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

LISTEN OR WATCH
CONTACT JIM
Follow this blog.
Search this blog

 

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.

Monday
May142012

New solo piano song demo from Jim: "Montana Front Range."

As many of my readers know, I am not only an author, but also a professional solo piano recording artist.  The goal of each solo piano piece I write is reflected in this great quote from Dallas Willard:

Beauty is "good, made present to the senses."

I've been at work in the piano studio - writing new pieces for my second solo piano CD. 

Here's a raw song idea I'm working on called, "Montana Front Range."  The idea isn't fully-formed in my mind yet, but has already developed a distinct direction.  

I was inspired by the beauty of mountains rising up from the valley in places like the Madison River Valley area of Montana, or Bozeman, or the Lamar Valley where herds of bison roam.

The song draft here isn't fully-formed yet or polished and mixed, but gives an idea of one of the songs that I'm writing for the new solo piano CD.

Play:  "MONTANA FRONT RANGE"

 

Related Links:

Wednesday
May092012

My story: "Generalized Accusation Disorder"


I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd done something wrong.  My parents had taken my sister and I on a cross-country trip during our Junior High years; but I felt chronically guilty for much of it.  I remember driving along a West Virginia highway in our rental car, feeling like the principal had caught me smoking in the bathroom.

But I had done nothing wrong.  There was no sinful choice or shameful act to point to.  My hyper-sensitive conscience was creating a smear campaign designed to discredit my integrity.  A higher susceptibility to guilt and remorse can also be one of the characteristics of a highly-sensitive or "high-reactive" person.  I was being forced to take the stand in the absence of any proof of guilt.  In fact, if you asked my parents, they would have agreed, "No...Jim didn't do anything wrong.  I'm not sure why he would think that." 

The truth was, even the most staunch Southern Baptist could have examined my motives and actions then and found nothing immoral - but I was convinced there was something I'd done wrong. During the months we traveled across country, the oppressive guilt remained like a hall monitor scanning the halls for the wayward student.

What I call "Generalized Accusation Disorder" - this entrenched and unjustified belief that I was guilty of something, anything-  stole my childhood joy in those long months.  I'll never get that time back.

 

Accusation is designed to disable.
Accusation will disable a person more quickly than almost anything else.  It's no wonder the enemy of your heart favors it as his preferable toxin. 

Even in my late fourties now, I'll experience a similar sensation when watching a crime drama:  "That's where you'll wind up someday, Jim.  Just like the man who compromised his integrity one too many times.  Someday, you'll cross that threshold as well ...and the iron bars will slam shut behind you."

Or, that vicarious guilt I feel when a close friend gets divorced because he's shattered his family through an affair that neither he nor we saw coming:  "Jim, what makes you think you're stronger than your own friend?  Why would you be able to resist sexual temptation when he couldn't?" 

Accusation's deceptive voice:
Accusation will disable the truth about your good and noble heart faster than anything else.  Why?  Because it comes disguised as "humility" and a "contrite heart."  Accusation wants you to believe that, "therefore, by the the grace of God, go I."  Accusation creates suspicion:  "Is your heart really as noble as you think it is?  Are you really a 'new creation' possessed by the goodness of God?"

Accusation masquerades as healthy remorse or "good guilt."  Though healthy remorse and repentance are often truly helpful, accusation is a trick of deception.  It's message:  "Your heart is the problem.  There is more than the act of sin here...because there is the condition of sinfulness.

It is a lie.  Your enemy will even have you believe it is the Spirit's own voice of "conviction."  Even if you have sinned, Generalized Accusation Disorder will have you camp there in the mess, rather than celebrate a new God-given purity and noble goodness waiting to be released from your new heart.

Ally, not enemy.
Trust the goodness of your God-given new heart.  Your heart is now your ally, not your enemy. 
...........................................................................................................................

*The book I wrote, RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART, may be particularly helpful for those of you who have suffered with "Generalized Accusation Disorder."  

Tuesday
May082012

Were you a "high-Reactive" introverted kid? [High-Reactives: Part-two]

Here's part two on "high-reactive" people, and the unique ways in which they suffer as well as can do well in the world.  Excerpts from Quiet:  The Power of Introverts In a World That Can't Stop Talking.

High-reactive kids and adults:
Although much of the research with "high-reactives"  has been done with kids, "the footprint of a high- or low-reactive temperament never disappeared in adulthood" when those same persons were tested in adulthood. 

In other words, you certainly have the free-will to change some parts of your personality, but certain aspects will follow you into old age.  According to the "rubber band theory" of personality, we can stretch our personalities to a degree, but they'll always snap back to a preferred default position.


More characteristics of a "high-reactive" temperament:

  • These kids are more at risk when there's "marital tension, a parent's death, or abuse.  They're more likely than their peers to react to these events with depression, anxiety, and shyness." 

  • But there's a beneficial side to having high-reactive kids - especially if they're parented well under a stable environment:  These kids will "tend to have fewer emotional problems and more social skills than their lower-reactive peers, studies show."  They can even be more resistant to the common cold when in a nurturing environment.

  • These children [and presumably as they grow into adulthood] are often "exceedingly empathic, caring, and cooperative.  They are kind, conscientious, and easily disturbed by cruelty, injustice, and irresponsibility." 

According to Jay Belsky, "'Instead of seeing these kids as vulnerable to adversity, parents should see them as malleable - for worse, but also for better.'"  The ideal parent for a high-reactive child:

  • "can read you cues and respect your individuality;"
  • "is warm and firm in placing demands on you without being harsh or hostile;"
  • "is not harsh, neglectful, or inconsistent."

 

Creating a new environment for high-reactives [and probably everyone else as well]

As I read this research, it was obvious to me that "high-reactives" in particular need a grace-filled environment  - absent of accusation and shame.   Certainly, though, everyone could benefit from gracious relationships; but particularly "high-reactives." 

Let's:

  • Respond without reactivity.
  • Refrain from controlling and accusing.
  • Confront [when necessary] with information, not condemnation.
  • Celebrate the new heart in the other before jumping in.

 

Related posts:

 

What about you?
What did you experience as a "high-reactive" kid?  How has it carried over into adulthood and what benefit has it brought you?

Wednesday
May022012

Why accusation is so debilitating for "sensitive" hearts.

I have a particular empathy for those who are "sensitive" and tender-hearted - particularly because they are more vulnerable to accusation, or even perceived accusation, than most.  It's probably one the reasons I wrote, RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART

I also happen to be one of those "sensitive types."  It's not surprising that I'm a writer and a solo piano artist, callings that require introspection and a willingness to feel deeply.  My mentors are books and my piano is my therapist.

In her extraordinary book, Quiet:  The Power of Introverts In A world That Can't Stop Talking," Susan Cain lays out the research on people called "High Reactives," a trait that often corresponds to introversion but not always.   These children and adults "react" more intensely to changes or perceived threats in their environments than "low-reactives" do.

Here are some characteristics of "high-reactives:"

  •  Sensitive nature
  • May be “quicker than others to feel sickened by violence and ugliness,  and likely to have a strong  conscience.” 
  • Will experience a “more intense mix of guilt and sorrow than a lower-reactive kid.” “High-reactive kids seem to see and feel things more.”
  • "...The reactivity of these kids' nervous systems makes them quickly overwhelmed by childhood adversity, but also able to benefit from a nurturing environment more than other children do." 
  • “High-reactive types …are more like orchids:  they wilt easily, but under the right conditions can grow strong and magnificent.”

My own opinion, based on reading these findings, is that accusation will do more injury to a "high-reactive" because they're likely to feel a "more intense mix of guilt and sorrow" and more likely to internalize perceived accusation, even when it's not their fault.

Yet, there's a hidden blessing to functioning as a "high-reactive:"  Others will likely benefit from your courageous, yet tender heart.  People need your vulnerability and ability to feel deeply with them.  You'll also benefit from knowing just how tender and kind-hearted Jesus can be.

I'll share more characteristics of "high-reactives" in the next post.

Monday
Apr232012

How "classroom management" [control] has stripped your kids of dignity.

If you've read my posts long enough, you know that I have little tolerance for leaders that shame or control people under their care...especially when children are the victims. 

Here's an excerpt from an article touting the right of teachers to get their classrooms under control - and in my opinion, at the expense of the very kids whose care they are charged with.

 

Here's the article excerpt:

Freshly minted teachers have passed every test but one: how to control their classrooms.

Pat Wingert, Newsweek correspondent.  March 5, 2010

Back in the '60s, when I attended the Queen of the Rosary school in suburban Chicago, classroom management was not an issue. We had more than 35 kids in a class, but even first graders knew you sat with your hands folded, eyes on the board, and mouth shut. If you got out of line, you might be sent to the corner. One nun had an amazing pitching arm. She would spin away from the blackboard and bean a slacker with a fully loaded eraser. It didn't hurt. But it was effective.

Now when you talk to new teachers—which I do regularly as an education reporter—their biggest complaint is that no one teaches them how to control a classroom...The solution is probably not to encourage teachers to bean kids with erasers. But something is needed.

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

Notice the point of the article was to find a way to get kids under control; not to connect with them, not to understand them or love or respect them; but to manage them.  People, especially kids, were never meant to be managed.  We ought to manage things, or processes, but not people; and especially not kids.

 

You can have order without control.
While order is often necessary in the classroom, control is not.  In one classroom I observed that thankfully understood the difference, the teacher brought about order by whispering; not by yelling, harsh reprimands or other shaming tactics. 

 

Would you treat a colleague, or even a pet this way?
Contrast this with one mother's lament I read, stating that her child's teacher used "one-size-fits-all" accusations where the teacher scolds the entire classroom for the poor behavior of a few. As that mom pointed out, class-wide shaming holds the view: "Blame everyone no matter who did it."

I also heard another mom tell the story of her daughter's teacher, who in front of the classroom, threw out her daughter's papers in the trash because they had too many eraser marks on it.  On another occasion, the teacher had put the student in time-out simply because she used the pencil sharpener while the teacher happened to be on the phone.

Control delivers shame, because it gives the person in authority the self-justifying smugness to bring a child under rigid compliance while stripping them of their dignity.  Control says, "I have the right to use power over you in this way because you are lesser than me.


Some dogs get kinder treatmen
t.
My guess is that under this disparaging view of children, a classroom pet would get better treatment than a kid.  Obedience Training is for dogs, not children.

Tuesday
Apr172012

Why the Dinka and Nuer tribes pull their children's permanent teeth out...

Image courtesy PittRivers MuseumIn the Sudan, the Dinka and Nuer tribes have a bizarre tradition.  "They extract the permanent front teeth of their children - as many as six bottom teeth and two top teeth - which produces a sunken chin, a collapsed lower lip, and speech impediments." [1]

Why?  During a period of time in which lock jaw [tetanus] was common,  children's jaws were slamming shut, preventing them from eating and drinking.  The teeth are painfully removed with a fishhook.  By pulling out up to eight permanent front teeth, the children could drink through the resulting hole that was left. 

The tetanus epidemic has long passed, but the two tribes are still pulling adult teeth from their children's jaws, continuing a completely unnecessary pattern of injury.

The threat has long passed, yet the pattern continues.

Many Christians continue a similar pattern of self-injury, fearfully detesting their own heart and distaining the very core of their being.  They unwittingly believe their heart continues to be the source of malice, sin and threat when it no longer is.  Out of ignorance, many Christians wish they could extract the alleged evil within their hearts, not realizing that the epidemic sickness that once ravaged their hearts is no longer there. 

In fact, the diseased heart was removed during conversion, when  Jesus entered their bodies.  Yet Christians continue a curious tradition of self-deprication and self-loathing - believing there is still a threat within them that makes them "prone to wander," selfish and opposed to God's will.

 

No longer in the heart, but in the body.
Though the Christian may and does still sin -- the source of that sin is no longer within their heart.  Sin, as Paul indicates, may be lodged in the Christian's body...but not within her core nature [the heart].  "So don't allow sin to rule in your mortal body, to make you obey its desires." [Rom. 6:12] 

In fact, you can count approximately 17 times throughout Romans chapters 6 through 8 the use of terms like, "flesh," "body," "members."  This is why we "eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies."

 

The threat has passed.
That old, wayward heart [our core nature] was removed by Christ the moment you said 'yes' to Him.  The threat of a former diseased heart is gone. Let's learn something from the Dinka and Nuer tribes, and stop a completely unnecessary and painful tradition based upon a diseased disposition that no longer exists.  Your heart is good now.  God made it so.

[1]  "Mistakes Were Made - But Not By Me,"  by Tavris & Aronson

Saturday
Apr142012

Our old nature is not in remission, it's been removed.

As I pointed out in my last post, there's a big difference between "reassuring grace" and "replacement grace." 

While "reassuring grace" says that we can "live loved" and that "God isn't disappointed with us,"  replacement grace offers us the real change we needed.  Reassuring grace is a welcomed relief, but not the cure.

Our dis-eased nature [heart/spirit] - the thing that led us astray in the first place -  was completely removed when we said 'yes' to Jesus:

  • It's not about a touch-up, but a transplant.

  • It's not about incremental improvement, but a dramatic deletion.

  • It's not about remission, but total removal.

  • It's not about symptom-management, but eradication of our sin-stained nature.

Then why do Christians still sin?  Because residual attitudes and patterns of sin - left over from before we met Jesus  - can still operate in our bodies...  like a residual infection from an amputed limb.  Sin may still operate in our bodies, or "members" as Paul says, but not in our new nature [heart.] 

[Paul describes "sin" as an alien force in our bodies:  A force that can operate within us, but is not us.]  Those left-over habits and patterns of thought live in our bodies, not in our hearts now.


Because the ruined heart that used to hold us captive has been surgically removed by Jesus, our God-given new heart is now our ally and not our enemy.

Wednesday
Apr112012

Why reassuring grace isn't enough...

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE.]

 

There are two kinds of "grace:"

  • "Reassuring Grace"

  • "Replacement Grace."

Most of us think that God's offer is limited to reassuring us of his forgiveness, or reminding us of his "unmeritted favor."  We're drawn to the comfort of "living loved," "God's not angry with you," and "resting in him."  This kind of grace, while putting us at ease with God and removing the anxiety that comes with religious performance, is not the best part of God's offer.

More immediately hopeful than even Reassuring Grace is "Replacement Grace."  Why?  Because "Reassuring Grace" by itself is cruel:  Like comforting a cancer patient without attempting to cure the cancer that's destroying her. 

That sick person needs the cancer to be gone if her body is to function at-ease.  She needs restoration.  [* I realize that in the physical world of sickness, "victory" doesn't always mean removal of the disease.  However, in the spiritual world, the world of our heart or core nature, victory can and does mean the immediate removal of the diseased organ - in this case, our diseased, sin-sick spirit/heart.]

While reassuring that patient that you love her and will comfort her certainly helps her, what she really needs is a new lung, or whatever organ is ransacked with death.

So God, in addition to reassuring us with his gracious love, replaces the diseased core within us:  he replaces our old, wandering and sin-sick heart with a new, supernaturally-good and noble heart.

The grace that replaces is even better than the grace that reassures.

Thursday
Apr052012

"Change Blindness:" How today's Church missed the core of God's offer.

  • Why do some Christians still believe that they're more likely to sin than to love goodness?

  • Why do some Christians still believe they have a 'divided heart?'

  • Why do some Christians still believe God the Father has to look upon them with 'Jesus glasses' so he doesn't see their sin?

AnswerChange Blindness.

"Change Blindness" is when a person [or group] looks at two seemingly identical pictures or scenes and misses important visual changes from one scene to the next or one picture to the next.  The person believes that they are still looking at the same exact image as the first. 

Even though something in the second picture is very different from the first, they don't see it.  It's a gap in perception.

Here's a short video on change blindness:

Watch Change Blindness on PBS. See more from NOVA scienceNOW.

 

 

Another Example:
Look at this short video called, "The Big Fish."  Did you notice the change in the scene?

 

How the Church has missed the dramatic change in our core nature...our heart:
Here's how change blindness has occured in much of the Church today:  Many Christians believe that the New Covenant message of 'grace' means that their heart is still just as deceitful as ever, or only somewhat improved from before, yet Jesus will work in them despite their still unfaithful heart.

*In other words, they believe that their true nature [heart] has been left unchanged, even after they've come to Christ.  They mistakenly think that their nature [heart] is still corrupted by sin, and that Jesus must work around that diseased and corrupt heart.  Like the subjects in the video you just watched, Christians are missing the change:  something was replaced with something else.


The real offer of God:

Grace means that an old, "prone to wander" heart was surgically removed -- replaced with the supernaturally-good heart of Jesus.  His heart now throbs within you, and has taken on your unique God-given desires, gifts, and temperment. 

The dramatic change we missed is this:  Your heart is no longer prone to wander, because that heart doesn't exist anymore.  It was burned up by Jesus' indwelling righteousness.  Just like the change from one picture to the next, the old has gone [it no longer exists] and the new heart has taken its place.

Your "flesh" [some residual and often strong programming left over from before] still exists, but that's not the authentic you.  Paul points this out in Romans 7:  "It is no longer I who sins..."

................................................................................................................................
Your heart is now your ally and not your enemy:   Once you see that, change blindness can no longer keep you pinned down.

 

P.S.  If you missed what changed in the "Big Fish" video, look for something large and yellow.

Thursday
Mar292012

What's up with the new look?

Many of you know that in addition to being a full-time writer, I'm also a solo piano recording artist

For some reason, I thought I had to keep these two sides of my life separate.  Part of that was the fear multi-artists can have that people will think:  "He can't possibly be qualified in multiple areas:  You know, "Jack of all trades - master of none." 

I think things are changing for what one writer calls us "slashes."   Marci Alboher calls people who operate equally in multiple areas "slashes."  Some examples of "slashes/" are:  

  • architects/personal trainers,
  • accounts/poets,
  • student/personal chef
  • I.T. tech/musician


I read about a psychotherapist who also makes violins that sell for $15,000 each to high-end orchestral clients.  Or, you can look at the classic case of DaVinci.  His own brilliance covered such sweeping pursuits as painting, architecture, the anatomy of the human body, and even the design of tanks and advanced weaponary.  The man who painted the "Last Supper" also excelled in geometry and architecture.  [I wrote a past post on the Renaissance Man.]


By pen or piano, the goal is restoration for the heart.
I'm introducing what really isn't another side of me, but rather a different expression for my creative outflow.  I write books and I compose music both for the sake of restoration.  I still write daily and love that.  But the music expresses things my writing doesn't.  It's a perfect marriage. 

Upcoming project:
In fact, in the future, The Good and Noble Heart Creative Studios [me] will be introducing a project series called "The Restoration Sessions"  that will combine both my teaching message of the Good and Noble Heart with my solo piano music.

As a former pianist/keyboardist for large worship events, I used to create "worshipscapes" and prayer backdrops for different elements going on in the worship moment.  Music can reach wounds and gently gain access to places that words might not have permission.  By combining word [teaching] and music, I get to offer the synergy of both.

I'll also be working on my second solo piano album.  My first was recorded on a Steinway Concert Grand and was called, "RESTORATION."  They are all originals.  "Emotion.  Touch.  Sensitivity" might describe the contemplative piano pieces on that album.  For now, enjoy.  [CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.]

Monday
Mar262012

Rescued through a promise, not obedience.

Even if most Christians believe their relationship with God began with grace, they often mistakingly believe it must be maintained by obedience or our capacity to keep the fires of faith stoked. 

For many years, I twisted believing into a work, fearing that God would save me only if I kept up a certain level of faith.  I based my eternal salvation on what I could maintain, rather than on what God promised.

God's promises act differently than ours.
A promise is the future peering into the present:  a sighting from a future God has already accomplished.   It's the difference between an acorn and a tree:  The tree already exists and God sees the tall tree right now.  God is present to that full-grown promise.  Yet at present, you can only see the acorn the tree sprouted from.  God has tossed the acorn from the future into the present in order to remind you of the tree.

*Truth flows from the future into the present.

The fact is, our relationship with Jesus has always been rooted in a promise God made, not our obedience [rule-keeping, law-based performance] and not our faith-keeping.

 

Before he had done anything good or bad...
Paul reminds his own Jewish friends, who thought they were qualified by their Jewish obedience to "thou shalts," that God chose their ancester Jacob to carry foreward the promise of his forebears, Abraham and Isaac, before Jacob was even born - before Jacob had the chance to do anything good or bad. 

God chose Jacob "When they [Jacob and Esau] had not yet been born, and had done nothing either good or bad - so that what God had in mind in making his choice might come to pass, not because of good works but because of the one who calls...  [Romans 9:11-12]

Yes, we choose our having been chosen, but when God saves a person from death into life, it is never about that person's obedience:  It is always about God's choosing them. 

Rescue and obedience have nothing to do with each other:
God made a promise to rescue.  He heals and saves because he wants to, not because you've done well this week:  An emergency room doctor doesn't treat and heal only those who have done less bad during the week than the others who have come for his care. 

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to heaven is paved with God's intentions. 

Trust the Promise, not your obedience. 

Wednesday
Mar212012

Are you costume jewelry or tarnished silver?

As Dwight Edwards, author of Revolution Within suggests,

Costume jewelry is essentially worthless metal covered with an attractive coating.  So many believers see themselves in that way - sinners through and through, yet covered by the blood of Christ...

Tarnished silver is a much truer image of who we are after conversion. 

In "good and noble heart" vernacular, the Christian's heart or true tendency is pure and untainted now, the old diseased heart having been removed and replaced by a completely radiant heart containing no trace elements of sin. 

That noble heart may be surrounded by a tarnished layer called, "the flesh" - sinful residual programming leftover even after our old heart was removed; but that tarnish does not penetrate to the level of the new heart.  Why? Because your new heart [unblemished silver] is no longer compatible with sin [tarnish].  In fact, your heart propels sin away from it.  The unfiltered radiant wattage of your new heart dispels the darkness of the flesh.  ["Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it, right?]

 

Related posts:

Video:  "THE PRONE TO WANDER MYTH."

Blog:  "Your Heart Is Not A Ship Off-Course."

Blog:  "Sin Is No Longer A Heart Issue."

 

 

Wednesday
Mar142012

Your new heart is as holy as it ever will be.

Your new nature is fully-completed. 

Your heart is not growing in holiness because it doesn't have to; it is already as holy as it ever will be.  A bucket overflowing can't get any more full.  Even among Christians who believe God has made them new creations, giving them his righteousness, there's a great deal of confusion over this issue.  

Most Christians think their heart is somewhat holier now with a moderate level of improved goodness, but probably isn't thoroughly, 100%, good.  So they mistakenly believe their nature will continue to improve with time.

This view short-changes the biblical view of our new nature.  As a Christian, your nature is no longer fallen or in need of improvement: It is as steadfast towards God as Jesus' heart is.  Your heart no longer possesses false convictions about God, nor harbors any deceit.  Nor is your heart easily mislead or self-centered. 

Replaced
The old heart that did possess false convictions, deceit and mistaken conclusions about life was replaced.  Not tweaked, not altered or improved.  REPLACED.  It's gone. 

After surgery, Jesus didn't leave the removed heart just lying around your interior world like a rotting organ left in a trash bin after surgery:  That old nature is gone.  Flash-obliterated:  Burned up by his righteousness.

Your completely-new heart only possesses the noble DNA of Jesus and his convictions.

The real question is,

"Then why do Christians still sin?" 

The answer is because the life in our new heart has yet to reach the creases of our mind, our choices and convictions.  The process of sanctification has nothing to do with our hearts growing in goodness:  Our hearts couldn't be more true and noble than they are now.  Rather, sanctification has everything to do with our actions, convictions and relational patterns coming into alignment with that new heart and its goodness.

[There is also our flesh, but that too is no longer your identity.  And the Spirit wages war against the flesh, not you.]

Jesus does not give approximations or half-solutions:
Our new hearts don’t simply possess a purity like Jesus had:  They possess the actual purity Jesus had, his DNA.  Our purity is not an approximation of what Jesus possessed:  It IS the purity Jesus possessed.

 

Wednesday
Mar072012

Sin is no longer a heart issue.

Bottom line:  Your heart is no longer compatible with sin.  Sin cannot penetrate your heart.  Jesus now lives within your heart, and he isn't compatible with sin.

Your new heart in Christ deflects sin rather than absorbing it!

A friend and I were reflecting on a sermon we had recently heard in which the pastor was urging  people to be more honest in their relationships and toward God. The pastor concluded that the reason people (he was speaking primarily to Christians) are not as honest as they should be was because of a deep-seated condition: “It’s a heart problem,” the pastor said.


So, as my friend and I sat smoking cigars (some of my best conversations have been over a good cigar), I asked him: “What did you think about the pastor’s statement—that it’s a “heart problem.” Is he right?


While my friend paused to think through it, I asked another question: “Is it a heart problem or a flesh problem?” As we talked through it, we agreed that it was, in fact, a struggle with the flesh, or old programming, not with the heart.

When I told my friend that his heart was now pure because of Christ, he  immediately felt a sense of pressure lift from him. Christians may be slow to live from their hearts, but sin is never a “heart problem” in the believer: sin is a flesh problem. As Christians, we don’t reject our hearts: we reject (consider as dead) our flesh through Christ’s cross.

[Excerpted from Jim's book, RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART.]

Tuesday
Feb282012

Your heart is more faithful than you think.  

On another forum, I recently posed the question:  "As a Christian, do you believe your heart is still 'prone to wander?"  -- still in danger of being unfaithful to God, in other words.

Reader:
"Yes - by experiance I do believe that although I have a new heart, my old man battles against it.  Therefore Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.  I believe that it is a constant choice to offer my heart up to God. That HE might take and seal it afresh and anew for the courts above.  If my heart was not prone to wander I believe that I  would not have to choose this day who to serve."

 

Jim:
When God gave you a new heart, why would he give you one that was still prone to wander?  Wouldn't that leave us exactly where we were before?  It would serve him better to give us a heart that was now steadfast and faithful to him.  Otherwise, that "changed heart" or new creation really isn't all that changed. 

You might be surprised to learn that it's not your new heart that wanders -- it's your flesh; and in fact Paul says your flesh no longer represents the true you.  You can still sin, or course; but your new heart no longer wants to.  Your heart/will is already dedicated to His will because Jesus actually replaced that wandering heart with his own heart and purity.

Although your flesh is at war with the Spirit, your heart is not.  This actually isn't a new message at all:  It's the classic Christian doctrine of "regeneration."  In my book, I point out folks from Martin Luther to J.I. Packer who talk about this surprising biblical truth.

We no longer have to daily recommit our heart out of fear that it will wander off.  Jesus didn't have to do that.  He worshipped God with all his heart certainly, but didn't feel anxious about having to constantly renew his faithfulness to God.  His DNA is now in your heart.

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

[Note:  As we talked more, the other person and I seemed to be tracking more together; yet I realized that there's often the acknowledgement of a new heart without understanding the quite radical implications of that new identity.   We often want to cling to the dirt in our lives far more than we want to celebrate the radical goodness Jesus has given us.]

Tuesday
Feb212012

Kids Are Not Cattle 

Thursday
Feb162012

What's the opposite of grace?

The opposite of grace is reciprocity.
You owe God nothing: Obligation isn't a part of grace. Love is, but not obligation.

The opposite of grace is pardon alone. 
The version of Christianity we have today is cruel: It amounts to pardon without palingenesis [i.e. regeneration].   [- Pull that puppy out at your next gathering and you're sure to impress. ] 

"Palin" means "again." "Genesis" means 'birth.' Grace without restoration is cruel; like releasing a man from prison without giving him new internal desires and capacities. Grace has gone beyond forgiveness (pardon) to giving the Christ-follower a new and supernaturally-good heart.

The opposite of grace is rationalization.
Rationalization and self-defense only inhibit our ability to receive.

The opposite of grace is self-improvement.  Growing into a new God-given goodness and radiance, yes.  Even professional mastery, yes.  But efforts at improving our core nature, no.  Why try to be loving when God has made you loving? 

New behaviors [outward signs of an inward renovation] will flow when we cooperate with God as he releases our new super-natural goodness. 

"When you clean the inside of the cup, the outside will also be clean."  - Jesus. 
[Behavior follows heart.]

Saturday
Feb112012

Louder doesn't mean truer: Why your false desires shout false things.

"But it feels like I really want that.  How can I enjoy my good and noble heart when I still want the things that trip me up?"

What happens when you hear the message that your heart has been made good and true in Christ, yet your desires pull you in the opposite direction?

  • That desire that seduces you?

  • That pseudo-addiction you "can't help"?

  • The anger at your kids that seems so...automatic?

Here's the problem
We've been taught that powerful feelings and attachments must be true of us.  The louder those feelings shout, the more true we think they are.  We've allowed feelings to be the cornerstone of our identity, rather than God's redemptive assessment of us. 

We mistakenly think that:

If I feel I want that other woman, it must be true that I want her.

If I can't let go of anger, it means my anger must be stronger than my patience.

If I can't let go of control, it means I must be a controlling person who can't let go.

It's destructive circular thinking:  "Because I experience a powerful pull, I must want that.  Worse, I must be the kind of person that wants that."

Here's the lie:  "Yeah, the 'good and noble heart' is a nice ideal; but you're not there yet.  There's no real power in it."

We've forgotten what God knows about us:  That those dishonorable desires are no longer us.  We have a new set of desires waiting to be released within our new hearts.  More accurately, the Holy Spirit is right now in the process of releasing those new and noble desires within us.


Here's how God might answer your doubts:

"You are my son [daughter] in whom I am SO-pleased!  Yes, you may have those wayward desires, but they are no longer you.  You have them, but they no longer have you.  Celebrate the new power, new resources, and new desires I'm now releasing in your good heart."

 

Monday
Feb062012

Parents: We are not Correction Officers

I hate to see children who are rigidly controlled like cattle, poked and prodded; or like lab rats, rewarded or punished based upon an adult's perception of successfully meeting expectations.  Control and compliance, the handmaids of shame,  assault my spirit to the core and this is an issue I am currently researching and writing about. 

I thought I was doing much better at stepping back from over-correcting my kids, refusing to control their every decision ...until I tried this little experiment:

Experiment:  Try not to correct your child for a day, or even one hour.  [Unless, of course, there's a safety issue involved.]  Try not to say, "no" or evaluate their behavior.  Don't pressure them to conform to your expectations.  Just connect with them

The experiment was all too revealing for me.  Though I think my parenting has changed for the better in the last few years, and I'm much more conscious of trying not to unnecessarily control my kids, the experiment showed me just how ingrained and reflexive my need to correct them was. 

It's also draining and takes an enormous amount of energy to control others -- energy that could be used to connect with them rather than getting them to comply with our often rigid expectations.

 

TRY IT

  • Just one day.  Or even one hour. 
  • No corrections, except for safety concerns:  Just connect with their hearts. 

Try it and let me know what you discover.

 

Related resources: