Posts Tagged idolatry
I love looking at life to see how God’s blessings have provided for my family and I on a daily basis and thanking him for it. He is our Creator. Provider. Our Sustainer.
I love thanking Him and offering praise for His handiwork and presence in my days, getting me through life, and providing all the necessities I will need to stay on course. His blessings and provisions are plentiful, always on time, and provide exactly what we need.
As we gathered today, something struck me as the family corralled around the dinner table. In one word, it was EXCESS.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The food and company was such a blessing for my kids and I, and it was an incredible sharing of food and celebration with many. But holy-moley, it wasn’t just a dinner table we gathered around. It was a 6 foot long table brought in to hold all of the food, because there was that much food! Come hungry! There was no way it would fit on a table with us as we gathered to feast.
Bounty? Yes. Abundance. Absolutely. Excess? Quite possibly. Did we truly need that much? Probably not. Delicious? And how! It was an incredible meal!
I began to ponder how we live life and how the ways of this world entice us to live that life.
And then I pondered other areas of the world where there is little excess. Why do we have so much? Do we take it for granted? Do we share our blessings and provision and take care of those in need? Or do we quickly box it up, store it away, and keep it for ourselves to have in our attempts to “EXCESSorize” our already abundant lives? I just kept pondering. And as you know, as a coach, I ask a lot of questions.
We are provided for abundantly. But yet we yearn, desire, and seek more. And more. And more. And we store it. Box it. Find it hard to part with.
The things we chase. Those things. The stuff. The food. The supplies. All our wants, desires, and hopes of more. More. More.
So I decided to look up the two words Abundance and Excess.
Abundance: an ample quantity.
Excess: an amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable.
The Lord provides for us in abundance. His provision is plenty to sustain us even when we long for more. Yet, we seek more than what is good for us. Pondering this, I began to think about how excess kills and destroys us. Abundance provides for us and sustains us. But excess?
Matthew 6:25-34 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
The Cure for Anxiety
25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add a single cubit to his height[a] by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters[b] eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God[c] and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I love the pericope in that passage of Matthew. It says “The Cure for Anxiety.” From a life management perspective, this is so right on!
Is our anxiety and life management issue of too much baggage in our lives and world due to our desire for more and an over-abundance that we now refer to as excess? We believe we must have more: food, clothing, cars, houses…look at the nine life areas and soon we have more than what is necessary and it starts causing problems. But why? The lack of these things causes anxiety, because we worry and fret about where they will come from and how we will get them. In time. And have enough. And be taken care of. As if we could do it for ourselves better than the Lord in His wisdom and provision. That makes me laugh. I’ve been there, too, in this state of idolatry, thinking that I am my own provider and sustainer.
But what good is excess when by having too much (or more than what is healthy for us), we also have the consequences of anxiety, worry, fretting, and a whole plethora of life management issues?
Think about it:
Our portions today are enough to feed an entire family in some places of the world, but we still believe that more and more food is what we need in our already unhealthy diets. And because of that excess of food, people have weight management issues, diabetes and circulatory/heart issues, and rising costs of health insurance and prescriptions needed to combat what the excess causes. And this is self induced. If we eat too much, we have consequences to face. We’ve got to make wise choices and stand against what the “norm” of today has become. It is unhealthy and we know it. In these cases it is our responsibility to take our diet choices into our hands and become healthier on purpose.
Look at our excess when we go to a restaurant. We want a take home bag or box filled with the food we couldn’t even finish after filling ourselves beyond what was healthy in a single sitting. That, again, is excess. I just did this the other evening. Mexican food is sure test of willpower. But, I ate what I wanted and made it home with that box of leftovers without busting the button off my jeans, so I wasn’t too hard on myself. I say this because I am not here to pick people apart. All of us have life management and excess issues. I am no exception. And to teach effectively, I realize my own short-comings and even use them in training scenarios.
Our excess is not just with food either. We have homes STUFFED with so much stuff, that we have to have a storage unit to hold what we can’t fit in them yet still cannot seem to part with, because we *might* need it someday. How many garage sales do you have each year? Our house has about three annually, and I am always amazed at the JUNK we collect in between them. WHERE does it come from? Our culture is a magnet for stuff and much of our stress is caused by the excess of it which is self induced. The good news is…we can turn from it, do something about it, and become givers instead of hoarders of this stuff. Got baggage? It’s time to get rid of it. Empty closets. Empty drawers. No more junk.
We have stuff in drawers. Closets. The trunks of our cars. Garages. Attics. Sheds. Storage units. Boxes. Bins. Bags. Under our beds. And sometimes we store it in other people’s homes. WE HAVE TOO MUCH EXCESS. And we live like it’s a badge of success, or a badge of honor.
We EXCESSorize our lives and think we’re healthy, wealthy, and doing well. But are we truly well? Is excess healthy? And where does life management come into play for creating Happier & Healthier People? (That training is here.)
Our EXCESSorizing mindset keeps us chained to many unhealthy consequences. The truth is that more and more stuff (better cars, bigger houses, more stuff to go IN those houses, more clothing, more shoes, constant technology upgrades, the list goes on and on) really means that we have more junk to store, more to maintain, more to move around, and more personal debt than we can handle, pay off, and manage effectively causing stress and anxiety, adding to our health problems because of those things, and yes, you know…the list goes on and on.
It’s that SNOWBALL I teach about in the Happier & Healthier People Videos that wrecks havoc in our lives reaching all nine life areas. Excess is the start of it all regardless of where it starts in your life. If you expend more time, energy, and resources than you have, you’re going to have consequences that will affect your other life areas. Stress affects your health, your health affects your career, your career affects your ability to earn money, your finances affects your relationships…and on goes that snowball.
Excess in our lives is a hazard we must watch for and work to eliminate and control. Constantly.
Whether excess comes in the form of physical demands placed on your life (time, talents, energy, resources) or the things you acquire in life (junk, stuff, weight gain, material possessions creating baggage and clutter, or an attitude of having to have and needing to have more and more beyond what is an abundance to simply sustain yourself), it will create issues with consequences.
Standing around the 6 foot long food holding table, seeing the stacks of Black Friday advertisements in the newspaper, being bombarded with the sales ads on the television, and listening to the barrage of buy, buy, buy, was such an opportunity to realize that the way we are encouraged to live today is not just with an abundance. But with an abundant excess so far beyond what we really need.
Do we really need it?
We live in a time when we accessorize our lives with abundant “excessorries”. We want accessories that allow us to feel we really have it all. After all, isn’t THAT the American dream? Excess = Success? The more we have the more successful we’ve been? The more God has blessed us specifically? I believe for our sanity’s sake and for our health: mentally, physically, and spiritually, that we need to rethink this and take a stand to start living with the simple, yet abundant provision that the Lord provides daily while sharing what we have. There is plenty to go around. And contentment is a form of praise for our daily provisions.
Living in excess is really costing us despite of what it looks like. Excess is deceiving, because carrying around too much of anything is never good. We know that. We feel the effects of the stress that occurs while carrying around too much baggage, stuff, weight, and anxiety regardless of the source. We know that this EXCESSorizing takes a definite toll on our relationships as well. All the way around it has consequences that are rarely good over the long-term.
But, when it looks like a good deal, we want it all and don’t look past the short-term effects. It’s a SALE. I need it. Everyone else has one. If I get it now. If I store it and save it for later. If I take a double portion. And in the midst of our greed and self-satisfaction, we simply forget that stuff rots. Our treasures are not things we can store up on this earth. So, what good is excess? And what good is it causing me? Us? You? More questions to ponder as we go about our days.
When we rely upon our Provider and Sustainer of Life we automatically eliminate the effects of that baggage.
We get rid of what will waste away and rot. We eliminate ourselves of the stench of the self and our selfishness. We live in a way where the abundance of His provision will provide and sustain not just ourselves, but our neighbors, too. We deepen our faith in Him, because our trust is not in ourselves, government, or anyone/anything else in THIS world, but in He who created the world and everyone in it.
We can stop the worship and idolatry of EXCESSorizing ourselves with so much excess and greed. And we can live in the simple and gracious and plentiful abundance of the everyday necessities that God provides.
As I stood before that table of plenty today, I reflected upon my own life: Provision in plenty. God’s abundance. Blessed and thankful.I have enough. I am full and healthy without excess. And there is no happiness like that of contentedness.
Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you, Lord, for your blessings of abundance.
My prayer is that we live in the Lord’s abundance and not in this world’s excess. May this season be one where we do less “EXCESS”orizing and more prioritizing to use what we have and become thankful and good stewards of our already blessed state of abundance.
It’s no doubt that we’re in a severe drought. Lots of places in this country are in drought stages. In fact, this is the WORST I’ve personally ever seen it. It’s not just that we’ve had no rain in Kansas where I’m located specifically. We’ve had 100+ degree days for so long that the vegetation is just baking under the intense sun and constant heat. The grass is dead. The trees are dry and losing leaves like it’s fall already. My garden did nothing except die without producing any harvest. And the ground is simply parched. It’s hot, it’s dry, and we’ve had no rain.
It’s no question that this land is in a drought. But that’s not all it’s in and I realized that while standing in the cool water of a shower.
Have you ever just had a word of God come to you? I was in the shower when this came to me. I went for a walk about 10pm tonight and it was still just hot and dry. So I had no problem working up a sweat as I exercised and walked around my neighboring streets. But something hit me as I was shampooing the sweaty moisture out of my hair. I suddenly kept thinking about the Ten Commandments. I started reciting them. I started praying about them. And then I finished my shower, brushed my teeth and headed into my room to read my Bible before finally jumping into bed.
I thumbed to the Index in my Bible and started looking up all the verses relating to “commandments”. I just had to review them, so I did. And I couldn’t find what I was looking for, yet I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for. Ever had that happen? So, I thought I’d just start reading the Ten Commandments again, when suddenly I flipped the pages of my Bible right to Deuteronomy 11:13-17 (NIV)
13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.
16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17 Then the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you. 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
Rain is not the only thing we are lacking as a nation. We are lacking the very CORE of the commandments that God gave us to live by-more specifically what keeps us under the umbrella of His divine protection. We are a nation of idolators looking for answers and protection in everything and everyone except God and run to Him when it’s our last resort. We spend more time looking for what we lack by turning on the news and waiting for the weatherman to tell us we’ve finally got rain on the horizon, or a Television anchor to tell us that our drought situation is of epic proportions, or we turn our attention and wait for someone to invent magical shoes guaranteed to make it rain if we dance in them in purple socks. We want to look to the person or product that can fix our problem when in reality we need stop and focus on God. We need to simply stop and ask God to bring the rain because the truth is ONLY He can bring it! The weather man can’t bring us rain. He can only report that God has blessed us with some!
I just can’t stop thinking about how we need to become a great nation of prayer warriors, a nation that calls on our Great and Mighty God to do what only He can do, and a nation that that once again binds his word and His commandments in our hearts to focus on them night and day. We have become enticed to worship other gods and our land is literally perishing. And so are our people. The land is dry. The people are thirsty. Yet, we overlook the One who can make it rain and quench us.
Talk to your kids. Review the Ten Commandments. Memorize them. Ponder over them. Live them. Pray over them. And have no other gods before our one true God. Let’s end the drought. Spiritually and climatologically. Let God bring the quenching rain into our lives. Let’s make Him our focus.