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Encouragement

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Let’s all be honest with ourselves and say we have struggled with putting things in front of God. I understand that we are not bowing down to anything or singing their praises like during worship in church but when I start valuing these things above my relationship with God, it’s natural for my heart to put them in his place.

With that in mind here are some things that I’ve placed above God:

Comfort

For most of my childhood the most important thing in my life was making sure I was comfortable. I dislike conflict and really any kind of discomfort even when I know it’s for my eventual good. As a result, I often seek comfort by watching one of my favorite movies instead of going to God with what is going on in my life. To be uncomfortably honest, I have let my insecurities drive me to emotional eating, trying to escape reality through music, or just zoning out instead of actually dealing with what is going on and going to God with my issue. This mindset is incredibly easy for me to slip into and I pray daily for God to renew my mind and focus it on what he has for me rather than my instinctual selfish behaviors.

Approval

The desire to want to fit in is real and exists in all of us to a certain extent. In the US that often involves spending money on things that are advertised as “necessary” to be stylish, classy, or accepted. My most recent major run in with how much this moment I arrived back home from my honeymoon. The living room was piled with a combination of my stuff, his stuff, and the new addition of a bunch of wedding presents and we were tasked with the process of figuring out what we needed to get rid of. We had a ton of stuff that one of us had bought that we rarely used but our culture had taught us to keep it because it looked nice or just to have it even if it made our lives more cluttered and harder to manage.  During the process of cleaning out all of our stuff, I kept seeing all of my “friends” on Facebook decorating their houses to be picture perfect, which led me to want to spend even more money on stuff to make our place look like an HGTV fairytale.  All of this made me take a step back to think about why I felt this way, was it more important for people to think my house is cute or for my husband and I to have a place to live where we could focus and be productive on what God has called us to do. This really help put things in proper perspective.

Security/Control

Does your job define you or the amount of money you take home bring you comfort? I grew up thinking that I needed to be self-sufficient and be able to take of my own problems. Because of this I end up wanting to control my surroundings and make decisions based on what I feel is safest for me not based on what God is doing in my life. It’s important to learn and realize that not only is my identity in Christ but that there is no amount of wealth or protection I can build for myself that can’t be wiped away by the world.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.Colossians 3:5

In the next part of the series we will address how to deal with these idols in our lives and to focus our worship on God.

What do you Worship?

This standard church question receives typically a pretty standard church answer, God or Jesus. I’ve given that answer many times myself. But I think this question deserves more thought and reflection than it usually gets. Over the years I’ve found consistently asking myself these questions helps to diagnose my heart and reveal the idolatry hiding inside.

1. What is your life structured around and why?

Identifying what your life is structured around is a constructive way to look into your own heart and figure out what is going on. It can also be beneficial in determining your upcoming plans. Start by looking at your daily, weekly, and yearly activities. Ask the question “What are the areas in your life you are working for, planning for, and sacrificing for?” Are there any differences in your stated goals and your actual behavior? This kind of self-reflection can highlight the differences between what you think you are living for and what your real goals in life are. One of my long-term goals is for this blog is for it to get a lot of views and be successful as possible, so I’ve had to adjust my behavior to spending a lot of time writing and working on parts of the blog.

But just looking at the activities you are doing is usually not sufficient to uncover idols. After you have determined what you have been spending time on it is necessary to ask why these things? What am I getting from this? To revisit my example about this blog, why is it important to me to have a successful blog? My current answer is that the more views my blog gets, the more people I can encourage with the hope I have through Christ. However, I’ve seen many instances where good things become all important things, so I try to be very intentional in how I think I think about success so that I don’t begin to worship or idolize a high view number to fulfill me.

2. Who or what do you run to when the seasons of life are joyful or disheartening?

Whatever or whoever you go to is the one thing that you most value. It could be the first person you call when things start going wrong or the first person you want to tell the good news too. Or maybe it’s the habit you turn to, to get through a rough day to relieve stress or when you want to celebrate. Personally, I’ve had difficulty with using food to regulate my emotions which led me to see how I prioritized my comfort above what I knew was logical or God-honoring.

3. What are the things that cause you to become angry?

Anger is a painful emotion for me because I am prone to get angry about a lot of things pretty quickly. I still actually struggle with being proud that I’m not a person you want to mess with because of how harsh my anger can be. Last week I was furious because I had found myself once again stuck in significant traffic and my mind was racing with thoughts of running out of time to get the errands I needed to complete. After taking a second to calm down and process my road rage I had to stop and ask myself what was bothering. The realization that I had come to was so caught up in my stressful day at work that the negativity was consuming me. I was telling them all how to drive so I could feel better even though it did not affect them since they couldn’t hear me! But my anger came out to defend something I dearly care about which in this case was my perception of being in control.

If your answer to all of these questions is that I don’t struggle with any of these, that’s great! I hope they helped! But for many, including me, it’s constructive to go over some additional information and examples to help this sink in. It took quite some time to get out what I wanted to share with about worship, but with the help of my editor we have broken it down into a three-part post. Over this coming week, will be posting two more posts to paint a picture of how important worship is. See y’all on Wednesday for Part 2!

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