Category Archives: Wednesday Wisdom

Finding an Idol

If you’re a “Survivor” fan, you know about the hidden immunity idol.  Up until a few seasons ago, people tended to wait for a clue before searching for the coveted necklace, but that all changed when one of the players–Russel Hantz–searched without any clues and found one. In fact, he was so good at finding them, he became known as the king of hidden immunity idols.  Getting back to these idols; the reason they are so critical to the game is because when a team loses, they have to vote out a player. If the player suspects he/she might be the player voted out, they can bring out the immunity idol and all votes against him/her are dismissed. Often, players seek to flush out immunity idols of others by making them believe they are voting for them when they are actually voting for someone else. That way, later on in the game, hopefully those players will be vulnerable to being voted out.  Those who are vigilant, find the idols and use them wisely.

Solomon gives some great advice, that relates to those who flush out the hidden immunity idols. Except his advice, obviously, is not for some game, but for life. He wrote, “A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust,” (Proverbs 21:22, ESV). It is no secret that whoever has the high ground, will win the battle more times than not. For that reason, cities would build watchtowers and towers for archers on corners of their city walls so that the enemy could be seen and fought at different angles. Legend has it that Humpty Dumpty was actually the nickname of a canon in one such tower. When the tower was destroyed it fell to the ground and due to its size it became immovable under the rubble; not even a team of horses could move it. Because of that, the city was overtaken by its invaders.

The scenario doesn’t just work with literal strongholds, fortresses, and towers; it works for our own inner-battles. It’s a fair bet to say that most of us do not have the time, or more likely do not take the time, to seek the stronghold (or as I like to say, the idol) that is keeping us in our sins.  It could be the idol of pleasure, distrust, self-trust, power, money, or any number of other strongholds.  Typically speaking, the stronghold is not just affecting one area of our lives, but multiple areas. The same stronghold/idol may be fighting you on multiple walls.

Perhaps you can’t figure out why pornography has such a stronghold on you. As you look, you realize that you also have a problem with overeating (whether your struggling with weight or not). You realize that you watch too much television or play Fortnite too long as well.  Suddenly the idol of pleasure can be clearly seen. Or perhaps the stronghold of approval (see my blog, Help! My Husband Watches Porn! for more on this).

Perhaps you can’t understand why you have anger issues, but suddenly you see that your desk has to be just so before you can concentrate. You are constantly washing, waxing, and vacuuming out your car. You freak out when your shoes are scuffed. Perhaps the stronghold of perfectionism is the issue, or maybe the idol of control has been lifted high.

There tends to be a glaring sin in a believer’s life that is crying out about which you and I need to deal. The believer rightly sees it and declares war on what they believe to be the sin. In reality, the sin is the symptom of the idolatrous stronghold.  Wasted energy is given toward the sin that seems so unrelenting, but if we looked, we’d see that it is the stronghold above shooting arrows of which we have been completely unaware.  “A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust,” (Proverbs 21:22, ESV). When you and I do that, we very well may find that the sinful symptoms are more easily overcome.

I’d love to hear your comments. Let me know you thoughts or attitudes as to what I have written.  Feel free to share if you believe this would help others. Please feel free to ask questions about what I’ve written as well.

Progress is Messy (and Costly)

I have a small garden in our back yard.  It’s about 30′ by 12′ (give or take).  Every spring we work on getting the soil ready. We have a small tiller that we use to get the manure and nutrients ground into the soil.  We could do it with a hoe and garden rake but that would take too much time and too much energy; something neither of us have. Now imagine a real farmer who has acres and acres of land. He doesn’t use a hoe and garden rake to break up his ground. He doesn’t even use a tiller. He has tractors that he and others use to break up the ground, make rows, plant seeds, and so forth.

Those farmers would be fools if they did not take care of their tractors. It’s their livelihood.  They have to keep them gassed, change the oils, lubricate and grease the axles, along with who knows what else. Farmhands need to be paid, fed, and hydrated. If there are animals, they need to be fed, cleaned, and the eggs need to be fetched from the hen-house.  All in all, its hard work running or working on a farm.

Back in the day, before John Deere and Masey Ferguson, mules and oxen were used. They too had to be taken care of as they were the life-blood of the farm.  They had to be fed, tended, and watered. Then of course, their stables had to be cleaned out.  No one likes cleaning out a messy stable. It’s smelly. It’s gross. It’s heavy. But, it’s necessary. Without those oxen the land doesn’t get plowed. Without the plowing, seeds don’t get planted. Without planting there is no crop. Without crops, there is no farm. Without a farm, there is no farmer (or farmer’s family).

How horrible would it be for the farmer to say to himself, “Self, I can plow this field without any mules and oxen. Just give me a hoe and a garden rake and I’ll get the job done lickety-split. Then, I don’t have to clean up that smelly mess in the stable.” Anyone and everyone would try to knock some sense into that man. He’s cutting off his nose to spite his face.

Many of those sense-knockers would be hypocritical in their arguments. Many of us would be also. You see, often we just want to do the work ourselves.  Dealing with people is messy (and sometimes smelly). In our minds, we think that life and work and projects and goals would all go better if we were able to do it by ourselves. In reality, it tends to not be the case. Progress is messy. We must deal with the mess of other people and the mess we make ourselves.  We’re all mess-makers; it’s better if we understand that early on in life. Cleaning up a mess is never fun; no one likes cleaning messes, but it is a necessity in order to make progress in life, in families, in jobs, in every aspect of living.

Solomon wrote, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox,” (Proverbs 14:4, ESV). The abundant crop does not come by the strength of the farmer, but the oxen–the very ones making the mess in the stable.  If we want the crop, we need the oxen, and we must accept the messiness.  Yes, cleaning up the mess will cost us time; in fact, it might cost us money (troughs broken, food eaten or wasted, gates cracked). It’s all part of progress.  Unless we are willing to starve in our lives, families, jobs, churches, goals, et cetera, then we had better learn to accept the messiness of cooperation.