discovering my other gods

I have a problem with greed.

God’s been showing me through the book Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller. In his chapter on money, he writes,

As a pastor I’ve had people come to me to confess that they struggle with almost every kind of sin. Almost. I cannot recall anyone ever coming to me and saying, “I spend too much money on myself. I think my greedy lust for money is harming my family, my soul, and people around me.” Greed hides itself from the victim. The money god’s modus operandi includes blindness to your own heart.

At first I thought, “What?! Me? I don’t have a problem with greed! I’m the girl who still doesn’t have an iPod (much less an iPhone) and would rather not get a second car.”

As I read on, however, God has been showing me otherwise.

I could list a dozen examples, but I’ll just share about one of the first times God confronted me with this problem after we got married.

It was Luke’s birthday. We were driving home from Chicago, and I was at the wheel. Our little 4-cylinder Nissan had a hard time climbing the hills of Missouri. To help it along, I would speed down one hill to make it to the top of the next.

Things were going swimmingly until I found a cop waiting at the top of one of those hills. I hit the brakes, but it was too late. I saw lights flashing behind me, so I pulled over and got my first speeding ticket.

Luke never blamed me. He never told me that I should have been more cautious. He never berated me for wasting his hard-earned money.

But I couldn’t forgive myself. Why? Not so much because I had broken the law, but because I got caught and the penalty was going to put a dent in our savings.

Perhaps you think this is no big deal, but it is to God. He’s using this book to expose more than the god of greed in my life.

So what am I going to do about it? There’s not much I can do except confess my sin and let God replace those gods with Himself.

I challenge you to read this book too—but be prepared to take a good hard uncomfortable look at your heart.

Debate People

I recently participated in an online debate with an atheist. It’s rather long, but you can read it here if you wish. It was a profitable experience and when I have time, I would like to do it again.

I used to think of “debates” as unfriendly and unproductive, kind of like a war where neither side is going to win. But this time, I did the debate not for the purpose of convincing someone I was right, but for the purposes of learning to communicate better, and building relationships. I used to think that debates would destroy relationships, but I found out that is not true. Bad debates destroy relationships; but good debates build relationships. Neither I nor the other guy were able to convince each other of anything in the debate, but I found some areas where I need to learn to talk more clearly, and I also gained new familiarity and respect for atheists as people.

In America, we’re noticing that people who disagree with each other are having more and more difficulty talking with each other about the thing they disagree on. People have less and less desire to talk honestly with others who disagree with them. People are less and less convincible. This is terrible. In the introduction to his book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, puts it this way:

Those who believe in God and Christianity are out to “impose their beliefs on the rest of us” and “turn back the clock” to a less enlightened time. Those who don’t believe are “enemies of truth” and “purveyors of relativism and permissiveness.” We don’t reason with the other side; we only denounce.

We need to talk with people who disagree with us, be willing to learn from them, and be nice about it.