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Entries in shame (19)

Thursday
Sep112014

The Cure for Shame

Shame will be our default position and the virus in every relationship -  unless it is healed. Shame says, "You are flawed to the marrow, have nothing significant to offer,  hopelessly addicted,  and inherently prone to blow it.   The good in you can never outweigh the bad in you.  You will never be enough."

A shame-consciousness will be the Achille's Heal for every leader, organization, and every family and parent-child relationship, unless we find the cure.  And there is a cure.

But when we look to the pulpit or Public Television or TED pundits for a cure for shame, it often sounds like one the the following, often reasonable-sounding antidotes:

Acceptance as an antidote to shame:

"I am loved, despite..."

"I am accepted."


Self-confidence as an antidote to shame:

"Practice positive self-talk."

"Believe you are worthy."


Forgiveness as an antidote to shame:

"I am forgiven."

"God's grace is greater than my sin."

 

Discipline as an antidote for shame:

"Step up your prayer life and spiritual disciplines."

"Try harder not to miss group meetings."

 

Release from guilt as an antidote to shame:

"It's not your fault."

 

Positive thinking or better self-talk can't handle this.
Yet, as helpful and often true as most of the above antidotes can be, none of these solutions is sufficient to heal the root of shame.  Most Christians think that one or more of those antidotes I listed above will do the trick; yet it often feels like we're up against something much bigger than positive thinking or healthy self-talk can handle. 

Our best efforts to fend off our critics [whether external or internal] often feel a bit like the leather-tough cowboy who pretends the bullet lodged in his gut doesn't hurt; or the female CEO who tries to casually shake off the brutal criticisms lobbed at her by the Board, while she privately sheds angry tears in the bathroom stall. 

We're tired of pretending we're o.k., and though we are reluctant to admit it, pretending only temporarily shoves away the pecking buzzards, knowing the scavengers will always return until the kill is devoured.    Pretending we're o.k. doesn't actually heal us.

 

The cure for shame
The best question to ask is, "What does Jesus think the cure for shame is?"  Does Jesus have a way to heal the root system of shame within the human personality, rather than asking us to coax ourselves into positive self-talk or try to act bravely in the face of our critics? 

In Jesus' own words, the cure he offers is this: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you." [Ezekiel 36:26]  His answer is as astoundingly simple as it is unique.  The heart is the root system for a person's relational health.  Jesus restores the root system in order to restore the person.    The moment you enter friendship with Jesus, the diseased root system is removed:  The heart that has driven you into a shame-mindset your whole life is taken away.  In its place is emplanted a remarkable, noble and radiant heart - a new root system.  Everything you hoped you could be is embedded in that new heart you've been given, waiting to be affirmed and released.

 

What Jesus might say to set us free: 

Jesus might say,

"Let's be truly authentic here, no pretending.  There's no need for that.  You're safe with Me.  No mustering up a sense of worthiness that shields you from the critics;  instead, let's take self-defense off the table forever. 

When the Devil comes to Me and tries to accuse and slander you to My face, I point him to your new and noble heart.  It infuriates the Enemy because self-defense is the only thing he has to teach you.

Your new-hearted nobility is a gift from me, and no one feels compelled to defend something they know is a gift:   If you didn't create it, you're not responsible for defending it, right?  I defend you so that you don't have to.  Your new heart is how I defend you against your critics."


LEARN MORE:
To learn more about recovering your good and noble heart, you can check out Jim's book, Recover Your Good Heart - Living free from religious guilt and the shame of never good-enough.

Monday
Mar172014

The Giant strides within.

"What we need is not so much personal development, as personal replacement:  What we need is not so much personal development, but personal substitution."  - Dwight Edwards


The invitation of the Gospel is, "Let Me carry you." 
The relief of the Gospel is, "Will you let Me?"

What I don't mean:

By "personal development," I do not mean something like the mastery of a sport or an instrument. [Though it's never a solo performance - It's always a duet.]  

Rather, I mean the addiction that humans have to mastering their own character,  keeping the commandments, constraining their sin, and living like Christ without the supernatural resources only God can give.  It's the attempt to live under natural power when only super-natural power will suffice.  Personal development is the attempt to live under a manufactured righteouness rather than a borrowed righteousness.

Continue the way you began:
We needed someone to take our place, not only on the Cross; but even still -  On Monday at 3 p.m. when our boss has called us in for employee evaluations; or when we've blown it with our spouse and our spouse was right; or when our valiant effort to resist our addictions has left us deeper in the hole.

A life driven by personal development sounds like this:

I will be disciplined enough.

I will manage your impression of me.

I will try harder.

I will trust enough.


The tender Giant:
By contrast, a life depending upon a personal, indwelling Substitute looks like this:

The experience of God breaking into human life is the experience of an invasion from beyond of Another; who in gentle power breaks in upon our littleness, and in tender expansiveness makes room for Himself. 

Had we thought Him an intruder, no.  God's first odor is sweetness; God's touch, an imparting of power.  Suddenly, a tender Giant walks by our side ... no... strides within our puny footsteps.  We are no longer our little selves.  - Thomas Kelly

Substitionary Sanctification
The Christian believes in substitutionary sanctification, not simply substitutionary justification.  In other words, what began as grace continues as grace, because true discipleship is about allowing Jesus to trigger and release our new nature, not about our white-knuckled efforts to live up to our best intentions.

What's the fruit?
The fruit of personal development [avoiding supernatural resources] is shame.  The fruit of personal subtitution is restoration. 

We are no longer our little selves:  The Giant strides within our puny footsteps.



Further digging:

 

Sunday
Dec222013

Radio Interview: Masculine Journey Radio Interviews Jim Robbins

 


This past Saturday, Masculine Journey Radio aired their interview with me. If you missed it, you can listen to it now.

The guys at Masculine Journey Radio - Darrin, Todd, and Sam - really get the message of the good and noble heart. They've also got great senses of humor.

During our conversation we talk more about my personal journey, and how radically different it is to believe your heart is no longer "prone to wander." 
Jesus replaced your wandering heart with a heart like his own the moment you said 'yes,' to Him.

Though the show is primarily geared towards men, the message of the good and noble heart can resonate with both women and men. After all, we're all tired of hearing we're "never-enough." 

 

 

Tuesday
Nov192013

The myth of punishment: It is not the same as "natural consequences."

Many parents and teachers wrongly assume that the use of punishment is the same thing as experiencing "consequences,"  particularly "natural consequences."  Adults justify the use of punishment [whether gentle or aggressive] by reminding the child that they are ostencibly "making choices" and that bad choices have repercussions or "consequences."  But adults cunningly call those repercussions "natural consequences," as if they are universal and happen to everyone everywhere.  So according to that justification, whatever happens to the child is the result of a choice they've made, not a situation the adult has set up.

While bad choices do have repercussions, I assure you that to a child, punishment is experienced very differently than natural  consequences.  Here's how punishment is distinctly different from natural consequences.

 

PUNISHMENT:

Punishment uses coercion, threat and pressure: 

"If you don't do what I'm asking, you will go to your room for a time-out." 

"If you don't do well on your report card, you won't be able to go to the dance." 

The "consequence" that an adult sets up for the child is designed to compel the child into one right response - the one the adult would choose.  The child must comply, or experience some kind of pain or loss.  [To be determined by the adult, of course.] Though the adult may in fact be right about what is needed in that situation, the use of punishment generates fear and anxiety rather than a healthy motivation to do the right thing. 

Moreover, the punishment is being set up and arranged for by the adult, rather than something that occurs as a natural outflow of an action, whether or not the adult arranged for it.  For example, if I go skating on a pond before it has frozen completely over, I may fall in and experience hypothermia; yet no one has arranged for that consequence for me.  It's simply a natural and understandable cause-and-effect. No one created the effect [falling in] in order to get me to be less foolish.

Ironically, the same parents who would agree that "perfect love casts out fear" would advocate the use of punishment [and its use of intimidation] to enforce proper behavior.

Punishment removes the possibility of a meaningful choice for the child. 
It is a fallacy to believe that the child is making a true, internally-motivated choice when the only two choices we have given her are either, "Do what I say" or "Experience fear and rejection." 

Punishment will also guarantee that the child's choice to comply with your wishes will not be motivated by love for you.  Nor will they obey because they genuinely respect you.  Rather, their motivation will be to avoid pain.  Using punishment actually disengages a child's genuine desire to do the right thing because fear will override any possibility that the choice will be made out of loving respect for you.


Punishment teaches the misuse of power.

Finally, punishment teaches the child that the way you get someone to do something is by using power against them.  It says to the child, "Authority is something to be feared rather than loved and honored."



NATURAL CONSEQUENCES:

Natural consequences, on the other hand, are not the fruit of threat and coercion, because no one is manipulating the child towards any particular outcome.  No one is using their authority or power to insure that their demands are met. 

In the case of a true natural consequence, the child retains a meaningful choice in the matter. No one is arranging for or demanding any particular outcome.  For example, if a teen chooses to drive recklessly down a neighborhood street, he could hit a toddler who steps out from behind a parked car.  The toddler may be tragically injured or killed as a natural consequence of the teen's actions; yet that natural consequence isn't being set up by an adult in order to constrain good choices behind the wheel.

Bottom line:  Justifying the use of punishment by calling it a "natural consequence" does not make it so.  The fruit of punishment is fear, not love. 

 


 

Helpful resources:

Thursday
Jan312013

Video: Healing From "I'm Never Enough."

In this teaching video, I share one of the biggest barriers to moving out of a shame-consciousness ["I'm never enough."] towards a new-hearted, confident consciousness that believes that, despite the mess on the surface, God has removed an incapacitated heart and replaced it with one whose growing reserves of strength, goodness and nobility are being grown and released by the Holy Spirit, setting us free from the things that pin our hearts down.

 

Thursday
Nov082012

Wounded By Accusation

 


Here are some posts I've written that speak to those who find themselves particularly wounded by accusation:  



"Generalized Accusation Disorder:"  My Story

 

 

 
"You're Getting Hit With Accusation - The Warning Signs"

 

 

 
"Conviction is Different Than Accusation"

 

 


 

Especially for introverts:


"Why Accusation Is So Debilitating for Sensitive Hearts"



 

 
"Were You a 'High-Reactive/High-Sensitive" Introverted Kid?"




 
"Introverts and the Church:  The Pain of Performance and Perceptions"

 

 


 

 


Monday
Nov052012

Lesson from The Horse Whisperer: You don't "break a horse."  

The Horse Whisperer
"Buck," the  documentary, is about the man behind the legendary cowboy in "The Horse Whisperer."  His name is Buck Brannaman.

 

You don't 'break' a horse:

You don't break a horse.  You don't force them into compliance.  You don't enforce your will upon them by violating their will.  Neither do you do this to a person.  Another term for "breaking a person" is compliance:

  • Compliance breeds fear, and uses intimidation to its advantage: 
    "Do this or we will threaten you with 'consequences' until you meet our expectations."

  • Compliance is impatient: 
    "Do this now:  We're more interested in outcomes than in hearts."

  • Compliance violates the will of the other: 
    "I have the right [and power] to bend you to my will.  What you want isn't important."

 

You don't break a child.

Neither do you "break" a child; and this doesn't always imply a physical domination over a child.  Yet common parenting techniques that enforce "consequences" and varieties of disciplinary punishment; as well as "classroom management" techniques that get kids to shut up and be quiet "break the child" to gain compliance over their will. 

I once observed a substitute teacher scream across a cafeteria at a young girl for dropping food on the floor.  The adult's voice shattered the din and the room went silent.  The young girl shook with fear.  Tears streamed down her cheeks for the next 10 minutes.  He broke her.

The children, our spouses, or whomever we jerk around with bit and bridle, are the mirror to our souls.

 


"In this particular discipline, you have to be a sensitive person.  That vulnerability makes you great."  - from Buck, the film

 

 

 

Thursday
Oct112012

"I'm not enough to make you happy."

 

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

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

 

Here are two common misunderstandings:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Monday
Jun112012

Your stories: recovering from religious shame

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

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:

Wednesday
Feb012012

Video: "Relating Without Control"

Most of our relationships end up being "If ___, then" relationships, based upon control and compliance. We offer love and delight only when our expectations are being met. It's hurting our families and our kids.

        

Tuesday
Nov082011

How "If____________, then______________" has sabotaged your relationships

Most Christians, most people in fact, live with what one educator calls, ""Compliance Acquiescent Disorder  (CAD)."  An individual with this disorder, "defers to authority,"  "actively obeys rules,"  "fails to argue back,"  "knuckles under instead of mobilizing others in support,"  "stays restrained when outrage is warranted,"  and so on.  Compliance Acquiescent Disorder goes far beyond a proper sense of authority and mutual respect.

I just spoke with a mother today, who told me that her daughter [a responsible kid] was put into time out by her teacher for sharpening her pencil while the teacher was on the phone.  The mother was incensed.

Norm Diamond, who coined the term, Compliance Acquiescent Disorder, was speaking of an educational environment that prizes compliance over almost everything; but C.A.D is an accurate term for what has happened to most of us.  (1)

Most of our relationships: 

  • parent - child,
  • boss - employee,
  • teacher - student,
  • spouse - spouse

operate around an "If __________________, then ___________________" dynamic:

If you behave well, I"ll reward you.  If you misbehave, there will be "consequences."

If you put in over-time at work, you'll receive a bonus.

If you don't complete your homework, you will be penalized."

If you don't meet the expectations I have for marriage, then I'll withdraw as well.

 

At the expense of our hearts
Because we've gone to schools, worked in jobs, and learned parenting habits where compliance ["Just do what we tell you, whether it's reasonable or not"], always operate around "If ___________, then________," we've gotten used to pleasing others even at the expense of our own hearts.

We've caved,  knuckled under, and refused to challenge the reigning assumption that controlling others and being controlled by others is normal.  It is not.

Our jobs have taught us that workers produce more when there are "carrot and stick" incentives for performance, forgetting that most people want to do good and meaningul work, and don't need to be prodded or "managed" in order to do so. (2)

Our schools have taught our children to comply with every expectation of the teacher -- whether reasonable or not, whether actually good for them or not -- even when it is an assault against our child's will and dignity.

Our inherited parenting habits have taught us to shut down anything messy, anything disruptive, loud or unexpected; oftentimes simply because it's inconvenient for us, or we're just plain stressed. 

"If ___________, then _________________" is everywhere, and it's killing our hearts.  Worst of all, law-based distortions of Christianity have taught us that God only blesses people who comply with his will; and that pleasing him is a matter of getting things right.

 

(1) From Feel Bad Education, by Alfie Kohn

(2)From "Drive-The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us," by Daniel Pink

 

Friday
Nov042011

It's about connecting, not control.

What if, rather than ask,

"How can I get this person to do what I want them to do," we asked,

"How can I connect with this person?"

Getting people [including our spouse or kids] to comply with our rigid expectations will inevitably lead to controlling them. 

Control always leads to shame. 
Why?

Because the one doing the controlling [expecting compliance] assumes it's their right to do so.  It sets the two parties on unequal footing.  The receiving person's dignity is seen as dispensable.

Are expectations a good thing?  Yes.  To live without them is to live without values and to assume our own dignity is indispensable. 

But demanding compliance at the cost of another person's heart isn't acceptable.  God himself is gracious with latitude:  He allows, even welcomes, self-will - the capacity to make uncoerced choices without the threat of disappointing him.

It's helpful to ask:  "Does the person's heart matter more to me than their behavior?"

 

The controlling dynamic centers around "IF...THEN..."

"If you do this, I'll be happy with you.  If you don't meet my expectations, I'll be disappointed with you."

"If you comply with my expectations, I will reward you.  If not, you'll suffer the consequences."

THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL.  Instead, God says, "I will bless you on your worst day."

 

A better way

Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great" and other leadership books, offers an alternative:

1.  "Lead with questions, not answers."

2.  "Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion."

3.  "Conduct autopsies, without blame."

 

I would add a couple others:

  • "Give feedback about failed expectations as information, not condemnation."  [remove the emotional sting]

  • "Put the heart of the other person first.  Worry about behavior later."

 

It's about connecting, not compliance.

Saturday
May082010

'HOW TO SHAME A CHRISTIAN' -- mini-movie

I created this mini-movie to expose some of the wounding, shame-based messages Christians hear. 

Wednesday
Nov252009

'MISLEADING OURSELVES' - today's podcast with guest Andrew Farley

Listen 'live' today as special guest Andrew Farley, author of The Naked Gospel, joins Jim again.  This time they'll talk about the misleading catch-phrases Christians often use -- spiritual language that ends up separating us further from our new hearts and restored identities.  

 

Airs at 11:30 a.m. EST.  on Wednesday, Nov. 25th.
Click here to go to episode page on Blogtalk Radio.

Monday
Nov232009

LISTEN NOW --new podcast - 'The Heart and the New Covenant'

Joel Brueseke, who hosts the Growing in Grace Together podcast, is a good friend and a guy who really gets the good and noble heart.  Joel interviewed me today for a two-part series.  Here is part one.

Listen in for some great conversation about why Christians tend to walk around in guilt and shame, and why there seems to be such a focus in the church on behavior management and sin management - and how living with a New Covenant mentality rather than an Old Covenant mentality, as well as a proper view of the new heart, will overcome all of that.

Monday
Sep212009

A better way to read the Old Testament - without shame

For decades, the manner in which I read the Old Testament only furthered my shame.
 
I had forgotten to make the critical shift from the Old Way to the New Way--  the old heart to the new heart.  For example, if you read an Old Testament passage like the one below, and forget that something has changed inside you as a result of Christ's work, what would you feel?

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."  - Psalm 51:10

My reaction would be:  "Wow, maybe I should be feeling what David is here; I guess I'm supposed to be confessing my sin, examining my selfish heart and repenting about something.  It sounds pretty spiritual and pretty important.  What, exactly, am I supposed to be feeling bad about?  I'm not sure, but I'd better get to work on this repenting thing and ask God to fix my heart."

The problem with that sort of reaction is that it is out of date.  It is an Old Covenant response to a problem that was solved for you in the New Covenant.  Meaning....David's cry for a clean heart has already been answered in the work on Jesus for you.  You've been given a new and pure heart already because you said 'yes' to him.  (Ezekiel 36:26 -- "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you...") 

As we read the Old Covenant, we must now read it from a new heart perspective (you now have a clean heart that does want what God wants).  We make the shift from guilt and shame...to restoration and freedom of heart.

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

For more on this, my book Recover Your Good Heart goes into more detail on what Scripture says about our new hearts.

Tuesday
Aug182009

The full interview - Steve Brown interviews Jim about his book, Recover Your Good Heart

Monday
May112009

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.
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