Unseating the gut god

empty throneMany of us live under the tyranny of a god we’ve created in our own image, a god who is cruel, punishing, aloof or uncaring. How do we unseat this false god and let God’s true character be our master?


Our distorted image of God begins to change when we admit our fear, even hatred of this made-up being we’ve named God.

We’ve kept ourselves distant from God because we believed God was not trustworthy, or interested, or whatever. The Psalmist says, “God desires truth in the inner being.” Authentically voicing the reasons for our distance is valid prayer. Even if the emotional tone of your prayer is angry or accusing, you are bringing your truth into the presence of the God of Truth who has invited you, who wants you to be honest with him.

“God I don’t trust you because I believe you are mean. I’ve experienced enough meanness in my life. I’m not going to let you close enough to me to hurt me too.”


Ask God to replace your gut god image with a biblical and corrective one. Cooperate with this request by getting into the scriptures with an open mind. Forget everything you’ve learned about God and let the word speak for itself. Do a word study on the attributes of God. If your god is aloof, meditate on God’s nearness. Uncaring? Look for the pictures of God as compassionate. Memorize the passages that capture the heart of the true God.

Look around

Consider common relationships as a means to correct your image of God. Think about the ways a perfect parent respond to a hurt child; the way lovers greet one another; the way friends esteem each other. We are created in God’s image and we are loving, kind and respectful. If we, imperfect creatures that we are do these things, the perfect God must do them even better.


Use your prayerful imagination to invite the true God into the wounded places where a false god has set up shop.

Our head knows God is good. Our gut, where our feelings live, isn’t quite convinced.  This can be addressed by praying the scriptures with our imagination. Putting ourselves into the scripture.

Be Zaccheus in the tree…what do you feel up there? Why are you up there? How do you feel about the crowds below you? What do they think about you? What is it like for you when Jesus stops and looks up into your face? When Jesus wants to come home with you, how do you respond?

Let your spirit guided imagination take you to the places the Lord wants to touch, heal and correct.


Remind yourself of what your head does know…God is on your side. Literally speak to the gut god who subtly demands your obedience. “No. God is for me, I am God’s beloved child, God is pleased with me. I will listen to this God.”

Be patient. These distortions are deeply rooted; deep healing will be take time. But remember God is not slow, God is thorough.

With you on the journey,


This is part of a series of posts, The NEW Old. We’re exploring the old familiar things of the spiritual life that God wants to make new. The series begins here. Please join us. When you subscribe to my blog you’ll be notified by email when a new installment is posted. 

God, the bully











Ok, so there’s the true God we love and honor and then there’s the false god, the invisible, yet powerful god that lives in our gut and often dictates our lives.  There is quite a gap and a vast difference between these two G(g)ods. Our allegiance is given to either one or the other: the true God who has earned our love and given us the freedom to obey or the bullying gut god who demands our obedience, falsely promising that we can earn love and acceptance.

Identifying our gut god is essential; doing so illuminates the conflict we face as we pursue a life of discipleship. Maybe you’ve realized your gut god is cruel, or demanding, or unsatisfiable. If so you must ask yourself, “Why in the world would I want to be close to such a god? Why should I trust such an unpredictable god? Do I even like this god? And yet, I’m supposed to love and obey…” Naming our gut god, seeing it for the lie it is, explains the reasons we are not as close to God as our true self desires.

Family history, painful experiences, traumatic events and cultural dictates (even teaching we received in church) has formed this god of ours. We have fashioned a god based on what our history and our culture has taught us god “must be like.” The problem with this is our history is imperfect and our culture is tainted with evil, therefore, our ideas about God are imperfect and tainted. God’s image has been distorted.

We need to let God answer for God’s self about who God is….and he has, he sent Jesus, the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

  • Is your god distant and aloof? Meet Jesus, who used his own saliva to heal the blind man.
  • Is your god ready to abandon you when you disappoint him? Meet the father Jesus describes who gives all he has to his prodigal son and eagerly awaits his return.
  • Is your god punishing? Meet Jesus, who stayed near the woman caught in adultery when the crowd threatened her with judgment and stoning.

Jesus said, if you want to know what God is like…look at me. We’ve exchanged the truth about God for a lie, we have worshipped the creature we created rather than the Creator. This, my friends, leads to a slow, agonizing death.

Next post we’ll talk about how to return to the truth.

With you on the journey,


Who is your Gut god?

head vs heartThe God of our heart is not always the God of our head. Our minds may agree with the scriptures that declare God is love and God forgives; but our gut doesn’t necessarily trust these statements. Doubts about our value, our inability to forgive ourselves (just to name a few) evidence our disbelief. In our best moments, we know that God is indeed love; his presence is palpable. But in our worst moments, down in our gut, these truths become translucent, we question and doubt.

The proverb says, “a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link” and our faith is only as strong as our greatest doubt. In the light, we can believe God is love, in times of crises or darkness a different god rules our thinking and actions. The ‘god of our gut’ more frequently than not, determines our identity. We need to figure out the nature of this god. Toward this end, I’m going to ask you to reflect on some questions I pose. They are worded to help you identify ‘the god of your gut.’

I’d love to read your responses in a comment, if you feel comfortable sharing them publicly, or email me for a more private exchange. My responses are written in italics below the questions.

Please, spend a few minutes recording your responses to the following questions, try not to overanalyze your responses, just let your answers flow.

  1. What are my worst fears about God?
  2. When I find myself avoiding God, what thoughts and feelings about God are causing me to pull away?
  3. At my worst moments, how do I think God feels about me? or relates to me?
  4. What pictures come to mind when I think about God?
  5. What do my behaviors and feelings tell me about how I see God (who is your gut god)?

1. I am afraid it is all a joke, that Jesus isn’t the savior, that I’ve built my life on a sham. 

2. I avoid God when I am doing something that is unhealthy (emotionally, physically). God wouldn’t approve of what I’m doing/thinking/feeling, and I want to keep doing/thinking/feeling this so I ignore God. Deep down, in my better self, I want to quit these unhealthy actions, and I know God’s power could carry me away from them and that’s the very reason I avoid him. I want to be healthy and whole, but not today; today I want to hang on to these unhealthy, but satisfying habits.

3. I think God sees me as his beloved, screwed-up daughter; the one who is never going to get it together, and needs to be constantly rescued. God willingly does the rescue, but with a tsk-tsk in his demeanor. “When are you going to learn, Debby?” Secondly, the Psalmist felt forsaken by God (Ps. 22). I have never felt deserted or abandoned by God, but often, I feel set aside, or put on a shelf. I’m sure this is born of my own neurosis. I fear I am unneeded by God, useless; like an old pair of shoes, I am kept but never worn. I am inconsequential to God’s plan. I fear I am like an item purchased because it was on sale, an un-resistable bargain, but not really needed or useful.

4. When I think about God I see Jesus – loving, accessible, truth-telling, righteous and requiring righteousness of me. When I’m in my dark place, I see God chuckling over my failed attempts at righteousness. God doesn’t take me seriously, I’m an amusing anecdote to the Trinity. (Again with the tsk-tsking.) 

5. My gut god is loving, yet detached. Loves me because he has to (it is his character after all) but probably wouldn’t choose me. My gut god condescends toward me and my “cute” little attempts at pleasing him.

Who is your gut god? One who…

…minimizes you
…tolerates you
…punishes you
…doesn’t get involved
…is indifferent toward you
…demands perfection?

This is an interactive post, let me know your response. Next Monday we’ll begin to let God speak for God’s self.