Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Being like Jesus is an incredible challenge. I pondered it in the wake of the Razorbacks win over Tennessee this past weekend. What does God desire for us? He desires the very best for us. And, He knows that we will receive that very best when we love Him with all our heart, soul and strength and when we love others as we love ourselves.

What does that really mean? I'm not sure I have that all figured out, but one of the things God has been showing me that it means is that we can have no idols in our hearts.

When David cried out to God to search his heart and see if there is any "wicked" or "offensive" way in him, the word has in it the concept of an idol. Any high place or idol in our heart must be torn down. We must have God as the sole object of worship. There can be no distractions from Him. That is the life Jesus led, and it is the life we must lead. We must not let anything intoxicate us, drug us, distract us or capture us except the magnificence of our Father in Heaven.

Why did the Razorback football game get me thinking about this? Good question. As I examined my heart and asked God to do the same He showed me that there was a time when I would let football season be a drug and a distraction. I would watch football games to escape the misery I had in my life. It was an "acceptable" way to keep my mind from thinking about how far I was falling short of the glory of God.

But that was not the sole lesson He wanted me to see. He also showed me how easily I could swing to a different drug of choice: pride. He reminded me of the "spiritual" pride I developed in my first few weeks here at the University of the Nations. You see, the transition into missions support here really did inundate me with a new life and desire for God. And, much of my former life really was forgotten. That first weekend here I not only didn't watch any football (we have no TV anyway), I didn't even remember that college football was happening and had no idea what the Hogs were doing until friends and family from home told me about the game. I was somewhat smugly impressed with myself. And, I found myself drifting from a worship of God and God alone to a desire to promote the religious success I was having.

I so want to love God with everything I have. It is a very difficult pursuit. I see at every turn how easily I let any and everything distract me from the only goal worth pursuing. I pray God will continue to reveal Himself and His desires for my life to me. I am so glad that He promises to give good gifts to His children and that He says that we should simply ask for those good gifts like wisdom and the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Oh Father, please give me wisdom as I desperately seek You and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Thank you that I can approach your throne and ask you for these things through the blood of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.


GuyMuse said...

Wow, I didn't know a football game could get one's thinking into such a high spiritual gear! :-)

Seriously, a good post. I too have struggled with "losing myself" into TV (whether it be sports, news, drama series, etc.) For me, TV is a temptation where I find my comfort, rather than in the Lord. For that reason we gave up TV as a family years ago, but are struggling with the issue these days of resubscribing to cable. Don't know what we'll end up doing. I am not saying by any means that those who watch TV are wrong, it's just that it has always been a keen competitor for our undivided attention--attention that should be focused on the Lord and one another. Idolatry has a way of sneaking up on us.

Bryan Riley said...

What makes this even more difficult is our culture's reaction to such struggles. Just like you fell compelled to say "I am not saying by any means that those who watch TV are wrong...." That is true, but the reaction of others, particularly "Christians," to an open struggle with this sometimes is to say "oh, you just think you are holier than thou because you don't watch TV. And, legitimately, we can even gain spiritual insights and worship the Father through TV. It just overwhelms me sometimes with what is the right thing to do, what would Jesus do (without sounding too trite), and how do I balance obedience, piety, humility, pride, legalism, and religiosity.

I like your last sentence a lot, Guy, and I think most people don't even realize it in their hearts even though they would agree with the statement in their minds... Idolatry definitely has a way of "sneaking up on us." Perhaps that is because our hearts are so deceitful and do all they can to keep us from realizing the truth of the idols therein.

Anonymous said...

I keep up with you guys through this blog, but I've never posted. However, God's words (through you) resonated deep within my soul this morning.

First of all, we, too have struggled with the whole TV thing. Over the past couple years, we have really gotten a hold of it and it doesn't dictate our lives anymore. That said, however, it can have the tendency to pull our focus from things that matter. I love the fact that God spoke to you through the Razorback game though. Just like God!!

What really set in with me is the "drug" pride that you mentioned. Jesus reached deep within my heart about a year ago and pulled it out. I had no idea that pride was something I had struggled with all my life (both spiritual and worldly) until God hit me over the head with it. Praises to Him that He has a way of getting our attention. Our focus is on Him and just like idolatry can sneak in, so can spiritual pride. I so appreciate hearing someone else be bold enough to share this with others. As I was praying for you, Tara and the kids yesterday morning, I prayed specifically for the preparation of those hearts who God is about to bring before you all. Praying with you for the binding of the enemy.

In Christ,
Steve Lasiter

Lee said...

The "holier than thou" thing is what I have trouble with. When I was a junior high principal at a Christian school, we had a "Turn Off TV Week" with incentives offered to the kids who succeeded at completing the requirements. We made a big deal about getting the teachers and staff to sign up. Perhaps that was motivating for the students, but it was a lot easier for us to turn off the TV than it was for them. I stopped making a big deal out of my participation, and started making a big deal out of theirs. We also did something different for the kids whose families opted not to participate.

It is so easy to be distracted by so much. A merciful, forgiving God is a wonderful blessing.