One of the favorite hymns I used to sing while growing up was written by Aaron W. Dicus. My favorite verse and chorus go like this:

Our God, whose Son upon a tree,
A life was willing there to give,
That He from sin might set man free,
And evermore with Him could live.

There is a God, He is alive,
In Him we live and we survive;
From dust our God created man,
He is our God, the great I Am.

I’ve thought about why I love these words so much. I think, at the core, is because the word “OUR” is used. He is OUR God. OUR God made a sacrifice for us. OUR God wants us to live with Him. OUR God is alive. OUR God is who we live in. OUR God created us. OUR God is the I AM who communicates with us, saved us, and is our father.

That means a lot to me. OUR God is different than other gods. OUR God is real. OUR God isn’t a carved-up piece of wood, or cast metal, or inanimate object. OUR God literally came to earth and lived as a human – a human written about in non-religious historical documents. OUR God knows everything about us, and still loves us. OUR God wants to live inside of us and wants us to live in Him. OUR God is generous. OUR God is kind. OUR God desires a relationship with us. OUR God is so close to us – He works inside us to make us look more like Him … every single day.

But, I don’t want to confuse people either. OUR God is not OUR property. We don’t own OUR God. We don’t somehow possess OUR God in the sense that we control Him. The word OUR is used to annotate an association with Him. Similar to saying OUR galaxy – we are simply identifying ourselves as being unique because of this connection. It is a way to distinguish ourselves from others who have a different god.

If you are part of the OUR that this song speaks of, I am so happy you came across this blog entry. My prayer is that OUR God will bless you, protect you, comfort you, heal you, guide you, and transform you.

For the rest of the words and a good rendition of the song, please follow this link: https://oc.edu/spiritual-life/chapel/great-songs/our-god-he-is-alive

A Big Waste Of Time

I taught in a public school classroom for more than a dozen years. Not only that, I taught grades 6, 7, and 8 for those years. So, I’ve seen the kids who were not making the best decisions of their lives. In fact, many of their decisions resulted in them wasting a lot of their valuable time. Fortunately, many of them grew out of that phase in their lives.

This post is different than most of my entries. It isn’t really about Jesus – although it does focus on something He said. It isn’t really even about Godly living, or evangelism, church, the missions field, sin, Heaven/Hell, or even salvation. In fact, this blog entry can be summed up in five words: “A Big Waste Of Time.”

I grew up wasting a lot of time. I’m still pretty good at it – just ask my wife. When I was little I loved to watch TV. As a teenager I loved reading fiction. I married young and found myself in the work and relax and work some more and relax some more spiral. From my 20’s to my 30’s I played computer games. And even now I struggle with binge watching Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Literally, decades of my life have gone by with nothing to show for it.

You may be thinking – wow! Bob is pretty lazy!

Hold on there – you might have a point – but that’s not the point I’m trying to make – nor is it very kind to be so blunt.

My point is that we (both of us – you AND me) are supposed to be productive. We are supposed to concentrate on doing things that matter – not on things that just occupy our time. If we refuse to do that – we are sinning.

I know! You’re probably thinking: “Show me book – chapter – and verse ‘preacher man’ – I don’t believe it!”

Well, first – I’m not a preacher. I know preachers – I know elders – I know deacons – I know pastors – I know teachers – I know missionaries. They are all part of a special – wonderful – awesome – and unique group of people who are way more important than me. All I do is make a couple of points and press Enter. They are on the front lines – I am in awe of them.

Second – okay – I will.

In Mark 7:1-23 is the account of Jesus’ critics pointing out that His disciples were not ceremoniously cleansing things (their hands, cups, pitchers, dishes, etc). Jesus then pointed out that the things that come OUT of a person (from their heart) are what makes a person unclean – NOT what they put IN their belly. In doing so, Jesus brought to their attention that the Jewish leaders are actually violating the LAW by implementing their own homemade rules.

One of the things Jesus points out as being a sin that comes from a person’s heart is this: folly.

Folly? Yes – folly.

FYI: *Many versions use the word “foolishness” instead of folly – if that helps you get the idea.*

What exactly is folly? In Mark 7:22, folly or foolishness is the word “aphrosune” in the Greek and it means: senselessness. That gets us started. A more thorough explanation comes by looking at the root word – which is “aphron” in the Greek. Now we’re getting somewhere.

The adjective “aphron” is a good word to study because adjectives are (by their nature) description words. They define or clarify things – and that makes this short little word study memorable for me.

Basically,  “aphron” means someone is doing something without a  reason for doing it. It’s the description of a mind that is engaging in an activity that serves no real purpose. It is a brain that lacks sobriety and prudence. It involves a failure to appropriately prioritize what is really important in one’s life. It is indulging in habits or mental exercises that are reckless, inconsiderate or useless. It is turning a blind eye to the reality that spiritual things have precedence over physical things. (Blue Letter Bible https://bit.ly/2lsX9AJ).

So … what is folly in a short phrase? Simple. It’s anything that is a waste of time.

Think about that for a minute.  If growing spiritually is taking a backseat to numbing mentally – that’s folly. If doing for others is lower on our priority list than doing nothing – that’s folly. If more time is spent interacting with video games than interacting with people – that’s folly. If talking about people takes precedence over helping people – that’s folly. If you engage the TV more than you engage those you love – that’s folly. If you have trouble paying your bills because it is more important for you to go shopping – that’s folly. If you spend more time reading and typing on your phone than actually using it to talk to others – that’s folly. If what we are engaging in has no real results other than making us happy – it’s probably folly because we should be focused on doing things that actually matter.

Please allow me the opportunity to remove my foot from the toes I’m sure I just stepped on … so I can step on some other ones now. Folly is not only foolish decisions regarding priorities. It is also senseless religious acts as well. If the extent of our efforts to follow Jesus are simply going to church, praying, reading the Bible, and trying to not sin – believe it or not – that’s folly.

Would we have ever heard of Jesus if the only thing He did was go to tabernacle, pray, read the law and prophets, and not sin? The answer is – NO! We would not have heard of Him.

Why do we know about Jesus? Because He DID things. He helped. He preached. He served. He scolded. He taught. He was an example. He gave. He testified. He revealed. He humbled Himself. He embraced. He healed. He encouraged. He included the unwanted. He called others. He visited the sick. He ate with the destitute. He spoke with prostitutes. He fed strangers. He reconciled. He loved the unlovable. He forgave. He volunteered. He extended grace. And He did all of THOSE things BEFORE He was a sacrifice for our sins.

How can we truly call ourselves followers of Jesus if we don’t do the things He did? The answer is easy: If we refuse to do what Jesus did – we aren’t His followers.

And if we claim we are His followers while not doing what He did – THAT is folly.