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Archive for November, 2011

WHAT IS AN IDOL?

“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth . . .  because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen . . .understood through what has been made . . .they are without excuse . . .  even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened . . . they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” Romans 1:18-23

OLD TESTAMENT IDOLS

Between the pages of Genesis and Malachi we find descriptions of idols–golden calves, wooden carvings, and statutes of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay. All crafted and carved by men who worshipped and depended on inanimate objects to protect, provide, and meet their needs.

DO WE HAVE IDOLS IN AMERICA?

Can a piece of stone deliver a person from tragedy, heal a child on the edge of death, or save a marriage headed for divorce? Can a piece of gold or wood justify a person before the Sovereign Holy Righteous God and Creator of the Universe ensuring him an eternal home in heaven?

There are places in the world where people fall down and worship images of stone, declaring them gods.

But in America? Idols? Surely not.

An educated twenty-first century American would never take a chunk of gold, rock or wood to the foundry or to an artist to make an image to fall down and worship–would he?

In the previous blog, “Violation of God’s Laws,” we talked about the meaning of God’s first command–no other gods before Me–nothing between your face and God’s face.

Wives, when your husband asked you to marry him, would you have said yes if there was something or someone standing in the way when he proposed? For instance–an old girlfriend he still had affection for, beliefs contrary to God’s law, or habits and addictions that would destroy the marriage.

A problem surfaces between you and a dear friend. Can the friendship continue if issues put a barrier in the relationship? For example, an insistence upon always having one’s own way. Jealousy over other friendships. Unresolved anger about past issues. A continual hateful spirit.

God says nothing between your face and My face. I take that to mean God has authority over every particle of my being every minute of every day–my thoughts, emotions, reactions, choices, and decisions are to become level against the plumb line of His laws, principles, statutes, and precepts.

IDOLS WE STRUGGLE WITH

For a time I allowed my children to come between my face and God’s face. I lived for them. And when the grandchildren arrived, they took center stage as well. I hung on their every word, spent money on them we didn’t have. Time in God’s word was put on hold when the grandkids called or came to visit. Going to church? Only if it agreed with their schedule, and it seldom did.

My husband’s idol for a number of years was his job. He worked long hours, indifferent to family life. But Richard and I learned the hard way that God was his employer. After living through a corporate downsizing, a fifth grade boy in my Sunday School class prayed, “Dear God, please don’t let Mr. Gates go without a paycheck.” Five downsizings later, we give testimony to the fact we never missed a paycheck. Twice we had overlapping severance and new employment paychecks.

We were blessed by that young man’s prayers but God was also teaching that fifth grader about faithfulness. Fifteen years have passed and I still remind that now young father how God answered his prayers for us.

Neighbors and friends have allowed their lake houses, boats, fine homes, recreation, and money take the place of priority in their hearts and minds. Anything that takes precedence over your faith, worship and praise of God Most High is an idol that has come between your face and God’s face.

But let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The supersized idol who lurks inside each one of us, waiting to grab the heart–if only for a moment–to dethrone El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty, and take us captive.

THE GOD OF SELF

We make thousands of choices each day. Choices to walk in obedience to God and His Word or choices to do what we feel like doing–because we believe we have a very good reason to replace the Eternal Power and Divine nature that created us. Each time we give the idol of self authority to call the shots, darkness reigns until we ask forgiveness and allow the light of His Truth to dispel deceptive thoughts, choices and actions.

In John 10:27 Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they know Me.”

How long has it been since you’ve heard the Lord speak to your heart? Have you ever heard Him speak? Could it be that something or someone has taken you captive–inserted itself between your face and God’s face?

But Paul tells us that “We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:37.

What idols do you struggle with? Identify the idol. Ask Jesus’ help. That’s a giant leap along the road to becoming more than a conqueror.

NEXT: Generational Curses and Blessings

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“You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3

In 1973 the Congress of the United States of America declared Humanism a religion.

At our first parent group meeting we were able to identify the teaching problem at the schools in Longwood, Florida. They were teaching another god and another religion to our children–the god of self.

Our parent group filed a lawsuit against the school board on the grounds that if we couldn’t teach our religion–you can’t teach yours. We won and the books were removed. But how did we remove damage from impressionable, young hearts and minds?

We were not naive enough to think ours was the only school district involved in this teaching; and, history has proved we were correct. Where were the parents in those other districts?

Let’s get to the question at hand. Which one of God’s boundaries does this teaching violate?

God told His people: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

The translation of that statement means–Nothing between your face and My face. God is the sovereign ruler of the universe and we are His creations. Just as my mom had authority over me, I am under God’s authority as His creation. He holds my next breath in His hand and has the absolute right to rule my life. If I choose to rebel against that truth, God does not change nor does His truth.

Believing and acting on the lie that we can do whatever we like, if we have a good reason is the violation.

If I choose to believe the lie and disobey God–so what? I have removed God from the equation and elevated myself to a place of authority above Him. That’s what Satan did and that got him booted out of heaven.

God operates outside of our time. Just because He doesn’t send lightning to strike at our point of rebellion doesn’t mean we won’t have to answer to Him. The forbearance and longsuffering of His grace speaks to the reality of His patience, mercy, and love for His creation. “He is not willing that any should perish.” 2 Peter 3:9

However, His Word says, “Whatever a man sows, that shall he reap.”  The rest of that statement could be–what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow. Violations to His Word always brings consequences. Look around  you. Read the newspaper, or watch the six o’clock news. You choose the violation. God chooses the consequences.

We can look at the history of the nation of Israel and recognize that God means what He says. The Old Testament Books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, or better yet–Judges–are filled with God’s instructions, peoples’ rebellion, and God’s judgment for their sins. Let the final words of Judges ring in your ears “. . . and everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” and compare those words with Americans today.

Scripture says God doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That should cause a thinking person to fear Him. So why don’t people fear? They don’t have a clue who He is nor do they have any interest in knowing Him. Because they are their own god.

I was appalled to hear the President’s news guy misquote the Bible the other day when he said, “The Bible says God helps those who help themselves.” I challenge any of you to find that verse in The Word of God.

That’s the crux of the problem. The majority of people, even those within the church, don’t know how to or choose not to spend time in the Word in order to find God’s revelation of Himself–words from the sovereign Creator of the universe to His creation. Sad!

Did you know Congress declared Humanism a religion? And that public schools have been integrating this religion into their teaching for at least the past 40 to 50 years? Have you read the Humanist Manifesto? If you have, what do you think about it?

NEXT:  What Is An Idol? Do we have any in America today?

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“Arise, cry aloud in the night at the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones . . . ” Lamentations 2:19

During my teen years Mother recited again and again, “I don’t build fences to keep you in. I build fences to keep the bad stuff out”.

But it sure felt like I was being detained. Until I grew  up and had children of my own.

God sets boundaries for His kids too. Not to hold us captive but to keep us safe. He’s not the Cosmic Killjoy. He’s the Great Protector.

My kids were third and sixth graders in the late ’70’s. Their school in Longwood, Florida, became the battleground and my first exposure to the guerrilla warfare waged against them from the confines of the classroom.

We were busy working, earning a living to put food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on these children who grew like weeds in my garden.

Little comments began to slip from their mouths, to which we responded, “They’re just kids”. Then one afternoon our third grader retorted, “My teacher says I don’t have to mind you. You’re old. I don’t have to do what you say. I can do what I feel like doing.”

Now what teacher in their right mind would tell that to a child? So we instructed our daughter, “You’re not listening. Your teacher wouldn’t say that. You need to sit down, be quiet, and listen.”

But then other parents began to voice concerns when their kiddos came home with the same rhetoric. Gradually we realized their teacher really taught these lies and the kids were acting on their newfound enlightment.

A gang of kids is annoying, but a gang of irate moms–well, you don’t want to go there. We organized, divided, and mounted a siege from every angle. We discovered the guidance counselor held classes with every kid, in all grades, each week. The Seminole County School Board and Wekiva Elementary allowed this counselor to use a book not approved by the State of Florida Text Book Committee, nor was the book  on the list  from which they could choose for approval.

We tracked the elusive publication to another school and borrowed it. A meeting was called, inviting all interested parents with kids at our elementary school. Charlie Reese, a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel Star, met with us and we previewed the book DoSo the Dolphin which was being taught at the elementary school. The book being used at the middle school level was Total Affective Behavior.

The essence of DoSo the Dolphin taught it was all right to do anything you wanted to do, if  you had a good reason for doing it. One example used in the book was “Little Johnny told a lie. But Little Johnny had a very good reason for telling this lie. What would you do if you were Little Johnny?”  The text and the teachers encouraged the children not to go to their parents for answers, but to come to the group, their “Magic Circle” where they would be understood and accepted.

This book was used in grades 1 through 5. And by the way, the kids were not allowed to bring school books home nor did they have homework. And parents were not allowed in the classroom–ever.

The middle school kids were exposed to survival games–where they were taught to make life and death decisions based on a person’s worth to society. This teaching became known as Situation Ethics, i.e. The situation you’re in determines the ethics you use.

The question remains: Is God’s Word truth? Is there absolute truth? Satan asked Eve in the garden, Did God really say that? And the blurring continues as it has since that day.

Fast forward to 2011. Is it any wonder we find ourselves dealing with high school shootings, drug gangs in schools, teen pregnancies, abortions, alarming STD rates, wrecked homes and an overcrowded prison system? And that just scratches the surface of the muck. We have raised a generation of adults who were taught in public schools “if it feels good–do it”. How can we expect them to have a moral or spiritual compass?

This brain-washed generation is raising children of their own with few, if any, boundaries. This begs the question: Where do we go from here? As parents and grandparents, what is our responsibility before God, to our children, and to this failing society?

In the coming blogs let’s discuss some of the boundaries God set in place. Let’s talk about why He constructed the fence and why His rebellious kids catapult over those restraints and find themselves in a place they thought would bring freedom and joy only to find destruction.

Jumping the fence has brought tragedy to many young lives, crumbling families, and the decline of a morally and spiritually sound society.

Were you a student in the classroom during this deceptive teaching or do you know people who were? What effect did it have? I invite you to join the conversation.

NEXT: How does this violate one of God’s boundaries?

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