Seeing Jesus

It is election season. From things I’ve read, if Jesus were alive today, He would support every political candidate. Or at least that is the case people make. There is a proliferation of bumper stickers saying that “Jesus is an environmentalist” or “Jesus is a capitalist” or some other such identification. Many churches teach their opinions as if they were doctrines of Jesus. Things like kids must be home-schooled or that some standards of discipleship are old-fashioned. Here is the truth: we view Jesus through the lens of what builds up our false sense of self. We want Jesus to affirm the things from which we are seeking value. Thus, we don’t see Jesus as He actually is, we see a Jesus created in our own image. Jesus did not come to affirm our broken philosophies, He came to show the world the love of the Father. When we make Jesus in our image, that leads to division rather than unity, condemnation rather than acceptance, and judgment rather than forgiveness. Jesus was concerned that we do two things: love God and love people. Loving God is about rooting our full sense of identity in Him. Loving people is a fruit of the freedom that source of identity provides. Where loving God and people conflicts with our desires we are to abandon our self. In what ways does Jesus look more like you rather than you looking more like Jesus? ————————————————— I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and...

Understanding Your Identity

Before I understood the importance and power of identity and its relationship to my spiritual life in Christ, I drew a sense of significance from the statements “I am liked” and “I am a pastor.”  These were not just simple descriptors, but rather statements of being that represents facets of my source of identity. My desire to be liked and my role as a pastor worked in conjunction to provide for me a foundation. What I did not understand was that these identity statements were competitors for my allegiance with Jesus. The idea of not being able to serve two masters extends beyond money (Luke 16:13) and to any source of being that you adopt. Here are other ways our passion for self turns into statements from which we draw significance: I am right. I am successful. I am different. I am loyal. I am obedient. I am happy. I am strong. I am content. Which statement(s) resonate with your experience working out your relationship with Christ? Can you think of any additional statements? Jesus was the word made flesh, and in his flesh he knew exactly what his identity was. In addition to stating things like “if you have seen me you have seen the Father”, “I an the Father are one”, and affirming that he was the Son of God, Jesus spoke these words to the Jews who questioned him: “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” – John 8:58 Jesus was equating himself with the title spoken by God to Moses in Exodus 3. From that identity, Jesus’ flesh was secure in his significance and purpose. There was no...

The Three Temptations of Identity

Jesus knew who he was. More to the point, Jesus knew whose he was. His humanness, his place, his purpose, his affirmation all came directly from the Father. Early on this secure identity was evident. After their days long search of Jerusalem for him, Jesus answered his parents frantic questions with “didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) Fully human, Jesus’ identity was rooted in communion with the Father. It is that identity that was the basis for the behaviors, decisions, and ways of relating to others that we see in the New Testament accounts. In Luke 3:22, Jesus received the blessing of the Father “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Not only was this declaration of truth a confirmation for those who witnessed it, but it was affirmation and approval for Jesus. It was well timed. The next scene after Jesus receiving affirmation from the Father is of him being led into the wilderness where He would experience three temptations to his identity. Twice in Luke 4:1 – 13 satan begins the test with “if you are the Son of God…” – if you are indeed who you think you are and claim to be, then prove it. In between, Satan challenges the Father as source of Jesus identity by saying “if you worship me…” – if you put your worth in me, I will give you what you need to sustain your sense of purpose and place. Remember, the three questions of identity are: what do I do?, what do I have?, and what do people think of me? They are related to the desires for control, security, and affirmation that are...

The Solution for Shame

Shame is the fear of not being loved nor accepted. It occurs when our identity is challenged and the value we receive from that identity is interrupted. There is much research on shame and its affects on our relationships. Consensus seems to be that shame, while it is the most common emotion, is not adaptive or natural. It is destructive. In that the Bible agrees. Shame is a product of the fall. Like earthquakes, death, and the weeds that choke your vegetable garden, it is not natural; shame is not part of God’s original, very good design. It emanates from the broken image within us. Without Christ, the best that can be done is to cover our shame. That is why we develop identities. It is our best effort to repair our own brokenness and develop a source of security, comfort and significance. But, because of the daily challenges to and the subjective nature of identity, this is not an effective solution. Shame breaks through the self-constructed shell. The covering for our shame must be secure  – unchanging. That is the solution offered in Christ. The Truth of Christ does not change; He will not leave nor forsake those in Him and He does not show favoritism. If shame is felt by the follower of Christ, that is indication that the false self has allowed something to be added to Christ. It is the opportunity to examine our hearts and re-center in Christ. That is the battle of the old nature and new promised by the apostle Paul – part of God’s plan to chip away at our heart...

The Paschal Mystery

It’s taken me awhile to type this particular blog. I made my notes for it in my journal December 7th and it’s been a block to me. Haven’t felt like I could post anything else until I get this one out. To me, this one is important and filled with applicable truth. A message that I’ve wanted to get JUST RIGHT (that’s why I made notes), and that is probably why it has taken so long to get it out. Sometimes I do that. In my desire to get things perfect (or as close to perfect as I am capable of), I procrastinate. I rationalize and put things off. My wife would deny emphatically that I am a perfectionist, but for me this is how my perfectionism is shown, avoidance. Here I go. Putting away and attempts at perfection. This is a blog after all. So, the notes I made are away (I did read them though) and I’m just going to type this out “stream of consciousness” style. It’s called The Paschal Mystery. (The mathematician in me wants to type and pronounce Pascal.) Outlined by the early Christian mystics as they identified this clear pattern of life. Paschal means passing, from one state to another, specifically from death to new life. Jesus taught about the Paschal Mystery when he told his followers that unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will remain a single seed. But if it dies, it will produce many seeds. Growth and reproduction are outlined in this principle. Then Jesus did something amazing, he lived the Paschal Mystery. He...

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