I wanted to listen to the video for Session 2 in the No Other Gods study before I wrote today.
It was so good, I took a ton of notes.
And now it is so late and I have many things to do around this house, so I am going to share some of the highlights from today’s teaching and then I hope to discuss a little bit of application tomorrow.
So here we go:
I think, like Kelly states, I always thought of idols as more an “over there in another world or religion” issue.
So I really find the quotes she has found from other authors and teachers to be very helpful.
“An idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure or a hero – anything that can substitute for God.” Richard Keyes
As Kelly points out, most of these are not bad things…they are good thing that become the ultimate thing and then they begin to rule our lives.
I want to write the list again in bullet points, because I would like to have you focus on all the possibilities listed in that quote that may have replaced God in your heart:
a physical object
We are going to visit this tomorrow, or at least that is the plan at this point.
But for today, I ask you to read slowly through that list a couple of times and let the Holy Spirit float some visual before you as to where you may have made something that is or isn’t a good thing into an ultimate thing….something that has gained so much weight in your life that it has taken over space that was meant for God alone to inhabit.
Let’s think about it, pray about it and meet back here tomorrow <3
I was raised by southern women who used paring knives like they were an extension of our hands.
At the store, I use a box cutter to slip the price tags off of items so that I can spare my nails from any more splitting and sometimes people ask me if I ever cut myself.
Not on the box cutter…but constantly on paper and cardboard.
Just yesterday I gave myself a whopper of a paper cut opening a cardboard box that was delivered to our house.
As I applied pressure and Neosporin, I grabbed a bandaid out of the drawer and laughed when I saw it was an Incredibles style.
Thus ensued some family text messages, complete with puns and I went on my way trying to keep it dry.
But this morning it comes to me as I ponder how in the world I am going to navigate the next several weeks of commitments that I am not really very incredible.
I am not a superhero and if I was, something as ordinary and mundane as cardboard would prove to be my kryptonite.
When I am tired and hungry, I have meltdowns and sometimes I have them when I am rested and well fed.
As I continue reading the material and answers I penned in 2016 to the “No Other Gods” study, I realize God has given me some growth and freedom to step away from some idols, but the sad cycle of my human frailty is the reality that I will always default to idolatry…and I love how Kelly Minter helps me understand this by using the term “functional idols” in place of “false gods.”
Because I don’t bow down to a false god, but I do find myself bowing to the tyranny of living up to some image I have created for myself.
I seek comfort in the shelves of our pantry or by scrolling through pretty pictures on Instagram and I tell God what I can’t do and what I won’t do…and the image I have set up for how my life should look if it was going my way cracks the whip over me and says…more bricks and now you must cut your own straw to make them.
As I studied the passages from Exodus that described the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt, I made these notes of the characteristics of those who held control over them:
Dealt shrewdly with them so they would not multiply.
Afflicted them with burdens
They were made to serve with rigor
Their lives were made bitter with harsh bondage, under which they groaned because of the oppression.
When I think of who has this kind of control over me, it is not the enemy of my soul but my own desire to do things the way I want to do them.
It is my own hand that crafts the functional idols and then groans under the weight of them.
God offers me a mighty sword to yield and armor to fit me for the battle, and I choose to strap on an Incredible bandage and dodge cardboard boxes…hmmmm….a silly trade.
How about you?
What is lording it over you today? What is pressing down on you and making you work harder with less fruit to show for it?
That’s the calling card of a functional idol.
Ask God to reveal its name and nature to you and then kick it to the curb.
I signed in and watched the first video for “No Other Gods” this morning. It is a short one and I do want to mention if you are doing the study this summer a couple of points:
<3 You do have to register yourself with LIFEWAY to access the videos. I had an old account I have used to order books and that login worked for me to be able to get on the small group study site.
They are doing it differently than they have in the past, but different is ok. Don’t be afraid.
<3 If you are a male doing the study, she does talk to us like it’s all women but that’s because the study is through LIFEWAY which is kind of geared toward us females…don’t panic…your masculinity is not being threatened. And you just might glean some valuable insight into your wives and daughters minds as you listen in.
It will be different. Don’t be afraid.
<3 I am using my old study guide and adding new notes. The original did not have video teaching so I am just winging it with my note taking. Also, I can already tell the new workbook is set up and titled with updated wording – however the content is most likely unchanged and the first week that they are calling Session 2, HAS to be Session 1 in the old book – pages 8-27.
I hope she included her recipes in the new book – so fun. Do try them…and if she didn’t, let me know and I will share on here!
Our books may be different, but it’s ok. Don’t be afraid.
And now for my preliminary thoughts as we launch into this study.
This past week I received a pair of pants in the mail that Russ had ordered for me.
I would call them “exercise” pants although I mostly wear them for regular life and the occasional walk we try to squeeze in at the end of the day because…exercise? yeah…it’s been off my radar for far too long.
They are wonderfully comfortable and have a pocket in the side leg for my phone and I love them.
He decided we needed to order a pair for each of the girls, so commissioned me to do that yesterday.
As I looked up the company and began to locate the pants, I noticed that most of the clothing in the line is named after various Yoga terms.
I don’t want to open a can of worms here on our first visit about this study, but I am simply stating fact that things like “chakras” and “salutations” have a spiritual meaning beyond the health benefits of stretching that accompany Yoga.
I am realistically stating that while many people use yoga as an exercise method, it is in fact and indeed a spiritual practice and true followers of it would agree with me.
Thus, I am not being controversial, I am just saying that as a follower of Christ Jesus – I am wary of personally dabbling in other religions because it goes against what I believe He taught about Himself and what it means to be His disciple.
I am sharing that I struggle with the implications, even though several of the stretches are ones I need to do to relieve my chronic back pain and ward off the every day threat of a flare of plantar fasciitis.
I do not try and turn them into a Christian worship experience and I don’t avoid them. I do the stretches to help loosen muscles that cause me pain and I move on. I ordered the pants because they are pants, not because of the name.
Yet in the process, I can have huge arguments within my head about what is off limits and what is ok for me to do.
As a P.S. – I have no interest in debating this with anyone nor engaging in argument or justification. This is a personal matter between me and God and I am not trying to convince anyone one way or the other. Each of us must examine our conscience before God on these kinds of issues.
And about right now, you may be wondering what in the world this has to do with No Other Gods…so here is my point…
I can get so caught up in things like the above swirling of thoughts and conflicts and imagined debates about ordering a pair of pants on the off chance that God might be offended by the name a clever marketing person labeled them with in order to get more people to buy them and completely miss the real idols I have set up in my heart.
When I did this study in 2016, I was stricken with the “good things” that I had allowed to become the “main things” in my life and heart.
One of my main takeaways on the first go-round and again this morning from the introduction of the study is:
Make room for WHO you love
Make room in my heart for the God who loves me and who I love with my whole heart.
Do you feel like something is missing in this journey with God?
Perhaps it is because we have replaced Him with things that make lousy gods.
I am looking forward to more layers of my old nature being peeled off in the weeks ahead.
How about you?
Here is my prayer:
Heavenly Father, in this world of 2019, there are so many things that are obviously ungodly that I often get side-tracked with what is going on around me and fail to look deep within me. I know there are places I have set up idols and they have become so familiar to me that I may be fooling myself. As I revisit this study in the weeks ahead, I open myself fully to Your lens and I ask you to reveal to me anything that I have set up in my heart in the place that only You deserve. Thank you for your faithfulness and love for me to not allow anyone or anything to come before You in my heart.