Tag Archives: Idols

Just a Thought on Idols . . .

10 Dec

I John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

We assume that others want to get rid of their idols.  We assume that we want to get rid of ours, too.

For many reasons, that may not always be an accurate assumption.

Sometimes our idols are propping up another part of our life, a part we are trying to live independently of God.

Sometimes our idols have been in our life longer than God has and we have not identified them as idols because they are so familiar to us we can’t see the connection.  

Sometimes we even have habits we know are not pure but they are so familiar we can’t believe they could possibly be an idol.  

They can.

When we are ready to be serious with God, He will show us our idols, one by one.   

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Thoughts on idols (icons that might need to be smashed just to show that God is all in all)

29 Sep

I John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.”

This is from a note I wrote to a friend today (Disclaimer:  I promised, when I started Iconobaptist, that I would never smash someone else’s icon/idol, and I abide by that promise.  If this post makes you think about smashing one of your own, well, that is between God and you!):

The older I get, the more I am fixated by watching people’s faces.  And the more I become aware of how fragile we all are, even in Christ, and how little it takes to hurt someone else and how hard it is to look at someone’s face when someone has just hurt that person.

I find myself pulled in two directions.  There is the need to speak truth about theology.  A lot of theology is mushy or downright scary.

But people identify themselves with their theology and therein lies a problem.  If somebody has spent years clinging to something and defending it, they may find it feels like part of their identity.  And if we oppose it, they may feel their very essence is being opposed.

That is in their perception, but it is there.

You may see where I am getting to with this.

I am seeing, wherever I go, that Christians are very similar in defending the extrabiblical traditions of their particular branch of Christianity, no matter where they worship.

We all have found idols that need to be replaced by God’s good grace in our lives.

In fact, since there is no perfect denomination or church, I would dare say that every single Christian on this planet has some man-made doctrine they are defending as though it is in the Holy Scriptures.

One blogger I read said that, if we can’t identify such a doctrine in our lives, it is only because we have not formally written down our denominational infrastructure in order to objectively examine it.

Try changing the offering at a Baptist church.  Make it an ATM at the exits where people can transfer funds to the church rather than throwing an envelope into a plate.

I’ll bet that would get a howl of outrage.  Why? Did God tell us in the Bible we have to pass an offering plate?

In fact, I love the offering plate, but I acknowledge it is a man-made tradition.

That is why we need to write Iconobaptist.  Too many good people have not thought through their cherished icons.  And thus they become idols.  For all of us.

A Father to the Fatherless

24 Aug

Psalm 68:5,  “A father of the fatherless and a judge of the widows is God in his holy habitation.”

Yesterday, preparing to go to the Midwest to look at a possible college for our son, I got a little weepy.  Well, a lot weepy.

Parents have a special relationship to their children, one that most of us feel we should do more than we do to cultivate.

I think that parental guilt about not doing more is probably the sign of a healthy, thriving relationship.

While planning our route to southeast Wisconsin, which will probably pass right through Chicago, I was remembering various trips to Chicago in my youth.  I was last there when I was in my mid-20’s, visiting a friend.

I also got a letter from my mom yesterday, with eight photos I never knew existed, taken the month of my high school graduation (and surprise 18th birthday party).

There was a photo of a dear friend who has died.  There was  also a photo of my high school best friend, with whom I have somehow fallen out of contact since our 20th reunion in 1996.

That friend reminded me of Chicago, too.

She and I listened to a song on the radio back then that went to #1.  It was called “The Winds of South Chicago” and was by a group called Garden.

I can’t find it anywhere on the Internet now.  Well, one European site will sell a copy for around $40.

Maybe it is better this way.  I think we memorized the words.  The music was probably melodramatic and distracting anyway.

One verse, the best I recall it, went:

“Child of South Chicago, with childish dreams around you

You missed the kiss that found you, in the darkness as he tried to say goodbye,

And now Chicago will seem a little colder when someone who has told her has left her room forgetting how to hold her.

Chorus:  Who’s gonna tell her Daddy’s gone?

Who’s gonna tell her life goes on (and on and on)?

Who’s gonna tell her Daddy’s gone, that means gone for good, that means from now on . . .

And the winds of South Chicago will blow .  . .”

Leaving aside the fact that the words are the attempt of a white writer in the era of the Civil Rights movement to explain the realities of a black child (so, historically, they are far from perfect), the imagery of that song pricks me to the heart even now.

If we are not careful, we Americans, both black and white, both conservative and liberal, can come to see the tragedy of the fatherless home as a huge problem that only grows by tens of thousands of children every year.  We can see it in terms of numbers of children abandoned.

God sees it in the heart of every single individual child waking up to realize that Daddy is gone for good.  He understands that every single one of those hearts cries out, then grieves.  He knows that every single one of those hearts wonders what they did wrong to send Daddy away.

It is almost a grief beyond measure to contemplate the collective number of tears shed by children, black and white and other races, abandoned by their daddies.

Because it is such a huge grief, we tend to not want to think about it.

God thinks about it.  God feels it.  He wants us to love as He loves.  He calls us to help in various ways.

The main thing all children need to know is that God is their Father.  He wants to be in relationship to them.  He promises He will be a special Father to the fatherless.

That is the living bread we provide.  But the Bible says if that living bread is offered to someone who doesn’t have actual bread to eat, it won’t be heard.

My best friend in high school, mentioned above, had parents who took in foster children.  Since we lived in a nearly all-white area back then, I met some of the first black people I ever knew in the crib at my friend’s house.

Her parents didn’t save every black child from fatherlessness.  But they did their part to rescue a few from poverty and introduce them to the Savior.  And we can, too.  

 

Note:  I realize that some may be shocked that I have focused almost exclusively on fatherlessness in the black community.  I know that it is a problem elsewhere, too.  It is just that God is breaking my heart right now with the state of racial relations in this country.  We think if we don’t use the words “black” and “white” that we can paper over the underlying issues and they won’t really exist.  That approach is not working, folks.

I believe we are literally breaking our Lord’s heart with the racially ugly remarks we make when we are not “on the record.”  I have heard both conservatives and liberals dehumanize blacks.  And I understand a lot of ugly things are stated against whites in our black communities.  We all need to realize that God is having none of that.  He has created us all and wants to be a Father to us all in every way.

We need to do away with the idol of supposed racial superiority, whichever way we have internalized that one.  It is sin.

Parent Training 101

3 Aug

I John 5:14, 15: And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

 

I learned a principle while raising our special needs child through his elementary and middle school years that will last me the rest of my life.  Although I call it Parent Training 101, it actually rests upon the truth of the above two verses and thus applies in any area where we have needs and desires that we bring to God.

 

I homeschooled our son from kindergarten till he was nearly sixteen, when I was found to have breast cancer.  At that point we put our son into a Christian school setting for over two years while I recovered and got back to the basics in my own life.

 

Those homeschooling years were precious and involved several organized daytime support groups, three specifically for homeschoolers and one that was a mother-child Bible study that accommodated homeschooling families for most of those years (I taught the middleschooler and highschooler class in that study so homeschooling families could attend). 

 

I learned that every year, and every month, really, of those homeschooling years had to be given individually to God, along with my needs and desires for that year.  Since my son had difficulties that could affect the balance of a group (emotional meltdowns that occasionally occurred in public), I knew that I could presume nothing of God, ever.  If He wanted me teaching in Bible study or in our co-op, He would enable us to both be there for that schoolyear.  He would do that by enabling our son’s behavior to not be a distraction to anyone.  If He had a different plan for us, then He would make that apparent as well.  And, either way, I had to be okay with God sovereignly leading in our lives as we attended these groups that helped us in our homeschooling journey. 

 

I gradually grew to realize that, if I were not okay with God sovereignly leading in those situations, it would mean I had made an idol of whatever ministry I was in.  That is easy for us to do as Christians because ministry is a good thing.  But God, and doing His will, however incomprehensible it may seem to us at the time, is the best thing!!!  I had to be willing to lay down anything, at a moment’s notice, to follow Him.

 

As it turned out, our son’s behavior never became a stumbling block to participation anywhere.  Sometimes configurations changed in a group and the older homeschoolers were no longer a part of that group, or other things were changed that kept us from full participation, but never was our son’s behavior the reason for a change in our plans from year to year. 

 

God faithfully superintended our attendance for me.  If it had been otherwise, God would still have been a faithful God.  But He allowed us to fully attend every support group that we needed until such time as He let us know, by changed direction in that group, that it was time for us to find something else to do.   

 

I have learned to hold activities loosely and to hold God tightly.  My primary job is to be the wife and mother in my family.  God will continue to help me to do that, as He has so faithfully done for the past 20 years of our son’s life.  And He will help you, too, when you struggle with wants and desires in your own life.  He is utterly faithful.

Why Iconobaptist?

28 Jul

Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

 

The theme verse for my blog reminds us that Jesus is enough.  He has always been enough.  Theologically, I could take that into the Old Testament, when the Psalms were being written, but I won’t right now.

 

In the Middle Ages, there were two groups in opposition, like so many times in human history.  These groups were the iconophiles, who loved pictures that illustrated the Bible (icons), and the iconoclasts, who hated such pictures and took every opportunity to tear them down in churches and break them to pieces.

 

The first group believed they were keeping the second commandment, about not making graven images, because they didn’t have statues in their churches like the Roman Catholics.  The second group believed that all such art broke the second commandment, whether it was statues or pictures.  Many of the second group ended up being attracted to the Muslim faith, which only allowed geometric figures in its places of worship (nothing with a face).

 

While we can certainly understand the confusion that reigned at the time (especially before the invention of the printing press brought the written word into the hands of the common man so he didn’t need quite so much art anymore to illustrate for him what he believed), we can also see that this created quite a division between people of faith back then. 

 

Ever since then, an iconoclast is someone who challenges the cherished rituals of society.

 

I may occasionally do something a bit along those lines in this blog, but I wish to balance that with the realization that it is usually not necessary to tear down things of beauty in my own life or anyone else’s.  The only time that may become necessary is if we realize that a created thing has become a substitute for God in our lives.  In that case, I will leave it up to you to tear down those things in your own life, as I will tear them down in mine.

 

Mostly I want to challenge us all to think purposefully about our faith and the things and people in our lives.     

 

I see several strands of our society that need to be discussed civilly.  First of all, do we have cherished rituals and traditions that we have incorporated into our Christian faith, inadvertently placing them alongside the Bible in importance without realizing they have no Biblical basis?  These may be good things, when used appropriately, but we may have given them more importance in our lives than they warrant.   

 

Have we, perhaps, made idols of these cherished rituals and traditions so that we can’t worship without them?  Maybe we even think they are essential to our faith, even though they are manmade rituals and traditions.

 

Do we perhaps think less of people who don’t hold to the same rituals and traditions as we do, even though they are only personal preferences and not Biblical commands at all?

 

Has all of the above led us to a place where we believe we have more control over our lives than God has actually given us?  Do we trust our rituals and traditions to regulate our lives and keep them from spinning out of control? 

 

Have we, perhaps, even believed our own P.R. so much that we have developed the belief that we are masters of our own universe?  Have we enthroned ourselves as gods in our own lives?

 

All of these things can happen to normal, God-fearing, God-loving people.  Calvin said the human heart is an idol factory.  That means that all of us make idols out of things and people around us, and maybe out of ourselves.  We want to be aware of the tendency so we can do something about it. 

 

In the midst of smashing the idols of our own hearts, and ridding ourselves of inner conflict, we also realize we are in churches where we worship alongside people who have different backgrounds than we do (and different idols).  That can cause conflict external to us.  One way this happens in every generation is when older people and younger people come together and use the same words to mean different things. 

 

This blog will try to untangle some of the communication gap between believers, too.

 

There is much we can do to hear the Lord Jesus Christ better.  There is much we can do to love His people better also.  Then, together, we can effectively reach a lost world. 

 

I want to start the dialogue because it is one that we need to have.  There are many hurt and isolated people everywhere, even in the Body of Christ.  And until we start to work through some of our issues, the hurt and isolation will remain and will perpetuate itself wherever we go.  We can’t fix this type of problem by changing churches because it is within us . . .

 

I look forward to dialoguing with you!

 

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