Shame Returns, The Sequel

Posted by on Sep 24, 2015 in Character, Jesus, Redemption, Transformation | 5 comments

Man, am I vulnerable to Shame! Those who know me, have heard me speak, or have read some of my blog posts, know I have a passion to see men (and women) freed from Shame. (I even capitalize the dang word because of its significance.) I’m often reminded that the root of my passion about this subject is my own vulnerability to the message of self-condemnation, and disappointment in self, that rears its head on a regular basis. Shame is the message that, not only did I do something wrong, but there is something wrong with who I am. Guilt is conviction about our behavior; Shame is condemnation about our identity. Conviction comes from the voice of the Holy Spirit. Shame is the condemning lie from the Enemy. I know all of this. Yet I am still vulnerable. My guess is I’m not the only one. Because Shame returns. I really should have gotten that group email out sooner I left out a crucial individual that that email really should have gone to I backed out of an engagement I looked forward to; I should have managed my schedule better I responded defensively when a colleague implied I should have done more I hurt a loved-one (OK, it was my wife) with my impatient response to a completely reasonable request. I should have been more loving The condemnation of the word Should is a common thread. As a friend often reminds me, “We need to stop ‘shoulding’ on ourselves.” I know this. Yet Shame returns. Types of Shame are legion. But, since a man most longs for respect, his greatest fear is failure—loss of respect from others. For men anything in the realm of failure has the potential to bring up the most Shame: Divorce or separation Bankruptcy Failing college Smudged reputation Not measuring up in some physical effort Getting fired Getting kicked out of the military Spending time in prison Embarrassment about body image But nothing casts more Shame than failure of sexual morals, (probably even for non-Christians): promiscuity, emotional affairs, porn, prostitutes, strip clubs, abortion. Scripture reminds us that sexual sin has the unique distinctive that it is the one sin that reverses direction and attacks ourselves the most. I Cor. 6:18 You may have heard me say this before, but today I’m reminding myself, and you, of the steps that bring about inner and outer reconciliation and freedom from Shame: 1. We embrace grace. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.“ Rom. 3:23, 24 When we forget the power of Grace, we diminish the infinite power of the work of Jesus. 2.We believe what God says about forgiveness and acceptance. “Their sinful and unlawful acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven there is no longer any sacrifice for sin”!! Heb. 10: 17, 18 Though we continue to fall short of even our own standards, we remind ourselves that, unbelievably, God chooses to forget. Because the work of the cross is enough. 3. We believe what God’s word says about Shame. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom. 8:1 Or as The Message puts...

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There Will Never Be Another

Posted by on Sep 24, 2015 in Character, Heroes | 0 comments

Saturday mornings, waiting for Mom and Dad to wake up, were a cartoon-fest in my home when I was a boy. Among others, one of my favorite shows was Yogi Bear. Because he was “smarter than the average bear.” So it was with disbelieving shock that I eventually heard of a Yankees baseball player, Yogi Berra, apparently named after the cartoon star. What parent would play such an awful trick on their child? Of course, later I discovered it was the other way around; Berra was such a successful ball player (eventually playing in 14 World Series, guiding his team to win 10 of them) that his name was adopted for the star of Saturday mornings. Today I learned that Berra passed away at the age of 90. His sports accomplishments may never be repeated. But it was his unique way of twisting the English language that was truly one-of-a-kind. Some examples as summarized by the Associated Press: On selecting a restaurant: “Nobody goes there any more. It’s too crowded.” On travel directions: “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” On being told he looked cool: “You don’t look so hot yourself.” On seemingly repeated events: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” On economics: “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” On being asked what time it was: “You mean now?” His approach toward baseball: “90% is mental. The other half is physical.” On his team’s diminishing pennant chances (and now, his life): “It ain’t over til it’s over.” On death: “Always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise they won’t go to yours.” Yogi’s spontaneous comments were bewildering, hilarious and insightful all at the same time. He was smarter than the average bear. There will never be another quite like him....

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A Quiet Testimony

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Character, Heroes, Legacy | 0 comments

My first memory of a championship football was listening to the radio, as a 10 year-old in December of 1963, cheering on the Chicago Bears as they beat Y.A Tittle and the New York Giants. One of the stars on the Giants was Hall of Fame wide receiver/running back, Frank Gifford, who later went on to star on the legendary Monday Night Football announcing crew of 1971-1985 along with Howard Cossell and “Dandy” Don Meredith. Gifford brought a foundation of believability and steadiness to that entertaining team. What Gifford is less known for is that he was a man of solid faith; just less prone to drawing public attention to that fact than others might. The comments on this clip from his widow, Kathie Lee Gifford, on the Today Show demonstrate how important his spiritual values were to Frank. All of Kathie Lee’s comments are poignant and worth watching, but the heart of her comments, and of Frank’s faith, are mentioned at the 3:00 mark. Her testimony of Frank’s depth and impact reminds me of the great advice attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use...

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A Transcendent Moment

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Take a look at this brief, but stirring clip. Know what it makes me think of? A topic I’ve written on before, including here. It’s Transcendence; in this case: God-given gift, spontaneous community, spiritual...

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On Ministering to a Church Without Walls

Posted by on Aug 5, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Please listen to this interview with the good people at Unlocking the Bible. Click here to listen (Posted by Scott while Craig is away)    

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Remembering What We’ve Never Known

Posted by on Jul 17, 2015 in God, Transcendence, Transformation | 4 comments

“I desire something I vaguely recall; I long for something in my future that somehow I remember.”— Cindy Crosby Have you ever found yourself longing for something undefinable? Some spiritual or emotional experience you sense is out there, but you can’t necessarily describe? I have; and I think almost all of us do. To me it’s Transcendence. In her fascinating book on the spiritual dimensions of creation and nature, By Willoway Brook, author Cindy Crosby describes her insights gleaned from countless hikes in a nature preserve, called the Morton Arboretum, near her home in the western suburbs of Chicago. (Coincidentally, it’s the same place I proposed to my then-girlfriend and my now-wife back in 1975.) While watching and researching Monarch butterflies she discovered that every fall millions of Monarchs leave their natural habitat in the eastern parts of North America, pass through the Midwest, and arrive “home”— a remote fifty acres at 10,000 feet altitude in a mountain range in Mexico. None of them have ever been there before, but something in their DNA compels them to return “home.” Crosby points out that Monarchs aren’t the only species that demonstrates the same familiarity with, or memory of, a place they have never been to: Gray whales migrate 7,000 miles up the Pacific coast from Baja California to the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Eels descend east coast streams they’ve never been in to spawn and then die Chinook salmon climb from the Pacific a thousand miles up the Snake River to breed Each September some 70,000 Bar-tailed godwits fly 7,700 miles, non-stop over 6-8 days, from Alaska to New Zealand, then return the following March. We humans have our own “migrations” to experience something out of the ordinary: Each summer nearly 1,000 athletes compete in a 26 mile marathon up to the summit of 14,110 foot Pikes Peak in Colorado, and then back down. This August and September over 65,000 people will attend the Burning Man event in northern Nevada to experience “community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.” (Wikipedia) Every able-bodied Muslim has a religious duty of pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. This year more than 2 million will make this Hajj. An estimated 3 million Christian men attended the Promise Keepers’ Stand in the Gap event in Washington, DC in 1997. 3 men have attended all 48 Super Bowls since the first championship in 1967. Somewhere deep inside, we humans have a longing for the spectacular, the spiritual, the ecstatic, the breath-taking, or the transformational. Like the extraordinary migrations of some of the animal kingdom, our pilgrimages reveal a pull to return to a familiar place we’ve never been to before. They reveal a longing for a new place that feels like home. C.S. Lewis wrote: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Do you experience that? I’ll bet you do. It’s what we are looking for on a hike through a forest of redwood trees. It’s the joy we experience at the sound of an orchestra majestically playing a moving piece of music in perfect unison. It’s the reason tears stream down our cheeks when we watch a son, daughter or friend participate...

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Unlimited? The Challenge of Human Freedom

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in Character, Community, Culture | 0 comments

As we Americans celebrate Independence Day, I urge us to be aware of both the responsibilities we carry, as well as the rights we enjoy, with our freedom. It seems that we often resist the inconvenient demands of the former while insisting on unbridled opportunities for the latter. Too often I see us practicing the personal slogans of “Don’t fence me in,” “To each his own,” “You do your thing, I’ll do mine,” “If it feels good do it,” “My way or the highway,” while giving little consideration to the consequences on the larger community. I’m deeply grateful for personal freedom; I bristle at self-absorbed entitlement. Here is a clip, “Unlimited? The Challenge of Human Freedom,” featuring comments by Os Guinness and Ravi Zacharias on this topic, given at a conference sponsored by RZIM. Their comments are both enlightening and motivational. (Interestingly, the moderator, Stuart McAllister, who refers to his years living in Vienna, Austria, was a Bible-smuggling compatriot of mine back in the the 70’s.) Guinness’ comments in particular are extremely insightful; they run from 9:00-33:00 minutes on the clip. He does an outstanding job of revealing the foundational connections between Freedom-Virtue-Faith on which our liberty is founded. For those of us who celebrate independence this weekend, may we grasp and live out the bond that links our freedom to our character. Happy 4th of...

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The Doghouse—How to Get There

Posted by on Jun 26, 2015 in Venus and Vegas | 0 comments

Hey guys, next time you’re in a gift-buying mode for your wife or girlfriend, be sure to keep this helpful clip in mind. The...

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Go After It With a Club

Posted by on Jun 3, 2015 in Courage, Legacy | 2 comments

Jack London, author of The Call of the Wild, among other books of adventure, once said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Those words immediately resonate with me. Partly because I like the blunt, get-to-the-point style of communicating. But more so because this statement is often so true for me; and I’m sure it’s true for many others. How often do we think, Man, I really need to talk to so-and-so about that? Or, One of these days I should do something about... Or, When I feel a little more inspired I plan to…? If you’re like me, the answer is Pretty often. London’s quote takes me immediately to writing. I’ve come to the realization that writing is one of the primary avenues I want to take in order to pass on encouragement to men about their role in the world. But I find it extremely difficult to make the time, identify the key point, or feel inspired to do so. I have friends who MUST write. Writing oozes from their pores; and they do it well. That’s not me. The hardest part of writing for me is to sit down with the conviction that I actually have something to say. But, when I finally force the issue, open up the laptop and hit the first key, the inspiration usually rises to the surface. If writing is one of the tasks I feel called to do, I can’t afford to just sit around waiting to feel inspired to do it. I have to go after it with an ugly club. How about you? What is the action, art or gift that you have to offer others, that doesn’t always come easily; the one you sometimes have to go after with a...

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A Mother’s Wisdom

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Character, Heroes, Legacy | 2 comments

The impact of mothers is amazing. They carry us for months, painfully deliver us into the world, love us at all costs, bear countless burdens for us, believe in us and send us on our own journey. What a gift moms are. In 1938, when he was 14, President George H. W. Bush’s mother gave him words of wisdom to live by. He wrote them in the cover of his Bible: I would be true, for there are those who trust me. I would be pure, for there are those who care. I would be strong, for there is much to suffer. I would be brave, for there is much to dare. I would be a friend to all, to the foe, and to the friendless. I would be giving, and forget the gift. I would be humble, for I know my weaknesses. I would look up, and laugh, and love and lift. Timeless words of wisdom from a mother. My mom gave my siblings and me countless words of wisdom throughout her lifetime, but the phrase that comes to mind most quickly is a fairly humorous one I heard for years: “Beat Gonzales!” That was Mom’s well-meaning, yet mispronounced, encouragement to beat the completely-out-of-reach, world class and future record-setting Olympian swimmer, John Kinsella, in a high school swim meet. Those were the last words my mom would say to me before just about every swim meet thereafter, regardless who I was competing against. Over time they took on a much larger meaning: “I’m with you! I believe in you!” Decades later, during a swimming competition at Stanford University in 2009, my impish wife, son and a couple of friendly cheerleaders, revived those significant words for me.  (Unbelievably, one of the official timers for that race actually knew who Kinsella was; she dated him in college!) I’ll never forget Mom’s encouragement. What advice did your mom give you that you’ll never...

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