cast down your idols

Hello again!

I keep sitting down to blog, but for some reason it's been very difficult for me to write out and process a lot of the things I have been experiencing. We are in our third week of ministry here and honestly sometimes it feels like we have been here for months. We have met so many students and it is fun that we are making many friends. Thai people are very friendly and polite, and for the most part willing to sit and talk with "foreigners" :). We have been able to have many conversations about Jesus and I have even seen a few students place their faith in Christ. For many, the choice to follow Christ comes at a huge cost. They are usually seen as abandoning their Thai culture (since that pretty much goes hand in hand with Buddhism), disappointing their family, and must learn a whole new way of viewing God.

I'm sure many people know this, but part of the Buddhist faith involves worshiping idols. Ryan and I have commented a few times that it feels strange to read the Bible in the morning and see a large golden idol off in the distance through our window. Yesterday we went to the park around the large statue and actually climbed up near it. It was a very eye opening experience for me. Growing up in a western culture I'm not used to seeing people physically bowing down and worshiping golden man-made statues.

(Hat Yai Municipal Park)

For someone in Thailand to turn to Christ it means completely rejecting those idols and the culture that surrounds them. Similarly, in western cultures, turning to Christ still means rejecting the idols that surround us. Throughout the Bible, we are repeatedly taught to turn from idols (Ryan did a search and the Bible mentions idols 223 times...that's a lot). We are even told in the 10 commandments to worship no other gods and to not make idols. In Philippians 3:19 Paul begins to describe idols in a new way, a less obvious way, "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things." Now our stomach or setting our minds on earthly things can be put before loving and serving God...making it an idol.

Our idols tend to look a little different I think. They may not be large, gold, and shiny, but they are just as tempting. We can easily start to place career, money, safety, security, family, our spouse, or a million other things before loving and following Jesus. I am so guilty of this, and so grateful for a God of grace. He is completely worthy of my worship, attention, and thought every moment of every day.

I've been challenged, as it is so easy to judge, and say "I would not bow down to a golden idol!" But in reality what do I spend my time, money, and effort on to provide joy or contentment in my life. This is something our team has been wrestling with this week, and I have been encouraged by the discussions we have been having. I know the Lord is challenging students as much as He is challenging me. I know He calls me, an American, to turn from my 'idols' just as He is calling these Kiwi students, and the Thai students as well.

Thank you for praying for us - more exciting stories this week that I hope to write about soon.

ps- can you tell my English is getting worse? I speak so much broken English trying to communicate that I will probably need to re-learn grammar :)