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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Appropriate Fear - Part Two

If you have not yet read Part One of An Appropriate Fear, please do so. You will find that post here.

The Characteristics of Fear - the What, the How and the Who of it

Who Falls Prey to Inappropriate Fear?

Woman – Prone to Fear
Everyone is susceptible to fear – men and women. But I believe that women are especially prone to fear because we lack obvious control in so many situations. In fact, it is so common a struggle with women that Peter addresses it in 1 Peter 3:5-6, encouraging women to put their hope in God so that they can do what is right without giving into fear. By God’s design, men generally lead in every human establishment: the workplace, the home and the church. That is not to say that all men lead well. Many do not, which can really stir up a woman’s fear.
Also, generally speaking, as redeemed women, our role in life is helper, our rule of mind is respect and our responsibility in marriage (and in other places) is submission. Obviously we are not in control, and so, we are often inclined to inappropriate fears. When we lack control, we can either trust God and be confident, or trust ourselves and/or others and be fearful.

But a Woman Who Fears the Lord…
Proverbs 31 tell us about the virtuous wife, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a
woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” The description of this woman reveals that she is confident. She fears nothing and no one but God.

But I’ve always wondered why more is not said concerning her relationship to the Lord. While studying this subject of the fear of the Lord, I became aware that embodied in that little phrase, “fears the Lord”, is every aspect of what it means to know and love God. Fearing God involves not only respect for Him, but also love, worship, humility, purity, obedience, service, holiness, complete trust, a passion for Christ’s glory and more. In Scripture there are hundreds of verses that command us to fear God, but only a handful that command us to love Him. I think that is because a healthy fear of God encompasses every aspect of relating to Him rightly, including love. And godly fear is the antidote for inappropriate fear.
The Contagion of Inappropriate Fear

This study has truly been an eye opener for me, not only concerning the fear of the Lord, but it has also made me face up to certain fears that I had not been honest about and commit those fears to the Lord. As He is becoming my only valid fear, those inappropriate fears are being banished and no longer ruling me. Heb. 13:6 says, “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

There are many common fears that most of us have all shared: fear of the dark, fear of heights, fear of flying, fear of the "boogie man" and many more. But I was shocked when I went onto a website called The Phobia List, where I found an alphabetized list of hundreds of supposedly valid, yet inappropriate “phobias”.

Anything and everything goes when it comes to phobias. Some that I found online are: Chronomentrophobia – the fear of clocks; Philemaphobia – the fear of kissing (that’s one that parents hope that their adolescent children have). There is Geniophobia – the fear of chins (when I read this list to my mom she said, “Oh, that’s the one I have – the fear of having double and triple chins"). PoGonophobia is the fear of beards, Amnesiphobi – the fear of amnesia (the cure for this one is amnesia, because you’d totally forget that you had it), Judeophobia – the fear of Jews. I’m sure some of your husbands have Pentheraphobia – the fear of their mother-in-law; there’s Pteronophobia – the fear of being tickled by feathers and Neophobia – the fear of anything new. With this fear you’d never go shopping. That would make some of our husbands very happy men. The fear most children have is not actually a fear of the dark but La-chan-o-phobia – the fear of vegetables.

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, in which case you would have phobia-phobia, which might not be quite as bad as Panophobia, which is the fear of everything, including phobia-phobia.

But the one phobia I am most thankful that I do not have, is a combo-phobia of some of the ones I just mentioned: “Philema-Judeo-PoGonophobia, which is a fear of kissing bearded Jews. (In case you haven't guessed, my husband, Robert, is Jewish, though he is a Christian, and he has a beard.)

But seriously, fear is running rampant and at a contagion level. So many people are imprisoned by their phobias. Could that be because we were created to fear? Fear is built into the heart of man by God. We were created to fear Him, but instead, man fears everyone and everything but God.

The Consequences of Inappropriate Fear

Inappropriate Fear Forgets God and Fuels Disrespect

As wives, when we trust ourselves in this area of control and do not fear God, we can not show respect for our husbands (or parent, church leader or employer). That is because inappropriate fear lets go of Godly fear, forgets God and fuels disrespect. Isaiah 57:11 says, “Of whom were you worried and fearful when you lied, and did not remember Me nor give Me a thought? Is it because I have not corrected you that you have no fear of me?”

Or how about Isaiah 51:12-16 concerning the fear of man, "I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction?" 

Can you see the progression in the first verse? Initially, worry and inappropriate fear are allowed to rule in the heart. Though this seems harmless enough, the resulting sin of lying is carried out. In the midst of this progression it is obvious that God has been forgotten. He is not at all considered. And the crux of it all is that there was no fear of God from the beginning. Inappropriate fear always crowds God out and looks to self for the answer. It forgets God and fuels disrespect.

The second verse brings to light the reality that fearing man begets even more fear, " live in constant terror every day..." On the contrary, fearing God is a comforting thing. He comforts us when we will but seek Him in the midst of the fear and confess to Him our weakness of being terrified of puny man.

Has this been your experience when you fear man or any other created thing? 

For the third part of this series, several examples will be sited from Scripture as well as one contemporary example. We will also see how disrespect manifests itself in marriage. 

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

An Appropriate Fear - Part Two

Sunday, August 22, 2010

His Choice

His Choice

Would I have chosen Him who died,
The One whom sinners crucified?
The One who gave His life to free
Insurgent, rebel, enemy?

My choice would ne’er have been for Him.
My sin is what I loved, so grim;
My sin that put Him on the tree.
A foe I was, a foe I’d be,
Had He not come to rescue me

I would have chose to scorn His Name,
To persecute, condemn and blame
The perfect Lamb, the Savior Dear,
Had not the Shepherd made me hear
His call to come and hasten near.

Like sinking ship, the waters swirled
Engulfed in sin that tossed and hurled;
I chose the doom and dark of night.
But from the rocks there shone a Light,
And Jesus drew me from my plight.

Oh! Love divine, all loves excelling,
Such grace that drew was all-compelling.
He opened eyes that would not see,
Awestruck, I fell and bowed my knee.
The choice was His, it was not mine
He freed me - I from sin resign.

Eternally I am His choice,
I’m kept by Him, and I rejoice!
For He has set me free to love,
Now I adore the Lord above
Who gave His life for my poor soul,
And was abased to make me whole.

Now that He has elected me,
And shown me grace beyond degree,
Oh, may I ne’er again caress
A minor treasure – all is less,
Less than the prize I find in Him,
Whose glory lights the seraphim.

So ask me now – I’ll ne’er refuse
The Savior Dear – it’s Him I choose.
I love this One who by design
Has called my name – I’m His, He’s mine!



Posted by Sharon Kaufman

His Choice

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An Appropriate Fear - Part One

Starting today and continuing on for the next few weeks, we will be looking at the subject of fear, specifically the fear of the Lord, which, as we will see, is the only appropriate fear for the Christian. Discovering God's majestic, fearsome, yet gracious and loving character is the key to godly fear. This series will also make evident that godly fear is the prerequisite for respecting earthly authorities, such as parents, husband, employer and church leaders. 

My prayer is that we will all take away a better understanding of and a commitment to fearing God that will motivate personal love for and joyful obedience to Him, which in turn will assist in banishing inappropriate fears (of things created) and respecting earthly authorities.

First, let's start with some definitions of various forms of fear:

Comprehending the Meaning of Three Types of Fear

“The fear of the Lord” (an appropriate or godly fear) – the joyful and fearful esteeming of who God is in all of His perfections and for all of His purposes. This is the only appropriate fear. 

“A godly fear of my earthly authority” – to properly esteem my earthly authority as God’s head over me.
“An inappropriate fear” (or ungodly fear) – to fear anything created either by God (heights, darkness, natural disasters, people, etc.) or by you (financial problems, results of sin, etc.).  

Right now, can you think of an "inappropriate fear that you have had in the past or are currently struggling with? Keep that in mind as we tackle this difficult subject.

The Choicest Treasure – An Appropriate, Godly Fear

We read in Isaiah 33:6, “And He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is your treasure.” The fear of the Lord is a treasure He gives to His child. It is one of the choice jewels that He bestows on His beloved ones. It is a rarity of heaven. All men and angels, who live before the throne of God in heaven, bow in reverence and godly fear of Him. And we, here below, rightly honor Him when we fear Him as do the angels and the saints who have gone before us, who are now in His presence.

Godly fear is a treasure from the Lord for it is found only in a few hearts among mortal men. For most men and women, “…there is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:18). Most men are utterly destitute of this wondrous jewel – the fear of the Lord.

Of six billion people now on the planet, perhaps one in a thousand has this precious token of His love. They may have God’s sun to warm them, His rain to quench their thirst and the harvest to satiate their hunger. But these are mere scraps and fragments, like cast-off rags and worn-out shoes compared to that choice treasure that He reserves for His child and heir – the treasure of godly fear. It is only bestowed on His elect, the children of promise. All others are destitute of it, and so continue on their way to death and judgment.

Job had this fear and the Lord said of Him, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8) If you have been granted this eternal gift, you also are unlike most others on the face of the earth. And if that is the case, it is expedient that you understand just what the fear of the Lord is and why it is so priceless a treasure. That is what we want to try to accomplish in the next few weeks.

The Characteristics of Fear – the What and the How of it

What is Fear Really All About?
Why do we fear and what is fear based on? If you met a lion in the street, your might die of fright before he could touch you. Why is that? Isn’t that because you lack control and can do nothing to prevent the lion from attacking you? Yet, if you see a caged lion, your fear is tempered, because the lion is controlled. You’re still afraid of the beast. Obviously, you would never try to pet it. But though you have a healthy respect for the caged lion, you can also enjoy it because the iron bars moderate your fear and allow you to come near. So fear is really all about a lack of control.

Inappropriate Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear of created things is all about a lack of control and it is crippling. Fear can be so subtle and obscure that we live with it and make daily decisions based on it, or fear can be blaring and obvious. But it is always inappropriate for it is based on the falsehood that no one is in control, not I or anyone else, not even God – and, that in fact, everything is out of control. A great acronym and easy way to remember the basis for inappropriate fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Inappropriate fear nearly always focuses on what is not real, but it takes over our minds as if it were real. It projects terror into the future with its lies and leaves me paralyzed in doing what is right. It leaves me alone to my futile imagination to vainly speculate the solution to and outcome of my struggle. This fuels greater fear and leads to further vain speculations. The solution that I devise will be a fleshly plan that produces the outcome that I think will benefit me, putting me on the throne. But that solution will not glorify God and most certainly will not produce any lasting good in my life (though God graciously uses even our presumptuous sins for our good and His glory).

For the Christian, inappropriate fear is always motivated by Satan in order to get me to act independently of God, which is sin. This is how the evil one moved on Eve to take what belonged to God, the only thing that was forbidden to her.

Fear of created things always cripples and damages. It damages God’s name and His good purpose for me. That is not to say that God can not bring good out of such a situation. He can and will for His child who has returned to loving Him and fulfilling His purposes.

How is Appropriate Fear Different than Inappropriate Fear?

Appropriate Fear = Facing Every Anxiety Realistically

Godly fear is about a lack of control also. But it is different, because, though it acknowledges the reality that I am in control of absolutely nothing, I am confident that nothing is out of control, but that all is under God’s sovereign and gracious rule.

Godly fear never leaves me to myself. Rather it always leads me back to the God who loves me, to "the rock that is higher than I" (Psalm 61:2-4), and to His precious promises which quiet my trembling heart and give me hope. Promises like Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

This appropriate fear enables me to face every anxiety realistically for it focuses on God’s gracious character and His precious word – like the reality found in Philippians 4:6-8. “The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true…meditate on these things.”

"Whatever things are true...meditate on these things." This counsel from God's word alone stands out against all my unfounded, unrealistic fears. Think on what is true! Is it not true that the great I Am God is with me? Is it not true that He is in control – nothing is out of control? Is it not true that He loves me and is working for my good, to conform me to Christ? And is it not true that my gracious God will keep His promise when I turn to Him, to strengthen my anxious heart with His glorious peace - right in the midst of the very storm that has tossed my thoughts about like snow in a blizzard?

Reiterating, godly, appropriate fear is a treasure from the Lord to His children. Godly fear is healthy, empowering and appropriate. It brings great comfort and joy. When I fear God appropriately, I can rest, fearless of any situation, any enemy, or any failure for I know that this great God, who is in control, is for me and is never against me. He loves me and because I fear Him alone, He will work my situation for His glory and my good.

In Part Two of "An Appropriate Fear", We Will Consider the "Who" of it
In Part Two of An Appropriate Fear, we will look at "who" falls prey to inappropriate fear and the contagion of it, especially in our world today.

Note: Although this topic of fear applies to all women, I will be dealing with it in relation to marriage and the wife’s respect for her husband. But please apply it to your own situation. Whether you submit to a husband, parents, the church elders, or an employer, the principle is still the same. One of the situations in my own life in which I experienced a great deal of fear was when I was a single mother. The truths we will look at in this series are what freed me from those fears. I’ll share more about that later in this series.

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

An Appropriate Fear - Part One

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Smorgasbord of Timeless Truths

Not having to reinvent the wheel all the time can be such a liberating concept. Some things have been said (written) so well that it really isn't necessary to write anew about them. Recently I've come across some very good articles on other blogs. I couldn't have said these things better if I tried. Please take some time to feast - to be reminded, encouraged and challenged by the following smorgasbord of timeless truths:

Growing in Gratitude: A 30 Day Challenge (this is a printable download, intended to cultivate a more grateful heart over a period of 30 days) 

The Marriage Bed (a biblical guide to sexual intimacy - a helpful excerpt)

A Shout Out to Moms Everywhere (a great article to encourage moms in their calling)

Seven Ways Parents Unfairly Provoke Their Children by Tim Challies. This article is quite an eye-opener and very helpful for examining yourself as a father or mother who strives to be more like the very best parent - our Heavenly Father.

Finally, a wonderfully encouraging video from John Piper about the Holy Spirit's ministry of interceding for us when we're weak.


Posted by Sharon Kaufman

A Smorgasbord of Timeless Truths