Guest Devotional – “Like Totally Awesome, Dudes”

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 | Comments Off on Guest Devotional – “Like Totally Awesome, Dudes”

Guest Devotional – “Like Totally Awesome, Dudes”

My guest today is Denise Kelso Loock, author of Open Your Hymnal and Open Your Hymnal Again. I know you will be blessed by what she has to say.


The LORD your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. Deuteronomy 7:21


At dinner one night I asked my 16-year-old daughter Kelsey to define the word awesome. She said, “über good”—Kelsey’s bilingual version of “very good.” Her friend Zoë agreed.


“Do you and your friends still use that word?” I asked them.


“All the time.”


“When’s the last time you used it?”


“This week my teacher postponed a test and I yelled out, ‘Awesome!’” Zoë offered.


“This cake we’re eating is pretty awesome,” Kelsey added.


The girls’ idea that awesome means “very good” is a 20th century invention, born in the 1960s. But for hundreds of years, awesome had a much different meaning.


The Hebrew word now translated awesome is mowra, which means “fear,” “reverence,” or “terror.” Mowra is the noun form of the Hebrew verb yare. In the Bible, mowra and yare always refer to something or someone that inspires reverence or godly fear. KJV translators used the English words terrible, dreadful, and fearful to convey the Hebrew meaning.


But modern translators decided those adjectives gave the wrong impression about God and His works, so they used awesome instead. According to an online word origin dictionary, awesome appeared in the 1670s and meant “inspiring awe.” It was used almost exclusively to describe God and His works.


Unfortunately, as my conversation with Zoë and Kelsey illustrated, the uses for awesome have expanded so much that like an overused elastic waistband, this word lost its effectiveness. If we use awesome to describe everything from postponed tests to cake, how appropriate is it as a description for God?


In Deuteronomy, Moses used yare to impress upon the new generation of Israelites the nature of their God and the necessity of their obedience: “If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law . . . and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the LORD your God—the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants” (28:58-59).


Was he trying to scare them into obedience? Not exactly. He was urging them to have a proper respect for God: Revere Him. Obey Him. He alone is worthy of worship. It’s something to consider the next time we sing Michael W. Smith’s “Our God Is an Awesome God.”


How often do you use the word “awesome”?


About the Author:

Denise Loock 2Denise Kelso Loock is a former English teacher, Bible teacher, speaker, writer, and editor. Her work has appeared in a variety of well-known devotional publications. She is the founder and writer at

A collection of Denise’s devotions, Open Your Hymnal: Devotions That Harmonize Scripture With Song, was released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in 2010. To read more about the book or to order it, click here.  A second volume of hymn devotions, Open Your Hymnal Again, was released June 2012. To read more about it, click here:Open Your Hymnal Again.

Denise taught a weekly women’s Bible study at the Montgomery Evangelical Free Church in Belle Mead, NJ, for 15 years. Over the last 5 years, she developed and taught her own Bible study curriculum: The Life of Joseph, The Life of Moses, and The Life of Joshua, and the books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. Denise is currently teaching a Bible Study on Ruth at  Long’s Chapel, in Waynesville, NC.

Denise is an associate editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She also accepts freelance editing projects. She is also a staff writer and editor for a monthly online and print publication, The Journey C

She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and their cat, Ginger. Son Jeff is a student at UNC Wilmington; daughter Kelsey is a student at Western Carolina University.

Open Your Hymnal Again Open Your Hymnal

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