Quote of the week:
Exodus 20:2-3 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no OTHER gods before me.”
Dear Faithful Prayer Partners
Thank you all for praying. Robin is doing great. She has recovered and got her official release from quarantine on Thursday. Unfortunately, we found out from the health department, that because we are in the same house together, that even though I have been quarantining with her the past 2 weeks, and have not shown any symptoms at all, I have to do an additional 2 weeks quarantine because I “could possibly” still get sick up to 2 weeks after my last contact with her symptoms! Pray for my attitude.
A big reason why this frustrated me is because, we were excited that God provided some extra work so we can pay off our Repatriation flight bill ($7000). And now, it will be almost 6 weeks that I have not been able to work. But, the Lord knows what we need.
This week I have been studying idolatry of the heart. Interesting that the Lord has me studying that at this time. My rights to go back to work, because I am completely healthy and able to work, have been really trying to control me. I’m seeing just how full of idols my heart is. I’ll talk more about that in my devotional today. So, don’t miss it.
Thanks for continuing to stay with us. We have treasured and valued your prayers through this time. Thank you for your partnership.
- Praise for Robin’s “release” from quarantine. Pray I will be released also, so I can get back to work.
- Pray for the provision to pay off our flight bill. We used money designated for other things, but we’d like to be able to refund that account.
- Continue to pray for my passport. As I said last week, if it doesn’t show up, the process of getting another one and getting the clearances to get back to PNG could take 3-4 months.
- There is a large group of PNG folks trying to fly back to PNG next weekend. Pray the route remains open, and they all make, especially our dear from Angie Walker (she got as far as London last week and got turned back!)
- Pray for Caleb. He has not been feeling well. He tested negative for Covid, praise the Lord. But, pray he recovered so he can be back in class. He has had to spend a lot of time doing classes virtually while he remains in quarantine.
It has been beautiful week for colors here in Michigan. Since Robin has felt well, we have gotten out (being careful to stay away from other people as per the health department request) and visit a number of location to take pictures of the colors. We also enjoy taking pictures of covered bridges. There are 4 or 5 within an hour of us here, so on a couple days, our touring revolved around them. The pictures God has painted are just so beautiful. Our camera can barely capture the amazing beauty.
As I said earlier, I have been assigned another 2 weeks of quarantine. So, I guess that means the Lord wants me to work on some projects for PNG. I have a couple Member Care projects that I have been asked to work on. So, I look forward to having some time to work on those things while I wait for my official release from quarantine.
Idolatry of the Heart
I was given the opportunity to share in the US Home Office chapel this week via Microsoft Teams, and since I have been studying idols of the heart, I took the opportunity to share what I have been learning. Here is a condensed version of what I shared.
Statistically 50% of missionaries don’t make it through their first term, and of those who leave, 50% of them leave because they can’t get along with someone, or because of sin in their lives. As I continue to study and look for how to help folks in conflict, the topic of idolatry has really come to the forefront.
So, what is an idol? Ken Sande said, “An idol is not simply a statue of wood, stone, or metal; it is anything we love and pursue in place of God. He went on to say, “In biblical terms, an idol is something other than God that;
- we set our hearts on (Luke 12:29;1 Cor. 10:6),
- that motivates us (1 Cor. 4:5)
- that masters or rules us (Ps. 119:133)
- or that we serve (Matt. 6:24).”
Here’s what a couple other people have said about idols of the heart:
- Richard Keyes said, “Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or character. It may well come in the form of an over-attachment to something that is, in itself good!”
- John Calvin said, “The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.”
- Brad Bigney defines an idol as; “Anything or anyone that captures our hearts, minds, and affections more than God.”
- John Piper said, Sin is what happens when I am not fully satisfied in God
I think Romans 8:5-7 describes what these men are saying. These verses clarify once again that there are only 2 sources for what we do and why we do it. It is either walking in the Spirit (a mind controlled by the Spirit) or it’s not… It’s either Godly, with God, or it is WITHOUT God… which means that it is God-LESS, a mind set on the desires of the flesh, carnal. And according to verse 7-8, when we have our minds set on our idols, or our own desires, we are hostile to God and are not able to submit to God, nor please God.
My heart is full of idols. But, it’s not always as simple whether to wear a hat or a headband. Unfortunately when our idol is an over-attachment to something that is, in itself good, like Richard Keyes said above, it’s hard to recognize the idol. In conversations with people I have heard all kinds of GOOD things that are controlling people’s hearts.
- A husband’s desire for respect from his wife
- A wife’s desire for love from her husband
- Parents who just want their kids to obey
- A missionary who just wants their leadership to understand
- More support for my ministry
- Team members who each have their idea of how things should be done
How do we know when the desire for a good thing has become an idol? CJ Mahaney said, “The test of adversity is a great way to tell if I want something too much. Ask yourself, or observe how you respond when your desire is not met, or what you desired is taken away?” If you respond with demands, judgments or ungodliness, you will know it’s an idol.
The command in Ephesians 5:18 to “be filled with the Spirit” sounds mystical and even magical. But two chapters earlier (Eph 3:17-19), Paul told us what it means (to be totally filled with the knowledge of God’s love, knowing the height, breadth, length and depth of His love). In 5:18 the comparison to being drunk with drink, as has been pointed out by many other people, shows that being “filled” means to be totally under the influence of something to the point of being controlled by it.
- If you are filled with drink, what controls you? drink.
- If you are filled with anger, what controls you? Anger.
- If you are filled with your desire for anything, when that desire IS NOT first and foremost to please God, then what is controlling you? That desire
- But, when you are totally filled with the knowledge of God’s love and grace, what controls you? The love of God! And when you are full of God’s love, there’s nothing that will stop it from spilling over onto other people.
I love the story in Luke 7. The woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair. Remember what Jesus said to Simon when he complained? Luke 7:47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” When we filled with love for God like she was, that will control us.
That woman had idols. She was an adulteress. But, when she met Jesus, and she experienced his forgiveness, she was overwhelmed with love for Him, and her idols were no longer important to her. And the love she had for Jesus oozed out of her for everyone to see. That should be the picture of our lives!
Eph 5:1 Be imitators of God, walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us
I will be praying for you in this too. I am sharing what God has been really challenging me with, and I pray God can use something I shared to encourage you. Hang in there. God desires for you to represent and glorify Him in EVERYTHING. And, I am confident that He will use you to do just that.