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Entries in grace (40)

Wednesday
Jan252012

It's not about trying to act like a Christian.

If you chase externals, you get either a pharisee or a defeated Christian.

"External manifestation of "Christlikeness" is not, however, the focus of the process [spiritual formation]; and when it is made the main emphasis, the process will certainly be defeated, falling into deadening legalisms and pointless parochialisms ... We know now that peculiar modes of dress, behavior, and organization just are not the point."  - Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart

 

It's not about acting like a Christian, even though loving actions are important.

Willard continues,

"...to strive merely to act in conformity with his [Jesus'] expressions of what living in the kingdom of God from the heart is like is to attempt the impossible."

 

For example many Christians, under a pressure to be holy or under a false sense of conviction from the pulpit, try then to act loving:

"Love, we hear, is patient and kind.  Then we mistakenly try to be loving by acting patiently and kindly - and quickly fail."  - Willard

Willard says that, rather than conjuring love and attempting to act in loving ways, we need to "advance in love itself - the genuine inner readiness and longing to secure the good of others."

My own suggestion is that the way in which that inner readiness is developed is to:

  • Recognize that in your new nature, it's already there.

  • Celebrate with God's Spirit as he nourishes and releases that already-present love.

  • Learn how God uniquely awakens and nourishes your heart:  Music?  Solitude?  Conversational prayer?  Scripture study? Art?  A good hike in the woods?  Meaningful conversation with others?

 

"the letter of the law kills, the spirit gives life."  [2 Corinthians 3:6]

 

Related resources:

  • "And please, try not to sin!"

  • My book, Recover Your Good Heart, goes into much more detail about living from the good and noble heart Jesus has given the Christian; and what the Bible has to say about it.  It debunks many of the myths we've been given about our hearts, so that we can live the life Jesus invites us to.

[Also in Kindle and AudioBook/MP3 formats.]

Monday
Jan162012

How would you answer these questions about your heart?


Here are a couple questions to help you determine if you believe your heart is your ally and not your enemy:

1.  Can you trust the desires of your heart, or do you think those desires will lead you astray?

2.  Do you believe your heart is as pure as Jesus' heart?

3.  When you sin repeatedly, is your first reaction to feel powerless, defeated?

4.  Would you refer to yourself as a "sinner?"

5.  Do you think sanctification [holiness] is something that will happen to you someday, or has already happened?

 

Answers:

1.  Yes, I can trust the desires of my heart.  [Not the desires of my flesh, but the desires of my heart, my new nature.]  The timing for the fulfillment of those desires often requires discernment and long-suffering; but Jesus intends on honoring the noble desires of my new heart.

2.  Yes, my heart [new nature] is as pure as Jesus' heart.  Why?  He gave me his own goodness.  His holines is my new nature.  Otherwise I wouldn't be able to "love others as I have loved you."

3.  No.  I may feel conviction, but not condemnation.  Frustrated, but not powerless.  My sin is no longer who I really am.  Even better, my new heart has the power to overcome sin's allure because it no longer wants what sin promises.

4.  No.  I am a saint, restored to a glory that even unfallen Adam and Eve didn't enjoy.

5.  No.  Jesus has already sanctified my heart, my true nature.  I can still sin, but it's no longer in my heart to do so.  The cause of my sin is no longer my heart, but rather a foreign invader called "sin" cooperating with my flesh. I am no longer striving to be good.  I'm simply trusting the Spirit to release the goodness he's already place within my heart.

 

HOW DID YOU ANSWER?

If you had contrary answers to any of these questions, you may have heard the same message about your heart that I did for many years:  "Your heart is prone to wander."   It's not true.  Not any longer.  Being a "new creation" means that Jesus has removed the ruined heart and replaced it with a noble and radiant heart.  

In Christ, your heart becomes your ally, not your enemy.

 

Related Resources:

 

Friday
Dec302011

You are just as holy as Jesus.

"You, Christian, are just as holy as Jesus." 
This is an audacious claim, isn't it?

In fact, it's so bold as to feel blasphemous, like an insubordinate and arrogant soldier who doesn't know his place.

But it has to be true if you are to be obedient to Jesus, to love as he loves ... "Love others as I have loved you." 

  • You can't love well without his actual goodness having become your actual goodness.

  • You can't love your abuser like Jesus would, if you have even an ounce of self-righteousness in your heart.

  • You can't love your spouse, kids or friends, without any self-interests, without any expectation of benefit to you, without Jesus' stubborn affection for them.

But here's the difference between us and Jesus: 
Though we as "little Christs" now have the same nature [or "heart"] as Jesus, our actions don't always follow.  It takes time to trust your new goodness, to let it come out and play.   It takes time for the body to follow the heart; for the old habits of our former selves to succumb to Christ's death.

But be confident of this:  Those latent and discouraging habits of mind and body represent a person who no longer exists.  The old has gone, the new has come. 

Your new heart is just as holy as Jesus' heart - because he gave you his own heart.  His good nature is now in you, as you.  You, noble friend are the lighthouse.

Wednesday
Dec142011

Your heart is your ally, not your enemy.

Most Christians believe that their heart is an opponent; a cancer to be beat, or an unruly dog to be tamed.


Usually, they've ended up with that belief because, though their beliefs came from the bible, they weren't biblical.  The belief that their heart is still corrupt and wicked even after Jesus has taken up residence there, was often formed, not from a composite and whole picture from Scripture, but from select passages ripped from context.

Until about 8 years ago, I too had developed what I thought was a biblical assumption about my heart and its motives:  concluding that my heart would lead me astray because it was attracted to sin.

Here are some of those select passages and even worship songs upon which many Christ-followers have built a theology that assumes their heart is still wicked:

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me."  [Ps. 51:19] 
[You might remember the Keith Green song here.]

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure."  [Jeremiah 17:9]


"Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Bind my wandering heart to thee."  [Hymm: "Come Thou Fount']

Cherry-picking selected passages and forming a complete theology would be like eating each ingredient of a cake by itself:  First, eating the raw eggs, then eating the half-cup of salt, then eating the raw flour.  The whole and completed cake tastes nothing like the individual ingredients separated-out.

Your heart is your ally now:  aligned with God's own spirit.  Your heart is your advocate, not your adversary.

Here's a modern translation of what Luther affirmed over 300 years ago:

"For faith in Christ gives us the Holy Spirit, who gives us new hearts, and stirs those hearts so that we may now willingly pursue God's best."   -Martin Luther

Your heart is your ally, not your enemy.

 

Related posts:

Video:  The 'Prone to Wander' Myth

Podcast:  God Without Religion, with guest author, Andrew Farley.

 

 

Wednesday
Nov302011

Video: "THE PRONE TO WANDER MYTH"

I just finished producing this video.  The video exposes one of the most damaging myths in the Church today.

Wednesday
Oct262011

Podcast: "GOD WITHOUT RELIGION:" PART 3 - author Andrew Farley joins Jim Robbins

This is the final episode, part three, of the podcast mini-series, "GOD WITHOUT RELIGION." 

Drawing from Andrew Farley's new book, God Without Religion,  Drew and I dig deeper into the confusing mess that religious compliance and performance has made of things:

 

  1. Discover why it can't be your old nature that causes you to sin, or that tempts you.

  2. Learn why we often mistake the voice of sin for our own heart's voice, believing our heart is still "prone to wander."

  3. Explore why, even when we sin, as Andrew Farley points out, "There's something in us, that's not us;"  and why relaxing in your new and noble nature will set you free.

 

To learn more about "God Without Religion" visit Andrew's site:  www.andrewfarley.org.

  CLICK TO LISTEN.

 

 

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To hear Parts 1 & 2 of this podcast series:

To hear Parts One and Two of the "GOD WITHOUT RELIGION" podcast series, go to the podcast page; or download them in iTunes.

 

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.”

 

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.

 

Thursday
Oct282010

Parenting with the good and noble heart

You can grow up under 'Christian' parents, in a household devoted to Scripture and faithful church attendance, and still develop a debilitating sense of shame.  As a child, your motives and actions will be nitpicked with the sharp stick of displeasure.  Your motives and behavior will be picked apart with forensic and relentless scrutiny by your parents.  You'll conclude that you are not nor ever will be fully-pleasing to somebody -- your family or to God. 

And the parent does this because they believe it is an act of love.

I don't doubt these Christian parents deeply love their children.  I've had to take a close look at my own approach to my children.  We simply have been given a wrong set of assumptions about our kids [and our own] hearts. 

So here's a better set of assumptions you can have about your children who know Christ:

1.  They do not have a rebellious nature any longer.

2.  They are not setting out to make your life difficult:  There's always something going on underneath the "bad behavior."  Is it fear?  Hurt?  Exhaustion?  Do they feel harassed by constant nitpicking?

3.  They need to know Jesus has made their hearts genuinely good.

4.  They need to know that their heart matters more than their behavior.

5.  They need to know that your primary focus is not on their sin or misbehavior:  This is not a fault-finding expedition. Even if their actions need to be exposed because they are dangerous or violate relationship, our highest intent is to draw out the power and resources of their new hearts.  Not every mistake or fault needs to be pointed out.

You can move towards your children with these assumptions because you have a good and noble heart.  You already want to love them in this new way. 

 

Friday
Oct222010

Podcast interview with TrueFaced' John Lynch - Will you let your heart come out and play?

John Lynch is a blast.  He is the co-author of the popular books, Bo's Cafe and TrueFaced.  John and I talked about allowing our 'new nature to come out and play' -- rather than mistrusting our hearts, or assuming our first nature is sin.

Imagine a community that really believes that the heart of every believer is good and noble, and actually lives from that new identity:  recognizing the mess, but knowing that the mess is not our identity.  Imagine that kind of safe place.
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Photo:  John Lynch,  co-author of TrueFaced, and Bo's Cafe.

 

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Jim's podcasts on iTunes.

Friday
Jan152010

Restoration is better than 'acceptance' alone...

A Mountain Search and Rescue unit gets a call that a climber has fallen on Mt. Hood, near Portland Oregon.  The climber's pick axe failed to grab when he attempted to lodge it into a unstable pocket of ice.  There was nothing to stop his fall.  Other climbers found the body, mangled and barely alive, one-thousand feet down from where he started to slide.

When the mountain rescue unit got there, multiple bones were shattered, including the spine, and the climber was bleeding from his ears and nose.   Rescue workers knelt near the bleeding body and spoke reassuringly to it:  "We accept you." 

And then they did nothing else.  To comfort the climber, they again offered, "We accept you.  You are loved and safe now."  But nothing else was done - no attempt to discern the man's vitals or assess his awareness of surroundings.  No attempt to stabilize and transport the body. 

Only, "You are loved and accepted.  It's o.k. now."

..................................................................................................
O.k., so I made up the story to demonstrate something.  It is not enough for Christians to see themselves as merely loved and accepted by God's grace.  That's a beautiful thing; but it won't restore a person or give them back the capacity to live well -- There was great damage that needed healing.

God is smarter than that.  He restores us by equipping us with a new and noble heart so that we can relate well, live well, and enjoy this new grace we've been given.  Anything less would be as cruel as the clearly shallow and insufficient 'hope' the mountain rescue unit offered the dying climber. 

What have you been taught about 'grace' and 'acceptance.'  Was it enough?

Monday
Jan112010

Being 'accepted' by God isn't enough.

One of the members of The Good and Noble Heart community I moderate asked a great question.  The core of her question goes to real the offer of Jesus.  Here's her question:

What exactly did Jesus accomplish for us? I really believe that He brought us to a place of being able to be with the Father, unrestricted and free. That's how I life my everyday life with Him. But I really don't know how to see myself...am I really good now and therefore can go to the Father, or still the same old me, but completely accepted through Christ's dying on the cross, and that being accepted as I am gives me the hope and strength to be able then to change.

Her confusion is understandable and common to many Christians:  Am I merely accepted by Jesus (which is a beautiful thing in itself) but am still essentially the same person I was before I met him; or did he do something to me -- making me truly good and pure of heart? 

The trouble with seeing ourselves as only forgiven and accepted is that is doesn't solve the root problem -- a diseased and fatally-incapacitated heart.  If Jesus were to 'accept' us without giving us the capacity to love and relate well to him, we would not be able to live or love as he did -- unable to fulfill the command to "love God with all your heart...."  It would be a cruel and unfair expectation on God's part. 

Further, we would be debilitatated and diminished in our capacity to love others:  "Love one another as I have loved you." You can't love like Jesus unless you have his heart.  And that's exactly why his offer includes acceptance ... and a gloriously new heart.

The salvation Jesus offers is a rescue of the heart. It has to be.  There is no loving and living well without a reborn, alive and supernaturally-vibrant heart. 
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Is this understanding of the Gospel what you were taught?

Sunday
Nov222009

UPCOMING PODCASTS -- airing this week

Monday, Nov. 23, Jim will by the podcast guest on Joel Brueseke's "Growing in Grace Together" series. 

Wednesday, Nov. 25, Andrew Farley, author of The Naked Gospel, will join Jim for a second podcast.  They'll be discussing the misleading language and catch-phrases Christians often use that end up preventing them from embracing their true goodness and restored identity. 

Here's the episode link on Blogtalk Radio. 

Monday
Nov162009

LISTEN NOW: 'The Naked Gospel' interview with Andrew Farley

Andrew and I talked about his fantastic new book, The Naked Gospel - the truth you may never hear in church.  Find out what Andrew says about our new identity and freedom.  It really is a lot better than we've been told.

  • Should Christians really obey the moral law in the Ten Commandments?
  • Do we really have pure and good hearts - the very same that Jesus had?
  • Can Christians trust their hearts?

The answers may surprise you!

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Click player below to listen.



As always, feel free to leave your comments below!

Tuesday
Nov032009

'The Naked Gospel' quiz

Hear the provocative interview with Andrew Farley, author of The Naked Gospel - the truth you may never hear in church.   The author even has a quiz, and the answers will surprise many.  Here's the quiz, taken from www.thenakedgospel.com:

The Naked Gospel Quiz
Below are ten faith-related concepts that don't seem to be regularly discussed in many churches today. But our view on each of these concepts affects our relationship with God, our spiritual growth and our fulfillment in life. So for each of the ten concepts, decide whether you think each is true or false, and you'll be presented with the answers at the end of the quiz.

1. Christians should ask God to forgive and cleanse them when they sin.
True or False

2. Christians struggle with sin because of their old self within.
True or False

3. We should wait on God even before making everyday decisions.
True or False

4. When we sin against God, we're out of fellowship until we repent. *
True or False

5. Old Testament law is written on Christians' hearts so we want to obey it.
True or False

6. The Bible tells us that Christians can obtain many rewards in heaven.
True or False

7. Christians will give an account for their sins at the great white throne. 
True or False

8. Christians should tithe at least 10 percent of their income to the church.
True or False

9. God gets angry with us when we repeatedly sin against him. 
True or False

10. God looks at us as though we're righteous, even though we're really not.
True or False

(Andrew Farley says that the answer to each of the above is false.)  Decide for yourself.
Hear Steve Brown's interview with Andrew Farley, author of The Naked Gospel.

Wednesday
Sep162009

Free e-book from Jim - "THE GOSPEL OF THE HEART"

I'm making this e-book free of charge.  Download or share it as much as you want.
This short e-book exposes the false gospel that manages the externals and sabotages our hearts.

E-Book-The Gospel of the Heart-Author Jim Robbins

 

Thursday
Jun182009

New podcast - special guest Joel Brueseke, Graceroots.org

A deeper look at grace.

Joel Brueseke is the founder of graceroots.org and has recently created a graceroots community on Ning network. He's a guy that gets the message of Jesus and understands the message of the new heart.
This is my interview with him. 

 

Friday
Jun052009

New podcast: "A truer authenticity"

" A truer authenticity:"  6/5/09
Grace without restoration is cruel, like releasing a man from prison without giving him new desires and strength.  Grace must go beyond forgiveness (pardon) to the giving of a new and supernaturally-good heart.  Otherwise, it is stunted grace.

Simply seeing ourselves as a miserable mess - yet forgiven- doesn't help a person in the long run.  We need a new kind of "real."  A new authenticity.

Loading glitch:  My apologies to those who've already tried to listen to the podcast and found it got cut off half-way through.  I've now reloaded it and it should play in its entirety.

Thursday
Jun042009

"There's more to grace" -- book teaser 

There's more to grace.
Grace without restoration is cruel. It must go beyond forgiveness to the gift of a new and supernaturally-good heart.

Friday
Mar272009

New Facebook Group

I've created a new Group on Facebook called, THE GOOD & NOBLE HEART; for those who have discovered that the offer of Jesus is far more than forgiveness. "Grace" is the gift of a new, good, and noble heart. The Gospel is about the heart.  

Some great discussions are taking place! 
Check it out here.

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