(1 John 4-5)

1John 5:21 ESV Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

I was talking with my children about addictions yesterday. We have family members who have chosen a given substance or image over primary relationships. Where they should have been committed, they weren’t. And the things they should have avoided they pursued to unhealthy levels. We talked about how we are all prone to chase things to sooth, comfort, or help us rather than God.

We may not have graven images that we are tempted to go back and worship, but there are many things that can become functional idols in our lives if we let them control us. It might be a midnight craving temptation for food to calm an anxious mind, alcohol to numb emotional pain, pornography, drugs, gossip, etc. You name the substance or vice and there you have it.

I find it interesting that John closes the epistle of 1 John with this command to, “keep yourself from idols.” He has spoken so much about how Jesus Christ changes the life of a believer, the incredible work of the Spirit of God, and what it looks like to abide. Now he diligently reminds his readers that they must be on guard for the things that would tempt them. Just as Jesus taught us to pray against temptation (Luke 11:4), we should be on guard for the old way of life or substitutes that we might seek instead of seeking after the one true God.

Father, thank you that you have set us free from sin. Thank you that there is victory in Jesus Christ. I pray that we would be free to love others even as you have loved us. I pray that we would abide in you and your word in us. I ask Lord that you would keep us from idols. Guard our hearts from the false gods that we think we’d control but would really control us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Honoring Our Heroes

Tuesday Morning, September 11, 2001 many of us saw the best and worst of humanity play out in real life down the street and on our television screens. America had been attacked! Real fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, friends, people… real people, ordinary people, were viciously attacked by a radical Islamic terrorists. We didn’t see it coming!

At first we wondered if it was planned? We had a hard time believing that someone would plan such a vicious attack on civilians. We watched the second plane hit, learned about the Pentegon attack, and heard of the other plane that was crashed into a field on American soil. Many of us sat glued to the television praying, not even knowing what to say, because we didn’t know what was happening.

While many stood still in fear, shock, or wonder, there was another group of men and women who quickly mobalized and went running into the fray. They were our first responders. They were just as surprised as the rest of us, but they had a duty that day. Many were off work, but they still geared up and ran into those buildings. Some who were in the building that day been trained as volunteers and instinctively started to lead people to safety. Many entered into the fray never to make it back home.

We gained a new appreciation for our first responders that day. It has become a day to remember and honor our heroes. We had always known that if we were in danger and we called, the fire truck would come, the ambulance would get there, the police would arrive. We always knew that there was a cost, but on that day we saw that cost paid over and over by incredible men and women who went to help.

In the years since, we have had time to reflect and notice that we have alway had heroes in our midst! They enter our lives at our scariest moments (when we face a health crisis, a fire, or are the victim of a crime) and walk us through them. They bring us peace when our world is anything but peaceful.

It always comes with a cost. Sometimes the cost is relatively low and its just an inconvenience. Sometimes the cost is emotional, knowing you did everything right, but still wondering and feeling like you lost or it’s the heart break of the broken situations they enter that seem so broken they will never heal. Sometimes the cost is high, too high, when our friends and heroes don’t come back.

As I was praying for some of our local first responders today and reflecting on 9/11, I came accross this verse:

He who follows righteousness and mercy Finds life, righteousness, and honor. – Proverbs 21:21

I am grateful for our first responders, especially those who I know in our own community. I count it a privildege to be a friend and pray for many by name. I know them to be men and women of character who enter into difficult situations and are genuine peacemakers. I have found them to be men and women of honor.

Typically at this time of year, our church sponsors a breakfast for the first responders in our community! I genuinely enjoy being able to celebrate and honor these men and women. This year, for the first time, we have had to alter our plans (Due to the virus) but I look forward to celebrating our local heroes in the days ahead, because I believe them to be men and women worthy of honor. I am grateful to God for thier service in our community and the thousands upon thousands like them around the nation and globe who step in to help when help is needed most.