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

"Still the best book on the theme out there."

~Alice F.; Arizona

*Read more reviews on Amazon...

Prone To Wander Myth

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.

good and noble heart resources





Get Jim's Newsletter

Follow this blog.
Search this blog



Emotionally-healthy Christianity

How is it possible that a person attempting to live from their new heart can remain profoundly stuck?
Why is it that even the most disciplined and faithful Christians fear conflict, live from false scripts they've inherited, and suffer just as many relational casualties as non-Christians?  What's missing?

One of the biggest barriers to living a free-hearted life - even if you believe that your heart is now good and noble - is unhealed emotional wounding.  It is entirely possible to be a New Covenant christian, yet discover areas of your life largely untouched by the transforming power of a new, Christ-indwelled heart.  Becoming a grace-filled Christian does not guarantee emotional freedom and relational success.

The mercy of pain

It may take relational pain to alert us to the emotional barriers blocking our new heart:  Author Pete Scazzero laments, "Yet now the pain was forcing me to face how superficially Jesus had penetrated my inner person, even though I had been a Christian for twenty years...whole layers of my emotional life had lain buried, untouched by God's transforming power."  As disruptive as pain can be, it is [albeit an unwelcomed] mercy.

Becoming more spiritually disciplined will not help. If it could, the most disciplined among us would be the most healthy; and that hasn't proven true in many cases.  Some of the most committed and spiritually disciplined people remain unable to relate well or worse, are completely unaware of their emotional and relational impediments.

"Sanctification" has left some of our deepest needs unhealed.
What if "sanctification" includes the healing of emotional wounds?  Is it even possible to be spiritually healthy apart from emotional health?  Honest experience tells us, "no."  Healthy spiritually requires emotional health - not perfection - but a committment to emotional healing. 

We know God by knowing ourselves, including our wounds and how they drive our relationships.  Though it is also true that we know ourselves by knowing God, it is imperative that wound-care be pursued,  leading us deeper into God's love, not farther from it.  Augustine wrote, "How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self?" 

Perhaps the "easy yoke" of Christ has eluded us because we haven't brought our whole selves, including our darkest fears and incessant wounds, under the kind affection of Jesus.


Where do I start?

  • Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero
  • How to Argue So Your Spouse Will Listen, by Sharon May, PhD
  • Unlocking Your Family Patterns, by Cloud, Townsend, Carder, Henslin

Note:  God can heal in a variety of ways.  Counseling is only one means. Healing prayer, intercessory prayer, and body-mind methodologies can all be helpful when brought under the discernment and authoriy of Jesus.  And in no way am I suggesting the Church outsource all healing to professional counselors.  As Larry Crabb suggested in his ground-breaking book, "Connecting," powerful connection can happen between two non-professional people living under New Covenant assumptions. 


Why didn't God just start with grace?

Why didn't God just start with grace?   Why put His people through the Old Covenant Law with it's painfully exhaustive list of "do's and don't's?"  Why not go right to the good stuff?

Because the Law had a temporary, but genuinely merciful purpose. 


Our tour group was pulling over at a rest stop in Denali National Park, Alaska.   As we were getting out, our tour guide immediately cautioned that we were in active Grizzly habitat.  There was a sign about 300 feet away that read, "Warning, actively grizzly area.  Stay away."

If we had chosen to ignore the posted warning sign and gotten between a Grizzly sow and her cubs, the surgeon's needle sowing our scalps back on would have served as a painful reminder just how foolish it would have been to ignore the clear and present danger. Ignorance hurts.  Foolishness hurts even more.

Similarly, our medication bottles often come with a warning label saying, "Do not exceed recommended dosage."  The label itself cautions that there is something at risk: You.  But, "If one pill makes me feel good then five pills would make me feel great!"  Maybe so, but the intense vomiting or drug-induced coma that follows will be a painful reminder that sin hurts. 

The law was a temporary form of grace.
  The Old Covenant couldn't offer a cure for foolishness and the even greater pain of trying harder not to be so, but it mercifully made clear the painfulness of chosing against life.  Against health.  Against wholeness. 

We'd beg God to free us from chronic arguments with our spouse, the addiction to emotional eating, the pull of porn that won't let us go.  Sin hurts.  Ignoring the warning signs hurts.  And when it hurts that badly, you want help:  When you spin your wheels long enough, you want to stop the madness.



"As long as an intense longing for deliverance from sinning has not been wrought, they will naturally fall back into the power of the law and the flesh.  The holiness which the New Covenant offers will rather terrify than attract them..."  - Andrew Murray

Ask any addict or person who has tried harder to be a better person:  Grace is far more attractive to the powerless than it is to the prideful.  The Old Covenant Law's painful exposure mercifully ushered in a craving for authentic goodness, a desire to get out from underneath sin's manure pile.  Sin hurts.  Goodness restores us.  We'd beg God to free us from something that had a hold over us.

Law created a craving for grace. 



Un-bridled Freedom

Grace is even better than
, "God's not mad at you anymore."  It's also better than "unmerited favor," or "unconditional acceptance."


In order to control a horse, the headgear that the reins are attached to includes the bridle that fits over his face, and a metal bit that goes into the tender part of a horse's mouth. Those who don't yet know how to intuitively move with a horse often jerk the horse's reins, causing the metal bit to bite into the horse's mouth.  This bit-and-bridle method uses discomfort and force in order to get the horse to comply.

Under grace, the "bridle" [Old Covenant Rules] and "mouth bit" [painful pressure] are taken off -  removed from the Christian, because the Spirit has given us new hearts that are no longer "prone to wander."

We no longer need bit and bridle to get us to move in the right direction.  The horse [we] can move intuitively with the rider [the Spirit].

My book, Recover Your Good Heart, exposes the 'gospel' of pressure - getting jerked around by messages that claim you're a "new creation" but treat you like you're an unruly horse that needs to be "broken."



Why Christians are painfully confused about the heart

Confusion leads to pain.

The way you talk about something will either lead to health or increasing pain.  There's growing scientific research to suggest that our thoughts [and therefore the way we talk about them] actually have resonance at the subatomic level, something like a signature or substance that moves through time and space affecting the molecules around them. [See Quantum Theory] [1] We know that sound waves move the air and molecules around them.  Now we're discovering that our prayers and thoughts do as well.  Let's assume how we talk [based upon those thoughts] also carries actual creative power.

Thoughts create.  Talking that flows from those thoughts createsThe wrong thoughts and talk create pain.

Why does it matter how we refer to the heart?

Most Christians refer to entirety of their inside world as their "heart."  Every thought, every emotion, every temptation, every desire gets lumped into the melting pot of their insides, and they call that vast mixture their "heart."  Whether bad or good, they mistakenly call everything that takes place deep inside them, their "heart."

It is not so

When we open the hood of our car, we would never refer to everything we see there as "the engine" because there's also the battery, hoses, and sparkplugs.  The engine is but one thing you see under the hood.   But because we can't "see" our mind, body and 'flesh;' or take an x-ray of our spiritual insides, our habit of lumping them all together has left us painfully confused. 

That's why you can hear a pastor say on one Sunday that he believes we are "new creations" regenerated by the Holy Spirit, but out of his lips next Sunday he carelessly prays,  "Let your light come into our darkened hearts this Christmas season."  How can you be a "new creation " -- having the new heart God promised through Ezekiel and Jeremiah and affirmed in the New Testament -- yet assume that a Christian's heart remains a darkened heart?  No wonder Christians are confused!

Sorting it out 

The heart is only one part of our insides, and if we get that wrong, we'll believe that all sorts of terrible thoughts and desires are coming from our heart when they're not.

As Christians, our new heart is only one source of thoughts, emotions, and desires within us.  The mind is another; so is the "flesh," that ghost remnant of our former lives.  We also have an Enemy outside of us that loves whispering half-truths to us, then blaming us for buying into them.

Only good fruit can come from good roots

Your new God-given heart [the rootedness of your new identity] can only produce good fruit.  So when we speak of any kind of temptation, wayward desires, or addictions swirling around our insides, we must no longer think that all of that mess constitutes the heart or comes from it.  No.  The mess comes from anything BUT the new heart God gave us when we said 'yes' to Him.

Bottom line
:  Your new heart isn't the problem.  The new heart is the new wineskin for the Spirit.  Let's not lump everything inside us under one label, because confusion is painful.

[1]  UpperDogs, Sarah Thiessen & Heather Hughes.  The authors, both Christians devoted to restoration, make a compelling case that Quantum Theory provides evidence that both our thoughts and our prayers, especially under partnership with the Holy Spirit actually create new realities.


Are you fighting the wrong thing?

Click to listen.


A friend of author Wayne Jacobsen once drew a cartoon where Jesus opened his arms to the masses and said, "Come to me all you who are heavy-burdened and I will give you an accountability group.

The "Christianity" many of us were invited into declares that the battle we face is against the heart, not for it. Why?  Because the underlying assumption of a false gospel is that the "heart is deceitfully wicked," even after you've been made a new creation in Christ.  We warn each other about the alleged dangers of following our hearts:  "Don't trust your heart, it will lead you astray.  You have a wandering heart, a divided heart.  Reject the desires of the heart.  If it's what you want, it probably isn't what God wants." 

Certainly discernment must accompany desire:  You need to know if a desire is coming from your heart -- and is therefore a noble desire -- or if it's coming from another source.  Or it may be that your heart may need mentoring before you rush headlong into something good but untimely.  But this is not to say that the Christian's heart is still "deceitfully wicked."

Scripture says, "I will give you a new heart."  This is the gift Jesus gave you when you said 'yes' to him. Paul even says, "In my inner being, I delight in God's commands..."  [How can he delight in God's commands if his heart, his inmost being, is rebelliously set against God?]  He wouldn't be able to delight in God's commands if that was the case.]

When you said 'yes' to Jesus, he gave you his own noble-hearted nature.  The irony is, the brand of misguided Christianity that pins the heart to the wall  -- so that it doesn't go astray -- actually produces Christians who go to war against the most holy and noble place within them!  These mislead souls end up mistrusting their best self! The Christian has then set herself against the very residence of goodness and wholeness God set within her.  We quote, "May Christ dwell in your heart through faith" then attack the very heart where Jesus dwells within. So not only are we at war with our best selves, we're at war with God's work; because we've shackled and shut-down the heart of his work, literally.  The core of God's work in any man or woman begins by replacing a ruined heart with a royal heart, and we've rejected our own crown.

This false gospel creates a house-divided by...

  • Guarding against the heart rather than guarding the heart, the wellspring of life within you.
  • Holding the heart hostage rather than healing the heart's wounds.
  • Locking the heart away rather than loosing the heart from false suspicion.

Don't fight the wrong thing.  Fight the Enemy of your heart, the Accuser, but don't wage war against God's throneroom he has set within you.  In Christ, your heart becomes your ally, not your enemy.



Grace has never been about making a bad heart better.

How far would you go so save your son or daughter's life?

John Quincy Archibald's [John Q] son collapses unexpectedly while running the bases in a Little League game.  The diagnosis is a bloated, diseased heart.  Doctor's inform John Q and his wife that unless his son gets a heart-transplant, he will die.  He won't see his next birthday.

But John Q's health insurance will not cover the boy's heart transplant.  It will cost $250,000 to put the boy on the donor list.  John can't raise that kind of money no matter how hard he tries.  So his dying boy is dropped from the donor list.  There will be no rescue, no future for the boy.  His enlarged heart will kill him in days.

So what does a father do whose son will die because his heart can no longer give him life?  John Q makes a staggering decision...To take his own life, so that his son can have his healthy heart.  Transplant by suicide.  Life begets life:  If the father dies, the boy lives.

"Heart of my own heart."

Grace has never been about God trying to make a bad heart better.  That was never an option. Your old heart was failing to give you life, and reconditioning it was never God's plan for rescue.  Replacement, not refurbishment.   We needed to start over.

There is an untapped vein of gold lying beneath the surface mess.  You were gifted with a new kind of heart that no longer needs an addiction.  The kind of heart that trusts when there is no comfort.  The kind of radiance that doesn't fear the blamers and the shamers.

Grace has never been about making a bad heart better:  It's always been about God replacing your heart with his heart.  And God has already done this for you.  In you.  The day you said, "Yes," to Jesus was the day you got your transplant.

There's one prayer the warrior-poet, David, prayed that you don't need to:  "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."    David's future hope was your present reality.

You are a donor recipient.  Trust the life within you.



Our root problem: unreleased goodness

The guy confessing an embarrassing porn problem was sitting at the end of the table.  A big, burly guy, close to tears.  His sordid lust occupied every waking minute of his day: Its trap had sprung, and its iron teeth had shut fast around his heart.   The man was a faithful church attender, a solid family man, and took the Bible seriously.  But none of it was setting him free from his addiction.

I was on the other side of the table because I was leading the group of men through the Study Guide for my book, "Recover Your Good Heart."  Nothing I or the other men said could convince this good man that he was a good man.  His addiction had hijajcked his identity.


What is this Christian man's root problem?

An undisciplined will? Is he not spending enough time in prayer? Is he not busy enough with Christian service?  Is his core problem a wayward nature; a wandering heart? Or should we send him to a counselor to help him manage his addiction?  Should he explore any unresolved family history issues?

What if this addicted man's root problem doesn' t reflect any of those typical assessments?  What if his root problem is not ultimately resolved through either Christian discipline or therapy?

Unreleased goodness

Author of the book, Connecting, Larry Crabb asks the following question:  "What if the root problem in a Christian's life, beneath all the personal, emotional, and spiritual struggles, is unreleased goodness?"

1.  Not psychological disorder

2.  Not emotional baggage from dysfunctional backgrounds and buried traumatic memories

3.  Not irresponsible living [1]

It can often be helpful to gently confront sinful behavior; or to seek counseling or therapy; but often this misdiagnoses the root problem.  We don't always need more help with repentance, or analyzing our past; though healing can begin there.  We need a small community of a few who have a vision of the goodness beneath our mess - a God-given goodness that is stronger than the mess -  with noble appetities that are longing for nourishment and release.  This is what the Spirit is up to.  That's His invitation.

Our root problem as Christians is unreleased goodness; and we need others around us who have a vision of our [and their own] God-bestowed goodness.

[1] Larry Crabb, Connecting; p. 72


Further resources
:  My book, Recover Your Good Heart, exposes the myth that the Christian is still "prone to wander," and gives the reader a new vision of an astonishing and practical goodness they already have.  A goodness awaiting release.




The fear of becoming a spiritual defector

The guy in the audience was pretty rude about it:  He stopped me in the middle of a seminar I was leading on the Good and Noble Heart and said, "I think you've badly misunderstood the Gospel, sir."  His interjection was not simply an attempt to engage me in a meaningful dialogue.  It was an indictment.  And it nearly derailed the seminar for the other participants. As soon as the event was over, he brushed by me with a scowl that said plenty.

Convictions are like armor: well-plated, protective, and hopefully durable. People don't give up their convictions easily.  Nor should they. But you no longer need that armor if Someone stronger is standing between you and your fear. 

Why is it so difficult for many people to embrace the message that their heart is no longer "prone to wander: that while they can sin, their most true and authentic self no longer wants to?  Why so staunchly deny that Jesus is more interested in freeing their good and noble heart than in pressuring them to be better?

Here's the reason:  People are strongly motivated to avoid fear.  If they leave behind the 'gospel' of pressure, at best they'll no longer have a checklist to follow that legitimizes their attempt to feel they've done enough; and worse, they fear betraying the pastors who have spiritual authority over them.  Nor would they want the exposure of swimming upstream while their church friends are swimming downstream; exposing themselves as a spiritual defector, standing outside the group.

But worst of all, they dread betraying God Himself.  And nothing tears at the soul like the belief that you've betrayed "the one who died and gave up his life for you."

A pointy finger warns the questioner, Don't ever betray your spiritual shepherds; and never question God.  At the very least, a rebuke will await you; at the worst, Hell will swallow you whole.

Not many are willing to pull the pin on the grenade
.  The reluctant man has already had too much blow up in his face.  But ignorance is not bliss, it's ignorance; and God welcomes a hearty, even heated, discussion; even if it means you have to question the life raft you've been floating in since you were 12.  Sometimes you have to leave the life raft so that the Captain can pull you up into the security of his Coastguard Cutter. 

Bottom line:  Is it worth it to you to risk exposure as a spiritual defector, in order to find out that what you've believed about your heart has been sabotaging it all these years? 

*My book, Recover Your Good Heart, carefully examines the biblical argument for the good and noble heart, which a Christian receives immediately when they come to Christ.  I also demonstrate that this is not a new teaching, showing the reader there's good reason to take it seriously.



Podcast: Friendships and Powerful Connecting

PODCAST Friendships and Powerful Connecting.
[What kind of friendships do we need when we're hurting?]




[Podcast text below]

What we try to offer doesn't often work.

When our friend, spouse or child is hurting, is it enough to offer a listening ear?  To mirror our hurting friend's feelings through an empathetic, "I can't imagine how you must be feeling, but I'm with you in this?"  No.  Our experience tells us that as encouraging as those responses can be, it's often not enough to actually heal us.  Frankly, as a "high-sensitive," empathy-driven person, I want empathy to be enough; but I have to admit it often isn't.

Should we assume a stubborn will is at the root of our friend's struggles, suggesting she more diligently apply certain biblical principles to her situation, holding her accountable?  Again, experience tells us our efforts to exhort a hurting person often do more damage than good.

A better way to relate

Larry Crabb suggests that rather than a moralist model ["Do the right thing"] that assumes a stubborn will is at the root of a person's problems [and can be solved through pressure and accountability]; or a therapeutic model ["Fix what's wrong"] that assumes that psycholocial damage is at the root of a person's struggles [and can be solved through probing, insight and building self-awareness], Larry Crabb offers a third alternative:  powerful connecting.  When we powerfully connect with another, the actual Spirit of Christ is poured out of me into you, offering what's most alive [and God-given] in me for your greatest need. 

Note:  There is a limited place for both exhortation and insight, but not at the center of our efforts to heal people.  Only powerful connecting can bring the healing friendships we long for.


When you see me struggling, I fear that...

When you see me struggling [says Crabb], realize that my worst fear is that I'm nothing more than a struggler, that nobody can see anything deeper in me than my sin and pain because that's all there is, that my only hope is to sin less and to somehow feel better.  Don't put yourself under the pressure to figure out what I should do.  That will confirm that my only hope is to do more right things [moralistic model].  I've tried that.  It doesn't work.

Don't play amateur therapist or quickly send me to a real one [therapeutic model].  You'll just intensify my search to find out what's wrong with me, and I'll likely become more self-preoccupied and Spirit quenching than ever.  And don't merely be nice and promise to pray for me.  You can do more than hug me and go through the motions...

When you see me filled with doubt and self-hatred, when you observe me during my worst seasons of discouragement and failure, I want you to be filled with both anguish [weep with me as I weep] and hope, not the empty hope that says trite things like "It'll all work out" or "Just hang in there -- I'm sure you'll feel better soon," but a hope that exists because it sees something in me that is absolutely terrific.  Believe that there is life in me.  I want to catch the gleam in your eye that tells me you know there is more to me than my problems and that you're confidently hopeful that the good will emerge. 

~ from Connecting, by Larry Crabb


What I want from a friendship

Here's what I want from my friendships, and from myself as I hope to offer powerful connecting:  Believe that there is a Christ-given vein of gold, a God-bestowed noble heart beneath my mess,  patiently believing that the good in me will always be more powerful than any bad no matter how it's masked or buried.  Then ask God, "Pour into my hurting friend what is most alive in me into him; giving both me and my friend the hope that powerful healing can and will be released as I follow Your lead." 

Point:  Powerful connecting occurs when Christ pours what is most alive in my new heart into you, in a way that heals rather than merely offering empathy, pressure, advice or insight.

Related posts:

What Does Powerful Connecting Look Like?


What does powerful connecting look like?

Powerful connecting rarely happens in the Church, or anywhere, for that matter.  Why do we often feel impotent when faced with the deep pain of another?  Should we advise, refer them to counseling, try to listen more attentively? 

What would you say to the following man who is courageous enough to share his anguish with you?

"This was a time of extreme anguish, during which I wondered whether I would be able to hold on to my own life.  Everything came crashing down -- my self-esteem, my energy to love and work, my sense of being loved, my hope for healing, my trust in God...All had become darkness.  Within me there was one long scream coming from a place I didn't know existed, a place full of demons." [1]

Would you simply try to listen to the man?  Assure him of God's loving presence?  Refer him to counseling? Suggest that God is trying to teach him perseverence?  Expose his insecurities and hang-ups, his false beliefs?

The suffering man in our story, by the way, was Henri Nouwen; a spiritual giant to many who had authored 39 books by the time of his death in 1996.


Failure to connect
Larry Crabb, author of the groundbreaking book, Connecting, says that one reason we fail to connect powerfully with others in a way that could actually heal them is because we often operate with a "Therapeutic Model."  Crabb calls this the "Treatment/Repair" Model, where we attempt to fix what's wrong in the other. In this model,

"The first step, of course, is to figure out what is wrong [diagnosis] and face it, then courageously work through the often long and painful process of coming to grips with the internal damage and learning to approach life in healthier ways [therapy]."

In order to fix what's wrong, we uncover the underlying psychological forces influencing their behavior.  We analyze the hurting person's past, look into underlying patterns and suggest coping mechanisms and re-framing approaches to insure a healthier outcome for them.  The people that offer the most insight become the person's heroes.   Counseling often buys into this model; and though it can often provide insight and suggest more healthy, adaptive behaviors, it may not actually heal the person. Insight may not translate into healing.

Under this find what's damaged--fix what's wrong model, we might recommend that Henri Nouwen see a counselor in order to get at underlying damage, expose faulty belief systems, and recommend treatment for depression. We might even send him Scripture verses to encourage him so that he can believe there's a light at the end of his dark tunnel.  But this model may yield little healing fruit. Crabb points out that, "Our power to influence lives does not come...from revealing to people the details of their internal mess."


What does powerful connecting look like?
Crabb rightly suggests that God does not often use a Therapeutic Model [Find and Fix What's Wrong] in order to heal us.  Rather, God does three things:

1.  "First, he provides a taste of Christ delighting in us -- the essence of connection; accepting who we are and envisioning who we could be."


2.  "Second, he diligently searches within us for the good he has put there -- an affirming exposure; remaining calm when badness is visible, keeping confidence that goodness lies beneath."


3.  "Third, he engagingly exposes what is bad and painful -- a disruptive exposure;" in order to uncover the goodness beneath the mess - "a goodness that is more defining of who we are than our badness...When we look at the bad, we must always be looking harder for the hidden good."    [#3 should happen less as we use the approaches of #1 and #2.]  Crabb adds, "A careful exploration of the redeemed heart does not sink us in a cesspool; it's more like mining for gold in a dirty cave." 

We are not primarily damaged people:  We are foremost saints, gifted with new-hearted vitality and power; a vitality that may be buried beneath a mess, but not subverted by it.


Did help come for Henri Nouwen?
So did Henri Nouwen find any who could help him?  Yes, from an elderly priest who understood how to powerfully connect with him:

"During the most difficult period of my life, when I experienced great anguish and despair, he was there.  Many times, he pulled my head to his chest and prayed for me without words but with a Spirit-filled silence that dispelled my demons of despair and made me rise up from his embrace with new vitality." [2]

Something powerful was poured out from the elderly priest into the broken-hearted younger man; arousing something buried, but alive and strong in Henri.  That power was the quickening life of Christ Himself.

We connect well with others when we...

  • give them a taste of God's delighting in them,

  • relentlessly search for the God-given good urges beneath their pain and mess,

  • refuse our impulses to fix what's wrong; and instead, take our cues from Jesus, asking, "How can I join You as You release what is most alive in me, pouring that Life into them, in order to release what is most alive in them?"



 [1]  The Inner Voice of Love:  A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, Henri Nouwen

[2]  Our Greatest Gift, Henri Nouwen

All other quotations from Connecting, by Larry Crabb.



The Cure for Shame

Shame will be our default position and the virus in every relationship -  unless it is healed. Shame says, "You are flawed to the marrow, have nothing significant to offer,  hopelessly addicted,  and inherently prone to blow it.   The good in you can never outweigh the bad in you.  You will never be enough."

A shame-consciousness will be the Achille's Heal for every leader, organization, and every family and parent-child relationship, unless we find the cure.  And there is a cure.

But when we look to the pulpit or Public Television or TED pundits for a cure for shame, it often sounds like one the the following, often reasonable-sounding antidotes:

Acceptance as an antidote to shame:

"I am loved, despite..."

"I am accepted."

Self-confidence as an antidote to shame:

"Practice positive self-talk."

"Believe you are worthy."

Forgiveness as an antidote to shame:

"I am forgiven."

"God's grace is greater than my sin."


Discipline as an antidote for shame:

"Step up your prayer life and spiritual disciplines."

"Try harder not to miss group meetings."


Release from guilt as an antidote to shame:

"It's not your fault."


Positive thinking or better self-talk can't handle this.
Yet, as helpful and often true as most of the above antidotes can be, none of these solutions is sufficient to heal the root of shame.  Most Christians think that one or more of those antidotes I listed above will do the trick; yet it often feels like we're up against something much bigger than positive thinking or healthy self-talk can handle. 

Our best efforts to fend off our critics [whether external or internal] often feel a bit like the leather-tough cowboy who pretends the bullet lodged in his gut doesn't hurt; or the female CEO who tries to casually shake off the brutal criticisms lobbed at her by the Board, while she privately sheds angry tears in the bathroom stall. 

We're tired of pretending we're o.k., and though we are reluctant to admit it, pretending only temporarily shoves away the pecking buzzards, knowing the scavengers will always return until the kill is devoured.    Pretending we're o.k. doesn't actually heal us.


The cure for shame
The best question to ask is, "What does Jesus think the cure for shame is?"  Does Jesus have a way to heal the root system of shame within the human personality, rather than asking us to coax ourselves into positive self-talk or try to act bravely in the face of our critics? 

In Jesus' own words, the cure he offers is this: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you." [Ezekiel 36:26]  His answer is as astoundingly simple as it is unique.  The heart is the root system for a person's relational health.  Jesus restores the root system in order to restore the person.    The moment you enter friendship with Jesus, the diseased root system is removed:  The heart that has driven you into a shame-mindset your whole life is taken away.  In its place is emplanted a remarkable, noble and radiant heart - a new root system.  Everything you hoped you could be is embedded in that new heart you've been given, waiting to be affirmed and released.


What Jesus might say to set us free: 

Jesus might say,

"Let's be truly authentic here, no pretending.  There's no need for that.  You're safe with Me.  No mustering up a sense of worthiness that shields you from the critics;  instead, let's take self-defense off the table forever. 

When the Devil comes to Me and tries to accuse and slander you to My face, I point him to your new and noble heart.  It infuriates the Enemy because self-defense is the only thing he has to teach you.

Your new-hearted nobility is a gift from me, and no one feels compelled to defend something they know is a gift:   If you didn't create it, you're not responsible for defending it, right?  I defend you so that you don't have to.  Your new heart is how I defend you against your critics."

To learn more about recovering your good and noble heart, you can check out Jim's book, Recover Your Good Heart - Living free from religious guilt and the shame of never good-enough.


Kids: Why both bribes and threats create less-moral children.

A provocative interview with Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting.  The best book on parenting I've read thus far.  The book contradicts much of the conventional parenting wisdom that suggests the use of "time-outs," "consequences," and other punishments on the one hand; and gold-stars, bribes, and other kinds of rewards on the other.  Even Christian parents who believe in "unconditional love" still fall prey to these commonly-prescribed techniques.

Sabotaging the very results we long for:
Most parents want their children to grow up to be moral, loving and responsible children.  However, the very techniques many of us have adopted are not only ineffective, but produce the very kinds of negative results in the long-term that we hope to avoid.  These traditional techniques that Kohn exposes can actually yield less-loving, more-selfish children over the long haul.




The unique pain of poets, artists, and creative types

"Where other people feel kicked by an unkind word, the poet feels disemboweled."


Empathetic and strongly-sensitive people are a unique breed, often dismissed as "too sensitive," "emotional," or "irrational."  Others wonder why we can't just "lighten-up." 

In describing the emotional makeup of Rich Mullins, the late Christian songwriter who penned, "Our God Is An Awesome God," Brennan Manning described Rich's sometimes tumultuous interior world this way:

Much of his pain...came from the fact that he saw too much and felt too much.  His mother, Neva, said, 'He could see the pain in another person even before they could see it themselves.'  Poets are a unique breed of human beings.  They ricochet between agony and ecstasy because they take everything so personally.  Where other people feel kicked by an unkind word, the poet feels disemboweled.  The slightest provocation can induce a fit of weeping or a fit of ecstasy.  Others cannot understand why he does what he does, and the poet is often downright clueless himself.

Rich Mullins often endured loneliness, as many people do, but he suffered in a way unknown to most of us.  Such extraordinary sensitivity is a blessing and a heartache. 

- Brennan Manning, Foreward to An Arrow Pointing to Heaven


Perhaps, for us creative types and sensitive souls, our scale does tip towards emotional succeptibility:  Or perhaps we just live more unmasked than others.  There are indeed vulnerable chinks in our armour - scales and plates have fallen off - and because of that, our armour can weigh less than the self-protective shell of others.

I would rather be swayed by pain and passion than subjugated under a calloused stoicism or insensitive denialism.  Don't forget:  Your empathy and vulnerability means your heart is alive.  Your glory and your anguish come from the same spark.





Audio Interview: "Do you listen to the desires of your heart?"

This is part-two of Loren Rosser's [Untangled Podcast] interview with me.

When it comes to God's will, many Christians settle for duty:  Just do what God tells you to do:  "God, just tell me what You want me to do with my life."  But God is asking, "What are the desires of your heart?  I've written cues to your calling within your heart's desires."

Loren and I also talk about the cost of following our desires

  • There are forces set against you and your heart. 
  • There are people who just aren't willing or ready to go with you.
  • There are times when you'll feel like you're the enemy. 
  • There are wounds from the past that need healing.  

But to bury your heart's desires leads only to passion-less resignation. 




Audio Interview: "Why the Christian life isn't impossible."

Most of us live with a cruel distortion of the Gospel:  The distortion sounds like this, "There but for the grace of God go I."    The hope of the Gospel is not, "Jesus, You're going to have to pull off the Christian life for me because I'm too much of a mess."  Rather, the hope of the New Covenant is, "Jesus, by your Spirit release the new appetites and cravings you've already deposited within my new nature."  The Christian life is no longer impossible.

Podcast interview:  Loren Rosser, who works in the television industry in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area,  is a great friend who is one of the few interviewers who understands the good and noble heart.  This is part one of a two-part interview. 

In this interview
, Loren Rosser interviews Jim [Part One]:

  1. What's the difference between a Christian who sins v.s.  a person who has a sin-nature?

  2. Why ignoring our heart's desires means we could be missing our calling.

  3. Why secular answers to shame lead to pretending, while the Gospel heals the root of shame.

  4. How can you tell when you're still living under "Old Covenant" shame?




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





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," I do not mean something like the mastery of a sport or an instrument. [Though it's never a solo performance - It's always a duet.]  

Rather, I 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 [avoiding supernatural resources] 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:



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." 




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. 



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 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, 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: