Thursday, January 15, 2009

Awesomeness - Really

  1. "Dude, that was an awesome movie we saw last night!"
  2. "Hey, you want to go get a burger? Really? Awesome!"
  3. "Oh thanks so much for helping out. You're awesome!"
  4. "Wow, I love that kind of pizza. It's awesome."
  5. "Wasn't that an awesome worship service?"
OK, so here's the test. Which of the above would you consider a proper usage of the much-overused term awesome? Anyone? Because, you know, all these are phrases that you probably hear (and maybe even say) every day. So are any of them a correct use of the term awesome? Well in my opinion, none of them are.

Let's start this little diatribe with a Webster's definition of the word awesome: 1. Causing awe; appalling; awful; as, an awesome sight. 2. Expressive of awe or terror. OK, so there we have it. To possess awesomeness, something has to be capable of causing fear. Not just any fear but terror, dread, appalling. For something to be awesome it must be awful, provoking a sense of terror, fear, an awful feeling in the pit of the stomach. So consider the all too-common uses of the term enumerated above. Does this definition fit, any of them? Is it appropriate? Not so much.

Whenever we overuse and abuse words like this, we inevitably lose their sense of real meaning. Now, I'm not just talking about the garden variety Valley Girl usage of the term, as in "totally awesome, dude!" I'm talking about the sentences above being uttered by adults, by people who are well educated and good communicators. But still affected by this loss of real meaning of a word like this due to overuse.

So then, what is an appropriate use of the term? A search of the Scriptural use of the term "awesome" gives a good indication. The term appears 31 times in the Bible (NASB), and all of them in the OT. And every instance of the use of the word (except for two in the Song of Songs - but that's a different discussion) are referring to Yahweh God in one way or another. Either directly describing Him as awesome, or applying the term to His deeds, His presence, His name, or His day of judgment. And the Hebrew word most often translated as awesome is ירא - also translated directly as "fear" another 100 times. To the Biblical writers, there was only one thing that was worthy of being called awesome, capable of creating terror - the Lord God of Israel Himself.

I think it's time we recaptured use of this term in its Biblical sense. It seems that we have lost much of our sense of fear and awe of God. Instead of contemplating Him as being sovereign, omnipotent, wrathful and glorious, we focus on His humility, His love, His grace. And we begin to worship a god of our own making, one that isn't terrifying, one that isn't awesome. And so then anything can be awesome. A pizza, a movie, whatever. There's only one terrifying and terrific God. Let's reserve our sense of awesomeness for Him, and Him alone.

He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name. - Psalm 111:9

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Firstborn Reflections

Our oldest and firstborn son Mike just left this morning to return to California, where he is starting his final semester at The Master's College. Lord willing, he will graduate in May with a BA in Biblical Studies, with an emphasis in Bible Exposition. God has taken Mike through a long and winding path over the last six years since he graduated high school to bring him to the place he is now, and it's a testament to His grace and sovereignty how He has worked things out and continues to strengthen His call on Mike to ministry of His Word.

It's been great having Mike home the past three weeks since he returned from his fall semester in Israel, but it's also a little different having a 23-year old in the house. Still our kid, yet really an adult. And I have to say that Mike and I are great friends, with common interests in things like ministry and cycling. So as he leaves this morning, it really seems more like a visitor departing, than like sending off a child to college. I guess that's part of the parenting process as our children get older and take their own paths that God leads them down.

For those few of you who read this, I'd appreciate your prayers for Mike. Both as he travels the next few days, over the snowy mountains and across the desert. As well as for his longer term ministry and life as he finishes his undergraduate work at TMC and looks forward to starting on his MDiv next summer/fall at Trinity in Chicago.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

First Post of the Year - Thankfully

I'm sitting here on this New Years Day 2009 in a pretty quiet house. Mike is spending a few days in Lincoln with friends. Hannah spent the night at a friends house in another town. And Matt is still sleeping after getting off the bus from San Antonio with the CHS band at about 4:30 this morning. And I'm here in front of the TV waiting for the Gator Bowl to start, and doing a little thinking about what this year might hold. And how I should respond.

More than anything else, I am realizing that I need to respond with thankfulness to my great God and Savior. I'm not a naturally thankful person, never have been. It's far easier for me to be cynical and critical than to be thankful. But I have so much to be thankful for, both immediately and overall. I'm thankful that son Mike returned from Israel a few weeks ago, just ahead of the Gaza situation going on now. I'm thankful that son Matt made it to the Alamo Bowl and back again safely and enjoyably. I'm thankful for the way daughter Hannah is growing into a young lady. I'm thankful for the way that all my kids have bonded this holiday season with all of them being together for a few weeks. I'm thankful for my wife Tammie and her faithful love for me and our family for nearly 30 years now. I'm thankful for a job that the Lord has provided that meets all our financial needs and more, and that gives me opportunities to do different things. I'm thankful for a church that highly values and proclaims the Word of God and that is Christ-centered and Gospel-focused. I'm thankful for the privilege of being part of the teaching ministry of that church. I'm thankful for another year that will bring opportunities, changes, challenges, all to the glory of Christ.

I'm not into New Years resolutions, never have been. But if I was to resolve to commit myself to do something different in 2009, it would be to be a more thankful person. And to express that thankful attitude more frequently, first to Jesus Christ, and then to those around me.

Thank you for reading this...