July 15, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

Worthless Idols

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"Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good." (Jeremiah 10:5)

Yesterday, on Facebook, I posted the following quote from Michelle Obama:

“I want people to know when they look at me, to be clear, that they see what an investment in public education can look like.” – Michelle Obama

Oh, the irony! One of the many reasons we homeschool is so that our children can avoid the godless, socialistic indoctrination of the government schools. So, I commented, in Mrs. Obama’s direction, “Thanks for the warning!”

Surprisingly, a couple of people took issue with my comment, saying it was “unloving,” “biting” and unnecessarily “sarcastic.”

Since I happen to be preparing for a talk on idolatry, their reaction got me thinking. True, my “thank you” was sarcastic, but, was it “unloving?” I was reminded of a verse in 1 Kings that we read recently during our family worship time. If you’d like to catch up, read through 1 Kings 18:20-40 first.

If you are a Christian today, you are in the growing minority. There seems to be “tolerance” for every religion except Christianity. But, there are numerous stories in Scripture where God’s power is displayed in a mighty way through the “minority.”

In 1 Kings we see Elijah, the lone prophet, standing against 450 prophets of Baal. Over time, the children of Israel have been duped into believing the lie of the majority—they have been enamored by the false gods of their day. They have been double minded, and Elijah is there to rebuke their idolatry and call them to repent and worship the one true God alone.

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word. (1 Kings 18:21)

While preparing for my talk on Idolatry for the upcoming ladies tea, I was amazed by the numerous ways we create and worship idols in our hearts—the many ways we share our affections with and sacrifice to the little gods in our lives. In many ways, in our country, the government and public education have been turned into idols.

We put our faith in public education as if it will save us from poverty and ruin. We drink up the wretched lie that tells us children are a burden, and that abortion is not murder. We lift up those who champion the bloody cause of sacrificing our children on the altar of convenience. We trust in the government to “take care” of all our needs, as if it were our nursing mother.

Scripture tells us that God is a jealous God. In the Psalms we learn to love Him and put our trust in Him alone (Psalm 18:1). In Matthew chapter 6 we’re told to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” and that God will supply all that we truly need. We’re reminded that “some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)

However, just as we are today, the people of Elijah’s time were stubborn and rebellious. They had learned to trust in the majority—in the godless leaders of their day who believed a lie and worshipped false gods. So, Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal before the people to a contest:

“Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” (1 Kings 18:23–24)

The people waited, but their gods did not answer. All day they waited. And waited. The prophets of Baal became desperate, jumping about and cutting themselves in their heathen custom. But, nothing. Their gods were deaf and dumb.

I would love to have seen Elijah’s expression as he watched for hours as these foolish prophets jumped around like men possessed soliciting action from their gods. Elijah is bold and confident in his challenge. And, finally, with much self-control, I am sure, he uses sarcasm to get his point across.

At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18:27)

“How long do we have to wait on this god of yours. He is late! Is he dreaming somewhere? Is your god going potty?” Hmm…do I detect sarcasm? The false gods the people had worshiped are proven worthless, deaf, dumb, and powerless. At Elijah’s words, the people must have felt like fools, as they realized the ridiculous trust they had put in their worthless idols (Psalm 114:4-8). In love, sarcasm had a point.

While their false gods proved worthless, God proved faithful; and, since God is unchanging, He is faithful still. Along with Elijah, let us pray that God would prove Himself powerful before the people:

 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 1 Kings 18:37–39

And let us have ears to hear! Let us pray together that the false gods of our day (and in our hearts) would be exposed, and that the people would see the wonderful works of the Lord, and turn their hearts to the one true God.

I pray that all those who have put their trust in the government would pay attention to Mrs. Obama’s warning. If you want your child to emulate her by putting their faith in the government to supply their needs, rejecting God’s law, helping to destroy the meaning of marriage, defending the right to murder children, and embracing socialist values, do what she says and invest in public education!

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!

And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.

The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together. Isaiah 31:1–3

[Note: I do not believe that all public school students or teachers believe like Michelle Obama; however, many of her beliefs are being promoted in the public schools.]



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36 Responses to “Worthless Idols”

  1. Dee Jarvis says:

    I absolutely agree with you! But I also wonder if we homeschoolers sometimes idolize homeschooling…..

  2. Stacy McDonald says:

    Absolutely! What I have found in my study is that we are very creative in how we build our idols. We can make idols out of even “good things.”

  3. Alethea says:

    Sometimes things just need to be said. Yes, even on facebook. Thank you.

  4. Love it! The Lord has built a passion in my heart to bring light to how huge idolotry is in our “Christian Culture”. And it is so encouraging when I see that spark in other Christians. Seeing that God is saying the same thing to hearts around the world kinda excites me. :) Thank you for your words.
    Your blog caught my attention because you mentioned Jer. 10. And it was that passage along with Isiaih 44 that God shook my world with a few weeks ago.

    http://beautifulmommyrom1015.blogspot.com/2011/06/eating-ashes.html

  5. Josie says:

    AAAmen!! It’s refreshing to hear the truth. That’s all I’ll say; anything else would just be restating what you’ve already said so eloquently here.

  6. diane says:

    I have been subscribing to your blog but unfortunately will not be any longer. I find your remarks about Michelle Obama unloving and worse… legalistic. How can you expect Mrs. Obama to put away her idols apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ??? She can’t!!! Look at how hard it is for us as christians to put our idols down!!!! She doesn’t have the help of the Holy Spirit! We do!!! The loving thing to do would be to share the gospel with her… Now, that isn’t a realistic plan for the person who doesn’t know her personally. How about pray for her? How about pray that someone close to her who is a Christian will share the gospel with her. Furthermore… be careful about holding up Homeschooling as an idol!!! Being homeschooled NEVER saved anyone… only receiving Jesus through faith in Him and repentance saves.

  7. Cheryl says:

    How were her remarks in any way unloving and legalistic? What she spoke of is true and is backed by the Scriptures. Rather, we are not loving if we do not point out the folly in the lives of others, even unbelievers. We’re to expose the deeds of darkness, not sit back and let evil run its course, as if not being a Christian shall excuse their sin. The truth is harsh sometimes, but it still needs to be said. Nothing she said was unloving or legalistic.

  8. Marci says:

    Stacy,

    Thank you for stating so clearly why we reject Michelle Obama as an example to follow. She is clearly promoting public education as the means to becoming like her! Thank you so much for making that clear by expressing what she does openly proclaim to be her positions. Maybe some are ignorant of her beliefs; that is why it is important that you clarified her positions here. I think it is also a form of idolatry to insist on Christians being “nicer than Jesus,” as Randall Terry used to say on his radio show.

  9. diane says:

    Hi Cheryl… Anytime we give the law without giving the gospel we’re legalistic… That’s all I’m saying…

  10. Cheryl says:

    The law is the gospel as well. They are one and the same. Legalism is man made law.

  11. diane says:

    http://spurgeon.wordpress.com/2007/05/22/what-is-legalism/

    This will help you distinguish the difference between the law and the gospel.

  12. diane says:

    I really do not want to argue… I am sorry that it appears that we may be arguing. All I am suggesting and exhorting us as Christians to do is to never, ever, ever, never forget to share the gospel … and to remember that we are in need of a Savior just as Michelle Obama does and the only reason we are saved is because God opened our eyes to see our sin and in His kindness brought us to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. ALL of God, none of me. It’s all God’s doing. So to DEMAND that Michelle turn from her sins apart from the Gospel is demanding of her what she cannot do without knowing the Gospel. Anyways… I don’t want to argue… grace to you, Cheryl as well as the author of the blog.. I pray we all would LOVE our neighbor by sharing the LOVE of Christ AND the Gospel… if we share the LAW, with someone without sharing the remedy to the impossibility of following the law then we have done them a disservice. Anyway… I love you my sister. Please know that I am not judging you… just pointing you to the cross.

  13. diane says:

    Stacey, I want to apologize to you for jumping in and well, judging you by this one blog. Please forgive me. I just read this from your blog:
    http://yoursacredcalling.com/blog/2011/02/are-you-a-recovering-razor-mouth/
    You said it perfectly and much more gently than I did. I am very sorry.

  14. Ashley says:

    let us remember to ‘speak the truth in love’

  15. Amy says:

    It’s a hard truth, but I think a necessary one. I think that Michelle Obama has accomplished much in her life, but no matter what worldly things one gets done, life without God is still empty from an eternal perspective. It’s something that our society no longer teaches and I find that very sad. I actually know several Christians who teach public school and I know that the changing climate there has been heartbreaking for them as they worry about and pray for the children they love and teach.

    Amy
    makingajoyfulhome.blogspot.com

  16. Jessica says:

    In pre-marriage counseling, our pastor gave us two questions to ask ourselves to help identify idols (even good desires that have manifested themselves into idols).
    1. Am I willing to sin for it or to get it?
    2.Am I willing to sin if I don’t get it?

    These have been great at helping me to identify idols in my life.
    Also, I must say that while we are called to point out transgressions in one another’s lives, we are called to do so in a spirit of gentleness or meekness. (Galatians 6:1)

    Diane, I see what you are saying. None of us has the power to do good apart from the saving power of Jesus Christ. I don’t think you were saying to excuse the sin of unbelievers, but rather to realize that without Jesus none can obey completely. And even if we do obey, without the blood of Jesus, we gain nothing of eternal value.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Gosh, you’re such a darn meanie, Stacy. You should be more like Michelle, threatening to make laws controlling what other parents’ children eat, and saying that you’ve never been proud of your country until it elected a man that you liked even if he has no credentials. You should never stoop to hurting the great liberals’ feelings, you meanie-head!

  18. It is not legalism to quote Sacred Scripture and reveal what is required of man by God. The law, like a teacher, points to our sin and condemns it, and it leads those who are elect to Christ.

  19. diane says:

    Thanks Jessica… that is exactly what I was trying to say… you said it more eloquently and clearer. :)

  20. diane says:

    Jennifer, sigh.

  21. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Diane,

    I forgive you. Thanks for taking the time to apologize. I really do appreciate that.

    I’d like to clarify, though – because I wonder if you misread this post. You said:

    “How can you expect Mrs. Obama to put away her idols apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?”

    and

    So to DEMAND that Michelle turn from her sins apart from the Gospel is demanding of her what she cannot do without knowing the Gospel.

    This post was about neither Mrs. Obama’s salvation nor her idolatry. In fact, this post wasn’t about Michelle Obama at all; she just introduced my point. This post was about us – and our ongoing idolatry. It was about the fact that our idols, whether they are blocks of wood, people, or figments of our imagination, have no power. It was also about God’s jealousy – and his faithfulness to His people. He wants to be first in our lives. Anything less is idolatry.

    Aside from using Mrs. Obama’s quote, which encourages us to hold her up as a role model, a poster child for the public school system, the only time I mentioned Michelle Obama was here:

    “I pray that all those who have put their trust in the government would pay attention to Mrs. Obama’s warning. If you want your child to emulate her by putting their faith in the government to supply their needs, rejecting God’s law, helping to destroy the meaning of marriage, defending the right to murder children, and embracing socialist values, do what she says and invest in public education!”

    Again, thank you for writing. May the Lord bless you.

  22. Mrs. Nancy Bowman says:

    Enjoying the stimulating debate, and Stacey’s clarification of what she did/did not say. We are often quick to judge a comment made in a certain context that isn’t always clear to the reader, and it’s a good thing that these points all came out, I think. I’m from Canada, and our politics are a bit different, but it’s still a good lesson to be careful who we are emulating. We are called, among other things as Christians, to be thoughtful.
    blessings,
    Nancy.

  23. diane says:

    Thank you so much Stacey for your forgiveness and for your clarification! I appreciate your kindness to me. :)

  24. “In love, sarcasm had a point.” I love that one! We have taken such a strong movement towards the whining, I am owed, what’s the government gonna do for me and my problems, or certainly it is the world’s responsibility to “take care of things for me”. This mentality is not only sad but quite destructive! In only leads us into more dependency which in turn leads to more government control.
    We have it with in us because He has given us the ability and through Him ALL things are really possible.

    This makes me think of the strong stance I have about college. I FULLY believe in education, but the emphasis that we put on “the college” is ridiculous. I don’t care how seemingly “great” or expensive the school is the school and professors ultimately are NOT going to “make” your education YOU ARE! Yes, there are people out there today with even a doctorate degree who are not very smart and pretty useless to society.
    It just comes down to what do you put your hope in and who has set your values?…….God or the world?

    Thank you,
    Carolyne

  25. Donna says:

    It’s interesting that people made judgments that you were sarcastic, etc. when you wrote, “Thanks for the warning!”

    They didn’t seem to think that you could just as well be sincerely expressing strong gratitude; for example, if someone walked by you on a trail and said “Watch out for the snakes ahead,” then certainly “Thanks for the warning!” is an expression of gratitude.

    Yet people presumed to know what was in your heart and judged you thereby. I think it says more about them than you.

  26. Jennifer says:

    I think Stacy was clearly expressing irony rather than gratitude (the point is that we owe little gratitude to Obama’s kind of principles), but the reactions were greatly overdone.

  27. Don & Shelly says:

    Stacy,

    We read and commented on that post. Nothing you said was innapropriate or uncalled-for. You are absolutely right that the only thing really not tolerated in the US today is Christianity. We can (as a nation and sometimes as a church) embrace so many unholy things. Continue to stand up for what is right and holy. Not every dish can be served covered in sugar. Blessings to you and James! ~Don & Shelly

  28. Mrs. T says:

    AMEN! I appreciate your boldness, Stacy! Very well put.

  29. Susan says:

    Stacy, I enjoy your site, but this conversation is deeply troubling me. I’m saddened by your response on Facebook and I’m troubled by many of the comments for a number of reasons. The first being that Michelle Obama is a loving mother and wife. She got her reluctant mother to move to DC and keep the generations intact. If public school can lead to a woman committed to her family, then this is a good result to come out of it.

    How many of us were public schooled? And yet we went on to see other options for our families. I don’t know anyone my age (I’m as old as Barak Obama) who was homeschooled. I was Catholic schooled. My husband was public schooled. Are we warning each other as we approach? Homeschooling then was nonexistent and now is still a tiny percent of education in this country. Your doctor, mail carrier, electrician, even an older pastor, was probably government educated. Are we to be warned against the plumber we actually thank God will come out late at night to fix a burst pipe?

    Our families will be interacting with public educated people our whole lives. We can decide now if we want to contribute to quality schools that produce people who, like Michelle, prioritize husband and family, or these schools can produce teen pregnancy, absentee fathers, gangs and other gruesome and hideous evils we hear about – the kidnappers of Jean Smart and Jacyee Dugard come to mind. Michelle Obama pointed out that public schools can produce compassionate, loving people like her and my husband’s family.

    Stacy recently wrote an important series on Grace Widows. How many of them need to rely on public education to get through this time of their lives? How many tornado, wildfire or flood victims see a government school as a blessing from God? A safe place to hold and feed their children as they process the grief and destruction of their lives. If I was widowed and homeless I would pray for a place that would help my children grow up to love their spouse and children. By God’s grace, I’ve never had to work in my 20+ year marriage and I homeschooled, but sometimes a good neighborhood school is the answer to a prayer, and a sign of God’s grace.

    I’ll stop at this reason. I was reworking the Love Dare a few weeks ago and was bowled over on the day that discussed The Prodigal Son. For the first time I was convicted to stop being the Prodigal, hoping for forgiveness for my flaws and faults, and to finally spend some time as the father. I was called to be welcoming, loving and forgiving of others. Are you all rejoicing when a secular woman finds the message of “focus on family”? Are you all rejoicing when a woman counsels the younger women to just turn off the computer and TV and go outside with their children? Are you all rejoicing when a woman tends her vines, carrots and lettuce and invites us all to do the same? Michelle’s biggest audience is two income families. And her message is your message: stop letting things and idols waste your time and turn to your family. We all know many families are broken and generations, like mine, are disconnected. How do concerned people, saved or not, work to fix this? You all sound like the older son watching the Prodigal Son be received. “I don’t think she’s so great.” Well only God knows how great she is. Only God blesses and graces. Who are we to decide if God is well pleased with this daughter? As I see it, her husband is sitting at a bigger gate than most of our husbands will EVER encounter.

  30. Julie says:

    I heard Barak Obama declare on national t. v. during his campaign that if one of his daughters would become pregnant during their college years that he would encourage her to have an abortion. ( I am teary-eyed at this thought). Hum, this guy is willing to kill for his idols. He is willing to KILL his own grandchildren in the name of EDUCATION. We have sacrificed way too many babies in the name of EDUCATION. Young women are taught that without a college education they have no future.

    As far as Stacy or anyone here being unloving, I guess Martin Luther was unloving when he declared “Here I Stand”. When our idols and others idols are attacked people become murderous. Do you wonder if William Tyndale knew he would burn at the stake in order for us to hold the very Word of God in our hands? He could have said “Well, fighting the idolatry of the Roman Catholic church isn’t worth losing my life over”.

    I must pray for Michelle and her family. We have lost so much to this false god of education. I know women who have aborted their children because they had to finish college. This is not something you just “get over”. I know this was about public school, but the destruction of investing in public education continues to the college level. Stacy mentioned it as a sacrifice on the alter of convenience. Sacrifice or investment as followers of Christ we must cry out about both. Lord help us!

  31. Ginger says:

    Susan, biblically we are to judge a tree by it’s fruit. We absolutely can know if God is well pleased with Michelle by looking at the fruit of her beliefs. God’s Word is clear on this. See all of 1 John, and John 15.

    Stacy, as I see it the problem with your original comment was only it’s brevity. People make assumptions when not enough is said. It just so happens, many assumed wrongly. ;) Thus is the problem with internet communication.

  32. Jo says:

    I know of many christains who have attended public and private schools (including my three brothers) all remain excellent examples of christains adults. Sending ones child to a government school (my brother’s 3 children attended public schools in the USA) does not mean bad news at all. Home school is one option but not the only one. Choose the right school and have the right home upbringing and be vigalent. Whilst there may be negatives for public schooling, there is also positives. I had a wonderful schooling both at a public and private school and wouldn’t exchange it for anything.

  33. Mrs G. says:

    As a teacher, my own Christian morals prevented me from being okay with teaching in the public school systems. I grew up in the public school systems and was blessed (and burdened at times) with the lessons I learned in and out of those classrooms. Would life have been easier if I was homeschooled? Perhaps. Is that what God wanted for my life? No way. Do I hold anger towards God for not putting in a more protected lifestyle? No– the lessons (the wisdom, knowledge, skills, and life lessons I learned) were too important for me to learn and I had to learn them in public school.

    I have, however, chosen the path of working in a private and independent Catholic school. Every morning I can pray with my students, I can mention what God has done in my life, I can remind students that they have many blessings in their lives. I can share the Gospel with children– I love to sub for religion classes, as I think its rewarding for students to see their science teacher also share her beliefs in Christ too.

    While I do not agree with most the Obamas have done or believe in, I do believe that Mrs Obama has good intentions for the public school system. Her quote shows that if a parent puts a little attention into their child’s schooling amazing things can happen. Many parents dump their child off to public school and think of it as free baby-sitting. The best parents will take part in school events, discuss what a child has learned in school that day, review their homework for them (not correct it, but help a child, encourage a child to do more, etc), and encourage a child to learn more by providing trips out to different places. Mrs. Obama has focused on spending time in schools so that others might be inspired to do the same. I am also pleased to see that she has been active with trying to spread information about how children are not eating in a healthy fashion these days or are not getting enough exercise.

    So, no public school isn’t for me (as a teacher) and I would enjoy one day homeschooling my own children– should that be God’s plan. However, we all have our ministries niches and callings from God (even if we’re not a Christian– He can still use us to get His work done). I believe that Mrs Obama has heard her calling and while the President’s wife is heeding that calling to the best of her humanly ability.

  34. Georgia says:

    I believe Jesus is Lord and I try to keep my relationship with Him strong. I do not have children but I know he loves me just as much as young childbearing women. My spirit is sensing that maybe some christians are making an idol of their ability to procreate. I hope not because they will be responsible for turning people away from Jesus. Julie please do not judge those college students. God will forgive them and tell them to sin no more, the question is will you forgive them?
    I have no problem with homeschooling. As a substitute teacher in public schools I see alot. The usual question to christian homeschoolers is, are your children learning enough reading, writing and arithmetic, science, history etc…. or are they are they mostly helping with housecleaning and caring for younger siblings? It is our job as chritians to bring all people to Jesus but based on what I am reading it is hard for anyone to take you seriously if education is considered a false god.

  35. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Georgia,

    I just spoke on the topic of idols at our ladies tea last weekend. I’m going to try to get it up online soon to share with my readers. God is a creative God and we are made in His image; therefore, we too are very creative. Because of that, we can make an idol out of just about anything our minds can imagine. Yes, I believe some women have made an idol out of having children, having a godly husband, having a large family, having perfectly obedient children. And yes, some women (and men) have made an idol out of education – I think we see a lot of this in the media right now. The problem is that the education most people are glorifying is not a true and biblical education – and much of it is focused on the indoctrination into a socialistic worldview that is ruining our country.

    And an important point to remember is that idols require sacrifice. Think about it.

  36. Georgia says:

    I agree that the public school is too focused on socialization. I don’t understand why society feels that they must place hundreds of children in one building and expect it to run smoothly. Too often children come crying to me because someone was mean to them or they were unable to fit in with the majority of the class. Its heartbreaking. Some socialization.

    But with all due respect where do you draw the line between idolitry and having a passion for a gift (talent) God gave you? The doctor who spent 8 years in medical school may not have had the time to read the bible as much as the minister’s wife. Thank God for the doctor who saves lives but he sacraficed much. Many high achievers are often self aborbed or narcisistic but they have brought a lot of good to this society by inventing things to make life better.

    The message I am getting here is that God gives us these talents and then says don’t reach your highest potential because you might love what you do more than Me. Again if christians are to be taken seriouly then we have to be clear on what a good and christian education is.

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