Monday, May 19, 2014


I had the privilege of spending this past weekend up at Hume Lake Christian Camps, leading worship for their Mother/Daughter retreat.  People came from all different cities and different churches and different backgrounds for a weekend away with their loved ones and with God.  

A highlight of the weekend was on Saturday night when we all gathered at Victory Circle - an outdoor amphitheater where you sit in a huge round circle, with a fire pit in the middle.  There were about 300 women at this retreat - all moms and daughters ranging in age from 7 - 87.  As we sat around the campfire,  the women were invited to stand up and share with the group one thing that God had impressed upon their hearts during the weekend.  What was one "take-away" you had?  What was one thing you heard or learned or experienced that changed you?  It was a beautiful time as women of all ages began to stand up and share how God had revealed Himself in a new/deeper way to them over the weekend.  There were lots of tears.  And lots of women listening, nodding their heads, and thinking, "Me too."  As I sat and listened, I couldn't help but see there was a common thread through much of what was shared.  
"I realized this weekend that God loves me, regardless of my past."  
"I realized that there is nothing I could ever do to make God love me less."  
"I learned that God's grace is greater than my sin."
"I realized that no matter what, God loves me."

Over and over again.  Statements of the beautiful Truth that God's love knows no end.  That His grace covers all.  New realizations.  Said through tears.  Tears of relief and gratitude.  Tears that seemed to release the pent up shame they had been weighed down by for years.  


Reader, I don't know your religious background.   I don't know what you think of Jesus.  Or who you believe God to be.  But I want you to know that if you were to read the Bible and get to know the God of the Bible, you would find this beautiful story of God Himself coming here as Jesus.  And the life of Jesus reveals to us who God is, what His heart is, and how we should live.  And if you study the life of Jesus, you will find that Jesus never, I mean NEVER shamed people.  Ever.  The adulterous woman brought to him?  John 8 says his response to her being caught "in the act" was, "I do not condemn you...go and sin no more. "  In fact, not only does he not shame people, but Hebrews 12:2 says he despised shame.  His grace doesn't just overcome shame.  His grace despises shame.  

John Piper describes it beautifully as he imagines Jesus on the cross:

Jesus spoke to shame like this:
Listen to me, Shame, do you see that joy in front of me? Compared to that, you are less than nothing. You are not worth comparing to that! I despise you. You think you have power. Compared to the joy before me, you have none. Joy. Joy. Joy. That is my power! Not you, Shame. You are worthless. You are powerless.
You think you can distract me. I won’t even look at you. I have a joy set before me. Why would I look at you? You are ugly and despicable. And you are almost finished. You cover me now as with a shroud. Before you can say, ‘So there!’ I will throw you off like a filthy rag. I will put on my royal robe.
You think you are great, because even last night you made my disciples run away. You are a fool, Shame. You are a despicable fool. That abandonment, that loneliness, this cross — these tools of yours — they are all my sacred suffering, and will save my disciples, not destroy them. You are a fool. Your filthy hands fulfill holy prophecy.

Farewell, Shame. It is finished.

HA!  How awesome is that?
So if Jesus gave up his life to offer us forgiveness of sins, and He himself despises shame, why in the world do so many of us live with shame?

Here's what we are to do:

1. Acknowledge God's intimate love for you and His sacrifice on the cross for your sins.  (sin just means the ways we mess up.  Meaning, everyone.  Cuz if you think you've never messed up, then you just did by thinking that.  BOOM.)  ;)  
2. Confess your sins to God and accept His gift of grace.  (to the God who loves you (His creation) and offers forgiveness from all your mess ups.  Yes, All of them.  Yes, even that one.)
3. Live in freedom.  Live as a follower of Jesus.  Live your life free to love extravagantly.  Free to offer grace just like you've received.  Live your life free from the weight of any and all shame.  

Once we receive God's gift of grace, our sin is forgiven.  Done with.  Want to know just how "forgiven and done with" it is?  Psalm 103:12 says, "He has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west." So basically, our sin is taken as far away from us as possible.  That. Is. Awesome.  

So here's why I'm writing this:  Many people live in shame, thinking it's just a part of life.  Like, if you mess up, even if you stop and change your ways.... even if you confess it to God... even if you know that God has forgiven you... that shame is still just a part of life.  That shame is just a natural consequence.  But God's Word says otherwise.  Jesus' life says otherwise.  

Let's say you have something in your past and you've done #1 & #2 (above)... 

*If you still feel shame or hear a voice in your head that shames you, that is NOT God.  
*If you feel shamed by someone in your life, do not give that person's voice more weight than God's.  Let God's voice rule your heart.
*If you feel shamed by your church, find a new church.  No really.  I'm serious.  Find a new church.  If Jesus despised shame and your church dishes it out, you're in the wrong church.  

Our world desperately needs to see and experience Jesus.  When we live our lives burdened by shame, we give our world an inaccurate picture of God's love and grace.  We show them a watered down, powerless version.  
By living in freedom, we join Jesus in despising shame.  We join Jesus in being grace givers.  We heal and we become healers to the world around us.  

Dear shame,  
We are done with you.
You have no power over us.
God's loved, forgiven and free children.
P.S. I mean it this time.
P.P.S. You're dumb. 

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