Golden Idols and Felt Boards

Golden Idols and Felt Boards

prayWhenever I hear the word “idol” I always get two images in my head. The first image, I have to thank my Sunday school teachers for.  Thanks to the felt visuals displayed on our felt board, I will always associate “idol” with a golden, felt calf. But that’s a whole different story.

The second thing I always think about when I hear that word “idol” is someone worshipping something other than our God. It is almost always a “bad” idol that I am thinking about.

And of course, I do not have idols in my life. I’m a good Christian. There are no golden, felt calves in my house. No sir.

But I heard something interesting this week. And it’s challenging me like crazy.

Are you ready for it?

Idols are usually formed from good things.

Did you catch that? Things that we can make into “idols” are usually not bad in and of themselves. This makes it a little more difficult to identify them, because after all, they’re good, wonderful things…on their own.

Now I don’t know about you, but I was perfectly comfortable placing all the ugly, dirty, obviously wrong things in the “idol” box. I could happily look in that box and say, “Nope. I haven’t put any of those bad things above God. I’m good. No idol here.”

But just because I don’t physically bow down before something that is obviously bad or chant in front of it or intentionally place it above God, doesn’t mean I’ve set God at the absolute highest and rightful place in my life. Or in my heart.

So how do we know whether or not we have created an idol out of something or someone?

Before this week, I would have thought an easy way to figure that out would be to ask the question, “Well, what are you living for?”

But I’ve been challenged this week to ask myself a different question. I shouldn’t ask myself what I’m living for, but ask myself, “What am I most afraid of losing?”

The answer to that question reveals where my value, heart and life are held.

Ouch. Did anybody else feel the sting of that question?

“What am I most afraid of losing?”

Another interesting telltale sign of identifying an idol is looking at the areas of our lives that we have uncontrolled emotions in. What or who are those emotions directed at? Once we identify that, we can probably agree that too much of our heart, value and life is being held in that thing or person.

Financial stability
Success in a career
Spouse
Family
Physical beauty
A relationship
Control
Social status
Life plans
Marriage

The list is endless. Do you see how all of these things are not bad things? They’re good things. Things we should love and value…but not idolize. Even when an idol is created out of a good thing, it’s still an idol. And an idol will always, always break our hearts.

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other….”
Luke 16:13

Lord, please reveal areas of my life that I am holding closer to my heart than you. Show me the people and relationships that I’ve allowed to hold my value, heart and life. And as You reveal these things, please fill those places with Your truth! May I place You, my Savior, above every one else and my Salvation in You above every thing else! You are the one, true God worthy of my praise, affection, energy and attention! You are holy and anything other than You is counterfeit and temporary. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
John 4:23

In Every Situation

I absolutely love Philippians 4:6 & 7. It was a very precious verse to my husband & I during our first year of marriage when we were learning to fully rely on God even when circumstances felt incredibly shaky & the future felt unpredictable. The truth & lessons we learned through this verse become a part of our core, so this verse continues to be very dear to me. It reminds me of God’s goodness in the past. And it encourages & gives me confidence about His goodness in the present & future. When we would recite this verse, we’d take it one line at a time, soak in it & practice it. The “give thanksgiving” part was not always easy. Especially when we felt like we were lacking something big at that moment. But as we communicated our thankfulness, our hearts began to be truly thankful & we realized how abundantly blessed we were & how much we had to be thankful for! I pray this verse blesses you where you’re at now. I love you, dear friend.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving*, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus*.

*Thanksgiving: The expression of gratitude to God

*Will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus: The enemy does not battle to change our situations. He battles to defeat our minds & hearts! Your heart & mind, when connected to God, are the outlets in which the joy & peace that God gives flows. If the enemy can trick or even distract your heart or mind, then you will be deceived into thinking that your situations have overwhelmed you & you will live today defeated and disheartened. But the truth is, God continues to hold you in His hand & work for your good. God & His provision for you will not change, but if you allow the enemy to enter into your heart & mind, he WILL enter & try to deceive you! Rely on God’s unchanging truth, not our changing emotions or limited understanding. That means the moment satan tries to put doubt, fear or worry into your heart or mind, you immediately claim God’s truth in your life, over & over & over. God’s Word is His truth, so keep a scripture you can look at, meditate on & quote out loud written down right next to you today. And when you read it, don’t speed through it. Take it line by line & claim it. The same Holy Spirit that dwelt in Jesus now dwells in YOU! And satan cannot intimidate, change or manipulate you unless you give him permission. Make your focus on Jesus & His goodness! Be mesmerized by Him today!

Source of Life

During my college years, I would hear my sister & some of my friends say, “I just can’t imagine going a day without being in God’s Word!” They would describe to me how they could tell if they went through their day without being filled with His Word first. I didn’t really understand this because by the time they had their “quiet time”, I had already washed the dishes (turned the dishwasher on), ironed my clothes for the next day (threw my outfit in the dryer on the “scorch” setting) & pretended to finish my history paper. How would praying & sitting there help me in my day?

And then, my Savior, after relentlessly pursuing me for years & loving me before I was even born, CHANGED MY LIFE. Slowly, but surely, I began to understand what my sister & friends had tried to express to me before. After experiencing uninterrupted, personal one-on-one time with God on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day, I just knew that I’d never be able to go a day without setting time aside to share my heart with Him. But just as I was sure that I’d keep it up…I didn’t. At first I thought that maybe I’d just pray while I was being “productive” around the house. And then, I’d get so sidetracked with changing the toilet paper rolls in the bathrooms & scrubbing the tub, that praying went right out the window. And my favorite laughable reasoning was, “Sure, I WANT to spend time with my Savior. But I have too much to do. Plus, I don’t feel ‘needy’ today, so I’ll just spend extra time with Him tomorrow. Won’t He be happy about that.” Then 24 hours later, “I’ll just wait until tomorrow. I’m still doing good. I hardly cried over anything today.” Another day or two goes by and I realize that I’m really…just…in a funk for some reason. In fact, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed & empty. My faith is feeling a little shaky.

It’s written out crystal clear in Romans 10:17. It says: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

So this is where you think I’d connect those dots and say to myself, “Hello! You know what you need. You need to plug into your life source! Easy fix. Now go do it.” But instead, like a broken record, I repeat to myself, “I’m way too busy; and really, I just don’t feel like it. I’m not feeling happy and I don’t want to come to a perfect God when I’m not feeling happy. I’ll try to perk myself up with some chocolate or something and then I’ll spend some interrupted time with Him. Tomorrow.” This mindset is not right! Why do I think it’s ok to fellowship with the Lord only when I need to get something out of it? The God of the universe wants desperately to spend time with me; listen to me pour out my heart to Him; comfort me. John 4:23 expresses how God loves our worship & longs for fellowship with us! Umm, WOW.

God-is-our-source-of-life. He is our joy giver, grace giver, abundant life giver. Without staying plugged into that source, we cannot & will not live each day to the fullest. We need to realize that we are not self sufficient & can not navigate our lives without Him. And praise God that we don’t have to! I declare Him faithful!