Jani: Welcome to He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund and Heidi Howerton where you can find encouragement for your busy life through God’s renewing mercies.
Heidi: Welcome everyone, Heidi Howerton is here and Jani Ortlund. As you know, every few podcasts we are just wanting to share some little things about us to help you guys get to know us better as we get to know you better. So we wanted to do that today.
Jani: Oh Heidi wait, I have to interrupt you. We may have had another plan, but I want to share with our listeners what I came into this morning at your home. I drove up to the farmhouse and your babysitter was here to take your three children on an adventure today while we record, but before they left, you informed me that there was a show that the children wanted to put on and I began to wonder, well, will we ever get to a record? And sure enough we did. It was so fun. Your three kids are precious. Hannah and James and Gideon went upstairs and the staircase looks over the family room and Heidi started music, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…” I don’t know if it’s snowing where you are listening from right now in Tennessee. There’s no snow here today, but what a fun time we had with this show as three little Howertons threw dozens of paper snowflakes over the railing and then paper airplanes landing in the snow!
Heidi: You had to get eye protection on because these paper airplanes were coming at you!
Jani: It was so fun, such a happy way to start our day, Heidi. I love that. That’s a sweet memory for me.
Heidi: Yes, the kids did it last night for us too Jani and you know what? They started throwing the little paper cups that they use in the bathroom down too! I thought, Oh that’s enough! They are the sweetest.
Jani: How fun. Well we’ve had a good time to start today and I’m grateful that Heidi, even in the midst of your busy motherhood, you are willing to devote the time to this podcast. I’m sure our listeners are grateful as well.
Heidi: I’m blessed by the Lord through it. So today we wanted to focus on the second commandment. As you all know, we’re going through a series studying God’s commandments. What do they mean? We are learning from them and also learning how we can live them out and how we can give them to others. So in this series, if you’re following along, we’ll spend one episode focusing on how God loves us through this commandment and the next episode we will focus on how we can give that particular commandment to others as well as live it out in our own lives.
Jani: Thank you, Heidi. Some of our listeners may be interested in going a little bit more in depth than we can on our podcast. If you’re interested in that, feel free to look up a copy of my book. This is a shameless plug. The book title is, “His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy: Living the Living the Ten Commandments and Giving Them to Our Children.” Well, we’re looking at the second commandment today and how to live it out in our life and give it to the children in our lives. We’ve seen that an idol, which this commandment talks about is anything that takes God’s place in our heart. The commandment says, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image” and we’re tempted to think, “Idols, how does that apply to me today?” But we saw in our previous episode that each one of us has idols rooted deeply in our own hearts. Our idols are precious to us. I confessed one of my idols is food, but our idols can also be contemptible. Think of the ring in J.R. Tolkien’s “Lord Of The Rings.” Everyone lusted after its’ power, but whoever wore it suffered under it’s dehumanizing effect. Middle earth could only be saved with the destruction of the ring. Now, Tolkien was really saying something. My husband Ray helped me to see that what Tolkien was saying through this book is this, “The key to life is not what you gain, but also what you lose, what you give up, what you are willing to throw away.” Paul says it this way in Philippians 3:8, “…I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” I wonder what precious idol you have cherished as essential to your happiness. I wonder if something or someone has taken your heart’s delight, trust, loyalty, and love besides Jesus Christ. What must you lose in order to gain the only treasure you really can never live without Jesus Christ himself? The Bible says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” You see our hearts dwell on what we treasure most. I wonder what your first thought is in the morning when you wake up. What’s your last thought as you’re drifting off to sleep? What do you daydream about? Now some of us sincerely want God, but we want him on our own terms. We’re grateful for him, but there are just some things that we can’t live without. But God has an alternative to all our man made idols. His name is Jesus. God draws our admiring attention to Jesus and presents himself to us as our refreshment, our renewal. He restores our souls. He’s calling us to dump our idols and asking us to see him as big enough to risk all our happiness on him. He’s saying, “Let me prove to you what only I can do.” If you’re struggling here, as I sometimes do, I would encourage you to go to Isaiah 41 this week and ask God to help you see him for who he truly is, who he really is. The greatest miracle in the universe is when God enters into a human life and through his Holy spirit transforms a compulsive idolater into a passionate worshiper of Jesus Christ alone. Now, each commandment has both a negative and a positive side. God is saying, “Don’t bring anything else into your worship of me.” And by that he’s also saying, “When you truly worship me, you’ll find me to be enough.” You see, you were made for God and only God will do. Don’t just try to overpower your idols. Come to God. Then the more you worship the true God, the more your own images will fade. Seek him with all your heart. That will loosen your grip on your idols. Heidi, will you read these wonderful verses from 1 John 5:20-21?
Heidi: “And we know that the son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
Jani: We must not only take this commandment into our own hearts, but we need to teach the coming generations about real worship. When we share about a church we visited, we often talk in terms of whether we liked the worship or not. Was it contemporary or traditional enough for our preferences? Some of us like old hymns, others prefer new praise choruses. Some of us like organs, others of us like guitars, but no one has the corner market on true worship except the one whom we worship and he has told us that the only worship acceptable to him is that which is spiritual and true. That is to be our criteria for where we should worship and what kinds of songs we sing. Is there truth there? As you give this commandment to the children in your life, let the light of the gospel lead you to the cross where you will find truth and life and a way to God so that you may worship him acceptably with all your heart beginning now and stretching forward into all eternity where there will be no more earthly images, for we will see him face to face. Oh, I can’t wait. I want to worship him properly. Now, Heidi and I want to give you some suggestions for how to give this commandment to the children in your life. Maybe you’re a grandma whose grandchildren visit you occasionally. Maybe you’re a mom. Maybe you’re a Sunday school teacher or an aunt or a nanny who can use these truths, but this is what you will need to teach the children around you about the second commandment. You’ll need your Bible and you’ll need some markers. You’ll need some paper and crayons to draw with. You will need a photograph of a friend or family member these children have not yet met. You’ll need three balloons and a pin, and your big red heart. Do you remember the big red heart made out of a piece of construction paper? First of all, as you gather together around God’s word, review Psalm 119:18 and make this your prayer as you open your Bible to study. Heidi, will you remind us of what Psalm 119:18 says?
Heidi: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Jani: Remind the little ones near you that God is a wonderful God and he will show us wondrous things from his law as he opens our eyes to see who he really is and what he’s teaching us here. And then I want you to read Hebrews 12:28-29. Heidi, let’s read those together too.
Heidi: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
Jani: After you look at Hebrews 12 and talk about what is acceptable worship, then review with your children how the law is like a mirror. Remember that little mirror you are to have taped in the middle of your big red heart? Remind them that the mirror shows us where we’re dirty, but it cannot clean us. We don’t take the mirror off the red heart to clean us. We need to go somewhere else for cleansing. The law is like that. It shows us where we’ve sinned, but it can’t cleanse us. Review the first commandment about who we worship and then read and copy at least the first part of the second commandment onto your big red heart. Teach your child that this commandment is helping us to understand how to worship God. Now Heidi, will you read 1 Kings 8:10-11? And dear listener, you’re going to want to look at these passages with the children you’re talking with.
Heidi: “And when the priest came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priest could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.”
Jani: Now, if you have a a children’s Bible, read this with them or read it out of your Bible if they’re old enough to understand, it’s the story of the dedication of King Solomon’s temple. Then, we won’t take time to read it on our podcast, but then turn to 2 Kings 21, the first nine verses, and discuss how certain Kings wanted to use God’s temple. Here in 2 Kings 21, the King Manasseh, this is awful, I can hardly say it, sacrifices his own son with fire. He also brings an image of Asherah into the temple. Oh, this is awful. It’s how he wanted to use God’s temple. Talk about idols with your children. What are they? Are they only physical? You could go to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, they say this…
Heidi: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Jani: How do we let idols into our hearts? You might want to use an illustration from your own life. What are some idols that children sometimes cultivate? Heidi do you see any idols in your kid’s lives yet?
Heidi: Oh, all the time, as I see it in my own. I think we talked about this a few weeks ago where I can see my children lust after toys and they think, “Oh, that one toy. If I just had that ice cream truck mom, I would be happy.” And then I even see them get the ice cream truck. And then what is the next toy? “Oh, if I just had that drone…”
Jani: …it’s true. We’re all idol making factories, our hearts are. So let’s help our children understand that how we worship God is really important to him because it shows him who we love. Does that idol in our heart take up more of our emotional and spiritual energy or does God himself? You can also, while you’re talking through this commandment, discuss attitudes and behaviors during public and family worship time. Help him to see from scripture. You could turn to John 4:23-24 and show him that God is seeking true worshipers. I love that. Does your child see in you a true worshiper? Does he see your passionate love for God? Does he have a model, an example to follow? You can also talk about images of God. Maybe you have a pictorial Bible. We do in our home. Explain why a picture could never show the real God we worship. Describe a friend or relative whom your child has never met and ask him to draw a picture of that person. Then show him that person’s picture. Compare them and and discuss. It’s the same way with God. We could never draw a picture of the real God we worship. Then ask your child, “Do we have to see something for it to be real?” I like to illustrate this with the children in my life by blowing up a balloon. Talk about how we can’t see the air in the baloon, but it’s so powerful. Talk about the different ways that air is powerful, in the wind, in storms and how we need air every minute of our life to keep living. Air can even make a noise. Pop the balloon with a pin and show them that even though you can’t see it, it can make noise. Then blow up the second balloon. Talk about how we like to make God into something we can see and touch. It just kind of comforts us to bring him down to our level but just like the air in the balloon is such a teeny tiny part of all the air in the world, so is any picture or image of God we try to make. Just like air, God can never be contained. Leave your blown up balloon for a few days and watch it as the air slowly leaks out of it, and then tape balloon number three near the second commandment that you’ve written on your big red heart to remind you and your children that God can never be contained or confined to any human representation. Make sure you pray with your children and over their little hearts. Ask God to enter in to show them who he really is and to help them worship him in acceptable ways. May God restore your soul and bless you as you give the second commandment to the little ones in your life.