3 Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. Psalms 24:3-4 (NIV)

I was seated in our den recliner for a morning devotional when I heard this strange scraping sound outside on my porch. When I got up I found out it was made by our dog, Buster…wiping his feet prior to coming inside the house! Turns out, my wife, frustrated with the dirt Buster would track indoors, had taken time earlier, to stop the dog on the back door mat, bend over him and manually swiped his feet, all four, on the mat, knocking off the door and then letting him inside. (No, I am not making this up). She did this so many times that Buster began doing it himself! I was dumbfounded!  My dog was becoming cleaner than the humans who lived there!

I see a parallel with this and the way we approach God in our corporate worship experiences. We have done so much in our contemporary churches to remove barriers from people entering in. We have altered architecture, symbols, music, clothing and our overall environment to facilitate better accessibility for people to enter our worship services to engage God. Some of this needs to happen and needs to continue.

But I fear that although we have taken people’s inhibitions to heart, we may have neglected God’s conditions in our approaching Him in worship and these conditions have not changed. No one comes to the Father but through Christ and the necessary admission of their spiritual need for Him as our sole, soul’s spiritual resource. Such an exchange can wonderfully affect our environment and ‘response-ability’ to worship God in spirit and truth. Throughout the Scripture, those sincere members of the faith community consistently responded to the presence of God with reverence and humility. In many cases, however, our casual worship services may miss the depth of that kind of reverence.

This devotional is not a criticism of the church but a challenge to those of us who serve in this powerful ministry of worship. Prior to our “ascending the hill of the Lord” (this includes singers, instrumentalists, AV technicians) and leading others to do the same, are we “wiping our feet”? Are we keeping the holiness of God in mind and heart? Are we confessing our sins before the God who provided His Son who is absolutely not a door mat, but is the One through whom sins against God are resolved and our relationship with God restored? Do we recognize that He expects only the holy to stand in the holy place and that we are to pursue holiness even as He makes us holy?

True holiness makes all the difference in the world. Jesus teaches that the pure in heart are the ones who see God. It is therefore the pure who are in the best position to help others see Him. This is not about our being perfect. It is about our commitment to remain in the process of being made perfect. We must approach our ministry responsibilities with a profound awareness of the righteousness of God and His holy expectations for us. As we hold instruments in our hands, our guitars, keyboards, organs, faders, switchers, mics, etc, with the hope that they respond effectively, may we recognize with awe and wonder that we are being held in the Hand of God who desires us to respond to His desires for His glory. May we serve as holy vessels — broken but holy.

Father, You are worthy of our very best, not only in performance but also in lifestyle and character. Help us to make sure to take time before placing our hands on our instruments and our feet in the “holy place”, to confess and repent of our sin, receive Your forgiveness and restoration, and renew a corresponding passion to live free from the power of sin and in the power of Your righteousness. May we be instruments of holiness always before You, whether on or off the stage. Always for Your eternal glory, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”