The Fear of the Lord

fear of God

Proverbs 14:26-27
“In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and it will be a refuge for his children. The fear of the LORD is like a life-giving fountain, to turn people from deadly snares.”

Several years ago, a friend asked me to write a letter for her daughter, who was turning 13. The letter was to be about what I felt had been the most important thing in my life. I was humbled by the request and daunted at the task. What could I possibly have to say? At once it was overwhelming and obvious. The Holy Spirit guided me as I wrote page after page – the most significant, biggest blessing in my life has been the fear of the LORD. I thank God for it! If He had not revealed Himself and shown me that He alone is Holy and He alone could fulfill His righteous requirements, I would still be in darkness.

Rewind to when I was a child. I had, I believe, a prophetic dream when I was a young girl that impacted me greatly. In middle school, I knew of God and feared him. This kept me from engaging in gang activity, doing drugs, drinking, smoking, and premarital sex. I just did not want to hurt God and knew in my heart of hearts that those things were wrong – which was completely God’s mercy and grace in my life – that a reverence or fear of Him would keep me from sin, even while I was not yet saved.

When I came to know God at age 19, I was struck again with how Holy and awesome (an overused word today, truly reserved for God alone), God is. Knowing God as my personal Savior helped me to understand what the fear of the LORD looked like. It was not trepidation and separation – it was completely being overwhelmed in His presence but being able to draw near and be close with my Creator through the blood of Jesus. What a gift.

As an adult, I have had people ask me about this fear of the LORD. People have jeered and not understood. Some have pictured God to be a Santa Claus type figure in Heaven Who is petting lambs all the time – fearing Him seemed errant to them. One of my life verses is my e-mail address – Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction”. I have it there as a reminder to me, when I am tempted to treat God’s sacrifice casually and to acquiesce toward sin and disobedience.

There are more than 200 verses in all of the Bible regarding the fear of the LORD. It is important to God. God knows we need it to be able to walk faithfully with Him. The fear of the Lord is an understanding of Who God is and that there are objective standards He has set. He is the Ruler, Creator, the One Righteous Judge to Whom all mankind will answer. No one else. Solomon, who was the wisest man, said it well in Ecclesiastes when he said, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man”.

Fearing God is not the same as fearing a wicked leader – God is completely good – there is nothing vile in Him. Living in reverent fear means we walk soberly – not as a foolish man who does not take life seriously. It helps to make our lives productive and worthwhile – not wasted. Life is a gift and we were meant to have fellowship with our God. The Scriptures are replete with promises from God to those who fear Him. Fear Him, today – draw near and taste and see how good the Lord is!

Lord, help us to understand more of You and to fear Your Holy Name! Give us understanding and open our eyes to see! You alone are worthy of all our praise!

Psalm 34:9 “Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!”

Proverbs 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.”

Acts 10:35 “But in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

Psalm 145:19 “He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.”

Breaking the Chains


Psalm 78:5b-8
“He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them. Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey His commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors, who were a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that was not committed and faithful to God.”

Day by day, year by year, link by link, mankind passes down one of two inheritances: blessing or curse, obedience or rebellion, faithful or unfaithful. Each link is added when one person in your line chooses, willingly or unknowingly, to be trapped by that familiar sin that former generations all bowed their knee to . . . or not.

Yielding to that generational sin or family pattern seems so natural – it is all around you – you scarcely recognize it, save the grace of God. We can feel compelled to stay stuck in the box around us, or ask God to help us recognize what it is that is impeding us. Chances are, most of us do not even see that we are still in chains of some sort!

But breaking free from those chains is difficult. It seems impossible – at least the deceiver tries to convince our souls of that. It is, in fact, hard. But not impossible. God chose Abraham because He was desiring godly offspring. (Genesis 18:19). Abraham was raised in a polytheistic home, worshiping many gods, but Abraham was the first to worship the one true God. Abraham had his faults, too, but God knew he would pass down a heritage of life and faithfulness to those who followed him.

So, who bears the responsibility for our chains? Parents can be diligent to remove former chains and impress God’s word into their children’s lives, but the children also must carry the torch and choose to walk in the freedom that God provides. We break the chains when we ask God to help us see our chains and then resist following the pattern. When we apply the word of God to our lives and purposefully raise our children to love and know God.

Chains form easily – we must be on the watch, for worldliness creeps in subtly. We each bear different chains – some were placed upon us by others and some we made all on our own – shame, guilt, sin, rejection, hurt, depression, inferiority, insecurity, pride, the list goes on. What is binding you today? Jesus not only paid for every link in those chains, He severed them and set us free! Walk in the liberty of Christ – lay down the chains at His feet and He will grant you the strength to rise victorious! He who the Son sets free is free indeed!

Lord, You came and paid the highest price to set us free, and yet we often remain chained and enslaved. Deliver us, God, and enable us to help deliver others, also! Thank you for loving us and setting us free!

The Plumb Line


2 Corinthians 10:12, 18
“For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. :18 “For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the LORD commends.”

Comparing ourselves to others, both those considered greater and lesser than ourselves, is at once folly and wisdom. If the purpose is to think better of ourselves by demeaning another, the end result is false pride. If the purpose is to be more like Christ and looking to be like what we value as excellent or praiseworthy, the result can be something beautiful.

Defining the standard in a relativistic age is the challenge. The plumb line, the only standard, is the Perfect One, Christ. When we compare ourselves to God alone, we see that we will always fall far short. What is the purpose of it, then? In humility we recognize our dependency on God and our need to keep growing in Christ. With the standard set before us at the highest level, it keeps us on the right path. Accepting a lower standard so it will be easier or more comfortable will bear fruit similar to what you are ascribing to. We dare not accept man’s own opinion of himself or accept a standard that God condemns.

In examination of myself, it is only God and His Word Who can illuminate my sinfulness. I cannot examine myself – I lack the objectiveness to do so. Another person also cannot correctly examine me – they might do so out of bias from what another person told them, by their own perception, or by actions they witnessed in me which might or might not be consistent with my character. But that does not mean that another person should not speak into our lives – we need one another. It just means that we should not solely take one man’s opinion, but should run that counsel through the filter of God’s word and additional counsel.

In the end, we have an accuser, actually several of them. Our enemy, the devil, our own flesh, and others who just plain don’t like us. But accusations do not have to destroy us or define us. We can choose to rise above them and place our focus off of ourselves. We can choose to not accuse others, too, but to pray for them. Now that would be a beautiful way to bring God glory and get the enemy running! God help us to do so.

Lord, You alone are the Perfect One. You alone are worthy of praise. Anything good in us is because of You, not us. Help us to seek Your opinion of us before all else. Help us to cease comparing to others and instead to saturate our minds in your truth and build one another up.

Would I Lie to You? (The deceitfulness of sin)


Hebrews 3:13
You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.

I was inducting my youngest son into the biblical symbolism in the movie “Lord of the Rings”, when suddenly he casually said, “Mom, why do they want the ring if it does that to them?” How wise beyond his years, and yet he did not fully comprehend his own question. What if we saw sin as it really was, undressed and not sensationalized? What if we knew the effects of cherishing something so vile? What if we recognized sin in our lives instead of rationalizing it away? But sin is deceitful.

The ring represents sin, which will destroy us unless we do so first. Frodo, the protagonist of the film was not able to destroy it, either. But God sovereignly used someone who intended evil (Gollum) for good and only He, God alone, could destroy sin and its power.

Sin tantalizes its victims with the hope of gaining power, and yet instead subdues and destroys the owner. Oh, but sin looks so attractive and is so often concealed. We do not recognize it in every day life and its destructive power. It is laced with frosting, while underneath is a deadly cake.

So how do we avoid falling victim to sin’s seduction? The Word of God and prayer. We are blind and cannot see, lest the Lord opens our eyes. The Word of God is a mirror and reveals our hearts, if we seek truth via an exegetical study versus an eisegetical approach. In another words, we cannot approach God’s word trying to make our ideas fit randomly into Scripture taken out of context.

We also need one another. As a mother, I see worldliness creeping into our churches and our homes. Giving in or doing nothing is doing something – permitting sin to weave its way into our hearts. We need to be accountable to one another in an age of intense social media and we have to take a stand against sin and be different in an day where sin is praised and bragged about. Talking about the temptations and being aware of them can be a great step toward being free from sin’s entrapment.

Lord, help us to be aware of sin in our lives and to surrender to you instead of the sin. Give us strength to persevere and abstain from that which destroys our soul.

Talk About It

talk about it

Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Proverbs 13:3 The one who guards his words guards his life, but whoever is talkative will come to ruin

Proverbs 21:23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.

Psalm 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lip

James 3:2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

Proverbs 15:23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply– and how good is a timely word!

Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

I awoke this morning with a strong sense – I need Him! Before I speak, before I move, I need Him to form my thoughts and words. Sometimes I forget what it was like to be unsaved and can get lulled into religiosity or the Christian culture. I can forget how important living every day, every moment, every breath in subjection to His will is. Even something as seemingly small as words.

We live in the information age and social media is booming. The written word has become increasingly more significant, but the word from our mouths in everyday life is still important.

The Bible has a lot to say about words. We are to be His mouthpiece . . . now that is humbling. I marvel at God’s patience with me and all mankind at how futile our thoughts, words and ways can be. Everything good that we have – wisdom, knowledge and possessions – He gave to us, but we can begin to think they are ours. This is further complicated by the evil that lingers and infiltrates our thoughts. If we do not recognize and reject haughty, selfish or envious thoughts as being evil, we become apathetic at guarding the gate over our mouth. We become blind to the significance of our words and can become a tool of the enemy, wielding words harmfully.

Words and thoughts fly out so fast it can be difficult to retrain them. But there is hope if I put no confidence in the flesh and cling to His words more than my own.
If I cry out to God and recognize my need for God to help me, therein lies victory. Not perfection, but something better – a life yielded to God in word and deed that will bear lasting fruit. How amazing to speak what God would have us to speak rather than words which penetrate the air for a moment with no lasting value?

Speak words that bring life today. Someone you encounter might really need to hear them.

Lord, as we go about this precious gift of life you have given, may we not utter idle words or words that could harm you or others around us. Help us to be aware of thoughts and words that displease you and to be gentle and kind, reflecting your glory in a world filled with so many words destroying hope.

His position, not ours

Position 7 23 14
2 Samuel 5:12
“David realized that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and that he had elevated his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.”

Striving to gain prestige or position is futile, especially if the Lord has not ordained it. Even when God has ordained a position for us, it is still in His timing. Of all the biblical characters, David is one I admire greatly. He knew God’s calling on His life, but He did not try to make it happen on his own, despite it taking over 20 years before he would reign over a unified Israel. Continually suffering and harassed by people who did not want him to take the position, David held firmly to what God had spoken to Him. What an example.

David was humble. He was surrendered to God and sought His will and direction for his life consistently. He recognized that he was only in the position of King because it was to serve others and for God’s glory. How often do we look to the talents of people, the favor they have or the efforts they put forth and claim that is what made people achieve their position? Or forget the purpose of our position?

And yet David was content whether he remained in that position or not. Chased later on by his own son, David did what he does best – cried out to God and did not whine or think he deserved anything. Sometimes God might even have us in a position for awhile and then remove us from it. Are we ok with that or do we want to hang onto our positions because they somehow define us, too?

Whatever position we find ourselves in – humble or high – may we today see that the position is not what it appears on the surface. God has a distinct plan for each of us – significant for eternity, if we will participate in His will.

Lord, help us to heed your will for our lives with joy and to trust you like a child – unswervingly hoping in you. All your plans are good, and I am so grateful to be serving You and others.

Reign in Me

JesusisLordBannerPsalm 97:1, 9-12
1 The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
9 For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
10 Let those who love the Lord hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light shines[a] on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.

It was a beautiful day, but I was exhausted. The alarm clock resounded loudly with music from a Christian radio station, and hesitatingly, I decided to listen. This would be the day of my salvation in July 1988. The feeling of being able to know the God of this universe personally has been unparalleled to any other emotion ever experienced in this world. Instantaneously, I threw out all my secular music and determined that I wanted to be wholly His.

Now 26 years later, I am still His and amazed at all He has brought me through. And yet I see within myself and so many a natural tendency to grow lukewarm. The Christian culture beckons to distract us from the simple beauty of a genuine faith. Cliques can be found in our churches, and we can forget the mission we have been called to and what we have been saved from.

But quietly the Holy Spirit whispers the secret to staying on mission – found in remembering our initial moment of salvation. Desperate and condemned in our sins, when our eyes were opened, we saw our need for a Savior AND a Lord. We could not just ask for salvation without recognizing Him as our Lord. Every knee will bow, and yet what does that Lordship mean in our lives?

Lordship – it is a refreshing peace at knowing He has all of our circumstances in His hands. His promises are for those who love Him and are obedient to Him. Who wouldn’t want those promises? Surrendering our will to His reign requires a death to self, and few are willing to suffer that death – yet on the other side of that death is abundant life!

So today, wherever you are in your decision whether to accept Christ or not, or perhaps years in your walk with Him, but needing a gentle stirring in your heart, I want to share a song I wrote in 2006 called, “Reign in Me”. You can download it for free at: Just click Redeem on my page and type in this code: ReigninMeDenisePass

God bless and let Him reign in you today – He can accomplish amazing things through you!

My Delight is in Her

deights in

Isaiah 62:4
“You will no longer be called, “Abandoned,” and your land will no longer be called “Desolate.” Indeed, you will be called, “My delight is in her,” and your land “married.” For the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married to him. 12 They will be called, “The Holy People, the Ones Protected by the LORD.” You will be called, “Sought After, City Not Abandoned.”

A little girl dancing in a ballerina outfit with her Daddy’s praise spurring her on . . . a young woman glowing as her father’s eyes beam with pride at her dressed in a wedding gown . . . a wife blushing at her husband’s praise . . . all moments that evoke the feeling of being delighted in.

When is the last time you have felt delighted in? Oftentimes we take one another for granted and forget what gifts each one of us are to one another and to God. The word, “Hepzibah” which God is calling Israel, literally means my delight is in her. Unconditional acceptance, cherished, favored. I believe we often feel the opposite – unaccepted, not good enough or rejected. But that is not what God’s Word says.

Difficult times can make you feel insignificant and forgotten, like you will never see the goodness of God in the land of the living. But God desires to lift us up out of that place, for His glory, and redeem what was lost. Today He proclaims His favor and chooses to lavish His love on you – if You have accepted His free gift of salvation. We love one another imperfectly, but God’s love is perfect and eternal. I am in awe of God, Who would choose a people and then graft in others who were not a part of the original promise and delight in them. What a wonderful heritage and blessing that is.

You, my friend, are delighted in! Bask in that truth and choose not to stray from it. He’s not through with you yet. Amen.

Thank You, God, that you never give up on us – You will complete the work you have begun in us. You do not delight in our stagnation or destruction, but in restoring us. You are good – all the time! Love you, Lord!

The Poor Among You


Psalm 72:13-14
“He will take pity on the poor and needy; the lives of the needy he will save. From harm and violence he will defend them; he will VALUE their LIVES.”

My heart is gripped whenever I am driving downtown and see, yet again, a lonesome figure standing on a corner, pleading for help. I know what it is to lose my home, to seemingly lose everything. The compassion for these people who have stories of their own washes over me. At the same time, I struggle with how to help them and wonder what got them there and if helping them monetarily will really be a blessing.

This Psalm written by David to his Son, Solomon, speaks of the rule of Solomon, and is a foreshadowing of what the Messiah’s reign will be like, as well. I am struck by the last words in verse 14 which speaks of valuing their lives. In a culture where abortions are on demand, girls are sold into the sex trade, and the sick or handicapped are viewed sometimes as less, we have forgotten that each human being is valued. From an elderly person sick in a hospital bed to a baby in the womb or a homeless individual on the street, each one is precious in God’s sight and of significant value: God died and gave His own blood for each one.

Identifying the need can be problematic. A sign held by weary hands might specify that money or food is the need, but the root of the problem is not so easy to solve. I want to help in a way that is lasting. Instead, I often do nothing – unsure how my contribution can make a lasting impact. Sure, I have made lunches and handed them out to complete strangers, given cash away to people in need, but I want to responsibly give, and not just out of guilt.

While helping the poor among us is a command, it can be complex in a day and age like this. Recently, however, I believe the Lord finally showed me a way I can do this responsibly. A friend had handy gift cards in her purse, ready to help someone she saw in need. She said that CVS and Walgreen’s do not permit gift cards to be used to buy alcohol or cigarettes. Wow – this was such a blessing for me to witness. Then the Lord gave me an idea – the poor and the rich have the same poverty – a poverty of soul. To merely feed someone for a meal would not last through the day, but to provide physical and spiritual provision might have a lasting impact for eternity.

So now I carry a couple of gift cards, $5 each, with a Scripture and a note in an envelope. I do not usually blog about topics like this, but felt that this idea could impact a population if many people set out to do it. We will always have the poor among us – may we be the hands and feet of Christ and not grow weary in well doing. Who knows? Some soul wandering the streets might be on their last day, trying to find a reason to hope. Let’s be that light and keep our hearts tender for each precious life God has pass our way.

Lord, please help us to not grow apathetic. So many people are wounded and losing hope. Make yourself real through your people. Heal our land and be glorified in all we do – may it be an offering to you!

I Must Be Dreaming

I Must Be Dreaming
By: Denise Pass © 7/9/14

reflecting on a pond - possible seeing deep

Psalm 71:20-24
:20 Though You have allowed me to experience much trouble and distress, revive me once again! Bring me up once again from the depths of the earth! 21 Raise me to a position of great honor! Turn and comfort me! 22 I will express my thanks to you with a stringed instrument, praising your faithfulness, O my God! I will sing praises to you accompanied by a harp, O Holy One of Israel! 23 My lips will shout for joy! Yes, I will sing your praises! I will praise you when You rescue me! 24 All day long my tongue will also tell about your justice, for those who want to harm me will be embarrassed and ashamed.”

Dreaming. Something I seldom do anymore – or at least I am unaware of it if I do. But that is to speak of the dreaming that occurs when one is sleeping – not the dreaming that occurs on purpose in real life. I have always admired the planners in this life – you know, the people who declared their major before they went to school – the ones who seem to have their whole lives planned out for them, without a hitch. The ones with a bucket list a mile long and half accomplished by age twenty-something.

I have tried to refrain from admitting it, but I am the artsy type – many think I am actually quite organized (chuckle), but truly I hang on the edge of every day, wondering what surprises it will bring. Sure, there are great attempts at using my ©Franklin planner and really trying to stick to it, but alas, consistency is hard to adhere to when one is just trying to accomplish the basics of their day, much less find their planner. There, I did it – the secret is now out – all those people who envied me for being organized, I have confessed it! Envy me no more!

Back in the days when I used to dream, in the year my world was rocked, the Lord was doing amazing things in the music He had inspired. Radio play in eleven states, first place in a Christian Contemporary category on an internationally televised show, an offer to be on a national compilation CD … things were coming together. Then disaster struck and none of that mattered anymore. I just wanted to hold my children in my arms and make all the pain go away.

Prolonging out the pain and process, my relentless enemy who used to be my friend dragged me incessantly to court claiming rights through the damage he had done. How would God use such a tragedy? Did He care that I was way off the goals I had formerly been pursuing? Was the original prophecy that had been spoken concerning the gifts He had placed in me no longer of any effect? It was the death of a dream, actually the death of many dreams and plans. The perfect marriage, the perfect family, a vibrant ministry. Dead.

But what was the original dream? Set ablaze with a passion for God in 1988, I wanted to be used by God for His glory, to share His love with anyone who God allowed to cross my path. I dreamed of doing mission work, of singing for His glory, to be more like Christ, to be faithful. When hands were laid on me professing that I would be singing and playing keyboard on stage and I was a Euphonium player at the time, I laughed. But has that dream been accomplished? Yes. The scope of that dream belongs to God – I just need to be open to how small or vast His purposes are in that gift, because it is, after all, all about Him and His dream.

Music has been the healing balm of my life, and yet it became difficult to write songs in the wake of tragedy. I continued to serve on worship teams, worshipping God through the pain and waiting. Functioning on a somewhat normal level seemed insurmountable. One foot in front of the other, one breath at a time, scrambling to put the pieces back together. But maybe God was going to create something completely different with the pieces this time.

One day a year or so after the abuse was discovered, I remember teaching my children and one of my daughters said to me, “you are Ai Wei Dei”. Puzzled, she reminded me of the story of Gladys Aylward that we had read together. She was saying I was a virtuous woman. Overcome by such praise, I realized in that moment that I had been doing exactly what God had me to do. Gladys Aylward rescued innocent children in China. I did not do anything as amazing as that, but I lived in a town called Bumpass (yep, true!) where God was using me to rescue my own children, and that was of far greater worth than what my former dream could have ever been.

Life will never be normal again (whatever that is?) and I am still the artsy one trying to figure out God’s calling on my life. I have heard that God is in the ordinary things of life – that is our Holy calling. So for now, I am laying it all down before the Creator Who gave it all to begin with and asking afresh for Him to do as He pleases. A scary thing when some things that have transpired seemed to be off course and not what He would will, but actually the safest place to be.

So here is to dreaming again – though this time it might look quite different. Whether my dreams are being an amazing wife to my fantastic husband of almost four years, being a faithful mom who never tires of discipling and loving her children, writing songs for God, writing this blog, stepping out and ministering through Word and song again, or some perceived mundane thing, or wherever His path leads, it is all about Him and His glory. Creating space to dream again – are you?

Lord, thank you that an end is not the end. You are never surprised by the sudden changes wrought by sin or consequences of living in a fallen world. You use that hideous thing for good and to somehow bring You glory – the original purpose anyway. Help us to dream again – to believe You can do the impossible and be willing to walk faithfully with you even when it seems our dreams are not coming true. They are Your dreams, after all. Praise Your Name!