There Is No Switzerland in Spiritual Warfare

You Are Called To Take A Stand

SYNOPSIS: The realm of spiritual warfare where the Christian resides is no theological Switzerland. Moral issues demand that we take a stand as Kingdom ambassadors. We cannot keep our distance from this conflict; we cannot stay neutral in it. We must engage, even when the odds seem overwhelming. To step forward in faith into the fray is to be on the right side of history—and time will prove it.

The Journey// Focus: Judges 5:15-18, 24-25

The princes of Issachar were with Deborah; yes, Issachar was with Barak, sent under his command into the valley. In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart. Why did you stay among the sheep pens to hear the whistling for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart. Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. And Dan, why did he linger by the ships? Asher remained on the coast and stayed in his coves. The people of Zebulun risked their very lives; so did Naphtali on the terraced fields….Most blessed of women was Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of tent-dwelling women.

When they write a song about you, it is either going to be a really good thing or a really bad thing. Whichever the case, it will be remembered for a long time. And if you think you are not going to get a song, think again—everybody gets a faith-song.

In Judges 5, the prophetess Deborah wrote a song on the occasion of the Israelites’ victory, led by General Barrak, over the Canaanites and their leader, General Sisera. The very memorable and brutal battle took place in Judges 4, and ended with the gruesome death of Sisera, which Deborah memorializes in this song—a song she not only composed, but sang for all to hear.

The tune, however, was not just a celebration; it was a bit of a diatribe, too. Not only did she celebrate the brave hearts of several of Israel’s tribe: Issachar, Ephraim, Benjamin and Zublun, along with a courageous lady named Jael, but she also castigates the indecision of other tribes: Rueben, Dan and Asher. These latter tribes apparently sat out the conflict because it didn’t really concern them directly.

Rueben was conflicted about joining the fight, apparently not so sure there would be a good outcome, given how badly Israel was outmanned and outgunned: “In Reuben there was much searching of heart.” (Judges 5:15-16). The others, the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin and Zebulun, were either sitting in the safety of being far from the conflict or too busy with their own thing to jump into the fray.

Despite their lack of participation, Israel conquered the Canaanites. It was an amazing victory for Israel when General Barak put the larger, better equipped army led by General Sisera to flight, no thanks to these aforementioned peaceniks. When the time came for courage, for the reasons mentioned above, they stayed home, but in so doing, earned the ire of this steely prophetess, Deborah. She interpreted their reluctance as disloyalty to the nation, which was tantamount to a lack of faith, disobedience and disloyalty to God. Deborah called them out quite publically for seeing themselves as separate entities rather than as a part of the nation as a whole, a problem Moses had previously warned about, and a problem that actually became reality in future chapters throughout Judges.

So what does this story have to do with you? Simply this: there is always a conflict in the believer’s life—whether you want it or not; whether you want to acknowledge it or not. At times the conflict is in the unseen realm, while at other times it spills over into the real world in your personal, family, social, professional and church life. In the battle that rages, there is always a right and wrong side, a side that represents good and one that represents evil. And wherever conflict invades your world, there are always three positions you can take—one right, two wrong.

The two wrong sides are similar to what we see immortalized in Deborah’s song. One side, represented by Reuben, is to stay neutral in the fray when the choice is clear. The Rueben mentality is conflicted, not sure what to do, worried about the cost, wanting to play it safe, but not feeling so good about sitting it out. But safe it is not—it is wrong, for in the fight of faith, there is no spiritual Switzerland. Moral issues demand that we take a stand.

The second wrong side takes a definite stance to sit it out. They are too busy, too far removed (they don’t have a dog in this fight, or so they think), and to jump in would take too much effort with little reward. But in the fight of faith where the choice is clear, staying off the field will only get you into history books, and for the wrong reason. Spiritual infamy is not what you want when you were needed in the conquest.

There is only one right side—to step forward in faith and fight for right. When sin threatens, encroaches or seeks to enslave, even when it seems the odds are against you or against those who need your help, Deborah’s eternal call is to jump into the fray. Her words to Barak are the Word of the Lord to you: This is the day the Lord has given your enemy into your hands—for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” (Judges 4:14)

Where is the battle of faith calling you to take a stand today? If there is an identifiable conflict, jump into the fray. God is already there and you are not only guaranteed a win, but also a song to commemorate your conquest.

Going Deeper: Where is the fight of faith in your world right now? Is there an issue of sin in your personal world, rebellious behavior in your family or among your friends, an uprising in your church or a moral issue in your place of work? Discern whether this is a case of sticking your nose where is doesn’t belong, or getting on the right side of history by declaring that you are on God’s side. Get on the right side—they will sing about you some day.

If You Knew You Couldn’t Fail

God Is Already There Where He Has Call You To Go

SYNOPSIS: What would you attempt for God if you knew that he was already where your steps of faith would lead you? How energetically would you press forward if you knew he was waiting there for you to arrive? What level of confidence would you have knowing that God had gone ahead of you and secured your victory even before the battle began? The truth is, when God calls you to step out, he has not only promised to be with you, he has promised to actually go before you, and while you may not see around the bend of faith, God is already there with your victory in hand.

The Journey// Focus: Judges 4:14-15

Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” So Barak led his 10,000 warriors down the slopes of Mount Tabor into battle. When Barak attacked, the Lord threw Sisera and all his chariots and warriors into a panic.

What would you attempt for God if you knew the Lord was marching ahead of you? What grand thing would you pursue if you knew that he was already where your steps of faith would lead you, waiting for you to arrive? What level of confidence would you have knowing that God had gone ahead of you and secured your victory even before the battle began?

When God calls you to a step of faith, you are guaranteed his presence and his power, which means that you are invincible in the journey. Moreover, he has not only promised to be with you, he has promised to actually go before you, and while you may not see around the bend of faith, God is already there, waiting for you to take the victory lap for a victory that he won for you. How cool is that!

That is exactly what the prophetess Deborah is telling the reluctant general of the Israelite army, Barak. He is shivering in his boots knowing that his army is outmanned and outgunned by the Canaanite army of General Sisera. We are told in Judges 4:3, “Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years.” 900 iron chariots to Israel’s none…no wonder, on a human level, Barak was not too excited about leading Israel into battle.

But this battle was not going to be fought only on a human level. No battle is. In the spiritual realm, God had already heard the cries of the Israelites and had determined to deliver them from their oppressors under the guidance of Deborah the Judge and Barak the General. In light of that, the fight was over before it even started. Barak couldn’t see that, but Deborah could. That is why she told him, “now get out there and fight, for God is already ahead of you and has guaranteed the victory. C’mon, go take your victory lap.” And that is exactly what Barak did, and a great deliverance for Israel was accomplished.

Perhaps you are a little uncertain about what’s next for you. Maybe you’re not too confident about your future. Maybe the circumstance you face are overwhelming, from a human perspective. You are outnumbered and outgunned. But where God is asking you to step out in faith, those odds do not matter one iota. God is on your side; he is with you, he is actually before you. He is already where he has called you to go, waiting for you to walk into a victory that he has secured for you. You cannot loose. So take heart.

Therefore, because of God’s exemplary record of faithful goodness in leading his people to victory, do not be afraid to trust an unknown tomorrow to a known God. So get ready! This is the day God will give you victory, for the he is marching ahead of you. That is God’s promise to you!

In a verse similar to this, King David said to his son Solomon as he gave him the daunting task of building a temple in Jerusalem to the God of Israel,

Be strong and courageous and get to work. Don’t be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord God is with you; he will not forsake you. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly. (1 Chronicles 28:20, LB)

Whatever is before you, if God is calling you to step out, then do it with confidence; God is already out there where you have been called to go. And he has guaranteed victory if you will go with him!

Going Deeper: Picture your greatest challenge. Once you have that in view, picture God already there waiting for you. Now get out there; go take a victory lap in a victory that God has won for you.

Others

I Am Third

SYNOPSIS: To this day, my all-time favorite football player is Gale Sayers, the “Kansas Comet”.  Gale not only was a star running back for the University of Kansas, in the early 1970’s he ran circles around defenses as a pro playing for the Chicago Bears—literally. If you ever get a chance to watch film of Gale, do it! It’s as if the man could run in two directions as the same time. Gale was also an incredible human being, whose life philosophy was captured by the title of his autobiography, “I Am Third.” What is the “I Am Third” philosophy of life? Simply this: God is first, my family and friends are second and I am third.  That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Jesus, in the Great Commandment, said as much: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Project 52—Memorize:
Philippians 2:3-4

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

To this day, my all-time favorite football player is Gale Sayers, the “Kansas Comet”.  Gale not only was a star running back for the University of Kansas, in the early 1970’s he ran circles around defenses as a pro playing for the Chicago Bears—literally. If you ever get a chance to watch film of Gale, do it! It’s as if the man could run in two directions as the same time. Gale was also an incredible human being, whose life philosophy was captured by the title of his autobiography, “I Am Third”.

What is the “I Am Third” philosophy of life? Simply this: God is first, my family and friends are second and I am third.  That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Jesus, in the Great Commandment, said as much:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Not only did Jesus issue that as a commandment for his followers, he modeled it as a way of life. Philippians 3:1-11 is a short but stunning description of the “I Am Third” principle on display in the life of Jesus. That was fundamentally how Jesus lived, it was at the core of who Jesus was, it is how Jesus is now presented to the world through the lives of his followers—or at least, should be. Simply put, Jesus’ life and ministry was characterized by “I Am Third”.  His orientation was others!

What about you? Is that your life-philosophy, too?  Not just in theory, but in practice—are you “others” orientated?? I hope so! I hope that for me as well. It is not a philosophy that is easy to pull off because of the gravitational pull of our selfish nature, but we have been given the Holy Spirit to boost us beyond our sinful atmosphere into the orbit of “I Am Third” living.

Others—that is the Christian orientation.“I Am Third—that is the fundamental philosophy of the authentic Christ-follower. God first, others second, me third—from heaven’s perspective, that is the most powerful use of a human being’s life.

“I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”  ~William Penn

Reflect & Apply: C.S. Lewis wrote, “Our prayers for others flow more easily than those for ourselves. This shows we are made to live by charity.”  That is true. Though we’ve been corrupted by sin, God’s original design had us oriented toward others, not ourselves.  As you seek to return to his design today, with his help, of course, you will discover the descent to serve will lead you to the summit of exaltation. (Philippians 2:9, James 4:10, Luke 6:38) Enjoy the view!

Battle Ready: Why God Doesn’t Remove Enemies of the Soul

A Tempered Faith Requires A Tested Trust

SYNOPSIS: Why doesn’t God completely vaporize your every spiritual enemy? He is testing you and he is teaching you. He allows you to be in strenuous situations to test and temper your faith, and then in those moments, he forces you to learn the art of spiritual warfare. The argument could be made that you wouldn’t really need the testing and teaching if you were sinlessly perfect, but you are not. So God does you a favor by getting you battle ready through testing and teaching.

The Journey// Focus: Judges 3:1-2,4

These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had no previous battle experience)….These enemy nations were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.

Do you ever wish God would just annihilate sin in your life? Wouldn’t it be nice it he removed everything that troubles your soul? How wonderful it would be if the Christian’s voyage from salvation to eternity was nothing but smooth sailing!

Yes, that would be nice. But God’s doesn’t’ work that way. He could have given Abraham and Sarah, whom he called the parents of many nations, an heir long before they were in their nineties and well past the years of bearing a son. He didn’t have to leave Joseph languishing in a prison cell for fifteen years training him in how to be a faithful leader in small matters and under great duress when a weekend stay would have sufficed. The Lord didn’t have to teach Moses how to shepherd Israel over a forty year illustrious career by first burying him in ignominy and isolation during a forty year stint as a goat herder on the backside of the Sinai desert. And God didn’t have to take the Israelites on a forty-year meandering journey through that same desert when two years would have gotten them from Egypt to Canaan and more than sufficed to mold them into a nation.

The thing is, God takes his time in preparing his people. He does it apart from our sense of time because God is God. And God knows more than we do. And God can do what he wants. And God knows that it takes us a long time to learn. So he uses the sharpest edged tool, discomfort, to test us and to train us for glorious purposes.

After Joshua died and the Israelites settled into Canaan, there were more than a few enemy nations still left in the land. Moses had commanded that Israel wipe them out because they would ultimately lead God’s people astray by enticing them to tolerate, then accept, then actually worship their gods. Israel had failed to remove these nations, and sure enough, Israel began to intermarry with some of them and live alongside others as if it was no big deal. But it was a big deal indeed, because what Moses predicted was exactly what happened: Israel began to embrace the unspeakable pagan practices of these Canaanite nations. So God punished them.

Punishment came in the form of subjugation—the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites defeated Israel and put onerous demands and taxation upon them. Finally, in desperation, Israel cried out to God, who in turn raised up judges to deliver his people. This is the story of Judges: judge after judge is raised up to lead Israel into repentance, unite and inspire them, then lead them into battle and throw off the oppressive yoke of their masters. This vicious cycle of subjugation, desperation, repentance and deliverance took place over a period of 400 years.

But there was something else going on during this time. God was testing the loyalty of his people by leaving these pagan nations that Israel had failed to remove; he wanted to show them how easy and quickly they would surrender to the enticement of false gods. Which they did! And he not only tested them, but he had to teach them how to battle their way back to holiness and freedom by throwing off the yoke of their oppressors. They had to suffer the consequences of the pain that always came after enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season; they had to relearn the power of holiness; and they had to learn literal fighting skills that it would take to decimate these enemy nations.

Why doesn’t God completely vaporize your every spiritual enemy? Same reasons! He is testing you and he is teaching you. He allows you to be in strenuous situations to test and temper your faith, and then in those moments, he forces you to learn the art of spiritual warfare. The argument could be made that you wouldn’t really need the testing and teaching if you were sinlessly perfect, but you are not. So God does you a favor by testing you and teaching you.

So until you are sinlessly perfect—which means you will have died and are firmly in heaven—then praise God that in the meantime he is getting you battle ready!

Going Deeper: Are you enduring hardship and spiritual harassment? Step back and think about how God might be allowing this as a test to temper your faith. Then look for ways that you can cooperate with God as his gets you prepared for the battle ahead.

God Has No Grandkids

Each Generation Must Seek God For Itself

SYNOPSIS: The Israelites, under Joshua, knew God, enjoyed his favor, experienced his presence, and walked in obedience before him—but in the book of Judges, their children missed out. What the parents knew and loved didn’t transfer to the kids. For the next generation, “the God of my father” never became “my Lord and my God!” Knowing about God never became knowing God. Here’s the deal: God has no grandchildren. Each generation is responsible to seek God for itself. However, it is the responsibility of the parents to drill that into their children, early and often, leading them to the door of faith. But children have to walk through the door for themselves. At the end of the day, they may reject their parents’ faith, but not because the parents didn’t do their best to inculcate their kids with the knowledge of God. Parents, by all means, lead your children to the door of decision.

The Journey// Focus: Judges 2:10-14,16

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them.…Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.

Prosperity, rebellion, consequence, repentance, restoration….prosperity, rebellion, consequence, repentance, restoration…

That is the sad cycle of Judges. So be warned: you will get a lot of that as you read this book. In many ways, it is a frustrating, if not depressing history, but such is the dark reality of life in rebellion against God. Yet within this collection of stories that take place over the 400 years between Joshua’s death and the arrival of Samuel the prophet, you will also find sun breaks of God’s grace, inspiring stories of heroic men and woman who stepped in to lead Israel to revival, and invaluable life application for those who are serious about obeying their covenant of love with God.

This second chapter is both a preview and an overview of the book of Judges. The verse above captures the problem: when Joshua and his generation died, somehow the baton was dropped with the next generation that grew up, and for whatever reason, “knew neither the Lord nor what he had done.”

Therein lies the problem that has perpetually haunted God’s people. The next generation somehow misses out on knowing God. Interesting, and sad, isn’t it, how that happens! Their parents knew God, enjoyed his favor, experienced his presence, and walked in obedience before him—but their kids missed out. What the parents knew and loved didn’t transfer to the children. For the next generation, “the God of my fathers” never became “my Lord and my God!” Knowing about God never became knowing God.

Why? Who knows for sure, but just as we have seen within our own families, there are different reasons. Perhaps the parents were so busy with God stuff that they didn’t include their kids. Maybe the parents assumed their faith would simply transfer, sort of by osmosis, to their children. It could be that the next generation grew up with a sense of entitlement—believing the presence of God and his favor was owed them. It might be that the kids vicariously experienced spiritual life through their parents’ spirituality. Or it is possible that these children hung out around the holy, and it just became so common that their sense of God became jaded. There are a lot of possibilities, but whatever the reason, the God of their fathers never became their God. Somehow, the baton was dropped.

The deal is, God has no grandchildren. Each generation is responsible to seek God for itself. And it is the responsibility of the parents to drill that into their kids, early and often. The parent is to bring the child to the doorway of faith, but the child has to step through to personal faith. At the end of the day, they may reject their parents’ faith, but not because the parents didn’t do their best to inculcate their kids with the knowledge of God.

If the parents fail to do this, or if the kids refuse to accept this, the outcome is predictable: Prosperity. rebellion, consequence, repentance, restoration….prosperity, rebellion, consequence, repentance, restoration… It is the vicious cycle of rebellion and restoration. It would just be a lot simpler and far better if we would just stay in the restoration zone.

What is the key to avoiding this Judges’ syndrome: Know God and remember what he has done. That is not a passive thing, but an active laying hold of the things of the Lord. It takes consistent, dogged intentionality, but it is well worth the effort.

Going Deeper: Sit you children or grandchildren down and tell them of the goodness of God. Then invite them to know God personally. Help them to accept your God as their own personal Lord and Savior. Do it today! Then check back with them from time to time.

Proof Of Love

The Depth Of God's Unconditional Grace

SYNOPSIS: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I have a sense that when you really begin to understand this—although I’m not sure you will ever really and fully “get” what God has done for us—you will probably fall on your knees in inexplicable laughter, or dumbfounded silence or unrestrained tears—because all those responses are appropriate when you grasp even to the slightest degree the amazing grace and the deep love of God for you—and the incredible, ridiculous lengths he went to prove it. If you are ever in one of those moments where you need proof of God’s love, just go back and look at the cross. I think you’ll find all the proof you need.

Project 52—Memorize:
Romans 5:8

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8 is one of the standard verses included in most Scripture memory systems. And what a verse it is! It conveys one of the most incredible truths in the entire Bible. But, like all popular verses that we tend to memorize apart from the larger context in which they are found, this one deserve to be understood in it’s broader story—which we find in Romans 5:1-11. In this passage, Paul, like a skilled lawyer, makes a powerful and persuasive theological argument, which in a nutshell, is described in Romans 5:1-2:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

What Paul is arguing is that we have peace with God, not just inner calm and serenity, but literally, the mutual hostility between God and man has ended because of God’s grace, his unmerited favor. That peace was unilaterally brokered through God’s love, which justified us—a once-and-for-all legal settlement—by Christ’s sacrificial death. And all we did was to accept God’s offer of peace through faith!

Now that was a mouthful. Maybe it seemed a little clunky and convoluted. Perhaps it was a little much to wrap you mind around. But after reading and reflecting on it over and over, I find that it is quite funny. Not funny in the sense of ridiculous—although getting credited with righteousness before God through Christ’s account is a pretty ridiculous equation. Not just funny in the sense of foolish—although the idea of being right with God apart from good works and human effort is the height of foolishness to the human mind. And not just funny in the sense of odd—although it is certainly odd that God would go to such great links to prove his love by loving that which was completely unlovable—as Romans 5:8 declares.

No, I’m talking funny in the sense that what God has done for you and me is so undeserved, and we are such unlikely candidates for his grace, that the only response we and can rightly offer in return is to fall on our knees, undone by love, overflowing with gratitude and giddy with joy!

These first eleven verses are so amazingly profound that no commentary I or anyone else can offer will really do them justice. So I want to recommend that you simply read and re-read them until the Spirit who inspired them illuminates them to you in a fresh way and brings you into a true and deeper understanding of what it took to justify you, and what it means for you to stand in peace and grace in God’s presence.

I have a sense that when you really begin to understand this—although I’m not sure you will ever really and fully “get” what God has done for us—you will probably fall on your knees in inexplicable laughter, or dumbfounded silence or unrestrained tears—because all those responses are appropriate when you grasp even to the slightest degree the amazing grace and the deep love of God for you—and the incredible, ridiculous lengths he went to prove it.

If you are ever in one of those moments where you need proof of God’s love, just go back and look at the cross. I think you’ll find all the proof you need.

“Mercy for the sinner, help in the hardest place, everything for nothing, that is grace!” ~C.C. Beatty

Reflect & Apply: Meditate on Romans 5:1-11 once a day for the next seven days (you might want to use different versions on different days). Ask God to give you a fresh understanding of the richness of these verses.

God-Focused Worship

The Cure For Designer Deity Syndrome

SYNOPSIS: We love a customized church experience. We expect worship services to be tailor-made just for us. We expect the praise, programs and preaching to satisfy our preferences. We want church designed to meet our needs, music tuned to our exact tastes, preachers crafted to our specifications, messages that mesmerize, and a made to order God—a “Burger King God” who says, “Have it your way”. That is what I would call “designer god syndrome.” Nothing can be further from the “spirit and truth” worshiper of John 4:24 that Jesus said God the Father is seeking. When it comes to God, and the way you worship him, why don’t you say to him, “Have it your way!” That is God-focused worship—which by definition, is the only way to worship.

Project 52—Memorize:
John 4:23-24

“The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The Samaritan woman Jesus encountered at the well of Sychar was suffering from what I call “designer deity syndrome”. This was a fairly common syndrome among worshipers not only in Jesus’ day, but it is in ours as well. It occurs when we attempt to come to God on our terms rather than his; when we make worship more about us, and what we like, than about God, and what he likes; when, in effect, we recreate God in our image rather than approaching him as beings created in his image.

That was the problem with the worship of the Samaritans. They had corrupted worship to fit their own needs to the point Jesus said, “You don’t even know what you’re worshipping.” (John 4:22) They had become Burger King worshipers. Do you remember the old Burger King advertisement? “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us. Have it your way.” That little jingle is fitting for what we modern day “Samaritans” are doing with our experience of worship.

We love a customized church experience. We expect worship services to be tailor-made just for us. We expect the praise, programs and preaching to satisfy our preferences. We want church designed to meet our needs, music tuned to our exact tastes, preachers crafted to our specifications, messages that mesmerize, and a made to order God—a “Burger King God” who says, “Have it your way”.

Some time ago, Los Angeles Magazine ran an article called “God For Sale”. The author said, “It is no surprise that when today’s affluent young professionals return to church they want to do it only on their own terms. But what is amazing is how far the churches are going to oblige them.” Newsweek Magazine added, “They’ve developed a pick and choose Christianity in which individuals take what they want and pass over what does not fit their spiritual goals…”

That is what I would call “designer god syndrome”.

Nothing can be further from the “spirit and truth” worshiper of John 4:24 that Jesus said God the Father is seeking. When it comes to God, and the way you worship him, why don’t you say to him, “Have it your way!” That is God-focused worship—which by definition, is the only way to worship.

If you will learn what it means to do that, you will drink water from an altogether different kind of well–-and as Jesus promised, you will never thirst again!

“Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the One worshiped”  ~Jack Hayford

Reflect & Apply: If you have been guilty of engaging in “Designer Deity Worship”, perhaps this would be an appropriate prayer to offer right now:  “Father, free me from designer deity syndrome. Forgive me for making worship more about me than about what pleases you. Teach me to truly worship you in Spirit and in Truth.”