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 it, we “no longer have to live under a continuous low-lying black cloud.” “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame…” Psalm 25:3 “I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant;...

Read More

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....

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Glory and Ruin, Part II

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Character, Heroes, Redemption, Transformation, Uncategorized | 0 comments

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.”   —Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn As a survivor of the Gulag Archipelago, the massive Soviet system of prisons to which political and religious dissidents were abandoned from the 1940-80’s, Solzhenitsyn had an unusually awful exposure to mankind’s wickedness. Though he might have considered himself above those who committed such crimes, he was honest enough to admit his own flaws. I am convicted, and compelled, by the fact that men are capable of performing some of the most heroic of acts, as well as the most heinous of crimes. (I touched on this theme in a post a year ago, also entitled Glory and Ruin). Our daily headlines reveal stories of men engaged in life-risking bravery alongside depictions of men committing unspeakable brutality. Glory and Ruin. It would be nice, as Solzhenitsyn suggests, if we could just separate the wicked men of our world into a consolidated group and just get rid of them. The truth, as honest men will admit, is more complicated. Although there are without question, unusually evil men and unusually good men in the world, most of us know that, while we long to become men who others trust and admire, we also have the capacity for selfishness, betrayal and deceit. Glory and Ruin. I am convinced that, just as men carry the potential to inflict unusual harm, they carry equal potential to bestow unusual blessing. Glory and Ruin resides in all of us (women, too, by the way). Scripture urges us to  “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Heb. 3:13, 14. Men, let’s take an honest look in the mirror, and admit and repent of any selfish patterns of Ruin. And then, quickly, embrace the Glory present in all of us who claim the transforming power of the blood of Christ. Glory and Ruin. I see it in me; I see it in other men. You do, too. Believe in, and call out, the...

Read More