Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Living Room Series Study...No Other Gods

This year I am reading a lot about idols. I try to pick a theme for each year. Last year was simplicity. This year I'm working at getting to the heart of the issue. Idols. Seriously crazy topic to tackle but I am loving it.

Last week I finished Kelly Minter's No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern-Day Idols study. It is my second Kelly Living Room Series study - I completed Ruth: Love, Loss and Legacy a couple years ago. Also excellent.

So if you are interested, here are some excerpts from this great study. I've already started a handful of blog posts on some specific ideas from the study. I'll be writing about those soon. Enjoy.

The core concept comes from 2 Kings 17: 33 & 41: They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods; Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. "Gods and gods: the people were living split lives, worshiping the One, while serving the others."

"I believe this half-hearted living is possibly one of the reasons why so many of us have been stuck. Basically, we have edged out God. We have left Him with little room in our hearts. Our false gods have taken up our most treasured spaces, leaving little room for God to show Himself strong on our behalf."

She talks a lot about the difference between professed gods and functional gods. It's a great exercise to evaluate "what has been inflated to function as a substitute for God. All things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them...idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God's existence or character. It may well come in the form of an overattachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good...An idol can be physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero -- anything that can be substitute for God." (Richard Keyes)

A great quote from John Calvin on the subject: "The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much."

In the second week of the study Kelly asks a great question (actually she asks a lot of them): Other than God, who or what am I trying to build a life through? This is part of a great study on Hagar and Sarah. Terrific and challenging. As was a later study of Rachel and Leah. "The point is that it doesn't matter if you have it all and everything your heart desires, or if you're left wanting and unloved. Neither works. The two women had vastly different circumstances, yet both were left hungry. Why? Because God was not their ultimate thing."

Another great quote: "Of course we may feel grief when parting with something we enjoy, but if true conviction is present, we will begin to look at that thing as something that was taking the place of God, something that was stealing from us. As we rid it from our lives we will be hopeful with anticipation, anxious to see what God will do in this newly-created space. We will not look for loopholes. We will be resolved. We will know that we are in a position to gain, not to be stolen from any longer."

Then in week five, this gem: "This is the 'making room' piece. God wants to do us good! Too often we associate the idea of turning from our false gods with misery and legalism when really it means making room for God to do good in our lives."

It's all about making room. Often our emotions and stuff, physical and otherwise, creates clutter that gets in the way of making room for the good stuff.

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