Archive for November, 2009

Too Busy for God?

Posted: November 25, 2009 by clairearossell in Devotions

Beep beep!  Beep beep! My alarm clock interrupts my sleep.  It is 6:30am on a Thursday morning, and already I am facing my first test of the day.  This test takes the form of a simple multiple choice test — one question, four options: “You must go to your co-op classes today.  You have time to complete only three of the following activities.  Which one will you give up?”

A. An extra half-hour of sleep.

B. Bible Reading

C. Shower

D. Breakfast

All too often, I choose to do what I perceive to be the necessities and skip what I can do later, my Bible reading.  I always have the best intentions of returning to my Bible reading later in the day, but it is rare when I do.

All of us face this choice in one form or another, whether it is when we oversleep, have an unusually busy day ahead of us, or when reading our Bible just seems unappealing or boring to us.  Whatever the reason, we all are faced with the temptation to put other things before our time with the Lord.

I know from my own life that there are two main reasons that my daily quiet times begin to waver.

The first is that there are idols in my life.  It’s true that there are times when I unconsciously place other things in my life higher on my priority list than God — whether it is a new movie, my friends, my school, my sports, Facebook, or my parents’ and teachers’ approval.  When my priorities become confused, the way I want to spend my time reflects this.  If I am idolizing my grades, I will be tempted to skip my quiet time in order to spend more time on my school.  If I am idolizing Facebook, I will be more excited to see what my friends wrote on my wall than what God is speaking to me through His word.

The second reason I tend to stray from my Bible reading is that I lose a sense of what an awesome privilege I really have in knowing God and being able to read His word.  If there are two things I take for granted, they are my salvation and the Bible.  It is so easy to get caught up in my life that I forget how awesome it is that Jesus died for me, and not only that, but He revealed himself to me through the Bible.  How easily I forget that the Bible contains the words of God — the same God who created the universe and the intricacies of the human body!

To put it in perspective, what if a famous person that you admire — whether it is the President, an athlete, an actor, or a musician — wrote a letter to you, and not just a generic letter to his or her fans, but one that was personal and that expressed an eager interest in you?  You would most likely read it excitedly, over and over again until you had memorized it, and would tell your friends and family all about it.  How much more excited should we be about what the God of the universe wants to tell us about Himself and His love and care for us?  Too often, we tend to take for granted what an awesome gift the Bible truly is.

If you’re like me, though, it is still sometimes hard to have a consistent Bible time.  I have three brief suggestions that I have found work in my own life:

1. Have a plan.  Know when you are going to read and what you are going to read.  The I’ll-find-a-time-to-read-my-Bible-during-the-day-and-flip-it-open-to-a-random-passage idea doesn’t work.

2. Form a habit.  It is much easier to consistently read the Bible if it is a habit and a part of your daily routine.

3. Seek accountability.  Ask your parents, a sibling, or a friend to follow-up with you on how your devotions are going.

Finally, one closing thought.  Ten, twenty, fifty, or one hundred years from now, what is going to really matter?  When you die and are standing before God’s throne, what are you going to be holding in your hands?  Facebook, movies, music, money, friends, grades, degrees, jobs, fame, and even family will not matter — they will all fade away.  The most important thing in your life is the only thing that will last forever — your relationship with God.  The best way to develop that relationship?  Reading your Bible.

It’s 6:30am on another Thursday morning.  I am facing the test once again.  My answer?  Anything but B.

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Awesome!

Posted: November 8, 2009 by clairer in Awe, Words

It’s a word that is used every day so casually, it is hardly ever noticed.  A friend walks up and says that he just won free tickets to a concert.  “Awesome!” is the response.  A basketball player makes a game winning shot from past half-court.  “What an awesome play!” the announcers shout.  A child receives an A in her first spelling test.  “That’s awesome!” an enthusiastic dad says, smiling.  But while these things are enjoyable or even amazing, are they really awesome?

Because the word “awesome” is often defined as “inspiring awe,” an understanding of the word “awe” must also be established.  In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “awe” is defined as “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime.”

While the word “awesome” is a word often used in the younger generations, it is not in any way a new word.   One of the first instances of the word in literature would probably be in the Hebrew Bible when Jacob awakens from his dream saying, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:17)  The word “awe” appears a total of 51 times in the Bible, but interestingly, despite all the heroic figures found in the Bible, the word “awe” is never used to describe people’s reaction to them (or anyone else), but only for God.

Throughout the Bible, God is praised for his “awesome deeds,” his “awesome name,” and his “awesome wonders.”  The Bible goes so far as to say, “Dominion and awe belong to God; he establishes order in the heights of heaven.” (Job 25:2)

However, why is it that the Bible refers solely to God as one who inspires “awe?”  Is it even possible for a human to be “awesome” in any way?  The truth is, God is the only being who can qualify for the use of the word awe.  What other being can be described as inspiring fear and dread?  God’s wrath is a fearful thing and his power is amazing!  Who has supreme authority over the universe?  Who else is truly sacred or sublime?  When one considers it, there is no one other than God who could fit that description.

However, if there is no other thing, person, or act other than God and his works that could truly be described as “awesome,” why is it such a common word used to describe practically anything good these days?  The reason is that the depth of meaning to the word has been reduced over the decades, perhaps because our culture has lost a sense of the grandeur of God.  The word has come to be interchangeable with words like, “amazing,” “spectacular,” “grand,” “overwhelming,” “breathtaking,” “remarkable,” and “splendid” as any thesaurus would attest to.  However, these words are much less powerful  than the word “awesome.”  A catch at the outfield wall to preserve a pitcher’s perfect game might be described as “remarkable,” but does it inspire fear and dread?  Winning the lottery might be described as “spectacular,” but it is mere chance – what authority is there in that?  A new pop song may be described as “amazing,” but is it sacred?

The meaning of the word has been lost over the centuries, but to many, it makes little difference.  Many mindlessly continue to use the word to describe things unworthy of the word.  The problem is that many don’t understand what continuing to use the word to describe anything other than God and His works does.  By diluting the word, we actually diminish the praise that God rightfully deserves.  If people begin to use the word casually to describe everyday events, there is no room in their minds for the even greater awesomeness of God.   Do they liken God’s awesomeness to a good movie?  To a good day?  While using the word “awesome” in an ordinary way would not be considered a sin (as the use of God’s name in vain is), people have become unaware of what they are saying.  As the word “awesome” is weakened, so people’s perceptions of God’s glory become reduced.

So next time that word, “Awesome!” slips from your lips, ask yourself a question: is it really?