Christian Discipline: When We Make Our Possessions Our Gods

No, this is not a heavy-handed sermon on idolatry (although I know that there a lot of people out there who have shifted their affections from the living God to things that give them pleasure). The Bible says that when we obsessively covet something, that is idolatry.

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col. 3:5, emphasis mine)

This is about my daughter Hannah. And I’m not writing this to put her down or embarrass her. I’m sharing this so we can all learn the lesson.

Before Hannah learned to use a cellphone, she had a beautiful, exciting life. When she was 5 or 6, she loved art. She still does today but she rarely has time. When I went to the hospital to give birth to Tim, she shoved a shoebox and a big brown envelop towards me filled with her arts and crafts she especially prepared for my stay in the hospital. “To remember me by, Mom” were her parting words.

She used to love to play, swinging in the park high up in the air or biking around the neighborhood, her long hair flying with the wind. She had an appreciation of nature – examining bugs and insects and flowers even the tiniest ones. And she never missed to bring me flowers from her forays around our village. If she didn’t see fresh ones from the stalks, she picked up fallen frangipanis from the ground. But she grew up and learned other things, things that are not necessarily beneficial.

She has a natural computer acumen, almost instinctive. Are children of this age born with it? Hannah coaches me in photo editing and in designing my upcoming book! Needless to say, she knows a lot that I didn’t know about. But her academic performance took a downturn when she wrapped her life around her gadgets. Being strictly disciplined by us in using the laptop (only school work), she maximized the use of her Android cellphone. I gave it to her last Christmas so she could call us when she was away.

But as I’ve said, she wrapped her whole life around it, neglecting other things. I believe this is the reason why she didn’t receive a medal in academic excellence this year, only gold and silver certificates. This summer, her obsession of her cellphone got worse. Of course, she still does the chores she’s assigned, but her consciousness is with her gadgets. She received a big case of art materials from her aunt and uncle from the states but she has not opened it yet. She has many unread  books in the library but they remain unread. After her successful piano recital 2 weeks ago, she has not sat down in front of the piano to play some tunes. I told her to research some praise music pieces to learn so we can give glory to God with them, but she chooses to hole up in the guest room tinkering with her cellphone.

My patience maxed out yesterday morning. I called her in the room and gave her a dressing down. I explained to her what was happening with her life because of her obsession with gadgets. Her cellphone was the first thing she reached for in the morning and the last thing she laid aside at night. I reminded her that she has been neglecting to pray and praise before bedtime. I told her how she has traded life with her cellphone which is impotent. Yes, I told her how she has made her cell phone her god. It hurt I know, but Proverbs 27:5 says, “A spoken reprimand is better than approval that’s never expressed” (MSG).

Everything that takes us away from the worship of the living God and steals our love for Him is from the devil. That is his main goal: to create gods out of our possessions.

I opened my Bible and brought her to Revelation 2:2-4:

“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Emphasis mine).

I reminded her that the Lord Jesus Christ is our first love, our joy, our life! That He died on the cross to give us life, for we were dead in our sins. But He came to give us life and that life is abundant! Abundant in love and joy and excitement with our fellowship with Him, with the people in our lives and the gifts He gave us, like music, art, play, talents, etc.

With tears in my eyes and the hairs of my arms standing up, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as I implored her to renew her love for the Lord and enjoy the life He has given.

There’s more. When I told her gently but firmly that I needed to take back the cellphone , she was displeased. I told her that it was the enemy who has taken a foothold on her that was resisting. If it was the Holy Spirit, she should have humbled down and willingly surrendered her cellphone. I explained to her that. In the end, I knew my words found their way to her heart, by the grace of God.

 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

We must redeem our children from the gods of this world.

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The Headless Child King {An Apologetics Post}

I am now reading through 1 Samuel in my evening devotion and a few nights ago I came to 1 Sam. 5:4. It brought a memory which made me chuckle about the testimony of a preacher in our Church which I wrote on my blog Minister of Mercy. I will share that with you in a little while but first, the verse:

And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it. (1 Sam. 5:4)

After their victory against the Israelites, the Philistines took the ark of God and put it in the house of Dagon their god. In the morning when the people of Ashdod arose and went into the house of their god, the image of Dagon was fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the God of Israel. On the second morning, the above verse describes the fate of their god Dagon.

And “the hand of the Lord was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory (1 Sam. 5:6).

Before beloved Bro. Luisito Angeles received the Lord Jesus Christ and became an ordained preacher of Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry, this was his life:

During the day, Bro. Louie helped his mother in their vegetable stall in Muñoz Market. At night, he went to school to study architecture. Very early in the morning, they would wake up to open the stall and go about arranging and displaying the fresh vegetables delivered that day for selling. But before Bro. Louie could even begin his work, his mother ordered him to kiss the image of Sto. Niño perched on a wooden mantel in the wall and pray before it. Bro. Louie didn’t relish doing it but he didn’t want to offend his mother so he did it anyway. But the funny part is, Bro. Louie often had to grope in the dark and dirty floor of the vegetable stall for the head of the statue of the Sto. Niño. During the night, the mice that thrived in the stall became rambunctious in their feasting of the unsold vegetables and always managed to wriggle the wooden head of the Sto. Niño from off its neck. Or maybe the mice also delighted in nibbling the dirty head of the wooden statue?

When Bro. Louie found the head (probably been played with by the raucous mice), he set it atop the statue and kissed it. The ritual was repeated every morning.

Can you imagine the image of the god Dagon with its head and limbs strewn on the ground as described in the verse above? I can see the striking similarity with the story of Bro. Louie. Anyway, to continue with his testimony:

Bro. Louie finally graduated from college but when he applied for a job abroad, he failed his medical exam. He had leprosy. You can read the complete testimony of Bro. Louie Angeles here.

The people of Ashdod who desecrated the ark of God by putting it in the house of their god Dagon were punished. God struck them with tumors. Again, I can see the similarity here with the testimony of Bro. Louie.

I made a little research about the origin of the Sto. Niño in Google and was surprised to find out that it originated from our country the Philippines and it’s officially called Sto. Niño de Cebu! By the way, it’s translated as “boy saint” (that’s my own translation but devotees from the Catholic Church worship it as “Baby Jesus”). So anyway, the image is that of a very young boy with a cape, a crown, and a cross. The image has multiplied to untold numbers as crafters continue to make business out of it all year round. Almost all households of Catholics have the image sitting on a mantel or altar where some also make offerings. The images vary depending on where they are sold. Some are adorned with just a plain green cloth. These grace the poorer households, mostly small business establishments. Still some others are bedecked with red felt, gold threads, and precious beads.

It really makes my heart heavy to think about such paganistic worship of images and statues. The ever-living, all-powerful God and Savior who lives in the heart of the redeemed has been reduced by this zealous, blinded devotees into an impotent image of wood and stone (that mice can play with). But of course, no one can truly take away or reduce the glory and power of the one true living God no matter what idolatrous acts these people do.

But we continue to pray that God will open their hearts from their blindness and be saved, too.

 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ (Mat. 13:14-15)

If you have been blessed by your visit here, please like Our Healing Moments on Facebook and connect with me there. Thank you!

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,