FAITH BLOG

CULTURE IS NOT A NEUTRAL THING

Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord: 

“Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move.  Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.”

There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might. Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you.  They are both stupid and foolish; the instruction of idols is but wood! Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz. They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith; their clothing is violet and purple; they are all the work of skilled men. But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. (Jeremiah 10:1-10)

Here is a great temptation. We do not mimic or covet that which will, in our estimation, fail us. And this is precisely why there is, at times, a real temptation to mimic and adopt the methods, practices, and even beliefs of those who have enjoyed great success, a high standard of living, and favorable life outcomes—even when they accomplished much if not all of it outside of fellowship with Christ. Contemporary idolatry is very much a pull toward “learning...the way of the nations” and, as such, it is a real threat not to be easily dismissed as something from another time and era. The “customs of the people”—that is their fears, dismay over the “signs of the heavens”, and the idols they construct to protect themselves and ensure physical safety and success in every endeavor are attractive to us precisely because they—or at least seem to. Working 80 hours a week, having a spouse and someone else “on the side”, petty theft, and grand larceny—all of it seems attractive precisely because it seems to work. Yet as Philip Ryken asserts this is a grave mistake. Custom/culture is not a neutral thing. Truth is not relative or “right for me” and “right for you” simultaneously. Culture and the “way of [a] nation” can and should be judged and here’s the litmus test Jeremiah provides us. After all is said and done am I more inclined to fear God or fear the “signs” of the times, nature,  etc.               

Take the thing in question and lay it on the table here before Jeremiah’s prophetic scalpel. Did you make it? Did someone else make it, dream it, think it, design it, fashion it, write it? Does it have, ultimately, human origins? Do you have to feed it, “carry it”, care for it in anyway? Is it entirely self-sufficient? Everlasting? Does it have a beginning at all? Do you depend on it? Fear it? Bow down to it? Depend on it for good to happen in your life? Fear that if you neglect it terrible things will happen to you? Answer carefully. If the answer is yes, it is an idol. If you must sustain it and maintain, if it has a beginning, and yet you bow to it and fear it, it is an idol.

Yet here is hope even for the most hopeless idolator. A return to sanity consists in this and is simple: acknowledge that there is no one, absolutely no one, like the Lord. He alone is God and is the “King of the nations” and all of their cultures and machinations. He is the one we should fear. All else that we worship consists of things that are “foolish and stupid” and are but “the work of skilled men”. “But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation.”

So then let us pray together that the Lord would give us strength today to forsake our idols and return to Him, for there is no one like the Lord.  Amen.

 

 

Posted by Craig Lester with

HEART OF OUR MARRIAGE

It’s a heart problem. I think I have said that phrase too many times this week. I was reading in 1 Kings 12-14 when the Lord showed me several verses on the heart.  Jereboam was fearful in his heart, so he said in his heart…. He was concerned the heart of the people would turn; so, rather than trusting in the heart of God who had given him the kingdom; he devised in his heart another plan for the Israelites to worship golden calves. When God judged his sin in the illness and death of his son, God rebuked Jereboam for not keeping His commands and for not following Him with his whole heart as David had done.

It is interesting that we want to identify what our sin ‘is’ by ‘what’ we do; but, it is actually what we do that manifests what our sin really is—a heart not seeking after the Lord and not obeying His commands.

Our hearts can deceive us; it will tell us lies, entice us, lure us. Isaiah tells us our hearts are desperately wicked. I don’t like to hear that. James tells us that we’re carried away into sin by our own desires (which are born in our hearts). Prov 20:5 says, "the purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out." Psalm 119:161 "… but my heart stands in awe of Your words;" verses 10-11 tell us, "with my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments!" Ps.119:11, "I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You."

My heart is basically capable of two things: loving God and obeying/following Him or not loving God and disobeying Him. I am to discern, to use insight to draw out, learn and discover what is going on in my heart – it is possible.

What benefit does this hold for me in my marriage? In our marriages, our living and our interaction is like a dance. We use steps, and in those steps, we develop patterns. Some patterns are good. Some are not. We try to dosey doe around those patterns that are not good, pretend they don’t exist, skip them… we don’t like those steps. They can be painful, hurtful and sometimes mean. Lately, instead of dosey do-ing around my pattern, I’ve been dosey do-ing with my pattern and it’s been painful, hurtful and not very nice. So, because I’ve allowed circumstances to dance with this pattern, I’ve asked the Lord some questions. I’m seeking the Lord to discern my heart, and I’m asking myself some questions to discern what is really going on in my heart and why this pattern has been so important to my heart instead of loving the Lord and obeying Him?

I recently read in a book, "God is not only in the solution, but He is also in the problem." He is sovereignly placing people (and sometimes that person is my spouse), situations, trials in my path to sanctify me, cleanse me, transform and conform me. It gives me a fresh perspective of the patterns in my marriage that do not bring God glory. As I have been seeking and asking, God in His love and faithfulness also gave me this verse: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it." 1 Thes. 5:23-24

Walking with Christ is work. Having a better marriage is work too. God is not only sanctifying me, He is sanctifying our marriage to reflect His glory more and more. What a wonderful, patient, merciful, gracious God we serve. He is in the problems of our marriages and He is our solution.

Are you drawing out of your heart, seeking to know its purposes and motivations so that you may compare that what you learn to God’s sanctifying process in you? There are blessings for dosey do-ing with the Lord instead of with the evil desires of our hearts.

Posted by Patti Calderon with

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