Saturday, June 2, 2012


"Take the emotional risk and build deep relationships with friends who care.  There is no physician like a true friend." - Lecrae

From Jeff Bethke...

I seriously love it here. Yesterday we played soccer with the kids while a group of them practiced a performance for the first lady of Uganda. The kids here are insane–they play all day, never get sweaty, and don’t get tired. They put me to shame.


For dinner all the guys I’m with split up and we all eat with a different orphan home. The mom in the one I went to was named Beatrice. It was such a special moment. Here the girls prepare the food and then come kneel before the guys as they give it to them. Then the girl who served me my food said “let us pray” in one of the cutest voices ever. For dinner we have beans and this mashed up corn type stuff called “porsha” I think. It was good! The serving size here is ridiculous though. They all made fun of me for eating like a “muzungu” and not eating a lot. When mama Beatrice brought me my food I thought it was for the whole table haha.


Today we are going to do lots of work around the property to get it ready for the First Lady. There’s a special buzz around here because everyone is really looking forward to it. Excited to do a small part in maintaining this awesome property. Also hope it’ll be a good time of conversation with the workers who live here.


Lastly, I’m just so reminded here of where true joy comes from. All the kids here have such joy and such a beautiful spirit among them despite their circumstances. Frankly sometimes it’s embarrassing to me. Here you can’t help but realize what’s really important in life.  There is such a heavy emphasis on relationships here. Joy comes from friendship, conversation, and loving each other. Because of Dollar For The Poor they’ve been blessed here to have their basics needs met like durable shelter, 3 hot meals a day, water, and education. And all that happens from people giving a dollar a month. It’s crazy that it’s such a small amount I never even notice it coming out of my bank, yet it provides so much for the kids. I mean what would it look like if the each person in the Body gave a dollar? It could be from a CEO’s salary or a 12 year old’s allowance. It’s a level playing field and we all can have a part. What’s holding you back? It took me awhile to sign up but once I did I’ve never regretted it. Especially after seeing the faces and schools that it’s helping.


Seriously if you have a chance checkout Dollar For The Poor. Humbled by their work and seeing it first hand I can vouch they have a kingdom mindset. Their main priority is to restore and invest in relationships, and seeing the fruit of that here is beautiful. I have so much to learn and thankful for God’s grace in teaching me so much while over here.


I posted this because it harkens back to why we are here.  Do you know why you were created?  The Bible teaches we were made to love, worship and glorify God.  We were made to have a relationship with Him.  From that flows relationships with others.  But many have missed the point.  Even those who have gotten the point often approach it with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude.  Why?  Because it takes time to get to know someone.  It takes effort to share life with another.  It takes courage to be vulnerable, to love, to give oneself to another.  Even our pride gets in the way as it tells us we are capable of going through this life on our own.  Others will just let us down anyway.

So why does anyone do it at all?  Because the reward is so much greater than the risk.  It is so much sweeter than the potential heartbreak of the investment.  The destination makes the journey, no matter how treacherous, completely worthwhile.


Sadly, many only see the risks and not only rob themselves of the blessings of community in this life but put themselves in jeopardy of missing the blessings of eternity with God.  Relationship matters...much more than most of us know or are willing to admit...


Monday, May 28, 2012

Idolatry Part 2

"All these toys were never intended to possess my heart.  My true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ." - C.S. Lewis

"If we turn from God to treasure something more, it will prove to be a hard master. An eternally hard master." - John Piper

"We all worship something. What do you bow to in your heart? If it ain't Jesus, it ain't worth it." - Jefferson Bethke

"Idols always break the hearts of their worshipers." - C.S. Lewis

"Sin is not simply doing bad things. It is putting good things in the place of God." - Tim Keller

From Pastor Tim Keller...

"The Ten Commandments begin with two commandments against idolatry. Then come commandments 3 – 10. Why this order? It is because the fundamental problem in law breaking is always idolatry. In other words, we never break commandments 3 – 10 without first breaking 1 and 2.

We will either worship God or other things. We cannot eliminate God without creating God substitutes. Something will capture our hearts and imaginations and be the most important thing to us – our ultimate concern, value, and allegiance. So every personality, community, and thought form will be based on either God himself or on some God substitute, an idol.

This means that idolatry is ultimately the reason for all wrongdoing. Why do we ever lie or steal or covet? Of course, the general answer is “because we are weak and sinful,” but the specific answer is always because there is something besides Jesus Christ that we feel we must have to be happy, something that is more important to our hearts than God, something that is enslaving our hearts through inordinate desires. All our failures to trust God wholly or to live rightly are rooted in idolatry – something we make more important than God.

…Therefore, in sin we are always forgetting what God has done for us and instead are being moved by some idol. That is precisely what happened to the Israelites in the desert.

Note also that God first rescues the people from Egypt, and then he gives them the Ten Commandments. Keeping the Ten Commandments is not what saved them; God had already done that. God did not first give the Law and then deliver the people - first he delivered his people, and then he gave them the Law. Thus we are not saved by the Law, but saved for the Law. The Law is how we regulate our love relationship with God, not the way we merit the relationship. We are saved by faith in Christ alone.

Over the past few years God has spoken to me most about two things - idolatry and grace.  I never realized how much of my heart was given to things rather than God and I never realized the depth of God's love and grace that He would continue to pursue me through my constant rebellion.  Some of my idols have been taken away, others have been lessened and still others remain.  It is almost unfathomable to me, knowing what I now know, that idolatry remains an issue in my life.  I know that attempting to find my hope, joy and comfort in anything besides Jesus leads to addiction, depression and despair.  Yet, the pull remains - a pull that I am not always successful in defeating.  In fact, idolatry is more than just a battle between humans and their vices.  It is more than just a test of our willpower.  It is ultimately about good vs. evil.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? - Galatians 4:8-9 (ESV)

What is Paul talking about here?  He's not pulling any punches...that's for sure.  This is a letter written to the church in Galatia that was losing its grip on the Gospel.  Notice that it was God who found them.  Not the other way around.  Paul doesn't allow self-righteousness to creep in for one second.  But what about this phrase - "worthless elementary principles of the world"?  From Matt Chandler...

Now, what we know about that phrase “elementary principles” is it’s a reference to demonic spiritual forces. In the ancient world, they attributed to the elements of nature a kind of a spiritual force that needed to be appeased in order to get what you want from that spiritual force. If you were a farmer and you needed rain, you would need to appease the god that controlled the rain in order to make it rain. If you were going to go on a trip via the sea, then you wanted to appease Poseidon so that you would get there safely. If you wanted to become pregnant, you go to a fertility god. If you wanted to get married, you’d go to Aphrodite and you’d make these sacrifices and you would take part in these kinds of rituals to get from that god whatever you wanted from that god.

Paul’s saying that these gods are not gods; they’re elementary principles. Which means there are spiritual forces, powerful spiritual forces, behind our idols.  Paul’s pointing out the reality that these spiritual powers cannot deliver what they promise. They cannot deliver what they promise because ultimately they are not sovereign and all powerful. They can only do what they’re allowed to do.

This should get our attention.  Idolatry is essentially demonic worship.  That should make you more than tremble a little.  It got my attention.  With certain battles that have lasted years and years, there can exist a level of comfort within that battle.  This teaching takes any level of comfort away.

God gave us many gifts - food, drink, sex, money, health, marriage, success, etc.  These gifts were all meant to not only be blessings to us, but to point back to the Creator, so that our love and affection would rise up to Him.  Instead, we regularly choose to have our affections terminate on the gift itself.  When we do that we do not worship God...we worship His creation.  This is simply paganism.  It is being enslaved to those things that by nature are not gods.  You were created to glorify God.  To use creation to glorify yourself is to worship things other than God.  We have been fooled into thinking this isn't a big deal, or even worse, we no longer even think about it all.

There are some great questions in the following sermon that can help each of us determine what our idols are...

"Want to know if you have an idol? If you're willing to sin to get it, or if you're sinning because you're not getting it." - Jeff Bethke