Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gods at War

I recently read "Gods at War" by Kyle Idleman, preparing for a group study I'll be leading.  The subtitle is "Defeating the idols that battle for your heart."  This is not a book for those who are willing to stay trapped in their walks with God.  In fact, it is quite the opposite.  If you want to be challenged to examine your heart and priorities, this is the book for you.  Idleman cuts right to the heart of things, with his no-nonsense approach.  He approaches this in a loving but straightforward manner, desiring to see us set free from the things which keep us from loving God with all our hearts.

The book is set up in four sections.  In the first section, Kyle sets the groundwork for the rest of the book.  He points out that idolatry is indeed an issue today's world, even though we don't bow down to statues.  He talks of out these things battle for our heart, for our passions.  In chapter 3 he talks about the idea that God is a jealous God, not willing to give up the heart of man, but will fight for our hearts.  Speaking of the jealousy of God, he says "It's overwhelming to realize that the Lord God loves us this way."  Idleman shows us how much God loves us, and how this drives His actions toward us.

The next three sections all deal with what he calls the three "temples" in which the gods are located.  These are temples of pleasure, power and love.  In the temple of pleasure we find food, sex and entertainment.  Now, understand again that Idleman pulls no punches.  He is trying to show us specific examples of how we may be worshiping these things.  So at times, it gets more than a little convicting.  There are many people who are trapped by these things, and you can tell by your life whether it is true of you.  Your actions will indeed speak to your heart.

The second temple, of power, holds the gods of success, money and achievement.  Many today in America are trapped by these gods, and I love that Idleman deals with the obvious ones, but also some of those which aren't quite obvious.  Sure, we get the business man and woman who live for their careers.  But what about the people who only feel like they have really made it when their house is clean, or they have accomplished some task to perfection?  These are also idols.

The final temple is the temple of love, and in this one Idleman deals with the gods of romance, family and me.  In my opinion, this is probably the most difficult section for most people.  As a pastor I have often counseled people who struggle with idolizing their families and relationships.  Then they wonder why their relationship with God isn't growing.  This section pulls that in, along with marriages and worshiping self.  This was a very challenging section to the book.

One of my favorite lines comes from this last section.  Idleman says "God isn't simply a way to get to heaven; heaven is a way to get to God."  Why do we serve God?  Is it so we can get to Heaven, or get to God?  That is an important question.

At the end of every chapter, Idleman has some questions to ask ourselves, helping us do a little self-examination.  I love this quote which he has in each of these sections.  "Idols are defeated not by being removed, but by being replaced."  I hope and pray that all who read this book search their hearts, identify their idols and replace them with Jesus Christ

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