Category Archives: Announcements

Worship Begins Soon!

We’ll start live streaming worship in less than an hour. I’m excited about today’s service and the opportunity to join the gathered congregation (both physically and virtually) in worshipping the great “I AM WHO I WILL BE.” The sermon text is Exodus 3:1-15 and the focus is on stepping back from the things that stress us in order to encounter God and then get back into the fray.

Below are a few links that may come in handy.

To watch: https://abilenefirstumc.org/live/

To follow along in the bulletin: https://abilenefirstumc.org/bulletin/

To make a financial gift: https://abilenefirstumc.org/giving/

What Does It Mean to Fear God?

Listening to the Ask N. T. Wright Anything podcast I heard a question that I have often tried to answer as a pastor. That question is “What does it mean to fear God?” My answers haven’t been wrong, but I like N.T Wright’s answer better, so I’m going to share it here. Please note that this has a very off-the-cuff, conversational tone because I transcribed it from the Podcast. Here’s Wright’s answer: 

“Our English word fear can slide too and fro … there is a fear that is a panicky fear … and some people think that’s what fearing God is supposed to mean. And then they say how can that co-exist with love. And the answer is no. In the Hebrew, which the Greek is struggling to retain there, [fear] means reverence, [fear] means awe. It’s the kind of awe that you feel when you walk into one of the most great, lovely buildings like a huge cathedral and you have the sense of ‘I ought to mind my p’s and q’s when I’m in here.’ And yet it’s beautiful, you want to be there, and yet you have a sense that you need to talk in hushed tones and be careful what you do because this place matters. … that’s the kind of sense I think fear means, that when we think of being in God’s presence, wow, we need to take this very seriously.” — N. T. Wright [1]


[1] N. T. Wright, “Ask NT Wright Anything #38: Lockdown Livestream,” Premier Christian Radio, accessed August 28, 2020, https://bit.ly/32BXPJ9.

Voices: Fearing the God of Love

When we say that God is Love, do we teach men that their fear of Him is groundless? No. As much as they fear will come upon them, possibly far more . . . The wrath will consume what they call themselves; so that the selves God made shall appear. — George MacDonald [1]

My understanding of this is not that God seeks to harm us, but that God seeks to make us holy. Insofar was we are fond of our vices and impurities we have reason to fear God. This is because the fire of God’s love will burn away our imperfections and refine us into the people God created us to be.


[1] George MacDonald, as quoted in C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald: an Anthology (London: Geoffrey Bles: The Centenary Press, 1946), Kindle.

There seems to be some disagreement about whether it’s “MacDonald” or “Macdonald.” I’ve gone with the version that I think will elicit fewer corrections.