Jul 31 2008

War Zone


We’re beginning a new series this weekend at Grace Place called War Zone.  Here’s some cool artwork that my friend Mark Johnson (GP Communications Director) did to advertize it:


Jul 31 2008



I had a number of requests for the quotes I used last week at Grace Place in the message on distraction.  The first is by Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyeterian in New York talking about idolatry (the sin that got Solomon distracted and derailed).  The second quote is by pastor John Ortberg from his book, “The Life You Always Wanted.”

Keller offers this potent definition of sin: “Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.”

Keller gives some practical examples of the “particular kinds of brokenness and damage” caused by idolatry:

 If you center your life and identity on your spouse or partner, you will be emotionally dependent, jealous, and controlling. The other person’s problems will be overwhelming to you.

 If you center your life and identity on your family and children, you will try to live your life through your children until they resent you or have no self of their own. At worst, you may abuse them when they displease you.

 If you center your life and identity on your work and career, you will be a driven workaholic and a boring, shallow person. At worst you will lose family and friends and, if your career goes poorly, develop deep depression.

 If you center your life and identity on money and possessions, you’ll be eaten up by worry or jealousy about money. You’ll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life.

 If you center your life and identity on pleasure, gratification, and comfort, you will find yourself getting addicted to something. You will become chained to the “escape strategies” by which you avoid the hardness of life.

 If you center your life and identity on relationships and approval, you will be constantly overly hurt by criticism and thus always losing friends. You will fear confronting others and therefore will be a useless friend.

 If you center your life and identity on a “noble cause,” you will divide the world into “good” and “bad” and demonize your opponents. Ironically, you will be controlled by your enemies. Without them, you have no purpose.

 If you center your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous, and cruel. If you don’t live up to your moral standards, your guilt will be utterly devastating.

Tim Keller, The Reason for God (Dutton, 2008), pp. 275-276, and Tim Keller, “Talking About Idolatry in a Postmodern Age,” www.thegospelcoalition.org

Author and pastor John Ortberg, writes about distraction with more honesty than most of us generally display: “I’m disappointed that I still love God so little and sin so much. I’m capable of dismaying amounts of jealousy if somebody succeeds more visibly than I do. I’m disappointed at my capacity to be small and petty. I cannot pray for very long without my mind drifting into a fantasy of angry revenge over some past slight I thought I had long since forgiven, or some grandiose fantasy of achievement. I can convince people I’m busy and productive, yet waste large amounts of time watching television. Although I’m aware of how far I fall short, sometimes it doesn’t even bother me. I’m disappointed at my lack of disappointment.”