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...

Jim's speaking events

Jim will be interviewed on the "Untangled" podcast with Loren Rosser. Monday, April 28th. 


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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Saturday
Nov222014

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.

 

Thursday
Sep112014

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."


LEARN MORE:
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.

Monday
Jul142014

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.

 

   

Tuesday
Jul012014

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.

 

 

 

Tuesday
May062014

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. 


 

 

Monday
Apr282014

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?

 


 

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.