Happy Fear

“The fear of the Lord is an over-flowing ever-flowing spring of comfort and joy; it is a fountain of life, yielding constant pleasure and satisfaction to the soul, joys that are pure and fresh, are life to the soul, and quench its thirst.” Matthew Henry*

I cannot understand those who pay to watch movies that scare the wits out of them. When I was young, I had a friend who went to see every horror movie possible. I went with him once, after months of persuasion, and closed my eyes throughout. Unfortunately I couldn’t close my ears, and I can still hear the screams to this day!

For most of us, fear is an emotion we want to avoid, and that we will even pay to avoid. It’s a negative, painful, distressing feeling.

And yet, the wisest man in the world, Solomon, said: “Happy is the man who fears always” (Proverbs 28:14). What kind of fear is this that makes a person happy?

1. It is a fear of God, an awe-inspiring sense of the greatness, majesty and holiness of God.

2. It is a fear of sin, as something that offends this awesome God.

3. It is a fear of self, recognizing the evil within us and its danger to us and others.

The old Scottish pastor, Thomas Boston, highlighted the word “always” in this text and said:

“This fear must be our habitual and constant work.[It] should season all we do, and be with us in all times, cases, conditions, places, and companies.”

But Boston also emphasized the happiness of this fear:

1. Because it prevents much sin and advances holiness of heart.

2. Because it prevents strokes of chastisement from our heavenly Father’s rod.

3. Because it empties a man of self confidence, carries the soul to Christ, and makes way for the influences of grace.

That’s a fear worth paying for, and yet that comes without a price tag.

“Happy is the man that fears always.” (Proverbs 28:14)

* Matthew Henry, “Commentary on the Whole Bible,” Christian Classics Ethereal Library, August 1, 2014, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc3.pdf.

The A-Z Of Prayer

What is prayer? Here’s a unique answer found in the papers of the puritan Philip Henry, father of the Bible Commentator, Matthew Henry. As he missed out a couple of letters, I’ve supplied them and marked them with *.

A. Access to the Father.

B. Breath of the new creature.

C. Caterer.

D. Desires that should be offered up to God by us.

E. Enemy to every evil work and way.

F. Friend to faith and godliness.

G. Guard against all temptations.

H. Heart’s ease.

I. Incense in the nose of God.

J. Jesus-stamped petitions.*

K. Key, to unlock all our treasure.

L. Letter to heaven.

M. Music in the ears of God.

N. Nurse of holy joy.

O. Ordinance of all ordinances.

P. Privilege.

Q. Quickener to all holy obedience.

R. Remedy against care and fear.

S. Salve for every sore.

T. Terror to the devils.

U. Undoing of the devil’s kingdom.*

V. Voice of the Spirit of God.

W. Wrestling with God.

X. Exersize.

Y. Yielding of ourselves to God in holy obedience.

Z. Zion’s artillery against all the Zamzummims of the world (Deut. 2:20).

Go ahead, make me a millionaire!

What a phenomenal response to the hatred and bigotry the Indiana Pizza place experienced at the hands of LGBT & left-wing activists. $500,000 raised in 24 hours! (Click here to add your support).

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Christians and other people of good-will and basic decency did this for every single person or business targeted by that vindictive mob.

If the mob knew that every single person or business they attack in this way is going to be turned into a millionaire by sympathizers and supporters of true freedom, they’d soon reconsider their irrational and hate-filled crusades.

And if Christians knew their brothers and sisters in Christ would support them in every way possible, how much easier it would be to take a stand, to look the mob in the face, and say, “Go on, make me a millionaire!”

Now, how about gofundme.com pages for Daniel Macarthur and Baronelle Stutzman? And who else can we add to this Liberty Hall of Fame?

UPDATE: More names to move from the media’s “Rogues Gallery” into the Liberty Hall of Fame – bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, photographer Elaine Huguenin.

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Watch Daniel Macarthur’s “Faith Under Fire” Message

Daniel McArthur, the General Manager of Ashers Baking Company, speaks about his company’s courageous stance, freedom of conscience and The Christian Institute. Ashers Baking Co. was recently taken to court by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and is now awaiting the judges decision on whether they discriminated against homosexuals for refusing to ice a cake with a pro-gay marriage message.

What a beautiful, brave, and inspiring speech! And this is the kind of quality person being declared a bigot and beyond the pale of civilized society. God, have mercy upon us.

Reading some books on the history of apologetics recently, I’ve been struck by how many of the early church apologists were focused merely on winning tolerance from extremely hostile pagan government. That was it. It was all about survival and carving out just enough space to practice the basics of the Christian faith without state interference. Nothing more ambitious than that.

Given the similarities with our current situation, there’s much we can learn from these courageous men. One thing’s for sure, we desperately need alternatives to the conservative politicians who wilt under the slightest pressure and don’t have sufficient convictions or skills to answer the most basic questions from journalists in a clear and convincing way.

  • We need multiple apologists who will be strong without being obnoxious pugilists;
  • Apologists who will have the confidence of Christians but who will not just play to the gallery;
  • Apologists who can argue on biblical grounds but also on the grounds of common sense and constitutional law when necessary;
  • Apologists who have the discipline to stick to this one subject, to play this one note, to focus on this one target;
  • Apologists who genuinely and demonstrably love people regardless of their sexuality;
  • Apologists whose only and limited aim is to outline the very few areas of life where Christians must, in good conscience, refuse certain services to gay people;
  • Apologists who can explain the difference between refusing a service because it violates a central religious principle and a general discrimination based upon hatred of people;
  • Apologists who can convince that Christians will not withhold goods and services from gay people in the other 99.9% of everyday life;
  • Apologists who can illustrate the gracious manner in which Christians will communicate this;
  • Apologists who can highlight and expose the terrible bigotry and hate that Christians are suffering at the hands of gay activists.

At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that God is raising up such apologists. Maybe, because few realize how desperate the situation is, and even fewer are praying for God’s intervention.

The time is short. The need is great. The consequences are enormous. The church is asleep. God, have mercy upon us!

UPDATE: If you think this is too alarmist, have a look at this: Social Media Mob Closes Christian-owned Pizza Shop. As Denny says, the bigotry and hate is all on the other side.

How To Wake Up

In a sermon on How to Begin Every Day with God, based on the text, “My voice you shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to you, and I will look up” (Psalm 5:3), Matthew Henry gives eight reasons why we should wake up with prayer.

1. The morning is the first part of the day, and it is fit that He that is the first should have the first and be first served.

2. In the morning we are fresh and lively, and in the right frame due to our spirits being refreshed by sleep.

“Worshipping God is work that requires the best powers of the soul, when they are at their best.”

3. In the morning we are most free from company and business, and ordinarily have the best opportunity for solitude and retirement.

4. In the morning we have received fresh mercies from God which we are concerned to acknowledge with thankfulness to His praise.

 ”Many lie down to sleep and never rise again – but we have slept and waked again, rested and refreshed.”

5. In the morning we have fresh matter ministered to us for adoration of the greatness and glory of God in the common good of the universe (Psalm 19).

“How many thousands of miles has the sun travelled this last night, to bring the light of the morning to us poor sinful wretches that justly might have been buried in the darkness of the night!”

6. In the morning we have, or should have had fresh thoughts of God and sweet meditations on his name, and these we ought to offer up to him in prayer.

7. In the morning we find cause to reflect upon many vain and sinful thoughts that have been in our minds in the night season; and it is necessary that we apply for the pardon of them.

“Dare we go abroad till we have renewed our repentance, which we are every night making new work for?”

8. In the morning we are addressing ourselves to the work of the day, and therefore are concerned by prayer to seek unto God for His presence and blessing.

“Pray for God’s presence and blessing…for our families…for wisdom to manage our callings…for opportunities to do good….for preservation from evil.”