Tag Archives: relationship with Christ

Fear of the Lord

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…”           — Proverbs 1:7

I heard a radio preacher talk about the fear of the Lord yesterday. i expected him to go to start talking about the fearful, terrified, condemnation-style fear and how God was, well, almost like a bully that we’d be afraid of running into. But he didn’t! Instead, he talked about the kind of fear that I would call reverence.

And then this morning, I opened up a devotional called Augustine Day By Day and today’s entry, “Chaste Fear,” was bringing out this same approach.

Just from the fact that you try to avoid evil, you improve yourself, and you begin to desire what is good. When you begin to desire what is good, there will be a chaste fear in you.

That fear by which you fear being cast into hell with the devil is not yet chaste, since it does not come from the love of God but from fear of punishment. But when you fear God in the sense that you do not wish to lose Him, you embrace Him, and you desire to enjoy Him.

YES!

When I was growing up, so many of the gospel presentations were not GOOD News, but rather FEARFUL WARNINGS!

  • ‘You better make the right decision or you’ll go to Hell!’
  • ‘If you accept Jesus, you’ll be saved from Hell!’
  • ‘Turn or Burn!’
  • ‘Make sure you’ve got you’ve signed up for your eternal  fire insurance!’

I have one fellow pastor and friend who is always dwelling on the negatives. And yes, I know that seems like a generalization, but in this case it’s pretty accurate! He tries to draw people’s attention to how horrible, bad, awful, and sinful the world is around us. And that’s his attempt to share the “good” news! I love him and he has the sweetest wife, but I can only be around him for short periods of time and generally avoid reading anything he writes. It’s all pessimism and fear based. I don’t need more of that in my life!

It seems to me that that radio preacher (I don’t even know who he was) and St. Augustine have the healthier, more Godly approach. Yes there is a gratitude for what Jesus saves us from eternally in regards to punishment, that’s NOT the motivation for my walk with Christ or my understanding of God. Instead, there is a JOY in getting to know God better as I walk with Christ… as I learn to be His disciple and become more like Him. My relationship becomes more and more about love and respect and gratitude and reverence… not fear of punishment.

After all, the definition of “gospel” is supposed to be “GOOD news.”

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entry for July 29 “Chaste Fear” in Augustine Day By Day, compiled and edited by John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Catholic Book Publishing:New York, 1986, page 113. Quote drawn from Augustine’s sermon on 1 John 9, 5.
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Personal Mission Statement

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”                                  —Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)

 

If you’ve been around United Methodist Churches much, you know that our pastors move around. In fact, we are only appointed to our communities one year at a time. So every year we are asked to fill out paperwork as to how things are going with us and our families, as well as with our churches. We do it every year, and only occasionally are we asked to move to a new community appointment. This year, though, one of the questions really challenged me. It read: “What is your personal mission statement?”

What is MY personal mission statement? What is it that gets me up out of bed and keeps me going? Personally, I started with the roles I have; the relationships I have. Specifically, I’m an individual made in the image of God, by God, to be in relationship with God. Also, I’m a husband to my wife, a father to my children, a grandfather to my grandkids, a pastor to a congregation, and a volunteer with some other groups. I’m also other things, but how do I sum up all of that in a personal mission statement?

A quick definition before I go further… One of our foundational beliefs is that every single person that’s been baptized is called by God to minister to others for Him. We are ALL “ministers.” Some of the ministers are called to be doctors, some bankers, some ditch diggers, some politicians, some garbage collectors, and some to be “pastors.” My role as a pastor is first, and foremost, to be a “minister” like everyone else who is called by God to whatever profession. With that, here is what I submitted:

“My personal mission statement is to be so connected to Jesus Christ as a minister, worshipper, and leader, that wherever I might be, I can equip other ministers in their areas of ministry, starting with my own family.”

 

So I, like you, am a “minister” expected to live out my life in such a way that people I encounter in my daily life will see Jesus in me. In order to pull that off, I have to be in relationship with Him… talking to and listening to Him and reading the Bible so that I can really get to know Him. I need to be connected with Jesus Christ. That also means that a major part of my calling is to worship Him. Also, because I am a pastor, I have leadership responsibilities in the church.

The second part of my statement highlights that my ministry is not just in one geographical area or in one setting. I am to be the same kind of Christian at school activities, at sporting events, at restaurants, at social events, at the garage, at the fire hall, and at church. And by doing so, I hope to be able to help, encourage, support, and equip the other Christians I encounter to be able to step into whatever their ministry is. That also means I need to be willing to go wherever God might want to send me.

And while I’m at it, not as a pastor, but as a Christian, I look for opportunities to share God’s love and Christ’s forgiveness with anyone I run into that doesn’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior yet.

The last part of my statement emphasizes that my ministry, like all other Christians, requires that we be in ministry with our own families first. So many of us Christians, especially pastors, get so busy with all of the other things in our lives that we lose our own families. Our spouses and children are to be the first priority for all of us. For most of us, we haven’t always done so well with this.

“O.K. Preacher,” you might be thinking, “that’s nice, but what’s it got to do with me?” I hope you’ll take some time and think about the different roles and relationships you have, and the people and places you go day in and day out. Pray and ask God what He’s asking you to do as you go to those places and encounter those people. Most people have a different job than I do, so your mission statement will probably look different than mine. But we do share some of those other relationships: wives, children, parents, volunteers, and more.

Tell me, what would YOUR personal mission statement say?

***This post appears as my pastor’s newsletter article in the November 2014 edition of The Flame, the monthly newsletter of the Clarks Mills United Methodist Church, Clarks Mills, PA***

***This post also appears on my mixed meditations blog at http://www.mixedmeditations.wordpress.com ***

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