HELPING FAMILIES LIVE VICTORIOUSLY IN CHRIST
ADDICTED TO MORE IS DRINKING ALCOHOL REALLY A SIN?
PORTRAIT OF AN ADDICT BREAKING THE CHAINS OF ADDICTION
IDOLS IN MY HEART ADDICTIONS AREN’T JUST WITH DRUGS, ALCOHOL, OR PORNOGRAPHY. ANYTHING THAT TAKES GOD’S PLACE IS WRONG.
BILLIONS SPENT, BUT FAMILIES LOST THROUGH PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTION
DIVINE DEVIATION HOW TO FIGHT THE CRAVINGS OF ADDICTION– THE EASY WAY!
19 ASK BEVERLEY Christian Advice Column
22 MINISTRY HIGHLIGHT Sinclair Christian Academy
Features 8 PORTRAIT OF AN ADDICT A discussion on the life of an addict, how to recognize addictive behavior, and its effect on the family.
13 BILLIONS SPENT, BUT FAMILIES LOST THROUGH PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTION $13.3 billion is spent on pornography in the U.S. per year. This business is booming, but the result is that families are busting. Find out why.
26 ADDICTED TO MORE
25 ADDICTION A Poem by Keith Wallis
34 BOOK REVIEW A Child unheard By David Russell
39 I DRINK A Poem by Keith Wallis
40 GOD HAS HIS OWN PHONE NUMBER Short story by Don Ford
47 EXITING THE DESERT Words of wisdom to a future generation about following God’s plan for your life.
49 BOOK REVIEW Made That Way by Susan Ketchen
Is drinking alcohol a sin? Is it still a sin if you drink in moderation? Find out what the Bible says about alcohol.
35 DIVINE DEVIATION No matter what the addiction, there is an easy way out. Find out how to battle cravings and how to handle withdrawal God’s way.
53 IDOLS IN MY HEART Anything that takes place above God is an idol and can ruin your relationship with Him.
Faith Filled Family Helping Families Live Victoriously In Christ Summer 2011 Publisher ● Michelle Danko
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Editor● Jill King Advertising ● Michelle Danko Cover Photo By ©iStockphoto.com/sironpe Photographers ©iStockphoto.com/ 3D Stock, 1001 nights, Andy 445, Inkkstudios, tomch, pixeljuice, and erikreis. Also courtesy of Microsoft Office. Faith Filled Family is published quarterly by : Faith Filled Family Winnipeg, Manitoba R2G 2N7 Canada Website WWW.FAITHFILLEDFAMILY.COM
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is a wonderful time of bright, beautiful images, S ummertime warm weather, backyard parties, and fellowshipping with friends. It can be a time of new beginnings- for anyone. All it takes is for you to follow a leading and minister to someone who needs it most. Often, we shrug off, or ignore what the Holy Spirit is telling us to do, or we justify why we canâ€™t with an excuse when in reality, your time and obedience may be all that it takes to lead them to Christ. Our summer issue is about addictions and how to live in victory for both the user, and the family. We arenâ€™t just discussing what people perceive as addictions such a drug use, sniffing, alcoholism or gambling, but strongholds that everyone faces such as pornography, gluttony (addiction to food) and idolatry (being drawn to something and placing it ahead of God). It is our hope that by discussing the hard issues that someone will be set free from the vices of addiction. There is hope, and there is an easy way. You just have to crucify the flesh- but please know that you are not alone. If our magazine has touched you in some way- and we pray that it has, or you have given your life to Christ, please let us know as we would love to rejoice with you! Michelle Danko email@example.com Publisher 6
Portrait of an Addict By Michelle C. Danko
Itâ€™s a shameful secret to some.
To others, itâ€™s a necessary fix- everything in your body tells you that
you have to have it, or you have to engage in a behavior. Most addicts tell themselves that they can quit at any time. They deceive themselves into believing that they have control, and that they are not addicted when in reality, they are not. Illicit drug use, gambling, smoking and drinking are not the only forms of addiction- they are just the ones that you hear about most often. Addiction, in essence, is an excessive overindulgence in a certain area so much so, that you are unable to refrain from engaging in either consuming it, or participating in a behavior. It becomes an idol in your life and takes the place of God. It becomes a stronghold that needs to be broken. When someone is consumed by an addiction, they cannot go without it, or compulsively engage in a behavior such as gambling. People plan their day around the addiction and often other areas in their life 8
begin to exhibit neglect. Addicts focus so heavily on their addiction that it consumes their thought life. Sometimes they will miss work/school because they have to have a “fix” and it not only consumes their thought life, but it affects them physically as well. Most addicts will avoid the painful effects of withdrawal at all costs. It hurts physically, and can be life threatening. Many symptoms of withdrawal include nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, anxiety, paranoia, delusions, and seizures. Those who are addicted to drugs will increase drug use in order to maintain the feeling of the first “high” since their bodies have been desensitized to the previous amount ingested. In other activities such as overeating, gambling, and to an extent, drinking, the person consumes more in an attempt to numb pain, or make themselves happy. There are many reasons as to why people become addicted, and often they cannot control their behavior.
The addict doesn’t fully realize that their behavior is harmful, or if they do, they feel that they cannot control it. Not only is addiction harmful physically, but can spiritually put you to death as well. Scripture tells us that our bodies are a holy temple, and we are to treat it as such. Anything that destroys that temple is sinful. Also, anything that prevents God from being number one in our lives is idolatry. God is a jealous God, and doesn’t like anything that stands in the way of Him, and his children. Scripture is clear that the result of these behaviors is death. Galatians 5:16-21 says:
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” The bible is clear on the subject: that the wages of sin is indeed death, and that if you walk in the spirit, that you will refrain from fulfilling what the flesh wants. Addicts often engage in high risk behavior such as driving under the influence. Drug addicts may engage in theft just to pay for their habit. This is where the addict is endangering other people’s lives, and not taking other people’s lives into consideration. There is a cost when you get into a vehicle while you are under the influence. Many deaths have occurred as a result, and innocent people mourn the loss of their family members. However, in the addicts mind, they justify their actions. They have to have the “fix”, they need the “fix”, and they can’t function without it. All is normal once they have given in- at least for them. Relationships aren’t, however. Many people watch their loved ones slip away from them and watch them destroy themselves by abusing products. It makes their heart ache trying to reach this person out of love only to be rejected because an addiction has its hold. Family life deteriorates when someone is suffering from an addiction. With gambling, the family may do without food, or bills paid as the addict spends money searching for that “big payout”. Drinking and drug use can make people violent, and people can become abusive to those around them in many forms. Overeating puts people at risk for heart attack, and many other illnesses. Pornography strains the marital relationship as the spouse withdraws from his/ 10
her mate. Family members become neglected as the addict becomes fixated on their addiction. Loves ones will try to intervene in the life of an addict, and will often feel helpless when their family member withdraws into another world. Families are destroyed because of addiction as members watch someone they love turn into a person who is unrecognizable. An addiction at its worst will cause a family to pray continually that the person doesn’t kill themselves, and for God to intervene. How can you tell is someone is addicted? The person will become secretive about their activities, and will become agitated when you press for answers. Behavior changes soon after as the person can become moody, fidgety, paranoid, angry, or suspicious- especially when entering a withdrawal state. They will neglect their responsibilities and relationships so that they can participate in the activity. Hygiene and personal appearance often suffer as well. The person may become in trouble with the law, or suffer from blackouts, anxiety, or any behavior that appears as if they have a mental illness. This is an addict at their worst. Eventually, they can withdraw altogether and loose contact with people who love them and can help. Many addicts loose everything to an addiction. What can you do? I will not go into what the addict can do, as it is covered in other articles in this issue, however as a parent/spouse/family member, I would suggest that you pray for your lost loved one. Most people overindulge to compensate for emptiness in their life- and most people don’t know what that is. For example, a person may drink to mask feelings of boredom, or unhappiness with their employment, or life in general.
Also be aware of generational
curses. If a generational curse exists, break it over the person if you have the authority to do so. Generational curses are behaviors handed down through the generations that are destructive and cause bondage. Try to get the person to recognize the source of their behavior, and if you can, get them help. For a family member, you may feel as if God isn’t hearing your pleas over your loved one. Please be assures that He is. You have to believe that greater is he who is in the Lord than he who is not. While the Lord will not over ride a person’s free will, He can do other miraculous things to get them back where they need to be. Never loose your faith, because without it, the person is truly lost. You can gain victory over this situation with the one who will give you strength and who will walk with you through your journey. It isn’t an easy one, but with God, all things are possible. 11
Billions Spent, But Families Lost Through Pornography Addiction Is It Worth It? By Michelle C. Danko
The world tells us that adult pornography is a victimless crime.
In business, they tell
us that “sex sells”, and in fact, it does- to the tune of $13.3 billion dollars in the United States alone ($97 billion dollars worldwide) in pornography/adult entertainment sales. Businesses see dollar signs, and the usage of sex is prolific in advertisements, television shows, and virtually all visual mediums. We are constantly being bombarded with images of scantily clad women everywhere- not just solely in the adult entertainment industry. Is this truly a victimless crime? If you consider the effects on the family- your children- especially your daughters, your wife, and how God sees it as an abomination, you would see that there are all too many casualties. 70% of men ages 18-34, and 28% of women engage in some form of pornography. The most prolific area is the internet as a source of porn with 1.3 million pornographic websites and 260 million pages (N2H2, 2003). The second largest source was adult DVD/video rentals which was 1 billion viewers (Adult Video News). CBSnews.com states that 55% of people in hotels watch adult movies. The question is why? Why are people, mostly men, drawn to pornography? What is the truth behind the saying “sex sells”? Pornography is a large business (especially in males) for one reason: men are visual. Most beer commercials, car commercials, etc all have scantily clad women for this reason alone- they can quickly target the male market and get results. Men take everything in through their eyes. Many women comment that men are “pigs” because they will look women over from head to toe, but the reality is that this is how God created men- to be visual. However, do not be mistaken, this is not an excuse for men to en14
gage in this behavior- it is unacceptable in the eyes of the Lord, but it is a warning to the ladies to dress modestly because there are some consequences that the world has not taught many of you yet. When a man looks at a woman he finds attractive, he may become aroused even if she is not his wife. He tends to carry that image with him in his mind and often while being intimate with his wife, his mind will reflect on those images of other women. In essence, he is having sex with another woman- even if it is only in his mind. Most women say, “So what? He comes home to me, and sleeps with me.” But does he? Is what he doing biblically correct? The answer is NO, he is not. God views the covenant between husband and wife to be sacred. When a person so much as fantasizes about another person other than their spouse they are committing adultery in their heart. The bible warns us to be mindful of what we see, and warns men not to look at another woman with lust in his heart (sorry guys, a glance that lasts longer than ten seconds is still lust!). “I made a covenant with my heart not to look lustfully at a young woman.” (Job 31:1, NIV) “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes.” ( Proverbs 6:24-26, NIV) “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-29, NIV) By so much as looking we have defiled ourselves and are, therefore, not pure. Many 15
affairs begin with lustful thoughts and as the sexual appetite grows quickly turn into reality. In 2003, a meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers present claimed internet activity was a significant source of the cause for divorce with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half (Divorcewizards.com). Do not be deceived, there are consequences, and dire ones at that. The Bible is very specific in what it says about pornography and lust of the heart/ flesh.
“For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” (1 Peter 4:3, NIV) “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16) God says that anything that arises from the flesh does not come from Him, but from the world, and we are not to be of this world. The word also says that we are to crucify the flesh. The bottom line is that we are not to live this way: it is a sin. Despite what many women say, they do not like their spouse engaging in pornographic activities. Most women feel compared to the women that their husbands are looking at and feel inadequate in comparison. They wonder why their husbands are more aroused by other women than themselves, and this is a justifiable jealousy. Husbands should be aroused by their wives and only their wives. No other person should take their place. Also, your daughters are looking at these women that their dads are so taken with and are trying to measure up to their beauty because they think that by being this way, and dressing a certain way are the only way that they can attract men. Men, do you want the type of man that would find this type of dress attractive to be dating your daughter? You know what kind of man that is. A man should have honorable intentions when dating your daughter, and she should exude a godly beauty both inside and out. She doesn’t have to be scantily clad to do this. I am aware that temptations lurk everywhere, however, there is a happy ending for you and your spouse. All men have to do is guard their eyes. It is challenging at first because we live in a society that promotes sex and everything associated with it, but it 16
have already committed sin in your heart. Just choose not to look- it is as simple as that. Choose to have an accountability partner. It should be someone who has conquered the problem, and who can guide you through the lure of porn. If there is no one available, you can become involved in your local Promise Keepers chapter- they have resources to help, and their ministry is directed as issues that men face. Also view the website www.settingcaptivesfree.com which has valuable resources and is a great source of accountability partners in helping you deal with your battle. Also tell your wife, ask for her forgiveness, and request that she help you in your struggle. Most wives are understanding and supportive. After all, you are doing this for her too! Now what is the benefit? As you gain control of your eyes, you will become more enamored with your wife. Everything becomes better. You become all hers, which was the way God designed it. Wives, I know this may sound archaic, but do not withhold from your husbands at this time. It can cause him to stumble. You don’t have to necessarily be intimate, but you can relieve the sexual pressure in other ways. If he had come to you, which most men have difficulties doing because it’s embarrassing, please help him because he genuinely trust you and needs you. You will have a much better marriage because of it. Pornography is a nasty addiction to overcome, but the consequences to the family can be devastating ranging from sexual addiction to divorce. It may be hard to walk out of, but millions of men gain victory every year and they know your struggle- they have been there. Pornography has devastating consequences on our families, and these results can not be ignored. You can get your family back, and begin to appreciate your spouse for the beauty that God has bestowed on her. After all, He chose her for only you to enjoy, and that is the most beautiful, most fulfilling gift that He can give you. If you are single, just think about what you can give to your future wife and what she will give to you. The world won’t tell you about it, but God’s promises are better than anything the world has to offer.
Ask Beverley Dear Beverley, My husband and I have been hard-hit by the recession – he lost his job six months ago and I was laid off nine months ago. Not only is this difficult on us financially, but I find that it is affecting our relationship. Can you give me some advice on how to survive this without losing my marriage? Cecilia S.
Dearest Cecilia S., I’m sorry to hear that you and your husband have been affected by the current economic recession. I am glad, though, that you have decided to reach out for help in order to avoid having this situation affect your marriage. In difficult situations such as this, the best advice is to strengthen your relationship with God. How can you do this? Set time aside to pray, to read Scripture and to ask God to grant you strength, wisdom and faith. Doing this with your husband will strengthen your bond as a couple and will make your relationship God-centered. When your relationship with God is strong, you are able to respond to any obstacle based on your relationship with Him, not based on your situation. The most beautiful example of the importance of having a God-centered relationship is found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is 19
eternal.” I pray that this will help you to achieve the strength you desire in your marriage and to rebound financially. Stay blessed, Beverley
Dear Beverley, In the Spring 2011 Issue, Single Not by Choice asked you why God hasn’t sent her a husband yet. You advised her to enjoy the blessings God has already provided for her and to seek out her passion. This was great advice and advice that my mother had given me many years ago (when I was still single). I took my mother’s advice. I became active in my community by volunteering at the local food bank and decided to start rock climbing. Both of these activities were so important to me, yet I always thought I didn’t have time for them. Once I decided to dedicate myself to them, I found I was no longer preoccupied with thoughts of being single. My priorities changed and the blessings God gave me multiplied. As an added bonus, I met my now-husband while on a rock climbing expedition. That would never have happened if I hadn’t shifted my focus. Thank you for reaffirming my mother’s advice. I hope that Single Not by Choice follows it as well so that she can experience God’s many blessings. Joanna F. Dearest Joanna F., Thank you for writing in and sharing your story. I’m glad that your mother’s advice (and mine, too) was a catalyst for wonderful blessings to come into your life. I hope that you and your husband experience God’s continued love for you for the rest of your lives. Stay blessed. Beverley
Need advice? Just Ask Beverley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sinclair Christian Academy
By Shawn E. Wiggins
I am an avid fan of movies; I even saw Transformers 3 in 3D on July 1st at a theatre! So it can be said I relate to life through movies. I saw one this winter called “Waiting for Superman”! It is a sad and scary movie, based on the idea of getting children who live in tough neighbourhoods in New York into a private school so they have a chance at life. The movie shows a lottery/merit system and how sad and desperate we can be to try and give our children a leg up, and a better way than the public school system offers. The school I investigated and did interviews for in this issue may not have been featured in a movie, but it exists for the same reason that the charter schools in “Waiting for Superman” are around. The public school systems in the USA and Canada have given us a place where we as Christians cannot mention our faith, or in some cases even practice basic aspects of faith, such as prayer. All other faiths seem okay though, giving in to all other forms of spiritualism, while sacrificing the faith that allowed our nations to survive, or even thrive! Another issue in public schools is that we have lost morality, decency, and ethics, all in an effort not to offend, or to get rid of bullies. We play security theatre with ideas that children will be safe, secure, and feel good about themselves while forgetting to teach them how to read, write, and do math – leaving them functioning illiterates. There is an alternative though – as in the movie I mentioned. Our magazine was contacted by Robert Poole, the Director of Development and Chapel. He talked to us about the school he has been assisting to promote: Sinclair Christian Academy -www.sinclairconnect.com/sca/
This past year, Sinclair Christian Academy had 150 students attending, some international students even. Pretty good for a small Christian school in Milledgeville, Georgia. Sinclair started first with some parents working together to make a school for their children and it grew into a ministry. Sinclair Baptist Church was the base or starting place, but other churches have joined now to form a school board. Freedom Church, Northside Baptist and Evergreen Baptist are all on board with this endeavor. They have an attendance goal of 200 children next school year and with a goal like that they will need funding. One of the projects is a garden (Shown Left). This garden area was designed and drawn by a grade eleven student from China who attended the school this past year, Vincent Zheng. The project is to have bricks that can be dedicated, with four lines of text each, 2000 bricks in all. At $35 dollars a brick, this project will help the school raise $70,000 for building projects that have been started. This is not the only way that Sinclair is funded. They are taking up the option of state funding to be directed to them. How, you may ask? Will they just be given a portion of property tax and income tax like all other schools? I can say, no, that is far from how it work in Georgia – it requires a little more foot-work than that. When the funding starts, though, it is likely not to be cut off until actual laws are changed. You see, in 2008 Georgia passed a provision that allows individuals, couples and corporations to give their state taxes straight to the school. For a single person, it is $1000 maximum, for a couple it is $2500, and any “C” corporation can give up to 75% to this program. So, as Robert pointed out, if everyone from Baldwin County decided to fund Sinclair Christian Academy they would have the ability to work with so many more children. Not everything is perfect for Sinclair. Robert contacted us to try and reach out to a broader audience because he believes in the mission of the school so much, and from this he can encourage others to either support Sinclair or their own local Christian Academy. "Even if you have no children but would like to help families that are trying to provide a Christian education for their children, buy a brick or send even a small donation to Sinclair Christian Academy, 102 Airport Road, Milledgeville, GA 31061 or check it out on the web and click on the donor page." So, if you live in Milledgeville, Georgia, your child can attend. Sinclair is a kindergarten-tograde-12 school, offering a great ratio of teacher to student. The tuition is less than other private schools and considerably less than public school funding per child, so it is less wasteful of funds it receives. If you are not a resident of Georgia, may I encourage you to find a local Christian school or academy that is similar to Sinclair and support them. We can help God change society, grow our Christian Heritage and transform our communities.
ADDICTION By Keith Wallis
Chasing clouds, Powdered smoke on sapphire canvas. Ever changing: Abstract art. Welcome shade, Precipitant rant, Or fiery storm. Colored by a moment’s brush, As day progresses Through it’s amending dyes, From blushing dawn To crushing night This is my addiction; My joy; May I introduce you To a Friend. 25
are dialogue excerpts
cally dealing with red wine, from a
Addicted to More
Heat" ... recounting my conversations with Pastor Jerome
who helped me
By John Contini
deal with my addictive i
D u k e s : Pastor
agreed to meet with me after the service.
was probably the fourth
Sunday I'd enjoyed the mess a g e
"Community Fellowship Christian Church Interna27
"You guys mind if I talk with the pastor before we head out to the mall?" I apologetically asked my TRC buddies as the pews were emptying. One of them replied, "Do your thing, we'll wait in the car," as the last hymn was still playing and the congregation was still swaying. The church ladies took turns giving me big hugs as they filed out of the church on their way to Sunday lunch with their families. One was dressed as nicely as the next, sporting their colorful Sunday best with the hats to match. I'd never before been loved on like this by a bunch of strangers, and yet it felt as though all these black people were family - and of course I thought about the fact that they were my church family, but it felt closer than that, almost like I was their long lost, adopted white kid. "Honey, you and Pastor meet us for some lunch at Piccadilly's when you're all done now, you hear?" sweetly commanded the self-appointed, head church lady. Her eyes and tone of voice told me it wasn't an invite so much as an order. "Those two other guys heading out to the car are my ball and chain, so I have to stick with them; they make us stay in three's where we're staying at this recovery place." "Well now, you just bring 'em with you sweetheart, OK?" She graciously insisted, after eyeballing my drug addict friends. "Brother John! Thanks for waiting up, friend. Sorry I kept you a minute, but it's always like this after I preach His word," Pastor Dukes enthusiastically bellowed in a sing-song fashion while grinning ear to ear. It was still amazing to see this giant of a man moving so quickly and with such seemingly boundless energy. He had to weigh in over 350 pounds and stand at least my height, 6'3'', and if that were not enough, the threads he wore made him stand out even more. His suits had that long tail even in the front, to make it obvious that nobody in church would be dressed to the nines quite like him. "No, thank you for giving me a few minutes after service," I replied. "What's God doing in your life - in your spirit today, John?" He asked me this as he led me to the two ornate chairs in the corner of the front entrance to the church. The last few cars were leaving the parking lot as we sat down in front of the large open church doors. "I've read the scriptures about wine and what it says about me not drinking it, but then I ask myself, 'Why would Jesus choose to have His first recorded miracle - right there 28
for all of us to read about in John 2:5, be the one where He turns the water into wine?' Why would He do that, if He … - and this goes back 2000 years before His birth on Earth … when God tells us repeatedly in the book of Proverbs not to be drinking it?" He just stared at me and said nothing for long moment. Then he patted me on the knee and smiled before speaking. "What's really going on brother? You didn't want to meet with me to debate about drinking wine, did you?" Pastor Dukes astutely inquired. "Not really, no, I'm just confused about why I can't drink it, that's all. I'm at TRC, that recovery facility I told you about when we first met. And drinking is out of the question for anyone in recovery and yet I gotta tell you, Pastor, I really liked the red wine. I liked the buzz I got from it, the relaxed way it made me feel, and I do miss it." “You miss it like you miss a person you're in love with. If you're not careful, the wine can become your mistress John. You might have a wife, but you're having a love affair with the wine, and when you're told you can't have it, you're mourning the loss of that relationship." "Wow, that's heavy," I sighed. "There ain’t nothing heavy about it - it's simple. When anything takes up too much of your thought life, whether it's wine, women, gambling, even good things, anything … then you've got to ask yourself, 'Am I worshipping this thing more than my God? Has it become the focus of my thought life? Has it become one of my gods?" "I hear you," I agreed. "Brother John, He tell us in Ephesians 5:18, "Be not drunk on wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. That's the key, brother, we gotta be filled with His Spirit, spirit-filled, prayed up and filled up, and then we won't have these covetous thoughts. And it doesn't sound like wine's your friend anyway, Big John, cause you're up here at that recovery place. The Bible says a lot about why being filled up with wine instead of Him, can get you in all sorts of trouble." "Tell me what I need to hear preacher, so I'll be less tempted, or if I'm still tempted, at least I'll remember the verses that tell me about this trouble." "Well, here, let's open His word, and let's pray brother." We put our hands on one another's shoulders and hung our heads with eyes shut, as 29
Pastor Dukes led us in prayer. "Father God, help my brother to know you and your will for his life, and to know that he must be spirit-filled all the time, to guard against the tempter, and to have that peace that surpasses all understanding, that peace that only comes from knowing You. He can't do it without you, Lord, but You Father God, in him, can beat this wine thing, or anything. Reveal your will to us as we open your word right now, Father God, and give us a specific word, a revelation Lord, in Jesus name, Amen." "Let's see what he says in His word about this red wine you've been missing." The pastor was searching the concordance for scriptures he specifically wanted me to see, flipping the Bible pages back and forth while looking for what he had apparently found. I moved up in my seat to its edge as I readied myself to read along with him. "There we are â€Ś this is what I remembered the Lord telling me and some other brothers a few years back." He started tapping the page with his index finger. "And as we're about to read this word, John, I'm reminded that sometimes we think we miss something, but the enemy plays tricks with us. We think we miss something, but what are we missing? Exactly what are we really missing? "God tells us right here â€Ś starting in Proverbs 20:1, so let's see what he tells us: 'Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.' "He's saying, brother John, if you let the wine lead you astray, you got no wisdom, you're not too bright. Think on that for a moment while I skip over three chapters in the same book, to Proverbs 23: verses 20 and 21. This is what He says even stronger this time: 'Do not mix with winebibbers or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man in rags.' "There it is, right there. He's calling you a winebibber and a drunkard and if you don't stop, you'll come into poverty. You want that John?" "No way, Pastor, not me," I quickly replied, meaning it this time, as my TRC buddies beeped the horn outside in the parking lot. "Those are your friends calling you. Let's make 'em wait just another moment, cause I found an even stronger one right here, and this one's got your name written all over itâ€? brother! He even gives you the color of your wine, your favorite, that red wine you spoke of before with such affection. Check out Proverbs 23:29-35: 'Who has woe? Who has sorrows? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine. 30
Those who go in search of mixed wine.' "Here it is, John. He wrote this one with you in mind, brother." 'Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: 'They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?' “That's it, brother. Meditate on these verses, and if you still want to lust after that red
wine, then know where it's coming from … or I should say, who it's coming from. It's coming from the enemy, the tempter. You know it's not from God, brother, because He tells us the outcome or gives you your future right here, if you need to remind yourself from time to time." “Thanks Pastor Dukes. I -" "Oh, quick, quick, before your friends get too upset," the Pastor excitedly added. "Read one more in chapter 31, just two chapters later, Proverbs 31:4-7, the last one: 'It is not for Kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.' ""Heard Enough, Brother John? Has He spoken to you?" "He sure has, Pastor, and yes, I've heard plenty, and I won't forget this," I added, as the boys leaned on the horn longer this time. "Let's pray again, brother," the Pastor suggested. We held hands this time as he led us in a powerful prayer to seal the deal, and help me claim these verses as my own. Then he smiled bigger than life and motioned for me to follow him out of the church. "Let's go for some grits and collard greens and everything else they got down there at Piccadilly's, before those church ladies get it all!" Pastor Dukes bellowed in the parking lot, just after locking up the church. "See you over there, if I can get these guys to agree to go!" I shouted back, as I apologized with my body language to my TRC friends. They had waited so long in the car and I almost felt badly about it, until I remembered that I had to pay 'em to tag along with me to church. © 2008 John P. Contini 31
A Child Unheard David J. Russell Verite CM Hard Cover, 2005, £12.99 $20.61 (US) ISBN: 10904726-51-8 Available from Amazon or visit WWW.ACHILDUNHEARD.COM
A Child Unheard is not just a beautiful book of poetry, but it has many reflective aspects that engage the reader and force them to examine their own life in a positive way. The book is separated into six different parts and takes you from “solitude” (part one), which is basic self-reflection and dealing with hurts, to relationships (part six) which discusses the closeness and importance of key relationships in your life. A Child Unheard takes the reader on a journey from one of introspection, to freedom, to time, to healing, self-discovery, and finally to the external world. It is a journey of complete healing accompanied by extremely deep comments that get the reader to focus on a certain point in the poem, and comments leading back to aspects of the Bible. The poems are very well written and flow brilliantly. Reading this, I felt as if the writer were sharing his own heart which makes this a captivating read. Overall, I would highly recommend this book. It will, and has, touched many lives and I am confident that it will touch many more.
By Natasha Webster
Loosening his silk tie, striped in shades of chartreuse and crimson, he exhaustedly sinks into a beige leather ottoman. Condensation rims his tumbler glass chilled by cubes of ice as warm, maple-colored liquor slowly spills over them, causing the ice to clink and melt. He gingerly rolls his neck left to right, to and fro, carefully leaning back, wetting his parched lips; attempting to douse his inflamed spirit. A much anticipated burn travels downward, creating a heated path that slides past his throat, through his chest and into the pit of his stomach. Eagerly chasing his first drink with an additional three, welcomed is the inebriated haze that settles like a fine dust, muting his glaring troubles, with alcohol as the great equalizer, restoring balance to his dysfunction. Having developed immunity to drunkenness, illicit drug use now accompanies his daily escape. Sprinkling his right nostril in granules of powdered seduction, he inhales deeply as his mind dives into blissful 35
abandonment. Vaguely aware that the alteration of his reality provided by drugs and alcohol is fleeting, he drifts into restless slumber. From the confines of their bedroom patterned in lilies and irreconcilability, she is greeted by the familiar sounds of her husbandâ€™s return from work, having developed the ability to remain absent while present. For the past year, their marriage has consisted of her seated in helplessness; benched and incapable of assisting her husband as he defensively played a losing game. Distracted by their mounting financial pressures exacerbated by financial woes, she failed to recognize the warning signs as he stumbled, fell and eventually tumbled into addiction. Immobilized by the weight of their debt and paralyzed by the uncertainty of their marriage, she began muting the falsetto shrill of her pain with delectable culinary delights; filling the ache of abandonment with indulgence. As he numbed his pain with alcohol, she gorged on buttered gravies and sugared creams; relishing the sweetness of desserts to distract from the humiliation of desertion. With frightening ease, she lost her two hundred pound husband and gained forty pounds of misery. Clenching her fists to steady her racing heart, she becomes desperate for a breakthrough; hoping personal change will become the catalyst for marital restoration. Perched at the top of the staircase, she is blessed with a moment of deviation that provides insight and clarity, as she recognizes gluttonous addiction to food. Timidly moving down the stairwell, she grips the honeyed oak banister, steadying herself for confrontation and rejection. Reaching the base of the stairs at a reluctant pace, she edges towards her husbandâ€™s slumped frame and slowly crumples at his feet. Dishearteningly surveying their lavish furnishings, she studies their beautiful artwork and then turns to gaze at family photos framed in cherishment. Struck by the realization that the value of her marriage is priceless is comparison to their expensive possessions, she longs for the impassioned lovers that had once been, in comparison to the distant foreigners they had become. Weakened and defeated by her waning marriage, her simmering inner rage and resentment begins to boil furiously within her heart. Unwilling to remain enslaved to addiction, their addictive ways, she clutches his tailored pant leg and begins to fervently pray. Speaking indiscernibly, the song of her heart is syncopated to her pulsating pain 36
as she converses shares façade
they provided finite comfort and
with God, her Abba and delved Heavenly
humbly into financial debt. In the judgment instead of yielding
seeking forgiveness and ab- midst solution
infinite destruction. Wielding
superficial to forgiveness, their bond
sinful strive; they gambled their became riddled by bulleted
Genuinely most invaluable possession, condemnation. In hindsight,
simplistic is her prayer, for their relationship with God she realizes if they had she has been stripped of all through Jesus Christ. In dis- turned to each other, petiairs, rendered transparent carding Him, they turned tioning in the might of two, and in need of her Savior. She recalls sharing in a peaceful steadied
and balanced by blamelessness. Initially founded
from the only anchor that they
we walk by faith, not by sight” - 2 Corinthians 5:7
in God, the early years of
blessed with His presence (Matthew 18:20). By way of Christ, they would have received redemption by way of forgiveness, conviction by way of the Holy Spirit to
their love had not only en- weighted them to eternal re- break their addictive ties dured torrential tumult, but demption, forgiveness and and restoration by way of increased in strength, hav- righteousness,
causing Jesus Christ, who makes old
ing wizened from the waters them to drown in the oce- things pass and become that poured. With emotions anic
self- anew (II Corinthians 5:7)
heightened by the loss of centeredness. their love, her pitch is inten-
Unable to cope with mount-
sified by regret as she cries ing pressures and stress out to God, seeking a heal- without the rock of Christ, ing salve for their wounded they began blaming one ansouls. Sweat collects at her other, finding fault and plachairline, forming rivulets of ing shame upon each other. salted tears.
Unable to maintain unity
Having sought societal vali- without God, they sought dation by presenting a
escape through vices that
Refusing to be cornered by cowardice,
voice and humbly cries out to
seeking mercy and grace. Confessing to the greed and gluttony that has tethered both her and her husband’s souls, she boldly comes 37
before the throne for sin (Romans 3:10). A fluttering awakens within the pit of her stomach as her body is flushed by the intense heat of the Holy Spirit. Empowered by the might of Christ, she courageously prepares for spiritual warfare and dons the full armor of God knowing that in Him, victory has already been won (Ephesians 6:11-18). Rebuking the addiction that has placated her marriage, she is granted fresh resolve in preparation of a new beginning. Roused by his wife’s riotous petitions, her husband vehemently grasps her sweaty palms as she rests her head upon his shoulder. Completely undone in the midst of the Lord’s brilliant presence, he shakes, trembles and tepidly begins to pray, asking God to absorb his unholy high and inebriate him with the Holy Spirit. Buried in a pit that requires the love of Savior for rescuing, he embraces the supernatural release that none but Christ can bring. Stirred by his wife’s worship, he garners just enough faith, no bigger than that of a mustard seed and commands the mountainous vices of addiction and marital abandonment to crumble and fall into the deepest of seas (Matthew 17:20). With an animalistic cry, he falls on bended knees, hands raised, palms pointed upward and his face seeking the light of the Heavens. Attuned to each other’s needs, they feverishly attack the strongholds that have bound and strangled the vitality from their love. Daringly, they lock eyes and reunite as one in the flesh, one imperfect being arced with another imperfect being with the Potter reshaping their damaged ties, crafting them anew with love, hope and tenderness. Hushed by hoarseness, the tremble in her voice fades as the bass in his voices falls as they remain knelt, side by side, for they know that when two are in agreement, He is present (Matthew 18:20). Exhausted and absolved of yesterday’s torment and transgressions, they gratefully embrace the precious remnants of today, with faithful expectations for the fulfilling of tomorrow. Having sought and received deliverance from their addictions, they abide in peace. Understanding that their battle will venture uphill at times, with vines that may attempt to stifle their movements and rocks that may cause them to stumble, they remain at rest, knowing that during their most difficult times, His word will serve as a lamp to their feet and a light to their path (Psalm 119:105). 38
I DRINK By Keith Wallis I visit here. This is not my home, this is the magnet of invitation the seduction of colour and sweetness. I drink deeply of the occasion burrowing the awning lips of its summoning. We share this delight my purple friend and I. I dowse between its fellows both midwife and thief bringing the offering of reproduction, taking the syrup of life. Your beguiling is short-lived, this seductive enticement passes as colour falls and petals pass away. But we share these moments as I drink your beauty and you shower me with gold.
God Has His Own Direct Line
By Don drewsdad1310 The phone rings and it could be anyone. What if caller I.D. said the number belonged to God? I might even drop the phone if I saw that on the screen. I am attempting to show how approachable God really is. At different times I have called on God in scary situations and He was always there for me. I have also heard story after story of a God who, when ordinary folks prayed to Him, not only heard and answered those prayers, but on many occasions showed up on their doorsteps. I remember a time when I was in college and I had been up until 3 a.m. working on a college paper. I had to be up at 7 a.m. to ready myself for an 8:00 class. Dead tired, I forgot to set the alarm. Even if the alarm had gone off, I'm not so sure it would have done the job of waking me. At precisely 7 a.m. I was awakened by the loud sound of a bird in my window. I was ready to pitch a shoe at the racket-maker, but it managed to get me out of bed. I went to the window but it must have flown the coop, so to speak. One thing about this God I know is that He is very creative. You would say that was just a bird, and it was. I remember a story about a fellow who, during the time of a great famine in the land, was brought food by a raven. Just a bird? You tell me. In my stories here I want to set up a scenario where we can actually reach out and 40
n Phone Number to heaven
n Ford email@example.com really thought about it. I found God on my own as I began to seek Him. Others will find Him for themselves. Finding Him on my own was worth more than all the books written about Him. God said it best when He stated, "Come let us reason together." I have found out through the years and through many experiences that He meant what He said. God isn't way out there, untouchable. Believe me when I say He lives right next door. Problem is, most of us are too scared to go and meet our neighbors. "He lighteth every man that cometh into the world." There is a God-seed in every one of us. My job here is to water it, then stand back and watch it grow. Author Notes These short stories show a God in Heaven Who is not only easy to reach but cool to t talk to. It's time each of us placed that call, if we haven't already! "Don, I had the coolest vision last night. By the way, good morning, sweetheart." "Mary, it's 6 a.m! What is this all about?" "Sorry, but I did remember to bring you some coffee." 41
"Well, for that I thank you." "I experienced a vision from God last night. And in this..." "And you woke me up for this? It couldn't wait until later in the day?" "When I tell you what happened, you will be thanking me." Don's eyes began to roll. "So do tell." "In my vision I was handed this piece of paper by an angel. To my surprise it was God's phone number, which I thought was unlisted." "Now you lost me. I thought it was unlisted, too. Whatever happened to the expression: His ways are past finding out? Continue with your story." "As I said, I have God's actual phone number. I wrote it down from the dream." "So you have a line into the big house, do you?" "I do, I do! I tried it already. It works!" "Assuming you do, tell me who answered?" "The operator, silly. Who did you think was going to answer? The other three are very busy." "Look honey, this better not be a prank you're setting up. If I find out you're playing me..." "Nope, this is indeed a direct line right into Heaven, I assure you." By this time, Mary is beaming ear to ear. But Don isn't ready to put the farm up for sale quite yet. "Well, give me the number." â€œCertainly. It is simply 000." "That's it? 000?" "Yep!" "This is too fantastic to be believable. And when I call this number and there is no one on the other end, you'll be laughing your fool head off at me, won't you?" "Oh, go try it." His wife then starts to leave the bedroom, but Don stops her with more questions. 42
"Mary, what will I say? I don't have a reason to call. Everything's good on my end. Maybe I could just say, 'Hi. How the heck are ya?'" She then convinced Don to not use 'heck' in his phone call. "Oh, you're exactly right. That wouldn't be too cool. I suppose I could ask how the weather is up there." "Don, you really need your temperature checked. The weather? It is perfect up there, is what she'll tell you." â€œYou do have me a bit excited to call. To think we have our own Hotline to Heaven!" "Look dear, I'm sorry, but you are using all the wrong terms for Heaven. Hotline, where'd that come from?" "I see what you mean. Maybe I better write down what I want to say and look it over a couple of times before I call.." "Great idea." Mary then headed to the kitchen for more coffee. Don wrote out what he wanted to communicate. He then picked up the phone and dialed 000.
TO BE CONTINUED..... Authorâ€™s Notes
This is Part 1 in a series of phone calls. It is a journey beyond ourselves. People have dreamed of such a day, when we could reach into the heavenlies with our own hot, I mean "private" line. Now we have it. Place your calls; you won't be put on hold - ever.
Exiting the Desert By Shawn E. Wiggins
I have seen some awesome places, and met some cool people.
Frank Peretti, Jars
of Clay, TobyMac, Rob Bell, Salvador, Third Day, Rebecca St. James and many more you may or may not have heard of as Christian celebrities! I have learning about such things as Torah, Biblical feasts, speaking and praying in tongues and can tell you the story of the Bible from cover to cover. I can explain intricate details and how it all meshes together with us and what we are doing here! Even with all that awesome experience and learning, I have a dark past. I have an Egypt that I came from! You see, before God could use me today, and in the past, He 45
had to pull me from a dark desolate place - losing two uncles to drug use, having been touched by the sting of family alcoholism and various addictions. My own thorn in the flesh, my physical weight, is a shadow of the horrors I carry in my mind. Our Father keeps me humble with this struggle. As Paul said, I am not great, not to be worshiped, in fact, I am the chief among sinners. So let's get to why I am really here today...... My generation and those before me must simply say, “Sorry!” For the last 40 years we have been marching you through a desert. We have told you the stories of old, shown you our place-markers. We have had some victories. We also fought among our communities, made our golden calves and lost sight of our Father Yahweh. We have had family splits because of hymns or choruses, pews or chairs, tongues or no tongues, and our leaders have been taken down by controversy and greed - not that it was uncommon to all people, but we should have been better! You see though - we are still in the desert of this life, hoping one day to see the promised land. You, those of you sitting here, and those you will meet when you leave here are our Joshua generation. You will lead us from the desert into the promised land. Keep your commitment and focus on God, not to one side or the other. Forget pride and ego - ask where is Yahweh leading your feet? What cities will you defeat? In what battles will you need us to hold up your hands? Your path will be to walk in and take the land, bringing God’s glory to this shell of a society! We are not sending you away to be like Daniel in Babylon. No, that job was done by some of us in this past generation! We grew up knowing God and worshiping Yahweh, but we had to live in a secular, or even anti-faith society - one that mocked God and told us that we were less because of our faith. Those lessons have made us tired but learned and we can share that knowledge and wisdom with you! We are sending you to be the Nehemiahs who will rebuild the walls of our former glories. We are going to equip you and show you of what we have been silent and fearful to mention. We will support you in all you will be doing. Just ask and our wisdom and learning is available. The final vision I want you to perceive as the Joshua generation is that we need you to stay pure. Be there for each other. When one falls, humbly weep for them and help them back up. We are our siblings' keepers because we are family and who wants to see their family come to harm? Does that mean we fall with them? No - but we are free 46
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. What more can I say about this but read you more Scripture.... Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) So then where are we to look for our foundation, our duty to humanity? “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction! What does our older brother Paul say to us?” (Proverbs 29:18) “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
Command and teach these things. Donâ€™t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. May I close with this. We are here to lead you, to guide you, and to help you. But we are also passing on to you the mantle of leadership. You are now the leaders and guides. If you are hearing
words today you are part of that Joshua force leading us out of the desert,
You are part of that
building the walls of Jerusalem. May
shalom or peace, and may all we do be done in love and in true faith guided by our Father Yahweh!
Made That Way Susan Ketchen Oolichan Books Soft Cover, 2010, $12.95 ISBN: 978-0-88982-270-2 Available from Amazon or local bookseller
Reviewed by Carol M. Upton First published in Horses All: www.horsesall.com
“Usually it makes me feel better to wear my riding clothes. But today nothing helps, even when I buckle on my riding helmet and hop on my bike. Somehow I know I'm doomed.” ~ Susan Ketchen In this family fiction sequel to Born That Way, Susan Ketchen reunites readers with the intrepid young Sylvia, who is challenged by a genetic disorder, wild about horses, and determined to find solutions to the obstacles presented by her life in general. Sylvia wants to be a real horsewoman and she’s excited about getting her own horse, even if the horse is arriving at a less-than-perfect time. Brooklyn is, well, not quite a regular horse. He has big ears, makes strange sounds, and he’s already bitten the transport driver. Ketchen captures, with humor and pathos, the developing personality and growing pains of a not quite fifteen-year-old girl who would just like to be normal. Sylvia also wants to be treated as an adult, but sometimes, no one seems to listen very closely, and she must puzzle things out on her own. The strength of this book lies in Ketchen’s examination of some topics that parents and children may find difficult to discuss. What does it mean to be normal or disordered anyhow? Where does a young person turn when her parents don’t listen, when she is tormented at school, and is now faced, not with her dream horse, but one who appears to be complicating her life even further. 49
Ketchen’s writing is fast-paced, compelling and full of surprises. Made That Way can be read in one sitting, but Sylvia’s persistence and creativity in overcoming her life’s challenges will inspire the reader for a lifetime.
Susan Ketchen was born in Nanaimo, B.C. and had a successful Family counseling practice for many years. She now resides on a small Vancouver Island hobby farm with her husband, two horses, two cats and a flock of chickens. Grows That Way, the third book in this series will be published in fall 2011. Visit Susan at: www.susanketchen.ca
Is this how you feel about writing? Then Faith Filled Family needs you!
If you are passionate about writing, and have a heart to help families live in victory, then please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org 50
Idols In My Heart By Sebra W. Ferrell
When I think about idolatry, I am reminded of when my journey with God revealed what an idol is, how it forms, specific idols I was struggling with, and what I needed to do to overcome them. While doing a reflective study in Isaiah 30, I came to understand that an idol is something created; it has value; it hides something underneath that I have attached to myself so I can look good. I arrived at this conclusion by doing a word study on Isaiah 30:22, And you will defile your images overlaid with silver, and your molten images plated with gold (NASB). Since scripture best interprets scripture, in lieu of capturing the entire word study, let us compare this definition with Exodus 32. To make a long story short, Moses had gone up the mountain to hear from the Lord. The children of Israel got tired of waiting for him to return and they asked Aaron to make them a god, because they didn’t know what had happened to Moses.
In other words, the children of Israel needed something they could see to replace Moses, whom they could no longer see, to represent the God they had not seen. They, like me, seemed to need something visual that they could follow, so they took matters into their own hands! Consequently, Aaron took the gold the Israelites gave him, and “fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt’”(v4). Aaron then built an altar before the calf and declared, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD” (v5). During this feast, the Israelites offered burnt offerings and peace offerings; something 52
they would typically do before the LORD. Now, let's compare what happened in Exodus to the definition of idols from Isaiah. The calf is something they created. It has to be valuable, because it was made from gold. Moreover, what was really going on in their hearts is hidden underneath the surface of what they did. Ultimately, they attached the calf to themselves by calling it LORD. It is very important to note LORD actually refers to Jehovah! In other words, they were calling this golden calf, “self Existent or eternal” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, H3068). Last, but not least, creating this golden calf, building an altar, and then offering burnt offerings and peace offerings must surely have looked good to them! Thus, the definition derived from Isaiah is in harmony with what happened in Exodus. The definition is also in harmony with how Merriam-Webster’s Online dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/) defines idolatry, thereby helping us understand how idols are formed. First, idolatry is, “the worship of a physical object as a god.” Is this not what the Israelites did when they fashioned the golden calf and worshiped it, not only as a god, but also as THE God? Second, idolatry is the “immoderate attachment or devotion to something.” Instead of speculating on what the Israelites were attached and devoted to, let us simply note attachment and devotion are matters of the heart! Our matters of the heart are what actually form the idols in our lives! Each and every one of us has thoughts, feelings and needs that are expressed in some form of behavior. Sometimes, these matters of our heart eventually lead to ungodly behavior, even if that behavior does not seem ungodly to us. After all, I doubt the Israelites thought they were doing anything wrong. They were simply doing something they thought would meet their need. Just like the golden calf was built upon the impatience of the Israelites, our behavior is built upon whatever is going on in our hearts. As a matter of fact, every idol God revealed to me was based on a stronghold that had formed in my heart. Simply put, a stronghold is any thought, feeling, or behavior that we are not willing to give to God! 53
we need to learn how to recognize our idols. Basically, whatever we worship other than God and anything we are attached or devoted to more than we are to God is an idol in our heart! That idol can be a talent, a person, a sport, a hobby, anything! Two, our idols can be easily justified, not only by us, but also by others! However, God is not interested in what can be justified; He is interested in what is going to bring glory, honor, and praise to His name. I learned from the rest of Isaiah 30:22 that if I wanted to glorify God, I had to take action against my idols! According to the Scripture, You will scatter them [your idols] as an impure thing and say to them, â€œBe gone!â€? In other words, I would only get rid of my idols when I cast them away and called them unclean! I had to make the choice. I chose to no longer have anything to do with the ungodly behaviors and then acted upon that choice. That does not mean I stopped singing, nor does it mean I got rid of my daughter or my husband. What it means is that I allowed the Lord to create a clean heart in me and renew a right spirit within me regarding each of my idols (Psalm 51:10). Just as the existence of the golden calf was not the real issue with the Israelites so singing, my daughter, and my husband were not the real issue with me. The real issue of an idol is always what is going on in our hearts that makes that person, place, or thing an idol for us! Therefore, in order to overcome the idol, we have to overcome the heart issue that is creating the stronghold that the idol is built upon! Knowing what an idol is, how they are formed, the specific idols in our lives and how to overcome them impacts us as individuals which then impacts our relationships. All too often we focus on what we see instead of Who God is. As a result, the matters of our hearts form the ungodly behaviors that are associated with our idols. The only way to overcome them is to take action to cast them away and call them unclean. In other words, stop justifying what we think and feel, so we can stop doing the behavior! That doesnâ€™t mean we get rid of the idol, it means we get rid of what is going on in our hearts that is causing that person, place, or thing to be an idol!
CALL FOR PRAYER
Reverend Dr. Johnson is a Christian ministry/pastor from India who has been called to serve and evangelize to the Primitive Hill Tribal Aboriginal People. He has requested prayer and support for his ministry in getting the word of Jesus Christ out to an area where people practice in occult rituals, and where terrorism runs ramped. Officials are often slain for their demands. Dr. Johnson would like continued prayer and protection for himself and his family. For further information, or to contact him directly, please email email@example.com Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated! 55