Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

“You shall fear the Lord your God.” This sentence (or something like it) is probably one that many people, both Christian and non-Christian alike, have heard before. To the non-Christian, it may sound like a typical Bible-y thing to say. Sentences like this may even be the reason that some people have no interest in Christianity. I mean, why would you choose to follow a religion where you have to fear God? Freedom to do what you want, when you want, and how you want sounds so much more appealing!

To the Christian, this sentence may make sense or it may be very confusing. Personally, I fall into the second category. This whole “fear of God” thing seems to contradict so many other things that I have read in the Bible. It seems to contradict the very nature of the God who I know and love! God doesn’t want me to be afraid of him— he loves me! So what exactly does it mean when people say that I should fear God? What exactly does the Bible have to say about it?

I decided to do a little research to find out. At first, it seemed as if the Bible really does contradict itself. I already knew that the Bible had a lot to say about how we are loved by God and how through Jesus, we are seen as blameless and innocent. But in Deuteronomy 6:2 it says “and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life.” Fear God as long as I live? Obey all his decrees and commands? That sounds more like the relationship between a harsh king and his servant than the relationship between a loving father and his child. The last part about enjoying a long life almost seems more like a threat than a reward! It’s as if God is saying “if you obey me perfectly, then I’ll let you live.” Yikes!

In other verses, though, it doesn’t sound quite as harsh. 1 Samuel 12:24 says “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” In Deuteronomy 5:29, it says “If only they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and live by all My Laws always! Then it would go well with them and with their children forever.” Both of these verses seem to be more based on a loving relationship than punishment, but there is still the element of fear. And these are just a few of many (and I mean seriously a ton) of verses that tell us to fear the Lord.

Yet in other verses, we are told not to fear anything. In 1 John 4:17-18, the Bible says the following: “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” Another verse, 2 Timothy 1:7, says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Both of those verses sound great! But how can we make sense of them in light of the many, many fear-related verses in the Bible?

In my research, I found two interesting articles on the subject. The first one focused on the idea that there are different types of fear. One type of fear is the fear of things or events. Many people fear things in this world, such as natural disasters, financial troubles, or spiders. Another type of fear is the fear of people. People fear what others might do to them or not do for them. What if my boyfriend cheats on me? What if my boss fires me? What if a random stranger breaks into my house and kills me? All of these are valid fears, of course, and a natural part of human emotion. A third type of fear is the fear of God, which actually comes in two varieties: the fear of punishment from God, and what some people call the “Holy Fear” of God.

The “Holy Fear” of God is what the Bible refers to when it tells us to fear the Lord. This type of fear does not involve being afraid of God in the same way that we are afraid of things that scare us. It is not a fear of punishment from God if we do not obey him. Instead, it is a fear based on love and reverence. The article describes it as “a fear born in love that dreads offending Abba, the Father they love and hold in awe.” In other words, we are to love God so much that we hate the idea of upsetting him. That, in turn, motivates us to live in a way that pleases him.

This kind of “fear” when it comes to God makes a lot more sense to me than the regular kind of fear. I could never be afraid of God, who I know loves me so much. But I definitely am afraid of offending him. It’s actually quite similar to the way I feel about my earthly father. When I was younger especially, I always tried to be on my best behavior because I loved my dad so much, and I was afraid of disappointing him. It’s not that I was afraid of getting punished! I just really didn’t want to let him down. Now that I’m all grown up, I don’t worry so much about this because I have come to know that my dad will always be proud of me. But even now, I still deeply desire his approval and support in the decisions that I make. In the same way, the Bible tells me that I should strive to please God, my Heavenly Father. This comes as a natural response to the love and admiration that I have for him! Deuteronomy 10:12 says it well: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.” Our fear of God is simply a reflection of our love and our desire to serve him.

There is one small final detail to figure out, though. As the second article I read pointed out, God is not a permissive parent. The writer of the article claims that “A biblical fear of God… includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer.” At first, I was hesitant to agree with this. The Bible makes it very clear that once a person accepts Jesus, we are seen as blameless and we receive no judgment for our sins. Jesus took all of our mistakes and bad choices on himself when He died on the cross, and because of that, we are cleared of all charges. Because of that, my fear of God should not include a fear of judgment.

However, in Hebrews 12:6, the Bible says “The Lord corrects the people he loves and disciplines those he calls his own.” What exactly does this mean? The writer of the second article explained: “As children, the fear of discipline from our parents no doubt prevented some evil actions. The same should be true in our relationship with God. We should fear His discipline, and therefore seek to live our lives in such a way that pleases Him.” The truth is, in a loving parent-child relationship, discipline is not only acceptable, it’s mandatory. A parent who loves his or her child wants what is best for her. A loving parent will discipline his child because if he doesn’t, then the child will not learn to do what is right and will not be able to live a good life.

There is an important distinction to be made between discipline and punishment, however. Discipline involves correction for the purpose of training. Punishment involves inflicting a penalty, whether the penalty actually encourages behavior improvement or not. Punishment helps the punisher feel better, but the goal of discipline is to guide the wrongdoer to make better choices. Even though some translations of the Bible verse that I quoted above say that God “punishes” his children, I believe that this translation better depicts God’s intention. He does not punish us with the spirit of paying us back for our sins. Jesus took responsibility for us so that God would not have to do that. Instead, God disciplines and corrects us when we make bad choices. He allows us to experience the natural consequences for our choices because that is how we will learn to live better lives.

Looking once again at 2 Timothy 1:7, things start to make sense. “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” God wants us to live in the best way that we can out of our love for him. He wants us to fear disappointing him because we love and admire him. And when we do make mistakes, he corrects and disciplines us because in doing so, we can learn to make better choices— we learn self-discipline. God is not commanding us to be afraid of him so that he can feel more big and powerful. He asks us to love him, to accept his discipline, and to learn and strive to live right. And in these things, we find that we have power over evil. We no longer have to fear the evil things in this world. That’s what the Bible means when it says that God’s perfect love casts out fear. And now, I can confidently say that I follow a God of love, not fear.

What’s in a Verse? Part 2

Hello readers!

Last week, I started counting down my top ten favorite Bible verses. This week, I’m revealing the last five, ending with my favorite verse of all. Now, I said this last week, but I’ll say it again; I know that all of my readers are not Christians and that a lot of you believe other things. And that’s fine! I’m glad that you’re here on my blog, reading this anyway. I hope that you can get something out of it, no matter where you are in your spiritual journey. The Bible is a book that I, personally, turn to for wisdom, and I think that it has many great things in it that can benefit all kinds of people.

So without further ado, let’s begin!

5. Deuteronomy 6:5 NLT (New Living Translation)

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”

I think that this verse is truly beautiful because of its message of love. As a follower of Christ, I sometimes need a reminder about my main purpose in life. I was made to love the Lord, my Father. What God wants most from me is not that I follow all of the rules or give him compliments, but that I love him completely. When I do that, the other things follow. When I love my God completely, I can’t help but to lavish him with praise and mold my life to bring him glory. My ultimate goal every day should be to love the Lord with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my strength. What does that look like, you might ask? It looks like me making it a priority to spend time with him each day, having a heart that’s grateful for everything he has given me, and striving to bring him joy by reflecting his love to other people. It means that I reflect on his awesomeness and try my best to share him with the world.

4. Philippians 4:6 NLT

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

As much as I love this verse, it is a little bit of a challenge to actually apply it consistently. The beginning alone is a huge task to accomplish: “Don’t worry about anything.” Honestly, is that even possible? For me at least, worrying about things is just a natural response to life. There are so many different things to worry about, from the tiny to the gigantic. Am I going to make it to this meeting on time? How am I going to be able to finish all of this work by the deadline? What if we don’t make enough money to pay the bills this month? Will I ever achieve my dreams? With all of these things to worry about, and many more, the suggestion to “not worry about anything” seems like some kind of joke.

But the verse doesn’t end there. It gives us another option. We are to pray about everything and tell God what we need. When God comes into the picture, this whole “not worrying” thing gets a bit easier. First of all, God is really big. He can handle our problems without even breaking a sweat. Even though some obstacles may seem insurmountable to us, to God they are little more than a speck of dust to be blown out of the way. Second of all, God is in control. While at times it may seem that our world has spiraled out of control, or that God has abandoned us, we can trust in his promises that are found in the Bible. He promises us that he is in control and that he will never forsake us. Just ask any Christian who has been through a trial and discovered that God was by his or her side the entire time. He is in control, and he is always with those of us who’ve given our lives to him. Third of all, he has a plan. God has a good plan for each one of our lives, and he will turn those plans into reality if we let him. When bad things happen in life, we can rest assured that it is all a part of the plan.

The last part of this verse reminds us to thank God for all that he has done. At first, this may seem like a random thing to tack on the end of the verse. If you think about it though, it is easy to see why this is so important. When we take a moment to stop worrying, give our problems to God, and thank him for what he has done, it is easy to start feeling more confident about our situation. By recognizing all of the good things that God has done for me, I start to really understand that I don’t need to worry about anything. After all, he has always taken care of me in the past. I know that he will continue to take care of me now.

Even though as a flawed human I will probably never stop worrying, this verse gives me a goal to aspire to. When I do worry about things, I can think of this verse and remind myself that God is in control, and that he will take care of things. It helps me to relax, step back, and let my Heavenly Father do his thing.

3. Psalms 103:2-5 NLT

“Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!”

This verse is full of great things. It’s a guide for living with joy, a reminder of our redeemed status, and a promise of great things to come. Like in the two verses above, we are told to praise the Lord and thank him for what he has given us. Then it goes on to remind us that through Jesus, we are completely forgiven for all of our misdeeds. There is no need to feel guilty for the mistakes of our past (or present, or future). We are forgiven!

It also reminds us that God wants to heal us physically. Now, this is a subject that I would probably need to do a lot of studying and research to understand. Because the truth is, there are many Christians who wholeheartedly love God and who still suffer from physical afflictions. Christians get sick and die just like anybody else. Little children get sick and die, even though they are innocent and God loves them. At the same time, the Bible seems to suggest that through God, we can receive healing of any and all diseases. How can these two facts exist at the same time? While I don’t have a good answer to this question right now, I do believe two things to be true. One is that God loves each of us and does not want to see us suffer. For some people, that may mean that he literally heals their diseases while they are living here on earth. The second is that when we get to Heaven, we will be perfect and healthy and complete. There will be no suffering there. So in the end, all of those who accept Jesus as their savior will be healed, and that is a guarantee. That, at least, can be a comfort to those who suffer from illnesses in this life.

The rest of the verse proclaims God’s love for us and his desire to fill our lives with goodness. He wants to give us the gifts of joy, peace, and prosperity. For those that choose to let God into their lives, these gifts are given freely. He wants goodness for all of us, because he loves us so much. This verse is a beautiful reminder of that life and hope-giving truth.

2. Isaiah 41:10 NIV (New International Version)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

This verse is my second favorite of all because I have depended on it for strength in times of struggle. Particularly, this is the verse that my husband and I relied on when we were feeling unsupported in our decision to get married. We struggled with feeling rejected and betrayed by several different people in our lives, but this verse reminded us that we did not need to be dismayed. God promised that he would strengthen us, help us, and hold us up, and he did. In fact, he brought the right people into our lives and surrounded us with support and love so that we could thoroughly enjoy the celebration on our wedding day. Since then, God has been continuing to strengthen us in our marriage. He is the reason that we know we will not fail, because He has promised to hold up our marriage with his righteous hand.

1. Romans 8:38 NLT

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This is my favorite verse in the Bible (at least so far) for obvious reasons. It is the most comforting, empowering, and encouraging Bible verse that I know of. It is a clear and certain statement of our position in God’s family. We are inseparable from His love! Nothing can ever change or take away the truth that God loves us beyond reason or understanding. We have Jesus Christ to thank for that, because he took all of our shortcomings on his own shoulders and made us perfect in God’s eyes. This applies to those of us who know and love Jesus, and those of us who don’t. Jesus died for all of us, whether or not we accept it. It’s up to us to choose to love Him back and step into the relationship that he longs to have with us. If we do, then we get to enjoy all of the other amazing gifts and promises that he has for us. How incredibly blessed we all are!


Thank you for reading about my favorite verses. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post a reply below. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have an excellent week.

What’s in a Verse? Part 1

Sometimes, when I’m reading the Bible, I have to pause and say “what the heck was that?” Because honestly, there are some downright strange things in the Bible. And unfortunately, on top of that, some of these confusing verses have been used for purposes other than what they were intended for. In fact, the Bible has been used a disgusting number of times throughout history to support or justify things that God would never, ever want. It’s really awful, considering that the Bible was meant to be a love letter for us from our Creator.

But despite all of that, I still love the Bible. I believe that the Bible was written by people under God’s guidance, and that it is completely perfect and true. During my explorations as a Christian, I have found many verses in this book that have encouraged, strengthened, enlightened, and empowered me. I wanted to share my top ten favorite Bible verses (as of right now), because some of these verses are just so amazing that they need to be shared! I know that all of my readers do not share my beliefs about God or the Bible, but I hope that you all can get something out of some of these verses. Enjoy!

I’ll be counting down from 10 to 1, starting with my tenth favorite and leading up to my all-time favorite verse. This week, I’ll be going through the first half. All of the verses are from the New Living Translation of the Bible, unless otherwise noted. Here we go!

10. Song of Songs 6:3 (first half)

“I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine.”

I love the book Song of Songs. It is the one book in the Bible that is completely focused on the love between a husband and wife. When I have tried to read this book in the past, I had a hard time getting much out of it. The language is very poetic and symbolic, and it can be easy to miss the true meanings when you don’t look carefully. But recently, I decided to reread this book in a different translation.  The Message translation is a paraphrase, basically a rewrite of the Bible in very modern and understandable language. When I read the Song of Songs in the Message version, I was totally blown away. This book is so very sensual, romantic, and full of intimate descriptions of what God intended for sexuality in marriage. It is truly beautiful, and it inspired me to aspire to greater heights of love and connection in my own marriage.

I have often found that in Christianity, the idea of passionate enjoyment of sexuality seems to be a bit taboo. The thought of a husband and wife being consumed by their love for each other is almost frowned upon. Of course, a husband and wife should love each other deeply and tenderly, and they should be completely committed to their marriage. But passion? Enjoying sexuality? Consuming love? No, no, no, that’s just over the top. A good, wholesome Christian marriage is tame and tidy, not wild and free. Because if we focus on our husband or wife too much, then we might be distracted from loving God as much as we should. Right?

According to the Song of Songs, certainly not! This book portrays the fiery and passionate love between a husband and wife as a beautiful act of worship. Enjoying sexuality in marriage is honoring to God. Being consumed by love for your spouse is like laughing in the devil’s face. It’s like saying “Look at this incredible thing that God created—look at our love! With our love, we can conquer all things.” Where there is love, the devil has lost and God has won.

My husband is mine, and I am his. That is something I can proudly say, because I have been so fantastically blessed by my God. That is something to be thankful for!

9. James 1:27

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

This verse is so good because it really gets to the point of, well, everything. The whole Bible could almost be reduced just to this. Religion is not a list of rules from the Old Testament. Religion is the freedom given to us by Jesus and recorded the New Testament, which can be appreciated that much more when you read about how things used to be in the Old Testament. And from that freedom, comes our purpose; love. We are to love others, and to love God. We love others by caring for those in need, and in doing so, we also show our love for God. We should strive to keep our hearts focused on our purpose, and refuse to let the world trick us into thinking that life is about anything else but love.

8. Romans 8:28

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

This one goes hand in hand with James 1:27, the verse above. It talks about our purpose and loving God, but it also goes a step further. It tells us that we know that God causes everything to work together for our good. Of course, the catch is that “our” doesn’t mean everyone— it says that this applies to those who love God and are pursuing His purpose for them. In other words, if you don’t want anything to do with God then you can’t expect him to shower you with good things. This is really more a matter of respect than anything else. God will not force anybody to love him or follow him. He respects your choices. But no matter who you are or what you feel about him, he does still love you. He loves you more than you can know. And he desperately wants for you to love him back, so he can give you all of the amazing gifts that he has set aside for you!

For those of us that do love and follow God, this verse brings incredible comfort. It reminds us that we are always under God’s protection, that no matter what, everything will work out in the end. He loves us and he wants only good things for us. Since He’s God, we can count on Him to make everything work together for our good. That’s a promise, and God doesn’t break His promises.

7. Psalms 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

This verse makes me so happy. Sometimes, I let myself become really full of worry and despair because I know that there are billions of people in the world who don’t know God. I know that a huge percentage of these people don’t want to know God, or think that they already do. I know that there are people out there who will never know Him, because they will never change their minds about God and He will respect that. And it honestly breaks my heart so badly that I have to just push it away and not let myself think or worry about it. Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what this verse is telling me to do.

“Be still, and know that I am God!” In other words, calm down, relax, and remember that He is in control, not me. He is God, and I am not. And I am incredibly grateful for that, because I could never handle the job.

The second part of the verse is possibly even better. It declares that in the end, God will be honored throughout the world. There will come a day when every person finally knows that He is the one true God! And when that happens, our world will finally once and for all be free of evil and suffering. Personally, I am looking forward to that day.

6. Matthew 7:1

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.”

This verse is purely awesome for a few reasons. First of all, these are Jesus’ words. My savior, my king, the one person who I love beyond anything else, He was the one who said these words. That means that I can take them very, very seriously! Second of all, this verse is straightforward and easy to understand. There’s no getting around it— Jesus commands His followers not to judge others. In fact, in another similar verse, John 3:17, we are reminded that Jesus did not come into the world to judge it, He came to save it! Now, if the only perfect person to ever live came into this world and refused to judge it, then how much more does that mean that imperfect people like me and you shouldn’t judge it? This verse gives me a very clear and simple reminder that I am not in the position to judge others. I am in the position to love others, to be an example of God’s love for them. I’ll let the only perfect judge do His job, and leave the condemning to the devil.


Thanks for reading about some of my favorite verses. I hope that they can encourage you or bring you new understanding about God. Please come back next week to check out my top 5! Until then, have a great week!

Just Life

Yesterday, Cory and I were in Orange County visiting family, so I’m posting a day late. I don’t really have a lot to talk about, so I’m just going to write about some of the things on my mind and recent developments in my life.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a weekly couples’ group Cory and I were going to at our new church (which is called Cornerstone). Later that week, we saw an advertisement for another church that was just starting nearby and we decided to give it a try last weekend, just for kicks. It turned out that we really liked it, even more than Cornerstone. So now we have a new new church, and it’s called Passion Life Church. We’re both really excited about it and we’re already getting connected there and meeting new people.

On Tuesday, we went to the final session for “Couples Connection” at Cornerstone, and it was great. Even though Passion Life Church fits us better in terms of the worship and teaching on the weekend services, they don’t have as many opportunities to get involved because they are so new and small. For example, it would be hard for us to volunteer for the kids’ ministry because there is only one weekend service, and we would have to miss it every time we served. There are also no weekly small groups/Bible study groups, just two groups to choose form that meet every two weeks. So for now, we’re planning on being a part of two small groups; one from Passion Life and another 8-week Bible study through Cornerstone. We are considering serving in the children’s ministry at Cornerstone as well, but we haven’t decided yet. Either way, I like that we have options and I really like that we finally have a church where we feel at home.

Besides church-related stuff, I’ve been doing school and other fun things. I have two classes right now and two more that start in one week. This week, while things are still less busy, I hope to finish writing my short story sequel to Swim, which is called Sink. I also would like to get started on the second half of a painting that I’m making for my dad and stepmom. That way, I can hopefully have it finished by the time we go visit them next, in two weeks or so.

After that, my focus will be mostly on school. The two classes I have now are really interesting to me— Nutrition, and Child Guidance. I’m learning so many useful things in both of them! Because of Nutrition, my eating habits have definitely changed for the better, and hopefully that will last. I also know that the concepts and techniques that I’m learning in Child Guidance will help me as a teacher one day, and as a parent as well. It’s really interesting to me that all of these tools for guiding and raising children are out there, just waiting to be found. I think that learning about child development is such a good thing for parents (or anybody working with children) to do. There are few things more important than our job of preparing the next generation to live as competent, respectful, kind, and cooperative individuals, at least in my opinion. It should be a job that we take seriously and learn to do well. I definitely enjoy learning about this subject!

In my personal life, things are going pretty well. You may or may not know that my mom and little brother (and their dog) have been living with us for the past several months. We were happy to help them get back on their feet in a time of need, of course. Fortunately, they will be ready to move out in two weeks and we are very happy for them. We will also be glad to have our space and privacy once again. Living with parents when you’re all grown up can be hard, no matter how much you love them!

Socially, we’ve been a bit… well, not social. Since Cory and I moved out to Riverside County, it’s been a lot harder to get together with our friends. We’ve been able to mostly stay in touch in other ways, and luckily we’ve also found time to hang out sometimes when we drive out to visit. Still, it’s easy to feel a little bit disconnected when you don’t live as close to your friends and family. Hopefully we will be able to meet some new people out here and make some new friends as well. Of course, we could never replace our Orange County friends either! You know who you are. 😉

Our marriage is still strong and happy, thanks to God’s constant vigilance in helping us to grow together. Did I mention that our God is awesome? I won’t brag about how great my marriage is because of the things that Cory and I do, but I will brag about how awesome it is because of God! Our love is so strong because He shows us how to love like Him. He’s such a good God, and I just want everyone in the world to know that.

Last but not least, our plans for the future are still intact. We are, as usual, relying on God to provide what we need, and I feel confident that things will work out beautifully. Cory’s planning to get a job as a programmer in the next three to four months (as soon as he gains enough skills and practice), and then we would like to start our family. We also hope to buy a house out here in Riverside County when our apartment lease is up in September. Alternatively, if Cory’s job ends up being in Orange County instead, we will want to move back and then probably rent for a little while longer before considering buying a house. As far as our educations go, we plan on continuing school part-time until we’re both finished with our bachelor’s degrees. My long term goal is to become an elementary school teacher and then to home school our kids for junior high and high school. Cory’s long term goal is to be an entrepreneur and start his own businesses (bigger than his current small business as a web designer). I’m sure that there will be changes and surprises and trials all along the way, but having a vision for the future helps keep us motivated. And either way, I know that God has great things in store for us.

Well, that’s pretty much it. I’m sorry that I didn’t have anything more enlightening or interesting to write about, but thanks for reading anyway!

Have an excellent week!