February 9, 2018 laurelglenbible

Let all the earth fear the Lord;

    let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

Psalm 33:8

 

Several years ago, my family went on a trip to Alaska, and I will never forget it. In particular, I remember taking the scenic train ride in Skagway and just being totally engrossed in the scene unfolding outside my window.

I peered into the lush green forests – the shrub-carpeted forest floor melted into darkness beneath the shade of towering pines, my imagination turning shadows to images of large, lumbering bears feasting on wild berries. We passed rushing mountain streams of the purest snowmelt water, at times cascading down rocks in beautiful waterfalls, roaring through stony gorges, and spilling into crystal clear pools lush with life. As we rounded corners and passed through tunnels, majestic mountains rose up over the horizon, their shimmering crowns of ice and snow seeming to almost pierce the sky. I did not want to blink for fear of missing a single second of the beauty before me. I was totally in awe.

That feeling of awe should be our natural response to God’s Word. It is an image of something far more incredible than we can imagine. If we’re honest, it is an experience that is tragically absent from most of our daily walks.

I had friends who used to live in Hawaii. When they moved there, it was awesome. There were beautiful hikes and scenery everywhere, there were so many opportunities to be outside and be active, and the people were warm and welcoming. However, over time it started to lose its luster. The weather was never cool, home was always a long and expensive plane ride away, friends weren’t easy to keep in touch with, and the cost of living was a continual stress on their lives. Ultimately, they ended up moving back home to California.

We can be the same way with our walk. We come to Christ, and life is amazing and awesome and wonderful. Then the daily grind begins to draw us further and further away from that awesome, weightless feeling of being redeemed. Our heads that once looked up in wonder at God and His majesty slowly start to droop toward the ground, toward our earthly troubles and menial tasks.

What a shame. What a travesty! Has God stopped being good? Are His promises any less true? Are we any less heirs to an inheritance of eternal glory? Absolutely not! So why then are we continually sucked back into our sentiments of self-pity, of busyness, and day-to-day drama?

As Christians, we are to defy gravity. Gravity is the invisible attraction that pulls substance downward toward earth. We must admit that our human nature has a similar force that draws us inward and downward to the things of this world. Even non-believers prefer to anesthetize themselves with entertainment, with drama, with worldly distractions to prevent themselves from facing the problem of their own mortality or higher existential dilemmas.

Gravity really isn’t anything exciting most of the time. We hardly even consider its existence. It’s just a constant drain that pulls on us day after day after day. Every day we get out of bed, it gets a little bit harder. It slowly gives us bags under our eyes, stretches out our skin, and gives us new aches and pains in just the tiniest, almost imperceptible increments every day. We begin to grumble, to complain, and to succumb to bitterness.

How can we overcome it? How do we recapture that sense of awe and wonder? Through discipline.

It takes work to be a Christian. Just to be clear – it doesn’t take work to be saved. The saving power of Jesus Christ is a free gift we receive by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, 2 Peter 2:5 tells us we should be making every effort to add to our faith with all the godly marks of character befitting a child of God. The fuel that fires this desire to strive to be more and more like Jesus Christ is awe of God!

This year, LBC is calling everyone to join in an exercise called “7 Awe-Full Weeks.” This is a challenge for new and mature Christians alike to grow in your spiritual disciplines. Committing to 7 Awe-Full weeks means you agree to:

  1. Read your Bible daily
  2. Pray for 7 continuous minutes a day
  3. Listen to worship music exclusively
  4. Lead family devotion at least once a week
  5. Go to church and attend a small group
  6. Give your time, money, and self
  7. Post on social media once a week how you’re in awe of God!

Our hope is that those who have not yet honed their spiritual disciplines can see what a tremendous boon they are to your spiritual walk and how they cultivate a hunger to be more and more invested in your faith. For those that maybe already do some or all these things, it’s a great opportunity to walk alongside other church members and help guide, encourage, and build them up. We’re a family, and we walk in these things together.

Our desire is that this challenge wouldn’t be a temporary activity but would be the foundation for a lifetime of growth. One of my personal heroes, former missionary and author Don McCurry, attributes much to his reading the Bible every morning for two hours. At age 90, he’s still actively involved in ministry traveling the world, his memory is easily sharper than mine, and his love of God’s Word is inspiring. I have met or heard of others who have the same passion for family devotion, prayer, and worship.

We often idealize beauty as those who are young and least touched by the effects of gravity. For me, some of the most beautiful people I have met are those we would consider “over the hill” who have invested a lifetime in growing closer to God. These are the sorts of men and women who are pillars to the church, investing in the discipling of several generations of believers.

These next 7 weeks, we will continue to publish articles to help you practice and improve on these 7 things. I would encourage you to make every effort to complete the challenge, but if you end up missing a day or two, show yourself some grace and just start afresh the next day. Likewise, if you feel like doing more, don’t let us stop you! I just ask that you don’t give up.

You can find the 7 Awe-Full Weeks bookmark at church with the reading schedule and memory vers; if you haven’t received one already, a church staff member can help you get one. We also have commitment cards you can fill out and turn in. If you need to join a life group, email Josh White (josh@laurelglen.org) to get information on groups in progress that you can join.

I am so excited to see how God will use these 7 weeks to transform us into a people who are truly filled with awe!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2