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Prone To Wander Myth

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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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Entries in new heart (29)


"A Better Way to Relate to God - Part 2" - podcast archives 

”A Better Way to Relate to God - part two - Better Assumptions” 9/6/07

Many of us have been taught to relate to God with wrong assumptions — particularly assumptions about the heart (will, spirit) of a Christian. For example, are we really “Just sinners, saved by grace?” Are we really “prone to wander?” Jim continues to explore some more accurate, hopeful assumptions Christians can have about their heart as they relate to God.


Hearing the podcast with Darin Hufford -- solution

Click here to hear the interview.

Darin is the author of The Misunderstood God, and the creator of The Free Believers Network. We talked about his book, how religious thinking (vs. the Gospel) has distorted love, and what it means to be a free believer.



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.


Misguided "authenticity"

Here's a quote from a missional church leader I have a great deal of respect for.  However, notice his self-description:  Is it biblical?...meaning, is it a true and accurate description of his identity in Christ?

I consider myself as the most miserable of all human beings, covered with sores, foul, and guilty of all sorts of crimes committed against my King; moved by sincere remorse I confess all my sins to him.  I ask him pardon and abandon myself into his hands so he can do with me as he pleases.  Far from chastising me, this King, full of goodness and mercy, lovingly embraces me, seats me at his table, waits on me himself, gives me the keys to his treasures, and treats me in all things as his favorite; he converses with me and takes delight in my countless ways ....Although I beg him to fashion me according to his heart, I see myself still weaker and miserable, yet even more caressed by God.

There's certainly a lot of grace here, but little restoration.  (At least, not mentioned here.)  What kind of God would pardon a person, then refuse to change them at the most basic level (the level of the heart), so that they need not repeat those crimes; and in fact, no longer have it in their nature to do so?

In fact, God has already met this person's longing to "fashing me according to his heart"  ..."I will give you a new heart."  (Ezek. 36:26).  That new heart is pregnant with new life, new desires, and a new will.  How else would he be able to relate well, if not for a transformed heart?  Sure, it will take time to learn to live from that new and supernaturally good heart -- but that will come. 

I'm concerned with a brand of 'authenticity' and 'realness' out there that takes grace seriously ("You're forgiven and loved"), but is unaware of the gracious gift of a new and radically good heart.  These attempts at being real are noble and certainly well-intended, but have missed the core of the New Covenant promise of a new heart -- a heart on which the ways of God are now written.  Why do we keep rehearsing our mess?

We must be urged to make the shift from external and behavioral compliance to internal and supernaturally-capable desire to love and relate well.  Most Christians are unaware that that shift has already happened ...within their own hearts. The desire and the ability to relate well and love wholly are there.

Let's bring this good news back to the center of our teaching, preaching and relating.  Only then will we see more of the transformation we long for.  Let's stop rehearsing our shame, and begin indulging our new appetites -- the desires of Jesus now resident in our new hearts.


"...and please, try not to sin."

I've spent much of the last 43 years trying not to sin.

I think it's because I'm afraid.  There's been an uneasyness with sin because there's been an uneasyness with God:  "Am I really safe? Safe-enough to screw up?  Safe-enough to really blow it and remain highly-favored and in good standing with the Father?  Or will he be...disappointed?

The Church, in a wonderful journey of co-dependence, has helped me avoid sin and to fear it.  We've turned God into a behavior-modification therapist.  Most sermons are about getting people to avoid or discontinue sin.  Avoid the wrong thing, and try harder to do the right thing.  As a result, we've taught people that God is more interested in managing externals, rather than in nourishing, strengthening and encouraging a new internal reality -- the wholly new and good hearts we received when we became apprentices to Jesus.  No wonder we haven't seen the spiritual transformation we're looking for:  you can't get there from here.

Of course it is good not to yield to sin; but if that becomes the point, then most of our energies will be consumed by avoiding something, rather than living in something stronger and more life-giving.

Most parents are afraid of their children's sin and work really hard to manage their kids (think "control") so that they don't err.  As Danny Silk, author of Loving Our Kids on Purpose -- Making a Heart-to-Heart Connection indicates:  "What this reveals is that we are terrified by our children's poor choices.  We try to eliminate as many as possible."  As Silk points out, perhaps the way in which we handle our children is how we believe God handles us:  Be afraid of sin, because this isn't a safe place to fall.

But fear is never an appropriate method of transformation.  It may produce external conformity, but never inward maturity.  It certainly can't produce love itself.

I've also been enslaved to the notion that sin is more powerful than me.  As Silk indicates in Loving Our Kids On Purpose, "We still believe that sin is more powerful than we are.  When children grow up in an environment where their parents are scared of sin, they learn to fear failure."

This fear carries with it the assumption that what's exterior to me has more control over me than what is interior to me.  It's the mistaken idea that what is least true of me (I still have the capacitiy to sin, but no longer the nature to sin) is more true and powerful than an already-present and growing holiness -- a supernatural goodness -- now present within me.  That's the real me.  Ezekiel 36:26 ("I will give you a new heart and new spirit) has come to pass, in me, at the deepest level.

Fear can constrain behavior -- for a while; but it can never restore freedom.


How spiritual transformation happens

What are the mechanics behind how we change; particularly how the new heart within us is strengthened, nourished and released?  How do we end up doing the things our restored hearts really want to do, while not yielding to false substitutes?

Invitation to the Jesus Life - Experiments in Christ-likeness, by Jan Johnson, is refreshing, gracious and full of well-textured thinking on the spiritual life.  The author suggests that God "loves [us] into goodness, drawing [us] with irresistable grace."   Loves us into goodness.

Isn't it true that when we feel most loved, pursued or valued, we are least likely to fall for lesser things?  So how do we access this loving-into-goodness life?

The means is through new habits of the heart, mind and body (spiritual disciplines), but the goal is not to become better Christians, the author surprisingly points out.  The goal is connecting with God.  When we connect, we receive love, and the Spirit does the transforming.  We, as Dallas Willard suggests, are then becoming the kinds of persons who naturally do and say the things Jesus did and said.  It is an outflow of experiencing love, not conjuring up good religious behavior.

Though the author of Invitation to the Jesus Life doesn't necessarily frame the process in the following way, I would suggest that as we connect with God (through redemptive habits) we experience his affection, and the Spirit nourishes and releases the goodness he seeded within our new hearts at conversion.  The point is connecting with God, not trying to become a better Christian.


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.


And the word became...you.

There was more than one incarnation.  Jesus wasn't the first word that God made flesh.  There were many before him, and many since.  He was simply the fullest, unhindered and truest incarnation of God's speaking.

God creates by speaking:  Power goes out,  creativity happens.  When God wants to get something done, he speaks. Whatever it is -- an orchid, a zebra, a person -- he voices it and something is formed.

You, too, are a spoken incarnation, a living word (small "w," of course).  As Robert Benson suggests in his book, The Echo Within - Finding Your True Calling, there is an incarnate word that has been spoken into you from day one.   And that incarnate word is unique to you.  (Your new heart is at the center of your unique identity.)  Since God had something specific in mind that his world needed, he voiced that specific thing into you:  "Now I will give the world what it needs through the incarnate word, "your name here".

When God works in a person, he does it in them, as them.  You express something God wants to say, but he does so as you, not simply in you.  He is making his ongoing incarnation personal.  There is nothing generic about it.  As God uniquely and supremely made a statement in the fleshed-out Word, Jesus, so he continues to make a statement in you, as you.  You are the new fleshed-out word.

And the word became...you.


Enough ... already.

Ours is an Already Gospel. Certain things are now settled fact.  Through the rescuing work of Christ, not only did something happen for you, something happened to you -- something that goes way beyond the forgiveness of sins.  An interior revolution took place.  An already reality:

  • Your heart was made good...already.
  • You are pure...already.
  • You measure up ... already.
  • You make God's heart glad ... already.

Why don't most of us feel this is true of us?  It is because the "gospel" we've been handed is the "Not yet gospel:" 

  • You're not yet doing enough for God. (More accurately, for your church.)
  • You're not yet righteous.
  • Your heart is not yet radiant, strong and blameless.
  • You're not yet pleasing.

The actual Gospel will feel too good to be true because you've been fed a distortion for so long.

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