Thursday, September 17, 2009

American Idols – Part II

In my last article on this subject I went after two primary American Idols. And idol is something other than God that we put our trust in. The point I was making is that I have been to several different countries, many of them known for their idolatry. In these countries, the idolatry is obvious, with shrines and graven images being displayed all over the place. I have heard the condescension in the voices of “enlightened” people here in the West as they roll their eyes in disgust at the heinous idolatry of the people of India and their 300 million “gods” and goddesses”.

But are we just as idolatrous?

I believe that while we here in the “enlightened” west are in fact VERY idolatrous, our idols are just not as obvious. We serve gods (world rulers in fact) like Mammon & Self. We have placed our marriages, our families, our callings and eternal destinies on the altars of Mammon and aborted millions of innocent babies on the altar of Self. And we do so with the greatest of confessions. Many a family and marriage has been destroyed to the mantra of “I’m just trying to be a good provider, giving my family what they deserve”. Many a baby has been aborted to the mantra of “they wouldn’t have had a good life anyway, with their mom being so young/poor, etc.”


Concerning Money and Mammon, Jesus was very clear that our primary pursuit was NOT to be our personal welfare and the accumulation of material things but rather the pursuit of an invisible kingdom and the King Himself!

“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.” Matthew 6:33

We were created to pursue a Kingdom and a King! That is our primary purpose, our ultimate pursuit. God knows how He made us and gave us strict marching orders to go after His Kingdom and His righteousness and NOT the necessities of life! Isn’t that bizarre? This isn’t license to the lazy to do nothing because the Bible goes on to say,

“For while we were yet with you, we gave you this rule and charge: If anyone will not work, neither let him eat.” II Thessalonians 3:10

No, this command of Jesus was for the type “A” personality, the go-getters and the “doers” of the Word. The Lord’s commandment to “seek FIRST the Kingdom and His righteousness” was more of a direction or marching orders for productive people. He’s aiming us in the right direction, telling us to go after Him FIRST. If we would pursue Jesus and His Kingdom FIRST, then the provision for our daily bread would manifest MUCH easier. Imagine the words of Wisdom and direction you would receive as you lingered in the Presence of the Lord before work in the morning. Imagine the peace and ease that you would carry into your workplace and career as you became more conscious of Him than your circumstances and limitations y spending time with Him every day. Sales would come easier, the pressure would be off and you would soar in your career, working and providing for you and your family without pressure, fear or guilt. Your priorities would be in order and you would rest well knowing that you are RIGHT.

People, our #1 priority is to pursue the King and His Kingdom. That means what it means. Seek God FIRST, not your paycheck. The same devotion that you pay towards your career, your education and the betterment of your financial standing, invest that in God. The promise is wonderful! IF we will seek Him FIRST, He will GIVE unto us ALL that we need!


When we’re talking about seeking FIRST His Kingdom and His righteousness, what are we talking about? We’re talking about the actual pursuit of God, but FIRST! So, how do you pursue God first? Make Him your #1 priority of your everyday life by seeking Him FIRST! Complicated, isn’t it? Practically speaking this means that we spend time with the Lord in worship, prayer and the Word at the start of our day. I’m not advocating a “quiet time” where we give the Lord a small slice of our day and then ignore Him the rest of the day, but I am saying that we make Him a priority and pursue Him FIRST. Turn on the worship music, lay down on the couch or floor with your family and worship God together! Read the Bible and seek Him in the Word, feeding on His Presence and His words, they are life! (John 6:63)


Jesus came walking the earth preaching a foreign message to the self-absorbed inhabitants of this planet. He said things like,

“For whoever wants to save his [higher, spiritual, eternal] life, will lose it [the lower, natural, temporal life which is lived only on earth]; and whoever gives up his life [which is lived only on earth] for My sake and the Gospel's will save it [his higher, spiritual life in the eternal kingdom of God].” Mark 8:35

He told people that if you held on to preserve your own life you would be guaranteed to LOSE it! But more incredibly, the way He prescribes to save and preserve is to GIVE IT AWAY for His sake! This Kingdom is an upside down Kingdom! Save it and you lose it or lose it and you save it!

The problem with Christians is we simply don’t believe that. We are vainly attempting to preserve our lives, our families, our schedules and our money all with the hope of saving ourselves and the ones we love. Yet we are losing our marriages, losing our families and losing our fortunes. Our kids grow up and don’t serve the Lord. We’re disillusioned with church, in debt up to our eyes and bitter against our spouses. Why? Jesus told us why! He said that if you would seek to save your lives you WOULD LOSE IT! Yet we spend our entire Christian lives trying to prove Him wrong!

The answer to our American dilemma is VERY simple: count your lives as nothing and LOSE them for His sake and you will FIND them! Consistently, the happiest people I have ever met with the most solid marriages and families are the ones that have completely LOST their lives in service unto the Lord.

They have less money because they give what they have and sow into the Kingdom, yet somehow they are always a conduit through which blessing flows and they seem to have more than the person that withholds their fortunes and loses their life savings in investments or the stock market. Kingdom economics; give and it comes back!

They have less “free” time than their self-preserving friends, committing large portions of their lives to the work of the Gospel and laid down service unto others yet they have a superior “quality” of time, free of bickering, anger and animosity within their marriages and families. They might spend a good amount of time helping others through “crisis” but for themselves, they spend much less time on “crisis” control within their own homes.

Their marriages and families are stronger, yet they spend less time & money on them than their self-serving friends. Many of them have never seen the inside of a counselor’s office, yet daily walk in healthy marriage principles. Their kids are better behaved and well adjusted because Mom and Dad discipline according to what they read in the Bible! Their kids also stick with a Jesus they KNOW on a daily basis in the home and not just one they hear about every once in a blue moon at church.

Jesus is right folks! Give your lives away for His sake and you will TRULY find them.


In the Kingdom you GIVE and it COMES BACK! That means that practically we have to give ourselves, our time, our money, our service and our lives for the sake of the Gospel.

Invest your wealth IN THE KINGDOM and not only in this world and its resources. Give to the poor, give to your church and really invest, expecting a return as you would a popular stock or investment scheme. The Kingdom is a good investment!

Invest your time IN THE KINGDOM and not only on your personal, vain pursuits and self interests. This means that you willingly GIVE your time to benefit others! Preach the Gospel, heal the sick and raise the dead! It is ALWAYS good time to preach the Gospel. Offer your lives as a living sacrifice to God as you lay down your life for your friends.

So we’ve just touched on two common American idols, but are there more?

You bet.

Friday, September 11, 2009

American Idols

In the last couple years I have traveled to several different countries, each known in its own way for their idolatry. And while the idolatry of India, Africa and Central America may be terribly obvious, with their shrines, offerings and devotion to inanimate objects and deities, it has struck me that we in the West are no less idolatrous.

Certainly, the idolatry of India is pronounced. It’s said the Hinduism has produced some 300 million “gods” and “goddesses”. Everywhere we went throughout the country there were small shrines with incense, food offerings and candles being offered to pagan deities. On the streets, in restaurants and even in the dashboards of taxis we used. Shiva the Destroyer and Ganesh the blue elephant are terrible to behold in all of their fell demonic glory. Yet in Mexico, the shrines and the offerings were identical but the images lovelier. Instead of Ganesh and Shiva they worship Mary, the mother of Jesus and other saints. The most obviously demonic was “Holy Death” or Grim Reaper. To them, the one the Bible calls “the last enemy to be destroyed” is worshiped as a saint. How bizarre.

Yet, when I come home to America, we revel in our ingenuity and glory in our intellect. Certainly we are far too advanced of a civilization to worship dumb idols and erect shrines to our gods. Or are we?

As I look around my home in the States I see the same look of devotion and commitment to “gods” other than the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We erect shrines all right and we give costly sacrifices and offerings at the altars of our idols, they are just prettier than the gods of India, yet no less captivating. Remember that the true test of devotion to an idol is how much we trust in it rather than God and I would venture to say that our trust in many ways is NOT in the Lord, but in other things.


Without a doubt here in the United States we worship money. Jesus called the Spirit behind the love of money and the pursuit of things Mammon and made a startling contrast saying, “You can’t serve both God and money” making the Spirit of Mammon one of the ultimate adversaries or enemies of true worship of God.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Matthew 6:24

Yet in the US and especially in the church, the pursuit of money and things is a full time obsession. Christians are urged from the pulpit to exercise their faith to get more stuff and be more comfortable in ever larger and larger homes, cars and excessive lifestyles. The #1 destroyer of marriages in the US is financial pressure as people are pushed to the brink to pay the bills for the stuff we don’t really need!

Aren’t we exhorted in the Gospel to be content with what we have, whether little or much? I don’t see any encouragement whatsoever to better our life situation by the accumulation of more and more “stuff”.

“Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.”
Philippians 4:11

“For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world; But if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
I Timothy 6:7-8

There is virtually NOTHING that we here in the US will not do for money. We sacrifice our time, energy, calling, marriages, families and eternal destinies for the pursuit of things and are encouraged and cheered on by many in the church. Our lives are virtual graveyards of relationships, destinies and callings sacrificed to our favorite idol with benefits, Mammon.

Now there is nothing inherently wrong with money and I would MUCH rather be comfortable

driving a nice car and living in a nice house than some piece of junk. But the Biblical response is to seek FIRST the Kingdom and God will give us everything we NEED, not necessarily all we WANT. Instead of sacrificing our walk with God and our marriages and families for the sake of money, why don’t we like Paul learn to live contentedly with less for the sake of the Gospel?

Mammon, the pursuit of “wealth” and other “things” are a true American Idol.


In the United States, one of our ultimate idols is the pursuit of “Self”. We have self-help, self-awareness, self-consciousness and self-discovery. The doctrine of Oprah and Dr. Phil have infected the pulpits of the church. We are drowning in a sea of self love as we are encouraged more and more to “discover” who we are and love ourselves. In the church we have a very serious plague of selfishness as we hop from place to place to see “what’s in it for me” and all the while making place for “me-time”.

But isn’t the EXACT opposite nature of the Gospel?

“For the others all seek [to advance] their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (the Messiah).”
Philippians 2:21

The Bible says that pagans run after and are concerned after their own interests, but NOT those of Jesus Christ! If we are to be the salt and light we are called to be, let’s start by maybe sacrificing our personal interests for those of others. Isn’t that the very definition of love?

“No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.”
John 15:13

Our willingness here in the United States to sacrifice all on the altar of the demon god of self is proven. In the name of “self” we have slaughtered countless innocent children while indefensible in the womb. We call it abortion. But the worst part of it is in the why. Why have millions of babies been aborted? Because the children we would have had would be an inconvenience to our selfish lifestyle. The ultimate blood sacrifice of human life is done all in the name of self.

Make no mistake America, we are no less devoted to our gods than the heathen of India, Africa or Central and South America. If devotion is measured by what we are willing to give up in pursuit of our demon gods, we win.