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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Awe" (Paul David Tripp)

TITLE: Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do
AUTHOR: Paul David Tripp
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015, (208 pages).

We need to make space for wonder. We need to find room to discover the divine. We need to be still in awe of God's presence. Confessing that he wrote this book for himself, author and pastor Paul David Tripp gives several reasons why awe is more necessary than ever. First, God's creation is already wonderful in itself as it reflects a beauty that can stimulate our senses. Second, for a fickle and wandering soul, we need something to keep our roving thoughts in check. Third, we need more attentiveness for the presence of God. Fourth, we need to "recapture, refocus, and redirect" our heart's attention to God over and over again. Fifth, with awe, one will be able to shape our words, thoughts, and deeds, according to the spiritual awareness of God. It is awe that many of us lack. When we think we have everything under control, where is there a need for awe?

Tripp takes us through thirteen windows of awe, beginning with HUMANITY, where there are so many things we can share and appreciate together because we are all created with the ability to wonder. Even when we have all the answers the the everyday problems we face, without awe, we will be stuck in cycles of discontent. He thinks about WAR and becomes aware of "awe wrongedness" (AWN) which happens when we feel wronged, victimized, received the shorter end of the stick, unjustly treated. Wars happen when this AWN takes root. The world through the past century have endured two world wars, and many more scattered across various continents. Even today, wars are happening not only in the Middle East but in Eastern Europe, restless pockets of strife in Asia, unrest in Africa and the Americas. On MINISTRY, Tripp sometimes wonder if he has truly been called to ministry in the first place. If worshiping God is foremost, why then are people constantly getting stuck in doing things that do not resemble any act of worship? He surmises: "Only a functional, heart-directed, ministry-shaping awe of God has the power to protect me from myself in ministry." We are hardwired for awe, and when our heart goes through a REPLACEMENT, with us replacing God with other gods, our sense of awe becomes warped. We forget God. We suffer from AMNESIA, seeing without truly seeing, and hearing without truly hearing. Through self-centeredness, a grotesque sense of entitlement, discontent, relational dysfunction, control, fear, anger, envy, drivenness, doubt, coldness, and others, our capacity for awe gets decapitated.  TRANSGRESSION follows suit. We snigger at the laws of God. We belittle the importance of obedience. We swim in rivers of COMPLAINT and give critical and sarcastic answers to the five diagnostic questions about God. Instead, we move toward MATERIALISM and puts our trust in the temporal things of life. Failing to answer the two most important questions in our lives will put a damper to GROWTH. Thankfully, Tripp presents us with two "awe portraits" from Galatians 5. The first is to be careful of the works of the flesh. The second is to don the fruit of the Spirit. Spiritual growth comes with the suppression of the former and the increase of the latter.  As the author quotes at length the passage from Isaiah 40, he senses a WORLDVIEW awareness. He gains a bigger picture of CHURCH. Seeing PARENTING as a high calling, readers learn about awe inspiring moments that we can teach our children. We gain a renewed sense of WORK that puts in proper perspectives that it is our identity in Christ that gives us our worth, not our works. Eventually, Tripp boils it all down to one phrase: "Awe is a longing."

In describing the journey toward awe-inspiring moments of life, the author is able to describe what it means to be grounded on earth but reflective on God. In doing so, he does not minimize the concerns of earthly being. He extends them with a heavenly longing. From natural observations of creation to the ways humans live on this earth, he encourages us to recognize the limitations of natural man and the dangers of living in materialism and that refusal to acknowledge our limits. The tragedy is not simply about the lack of awe but the presence of human pride that dispels any notion or awareness of the divine. Without awe, how can we long for something bigger than ourselves? Without awe, how can we reach that level of contentment and fill that spiritual vacuum in our lives? Without awe, hope lacks vitality.

The Christian life is one of worship of God and in awe of His workings. He is Maker of Heaven and Earth. Unfortunately, even among Christians, God is increasingly seen merely as a Moralistic, Therapeutic, and Deistic Being. The absence of awe brings about an increase in skepticism and secular behaviour. I think we have much to learn with regards to getting a sense of the divine. I find this book a useful reminder not about how mortal and limited we are. The Psalmist in Ps 14:1 tells of the fool who says in his heart that "There is no God." It is a strong statement that those who reject the knowledge of God are fools. Can one be in awe of creation without having to believe in God? I would say that the capacity to awe in regardless of what faith we have. All persons regardless of ethnicity, religions, or language will have the ability to be awed. It is already built into us. For when God created us, God also gives us a free will to choose. The decision to choose is ours. The capacity to be awed is also ours. However, the fullest extent of being in awe of God and what we are created to be and do will depend.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! (Ps 14:7)

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Crossway and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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