Category Archives: No Other Gods 2019

Checking in on the No Other Gods study <3

As I have mentioned, for this summer’s No Other Gods study, I am using my original study guide from 2016.

It is interesting and poignant to read the words I penned in the margins and how I answered the questions.

There has been growth and change in some areas, some remain unchanged but I can rejoice to know that what God revealed has not been covered back over again.

He and I have moved forward, not backward. He has waited for me to my part as He faithfully has done His.

We have farther to go, He and I…but it’s a Journey…remember.

On Day 4 of Session 4 I noted that our Pastor Brian had returned from sabbatical on July 31, 2016.

Isn’t it interesting that I did this study about the same time of year in 2016 as I am doing now?

Brian came back from sabbatical, walked into the pulpit and God led him to talk to us about ….

functional idols.


He called our “more than God god’s” just the new term I had learned in the study while he was sabaticalizing…FUNCTIONAL GODS

Idols are functional gods because they are what we have turned to that “work” for us and meet our perceived needs without having to really change or face our sin nature.

So this morning I am sharing the notes that rest in the margin of my study guide.

From Brian Talty, God Thoughts: Faith in God’s Faithfulness, July 31, 2016 First Christian Church

“Put your faith in God’s faithfulness: take this faith ‘test'”

FUTURE: Is your faith in God or in anxiety and worry? When we choose to remain in anxiety we have made a “functional god or idol” to place our ‘trust’s.

PRESENT: Is your faith in God or in anger and bitterness? When we choose anger and bitterness, we map THAT onto our present and make it a functional idol because our identity has become challenged. Don’t be imprisoned behind bars of anger and bitterness over a current situation but place faith in God’s faithfulness.

PAST: Do you place your trust in who you know God to be? Or do you place your “trust” in the guilt and shame of your past mistakes? Guilt and shame are idolatry projected on the past. Jesus died to FREE us from guilt and shame and we know this because of Romans 8:1-2

Brian Talty (paraphrased from his sermon to my notes)

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 The Message

So there you have it…straight from a three year old sermon and the promises of the New Testament all based on the truth from the One True God.

Idolatry stinks.

That’s why God wants us free from it.

Be blessed as you progress <3

You can find the sermon I am referencing here:

The truth and nothing but the truth in journaling….

A few weeks ago a friend of ours stopped me in the lobby at church to ask me about journaling.

That’s not surprising in and of itself because I do get asked about that from time to time, but it is always women and this happened to be a man. 

He has been feeling the nudge to journal more regularly as part of his study and prayer time and his question was a good one. 

He asked me if I stick to vague references about heart issues or if I am gut honest when I journal.

Short answer?

Gut honest. 

I believe that writing out my thoughts, ugly and raw … deep and pondering…working through all of what is crowding out God in my heart, soul and mind…is part of the journaling process. 

It helps me clear away the fluff and often reveals pride or guilt or whatever isn’t of God and makes room for Him to do what He does…

convict, rebuke, comfort, forgive, restore, edify, counsel, speak into this life that He gave me. 

And there is another reason I express myself in journaling with bold transparency. 

There are days I run across an entry and as I read the words I wrote with my own hand, farther down the road of this journey, I sit in humble gratitude for how God took those thoughts the day I wrote them and He held them tenderly and faithfully and because I owned what I was feeling…

He did His thing and I do not feel shame for what I misunderstood about His goodness. 

My honest outpouring was a child crying out to her Abba Father. 

And while I may not get an answer right after I write out my heart and my questions…over time, He worketh <3

I ran across a confession I wrote in the margin of the No Other Gods study today. 

I wrote it in a hard season of deep hurt three years ago. 

In the midst of painful loss and transition, as I cried out to God, He revealed to me things that were buried in me that needed to be dug up and removed. 

Today I read with humble gratitude the exchange I had with Him that day and I can mark the growth that has come three years later. 

Little bits of fruit here and there on a tree that dug her roots into His mercy and grace and took life from His living water as we limped through a rough time. 

Perhaps you are not one who takes up a pen and writes out your thoughts, but it is the only way I know to record mine so that I can remember what God has done for me. 

He is great and awesome and yet so very kind and personal. 

Know Him. 

Monday thoughts <3

Oh it is good to be home! 

I sat a little extra long with my coffee, journal, Bible and prayers this morning and now have a list of things I need to tackle, so a quick thought and we are off and running for a Monday.

With being gone last week, I didn’t really share any thoughts on the No Other Gods study…so I had to smile this morning when one of my first Scripture references in one of my morning devotion standard reads was this one…

“You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves carefully.”

Deuteronomy 4:15

The attribute of God for the passages today was focusing on “Invisible”

How do you feel about that?

Probably like me, you wish that wasn’t a quality of God we have to deal with.

Giant crosses hung in front of the church surrounded by smoke, lights and a lot of people who think like me

A breathtaking sunset

Tiny fingers of our first grandchild gripping my pinkie

All the faces of all our people gathered around the table 

Shiny things

Good things

Visible things

These are blessings I can touch and taste and see.

How difficult to realize we can give all we hold dear to be thrown into the fire and when a golden calf just pops out…we figure it must be from God and suddenly….we have strayed into idolatry. 

But God reminds us.

He does not “appear” out of the fire. 

He is invisible. 

He will not satisfy our need and desire for an image. 

He is too big for that.

He is greater than the little gods we have made up in our hearts.

Out of good things we fashion a god who can satisfy our immediate need and we can somewhat control and manage and manipulate.

But He refuses to play by our rules.

I am so thankful.

The blessings He has bestowed upon me have come in many shapes and sizes and have been both mind-numbingly beautiful and soul-piercingly difficult. 

But not one of His blessings can save me. 

He is God and there is no other. 

He will show Himself to me by covering His face because He is so glorious I cannot handle it. 

And this is more than enough for me <3

Fear of heights <3

So I got to come to Atlanta and go the the AmericasMart and it’s pretty amazing.

Three buildings the size of … I don’t know….a small airfield maybe…I might be exaggerating but not by much.

Twenty plus floors, each loaded with show rooms of all the things…but one tiny glitch.

Unless you want to go allllllll the way back down to planet earth to pass from one to the other you have to cross this death bridge of glass suspended over thin air.

Kind of like the sensation Spider Man must have on his nightly outings.

See that foot in the picture.

That’s the tennis show of a man who had to be my senior by maybe five years or more.

That’s as far as he will go out on it he said.

And he works there.

I got a few inches further and just looking out to the side of that building in the background took enough years off of my life that I am now technically older than the owner of the black aforementioned tennis shoe.

Oh I will cross that bridge tomorrow.

Make no doubt.

I once conquered my fear of heights in the presence of our daughter Sarah and there is no way I will go back on a victory.

It won’t be pretty…and I may be extremely focused on my own feet as I make my way across that span of fear…but I will do it.

A victory over something doesn’t mean it will never threaten to try to take you out again…it just means you know your God got you through it the last time and He will be there, rock solid, all the times you face your giant again…and again…and again.

And when I get to the other side, I will be stronger than I was the day before and I will know that with God…all things are possible.

Stand up to your fear by falling down before you God.

Group high five and I will see you tomorrow <3

When we withdraw from the table <3

Good morning! 

I have an opportunity to head north a little early and make a pool visit with some of my favorite people and since this has been the summer of overcast days and rain…I am not passing on this opportunity!

This morning I watched the third video session for “No Other Gods” and my mind and heart are so filled. 

I felt perhaps she was speaking directly to me, but I know that is how God speaks.

The words would all appear the same if written on paper, but the message is divinely engraved on each unique human heart in a personal way. 

He is the ultimate Author. 

I will be pondering what was opened up in me throughout the day, but for our time together I want to reflect on a point Kelly made as she reviewed Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1 and 2. 

She talked about how Hannah would go up with her husband year after year to the festival in Shiloh.

Childless and taunted by her rival, the other wife Peninnah, she would attend this celebration with roots going back to the book of Deuteronomy. 

It was a time of feasting and rejoicing as families gathered together. 

I picture the ideal Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. 

But Hannah had no children and so at this particular year’s party, she was done. 

We know this because her husband asked her why she wasn’t eating, even though he had given her double what he gave his child-bearing wife. 

In the teaching, Kelly Minter compared this to times when our hearts are so heavy and we make an appearance in the Lord’s house, but we are no longer participating in the celebration at His table. 

I find myself at this moment, just as I did when I heard her say it, feeling the grip of tears and a tight throat that constricts just above a heart that, like the Grinch, knows the confines of a small box with walls constructed of some pain. 

Do you remember the old cartoon? 

How his heart was just so small…and then when it grew and grew and grew some more and burst through? 

That’s how I feel sometimes when God starts softening up and breathing life back into places where my heart has died a little. 

It hurts good when our heart grows bigger…but it hurts bad when it is constricted in pain.

And sadly, heart pain can cause us to withdraw from worship. 

We can excuse it with a lie that we are just going through too much and we don’t feel happy and joyful so we just can’t bring ourselves to participate in those chipper worship songs. 


Let me personalize this. 

I can excuse heart withdrawal by showing up at church and standing in the midst of the worshippers…but not worshipping. 

I can take the bread and cup as it passes but not really nourish myself in the truth of the joy of His salvation. 

I can walk through the lobby and chat a little with some people and not koinonia-fellowship with anyone. 

And when I withdraw from the Body because I am hurting deep within…when I push back from the Lord’s table because deep down I feel He has forsaken me….

I for sure am taking the first steps towards fashioning some kind of idol out of some kind of lesser material and I will be worshipping something…even if I said I just didn’t have it in me to worship God that day. 

It’s hard truth, people.

We were made to worship and if, in our pain, we don’t fall down before the only One who can understand the depths of it and can heal it…we will fall down before something or someone that will never bring about the restoration and healing we so desperately need. 

Much to ponder…much to consider.

Blessings…you are loved dearly <3