Filial Reverence

“Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Nothing more true than this statement. But maybe we need to rightly adapt the word fear to express more clearly its meaning. It is meant to be an awe, or reverence, not the scary sense modern vernacular lends to the word.

One of the guys I am trying to disciple was recently reading an R.C. Sproul devotional that was categorizing the fear of the Lord between servile and filial. Servile being a subdued caution toward a perceived threat of the tormentor. This would be an appropriate response to thinking of the heat and hardship of eternal hell. (Sorry to bring such things up on a Friday).

But that kind of reverent fear is not meant for those in Christ. Those rescued from wrath for sin, those forgiven. We are meant for filial reverence. Seeing the Father through the lens of his love. In awe of his mercy and ongoing cherishing of His children. We might think of how great it is to have a Father, especially one that loves us (as proven by the provision of grace of the Son), what we receive. Or we can think of it from the Father’s perspective, the heart he has for us.

This idea is often brought to mind for me as a dad. My kids are something else. Each with their own personality and quirks, none of which keeps me from loving them. In fact, it is strange, but I can find myself smiling just seeing these kids be themselves. They brighten my heart, they soften my mood.

And that feeling (maybe only healthy dads can feel it) is what God feels towards you in Christ. You make his heart burst with joy. So much so that while we are at our worst he sent his Son to take our place in obedience and punishment. What grace. What love.

It is from the safe place of this love that we live. Reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, it is the beginning of all life. Praying that you have this in increasing measure today and forever.


The Grace of Reading the Bible with Committed Friends

The pandemic closed our preferred meeting location (a local Starbucks – suburbia has few great coffee choices.) As you can imagine then we missed a couple of months of our early morning meetings. We were forced to get creative and meet in the parking lot instead.

It has been a great way to affirm guidelines for social distancing and continue studying Scripture together.

Today we read an imprecatory psalm and thought through how we pray for those opposed to us in light of Christ. It was a rich conversation on trusting in the Lord’s care and purpose and we set out for the day with renewed determination to trust and pray.

I am thankful for these committed friends. We need them. You need them. Do what you can to find them. Open the book, and read.


Pandemic Growth

As we move through the sixth month of pandemic strangeness in the church I suspect other pastors of small churches have experienced much of the same things I have. One being the predominance of time spent thinking about or attempting to disciple those in the church that have been outliers. Those that haven’t engaged in online communication or meetings, or who have prefered to not re-gather as the church has been able to.

It struck me on Sunday when I was having a conversation with one of our leaders about state guidelines and what 50% capacity of our facility would look like. I made the comment that at this point I wasn’t even sure what 100% of our church was. Simply because some families have been silent, others vocal about preferring to have John MacArthur as their pastor, or some other reason to not participate in the family life of the church.

Truth is, I have also spent a lot of time thinking about and encouraging those that are engaging and have actually exhibited tremendous growth in spiritual maturity and sacrifice for others. These are things I am determined to focus on more.

Also on Sunday I was greatly encouraged by one member who asked me for a recommendation for a book to study (along with Scripture) with a couple of dechurched friends. She had a burden for her friends given that they didn’t have community and wanted to do what she could to encourage and show them Jesus. This busy mother with her own business was taking time to disciple people on top of the ways she serves the church. Her family is always making the effort to engage and participate in the life of the church. A real encouragement to me.

Then yesterday another member of the church emailed a group of guys about the baby shower most of our wives would be attending and how he wanted to get together and eat a good meal. But he also mentioned that most of us would have to be home with kids so he was going to bring the grilled meat and beverages to us. What a huge blessing and sacrifice from him to care for the body!

There is much to rejoice in these days in the life of the church. I am grateful for the flourishing of these partners in ministry and looking forward to more of it!