The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is…The Lord

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is…The Lord

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Following the arc featuring the “story” of Lady Wisdom and Ms. Folly, we notice a stylistic change in the book of wisdom, ostensibly collected by King Solomon. Beginning in chapter ten, King Solomon wields a shotgun and pelts us with wisdom’s birdshot. Manufacturers make birdshot by packing numerous steel or tungsten balls into a cartridge. The steel balls scatter when fired. This design increases the likelihood of striking a flying bird and keeps game fowl from being completely obliterated by the shot.  

So, beginning with Proverbs 10, the reader is confronted with numerous truths that do not form a cohesive narrative like Lady Wisdom and Miss Folly but are practical words of wisdom that enrich life. As a result, it is often best to approach the rest of Proverbs as a topical study. “The fear of the Lord” is an excellent place to start our topical overview of Proverbs. Solomon defined fear of the Lord as the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1.7; 9.10). 

As with the word “fool,” the Biblical definition of “fear” is not what one typically associates with the term. I oft tout Webster’s original 1828 dictionary since it often frames words within a Biblical context. Here is Webster’s subentry for the word “fear.” 

“In scripture, fear is used to express a filial or a slavish passion. In good men, the fear of God is a holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience. This is filial fear 

I will put my fear in their hearts. Jeremiah 32.39. 

Slavish fear is the effect or consequence of guilt; it is the painful apprehension of merited punishment. Romans 8.15. 

The love of God casteth out fear 1 John 4.1.”  

(https://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/Fear)  

Regarding the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, we understand that this is because we respect and revere God. We acknowledge His authority and thus trust His knowledge and judgment. Beyond its role in enlightening us, the fear of the Lord will accomplish other positive things as well. 

We will hate evil. (Proverbs 8.13). 

One cannot truly despise evil without also cherishing good, and just as an aversion to wrongdoing motivates people to turn away from it, so does a desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. In this context, “fear of the Lord” refers to the essence of religious practice. 

We will prolong life. (Proverbs 10.27) 

Mature individuals can recall numerous cases of the wicked whose lives were cut short and ended due to their evil actions—fatalities caused by drunk drivers, robbers who police have shot, adulterers killed by cuckolded husbands, etc.            

We have strong confidence and a fountain of life. (Proverbs 14.26-27) 

The traps of death include not only the pitfalls and dangers of our current lives on Earth but also the unfathomable terrors of the “second death.” James Moffat translated the Scriptures in 1929 and rendered the passage: “Reverence for the Eternal is a fount of life; it shows how to avoid the nets of Death.” He capitalized the “d” in “death” to show that it was eternal condemnation. 

The fear of the Lord will prompt us to depart from evil. (Proverbs 16.6) 

No matter how well done, mercy and truth cannot save people from sin unless genuine repentance and a change of heart toward God’s will accompany them. People refrain from doing bad things because they are afraid of the Lord, and this fear affects them. Those with holy fear and reverence for God in their hearts will not sin against him. 

We will have a satisfying life, spared from much evil. (Proverbs 19.23) 

According to this verse, the only way to be “satisfied” is to fear and serve God. On the tomb of William Rockefeller in New York’s Tarrytown Cemetery, there is a quote from Augustine that reads, “Our souls, O God, were made for Thee, and never shall they rest until they rest in Thee.” Men will never find happiness elsewhere, no matter how hard they try. Only in Jesus Christ can we find the fullness of life that God provides. 

We will enjoy riches, honor, and life! (Proverbs 22.4) 

This verse, which discusses humility and reverence for God, sums up several of the principal lessons of Proverbs. In addition, it provides a concise overview of the fundamental requirements for human survival on this planet. 

True religion, as demonstrated by “the fear of the Lord.” is synonymous with humility. The signs of humility are being dependent on God, having a low opinion of oneself, surrendering one’s will, and convincing ourselves of sin. They are all summed up in the phrase “the fear of God,” which is the source of all virtues and blessings: riches, honor, and life. 

We deprive ourselves of God’s wisdom and knowledge treasures when we do not fear the Lord. We will tempt fate and let ourselves get corrupted by mingling with evil. Our refusal to listen to God’s word will likely shorten our lives (e.g., suffering sexually transmitted diseases if we do not heed His Word on sexual relationships). We will not come to know God’s love, which provides assurance and confidence in salvation. We are not motivated to repent or turn to God when we sin! We will not be inspired to “work out our salvation.” This outcome from lacking the fear of the Lord sounds dreadful.  

To be truly wise, we must first learn to fear the Lord. Let us understand this fear, appreciate it, and incorporate it into our lives as God’s children! 

Anger Danger

Anger Danger

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

When it comes to that angry friend, it doesn’t take 1,000 of them to affect you. It only takes one. 

That one friend that has those anger issues can rub off on you. Their mindset, their reactions, and their sin will all rub off on you and you will learn their ways. The word “learn” is the idea of teach. This friend will teach you his ways and you will become his student. There was a study done on the influence of domestic violence and what it can do to not just the spouse, but to the children. 

The study went on to reveal that almost 70 percent of kids that grew up watching their father beat their mother ended up being abusive to their spouse later on in life. 

We don’t always realize that we are being taught. We don’t recognize that we are a student to something that we never wanted to claim as our teacher. We must be careful of our friendship with this dangerous man, or this concern will become a reality, and we will imitate his actions and ways. 

Proverbs 22:25 says, “…Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.” If you reject the command and ignore the concern mentioned in the previous verses, you will have to face the consequence. You will find yourself ensnared in anger. Genesis four shows us the consequence of anger. In verses 1-8, we are introduced to Cain and Abel. In this account we read that the anger of Cain caused his face to literally distort. This anger drove Cain to murder his brother. Now there have been times in the past that I’ve been mad at my brothers, but never angry enough to kill them. Cain’s anger had driven him to the point of murder.  As a result, verses 10-14 show us that Cain’s life would never be the same again. Unchecked anger will ruin our lives, but more than that unchecked anger will ruin our soul. 

The Better Health Channel did a study on the physical effects of uncontrolled anger which include: 

  • Increased Anxiety 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Headache
  • Digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Skin problems, such as eczema
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

The Bible has done a study on the spiritual effect of anger, and side effects include

  • Murder
  • Eternal Punishment
  • And the loss of your Soul

The underground trains at airports and subways will run over and over all day. When many of them reach the end of the line you hear a voice that tells you it’s the last stop. Then the train starts all the way back over and does it again. With anger there is no starting over. The things you say and the things you do cannot be erased. Proverbs 28:13 tells us that the fool lets loose his anger causing irrepairable issues. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” Eskimo wolf hunters use a special technique to kill wolves. First, they coat a knife blade with animal blood and allow it to freeze. Then they stick the knife in the ground with the blade facing up. When a wolf smells the blood it comes over and begins to lick the blade with the frozen blood. The wolf continues to feverishly lick the blade faster and faster until just the bare blade of the knife is showing. The craving for blood is so strong that the wolf doesn’t even realize that his desire is being quenched by its own warm blood. The wolf is found in the morning next to the knife having killed himself because of his lack of self control. If we aren’t careful, the anger of our friend will become our own, and in the end it will cause the loss of our salvation. 

Anger can affect so many areas of our lives. We can be angry at ourselves, we can be angry at others, we can even be angry at God.  And this holds us back from our salvation.

If we are angry at ourselves for a past sin, the circumstances we were raised in, or the quality of our lives because of our own past decisions – this can hold us back from salvation. 

If we are angry at others, a brother or sister at church, our parents or our friends – this can also hold us back from salvation. 

If you’re angry at God, realize that He is the only One that can give you peace and cure you of that spiritual disease.

Don’t focus on the anger in your life, but on the love in Christ. The Love shown as men spit in His face. The Love shown as he was mocked. The Love as He was tied to a post, as He was scourged, as He carried His cross through the street. The Love shown as men drove nails through His hands. As they shoved the crown of thorns on His head…all of this and still He could look up at the Father and say, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” If anyone had the right to feel anger – it was Him. The Son of God did not go through all of that so anger could eat us up. 

Don’t let anger keep you from the peace and love that Christ has to offer. And don’t let anger strip you of experiencing eternal life with Him. 

“In The Wilderness”

“In The Wilderness”

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

The original Hebrew name literally means, “In The Wilderness.” Later on, Greek translators referred to these inspired writings as “Numbers.” For the Israelite people, it was the historical record of how they were shaped and Divinely-groomed while making an unnecessarily long hike through desert lands (Not to be confused with “dessert land” which sounds far better). The book of Numbers also served, and still serves, as a way for God’s people to get a bird’s-eye view of how our lives are significantly better when we are following our Leader. While there are far too many spiritual applications to be in just one article, here are three great ones. 

  1. There is no one more patient than the Lord. It’s easy to cringe when the Israelites complain or rebel time and again but God showed them more patience than any of us are capable of. 
  2. God always keeps a promise. It may have taken them 40 years to reach Canaan, but He kept His promise. We’re on a wild ride right now as a country, but God is predictable when it comes to keeping His Word. You can make a no-risk bet that heaven is coming and it’s better than what you imagine it to be. 
  3. God is always glorified in the end. When you look at Numbers and the big picture, God is the hero. He’s rejected and tossed aside by the people on several occasions, but just like at the end of this age— He gets all the glory. 
Korah’s Rebellion 

Korah’s Rebellion 

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

For the next few weeks we will look at some of the lesser known Biblical accounts, and the lessons we can learn from them. 

In Numbers sixteen there is a strange and terrifying event that unfolds. It has all the ingredients of a great movie. There’s rebellion, jealousy, vengeance, and drama but it’s so much more than a story. It’s history, and it’s been divinely recorded for our learning.

Korah seems to be the individual that starts a rebellion against God’s chosen leader, Moses. He hops up on his high horse and rallies together two hundred and fifty other leaders among the people. This group, no doubt, gave him the confidence to directly confront Moses face to face. He says, “You’ve overstepped yourself, Moses! Take a look around at the people you’re trying to lead. They are just as righteous as you, and God is in their midst!” Moses falls on his face, then says, “Tomorrow, God will make His stand with who He chooses.”

When morning comes, Korah and his fellow rebels bring incense to the Tent of Meeting to offer up to God. In the meantime, an intense conversation between God and Moses takes place. God, filled with righteous anger, is about to demolish every one of them in their tents, but Moses pleads with God to give them a chance. So, a warning is given to the people, “stay away from the tents of these evil men!” No sooner had the warning been given, the earth opens up and Korah and all those belonging to him are swallowed up by the earth. Fear spreads among the people as they were afraid for their lives, and who could blame them? God then strikes down the two hundred and fifty leaders with fire— the worship offerings still in their hands. What an account! Of course there are several applicable lessons for us, but here are just three.

Mind your Maker.

God chose for His people who He wanted to be in the leadership positions. When Korah felt that he knew better, the consequences were fatal. May we never fall victim to the mindset that tells us that we know better than God. Our Lord wants us to live a certain way, and worship a certain way. When we make changes to His divine commands, just like Korah, we have overstepped our bounds.

Mind your mingling.

How did so many band together with Korah? They were all mingling in the wrong crowd. Every one of those men made a choice. They chose to grumble and complain together, then they died together. It doesn’t matter how many people think the same way we do if that thinking isn’t Patterned after God’s thinking.

Mind your motives.

What drove these men to take such a stance? They were motivated by pride, discontentment, anger, greed, and self-righteousness. All of these attitudes are toxic for the church today, and all of them still lead to destruction.

While this account is a humbling reminder of God’s reaction to disobedience, there’s more to the story. Although Korah was out of line, his descendants would prove to be more upright (Numbers 26:11). They even go on to write some of the Psalms in the years to come, including Psalm 42. Your upbringing and roots do not have to dictate your eternity. Like Korah, we all have a choice. My prayer is that as these historical events are read we learn from them and press forward, more determined to be faithful children to a perfect Father.

“As the dear thirsts for water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” 

Psalm 42:1-2

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Oise-Aigne American Cemetery Plot E

Oise-Aigne American Cemetery Plot E

Neal Pollard

My brother and fellow preacher, Brent Pollard, finds the most interesting historical facts—an ability which makes his preaching illustrations most interesting.  He sent me an article about the Oise-Aigne Cemetery in northern France.  Though I have actually visited that cemetery, I had no idea about the existence of an auxiliary burial plot known as “Plot E.”  While the 6012 military personnel buried in the four main burial plots lost their lives in World War I, the 94 interred in Plot E are infamous, disgraced soldiers who died for their crimes during or after World War II.  These men either murdered fellow soldiers or raped and/or murdered 71 people in England, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Algeria.  “No US flag is permitted to fly over the section, and the numbered graves literally lie with their backs turned to the main cemetery on the other side of the road” (warhistoryonline.com).

These men were supposed to be fighting for the freedoms and rights of American citizens, but instead they were most dramatically undermining the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness of the unfortunate ones who crossed their paths.  For their crimes, they not only paid the ultimate penalty but were buried in disgrace and immortalized with infamy. They are remembered as “the dishonorable dead.”

The book of Revelation refers to the “book of life” (20:12), implying that it is possible for one’s name to be blotted out of it (3:5).  However, those whose names are not found in that book will be “cast into the lake of fire” (20:15). Those who take away from the words of this revelation—and by application any other (cf. Gal. 1:6-9)—“God shall take away his part of out of the book of life” (22:19).  More specifically, John says, “And nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (21:27).  For the ungodly and disobedient, John lays out in apocalyptic terms how unthinkably horrible it will be to die unfaithful to Christ.  He says, “He also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night…” (14:10-11a).

Everyone will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10).  The faithful will receive glory and honor and reward (Mat. 25:34-40).  The unrighteous, however, will go away into everlasting punishment (Mat. 25:46).  No one will deserve heaven, but will go there thanks to God’s amazing grace and his or her conscious effort to walk in the light (1 John 1:7-10). Those who know not and obey not the gospel will endure something eternally worse than a firing squad, a hangman’s noose, or blameworthy burial (2 Th. 1:8-9).  Though the world may believe less and less in the reality of hell, the Bible’s position on the matter has not changed. Knowing the terror of the Lord, may we persuade others and, ourselves, be persuaded (2 Cor. 5:11).

Spanking

Spanking

Neal Pollard

With the high profile case of an NFL star putting the idea of spanking in the spotlight, it is proper to examine this practice more closely.  A sweet young mother asks a couple of questions about the practice of spanking in light of Proverbs 13:24.  First, “Is Proverbs 13:24 literal, meaning we are to physically discipline our children, or is it figurative meaning we are to discipline in general?” Second, “If it is literal, does it literally mean to use an implement such as a rod, belt, etc rather than our hands to inflict the physical discipline?”  These are vital questions young parents like her have to grapple with in light of a desire to properly train and mold the heritage given them by God, but do so in a world less accepting of biblical truth in general and passages like Proverbs 13:24 specifically.  To address this, let’s break the matter into three component parts.

Spanking and society.  Due to the prevalence of physical child abuse, society has reacted to any type of corporal punishment (i.e., punishment of or relating to the physical body; spanking).  While the principle of spanking is more widely approved than we may be led to believe (a recent ABCNEWS poll found 65% of all parents approve of it, abcnews.com, and a 2013 Harris Interactive poll with a sample size twice as large found that 81% consider spanking their children sometimes appropriate, harrisinteractive.com), the politically correct wing of society so often in charge of media and education most often rail against it in any form.   There are three revised statutes in Colorado, one civil and two criminal, that address spanking in Colorado (kidjacked.com includes the laws of all 50 states).  While the statutes are eerily vague, here is what they permit:  “Parent/guardian/ person with care and supervision of minor can use reasonable and appropriate physical force, if it is reasonably necessary and appropriate to maintain or promote welfare of child” (Colorado Code Section 18-1-703).  The greater concern would be judicial interpretation or further revisions in the law that forbad corporal punishment altogether.

Spanking and scripture.  With our youngest now 16 years old, we are beyond the timeframe where spanking holds sway as a primary means of discipline.  When our boys were of that age (from toddlerhood up to the beginning of the teen years), we would resort to spanking (usually with the hand or a paddle).  This was undoubtedly the result of practices learned from our own parents’ regimen of discipline, but also our conviction (as it was our parents’) that scripture taught the necessity of this under circumstances where mere words did not remedy misbehavior.  The Bible clearly teaches it as an integral part of disciplining—Proverbs 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14, and 29:15.  Hopefully, we will never find ourselves in a place where our civil government absolutely forbids corporal punishment of our children, but if it does we would be compelled to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Spanking and sensibility.  Let us get to common sense issues, though.  This is especially the “how” but also the “where” and “when.”  Consider these suggestions for effective discipline—

  1. Do not spank in anger or in an out of control manner (this reflects your own lack of self-discipline and is not likely an attempt to assert behavior modification).
  2. Exercise restraint in how hard you administer physical punishment.  The idea is to impress upon the child that their words, behavior, etc., is unacceptable.
  3. Follow up the punishment with an explanation and teaching.
  4. Avoid administering discipline in public places.  Find a private room or wait until you get home to mete out the punishment.
  5. If restraint is used, it will not matter whether the hand or another implement is used.  Overall parental demeanor will determine whether the child is “scarred” or “shaped” by it.

Obviously, personal judgment and discretion are essential.  Yet, inasmuch as the concept originates in scripture, our good sense as citizen of the society will govern us as we prayerfully attempt to raise children that please and follow God.