 of the commandments fully.  He healed the sick.  He spoke the truth and challenged those who were hypocrites.  He lived a life of total service to others.  He lived humbly.  He was a servant of all.  He never sinned, not even once.  He told the truth.  And he died for his friends.  Us.  And on the cross as they spat upon him and laughed at him, he prayed," Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing."  That's the perfect life.  That's why the righteousness of Christ is our garment.  That's why Christ's life is enough to save us.  He was holiness, perfection, mercy, love, and grace.  

Do you believe that Jesus has died for you?  Do you believe he lives for you?  Do you believe Jesus is coming again?  And do you long to be with Jesus?

If you've never committed your life to Jesus Christ, then do so today.  Call out to Jesus to save you.  Pray to him.  It doesn't matter what you've done, or what you haven't done.  It doesn't matter, as long as you are willing to turn from your old ways and embrace Jesus.  And dedicate your life to him.  It's a beautiful way to live.  Because it's living in the truth, in a world full of lies.

We are the body of Christ on Earth.  We are the church.  I encourage all of you to be prayer warriors while your here in Bishop Noa.  Maybe you think you can't help, you can't do much of anything: Your wrong.  Prayer changes the world.  Please pray for the Salvation Army of Escanaba.  Pray for me.  Pray for the lost in Escanaba.  Pray for the children led astray.  Pray for young people to see the glory of Jesus Christ.  

You may think you can't contribute much.  But let me tell you something: Coming into Bishop Noa, week in and week out, has changed my life in a very real way.  There is something about many of you that I can't help but love.  You draw compassion out of me.  Listening to your stories, and becoming friends with many of you has been an honor and a privilege.  It's touched my heart.  So thank you.  

In closing, Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:8-12 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
    we will also live with him;

if we endure,
    we will also reign with him.


Jesus Christ of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem was and is God come into the world to save us.  Keep up the good fight of the faith.  Difficult times come, but never give up your faith in Jesus.  Always trust in him, no matter what.  Jesus is the resurrection and the life, all who believe in him will live forever.  That's a fact of life itself.  Believe in him.  Be in relationship with Jesus.  And finish the race.  Keep the faith.  



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Monday, January 18, 2016

The Great Pillars of Society: Morality & Religion

"The great pillars of all government and of social life are virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor... and this alone, that renders us invincible." -Patrick Henry, Letter to Archibald Blair, January 8 1799

There is something missing from our republic.  It's something obvious, something vital.  It brings light to the mind and thoughts of glory into action.  Yet it's missing.  It's gone somewhere; but where has it gone?  It's become a black hole of sorts: a giant vacuum in the heart of the United States.  Yet if you watched the television media for hours on end, it would be carefully excluded from the discussion.  

An insidious sort of breakdown has occurred.  Today they finish off the job, silencing that vacuum.  It aches the heart.   Because within we can feel it, that a great dignity is neglected.  We can sense that the most important part of being a human being has been excluded.  

It's what makes society possible.  It's what stirs in good men a desire to fight a noble fight and die in the service of a noble cause:  It's the human desire to aspire to be better than we are.  

A man who is rock solid, standing on his principles, living his life through the eyes of a moral framework is the natural state of the prosperous human.  It's the default state of a United States citizen.  But something has happened.  Something related to the media, something related to public education, something related to warring ideologies, and something related to the war on religious thought.  

Undergirding the moral frame within the mind of a man of honor is a dedication to his religion.  And by religion, Patrick Henry and George Washington and many others meant the diverse expressions of Christianity through it's various denominational windows.

Something special was born when morality and religion were combined; something incredibly powerful, something that could defeat the British empire, something that could stand against the Nazis, the Soviet Union, great depressions, and natural disasters.  

It was the incredible formulation of religious freedom and moral responsibility.  They called it liberty; American liberty.  A liberty that required vigilance and consistent watchfulness.  And it required for every farm hand and iron smith to be educated and actively participating in the preservation of that system. 

Flash forward to today and we find our nation mired in the ditch.  It's true.  For our country has fallen far from it's roots.  It's fallen far from the teachings of the founding fathers.  

The founding fathers were not perfect, but they were inspired of God. Which is why our system works so well.  Of course it's not perfect.  But it has functioned very well, for a free society to flourish.  Yet we see that our society is beginning to crumble under the weights of moral depravity, economic stagnation, political corruption, and spiritual bankruptcy.

"America is in moral decline as domestic adversaries dismantle our nation's twin pillars of "religion and morality." Christians must unite and fight back or we will certainly lose our religious liberties and basic freedoms! The American Revolution was born from the spiritual foundation of the Great Awakening. Pastors and patriots rose up to fight side by side. We need that resolve again."
-Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman Liberty Counsel


It's as if we've lost something that we can't quite comprehend.  We grasp for it.  We can sense it.  We can feel it.  But we're not allowed to talk about it.  And it never comes up in the discussion or in the media.  

At some point we as a nation lost focus, we started to drift in a hundred different directions.  We drifted away from the truth.  Perhaps it was in the glare of pretty lights and dynamic processing machines.  Or perhaps it was in the bulbs of the television screens.  

 "We became so involved and fascinated by the intricacies of television that we found it a little more convenient to stay at home than to come to church. It was an unconscious thing. We didn’t mean to do it. We didn’t just go up and say, now God, you’re gone. We had gone a whole day’s journey, and then we came to see that we had unconsciously ushered God out of the universe. A whole day’s journey-didn’t mean to do it. We just became so involved in things that we forgot about God." -Martin Luther King Jr, 28 Feb 1954, Rediscovering Lost Values

We lost touch with who we are.  And who we are is a nation based on a Godly standard.  We are a nation who flourished in the strength of the pillars of moral virtue and religious thought.  That's something that still holds sway in smaller towns and medium size cities in the United States.  But in the violent major cities of our nation, a different dynamic is taking hold.  A dynamic based on authoritarian governance for a depraved, selfish human population. 

But it wasn't me who lost touch.  In fact, I was never taught the truth growing up.  I, myself as well as the millennials and the gen exers are those raised by and taught by those that supplanted the Judaeo-Christian worldview.  Or if you like, natural law.  

They replaced natural law with legal positivism.  They replaced the religious worldview with naturalism.  They replaced personal responsibility with group responsibility.  And they're looking to replace capitalism with democratic socialism.  In reaction to this, the United States has had to become increasingly authoritarian to reign in the chaos erupting out of these failed ideologies.  

The evidence should be very clear: These values do not work.  These values include naturalism, the view that categorically excludes the supernatural and views the universe as a closed system.  That's the base.  Atheism, the view that there is absolutely no God.  That's the outworking from naturalism into the area of religious thought.  Also included would be Darwinism, the view that all life evolved from one base, from rocks to goo through the zoo, to you.  Given naturalism, that there is no supernatural, and given atheism that there is no personal God, then Darwinism is a necessity to explain the fact of the existence of a complex, yet precisely harmonious universe.  

But how can Darwinism explain the existence of humanity?  And just like that, within the realm of neo-Darwinism we have a magician and his name is time.  And time takes his top hat, matter, and pulls out a rabbit, the superbly complex yet infinitely harmonious observable universe.  And the human being... and the human eye.  Time must be quite a magician.  And I thought naturalism had precluded the supernatural.  Time + matter + chance = the miraculous?  

These views that have been used to shift our nation away from religious thought are failed ideologies, useless, and unable to provide an acceptable framework for a prosperous society.  They lead to moral depravity and corruption.

From the vacuum of spiritual darkness provided by naturalism, atheism, and neo-Darwinism we have something called humanism: the idea that there is something special about the human race, without any God around.  

Then you get worldviews and political ideologies like communism and socialism.  These views see humans as basically good, and therefore able to work in total equality and harmony.  Yet the systemic corruption growing in the United States is the best evidence against such a theory.  The human heart tends toward wealth, power, pleasure, and corruption.  It's a hard fact to swallow.  But look at our nation: The framers of our country set up intricate checks and balances between government agencies, as well as a Constitution to limit the powers of the Federal government.  Why did they bother to do this?  Because they knew man's heart tends to seek power: absolute power.  They knew they had to build in protections against that.  Within socialism and communism, those kinds of checks and balances don't exist.  Those are systems built for angels.  Men are not angels, therefore when communism is tried it ends in genocide. A few corrupt men set themselves at the top of the equality system and use it for their own ends.  Eventually millions die, like in Stalin's Russia. It doesn't work, it never has, and never will.  Because men are not angels.  But modern humanists and progressives can't comprehend this, because they refuse to face the reality of the state of man. 

"...only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt & vicious, they have more need of masters." -Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Messrs. The Abbes Chalut and Arnaud, April 17, 1787

The "secular" worldview, if you will, is systemically illogical, contradictory, and unsustainable. It's a worldview.  It's a set of presuppositions about life, the universe, the human race, and who we are.  Spawned from these presuppositions are all manner of views: Progressivism, eugenics, Freudian psychology, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, self help psychology, and all forms of Marxism. It's destroying western civilization and the people of the west are in complete denial about that fact.  They refuse to see it.  No matter how much debt piles up, they can't see it.  No matter how far the west descends into moral depravity, people don't want to see the self-evident truth.  

When a school shooting takes place, the presuppositional response of a humanist, a modernist; is that the gun is the problem.  Why?  Because man is basically good, it can't be a moral problem.  Tucked into the humanist view is that if man is evil, it's because social institutions corrupted him.  Guess which they go after?  Christianity and the church.  How ironic, don't you think?    

"And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful." -C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

G.K. Chesterton said that if you abolish the God, then the government becomes God.  We see that with the political far left.  Every time there is a problem or a social ill, the government needs to fix it.  The government is appealed to for everything from racism to gun violence.  The government needs to fix all of it!  In stark contrast is the Christian worldview, which understands that if man is shooting up schools, then there is a heart problem with the man.  It's not a problem of laws or objects, but of the reigning moral views within the culture.  

"Some things in this universe are absolute. The God of the universe has made it so. And so long as we adopt this relative attitude toward right and wrong, we’re revolting against the very laws of God himself." -Martin Luther King Jr. 28 Feb 1954, Rediscovering Lost Values

Sometimes I sit back and think... is there any hope for western civilization?  Is there any hope for the United States?  And I'm reminded that prayer can change the world.  This doesn't have to be a Jeremiah situation.  There is definitely a way forward.  But it will take the movement of a sleepy church to action.  It will take patriots who are willing to dig in and work hard, long term.  We've been pessimistic, apathetic, and disengaged for far too long.  That is the message from every preacher who touches on this issue, from Dutch Sheets to Franklin Graham to James Dobson and many others.  The church has to wake up, repent, and take a stand.  


I'm sure some might wonder: But what if the modernists are right?  What if our current culture is right in believing that God is dead?  Could they be right?  Doesn't all their science and skepticism prove that God is gone?  

I'll refer you to the agnostic scientist, Dr. David Burlinski's evaluation of the science communities forays into atheism: 

“Has anyone provided proof of God’s inexistence? 
Not even close. 

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? 
Not even close. 

Have our sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? 
Not even close. 

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? 
Close enough. 

Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? 
Not close enough. 

Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close, to being close. 

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences? 
Close enough. 

Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? 
Not even in the ball park. 

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”
― David Berlinski, The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions


God's not dead.  God is alive.  He's watching carefully. The divides are so powerful, but God remains sovereign.  We are his church, the body of Christ on Earth.  What we do matters!  What one person, a single man does, can change the entire world.  Don't let anyone sell you the lie that you can't change things.  Don't submit to apathy and sorrow.  Take a dogged stand and refuse to be dissuaded.  

There are two great pillars that make the United States a functional and prosperous republic: morality and religion.  Morality, the ability to discern right and wrong, and then choose right.  The Constitution of our nation was designed for a people who would not need 10,000 laws to be governed by, because within each person there would be one law: the moral law.  Thus, they would be self-governing.  But morality could not exist in a vacuum.  Morality was and is inexorably linked to religion, and by religion, the founders meant the various forms and denominations of Christianity.  One cannot be consistently moral apart from God, one needs a religious foundation.  When morality was linked with the foundation of trust in God then an individual could truly be self-governing.  As it says on our currency to this day: "In God We Trust."

"Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity." -George Washington, Farewell Address 

There is hope for us.  There is still hope.  There is great weakness, it's true.  We're divided and leaderless.  But there is still hope.  There is still strength in the men of the west.  There is still a fundamental desire to do right, despite the many temptations around us.  

I'm seeing something very special happening in my time.  It's something that I had hoped for, for the past ten years.  I'm seeing that people are waking up.  People are beginning to see the truth about the corruption in our society, in our government, and in our media and banking institutions.  

Principled young men and women are rising up to take a stand for the truth.  Christians are gathering together to rise up from the drowning oceans of progressive noise in the media, in academia, and in the sciences.  Young people ache at the political correctness.  I'm seeing young people waking up by the thousands.  It's a beautiful thing.  But we need to organize.  We need a plan.  Here are some thoughts on how we can do that.

This is what we can do:  

We must re-engage. - Too many Christians are completely disengaged.  According to James Dobson, only 50% of evangelicals are registered to vote.  And only 25% will tend to go and actually vote on election days.  That's not acceptable. I understand why.  It's tough.  It's extremely disheartening to be engaged.  It's insanely frustrating.  But that's what we're called to.  We're called to participate.  So we must.  Or we've already lost.  Period.  But it's much more than political engagement.  It's cultural engagement.  It's gathering for a push into all areas: academia, the sciences, government, the arts, music, cinema, and all major cultural institutions.  The situation in politics today is simply the result of the secular progressive conquest of the universities, media, and cultural institutions.  We need to retake those institutions or we're doomed.  We can, we will.

We must innovate. - The thing about a morally depraved culture is that they lose the ability to innovate and develop new technology.  Art suffers under moral depravity.  If we are willing to stand in Jesus Christ, pure and holy, and live principled lives then we have all the tools necessary to be the innovators and movers of society.  By doing this, we can within 50-75 years render corrupt institutions irrelevant simply by innovating and transforming current industries.

We must organize. - Why is it that progressives and atheists are so well organized and Christians and conservatives aren't?  We need to organize and stand united.  This is so difficult in the United States.  But there are so many Bible verses that emphasize oneness.  How can the church, the body of Christ, stand united?  Given Protestantism my first reaction would to be say "It's impossible. There are too many ideas and too many rivalries."  It's not impossible.  Nothing is impossible with God.  If we believe, we can make it happen.  We can stand united, because now is the time to unite.  If we don't unite against this common enemy, then we'll most certainly hang separately. 

We must set clear goals.- Goals are vital.  I've read recently about a list of 45 communist goals that were intended to help circumvent western civilization.  They were read into the Congressional record in the 1950s, from a book called "The Naked Communist." I'm still learning about this situation, but it reminded me that goals are vital. We need clear cut goals, achievable goals.  If secularists make a list of 45 goals to fundamentally transform America, then we need to make a list of 50 goals to reclaim our nation.  Goals are vital, otherwise we're sticks in the wind, geese flying in formation, but not in any given direction.

We must work together. - There are a lot of lone wolfs out there.  I've often been guilty of that.  But the best way to make a difference is when we unite and work on common goals.  Lone wolfs aren't the way to win this.  We need to gather together and hold doggedly to creeds and missions, not over months or years, but over decades and longer. 

We must stand firmly morally.- We can't help redeem a depraved culture if we look just like that culture.  I'm tired of seeing churches take cues from the world about what to believe.  We trust the Bible, not the shifting opinions of the world.  But standing morally begins on a personal basis.  If I'm smoking dope every other week, and drinking and sleeping around with girls, there is no reason to think I will be able to impact others.  My life and how I live it speaks volumes.  Living rightly, in holiness starts with me on a day to day basis, prayerfully standing against temptation and refusing to submit to sinful lusts.  This is about making hard decisions when a quick fix is placed before us.  This has been a thorn in the side of Christianity in the west, first with the Catholic priests molesting boys, later on with high profile minister after high profile minister being caught up in public sex scandals, infidelity.  It's a disgrace and it ruins the witness of an entire generation of Christians.  We've got to stand firm on a personal basis and also on an organizational basis.  That means that we're willing to call out our own people, those in our party, or in our own church when they do something that is obviously wrong or corrupt.  We don't need more party partisans, we need people actually working for the common good.  And those who stand for the truth and live for the truth, wherever it leads. 

We must refuse to become jaded.- The temptation to throw our arms up in the air is huge.  There is so much evil, so much destruction, so much sexual depravity, human trafficking, corruption in D.C., school shootings; so much madness that it becomes completely overwhelming.  We are forced by the agony of it to disengage and retreat.  But I'm asking you to refuse that.  When the worldly clamors threaten to turn your skiff, turn instead to the holy scriptures.  Let them inspire you, rejuvenate you, and fill you.  Don't let the faucet always be pouring in the bad news from the world, but instead switch the faucet over to the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Pace yourself carefully, know when you've had enough for the day, that way you'll remain in hope.

We must pray to God.- Appeal to heaven brothers and sisters.  This makes all the difference.  Without prayer, we might as well not even try. But with prayer, everything will change.  When events and situations are bathed in prayer, it's shocking.  You can see a situation that seemed utterly hopeless suddenly transformed into a new hope for the future.  It's happened time and again in history.  Think of Great Britain's dogged stand against Nazi Germany.  The entire free world held on by a knife edge, as Winston Churchill led Great Britain through the darkest hours of night, alone, facing a powerful enemy.  It looked impossible, France was conquered and the remains of the British army were being shuttled across the channel by fishermen and private citizens.  Yet everything changed, the U.S.A. became involved and the war was won.  Think of George Washington, our first president, as he prepared to engage in battle with the most powerful army in the world.  As he took command of the continental army and was apprised of the situation, he was told that his army had almost no gun powder.  And the colonies had no ability to produce gun powder.  It was recalled that George Washington went silent when hearing this news, and seemed horrified by the situation.  Yet later in the war General Washington led a surprise attack against the enemy on Christmas day.  And it worked.  Washington's fleet was tiny and the British dominated the waterways.  It was fitting then that George Washington commissioned the fleet with the "Appeal to Heaven" flag flying on the flagship.  The appeal of the colonies was successful and a Christian nation was born.

We must obtain all our strength from the Holy Spirit.- If you think that this is impossible, that we can never retake our country, well, you're right.  It is impossible.  But in the power of the Holy Spirit and only by the power of God, does it become possible.  And it is more than certain in the power of God, because it's achieved by God, not by man.  When you are tired and befuddled seek the Holy Spirit.  He gives grace, and more grace.

We must preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.- The gospel of Jesus Christ is what drove the first colonists to settle on this continent.  Missionaries and Christian movements have transformed entire civilizations.  It can happen today.  Jesus Christ is alive and active in the world today.  You can believe in Jesus, because he is here with you now.  He is at work through your actions.  He is real.   

Always be glad because of the Lord! I will say it again: Be glad. Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here. Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.

Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise. You know the teachings I gave you, and you know what you heard me say and saw me do. So follow my example. And God, who gives peace, will be with you. -Philippians 4:4-9 CE

The time is now friends.  There is still hope for our nation.  We can take a stand.  We can change the world.  Young people are the future.  You are the future.  Be the change you wish to see.  Never give up, never stop fighting.  Stand firm, no matter what.  Stand on the principles of God.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and believe in the righteousness of our cause.  May God be with you all, amen.  
 
"That’s what we need in the world today-people who will stand for right and goodness. It’s not enough to know the intricacies of zoology and biology. But we must know the intricacies of law. It is not enough to know that two and two makes four. But we’ve got to know somehow that it’s right to be honest and just with our brothers. It’s not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines. But we’ve got to know the simple disciplines, of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don’t learn it, we will destroy ourselves, by the misuse of our own powers... 

....if we are to go forward today, we’ve got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind. That’s the only way that we would be able to make of our world a better world, and to make of this world what God wants it to be and the real purpose and meaning of it. The only way we can do it is to go back, and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind." -Martin Luther King Jr, 28 Feb 1954, Rediscovering Lost Values


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Monday, January 11, 2016

Being a Man of Conviction: Who am I? What do I stand for?


Who am I?  What do I stand for?  Today it seems like people have been brainwashed by consumerism.  People don't necessarily have faiths they defend or causes they believe in anymore, they more so have favorite sports teams, favorite movies, and favorite foods.  Young people are obsessed with rappers, pop stars, video games, fancy new products, smart phones, tablets, and funny Youtube videos.  But what about things that really matter?  We have communities around us that are struggling.  We have a crisis of depression and suicide in young people.  We have a crippling national debt.  We have corruption growing in business, culture, academia, and government.  

When will we decide that it's time to take a stand?  Today, right now is our chance.  Now is the time for good men to stand  But how do we go about it?

Assuming I'm looking to start to take a stand on issues, how do I develop my beliefs?  How do I learn, grow, and progress toward goals and causes?  I had to ask myself those questions after years of confusion, addiction, and hedonism in my life.  

Just over three years ago a savior changed my world forever.  Soon I discovered with my new eyes, that I could change the world.  I discovered that I could step up and make a difference.  My pessimism slowly faded away.  But I was left with a conundrum: What should I stand for?  What do I believe?  And what are the practical action steps to become who I ought to be?  And once I recognize who I am, how do I take action?

I'd like to walk you briefly through how I discovered who I am and what I stand for.  I hope these practical actions and areas of inquiry will help you to break free from the matrix of materialism and selfishness, so you can start to make a difference in the world.  Be the change you wish to see in the world, pull your eyes off the television box and the consumerism attitude of "what next to titillate my senses" and instead wake up to the spiritual battle raging all around you.  You can change things, you can make a difference.  Stop believing the cynics, and believe in the power of truth in the world.  

1. Family Heritage - After being freed from slavery to sin by the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ I realized that I'm part of a family.  I had lost touch with my parents, with my sister, with my grandparents, aunts, and uncles and so on.  Part of becoming a man of honor meant connecting with my family.  I asked my Grandpa about our heritage.  I listened to stories of his time in the Korean War.  I learned my family on my mom's side is Polish.  I began to study the history of Poland, from the Protestant wars to the battle of Warsaw during World War II.  I began to take pride in my Polish and Germany heritage.  My heritage slowly and effectively became a part of my own personal identity.  And I draw strength from that heritage. 

2. Country - I'm a citizen of the United States of America.  In the past I used to mock and criticize the United States.  Mainly I did that because all my hip college buddies routinely did the same.  But I began to realize that the United States was my home.  I began to realize that the United States is really an incredible nation, made up of many different peoples from all over the world who believe in personal freedom, religious liberty, free markets, due process, and limited government.  I began to learn more about the USA.  I watched the John Adams miniseries (very historically accurate).  I watched presentations by Dinesh D'Souza on America.  I read several books like Team of Rivals by Doris Goodwin and 1776 by David McCullough. I learned about the founding fathers.  I studied the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  I began to realize how amazing the history of the USA is.  

My identity began to grow. I started to take a certain pride in being a citizen of the United States, a Christian nation.  I made American values like liberty, justice, personal responsibility, and free speech part of my own identity.

3. State - I was born and raised in Central Wisconsin.  This part of the state is beautiful.  It's also very cold.  The area is made up of mainly Polish, German, and Asian immigrants.  I grew up being out in the woods almost everyday.  I grew up 3-wheeling, fishing, hiking, and snowmobiling.  I began to integrate my local heritage into my identity.  I'm a Packer fan and a Badger fan.  I'm a strong north-woodsmen who can endure harsh winters.  I'm part of a state with a rich political and social history. 

4. Heroes - Who do I admire?  What people in history or in present times inspire me?  For me, I read a lot of biographies and I watched evangelical leaders.  I watched political speeches and debates.  I began to admire people like Ravi Zacharias, Ron Paul, George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and many others.  I read their works, listened to their speeches, and began to develop my character based on many of their beliefs and visions for the world.  I encourage you to do the same.

5. The Bible - These categories are not in any order.  If they were, the Bible would be listed first.  Ultimately the Bible, God's word tells me who I am.  In Jesus Christ I learn everything there is to know about my identity.  My identity as a "Christian" represents 100% of who I am.  My family, country, state, and heroes are all interpreted through the lenses of my Christian identity.  

The Bible tells me a great deal about who I am as a man.  The scriptures tell me that I'm not a randomly evolved goo-man.  Instead I'm a being who is designed, by God, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  For those of us who belong to Jesus Christ, we have wonderful promises.  We have a rock solid identity that can't be crushed.  1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) says "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."The Bible tells me I have a redeemer named Jesus Christ.  The Bible tells me I have a destiny.  The Bible tells me I'm meant to stand for goodness, righteousness and justice in the world.  The Bible tells me I need to love others.  The Bible tells me I'm a warrior of God, meant to stand for the light in the darkness of this world by donning my spiritual armor.  

Now that I understand more about who I am as a man, next I have to ask myself: What do I stand for?  When I take a stand on issues it will usually involve looking at my core values, my convictions, then through those values moving toward political action and christian action that I feel a passion for.  I have to look at my convictions and where those convictions draw my desire to serve.

1. Core Convictions - What are my convictions?  What am I willing to stand for?  What if necessary am I willing to die for?  Martin Luther King Jr. said you aren't really a man until you've found what you're willing to die for.  I think he's right.  Would you step in front of a bullet to protect your girlfriend?  If you recall the shooting at the movie theater a few years ago, a terrible tragedy; but the silver lining around that tragedy is that three guys stepped in front of their girlfriends to protect them from the flying bullets!  Chivalry isn't dead, it's just been forced from the mainstream.  It still exists, but now only as a resistance movement.  

From all my core convictions come my political, social, and Christian action.  I test all my decisions by my core convictions, which are all based on my Christian worldview.  It's my conviction that people should be treated with dignity.  It's my conviction that I ought to love others.  It's my conviction that I ought to forgive others.  It's my conviction that I need to stand against abortion, gay marriage, political corruption, and many other injustices.  It's my conviction that Jesus Christ is God, and my life needs to be a reflection of his purposes.  It's my conviction that I would rather die then turn against my savior Jesus Christ.

2. Political Action - "I don't do politics" is not an acceptable attitude in our case.  You have to do politics.  Why?  Because you need to stand for something in a world full of men that stand for nothing but alcohol, parties, bars, and sex.  The world needs you, and it needs you in the realm of politics desperately.  If good men refuse to participate, then we're screwed.  I'm a firm Christian conservative, and I believe in the Constitution of the United States.  Get involved with your local political party.  Get involved with an action organization like The Heritage Foundation, the Tea Party, Students for Liberty, or a dozen other political movements.  Get involved, participate on social media, in person, and stay active.  The world of politics is starving for good men who will stick to their guns (stick to their principles).  

3. Christian Action - Be a Christian in more than words, but in actions.  The churches in the U.S.A. are 60% women and only 40% men.  It's your lucky day single guys coming into the church.  But all kidding aside, the body of Christ needs men.  Men are suppose to be the leaders of the household. Men of honor are needed in ministry, to serve those in need.  Here are some suggestions for getting involved in Christian Action: 
a) Start a Christian blog and/or share your faith regularly on Facebook and Twitter.  This is the easiest way to start getting active.  Pray for willingness, and pray for zeal for the lost.  Use your creativity and your skills to stand for the cause of Christ.
b) Volunteer 1-5 hours a week at your local hospital, nursing home, food pantry, or charity (like the Salvation Army or St. Vincent De Paul.)
c) Join ministries at your local church and serve regularly.  Or join a small group at your church.
d) Share your faith at your work place.  Yes, you heard me right. Do it!
e) Share your faith with your family and friends.  Engage in morning devotionals with your wife and/or children.  Make Christian rituals a part of your holiday celebrations.
f) Participate with Christian causes like Abolish Human Abortion, Alliance defending Freedom, Liberty Institute, the Friedman Foundation, Discovery Institute, Value Voters Summit, Students for Life, Compassion International, and others.

Being a man of honor in a troubled world means knowing who you are and what you stand for.  Being a man of honor means being unshakable in your convictions, and dogged in your action.  Please take a stand, because as Mark Driscoll said,"Godly men are an endangered species."  It's true.  We are in desperate need of Godly men.  And of course godly women too!  Please be the change, today.  Let's do it and let's do it together.  



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Friday, January 8, 2016

Christians: Let's Talk about Ted Cruz

You are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. -1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 ESV

Greetings to you, my fellow citizens of this great nation.  Yet also citizens of this Earth, and most importantly citizens of heaven.  I'm coming to you today to encourage you in an area which holds great pain for many of us.  It's the area of politics in the USA.

We the people of the United States have a duty to stand for truth.  We have a duty to serve as guardians of this republic.  We have an obligation to preserve the system that allows the free spread of Christianity.  We as people of a citizen republic, run by citizen statesmen, have a duty to advocate for liberty. That's what we must do.  We must take a stand.  Now is the time.  

Rarely in a political cycle does a grassroots candidate have a real chance at the presidency.  Instead we often end up with moderate shills who serve only their own interests and the interests of the lobbyists on K-street.

It's an exhausting situation.  It's left many, many Christians feeling burnt out.  They don't want to participate.  They've really become jaded.  For those of you who feel jaded, troubled, and apathetic: I'm about to call you out.  You're getting called out, right now.

Now is the time friends.  Something very special is taking place this election cycle.  The American people are wise to the games of the two party system and the mainstream media.  The American people are awake.  There is a growing divide between establishment candidates and grassroots candidates in both parties.  The people are awake to that fact, and it's showing in the polling numbers. None of the establishment candidates are polling well in the GOP, and Bernie Sanders is sneaking up on the Hillary Clinton in the polls.   

The people are waking up.  Are you?  Are you willing to be a Christian who delves into the mess of politics?  Are you willing to take a stand?  I firmly believe it's your and my duty as Christians to do so.  We're called to care for the individual, but we're also called to care for the society.  We're called to be salt and light.  Now is the time.

I've decided to put my full support behind Ted Cruz.  Early on I was coming behind Ben Carson, who is a great candidate, but Ted Cruz has impressed me even more so than Dr. Carson.  I don't think Ben Carson will secure the presidential nomination.  I would love to see a Vice President Carson, or a President Carson for that matter but if not, I'm hoping he'll run for the Senate out of Michigan.  We need a Dr. Ben Carson in the Senate.  He's from Michigan and we have two liberals representing Michigan in the Senate.  Dr. Carson could beat one of them.  But I digress.

Hear me out on Ted Cruz.  Don't roll your eyes.  And most importantly: Don't believe the mainstream media.  The mainstream media is the guard of the establishment, believe me on this.  They are circling the wagons, keeping things headed in their chosen direction.  The mainstream media, especially in this cycle, is protecting Hillary Clinton.  And they are systemically tarring and feathering conservative candidates.  Watch out for these tarring and feathering events on the television media, and be skeptical.  Do your own research.  

Ted Cruz has a record to back up what he says (On the Issues).  Ted Cruz came to the Senate and actually did what he said he would do.  He led the fight to repeal Obamacare.  He led the fight against planned parenthood.  He led the fight to deal with the IRS targeting conservative groups.  He actually did what he said he would do once elected!  And he stood up to the corrupt establishment in both parties in Washington D.C.  George W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and all the establishment goons in the GOP despise Ted Cruz.  Why?  Because Ted Cruz is actually for the people, and Ted Cruz calls out the corruption in the GOP.  

Ted Cruz is a candidate that appeals to conservatives, libertarians, the tea party, and independents.  He got a 100% score from the Heritage Foundation on his voting record.  He got a 97% score on Conservative Review.  And the more middle-right Republicans like Karl Rove and John McCain attack Ted Cruz, the more I love Ted Cruz.  The more the corrupt mainstream media blasts Ted Cruz, the more I support Ted Cruz.  The more Fox News ignores Ted Cruz, and focuses endlessly on Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie, the more I'm watching Ted Cruz.  The more mainstream papers like the Wallstreet Journal and The Washington Post try to prop up establishment candidates, the more I'm promoting Ted Cruz on social media.  I'm awake, the American people are realizing the truth, and the establishment is running scared.  But they aren't gone.  They're fighting back, through the mainstream media and big money.  So watch carefully, and stay girded up in the truth.

Ten years ago this could not have happened.  Thank God for the internet, honestly.  Thank God for a forum where people can share the truth.  In yester-years we would've watched the TV news and felt a strange aching in our hearts, not knowing quite what was wrong or what seemed just a little off. The internet provides the crucial alternative perspective.  The scales fell from my eyes and the eyes of many others.

Now is the time to take a stand.  Today it is happening.  We really have a chance to change things.  We've been praying, appealing to heaven for our country for years now.  We've been broken for our nation, under this corrupt president.  We've felt a terrible burden.  

We felt awful when the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage.  When we saw liberal media outlets portray Christians as backwards zealots, synonymous with Westboro Baptist church we felt an aching in our hearts that the truth was being minimized.  Lies ruled on the screens.  We watched Christian business owners attacked, mocked, and ridiculed.  We watched silently.  And now it's time to take a stand. 

Get educated on these issues.  Bring your voice to bear in the political discussions.  Get involved in political movements.  Continue to pray for our nation.  

Check out Ted Cruz.  Learn about his campaign.  Watch some speeches by Ted Cruz on Youtube.  Here are five speeches I recommend:
1. The Real Story of What is Happening in Washington 
2. Presidential Forum on Faith and Freedom
3. The People vs. the Washington Cartel
4. Rally for Religious Liberty
5. Town Hall, South Carolina

Thank you for reading, and thank you for participating in the politics of your nation.  I encourage you to take a stand.  I encourage you to pray for our nation.  Please appeal to heaven daily.  Raise your voice and refuse to let the pc-police silence you.

Please be aware: I'm not saying that God has endorsed Ted Cruz.  I'm not saying I know the perfect candidate.  I am saying, based on my research, this is the candidate I'll be supporting.  Please feel free to do with this information as you will.  Assuming you choose to support Ted Cruz, please get active at TedCruz.org.

Please vote in your state primaries, and please vote in the 2016 presidential election.  Get involved with your local party, get involved with political action organizations.  Be involved, please, because we so desperately need good Christians to be on the front-lines.  We need real, principled men and women to take a stand for our country.  Because our country has been overrun by rats, and somebody has to sweep down the room.  Let's change the world and let's do it together.  

"Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again." -William Cullen Bryant


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Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom: Why do we Fear God?


source

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise. -Psalm 111:10 NIV


The scriptures read "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."  Wisdom is something we desperately need in our world.  We need it today especially.  We need it as the body of Christ on Earth.  

The scriptures are very clear: Wisdom begins with fearing God.  This offends our modern sentiments.  Why?  I suppose because we assume fear is a bad thing.  But is fear always bad?  Fear alerts us to danger.  Fear reminds us we are walking close to the edge from a steep height.  Fear keeps us within our boundaries. 

Of course fear can become out of whack.  Fear can overcome us, and become things like chronic anxiety, worrying, and even depression.  Fear can certainly be a bad thing.  But fear can also be a good and healthy thing.  It's part of our make up.  It helps us to flee when danger is near.

1 Corinthians 6:18 says "flee from sexual immorality."  2 Timothy 2:22 says "flee from youthful passions."  Once again, running from temptation flies in the face of our modern views.  We think we can handle it.  In fact we're told we can handle it.  We're told we deserve it.

Flee from sin!  And fear the Lord.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  As an early Christian I read right over that verse.  I didn't like it, so I ignored it.  But instead let's crack it open, see if it's true.  God's word is truth right?  Always.

Psalm 23:1-6 ESV reads,"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."

The beautiful psalm reminds that we must not fear evil.  Again in Isaiah 41:10 it is written: "Fear not, for I am with you."  Many times in the scripture we are told to "fear not!"  So how then can we say to fear is good?  

Well, to me it seems like the scriptures are pointing to a fundamental truth about the human condition: Our poles are reversed when it comes to fear.  We fear the world, we fear people, we fear the future, and we fear the past.  But we don't fear God.  In fact even those who know there is a God don't seem too concerned when they break his commandments and shun his presence.  We've got a pole reversal problem.  

The proper state of fear is that we fear God and we are completely fearless in the face of the world and the future.  We're as bold as lions, we're filled to the brim with zeal.  There is nothing we cannot do before the unbelieving world.  But this zeal, this fearlessness and courage begins fundamentally with a fear of the Lord.

"The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm." -Proverb 19:23 ESV

The greatest book of wisdom in human history is a book called Proverbs.  It was written by a man named Solomon, and by several others.  King Solomon was the son of King David.  King David was called a man after God's own heart.  His son Solomon was made an offer by God, to ask him for anything.  Solomon was wise when he made this request: "Grant me wisdom Lord."  God was very pleased with this request, and granted the request to him.  

Solomon penned the words of Chapter one of Proverbs as such:
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for gaining wisdom and instruction;
    for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
    doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.


Once again we see, in the very first chapter Solomon describes line by line all the various uses for the book of Proverbs. Then in verse 7 he gives his very first piece of wisdom: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."

And again, in Psalm 34:8-14 (NIV) it is written: 
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

It's quite certain that we are in need of the knowledge of the fear of the Lord.  I hope it will be your prayer tonight, to ask of God: "Teach me to fear you Lord." So what does it mean to fear the Lord?

1. To fear God means to tremble before the him. Psalm 2:11 (KJV) instructs us to: "Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling."  In Philippians 2:12 it says we ought to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.  The message spans both testaments.  To fear God means to tremble before him.  This is the aspect of the fear of the Lord that offends our modern sentiments the most.  We refuse to believe that fear should be any sort of motivator.  But the truth is that fear is an excellent motivator when used properly.  Understand that we are not fearing hell or torment or brimstone.  We are trembling before God.  This trembling motivates us toward action in our lives.  This fear instructs us of the proper place of God in our lives.  He is our master.  The current state of man is to assume that: "I'm the master!"  I can admit that.  I always thought that way.  I wanted to be in charge.  I tried to play God in my life, to force things to turn out how I wanted them to turn out.  Yet it never worked!  Trembling before God is acknowledging God's sovereignty. 

2. To fear God means to revere him.  To fear the Lord means we consider him completely holy.  We think of the Lord in sacred terms.

In the 1828 Noah Webster dictionary the definition of holy (in terms of describing God) is as follows: "Applied to the Supreme Being, holy signifies perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character."

In understanding how good God is, we hold him in reverence.  We respect God.  We express emotional and intellectual reverence for God.  We are humbled by his vastness.  We are humbled by how complex he is.  We are humbled by the immensity of his creation.  We are amazed by God.  We are found to be in awe of God.  We find ourselves within the eternal love of God.  We find ourselves within the wonderful grace of God.  We are amazed, humbled, and found to be in our proper place as we kneel in reverence before the infinity of God, the complexity of God, the power of God, and the love of God.  

For it is written: "The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.
  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;  from his dwelling place he watches
    all who live on earth— he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do."



3. To fear God means to be inspired by his perfection. The result is that the fear centered on God reflects back to us in the form of ambition toward holiness.  Fear spurs us toward holiness, like the competitors in a basketball game inspire the players to level up their game.  

While I was in college at the University of Wisconsin campus extension in Wausau I worked for the college newspaper.  During 2008 I served as a staff writer and distribution manager.  I became very good friends with the editor that year, a young man by the name of Hans.  We had a mutual love for basketball.  We made it a habit to practice together regularly, which developed into one on one basketball games.  We'd be working in the office and it would come around to 10 or 11 pm and we'd go out to the courts and we'd play.  I always remember how the competition inspired me to play at my very best.  He was much better than me, but through the challenge of the struggle of the game, my skills rose to match his.  I had a new motivator to drive me toward excellence.  In a similar way, the fear of the Lord causes us to drive toward growth, holiness, and Christ-like perfection.  We seek the mind of Christ in the fear of the Lord. 

One could also say that the inspiration found in the fear of God is akin to being pursued by a monster.  The fear keeps us running at full speed.  But God is no monster.  A more apt metaphor would be that we are the (gratefully recovering) monster, pursued by the hero who justly guides us.  

But truly, to be inspired by the fear of God is simply to see reality as it truly is.  We are having a mini-revelation as to our own shortcomings in reflection of the perfection of God.  The natural response is to be filled with enthusiasm for becoming more like Christ in all things.  We are bowing to the actual truth of anthropology.  We are admitting the obvious facts of anthropology (the state of man.)  When we fear God we are acknowledging that we are sinful beings.  We are acknowledging to God, in humility, that we need his guidance.  

In humility we challenge the greatest weakness provided by the terrible gift of the evil one: pride.  Pride drove Satan to turn against God.  And Satan tempted the first humans with pride and they were deceived by it.  To this day our race is continuously deceived by pride.  Pride destroys our world.  Pride drives good men to do terrible things.  Pride turns men evil.  We are able to keep pride in check indefinitely when we remain inspired, humbly reverent, and fearful of God.  

I hope my language has not frightened you.  God is not primarily a God of fear, but primarily a God of love and mercy.  Yet God is also full of justice . He is entirely just and good.  He is pure.  Yet he is also so loving, to give us full grace, and further, adoption as sons into his family.  We have wonderful promises of God our creator in his son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Jesus Christ took our place on the cross, freeing us from sin.  Which is why it's so important that we put off all the sins of the body: sexual immorality, greed, pride, gluttony and envy; among others.  

The fear of the Lord is key when endeavoring to be freed from every sin that can hold us back.  Consider 2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV) which states: "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God."  We are instructed by the writer of 2 Corinthians to bring holiness into completion with this keystone: the fear of God.

But I think one of the most amazing benefits of learning to fear God is that we lose our fear of people and the world.  It just fades away.  With fear in it's right place, it evaporates from all the wrong places.  

If there is one universal for modern people, it's fear.  Fear and taxes.  Fear and debt.  But when we turn fear to it's correct location, we understand the truth.  Within the fear of the Lord, we find fearlessness before the world.  

In closing, the fear of the Lord is our strength. I encourage you to ask God to teach you to fear him.  Learn the fear of the Lord, and you will comprehend another immutable facet of life, the universe and God.  For it is written: "My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,

then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,

for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones."

Proverbs 2:2-8 (NIV) 



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