Day 29: How to crush your kingdoms

Yesterday we looked specifically at the approval idol and how we need to look to God to fill the need for affirmation and approval.

Continuing that thought, let’s look at how to overcome the control, power, and comfort idols.

~~~

If you greatly value self-discipline; if you hold everyone, including your self to certain standards; if you worry constantly about things you can’t change, then you may be dealing with an idol of control. With a control idol, life only has meaning if you gain mastery over a specific area(s). This one trips me up a lot, though not nearly as much as approval. It’s also interesting because control can go to both sides of the spectrum. Sometimes people who are constantly dieting or obsessing over weight/size are really struggling with an idol of control. When a lot of my life might feel out of control, I sometimes find myself overeating because it’s one thing I can control. Some people may obsessively clean their home or body in an effort to control, while others may exhibit slovenly behavior from the same need to control.

Contrast this with Romans 8:28:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Our vain attempts are control are just that – in vain. Pointless. God is the one who has all things under his control.

~~~

What about power? Are you someone who has to win at all costs? Is success the name of the game? This may mean that you prize work and climbing the corporate ladder above everything else. It could mean that you wish to exert your influence over the people around you. It may be that you want to win at anything you do. Other people are often seen as pawns to be used as you feel helps you the best. You may feel anger at others who attempt to exert power over you or when you cannot have influence over a circumstance. With a power idol you only feel that you have worth if you have power and significance over others.

The answer to this lies in Psalm 145:8:

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

God is gracious and compassionate to you and so you can let go of your need to exert power over others and instead be gracious and compassionate. 

~~~

And, lastly, for those of you who identify with the idol of comfort. As pointed out in a comment, this doesn’t necessarily mean luxury, but instead seeking ease or lack of stress as the most important thing. If you desire your privacy above serving others, you may be struggling with a comfort idol. You may find yourself choosing the easy road, the path of least resistance. You may not accomplish as much with your life, but you’ll make sure you don’t have a lot of stress put on you. Life only has meaning if a certain quality of life, pleasure or experience happens.

Cling to this instead, from Psalm 16:11:

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Instead of looking to pleasures to bring you comfort, look to Christ for the fullness of joy and pleasures that never end.

~~~

I hope that this look at idols hasn’t weighed you down too much. It’s hard to look face-to-face at some of the ugliness of sin within us. Don’t be discouraged, but look to Christ instead. We’ll talk more tomorrow about the joys that wait on the other side of the coin.

Because it’s national cat day (who knew?) – I’m sharing this of one of my two babies:

Silly cat playing in tea package

~~~

Catch up on every post in the series here:

crushing your kingdoms

Advertisements

Day 28: When longing for approval

Hopefully by now, you’ve identified which of the four root idols is your stumbling point, having used the reflective questions from last week. Thank you to everyone who commented with such openness about the root idol you see in your life.

Zephaniah317

Here’s mine: approval. Big time. Maybe 90% of what I do is done in light of what someone else will think of me. How I dress, what I buy, my ever-so-witty statuses and tweets. I blog (sometimes) so you, reader, will be moved to comment or like or share.

If you’ve ever said something nice to me in person, I probably treasure it and mull it over again and again. If you’ve ever had a negative or harsh word to me, well, like a cow chewing its cud, I ruminate on that hurt repeatedly. I worry almost constantly about whether or not someone likes me.

Here’s a ridiculous example from this week:  I grew up listening to Christian Contemporary Music. I’m not going to debate the pros and cons here; I would posit there’s good and bad CCM. Today, I listen to a mix of music with some CCM still thrown in, though frankly not much. In my car, I typically listen to music on my iPod connected to the stereo though bluetooth. When my iPod dies because I forget to charge it, I tend to default to a CCM radio station, for lack of anything better. This past Sunday, my car needed to be moved, so I handed over the keys without thinking that my iPod was in my purse. What that meant is that once the car moved far enough away from the iPod, the bluetooth disconnected and the radio turned on. Tuned to a CCM station. With the volume on loud.

*cringes*

See, I go to a rather hipster-y type church, with a lot of artists and musicians. Of whom I have great respect. Some of whom, at times, have been vocal about their disdain for CCM. And, so, I’ve been mortified since Sunday to know that one of two people might think I was jamming to CCM. Because I care about what others think of me. Because I find my worth by being loved and respected by people I love and respect. Because I have an idol of approval.

(The amusing thing is that just yesterday I posted two songs here, one of which is by a popular CCM band.)

The thing I need to learn is that I will never find my worth by being loved or respected by _____ people. At best, it’s like drinking salt water when you’re thirsty. It seems like it will satisfy as it touches your lips, but it only further dehydrates your body.

Instead, I need to focus my heart on finding love, respect, and worth from God – the living water that truly satisfies. As Zephaniah 3:17 says,

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

This is who I should cling to for affirmation. This is who I should desire to admire me. Oh, how I like that idea of someone rejoicing over me, loving me, and exulting over me with loud singing. And I would bet it won’t be to CCM.

~~~

We’re winding down the series on Crushing Your Kingdoms. You can catch up with all the posts in the series here:

crushing your kingdoms

 

Day 26: Four kingdoms (root idols)

apple orchardHave you had a chance to think through those questions from the You are here post? I sat down and went through each one. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised at my answers, even though I didn’t really like them. They pretty much confirmed what I guessed.

These questions are digging at determining the sin underneath the sin that drives most of our sinful behavior and other idolatries in our lives. I’ve heard several pastors and authors teach that these boil down to four big ones:

Comfort
Approval
Control
Power

The Journey Church in St. Louis did a series that includes these: Transformation. The sermon, Loving People by Uprooting Idols, in particular hits on this. If you  want to spend some time learning more about crushing kingdoms, these are a great resource. I know my church has preached on this, but I couldn’t find the audio anywhere. 😦

So, here’s the deal:

If your answers pointed to lack of stress, freedom or privacy, where your greatest nightmares are stress and demands on you, then you most likely have a comfort idol.

If your answers  leaned toward finding affirmation, love or relationships and your greater fear is to be rejected, then you are dealing with an approval idol.

Do you fear uncertainty and worry a lot? Do you regard standards and self-discipline above all else? This is the idol of control.

Is success the name of the game? Is everything about winning or asserting your influence over others? Then you’re looking at a power idol.

fallen applesThis is deep, heavy stuff, if you take time to really look at your heart and where your affections lie. I’d encourage you to go back through the questions and take inventory in where you have rooted your time, attention, and heart.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! – Psalm 139:23-24

Above all, spend time in prayer over this. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts. These deeply rooted idols are not removed without God’s help. But, it begins with a willing spirit to see what lies between you and God. One way might be to spend time praying through Psalm 51, David’s cry of forgiveness to God.

~~~

We continue to work through the series, Crushing Your Kingdoms, this month, with only a handful of days left. Click below to view the index of all posts in this series.

crushing your kingdoms

Day 22: You are here – a brief recap

Dear Reader Friend,

There are less than 10 days left in this 31 day challenge. I’ve posted scripture and songs and stories from others. The things going on in my personal life (see Day 2 for a glimpse into THAT) have made it very challenging to carefully craft out a blog post each day. I lost a few days early on and am not quite caught back up yet. But thank you for hanging in there with me.

you-are-here-illustration by hikingartist (CC BY-ND 2.0)

you-are-here-illustration by hikingartist (CC BY-ND 2.0)

So, where are we now?

My goal this month was to look at the things in life that we try to build on, trusting in our own strength or ability rather than leaning wholeheartedly on God, his strength and his peace. I thought I would go through different things we try to rely on and show how they are kingdoms with foundations built on sand that easily crumble. Instead, my physical kingdom, i.e., house, crumbled. Not literally, but with water soaking our entire basement floor and an upstairs crammed with all the furnishings that were down there, it’s been a challenge. I’ve learned that I don’t need to wait until my house is perfectly decorated to invite people over. Instead, I’ve actually had more people in my house this month than probably the past three months combined. It’s hard to swallow pride and ask for help, but the community that has surrounded us has been worth it.

I’ve had some stumbles, too.

Temptations that repeatedly tease with their false hope of something “better” have been taunting me. Being tired and worn thin, it’s been easier to give in, to allow the serpent in the garden sweet talk me into taking a bite of his apple. When I look at it in light of crushing kingdoms, the sins I gravitate toward are often my attempts at building my own kingdom. The idols I manufacture are my attempt at putting myself on the throne.

The next step in this series, though definitely more difficult to spell out in words, is to look at four of those areas that are often classified as the deep idols. These would be the root of the issue, so to speak. If you take the sins you feel you struggle with and start probing even deeper, where does it lead you? At the heart of things, what is it you really long for? How do you figure that out? Here are some questions to begin asking yourself:

What do you worry about the most?
What, if it failed or you lost it, would make you perhaps not want to live anymore?
What do you rely on for comfort?
What do you do to make yourself feel better?
What do think about, or daydream about, when there’s nothing else pressing in?
What gives you your self-worth?
What are you proud of?
What would you want printed on your tombstone?

Think through these, so in the next several posts, you’ll more clearly see what deep idols you are clinging to as you crush your kingdoms.

Thanks for following along with me this month, whether you’ve been a faithful reader for a while or if you’re one of my new friends, many of whom are also participating in #write31days.

me in my World Help shirtHave a blessed day,

Janice
aka Claygirlsings ← (how this name came about)

Day 10: Idol factories

It’s time to get a little deeper in the topic and really “get to meddling” in some of our root issues. First, however, I want to lay a foundation of what we’re talking about. Unfortunately, committing to post every. single. day. makes it near impossible to spend the time crafting a theologically heavy post. So, instead, I’m going to defer to a few well-studied men to more fully explain this.

Related to the idea of kingdoms is the concept of idolatry. I’m not necessarily talking about a statue that someone might bow to, but the heart idols that lead us all astray in our on way. An idol may be anything that can be a substitute for God. John Calvin has said:

“From this we may gather that man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols…Man’s mind, full as it is of pride and boldness, dares to imagine a god according to its own capacity; as it sluggishly plods, indeed is overwhelmed with the crassest ignorance, it conceives an unreality and an empty appearance as God.” – John Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.8

Here are a few thoughts pulled from a video excerpt of C.J. Mahaney‘s (former president of Sovereign Grace Ministries) sermon on the subject.

fernsThe evil doesn’t lie in what we want. Often as Christians what we want are gifts from God. The evil isn’t in what we want, the evil is in wanting it too much. The desire for a gift from God becomes a sinful craving – a ruling craving.

If our hearts remain unmonitored or unmanaged, they will regularly create substitutes for God.  Within each of us, in the form of remaining sin. is a fully functioning idol factory – at work and open for business 24/7. 

If the essence of idolatry is wanting a gift from God too much, how can I determine if I want something too much? What is your response if you don’t obtain it? What is your response if it’s taken away?

J.D. Grear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC, also posted recently on 5 insights into idolatry. I encourage you to read the full article, but I want to highlight two of those insights.

Idols engage the deepest emotions in our hearts: When something we love is threatened, people get violent, because many of our deepest emotions are connected to idols. About what do you think, “If I ever lost this, I’d never survive”? What possible loss makes you not only frightened, but despairing? The irony here is that idolizing something ultimately keeps you from being able to enjoy it at all. Gaining more of an idol only heightens that sense of fear, because nothing other than God can sustain the weight of your soul.

Idols demand sacrifices to keep them happy:  An idol is like a fire. It never says, “That’s enough.” Instead, it just keeps asking for more. The altar of idolatry is terrifyingly insatiable: the more you sacrifice for an idol, the more it will demand. What part of yourself have you sacrificed on the altar of an idol? Where do you feel that “pull” to keep cutting corners or making excuses? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that this sacrifice will be the last one.

Ack. There’s just too much good stuff on this hard subject.
Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis, has an excellent sermon (or two) on idolatry.
Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, wrote the book, Counterfeit Gods. Good read.
Finally, I haven’t read it yet, but Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins we Tolerate by Jerry Bridges has been highly recommended to me.

Heavy stuff here. Has it made you think about what idols you may have in your life? Has it brought up more questions than answers?

This is another post in the #write31days series, Crushing your Kingdoms.

crushing your kingdoms

 

 

  • Hi, I'm Janice. I'm part bookworm and part creative. I love both science and music (and the science of music). I'm stumbling around trying to grow closer to God. Click the photo to read more about me.

  • I’m so glad you’re here!

    Thanks for taking time to read my posts in the midst of all the great blogs out in the blogosphere! If you like what you read, please follow me, or sign up to get my posts in your inbox. I'd love to hear from you, so please leave a comment!
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 755 other followers

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Check these out:

    31Days_Rest_thumb
  • Copyright 2014 Claygirlsings | all rights reserved

  • Advertisements