Thursday, August 12, 2010

American Idols

Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…"

I wanted to write a post on the subject of Idolatry. Idolatry in its simplest terms is, “Something or someone you look to for redemption.” In other words it’s a false, functional savior. Our whole culture is built around the worshipping of idols. We worship money, sex, power, fame, food, houses, boats, cars, careers, ministry, relationships, children, medication and on it goes. Anything we look to give us value, worth, purpose, meaning and direction, outside of our creator, is classified as an idol.

Let’s take a look why we worship. It starts with our creator and how He designed us. The Triune God in Father, Son and Holy Spirit are self sustaining eternal persons who constantly outpour love, affection, value, dignity to one another. The Bible tells us in Genesis 1:26 that he made us out pourers of worship just like God. In other words, we we’re made “worshipping”. The moment we come out of the womb we are worshipping something. If we don’t worship God we will worship something else. That’s where Adam and Eve screwed it up for us. Satan deceived our first parents to buy into the lie that they can become their own god (Gen 3:5). That’s what happens with us. We believe we can control our own lives and worship ourselves, bring glory to our name, pleasure our own desires. It’s a turn inward to self and the result is we become vacuums. Idolatry causes our hearts to take, steal and suck the life from other people or things. Why does this happen? The heart was made for God and if the heart is not filled with the love of God, the forgiveness of God, the heart will look for something else to worship instead of God. Apart from God we have no life and if we worship ourselves we must find life in other things when life doesn’t exist in other things. Only God is the true source of life. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. - John 1:4

What is the result? Death, disappointment, depression, failure, emptiness, void of worth and dignity. The Bible says Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The things we look to ultimately don’t satisfy because they were never meant to. We weren’t designed for idols to fulfill us. We were designed by God to have a relationship with Him where by He pours His life into us and we in turn act as conduits naturally pouring God’s life into others.

Let me say that idols can be good things. Marriage is a good thing and blessed by God. The problem is when we idolize marriage as in “I need a husband/wife to save me and bring me fulfillment” it becomes an idol. As Mark Driscoll likes to say, “Good things, turned into God things, become bad things.”

What are some common idols? Let’s take a look at a few.

Sports: People dress up in their colors and jerseys and dawn the temple known as a stadium to worship their team. There’s nothing wrong with sports in general. In fact anyone who knows me knows I’m a baseball fan. But when you live or die based on what your team does or doesn’t do, and you’re depressed for weeks because your running back couldn’t punch it in the end zone with two seconds left on the clock, chances are it’s an idol.

Food: Our society is number one in the world in obesity. America has invented “All You Can Eat.” We have the most overweight people in the world which is not something to be proud of. The Bible says Php 3:19 their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. When our god is our belly we tend to eat things to comfort us, to save us in the moment we feel down or depressed. We turn to the fridge for comfort food only to find our waist is getting bigger but our soul wastes away each time we worship our food idol. We’re substituting Häagen-Dazs as our consoler rather than “The Comforter” The Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

Sex: We want to pleasure ourselves when in reality we’re worshipping our own bodies as idols. The human body was the apex of God’s creation so we turn it inward and gratify its desires. Hollywood portrays promiscuity as something to be celebrated when the results are disastrous such as Aids, Herpes, and other venereal diseases along with the emotional damage that it can cause. Sex was designed for marriage between one man and one woman the same way cars are designed to run on gasoline. You can try and fill your tank on sugar or soy sauce but your car just won’t run. God desires that His highest creation, mankind, to experience this wonderful gift in a committed marital relationship where it’s safe and pleasurable. A fire in a fire place is warm and inviting but if it gets outside the fireplace it causes damage. The same holds true with sex outside of marriage. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous -Heb 13:4. So we see the marriage bed is undefiled. Anything outside of that is idolatry.

Relationships: I had a conversation with a girl who desperately desired a husband. Being married is a noble thing but when you look to someone to complete you, other than Jesus, it is an idol. As a result she’s been in a string of bad relationships which has caused pain, depression and discouragement all because her idol failed to live up to her expectations. Her bed became a literal alter as she offered herself up as a sexual sacrifice to her idol. If you worship relationships you will become co-dependant and will leave you empty and void. Worshipping Jesus makes you a brand new person fulfilling the very depths of your soul. Jesus said The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. -John 10:10

Career: Many people lay themselves on alter of career. People work seventy to eighty hours a week slaving away at their idol in hopes of making it to the top. They find their value and purpose in the next promotion. There’s nothing wrong with working hard and the Bible exhorts us to work hard. Problem is if that’s what defines you you’ll be disappointed when the promotion does or doesn’t come. The song Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin is one of the most theologically correct songs regarding the career idol. The lyrics are as follows:

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

Of course the father tragically looks back and realizes he missed out on a relationship with his son. As a result his son ended up becoming like his father’s idol.

Entertainment: Our American Culture is steeped in this one. We’re obsessed with movie stars whose lives are a train wreck as the tabloid TV Shows and internet sites are filled with the latest gossip tantalizing our proverbial taste buds in seeing the famous fall. We’re captivated by what Lindsay Lohan did this week rather than what’s taking place in the Middle East; which actually has bearing on our lives. We set up these idols in hopes we can watch them fall giving us a sense of superiority. Our attitude is simply, “At least I’m not as dysfunctional as they are.” We compare ourselves to fallible man when we should look at a Holy God. When Michael Jackson died people filled the streets to pay homage to their fallen god. People cried and wept aloud for the king of Pop as if their savior was crucified. It’s madness to think that the world is willing to follow anyone or anything that remotely has a decent answer. Yet there’s a God in heaven that is perfect, the author of life, willing to rewrite our life’s script to love, joy and peace.

So what’s the nature of an idol? Idolatry has its nature in creation. Idolatry is the worship of a created thing and by created thing it can be material or immaterial. When the creator is not worshipped in His proper context, through the power of the Gospel, the lines between creation and creator become blurred to which the downward spiral of created things is worshipped. That’s what the first chapter of Romans is all about. Rom 1:22-23 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Genesis 1:1 declares a distinction between creator and creation. When we somehow fail to understand the Good News of Jesus Christ, that He entered into His creation, even though nobody recognized Him (See John1:10), that He lived a sinless life, died a substitutionary death on the cross, that is He died in our place for the breaking of God’s Law and became the very idol that we worship which is sin, was buried and rose again three days later to forever beat death and set us free. When we fail to understand this incredible truth we have no choice but to turn to idols and functional saviors to redeem us from our hell.

Think about it. 2Corinthians 5:21 says For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. This means that when Jesus was being judged for our sin on that cross at that moment He became a pedophile, Homosexual, glutton, drug addict, alcoholic, self righteous, jealous, a liar, a thief, an adulterer and on it goes. He became my idol! Why? Because He loves you and me that much to free us from the bondage our idols cause.

What’s the remedy? Turn from your idol and acknowledge to God that its sin then change directions and move toward Jesus. This is called repentance. Then believe that His finished work on the cross brings you full acceptance, assurance, and love to set you free and you’ll be free indeed. Instead of getting high on drugs you’ll be high on Jesus. Instead of feeding on the all you can eat buffets you’ll be feeding on the bread of life nourishing your soul. Instead of tipping back another cold one you’ll drink freely of the water of life in Jesus satisfying your spiritual thirst. Instead of gratifying your sexual desires you’ll experience intimacy in the love of God fulfilling your relational hunger. Instead of constantly dealing with the hurt and pain that others have caused you’ll experience peace that Jesus gives and anger will be replaced by love.

He loves you so much. The Cross was His doing for you willingly so you could turn from worthless idols and turn to Him. Idols give happiness for a moment but He gives Joy for eternity.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dying to Live

I recently went through a period of frustration wondering why life had not gone as I thought it would. I had this gift and seemingly clear vision for God’s heart in building His kingdom’ yet I had little or nothing to show for it. I was oblivious to the frustration mounting but habitually pushed through like everything else. The harder I pushed the more pain it seemed to bring.

I had a wonderful conversation with a church leader and he shared the only way for our gift(s) to come alive is by taking the knife and killing it so God can resurrect it; A reminiscent reference to Gen 22:1-2 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." I think God tests us to see what’s more precious to us; our dreams, our talents, our possessions, or God himself. After speaking with Rick I hung up, got down on my knees and wept. I knew the only thing left was raise the knife and plunge it into my dream. God wasn’t going to do it for me. I had to do it myself. So I did. I killed it and let it go into His hands. There was a period of mourning that took place, as if the only thing I ever wanted was gone forever, yet something great happened. I felt a peace. I also felt for the first time a transfer of my gift truly, %100 in God’s hands. It was resurrected!

It’s so easy to function in our gifts and not notice that we see ourselves in light of our gift not in light of who God is and the work He’s done on our behalf through Jesus Christ. I would encourage you, if you’re frustrated because you can’t seem to make headway or gain ground, then chances are you’re trying to use your gift your way and hasn’t been transferred to God’s hands. Let him strip you down to just being a child of God, not a child of God and…, and He’ll clothe you with His righteousness. Oh the gift will still be there. The difference is He’ll be using it through you more than you can imagine.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Need Healing?

My three year old son and I we’re pillow fighting last night. As I hit him once in the head he gave me that proverbial, “OH DAD YA GOT ME” lines like he was “play” dying. He then did a “play” falling routing. Problem was his head smacked into the edge of a hearth on a fireplace. Blood started gushing and I knew at that moment we needed to take him to the emergency room. On our way I held him in my arms and told him that I loved him and that Jesus loved him and he was safe. We we’re going to take care of him. We get to the emergency room and the doctor checks his vitals etc. to make sure there wasn’t a concussion or neural damage. The gash in his head was about half inch wide and three quarter in deep. It was bad. Doc then asked me to hold him down to administer the anesthetic shot to numb the area. Can I say, that as a father, it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Holding my son down while he’s in excruciating pain was gut wrenching. There was no other alternative though. It had to be done or we just leave a hole in his head.

God spoke to me and said, “I had to hold my son down because there was no other alternative.” Jesus would be the medication needed to bind up the sinful wounds in our life and He allowed His Father to pin him down on the cross for our healing. It must have been horrible for the Father to watch his Son go through that. In fact, the Father had to look away. I hated watching my son go through the pain but I knew what the end result would be. Praise God he’s ok and he’ll have a scar bearing the brunt of his fall. Jesus will have my scars for all eternity bearing the brunt of my sin. When I get to heaven I will look at His scars as the most beautiful marks in the world because He chose to take those on Himself for us. Rev 5:6 ..I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…

Before the shot, the doctor put Miles arms behind his back in a pillow sheet so he couldn’t move. I hated doing this but the doctor couldn’t risk his own hands being cut if they got in the way. MAN this was hard!! I feel sometimes God holds us down in certain ways to administer medicine to those wounded areas of our Spirit’s. Some of us have deep wounds that require drastic measures. The Father, as unloving as He may seem, is pinning us down to inject us with truth and administer the medication. Do you feel like you can’t move? Do you feel like life is going nowhere? Is it painful? It’s because Jesus wants you to be still and know He’s God. He administering His Holy medicine meant to bring you healing.

Lastly, As the doctor stitched him up he was crying but I knew the anesthesia kicked in and could feel nothing. I told him to lie his little head on my chest and rest. HE ACTUALLY FELL ASLEEP. It’s ok for you to rest on the Father as he’s binding your wounds. Rest on Him now. Decide to rest because He loves you. It’s all He wants.

I hope this encourages you..

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Need Some Good News?

The past week I was feeling rather depressed and frustrated with my life. I forced myself to open my Bible and start reading. I came to Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. As I read this I was like, “OK God. Yeah. I’ve read this before. It means if someone is Jesus-less in their lives that the Gospel will save them; change them to a whole new life.” After pondering for a minute, and considering my current state, God spoke to my heart and said, “Brett, you need me to save you now, in this life.” It was like a lightning rod went through my soul. He was right. The Good News has the power to save us over and over again right where we’re at. Don’t get confused here. I’m not saying you need to be rescued eternally over and over again. That happens once. What I’m saying is we need the Gospel to get saved while we’re trying to live out this life. I needed to be rescued from myself! So with that, I sat in my cube at work and began to preach the Gospel to myself. (I know, sounds like I’m schizophrenic). You need to preach to yourself sometimes. David did all the time like this….Psa 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation….So if David can do it then we can to. My prayer was something like, “Lord, I was a piece of trash not worth anything. Yet you chose to lower yourself to me and live like us. You then died a criminal’s death even though it should have been me on that Cross. They buried You but three days later you got up. You did that so every barrier between me and you was destroyed. You forgave me of all my sins; even the ones I haven’t done yet. And you didn’t stop there. You chose to give me your inheritance. WOW God. What a love you displayed.” Can I say that my sorrow turned into joy. At that point It wasn’t about what I was doing but about what He DID. I want to encourage you, if you’re not reborn, get reborn. Give Jesus your life the best way you know how. If you are reborn, get born again, again and experience his life. Love you all.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Freedom from Anger and Confusion

I thought I'd share my story....

I grew up in a divorced home like a lot of teenagers. I was raised by a loving mother and stepfather. My stepfather was an alcoholic making things particularly tough. My stepfather’s combination of drinking and shady business dealings led him into massive debt, driving him to commit suicide. Mom told me he took his own life which plunged my existence into a sea of confusion, anger and bitterness. I needed answers, yet couldn’t find any. At twelve years of age, the only wisdom I knew was to bottle up my feelings and share with know one how I felt.

Jeff’s death forced an emotional growth I was not prepared for. I had to take care of my little brother who was too young to know anything. I used to sit at my Mothers bedside while she poured her heart out and cried. It was the most awful time I’ve ever experienced.

A couple of years later Mom remarried and we moved to Hawaii. I thought, “great! Hawaii was the perfect place to lose these old memories and start over.” This wasn’t the case. My anger began to build like a ticking time bomb. My friends nicknamed me “Mt Sartain”, like a volcano waiting to erupt. The smallest thing would set me off. As a result, my friends and family suffered.

About a year later I received an invitation from my Father to live with him in San Diego and start a new life. As a last resort, Mom thought it best I do this. My grades had slipped; I was smoking marijuana and was hanging out with the wrong crowd. At this point it was a good change.

Shortly after arriving in San Diego my new family lavished love upon me like I'd never felt before. They decorated my new room with baseball pennants and skateboard memorabilia. I was treated as a king. I knew from this point a decision had to be made about dealing with my anger. After a couple of weeks Dad sat me down and told me Jesus loved me; that if I released my life into His Hands he'd give me peace and eliminate my frustrations. I declined that day but couldn’t get out of my head what he said. I sat on my bed that night and said to God, “I don’t know who you are but I’m going to give you this much (as I held up my pinched fingers in the air showing God exactly what he was going to get from me.) And you have to do with what little I give you. Amen!” I didn’t feel any different at the moment but I slept that night like I’d never slept before. I woke up with a peace I can’t explain. Jesus took the table crumb of my life and made it a meal. He took what little I gave him and in return gave me what I really wanted. Peace. The anger was suddenly gone. I was free like I’ve never been free before. I started attending church regularly and joined some Bible studies. I grew so much in those first three years of my faith. I’ll never forget it.

At age twenty two God called me into ministry. I was reluctant as I kicked and screamed to deny HIS call but, couldn’t deny it was His will. You know when God wants you to do something because it’s the hardest thing to do. He gave me Ezekiel Chapter three which says.. And He said to me, "Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you." Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me. I fell on my knees after reading that passage and gave my life to the Lord once more. Daily surrender is crucial in living for Jesus. I felt a tremendous peace from that time on determined to serve God with all I had. Within three weeks of making that commitment I met my beautiful wife Tara, I landed a job at one of the most exclusive resorts in the world and a missionary from Crete paid my entire tuition for school. I couldn’t believe it!

He sent a good friend, Daniel Wilson, to disciple me. Many nights we’re spent in his one bedroom apartment with commentary’s, lexicons, different translations of the Bible on his floor, searching the scriptures and being blown away by the truth’s discovered about the Lord.

After graduation, Tara and I we’re married and we embarked on a series of ministry opportunities. Over the next six years God showed me what and what not to do. The most valuable lessoned learned was teach God’s Word, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, as it says in Isaiah 28:10 - For precept must be upon precept, line upon line, Here a little, there a little." I caught the vision for North Carolina desiring to serve under my father. Dad has blessed me as the best Father and spiritual mentor in the world. He’s my hero and other than Jesus, he’s the best example I’ve ever known.

We finally moved to North Carolina in the spring of 2002 and have been here ever since. I’m so excited about Horizon and what God is doing here. He’s changing one life at a time in ways I’ve never expected. He’s richly blessed me with my beautiful wife Tara and four wonderful children in Sophia, Caden, Sage & Miles.

I thank men like Mike Macintosh, Chuck Smith, Jon Courson, Dr. David Jeremiah, Miles Macpherson, and others who God used as vessels to shape me. I’m so grateful.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Revelation 6:6

Rev 6:6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!"

After the rapture of the church takes place Jesus will open the 7 seals and release the 4 horseman of the apocalypse. The first horse describes a rider with a bow and no arrows, which I believe to be Antichrist as he'll conquer the world without firing a shot. The second horse, being red, has a sword and war follows him. After him, a black horse comes with scales in his hand which which the Bible always uses to symbolize the marketplace and money transactions (Prov 16:11, Isa 46:6, Jer 32:10 etc). This vs says that a quart of wheat will cost a "whole days" worth of income. Think about that. How much do you make in one day? Now think of your whole days wage buying only one loaf of bread!

SO with that, I'd like to share an article I found regarding the ug99 virus strain effecting part of the world's wheat population. This is no secret yet amazingly I've not seen it in the American media, unless someone else has seen it. Be ready with anticipation for the the Lord's return is near!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Which Way?

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus responded to Thomas confusion about what that “way” was. Thomas was thinking of a location but Jesus was speaking about a person. The way is Jesus. Let me explain. What if my 5 year old son came up to me and said, “Dad, I’m not feeling well. I want to go home and rest.” Would I say to him, “Son, I’m sorry you’re sick. I understand. Now follow my instructions very carefully. Walk out the front door and turn right. Go down Highway 160 till you get to highway 49 and hang a right. Go about 18 miles into town and turn left on Congress Street and it’s the 4th house on the right. Hope you feel better son. I’ll see you at home.” As a loving father I would never do that! I would pick him up in my arms and take him where he needed to go. It’s the same with us. It’s never a destination we need to get to but rather its simply being with and enjoying Jesus and, as a loving savior; he’ll take us to where we need to go in life. Next time you ask yourself, “where in the heck should I go in this job, finances, relationship, etc?” Run to the way, the truth and the life. Run to Jesus and you’ll arrive at your destination. You'll find the peace you long for, being in the arms of your savior who’ll take you to places you never dreamed.