Sunday, February 19, 2012

Worshipping an Awesome God

One of the things that I appreciate most about my church is the time of worship. Not all Christian churches do this, but in ours, after (and sometimes during) the time of singing there is a time when everyone is encouraged to vocally praise God. It’s a time when I can speak out the things that I am so very grateful that God does, or just spend time listing some of the things God is as I reflect on those very things.

The fact is that I’ve come to love the act of praising God and find it a very powerful experience to be in a room full of people who are doing the same thing.

I didn’t always appreciate who God was. I used to view Him differently. The God I grew up with was in reality a man who had progressed to a much higher level than I had: a PhD so to speak when I was in, and lived among Kindergartners. His accomplishments were something I could achieve, although it’d take a lot of hard work and dedication to come close.

The Bible however, and God’s chosen people, saw God as something more: someone who was so amazing and so great that even to speak His name, or to spell it out in a way that we’d recognize it was to possibly blaspheme it. That’s why, in Hebrew Scripture we have a tetragram for the most sacred name of God: a series of consonants that we’re not sure exactly even how to pronounce. It’s also why those scribes who copied the Sacred Writings had to wash themselves and change their clothing every single time they inscribed those four sacred letters.

This God that they worshipped caused people to prostrate themselves in times of worship: not to just lift their hands in worship, like we do today, but also to fall fully down with their face pressed to the floor in worship.

The ancient Hebrews knew for instance that God was the Creator of the Universe. Because they understood this fact, and lived so closely to creation, they knew something of the immense force that had to be exerted to do that, and yet they knew too, that God—their God and my God, merely spoke and the world came into existence. He created the matter, and even though they didn’t understand atomic theory they instinctively knew that He created even the atoms and the very subatomic particles that held all of creation together. The God they worshipped had immense power, unlimited power, power beyond anything a man could ever imagine having.

It’s why I appreciate the time of worship our pastor gives us. You see it’s a time where, as a church, we can together appreciate the super, amazing, awe-inspiring power that is God. As we do that too, we see how that Power can and will be applied in my life. After all, the Power that created the universe can certainly take on my biggest problem, not to mention that of the lady in front of me who is hurting financially after her husband left her for another woman, or the one behind me who is burdened with family members who are struggling with addiction, or the one six rows back who has mental illness, and struggles to live independently from day to day.

And, yeah, even as I think about the various problems around me, and how God is going to act in each situation, the thought occurs to me that with such an awe-inspiring God, doesn’t it make sense that we’d be awe-struck worshippers?  And, yeah, while we in the modern American church seldom see face-down-lying-on-the-ground awestruck worship, we sure feel it, and someday . .. . maybe. . .  we should try it?  One thing is certain, our God deserves it!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Best Valentines Day Ever!

I am blessed to be married to a wonderful and godly man, and I wanted to take a moment and post about what it means to really, really be loved on Valentines Day.

First, my husband loves God with all his heart, might, mind and soul. (Duet 6:4, Matthew 22:7, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27)  He then loves his neighbor (me) like he does himself (next verse). Because he loves God and walks in a personal relationship with Him, he allows himself to be corrected by God, forgives my mistakes, and loves me in a better way then he could by himself. In fact, he loves because God first loved him (1 John 4:7-11, 18-20) and wouldn’t really know love, or how to love if it weren’t for God’s love.

My dear husband also tries to love me as Christ loves the Church. (Ephesians 5:25) This means that he loves me sacrificially, often giving up his time, his finances, and his desires for me. It means he loves me even when I’m unlovely (something I am from time to time).

He also gives honor to me (1 Peter 3:7), honoring and respecting my opinion, my feelings, and my desires. He shows this by doing things I like, by trying not to do things that I hate, and by daily showing me that he respects and trusts me.

He is patient. He is kind. He does not envy, does not boast and is not proud.  He does not dishonor me, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. He does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects me, always trusts me, always hopes in me, and always perseveres with me. (1 Cor. 13: 4-7)

Like the next girl I wouldn’t mind a dozen roses, and a box of chocolates for Valentines Day, and, a romantic get-a-way, or even an evening out sound pretty good too.  But, honestly, girls, wouldn’t you rather have a godly man, who is striving to live like God wants him to live? I sure would. Thanks Steve for being that man! You’re the best!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Is Losing Out on Eternal Marriage Really a Loss?

“Don’t you feel awful for giving up the chance of eternal marriage?” is a question that my LDS friends and family ask me fairly often, usually accompanied by a look of deep concern.  I can understand the question: I’ve asked the same thing myself.

When you’re LDS the pinnacle of your religious experience is a temple marriage, and the thought of spending your eternity with your spouse, and family. (How that actually works out is a bit more complicated because presumably each of your children and their spouses will have their own eternity together so they can’t possibly be with you since they’ll be with their spouses, and then there’s the in-laws—like I said, it’s a complicated matter, but it’s still a nice thought if you have a good marriage.)

This Valentines Day I was thinking about this whole topic, and decided that I really would like to share why the loss of a temple marriage and eternal family really isn’t a loss at all.

A Christian marriage is based on the premise that God created that marriage—that He ordained the concept of marriage from the very beginning. God saw that Adam was alone, and decided that “It is not good that man should be alone.” Because of that, He created Eve. It’s also based on the premise that God made marriage for this lifetime, and He’s planned something really amazing and great for the next one. The terms the Bible uses are things like “eternal life,” “the kingdom of God,” “living water,” and “life,” and the converse as “the wrath of God” and “death.” 

Nowhere in the Bible though, does it teach that this eternal life has anything to do with an eternal marriage. In fact, the Bible teaches explicitly against eternal marriage in Matthew 22:30.

A Christian marriage therefore is a marriage for this life only, and yet that thought isn’t sad. Instead, the Christian knows that God has a far better plan, a plan that is better than the human mind can imagine. It lies in the character of God, and in a Christian’s relationship to God. God, to a Christian, really is unfathomable. Truthfully we just can’t imagine His greatness, but occasionally when we least expect it, usually, God gives us a peak into Him, and when He does we see something desirable, something amazing, something beyond our biggest dreams and we know instinctively that this Something will fulfill our every desire much, much better than any earthly thing ever could.

Truthfully we’ve experienced human marriage: even good ones, and even those heavenly moments when we think we’re already in eternity. But, when compared to what God—the God who created the universe—has for us, well we know that there really is no comparison.

So, the next time someone asked me that question, I think I’ll point them to this blog, and ask them: which would you rather have, a earthly imitation, or the Real Thing?