For many years Rich Mullins’ song, “Our God Is An Awesome God,” has not only been a popular selection for corporate worship times, it has also been a reminder of what our God is like. He is awesome and so are his works (e.g. Exodus 15:11; Deuteronomy 7:21; 10:17; Ps. 66:3, 5). In other words, he is one who causes an emotion variously combining dread, strong respect, and wonder. Put another way, God’s nature and deeds are such that they should move us to see his greatness, to sense how small we are related to him, and to worship him—i.e. to do what the Bible summarily refers to as fearing God.
Not only is God, by his nature, one who inspires awe (or fear), but we also are created to have awe in him and yet our sin-wrought brokenness moves us to place our awe in anything and everything other than him (cf. Romans 1:19-23; 11:34-36). So, even though finding awe or fear in God is characteristic of one who truly knows and loves God (cf. Ps. 103:11, 13), is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10), brings God’s blessing (Ps. 112:1), and is a chief motivation behind holiness (2 Cor. 7:1), we are in a life-long battle for where we will place our awe—will it be God or someone/thing else?
This is why I highly recommend Paul Tripp’s book, Awe: Why It Matters For Everything We Think, Say, Or Do. To whet your appetite for this helpful work, let me share with you some of the thoughts you will find in it:
(1) In Chapter One he explains that we are made for awe and search to have awe. The question is this, in what do we find awe? God created an awesome world and intended us to be daily amazed. God created us with an awe capacity. Where you look for awe will shape the direction of your life. Awe stimulates the greatest joys and deepest sorrows in us all. Misplaced awe keeps us perennially dissatisfied. Finally, he argues that every created awe is meant to point you to the Creator.
(2) In Chapter Two he covers the reality we are in a war for awe. Our sin is awe gone wrong.
(3) Chapter Three may be one of the most powerful in the book. Here he uncovers that many in ministry have lost awe in God. He writes: “The problem is that they lack the grand perspective, and because they do, they often lose sight of why they are doing everything they’re doing.” He adds that each minister must believe the following truths:
(a) “My job is to give them eyes to see the awesome glory of God….”
(b) “Only a functional, heart-directed, ministry-shaping awe of God has the power to protect me from myself in ministry.”
(c) “Ministry is meant to be something bigger than completing a list of tasks.”
(d) “It is so easy to lose sight of the big picture. It is easier than we think to lose sight of the awesome God we serve in the middle of days, weeks, and months of ministry busyness. It is tempting to reduce ministry to strategic planning, budget initiative, leadership development, property management, and the revolving catalog of essential meetings.”
(e) “Worship, not success or an obsession with growth, must drive all our decisions….”
(f) “A person in ministry who wakes up every morning to the burdens of a job description and not to the joy of God’s awesome glory is a ministry person in trouble.”
(g) “The spiritual warfare of ministry is all about awe.”
(h) “Awe of God is the only lens through which we can see ministry successes and hardships accurately.”
(i) “Your ministry lifestyle always reveals what has captured your awe.” “Here’s the battle, the big bad danger that lurks in the shadows of the life of every ministry person: familiarity.”
(4) In Chapter Four Tripp draws our attention to two main truths:
(a) “At the most foundational of heart levels, we somehow always replace awe of God in our hearts with awe of self.”
(b) “Only grace can give us back our awe of God again.”
(5) In Chapters Twelve and Thirteen Tripp deals with the impact of the awe of God (or its lack) for our parenting and our work. These are two practical and powerful chapters.
Paul Tripp deals with many other topics in the book that make up a central theme in the Bible and one that is at the heart of our walk with God. As someone else has written, “The fear of the Lord is the soul of godliness.” Few studies will have a greater impact on you. Purchase the book, read it with your Bible open, read it prayerfully, and then read it with your family and Iron Man/Woman team!