Fear of the Lord

 

My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart, too, will rejoice; and my kidneys will rejoice when your lips speak upright things. Let your heart not envy sinners, rather those in fear of Yahweh always. For there is a latter end, and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:15-18

 

In contemplating and seeking to interpret the imperative command to fear the Lord it is necessary to search the Scriptures to discover the various nuances involved in carrying out this biblical injunction.  The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments reveal that “fear” is a necessary experiential attitude that the people of God are to have toward Yahweh—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  For the modern mind terms like fear and jealousy seem to have a negative connotation; however, these terms have important theological connections both to our attitude towards God (i.e. fear) and God’s attitude towards His people (i.e. jealousy).  Fear can be a debilitating emotion when people are dealing with phobias of snakes, spiders, and elevators, but fear can also be a positive force towards preserving life such as seeing a shark at the beach, seeing a poisonous snake in the woods, or hearing a gun shot.  Yet, the biblical definition regarding the fear of the LORD is to depart from evil and do good (cf. Psalms 34:11-14).  However, there is a distinction which must be made, namely, (a) our personal way of defining good and evil (Proverbs 1:31), or (b) the ways and laws of God (Psalms 19:7-9; 119:1-176).  Therefore, the Holy Spirit through the Word of God must speak for itself regarding the paths of life and death.

The Scripture declares that the beginning of wisdom, and the beginning of knowledge both have their roots in the fear of the LORD Yahweh (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10).  In the Torah the command is given to honor the elderly and to fear your God—Yahweh (Leviticus 19:32).  Additionally, the fear of Yahweh is necessary in order to keep His commandments, statutes, and judgments; and that this fear will prolong our days (cf. Deuteronomy 6:1-3).  “The LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear Yahweh our God for our good always, to keep us alive as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 6:24).  We see from these verses that the fear of the LORD (1) is for our good, (2) it prolongs our days, and (3) it enables us to keep the commandments, statutes, and judgments of God.

God’s covenant children are humbled and tested from time to time in order to do us good in the end (Deuteronomy 8:1-5, 16; Hebrews 12:5-11), so that we may walk in His ways and to fear Him (Deuteronomy 8:6).  Yet, the spirit and essence of the Law is revealed in this word…“And now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God require of you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in His ways and to love Him, to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul…you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with your very all (Deuteronomy 10:12; 6:5).  Thus, “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).  So the Scriptures declare that God requires us to fear Him, yet not in an incapacitating fear, but in a way that gives true life to our souls through submission to His will by the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, our spiritual growth in progressive sanctification is a constant training in learning how to fear Yahweh always (cf. Deuteronomy 14:23; Proverbs 23:17).  However, what is the fear of the LORD?  What does it actually mean?  How can I actually learn to fear Yahweh always?

 

  1. The fear of the LORD represents an awe of the majesty of God – Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 22:23; 25:14; 33:18; 103:17. As we contemplate the universe above and the majestic beauty of the earth, the myriad creatures, the complexity of DNA-RNA, and to our bodies from organs, tissues, cells, molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles, namely all things being held together by God’s Sovereign Decree.  So we declare with the Psalmist, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:14)

 

  1. The fear of the LORD represents a fearful dread – Psalm 96:9; 102:15; Proverbs 1:29; Isaiah 8:11-15; Malachi 1:6; 3:5; 2 Corinthians 7:9-12; Hebrews 10:26-31. Once we have received new life through Jesus Christ by His one offering, He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14), and in this new life there are times when our affections are turned away from God and our desires conceive and give birth to sin (Genesis 4:7; James 1:14-15).  Thus, a life of repentance (Mark 1:15) is necessary to restore our confidence (1 John 2:28).  Yet, there are times when we are to recognize the power of justice (Psalm 50:21) against unrighteousness, and this healthy dread is necessary from time to time so we do not degrade the holiness of God into a common thing. The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) in Chapter 14.2 on Saving Faith states, “By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings (cf. Ezra 9:4; Isaiah 66:2; Hebrews 4:1), and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.  But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace” (WCF 14.2).

 

  1. The fear of the LORD represents a continuous consciousness of God – Deuteronomy 14:23; Psalm 36:1; Proverbs 2:1-5; 23:17; Malachi 3:16. To have a fear of God actually means to be aware of God.  To be aware of God reveals an immediate knowing that we are subordinate to God since we are His creation.  To know that we are subordinate to God means that all “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever” (Revelation 5:13).  However, this conscious awareness of God can have a blend of the dread and fear associated to Yahweh’s holiness, as well as an intimate nearness of His Fatherhood and provision from the majesty of His glorious works.  Additionally, there are eight processes given in Proverbs 2:1-4 which ultimately lead to an understanding of the fear of Yahweh and the discovery of the knowledge of God.  These eight processes are (1) receiving God’s Word, (2) treasuring His commands within, (3) inclining our ear to wisdom, (4) applying our heart to understanding, (5) crying out for discernment, (6) lifting up our voice for understanding, (7) seeking wisdom as if it were silver, and (8) searching for wisdom as if it were hidden treasures.  These eight actions have been summed up by Jesus when He commands us to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13).

 

  1. The Fear of the LORD represents the instruction of wisdom, namely, the way of life – Joshua 24:14; Psalm 34:11-16; 103:17; 128:1-4; Proverbs 14:25-27; 15:33; 16:6; 19:23; 29:25; Jeremiah 32:37-41. The commandments, laws, ordinances, statues, judgments, testimonies, and words of Yahweh are revealed and given unto us so that we may learn to do good and seek justice (cf. Isaiah 1:16-17), seek peace (cf. Psalm 34:14), to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God (cf. Micah 6:8), while also departing from evil, and keeping our tongue from corrupt communication and our lips from speaking deceit (Psalm 34:13-14; Ephesians 4:29-5:7).  God has ordained what is good and evil, and the paths that He has commanded us to walk in are for our good and well-being, and length of days; therefore, we are to fear God because reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Deuteronomy 5:16; 29, 33; 6:3, 18, 24; Proverbs 6:23).

 

As we begin to absorb the sweetness of God’s Word and allow it to dwell richly within us we will cry out to be “cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” we will begin to experience the “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).  The fear of the LORD is an important factor in our spiritual communion with God, because (a) it gives us wisdom in the way we should walk (Psalm 34:11-14), (b) it gives the ordering of the right relationships we should have toward ourselves (Proverbs 1:31; Jeremiah 17:9-10), others (Psalm 118:8-9), and with our Creator (Psalm 27:1-3; Habakkuk 3:17-19), (c) the fear of the LORD Yahweh is a means of grace for communion with the Most High God, and (d) the Holy Spirit which indwells all adopted children of God, also represents the Spirit of the fear of Yahweh (Isaiah 11:1-2).  Therefore, allow the fear of the LORD to be a driving force for your obedience to God.  Let us go forward and “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

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Credo

 

In the Wisdom of the Scriptures it is seen that “The way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).  Here in the West we pride ourselves on the false notion of autonomy (which literally means self-law), and yet autonomy without being our brothers and sisters keeper is why we see such disregard for human life in the economic, religious, scientific and political arenas. When we see significant inequality of wealth, murder, rape, dehumanization philosophies of evolution, abortion, and political figures who are wicked shepherds serving themselves we must ask ourselves…is this path we are on – sustainable?  The “good way” and the “ancient paths” call out for us to distinguish between Right & Wrong – and to pursue justice, righteousness, truth, compassion, humility and selflessness; because inherent in these qualities represent the seeds that if sown upon the good ground will yield sustainable relationships, families, communities, businesses, and societies.

Unfortunately, many in the Christian faith have erred in believing that the passage in John 3:3 is about being “born-again” or “born-from-above” in order to get into Heaven.  The context of the verse according the Greek language reveals another story.  It speaks about receiving spiritual life from above (i.e. born-again) in order to CONSCIOUSLY experience and participate in the Kingdom of God NOW!  “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  The Greek gives a Subjunctive Mood, which means that this is a conditional statement that is pertinent upon the condition of those who have not been born-again; additionally, and because they are not born-again the Present Tense is used which means that they cannot at this moment in time see and participate in the Kingdom of God.  Therefore, to state this verse in positive terms “Amen, Amen, I say to you, when one is born-again, he sees the Kingdom of God.”  I have met hundreds of people who have given witness and testimony to the reality of receiving new life from God, a new identity, purpose, meaning and power.

In fact, to experience and walk in the “newness of life” (Romans 6:4; 7:6) is such a joy and rapture in the freedom of the spirit that no amount of money, fame, sex, drugs, food, or sleep could ever compare or be traded for this new life.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ;s behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

Therefore, the sustainable solution to positively transforming the world is found in receiving new life from God, and new life from God is found in Christ – the Word of God made flesh – Who will take up residence and make a home within you (John 14:16-24) and within the one who comes to Him will by no means be cast out (John 6:37).  Understand this, that life is a precious gift that is to be cherished, honored, and ultimately redeemed.  New life from God does not destroy your personal identity and personality and purpose — it completes and fulfills it!

 


 

Here is “Creed” by Steve Turner:

*****

Creed

“We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy is OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything is getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in
horoscopes, UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man
just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher
although we think His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same–
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it’s compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
and the flowering of individual thought.

“Chance” a post-script

If chance be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.”  (i.e. himself).

____________________________________________________________

 

Consider these words well from the “Creed” by Steve Turner, and mark well the perfume of hypocrisy and the lack of coherent logic.

 

 

Peace be with each of you.

 

Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony

The following section below represents a portion of “Our World Belongs to God” developed originally in 1986, and updated in 2008 by the Christian Reformed Church in North America.  For the full version, which has 58 sections click on the link below.  I originally came across this source in the book:

Our Faith: Ecumenical Creeds, Reformed Confessions, and Other Resources. Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013.

 

Let it be known that you and every person who has ever existed will give an account of how we have used our life-space, and that our thoughts, words, and actions will testify against us in this great accounting.  To be sure, that just as most children don’t like to be told what to do, so too, adults do not like to be told what to do.  Therefore, what is often the case is that we have “children in adult bodies” (see Matthew 11:16-19).  And…in our stubbornness and self-sufficiency we refuse to submit to the natural order of God’s Rule.  Saint Augustine eloquently said, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you.”  If God does indeed exist (which I hope to address this issue in future posts) then the Most High Living God must be eternally superior to anything of the created order.  If this first principle is true, which indeed it is, then to elevate anything that is created above the Majesty and Perfection of God is to exalt the inferior over the superior – and to do so is logically foolish, ignorant, and sinful.  This has been the great charge of the sages, prophets, teachers, and apostles of the ages, namely, that we indeed are blind and even “willingly ignorant” until by the Grace of God our eyes are opened to see “as we ought to see.”

 

Let us learn what it means to “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:15-16; Colossians 4:5-6) and to “put one the armor of Light” (Romans 13:12-14; Ephesians 6:10-18).  I hope you all enjoy the opening sections of this Contemporary Testimony.

Our World Belongs to God

Preamble
1. As followers of Jesus Christ,
living in this world—
which some seek to control,
and others view with despair—
we declare with joy and trust:
Our world belongs to God!

For God’s ownership of all things, see Psalm 24:1 (quoted in 1 Cor. 10:26), Job 41:11, and Deuteronomy 10:14. That this is also “our world”—given to the human race to keep and care for—is one of the themes of the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2.

2. From the beginning,
through all the crises of our times,
until the kingdom fully comes,
God keeps covenant forever:
Our world belongs to God!
God is King: Let the earth be glad!
Christ is victor: his rule has begun!
The Spirit is at work: creation is renewed!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

For God’s faithfulness, see, among many passages, Psalm 89, 117, 145; Romans 8:31-39; and Hebrews 10:23. For the victory of God in Christ and the rule of Christ, see 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, Philippians 2:9-11, and Revelation 1:13-18. For the Spirit’s work renewing creation, see Genesis 1 and Romans 8.

3. Still, despair and rebellious pride fill the earth:
some, crushed by failure
or broken by pain,
give up on life and hope and God;
others, shaken,
but still hoping for human triumph,
work feverishly to realize their dreams.
As believers in God,
we also struggle with the spirits of this age,
resisting them in the power of the Spirit,
testing them by God’s sure Word.

Psalm 2 expresses the rebellious spirit of the human race. See also Romans 1-3. Ephesians 6:10-17 describes the struggle of believers with the spirits of the age. On testing the spirits, see 1 John 4.

4. Our world, fallen into sin,
has lost its first goodness,
but God has not abandoned the work of his hands:
our Maker preserves this world,
sending seasons, sun, and rain,
upholding all creatures,
renewing the earth,
promising a Savior,
guiding all things to their purpose.

See Genesis 3; 9:8-16; Psalm 104, especially verse 30; Matthew 5:45; and Acts 14:17. For the promises of a Savior, see Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; 11:1-5; 42:1-7, 53; and Micah 5:2.

5. God holds this world
with fierce love.
Keeping his promise,
he sends Jesus into the world,
pours out the Holy Spirit,
and announces the good news:
sinners who repent and believe in Jesus
live anew as members of the family of God—
the firstfruits of a new creation.

For God’s fierce love, see Hosea 11, especially verses 10-11. For statements of the gospel message, see John 3:1-21, Acts 2:36-39, Romans 10:7-11, and Ephesians 2:1-10. For “firstfruits,” see Leviticus 23:9-14 and James 1:18.

6. We rejoice in the goodness of God,
renounce the works of darkness,
and dedicate ourselves to holy living.
As covenant partners,
set free for joyful obedience,
we offer our hearts and lives
to do God’s work in the world.
With tempered impatience,
eager to see injustice ended,
we expect the Day of the Lord.
We are confident
that the light
which shines in the present darkness
will fill the earth
when Christ appears.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Our world belongs to you.

Among the texts referenced in this paragraph, see Matthew 5:17-20, 48; John 1:1-5, 9-13; 3:19-21; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:11; 2 Peter 3; 1 John 2:7-11; and Revelation 22:20.

 

Creation

7. Our world belongs to God—
not to us or earthly powers,
not to demons, fate, or chance.
The earth is the Lord’s.

For references, see the first paragraph.

8. In the beginning, God—
Father, Word, and Spirit—
called this world into being
out of nothing,
and gave it shape and order.

See Genesis 1, where Creator, Word, and Spirit call creation into order. For the role of the Word in creation and Jesus as the Word, see John 1:1-14.

9. God formed sky, land, and sea;
stars above, moon and sun,
making a world of color, beauty, and variety—
a fitting home for plants and animals, and us—
a place to work and play,
worship and wonder,
love and laugh.
God rested
and gave us rest.
In the beginning
everything was very good.

On creation, besides Genesis 1 and 2, see Psalm 19; 33:6-9; and 104.

10. Made in God’s image
to live in loving communion with our Maker,
we are appointed earthkeepers and caretakers
to tend the earth, enjoy it,
and love our neighbors.
God uses our skills
for the unfolding and well-being of his world
so that creation and all who live in it may flourish.

For the image of God, see Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10; and James 3:9.

11. Together,
male and female,
single and married,
young and old—
every hue and variety of humanity—
we are called to represent God,
for the Lord God made us all.
Life is God’s gift to us,
and we are called to foster
the well-being of all the living,
protecting from harm
the unborn and the weak,
the poor and the vulnerable.

See Genesis 1:26-27, Galatians 3:26-28, and Acts 2:5-11. On how we treat the vulnerable among us as a measure of justice, see Isaiah 1:15-17 and James 1:27.

12. Even now,
as history unfolds
in ways we know only in part,
we are assured
that God is with us in our world,
holding all things in tender embrace
and bending them to his purpose.
The confidence that the Lord is faithful
gives meaning to our days
and hope to our years.
The future is secure,
for our world belongs to God.

For the providential care of God, see Isaiah 45:6-7, Matthew 6:25-34, and Luke 12:4-7.

 

 

The highest pursuit in life is the pursuit of Truth.  Peace be with each of you.

 

 

Understanding the Image of God

“No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6b).  This statement is obviously true if one accepts that Jesus the Christ is in fact—“the truth” (John 14:6a).  However, Jesus had to make this claim, because the Christ or “the Messiah” is “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints (lit. holy ones)” (Colossians 1:26), and the only way back to the pristine state as Adam was first formed is through the “last Adam,” (1 Corinthians 15:45; cf. Romans 5:14) Jesus the Christ.  Thus, Jesus Christ had to be born of a virgin and born of the Holy Spirit, because just as Adam was born from the breath of God (i.e. Spirit of God; Genesis 2:7) and the womb of the earth (i.e. dust) so too the “last Adam” had to be born of the Spirit of God (Matthew 1:20) from the womb of woman (Genesis 3:15).  This was done in order to reconcile the fallen state of man (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20) when Adam died a spiritual death (cf. Genesis 2:17; 3:6-7).

 

Genesis 2:17 says, “For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  It is clear from the biblical account that Adam lived some 900 years later (cf. Genesis 5:4-5) after “the day” when he partook of the fruit; however, the Rabbinical tradition took the Hebrew words mot tamut (i.e. “you shall surely die”) to literally mean, “dying, you will die.”  This in turn represents a Hebrew double idiom for a double death, hence a physical and spiritual death.  It is by virtue of this spiritual death that Jesus tells Nicodemus, “he must be born from above (or, born again) of the Spirit in order to see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3-8; cf. 1 Peter 1:22-23).  However, the Holy Spirit renews all who are “born from above” back into the “image of His Son” (Romans 8:29), by being “transformed into the same image of the Lord from glory to glory” (τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν; 2 Corinthians 3:18).  The Spirit of God renews those “born from above” back into “the new man which was created according to God [past tense], in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24; cf. Genesis 1:26-17), and back into “the image of Him who created Him [past tense]” (Colossians 3:10), as “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

 

Before Jesus was manifested in the flesh, the prophets of old received “the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11).  Additionally, even Moses “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (Hebrews 11:26).  How can Moses and the prophets of old participate in the work of Christ or the work of the Messiah before the historical Jesus?

 

We see a clear picture that is formed which centers on the work of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4) before His earthly mission, namely, the Christ is “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His holy ones.  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles/nations: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27).  This is the unveiling of the full participation and fellowship with the Godhead, namely with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Therefore, a consistent thread or tapestry throughout the Bible is that the revelation of “the Christ” is to also partake in the process of “Christ being formed within” (Galatians 4:19) or as David says, “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your Likeness” (Psalms 17:15).  Therefore, let us recognize why Christ Jesus came to earth, to suffer, die by crucifixion, be raised from the dead the third day (cf. Aramaic Targum of Hosea 6:2), and ascend to the Right Hand of YHVH.

 

Coming to the Father through Christ must necessitate a transformation by the Spirit of the Lord to “give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6), because the “new man is renewed in knowledge…” (Colossians 3:10; cf. Proverbs 11:9).  Essentially, Paul uses the metaphor of the “new man, inner man, inward man, new creation” to refer to the process of being transformed into the Image of Christ (Romans 8:29), and it is the Image of Christ who is the original Image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

 

The Bible is very clear that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, Yahweh יהוה, because Christ represents the original birthright that humanity was originally created into before the spiritual death of Adam.  This is witnessed in Christ Jesus being exemplified as “the glory of Christ who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), and “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3).  Thus, to reiterate, since humanity was created into the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), and Christ is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3), and those who have been “born from above” (John 3:3) are being transformed into the “same image of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18), and are being “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29) as the “inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16) through the process of “Christ being formed within” (Galatians 4:19).

 

Therefore, we must ask ourselves and take a good look by examining ourselves (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5; etc…) to see how we are expressing Christ in all domains of our lives.  Therefore, are you expressing Jesus Christ’s works in and through your life, not to even mention the greater works that we are promised we shall do (John 14:12)?  How are you “bringing every thought captive through the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), or is this even a concern for you?  What is life all about, and are your behaviors, words, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs aligned with the two greatest commandments—Love Yahweh יהוה your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength – and to love your neighbor as yourself?  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:7-8, 20).

 

Now, what does this mean in the daily faith-walk of each believer?  All of this reveals that “The power of Christ may rest (lit. tabernacle, or abide upon) upon us” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  However, when it is discerned what it actually means to “have Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27), and “you in Christ” (Galatians 3:28) – then we can appreciate the spiritual language with its richness and depth by “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13).  When we get off the “milk” of the basic 101 spiritual teaching and dogma (and yes they are necessary—see Hebrews 6:1-3), and enter the realm of embodied direct experience with the Godhead (John 14:17, 20-21, 23; Ephesians 3:19; Revelation 3:20) then we can partake of “the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5), yes, even in this life.  Let us call out to be genuinely cleansed of every wicked way within us (Psalms 139:23-24), and seek to be filled with the Spirit of God and Truth in order to serve our Maker and to serve His creation.  This is beautifully said by Paul the apostle, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  Oh, what freedom there is in Christ!

 

Thus, as leaders our work is to embody God’s Word as the righteous scripture as “epistles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:1-3; cf. Colossians 3:16) by receiving the implanted Word on the good ground that has been tilled and prepared by life to receive it and bear fruit with patience and endurance (James 1:21; Luke 8:15; Jeremiah 4:3-4) and to train others (Matthew 28:20; 2 Timothy 2:4-5, 15) to put aside the lower games of the flesh that masquerade as culturally acceptable religious devotion and spirituality.  Because, “those who belong to Christ have already crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24), so “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20).

 

Where is this in the Church (i.e. the People of God) today being actively expressed?  To be sure it is actively expressed by those whom the Father has trained and prepared.  Let us reason with what the Scriptures tell us.  What does living as Christ look like, what does it live like, what does it sound like, what does it breathe like, what does it feel like? What does it mean to be a sacrifice that is still living (Romans 12:1)?  What does it truly mean to “transform ourselves by renewing our mind” (Romans 12:2; cf. Ephesians 4:23), or by “setting our minds on things that are above, where Christ is…” (Colossians 3:1-4)?  How can God’s Word be firmly fixed in the Heavens, yet be hidden within our hearts (Psalms 119:11, 89)?  Think…does putting on the armor of Light and the Lord Jesus Christ simply entail behavior modification, or is there something more (Romans 13:12-14)???

 

Peace be with each of you.

 

 

 

Chesbon Ha’Nefesh

Chesbon Ha’Nefesh is a Hebrew phrase that means “Accounting of the Soul.”  Chesbon (i.e. Accounting) is a technical term that refers to the meticulous work of detailed accounting used in business contexts, taxes, etc.  So to extract this principle for spiritual and moral development let us examine ourselves and invest the time necessary to move through our assumptions, beliefs, and goals.

 

Accounting of the Soul – Represents a structured examination of one’s life. This examination includes, but is not limited to: (a) beliefs, (b) worldview, (c) values, (d) capacities, (e) strengths, (f) weaknesses, (g) identity, (h) environment, (i) purpose in life, and (j) goals.

In what ways and at what times have you not kept your word, intentionally said or did something to hurt another person, unintentionally said or did something to hurt another person, lied or manipulated others to get your way, committed adultery, hate another (i.e. hatred is as murder – 1 John 3:15), elevate the passing things of the earth over the Glory and Authority of Your Creator, or blasphemed God?   For all of things and others there is a reason why the first message of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ was to — Repent (Matthew 3:1-2; 4:17).

 

Repentance requires us to be honest with ourselves, and we cannot be honest with ourselves without first humbling ourselves.  Since “we have been saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:5-10), and “God gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5), therefore it is necessary to come to God by repentance, which is the basic expression of honesty and humility.  For this reason, the “goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4), because “godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Your life is a systemic whole, which means that your feelings influence your thoughts, and your thoughts influence your feelings. Your decisions influence both of these areas, and vice-versa. Similarly, people who study micro-expressions understand that certain eye movements and facial expressions correlate with certain affective and cognitive states. The decisions, thought-patterns, and emotional feelings that you tend to regularly experience will influence you in the future.

 
To complete this examination properly – you will become aware of the various distinctions taking place inside your being. Namely, you will become intimately aware of your fears, prejudices, assumptions, beliefs, emotional states, internal dialogue, and decision making processes. Below is the Biblical Foundation for the need of going through the Way towards an Accounting of the Soul. True humility is an accurate understanding of who you are in God’s plan and purpose, as well as your own strengths and weaknesses.

 

Biblical Foundation – Accounting of the Soul.
2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified.

1 Corinthians 3:10 – According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 – Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

1 Thessalonians 4:4 – That each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor.

Galatians 6:2-4 – Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

James 1:23-24 – For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

Lamentations 3:39-41 – Why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to Yahweh; let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven.

1 Timothy 4:16 – Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Proverbs 4:18-27 – But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.

Proverbs 5:21 – For the ways of man are before the eyes of Yahweh, and He ponders all his paths.

Proverbs 14:8, 15 – The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit. The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.

Proverbs 25:28 – Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.

Proverbs 20:5 – Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Proverbs 20:27 – The spirit of a man is the lamp of Yahweh, searching all the inner depths of his heart.

Psalms 26:2 – Examine me, O Yahweh, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.

Psalms 119:59 – I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies.

Psalms 139:23-24 – Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Deuteronomy 4:9 – Only take heed to yourself (lit. souls), and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.

Luke 17:3-4 – Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, I repent, you shall forgive him.

Luke 21:34-36 – But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.

John 3:19-21 – And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

Job 13:23 – How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin.

Ezekiel 20:43 – And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed.

 
Basic questions to initiate examination.

 

Who are you? Why? – Identity
Where are you from? Why? – Origin
What do you deem as important? Why? – Values
Who do you deem as important? Why? – Values
Why are you here on earth? Why? – Purpose in life, passion
Where are you going? Why? – Future, vision, hope, faith
What is life all about? Why? – Worldview(s)
What can you contribute? Why? – Capabilities, capacities, strengths, weaknesses
What/Who has shaped who I am now? Why? – Culture, environment, family history, genetics
What are your priorities in life? Why? – Life organization, direction

 

 

Primary aspects of your being.
∆ Thoughts (cognitive) – ideas, beliefs, stereotypes, worldviews
∆ Emotions (affective) – emotions, attitudes, feelings, moods, states
∆ Will (volition) – intentional decision making, conation
∆ Behavior – actions, non-actions, words, facial expressions

^^^Rabbinic tradition simplifies these to three specific processes (i.e. thoughts, words, actions)

 
Secondary aspects of your being.
Biological     Genetic     Environmental     Life Experiences     Family History     Values

Socioeconomic status     Gender    Age     Race     Life-Stage     Geographic Location

Situational Context     Goals     Language     Social Roles     Culture     Personality

Temperament     Social Norms     Expectations

 

 

The arrangement of Primary and Secondary aspects of our being is not about superiority, but it is that those aspects of our being in the Primary category influence internally and externally those aspects within the Secondary category.  For those of you wondering how our genetics can be influenced by those expressions in the Primary category, the field of Positive Psychology (i.e. Barbara Fredrickson and others) has clearly shown that our emotions can alter our gene expression.

 

Presented here is a working model for you to utilize in your own walk of personal development, moral development, and spiritual development.

 

 

Peace be with each of you…

New Product: Names of God, Divine Prayers & Sacred Words

DDN - Cover

 

Two Products:

  • Names of God, Divine Prayers & Sacred Words
  • Doctrine of the Divine Names

Print spiral bound book.  Please allow up to 2-4 weeks for delivery

 

Names of God, Divine Prayers and Sacred Words

 

∴ Over 400 Holy Names of God, Divine Prayers and Sacred Words in Hebrew/Aramaic
∴ Learn the Ancient Language of the Kings, Sages, and Prophets of God
∴ The most comprehensive list and teaching on the Divine Names available
∴ Each listing provides: the (1) transliterated Hebrew pronunciation, (2) the Bible book and verse, (3) the English meaning of the Hebrew word(s), and (4) the actual Hebrew text (EZRA SIL SR font) from the Hebrew Bible – Click here for EXAMPLE
∴ Included: Names of God, Divine Prayers and Sacred Words and the Doctrine of the Divine Names (126 pages total – spiral bound)
∴ A pronunciation guide is included
∴ The Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew is included

 

The Names of God, Divine Prayers and Sacred Words provide a comprehensive approach for understanding and implanting the Word of Truth within. “The entirety of Your Word is Truth” and as you genuinely pursue Truth “you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free” (Psalms 119:160; John 8:32). The listing provided is not a complete or exhaustive list from the Hebrew Bible (i.e. Old Testament); however, it is comprehensive because there are well over 400 entries. This work totals 126 pages and includes Doctrine of the Divine Names. Learn to speak the Hebrew Language!
The Word of God and the Names of God inherent in the Word provide a sacred link for the heart, mind, soul, and spirit to reach beyond the “things that are seen” (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18) in order to lay hold of the hope that enters the Divine Presence behind the veil (cf. Hebrews 6:18-20). Therefore, the Names of God, Divine Prayers and Sacred Words serve by preparing and introducing us to the Holy Attributes and Expressions of God. These Names of God help us to know and understand the vast dimensions of the Heavens, the House of many mansions. So let us draw near with a pure heart and with song, dance, and jubilation.

 

Doctrine of the Divine Names

 

 

The Doctrine of the Divine Names provides a spiritual and practical teaching based on the Holy Scriptures for understanding the Names of God, and how to utilize them in a holy way as a spiritual discipline to experience a closer relationship with the Living God. The teaching comprises 32 pages full of Biblical verses for further study, while revealing the teaching of the Divine Names within the Bible, and how one is to approach the subject.  Sections include: Preface, Introduction, Understanding the Name, Practical Application, Biblical Meditation, and Recapitulation.

 

Realize that properly understanding the Biblical approach to the Divine Names of God will give you new ways of approaching the Living God.  The Names of God serve in many different ways for your spiritual transformation and for God’s Glory, and there are various ways to appropriately utilize and call upon the Living God so take the time to acquire the knowledge of the Doctrine of the Divine Names.  This teaching is for all peoples seeking a closer relationship with the Eternal Divine!

Click here for an EXAMPLE:

 

 

 Click here to go to purchase site:

 

 

Ra Lovingsworth

A Theory About Life & Leadership – Part 4

Well this is going to wrap up some of the ideas and concepts I have been germinating over the years.  This post will refine some concepts and clarify potential confusions, as well as update the Emergent Leadership concept to my initial title of “Risk to Lead Theory” (RLT).  Although the name Emergent Leadership does correlate with the concepts I have been seeking to convey, the notion of taking a “risk” in order to “lead” better signifies this theory structure.  Risking in order to lead presupposes that we take a risk in being “real” and “genuine” in a world where honesty, compassion, and honor are not highly prized values.   The leadership I am referring to is first and foremost “leading yourself” to walk, talk, and breathe the values you espouse – and extending this out into all relationships and encounters you may have with others along the path of life.

I also changed the name of “Inspiring Communication” (IC) to “Reviving Communication” (RC) in order to avoid the inherent confusion of “Integrating Character” (IC), hence the double IC-IC.  Additionally, I also changed a sub-factor within Integrating Character, namely, “diligence” was replaced with “commitment.”  I changed this because I consider “commitment” to be more foundational, while also encapsulating the essence of diligence within itself.  For example, to be committed to someone or to something means that (a) you will naturally take the time and care to properly understand it or them, (b) you will organize your life in such a way to tend and cultivate what you are committed to, and (c) you will follow through on your commitment despite various costs and difficulties.  Therefore, commitment entails understanding, attentive care, and sacrifice.

This question is for any leader in any field, and can be translated into any situation…

How can you train someone for a leadership role in the absence of commitment?

Just think, how can you maintain a marriage in the absence of commitment?  How can a teacher effective teach their students, if their students lack sufficient commitment to mastering the material?  The reality of this principle is so pervasive if we think to consider its applications.  How can you educate a community to better themselves if they are not interested in help?  How can you effectively help get someone off drugs or alcohol if they are not committed to the change?  How can you effectively teach and train disciples in the absence of their commitment?  Commitment is central to our lives on many levels.

 

Now I am going to give a brief recapitulation of this theory in its practical context of life.

Integrating Character (IC) is the core foundation for which we build our lives.  Honesty is the most fundamental aspect of humility.  There is a saying in 1 Peter 5:5 that says, “Be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  The potent power of being honest with ourselves gives us the ability to examine who we are, why we are here, where we are going, what life is all about, what we stand for, what we don’t stand for, what our goals in life are, what our dreams, desires, failures, motivations—thus the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Unfortunately, the American culture does not support such a radical honesty, because if we were to step outside of ourselves and take an accounting of our souls we would be surprised.  Now I recognize there are different depths of this accounting, because for those of you interested in spiritual and moral transformation we must go deep down the rabbit hole (pun intended).  This would include taking ownership and eventually mastery of our emotions, our thoughts, our words, and the energies that are processed through our body-temple.  This is no small journey, but this journey of self-leadership begins with radical honesty with ourselves and seeking to see others and this reality for what it is.

Once we begin the process of investigating our intentions, motives, and why we speak and do the things we do – we need to add the element of commitment.  We must commit to this path, because without doing so we will simply give off the perfume of hypocrisy.  You have inherent value, and this gift of life that you have been given is most precious and deserves your deepest commitment and passion.  In our discovery of “coming to ourselves” (cf. Luke 15:17) we should exercise vulnerability because we honestly recognize our weaknesses.  Every human being on this planet has issues, no one is exempt from this reality.  In fact when you begin to look deep into the eyes of humanity, the inherent suffering that each of us have is clearly witnessed.  Therefore, vulnerability and compassion enables us to extend this open hand to others, in the silent honor that all the pretenses we hold up—just need to be dropped.  Let go of the facade, let go of the pretenses, the false projections—it is unbecoming.

So with our honesty and our commitment to refining our character by integrating ourselves so that we are whole beings living consistently in all situations, relationships, and communications.  The vulnerability to properly engage others respectfully will open our eyes and give us the resilience needed to successfully adapt ourselves by constantly learning, growing, and giving.  The aspect of resilience naturally leads into Adapting Competence (AC), because we must continuously seek to learn from the experiences we have in life.  You take yourself where-ever you go!  If you find yourself repeating unfavorable patterns in your relationships it would be wise to take heed, and examine yourself.

Adapting Competence contains the elements of Emotional Intelligence (EI), knowledge management, continuous learning or Kaizen, and various cognitive thinking styles.  These aspects relate to the cognitive and emotional building blocks that are necessary to (a) properly evaluate information [i.e. knowledge management and cognitive thinking styles], (b) understand and regulate our own internal states [i.e. EI], (c) properly understand boundaries and levels of relationship engagement [i.e. EI], and (d) to continuously grow [i.e. Kaizen].  Adapting Competence encompasses much more than these aspects because to flesh out Emotional Intelligence in its various categories and sub-categories is enough to keep us busy for some time, because it paints a usable model for examining ourselves and our relationships – so to not reinvent the wheel a link has been embedded to give you a good overview of the model.  Another reason why we need various cognitive styles is because language can be used to edify, tear down, or deceive—thus its necessary to learn reasoning skills, cognitive fallacies, and communication skills.

Reviving Communication (RC) simply means to bring life into your communication and into the relationships you find yourself in.  What are you passionate about?  Why?  Why?  Why?  We should be able to answer each of these “Why’s” because we should know what we stand for – inside and out.  We communicate this via our vision of the big picture, the overall strategic intent, and how this relates systemically to the rest of life – and we do this by being able to communicate on various levels from the global and abstract to the concrete and specific.

 

Risk to Lead Theory (RLT) is about you becoming self-defined by leading yourself and extending this humility and confidence in such a way so as to embody respect, honor, and dignity for each human being and their uniqueness.  You take the risk first, in order to lead the situation in such a way to create the space for psychological safety to take root for others to open up so they can express themselves more completely.  We all know the feeling of “walking on eggshells” but when you take the risk to lead—you create the tone, tempo, and space for greater possibilities to emerge.

 

 

Peace be with each of you – as you learn to harmonize the energies of your life…..

 

 

Risk to Lead Theory