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~Dwight Edwards, author and advisor to Larry Crabb


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~Fran M.; Portland, OR

*Read more reviews on Amazon...

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


FIND OUT ABOUT SPEAKING EVENTS & TRAINING HERE.


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

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Monday
Oct172011

What your enemy's choice of weapons can tell you

  • Serial killer Juan Corona's favorite weapon was a machete', after which he buried the bodies in nearby farmer's orchards. 

  • The F.A.R.C., a Columbian terrorist group operating in Columbia's jungles, uses kidnapping as a weapon of choice. 

  • The Roman Empire's favored impliment of horror was suffocation through crucifixion.

 

Ask "why:"
Have you ever asked why your enemy's chief weapons are deception and accusation?  Why would the devil choose those two means above all others?  Certainly he has other means for harrassing and stealing; yet Scripture's foremost monikers for him are "The Deceiver" and "The Accuser."

 

Look at the fruit:
You can often tell the intended effect by looking at the fruit of something:  In other words, what happens when the victim is being deceived or being accused?  What does a Christian, in particular experience under:

1.  DECEPTION'S FRUIT

The Christian [or anyone, for that matter] is seduced away from reality, from what is true and actual.  In other words, we drink the CoolAid. 

This is why we are given a heads-up that "truth will make you free."  When the victim no longer believes what is true and actual and doesn't experience the world, himself, or God as they really are, they begin to develop false agreements:  They buy the lie: 

"God no longer gives a rip about me because he continues to allow me to experience deep pain." 

"My husband gets angry all the time because he has an anger problem and nothing more."

Deception brings distortion, and leads us to quite damaging conclusions -- like a fighter pilot who believes what his body is telling him, rather than trusting his instrument panel, only to find out that he's actually flying upside-down.  Deception leads to disorientation.


The antidote:  The antidote to deception is reality.  [In other words, confidence in Jesus' perspective.]

 

2.  ACCUSATION'S FRUIT:

Accusation calls something "bad" that God has made good.  It is a form of slander

You have a problem with lust because you are that kind of man and will always be so.

You need to control everything because you refuse to trust God.  [Though there may be some truth to this, a person can also feel the urge to control people and circumstances because of unhealed wounds and the messages those wounds left behind.]

The collateral damage of accusation is fear and impotence

"I am afraid to trust my heart because I've been told it is still 'deceitfully wicked' and selfish."

"I must try hard to avoid God's disappointment because I blow it so often and can no longer believe I'm his delight.  I have to keep trying harder.  [This is a form of impotence because the accused no longer believes his noble heart has the goodness and power to overcome sin.  She doesn't recognize the glorious desires and goodness of her new heart, and therefore, doesn't engage them.  She is left feeling helpless and defeated.]

Cardiotoxin:  The venom of a King Cobra is a cardiotoxin, with devastating effect upon the heart.  There is another Snake, who fell from heaven, who uses accusation as a cardiotoxin.

The antidote:  The antidote to accusation is unwaivering confidence that Jesus gave you a good and noble heart when you said 'yes' to him.  You no longer have a sin-nature, nor is sin something you even want.  [Your 'flesh' or some old programming is still around, but your flesh isn't your true nature.] 

Your heart is now good; and that good and noble heart is your chief weapon against your enemy.  You are a 'person of interest' to the enemy; but "greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world."


Thursday
Oct062011

PODCAST: "GOD WITHOUT RELIGION" ........... part one: Guest Andrew Farley joins Jim Robbins

Podcast:  GOD WITHOUT RELIGION - part one.  Interview with author Andrew Farley

This is part one of a three-part series Drew Farley and I will be doing.  Drew is the author of The Naked Gospel and his new book is called, God Without Religion:  Can It Really Be This Simple.  His writings have been featured in national news and media outlets including PBS, CBS, and FOX.

  • During this interview, Drew and I ask whether or not the Law is still appropriate as a guide for Christian behavior, and examine why it is not.

  • You'll discover that using the Law [including the Ten Commandments] as guidance for godly living will actually cause more sin, not less.

  • We also talk about the troubling passages in The Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus is delivering harsh warnings and unattainable standards for righteousness.  What are we to make of those passages?  Is there a more accurate and hopeful way to read them?

This podcast offers hope and peace for the Christian who is tired of religious self-improvement and pressure to be spiritual.

 

Monday
Oct032011

Parenting where the heart comes first

Here are some ways you can respond to your children out of your good and noble heart...even when your patience is being tested.  The suggestions come from a book called, Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn, a leader in the education and parenting fields:

 

 

 "Be reflective:"  Most of us find ourselves on auto pilot, simply reacting to our children, like firing at the metal parade of ducks at the carnival tent,  squeezing the trigger as each duck comes into our scope:   ping...ping... pang.  We simply fire away rather than first reflecting upon our response.  As Kohn says, "...control tends to be favored over connection."

"Keep your eye on the long-term goals:"  There is a great body of research out there that says that the carrot and stick [reward and punishment] pressure tactics of shaping kids actually backfires in the long run.  Pressuring kids through reward or punishment offers them external incentives only, like  grabbing a young plant by its leaves and pulling upwards forcefully in order to get it to grow, or telling the plant you'll water it only if it meets your expectations.  It doesn't help kids to want to be respectful or kind.  And we want them to want to walk nobly.

"Put the relationship first."  It's too easy for us to sacrifice the relationship for short-term compliance...just getting kids to be obedient little soldiers; or for our own need for peace and quiet.  Are kids really 'better seen and not heard?'

"Attribute to them the best possible motives consistent with the facts."  If little Tommy hauls off and wacks his brother's head with a stone, it's safe to say his motive probably wasn't noble.  But there are many times we assume our kids are just trying to tick us off, that their actions are intentionally rebellious.  When we do this, we often misread their hearts and attribute ill-will where there was none.

"Don't stick your no's in unnecessarily."  Try counting the number of times you tell your child 'no' in any given day.  When it's not a genuine safety issue, we must ask ourselves if we're shutting something down unnecessarily:  "We sometimes refuse to allow a child to do something just because it's inconvenient for us" says Kohn.

"Don't be rigid."   "A foolish consistency is the hallmark of ineffective parenting."  [partially attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson] There are often times when we parents can demonstrate compromise and humility, so that children experience a gracious authority that puts their heart first.

 

As Charles Spurgeon once said,  

“What position is nobler than that of a spiritual father who claims no authority and yet is universally esteemed, whose word is given only as tender advice, but is allowed to operate with the force of law? Consulting the wishes of others he finds that they are glad to defer to him. Lovingly firm and graciously gentle, he is the chief of all because he is the servant of all.”

 

Friday
Sep232011

VideoBlog: "The Monkey Experiment"

A rewards and punishment system will backfire. It did with monkeys and it will with people. Learn about Harlow's monkey experiment and how it can help you understand your new and good heart.

Monday
Sep122011

Grace won't work for just anybody.

Grace won't work for just anybody.  It's only intended for those who've been made new at the core.  It's our newness in Christ working with the freedom of grace that unleashes expressions of God's Spirit.  - Andrew Farley, God Without Religion

 
In other words, NEWNESS + GRACE = FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT


While speaking at a men's event, a guy actually argued with me that God had only made us "positionally" righteous.  In other words, we were righteous 'in heaven,' or 'in the eyes of God' but not actually good and noble...not yet.  Another way to state this guy's claim is that God only imputed [or credited] us with his goodness, but didn't impart [give or infuse] his righteousness within us.

I told the man that kind of only-in-heaven-goodness wouldn't do him any good; that merely getting credited with something is a lousy substitute for actually possessing it.  How do you overcome addictions with only a 'positional' goodness and not actual goodness to overcome it?  [ In other words, with a righteousness that can only be tapped into in heaven, but is of no value to you on earth.]  That's like telling a convict at his review hearing that you've credited him with good behavior and time-served, but you're still going to keep him behind bars.

Grace will do you little good without newness:  What you needed was a restored and alive heart that  possesses the attractive and powerful goodness of Jesus.  If God hasn't given you a new heart, with new appetites and new inclinations, what would his "grace" have to work with?  God can't release a goodness in you if there is no goodness to release.  He can't shape within you a better character if there's no spark of nobility to work with, no well of Christ-like purity to work with.

A potter needs good and clean clay to work with.  Otherwise, his master hands will only be shaping wet gravel.  He has already made you clean, new, noble.  Enjoy it.

NEWNESS + GRACE = FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

 

Related posts:

Enjoy your new nature

Isn't Jesus being good for us all we need?  No.

Thursday
Sep082011

The Ghost Bear

In the movie, The Bear, a small orphaned grizzly cub finds itself lost in the Alaskan wilderness.  While scraping the ground for food, he looks up and sees an adult cougar fixed on him.  The cougar had obviously been stalking him and was sighting him in for the kill -- at only 10 yards away.

The orphaned cub does what it can do, and instinctively stands up on its hind legs to look at big as possible.  In a matter of seconds, the cougar looks startled and bounds off in the opposite direction, frightened by what it's seen. 

What the little cub did not know as it pushed itself up onto its hind legs was that a large male grizzly was standing behind the cub, towering over him; reared up on his massive hindlegs, neck hairs grizzled and bristling.  A protector had moved in behind the cub, with ghost-like stealth.  The cub didn't know what kind of force stood behind him.

But that's what the cougar saw.

 

I often wonder what sort of horrors I've been protected from, unbeknownst to me.  Though it often seems as if we're the abandoned and orphaned cub, it's far more likely that the Ghost Bear has come behind us more than we know.

Tuesday
Aug302011

"I am no longer a good and noble man."

"I am no longer a good and noble man." 

This was the indictment against my heart last week, and my character was on trial.

Why had I come to this aweful conclusion about my heart?  ... My wife exposed my anger.

I'd realized I'd blown it with my wife and kids, and had been blowing it for the last nine months: 

...Chronic impatience and irritability with the kids,

...backing my wife into an ideological corner in order to be "right" and to dominate an argument,

...and treating my family like a dumping ground for all that ailed me.

My anger wasn't explosive or uncontrolled; it was more of a searing, wounded anger.  The kind of anger a man develops when he can't face one more betrayal of friendship, or another day of bleeding alone, or another hour of wondering why his Father has gone off and left him again.

It's the kind of anger a man feels when God is asking him to trust that "there is no shadow of turning" with Him, but the man can't quite believe it yet.

Faced with the knowledge I'd been wounding my dear family for many months, I went to a pretty dark place:  Not a place of simple and honest sorrow, but a destructive form of self-torture.  Indicting yourself is often a cheap substitute for the difficult task of receiving grace.

Here are some thoughts that were going through my head:

I am clearly unworthy of my family and can't be trusted with their well-being.

I am no longer the man I thought I was, and that terrifies me.

I am no longer a man with a good and noble heart.

 

Thank God he rescued me.  Thank God I have a very gracious wife, and understanding children.  I was able to finally come to my right mind -- like the man of the Gadarene tombs who cut himself with sharp stones and razored accusations...until Jesus broke his chains.

Do you see the treachery of the enemy there?  "Take out his heart by convincing him that he and his sin are one and the same.  Get him to identity so strongly with his sin that the restoring work Jesus has already done in him feels like a sham."

Here's where the truth is so practical [as it always is]:  If you don't believe your heart is good and noble, possessed by the very strength of Jesus' own goodness, you will likely get the emotional snot beaten out of you on a regular basis.  You need to believe you have a good and noble heart so that when kicked in the gut, you can still stand up...again, and again.

Dear brother, Jesus has cancelled Adam's legacy of shame against you.  On your worst day, you are deeply pleasing to God.

Dear sister, Jesus has denounced Eve's claim against you.   Despite your deepest fears, He has not turned from you.

Monday
Aug152011

Diagraming my journey: How I got my heart back

I wanted you to see how the journey of getting my heart back unfolded over the years; primarily how I discovered the message of Scripture that the Christian's heart is now good and noble -- ultimately leading me to write RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART.

Share your diagrammed journey here. 
Email me [jim at thegoodandnobleheart.com]  with a sketch or PowerPoint diagram of your journey of getting your heart back.  Get creative.  Use stick figures - it doesn't matter.  I'll post it.

 

Monday
Aug012011

A new word for pursuing the clarity of your calling...

I'm going to invent a new word:  lucidentity
It's a contraction of "lucid" and "identity." 

I was driving my kids to the pool today when I saw the license plate of the car in front of me:  "LUCID."  Certain words "pop" for me, and "lucid" is one of them: 

lucid:

"Clear understanding and perception."

"Evident, clear, understandable."

"Radiant, luminous."

The title of the new book about calling and identity I'm working on will likely be called, "Shimmer."  This idea of "lucidentity" ... of possessing a clear, top-of-mind, and radiant view of ourselves is second to none for me.  With luminous clarity, I want each of my friends to be able to say, "I know with greater clarity the indispensable role I play in God's Story than I did last year."

Dan Allender, in his book, "To Be Told," offers this intriguing question: 

What about God am I most uniquely suited to reveal to others?

Lucidentity:  In other words, you are awake to the "why."  You may not yet know the "how" but that's God's bailiwick.  Trust him for the "how."  Ask him to give you greater lucidentity as you discover what God is trying to reveal to others through the unique splendor of your life.

 

Similar postings:

Podcast:  Calling Series:  THE GLORY OF YOUR LIFE, with special guest, Gary Barkalow - author of It's Your Call.

Monday
Jul252011

Myths about your calling

MYTHS ABOUT CALLING:

Calling happens more quickly for others. 
No.  What we see as 'success' in another is merely the long and arduous accumulation of tears, testing and time.  We're merely seeing them on this particular summit.  Calling shouldn't be thought of in terms of months or years; but often, decades.

The journey of calling shouldn't be this hard. 
No.  As John Churton Collins says, a person often fails "because he thinks what is difficult is easy."

Your calling is only valuable when you're getting paid or recognized for it. 
No.  You know your true art and calling when you're willing to do it whether or not anyone sees it or pays for it. You do it because your heart won't let you do anything less. I've tried several times to quit: I couldn't. My heart wouldn't let it go.

Impact is measured by newsletter subscribers and social media "reach." 
No.  None of these existed when Jesus healed dying bodies or launched human history's defining revolution.  Paul and Barnabas received their direction from the Holy Spirit to "go there" or "avoid that town"  increasing the Gospel's "reach" and rootedness.  Technology can be a tremendous vehicle for delivering our message, but there is no substitute for the direct voice of the Holy Spirit and his outpowering of power.

Taking up your cross is the opposite of following your heart's desire.
No.  As a Christian, your heart is now alive with the very goodness of Jesus.  The desires of that heart are noble and ought to be pursued.  [Your 'flesh' may have other, ignoble desires, but we're talking about your new heart's desires here.] Taking up our cross and following our heart's desire are the same thing.  Following your heart's desire and calling may be the hardest thing you could ever pursue.  But that's what noble people do.

 You and your calling are already fully approved:  I can hear the Stadium of Witnesses roar with the Lion. 

 

Related posts:

Futility is a man's deepest fear

What does calling have to do with your heart?

Video:  'The Long Desire'

Podcast:  'Calling As a Journey:'  with guest Gary Barkalow, author of "It's Your Call"

 

 

 

Thursday
Jul142011

Futility is a man's deepest fear.

Image-courtesy Kansas' "Leftoverture" album coverFutility plagues a man’s life more than anything else:

“My life is of little consequence.  My best efforts are in vain.  I will be an obscure footnote in History's appendix.  I long for significance, but suspect my efforts are a pebble's drop into a dark, hollow well.   My life will be a long testimony to failure.”

It is the lament of the writer of Ecclesiastes:

"Meaningless!  Meaningless!" says the Teacher...There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow."  - Eccl. 1:1, 11

We’ve come to expect that breakthrough comes soon and comes at a younger age.  We’ve looked to the exceptions to give us our timeline:  Citizen Kane, Orson Well’s masterpiece was written at age twenty-five.  Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 was composed when he was twenty-one.  Many of Picasso’s most celebrated paintings were done in his twenties.  [What the Dog Saw, Malcom Gladwell]

However, as David Galenson, who has studied our assumptions about creativity points out, there are many other cases in which genius peaked much later:  Robert Frost wrote 42 percent of his anthologized poems after turning fifty.  Alfred Hitchcock directed his films, “Rear Window,” “Psycho” and “Virtigo” between the ages of fifty-four and sixty-one.  Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was published when he was forty-nine, and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe at fifty-eight.  The master painter, Cezanne’s, finest work was done in his senior years.  [What the Dog Saw, Malcom Gladwell]

Malcom Gladwell calls those who peak later in life, “late bloomers.” [What the Dog Saw] For me, it offers an antidote to a man’s fear that his life won't amount to much:  breakthrough is a slow bang.  It is a long fuse that culminates in vivid splendor only after it has burned that slow, steady, coil upon tedious coil of fuse. 

But note:  the fuse still gives off spark and light at each moment leading up to the bang.

Sunday
Jul102011

Kindle Version now available: "RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART" by Jim Robbins

My book, Recover Your Good Heart - Living free from religious guilt and the shame of not good-enough, is now available in Amazon's Kindle Store.  Click here to view.

 

"I cannot recommend Jim Robbins' book Recover Your Good Heart highly enough...A great work!"

-Dwight Edwards, advisor to Larry Crabb
and author of Revolution Within

Thursday
Jun302011

Enjoy your new nature.

“If you ask those who have made a commitment to Jesus Christ what the Christian gospel is, you will probably be told that Jesus died to pay for your sins, and that if we will only believe he did this, we will go to heaven when we die.  In this way what is only one theory of ‘atonement’ is made out to be the whole of the essential message of Jesus. Justification has taken the place of regeneration, or a new life.” 

-- Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy.

   Many Christians think that most of the significant transformation of their souls will occur either later in their lives when they finally get how to be a good Christian, or "in heaven."  There's always this sense of "I'm not enough yet.  I need to become more_______________." 

This incessent assumption that you are so devoid of goodness and Christ-like character that you can never rest until you are more spiritual [and therefore supposedly more pleasing to God]  sabotages the dramatic work Christ has already done in you. 

Our mistaken understanding of the “new birth” is that it is something primarily reserved for heaven or the spiritual elite.  We have made the Gospel entirely about Justification [getting your sins forgiven so that you can go to heaven] and assumed that Sanctification will happen ... someday.  Hopefully.

The idea of "regeneration" -- that our hearts have already been made new and holy -- rarely gets spoken about in many circles.  Even a noted evangelical like J.I. Packer has said regeneration is:

“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).

This dramatic change in our nature and tendencies from sinful ... to holy has already occurred.  This is not a new teaching.  God has met his promise:

By this new covenant (new way of relating to God), “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10) “…for he purified their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:9)

Enjoy your new nature!

Friday
Jun242011

Isn't Jesus' being good for us all we need?  ...No.

I've been asked whether or not it really matters that Jesus gave us a thoroughly good and pure heart when he rescued us.  After all, isn't it enough to know that he lives in me, and that his goodness dwells in me?  Why do I need to be thought of as having a good and noble heart now?

No.  First, Jesus won't simply be good for you [on your behalf].  His desire was to restore your heart so that it possessed the same purity and goodness his does. You can't mature as an individual, unique person if you don't possess a goodness that is now yours.  Yes, that goodness comes solely from Christ's work in you and for you; but nevertheless, just as I need to allow my own children to grow up in the strength I nourish in them -- so that it becomes their strength -- so Jesus must give us a new heart so that it becomes our strength.  He no longer wishes us to merely borrow his goodness.

Why would he merely live in you, without dramatically changing the core of your being first - without addressing the problem of the heart itself.  As goes the heart, so goes the person.  He had to first clean the inside of the cup.

Jesus intent has always been to rescue the heart.  You can even see this in the Prophets' own writing.  Ezekiel 36:26 even predicts Jesus's restoring work of the heart.

 

THE RUINED HEART:

  • "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?"  [Jer. 17:9]
  • Your heart was your enemy.

 

THE RESTORED HEART:

  • I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  [Ezek. 36:26]
  • By this new covenant (new way of relating to God), “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10) “…for he purified their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:9)
  • Your heart is now your ally.

 

Thursday
Jun162011

C.S. Lewis on what makes the enemy so nervous...

My good friend and ally, John, and I were noticing that just about everyone we know -- especially people on the front lines of Jesus' mission to rescue hearts -- was in deep pain or entrenched suffering of some sort.  It's almost uncanny that so many of our allies are suffering;  and it can't be explained away by, "Well, everyone goes through something now and then:  that's just the way it is."  [That sounds a bit naive to me.]

John brought up the following reference from The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis.  Uncle Screwtape, the elder devil, is telling his nephew the very thing that makes evil itself nervous:

“Sooner or later he [God] withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all supports and incentives.  He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish…He cannot “tempt” to virtue as we do to vice.  He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away his hand…Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending,  to do our enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” 


― Uncle Screwtape.  From C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


  •  "..to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish." 


  • "Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending,  to do our enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

If you've ever read my blog or my book, you'll know that I've never been one to advocate robotic duty or heart-less obedience; and I'm not sure Lewis is either here.  At first blush, this may paint a rather unfavorable view of God, but note the following:

  • Lewis does not say that God has left the creature – but that in our “conscious experience” it seems that way. 
  • He also doesn’t say that he takes away his presence in these times, but only his hand – so that we can walk when we didn’t think we could; or at least in a strength and capacity we have not ‘till now walked. 
  • It also doesn’t say that we have been forsaken, only that the creature "asks why he has been forsaken,”  given the agony of his experience.

What makes the foul ones nervous?  When an ally of Jesus keeps getting back up, refusing darkness the opportunity to gloat, and continues in desire-less plodding to carry hope into the Babylonian lions' den.  Or to reach Mordor where the one ring will be swallowed in fire forever.  Only then can Frodo go home.  And for such a time as this, to face-down the king who has enslaved her people, exposing the plot, setting off a redemptive sequence in history that far outstrips Esthers diminuitive status.

"Take heart...for I have overcome the world."  And because you are his ally, you are overcoming the world as well."

 

Friday
Jun032011

VideoBlog: "Developing a Steady Confidence" --Jim Robbins

Thursday
May262011

Developing a steady confidence. Lessons from a Navy Seal

Before his grueling Navy Seal training, Eric Greiten, author of The Heart and the Fist, got into the boxing ring.  He trained with a much more seasoned boxer and his coach, and this is his account of the first days of his training for the ring.

When we finished our day's work, I went into the locker room and took off my new gloves and my new hand wraps.  I held my hands splayed in front of me and looked at my knuckles.  The skin was torn from punching on the heavy bag.  Scar tissue would start to grow soon.  But for now, I savored blood on my hands, the small cut on my lip, the soreness in my jaw.  I had begun to earn the strength that comes from working through pain and it felt good.  I filled the sink with hot water and sank my hands.  When I pulled my dripping hands from the water, hints of fresh blood came to the surface of each knuckle.  ...I was becoming stronger and I liked it.

Deciding to enter the strict and discipled training of a professional boxer, Greitens says he needed to test himself:

" ...I needed to live through something hard and real to become better."    He noted that the other, more seasoned boxers had "a sure sense of how to walk in the world.  That was something I wanted - the steady confidence that comes from passing through tough tests." 

 

That "sure sense of how to walk in the world...that steady confidence" will often only come with bloody knuckles, cut lip,  and the wind knocked out of us.  But the strength will come, too.  When seasoned through suffering, a fighter can then handle opponents that once would have beat him silly.

 

Monday
May232011

Video: God Without Religion -- from Andrew Farley

I'm looking forward to reading this newest book from Drew Farley, author of The Naked Gospel.  If you liked my book, Recover Your Good Heart, his books will resonate with you as well.

 

Thursday
May122011

What am I here to disrupt?

Do you consider yourself a disruptive person?  Do you even consider being disruptive a good thing?

...Not obnoxious, not pursuing an agenda at all costs, not combative; yet stirring, compelling.  Not acting out of a wound, but acting in order to heal.

Here's the point:  If you're going to make a sustainable difference, your presence in some way may well be disquieting to others.  It may come through the choices you make that break pattern with the unquestioned status quo.  It may come through the questions you ask that challenge current embedded assumptions. 

But sooner or later, because your presence is disruptive, someone will notice and find a deeper and truer life because you stirred something in them.  The clothes in the laundry will only come clean if the agitator in the washing machine is working.

You can use the following question to help you focus your disruptive mission:

"How can I disrupt the ______________________  [in the arena I hope to influence, or kind of people I'm most capable of reaching?]"

As a writer answering that question, I ask: 

"How can I disrupt the damaging assumptions Christians have about their identity?" 

And, as a professional musician/artist, I ask:  "How can I disrupt the Church's endorsement of mediocrity so that we can offer the world something more remarkable, reflecting the creative brilliance of Jesus himself?"

How would you answer the question?


*The disruptive question originates with Jesus, but can be found in a book called, Disrupt, by Luke Williams.

Monday
May022011

The irrational hope of suffering

Many of my friends, and even my own family, are going through exceptionally hard times these days.  We're wondering why God seems to be indifferent, almost callous.  God seems to treat us in a way we'd never treat our own friends and family.  My wife and I are questioning every major decision we've made in the last 2 years, wondering if God's promise was a joke.

Would you allow your son to feel abandoned?  You're daughter to experience unrelieved pain?

I'm pretty good at trusting God when I know what he's asking me to risk.  If I'm unmistakeably hearing his counsel, I know he intends on rescue in one way or another.  But when I can't hear a thing - no direction, no counsel, no One ... It is then that trust is forced into a deeper place:

Will you trust me when you hear nothing -- when the knock on the door isn't answered.  When the storehouse is barren.  When the promise feels like a slap across the face?

I'm learning that the only way to move from a theology of hope and trust, to a quake-proof, threat-defying confidence is to let it play out.  Remember:  things are not always what they appear to be.  Our assumptions about what is going on may be inaccurate.  We need to let this play out so that the confidence Jesus had in the bow of the boat being bullied by wave and wind becomes ours.  We need this trial so that the goodness of God's heart - deeply for us -  can be exposed:

There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home.  - John Stuart Mill

This isn't a stone-hearted dismissal of loss and pain, the kind of unaffected counsel Job's friends offered him.   Rather, know that I'm heart-sick at the level of suffering some of my dear friends and those closest to me are experiencing.  My own family feels tossed about like a dog's chew toy --  Daily rage against unanswered prayer, tears wept as I stand behind my house hunched over in abandonment.  

Then there are the fleeting moments of ever-increasing strength.  A growing noble courage I don't think I've ever felt before. 

My hope is being coaxed, hardened and honed because of the suffering, and not in spite of it.  I don't want to cower before every threatening cloud.  I don't want to be tossed about by every wind:  but I will be unless I allow this chapter in the story to summon a strength that is becoming indominable, not fooled by circumstance and reason.

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