If you’ve been a Christian for more than six seconds, you are probably aware of how important it is to be in God’s Word daily. Christians need to read the Bible. Not a big shocker. Despite the common knowledge of this necessity, few things foil Christians more than faithful Bible reading. Yes, we need a time, a place, and a plan. Yes, we need to grow in discipline. But what we should NOT do is neglect the heart of the problem.
Psalm 1:1-2 says, “Blessed is the man…[whose] delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law he meditates day and night." The word translated “delight” indicates “extreme pleasure or satisfaction in something.” That something here is God’s law - not just the first five books of the Old Testament, but also His heart, mind and will for all things. So here’s the big idea:
God is holy.
If you’re a Christian that simple truth should come as no surprise to you. Psalm 99:9 plainly and emphatically states, “The LORD our God is holy!” While that sentiment is familiar to most of us, many of us don’t really know what it means. Sometimes as Christians we have a bad habit of talking flippantly about things we don’t understand. We use words like worship, glory, and gospel, often with little clarity as to what they actually mean and the implications they produce.
So what does it mean that God is holy? The challenge in answering that question is that it can’t be fully answered. Foundational to a Biblically-faithful understanding of the holiness of God is the humble acknowledgement that we can’t fully conceive of it. Yet, just because we can’t grasp all of it doesn’t mean we can’t grasp some of it. So, at the risk of being a heretic, here are two Biblical components of God’s holiness:
Horrible things happen when you hold on to something longer than you should. Think about when you had roommates. Maybe roommates are a reality for you right now. If so, this will be especially timely for you.
When you have roommates, few things pose a greater risk to your well-being than “mystery milk” in the fridge. Mystery milk is that carton that sits in the way-back of the refrigerator, typically behind the OJ, purple stuff, soda, and Sunny D. No one ever seems certain where the mystery milk came from or how long it’s been sitting there.
Now, when you’re young and poor, you don’t so much go by the expiration date as you do by the smell and consistency of your milk. This system, while effective, is admittedly risky, right? As a result, any consumption of milk when you live with roommates requires the universally agreed-upon test. This test has two steps:
I have an app addiction. Anytime I come across an interesting app, I have to download it. Sure, I tend to only use said app for roughly 13 seconds before burying it in a folder somewhere deep within the recesses of my phone, but that’s beside the point. The genius of the “app explosion” is that there is an app for virtually everything you can imagine - money management, tracking calories, reading blogs, tracking tasks - you name it, and "there’s an app for that".
I think the book of Psalms has a lot in common with the App Store.
As a culture we have a strong affection for fast food and for good reason - fast food tastes great. I’ve heard health-conscious people smugly say, “Fast food tastes disgusting.” That is incorrect. Fast food is disgusting because of what it’s made out of, but it tastes amazing! That’s one of the main reasons our waist lines are growing faster than Justin Bieber’s rap sheet.
While fast food tastes great in the moment, it takes a serious toll later on. You feel physically awful after you eat it. No one can claim ignorance - we all know fast food is essentially poison for our bodies. But there’s also an emotional toll. Maybe you’re familiar with what I would call “fast food guilt?” It’s the guilt that sets in immediately after eating something you know is bad for you - Big Mac, double quarter pounder with cheese, or in my case, a dozen donuts from Spunky Dunkers. Fast food tastes great in the moment, but takes a toll later on.
This is why sin is like fast food.
Happiness is the preeminent pursuit in our culture. Everyone wants to be happy. We all want to be content and satisfied. We all want to add value and experience meaning. We all want to be happy. Happiness is even hardwired into the very fabric of our country.
When Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, he penned the following,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
More than maybe any point in history, we believe that we deserve to be happy and thus spend our lives pursuing it. In truth, happiness is not a right or something we deserve, but a gift given by God. Contrary to what we hear, God’s chief end is not our happiness, but His own glory (Isaiah 48:9-11). However, in God’s grace, he desires his people to experience the happiness he created us for.
But here’s the problem…
I am terrified of snakes. Not just dangerous snakes, poisonous snakes, or large snakes. I hate all snakes. Before you write this off as a mere phobia, at least part of this fear is founded in the fact that some snakes are legitimately dangerous. The Humane Society reports that hundreds of people have been attacked and at least 12 people have been killed by pet pythons since 1990.
Here's one sad example. In June of 2010 a Nebraska man took his 9 foot long, 25 pound red-tailed boa constrictor out to show his friend. Tragically, this man’s python attacked and killed him just as he took it from its cage. Can you imagine this? He had undoubtedly done this countless times before. He had raised this snake, handled it, and fed it, but on this day it turned on him and killed him.
There’s an important lesson in this:
The battlefield of church planting is littered with burned out bodies. Long hours, immense stress, and constant pressure have caused more than one well-intentioned church planter to wave the white flag.
Even if they don’t quit, church planters struggle to manage the war within.
Church planting is difficult work. It takes an tremendous amount of spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational energy to build something from nothing. These first five years of getting Redemption up and off the ground have been some of the most personally taxing of my life. The difficultly is often a direct result of the spiritual war being waged, in which we stand on the front lines.
Yet, much of the pain planters experience is self-inflicted and unnecessary. Church planting demands a unique wiring - you have to be one part called and one part crazy. I wish I could say that it was only the clear call of God that drove me and others like me, but I’d be lying. Often times there are drivers just below the surface impacting church planters.