Gods At War Student Edition

gods-at-war A little over a year ago I read Kyle Idleman’s gods at war. After studying his previous book not a fan I was looking forward to reading this one. As a follow-up, he has a Student Edition of gods at war. I just started using it this summer with my high school students.

As he does in the original offering, Idleman talks about idolatry not in the past tense – a practice from ancient civilizations – but in the present tense – something with which our modern culture still wrestles. At one point in the book, he states that we are a culture of idol worshipers. He defines an idol as anything that becomes more important than God. It doesn’t take but a cursory glance around today’s society to see that many things fit that category.

In the book he identifies various idols that have captured the hearts of people and also discusses how to battle against them. He offers several questions to ask that will help determine whether something is becoming an idol in a person’s life.

He not only discusses identifying them, but also how to deal with the issue of idols. As he did in the first offering of gods at war Idleman repeats this phrase: Idols are not defeated by being removed, but by being replaced.

The Student Edition does a good job of presenting the principles from gods at war while making it readable for teens. It is a good resource for individual reading and group discussion.

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Gods At War

gods at warIdols are defeated not by being removed, but by being replaced.” Kyle Idleman ends many of the chapters in Gods At Warwith that phrase. Through this offering, Idleman seeks not only to help the reader identify what idols strive to take the place of God in his/her life, but what steps to take to remove that particular idol.

Last summer we studied Kyle’s previous book, Not A Fan, with our youth group. I know of several individuals and groups that worked through that book and were challenged by what he wrote. I was anticipating much of the same in Gods At War and found it to be a good read. The author brought the issue of idolatry into our modern context and identified several ways that idols still exist in our lives.

While not just pointing out the problem, the author also provided tools to help the reader deal with the problem of idolatry. At the end of the chapter, Idleman offered questions that served to identify if a particular issue had become an idol and also some steps to remove that idol by replacing it.

An added bonus in the book were the stories of people who had overcome various idols. I was fortunate to read the Kindle version of the book which contained links to brief video clips of the people whose stories were shared. It brought to life not only the pain that idolatry can bring, but hope that those idols can be replaced.

Gods At War is a good read for both individuals and groups to work through together.

(I received this book through the BookSneeze program in exchange for my review)

Jesus in the Cheese Sauce

The following is a funny story to help you start your week. Those who teach youth group or Sunday School will find this especially humorous.

Last week I was listening to Kyle Idleman on a podcast from Southeast Christian Church. He gave a great message on the upcoming election and some suggestions for Christians on how we should be engaged in it. (You can view the message on the Sermons page of Southeast’s website.)

He told this particular story with the idea that, at times, Christians can force Jesus into everything we say and do. He even commented that when we are in Sunday School, if we don’t know the answer to a question, we should just say “Jesus.”  The answer “Jesus” will at least get you a sticker or gold star.

Here’s the story: He shared about a youth minister he served with in a previous ministry that wanted to talk to his students about ingredients to a good friendship. He decided to use macaroni and cheese as the object lesson and brought the ingredients on stage.

The first ingredient was butter, because butter makes everything better. Butter is kind and encouraging words.  Every relationships needs kind and encouraging words so we should have butter in our friendships.

The second ingredient was milk. Milk makes the macaroni and cheese healthy and milk makes us strong.  We need to have healthy friendships that make us stronger.

The final ingredient he talked about was the cheese sauce. So he had all the students together say “cheese sauce.” Then he had them repeat it louder and faster, “cheese sauce, cheese sauce.” Think about it for a second . . .  You got it, it’s Jesus!  Jesus is the ingredient every friendship needs.

While I certainly don’t argue we need Jesus in our relationships, sometimes we work too hard to find Jesus in the cheese sauce.  Hope that story made you smile.

Flexitarianism

During the summer our students have been studying the book “Not A Fan” written by Kyle Idleman. It’s a been a good study and is an excellent read for either students or adults.

In our discussion last night, we were talking about how at times we can be selective when it comes to following Jesus. The word the author used is “compartmentalize.” It’s where I give part of my life to Jesus, but I hold something back.

That is when we were introduced the concept of flexitarians. I had heard of vegetarians and even people who were vegan, but not flexitarians. Several years ago MSNBC had an article on the new trend in eating. It’s an interesting look at how people approach lots of things, including food and Jesus.

Here’s what one flexitarian said, according to MSNBC:

“Sometimes I feel like I’m a bad vegetarian, that I’m not strict enough or good enough,” the 28-year-old bookkeeper from Concord said recently. “I really like vegetarian food but I’m just not 100 percent committed.”

The article continues:

“These so-called “flexitarians” — a term voted most useful word of 2003 by the American Dialect Society — are motivated less by animal rights than by a growing body of medical data that suggests health benefits from eating more vegetarian foods. ‘There’s so many reasons that people are vegetarians … I find that nobody ever gives me a hard time when I say I usually eat vegetarian. But I really like sausage.’”

The challenging statement is in the first quote.  You can fill in the blank with anything – food, exercise, even Jesus – “I really like                                  ,  but I’m just not 100 percent committed.”

Where are we living as a flexitarian?