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Christian Men at Work Podcast

Oct 12, 2020


Today I'm going to challenge you to identify something that is demanding a lot of energy, time and emotion from you which is, at the same time, something you have within your power to reduce or eliminate from your life.  I'm going to ask you to be honest with yourself about exactly how much this thing is demanding of you, why you're letting it take up some much of your life, what harm it's causing, whether it qualifies as an idol, and to think about what you could replace it with if it were removed from your life and the potential consequences of doing so.  And along the way I'll refer to what God's word says.  This is one of those topics that definitely has applications to our workplace but goes beyond the workplace.

Since I can't sit down and talk one-on-one with you to hear your story, I'm going to tell you mine and go through this process of identifying and analyzing a potential idol and developing a plan to change.  While I have more than one idol, the one I'm going to focus on is politics.  If you listened to this podcast for a while, you've heard me bring this up before.  My concern about focusing too much on politics has been on my heart for some time.  Recently, several things occurred to jar me, to shake me, to the point where I'm taking a hard look at this issue.  I'm hoping and praying that this episode will be something that will shake you up and lead you to take a hard look at what may be an idol for you.
The first thing that shook me up was the interview I released last week with Jeff Jerina, where we talked about how to share your faith without fear.  What shook me up is how little I'm sharing my faith, other than through this podcast, which is mostly likely being heard by fellow believers.  That's painful to admit, because it makes me feel like a hypocrite, but it's true.  Most of my closest relationships and social interactions are with believers who are very like minded.  While I won't know until heaven how I may have influenced people and we can certainly plant seeds that are watered by others, I have to be honest and admit I'm not intentionally sharing the Gospel nearly as much as I should be.  The next thing that shook me up was a conversation I had with my middle daughter. She watched the VP debate with my wife and I, where I was very much "animated" or to put it better "upset".  Later she and I talked about several political issues along with the bigger issue of how politics should be a part of our lives as Christians.  Then later in the week I talked with my Mom about the issue.  Despite the difference in age and life experience, my daughter and Mom have several things in common.  First, neither my daughter nor my Mom know even a fraction of what I know about the current political issues or the key players in politics, but they both have an awareness of the harm that can come from devoting too much attention to politics. They also both attract others to them and are friends with others who share different views than they do (much more than I do), and as such they both have the ability to influence those people.  Finally, they are both focused pretty heavily on showing love to others.
Now let's get back to the questions I mentioned earlier that I want to answer for myself.  As I do this, if politics is a big part of your life, you may be able to relate specifically to what I'm going to share.  If not, I invite you to follow this process and answer these questions for the thing that's taking a lot from you and your life.
First, how much is this thing demanding of me.  For me, politics is demanding a lot.  While I have taken saabaticals from time to time, my norm is to listen to Rush Limbaugh at lunch time and to listen to political podcasts especially when I'm driving in the car and since we live in the country that means a lot of drive time.  My podcasts most often listened to are Al Mohler's The Briefing and The Ben Shapiro show, both very political.  I frequently check Donald Trump's Twitter Feed, and though much less than I used to I check in on the The Drudge Report, which is basically a bunch of links to other political stories.  For over a year I was actively involved in the Convention of States effort which took a lot of time.   In my email inbox, I get notices from the AFA, American Family Association, The Babylon Bee and others, all focused on politics.  Because my wife and I are both interested in politics and like minded, we spend a decent amount of our conversational time talking about politics.  I could go on, but you get the idea.
The next question is why am I letting it take so much from me and my life.  I think there are several reasons men have idols.  One is that they are not taking seriously enough the reality that God exists and that his Word is true.  The world and the natural things around them are more real to them than God and the things that are unseen.  Another reason is because they place importance on that particular issue.  They think it's important and worthy of spending time on.   A final major reason is because the thing provides them pleasure and they are drawn to the pleasure the thing provides them.
For me, I think all 3 reasons are factors for me and politics. I'm not trusting sufficiently that God is in control and what He is doing in the world and in my life.  Second, I mistakenly place too much importance on politics.  I think about the impact on our society of who is President, who is on the Supreme Court, and who is running the Congress and how the political events and decisions will impact all of society.  This second reason is probably the biggest obstacle for me.  I really do think politics is important and I believe that a functioning republic such as the U.S. demands an active and informed people so that they can self govern as the founders of our country envisioned.  I also believe the United States is overall a force for good. The third major reason men have idols is because of the pleasure it provides them.  There's no doubt, I truly enjoy listening to, reading about, and talking about politics, so much so it can be addictive at times.
Now before I go on to the next question, I wanted to bring up a few scripture verses that may be relevant to our discussion so far.  The first reason was about not believing in and trusting God with what is going on in our lives and on earth. Prov 3:5-6 NKJV says  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall [a]direct your paths."  Psalm 50:10 NKJV says "For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills." Proverbs 21:1 NKJV says "The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes."   What these and other verses say to me is that God is in control and we should trust Him with our lives and with the affairs of men.  If we are struggling with unbelief and doubt remember the prayer from the man in Mark 9:24, spoken in tears, " “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
The second reason for idol worship is placing too much importance on a thing, in my case politics, which includes keeping up with the news and current events.    Jesus came to earth, took the form of a human body, and lived among us, experiencing our world as we do.  He was aware of current events, as shown in Luke 13:4, where he made a point to his disciples referring to a tower in Siloam that had fallen and killed 18 people.   In Matthew, Mark and Luke it records that Jesus was asked by the Pharisees whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. When asked whether we should pay taxes, Jesus said "“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”"  What I take from these passages is that we should be engaged with our government and aware of current events at some level, but our primary focus should be on God and His Kingdom.  Colossians 3:2 NKJV says " Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."
The third reason for idol worship is for pleasure.  Many people are turned off by the church because they think God just wants to take away their fun.  The truth is that true pleasure and joy comes only from God.  Proverbs 16:11 says "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." But God warns us to be balanced in our pursuit of pleasure and more importantly not to seek after pleasure outside of His will.  Proverbs 21:7 NKJV says "He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not be rich." In Luke 8:14 in the parable of the sower of the seeds, Jesus in Luke 8 says that the seeds that fell among thorns are like those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.  In 2 Timothy 3, Paul warns that during the last days which I believe we are in right now, men will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
So the next question we're going to answer is what harm, exactly, is this thing doing in our lives.  For me, it's easy.  By focusing too much on politics, I get angry, irritated and anxious more often and to a greater degree.  It takes joy away from me and it negatively affects my relationships.  It also makes me more judgmental of others, namely those in politics I disagree with, but I've found that I inevitably think about all the people in our country who disagree with me on political issues and then I get mad at them as well.  Matthew 9:36, referring to Jesus, says "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd."  That is the attitude I want to have towards others.  Dan Mohler says that rather than being mad at people we should be mad for them.  While dying on the cross, Jesus said "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do".   The Jewish people have throughout the centuries recited daily a prayer called the Shema.  It is taken from Deut 6, Deut 11, and Numbers 15.  The first part in Hebrew is She-ma yisrael, adonai eloheinu, adonai echad Baruch shem kavod malchuto l’olam va-ed. This means Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.  The prayer goes on to say "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
The prayer goes on further to describe the consequences of obeying or not obeying the Lord, and commands the wearing of a tzitzit or fringe on the garment corners to remind them of God's commandments.
The Shema reminds me of how important it is to recognize God as the one and only God and to honor Him by obeying His commandments every day, all day. Jesus said in John 14:15 "If you love me, keep my commandments"
The next question we're going to answer is whether the thing we're considering is in fact an idol.  We read about the Israelites worshiping the golden calf and other idols and think how silly that is and how we're not doing such things.  When we do that, we miss that an idol is anything that competes for our attention and love toward God.  Remember the command from God as recited in the Shema. 
So the final question I want to answer is what could we replace this thing with if we were to remove or reduce its influence on our lives.
I was amazed when I went through this exercise.  I thought specifically about the positive things that could come from taking politics out of my life.  I thought about more important activities I could be doing.  I thought about an improved, more joyful attitude.  I thought about better conversations I would have with others, including sharing the Gospel using the steps described in the interview last week with Jeff Jerina.  I won't go through all those details with you but will ask you to do this exercise for yourself for the thing that may be an idol in your life.
Check out Youtube Channel Assembly of Called Out Believers if want to learn more about what it means to be a Torah follower.  Will include a link in show notes for a particular video called "The Final Timeline" which talks about why are in the end times and are between the 1st and 2nd seal.  It's the best teaching I've seen yet about the the end times. 
-1 Peter 2:17 NKJV "Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king."
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don't ask more than one question, and don't ask more than one person a question