No Other gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols

No Other gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols

by Kelly Minter


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780781448970
Publisher: David C Cook
Publication date: 04/01/2008
Edition description: New
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 358,014
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.39(d)

About the Author

Kelly Minter is an accomplished speaker, songwriter and performer, and is the author of The Fitting Room and Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break. She leads worship and speaks to women across the country, taking part in LifeWay conferences and their annual Women's Forum. Kelly resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

Read an Excerpt



David C. Cook

Copyright © 2008 Kelly Minter
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7814-4897-0



There's a certain theme in my life, one that continues to cycle around no matter how old or "wise" I become. It's one of those lifelong lessons I've never fully mastered, the kind that God will not recant on, a lesson he's not afraid to deliver to me over and over again in different packaging: Oh wow, it's ... you again.

I don't know if you have one of these, that running area of life that seems to be the target of every sermon, Scripture, and circumstance. It's an area of growth you can't seem to get away from, the one that God is always prodding and pruning even at the most inconvenient of times, like holidays. Can I not just eat my turkey without my character being refined? It's a phenomenon, but God doesn't even take Thanksgiving off, except perhaps in the rest of the world where they don't celebrate it.

Never does he slumber; he is always working on this recycling theme: No gods before God. It's the first of the Ten Commandments and one of the most fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. How hard can this be? Yet just as I think I have a handle on it, another false god is exposed in my life. And I'm not talking about a physical statue that I accidentally stumble upon in the recesses of my closet, or a stone idol that I occasionally pray to. Nothing like that. But ... sort of like that.

* * *

The other day I coerced one of my self-employed friends, Alli, to justify my neglect of work by heading with me to the Frist Museum in the middle of the day. It's essential to take others down with you when playing hooky—there are certain delinquent behaviors that must be done in groups. Fortunately Alli was an easy sell, since she's far more hip than I am and holds a season pass. With a mere phone call, work was tabled and we were off to Egypt—at least to the bits they could fit in the Frist.

We followed each other around with headsets and MP3 players that gave us the history of each piece. I kept making Alli pause her machine so I could comment, as if I had something to add to the British historian eloquently whispering in our ears. There were all sorts of wild displays, from standard mummies to children's games whose stakes were a little higher than I was comfortable with—eternal damnation for the loser. Hadn't they heard of Candyland? We saw ornate jewelry, fine paintings, and a tiny wooden chair over two thousand years old. It intrigued me to think of all the history that little chair had made it through—the crumbling of massive empires, the birth of Christ, and I'm guessing a lot of family squabbles. I'm sure it was very tired of being sat on. I can't remember our favorite exhibit, though I do recall us tarrying over a mummified cat that looked strangely like a hot dog. Not something I would have tried to preserve, but that's just me.

Even beyond the disturbing animal mummies, I have a poignant memory that I will never forget. It was one of the first things Alli and I saw upon entering the exhibit, and it was the last thing I remembered: a towering statue in the form of a sphinx with human legs holding out a symbol of life. The colossus was a bit cracked in places and a few pieces from the face had broken off, but for the most part it had fared well. The British voice in my headset said that the Egyptians would bow down before this exact statue hoping that life would be extended to them.

As I took notice of every detail, I remember thinking how I couldn't imagine that anyone would ever believe that this lifeless rock could do anything, much less give life. I remember thinking how strange it hit me, how I could never see myself hoping for life to spring from stone. Until the next words that crossed through my mind were You do it all the time. (This was no longer the British woman.) In fact, the words weren't even audible, but every bit as definitive. If you can know a silent voice, I knew this one.

Lord, I would never look for life from something like this.

But you look for life in lesser things than me all the time, every day.

I was struck. Quiet, I stood before this idol suddenly aware that all the things I had placed my full hope in were not a hair more able. Suddenly I realized that I had been looking to weak things, even good things, for life that only Christ can give. If I could display the images that splashed through my mind, you would have seen the statue turn into familiar faces from my life, career paths, and dreams. Not necessarily bad things, just things that had become detrimental because I had exalted them as gods, things I believed could bring me life.

As I continued staring, I thought about the idols of our culture: the television, body image, boyfriends, girlfriends, food, shopping, family, children, alcohol, money, houses, spouses, drugs, religion, even our own sense of righteousness. Ouch. The cracked rock statue didn't seem so silly after all. In fact, if only the ancient Egyptians could see us today: an extra helping of cookie-dough ice cream. A one-night stand. Hours of meaningless sitcoms. A bottle of vodka. They would probably shake their heads in bewilderment, wondering what any of these things held over their sleek stone images.

As the Lord continued to expose all the things I had put in place of him, I realized that this was not unique to me. Passages from Genesis and Isaiah, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, the Psalms and the Gospels, Ruth, Romans, 1 John, and virtually every other book in the Bible address the issue of false gods in one way or another. It is a ubiquitous theme. The problem is, when we come across these passages, we often think of statues, sculpted idols, and foreign countries. The entire concept is relegated to far-off peoples in far-off lands. We don't think of the litany of modern-day gods we depend on daily for comfort, relief, protection, happiness, life....

Or, if we do think of these things, we tend to think of the ones that are on the universally "bad" list: sexual sins, pornography, alcoholism, and drug addiction. But what about the false gods that are inherently good? Things like friends, spouses, material possessions? The things that have only become bad because we have made them the "ultimate" things in our lives. In some ways, this feels far more common. John Calvin put it similarly: "The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much."

Ah, yes. I have wanted some darn good things a bit too much a time or two. Good things that became ultimate things that became controlling things. Things I bowed down to, perhaps not literally, but with every other piece of my being. Not too different from the Egyptians. After all, they bowed for the same reason we do: a desire for life.

As I walked away from the Frist that day, I was thankful for the unexpected but freeing moment that caused me to further relish the voice of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't condemning but enlightening, gentle but convicting. A conviction that demanded my repentance while extending the truth that God wanted me to trust him for far more. To clear out the idols in my life, not for the sake of legalism but for a much grander purpose: to make room for the God of gods to dwell. To see him do more than I could ask or think—more than a rock statue or a husband or a martini could ever provide.

Perhaps you are longing for the same things. Exhausted by the strong cords of a small god. Weary from serving something that forever promises but never delivers. Angry at an idol that constantly leaves you disappointed, but swears there is no other place to go. If only the Egyptians had known there was a God stronger than the stone sphinx. If only we knew. I talked Alli's ear off about it on the way home. I think she was really missing the British lady.



My moment at the Frist was a milestone for me, an Ebenezer of sorts in the middle of an already focused journey I had been taking on the topic of false gods. I had spent the previous year researching the subject for a Bible study curriculum I was writing, and the years before living out my own research as God had dealt with me profoundly on more idols I could feign excitement over. My own journey brings chapter 2 of the book of Hosea to mind—the passage where God relentlessly pursues Israel and Hosea relentlessly pursues his wayward wife, Gomer, while both Israel and Gomer chase other lovers. The Lord hedges in his straying bride, thwarting her every move and wooing her into the desert so that he can speak tenderly to her. That had been my life—lots of desert minutiae.

I was just beginning to see what might be rooftops and charming streets and smokestacks in the distance—signs that the Lord was indeed leading me out of the desert. (And by the way, if you happen to find yourself in such a season of trial or discipline, may I offer Psalm 126:5 as a breath of hope: "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.")

As the Lord faithfully turned my valley of trouble into a door of hope (Hos. 2:15), some people I greatly admired asked me to write a Bible study, but at first the subject matter remained unclear. I knew the message needed to percolate until I could move with clarity, so I invited four girls over for Mexican and discussion to begin an eight-week Bible study with no set theme that ended up lasting a year and a half. (I found you can get a lot out of people when salsa is involved.) After cooking for about the third time in my life—kudos to my friends for coming back—we sat in my living room, brainstorming for a yet-to-be Bible study curriculum, uncertain where it was all going but praying it was divinely directed.

We made ourselves comfortable and conversed about most anything you could think of: identity, purpose, body image, wanting something "more" in life, singleness, marital strains, church, identity, our relevance as individuals. I scribbled on typing paper with a Sharpie, circling the poignant thoughts, hoping all this would lead to a cohesive topic of study. I never imagined our streams of consciousness would take us to something as seemingly dated as false gods, but by night's end our musings had led us exactly there—it's just that I still couldn't quite see it.

The next morning I nestled into one of my favorite chairs, balancing my tea on the armrest—a precarious move over my cream rug—with my Bible on my lap. I was reading through the Bible in a year, and it happened that I was in 2 Kings 17, which wouldn't have been so out of the ordinary, except for verse 33 that arrested my attention: "They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods." Verse 41 further compounded the description: "Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols." God and gods: Both were occupying space in their jewelry boxes of time, heart, and service. The people were living split lives, worshipping the One while serving the others.

As I pondered this concept, my mind reeled back to the previous night's discussion with the girls, one that had been full of questions and longings about what it means to live as Christians in relevant and meaningful ways, what living in freedom with purpose and identity actually looks like. Yet somehow the incredibly simplistic phrases in 2 Kings melted the trivial details that surrounded our wonderings. The vagueness of our striving and frustration had been sharpened to a point: We all claimed God as our God, but we had been serving lesser things.

Could it be that we were indebted to other gods, though we sat in the front row at church and served the coffee? We claimed the Bible as our source of truth, but were our real counselors coming from movie screens and magazines? Perhaps so many of our struggles—lack of freedom, loss of spiritual desire, slavery to image, perfectionism, confusion, and the list is infinite—had much to do with this idea of God and.... The people in 2 Kings were worshipping God, but they were also serving their idols.

Both verses speak of worship to God but service to idols. I believe there is an exquisite distinction between the two words. For so much of my life I worshipped God: showing up for church, singing hymns, helping in the nursery, reading my Bible, confessing my belief in him. Yet if you could have witnessed what I was controlled by, what motivated and moved me, you would have seen that in many cases it was not God at all, but my idols. Not carved images, but people, career paths, materialism, acceptance, and more.

God was getting my worship on some level, but my gods were getting my service.

* * *

I grew up in a Christian home in a fairly "Christian" society, and I think this contradiction of worship to God and service to idols permeates the Christian community I've experienced. Just this morning a group of college girls gathered at my house for breakfast and study to discuss this very issue. A few of the girls expressed the interesting notion that idols were such a part of their daily lives that they had consented to the idea that "this is just the way it is." I thought this was a poignant expression of honesty and vulnerability, because who hasn't succumbed to such a thought? We walk such a compartmentalized line of church on Sunday and an occasional Bible study if we're extra serious, all the while relying on our friends, boyfriends, spouses, careers, outward beauty, and skill to truly carry us along. It's rare that we come across someone who has broken the mold, one who truly lives—albeit imperfectly—with God as the driving force and love of their life. So many of us claim and worship God, but we've come to accept a lifestyle that depends upon most everything else. And whatever we depend upon we will most definitely serve.

When we try to house both God and gods, we are left with halfhearted living. It is painfully ungratifying. And I believe it's possibly one of the reasons why so many of us—including me—have been stuck. Basically, we have edged God out. We have left him with little room in our hearts. Our false gods have taken up our most treasured spaces; we leave God no place to show himself strong on our behalf.

After I pondered these things further, I realized that 2 Kings 17:33 was the seed our study was to grow out of. It was why the Lord had tenderly led me into the desert for such a long season, so that at the end of my journey I could have the same exchange with God that the Israelites had with him in Hosea 2:23: "I will say ... 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.'" Though I will never fully rid myself of false gods in this lifetime, I emerged from my desert trials knowing that God was indeed mine and that I wanted him more than any lesser, entangling idol.

This conclusion came at a heart level, the place where our false gods are constructed. It required a lot of my time and attention, since there is much to discover about them: What do modern-day idols look like? How do we make them? How do we destroy them? In what ways do they affect us? Which ones are we serving? Why are we serving them? These are the questions this book attempts to explore.

And yet our foray into such heart work must go beyond the dangerous place of turning from something without turning to Someone, which is much like the parable of the man who sent an evil spirit out of his house, cleaned and swept, only for the demon to return with seven more. The man's final condition ended up worse than the first (Luke 11:24–26). It is my supreme desire for us to discover not only the process of turning from our idols, but also the freedom of turning to the true God in all of his glory. We make room in our hearts so Christ can dwell—it's the upside to all this idol talk, and it's the remedy to some of our heartache, entanglement, and disappointment.

Somewhere in the middle of this entire discovery I wrote a song called "First in My Heart." It's a prayer of sorts, perhaps one you can offer up for yourself as you seek to find God as, well, God. He is worth whatever pains you may take in the journey.

"First in My Heart"

So this is love, it feels like war
To slay my gods by the sword
Making room for you to dwell
Here inside of me unrivaled
Though it cost me everything
Only you will be

First in my heart, first in my mind
And in everything I long for in this life
First in my dreams, first in my eyes
Before every other love that I desire

So settle in and you never mind
These trembling hands, these teary eyes
Cause I never knew it'd hurt so bad
To turn my back upon this golden calf
Let its memory fade away

Till you alone remain

First in my heart, first in my mind
And in everything I long for in this life
First in my dreams, first in my eyes
Before every other love that I desire

Take these idols a million miles
From the allegiance of my soul
Still this hunger with your wonder
Till only you will ... only, only, only you will be

First in my heart, first in my mind
And in everything I long for in this life
First in my dreams, first in my eyes
Before every other love that I desire


Excerpted from NO OTHER GODS by KELLY MINTER. Copyright © 2008 Kelly Minter. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


9. LIES,
11. THERE,
12. TRUST,

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No Other gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
EJS More than 1 year ago
I have found that many Bible studies unfortunately are watered down and ask basic regurgitated QA. This is not the case with Minter's book. It really challenged me to think about the things that I treasure more than God....what is in competition for my time and devotion. Her definition of idol is "something other than God that we set our heart on, that motivates us, masters and rules us, or that we trust or serve." If you really want to be challenged to make God first in your life, this is the study for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that this was a wonderful engaging book. It definitely will make you think about things that grab your attention in life. I definitely reccomend this to any one; Christian or non Christian alike! It will absolutely make you pay more attention to the things in your life. Wonderful book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read. I loved this Bible study!
AmeliaAnn More than 1 year ago
hen some people think of idols, they may think of the statue gods that are worshipped in the Old Testament. However, “No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern-Day Idols,” by Kelly Minter gives a fresh perspective to idolatry, and reveals what idols today could be hindering one’s relationship with the Lord. This book is challenging for believers and non-believers alike. For the non-believer, it teaches about the one true God and how how there is no other god but Jesus Christ. For the believer, it helps remind us of what things in our life have been made more important than our relationship with God. At the beginning of the book, Kelly describes a visit she had to a museum, and how one stone statue caught her eye. She immediately questioned how people could put trust and belief into a stone. That is when the Lord revealed to her that she does it all the time, just with different things. Minter states, “If I could display the images that splashed through my mind, you would have seen that statue turn into familiar faces from my life, career paths, and dreams. Not necessarily bad things, just things that had become detrimental because I had exalted them as gods, things that I believed could bring me life.” One of my favorite parts in the book was when Kelly told the stories of Leah and Rachel who were two sisters from the Bible. Leah spent her life trying to gain the affections of Jacob because she continually felt unloved and wanted the kind of affection from him that Rachel had. However, Rachel spent her life discontent because she wanted lots of kids like Leah had, and lived her life jealous and unsatisfied because that desire was not fulfilled (To read more of Rachel and Leah’s story go to Genesis 29:31-30:24). The desire to be loved by a husband or a desire for children are not bad desires, and ones that all women can relate to. Although, when such desires are our primary source of satisfaction then they become false gods that never satisfy. Throughout the book, Minter helps readers recognize what these false gods are in their life and then draws them to the ultimate source of satisfaction which is Jesus Christ. I highly enjoyed reading this book, and was challenged greatly. Kelly wrote in such a way that made me feel I was sitting and having coffee with her discussing God and life. It was hard in parts because it convicted me of things in my life that I had made into idols, but helped grow my relationship with the Lord tremendously. As mentioned earlier, our idols may not be bad in and of themselves, but anything that is elevated and made more important than Christ is considered a false god. Some examples in your life could be relationships, family, financial security, private hopes and dreams, etc; but as John Calvin states, “The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.” Take some time today and ask the Lord to show you what things in your life that you are putting before Him and allow your relationship with Him be the most important thing in your life above all else.
TravelerPS More than 1 year ago
Didn't care for this book. It was really not specific enough for me for today's 'gods' as to what or who they are.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it and its awesomely freeeeee so cool a must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Daugter of athena Comes in sits and thinks