Oh the Shame!

The word shame is mentioned so many times these days it seems there’s no other word in the English vocabulary. It’s talked about so often in sermons, books, lectures and therapy sessions that it has lost its meaning. We’re supposed to believe everyone feels shame and it’s the biggest problem out there that people are grappling with.

That might be true if you’re trying to restore someone’s self-esteem. If it’s meant to describe feelings of embarrassment, then everybody has felt it one time or another. For example, at not being prepared for an interview and you were caught off-guard with a question. Or when you forgot your lines in the school play. Or when you weren’t dressed appropriately at a gathering. These are common experiences that make people feel insecure and unacceptable.

But nowadays shame is being used in a therapeutic sense. It’s the popular word for feeling you’re not enough, you’re wrong as a person, you’re unwanted.

Someone gave you the message and you believed it. And from that moment on you made it your life’s mission to find ways to overcome it.

While this might be true of you, it doesn’t go deep enough. God says real shame is refusing to believe who he is for you. You prefer living in unbelief instead of embracing the God who loves you. You’re holding on to the message your parents or peers gave you from the past.

Everyone has those messages living in their heads. They’re common to the human race because sin is common to the human race. 

You can overcome these messages, but that won’t win the war for your soul. Only by turning to God, the author of your life, and believing his love for you, by giving you Christ to redeem you and bring you back to your true home, will you be right with him and your own soul. 

Christ took your shame (your unbelief) on the cross and it died there. And it was buried in the tomb with him. It’s dead. And when Christ was resurrected he gave you his new life. There is no shame mixed in there. Look all you want. It’s gone. You’re now free from those condemning voices to follow only one voice – the Father’s. And his voice is affirming, loving, and gracious. 

Talk to me.

 

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The Needy Life

The success-driven life is a cancer to your Christian life, like smoking to your lungs, alcohol to your liver, and drugs to your veins.

Am I against succeeding in a career, a personal goal or a dream you’ve had all your life? No, unless you’re achieving it by your own will and determination. And that’s the point. As a Christian, whose life are you living?

“You are not your own, you were bought with a price,” Paul says to the Corinthians. (See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) In context Paul was urging holiness, but since the Holy Spirit lives in us we can also say that looking for soul satisfaction in broken cisterns, relying on Brokenrule keeping for God’s approval, and battling our demons by our own efforts is just as repugnant as unholiness.

Neglecting our true dependence on Christ is equal to living in unbelief.

It makes the Christian life a burden. By looking inward I kill myself. John Newton calls it “soul weariness.” There’s nothing there to commend itself to God.

So get used to being needy. Learn to feel weak. Become helpless like a little child. The world will scream at you, “No! You can’t do that. Flee from such beliefs, instead believe you have the potential to achieve anything you want!”

Jesus was the ultimate little one. He was 100% dependent on his Father. He did nothing on his own accord. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” John 5:19 NLT

We must do the same if we expect to “succeed” as Christians. That’s why Jesus tells us that apart from him we can do nothing. John 15:5

By looking to Christ for everything and in everything we will be released from ourselves and be put into joy and freedom.

We are needy.

We are weak.

Hooray!

Boast in that because you have a Savior who will take care of you!

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Ditch the Pitch for New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again.

I’m talking about those pesky New Year’s resolutions.

This year I’m staying clear of them.

I’ll let you make them.  IMG_0704

I’m not going on a diet, buying a gym membership, eating healthier, or being nicer to my brother.

I am staying just the way I am. Plump, self-indulgent, and cranky.

I don’t like failure. Who does? I don’t want to start the New Year in the negative. I want a few weeks of blissful self-illusion.

Have you noticed as the year begins how your inbox expands with tips for improved living? How to speak Italian in six weeks. How to find the mate of your dreams online. How to improve your relationship with your therapist. How to write a memoir.

All it takes is money. And sweat.

No thanks.

You’d think everyone would see the hype, but every year there are enough desperate people who believe the gimmicks.

The truth is we all want hope. Every one of us wants to be thinner, healthier, younger, and wealthier.

But have you noticed how these things promise results but deliver disappointment?

The gym banks on you dropping out.

The recipe you’re making only works on TV.

Last year’s fashions are this year’s thrift store deals.

Nothing changes, and everything changes.

If we put our hope in things, we’ll soon discover we’re bankrupt.

There’s only one place to put our hope and it’s in a person— Jesus. When he makes a promise, he delivers it. And he promised that if anyone puts their trust in him as Savior, he will forgive their sins and give them eternal life.

And this is the will of him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. – John 6:40 NKJV

Now that’s my idea of success. The sure kind.

Why bother with lesser promises that don’t deliver when you can have God guaranteed-ones?  Instead of self-improvement propaganda, find the lasting improvements only God can offer.

I’d rather be chunky and happy in Jesus than nasty and model-thin without him.

How about you? Are you ready to put your hope in Jesus?

Leave me a fat comment.

 

How To Rid Yourself of Doom and Gloom

Today I woke up with a long list of grievances I compiled through the night of all the things that were wrong in my life.

Instead of realizing this was a tactic of the devil, I indulged in my black mood.

I vented all over my husband. I criticized the condition of our home. My children weren’t living up to my expectations. Even the cat was wrong today, if we had a cat.

I had no desire to pray on my way to work. Truth is, I was going to continue grumbling and enjoying my well-deserved pity party of one.

But then I reached into my book bag and pulled out an article on the doctrine of our Union with Christ. It was written fifty years ago by noted English bible teacher, Arthur Pink.

God met me there because when I finished it, my gloom was gone and I was rejoicing in the gospel.

Here’s what I learned that changed my heart:

1) Those old saints knew their stuff and preached it. The deep truths, mostly forgotten today because they might offend, are the only prescription for a healthy heart.

2) The doctrine of the Union with Christ is central to our understanding of who were are as Christians. Without it, we see ourselves as individuals tied to a lifeline to Christ, much like an astronaut twirling in space who is attached by a cord to the space capsule.

3) We view Christ as a solo act, independent of the Father and the Holy Spirit, and separated from the people he came to save. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

4) Christ and his people are inseparable – it is an eternal union that began before the foundation of the world and made known and enjoyed in time.

5) It is the foundation for all the other blessings we enjoy in Christ – the new birth (regeneration), the forgiveness of sins (justification), the remodel of our lives (sanctification), and our new bodies (glorification).

6) This union is so real and vital and intimate that God has never viewed us apart from Christ! And God never sees Christ apart from his church. He is the head of the church.

4) We are told in Scripture that Jesus became flesh for us; when he died on the cross, we died with him; when he was buried, we went into the tomb with him; and when he was resurrected, we were raised with him.

We have never been alone!

We are never alone now.

And we will never be alone in heaven. We belong to Jesus and that union is secured for an eternity.

All of these blessings come to us through the gospel and by faith in Christ.

He secured them. He merited them for us. He has given them to us.

Ephesians says we are seated with him in the heavenly places. That’s because Jesus is there, and where he is, that’s where we are, too.

Go out and tell somebody you have a new address!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Get Rid of Yourself

Is your self-image on the floor? You don’t like yourself and you’re certain others don’t either? You work yourself into a frenzy trying to be popular and liked, but you only fail. Is there any hope for you?

There’s good news for you. You’re not hopeless. There is a way to a healthy self-image but it’s not what you might think.

The pundits and psychologists will be happy to give you a list of rules (or a formula) for how to fix yourself. It goes like this:

1. exercise

2. eat right

3. only spend time with positive people

4. read or listen to inspirational teachers

5. do something for others

6. believe in yourself

That last one is particularly difficult if you don’t like yourself.

Have you seen a common theme with the all this?

It’s all about self.

Whenever you turn into yourself, you’ll have trouble. That’s because there are no answers there.

The rules don’t hold the answers either. Neither do the pundits and the therapists. They’ll either drive you to despair because you can’t live up to their recommendations, or to pride because you do live up to them and you feel superior to others. Either path is full of self.

The answer lies in the gospel.

The gospel doesn’t lie to you. It agrees with you. You are messed up. In fact you’re a sinner!

But the gospel doesn’t leave you there.

It tells you to repent and acknowledge that your whole life needs fixing. Why? Because it’s not God-centered.

Jesus came into the world to clean up the mess, die on the cross to pay for your sins, to fill you with his Spirit, and to take you to heaven.

What does this do for you?

It humbles you.  It makes you grateful to God. Now you can love him and serve others out of that gratitude.

You still might be asking, “But when all my sins and failures come back to haunt me again, how can I maintain a healthy self-image?”

You don’t need to feel better about yourself!

You don’t need to feel worse about yourself!

What the gospel does is get you off of yourself!

You are a new creature in Christ, your life in now hid with him in heaven. That’s your new image.

You no longer have to live a self-centered life.

Jesus rescued you from that treadmill.

Go out and shout for joy!