02/4/10

Play Like a Child — Again

Red Tricycle 300x245 Play Like a Child    Again**Guest post by Demian Farnworth at Fallen and Flawed.**

My son owns a red tricycle. Behind that tricycle he likes to pull a red wagon. He likes to haul stuff around in that little wagon.

One day he lugged a large, faded plastic Joseph (from an old nativity set) around. I asked my son, “Who’s in your wagon?”

“Joseph.”

“Jesus’ father,” I said.

He looked back at the faded Joseph. Then back at me. “Yeah, God’s dad.”

I chuckled. But then it struck me–that’s exactly what we do with God…that’s exactly what I did with God. Let me explain.

Destroying My Family

Not long ago there was a time in my life when, as a Christian, I toyed with God. Yes, I said the prayer, bought the Bible, spent a lot of time at church.

But something was wrong. Very wrong.

See, throughout the first ten years of my so called Christian walk, I obsessed about one thing and one thing only: Becoming a world famous writer.

Much to the disappointment of my wife, this ambition took first place to everything else–my marriage, children, work–and even church.

In fact, I believed it was a very natural thing to neglect your wife, children and God for the sake of art. But you want to know the really sad part? I was miserable.

I lived that way for ten years until I finally crashed and burned. And it’s no surprise that when we are bent on our own way that we eventually crash and burn. The Bible teaches that pride comes before the fall.

So true.

The Happy Ending

In the end, I wasn’t pulling God around in my little wagon. I pulled around a resin coated image of God. The real God was waiting for me to surrender.

Listen: God is not a toy. Nor someone who tags along. He’s not our “co-pilot.” He’s the Creator. The guide who blazes the path. The pilot who’s behind the divine rescue mission called salvation.

In essence: He’s in control. And usually we’re out of control.

So let me challenge you with this: How’s your spiritual life? Is it full of joy? Peace? Or is it dominated by frustration and anxiety?

If the latter, there’s good news: You don’t have to live like that. A full, complete surrender to God means incomprehensible joy and peace.

It means you get to play like a child again. Which sounds like a lot of fun, don’t you think?

Author Bio: Demian Farnworth is keynote blogger for Fallen and Flawed.



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06/18/09

Discerning Idolatry in Desire

ManLookingUp glows dark Discerning Idolatry in DesireHow do I know when my enjoyment of something becomes a sinful idol?

John Piper writes:
Idolatry will destroy our relationship with God. And it will destroy our relationships with people. All human relational problems—from marriage and family to friendship to neighbors to classmates to colleagues—all of them are rooted in various forms of idolatry, that is, wanting things other than God in wrong ways.
So here is my effort to think biblically about what those wrong ways are. What makes an enjoyment idolatrous? What turns a desire into covetousness, which is idolatry?

1. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is forbidden by God. For example, adultery and fornication and stealing and lying are forbidden by God. Some people at some times feel that these are pleasurable, or else we would not do them. No one sins out of duty. But such pleasure is a sign of idolatry.

2. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is disproportionate to the worth of what is desired. Great desire for non-great things is a sign that we are beginning to make those things idols.

3. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is not permeated with gratitude. When our enjoyment of something tends to make us not think of God, it is moving toward idolatry. But if the enjoyment gives rise to the feeling of gratefulness to God, we are being protected from idolatry. The grateful feeling that we don’t deserve this gift or this enjoyment, but have it freely from God’s grace, is evidence that idolatry is being checked.

4. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it does not see in God’s gift that God himself is more to be desired than the gift. If the gift is not awakening a sense that God, the Giver, is better than the gift, it is becoming an idol.

5. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is starting to feel like a right, and our delight is becoming a demand. It may be that the delight is right. It may be that another person ought to give you this delight. It may be right to tell them this. But when all this rises to the level of angry demands, idolatry is rising.

6. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it draws us away from our duties. When we find ourselves spending time pursuing an enjoyment, knowing that other things, or people, should be getting our attention, we are moving into idolatry.

7. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it awakens a sense of pride that we can experience this delight while others can’t. This is especially true of delights in religious things, like prayer and Bible reading and ministry. It is wonderful to enjoy holy things. It idolatrous to feel proud that we can.

8. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is oblivious or callous to the needs and desires of others. Holy enjoyment is aware of others’ needs and may temporarily leave a good pleasure to help another person have it. One might leave private prayer to be the answer to someone else’s.

9. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it does not desire that Christ be magnified as supremely desirable through the enjoyment. Enjoying anything but Christ (like his good gifts) runs the inevitable risk of magnifying the gift over the Giver. One evidence that idolatry is not happening is the earnest desire that this not happen.

10. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is not working a deeper capacity for holy delight. We are sinners still. It is idolatrous to be content with sin. So we desire transformation. Some enjoyments shrink our capacities of holy joy. Others enlarge them. Some go either way, depending on how we think about them. When we don’t care if an enjoyment is making us more holy, we are moving into idolatry.

11. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when its loss ruins our trust in the goodness of God. There can be sorrow at loss without being idolatrous. But when the sorrow threatens our confidence in God, it signals that the thing lost was becoming an idol.

12. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when its loss paralyzes us emotionally so that we can’t relate lovingly to other people. This is the horizontal effect of losing confidence in God. Again: Great sorrow is no sure sign of idolatry. Jesus had great sorrow. But when desire is denied, and the effect is the emotional inability to do what God calls us to do, the warning signs of idolatry are flashing.

For myself and for you, I pray the admonition of 1 John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

Click here for the full article



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11/14/08

Progression of an Idol

This article, from Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries, is very powerful. The Bible instructs us to deal with heart issues, and not just bandaid surface problems. This article contains the best teaching I have read on how to spot and deal with those heart issues.

http://www.peacemaker.net/site/c.aqKFLTOBIpH/b.1172255/apps/s/content.asp?ct=1460037


Ken Sande:
“The heart’s central role in conflict is vividly described in James 4:1-3. If you understand this passage, you will have found a key to preventing and resolving conflict.

‘What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.’

This passage describes the root cause of destructive conflict: Conflicts arise from unmet desires in our hearts. When we feel we cannot be satisfied unless we have something we want or think we need, the desire turns into a demand. If someone fails to meet that desire, we condemn him in our heart and quarrel and fight to get our way. In short, conflict arises when desires grow into demands and we judge and punish those who get in our way. Let us look at this progression one step at a time.”

He then goes on to show the progressions of the hearts desires into idols that create conflicts. I highly recommend that you read the rest of the article, it is well worth the time. It changed how I view conflict and my heart.



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