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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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COLUMN: Choose daily to shun idol worship

SEVERAL WEEKS ago, I had the amazing opportunity to speak at a three-day women’s retreat in Williamsburg. It was a wonderful weekend of fellowship, laughter, reflection and worship.

And it provided proof that you do not need a large choir, band or sound system—our worship leader used nothing more than her voice and guitar to lead us in heartfelt praise of our Lord.

One of my favorite memories of the weekend came from our final worship session on Sunday morning. As the beautiful melody reminiscent of Jewish folk music filled the room, the ladies joined hands and voices singing, “When the Spirit of the Lord moves in my heart, I will dance as David danced.”

The retreat center was filled with joy and thankfulness as women of all ages circled the room in praise and worship to God. I found it to be a very fitting end to our time together since we had spent the past three days examining the difference between idolatry and biblical worship.

One of the earliest lessons we learn in Sunday school is the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20, God begins by telling His people that He is their God and they are to have no other gods in His presence. He continues to tell them that they are not to bow down and worship any manmade images.

I don’t know about you, but I have always felt like I had the second commandment covered. As a Christian, I do not often find myself bowing to wooden statues or marble carvings. But I have since come to realize that idolatry is so much more than that.

Respected author Ken Sande writes, “An idol is not simply a statue of wood, stone or metal; it is anything we love and pursue in place of God, and can also be referred to as a ‘false god’ or a ‘functional god.’ In biblical terms, an idol is something other than God that we set our hearts on (Luke 12:29, 1 Corinthians 10:6), that motivates us (1 Corinthians 4:5), that masters or rules us (Psalm 119:133) or that we serve (Matthew 6:24).”

Idols are not always negative things like drugs, excessive alcohol, sexual immorality and the love of money or material things. Idols are more often good things that we make into God things—friendships, success, children, appearance, achievement, hobbies, comfort, perfectionism, status, denominations, pastors, political parties, the American dream, liberty, freedom and independence.

When we look to anything other than God for our identity, security or purpose we are dishonoring Him. I have learned the hard way that the throne of my heart is not a love seat. God will not share it with any of the other things I look to for fulfillment.

So often we focus on correcting the sin in our lives, but really those sins are just symptoms of a bigger problem. They are the fruit of the root of idolatry.

Idolatry doesn’t just hurt our relationship with God. It destroys our lives and destroys the people we love. They crumble under the weight we place on them when we make them our god or they feel the negative consequences of our sin. As the daughter of an alcoholic, I have experienced this damage first-hand.

In his final address to the Israelite nation, Joshua makes this declaration, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

I love that Joshua tells them that they must choose “this day.” We must be on guard against the idols in our lives every day—multiple times a day. We were all created to worship something. It is up to us to decide what the object of our worship will be. We must decide on a daily basis if we will serve the created or the Creator.

Who or what will you choose today? Like Joshua, I pray that you will declare with me, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Heather Ablondi is a women’s ministry speaker and author who resides in Fredericksburg. You can contact her through her website,