Archives For God's view of us

I know a man convicted of a violent crime against someone he loves. He acted in a momentary rage; he had never been violent before. It shocked him. Now he’s in prison.

Prison bars are not his greatest problem. He’s repented to thePrison victim, and the victim forgives him; and he’s repented to God, and he feels God forgives him too.

His problem is that he can’t forgive himself.

He’s confessed all known sins, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and claimed the blood of Christ. He knows he is forgiven by others, but he just can’t forgive himself.

He now feels doubly guilty; guilt at what he did, and guilty that he can’t forgive himself. Continue Reading…

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As a young boy, my weekends were filled with imaginary World War II battles. Nearby parks fielded the Battle of the Bulge, and the skeleton of a local building project (fatefully a new funeral home) formed our bombed-out buildings.

Dirtballs became our hand grenades, ditches our foxholes, and blankets our pup tents. We sacrificed our bodies (and the knees of our jeans) to save the world from Hitler.picture_para_drop

One Friday evening I watched the movie, D-Day. I was captured by the airborne parachute jumps, the bravery and heroism, and the infiltration behind enemy lines.

The next day I made my first (and last) parachute jump. I confiscated a sheet from my mom’s closet and requisitioned rope from my dad’s tool room. I tied one end of the ropes to the corners of the sheet and the other ends around my chest.

I slithered through an upstairs window and crept onto the roof. With my parachute and lines carefully laid out behind me, I perched at the edge of our second story, and I hurled myself into the air behind enemy lines. I waited for the tug of the opening chute.

Lying on my back, I looked up. The chute still lay on the roof, and the carefully cut lines hung limply over the gutter. I had forgotten to measure the height of the roof.

My lines were ten feet too long. Continue Reading…

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A lethal virus is infecting many believers today. It’s the pop-therapy that claims shame is bad. Shallow-shame is bad, but only deep-shame brings healing. Without it we are doomed.

J. I. Packer tells us, “Seek the grace to be ashamed” (Knowing God).

The gospels describe two different miraculous catches of fish. The first occurs at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry hiding(Luke 5:4-8) and the second happens at the end (John 21:2-7). They are very similar:

  • In both stories, professional fishermen fish all night.
  • In both stories, the night of fishing is fruitless; not one fish is caught.
  • In both stories, an amateur gives them specific directions how to fish.
  • In both stories, the fishermen catch so many fish that their boats are sinking.

But there is one, huge difference. After the first miracle, Peter exclaims, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” After the second, Peter throws himself into the sea and swims an Olympic-record-breaking freestyle to get to Jesus.

In the first miracle, Peter experiences shallow-shame and he runs from Jesus. In the second, Peter experiences a shame that is deep and he races to Jesus. Continue Reading…

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I question our practice of painting biblical heroes more heroically than the Bible does. Hiding the faults of our heroes robs us of grace. That’s why the Bible doesn’t hide them.

I once suggested we tell true stories of our heroes, stories that show God’s pursuit of them despite their failings. I pointed out:QueenEsther

  • Abraham was an idol worshiper and God loved him and pursued him;
  • Joseph was a narcissistic boy and God loved him and pursued him;
  • David was a murdering adulterer and God loved him and pursued him;
  • Esther had sex outside of marriage with a non-believer and God loved her and pursued her.

I was surprised by the many readers who were upset at my negative description of “good” Abraham, Joseph, and David. I wondered, “Have they even read those stories?

But I was astonished at the hail-storm of hundreds of angry emails that hated my history of Esther. Esther is beloved. Many think she was forced into sexual slavery.

I think she was a complicit adulterer.             Continue Reading…

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The Problem Of Success

August 12, 2013 — 14 Comments

I used to know a guy—just an everyday guy—who was a perfectly pleasant person. Until success spoiled him.

I first met him on a client visit where he was a mid-level manager. Fifteen years ago, through a fluke—and a dash of superman-250good luck fueled by a couple coincidences—he became the company president.

At first he was very humble about his promotion, “It was just God’s grace. I hadn’t wanted it, didn’t deserve it, and never tried for it; God just dropped it on my lap.”

Within a couple years, however, he began to take credit for his hard work and brilliant insights. He claimed the promotion had been too long in coming. Mild mannered Clark Kent became Superman. Without the smile.

He felt his genius was needed everywhere:

  • He convinced the local high school athletic committee to fire the coach because he knew a better way to coach—even though he had never played football (or any organized sport) in his life.
  • He became head elder at his church and bullied them into adopting a “superior” Bible translation—even though he had never studied Greek or Hebrew (nor any other language, even Pig-Latin).

And he couldn’t take the slightest correction. He once scowled in anger at a friend who mentioned his fly was unzipped (really!), and he sent his dental hygienist home in tears when she suggested he begin flossing.

Success had turned a wonderful, humble human being into an insufferable know-it-all.   Continue Reading…

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