Tag Archives: Idolatry

the windy city

Yes. This is about Chicago. But also, it’s not.

Five years ago I took my first summer trip to Chicago as an adult. I have to caveat that because I went as a teen for a softball tournament and fell in love with the city, but my parents were with me, so I was limited on the shenanigans I could get into.

I went with two dear friends and we had a fantastic time – 2 nights, 3 days right on Lake Shore Drive, eating pizza, seeing comedy shows, and delighting in the company of one another. It’s truly one of the dearest memories I have in traveling with friends.

This week, I went back for my first summer trip since then. I love Chi-town and have been many times, but for whatever reason I’ve chosen the cold months to visit throughout these five years. As I got off the train and started walking around, my mind began to wade through the last five years (which also happens to be the name of the saddest/best musical movie starring Anna Kendrick that my friend watched and told me I was horrible for recommending. Seriously. It’s sad.)

I digress.

The last five years.

I began to think about the friends I was with in 2014 and how we have since had a pretty major friend breakup.

I only have my side of the story, and I’m not going to share that with everyone. But the truth of the matter is, there was a tremendous ripping apart between us. We all played a role in the ripping. I will own my part in that hurt. But it was a breakup that I never saw coming because it was with friends. The ripping apart was hard. But that doesn’t take away what those friends meant to me in that season.

This past February, author and podcaster Annie F. Downs spoke at IF:Gathering on this exact topic. Her talk, What Happens When People Let You Down? (can be found on RightNow Media), spoke about the heartbreak of breakups – how when a breakup happens, you lose the future you thought you were going to have. But we don’t talk about losing the future with friends. So, in the way that only Annie can, she did.

And she gutted me with this line: “Losing a friendship feels like a ripping when that friend becomes and idol.”

And ultimately, that’s what I had let happen in my past friendships. They become my idol. The relationship itself became an idol. They were the thing that kept me safe and secure.

This time around, I went by myself.

I sent this picture to my mom so she knew I was safe, but as I looked at it – at me – I saw someone who is just way more settled into the fact that nothing outside of Jesus can satisfy, save, or secure her. 2014 Kayla was grasping for straws when it came to security, love, being known.

2019 Kayla knows she is secure, loved, and known in Christ.
I don’t have it all worked out, but I’m comfortable with knowing that God is working it out.

And now, as Annie also said, my friendships work because I don’t ask them to be my God. I just ask them to be my friend. With God as my closest friend, all other friends are a delightful gift.

And that they are. As I took inventory of my friends on Ohio Street Beach, I (surprise) got emotional. Overwhelmingly thankful that God has seen fit to give me Himself with flesh on in the form of my friends. And has given me the gift of Himself, so that I don’t have to grasp for and impress people that will let me down.

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my choice of gods


A couple of my personal gods are represented in the picture above. Well, now that I think about it, probably 3.

No, five.

5 of my gods are represented in this picture. If you want to know what they are, we’ll talk about it later. I don’t have time to get in to specifics here! A blog must be written!

I woke up this morning, watched an episode of One Tree Hill, then decided to put some real pants on and go downstairs. I had plans for today – plans that included being as isolated and lazy as possible. But then, I noticed my Bible.

There it was, sitting on the arm of my chair, staring me down.

And my plans changed. I decided to choose the Word this morning.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Of course you did. You’re a Christian. You love Jesus. That’s what you’re supposed to do…read your Bible, fool!”

But I don’t always make that choice. Most often, I choose to love other gods. I choose to love relationship status, finances, friendships, knowledge, approval…all the things. I choose myself. I decide that there is a god better for me than the One True God. I decide that I AM is not enough.

Without even really recognizing it, I line all of my little gods up every morning and decide which one I will serve that day.

It might be power on Monday, control on Tuesday, approval Wednesday, food Thursday, finances on Friday, then I get to Jesus on Saturday and Sunday.

We all have to come to a point in our lives where we wake up, every morning, and choose Jesus. He isn’t the type of Savior that is going to force Himself on His people. Jesus isn’t in the business of bullying people in to the Kingdom. BUT He is in the business of redeeming sinners. He is in the business of providing comfort, peace, healing, and joy. He is in the business of changing hearts from stone to flesh and convicting His children of their sin.

Jesus is in the business of making Himself known and bringing His Father glory.

I want to be a part of that business. I want to choose redemption and love and joy and peace and all of the other words we like to throw around at Christmas time.

I want to choose a God that loves me so much He sent His own Son to become flesh – to walk the earth He created – in order to die as the Perfect Lamb, rise on the third day, and save His people from their sins.

Will this be an automatic for me? No. It won’t. As Paul says in Romans 7, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (v.19)

Will this be possible? Yes. Because it is by grace that I have been saved – not of my works but by the final work of Jesus on the cross.

The satisfaction, fullness, and restoration that only Jesus can offer is the only thing I want.

Today, I choose Jesus.

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our smoggy culture


There has been a video going around Facebook this week in which Russell Brand provides some very insightful views on the effects of porn on a person. This blog isn’t about that, but you can watch it here.

This blog is instead about something Russell said in his video. He refers to things like “50 Shades of Grey” and advertisements that objectify women (Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. anyone??) as cultural smog.

Smog – smoky fog. Something you can’t see through. Something that invades your space and can cause you to get of course pretty easily.

So what Russell is saying, essentially, is that something as simple as a commercial for a Twix bar can invade our minds/hearts and throw us off course.

I would argue similar things for relationships. In friendships it could be something as simple as your coffee pal needing to reschedule because the have a flat tire that can lead you down a road of questioning if they really like you.

A boy could forget to like your Facebook status about your Bible study and suddenly it’s like you don’t even exist.

The Christian could read ‘smog’ as ‘sin’. And I believe this particular smog/sin is typically inward. It’s idolatry of the heart – placing our affections on something or someone other than Jesus.

If we aren’t careful the cultural smog that is thick in our atmosphere can overtake our lives, security, peace, and identity and completely destroy us. We can allow sin to bury who we know Jesus to be as Redeemer.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8: 1, 5-6)

To set your mind on the Spirit is to rely on His clarity in your life and trust that the smog will filter it’s way out.

A wise man once told me that all truth is God’s truth, and I believe Russell spoke truth in his video. I encourage you to watch it, especially if pornography is something you struggle with.

My prayer for the week is that God would reveal to me the smog in my life. That He would open my eyes to see clearly the sin that so easily entangles me, and that He would cleanse me of all unrighteousness.

And next week we’ll talk about being air filters in our culture and what that can look like as followers of Jesus. (Like how I keep going with the air purity analogy? Ehh…I’m kinda over it now…)

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what the Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise taught me: Part 2


I’ve come to the conclusion that we all love love.
We talk about it all the time. We obsess over it. We desire it. We work for it. We feel empty without it.

We have come to idolize love.

While watching Bachelor in Paradise over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that no one is immune to this idolatry. I mean, that’s even why we watch the show!! We want to stare at a screen for 2 hours once a week and watch as a fairytale love story unfolds before our eyes. The contestants give up their normal lives for weeks upon weeks to go to love boot camp hoping to come out shooting rainbows and confetti (and Lisa Frank unicorns) out of their heart cannons.

We are all obsessed with finding our true love.

What really trips me up about this is that none of us will ever live a love story that isn’t stained by brokenness and hurt. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, 1 sinful person + 1 sinful person does NOT equal perfection.

This past week on Bachelor in Paradise, one contestant that has been on since the beginning (for 6 weeks, I think) finally connected with a guy. She had struggled the first few weeks because she “came to paradise for love” but was striking out. All the dudes were connecting with other women and it seemed as if all hope was lost.

Enter: a new dude! Hooray!

Within a week homie was telling her that he was in love. And it freaked this girl out!

She had (somewhat) gotten what she wanted, and it wasn’t what she expected.*

That’s what idols do to us. They promise fulfilment. They promise satisfaction. They promise that we’ll never want anything more.

And once we get to the idol, once we snatch the holy grail, once we find true love, the rug is pulled out from underneath us and we’re still left broken.

Love is not a bad thing. I think that love gets a bad name (Bon Jovi style) sometimes because we twist and skew it so much that we can’t recognize it anymore.
We can’t recognize the ultimate love of a Savior that has redeemed us and made us new, complete, and without blame.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

This love fulfils. This love sustains. This love is whole.

*This is totally my perception of something I’ve watched on tv. I don’t know this woman’s heart, but I do know mine, and that’s how I would’ve felt.

To listen to Garth & Kat’s sweet love songs, click here!

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I just want you to like me.

I haven’t always been single. I’ve never been married, but I have dated and been in relationships (one at a time, mind you). As I wade through the land of singleness, I look back on my past relationships and often wonder, “Where did I go wrong.”

I believe one of the first things we as women often think when a dating relationship ends is that exact thought. What did do. Where did screw up. Why am I not good enough?

In reading Scotty Smith’s “Everyday Prayers” (pick it up here. Seriously. Go buy it.), I came across a mind blowing concept. He writes, “Idolatry is everywhere because there’s no such thing as a nonworshiper.”

Now, I’ve heard this concept many times, but it simply ROCKED me as I read it yesterday. YESTERDAY. (God’s timing is awesome) My following thoughts went something like this:

  • Oh that’s gooooooooooood. Yeah, he’s spot on.
  • I should share this with people that I know are struggling with idolatry. Maybe they’ll realize the idols in their life.
  • Man, I’m glad I have my idols worked out.
  • Shoot. Is that an idol? Being better than everyone else?
  • Yup.

I have really good conversations in my head.

Anyways, it seriously got me thinking. What is my aim in relationships? What is my aim in blogging? What is my aim (fill in the blank)?

Often, my aim is for people to like me. I want to be wanted. I desire for people to desire me. At the deepest root of who I am, I want to be known.

What really throws me for a loop here, though, is that I am already. And I’m not liked, wanted, desired, known because of anything another human has done for me. I am all of these things because of Christ. God’s Word says in Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” And again in Isaiah 43:1, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

In other words, I am liked, wanted, desired, known, and LOVED because of God’s great love for me.

Now, just because I’ve written this blog does not mean that I’ve washed my hands of this idol. It doesn’t mean my need for approval is magically wiped away. In fact, if you know anything about me, you know that this has been a struggle in my life for a long time.

When I reflect back on my past relationships, my main goal in each of them was for the other person to validate me. My worship was myself. I could argue with you about being the most selfish “girlfriend” ever. Because I used to be, and probably will be next time around too if my validation is still coming from the guy I’m dating.

My hope is that we can struggle through this together. That we can like each other, or not, just because. That we can let the love of Christ be enough.

There’s a line in a BarlowGirl song that has stuck with me since the first time I heard it: “You’re a God who has all things, and still You want me.”

May we all let that be enough today.

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