Letting Go of Shame

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We’re going to get to what Jesus teaches us about shame. But first, we need to tease shame out from two other words we often use interchangeably with it.

And those are embarrassment and guilt.

We end up switching these three words out for one another when we talk, because all three make us feel pretty similar.

Whether we are embarrassed or guilty or ashamed, we might feel our face flush, our palms sweat, our heart race. All of these feelings make us cringe.

But they are, nonetheless, really different in their cause and especially in where they take us.

Let’s start with embarrassment.

Embarrassment happens when we do something foolish or uncomfortable or even gross, especially in front of someone else.

For example, I was embarrassed when I got all the way to the top of a five flight staircase for a water slide, then chickened out, and how to walk all the way back down the stairs to the ground squeezing past the other kids waiting in line for the slide. That was embarrassing.

And it was especially embarrassing because I was 30 years old.

Or, for another example, I was embarrassed when I was talking with my hands one afternoon like I always do and forgot I was holding my cell phone and it flew out of my hands and right into a lake.

And I was especially embarrassed when we took it into the cell phone store to have it fixed, and water kept dripping out of it, after I told them “I don’t why it’s not working!”

So that’s embarrassment.

Then there’s guilt. This one has some of the same effect on us as embarrassment – the flushed face, the sweaty palms – and may have started with a foolish or stupid action, but it comes with the added awareness of having done something wrong, especially if it hurt someone else. Guilt is a tough one.

But guilt has one small positive piece. Sometimes it actually motivates us to become better people, to repent, to make things right. We’ll look at that more later.

But then there is this third one. The insidious cousin of the other two. And that’s shame. Again, flushed face, racing heart, sweaty palms.

But here’s why it’s different.

Shame makes us feel not just that we did something bad, but that we ARE bad.

So embarrassment is when we say “I did this foolish or even horrible thing” and guilt says “I did this horrible thing and it hurt someone” but shame says “I am horrible and wrong.”

Today we are going to focus in on this last one. Because we dole shame out, all the time.

We shame other people by looking at their lives and deciding who they are because of what we observe and perceive as breaking our version of the moral code.

And we shame ourselves.

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What is God Going to Do About Evil?

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My first experience of evil in the world was the school shooting at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. I was in college at UCF, and the evil of it affected me in a real way…a way that no previous act of evil had… I feel that again this week.

Columbine, for me, was the first time that I saw how powerful evil could be in our world. It was the first time that I was forced to ask, “How could God allow something like this to happen? Why does he allow us the power to kill innocent people? Where is God now?”

Now, another act of evil has exploded across our world, taking seventeen lives, and forever altering hundreds more, shocking us at the callousness of those among us, and we ask the question again, “Where is God? Where is God in evil?”

Now, the correct answer is to say that God has no part in evil.

1 John 1:5 says that “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.” And I believe that, and our church teaches that, because it’s true.

So if the cause of evil is what really matters, then we can ask the question “Why did God create a world where evil is allowed to happen?” And if that’s a question you’d like to discuss, I would be happy to buy you a cup of coffee so we can talk about it.

But I won’t do it today. Not this week.

Because that question is a dry, intellectual question that doesn’t really respect the pain and suffering and loss of life that evil has caused this week.

The better question is “What is God going to do about it?”

So what is God going to do about evil?

 He’s going to punish it.

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Healing

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We have all wanted healing, for ourselves, or for someone we love. Reading the stories about Jesus’ healing miracles (and there are 27 of them, told multiple times)  makes us think, “I sure wish Jesus would do that today.” Or where was Jesus when any number of the people we loved and lost died?

If Jesus can heal, why doesn’t he heal the person I love more than anyone in the world?

If miracles are real, why did that person get them, but not my spouse or my parent or my child?

If 1. Miracles are real and 2. Healing is a miracle Jesus did and 3. Jesus loves us then where is our miracle?  We long for them. We yearn for healing. We go searching for them. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who will take advantage of us when we do.

There are a lots of “Christian” teachings out there that want you to believe that no one needs to be sick if they’ll just believe. The most popular teaching about miracles today is that they’re for sale. That healing can be bought by a certain number of prayers or faithful acts or even by sending in money to a preacher on television. One of the Copeland’s even got a tweet on the front page this week for saying that the flu can’t affect true Christians.

It's NOT flu season! Yes, you heard it right. The flu is NOT a season we have around here because Jesus bore ALL our sickness on the cross. This includes the flu! -Kenneth Copeland Ministries
Not true. But a great way to pay for a plane!

But that’s not the way that miracles work.

That’s not what healing really means.

So before we read any further in Everything Jesus Taught, we need to know how to interpret all the healings that Jesus did, and how to interpret life with all its fragility, today.

In this post, I want to share one important Bible study principal with you. This is the key to understanding the healings in Jesus’ life and teaching.

Here it is.

When you read about a healing, keep reading.

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Good In, Good Out

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On the podcast that Dave and I have been doing each Monday, we were talking about how what we watch on television gets into our heads and affects what we do.

This seems to be especially true with reality television.

For example, if we watch home improvement shows Dave and I start taking down walls in our house.

When we watch traveling shows we start planning a trip.

Once Dave and I binge-watched an entire season of American Ninja Warrior. That’s the one where people compete on these intense obstacle courses after training for years to prepare. A few episodes in,  I decided I was, in fact, a future ninja warrior and started doing push ups on the commercials and jogging in place.

But then we took a break from ninja warrior to watch the Great British Baking Show. A few episodes into that one I was making a layered chocolate cake in the kitchen with raspberries on top and talking about its “crumb.”

(I realize that the baking show and the ninja warrior competition don’t create complementary goals for my life. So I’m going with the  cake.)

Whatever we are watching tends to affect what we talk about, think about.  Or, in other words:

What we put in is what we get out.

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Loving Our Enemies

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For all of the things we may hate about the internet, there is one thing I think we can all agree is truly fantastic…  Stories and pictures of interspecies friendships.

Cats and dogs napping together.

An elephant and a black lab playing.

A gorilla cuddling a kitten.

Amazing.

One of these stories recently caught my eye because it seemed so unlikely. The two species weren’t just uncommon together. They were enemies. Predator and prey. At the Primorsky Safari Park in Russia there is a Siberian tiger named Amur. Twice a week they throw in a live goat for Amur to eat. And every time, he quickly pounces on the goat and devours him.

Until he didn’t.

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Integrity

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” — C.S. Lewis

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We hear the word integrity and our minds jump to big examples of people who had it,  and people who don’t. But no one starts off with the huge ethical quandaries.

There are a thousand little dilemmas that we all have to face that determine how we’ll do when it comes to the big ones.

Like those little water cups you get at Panera Bread.

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Courage

Way before I was a pastor, before seminary and serving churches and ordination, I was a volunteer with the youth group. Dave and I both were, and we worked with the youth group every week, helping to lead games or give a talk or sing songs with them. Then the time came to plan for the middle school summer trip. The trip was scheduled for just 3 days after we would return from our honeymoon, 2 weeks after our wedding. This particular year, we were doing the 8th grade plunge, which involved about 15 eighth graders and 4 leaders sleeping under tarps and going to the bathroom in the woods for a week.

I can probably think of a more romantic way to have started our married life together.

But off we went as newly weds to help that group of eighth graders learn to love Jesus, even though it didn’t involve flush toilets or electricity or even tents.  When we left for the trip I had been camping maybe twice in my whole life. But there we were, out in the woods of Tennessee. Just us, a sleeping bag, and a tarp.

And I. Was. Terrified.

It was all so …. naturey.  But then, to really take it up a notch, we not only camped but did high adventure wilderness activities, everyday. One day, we hiked several miles into the woods. Another day we went deep into the depths of a natural cave, moving through tunnels way underground. And then, on the last day, we set off to go white water rafting.

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