Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Idolatry

I told myself I wasn't going to use another devotional to fill my blog entries, but this was too much of a reality check to ignore:

What Lies Beneath

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” — Exodus 20:2-3

Idolatry isn't just one of many sins; rather it’s the one great sin that all others come from. So if you start scratching at whatever struggle you’re dealing with, eventually you’ll find that underneath it is a false god. Until that god is dethroned, and the Lord God takes his rightful place, you will not have victory. Idolatry isn't an issue; it is the issue. All roads lead to the dusty, overlooked concept of false gods. Deal with life on the glossy outer layers, and you might never see it; scratch a little beneath the surface, and you begin to see that it’s always there, under some other coat of paint. There are a hundred million different symptoms, but the issue is always idolatry. 

That’s why, when Moses stood on Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments from God, the first one was, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3). When God issued this command during the time of Moses, the people were familiar with a lot of other gods. God’s people had spent more than four hundred years in Egypt as slaves. Egypt was crowded with gods. They had taken over the neighborhood— literally. The Egyptians had local gods for every district. Egypt was the Baskin-Robbins of gods. You could pick and choose the flavors you wanted. 

The Bible’s paradigm is different. When we hear God say, “You will have no other gods before me,” we think of it as a hierarchy: God is always in first place. But there are no places. God isn’t interested in competing against others or being first among many. God will not be part of any hierarchy. He wasn't saying “before me” as in “ahead of me.” A better understanding of the Hebrew word translated “before me” is “in my presence.”

God declines to sit atop an organizational flowchart. He is the organization. He is not interested in being president of the board. He is the board. And life doesn't work until everyone else sitting around the table in the boardroom of your heart is fired. He is God, and there are no other applicants for that position. There are no partial gods, no honorary gods, no interim gods, no assistants to the regional gods. 

God is saying this not because he is insecure but because it’s the way of truth in this universe, which is his creation. Only one God owns and operates it. Only one God designed it, and only one God knows how it works. He is the only God who can help us, direct us, satisfy us, save us. 

As we read Exodus 20, we see that the one true God has had it with the imitation and substitute gods. So God tells the nation of Israel to break up the pantheon; send it home. All other god activity is cancelled. He makes sure the people understand that he is the one and only. He is the Lord God. 

You may be thinking, Thanks for the history lesson, but that was a long time ago. After all, in our time, the problem doesn't appear to be that people worship many gods; it’s that they don’t worship any god. Yet my guess is that the list of our gods is longer than theirs. Just because we call them by different names doesn't change what they are. We may not have the god of commerce, the god of agriculture, the god of sex, or the god of the hunt. But we do have portfolios, automobiles, adult entertainment, and sports. If it walks like an idol, and quacks like an idol . . .

This seemed to come up right when I needed it.  I've been trying to lose weight for a few months now. I was doing good for a while, especially since I joined a weight loss support group at church, but lately I've been eating everything in sight. I kinda feel like I've gained 500lbs. My clothes still fit, though, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration.

I read that devotional today and realized I was trying to lose the weight and eat right because of the group...it has become my god. Their opinion of me is more important than glorifying the real God, which is the best (and only reason)...health is right up there as well, but in order to be successful, I need to do it for God...not me. My body is His temple, I need to take care of it.

The only thing is that I'm not interested in doing that. I've been asking God and asking God to help me stop wanting to eat 24/7 (while stuffing a cookie in my mouth -- sad, but true), and I don't seem to be getting an answer or help or ANYTHING. I realize that God will not take anything until I freely give it to Him...but I'm not there and I can't seem to get there.

I think my best bet is to stop the group for awhile and get on the right track. Please pray that I can get through this :) 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Anger

Lately my anger (at EVERYTHING) has become more than a nuisance...it's gotten out of control. I've always had a problem with anger, but in the past, I've been able to be (semi-) rational about it. Holding it in, even. Now I've just gotten absolutely ridiculous...yelling at inanimate objects, dogs, myself...

I had a little reprieve last week. I was talking to God (not really praying, but talking...that's another blog for another day) about this problem, and asked Him to help me WANT to change. That seemed to last for a little while. I felt peace; maybe even some joy. But now I'm feeling that monster creeping up inside me again....

I mentioned in an earlier post that depression is the result of being stuck in the past...well I've also heard (or read) that depression is anger turned inward. Is this like a two-for-one special or something? No wonder I'm miserable 99% of the time.

Okay, so where is all this anger coming from? That's what I'd like to know! My father was a very angry man, but I think it's more that just bad genes. His anger is not the issue though. Well, maybe it is...what if his death, in part, is due to the toll his anger took on him?

I don't want to die from the side effects of anger. What a crappy way to go. Not that there's really any good way to die...

What if my anger is keeping me from truly being saved? Is that even possible? I get angry when I think about reading the Bible and praying. God most certainly must not like that...the two things most closely related to Him and I avoid them because of the bad feelings they cause. There's really something wrong with that...

There are times when I don't even WANT to change this. It makes me sad...like I'm disappointing Him. Where am I supposed to go from here?