Idol test

Ligon Duncan’s words have been haunting me since that morning at T4G: “When we look at our disappointments, we’ll see what we love.”  It was a message by a minister about ministers and for ministers, but the shoe is a universal fit.  To put his point another way, when what goes wrong infuriates us, when what we lose depresses us, or what we failed to get frustrates us, we’ve uncovered our idols.  Sifting through a few of my disappointments later that night and comparing them to my love for Christ, was unsettling.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism contends that the chief objective of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  If you’re kind of fuzzy on “glorify” you may plow right ahead to get to “enjoy Him forever”.  Which most Christians would say, “Yeah, I plan to enjoy Him forever”.  Heaven, right?  But forever starts at the moment of regeneration, long before we die and go to be with the Lord.  So here’s the question, am I enjoying Him…, NOW?  Especially even in my disappointments?  Am I satisfied in him even as my life goes down the toilet? 
In the Gospel in Life study our CARE group went through, Tim Keller defines an idol: Why do we lie, or fail to love, or break our promises, or live selfishly? Of course, the general answer is “Because we are weak and sinful,” but the specific answer is that there is something besides Jesus Christ that we feel we must have to be happy, something that is more important to our heart than God, something that is enslaving our heart through inordinate desires. The key to change (and even to self-understanding) is therefore to identify the idols of the heart.”
Hey, I enjoy God!  

Maybe in reality I enjoy Him only if everything else I treasure goes my way.  If my financial situation tanks, I really don’t find much joy in Christ despite Him delivering me from damnation.  If my teenagers are just one disaster away from going down the tubes, I really don’t find much joy in what God’s done for me.  (That comes later once they straighten out.)  If I want to be married but am not, I have to admit God isn’t much of a compensation for me.  If a dear friend stops taking my calls, God’s peace does not offset what I’ve lost.  I enjoy God as long as my idols are present, clean, polished, intact.

If it’s sounds like I’m piling on people who are suffering and trivializing their heartaches, I plead innocent.  And, to state up front that in all of us, dismantling or at least demoting idols, is a lifelong campaign.  But no one tackles idols before ID’ing them.  This is one more way to do that: what disappoints you?

Won’t be long

For Sunday’s ground breaking celebration, instead of the clear weather we prayed for the Father ended our drought with a resounding 2 1/2 inches of rain.  Since the 100% chance of rain had still not arrived by the time we began the 8 AM service, I thought God had answered the way we wished but….  
Despite the rain, cold and wind, people soon lined up at the canopies for hardhats for the kids, prayerwalking maps, and index cards.  Arranging themselves around the painted perimeter of the future ministry center and parking lot, people began to walk the outline (see pics  I couldn’t help thinking of Joshua and his company encircling Jericho.  As people walked they asked God for things like “Keep us on mission” or “Provide volunteers for ministries” or “Keep us unified throughout this project” or “Make us friendly to those who enter our doors”.  Each person who passed by the hole the excavator had dug where the baptistry will be, dropped a card with the names of those in need of Jesus.  It was a moving sight.

Reassembling, we cried out to God to save those people–and use us in the process.  Then we refilled the hole.  Youth Pastor Brandon reminded us of our vision to reach the Next Generation, the put a lot of that generation on the rope lines to pull the 1880’s style plow Brandon steered.  The furrow was long and deep.  It did have a hook at the end that I thought maybe we could improve upon.  But when I drove it with those older than the next generation pulling, there was no doubt: we’d been outclassed.  Not straight at all, not so deep at times; a rather pathetic furrow in all honesty.

We hope to begin moving dirt in May and it’s exciting.  But why?  To have something new?  To have something bigger?  No, to have something useful.  This building will one day pass away.  God and His Word will not.  Those He’s redeemed will not.  Nor will those who aren’t redeemed.
As our district superintendent reminded us Sunday morning, this building is nothing more or less than a tool for God to use to expand and deepen His kingdom.  To use in rescuing people from darkness and to use in driving the roots of faith down deep for Christians.  …so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other (1 Kings 8:60).


Last week Pastor Brandon and I flew to Kentucky to marinate for 3 days in the good news at “Together for the Gospel 2012” [T4G] in Louisville.  Among others you should check out Kevin DeYoung’s message on holy living by God’s grace, as well as Mark Dever’s sermon on unconverted church attendees, at  But David Platt’s message on missions…, well, you just have to hear this.  Especially if you have no interest in the unreached people of the world.  Don’t care about any of them, don’t pray about any of them.  “Shucks, there are lost people right in my neighborhood.  Right here.”  

Especially, if you believe God in His sovereignty will save elect people without your help–or anyone’s.  Especially if you believe that today, missions should be obsolete.  “Let indigenous people lead their own to Christ.”  You’ve got to hear this.  It was aimed at pastors and the tip of the spear found its mark here.  But it could stir you too.

Good Friday

…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
…it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
…the wages of sin is death…
…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”  (Jesus)
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses…

To any who have been spared an up-close look at war, or reared far from farms or the harvesting of wildlife, it is a gory business, this gospel.  The stench and the sight of so much blood–either by the animal sacrifices that previewed it, or by the unrestrained mistreatment of Jesus by soldiers, dismays some and disgusts others.
But because it is through the blood of Jesus Christ that sins are purged, the songwriters  are right to call the maroon flow “precious”.  Glory, glory, glory to God for the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news that His blood has atoned for our sins!