Archives For Idolatry

I went into my room last night and saw a small cassette tape on the table.  We are long past the age of cassette tapes so I was curious about this and I picked up and noticed that it was a sermon I preached while I was an intern at Washington Avenue church of Christ in the summer of 2002.  I came to the church building this morning and searched for a cassette player and as I am typing this I am listening to my sermon entitled, “The Christian Soldier.”  It is a humbling task listening to the way I preached years ago because I thought I was a good preacher back then.  Some of the phrases I used and the theology I purported I think to myself, “How could I have been that naive?”  I even preached from the King James Version of Scripture!!!  I write this to you because it is not a bad thing to look at the skeletons in our closet. 

  • Looking at our past helps to shape us.
  • Looking at our past helps to comfort us and how far we have grown.
  • Looking at our past helps to center us if we have fallen. 

So what skeletons do you need to look at and get rid of in your closet?  What are those pet sins you have that keep you from a relationship with God?  So often we do not look at what’s deep in our hearts because we are scared at what we might find.  If we are scared to look at what’s inside then that should be a pause for concern.  A problem neglected is a spiritual life infected.  Think about that…I just made it up :).  A problem neglected is a spiritual life infected.  If I have a mold problem in my foundation neglecting it does not change it but actually the problem gets worse. 

So open your closet door, and get the skeletons out.  In honor of the KJV and my sermon…

“Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:  These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matt. 15:17-20). 


Delayed Gratification

February 17, 2010 — Leave a comment

Have you ever seen something on television that you thought you absolutely must have?  Or maybe after Christmas when you saw your friends with all of their gifts you noticed that so-and-so had the latest gadget and you just had to have it.  Did it consume your mind?  If you are like me, if you get something in your mind you can’t get it out unless you purchase it or wait until something new comes out.   

The problem I struggle with is endemic of my generation but specifically with any generation powered by technology.  With new things coming out every year (I mean a CPU is outdated after 6 months) there is the pressure for consumers to purchase the latest and the greatest.  I am guilty.   

This has not always been the case.  Perhaps you heard your grandfather talk about how he did not have his first shiny car until he was 55 years old.  Perhaps you have heard of him tell you about how he had to work 7am-5pm for 30 years and never did he get more than two weeks vacation or even so much as a bonus.  College students come out of universities now with a sense of pride asking for 3-4 weeks vacation and salaries equal to a person who has 10 years under their belt.  The issue?  Entitlement and an absence of delayed gratification and a pressing need for little to no accountability.   

Caleb is one of my most favorite biblical characters (I named my first son after him) who probably served the Lord better than I will ever be able to!  You remember the story in Numbers 13 where he and Joshua spied the land and gave an excellent report telling the people that they surely could possess the land.  Caleb was 40 years old at the time!  How do I know this?  Fast-forward to the book of Joshua where the people of Israel have gone from battle to battle traveling and fighting and now the land is resting from war and so it is time to a lot the land to different people.  Joshua 14 marks Caleb’s turn to receive land.  Read these verses carefully:  

I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’ “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. (Joshua 14:7-13)  

Did you catch that?  Caleb waited 45 years to get something the Lord had promised!  45 YEARS!!!  Many of us get upset with the Lord when we don’t get that promotion or the loan did not come through on the house or perhaps we did not get that job we thought we would get!  We live in times where we feel we have to get blessed right now!  NEWS FLASH:  you are already blessed even if you get nothing else for the rest of your life!  Can you live with that?  We may have to wait to get a blessing from the Lord but the wait is worth it.  But even if we don’t get “it” God is still faithful and God has still blessed us.  If you are frustrated with God, please wait, it may come much later.

Greed – A Confession

January 5, 2010 — 2 Comments

Man with Stack of DonutsI am writing this as a semi-confession.  I want to admit that I am a greedy person.  I know that as a minister of the gospel (at-least a paid one) I am held to a higher standard than most people and that it is important that I set the bar higher than most people.  So that is exactly what I am doing.  I want to start 2010 off admitting what most ministers are afraid to do.  I am greedy. 

Of course, we are all greedy to a certain extent aren’t we?  I estimate that deep down in your heart as you are reading this there is probably a list somewhere that you have of things you either want and don’t have or have and don’t want.  Admit it!  I have been looking at some statistics and noticed that “according to UNICEF, 25,000 children die each day due to poverty.  And they ‘die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death'” (Source).  Yet, I am going to go home today to a house that has central heating and air and I am going to watch TV on a 37-inch flat screen and then maybe play on my Playstation 3 later at night when the kids go to bed.  To top that off there is something inside of me that wants a bigger house with more bedrooms and bathrooms. 

I think this is a good time to confess what is painfully obvious to God yet purposefully opaque to me: I am greedy.  Perhaps 2010 will be known for a lot of things.  One person will lose 40 lbs and another will run in a marathon.  A lot of people will quit smoking and some people will reunite with loved ones.  One person may vow to go home early to be with his kids and another will stop spending so much time traveling so that she can be with her husband more.  not for me.  2010 will be the year I consciously confess my greed and take the necessary steps to subdue, subvert and destroy it!  Like any commitment this takes time and is not done overnight.  But it will be done. 

A word from God:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matt. 6:25-34). 

So may you seek God as well and may you admit the idolatry of greed and realize God has given you, me and us everything we need.