Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good morning, friends. Today we are going to have a pop quiz...this is for my study gals...

In about a week and a half we will start back up in our study of the big picture of the Bible. For those of you who were at church on Christmas morning, my husband gave a great review of what we have been studying! If you weren't there and would like to hear it, you can check out our service at the link below - it starts at about the 52 minute mark and lasts about 15 minutes. I would recommend watching the whole thing because it was a wonderful service!

In preparation for returning to our study, I thought a review quiz would be fun! Below is a list of terms that we have studied to this point in our gatherings and beneath them are their definitions. Get out a piece of paper and write 1-24 on the left hand side. Then beside each number write the letter that gives the definition to that vocabulary word.

As an added help, I would write out each word so that you can scroll down to the definitions and just stay there, but you'll figure out what's easiest for you. Sorry this formatting is not the greatest - it's the best I could come up with in blogger world.

Take your time and when you are done, you can check your answers in the back of your student notebook if you have one from our study. It is the first 24 words on the vocab list. If you don't have that list, comment here or send me an email and I'll send you one via the internet.

Have fun and I'll see you on January 10th!


1. Covenant

2. Eternal Covenant

3. Covenant of Works

4. Creation

5. Curse

6. Noaic Covenant

7. Patriarchs

8. Abrahamic Covenant

9. Worship

10. Israel

11. Sacrifice

12. Passover

13. Manna

14. The Pentateuch

15. The Mosaic Covenant

16. The Law

17. Tabernacle

18. Sacrificial System

19. Priest

20. Conquest

21. Judge

22. Kinsman Redeemer

23. Davidic Covenant

24. Psalms

a. the founding fathers of the line of the seed of Promise

b. Biblical creation lays out a six-day account, for the purpose of laying a pattern of work and rest for man as seen in the 10 commandments

c. the conditions man must keep to be a child of God

d. the first 5 books of the Bible, written by most likely Moses, that contain the Law of God – the Jewish name is the Torah

e. the promise to make Abraham’s descendants great, to protect them and provide land for them, and to bless the nations of the world through them – the promise of a Savior

f. the innocent for the guilty

g. the 5 Levitical sacrifices set up as a picture of the offering of the innocent for the guilty, to show thanksgiving to God, and to picture restored fellowship with the Father

h. a close relative who acted as a protector or guardian of the family rights

i. this is the consequence that man, woman and the serpent must bear as a result of sin

j. one who intercedes between a holy God and sinful man

k. a conditional covenant that says if Israel will keep the commandments of God, the God will call her His own, make her a perpetual priest to humanity and set her apart from all other nations

l. setting aside your will to do the will of another as an acknowledgement of worth

m. songs written mostly by King David – a few were written by Solomon and Moses, as well

n. agreement Jesus Christ made within the Godhead that agreed to redeem His children from sin by dying and bearing God’s wrath. In return, God would give Him a people of His own, would raise Him from the dead and would place the nations of the world at His feet

o. what is it?

p. the promise of God that David’s descendants would have an everlasting kingdom and that they would be sons of God

q. wrestles with God/one who perseveres with God

r. promise

s. promise God made to never destroy the whole earth with water again

t. the oldest of all festivals – it is in remembrance of the angel of Death passing over the households which were protected by the blood of the Lamb

u. tent of dwelling

v. the time period when Israel returned to the Promised Land and battled the Canaanites to possess the land

w. a unique leader raised up by God to preserve His people against their enemies – “deliverers” or “saviors”

x. agreement between God and man that God would provide life to man in return for perfect obedience

Monday, December 26, 2011

Just a Sampling of Why I have the Greatest Mom in the World

For those of you who have met her, you already know...but this is the email I received on Christmas from my mom...she is a Genghis Khan buff, which explains one comment...enjoy!

Love you, Mom!

...thinking about Christmas:

I don't know how Mary got to Bethlehem..pregnant....we say she rode a
donkey, but that's not in the Bible

The Shepherds didn't hear music when the Angels came to them. It was an
announcement...not to music

(the angels sang together at creation , but not in Bethlehem)

Genghis Khan's son married a daughter of a chief of a Christian Persian
Tribe (1205..or about) and her father, in order to be chief, had to be a
direct descendant of one of the wise men....(isn't that cool?)

The inn in Bethlehem that was 'full' isn't a public
inn. There is a different word used in the Good Samaritan story for
inn..that that word meant public inn. This inn was a 'guest room' probably
in a relative's house because Joseph was of the house of David and went
there to be taxed. So he probably was staying with relatives..and the
'coming' baby wasn't his...or theirs. So the relatives possibly shunned
them and put them in the lower level with the animals. Another verification
of John 1....He came to his own creation (neuter noun...'his own'.) and his
own people rejected him. The rejection began during 'labor'.....heartbreaking, isn't it?

The star that the wise men followed wasn't a 'spot light' or Herod could
have followed it himself. I think it was an angel. They are often referred
to as stars......

Fun to think about!
Merry Christmas

More Baby Pics

I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas. Here are some very overdue pictures of our precious babies! Grandma and Grandpa Moeller got them these outfits for Christmas and I think they could just live out the rest of their lives in cute!

Here's our little Norah - always a big smile to share. She has some soul in her - whenever music is playing, she is moving to the beat...

And then there's Ashley - this is a bit more stoic than usual, but she's still the more sober one. You can see in the next picture why she was so serious...

It's hard to do a photo shoot when you're so the way, my daughter, Alex, shot all of these. My girls are really into photography! It is amazing how the right tools can produce such wonderful memories. Don't get me wrong - they all have nice cameras, but they have great instincts with the pictures, as well. Alex went to Meijer and bought a black shower curtain to be the backdrop for these pictures...brilliant!

How big is Norah? And now we have the answer...

I think Ashley looks like her cousin Michael here. There is something in the mouth - the smile that is similar...for those of you who know him, I am sure you'll agree.

Alex can't be with the girls for very long without putting a tutu on those toes!

And finally, this is the picture that Alex took for the twins' daddy for Christmas - we're starting them young!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

He is not here

"He is not here, but He has risen."
Luke 24:6

I'm a mom and now, I am a grandmother. My grand babies were here tonight. We put them to bed while we watched a movie with their parents. After the movie ended, I quietly lifted Ashley from the crib to put her jacket on for the drive home and I looked into that sweet face and thought of Jesus. Baby Jesus.

What could His mother have felt, holding the Son of God in her arms?

Mary always seems to have had a soberness about her. Could it be because she understood Jesus' plan? Remember when Simeon held baby Jesus, just eight days old, and he looked into Mary's eyes and said, "A sword will pierce even your own soul..."? Did she know? a baby - a remarkable thought. We are studying Him in church, going through the book of Mark. What a man! What a God! But thinking of Him as a baby touches this grandmother's heart. I know the whole story and for a moment, my heart ached because of the sacrifice this baby would make for me.

And then I remembered.

Jesus is not dead. He's alive! I do not have to mourn for the baby who would grow and live and heal and teach and love and die - Christmas is a true celebration because the baby is still alive! The ache is gone and the joy has filled the place of sorrow! Our story is like no other story ever told - yes, there is sacrifice, rejection and suffering, but it didn't end there. It ended with an empty tomb and a living, breathing Savior! Praise the Lord!

My dear friends, as you celebrate this Christmas with your family, remember the baby and remember the empty tomb! If your heart aches, let it ache over your sin. But set your mind on the whole truth of the story - it didn't begin in a manger. It began before the creation of the world, when God chose to give His Son a specific people to call His own. The Son was willing to give His life for these people and then defeated death, giving hope to the hopeless that we will one day live for eternity in perfect communion with our Lord and Risen Savior, Jesus Christ!

Merry Christmas to all of you and may Jesus Christ be the foundation of your homes, your words, your thoughts, your actions, your relationships and your hope.

Oh, and one more thing...I've been sworn to secrecy until Christmas to share this but...well...I'd better wait until it's actually Christmas or Katherine will kill me...

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nativity Scene

We all have them - nativity scenes. Through the years I've had several. One year my sister gave me a modern set, done in oranges, teals and plum. Right now I have a set on a small wooden table, carved in wood by an artist who attends Harvest Bible Chapel Paynesville - that's in Liberia. I have a second scene sitting on my sofa table, done in pale blues and hazy white, well out of the reach of little fingers.

A third hangs from a nob in my kitchen - it's one of those banners with 25 pockets on the bottom, numbered and filled with stuffed characters found in a typical nativity scene. There is velcro on the back of each character and day after day we are supposed to take a piece and place it on the stable which is on the top half of the banner.

In truth, this is the one the babies play with here at my house. Ashley will pull each character out of it's pocket, taste them to see if any are edible and then drop them to the floor. Norah couldn't care less about the characters or the scene. She has tunnel vision for the wooden dowel rod that hold the banner in place. So she struggles for nearly 10 minutes to free the banner from the stick and then will wave the rod wildly over her head in victory. After that, she'll whack anyone who comes near, with a giggle, of course.

We all have them, right?

So do me a favor in the next day or so. Grab your coffee or tea (that's for you, Beth) and pull a chair over to your nativity scene, take a deep breath and dream a bit. Look at each character and slip into his or her sandals for a few moments. Mary, no doubt, was pretty worn out by the time Jesus arrived. Do you remember when your first was born? Imagine what Mary was thinking and feeling? No mother around, just Joseph...and her first visitors were shepherds!

What was going through Joseph's mind? How did he handle the delivery? What was it like looking into the face of God, holding his tiny hand, swaddling his newborn body?

And the shepherds - imagine their story. From the hills of Bethlehem, into a dingy stable, gazing upon the long-awaited Messiah...God had come...what did they smell? What did they hear? What did they say to the parents? What was their life like after that incredible night?

Don't forget the angels - last I heard my husband is going to chat about this on Sunday, so I won't steal his thunder, but imagine being sent to the shepherds, not kings, to announce this news! Were the angels confused? Was Gabriel there? Gabriel had given the good news to Mary and Joseph, so you'd think he'd be there for Jesus' birth...what did the angels think about seeing God as a baby? Was there a spiritual attack going on that no one could see?

Of course the wise men didn't arrive until later, but most nativity sets include them, so slip into their shoes for a moment. What was that star they had seen? Did they suspect Herod's intentions before the angel came to them with the warning? Did they understand the Jewish scriptures enough to know His destiny? Did their gifts reveal what they knew? How long was their journey and was it easy to avoid Herod on their way home?

And finally...Jesus. Look at Him last. I don't know that we can slip into His swaddling cloths but think through these questions - What kind of baby was He? What would a perfect baby be like? How did He change the dynamics in the home? Even at 12, He bore the weight of His calling - how did that present itself in His daily life? I hope to ask Mary about His childhood someday, don't you?

It's nearly an unbelievable scene. It has been so marketed and character-ized that most don't believe it was true anymore. But God's Word gives us the details of Jesus' birth and it is a profitable thing to spend time meditating on the arrival of the Son of God to earth. I hope you can find a few minutes to immerse yourself in the real Christmas story before the holiday slips away and life returns to it's crazy pace.

Merry Christmas, friends...

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Thing I Respect about Atheists

I gave up watching Extreme Home Makeover a few years ago when I realized that crying through a television show was annoying to my family. I don't know what it is, but hearing the sad stories and then seeing the families' responses to their brand new house always made me cry. As the tears would well up, inevitably someone would say, "There goes mom again!" And then the others would be like, "Wow, that was quicker than last week!" and "Really? That made you cry?" I blame it on menopause, but in truth, sentimental Kleenex commercials and Extreme Home Makeover shows just have a way of turning on the proverbial eye-faucets.

Anyway, last Friday night one of my daughters and I were flipping channels and there was an Extreme Home Makeover Christmas special. Two hours of tear-filled Christmas wonder! At least that's what I thought. Oh, yes, there was a tear or two, but in the end I was actually a bit sad. Two complete hours and no mention of Jesus. There was one "God" but it was more of a used-in-vain scenario, and there was a mention that the woman of the poor family had been told by her pastor that things would get better, so the word "BETTER" was put on her bedroom wall in huge letters as a reminder that because of EHM, things were actually better. Not because of God or Jesus, mind you.

There were carpenter Santas, elves, candy canes, outside house decorating contests, more Christmas lights than you would ever want to tackle, fake snow, carolers but no Jesus.

That's when I realized that I appreciate atheists during this season. Let me explain.

Christmas is nothing without Jesus. There is no meaning or purpose for the holiday without Him and atheists get that - that's why they hate Christmas. At least they have the integrity to hate a holiday that has its foundations in the Gospel message - God became man in the form of a baby as a gift to restore man's broken relationship with Himself. This baby would eventually grow up and become the Savior of the world by dying on the cross and bearing the wrath of His Father for the sins of fallen man. He would die, be buried and on the third day, rise from the dead. That's what Christmas is all about.

Atheists completely deny this truth, therefore they look at Christmas as the celebration of a lie. So they reject Christmas.

At least they are faithful to their beliefs, even though they are wrong.

To have a two hour special - ON GIVING - void of Jesus Christ, and label it as a Christmas makes no sense. How can you celebrate CHRISTmas without acknowledging Jesus? The longer I watched the show, the more disheartened I became that Christmas has become a pagan celebration rather than a time to celebrate the greatest gift ever given.

This week as Christmas approaches make sure that Jesus is the focus of your holiday. See Him in your tree, your gifts, your preparations and your family. Remember why we celebrate His birth and lead your family to the foot of the cross.

And pray for the atheists who reject but truly understand the meaning of Christmas, as well as those who love Christmas but have no clue that Jesus is truly the reason for the season.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Light of the World

I love candles.

Love, love, love them.

My children know this well and every birthday and Christmas I am showered with candles. And I love all of them. I burn them constantly, use them up and then restock at the next gift-giving event.

Right now I am a little low on candles, but with Christmas less than two weeks away, I am confident my pantry will be restocked (hint, hint kids).

In John 3 contains the most famous scripture ever in verse 16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Within this one verse, the gospel is clearly seen:
  • Men are perishing
  • God loved so He gave
  • Believing in Jesus brings salvation
  • Salvation is eternal
A few verses later Jesus said this:

"This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

Summary - when our deeds are evil, we want to hide them in darkness. When our deeds are righteous, we want the light to reveal them because they have come from God.

I like that phrase, "he who practices truth" because it implies that our default position is practicing lies, but when we move away from lies, darkness, and practice truth, we are drawn to the Light.

Jesus is the Light of the world (John 8:12) and we are called to be lights in this dark world (Matthew 5:15). We are sons of light (I Thessalonians 5:5), we are children of light (Eph. 5:8), God is the Father of lights (James 1:17), God dwells in unapproachable light (I Tim. 6:16), we are to care for our light (Luke 11:35) and Satan even imitates the light to deceive the world (2 Cor. 11:14).

The imagery of light versus darkness is a powerful tool throughout scripture. The truth is that men loved darkness rather than light - they didn't want their deeds exposed. Yes, walking in the light exposes our sin but it also enables us to deal with our sin and choose something better - something that brings glory to God, that sows a good harvest, that imitates our Savior.

How do you walk in the Light? By walking with Jesus - every day, in His Word, talking to Him, hiding His Word in your heart, using His Word as a measuring rod for truth versus lies and by faith acting on that truth.

This season, when candles abound, remember Jesus. Remember that He is the Light of the world and that His gift to us was life-saving Light. Remember that the more we walk with Him, the more we will reflect His light. Remember that our natural tendency is to hide from the Light, so fight it with every ounce of strength you have. And finally, remember that God is revealed when we choose to practice the truth we find in the Light.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas List

So how's your Christmas shopping coming? Someone snapped a picture of me out doing my shopping and I thought I'd share it with you. I look pretty happy, don't I? Because that's what the season is all about - shopping, being happy and enjoying the holiday.

So how're you doing? Are you having a great holiday season?

How's your gift list? Do you have everyone covered? Inevitably I do forget someone. It's just my lot in life. I usually try to have a few extra gifts on hand for when I realize I have forgotten someone, so that I can quickly wrap up something and still look on top of it. In the end, everyone's happy, right?

Last year I challenged my readers to give a gift to Jesus. After all, it is HIS birthday, and who goes to a birthday party and gives gifts to all the guests and not the person with the actual birthday? If you want to see the challenge, read here:

So here is my update from last year. I did follow through on my gift to Jesus and as I had suspected, I was greatly blessed because of it. You see, I did something pretty simple. I gave Him one verse a week. I promised to memorize just one verse every week for the whole year. It's really something that I should be doing anyway and one verse is not that much.

Here I am a year later and I've memorized John 15 and Psalm 139...and I love it! I cannot tell you how hiding God's word deep inside my heart (mind) has been a life-saver! In taking the verse seriously that we should take captive every thought, when I have found myself drifting in my mind to somewhere I shouldn't be, I quickly pull out my verses and start with verse one and say the whole passage, just to get my mind off of something sinful or destructive. It's really that simple and it has saved me from a lot of bitterness, anger and wasted energy.

It's time for another gift and I wanted to challenge you to make sure Jesus is on your list again this year. Remember what David said when he wanted to buy a field to give an offering to the Lord - "...I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing..." (II Samuel 24:24). Don't offer a gift which is costless to you - in other words, don't just regift Him something. Make it costly, make it precious, make it meaningful, practical and personal.

As I make my way through my gift list, I try to be personal with my choices, but sometimes I find something that is so wonderful, I buy a bunch of them and then later figure out who I will give it to. Not with my gift for Jesus - this one is going to take thought and effort - after all, it is HIS birthday that we're celebrating.

One final note - when you figure out what you are giving Jesus this year, write it down, wrap it up and put it under the tree. Then when it's opened you can explain to your family what you are doing and that's when the accountability comes into play. Don't hedge your gift by not telling anyone, so that if your forget or don't follow through, it really won't matter. It WILL matter - Jesus says to let your yes mean yes and your no mean no - be a person of your word. If you give Him something, don't forget but follow through. Family accountability will help you keep your promise.

Hope you are finding time to enjoy the season and I trust that Jesus is the focus of all the choices you make.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Are You Ready?

You know what tomorrow is, right?

It's Sunday - time to go to church and receive a message from the Lord!

(Really, Kristen? A message from the Lord? Is that what we're calling it now?)

Well, assuming you are in a church that teaches the Word of God, then yes, that's what I'm calling it:

"So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:1

According to this, when God's Word goes forth, it goes with a purpose - God's purpose - and it will accomplish what He desires and will succeed in the situation for which He sent it.

Tomorrow God's Word will be going out and you will be there to receive it. Unfortunately, many of us will enter church like this woman above, arms crossed and in no position to receive anything.

Let me explain: Sometimes Dave and the kids throw a ball around to each other in the living room and when I'm not looking or even interested in playing, they throw it to me and it bounces off my folded arms...or forehead...usually forehead. I was in no physical position to receive the ball, I was most likely in no mood to receive it and when it was over, I was not happy that it hit me in the head.

Is that a picture of you in church? Do you enter the doors with arms folded rather than arms open wide. You've all heard that phrase in our praise choruses - "Here I stand, arms open wide..." or "I'll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned..." What is the picture of the worshippers arms in these songs? Open wide, in a receiving position. If I stood with my arms opened wide, when that ball is thrown at me, I can catch it - receive it much easier than if my arms are folded across my chest.

What about your mood? Do you even feel like receiving anything? Or are you just bringing your family, hoping they hear the Word and change? And when God's Word hits you in the head, how's your attitude? You weren't prepared, you're in no mood and now your head hurts. Is this the kind of worshipper you are on Sunday mornings?

We know from Isaiah that when the Lord sends out His Word, He does it with a purpose to accomplish something. My challenge to you tonight is to get ready to receive the Word tomorrow. Let's start with having the right attitude, the correct spiritual posture- open up those arms and get ready to receive whatever it is that God throws to you.

Aren't you excited to hear what He has to say? To see what He will do with it? To have the privilege to not only understand it but live it out? Aren't you excited?

Come on friends, let's take a good look at our hearts tonight and fire up about tomorrow's service.

Are you ready?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Do You Look Any Different?

"...but that the world may know that I love the Father,
I do exactly as the Father commanded Me..." John 14:31

Here's my train of thought after reading John 14:

Why did Jesus obey the Father?

  • So that the world would know He loved the Father.

Why should we obey the Father?

  • So that the world would know we love the Father.

What does the world see when they look at me right now?

  • Good question...

Good works cannot produce salvation:
  • they cannot save you
  • they cannot earn God's favor
  • they cannot pay your debt
  • they cannot take anything off the total you owe

But they can produce a few things:
  • fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control)
  • blessing (choose to sin, choose to suffer - choose to obey, choose to be blessed)
  • faith (believing the Word of God and ACTING on it, no matter how I feel, because God promises a good result)
  • testimony (the world will know who you love by how you act)
Sometimes obeying God is difficult because we don't feel like doing what He wants us to do. As parents, we see that in our own children but we do not wait for them to feel like obeying - we expect it no matter how they feel. Why? Because we know that what we are asking them to do is in their best interest. When they obey, they are showing their love and trust in us.

This is the same concept with the Lord. When we obey, with or without feelings, we are showing God that we love and trust Him. We are also showing the world Who we love.

It is a good thing to slip into your neighbor's shoes and take a good look at yourself. Do you look any different than anybody else? What message do your actions give?

I just thought it was interesting that Jesus said His obedience to His Father was a testimony to the world. Remember, God the Father so loved the world that He gave His Son - His Son loved His Father so much that He obeyed.

So who do you love today?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Idol Destruction - Part II

It's as simple as taking off an old coat and putting on a new one. And it's simple because you don't have to do it in your own strength - you do it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

A few years ago before my daughter was married, I gave her then fiancee a new White Sox baseball cap. The one he had worn for years was well-loved and needed to be replaced - in the humble opinion of a mother. It was faded, ripped, dirty as all get out and I even thought at times it smelled like...sweaty forehead. He loved this hat, obviously, so I didn't just replace it with any old hat. I got the very same hat - same color, same design, everything was the same but without the smell, dirt and with a bit more vibrant colors. I will note, also, that it came somewhat faded, because that was the style.

Well, he forced a smile but struggled to let go of his best friend, the hat. Eventually, he did trade it out but it wasn't an easy process.

I share this because letting go of our idols can be almost as painful as Austin letting go of that hat. All he had to do was take it off and put the new one one. But he struggled to do so because he loved that old hat so much. Now, please hear me - his hat wasn't an idol or sin - I just want to get that straight. But taking off the old and putting on the new can be hard because we love our idols so much.

Ephesians 4 tells us that dealing with sin is a process - a process of identification in order to remove, renewal of your mind (a step many forget) and putting on something in the place of the old idol - not another idol, but a righteous replacement that fills the void of the idol or sin.

Now that you've identified your idol, you need to do a few things before you move on. First, repent - fall on your face before the Lord and say it out loud. Tell Him your sin, acknowledge that it is an offense to Him, thank Him for paying the price for it and ask His forgiveness.

Secondly, confess it - tell someone else. You need to hear yourself say it out loud again. Don't beat around the bush - tell it like it is and ask for accountability. You may need to ask forgiveness to someone because your idol has affected your relationship with them - then do it. Get that slate clean through confession.

Third, renew your mind in the Word. Immerse yourself in Bible study. Study the topic of your sin. Find out what God says needs to be in its place - I'll give you a hint. It starts with a J and ends with an ESUS! Figure out how to let Jesus fill that void - follow Him, imitate Him and vow never to put that idol back on that platform in your heart.

And finally, put on that new self - do away with the old and focus on the new. Physically and mentally fill that void. If you struggle with Facebook obsession, turn off the computer and use that time to study God's word or write thank you notes to friends and family whom you love. If your idol is food, choose to buffet your body instead of fill it. Get outside and start walking instead of grazing in the pantry. If your idol is bitterness, start praying for a distant relative or rake your neighbor's leaves, all the while quoting the scripture passage that you will have committed to memory.

Idol destruction takes effort. But you don't have to do this in your own strength - let the Lord guide you through His Word, through His Spirit, through godly counsel and friendships and through discipline. Yes, discipline.

Dear friends, tear down those idols. Do it today. Place Jesus back on that platform - let Him rule from the throne of your heart. Don't wait till you feel like it, but do it today. To God be the glory...

By the way, I think Austin may need another hat for Christmas, but don't tell him I said so...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Baby Fun!

Guess who had twins for the night last night? Yep, you guessed it. They were absolute dolls and their mom and dad didn't even reprimand us when we admitted that we heard them cry at eleven and got them up to play for an hour! It's too hard to resist...

Norah has developed a sense of humor - this is her smile when you pull the camera out lately. Plus she likes to ham it cute!

This is our beautiful Ashley - it is not easy to tell them apart at times, but she has a very serious disposition right now. I think it's to offset the clowning around that her sister does. It will be interesting to see if they trade roles in the future. That's what my twins would do...

And finally a big smile from our little clown, Norah. It's hard not to smile when you see that!

Idol Destruction

I struggle to imagine this scene - just a few months after the climatic conclusion of the plagues in Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea, Israel is worshipping at the feet of a golden calf. Moses had disappeared on the mountain to receive instructions from God, but the length of his absence had shaken the faith of the people. Actually, he had only been gone 40 days, and considering they didn't make this idol overnight, their disobedience was a lot quicker than I think we realize.

So why a golden calf? Because idol worship was all they knew. It was what they had grown up with - the idol worship of the Egyptians had rubbed off on the Israelites. It became comforting and acceptable to the children of God.

So, look at your idol list. How many of your idols have you grown up with? Do you see your sin as being a mirror image of your parents' sin? Or worse than that, look at your children. Do you see your sin and your idol worship being developed in their lives? Scary.

What did Moses do when he saw the idol? He tore it down. Actually, he tore it down, ground it up, poured it into the Israelites' water source and forced them to drink it. Wow. Tough.

What did Gideon do to the idols in his father's town? He tore it down.

What did Josiah do to the pagan temples when he became king? He tore it down.

What did God do when the Philistines took the ark of the covenant from Israel and placed it in the house of Dagon, their false god? He tore it down.

Do you see a theme here? Once you've identified the idols in your life, you've GOT to deal with them.

There's another example from the Old Testament, but it's not a good one. When Jacob packed up his two wives and their handmaidens and his children to head back to Israel, one of his wives stole her father's idols and hid them. On the outside she acted as if she was in complete submission to the God of her husband, but secretly she longed for the protection of her father's idols.

Hiding your idols is not enough. Putting them in the basement isn't tearing them down. If you've ever seen the movie Fireproof, I love the scene where the main character takes his computer out of his house, puts it in the garbage and then takes a bat to it. You see, even in the garbage can there was a temptation to retrieve it. But once the bat had done its work, there was nothing left to run to - complete destruction.

Unfortunately most of us believe that we can manage our idol worship with the idol still in the house. Especially if it is housed in a computer or television. It would be too costly to deal with that idol and others would be affected, as if the cost of idol worship isn't high enough and others aren't affected by it already...

So how exactly do we facilitate the destruction of our idols?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Idol Identification

"Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life."
Proverbs 4:23

In order to deal with your personal idols, you have to be able to identify them. Most of us have convinced ourselves that we are not idol worshippers, which means we have justified and classified our idols as spiritually acceptable. Our idols are second nature to us - we don't even realize that we are worshipping and sacrificing to them on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

Idol identification is where we have to start. Here are a few questions to answer to get started:
  • What would make you happy?
  • Where do you look for security, meaning, happiness, fulfillment, joy or comfort?
  • What do you see as your "rights"?
  • What do you pray for?
  • What do you fear? What do you tend to worry about?
  • What fills your mind during the day?
  • What would those closest to you say is your greatest desire?
Your answers to these questions are important, so it is vital that you are honest with yourself. As you search your own heart, you need to be able to honestly assess what drives you - do godly desires drive you or are they self-centered? How do your answers above define your view of God?

Next, you need to think through what would be potential idols in your life. Here is a list to look through - pick which would be the top three that are important to you:
  • Performance - desire to please others or self
  • Good Health
  • Love of Money
  • Success
  • Fairness
  • Pain-free life
  • Christian marriage - desire for improvement
  • A Christian husband
  • A baby
  • Physical Appearance
  • Being Respected
  • Being Self-Sufficient
  • Athletics - participation or passion for a sport
  • Hobbies
  • Worldly Pleasures (alcohol, drugs, sex, food, etc.)
  • Being in Control
  • Meeting Goals
  • Children's achievements
  • Having your needs met
Once you have chosen three potential idols from this list, ask yourself these three questions:
  1. Am I willing to sin to get this?
  2. Am I willing to sin if I think I am going to lose this?
  3. Do I turn to this as a refuge and comfort instead of going to God?
Your answers to these questions will reveal whether or not this is an idol in your life. For example, let's say that physical appearance is very important to you. You believe that unless you are fit and trim, beautifully dressed with stylish hair, you will not be successful in life. You won't find a husband and you won't get the job you desire.

Are you willing to sin to stay thin? Do you deprive your body of food to achieve this goal? Have you possibly developed an eating disorder in order to maintain what you believe is the body that would make you most successful? When your weight is the right number, is that a comfort to you? Does it throw your day off when that number moves up? How often are you weighing yourself or looking in the mirror?

Being healthy and taking care of oneself is not sin, in and of itself. Most of our idols start out with good intentions, but because we were made to worship - add that to our sinful flesh and we end up worshipping our desires over the One who made us.

So, now that you've identified a potential idol or two in your life, what should you do next?