Obama and McCain

Fear often helps us reveal our idols.  If I am inordinately afraid, it is often because an idol of mine is being threatened.  If the thought of Obama winning scares me, it because an idol of mine (free-market capitalism? lower taxes for the wealthy?  smaller government? defense against terrorism?) is being threatened.  Likewise, if the thought of McCain winning scares me,  it is because and idol of mine (the environment? a regulated economy? affordable healthcare? saving face internationally?) is being threatened.

So, as we all sit and watch the election results roll in (and it looks like it’s going to be a landslide for Obama!), we need to ask the question “why am I nervous when it looks like “my candidate” isn’t winning?”  And in answering that question, we will find our idols.

And the thing to do with idols is to turn from them to the only God who can actually save us.  Repent, Americans.  Obama can’t save you.  Jesus can.

Confessions of a Professional Christian.

Today we got an email that indicated someone was coming off of our financial support team.  They supported us at $200 per month.  I am still trying to get to the bottom of this, because it appears they didn’t intend to stop giving, and it is very possibly a computer glitch in Orlando at our headquarters.

Either way… those emails are always a good idolatry indicator for me.  I’ll be honest and say I even went so far as to yell at my wife as a result of that email.  I trust in money way too often.  More accurately, I trust in control.  If I can control the situation, I am good to go.  And money in a bank account is a good way to have a sense of control.

Any time I feel in control of a situation, though, it’s an illusion.  All it takes is a crisis to show that.  When a gunman enters a classroom, all the folks who were in control no longer are.  When a hurricane hits, you realize that no matter how big you are, you’re still pretty small…

All of that to say that “control” is a fickle and shifty idol to chase after.  But I do it all the time.

It got me thinking, as I confessed my sin, that I sometimes think things are biblical just because they are American.  I was listening to the Dave Ramsey Show podcast in the car earlier and started to fantasize about leaving staff and getting a job where I could support my family without having to rely on others to support us.  After all, it’s in the Bible that we should take care of our families, and that we should work, and that handouts are bad.

Wait, maybe not all of that is in the Bible.  Support raising is all over the Bible.  It’s how God has funded his work since the very beginning.  It’s thoroughly biblical, and thoroughly un-American.  And so while I am right in line with the word of God when I pick up the phone and call folks for support, I am paddling upstream in the culture.  We are a culture that values independence (have been since the ’70s…  the SEVENTEEN 70’s) and the thought that my business is my business, not yours.  ESPECIALLY when it comes to my wallet.

If I were to leave staff, I’d just be feeding the idol of control.  I’d work 90 hours a week and be a millionaire by the time I retire, sure.  But I’d be running from where I am confident God has called me.  He’s called me to reach students with the gospel.  To tell them that even though they incessantly run from him and trust in things other than him, He died to set them free.

Just as surely as I am confident God has called me to breathe life into a dying college culture,  I’m confident He’s called others (like you.  Yeah, you…) to “hold the rope” financially and prayerfully for me.  There’s not an email I could receive that would change that.

Corporate Sins.

Earlier a friend of mine twittered “Later, when you are jumping up and down yelling “we did it!” remember that all you did was sit on a couch feeding corporate America. GO TEAM”

And, being the tweet-first-question-later type I am, I hastily replied “later, when you are watching a movie on your big screen, proud of yourself for not watching the game, you still fed USA Inc.”

And then in the ensuing moments that passed I noted that I was only getting angrier at her tweet.  So, as is my custom, I asked myself why I was mad.  That often leads me to find the idolatry in my life.  Here’s what I found out.

First off, I am not even a football fan except in passing, so it wasn’t her attack of the NFL that got me mad.  It wasn’t her attack on corporate America that got me mad, either.  I am not a fan of how everything has advertising dollars attached to it, to the point that the phrases “Super Bowl” and “March Madness” have been trademarked.

What I eventually came to realize (with the help of the Holy Spirit, I suppose) is that the reason her message offended me so is that it struck very close to my idols.  I am a sports fan.  My drug of choice is college basketball, but I feel inclined to stick up for other fans, especially during the biggest single sports day of the American year.

I am very conscious of my idolatry in that area.  I am prone to trusting in and longing for the verification of my identity that comes from a UNC basketball victory.  I walk a little taller after we beat dook each time.  Conversely, I don’t talk to folks after a Carolina defeat, for at least a few hours.  And God is working on that area, helping me to see that it’s OK to enjoy a game without tying my identity to it.

And her tweet revealed that there is still work to do.

So, I apologize publicly for my offense of firing back when fired upon.  God is still working on me.