Skip Navigation

Jonathan Winn

The engine light.  Its presence, when lit up on the dashboard of my car, almost instantly causes my stomach to churn and my blood pressure to rise.  When that light goes on nine times out of ten it’s a problem, and that problem means time, money, and hassle.  I want so badly to ignore it, to pretend it will just go away on its own, but it’s only a matter of time before my wife or children see it and ask, “What are you going to do about it?”

Keeping our vehicles in good shape is a necessity.  They are expensive, and they are necessary in our busy lives that require us to travel several miles every day.  A broken-down vehicle places us in an interesting dilemma- we may not be able to afford to fix it, but we also can’t afford to live without it!

Proper maintenance of a vehicle requires discernment in recognizing the signs of an internal problem.  Generally speaking, there are three ways we know there’s a problem.  First, we might see the problem, as in noticing the engine or other dashboard warning light come on.  We might see smoke coming from the hood, or a flat tire.  Second, we might hear something.  It might be a rattling noise when driving, or a squeal when starting the engine.  Third, we might feel something. We start feeling more bumps or shaking while driving and wonder about the suspension or shocks.

Being vigilant about the condition of our vehicle is important, but how much more infinitely important is vigilance over the condition of our souls?  If the stakes are high for ignoring the warning signs of a problem with a vehicle which will inevitably be replaced, how much infinitely higher are the stakes for ignoring the warning signs of a problem with our souls?

This brings us to the relevance of our theme at Oak Grove for the 22-23 school year: “Keep your Heart with all Vigilance.”  This theme comes from Proverbs 4:23, and the full verse provides further clarity: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  The word “heart” here translated from the original Hebrew word לֵב (pronounced like “lave”) refers to the inner man, the soul, the seat of appetites, emotions, passions, the will, the character.  Clearly, it is the source, the fountainhead, from which everything about who we are and what we do, flows.

The Lord Jesus Christ expands on this insight when speaking to his audience about discerning who is a true servant of God:

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:33-34, ESV)

Jesus uses the metaphor of the produce from a fruit tree to explain how to recognize the condition of the heart.  Like a tree, you can discern the condition and health of a heart by the quality of what it produces.

Circling back to the vehicle metaphor, I believe that in Jesus’ teachings and throughout Scripture we are given clues for discerning the heart (the condition of our souls) from what we see (our actions), what we hear (our words), and what we feel (our emotions).

For the next three articles, we will take some time to carefully consider each of these clues.  Certainly, we cannot afford to ignore these indicators for the condition of our hearts.  There’s much more at stake than a broken car- there’s an eternal soul.

Jonathan Winn

“Who is God?”  “What is God like?” Have you ever been asked this question by your child?  How about a friend or acquaintance? How would you answer it?  Consider, this is probably the most loaded question anyone could ever ask!  Indeed, how you answer this question reveals the foundation for how you would answer (and see) everything else. Pastor and theologian AW Tozer put it this way: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. ... the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.”

People will answer the question, “Who is God?” in a variety of ways.  For example, some envision God as a vindictive judge, while others see Him as a jolly grandpa or Santa Claus figure.  Sadly, many who perceive God in this way are merely grasping at straws, basing their definitions on their subjective ideas, experiences, or the opinions of others.  How dangerous it is to be fickle or uncertain in answering this most important question of life! To answer such weighty questions, we must not begin with subjective opinions, but with the most objective and authoritative source possible.  In this case, it would be God’s revelation of Himself- in the Bible.

Now, as we ponder our theme: “The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom” we are led to another important question about God- “What does it mean to ‘fear the Lord’?”  As with defining who God is, before one just starts asking for opinions on this, we must start with the most authoritative source, the Bible.  Therefore, is this concept “the fear of the Lord” defined, or illustrated, in the Bible?  Let’s see.

The exact phrase “the fear of the Lord” comes up dozens of times in the Bible, but the concept of fearing God hundreds of times.  For the sake of clarity, we will look primarily at where the specific wording can be found and see if we can derive a definition grounded in Scripture.

Hatred of Evil

Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”  This is a straightforward definition.  The person who fears the Lord despises what God despises- evil, pride, arrogance, perverted speech, etc.  If you tolerate or handle sin casually, you don’t fear the Lord.

Humility and Softness of Heart

Proverbs 28:14: “Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” Proverbs 22:4 “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.” Again, this is very clear and straightforward- the one who fears the Lord has a high view of God and a lower, subservient view of self.  Fearing God is contrasted with having a hardened or proud heart.  It should be noted that Biblical humility doesn’t mean a debased, inferior view of self in comparison to others, but in comparison to God.  We will revisit this critical virtue of humility in a later post.

Expressed by Obedience

Deuteronomy 10:12-13: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?”  Psalm 112:1: “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!” One who fears the Lord demonstrates reverence for His word and thus His commands.  This person holds God’s words and instructions in high esteem, and their life reflects it in obedient action.

Expressed in Love and Enjoyment of God

Nehemiah 1:11: “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who delight to fear Your name.” 1 John 4:18: “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because He first loved us.” Those who know the Lord realize that He is good and full of lovingkindness.  The practice of reverencing Him leads to delight, for one then beholds the goodness and love of God.

Having said all of this, one may still ask, “Why use the word, ‘fear’?  Why not say the ‘love’ of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom?” Many have contemplated this, and I would venture to say that the ‘fear,’ not ‘love,’ of God is the necessary starting point for grasping more completely who He is.  To understand the enormity of God’s love and goodness, we first need to see those qualities in light of His holiness, and our sin.  Paul put it this way in Romans 5:8: “but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God’s love is most manifested, and thus celebrated, in light of His sacrifice for undeserving sinners.

In conclusion and to further illustrate this point, I invite you to contemplate this helpful illustration from Pastor John Piper:

“I picture myself climbing in the mountains, say the Himalayas. And I’m on these massive rock faces, and I see a storm coming. It is going to be a massive storm, and I feel unbelievably vulnerable on these mountain precipices. And so, I am desperately looking for a little covert in the rock where I won’t be blown off the side of the cliff to destruction. And I find a hole in the side of the mountain, and I spin quickly, and suddenly the holiness, and justice, and power, and wrath, and judgment of God breaks over me like a hurricane, but I know I am totally safe, which means all that horrible danger is transposed into the music of majesty, and I can enjoy it rather than fearing it. And I think that is what the cross is. Jesus died for us to provide a place where we could enjoy the majesty of God with a kind of fear and trembling and reverence and awe, but not a cowering fear.”

In summary, the ‘fear of the Lord’ is cultivated in one’s life to the degree that they behold the awesome splendor of God’s holiness and power, followed by the magnitude of His love and grace, revealed most clearly in the saving work of Jesus Christ.

In the next article, we will see how this understanding of God lays the foundation for all learning and wisdom.

Archived Posts



June 05, 2023
By Headmaster Jonathan Winn

Jonathan Winn

JUN 21, 2020

This is an important question, profoundly important in fact. When you read the title, a variety of memories or feelings come to the surface. It may be a conversation with your child from this morning, a frustration you have expressed when watching the news, or working through an issue at work. However, our answer to this question is fundamental to how we approach EVERYTHING in life. Why do I say this?

During our Whole School Morning Meeting last week, I shared a quote from A.W. Tozer: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Contemplate that for a minute. Now, think back to the account of the Fall of Mankind in the Garden, Genesis 3. Note how Satan works to deceive Eve- he first puts into question God’s goodness, then directly challenges God’s authority. Interestingly, his strategy hasn’t changed from that first temptation until now. The temptation to sin was, and is, in essence, a question of who’s in charge. Our sinful nature will wage war in our hearts and minds against any notion of the answer being the God of the Bible (other gods are much more easily manipulated…). You should not be surprised to see this in your child, but also not in your heart as an adult. One of the primary roles that God has given parents is to teach children about submitting to authority. Of course, this is also why we must be very, very careful about the example we are setting as their authority- that of a servant leader, not a self-serving one. In the classical education philosophy, this virtue of submission and respect is also emphasized. Why? Because wise men and women over the centuries have identified this universal need to actively cultivate a heart of obedience and submission in children, especially in light of the vices that surface in its absence. Sadly, as our current society turns away from its Judeo-Christian roots, our basis for the importance and role of authority is also eroding…and the effects of this are devastating in every institution from the home to government.

For myself, I must consider how this principle comes into play in how I submit to the authorities God has placed over me. I think of our government, law enforcement, and the Board of Directors at Oak Grove. Even more to the point of application, what are my children learning about submission through my example? I will resist the temptation to write much more on the topic of application here. Rather, I want to encourage us all to contemplate this fundamental question and consider what our heart’s responses tell us about our view of God, and how it is impacting the discipleship of our children.

Finally, I have had some families from time to time ask about the Board at Oak Grove and how it functions. Since we are on the topic of authority, I thought I would go ahead and include this.

What is the purpose of the OGCA Board of Directors?

The School Board is composed of members who care deeply for the School Mission and Vision. By application, Board members serve the school and community by ensuring that the Vision and Mission of the school remains central and vibrant. Additionally, the Board provides strategic counsel and oversight for their sole employee, the Headmaster, so that he/she is fully equipped to carry out the responsibilities of leadership. New Board members are chosen by the current Board and serve on a voluntary basis for 2-year terms after a careful vetting process to determine alignment with school Mission and Vision as well as spiritual maturity. As in any organization, Board members only function as a Board when acting collectively. Members hold no school authority when acting as individuals.

Who is serving on the current Board of Directors?

The Board went through a transition period during the 2018-2019 school year, as terms expired and three couples decided to step off the board at the end of their terms. The current board members and officers are:

Miles Shiver (President)

Angela Shiver (Vice President)

Jay Rush (Treasurer)

Leah Rush

Kurt Sorenson

Dani Sorenson

Over the past few years, the board has worked to refine their on-boarding process for potential members, and is always on the lookout for individuals with a strong heart for the Lord, who are actively serving the school in various ways to consider as candidates for future board service. The Board is so grateful that after completing their application, interview, and 6-month candidacy period, Kurt and Dani Sorenson have agreed to serve for a two-year term which began on July 1. The Board is also in the interview process with another couple, and aim to maintain between 8 and 11 members at any given time.

When does the Board meet?

The Board meets once per month, together with the Headmaster, to discuss budget, projections, and look ahead at future plans for Oak Grove. They spend much time each meeting in prayer for the school, its Administration, Staff and students. They also hold one or two strategic planning sessions per year. This time is dedicated specifically to looking at the long-term plans and goals for the school, and discussing strategies with the Headmaster to move toward those goals. The last spring planning retreat was held in April 2019. Also, members serve on committees which meet at various times during the month.

The Board wants to extend a sincere welcome to all new families, and a welcome back to all returning families. They look forward to an amazing 2019-2020, and to serving the Lord and the families of Oak Grove in this unique way as Board members