Reflections on spiritual themes (and a few other things).

Month: April 2023


These days, hearing someone say the word “awesome” is neither newsworthy nor alarming. I routinely hear teens, young adults, and even older adults use the word. 

In our culture EVERYTHING has become awesome. New shoes are awesome. Cheesecake is awesome. Mobile phones, tablets, and TVs are awesome. Slam dunks are awesome. Actors, actresses, and athletes are awesome. Mani-pedis are awesome, as are new hair styles, tats, and piercings. A new ride, a new job, or a new purse are all awesome. 

But that’s the problem. If EVERYTHING is awesome, then NOTHING is awesome. The word becomes meaningless noise. 

The word “awesome” means to inspire awe, apprehension, or fear. “Awe” is an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear, produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.

If awesomeness is about fear, reverence, power, and grandiosity, then it immediately disqualifies things like actors, athletes, TVs, phones, shoes, cheesecake, and other lesser things. They may be clever, exciting, tasty, useful, neat, or skillful, but they’re not awesome.

When our youngest daughter was nine, she was watching TV downstairs. Every few minutes or so, we’d hear her say, “Awesome!” She was watching a show about the wonders of nature. Little did she know it, but her response was precisely what “awe” is all about – a profound, overwhelming sense of reverence, admiration; a sense that one is in the presence of something far greater than self; a sense that this is truly unique and extraordinary. Only an awesome God can make an awesome world full of awesome creatures.

One song says, “Our God is an awesome God. He reigns from heaven above with wisdom, power, and love. Our God is an awesome God.” Moses said: “Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?” (Exodus 15.11) The writer of Hebrews said, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12.28).

As you go about your affairs today, take a moment to ponder this magnificent and AWESOME world around us that was made by our AWESOME God. If that doesn’t move you, nothing will.


This time of year, many of us are already gardening, planting, fertilizing, weeding, landscaping, spraying, pruning, and all kinds of other springtime agricultural rituals.

The key to growing anything – grass, flowers, vegetables, shrubs, trees – is developing a good root system. Plants depend upon the nutrients and moisture provided by the soil. The deeper and more extensive a plant’s root system, the more it will be able to survive drought, wind, disease, and pests. 

So it is with our growth as Christians. We can’t grow without deep, healthy roots. The apostle Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3.17-19). Before they can grow upward, they need to first grow downward.

Paul had a similar exhortation for the Christians in Colossae. “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (Colossians 2.6-7). Growth, gratitude, and a deep faith are impossible without a deep root system. 

That’s why regular spiritual disciplines and practices are so essential to the formation of our faith. Bible reading, meditation, memorization, and study are building blocks of spiritual maturity. We need the daily challenge of personal Bible study as well as the weekly opportunity to study with other Christians. Prayer is an opportunity to expand our root system by expressing gratitude and praise to God, as well as offering our petitions to him. Worship keeps us vital and strong. It provides nourishment and refreshment from the harsh realities of life. It gets us in the presence of God and in the presence of his people. It puts our minds on a higher plane awhile each week. 

So, while you’re thinking about taking care of your lawn and garden, take a bit of time to nourish your soul. Get some water and feed, pull some weeds, and get ready to grow. 

The Power of the Resurrection

In 1812 during the Napoleonic Wars, Lord Wellesley (the Duke of Wellington) won a critical battle at Salamanca in Spain. To announce his victory, he sent a courier to England. One of his admirals also attempted to send a message by using semaphore. His message said, “Wellington defeated the French.” Just as the first two words were sent, a heavy fog rolled in, ending all visual communications for 48 hours. In England, all they saw was, “Wellington defeated.” 

When the fog lifted, the message was re-sent, this time in full. The semaphore message & courier arrived at the same time to confirm the victory. What appeared to be a message of defeat became a message of victory.

When Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, his followers were crushed. The one they believed, trusted, and followed for three years died as a common criminal. Their hopes were dashed. 

When the resurrection morning came, they saw the empty tomb and later saw him. What appeared to be defeat became victory.

Ephesians 1.18-21 says, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”

Paul says he wanted the Christians in Ephesus to experience the power of God. This was the same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead. Think about it! Think about what it would take to raise someone from the dead. What would it take to reunite body and spirit? To not only stop but reverse the body’s decay. To restore the person to perfect health. To reanimate the corpse’s organs and cells. To bring life out of death. That’s what God did when he raised Jesus from the dead. 

Most remarkable of all is that this same power is available to believers. Someday this power will raise our bodies from the dead and prepare us for eternal habitation (Ephesians 1.19-20; 1 Corinthians 15.42-57). This power is what raises us up from spiritual death and its consequences (Ephesians 2.1-10). This same power transforms us from ungodliness to godliness, from sin to righteousness, from darkness to light (Ephesians 4.17-24). This is ultimately the power of God to save (Ephesians 6.10-17). 

However dark and hopeless this world seems to be, Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God. This power can be yours if you trust and obey.