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.

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Thursday
Oct112012

"I'm not enough to make you happy."

 

Our fundamental problem as humans is shame.  That's what cripples us. And shame's message to us is: 

"I'm not enough to make you happy, or prevent you from being disappointed with me." 

 

Here are two common misunderstandings:

  1. Feeling forgiven, in and of itself, won't heal shame.  It's a wonderful thing to no longer have your sin held against you.  But forgiveness alone won't help you conquer that addiction that's lasted for years; or heal the anger that rushes in every time your children interrupt your work with silly questions.  Or the fear that no one will ever come for you because you're not worth the time.

  2. Telling yourself that you are "worthy", while believing that your heart is still a shameful mess, won't heal you.  It's like trying to believe it will be a sunny day as you notice the rain clouds gather in the distance.  It does you no good to try and convince yourself of something you don't believe is really true.  You can't believe you are worthy and acceptable while holding that your heart is "prone to wander."  There's too much dissonance between what you're trying to believe and what you really believe about your true self.

 

Then what will heal our shame; and dispel the lie that "I'm not enough to please God or anyone else?"

Answer:  Discovering that you have been given a good and noble heart by Christ when you said 'yes' to him;   then doing the hard work of trusting that new heart when shame hits you out of nowhere:

  • When you get rejected three times for three different job positions.

  • When your husband fails to see your heart and seems too disengaged to care.

  • When you feel sidelined by God, shelved - while others seem "successful"  in their calling.

Bottom line:  God has removed the nagging fear that we are worthy or acceptable by making us so.  He did that by changing our core tendencies and desires.    The fact that you possess a new heart means you are always pleasing to him.  Yes, you may and can still sin.  But the sin is no longer you.  Sin is no longer at the core of your identity: it's is no longer in your heart.

God looks at your noble heart and knows you are genuinely good and pleasing to him.  You are enough to make him happy.  Exceedingly happy. 

 

 

Wednesday
Sep192012

Why giving children [or anyone else] "consequences" doesn't work.

Mother to young son: 

"If you don't pick up your toys, you'll lose a privelege.  I warned you that there would be consequences."

Translate

"If you don't meet my expectations, pain will follow:  I will either remove something from you, or do something to you." 

Most of us were brought up under a compliance model:  "Just get kids to behave.  Give them 'consequences' if they don't meet your expectations."

 

Natural consequences:
Yes, there are natural outcomes to our choices:  Relationships don't do well where there isn't mutual respect, including from child to parent.  However, the carrot and stick [reward and punishment] model doesn't work.  [Note:  rewarding a child, in order to get good behavior, has also shown to short-change genuine transformation in the long-run.]  In fact, research indicates that if you insist on punishing [or rewarding] kids for their behavior, you'll end up with a worse kid in the long run.  Remember, true transformation is measured in years, not minutes.


Giving "warnings" and "consequences" didn't even work for God:

"If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins..."  [Leviticus 26:18]

"...as your sins deserve."  [Leviticus 26: 21]

"They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws..."  [Leviticus 26:43]


Did God's warnings that consequences would follow produce heart-change in his people?  No.  They still went ahead and did what he warned them not to. Why?  Pressure to comply - and the threat of consequences that accompany that - will never produce the actual change we really want for our kids.  Being intrinsically [self-motivated] to love well is far superior to being threatened into acting like you care about others.


So what's the alternative?

Connection.  Put the heart first.  Here's another post I wrote that gives you some concrete suggestions:  "Parenting Where the Heart Comes First."

 

Friday
Sep142012

"Don't apply that to your life."

If you don't know you have a new-hearted identity in Christ, the following passage from the Old Testament will be understandably troubling for you:

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  [Deut. 8:2]

If I had read that passage ten years ago, I would have drawn some horrible conclusions about my heart - wrongly assuming that:

"There is possibly something in my heart that I shouldn't trust - something that could prevent me from following his commands."


God's audience at that time was not new-hearted, Spirit-indwelled:

Why did God need to "test" something he already knew?  His omniscience would have told him what was already in their hearts.  They were not yet new hearted, Spirit-changed people.  Jesus had not come to bring them that yet.  That would be later in history.

Perhaps it was the people themselves that needed to know what was in their hearts, and experience the futility of living under a broken [ill-functioning] heart?  People often need to feel the crushing burden of living as a self-indulgent corpse before they are ready to live as a free-hearted and alive son or daughter.


What we need to know today:

Secondly, the primary point of Jesus' rescue of us is to give us a heart that loves God and leaves no room for doubt as to its allegiance.  And, being an in-Christ person, that faithful heart is already in you.  When you enter friendship with Jesus, he surgically removes the wandering heart and replaces it with a heart that is aligned and allied with God.

You can trust the faithfulness of your new heart.

 

Wednesday
Sep052012

You are not at war with yourself.

 

You are not at war with yourself.

The Bible does not teach that the Christian has two natures battling it out, one evil and one good.  You do not have both a sinful self and a good self; nor a wicked heart alongside a good heart. 

Most Christians have been taught that our war within is a civil war, that you fight against yourself. - Bill Gillham

The old man, or ruined heart, or “sinful nature” is literally gone:  “I will remove your heart of stone…” [Ezek. 36:26]    In its place, your new Christ-given heart has a natural tendency to love God and to love others.  Your new-hearted nature is prone to kindness, forgiveness, and trust. 

You've been given the heart you've always wanted.

The source of sin no longer lies in the self:
We know that we can still sin, so what causes you to sin if your “old man” or sin-heart is gone?  Scripture teaches that sin [the noun] is a personified force that lives in your body -  like an infection,   “Personified” means it acts like a person or intelligence with a will of its own, with a cunning ability to deceive and accuse:  "You're an angry and violent man." Or, "You never trust God."  Or, "Your heart can't be noble - look at the evidence."

 

The infection isn’t you.
When sick with the flu, you would say, “I have the flu,” not “I am the flu.”   The symptoms you're experiencing come from the presence of the flu virus.  Likewise, you are at war with an invading contaminant called "sin," not with yourself.  Similarly, if you were bitten by a Brown Recluse spider, you wouldn't assume that the venum now in your body was coming from you - You would know that it came from the spider's bite. 

Fortunately, the healing anti-venum resides in your new heart.  The good news is,  your good and noble heart is your ally in the fight, not your enemy.

 

Wednesday
Aug292012

Why avoiding sin's consequences isn't the point.

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A family member said to me that he never wanted to find himself in the situation David got into with Bathsheba.  My relative would do all he could to avoid the consequences of sin, rather than risk falling into temptation and it's aftermath.  As we talked, I sensed this was how he lived his life:  "Avoid sin and the judgement that follows." Stay clear of sin's allure because you don't want to pay the piper. 

While there is the command to flee from sin, and to be self-controlled [Which is to say, be "Spirit-led"], I think there's a better alternative to the "stay out of trouble, avoiding the consequences" model: 

God's unhindered affection is a much better reason not to sin than the fear of consequences or judgement is.

  • It's better to avoid sin because you're well-loved and have the real thing, not needing sin's false promise. 

  • It's better to be obsessed with how well regarded you are by our Father, than to become preoccupied with consequences and outcomes. 

Love covers a multitude of sins.

  • It's better to indulge the striking goodness of your new and noble heart; than to allow fear to overshadow your God-hearted nature.

Delight is stronger than judgement:  Affection reassures where fear accuses.

Monday
Aug272012

Why compliance and control work against transformation...

There's a world of difference between compliance [getting adults/kids to act like you want them to] vs. transformation:  One happens through control and pressure; the other happens through connection. 

Anyone who has care or charge over someone:  church leaders, authors, teachers, parents will end up using one or the other, or a combination of both.   Spouses end up using one or the other model as well.  However, God uses transformation.

Note that the 'Compliance" approach to relationships leads to regressive, worse behavior over the long-run.  Don't be fooled:  compliance often looks like change; but it's really a yielding out of fear.

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Helpful resources:

  • "Drive - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us," by Daniel Pink
  • "Unconditional Parenting," by Alfie Kohn
  • "Connecting," by Larry Crabb
Thursday
Aug162012

Video: Jim Robbins' speaking events.

One attendee of a group I spoke to came up to be afterwards and said, "I'm not sure if I believe you yet, but if what you're saying is true, it changes everything." 

The message of RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART isn't new.  It isn't a fad.  Rather, it's the message of "regeneration" that many of us have passed over or never heard.  Martin Luther affirmed it, and so did J.I. Packer, one of the most influential Christian leader of our time:

J.I. Packer, whom Time magazine listed as one of the top 25 most influential evangelicals in America, describes our regeneration as, “the spiritual change wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in which his/her inherently sinful nature is changed so that he/she can respond to God in Faith, and live in accordance with His will (Matt. 19:28; John 3:3,5,7; Titus 3:5). It extends to the whole nature of man, altering his governing disposition, illuminating his mind, freeing his will, and renewing his nature.”

In other words, your heart is now your ally, not your enemy.

GET MORE DETAILS HERE.

Thursday
Aug092012

Form a new-hearted group study - Including Skype call with Jim.

As many of you have already figured out, allies on the good and noble heart journey are important.  Do you have a small group of friends who want to learn more about their good hearts? Why not form a short-term group study with a few friends.  In your home or online, using either my book, RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART, or the book's STUDY GUIDE.  I know of folks who have already done this.

Skype call with Jim, free:
If you do either Option One [Study Guide Group] or Option Two  [Book Group] below, I'll include one 45 minute Skype call [voice or video] with your group, at no cost.  It doesn't matter if one member is in Anckorage and another in Allagash.  [Up to ten people.]

What you'll need

  • For Skype conference [voice-only] group calls, each member will need a Skype account.

  • For Skype video group calls, each member of your group needs to have a webcam and be signed up with Skype. [At least two people, plus me.  Up to ten people max.]

The Skype call would allow the group to ask me follow-up questions or get further clarity on living from your new heart.  It will also be a great time to connect with each other.

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Option One:  If you have already read my book, "RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART" then why not form an online study with a few friends, using the STUDY GUIDE. 

 

 

Option Two:  If you have not read the book first, use that.  It makes sense to read the book, RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART first, unless you're already pretty familiar with my blogs and the Good and Noble Heart message.

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*You can email me if your interested. 

 

Tuesday
Jul312012

Piety is not what God is after.

 

The following excerpts come from a newsletter I received from Dwight Edwards, author of "Revolution Within. His book was essential for shaping my understanding of the good and noble heart several years ago.  Here's what Dwight says:

 

.....................................................................................................................

D.L. Moody was exactly right when he noted, “Some men have just enough religion to be miserable”.  

True, vital Christianity was never intended to be a grim resolve to imitate the example of Christ.

Oswald Chambers puts it so well,

There is no room in the New Testament for sickly piety, but room only for the robust, vigorous, open-air life that Jesus lived – in the world but not of it, the whole life guided and transfigured by God. Beware of the piety that is not stamped by the life of God…Be absolutely and fiercely godly, but never pious.”

I love that thought. Vibrant spirituality goes far beyond mere piety; it specializes in becoming “absolutely and fiercely godly”.

It is not enough to concentrate on “in nothing I shall be ashamed” [avoiding sin] That is only a very preliminary start. The true goal is not labored suppression of the wrong but robust expression of the right. Lewis Sperry Chafer writes,

“True spirituality is a seven-fold manifestation of the Spirit in and through the one whom He fills. It is a divine output of the life, rather than a mere cessation of things which are called "worldly." True spirituality does not consist in what one does not do, it is rather what one does. It is not suppression: it is expression. It is not holding in self: it is living out Christ.”

[End.]

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After reading this, the obvious question is, "How does this happen?" 

Answer:   The indwelling Spirit ignites and enflames our new, God-given good and noble heart so that our new righteousness radiates outwards into the lives of others.

Monday
Jul232012

New podcast: "If I really do have a good and noble heart, then why does the evidence seem to suggest otherwise?" -Guest Joel Brueske joins Jim.

Joel Brueseke [see his insightful GraceRoots podcast] joins me as we try to offer encouragement for Christians who do want to believe that their heart is now good and noble because of Christ's redeeming work for them, but who continue to struggle to live from that new-hearted goodness.


Podcast:  "If I really do have a good and noble heart, then why does the evidence seem to suggest otherwise?"  [Special guest, Joel Brueseke of GraceRoots.com]

 

 

In the podcast, Joel and I address:

  • Why does my experience seem to suggest my heart really isn't good, noble and true?

  • Why truth must drive experience and not the other way around.

  • What about us is "finished" and what is still "unfinished?"

  • What happened to the "Accuser" in our worldview?  "Warfare" has been grossly abused in the Church, but for the sake of our hearts, the idea is worth revisiting.

  • Why multiple exposures to the truth is necessary so that our minds, emotions and bodies can catch up to the truth about our new and noble hearts.

  • Should you leave a church that preaches a performance-based, "bad-heart" message?

  • Resources for finding new-hearted community and messages. 

................................................................................................................

You can find new-hearted community - people who want to live from their good and noble heart - on the "COMMUNITY" page on my website.  The focus is simple:

1.  Where are you finding it difficult to live from your good and noble heart?

2.  Where are you finding encouragement to live from your good and noble heart?

Tuesday
Jul102012

From borrowed righteousness to actual righteousness: That's the point.

Many Christians end up thinking that the goodness they possess doesn't really belong to them -- that it's only Jesus being good within and through them that counts; as if Jesus dwells within them, but alongside a still faithless or tainted heart.  

They assume that they themselves couldn't possibly be good:  It's just Jesus indwelling that makes them so.   The hope is that they're simply banking on Jesus' righteousness within them: because all the faithfulness and purity appears only on Jesus' side of the ledger and none on their side.

While our goodness is exclusively the gift of Jesus to us, and must always be the result of grace, his goodness has become our actual goodness.  That's the point of the New Covenant.

The Old Covenant system of sacrifices could not do two things:

1.  It couldn’t take away a person’s sin or wash the guilt away.

2.  The Old Covenant sacrifices could only lend the person a temporary and outward righteousness:

“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.”

“The law … can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they [the sacrifices] not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.” “…because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Heb. 10: 1,2,3,4)


Under the old way of relating to God, the worshippers borrowed righteousness through the sacrificial system, but it never really made them righteous.  Because of your union with Jesus, his goodness has become your goodness. 

We have shifted from borrowed to actual. 

Wednesday
Jun272012

A reader's response: "After all this time, why am I still struggling to live from my new heart?"

A reader's reaction to my recent post, "Why Do Your Best Is Exactly What the Enemy Wants."  Many of you will find her honesty refreshing:

Jim, thank you for what you said in this newsletter. This speaks to part of my struggle. I've been struggling with circumstances lately that have made me feel really bad about my seeming lack of faith. I tried it for 7 years in the system and left. When I found people online showing me better answers, I left the system full of hope at the time.

Now 5 years later, I'm realizing I don't 'get' living IN Christ much better than I ever did. Oh, sure I can talk a good talk about it, but I'm not doing so well at actually walking it. I think what you speak of, learning to live from the new heart, is still a hindrance to many people because we don't believe, deep down, that God really, truly loves us, accepts us, and thinks well of us.

I'm not sure how much time this is supposed to take. You'd think after 5 years I'd 'get it' better, and I've even had other 'outside the box' Christians imply such to me. I'm not sure what the trick is to 'getting it' that God loves and accepts me, but I haven't found the key yet.

Please understand I'm not looking for advice or tips on how to 'get it.' I think I've already heard it all. I guess I just wanted to tell you this because you're a fellow introvert and you do get that. And as an introvert, you're not likely to take a "just do it" fix to a heart problem. Maybe there's some conversation out there to be had on this... maybe I'm not the only one...

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Note:  I'll have more to say later on why I think it's so hard to live from our new hearts and what the nature of that battle is.

Wednesday
Jun272012

Why "Do your best" is exactly what you're enemy wants.

 

I think the greatest trick the enemy has pulled on Christians - especially committed followers of Christ - is to convince us to do our best.  Really.  It can take a hundred different forms - serve the world, be a good mother/father, live a holy life, witness for Christ, fight for justice. 

[The enemy] appeals to the very passions within us to live as we long to live, and urges on onward.  But it is absolutely deadly if any of these noble endeavors are what we are living for.  The cunning, cunning shift, so brilliant, so subtle, is away from union with Christ to doing our best for Christ.  - John Eldredge

 

 

Religious Pressure - Version 1.0
You experienced this when you diligently tried to make a go of the Christian life - serving on all the committees you were expected to, faithfully pursuing a 'quiet time' to demonstrate your committment to God, and by "raising the bar" on your prayer life.  You got off the fence, got serious and ran hard for God so that you could one day hear him say, "Well-done, good and faithful servant." 

Religious Pressure 1.0 is what the culture of Christian duty expected of us.

Religious Pressure - Version  2.0
But old habits die hard because it's possible, once you do understand that Christ replaced your diseased and wandering heart with a good and noble heart, to put pressure on yourself to live from your new heart. And, as the scientific community has known for the last forty years, a pressured demand to comply doesn't produce intrinsic [inside-out] motivation. 

We're frankly surprised when we don't consistently choose the new resources and appetites of our new nature:

  • We scold ourselves for habits we just can't seem to break, even with our new goodness.
  • We interpret our failures through the lens of shame:  "I'm still that kind of person."
  • We redouble our efforts to "walk in the Spirit" while doubting our ability to do that.

 

Pressure enflames the flesh.
Yes, it is certainly counter-productive to live from old habits and fleshly thinking, but pressure to engage your new holiness will actually continue to engage your flesh and not your new goodness.  It's like scolding a toddler for not walking when he falls back into a habit of crawling.  You know he can walk, so damn it! Why isn't he walking?! 

Patient encouragement is helpful:  Pressure is not.  Honey, not vinegar.


Beating a young colt

It's like beating a young colt for not having the stamina of the Preakness winner in the next stall.  There's nothing wrong with the colt, he just needs a good trainer...and time.

So, whereas under Religious Pressure Version 1.0, we assumed all the wrong things about our heart - that it couldn't be trusted, that it would lead us into sin - we now vigorously demand that our new heart comply with the demand to run hard like we did under Version 1.0-- and we demand this from a heart that is still learning and trying finding its way

... A heart that needs to feel safe in order to come out and play. 

... A heart that wants to do right, and will lead you well as it learns to walk.

 

Union with Christ trumps doing your best for Christ.  In fact, you don't need to worry about the second when you have the first.  Enjoy the union and the rest will follow.

Friday
Jun222012

The King has granted you "Naud." What Celtic lore knows about law and forgiveness.

What do you do when you don't get justice for the wrongs done to you? 
- When the King seems more interested in pardonning your abuser than making sure you get justice?

 

The betrayer claims "naud:"
Everyone knew that Paladyr, the murderous betrayer, would receive the death penalty for what he had done to them:  Stabbing his former king through the ribs - slicing the cold blade into the king's heart; then setting fire to a village that killed twenty-five, including young infants choking on acrid smoke as they burned while they slept in thatched huts; and joining ranks with the king's wicked son who raped, burned and slaughtered innocent life.

When they captured Paladyr, only a death sentence would satisfy the villagers' grief.  But to the horror of every widow, every father of a burned child and everyone watching, Paladyr claimed "naud" of the High King, and the king granted it.
.................................................................................................................

In Stephen Lawhead's book, The Endless Knot [Part Three of his Song of Albion Trilogy],  we watch as the wicked Paladyr stands before the Aird Righ, the new High King, arrogantly claiming the clemency and grace of "naud" - which if granted, would instantly erase his crimes; and with that, the hope of justice for the wounded.  There would be no satisfaction for the mother whose daughter was thrown from the high cliffs as Paladyr tossed her onto the bone-splintering rocks below; nor any justice for the father whose baby lay under charred timbers.

Yet Paladyr didn't ask for the mercy of "naud" out of repentence or sorrow for his crimes:  He isn't the humbled prodigal son:  He asked because a bizarre twist of the laws of Albion gave him that option.  In effect, "this personal feature of justice means that the guilty man can make a claim on the king which he has no right to make:  naud."

If the King refuses mercy
Granting "naud" to a criminal put the king's own reputation at stake:  if he refused to grant mercy, "the king effectively declared himself inferior to the criminal" because his grace couldn't surpass the criminal's wickedness.  It would give the impression that the king's power and sovereignty would have limits:  In effect, the king's authority would be constrained by the strict letter of the law, binding the king's authority to the narrow rights and wrongs, consequence and punishment the law demanded.  In effect, not granting mercy/naud tied the king's hands to the law, making the King a servant of the law, rather than Sovereign over it.

If the King grants mercy
If, on the other hand, the king did grant pardon, allowing naud, his mercy would be seen as greater than than the crimes...extending his sovereignty beyond the guilty one's offenses.  Because the king himself is justice incarnate, his choice to grant naud supercedes the strict letter of the law.  He is able to grant mercy over and against a forensic, "eye for an eye" unforgiving legalism. 

Because the High King of Albion did chose to grant the mercy of "naud" to Paladyr, the angry crowds' cry for justice found an unlikely answer:    When the High King granted "naud" to the beligerant Paladyr, the king says that "in essence, I had been asked to absorb the crime into myself."  

The truth behind the analogy
Does this not strike you as oddly familiar?  Under the grace of Jesus' reign, justice is no longer a written code of sin and sanctions.  Rather, Jesus, because he IS justice in the flesh, [as Lawhead says, "justice wears a human face"] isn't obligated to mete out justice according to a rigid adherence to a legal code:  Rather, Jesus' authority supercedes the legal code:  "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."  [2 Cor. 3:6]   God isn't obligated under law to dole out punishment equal to the crime, nor any punishment at all.  He has granted us a peculiar gift of his sovereignty:  he has given us the outrageous right to "claim naud" of him.

Justice absorbs the crime into Himself.  The Cross is our claim to "naud."

Thursday
Jun142012

Introverts and the Church: The pain of performance and perceptions

What does it feel like to be an introvert in a high-pressure, driven church environment.  Here are a few stories from some introverts:

  • Dan says: 
    As an introvert in ministry leadership at two different churches I often perceived I didn't measure up because I would feel empty, tired, and in need of time alone following ministry events. I thought there was something wrong with me because I wanted to barricade myself in my office after preaching on a Sunday morning or leading an evening with students as a youth pastor. Understanding the "gift of introversion" has been a blessing. 
  • L.H. says: 
    I think 'high-reactive introverts' may be in high numbers among the pioneers of what is often termed "emergent church." [Things that drive "high-reactive/high-sensitive introverts crazy are]: the loud music, the showiness, the competition, the mixed messages, the performance-based environment, the hypocrisy, the frenetic busyness.  Being a highly-sensitive Christian lent itself to being intensely uncomfortable and discontent at traditional church nearly all the time. 
  • Amy says: 
    Unfortunately, for years all I got was the message that I wasn't good enough. The church institutions I was involved in were all well-propped up by natural achievers who thrived on always doing more. I often encountered teachings and articles written by blazing extroverts that said do more, work harder, run faster, keep up the good walk for Jesus! Remember, He's keeping your scorecard and you want to hear Him say, Well done, good and faithful servant! You don't want to be one of the ones that hears, Depart from me, I never knew you!  ...

    ...This type of religious environment cuts especially deep with introverts. We tend to be more sensitive by nature, and more deeply internalize the arrows hurled at us by the enemy, who unfortunately finds his job all to easy to do through the hands of often well-meaning religious leaders. We also find it more difficult to find a place to belong in the midst of the frenetic activity and performance of today's average church institution.

Related posts:

Monday
Jun112012

Your stories: recovering from religious shame

This is Meredith's story of recovery from shame, and how she found freedom in the truth that her heart was made good and noble when she met Jesus:
Meredith's story:

Before I completely understood my good heart I often felt badly about myself and I didn't know why. In churches I was viewed as someone who was very flawed.  I left church on Sundays feeling burdened and tired. This feeling spilled into every corner of my life and I couldn't understand why it was. I knew I was a good person but didn't understand why I felt the way I did.

Church was a hostile environment and I left because the pressure to conform and perform was too much and it felt like I was missing something. In church I was criticized for the way I dress, although relatively modest, and even for wearing red lipstick. I was treated with suspicion and was excluded for that and other things. Things didn't make sense and I felt alone.
 

Learning about my good and noble heart put a name to the bad feelings I had. It helped to to recognize the teaching that I had heard for so long and that had impacted me so badly. As I understood what Jim teaches more deeply I was freed from the burden of feeling like I was not good enough and that suspicion that I have encountered in churches. My self-esteem has improved and I feel genuine joy in freedom in understanding the true message of Christ and the truth of who I am.  I am free from hostile judgment and burdens and most importantly I am healed from that old belief!

 

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This is Amy's story of how an introvert experienced the hyper-drive, push and pressure environment all too common in performance-based churches:

Amy's story  [how an introvert experienced "church":

My story is going to focus more on the extra difficulties that introverts encounter in today's performance-based religious institutions. The ones I ended up in, largely by default, were big, showy, noisy environments. The ones who looked the happiest, sang the loudest, had their hands up highest and prayed the most 'spiritual' sounding prayers were lauded as 'spiritual leaders.'


Unfortunately, for years all I got was the message that I wasn't good enough. The church institutions I was involved were all well-propped up by natural achievers who thrived on always doing more. I often encountered teachings and articles written by blazing extroverts that said do more, work harder, run faster, keep up the good walk for Jesus! Remember, He's keeping your scorecard and you want to hear Him say, Well done, good and faithful servant! You don't want to be one of the ones that hears, Depart from me, I never knew you!

This type of religious environment cuts especially deep with introverts. We tend to be more sensitive by nature, and more deeply internalize the arrows hurled at us by the enemy, who unfortunately finds his job all to easy to do through the hands of often well-meaning religious leaders. We also find it more difficult to find a place to belong in the midst of the frenetic activity and performance of today's average church institution.

So these years left me with so much shame that I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown until years later, I finally began doing some serious internet research and found better answers. Jim's book was one of the tools that God used to show me how many poisonous lies with a "Christian" label that I had been fed. Thankfully, one book I have greatly benefited from is "Introvert Power" by Laurie Helgoe.


I am not "all the way healed" but it is a journey. I am so much healthier and more whole than I ever was during the days I was being told that my heart was not good and that there was always one more thing I had to do to try and earn God's favor. Now I am creating my own space and my own ways to be an introvert IN Christ, not an extrovert always doing things 'for' Him. I ponder. I create. I write. I work on and share music.  I connect more closely with others one-on-one however I can, one of the things I do best. I do things for others that are uniquely me, but were never valued by the institution. I am learning that being an introvert the way God made me is just fine, and there may be reasons for it that I haven't even discovered yet.

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SHARE YOUR STORY:  If you'd like to share your story here with others about recovering from "bad heart" messages and the  discovery that your new Christ-shaped heart is good and noble, send me an EMAIL

GET JIM'S BOOK:  To read more stories of people who were shamed under a "bad heart" or "wandering heart" message, you can also read my book, "RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART." 

 

Tuesday
Jun052012

New solo piano video of Jim

Sunday
Jun032012

Most damage done by leaders centers around the use of power.

Most damage done by leaders centers around the use of power:

  • The administrator or manager who makes decisions unilaterally...for you and not with you.

  • The pastor who mistakes self-righteousness and arrogance  for confidence and humble authority.

  • The executive who, when confronted with difficult issues,  filters decisions through “risk assessment” rather than truth and empathy:  Empathy for others is discarded for the sake of the leader's own self-preservation or those the leader is protecting.

  • Leaders who abuse power believe that the image or perception of the institution or corporation is paramount, and will be maintained at the expense of higher values.
  • Compliance [outward adherence to expectations] is mistakenly equated with change.

  • Because of the leader's tragic misunderstanding of power, your relationship with this leader is instantly expendable, regardless of shared history or alleged common beliefs.  Personal allegiances with him are tentative and illusory at best. 

Too many men are made "kings" too soon, and too many women have mistaken control for love.


Authentic leadership is not the absence of power.  Rather, it is power in service to others, even when it requires sacrificing ego, title or positional authority in order to do the right thing:

 

"...have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather...
by taking the very nature of a servant,
     
And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself...




Wednesday
May302012

Be careful what you sing: How hymns and worship songs don't always tell the truth

For years,  I've wished Christian worship leaders and song publishers had a board of theological advisors that really understood the implications of our new-hearted identity in Christ.  Everything teaches, especially those things we repeat.   Sunday after Sunday.

We become not only what we worship but how we worship. 

Take the lyrics of two well-known worship songs:

 "Change My Heart, Oh God"

Change my heart oh God,
Make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God,
May I be like You.  

 

"Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing"

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;

 

Myth:  Your heart, Christian, is still suspect and can't be trusted.  Your core desires and your will are still in opposition to God's plans.  You are 'prone to wander.'  God is patient with people like you, but disappointed in your progress. 

Your heart is an unruly and stubborn child:  Therefore, God needs to continue a work in your heart in order to get you to the place where you can love as he wants you to.


Reality
:  You no longer have a wandering, "divided heart," because Jesus removed that diseased heart that was in opposition to God.  In its place, resides a powerful, clean and obedient heart that loves what God loves, desires what God desires, and is just as good and noble as the heart Jesus himself possessed.

 

Your heart is no longer your enemy.  It is now your ally. 

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To learn more about the widespread Scriptural basis for your good and noble heart, you can get my book, "Recover Your Good Heart:  Living Free from Religious Guilt and the Shame of Not Good-Enough."    The book has been especially helpful for people who are tired of being told they're never enough for God.

It's time to trust what God has already given you.

 

 

Monday
May212012

"Fully-Devoted" and Quietly Ashamed: How some Christian books crush the heart with pressure tactics.

Pop Christianity's message of "commitment"
Popular Christian books come with a clear message:  "You are lukewarm at best; on the fence with Jesus and far from a "fully-devoted follower."  You're keeping Jesus at arms'-length because you're too busy or too apathetic.  You're not fully-surrendered to Christ." 

Serving up a diet of pressure, "conviction," and self-deprecation, these pop-Christian books will have you nervously reconsidering whether you're a radically committed "fully-devoted follower" of Jesus or merely a "fan" watching casually from the stands.  The author's "wake-up call" will admonish you to "up your game" and "ratchet up your commitment" with the same suffocating judicial strong-arming the Accuser himself delights in. Their message is built upon this core assumption:  "Your heart, Christian, is naturally unfaithful and it is our job to point that out to you."

Exposure disquised as truth-telling
These popular books delight in exposing you.... reaching in to rip your spiritual fig leaves off, leaving you naked and branded for spiritual adultery.  "Step up your commitment.  Get off the fence." The authors use pressure disguised as "admonishment" and "truth-telling" to lay bare your lack of spiritual fervor.

Here's one reader's comment on a recent popular Christian book she read:

I feel this is a great book to get you really thinking about your relationship with God. Am I "all-in"? Am I committed? Am I a fan, or an "enthusiastic admirer," that is running lukewarm for Christ, instead of on fire?

The reader's comment continues...

In all honesty, this book revealed to me that I'm not 100% completely committed. When I'm honest, I put other things before God. Not all the time, but sometimes. Do I surrender all? Do I die to self everyday? It's sad to say the answer to these questions is . . . no. I can be full of pride, I can be selfish, I can be judgmental. I'm a sinner...

Why do authors and pastors write these books?
Can we live from the flesh and get apathetic, succumbing to a myopic view of other's needs?  Of course.  But the problem doesn't lie in the commitment or faithfulness of your heart - for the heart that was "prone to wander" has been replaced with a thoroughly good...and faithful heart.  [Ezek. 36:26]

I think one of the reasons there are so many Christian books designed to expose our lack of commitment to being "radical followers" is precisely because those leaders believe the Christian's heart remains "prone to wander" and therefore prone to apathy and lukewarm commitment. The authors are writing books based upon outdated assumptions, treating a threat [a diseased nature] that no longer exists - like vaccinating people against small pox even though that disease was declared wiped out worldwide by 1979.

Rather than assuming the believer's heart needs scolding and judicial exposure, they need to acknowledge that Christ has decisively removed the old, unfaithful heart, and replaced it with a new heart that will gladly move in love and devotion towards God and others if they'll just stop scolding it.

Related posts:

 

Note:  I don't fault pastors for what they believe - they're simply teaching what they've been taught.  However, a refusal to question our assumptions about the Christian's heart will lead to more defeated and less Christ-like followers.  A pressured focus on law inflames sin rather than constraining it.