What readers are saying about Jim's book...


"With profound insight, compassion, and solid biblical support, Jim resurrects one of the most forgotten and overlooked truths in our day."

~Dwight Edwards, author and advisor to Larry Crabb


"This book is life-giving."

~Fran M.; Portland, OR

*Read more reviews on Amazon...

Jim's speaking events

Jim will be interviewed on Masculine Journey Radio, Saturday, December 21st.  1pm EST.


FIND OUT ABOUT SPEAKING EVENTS & TRAINING HERE.


Prone to wander?

Buy Jim's book.

 What if your heart is no longer 'prone to wander?'  What if God is more interested in releasing a noble goodness He's already placed within you, rather than pressuring you to be more 'holy?'  Discover the book by Jim Robbins.

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Monday
Apr072014

New solo piano song single from Jim

Many of you know that I'm also a solo piano recording artist.  I've just released a new solo piano song single called, "Carry Me Past Dark."

The story behind "Carry Me Past Dark:"

With a nod to the movie soundtrack from "True Grit," I wanted to pay homage to the old 1800's hymn, "Leaning On the Everlasting Arms." Slightly changing the hymn's simple theme, I then wove in fresh complimentary elements to give it a new immediacy. This brand-new version called, "Carry Me Past Dark," keeps the almost understated feel, reflecting its true frontier simplicity.


FREE DOWNLOAD:  To download "Carry Me Past Dark,"  just click the small "down" arrow in the upper right corner of the SoundCloud player.



To hear/buy tracks from Jim's latest solo piano CD, click here


 

 

 

Monday
Mar172014

The Giant strides within.

"What we need is not so much personal development, as personal replacement:  What we need is not so much personal development, but personal substitution."  - Dwight Edwards


The invitation of the Gospel is, "Let Me carry you." 
The relief of the Gospel is, "Will you let Me?"

What I don't mean:

By "personal development," we do not mean something like the mastery of an instrument. [Though it's never a solo performance - It's always a duet.] Rather, we mean the addiction that humans have to mastering their own character,  keeping the commandments, constraining their sin, and living like Christ without the supernatural resources only God can give.  It's the attempt to live under natural power when only super-natural power will suffice.  Personal development is the attempt to live under a manufactured righteouness rather than a borrowed righteousness.

Continue the way you began:
We needed someone to take our place, not only on the Cross; but even still -  On Monday at 3 p.m. when our boss has called us in for employee evaluations; or when we've blown it with our spouse and our spouse was right; or when our valiant effort to resist our addictions has left us deeper in the hole.

A life driven by personal development sounds like this:

I will be disciplined enough.

I will manage your impression of me.

I will try harder.

I will trust enough.


The tender Giant:
By contrast, a life depending upon a personal, indwelling Substitute looks like this:

The experience of God breaking into human life is the experience of an invasion from beyond of Another; who in gentle power breaks in upon our littleness, and in tender expansiveness makes room for Himself. 

Had we thought Him an intruder, no.  God's first odor is sweetness; God's touch, an imparting of power.  Suddenly, a tender Giant walks by our side ... no... strides within our puny footsteps.  We are no longer our little selves.  - Thomas Kelly

Substitionary Sanctification
The Christian believes in substitutionary sanctification, not simply substitutionary justification.  In other words, what began as grace continues as grace, because true discipleship is about allowing Jesus to trigger and release our new nature, not about our white-knuckled efforts to live up to our best intentions.

What's the fruit?
The fruit of personal development is shame.  The fruit of personal subtitution is restoration.  We are no longer our little selves:  The Giant strides within our puny footsteps.



Further digging:

 

Sunday
Dec222013

Radio Interview: Masculine Journey Radio Interviews Jim Robbins

 


This past Saturday, Masculine Journey Radio aired their interview with me. If you missed it, you can listen to it now.

The guys at Masculine Journey Radio - Darrin, Todd, and Sam - really get the message of the good and noble heart. They've also got great senses of humor.

During our conversation we talk more about my personal journey, and how radically different it is to believe your heart is no longer "prone to wander." 
Jesus replaced your wandering heart with a heart like his own the moment you said 'yes,' to Him.

Though the show is primarily geared towards men, the message of the good and noble heart can resonate with both women and men. After all, we're all tired of hearing we're "never-enough." 

 

 

Tuesday
Dec172013

Radio interview with Jim Robbins on Saturday


I'll be a guest on the Masculine Journey Radio show this coming Saturday, December 21, at 1 p.m. EST.   These guys love helping people get their hearts back so that they can live fully-alive.  Looking forward to our conversation. 

 

Tuesday
Nov192013

The myth of punishment: It is not the same as "natural consequences."

Many parents and teachers wrongly assume that the use of punishment is the same thing as experiencing "consequences,"  particularly "natural consequences."  Adults justify the use of punishment [whether gentle or aggressive] by reminding the child that they are ostencibly "making choices" and that bad choices have repercussions or "consequences."  But adults cunningly call those repercussions "natural consequences," as if they are universal and happen to everyone everywhere.  So according to that justification, whatever happens to the child is the result of a choice they've made, not a situation the adult has set up.

While bad choices do have repercussions, I assure you that to a child, punishment is experienced very differently than natural  consequences.  Here's how punishment is distinctly different from natural consequences.

 

PUNISHMENT:

Punishment uses coercion, threat and pressure: 

"If you don't do what I'm asking, you will go to your room for a time-out." 

"If you don't do well on your report card, you won't be able to go to the dance." 

The "consequence" that an adult sets up for the child is designed to compel the child into one right response - the one the adult would choose.  The child must comply, or experience some kind of pain or loss.  [To be determined by the adult, of course.] Though the adult may in fact be right about what is needed in that situation, the use of punishment generates fear and anxiety rather than a healthy motivation to do the right thing. 

Moreover, the punishment is being set up and arranged for by the adult, rather than something that occurs as a natural outflow of an action, whether or not the adult arranged for it.  For example, if I go skating on a pond before it has frozen completely over, I may fall in and experience hypothermia; yet no one has arranged for that consequence for me.  It's simply a natural and understandable cause-and-effect. No one created the effect [falling in] in order to get me to be less foolish.

Ironically, the same parents who would agree that "perfect love casts out fear" would advocate the use of punishment [and its use of intimidation] to enforce proper behavior.

Punishment removes the possibility of a meaningful choice for the child. 
It is a fallacy to believe that the child is making a true, internally-motivated choice when the only two choices we have given her are either, "Do what I say" or "Experience fear and rejection." 

Punishment will also guarantee that the child's choice to comply with your wishes will not be motivated by love for you.  Nor will they obey because they genuinely respect you.  Rather, their motivation will be to avoid pain.  Using punishment actually disengages a child's genuine desire to do the right thing because fear will override any possibility that the choice will be made out of loving respect for you.


Punishment teaches the misuse of power.

Finally, punishment teaches the child that the way you get someone to do something is by using power against them.  It says to the child, "Authority is something to be feared rather than loved and honored."



NATURAL CONSEQUENCES:

Natural consequences, on the other hand, are not the fruit of threat and coercion, because no one is manipulating the child towards any particular outcome.  No one is using their authority or power to insure that their demands are met. 

In the case of a true natural consequence, the child retains a meaningful choice in the matter. No one is arranging for or demanding any particular outcome.  For example, if a teen chooses to drive recklessly down a neighborhood street, he could hit a toddler who steps out from behind a parked car.  The toddler may be tragically injured or killed as a natural consequence of the teen's actions; yet that natural consequence isn't being set up by an adult in order to constrain good choices behind the wheel.

Bottom line:  Justifying the use of punishment by calling it a "natural consequence" does not make it so.  The fruit of punishment is fear, not love. 

 


 

Helpful resources:

Tuesday
Aug132013

Have you heard about the new CD?

Some of you know that in addition to being an author/speaker, I am a solo concert pianist.  Think George Winston, Lyle Mays, or Keith Jarrett. 

I've just released a new solo piano CD that many are finding helpful as music for their personal prayer life:  That the quiet and reflective music opens a door for them to connect with God's heart.    
Here's what listeners are saying:

 

"Man, it is beautiful stuff. It's not just music, either. I can really sense the heart of God through it all. Thanks." 
– D. Carroll, Uganda

 

“Beautiful, love your CD!!! You are so talented and such a blessing. His Love shines through you beautifully.”
– N. Smith, Texas


"LOVE your CD. No lie..made me cry. Every time I hear it I find it easy to pray and speak to God. At complete peace while listening to your music."
– M. Harrington, Massachusetts


“This music pulls me in deeper to the depths of my own soul.  If I could give it 5.5 stars I easily would.  Simply amazing depth – Jim obviously has an old soul."  
- J. Fox, Colorado


“Jim's work is absolutely breathtaking. His music and his talent will touch your soul. I find myself listening to his music and hear God's still voice in my life. It is all too rare to hear talent of Jim's caliber.”
– D. Gale, Wisconsin

 


  

 

 

 

Monday
Aug052013

How we accuse our hearts of all kinds of things...

Too often, when we talk about "the heart," we tend to view the heart as our entire internal world; that is, anything and everything that's going on inside of us - whether good, bad or ugly.  This catch-all, kitchen sink view of the heart has led us in some really unhelpful directions. 

Notice how we often frame what's going on inside of us:

  1. "I had to really examine the motives of my heart."

  2. "My stubbornness means that I have a 'divided heart.'"

  3. "You haven't given your whole heart to God."

In each of these instances, the accusation is clear:  Your heart will mislead you.  It is not to be trusted.

This simply isn't true. Your new and noble heart isn't capable of deceiving you or leading you astray.  Let's look at each claim:

1.  "I had to really examine the motives of my heart." 
Yes, you may have poor motives in this or that situation, but those corrupt motives are not originating from your new heart:  They emanate from your flesh - the old programming left over by your old self, or the "old man."  That old self is no longer here; but it's imprint was left behind.  That is where your faulty motives lie.

Another source of bad motives comes from the virus that lives in your body:  sin.  Notice that I didn't say your "sin nature."  Why?  Because you no longer have a sin-nature.  After your sin-nature was removed at conversion, there remained a sin virus that can leave collateral damage in its wake, but it cannot become you; and it isn't you; just as you might have the flu, but are not the virus itself.

A third source of bad motives comes from the Enemy of our hearts.  The foul beings will quietly come up beside you and whisper in your ear all manner of wicked things, and pin those thoughts on you!

2.  "My stubbornness means that I have a 'divided heart.'" 
No.  You don't have a divided heart.  Your new spirit [heart/will] may be in conflict with your flesh, but your heart [true nature] itself is united with Christ and inseparable from his nature.  There is no separation between your heart and his: One cannot be distinguished from the other.  As Luther declared, “You are so entirely joined unto Christ, that He and you are made as it were one person; so that you may boldly say, ‘I am one with Christ,’ that is to say, Christ’s righteousness, victory, and life are mine.”  Because his heart cannot be divided, yours cannot be divided.

3.  "You haven't given your whole heart to God." 
False.  It was never about giving your heart to God.  [Surprised?] Jesus wasn't asking you to offer him your old heart:  He was asking you to receive!   The heart you used to have wouldn't have done you or Him much good.  It was beyond repair and needed to be replaced.  Not fixed; but replaced.  "Getting saved" wasn't about offering a ruined and wayward heart to God, hoping that he'd fix it one day:  Rather, it was about receiving a new-hearted nature from God.  It has always been first about receiving.  He doesn't require anything from you that he hasn't already deposited within you. [1]

 

Try this:  For three days, write down some of your own internal dialogue about your heart and its motives.  What are you accusing your heart of?  What's the real source of those undesirable thoughts or motives?  Then apologize to your heart:  There's no shame in this:  After all, its no longer in your heart to accuse your heart anyway. 

 

[1] Dwight Edwards, Revolution Within

Thursday
May162013

How do others respond to your suffering?

The best way to respond to another person's suffering is at an emotional level, not a rational one.  Respond to emotion with emotion. [1]  I don't mean that we fake an emotional response, or become overly dramatic or animated as we acknowledge their anguish; but rather, we learn to hear with our hearts, rather than dispensing prescriptions. 

How a person handles your pain will tell you about their view of God.

When sharing our heartache with others, most of us get a corrective response.  Here's what the Corrective Response sounds like:

1. "Here's what the Bible says about that; now just believe it." 

2. "Here's my experience and how I handled pain:  You should adopt my attitude."

3. "You're over-reacting or too sensitive.  It's not as bad as you think it is."

[It may, in fact, not be as bad as they think it is, but telling them so isn't likely to improve their situation or perspective.]


The negative impact of the Corrective Response:
The fallacy here is that reason cannot always heal; and will often make the suffering worse.   And reason is a cheap substitute for entering into another's suffering:  It takes more energy and love to "weep with those who weep" than offering a rational [and clinical] response to their hurt. 

The collateral damage of the corrective response is one of dismissal, which quickly becomes shame:  Because your heartache isn't taken seriously,  your suffering is leveled as an indictment against you because you're too weak, too faithless, or too sensitive to handle the situation well.  Or, so go the assumptions about you.

Suffering is not faithlessness:
Often times, the corrective response is built upon the assumption that your response to pain indicates a lack of faith.   The truth is, that while your "flesh may be weak" and faithless; your good and noble heart is not:  Your new heart may be growing in trust, but it was equipped with the same confidence in the Father that Jesus himself held onto.  "Christ in you" means that there is a very deep part of you that still trusts, despite your very real feelings of abandonment.

Don't see pain as necessarily a lack of faith.  Emotions are not always reliable indicators of a person's true inner strength; especially when they themselves are overwhelmed and can't see their own hope and resilience while its buried beneath the rubble.


The positive impact of responding to emotion with emotion?
1.  Responding with emotional empathy opens the sufferer up to the healing presence of God.

2.  Responding with emotional empathy give the listener permission to be taken seriously, especially when something challenging may be needed to be said at a later point in time.  Without empathy, the listener doesn't have permission.

3.  Responding with emotional empathy makes the listener a safe harbor for a broken vessel. 


We can learn to ask: What is my friend experiencing? 

  • Fear?  
  • Betrayal?
  • Futility? 
  • Loss?
  • Forsakenness?

 
Learning to respond to emotion with emotion, particularly the emotions the suffering person is drowning under, will help us serve as an advocate rather than as an advisor; a companion rather than a courtroom judge; a compassionate healer rather than a clinician.


[1]  Intimate Life, Intimate Life Ministries

Thursday
Mar212013

Seabiscuit: How the horse's trainer saw the heart underneath the brokenness

 

It takes someone with eyes to see your glory.

Seabiscuit was one of the most unlikely racehorse success stories in history.  Given his physical geometry, he shouldn't have been considered for championship racing any more than a child's boxy rockinghorse with blunted legs.  Rather than a sleek, aerodynamic grace, he had a body roughly-shaped like a brick, with short stumps for legs and squarish bucked knees.  Further, his legs wouldn't straighten completely, as if he was an elderly man shuffling forward with a bent-kneed hunch.  To bet on Seabiscuit would have been like betting on a St. Bernard in a greyhound race.

The horse walked with an awkward gait many mistook for lameness.  And when he ran, he comically moved in what some called an "eggbeater gait," jerking his left foreleg out and wide, like he was furiously shooing away a pestering hornet.

Upon examining Seabiscuit, veterinarians had pronounced him only "serviceably useful;" but in this horse, his would-be trainer, Tom Smith, "knew there was something lying dormant." [1] 


But Seabiscuit had heart. 

Seabiscuit had heart, despite all outward appearances.  Trainer Tom Smith, and owner Charles Howard, saw it.  Under Smith's unconventional training, the horse became the champion Smith always saw in him.

Here's what the horse's owner, Charles Howard, said when he first met the "Biscuit:"

I can't describe the feeling he gave me...but somehow I knew he had what it takes.  Tom and I realized that we had our worries and troubles ahead.  We had to rebuild him, both mentally and physically, but you don't have to rebuild the heart when it's already there, big as all outdoors."  [2]


You don't have to rebuild the heart when it's already there. 
That's your story.  When you entered into friendship with Jesus, he removed the heart that bucked in the chute and crashed against the rails, then replaced it with the racing prowess and potency of a Man O' War, Secretariat, or a Seabiscuit.

You don't rebuild something God has already built.  You don't need to beg for any more holiness, righteousness, or goodness.  Rather, you're invited to cooperate with God as he releases what he's already put within you.  You don't have to rebuild the heart when it's already there:  Trust the heart and heft of what he's already built. 

There may be renovation yet to be done to get your body and your mind tracking with your new nature; but for now,  you've got heart.  The rest will come.

[1] Excerpted from Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand, p. 44

[2] Excerpted from Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand, p. 45

 

 

Tuesday
Mar122013

What do you want for your kids? [Redefining "good morals"]

Some time ago, I asked a group of parents to list the qualities they wanted their children to possess as they grew older.  The initial responses were character traits such as:

"respectful"

"kind"

"responsible"

 

Only after those initial character qualities were suggested did some parents begin to offer other qualities they desired for their children like:

"problem solving"

"empathy"

"purpose"

 

Typical moral categories aren't enough.
Notice that the first list fell within very typical moral categories that represents what we think of as "good behavior."  Yet the qualities on the second list are also critical for development.  Traits like "empathetic awareness,"  "discernment" [needed for problem-solving] and "sense of purpose" are also needed for relational and emotional health, yet are not often the first things we think of when it comes to character development.

Children are often taught both in school and at home to be "kind" or "respectful" or good "team players"  [all potentially forms of compliance to get them to be more manageable]; while ignoring qualities like "play," "risk-taking," and "redemptive suffering."


Teaching our kids to be disruptive

Though we want our kids to "show respect towards authority," we would never think of teaching our children how to be redemptively-disruptive - standing against injustice when it is warranted - because Jesus' cleansing of the temple doesn't look like "self-control" to us.   Or that addressing injurious authority may sometimes be warranted because there are still "white-washed tombs" and "broods of vipers" using power and entitlement to lord it over those they should serve.


Redefining "morality" for our kids
How have you been taught to view "character" and "morality?"  Strictly in terms of good behavior?  What other traits would you consider listing that you hope to instill in your child?

 

 

Monday
Mar042013

Responding to a reader: "But don't we sometimes need someone to correct our thinking?"

In my recent post, "Why the 'Correct Their Stinking Thinking' Model Doesn't Always Help," I expose the "Correct Their Bad Thinking" Model as misguided at best.  Most Christians have been given the Corrective Thinking Model of helping:  "This friend isn't able to heal because they've got 'stinking thinking' that's preventing it.  They're not able to receive the healing because they are holding stubbornly to misguided, destructive, even faithless thoughts.  It's my job to show them their bad thinking."


Response to a reader

I got a really thoughtful response to that post, asking if there might be times when that "Correct Their Thinking" Model might be helpful.  After all, haven't we all heard a speaker, or read a book that helped us see ourselves differently [corrected our thinking] - exposing lies that were pinning our hearts down, or freed us to believe Jesus really did make us truly noble and good-hearted friends of his?  Haven't those speakers or authors given us truth that sets us free ... by exposing bad thinking?

Here's my response to that thoughtful question:

You're absolutely right: Many times we do need a correction for our thinking. I, too, have found reading particular authors very helpful as I've discovered my new identity and worth. But God often brought those books to me when I couldn't hear it from friends. He brought the truth from those books to me when I was ready to hear, and in a way and manner tailored to me.

What I was referring to in the post was that many people use the "correct thinking model" ONLY; or at a time when the other person just isn't ready to hear it; or they hand it out like a prescription without thinking.

Yet, there may be something blocking a person's healing that isn't simply solved by telling a person, "Don't think like that."

For example, I heard a story of a woman who couldn't stop collecting teddy bears. Teddy bear plates, pillows, blankets, and more teddy bears themselves. Every corner of the house, every surface was covered with teddy bears. She had gone into counseling because she was up around 400 + teddy bears at that point and it was causing her marriage to suffer, though her husband was trying to be understanding.  The woman's obsession was overrunning the house.

When her friends, who knew how to pray, sat quietly with her and asked Jesus what was going on [rather than assuming they knew what was going on], he gently revealed a memory to her. A horrible and painful one, of being a little girl and watching her father, in a fit of rage at her, rip the head off of her only teddy bear, throwing it to the floor. 

Some part of that little girl's heart shattered that day.

Thankfully, her friends didn't tell her, "You shouldn't be thinking teddy bears are the solution to your pain. Stop thinking that way:  It's hurting you." Instead, they asked Jesus to come into that little girl's [woman's] fearful memory and heal the terror, mending that broken place in her heart; bringing her back to safety.  And it worked.

Hope that helps. You brought up a great point.

...Jim Robbins

 

 

 

Monday
Feb252013

Why the "Correct their stinking thinking" model doesn't always help.

Most Christians have been given the Corrective Thinking Model of helping:  "This friend isn't able to heal because they've got 'stinking thinking' that's preventing it.  They're not able to receive the healing because they are holding stubbornly to misguided, destructive, even faithless thoughts." 

While on the one hand, this may be true in some cases, it often isn't helpful to tell the person that they're believing and thinking wrongly, and it may not reveal the true problem.   I've discovered when using the Corrective Thinking Model that it only proves mildly helpful because it often can't bring about the recovery needed: Besides the person may already be well-aware of their destructive thought patterns, yet feel helpless to overcome them.

The Corrective Thinking Model [Just Fix What's Wrong With Their Bad Thinking] is rooted in an Analysis Model that assumes:  "If we can diagnose the why, then we've healed the what."  This model assumes that analysis equals healing.  It does not:  Just like determining why you broke your leg during a skiing accident doesn't, in and of itself, heal the bones.  Answering the "why" only gives you revelation not restoration.

Agnes Sanford, in her classic on prayer, The Healing Light, describes the hazards of the "Correct their bad thinking" model:

"You mustn't think that way!"  cries the would-be helper.  "You'll never get well when you think that way!  My dear, let me tell you ..."   And [the helper] proceeds to hold forth upon her own line, to hand over her own ready-made cure-all.  ...

Sometimes it happens to fit the need of the sufferer, and sometimes it does not.  And the one who longs to help mourns that the patient has no spiritual understanding. 

 

Sanford offers this counsel to would-be friends and helpers: 

The sick mind does not respond to reason.


[Notice what Sanford indicates:  In our frustration as helpers, we often blame the patient for a lack of spiritual understanding, rather than questioning the approach used.]

 

A better model:

We often jump in with the Corrective Thinking Model because we sincerely want to help, and it's the only model we've been given.  A more helpful question than, "How do I correct this person's poor thinking and bad beliefs about themselves or God," might be,

"Jesus, you got here before I did.  What are you up to?  Before I got here, you were already initiating my friend's restoration.  Help me understand what you're doing as you love my friend.  How can I join you?"  

 

There's no shame in this: We're simply being invited to learn from Jesus, who is a gracious teacher. 

Recommended resources:

Note:  This is an issue I've addressed in the past in other places, especially in a two-part podcast with author Dwight Edwards ["Revolution Within"]:

  1. Podcast:  "Revolution Within," Part One
  2. Podcast:  "Revolution Within,"  Part Two

 

Friday
Feb152013

Viewing my videos-oops!

For some reason, when I made a change to my Google account, it made all my videos "Private."  I just discovered this two weeks after the fact.

Sorry about that.  You may now view all my videos here on the site, or on my YouTube Channel again.  Thanks for the patience.

 

...Jim

Thursday
Jan312013

Video: Healing From "I'm Never Enough."

In this teaching video, I share one of the biggest barriers to moving out of a shame-consciousness ["I'm never enough."] towards a new-hearted, confident consciousness that believes that, despite the mess on the surface, God has removed an incapacitated heart and replaced it with one whose growing reserves of strength, goodness and nobility are being grown and released by the Holy Spirit, setting us free from the things that pin our hearts down.

 

Wednesday
Jan092013

Video: How Preaching Has Failed Us

Most preaching and Christian teaching today leads us to expect to sin.  Jim contrasts this typical understanding of preaching with a New Covenant/New Heart approach that views preaching as a means of affirming and releasing [with the help of the Spirit] the new-hearted desires, appetites, and tendencies that now reside in the Christian's heart. 

New Covenant preaching expects that there is a new-hearted goodness that is awaiting nourishment and release [through community and the Spirit] - a goodness that will grow stronger than any fleshly appetites.

 

View E-book:  "No Longer Prone to Wander"

 

Monday
Dec312012

Grace and royalty have the right to you claim you: A lesson from "Kingdom of Heaven."

 


"I'm your priest, Balian; and I tell you, God has abandoned you...The village does not want you."  - village priest

 

Balian [Orlando Bloom] and Godfrey, Baron of Ibelin [Liam Neeson]

 
"Murder.  I've done murder.
"  - Balian the Blacksmith

Balian [Orlando Bloom] is a blacksmith, whose wife has died of suicide.  Unbeknownst to Balian, she was beheaded post-humously [for being a suicide] by the wicked village priest  who, rather than consoling the grieving Balian, assures him that God has abandoned him and the village has rejected him. 

Balian's true father [Liam Neeson], a man he's never met, is Godfrey, Baron of Ibelin; and has just come to the village to reach out to Balian and to invite him to follow him into the Crusades, joining the baron's small band of warriors.  Balian refuses to go.  He has no desire to know his father, Baron of Ibelin; nor to move beyond the world he knows.  After all, he's just buried his wife.

 

The crime

The scene escalates as Balian discovers that the wicked town priest has cut off his wife's head just before burial, claiming it was punishment for the sin of suicide and that his wife would certainly be in hell for it.  In a fit of striken horror, Balian runs a sword through the priest, killing him.  After murdering the priest, leaving his blacksmith shop to burn, Balian flees town to see if he can catch up with his father, Baron of Ibelin, on the road.

The Law would claim him

Balian catches up with his father, Baron of Ibelin, on the road, and confesses the murder to him. But the law has sent a hunting party for Balian.  The law has come for him so that he may face charges for murdering the priest.  Even knowing his son's sin, his father still won't give him over to the Law; and they quickly discover themselves ambushed by the hunting party. 

Half of the baron's warrior band is slain.  When the dust settles, Balian reminds his father,

"They had the right to take me."


His father replies,

"And so do I."

 


Notice three things:

  1. Balian the blacksmith doesn't realize there is royalty in his blood.

  2. The Law will always try to claim you.

  3. Grace, his true Father, also has the right to claim him. 

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec202012

Why NewTown Is More Important Than We Think

The following is reprinted from a recent blog from author John Eldredge.  It articulates what's been on my own heart in these days following the Newtown tragedy:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

        (Yeats, The Second Coming)

 

Evil struck again.

And while I would prefer a solemn silence—the only good thing Job’s counselors offered him—so many unhelpful things are being said and suggested around the Newtown massacre I found myself compelled to write. Because the question of evil may be the greatest question the world faces today. How do we deal with evil? How do we prevent such tragedy?

It all depends on what you think is causing this.

I hope you will forgive my honesty, but I do not understand the shock. The grief I understand. The speechlessness, the staggering, the profound sorrow, the overwhelming sense of violation—these I understand. We are reeling from yet another assault of darkness. But our shock reveals something else altogether, something even more dangerous than armed violence.

I am describing a naiveté about the world that Christians, at least, should not be toying with.

In his brilliant essay The Wind in the Trees, GK Chesterton explains our misunderstanding by means of a great storm he experienced:

“I am sitting under tall trees, with a great wind boiling like surf about the tops of them, so that their living load of leaves rocks and roars....The wind tugs at the trees as if it might pluck them root and all out of the earth like tufts of grass. Or, to try yet another desperate figure of speech for this unspeakable energy, the trees are straining and tearing and lashing as if they were a tribe of dragons each tied by the tail.

As I look at these top-heavy giants tortured by an invisible and violent witchcraft, a phrase comes back into my mind. I remember a little boy of my acquaintance who was once walking in Battersea Park under just such torn skies and tossing trees...he said at last to his mother, ‘Well, why don’t you take away the trees, and then it wouldn’t wind.’ Nothing could be more intelligent or natural than this mistake. Any one looking for the first time at the trees might fancy that they were indeed vast and titanic fans, which by their mere waving agitated the air around them for miles. Nothing, I say, could be more human and excusable than the belief that it is the trees which make the wind. Indeed, it is a belief so human and excusable that it is, as a matter of fact, the belief of about ninety-nine out of a hundred of the philosophers, reformers, sociologists, and politicians of the great age in which we live. My small friend was, in fact, very like the principal modern thinkers; only much nicer.”

Chesterton was describing the naiveté that has since paralyzed the world, a naiveté revealed by our shock. What do you really believe about the cause of the "storm?"

You would think that after a century which included the Holocaust, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, and the rise of terrorism to name but a few, we would have been cured from our childish ideas about evil. You would think that after any one of the hundreds of atrocities of the past few years, we would have been cured. Rwanda, 9/11, human trafficking—what is it going to take?

I was heartened at first by the early words of Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy when he said, “Evil visited this community today.” That is exactly right; that is precisely what happened. But the clarity—he may have only been using a metaphor—was quickly lost in the subsequent media barrage. Our leaders are reacting to the Newtown massacre by calling for gun control; how unspeakably foolish. Now, this is not an essay on gun control; I am speaking to our understanding of our situation and the forces we are dealing with. But the cries for gun control reveal the naiveté—they are crying for the trees to be cut down while they ignore the wind.

It is this naiveté regarding evil that is the crisis of our age. And it is most dangerous.

For the Christian knows certain things about the world, things we must never ever lose hold of. We know from whence evil comes; we know what to do about it. We know—or we are supposed to know—that we live in a world at war; we are living in the midst of a very real and extremely brutal battle with the kingdom of darkness. While most Christians are still playing at happy little life (and angry at God for “allowing” terrible things to happen), the Scriptures continually warn us of a great evil power, who rules the world, whom we must contend with. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, with the demonic.

But, apparently T.S. Eliot was right: “Humankind cannot bear too much reality.”

We seem utterly devoted to avoiding the question of evil, to misdiagnosing it, completely committed to a childish view of the world. And our foolishness is proving very costly. For as Chesterton went on to say, “The great human heresy is that the trees move the wind.” By this he means the heresy that it is economics, race, poverty, a political party or doctrine that are the real causes of evil in the world; in this case, that it is the lack of gun control that causes evil in the world. Is the evil therefore located in the gun? Far more people are killed by automobile accidents each year in the U.S.—is the evil located in those vehicles?

How long will we continue to ignore the actual wind that tortures this world “by an invisible and violent witchcraft?”

Chesterton concluded his essay with a warning: “When people begin to say that the material circumstances have alone created the moral circumstances, then they have prevented all possibility of serious change....And nothing will ever be reformed in this age or country unless we realize that the moral fact comes first.” Good and evil come first.

We prevent all possibility of serious change when we hold childish views regarding evil, regarding the Great War in which we find ourselves. I suppose for the world the naiveté is understandable. For the Christian, it is inexcusable. We cannot toy with sociological, psychological or political explanations for the evil now ravaging the planet. Because we have answers.

There are answers both to the evil in the world, and the evil in the human heart. God moved long ago to deal with both, and triumphantly. What greater hope could possibly be spoken? This is what the world longs to know—"Why doesn't God do something?" God has acted; he has intervened, at the cost of his own life. There are answers, there are solutions, there is a way out. But we will not seek them while we take a four-year-old view of the world; while we blame the the "trees" for the raging storm.

How differently would the church pray if we really believed we are at war with the kingdom of darkness? How differently would we live and act in this world?

That “difference,” my brothers and sisters, would make an enormous difference.

 


My response:

Some of you may read Eldredge's view and see it as a calloused, unempathetic response.  Instead, I think that the most compassionate thing we can do is to take Jesus' view of evil, and his resources for disarming it, more seriously.  To dismiss what Eldredge, Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, and many others have voiced is to dis-engage from the world's pain.

Most of us Christ-followers act as if we have no resources [other than well-meant prayers and heartbreak] to offer the world in times like this.  We offer those desperate prayers and heartache out of our good hearts but in reality, we have been equipped with resources more powerful and effective than our Churchianity past has told us.


What got in the way of our seeing this?

I think what prevents many good Christians from perceiving evil's true breadth, and from knowing how to fight against it, to defeat it, is a reactionary posture to distorted views of "spiritual warfare." Because the category of "warfare" has often been mishandled in our past by well-meaning leaders, or represented in sensationalist categories, we've adopted a reactive posture: "I simply will ignore the whole thing;" rather than asking Jesus to reveal the truth of the matter.

Note:  It's never helpful to build a theology based on a reaction to something. Let's ask Jesus to teach us what he knows about evil, and how he disarms it [and therefore, how we can disarm it]; and the surprising ways in which He brings unimaginable restoration from it - wringing good from wickedness' own foulest intent.


Finding Hope:
John Eldredge invites readers to download two free sessions of a recent teaching series, "Hope In the Coming Kingdom." I highly recommend it. It will be a gift for your heart. You can find it at the bottom of his own blog post here.  [He will email the download link to you.]

Tuesday
Dec042012

Don't create a theology based upon your disappointments.

 

Too many times, we build a theology around our lack of something we hoped we should have by now; or our disappointments:

1.  Example One:  "That just doesn't happen in my life:  God just doesn't work that way."
You were hoping to be further along in your prayer life, but aren't where you expected to be after all these years.  You hoped you could experience more of the supernatural rescue of God, but wonder why it seems so fleeting and so seldom.  So you create a theology that says, "God just doesn't work that way anymore.  Or at least not in my life."

 

2.  Example Two:  "The Christian life is not about me becoming stronger."

You were hoping to see more growth in your life, a developing and maturing strength that others seem to have but seems meager and dwindling in your own journey.  So you create a theology that says, "God doesn't expect us to grow, or us to become more capable and stronger over time.  It's all Jesus' work anyway:  He'll act in and through us, but we aren't doing the growing.

But wait.  Why wouldn't you expect to see an increasing love for your enemy, or discernment, or  an unpressured "one another" kind of love developing over time?  The assumption that "Christian life is not about you doing all the right things"  is true; but if overstated, can turn you into a marionette puppet, where Jesus pulls all the strings and bypasses your will, your heart, and your mind; robotically moving you wherever he wants to.

This idea that "God doesn't expect you to grow" usually comes from the legitimate claim that we shouldn't be striving to live from the arrogant and self-aggrandizing energies of the "flesh."  Depending upon the flesh for the victorious Christian life is directly counter to walking in the Spirit.  However, the suggestion that "the Christian life is not about you becoming stronger" overstates it.  We should expect to grow, but how?   The answer is by cooperating with the Holy Spirit as he does the work of releasing our new appetites, desires and tendencies - those new cravings he placed within our new and noble hearts.

Otherwise, it would seem inconceivable that Jesus would live in you, yet leave you unchanged, without any sign of unpressured, yet increasing growth.   There may be pain, wounds and assumptions in the way of that growth; but you can expect to grow.  Your heart may be pinned down in places; but it's still noble and true. Yes, it's all radically dependent upon his work; but it still causes you to grow.  It's an unpressured growth...over time; but a maturing life where your new heart's appetites get released, your mind is increasingly renewed, and your body is more lead by your heart's new nature rather than by the movements of the "flesh."

 

Caution:  Don't turn a disappointment in your journey into a theology about how God works.  Be careful not to assume that a lack of something is a sign that what you hoped for doesn't exist.  It will lead you to resignation or short-change God's surprising work in you, rather than lead you to a more full-hearted life.

 

 


Wednesday
Nov282012

The Good and Noble Heart Mug is here!

I have a few "go-to" mugs in my kitchen cupboard

  • There's the one I bought in Acadia National Park in Maine because it reminds me of our family's roots there that go back to the 1700's. 

  • Then there's the mug that I bought in the mountains of Colorado where I attended a men's retreat that taught me that the heart is central to life.

  • Then there's the mug with signatures of friends I had coffee with daily at a coffee bar in Florida, who wrote their names in black marker around the sides of that mug, just before I moved a thousand miles away.

 

THE GOOD AND NOBLE HEART MUG: 
"Your heart is your ally, not your enemy."

I designed this mug [ stein, and water bottle] for the GOOD AND NOBLE HEART community so that when you fill it with your favorite tea or morning coffee, or take the water bottle to the gym, you'll remember  that Jesus did clean the inside of your cup; and that because of your new and noble goodness, your heart is no longer your enemy, but your ally.

A friend of mine once invited his friends to celebrate Communion by bringing in their favorite mug instead of those plastic juice thimbles so often used, and that changed Communion for that group forever.

 

Which mugs in your kitchen cupboard are your "go-to" mugs and why do they mean something to you? 

 


Ordering the GOOD & NOBLE HEART mug [or stein, or stainless water bottle]:

You can order the mug or stein or water bottle at my storefront in Cafe Press [- a well-known printing company that will handle payment and shipping to you.  After they factor-in their production costs, I receive a $2 to $3 royalty per item.] 

 

 


 

 

 

Tuesday
Nov272012

Reacting to a threat that no longer exists. 

My good friend,  Joel Brueseke of Graceroots Podcast, invited me to guest-podcast on his series.  [Thanks, Joel!]

What can we learn from the mistakes of a tribe in the Sudan of Africa about letting go of threats that no longer exist? 

Too many Christians believe that a threatening sickness lies in their heart and needs to be extracted - much like the Dinka tribe of the Sudan painfully extracts their children's adult teeth with a crude fishhook in order to remove a threat that no longer exists.

You can read an earlier post I've written on this curious practice of the Dinka tribe here.

 


LISTEN:  Here's my guest podcast on GraceRoots/  "Treating a threat that no longer exists."