August 19, 2010

Idols of the Heart.

I wanted to write a post on idols after watching a short devotion on this topic put out by "Gospel in Life." I would encourage everyone to go and get this study as it is very powerful and convicting. I have heard many sermons on idols but I would usually think "oh, I know I have some idols but not as many as other people." After going through this session it struck me how many things are idols in my life. There are even many good things, that, when I place them before the Lord, they become idols of my heart. For instance, relationships. I long for good, strong, Christian, relationships but sometimes I put so much focus on them that I forget about my most important relationship. My spiritual relationship with the Lord. There are many other things as well, family, material things, money, a longing to be remembered and known, school, technology, the list goes on and on! I know many of these things are good as well so how do we know when these things have become or start to become an idol? Richard Keyes in his essay The Idol Factory notes,

All sorts of things are potential idols...If this is so, how do we determine when something has become or is becoming an idol? ... As soon as our loyalty to anything leads us to disobey God, we are in danger of making it an idol... 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, a hero.

This quote makes me wonder how many other things I make into idols without even realizing it. Not only have these things become idols in my life but I am trying to gain happiness and satisfaction from these things instead of from the Lord! The only one who can grant me true happiness and fullness of life.The pathetic thing is is that these idols will NEVER satisfy, we always want something more, something better, more fun, to fill the emptiness within. It is only by the Lord's help that we can stop living for these idols and start living our lives out for him as "living sacrifices."

These following questions are really helpful to understand what our idols are and even show us the hidden idols of our heart.

1. What is my greatest nightmare? What do I worry about the most?

2. What do I rely on or comfort myself with when things go badly or become difficult?

3. What makes me feel the most self-worth? What am I the proudest of?

4. What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?

I think we should all reflect on these questions and ask the Lord to help us remove these from our hearts.

Lord, I see how repulsive idolizing this mere idol really is. In yearning after this, I was trampling on your love for me. I realize now my lack of thankfulness, my lack of grateful joy for what you have done for me.

August 5, 2010

Resting in God's Love

Hello friends,

How are you? I hope well. I decided to write another blog post about things that have been happening recently in Italy. God is so powerful and immense and even though he doesn't need us to accomplish his will; he uses us as his vessels to bring others to himself and his Gospel. This is an amazing thought and very encouraging with some of the stuff that has happened more recently. I can honestly say that before moving to Italy, I didn't really understand nor had I truly experienced true spiritual warfare. The devil knows the things that drive us to our breaking point and tries to use them to pull us away from God and toward himself. Just recently, our car (which we bought only a year ago) has been brought into the mechanic over 10+ times for strange and unusual problems, numerous computers have crashed and died, windows have broken, shelves destroyed by the heat, innumerable health problems, important documents have evaporated into thin air, pipes ruined in the fridge, more technology problems then I care to think about, and so on and so forth. I don't tell you these things so as to complain or for sympathy but for your prayers and encouragement and so that those who don't feel or see the spiritual battle may know that this battle is being fought and to remember that whether or not we win the battle, the Lord has already won the war. I would also like to encourage those that are experiencing this battle to remain steadfast in your faith and trust in the Lord, to keep him as your #1 priority. The Bible encourages us with these verses:

Ephesians 6:10-18
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

I am also incredibly encouraged by this verse in Romans:

Romans 8:38-39
38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What an incredible promise, we will NEVER be separated from the LOVE of our Lord. Absolutely nothing can separate us. Isn't that an amazing promise? I can rest peacefully knowing that whatever happens in this life, I will rest in the love of the Lord. No amount of demons or power of Satan can pluck me from my Savior's hand. I hope that you remember this promise and are encouraged by it.

Resting in his love,