Ever since my girls saw The Lego Movie earlier this year, they have been on a huge Lego kick. The table downstairs is covered with a Lego Friends neighborhood that they have built. I hear them fighting over whose turn it is to be Wyldstyle. And Elsie is constantly trying to negotiate a higher allowance so she can buy the Lego Movie kit that has the Kragle in it 🙂 Needless to say, they are both pretty fired up about some Legos.
Zoe just turned 10 a few weeks ago, and she had a skating/laser tag birthday party. My sister, Bekah, gave Zoe The Lego Movie. Zoe was super excited to get it. Just in case you didn’t know, I love to bust out in song whenever possible, and that love is intensified even more when I am with my sister 🙂 So when Zoe opened up that movie, I started singing the theme song from the Lego Movie, “Everything Is Awesome”. I sang the first line, and then what happened next was glorious. All the kiddos in that party room at Roller Coasters Skating Rink joined in with me! We sang the entire song together, at the top of our lungs, and it was so cool! Bekah and I got so excited hearing everyone sing together. I think it must be that ‘worship leader’ part of us that loves to get everyone to join together in song 🙂
A few days later, as I was driving to work and thinking about the birthday party, I smiled thinking about all those kids singing that song together. Then I started thinking about that word ‘awesome’. The more I pondered that word, I began to realize how often I use it. That is ‘awesome’, she is ‘awesome’, that band is ‘awesome’…. and on, and on, and on. All the sudden I thought of the movie ‘The Princess Bride’ where Vizzini keeps using the word ‘Inconceivable’. Inigo Montoya eventually calls him out and says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” I keep using that word ‘awesome’ to describe things here on this earth, but I’m afraid that somewhere along the way, I have forgotten the true meaning of the word. That it doesn’t really “mean what I think it means”.
The second week we were at our new church, Mt. Olive UMC, which is now called GracePoint at Mt. Olive 🙂 , Scott preached on Acts 2 and how the early church ‘functioned’ – what their recipe for success was. He used the scripture Acts 2:42-47:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
That morning, Scott broke down what those new, courageous Christians did to get this thing called ‘church’ rolling. They did the following:
They were devoted to teaching, learning about Christ.
They were devoted to fellowship, learning about each other.
They were devoted to helping those in need.
They were devoted to meals together.
They were devoted to prayer.
They were in awe of what God was doing.
The next few paragraphs I pulled directly from Scott’s sermon:
The early church of Acts – They were not very different than you. Look at the recipe for success again. Devotion to learning about Christ. Do you think we as a church possess that trait? Check. Devoted to fellowship. How many of you have heard others talk about how active this church has been over the years? Some of you are here because of that fact. Check. Devotion to helping others. Raise your hand if you have ever helped with the food pantry, the Nest, cutting grass at the community center, or any other mission project at this church. Check. Devoted to having meals together. Big Huge Check here, every Wednesday. Hey if you haven’t been to a Wednesday night meal, you are missing out! Devoted to prayer? My inbox was full of prayer request and notices for weeks before I even came here. This is a church that engages in prayer. Check. They were in awe of God and what he was doing.
I am not sure of a church in our area that truly excels in this area. Far too often we get used to seeing God move and we explain it away to the ability of the pastor or the size of the church budget, or the nice facilities. And far too often we fail to be in awe of Christ at work. We can even be blinded by the work He is doing through us, as we engage in the busyness of ministry and fail to see His hands moving us. So what does it look like to be in awe of God?
I experienced it several times this week. It started last Sunday as I saw 100 or so people at this altar, arm in arm, singing praises to God and declaring that they were all in. Some of you felt that as well as the tears fell and you just had this sense that God was moving in a big way. That was not because of the sermon. That was not because of the songs. It was because God moved you. And I watched, unable to sing, in awe of Him at work in you.
Wednesday night I was in awe again. At one point of the evening I saw two ladies talking in the fellowship hall, one giving a devotion to the other. But what was really going on was a cancer survivor was passing on to a friend just entering treatment a devotion that powerfully helped her when she faced the same thing. She could have simply offered prayer, but she invested herself in someone else. That doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should in our society today. And I was in awe of God as he worked through these ladies.
Later that night, I saw him again. I spoke with the youth about how we can re-energize their youth ministry. I expected a bunch of shallow, disconnected teens that were only in church because mom and dad made them come. But what I found was a group of young adults who wanted to find direction, meaning, and ways to reach out in missions. I was impressed with their faith, their maturity, and in awe of how I heard God’s influence coming out of their mouths.
You see, God is at work all around us. But how often do we pause and simply allow ourselves to fall in love with Christ all over again? How often do we stop and just allow His presence to wash over us? What could happen here if we all devoted ourselves to pause each week and just take time to look for God’s hand at work among us? How much would our worship experience grow if we took the time to be in awe of God, to fall in love with him again?
Since I felt like I was possibly using the word ‘awesome’ too flippantly, I decided to dig a little and find out what the word truly meant. Merriam-Webster says the definition of ‘awesome’ is “expressive of awe” or “inspiring awe”. So of course, I had to go down another level, and look up the word ‘awe’. The MW definition of ‘awe’ is “a strong feeling of fear or respect and also wonder”. Hmmmm… Fear? Respect? Those are 2 words I normally do not think of when I’m using the word ‘awesome’ to describe the recent pedicure I just got! Then I read the full definition, and it proved what I had feared all along. The full definition, according to MW, is “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration (great respect), and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime (beautiful or good)”. Inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime!! I had indeed been using this word flippantly and carelessly – not understanding what the word “awesome” truly means.
In my life, there is only One that I hold as authority, sacred, and sublime – and that is God Almighty. So unless whatever it is that I’m describing is truly leaving me in awe of God, the Creator of the world, my Comforter, Redeemer, and Friend, then I will indeed use the word ‘awesome’. Otherwise, I’ll find a substitute. I’m fairly positive that a new iPhone, car, or even church building is not worthy of the word “awesome”. Now the Scripture you are reading on your iPhone, the worship music you are listening to in your car, and the hearts of the people in the church building making a difference in the Kingdom…. Those things are definitely ‘awesome’ worthy. Maybe even awesome-squared!
My youngest daughter, Elsie, started second grade this year. The theme of her classroom is ‘superheroes’. They had to come up with their own superhero symbol, superhero powers, and their own superhero name. Guess what superhero name Elsie picked out? Awesome Elsie. Personally, I think she nailed it 🙂 I can’t even look at my girls without being awestruck by the goodness of God.
Keep your eyes and ears open to see and hear God moving this week. Then be patient enough to just stand in awe and soak Him in. This week, I’ve been in awe of God several times – and the week just got started! When our dear friends, the Kings, gave birth to their new precious baby boy, when I heard our church body fill the sanctuary with praise singing ‘How Great is our God/How Great Thou Art’ this past Sunday, when I saw on Facebook our friends, the Lancasters, sending their sweet son Gray to kindergarten wearing his do-rag because he recently started chemo, and when I kissed my girls good night last night. He is indeed an awesome God. With Him, ‘Everything is Awesome’ 🙂