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.

 

Advertisements

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Write Your Story

Once upon a time stories were for children. Now they seem to be usurped by almost everybody – big business, airlines, pharmaceutical companies, the automobile industry, everything is fair game even down to the toothpaste yuo use.

The truth is we’re wired for story. Our brains respond to them. And for some of you, you are a slave to your story. It’s the one you play in your head everyday. It can be a traumatic event, an emotional decision, a deep hurt, an unfairness, whatever it was that left a wound in your soul.

Instead of replaying it over and over again, replace it with a better story.

Sounds crazy?

It’s not.

What better story, you ask?  IMG_1415

The one that has you in Christ’s story. It’s the one that starts like this:

Once upon a time God created a perfect world and handed it over to his children, Adam and Eve to take care of it, but then they disobeyed him and plunged themselves and everybody after them into sin. When God saw the mess they had made, he realized only he could fix it. So he sent his perfect Son to earth in the form of a perfect man to live and do what Adam and Eve and the rest of us failed to do. Jesus lived to please God and then died on the cross to pay the price for your sins. His perfect life and record is now yours as a gift from God to you. All you need is faith in Christ to get it. The moment you receive that gift you step into Christ’s story.

What is true of you now?

You have a new Father who loves you. He is unlike any earthly father you’ve ever known.

You have a Savior who fixed your biggest problem – your sin that kept you from God.

You have a new identity – you are a child of God with all its privileges, including an inheritance.

You have a new family – your brothers and sisters in Christ.

You have a new future – living in the new heavens and the new earth for an eternity.

You have new support – the church.

You have a calling – the Holy Spirit has given you spiritual gifts to serve God with.

So what are you waiting for?

Dump the old story today and start telling yourself the new one!

Talk to me.

So Different

A lot of Christians think they need to be as close to the world as they can in order to be cool and accepted. They wear the clothes, drive the status car, engage in the culture, and adopt the language, even the curse words.

That’s a very bad idea.

How can a person who has been raised from the dead be anything but gloriously different? (see Ephesians 2:1-10)

It’s the sinner who needs put-on identities. He has nothing else.

In contrast the Christian has the Holy Spirit in him.

There’s nothing cooler than that! (see Acts 1-2)IMG_3779

Under the Old Covenant the Spirit was given to a few men and women for a short time to do a special work, and then withdrawn and placed back in the Temple, which was His customary home.

Under the New Covenant, the Christian is himself the temple, and the Holy Spirit dwells in him from the day he believes the gospel to the day he dies, and beyond.

The Spirit comes for a purpose, the first of which is to vindicate the promises of God. He promised in the Old Testament to fill His people with His Spirit permanently, and on the Day of Pentecost He did just that. This He did for the praise of His glory, and to make God look good.

Second, we are blessed because by the Spirit:

  • we understand the gospel
  • we repent of our sins
  • we believe in Christ
  • we feel conviction
  • we grow in grace
  • we know the truth
  • we recognize heresy
  • we witness for Christ
  • we suffer with grace
  • we die in hope

We do nothing good apart from the urging and restraining power of the Holy Spirit within us.

And one day, the Holy Spirit will raise our mortal bodies and invest them with the glory of immortality, thus making us fit to live in heaven and in the presence of God forever.

Remember, every Christian possesses the Holy Spirit, including the one you can’t get along with, are looking down on, is slow to learn, and difficult to love. Which means practically everyone, including you!

The reality is every believer is a treasure in the Holy Spirit, which makes every one of us invaluable to God and to each other.

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Even Think About It

We’re inching closer to 2015 by the day.

And the gurus are marketing their webinars, books and videos to show us how to make new year’s resolutions. And then charging us for their experience!

Are you kidding me? I can make resolutions galore for free! IMG_0436

What they’re peddling is a self-help course for those of us who make goals and don’t keep them.

And there’s millions of us out there.

So how do they fix us? By giving us more rules!

Here are some examples of the course titles:

A Goal-Setting Course

Live with Intention

Create Your Life Plan

You get the idea.

It makes me want to laugh or cry.

This doesn’t make sense for anybody, and especially for Christians.

First of all, the one life plan you need comes free – God gives it to you. It’s to glorify him and enjoy him forever.

Second, goal setting is fine if you set the right ones. Jesus had one goal when he lived here, to please his Father. And he did it spectacularly well. And as a free gift to you, he gives you that successful record as if you had lived it perfectly yourself.

And third, you can live with all the intention you have and still blow it. What is intention but purpose and drive. But those are traits for those who don’t have the Holy Spirit living inside them. The Holy Spirit’s purpose is to reveal Jesus to us. He directs our lives, so we don’t have to worry about it. What we must do is obey and rest.

So don’t fall into the temptation of changing yourself next year.

That’s God’s job and he does it really well.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Sinning but Forgiven

“Christians live in an atmosphere of perpetual forgiveness.” – B.B. Warfield

Read that again. It’s a stunning quote.

It’s Romans 8:1, that you are no longer condemned because you’re in Christ and he was condemned for you.

Your justification is not just for past sins only but for continued sins all life long.

Christians are sinners!  oh cat

How many years I sat in church listening to pastors tell me all the things I needed to do in order to please God. Read the bible, pray, go on a missions trip, serve on the church committee, be a usher, help in the children’s Sunday School. The list grew longer and so did my guilt. I was twisted like a pretzel. I was either self-righteous because I managed to do some of these things, or I felt guilty and depressed because I wasn’t doing enough.

Rubbish!

God in his mercy has shown me otherwise.

God calls me to church every week to receive from him, not do things for him. Why? Because he’s done everything for me! I come in gratitude for everything he has given me in Christ. And he continues to feed me through the worship, the preaching of the Word, and the sacraments.

I’m not saying reading the bible, praying, and going on a missions trip are things to avoid. Not if you do them out of gratitude to God. But if you do them because you feel obligated, or you’re doing them to feel better about yourself, or call attention to yourself, then think again. Those aren’t good motivators. They don’t adorn the gospel. They’re sin!

Our lives must be gospel-centered. We live for God out of gratitude for Christ, and we love our neighbor out of gratitude for Christ.

The minute self inserts itself into the picture, we’re sinning. And that happens every day. That’s why we live in an atmosphere of constant forgiveness, all because of Christ.

How joyful does that make you? Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Messy Christians on the Go

For those of you who would like a handy reminder of the truths contained in this blog, you can buy it as an eBook on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-Therapy-ebook/dp/B00BQ37HFQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1374455373&sr=8-4&keywords=gospel+therapy%27

After you’ve read it, send us your comments. We promise to respond!