Because of being a short-term mission planner for college students, I’ve traveled to places such as Haiti, Brazil, Moldova, Bolivia as well as our own country that includes the Navajo nation in the southwest many times.  What is prevalent in these different cultures and highly visible to outsiders is the inclusion and mashing together the old traditions with the new belief of knowing God through believing in Jesus as Savior.  Many new believers cannot let go of the idols, symbols and beliefs, at least not at first.  Believing in Jesus is appreciated but Jesus/God/Holy Spirit are not exclusive to belief and practice and become a collaboration of what was formerly believed.

After observing these meshing idols with worship of God for myself, I cannot judge them harshly this collaboration for we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” in this area of our growing and maturing in following God alone—as the only God for us.  We all have our “idols” that we have trouble letting go.  What is an idol in our world?  The answer lies withing each one of us.  Our idols are anything and everything that stands between our view of God and hinders or growing intimate relationship with God. 

Our “stick idols” that cannot give back to us, cannot hear or see us, cannot love us back, cannot walk on their own unless we carry them around are all around us.  We can begin with our phones that have become an extension of our bodies—like an idol that we cannot seem to do without.  Think about it.  Can you go anywhere without it?  We make ourselves feel better about this idol by installing the Bible app in with the collaboration with other apps.  However, how much time is spent on the Bible app?  What app is really taking our attention from God?  Yikes, you do know that your phone can tell exactly how much time is spent on each app, right? 

Jeremiah looked around and ridiculed the idols all around him. Instead of separating themselves from the evil practices of the nations as Moses had instructed (See Deuteronomy 7:1–11), Israel gradually imitated those practices and began to worship pagan gods. But these gods were worthless, manufactured by craftsmen.  And idols still are today—worthless, when it comes to knowing God.

Jeremiah 10, The Message

The Stick Gods

1-5 Listen to the Message that God is sending your way, House of Israel. Listen most carefully:

Don’t take the godless nations as your models.
    Don’t be impressed by their glamour and glitz,
    no matter how much they’re impressed.
The religion of these peoples
    is nothing but smoke.
An idol is nothing but a tree chopped down,
    then shaped by a woodsman’s ax.
They trim it with tinsel and balls,
    use hammer and nails to keep it upright.
It’s like a scarecrow in a cabbage patch—can’t talk!
    Deadwood that has to be carried—can’t walk!
Don’t be impressed by such stuff.
    It’s useless for either good or evil.”

6-9 All this is nothing compared to you, O God.
    You’re wondrously great, famously great.
Who can fail to be impressed by you, King of the nations?
    It’s your very nature to be worshiped!
Look far and wide among the elite of the nations.
    The best they can come up with is nothing compared to you.
Stupidly, they line them up—a lineup of sticks,
    good for nothing but making smoke.
Gilded with silver foil from Tarshish,
    covered with gold from Uphaz,
Hung with violet and purple fabrics—
    no matter how fancy the sticks, they’re still sticks.

10 But God is the real thing—
    the living God, the eternal King.
When he’s angry, Earth shakes.
    Yes, and the godless nations quake.

11-15 “Tell them this, ‘The stick gods
    who made nothing, neither sky nor earth,
Will come to nothing
    on the earth and under the sky.’”
But it is God whose power made the earth,
    whose wisdom gave shape to the world,
    who crafted the cosmos.
He thunders, and rain pours down.
    He sends the clouds soaring.
He embellishes the storm with lightnings,
    launches wind from his warehouse.
Stick-god worshipers looking mighty foolish,
    god-makers embarrassed by their handmade gods!
Their gods are frauds—dead sticks,
    deadwood gods, tasteless jokes.
    When the fires of judgment come, they’ll be ashes.

16 But the Portion-of-Jacob is the real thing.
    He put the whole universe together
And pays special attention to Israel.
    His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies!

* * *

17-18 Grab your bags,
    all you who are under attack.
God has given notice:
    “Attention! I’m evicting
Everyone who lives here,
    And right now—yes, right now!
I’m going to press them to the limit,
    squeeze the life right out of them.”

* * *

19-20 But it’s a black day for me!
    Hopelessly wounded,
I said, “Why, oh why
    did I think I could bear it?”
My house is ruined—
    the roof caved in.
Our children are gone—
    we’ll never see them again.
No one left to help in rebuilding,
    no one to make a new start!

21 It’s because our leaders are stupid.
    They never asked God for counsel,
And so nothing worked right.
    The people are scattered all over.

22 But listen! Something’s coming!
    A big commotion from the northern borders!
Judah’s towns about to be smashed,
    left to all the stray dogs and cats!

23-25 I know, God, that mere mortals
    can’t run their own lives,

That men and women
    don’t have what it takes to take charge of life.
So correct us, God, as you see best.
    Don’t lose your temper. That would be the end of us.
Vent your anger on the godless
    who refuse to acknowledge you,
And on the people
    who won’t pray to you—

The very ones who’ve made a meal out of Jacob,
    yes, made a meal
And devoured him whole,
    people and pastures alike.


Our contemporary idols might not be as ugly, as were the pagan idols in Jeremiah’s day, but they capture just as much affection and do just as much damage. Whatever we worship and serve other than the true and living God is an idol, whether it’s an expensive house or car, the latest electronic device, a boat, a library, a girlfriend or boyfriend, our children, a career, or a bank account. 

Jeremiah makes it clear:  The remedy for idolatry is for us to get caught up in the majesty and grandeur of God, the true God, the living God, the everlasting King. An idol is a substitute, and no one would ever want a substitute after having experienced the love and power of the Lord God Almighty.

A nation went into captivity because its leaders forsook the true and living God.  What captivates us today?

I need to take a “phone fast” for at least 24 hours to evaluate the importance this device has on my life with God, the Father.  Is it being used for good or distraction? Who or what is really Lord of my life?  Jesus or my phone?  Who’s with me? 


I’m sorry for underestimating the power of idols in our lives right now.  I repent of the attachment I have for them.  I love you with all my heart, mind and soul.  It is time I prove that love for you alone. That time is now.  I don’t invite you to my world, to be incorporated into it!  No, You have invited into Your Kingdom and Your Kingdom thinking, leaving the world behind me.  And it is here I want to be—learning and growing in your love.  

In Jesus Name, Amen

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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