Monday, June 30, 2014

How Can Anyone "Delight in the Fear of the Lord?" - Part 1

Part 1 – Jesus Shows Us

The prophet Isaiah, writing many centuries before the birth of Jesus, declared in just a few verses, the future coming of the Messiah, to fulfill all the hopes and dreams of the Israelite people and God’s covenant with the House of David.

Isaiah not only described the coming fulfillment of their ancient messianic hope, but also painted a quite detailed word picture of the godly character of this Messiah Who would come, along with the basic parameters and broad outline of His Kingdom to follow.

In the first verse, we are shown that the Shoot coming up from the cut-off stump of Jesse and David’s lineage, would be a Branch filled and overflowing with life-giving growth and fruitfulness.

Of course, the Messiah prophesied here by Isaiah, hundreds of years before His time on the earth, finds fulfillment as the Shoot and as the Branch coming out of Jesse, in Jesus of Nazareth, born of not one but two lines of descent from King David, through His mother, Mary, and His earthly father, Joseph.

These both represent the kingly and priestly lines which converge in the Person of Jesus Himself, physically through His mother, Mary, as well as provisionally and positionally through Joseph.

ISAIAH 11:1 There shall come forth a Shoot out of the stump of Jesse [David’s father], and a Branch out of his roots shall grow and bear fruit.                                                                              

Although Isaiah introduces this section by asserting the fulfillment of Israel’s hope in Jesus, he then walks us through a deep and powerful portrayal of His Messianic Personage.

It is this portrayal itself that we will focus in on, in greater depth, as we answer our question of how He could “delight” in the fear of the Lord, and find out how we can, as well!

After describing these exemplary spiritual qualities of the coming Messiah, the prophet then moved on to a sweeping panoramic depiction of the attendant Kingdom of God, that Jesus would fully establish in His own earthly era yet to come, which would eventually grow and overtake all the peoples and nations of the world.

This divine pattern of development and growth, closely parallels Daniel’s interpretation of the dream that so troubled Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, concerning the unfolding of future events.

The dream itself, and Daniel’s interpretation are depicted vividly in the book of Daniel, chapter 2.

These texts, along with so many other predictive prophecies, help us to fully confirm the identity of prophesied Messiah as Jesus of Nazareth:

DANIEL 2:44 And in the days of these [final ten] kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people; but it shall break and crush and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever.  45 Just as you saw that the Stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter. The dream is certain and the interpretation of it is sure.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Well, I've seen a few hailstorms in my life, but I believe the one on May 23rd of this year tops all of them.

The day started out sunny and bright. I hadn't paid any attention to the forecast and just assumed that the day would stay that way. Around 3:00, Neil informed me that there was a nasty storm projected to hit our area in about an hour, just the time I would be driving home.  Still, I was not overly concerned. I've seen a few storms in my lifetime and honestly, I rather enjoy a lightening and thunder display.

As I started for home, the sky was darkening and I could see threatening clouds forming. I hoped to make it home before the storm hit. I had some papers to drop off at the house of a family from church but that would only take me a few extra minutes. Just as I turned into their driveway, it started pouring. I sat in my car outside their house, hoping that it would let up a little so I could quickly run in. As I waited, Justin (their 10 year old son) dashed out of the house and I gladly put down my window and handed the papers over to him. About halfway out their long driveway, I heard pelting against the car, like sleet. Neil had said something about hail so I figured there must be a little bit mixed in with the rain. I thought to myself, "I guess this is going to be quite a storm." I started cautiously down River Road and suddenly, "WHAM!!" The car was being pummeled with huge balls of hail!  They hit the windshield with such force that I was certain it would shatter. I suddenly wondered if I would survive. I could hardly see anything and I should have pulled off to the side of the road and waited it out, but I stubbornly kept on driving. The trees bent in the violent wind and leaves and branches hit my car along with the unrelenting hail. At this point, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to survive. I expected any second that either a tree would fall on me and the car, or the hail would come through the car roof or windshield and kill me. Believe me, I was praying as I inched along!

It seems like an eternity when you are enduring a frightening experience, but gradually I drove out of the woods and I no longer had to worry about a tree collapsing on me. The hail was still violently coming down, but the car stayed intact. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I pulled into our driveway and shut the car off and sprinted into the house. Within minutes, the storm was over.

The amazing thing was, when I examined my car there was not a dent or scratch on it! I could not believe it. The car must be made of tough metal! I tried to tell my husband and daughter how frightened I was and how big the hail was and I could tell they didn't really believe me. However, the family whose house I stopped at had grabbed a camera and took some pictures so I have proof that what I went through was real. In the above picture, Justin is displaying some of the chunks in his hand. Here is a picture of a pile that gathered alongside their barn.
As I thought back over my experience an old hymn kept coming to mind, "Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by." That was certainly my prayer as I drove through the hail. I felt just like the song states,
"when the storm howls above me,
and there's no hiding place;
'Mid the crash of the thunder (hail),
Precious Lord, hear my cry;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by."
It is comforting to know that God holds me in the hollow of his hand through all the "storms" of life. Here is a link to this wonderful hymn.

Mary Lehman

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Reading List

I have always loved to read. When I was a kid I never minded a rainy summer day. I usually had a book to read and a rainy day gave me an opportunity to get lost in the story of my book as I read for hours on end.

I no longer have the time to read for hours on end, but I usually have a stack of books that I would like to read. As I look ahead to summer and some vacation, I have several books that I am ready to dig into. Here is my summer reading list.

One of my favorite Christian authors is Francine Rivers and I look forward to enjoying "The Scarlett Thread". I love Francine Rivers because she has historical detail woven throughout her stories. Also, her characters seem real as they struggle through adversity.

I also love biographies and biographical books. My son recommended "Land of Second Chances" to my husband because it is the story of "The Impossible Rise of Rwanda's Cycling Team". My husband is an avid bicycle rider and has been enjoying reading through this book. There is history woven in this story that is "by turns horrifying, moving, and unexpectedly funny".

I heard about the next book from my daughter and also from the director of Solanco Neighborhood Ministries. "When Helping Hurts" is a non-fiction book that speaks on "how to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor and yourself". I hope to gain valuable insights for our Community Outreach committee at church.

I picked up "Ordering your Private World" by Gordon MacDonald a year or so ago, but have not read it yet. I have enjoyed some novels that Mr. MacDonald wrote and look forward to the insights I glean from this book. His novels are thought provoking, and I am sure this book will also make me think.

Joshua Harris is one of several younger writers that make me think through and evaluate some of the religious traditions that I grew up with. Are there areas in my life that I need to see in a different light? Where can I continue to grow? I have Joshua's book called "Dug Down Deep". I look forward to reading through some of his journey.

I am not sure how far I will get on my list this summer, but I have lots of options. I look forward to sitting by the water with iced tea and my books and enjoying the beauty of nature as I read.

Deb Riddell
Closet Manager

Monday, June 9, 2014

"My P.I.T. Crew"

If any of you have read other blogs I’ve written, you know that I’ve experienced a fair share of loss and heartache. I can relate and empathize with my clients because of those struggles. Like King David in Psalm 13, I’ve asked “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?”

The sufferings we experience impact how we relate… some of it not so good. Some of us take that pain and isolate…striving to self-protect and never feel pain again. We pull away from family or friends. We don’t speak up at work. We create a barrier that doesn’t allow people too close. We adopt a mentality or perspective that believes to lose someone or something we love is un-survivable so we decide to not love again or at least not love too deeply.
Sometimes our sufferings teach us the opposite…how to appreciate and love people more. We choose to be vulnerable and open-hearted with the folks who are in our lives. We reach out in our need and ask for help. We choose to trust people who’ve proven themselves trustworthy.

During the last five years, I’ve developed a “P.I.T. crew” to help me through some of the roughest struggles of my life. “P.I.T.” stands for Personal Intercessory Team. I chose six women who I knew would pray for me at a moment’s notice. These women love The Lord and love me. They are encouragers and exhorters. They are trustworthy and honest. They know when I need a hug and when I need a kick in the pants. It is not an overstatement to say that I don’t know how I would have made it through the past five years without them.
If you need support as you go through life’s struggles, I encourage you to develop a P.I.T. crew. Here are some ideas of how I did it:

1.      Start with two or three people who you know would pray. They should appreciate confidentiality and be discreet. Ask them if they would be on your P.I.T. crew.

2.     Develop a system of how to communicate. I send my P.I.T. crew an email three or four times a year, but our main communication is via texting or phone calls. If I’m in immediate need for prayer and encouragement, I simply send a text and within minutes I have responses back. Some say, “Praying for you right now,” “I’ve got your back,” or “I’ll call you when I get home from work.”  I receive Bible verses or written prayers.
And as I read or hear my friends’ responses I am lifted up from low places. The darkness stops overwhelming me and I can see light again.

Shannon Shertzer, MS, NCC

Monday, June 2, 2014

How is Love Defined?

In my journey to acquire a master’s degree in counseling, I have obtained knowledge about human behavior and what motivates human beings to do the things we do. The mind is a fascinating organ and proves that God did not haphazardly create human beings. As the psalmist David proclaimed, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14, NIV).

      One’s behaviors flow from many areas. The apostle Paul knew that professing to be a Christian meant that we should be different because the Holy Spirit of God dwelt within. Yielded to the Holy Spirit, Christian’s behaviors should flow out from having the love of God in us. He illustrates this in “the love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13).

I am troubled by the observations I have made recently as my mom, sisters and I go through personal struggles with the decline of my father’s health, my sister’s health and other events that have served to emotionally exhaust us. I have watched as people who claim to be Christian inquire about personal affairs under the guise of “love.”  Yet the outcomes prove only to be used for gossip.  

Paul says, “Love … does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (v. 6). Some people love to find out the shortcomings of others and spread that evil report. They are glad about the bad. These “tabloid-minded Christians” delight in having a scrap of knowledge that sets them apart from others. In a perverse way such idle talk and gossip strengthens their self-image. And to the degree their evil rumors reduce the perceived value of others; the gossipers supposed to build their own value and worth in the eyes of others.

This is not the way of agape love. Rather, love “rejoices in the truth” and actively advertises the good things in others. Love is the basis of the old adage, “If you don’t have anything good to say about someone or something, don’t say anything at all.” When there has been hardship or failure, rather than expose it love would seek to cover it and see it healed. Rather than relate about darkness and failures, love would compel us to seek to edify and build up rather than tear down lives and reputations with our words.

     How then do we steer clear of conducting ourselves in a manner that is worthy and profitable to others? The answer is found in 1 Thess. 4:11 which states that we are, “To make it your ambition and definitely endeavor to live quietly and peacefully and to mind your own affairs….”  Matthew Henry’s commentary says, “Satan is very busy to disquiet us….so then, Do your own business. When we go beyond this, we expose ourselves to a great deal of inquietude. Those who are busy-bodies, meddling in other men’s matters, generally have but little quiet in their own minds and cause great disturbances among their neighbors;….”

Connie Hanten, BCMCLC

New Hope Life Coach