Archive for the ‘ thinking ’ Category

Thinking on Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)

A friend asked me what I thought “fear of the Lord” means in Proverbs 1:7:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Many of us will know the textbook answer, but often it is good to think on what we already know, to continually remind ourselves of the Gospel (as Paul reminded believers of the Gospel in 1 Cor 15: 1-2: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.”)

I looked at several different translations of the Bible, all of which used the word “fear” but The Message version says “the first step in learning is bowing down to God.”

Matthew Henry’s commentary uses the word “reverence.”

I don’t ever read “fear of God” as the emotion we experience as we are afraid of something or anxious.  This type of emotional fear is not of God.  In the same way, I don’t see “love for God” as a warm, fuzzy emotion.  “Fear” and “love” are much deeper and are more evidenced by our attitude towards God and our behaviors than some fleeting emotion.

“Bowing down” implies making oneself less than, humble to, obedient to [God].  “Reverence” and “respect” imply working from the basic assumption that God is smarter that us, bigger than us, and more of an authority than us, so that even when we don’t “get” his law or “get” what He is doing, we work from the assumption that it is we who are flawed in our perceptions, not Him.  Thus we seek to follow Him and seek to know Him better.

I am reminded of Phil 2:7-8

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death —

even death on a cross!

It is true that my obedience or submitting myself to God’s law does not make Him love me any more.  Rather, I love Him (because He first loved me) so I act in obedience (and because He gives me the grace to do so).  Yet the more I grow in maturity, the more experience I have with obedience yielding good results (in general, the fruit of the Spirit – joy, peace, etc.).  Thus I am more likely to want to be obedient in the future.  My past obedience leads (not to God loving me more but) to increased knowledge of God and increased awareness of how He is working in me, how he is using my obedience in my life.

I think that knowledge of God and His character is synonymous with love for God (and maybe even love for His law/ obedience to it).

Fearing God, which seems to entail bowing down before Him in obedience and submission, leads to knowledge of His character and His love for me.

I do not learn God’s character or grow closer to Him by disobedience (“fools despise wisdom and instruction”).  A fool (or an unbeliever or someone who wishes to go his own way) does not learn about God’s character and His goodness.  A fool is blind to these things and does not get to experience the fruit of God’s love.  The fool does not get to experience deeper relationship with or knowledge of God.


Home Is

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I have been thinking. Specifically, I have been thinking about home and the meaning of home.

This concept has intrigued me for most of my life, particularly my adult life. I have never really felt at home anywhere. I desire to find a feeling of home, yet at times it seems so unattainable, which is a source of despair and frustration at times.

I did not feel wanted or accepted in my parents’ house, although I suppose that was the closest approximation of home I have ever experienced. I ran away from this “home” one time as a teenager. I did not feel a sense of belonging there.

I remember in graduate school, when we covered the lesson on Adlerian psychology, and my professor said that everyone is looking for a sense of belonging. That was the first time I ever realized that I was not alone in the way I felt. I began to realize that a vast majority of people do not feel like they fit in, they are seeking a feeling of belonging and community and significance.

Since moving out of my parents house fourteen years ago, I have moved from place to place, often living with a roommate, and sometimes living alone, and while I have lived in places I enjoyed and some I did not, I never felt at home in any of these places.

One of the reasons I desire to be married is that I long for a sense of home, someone to come home to, a place where I feel I belong, and someone who is looking forward to seeing me each day.

Zach Braff, as Andrew Largeman, in “Garden State,” which is one of my favorite movies, describes home.

You’ll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day, one day and it’s just gone. And you can never get it back. It’s like you get homesick for a place that doesn’t exist. I mean it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.

To Braff/Largeman, home is not a house, but it is an imaginary place whose members get homesick and miss each other.

My pastor talked about home at our recent Easter service. He said that home is a place where one receives unconditional love, and that we are all seeking unconditional love. My pastor averred that much of our behavior, whether glorifying to God or sinful, is a quest to find unconditional love.

I have a friend who is an alcoholic. He tried sobriety for six months, and at that time, he reported that he felt very good and clear and goal-directed. But later, when he went back to drinking, he let the alcoholism convince him that he did not like the period of sobriety, specifically because he did not feel like he fit in (because he did not try to make any sober friends at the time, perhaps he was not equipped to do so). For many, alcohol is a social lubricant that helps people find a sense of belonging, albeit a superficial sense, since people are not really authentic while drunk.

This time in my life is when I have found the greatest sense of community and belonging. I am a daughter of God, and as such, I have many brothers and sisters in Christ. I have wonderful friends, and I no longer feel like a social outcast. Yet we typically do not come home to our friends. We leave them at the end of the day and head. . . home. At my core, on a very basic level, I long for home.

I Think

A friend of mine, who is probably on the verge of getting an alias on my blog, sent me an email. “Penny for your thoughts,” he wrote.

I think that the following questions are music to an INTJs ears: “What do you think?” “What’s your opinion?” “What is your input?”

I think that pharmaceutical companies are scary. I refer to them as Big Pharma. Drug sales are fueled by marketing, not efficacy or safety. In other words, the best-selling drug in our country is the one on which Big Pharma spent the most money advertising. It has nothing to do with how good or safe the drug is, or what its side effects are.

I think advertising pollutes our mental environment, Big Pharma being a prime example. In general, advertising (think of print ads in magazines or commercials on the “electronic bookshelf” you have your furniture pointed at) promotes dissatisfaction.

I think that some bands are good even though they are popular and mainstream. But sometimes I am a snob and I don’t *want* to like them because they are popular and mainstream. I am the same way with books. I totally won’t read Twilight or Harry Potter.

I think that the Keurig they put into the office next to mine (for anyone to use) is going to take my caffeine addiction to the next level.

I think a lot about how to constantly change up my workouts (to keep them interesting and to enable myself to make progress and not plateau). A person cannot really get stronger and get leaner at the same time. I mean, it depends on the person’s existing body composition, but especially for people who already have little body fat, it is difficult because it’s like trying to gain weight and lose weight at the same time. Yet, I can never quite decide which I want.

I suppose if I had to choose, I prefer to get stronger. To me, it is easier and more fun. When I lose weight (which I am not at all trying to do), I feel weak, and I don’t like it. Conversely, when I am able to lift more weight, I feel so strong and empowered. Incidentally, over the past two years since I learned to work out properly, I have gained a lot of muscle, but I have not gained any weight. Every woman on the planet struggles with body image (thanks in part to advertising and the promotion of an unrealistic ideal), but I have never felt as secure in my body image as when I started to weight train properly and get strong.

Many women, I think, underestimate their strength. I see women who military press 10 pound dumbbells. “Your shoulders are stronger than that!,” I think. Sometimes I want to go up to them and encourage them, but I never do. That is how I became stronger and felt better about myself, though. I had people who handed me more weight than I thought I could lift, they encouraged me, and I was able to lift it.

I think teenagers are very fascinating. They are in a stage of life where they are searching for identity. They are no longer as authentic as young children are, yet often, teens are still more authentic than many adults. Teenagers have an intriguing balance of idealism and cynicism. They expect and thirst for a lot out of other people and out of life, yet they mistrust people, especially adults (many times rightfully so).

Teens experience all the same insecurities and struggles that adults face, yet they do not have the experience to understand how time changes things. I think that most adults marginalize and discount teenagers, yet often the teens are right (e.g. “I shouldn’t have to do this homework, which is really just busy work, because it is a waste of time that I could be using more productively, and I’m never going to use this crap in real life.” Yes, that actually is true.).

Rational Emotions

I tend to make decisions based on logic and reasoning, rather than on feelings and a desire for harmony. I think in very rational, intellectual terms. I approach situations asking the question, “Does it make sense?”

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test measures four dichotomies. One of those dichotomies is a pair of judging, or decision-making, functions: thinking and feeling. The thinking and feeling functions influence how we make decisions. Those who prefer thinking tend to decide things based on logic, reason, causal relationships, and consistency. Those who prefer feeling tend to come to decisions by empathizing with the situation, and attempting to achieve the greatest level of harmony and consensus. Everyone has both thinking and feeling functions to some extent, but the question is which function is more dominant.

My Myers-Briggs type is INTJ (introverted, intuitive, thinking, judging), and being a thinker, I tend to make decisions based on logic. I think objectively, and I weigh the pros and cons when making a decision. I often check my motives so as not to make a decision based unfairly on some emotionally weighted issue.

My friends know that I can be very empathic and understanding. While I do not have the natural empathy that a feeler has, I am able to logically conclude how someone may be feeling based on similar situations I have experienced. In addition, my intuitive function enables me to be sensitive to non-verbal forms of communication, which increases my sensitivity towards others’ emotional state. Having such an internal personality, I feel things deeply, and I can understand those feelings in other people. And I have learned how to be compassionate and understanding by listening to my friends and asking what they need. Finally, as everyone has both feeling and thinking functions to some extent, I have a fairly well-developed feeling function, particularly in comparison to other INTJs.

While I can easily appreciate emotions in other people, my bent toward intellectual analysis creates a lot of cognitive dissonance when I experience emotions myself. Cognitive dissonance is a feeling of discomfort created when a person has two conflicting ideas, feelings, or beliefs. For instance, if a woman is staunchly pro-life and then a dear friend has an abortion, the woman may feel very conflicted over how to best support her friend.

Because my analytical thinking is so strong, I tend to have the belief that my emotions are not valid, especially when my emotions conflict with what I rationally believe to be true. For instance, if I experience loss, I expect to feel grief and sadness, and that is okay. But if I feel jealous or sad and I cannot pinpoint a logical reason for it, I think that I do not have a right to those emotions. Paradoxically, I often reassure friends that their emotions are totally valid, and I speak truthfully; yet, at times I do not have patience with my own emotional reactions. We are our own worst critics, and it is very hard to be gentle with myself when I have emotions that I cannot rationally explain.

A related struggle for me is that at times it takes me awhile to figure out how I feel about something. This is frustrating to feelers, who are more in tune with how they are feeling, and especially to extraverted feelers who tend to process their feelings externally. I need to process through an event or situation internally and understand it before I can access and understand the related emotion. Again, this processing time is especially important when my emotions do not match the logic. It is very stressful for me to be pressured into discussing how I feel before I have time to process it, as I may not really understand how I feel.

God has brought me a long way in learning about myself and growing in my areas of weakness, as well as in my strengths. As I place myself in His hands, I have faith that He will continue to grow and sanctify me. I trust that He has given me my unique personality for a reason, for His ultimate glory. I struggle with my emotional reactions to experiences. But if you need someone to help you see things objectively, I’ve got your back.