Identity – The Blame Game

23 10 2008

The newest series at The C.O.R.E. is entitled “Identity: The Search for Significance” which is based on Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance – Student Edition, 2003 [W Publishing – based on The Search for Significance, 1998]. The substance of this post comes directly from or is based on the content of the book.

Week 1 – The Performance Trap

Week 2 – The Approval Addict

Ask yourself: When I see someone else suffering, do I wonder what they did to deserve it? When something goes wrong, do you catch yourself thinking that God must be punishing you for something you have done? Do you get angry with God when someone who is bad gets rewarded with success?

If you said yes to any of these questions, then you are playing the Blame Game.

We each carry a powerful weapon everywhere we go: our ability to send a message of condemnation or blame to another person using words, physical force, facial expressions, or silence. It says, “I’ll make you sorry for what you did.”

Life has taught us that those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be judged.

But we all fail. None of us measure up to the standards our culture pushes for beauty, talent, intelligence, popularity and success.

While parents and pastors are concerned about the effects of watching excessive violence in movies and videos, no one seems to notice the burn of violent words and labels shot at you every day in real life by your parents or peers. Life isn’t fair.

The fear of rejection and ridicule causes people to switch into survival mode. Every man for himself. We keep the condemnation and blame away from our own fragile self-esteems by aiming the abuse at someone else.

Parents shape their children’s lives with the influences and ideas that were poured into them. They get mad and blame their kids when they make a mistake because, in their minds, their success as a parent is tied to what their children do. Chances are, if parents didn’t get much verbal encouragement or support as kids, they probably don’t know how to show it to their children now and they won’t know how to break the cycle of blame and condemnation, unless they have a breakthrough experience that exposes the deadly lies and opens us up to the truth about who we are. If things don’t change, we could injure many people we love with these same weapons of blame and condemnation.

When we make mistakes we wonder what is wrong and who is to blame. When we can’t find the answer, sometimes we start assuming the problem must be rooted in who we are and what we have done. Too many of us operate on the theory that if we punish ourselves enough, then God will not have to punish us.

If we believe that what we do [The Performance Trap], how popular we are, and what other people think of us [The Approval Addict] are the standards for “success,” then we are going to feel okay about condemning those who fall short of that mark, including ourselves. We must stop blaming others and forgive.

God is the only one who has a legitimate reason to condemn us. God sets the standard for what is right and wrong. For Him to overlook one sin would pollute His holiness, like smearing a beautiful white dress with black tar. GOOD NEWS! Jesus’ death on the cross appeased God and made amends with Him for the sins of everyone in the world.

Romans 5:7-11 – Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Our status with God isn’t based on the good things we do or how many mistakes we make.

John 3:17: God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

The way God handles our failure is through forgiveness and total acceptance. And He then expects us to give the same. We have all been hurt by others – either by what they have said or done. God’s love teaches us by example to forgive others.

I John 4:9-11 – God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

We have worth because God loves us.

Here are some steps to take when you find yourself playing the Blame Game:

First, we should look at what we want to do to people who hurt us. Is it revenge or forgiveness?

Second, God challenges us not to blame others when they fail.

Third, God has one job that He doesn’t want us to do. He doesn’t need us to speak for Him. Judgment is God’s responsibility alone.

The woman caught in adultery.

John 8:1-11 – Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Throwing stones of blame and punishment is not your job. Even Jesus didn’t condemn the woman CAUGHT in adultery. He was the only one who had the right and He CHOSE instead to forgive and love! HOW CRAZY IS THAT?!

We know the truth about who we really are, our bad habits and our long list of failures. What’s more, God knows about them too. And yet He chooses to forgive when we ask. Have you ever felt like a failure as a Christian? God wants to use you even in your failures. It just goes to show both us and others that God is in the business of love, mercy and forgiveness. Let’s share it.

Next week: Identity – Shame





Identity – The Approval Addict

16 10 2008

The newest series at The C.O.R.E. is entitled “Identity: The Search for Significance” which is based on Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance – Student Edition, 2003 [W Publishing – based on The Search for Significance, 1998]. The substance of this post comes directly from or is based on the content of the book.

Satan’s formula for teens (and anyone, for that matter):

Self-worth = Performance + Others’ Opinions

So, how do we convince them that their self-worth should be based in God’s unending and unconditional love for them?

"Please don't reject me"

The first lie teens are convinced of is the necessity of participating in The Performance Trap – “I must not fail.” The second lie is called The Approval Addict, which says “Please don’t reject me.” It is the idea that getting the approval of others and comparing ourselves to our peers is the only reliable way to tell how we are doing on this awkward journey toward adulthood.

Walking down the halls of our schools, students constantly ask themselves these questions:

“What do they think about me?”

“Am I cool?”

“Am I funny?”

“Am I attractive?”

Then the insecurities begin: “There’s something wrong with me. If only I could change [insert quality or appearance].” And then they dream that they have done something that would impress everyone…that would change everything. This is the “topper syndrome,” the need to outdo everyone else in conversation. “Oh yeah, that’s nothing, I…”

A person who struggles as an Approval Addict needs to ask the question: “What am I willing to do to impress others?”

When we compare ourselves to others we never win. We are either totally down on ourselves, depressed; or we’re stuck up and conceited, better than everyone else.

You don’t want to be in the dork group at your school. You want to be popular, have friends, and have fun. Why? Rejection hurts. The fear is so real that we are willing to do almost anything to keep it from happening to us. Living according to the false belief that you must be approved by certain others to feel good about yourself causes you to fear rejection, making you willing to change your attitudes and actions to match the expectations of others.

There is a solution to the Approval Addict. God offers us total and complete acceptance, with no performance demands and no threats of rejection. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, one of the most hated professions in his day. He was a Jew working for the Romans, which would have earned him zero love from his neighbors. He was also a cheat, stealing money from everyone. Zacchaeus found out that God loved him unconditionally and accepted him completely. He realized that his life was valuable and significant to God.

Reconciliation picks us up out of the need for approval. Col. 1:21-23a – Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.

Cue the Prodigal Son…

He got his money from his father, left home, and went to love the good life. He made friends who approved of him because of his money and his lifestyle, but when the money ran out and he could no longer afford the life he was on his own and subjugated to the lowliness of a pig feeder. He had trampled his father’s money, his father’s name and his father’s honor. But what happens when he comes home begging to be a servant? His father hugs him and calls him son! Reconciliation. When someone loves you like that, you don’t care what others say about you. This is God’s love!

That unconditional love of God changes people from the inside-out, whereas our culture says to change from the outside-in. Change the behavior and change the person…LIE! BELIEF DETERMINES BEHAVIOR!

We are totally accepted by God because Christ’s blood paid for our sins. Without God’s approval, our self-worth depends on what our friends, culture, and even parents say, and how we measure up to what they expect of us. Living in the confidence of God’s unchanging opinion of us gives us the freedom to develop the gifts He gives us, without worrying that He will reject us.

Next post: Identity – The Blame Game





Nike “Leave Nothing”

15 10 2008

I just witnessed one of the greatest sports commercials ever made. I had goosebumps at the end.

The spot follows two of most dynamic players in the NFL from childhood to one moment on the turf. LaDainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu are featured. Quite possibly, the emotional charge I felt throughout the commercial came from the background music – Ennio Morricone‘s “The Ecstacy of Gold” from 1966’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.





1 to 100

11 10 2008

I find this video strangely intriguing. Maybe it’s the Brits.





Identity – The Performance Trap

10 10 2008

The newest series at The C.O.R.E. is entitled “Identity: The Search for Significance” which is based on Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance – Student Edition, 2003 [W Publishing – based on The Search for Significance, 1998]. The substance of this post comes directly from or is based on the content of the book.

As has been stated in my last post, Satan has convinced teens of this formula:

Self-worth = Performance + Others’ Opinions

How do we convince them that their self-worth should be based in God’s unending and unconditional love for them?

The first of the lies we are told can be titled The Performance Trap. The Performance Trap says “I must not fail.” It is the false promise that success will bring us ultimate fulfillment and happiness.

How can you identify The Performance Trap?

Listen for something like “I’ll feel good about myself if…

  • “I make the cheerleading squad.”
  • “I earn a spot on the football team.”
  • “I make Eagle Scout.”
  • “I make honor roll.”
  • “I get a part in the school play.”
  • “I make a really high score on my SAT/ACT.”
  • “I get a scholarship to a certain college.”
  • “I lose five pounds.”
  • “I’m able to bench-press 250 pounds.”
  • “I win first place at the science fair.”
  • “I get hired for my ideal summer job.”

What they first need to realize is that – at some point – failure is inevitable, even for the truly great.

Basing your self-worth on how well you perform is setting yourself up for continual frustration.

Some of the syomptoms of The Performance Trap include:

  1. perfectionism – motivation stems from a fear of failure
  2. avoidance of risks – unwilling to do anything they might fail at
  3. anger and resentment – any bit of criticism (even well-intended advice) suggests that we have failed in some way
  4. pride – sometimes disguised as self-confidence, comes from the perfectionist attitude
  5. anxiety and fear – fretfulness occurs when whenever we are put in situations where we sense the strong possibility of failure
  6. depression – failure [especially repeated failure] prompts us to conclude that we are worthless
  7. dishonesty – so scared of even the thought of failure, we might do anything to avoid it
  8. chemical addiction – sends a surefire signal someone does not feel good about themselves, could result from depression

God gives us the solution to The Performance Trap: He made a miraculous exchange – He put all of our sins and failures, our rebellious acts and screw-ups on Christ. He took care of them, so we don’t have to perform. In other words, the pressure is off. God does not love us any less when we screw up, so we don’t have to think less of ourselves either.

According to Romans 12, we should be renewing our minds by exchanging our old ways of thought (i.e. the lies Satan has convinced us of) for the truths of God. With that in mind, here are four correct beliefs that we should be instilling in ourselves and our teens:

  1. My actions (successes or failures) have absolutely nothing to do with Christ’s love for me. [Titus 3:3-5a – At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
  2. If I have an active relationship with God, I am now right with God. [Romans 5:1 – since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.]
  3. If I have an active relationship with God, I have the righteousness of Christ. [II Cor. 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.]
  4. If I have repented and asked for forgiveness, God forgot my past mistakes. [Col 1:21-22 – Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.]

Your life is valuable because God paid a price for you!

Next post: Identity – The Approval Addict





Identity: The Search for Significance

9 10 2008

The newest series at The C.O.R.E. is entitled “Identity: The Search for Significance” which is based on Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance – Student Edition, 2003 [W Publishing – based on The Search for Significance, 1998]. The substance of this post comes directly from or is based on the content of the book.

The basic job description of a teen includes (1) getting along with and fitting in with peers and (2) developing a personal identity. In other words, finding out who they are and how they fit into this messed-up world.

As children, we go along with what our parents want for us. We share their agendas for our lives. But as puberty wreaks its havoc on our bodies and minds, we begin to find our identity apart from our parents. Growing up to be like our parents may very well be our worst nightmare, but life was so much simpler as a child.

Now there are expectations. And the bar is set pretty high. What you do is never good enough. And teens think to themselves… “Nobody will ever love me.” “If people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me.” “I’ve been a failure all my life.” “I guess I’ll always be a failure.” “I’ll never be able to change.” “Not even God really cares about me.” It’s a time of incredible insecurity.

Adults often tell their children that they wish they could go back to their teen years. “They were the best years of my life.” Sound familiar? Well, if the teens years are the best, then this must all be a cruel joke, right? Young girls starve themselves to feel pretty, teen guys burst out with anger at any little thing, and a spirit of depression and hopelessness permeates our teen culture. Everyone wants to be happy and successful and to regard him or herself as a valuable human being, but is it possible that we have been told some big lies about one of the most important aspects of life?

  • That we have to be perfect…
  • That we have to be beautiful…
  • That we have to be the best…
  • That we have to look, act, and be number one…

Our sin nature causes us to rebel against God and attempt to find security and purpose apart from Him, when all along God offers unconditional love and acceptance as the basis for a strong sense of personal self-worth. Through Jesus Christ we experience the security and significance for which we were created – not just in eternity beyond the death of our human bodies, but here on earth as well.

We have compelling, God-given needs for love, acceptance, and purpose. But Satan would offer us an equation which goes against God’s plan:

Self-worth = Performance + Others’ Opinions

And God will allow us to follow the temporary pleasures (money, sex, and power) in our search for who we are. But He wants so badly to save us from ourselves!

Next post: Identity – The Performance Trap





I’ve got a brother!

7 10 2008

Here’s one of my favorite commercials from my youth. Not quite as good as I remember, but still great.