Thursday, August 17, 2006

Don't Worry About the Small Stuff?

In keeping with the line of thinking of Jesus being our Lord and with being serious about living our lives in a manner consistent with our faith and consistent with the commands of our Lord, I came across a really good article on "The Small Sins" written by Tim Challies (He often blogs really respected national conferences...and will be live-blogging Desiring God's conference at the end of September).

You can find the article here. I highly commend it to anyone reading my blog, for the small sins really DO lead to the large ones, and a person committed to holiness and sanctification cannot let this pass.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Is Idolatry REALLY That Serious?

In my earlier post on Ezekiel and idolatry, I mentioned that the first thought that came to mind when reading a particular verse was "Quit playing games!" Over and over again, God warns Israel to stop their idolatry and turn to Him alone. How serious is God about idolatry?

Look at Ezekiel 23 for the a clue to the answer. Samaria and Jerusalem are compared to women who are prostitutes. The language is graphically disgusting in its ugliness.

These women are said
..."to lust"
..."to be defiled by"
..."to flaunt her nakedness"
..."to long for the lewdness of your youth"
..."to commit adultery"
..."to be worn out by her adultery"
..."to whore after"
..."to whore after"
..."to whore after"
..."to whore after"

Going after idols is compared to the ugliest, most degrading action a woman can take: the intentional giving of her body to numerous men for money...with no regard to the holiness of the act. She is defiled. God says He "turned from her in disgust." Can you imagine? God turning away in disgust?! What does that say about the depths of depravity associated with the act?

This is idolatry. This is how seriously God takes it. How can we possibly gloss it over, ignoring the fact that God isn't reigning in our hearts and lives? Do we want God to turn away from us in disgust? That thought alone is terrifying!

Please...I plead with anyone reading this...implore God to search your heart and to reveal idolatry where He finds it. Then do as He instructed in Chapter 20...cast out the idol; stop defiling yourself. There is no doubt that it will be hard, for we love our idols; they are a part of us and a part of our lives. But the more we muse about what God is saying in Chapter 23 about the seriousness of idolatry, the easier it will be....

Toward more holiness and away from idolatry....

The Dominion Mandate

If we are to "stop playing games" as advocated in the previous post, one of the ways to do that would be to bring the Dominion Mandate to the forefront of our thinking.

In Genesis 1:28-29, God presents what is commonly referred to as "The Dominion Mandate," the command to take dominion over creation. This was an original command, presented in the Garden prior to the fall. It has never been revoked. Thus, it is still applicable for the Christian today and should guide his every thought.

"How is what I am doing today helping to take dominion over the earth and advance the Kingdom of God in my sphere of influence?"

How would a question like that affect our lives if asked and answered each and every day? How would it affect our spending patterns? How would it affect our prayer life? How would it affect our relations with our neighbors? How would it affect our recreational choices? How would it affect our choice of vocation? How would it affect our family relations? How would it affect the way we choose to raise our children? How would it fill in the blank!

When you consider the implications of our responsibility as Christians to take dominion and to work to spread the Kingdom, it should jar your thinking out of the rut that is our evangelical culture. What a massive vision! What an incredible responsibility! We have only been given so much time on this earth. Will we let another day pass without turning our hearts and our minds away from the trivial items which so often clog our lives to the big picture of what our Lord and God has commanded us to do? Will we let this command serve as a framework in which we organize our lives? Can you imagine what a different culture we would live in if all those who named the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior actually started living in such a manner that they took dominion and spread the Kingdom?

Hoping and praying for more Dominion-takers....

Monday, August 14, 2006

Quit Playing Games

As I am making my way through Ezekiel, I am struck by a couple of passages in Chapter 20. They can be found here and here.

Over and over and over again, God continually tells the Israelites through his prophets to quit worshipping idols, to tear them down. And over and over and over again, the Israelites turn back to worshipping the idols of wood and stone.

In verse seven, God is telling them to cast away their idols and to not defile themselves with them. Why? Because He is the Lord their God! That means he has every right to command them to cast away those idols, and they have the responsibility to do so because they know He is their God.

In verse 39, it appears God is through playing games. If the Israelites will not listen to Him, then he consigns them to serving their own idols forever. But He will no longer tolerate the double-mindedness of their attempts to be His people and yet worship and serve idols.

Let us never forget that Israel is a "lesson book for the nations"...and for all of us who claim the name of Jesus Christ. Their lives, as well as what God's direction for them and response to them applies right here and right now for each of us.

So what is my idol(s)? What is yours? I seriously doubt many of us bow down to a carved image of stone and wood. But what are we serving? In America, I can almost guarantee each of us struggles with serving money and materialism. We succomb to the marketing strategies of the advertisers that convince us that we are discontented with what we have. What are we serving? An idol doesn't have to be material; it can be anything that sits in the throne of our heart, the throne that is rightfully God's. When we allow that, and yet claim to be Christians, we are being double-minded. Scripture says that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8).

So what is the solution? Start with, "Quit playing games!" That is the first thought that came to mind when I read verse 39. God is tired of it. If we are listening to God, then turn away from the idols. Who exactly IS your God? The triune God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Or something else? Ask God to show you what is uppermost in your heart...that's what I did this morning, and it will be a continual request until I can say with confidence that the Lord alone occupies the uppermost of my affections. And as God allows you to discern your idols, do what He says in verse 7: Cast out your idols and quit defiling yourself. Idols may look nice, and we may even have them packaged in nice spiritual language...but they defile us in the eyes of God. It's going to be very difficult to continually be defiled by our idols and yet move toward our wedding day when we will be the spotless bride of Christ. We must take action. We must cast them out. We must make the conscious, active decision to live as one for whom Christ died.

May God grant each of us the wisdom and insight to identify our idols...and to quit playing games with them, turning wholly to God with ALL our heart!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Vacation and Brain Freeze

Go on vacation...
Have a great time...
Don't post for a while...

And watch your brain freeze up for topics!