What is an idol?

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

Ezekiel 36:25-27 NIV

Idols are so easy to create. We can make them out of anything. We need not carve stone or whittle wood, we just need to take our eyes off Jesus and put them on something else.

Because of the ease with which we create idols, it’s hard to recognize them, especially when they are not staring at us from the little niches in the wall that held them in Biblical times.

What is an idol?

Anytime we put something before Jesus in our priority lists, we make idols. The world we live in, even the Christian world, condones our practices. We do not call one another to account because we do not want to unveil the truth in our own lives. But, idolatry damages us. Slowly, our hearts harden as we place veils between ourselves and our Lord.

Anytime we put something before Jesus in our priority lists, we make idols. #Steepedintheword Click To Tweet

If we will listen, the Holy Spirit that God has placed in us as Christ-followers will call us to account. He will do for us what we fail to do for one another. He will show us the idols that stand firm in our lives.

We live in denial

At times, we cover our eyes, unwilling to let go of our idols. Like Rebekah of old, we dig a hole in the ground and bury them, sitting over the hole to keep them hidden when the Spirit comes questioning with a pail of clear cool water that would wash away the heat of our shame.

I’m weary of idols that don’t deliver what they promise. I’m weary of hiding reality from myself and from my friends. I’m ready to be clean. But I know that as I unload idols one after another from my life, I’m going to look different. My life and my spirit will sparkle. Some will look on the shiny new me and will say look at that bling, it must be fake. But it’s genuine if we let the spirit make us over.

A heart of flesh is soft and easily burdened. It is harder to protect, so we often prefer the shell of stone. Living in an idol-filled world with no idols at all leaves us a target. It leaves us needing to run to Jesus for consolation and comfort. And I believe that’s right where he wants us.

This appeared first in the Facebook group Balanced and Beautiful in Christ where I am a regular contributor. Thanks to Jessie Courson for the lovely artwork and to Nicole Williams for her editorial assistance.

A Change in Attitude

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

Ephesians‬ ‭1:13-14‬ ‭(NIV)‬‬

Attitude can be such a blind spot for us. We can’t look in the mirror and see that our attitude is untidy or does not match our life as a Christ-follower. This force that drives our conduct may go unseen by us, but it is like the stuffy butler in an old movie who announces guests as they arrive at a party. Our attitude colors everything. It enters a room or a relationship ahead of us and announces the tone for an encounter.

The Challenge

As Christ-followers, we are called to be transformed. Our mission is to replace our own self-centered attitudes with God’s attitude, which is guided by love for others rather than selfishness. Changing our attitude is difficult. In fact, the scriptures say we must die to self–not simply push selfishness aside or stuff it down, but take something integral to who we are and set it aside. Then, the void we carve out can be filled with righteousness and holiness.

The Helper

As humans, we can’t do it at all. And we don’t have to! God has placed his Spirit in us to do the heavy lifting. Change does not happen overnight. Yes, we are transformed as we accept Christ, but this verse helps us understand that we are being made new. We are slowly being revised. Or to put it another way, we are maturing. We learn to put off our own desires and practice putting on God’s desires for us. It’s a lifelong learning process.

The Key

The trouble with a lifelong process is our human impatience. I would like to flip the switch and be changed overnight. But there is a lot of change needed in my life. I couldn’t handle it all at once. The key is that I must daily invite the Spirit to reveal what is in my heart and to purge my old attitudes.

And even as I write this, illness has changed our traditional family gathering. We normally have an exuberant crowd of family around our table. But God has called us this year to a quieter season. I am determined thankfulness will mark it all the same. I know that as seasons come and go, our good Father remains unchanged. Ever loving, ever watchful, and always calling us to a deeper relationship.

What is Hospitality?

I have a love seat in my living room that the cat likes to scratch on after we go to bed at night. She’s been scratching on it for a long time. My living room furniture is comfortable but mismatched. I wish I were a more meticulous housekeeper. But, I’m a bit of a clutter collector and honestly, I don’t really like dusting or mopping floors. Oh, I do these things, but I don’t maintain that level of sparkle that I see in the homes of some other women when I visit.

Despite the lived in nature of my home, I invite people over all the time, and they come. They park in my driveway and sometimes they park in the neighbor’s driveway when they have permission. They sit and share deeply with me and with each other. On Tuesday evenings, a group of women keep showing up over and over again to sit in worn rocking chairs and slightly ragged love seats to be real about struggles in their lives and wrestle with the ways we can become Christ-followers who love and serve well. Who forgive, and lift one another up, who challenge one another and hold each other accountable.

I hear women say all the time that they would like to host a Bible Study in their homes one day but they would need to get a new couch first, or live in a bigger home or spend money for a housekeeper. These women are missing out. And they are not setting themselves up for success in the way they think they are.

I have to wonder if my willingness to show the reality of my life is a signal that I’m willing to share who I really am with the women who visit my home and in turn, they are willing to be more transparent and vulnerable too. There is no pretense in my living room on Tuesday evenings. And you know what, we like it that way!

We live in a pretty lonely world. We isolate ourselves. We curate our lives on social media driving the bar ever higher and the void between us ever wider. We chat by text so that we can multitask during a conversation and we meet our friends at coffee shops so we don’t have to let them into our homes. We don’t know our neighbors and we sure don’t sit on the porch and drink tea while we pass the hours with them like my grandparents did. We all hunger for deeper connection. The kind of connection the church is meant to offer the body of Christ. The kind of connection that can be salt and light in our world. People are hungry for true connection.

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:13 (NLT)

I’ve looked up the definition for the word the Bible uses as hospitality in this verse, it’s the same word we use for fellowship. Letting people into our homes is a first step toward letting people into our lives. My friends, it’s not likely we will impact anyone deeply by holding them at such a distance. And the loneliness in this world will continue to multiply unless we reach out. We must swallow our pride and open our homes and our lives in a way that invites vulnerability. Yes, I know that sounds scary, but in truth, it’s life changing and affirming.

When You Don’t Know What To Do

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? ”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Isaiah 6:8 (NLT)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking for my mission in life, longing to make a difference. For years, I had this verse from Isaiah written on an index card and stuck on the mirror. I saw it every morning as I put on my makeup. My heart was saying, Lord, I’m yours. I’m ready, send me. Show me what to do for you.

I thought there was a special task out there. Something that would stand out. I was certain that God’s assignment did not look a thing like my daily life in the corporate world. I thought that God would pluck me out of the day to day life I was living and plop me right down into something that looked a bit more ‘churchy’. Yes, I see that grin. I’m shaking my head as I write this but I’m also trying to be completely honest.

Serve Where You Are

Try as I might, application after application, to leave where I was employed, it became clear that God wanted me exactly where I was. Eventually, I began to think about how God could use me in this corporate life. As I tried to see things from God’s perspective in my daily life I was often less than confident that I was seeing what I was supposed to be. I forgot some days, who I represented, and did not do well. I’m sure I had seasons of just being an embarrassment to the cause of Christ.

You May Not Be Noticed

In looking back on those years what I see now is that I was looking for the splash. I was thinking I could not serve God well if I was not a big deal, doing big things. Now I see that it’s the small every day things that really make the biggest difference. It’s a willing attitude that allows us to be God’s instrument each day.

When I study Isaiah, he was certainly God’s messenger, but he did not live a life that any of us would envy most days. His days were filled with speaking the message on ears that refused to hear. God asked him to do some awfully embarrassing things to get the message across, and Isaiah did them!

Adjust Your Attitude

Yeah, I’ve got a bit of work to do in the obedience department before I am willing to do some of the things Isaiah did. And the good news for me, God has not asked me to! He has asked me to do some things that were difficult for me, and he still does. And one of those things God asks is to serve in the daily grind, the mundane, without worrying about whether I’m going viral on social media or garnering likes, or even signing up dozens of new subscribers to my email list. God just asks that where ever I am, I listen for his voice and serve faithfully without regard for how others perceive my service. He asks that I please Him.

My attitude has slowly become; God, here I am. Send me where you choose. Help me let go of trying to direct this show. Mold my heart and my actions will follow.

Walk On!

If you are reading this and you feel that your life is a bit mundane, or too frantic to think about God, or you think maybe you’ve just tripped over the wire between serving God to embarrassing Him, know this: attitude is everything! Let go of all those preconceived notions and remember that God can use anyone. Let go of the chase and look for the place of resting in the daily walk forward no matter what that walk looks like. If you are one of God’s girls, He’s got this! Just keep your eyes on Him. Don’t worry about what’s around you. Just link arms with your Savior and keep walking. This is God’s work, not yours.

Write Your Own How-To Message to Show Off Christ

Turn on the television, jump over to Facebook, Twitter, or any one of dozens of sites just like them and you are bombarded with “how-to” messages and things you must do, must have, or should never…

In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3

Paul is talking to believers about having confidence in God’s plan for salvation, Christ and Christ only. His readers lived in a world surrounded by empty philosophies and well-crafted messages from those who would stand against Christ rather than for him. Sound familiar?

We live in a world where I sometimes feel absolutely bombarded by messages that I know run contrary to the teachings of Christ. The messages are well written and compelling, just as they were when Paul wrote to the Colossians. In Ephesians 3:10 we are told that the church has been chosen to display the wisdom hidden in Christ.

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Ephesians 3:10

We are compelled as the church to display what Christ has done in the world. To live lives that show off God’s salvation and redemption. Note that the verb here is display, not argue or discuss or even plead.  No, we display the power of Christ and his salvation by living lives that are so different, so compelling that it is clear to all who see that what Christ offers is wisdom. Christ is the only path to salvation from all the emptiness of this world that clamors for our attention.

I may reach a few people with my meager offering of words. My words are intended to encourage the Christ-follower, not change the unbeliever. But how I live my life matters to those who follow Christ and those who do not.

People are hungry for answers. If this were not true, then we would see all those how-to articles go away. So, I say we live how-to lives, lives that show off the source of all wisdom, our treasure, our Savior. #Steepedintheword… Click To Tweet

People are hungry for answers. If this were not true, then we would see all those “how-to” articles go away. So, I say we live “how-to” lives, lives that show off the source of all wisdom, our treasure, our Savior. None of us are going to get this all right every day. I’d like to challenge you to stretch out with deliberate acts that show the message of Christ. Don’t focus on what you will say, instead, focus on what you will do.

Let’s Think This Through

What measuring device are you using to sort out the messages you encounter daily?

False news has been a big concern in today’s culture. How can we as Christ-followers stand protected from the impact this news has on our lives and actions?

Consider reaching out in a display of Christ’s love this week. What is one thing you can do to “show off” Christ?

Father, you have invested in us. That’s pretty amazing to me, and I don’t want to squander the investment. I want to join together with the other members of your church to demonstrate for the world that you are a life changer.

It doesn’t take much looking to see that in a world bombarding us with messages of what to do and how to think that we are living surrounded by people seeking change. Help us live lives that show we are changed. We know that with your spirit living in us, we have the power to impact our world.

Really? That’s Where You’re Sending Me?

I didn’t get it. The scripture had resonated. I had written it on a note card and tucked it up on the mirror I used each morning. I read it over and over. My heart answered: “Here I am Lord send me, I will answer the call, I will go, just show me where!’’ Then, I spent years asking God to show me what he wanted, where I should go. The answer stared me in the face every morning as I got up to go to work but I didn’t get it! God was sending me out into the workplace to be his witness, to be his hands and feet.

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” Isaiah 6:9 NLT

I’m retired now, I don’t get up every morning and go out into the world. I don’t have the same encounters with people who can see my integrity, or lack of, every day. I no longer encounter classes or auditoriums full of students on a nearly weekly basis. The sheer numbers of people I had the opportunity to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus are in my past.

Don’t get me wrong, a great deal of prayer went into my decision to retire. And, although much of my time is spent alone in this life of a writer, I still go out into the world in intentional ways but I’ve changed! Now, I do get it! I know I’m the hands and feet of Jesus as I visit a local grade school each week to help a young teacher friend with fourth graders. And, I know that I’m the one called to encourage my Tuesday ladies as they struggle in a sometimes difficult workplace. I listen and love the members of my exercise classes and we speak of things of real importance rather than superficial pleasantries.

Our workplaces are our mission fields. It's where we “go into the world”. #womenatwork http://wp.me/p7tIj1-5w Click To Tweet

I also know that God has asked me to tell you that I was wrong! Our workplaces are our mission fields. It’s where we “go into the world”. We need to drive or walk or fly to work fully aware that we have been called to go and walk side-by-side with our coworkers, our customers, our clients, our students and our patients. To be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I hope, unlike me, you get it! Where ever you work, whoever you see daily, those are the ones you are called to serve and the place God sends you out to work is precisely the place you are called to.

The beauty is that we don’t have to get it to be where God wants us. God is perfectly capable of placing you in the right spot whether you get it or not. Unfortunately, even though you may not recognize your mission, the enemy does. The more effective you are the harder he will work to undermine the mission. Our commute should be fueled with preparation to go into the world and fight the battles that dilute our witness, that undermine our integrity and fail to offer the light that we are called to carry into the world.

God is perfectly capable of placing you in the right spot whether you get it or not. #womenatwork http://wp.me/p7tIj1-5w Click To Tweet

So here’s my question for you today. What do you need to help you as you face your daily mission field? Do you need a prayer warrior? Just ask and I’ll pray for you by name. Put it in the comments below or send me a private note. Do you need a daily encouragement as you drive to work? Or, is there something else you need. I’d really like to know!

 

Sharing at:

Holly Girth’s website

#FaithOnFire