You’re familiar with the second of the Ten Commandments, right? I presume no one reading this newsletter has any “graven images” of God that you worship.
Or do you?
I looked up the word “graven” just now and found that the adjectival form of the word has two meanings. One is “carved or sculptured.” That’s the definition the second commandment has in mind when it forbids the worship of graven golden calves or any other attempt to reduce the glory of God to some kind of physical representation.
But the second definition for the adjective graven is “deeply impressed or firmly fixed.”
And it’s that understanding of the word that merits some consideration.
Our understanding of who God is ought to be deeply impressed or firmly fixed. That is one of the reasons why God has given us His word. It is through our study of the Bible that we come to know and love the one God who is the maker of heaven and earth. The Psalmist says that God’s word is firmly fixed in the heavens. And the writer of Hebrews reminds us that our eyes are to remain firmly fixed on Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
The problem occurs with our firmly fixed understanding of God is anchored in something other than His own revelation of Himself.
Or when our understanding of who God is dismisses or sets aside those things that we read about God in our Bible that don’t fit our image of who God is or what we think He ought to be like.
Author Patrick Morley identifies this issue as a root problem in our country, where more than two-thirds of our population claims to be Christian.
He writes “Cultural Christianity means pursuing the God we want instead of the God who is. It is the tendency to be shallow in our understanding of God, wanting Him to be more of a gentle grandfather type who spoils us and lets us have our own way. It is sensing a need for God, but on our own terms. It is wanting the God we have underlined in our Bibles without wanting the rest of Him too. It is God relative instead of God absolute.”
Our study of Romans is bringing us face to face with the God who is.
He is the God, according to Romans 1, whose wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.
He is the God who whose righteous decree is that those who unrepentantly practice ungodliness and unrighteousness deserve to die, along with those who approve of such things.
He is the God to whom all men are accountable and who will one day judge the world.
And as we continue in Romans, we will see that the God of scripture is the God who, for reasons that go beyond our understanding, has mercy on whomever He wills and who hardens whomever He wills.
Is this the God you worship?
If not, you may want to re-read the second commandment. Your golden calf may not be carved in stone, but it’s a graven image nonetheless.
Let’s remember that our understanding of God in this life will always be clouded. The Apostle Paul describes our imperfect and incomplete knowledge of God as seeing in a mirror, dimly. Only in eternity will we see Him face to face, and will we know Him fully, as he now knows us.
Still, our incomplete understanding of God must be shaped not by our own subjective sense of who He is, but by His revelation of Himself in His word.
Let’s be careful that we’re not found guilty of pursing the God we want instead of the God who is.
And that means we’ll have lots of opportunities for fun and fellowship over the next four weeks!
First, we’ll be gathering this Sunday afternoon at 4:00 at the Arnolds for our baptism buffet. We’re providing the bottled water and the chips. Here’s what you’ll need to bring:
M-Z: Summer Dish (chicken salad, tuna salad, pasta salad, cold chicken (baked, smoked, grilled, BBQ, etc)
A-Z: Fruit or Green salad
And if you have folding chairs, bring them too!
Here’s how to get to the Arnolds from the Wal Mart on Highway 10:
Head west on Highway 10 about two miles to the Ferndale cut-off. Turn left and go about four miles to the corner of Ferndale and Kanis. Turn right on Kanis and go 9.9 miles to Cave Creek Road. Turn left on Cave Creek and go 9/10s of a mile. Once you turn on Cave Creek, continue straight – don’t turn off anywhere. The road ends at the Arnold’s home. It takes about 20 minutes from the Wal Mart to get there.
Next Wednesday morning, the Kid’s Summer Fest continues at church at 9:30. Kids 12 and under will be making wind chimes as they learn about making a joyful noise to the Lord. All kids are invited, but remember, if your kids are five or younger, you’ll need to plan to stay with them.
On Saturday night, July 15, it’s baseball at Dickey Stephens park. The Travelers take on the Springfield Cardinals at 6:10. The first 1,000 fans get a new 16 oz. double walled tumbler!
Tickets are $8. Our plan is to arrive at the ball park no later than 5:45 so we can buy our tickets and find a shady spot to sit together. Everyone is invited. Think now about neighbors or co-workers you’d like to invite to join us.
Tuesday night, July 25, bring the kids and your neighbors and join us for a pool party at the Pleasant Valley swimming pool at 2300 Arkansas Valley Dr. We’ll have the pool all to ourselves from 6:00 – 9:00 (and that includes the kiddie pool too!). Bring a picnic dinner or drop in after you’ve eaten for a great all church get together. You don’t have to get wet or even wear swim trunks! Just come out and enjoy the fellowship.
We’ll wrap up the month of July on Sunday night, July 30, from 6:30-7:30 with a church wide night of Prayer and Praise. This will be a time for the whole church body to gather and to pray and seek the Lord together. Our specific focus will be on the Kingdom of God. We’ll read the scriptures together and sing a few familiar, simple songs. We will pray silently. We will read prayers. We will pray in small groups. We will pray in larger groups. We will pray all together. Our focus will be on praying for Christ to be exalted in and through us, and for His kingdom work to be made clear for us as we seek His face.
This will be a special evening as we come together to call upon the Lord. I hope you’ll make this special evening a priority.
I told you there was a lot happening in July!
Last call to add your name to the list to help with nursery care this fall.
We need folks who are willing to take two or three Sundays between now and the end of the year to play with babies and toddlers, read books, throw balls, do puzzles, and teach our little ones about Jesus.
Send an email to Kelly Rackley right now and let her know how many times you’d like to serve! firstname.lastname@example.org
Bible teacher John Stott asks the question “how can we be sure of God’s love?… To be sure of God’s love…” he writes, “is the major secret of joy, peace, freedom, confidence and self-respect.”
This Sunday, we’ll see how Paul answers the question of how we can be sure of God’s love for us.
See you in church!
Soli Deo Gloria!