Friday, August 07, 2020

The Cure for Entitlement and Victimization


Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

I recommend John Townsend's book The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way.

One of the bitter fruits of entitlement is externalization. Townsend writes: "People with an attitude of entitlement often project the responsibility of their choices on the outside, not the inside. The fault lies with other people, circumstances, or events. They blame others for every problem." (p. 61)

The worship songs of externalization are...

"It's Them, It's Them, It's Them, O Lord, Standin' in the Need of Prayer," and...

"Change Their Hearts, O God." 

Externalization-people fail to look at their part in their problems. "Instead, they default to answers outside their skin. The result? They tend to be powerless and unhappy. They tend to see life through the eyes of a victim. And their suffering is unproductive — it doesn’t get them anywhere." (Ib.)

The classic victim mentality is:

"Yes, I did what was wrong. But you forced me to do it." The "victim" persists in recruiting other people for the self-justification of evil. In this they destroy others, along with own soul.

"Blame," writes Townsend, "is a first cousin to entitlement." 
The constant blamer is the perpetual victim. 

The antidote to this bondage is to take responsibility for your own choices and attitudes. Be open to seeing yourself as the problem. Reject a global victimization that views yourself as someone who is always being "done to," and own your own part in your problems. 

Forgive those who have trespassed on your heart. 

Take responsibility for your own trespassing.

My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

Breaking Free from Self-Blame

(Crossing Lake Michigan on The Badger)

I'm thinking again of the inmate at Marion (Ohio) State Correctional Center who asked me to pray for him because he could not forgive himself for killing his parents. One reason that request affected me so much is that I have, in some cases of my own moral and spiritual failure, felt unable to forgive myself. I meet many people plagued by the hell-designed incapacity to self-forgive. 
How can we overcome this?
Everett Worthington says that "repentance and humility are at the core of breaking free from self-blame." (Worthington, Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past, p. 76) 
Three things render self-forgiveness impossible:
1.             Acting like a victim, and blaming others for your wrongdoing.
2.             Showing little or no remorse for what you did.
3.             Expecting that repairing the damaged relationships will be a quick fix (which often leads to blaming others for their "inability to forgive").
To be repentant and humble people need to do three things:
         1.             Accept responsibility for their wrongdoing.
2.             Feel and show regret and remorse for what they did.
3.             Realize that making up for the wrongdoing and repairing the relationships damaged by the wrongdoing is going to be costly in time, effort, and self-sacrifice. (In Ib., 77)

Failure to accept responsibility "shoots forgiveness in the foot - and makes it difficult for the one we harmed to forgive us as well." (Ib.)

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Stay Content

(Fisher Theater, Detroit)

I am promised peace and contentment that surpasses human intelligence and transcends life's circumstances. There is a place of calm, of rest, available and accessible to me. 

The biblical "fruit of the Spirit" is noncircumstantial (Galatians 5:22-23). Otherwise, my attitudes would go up and down with the news. 

I am told that the heart-conditions of being at peace, being kind, being joyful, and so on, are independent of my life circumstances. Otherwise love, peace, patience, kindness, and so on, rise or fall depending on what I am facing. The real thing, if it exists at all, must be something unattached to the vicissitudes of life.

True contentment, as well, is noncircumstantial. We see this in Paul, who wrote:

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)

Whatever the circumstances. I want to learn that secret! While not yet my full possession, it is my desire. To have it is to be free. Out of such freedom, I am able to love and live. 

How is true contentment attained? Contentment is a function of connectedness. Contentment increases as I am attached, branchlike, to Jesus, who is Vinelike. 

Any other answer to human flourishing is foolish. This is important to understand, in the midst of our materialist, entertainment, consumer culture. Thomas Merton writes: 

"If we are fools enough to remain at the mercy of people who want to sell us happiness, it will be impossible for us ever to be content with anything. How would they profit if we became content? We would no longer need their new product. The last thing the salesman wants is for the buyer to become content. You are no use in our affluent society unless you are always about to grasp what you never have." (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 84)

Our culture mitigates against contentment. It thrives on perpetual discontentedment. Imagine how unhelpful this is in a pandemic.

True contentment requires an a-cultural stance that is circumstance-free. From this transcendent point of view, our hearts have risen above life's conditions. We begin to see earth, through the lens of heaven.

Stay content.


Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Stay in Place

(I took this photo of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.)

From 1981 - 1992 Linda and I were campus pastors at Michigan State University. The campus is sprawling and beautiful. It hosts many botanical gardens. We loved riding bikes and walking on the miles of paths.

I remember something that caught our attention as we were on campus. We were walking up an incline. Ahead of us, on top of the hill, a young man was standing, with his back to us. His eyes were fixed on something on the other side of the hill. As we got to the top we saw, below in the valley, two German shepherds. They were sitting, their bodies frozen like statues, their eyes locking with the eyes of their master. 

Then, the master said, "Come!" The two German shepherds raced up the hill and sat at their master's feet.

I have never forgotten this scene of the obedient dogs and their trainer. Nothing was going to move the dogs, except the master's command.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 the apostle Paul writes of the defeat of death and the victory inherent in the resurrection.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”


“Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory 

through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Since we already have the victory, Paul instructs us to be immovable. 

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, 

stand firm. 

Let nothing move you. 

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, 

because you know that your labor in the Lord 

is not in vain.

Stay in place.

Lock your eyes on the eyes of Jesus.

Stay anchored. (See HERE.)

Stay planted. (See HERE.)

Let nothing move you, except the voice of your Master.



Stay Calm

Stay Joyful

Tuesday, August 04, 2020


I'm one of thousands of men who were influenced by Promise Keepers.

Now - this coming weekend - a virtual event, with a strong lineup of speaker.

It's FREE.



Friday Night


Welcome, Opening, Worship, Ken Harrison
Bob Goff – “Walking with God in Uncertainty”
Bishop Joseph Garlington
Worship with Danny Gokey
Miles McPherson
Worship with Michael W. Smith
Worship with Phil Wickham
PK Chairman Ken Harrison 
Worship with Danny Gokey
PK Vision with Reggie Dabbs
Worship with Bishop Garlington
John Gray – “God’s Amazing Grace and His Restorative Power”
Worship with Calvin Nowell and the PK Worship Band
Steve Berger – “A Call to Repentance”
Worship with Evan Wickham
Announcements and Send Off

Saturday Morning


Opening, Welcome to Day 2
Worship with Michael W. Smith
Jonathan Evans – “The Gospel – It’s for Real Men”
Dr. Tony Evans – “Created to be Crowned as a Kingdom Husband and Father”
Worship with Calvin Nowell and the PK Worship Band
Andrew and Luis Palau – “Fathers, Love Your Family Into the Kingdom”
Allan Houston – “Challenged to Live a Great Legacy”
Worship with Craig Aven
Worship with Danny Gokey
International Justice Mission – Interview with Anu George
Steve Arterburn – “The Painful Consequences of Pornography”
David J Harris – “The Desire to Encounter God”
John Eldredge – “You Have the Heart of a Warrior, You Have What it Takes”
World Vision CEO Edgar Sandoval, Sr. – “A Vision Impact to the World”
Worship with Calvin Nowell and the PK Worship Band
Ken Coleman – “Discover Your Calling in Your Career”
Jason and David Benham – Interview: A Ministry Calling in the Business Marketplace
Mark Batterson – “Chasing & Empowering Your God-Given Dreams”
Greg Stier – “Go Share the Gospel and Tell Us Your Story”
Final Message and Closing

Stand Strong. Stand United.

On July 31 and August 1, men all across the globe will gather via livestream in their homes, with their men’s groups, and at simulcast locations hosted by churches, to experience the Promise Keepers 2020 Global Digital Experience. Register and receive instant access to the conference.

Stay Calm

(Green Lake, Wisconsin)

I have done a lot of flying, around America, and overseas to other countries. I don't fear flying. I don't even mind some turbulence. But I will admit that, in extended times of turbulence, the sound of the pilot's calm voice is reassuring to me that we are going to get through this.

When turbulent times come, leaders need to be calm. This goes all the way from government leaders down to doctors, down to police officers and firemen, down to teachers and caregivers and, yes, parents, too. When the child's heart is troubled, the calm spirit of the parent ministers to them.

A calm heart not only diminishes fear. It is needed for accurate discernment. Some decisions are hard enough to discern when you're not in panic mode. Panic makes it harder to see clearly. In general, never make important decisions when your heart is agitated.

Jesus consistently calms the agitated heart. We see this in the story of the storm on the Sea of Galilee.

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 
36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 
37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 
38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, 
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down 
and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? 
Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4
Surely God is not in a panic about what's now happening in the world. From a place of calm, Jesus says to his disciples,
Do not let your hearts be agitated.
You believe in God.
Believe also in me. 
John 14:1
Panic is not part of the fruit of the Spirit. Peace is. (Gal. 5:22-23) And, this peace is otherworldly, from heaven, given to you, and me, now. (See HERE.)
The calmness that is the heart of God guards our hearts and minds from turbulence. (See HERE.)
Stay in that place.
Stay calm.


Stay Joyful

Never Push, Presume, or Pretend

Image result for john piippo pretend
(Redeemer sanctuary)

I had many takeaways from James Goll when he spoke on our HSRM online mini-conference. Once of them was this.

Be led.

Not pushed.

So, when it comes to leadership:

Lead people.

Don't push people.

This is about influence. Great leaders influence people. And great leaders for God are influenced, and led, by God.

The leadership of Moses exemplified this. In Numbers 12:3 we read that "Moses was a humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." Moses' humility was a precondition for his ongoing dialogical relationship with God, for his being-led by God.

Moses was close to God because he did not...

  • pretend he was what he knew he was not;
  • presume a favorable position for himself in any respect;
  • push or try to override the will of others in his context.
Dallas Willard says, "This is a fail-safe recipe for humility: Never push, never presume, never pretend." (Willard, Hearing God Through the Year, p. 47)


Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (a book I co-edited with Janice Trigg)

I''m now giving attention to Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart
Then, Linda and I will co-write our book on Relationships.

Followed by... Technology and Spiritual Formation.