Monday, September 29, 2008

American Idols Series - Week 1

Pastor Kelly started a new series entitled, American Idols, yesterday.

God really spoke to me through it. This topic has been on my heart a lot since I knew this series was coming. Through the Old Testament God continues to speak about idols. In fact it is probably the most discussed topic in the Bible. I am pretty sure Pastor Kelly said it was THE most discussed topic.

I love when PK talks about the Old Testament too. Jesus & His teaching didn't abolish the Old Testament - it put it in a new perspective. He gave it an ending. Gave it new context. I love seeing all facets of God, including the God of the Old Testament. God can't be put in a box. He can't be put in a Jesus box. He can't be put in a box we create. He can't be put into any box that religion tries to put Him in. He's so much bigger than we even imagine. It's okay to not understand Him. We're not ever going to fully understand Him. I love the God of the Old Testament. I don't really get Him or His actions all the time... but I choose to love Him. I choose to trust Him. I ask Him to help me understand Him. I realize that Jesus came for me to connect with Him. I want to continue to get to know Him. The Jesus part of Him... but also the Old Testament part of Him.

I do believe that God is a jealous God. The Old Testament shows this jealousy and His desire for us to worship Him and nothing else. The Old Testament time and time again shows how when we create idols - when we worship anything other than Him there are always consequences in our life. Either direct negative consequences...or just delayed blessings from Him. I do believe that Jesus came to take the blame and shame that my sin creates. To connect me with God. but I also very much believe that when I allow idols into my life, when I sin.... there are consequences. Not eternal consequences - Jesus saved me from that. but consequences because God is a just God. Not that He 'punishes us' but that He refines us.

He wants us to love Him so much. He gave us the free will to choose to do that --- He won't force us to love Him - but He desires us to desire Him. I believe that He even wants us to love Him for our own good as well as His --- because He knows that we will never truly love ourselves or find our value & true joy until we love Him and love Him above all else. We will constantly seek other sources for our value, validation, significance, which will leave us empty in the long term (though most will make us feel good in the short term - which is why we fall for those tricks).

I think that's all my thoughts for right now after the sermon yesterday. Let me try to summarize what else PK said that touched me most:
  • idolatry is the cause of every sin we commit
  • every sin is based on an idol
  • the sin is just the fruit. the idol is the tree the fruit comes out of
  • every person worships something!
  • the opposite of theism (theim = loving God) is NOT atheism. the opposite of theism is idolatry
  • what is your idol? popularity, passion, pleasure, power, your kids, your spouse, your parents, education, the body He created (health, looks), morality (you idolize rules & rituals more than Him), relationships, community, money, perfectionism, validation from others?
  • these things in themselves are not inherently bad --- they become bad & distorted when we put them above God!!!
  • to help you figure out what your idols are ask yourself some questions:
    1. what makes you frustrated? what do you complain about? This is a great indicator of what your idol is. what you give most of your attention to.
    2. where do you put your time & money?
    3. what do you worry about? What do you fear?
    4. where do you go when you are hurt? Where is the first place you go when you're crushed? What's the first thing you do when you've had a bad day?
    5. what makes you angry?
    6. what are your dreams & passions? What do you lust over?
    7. what brings you the most joy?
    8. whose applause do you desire most?
  • worshipping our children can be a symptom that we are trying to find significance in our roles. fame/popularity/validation from others instead of caring what God thinks.
  • worshipping your parents can be a symptom that your idol is validation / approval from people rather than God
  • if your idol is morality & your religious rituals... you can be extremely inflexible & unloving to others. you can become judgemental, arrogant, self-righteous with a critical, condemning spirit. many of our parents have passed on this idol of morality/rules on to us.
  • we have to DAILY surrender & submit our lives to God. Realizing He is above and bigger than anything we can create. We "take up our cross" by daily telling Him we will turn from the things we lust after. recognizing He is above all else. That everything in our lives is His and we are just stewards of it. That He is most important and these things are secondary. He wants us to enjoy these things, these gifts from Him. He gives us these things, so we can enjoy Him, in these gifts. not so we can enjoy the gifts above all else. If we put them above Him and make idols out of the things instead of the source... our hearts become distorted and we will not enjoy these things with a pure thankful heart like He wants us to.
  • The christian life isn't a one time choice to allow Jesus into your heart. The christian walk involves daily decisions to worship Him and not what we see, sense, feel, touch.

Whatever you put first in your life has the most power. When anything other than God is first --- it leaves room for the devil.

What's the first step to getting rid of our idols? Recognizing them. Then acquiring a thankful, appreciative heart for what we've been given. We SHOULD love and be so thankful and take so much joy in these things -- our children, our families, our financial blessings, our health, our ability to learn... but we must always remember the source. Remember who has given us these things, whose things they are... and how undesserving we are of them. It's all about thankfulness. Acknowledging God and putting the focus on Him that all these good things have come from Him. Recognizing, respecting, revering who He is. Destroying idols daily & surrendering your life to Him. Seeking out what is important to Him. Caring what He cares about. Not allowing the noise and stimulation we are bombarded with to become our focus so that everything becomes distorted. Taking time away from all of it to be with Him throughout our day.

It is a daily thing. It is always small daily steps that make huge differences. Small daily steps to get to Him and allowing Him to make us into the person He created us to be.


Anonymous said...

I like the post. I adore the OT, I think if we are ever to get a better understanding of the New Testament we must gain a better understanding of the OT. We must constantly keep in check as to what we make idols. The simplest thing we put above the glory of God, and we've commited treason against our most high King Jesus.

But I do have a conscern

"the opposite of theism (theim = loving God) is NOT atheism. the opposite of theism is idolatry"

That statement is entirely to general, both Judaism and Islam are considered Theistic in worldview. I think we would both agree that neither of these faith's are true. Just something to think about.



babyfordawn1983 said...

The things you wrote about people idolising there religion is one of the reasons it has taken me me so long to get back in touch with Him and I still don't know how to really connect with Him. I know it is going to take me some time but I WILL find him. Thanks for sharing your findings and thoughts. Your words really help me out.

Randi Jo :) said...

you all are awesome.

allen - Thanks for the comment! :) I am not sure about that one statement. maybe I took out of context what the pastor was trying to say there. BUT I THINK I understand what he was getting at.... "theism" means loving God right? and so pastor was just saying you can't be anti loving God -- because you will always love some God. so the oposite of theism isn't a neutral ground like people think it is. the opposite of theism is loving a God other than THE God. you are loving and worshipping something either way -- so if it's not THE God, it's idoltary. so that includes all false religions, people who worship these worldly things.... the piont is - there's no neutral. you DO worship some god... whether it is THE God or not is the question.I think I made sense? I don't know --- all the specifics & religious words kinda confuse me hehe :)

Dawn - thanks as always :) the struggle you have is what so many of us have. people always ruin things that are meant to be pure and beautiful and simple. BUT that's why we can't focus on the people. and just because we always mess things up, doesn't mean all is lost. God IS still in our churches. we DO love Jesus and He won't let us stray too far. He will bring us back to Him! I have NO doubt that you will connect with Him and grow with Him, because you are seeking. All who seek will find Him. Keep on taking it day by day, frustations, questions, struggles & all. Maybe even start writing down some thoughts to Him along your journey. It's amazing how when I write down my questions to Him - He answers. I am not always able to see and figure out His answer right -- sometimes it's weeks, months, years later --- but He IS listening! the awesome thing, is that we don't have to have this all figured out. we just take it baby steps at a time. 2 steps forward 1 step back. keep on keeping on girl :) love ya!!

Anonymous said...

Theism doesn't mean loving God, it is a general term used.

Theopedia defines theism like this:Theism affirms both the existence of a transcendent God and one that is involved in Creation. Or, according to Webster's dictionary, it is "belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world."

So, it really doesn't mean loving God. Which is why I was conscerned.

Randi Jo :) said...

ohhhh ok. thank you! :) like I said - I probably just wrote down wrong what PK said - so it's probably my mistake... I appreciate the clarification!

Andrew Clarke said...

This is a great post! It's like taking in a good church message. As you say, God can't be limited to a concept of Him that just suits us or conforms to our prejudices. The OT is part of the Word, and it is ENFOLDED by the NT (that's how a pastor once put it to me) it does not get put aside by the New. You're right about idols, I believe, too. The generation before the baby boomers tended to make an idol out of personal respectability without having Christ as the inspiration at the heart of it. They were just 'respectable' in their own eyes, not necessarily Christian. A bit like the Pharisees perhaps. But then I should not critisize. I too could make the bad mistake of taking something as an idol if I don't remember each day to seek God in prayer and keep reading the Word. Even parts of it I know well renew understanding of it, they do not become repetitive. I'm glad I read this post. Have a great day.

KJ said...

Randi! Thanks for visiting...I enjoyed your comments. The gospel is a lovely, progressive experience, isn't it?

Best Wishes to you!

Allison said...

I think you are so right when you said we can't truly love ourselves, if we don't love God. We won't know who we are meant to be so we can love ourselves. Pride is different.

Randi Jo :) said...

thanks you all! :) I hope you're having an awesome day walking with The Lord! :)