Unfathomable Holiness

How do you relate to God? How would you classify your relationship with the Creator of the Universe, the Author of Eternity?

My wife Mandy and I were on a long road trip recently, which gave us a great opportunity for long, deep discussions. One of the questions she asked on our most recent trip was related to a guy’s view of our relationship with God. She was telling me that as she considers her relationship with Christ, she most often relates to the idea of the church being the Bride of Christ: Christ loving the church as a husband. So Mandy’s question to me was, “How do GUYS view their relationships with God? How do they relate to the idea of being a bride?”
It challenged me to articulate how I most often characterize my relationship with God. Do I view Him as a father? A friend?
Some of my favorite sections of the Bible are found in the Old Testament. Every time I read through those books, I’m astonished by how many times, in dramatic fashion, God would show up to deliver the Israelites through nothing short of a miracle… and then how quickly they subsequently forgot. I’m always struck by God using the phrase, “and then they will know that I Am the Lord.” I struggle to escape the mightiness and holiness of our God. I think too often we try to limit our understanding of God into what we can comprehend as humans, and we completely lose the awesomeness and unfathomable nature of His

holiness. “Then they will know I am the Lord.” God told Lot and his family, don’t turn around and look back at Sodom, or you’ll turn into a pillar of salt. God sent devastating plagues to Egypt, parted the Red Sea, and had manna fall from the sky. He would only let Moses see him AFTER he passed by the mountain, because his glory is too much to behold. The Levites were prohibited from touching certain items in the tabernacle, or they would DIE. Leviticus and Numbers are filled with commands of the amazingly large sacrifices that He demands, and the overwhelming details in types and number of animals, fragrances and even the manner in which they were killed for sacrifice. 

If you read through the books of the Old Testament—and allow your imagination to take you through the text—it’s easy to see an incomparable grandeur in the works the Lord displayed to not only show His glory, but to show how much He loved His people. As I absorb the descriptions of His glory that we’re given in the Old Testament, and then reiterated in Revelation, I don’t think we can even begin to comprehend what’s in store for us.
It leads me to a unique captivation with God’s holiness. It makes me want to avoid trying to put “what God must be like” into any human terms, because I (maybe we) end up limiting God to some kind of super-hero. I don’t have, nor do I want to try to have, the ability to comprehend REALLY what it means for Him to be omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. And at the same time, through His unfathomable holiness and glory, He loves us to the point of sending His son to reconcile us, so that we may enjoy and be a part of His glory, forever.
So how do you view God? Allow me to encourage you, if you haven’t recently, to read through some of the text of the Old Testament. Allow your imagination to experience Elijah as he was performing miraculous works to reveal God’s glory. Allow yourself to imagine living in Egypt as the plagues of locusts, or darkness, or frogs, or blood, came to destroy. Put yourself in Ezekiel’s shoes as He hears God say, “and then they will know I am the Lord….”  Become captivated by His unfathomable Holiness.

APP Review: Restrictions

We got great feedback from our first app review in the inaugural edition of Ascent on the built-in feature of iOS called “Do Not Disturb”—which you can set automatically, or manually, to ensure that you don’t receive any chirps, dings, bells, whistles or buzzes during times that you’re wanting to focus on your family. 

Another fantastic built-in option on the iPhone is “Restrictions.” We’ve got four boys, and we fall to the fascist side of using technology in the house. (By the way, did you know that Steve Jobs didn’t allow his kids to play on the iPad?) Right now there’s only one boy that has an iPhone, but it doesn’t have cell service, which basically makes it an iPod Touch. A great feature to help protect your kids is called “Restrictions.”  You’ll find restrictions in your settings menu under the “general” tab. Once activated, you can do things like remove Safari, restrict the purchase or download of apps, control the usage of FaceTime, set content ratings for games, songs, movies and so much more. By entering a passcode, it allows you, the parent, to set some boundaries on their devices. We’ve found it to be tremendously effective in the Sears house.

APP Review: Do Not Disturb

As one of our resident tech nerds here at OMPC, I’m always asked about gadgets and apps, computers and TVs, software, hardware–you name it, I’ve probably at least stumbled across it. I’d like to recommend one of my newest favorite apps, and you can find it for free, already on your iPhone, as long as you’ve updated to iOS 7. It’s called Do Not Disturb. It has ended up being one of my favorite apps, and just the tool that you may need to build a little margin into your life. Set it to automatically switch your phone off at night, so you can focus on putting the kids to bed, unwinding with your spouse or just enjoying some silence. Fellas–out on a date with your wife? Can’t bear to leave your phone at home or in the car? Swipe that thumb up from the bottom of the home screen and manually switch on Do Not Disturb for a distraction free time at dinner! You can even customize it to allow phone calls, but no other notifications. Definitely one of the most useful apps for the Sears household.

Where else are you worshipping?

I’ve got a good friend who, when he preaches, usually includes a prayer that asks for us to have service of worship as opposed to worship services. It sounds like semantics, but there’s a unique beauty in the distinction. It’s so easy for us to think of worship as something we go “do” on Sunday morning. But as we look for the new Heaven on Earth, our reality can become more and more that LIFE is worship, and that we are serving as an act of worship. 

I’m often asked what my favorite part of being a worship leader is. Sunday mornings are great, and I love worshiping alongside the people who make up this beautiful body of believers, but one of my favorite times every week is our Wednesday night rehearsal process. Why? Because it’s a time of watching real transformation in people’s lives by the Holy Spirit through community, fellowship and music. It’s a service of worship. The beauty of a ministry that involves so many creative folks is that we are able to come together as a body of believers who want to create and experience together.
The process of rehearsing for Sunday mornings or for seasonal services becomes so much more than practicing notes on a page—it’s watching the Holy Spirit compel folks who daily battle lies from the enemy who wants to keep them on the sidelines. It’s experiencing true connection with one another as we put away technology, speak face-to-face, laugh, cry and sometimes sing. It’s worshipping as we rejoice and celebrate in the stories of transformation—like the vocalist who was told in high school that she should never sing or the one that has always felt like she needs to keep her tone at a whisper level so no one else can hear. It’s the drummer who was always told he was too loud or the band member who has always thought he wasn’t good enough. The vocalist that battles feeling unworthy to even begin to sing… But over the course of being in the midst of a group that can understand, I get to watch these same artists push back the lies and step into the gifts that God has called them to use. I get to see these step up and into the reality that we are ALL called to participate. The vocalist that’s been bullied for years steps up to the microphone to sing, by herself, to lead God’s people to His beauty. It’s service of worship.
One of my absolute favorite things to do is ask Jack Swaim to come up with a lead line on his guitar during the interlude of a song. (The interlude is the music in between verses). As Eric says in Chariots of Fire, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure,” the same goes when I get to listen to Jack play his guitar. When he plays, I sense God’s pleasure. His playing leads me to worship. He approaches his gift with a humble spirit of wanting to bring a gift. There’s no pretense and there’s no desire to be in the spotlight, but Jack is a man that has been transformed by the Holy Spirit and called to use his gifts for God’s glory. He’s motivated only by wanting to contribute to leading others in worship. It’s beautiful. It’s service of worship.

How is God calling you to step into your everyday life and create service of worship? Where are you finding times and ways to experience His glory outside of “going to church”?  Are you sitting on the sidelines because you’ve been battling lies for years, believing that you can’t sing, shouldn’t sing, shouldn’t play, don’t have a gift to bring? 

Come find connection with others who battle the same way you do. Join us as we prepare, not for the next worship service, but prepare because it’s a service of worship.