Gary Wilkerson Podcast | Page 2 | World Challenge

Gary Wilkerson Podcast

  • Faith & Finances - Practical Advice Is Not Enough

    The United States is often called the richest country in the world. Often, as believers, we feel guilty about the money or nice things we own. Should we, though? Money is a resource that God chooses to give to us, as well as a blessing. If that’s the case, should we feel guilty about owning a nice house or car? Today Jim Palumbo and Gary Wilkerson discuss the answers and how we can have wisdom with our money.

    The United States is often called the richest country in the world. Often, as believers, we feel guilty about the money or nice things we own. Should we, though? Money is a resource that God chooses to give to us, as well as a blessing. If that’s the case, should we feel guilty about owning a nice house or car? Today Jim Palumbo and Gary Wilkerson discuss the answers and how we can have wisdom with our money.

    Bob: Welcome back to another episode of the Gary Wilkerson Podcast. Today, on the program, we have Jim Palumbo. We're going to talk about a topic today that everybody thinks about, everybody talks about and that's money. I'm sure we have some people out there listening and watching and say, “What are you talking about money for?” I guess the point is, the Bible talks about money. I think I read over 2,300 verses versus on money are in the Bible. If it's in the Bible that many times we probably ought to be talking about it too, right?

    Gary: Exactly, yes. Have you ever met any Christians that have guilt or shame at occupying in the financial realm and seeing that as like, “Oh, you're just seeking mammon?” Do you ever meet Christians that live out of a sense of guilt? If I spent too much time, energy on thinking about money or making money that I must not be living for Jesus.

    Jim: Absolutely.

    Gary: What do you say to them?

    Jim: I'm glad you asked the question. I believe that the philosophies that represent that thinking. There's a philosophy of old Pentecostal holiness or whatever puritanical religious view of wealth, prosperity, material goods, as being bad. Then you have the more modern sort of psychotic view that the whole purpose of the Bible and your relationship with God is to make you wealthy. I reject both of those philosophies.

    Gary: Me too.

    Jim: It is incorrect because I believe the Bible is transcendent. It's a third, but transcendent perspective on material goods. All the things in this world belong to God and we are stewards. It's never talked about. We're stewards of the things that are here on this earth. The reason that most people are poor is because they're poor stewards. They never learned how to occupy their talent. That little thing that God gave them, they never did it well, and they didn't get more. They just stayed right in that spot, being sloppy, being irresponsible being… ignoring it, or being puritanical, and thinking it was evil, or striving after it out of covetousness. If you reject all of that, and look around, look out the window here. All of this belongs to our Father, and he said, "Gary, Jim, Bob, take care of it. You're in charge, do good job." The minute we mess it up, then we don't get more.

    Gary: Yes. I came from the puritanical point of view. I don't know, did you too growing up?

    Jim: A little both, right. [laughs]

    Gary: What about you, Bob? Are you more of the prosperity family?

    Bob: No more. No, of the previous.

    Gary: Okay. Yes. I think most of us in evangelical world are brought up in that. For me, I lost a lot of joy in life because-- An example, I was in a car accident two years ago, insurance gave us some money so we could buy a new car. My wife wanted to buy a nice one. It has a nice name brand, in my mind went to Gary Wilkerson head of… Dave Wilkerson’s son, head of World Challenge can't drive a car with that symbol on the front of it. Even though it's the same price as the other one, but it was the name of it. It was a better quality, a better deal, it's an older car, and see, I even had to say that.

    Jim: You’re apologizing still.

    [laughter]

    Gary: Yes. We've got that puritanical mindset that material goods are bad for you and if you're doing it--my mindset goes to is like, "Okay, that car could have fed a thousand children or something like that." It's hard to live that way though because you're always like in guilt and condemnation and shame. On the other hand, as you said, "I don't want to live the other way, though, make as much as I can and be proud of it. Tell everybody that's-- look at this mansion I'm living in, that shows how much I'm following God because He's honoring me with this big house or this big car." I don't want to live that way either.

    You're talking about a third way here. Can you define that little bit more like this way that you're not living as an intentional pauper to try to please God, but you're not living as a hyper prosperity movement that is all about money, so what's this third?

    Jim: I'd like to tell a story, so I’ll try not to forget to tell that but let me address the first part of the question which is sort of theological. It's basically, if we go back to stewardship, that a good steward should ultimately be a Joseph, commanding millions, billions of dollars if he's a good steward. Because this is what God has given him to do. He was faithful with little and God made him faithful with much. This is scriptural.

    We talked about the teachings of Jesus and everybody says, "Oh, it's just prayer and spiritual meditation." No, it's not. It's these real things, about faithfulness. Think about the beatitudes, think about the commands of Jesus, how radical it was to love others more than yourself, to put others before you. This was radical thinking in his time. If you live your life with that kind of radical generosity and love, that makes you a good steward. Then God's going to give you more. As you're a good steward, you can have more and more wealth. What you do with it determines the next level. It's impossible to hide covetousness and greed. The moment you start exercising it, God finds you out, and He caps you and you got to learn the lesson or you don't keep moving.

    As soon as you put your eyes on, "Well, I want to have more money, so I'll try to pretend to God that I'm not covetous," He knows your heart, He knows you’ve been covetous.

    Gary: You've heard this before, God gives you something and you hold it in your hand, but you hold it lightly, you don't grasp it, so you let go.

    Bob: Let me ask you a question about that.  The heart is very deceitful, and it can talk us into all kinds of things. Any advice on knowing where your heart really is when it comes to some of those big purchases? What should you ask yourself to know where your heart’s really at?

    Jim: There's two sides to that coin too, so I'll answer it two ways. Number one is the practical, which is, if you have to go into debt for it, and if you have to spend more than you have, then it's a bad idea. Always live principally, live modestly, below your means, not above your means. The practical side is to make those decisions, don't buy things you can't afford, don't go too much into debt, et cetera.

    The flip side of that is Paul, here with I'm content, to just simply be content. Why do we buy new cars? Sometimes we buy it because it breaks down. Sometimes we buy it just because we want what that other person has. I think the one thing that's never ever, ever preached on, if I've heard one sermon in 40 years on covetousness, that's probably a lot and maybe it was your dad.

    Gary: [laughs]

    Jim: It's just not talked about and it's one of the Ten Commandments. People don't really know how to recognize covetousness. We talked about other mistakes I've made with money. God blessed me, I had a new car and I remember, I don't mind naming the brand, it was a Cadillac Seville, bright red, man it was excellent. The Lord really blessed me, and it really was. The other car died, needed a new car. It was like some lease deal, zero interest, one of those extraordinary things that was 230 bucks a month. I was like, "Wow, what a blessing?" I have this killer luxury car for 200 some bucks a month, on a lease was terrific. Well, I wasn't happy with that.

    A year later, looking, I see this guy has got a Porsche Boxster convertible. I'm thinking, “A Porsche Boxster is just killer, man. I got to have.” I went and bought one. What a pain in the neck it was. It always was breaking down and rocks going through the windows. It just wasn't right. It was so clear to me that I got that Porsche Boxster convertible out of pure covetousness. There was no practical reason whatsoever for doing it. We say, the people listening-- there are some easy ones like that. If you're tempted to get the Porsche Boxster convertible, it could be covetousness, especially if you have six kids.

    [laughter]

    Gary: It's just a little hard that, Jim and Bob, when you come from that puritanical background where material goods are worldly and then the biblical teaching that's helping you make a decision. Normally, I hear it's like if you have peace about it. Buy that car if you have peace about it. You pray, and then if you have peace, then that's the Lord leading you.

    Coming from that puritanical background, I don't have peace about anything when it comes to buying, now my wife does. She'll go like, "Yes, let's buy it. You deserve it. We got the money in the bank." Is there any other way? Can you help me because peace is not going to do it for me? Is there any other way-- but I think I hear you saying good stewardship, like is it wise? Is that car going to put you in debt, or is it going to be within your means to make the monthly payment or whatever? Is that stewardship? Do you think of peace when you're making financial decisions?

    Jim: No.

    Gary: You don't. Wow. That's pretty rare. I think it is anyway.

    Jim: Outside of Pentecostal circles, maybe. In charismatic circles, maybe not. Let's take the other side of the Puritans’ teachings. They were very austere. The other thing that they said is this. They said that, “With no extraordinary revelation from God, no word from heaven, no sense of go to the left or go to the right, you can live your life perfectly before God with what's in the scripture.” The word of God is a guide to us, how to live our lives.

    It’s not going to tell you what color of car to buy, but there are lots of principles for us to rely on when making a decision. Let's say about a purchase. Start with Paul, "Whatever state I find myself here with to be content." First of all, are you content with what you have and is it fine? Follow Paul's principle, "Yes, my car works. The house is fine." Let it go. Just give up. Just let go all this stuff like, "I need a better house. I need a better car." Just let it go. Don't think about materialism.

    This is the time to be spiritual. Think about your kids. Think about your family. Think about your church. Think about the poor. If the house is fine, the car is fine, just leave it go. Just don't obsess about the things of this world. That's a principle that's taught to us in the Word of God. We don't need extraordinary spiritual revelation to know that.

    The next thing, Bible teaches us not to be a debtor. Do I have to go in debt to do this? If the old car is fine, I have to go into debt to get the new car? Don't do it. The Bible literally tells you not to get that car because it says don't go into debt and to be content with the one that you have. You could just go on and on. There are so many principles like that in the Bible. I'm just picking a couple of them that are great examples so we can live by the word of God without fear of making a mistake because we don't have a spiritual leading, peace or check or some other thing. Word of God is enough.

    Bob: I go some other principles that you mentioned in your book, investments. What are our principles regarding investment of our money?

    Jim: That's a hard gear shift.

    [laughter]

    Bob: That Boxter should be able to handle.

    [laughter]

    Jim: When we talk about investments, the first thing is, yes. That's the first thing that we have to say about--

    Gary: Yes, invest?

    Jim: Yes. Right, invest. Saving, investing. How many examples in the Bible, starting with the parable we talked about the talents? The guy that buried it and didn't do well with it, with what he had, was punished. Literally, not just like, "Okay, you weren't rewarded." He was actually chastised for not doing good with what he had. The first answer to the question is, yes, that every Christian should be saving and investing for the future and should be doing their very best in principle to make it grow. Doesn’t mean you have to take extraordinary risk? It doesn't mean you have to make unwise decisions, and there're biblical principles around that too, but everybody should be doing that.

    For the people are listening, that might represent 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% of the people listening just to get a start. It's important to just get a start on these types of things.

    Gary: Just keeping on the theme of practical. Let's draw a scenario. There's a husband, father, he makes, let's say, $60,000 a year and comes to you and says, "I have no savings. I'm a little bit in debt. Do you have some recommendations to help me be a good steward?" In a real practical sense, what would you say? Would you have them by a little bit of a mutual fund or how much percentage would you ask him to save? Do you mind going a little bit in detail on that?

    Jim: If you'll indulge me the preamble. 25 years ago, people started asking this advice of me and I thought, "Man, I have so much wisdom I can share on these practical advice that I'm going to really change people's lives." I found that it changed nobody's life because--

    Gary: Oh, yes. The externals.

    Jim: -- it really was the spiritual. I can give them practical advice and they can't do it because the heart isn't right. My preamble will just be yes, they got to deal with what we're talking about first. Faith, family, fitness, and then the finance comes automatic. Now to the point of the practical--

    Gary: Hold onto that thought about the practical but let me just echo what you just said there because I talk a lot about this from the pastor's point of view in the counseling office 40 years of pastoring people that come in office that are in financial problems. It's really not the finances. It's something else and so, you've got to get to that--

    Jim: 100% of the time.

    Gary: Yes. I have to- and you do as well. You have to get to say, "Okay, what's driving those spending habits?" Again, I go to the soul issues of, if you feel like you're not enough, if you feel you aren't big and brash, and bold enough, you're going to go out and spend to try to prove that you are and you'll make some bad-- out of that soul wound, you'll always make bad decisions. I'm sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to confirm. I think my experience would say exactly the same thing, 100% of people-- I wouldn't say 100 to be honest with that because--

    [laughter]

    Gary: Occasionally, you get the person--

    Jim: 99.9.

    Gary: Single mom with five kids and her husband abandoned them and so she's in debt. I wouldn't say, “Well, you have soul issues,” but even then, there's some ways of getting help. Yes. I'm rambling--[crosstalk]

    Jim: No, it's okay. Poverty is an exception, number one. What's funny is this podcast could be listened to all around the world. In American society, true poverty is not that common. People can find a way out of their circumstances in a relatively short order. That widow is going to face difficulty. Yes, indeed. We should be there for them. If we're talking to somebody in another country, the further from here, you go east, that may be true. That those circumstances are truly what's responsible for their situation and not covetousness. We acknowledge that. We're talking very much here, this type of conversation to the western culture person, that mass affluent, middle class that's working through these issues. That's the first thing.

    The next is, why did-- You were talking about linking self-worth with materialism and money. I think that is a very good link. Think about how God wrote the Commandment. Covet not thy neighbor's horse or wife or house or whatever, because what he's saying is that self-worth is connected with the pecking order. You live in this village, you live in this town, you live in this neighborhood, you live in this community. You look around and they're doing better than you and what does that you feel less as a person because you see somebody doing better than you. Therefore, you need to feel like you have to move up the pecking order. That's why you need the house, that's why you need the car, that's why you need the clothes, jewelry, whatever it is. It's to find your place in the pecking order. Nobody wants to be at the bottom of the pecking order.

    Gary: Bob and I've talked about that before where the external, the sin is the fruit but there is a root. You’re talking about self-worth, of the root of the healing need inside, the fruit is you're being covetous. The answer to covetousness is not don't be covetous. That's what the Bible says, but there is power in the gospel that gives you that and so it's not just like, again, I call it bootstrapping, like, "I'm not going to covet. I'm going to close my eyes."

    It's getting that contentment inside of you so that once I'm content, I see that they have a different car than I have. It's like, I'm more content with as you said being content with my car, it runs good, it gets me to work. There is a contentment of peace about it so that I don't need to covet then whereas if there is that lack of understanding worth as you're calling it, then I agree with that.

    Then it's almost impossible not to covet and so you're dealing with covetousness as an issue but then you're dealing with worth as an issue.

    Jim: Inescapable.

    Gary: The two have to be dealt with. Who'd have thought we'd be invited here to come and talk about finances and we're talking about the self-worth? I love what you're saying, it's so linked.

    Jim: Bob, rightly brought up the topic of origin, purpose, and meaning earlier and so self-worth is connected to those things. Origin, the imago dei the Image of God, we are created by God in his image, and we therefore by the sheer fact of our existence, we have inestimable worth because we're created in God's image. Before we’re even redeemed, we have value as humans because God made us, created us for a purpose.

    Once redeemed, now the purpose, God has a purpose for your life, and he's expressing that. The reason that people are often not content, Gary, is that they don't realize that, right where they are today—whoever is listening, wherever you are, you've got some bills, you're making X number of dollars a year—you are precisely where God wants you today because you're there. God loves you. He has his hand on you. He's been directing your steps every day of your life, and you are where you are because he wants you there.

    Guess what? He has extraordinary and beautiful things for you tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Be content in the today.

    Gary: You keep digging deeper, don't covet. Why am I coveting? Because I'm not content. Be content then. How do you be content? There is something even under that. Asking ourselves the question, why am I discontented? What is driving this discontent and it goes against to the worth? You then go, why don't I feel worthy? It's like, I don't believe exactly-- the lack of worth is not believing what you just said that you were created in God's image. That you have value and I always say this, it's one thing to believe God loves you, but it's another thing to accept yourself and have compassion and tenderness and have the same kind of mercy you have on yourself as you have to others.

    Most people that are even in debt and struggling financially, would say somebody else in debt and financially struggling are-- they're valuable human beings that God loves, but if they ask about, am I that? No, I'm so guilty, I'm so ashamed, I've spent poorly. The debt that you created by not being content actually makes you more discontented and then more anxious and needing to get more money to do that. It's a vicious cycle that you have to-- I actually call it detox.

    There are things in my life that are off-kilter from the values that I have. Sometimes I do a 10-day detox on food when I start returning to the poor values of eating poorly. I'm not living my values. Healthy living creates a powerful energy and engine in me to be able to do what God's called me to do. I'm off value so I have to change the values. I think people have to not get stuck in the cycle and change the values and saying, "I value contentment but how am I going to find it?" That's so powerful.

    I would have thought you would have come here and said, "Invest in this, and here is a good stock." When we first started talking, I was little bit like, "Hey Jim, can you give us a little more tips about helping the listeners’ finances?" I think you were really onto something. I'm so glad you've kept the conversation as Jesus did towards the heart issue.

    At first, I was a little bit like, "Jim you're just talking about Jesus and the heart." Now after this conversation, I'm going like "Oh, you have really helped people," because if they get those two things and this is what you're saying, right? They get Jesus right and their own heart right, then these things you'll start having wisdom, contentment breeds wisdom. You can start making some wise decisions. You'll probably pick up a good book or something and go to a financial advisor like the company you have and be able to get that kind of wisdom.

    At those places, the financial book about how to invest, or how to save or how to stay out of debt or the financial advisor that you might go visit, they're not going to tell you about your heart issues. Out of the heart springs the issues of life. Finances is one of those issues so I'm really glad you're talking about the heart issues.

    Jim: It becomes the 80-20 rule.

    Gary: What's that? What's the 80-20 rule?

    Jim: 80-20 rule, I guess isn’t self-evident. For every 100 people that you talk to, only 20 are going to take the good advice. The 80 are going to continue in the err of their ways and the 20 will get it.

    Gary: Got you.

    Jim: 80-20 rule is that I can give the practical tips. I can tell you exactly what investment to buy, don't buy and what quantities for your age and all of those things. It's useless information to the unredeemed heart. You have to get these things in order. If we're talking about the entrepreneur majority 80-20 rule, 80% of the businesses fail when people start them. Why do they fail? Other than really horrible business ideas, they mostly fail because of their lack of character in the individual.

    Give you a great example. Not far from here there was a coffee shop and I would pass by it every day in the morning and then in the afternoon coming back. I'd go in the afternoon coming back, pick up the kids the place was packed. It was obviously good coffee and good snacks or whatever else they had in there. In the morning, I'd drive by 6:00 something in the morning, the place was closed. I laughed to myself thinking, this is some person who had a great idea for the business. Obviously great because people pack it in the afternoon, but didn't have the depth of character to wake up in the morning and open the place up so they could serve coffee to the people in the morning.

    That's a very simple illustration that businesses fail. Your efforts today, people who are listening, you're frustrated by your efforts because you say, "I'm trying with money," but those efforts are frustrated because of that character because of that absence of some things here in your life. When those things get right, they're expressed in making good decisions. From that depth of character that Jesus is working in us we make the right decisions. To that man or that woman, you can't escape wealth, it will follow you.

    Bob: I guess we could let Timothy to wrap it up with, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

    Jim: Exactly. Perfect.

    Gary: Good capstone, yeah.

    Key Questions from the Podcast

    • Should Christians feel guilty about being wealthy?
    • What is the middle ground between intentionally living as a pauper and following the hyper prosperity movement?
    • How can we make sure our heart is in the right place when making large purchases?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    If you live your life with radical generosity and love, that makes you a good steward. Then God's going to give you more. What you do with it determines the next level. It's impossible to hide covetousness and greed. The moment you start exercising it, God finds you out, and He caps you and you have to learn the lesson or you don't keep moving. – Jim Palumbo

    Every Christian should be saving and investing for the future and should be doing their very best, in principle, to make it grow. Doesn’t mean you have to take extraordinary risk. It doesn't mean you have to make unwise decisions, and there're biblical principles around that too, but everybody should be doing that. – Jim Palumbo

    The debt that you created by not being content actually makes you more discontented and then more anxious and needing to get more money. It's a vicious cycle. – Gary Wilkerson

    I can tell you exactly what investment to buy, don't buy and what quantities for your age and all of those things. It's useless information to the unredeemed heart. – Jim Palumbo

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

    Facebook | Twitter

  • Pastor, You Don't Have to Hide Your Hurts

    In the wake of Jarrid Wilson’s death, it is more important than ever to be aware of mental illness and spiritual attack, particularly for pastors. In response, Gary Wilkerson discusses the unique nature of depression for church leaders. He also opens up about how people in the church can help their pastors.

    In the wake of Jarrid Wilson’s death, it is more important than ever to be aware of mental illness and spiritual attack, particularly for pastors. In response, Gary Wilkerson discusses the unique nature of depression for church leaders. He also opens up about how people in the church can help their pastors.

    Bob: Well, welcome to another Gary Wilkerson Podcast. A special podcast today we're doing it from Gary's home.

    Bob: We're going to do a follow up of a previous podcast where we talked about depression; suicide as a general topic. More specifically, pastors and suicide.

    Bob: It got a lot of reaction from our viewers and our listeners and many of them wrote in, in fact, was one of the topics that got the most response on our social media sites. Some people asking questions, some people making comments about what you said what we talked about. I want to go through a few of those and have you answer them, answer the questions and respond to some of the comments that were made since it got such a great reaction from our viewers and listeners.

    Bob: Ivan asked God or actually makes the statement, God can heal the mind and bring peace. We talked in the first podcast about those who have a physiological problem that you probably do need to seek some medical help. Let's take those who are more spiritually depressed and emotionally depressed. God can heal them, can't He?

    Gary: Yes, absolutely. This sounds terrible, but I think the reason that not all pastors, being what they've gone through, have committed suicide, I don't mean to be glib about that, but they're in some deep stuff and some painful stuff. When it's not the accusations and stuff I was talking about, the role of a pastor is unlike any other vocation in the world because the paramedic is there during the accident while the pastor walks alongside them too.

    The funeral home director takes care of the death of the family member. The doctor takes care of the cancer patient. The teacher educates the one with the learning disability. The pastor is there for all that. He's hearing all of the family suffering. He's hearing all the divorces. He's hearing… and so he or she is exposed to the depths of human suffering, unlike any other profession. It's like without the grace of God, probably every pastor would have been depressed, would have quit, would have given up, would have committed suicide.

    I believe it is the healing power of God that has kept 99.999% of us from clinical severe depression. Maybe more have given up and changed careers when they really didn't need to but just couldn't receive that kind of love from God that they need to. Certainly, yes, absolutely, God can heal. It's not even a question that needs to be discussed. I've seen him heal. I've prayed for people and seen them healed.

    I met a man in Europe who had been at one of our meetings the year before, and the next year he came back and said, "I came here. I was going to kill myself but the conference changed my life." That's the miracle he's it's talking about. On the other hand, God can heal cancer, and yet people die of cancer. He can save marriages and reconcile marriages, but a lot of marriages end up in divorce, even if the wife has been praying for 10 years to reconcile the marriage.

    If you can answer that, you've got, besides the Bible, the bestselling book ever written, then the most important sermon ever preached, why are some people healed and some people are not? I honestly don't know the answer to that. I don't know, and somebody can enlighten me on that. Just as long as your answer is not some sort of tin can platitude of—

    Bob: There are plenty of those around.

    Gary: Yes, but a real deep, meaningful sense to this would be important. Yes, God can heal, but the reality is He either doesn't or there's a bigger purpose that we don't know, or we're not receiving it the right way, whatever it is, it doesn't always happen. When it doesn't happen, it causes pain, it causes hardship, and it causes sometimes to do that, but it's something that I talk about a lot.

    I think we've already talked about this in one of our podcasts before, how I have taken great joy and delight in redefining certain phrases that we throw out. Abundant life means I got a big house, a nice car, and my family's always happy. I never have cancer and I never get in a car wreck, and 4.0 student and all that kind of stuff. If you define abundant life that way, then you don't have abundant life because you're not going to get that.

    Even Jesus didn't have it, but if you define abundant life as being you can press through those painful circumstances and still be joyful and still be content, and still have life inside of you. That is abundant life. The opposite of abundance, the word is scarcity. Scarcity tends to get people to be fearful. The opposite of abundant life is a fearful life. What if the circumstances don't work out? Well, where abundant life is, I don't care if--I care, but that's not my highest priority.

    It's making sure all my circumstances, "God, you better make sure all of my circumstances of life are storm free, problem free. If not, you're not a good God and you're not keeping your promises." That's a false view of abundant life. The true view of abundant life is, in the midst of this, there's no scarcity. I have abundance of peace, I have abundance of joy, even I have-- Now, that scarcity is the opposite of generosity.

    I can give to other people, even-- That's when you see-- I think the deepest people you see, the deepest, real spiritual people are not those who can quote scripture a lot. That real deepest people are, and you've seen this before, they've been through such pain. Their stories are like, "You endured that and yet you're more concerned about me. You're other-centered. You have a grace about you, a generosity about you.” Those are the people I love being around, that they have endured.

    Not the person that, I've heard it said before, there's a person who shouts the coordinates down from the mountaintop like, "I'm up here and here's how I got here. You can come up here too if you follow my 10-step program and pay $49 for my 12-point thing and buy my book. I'm shouting my coordinates from the mountaintop." Whereas the people we tend to learn from are those who are on the edge, the precipice of the abyss.

    They're right on the edge but they're not jumping. They look into that and they've survived, and not only survived but now they're thriving. They're giving something away that is not, "Look at me, how great I am on the mountaintop," but, "Let me share in your suffering. I know how to walk alongside of you, and I know how to speak in your life." There's a depth about them, and that to me is abundant life.

    That may be why some are healed and some are not because the abundant life is not everybody being healed. The abundant life is not everybody having the perfect marriage and the abundant life is not everybody being rich. The abundant life is when you don't have that and you're still generous, you're still God-fearing, and you're still loving, then you have a deeper-- You've exchanged life. You gave up the corrupt American materialistic mentality of, "I want to achieve more and be successful and famous and rich and sexy. I want all these things." You give that up, you tear that down. You're willing to replace it with, "I'm content, I have joy, I have life, I have abundance, I have peace, I have grace, I have forgiveness, I have kindness and--"

    Bob: No matter the circumstances.

    Gary: Yes, no matter the circumstances. In our culture today, wouldn't you say, hands down, it's like this one, success, fame, fortune, a huge following, that's what we should aspire to. God will help you get there. Follow God, he's the best way to get to the mountaintop. Even if people achieve that, that's why they're still unhappy. It's never enough like, "Okay, I got to this mountaintop. I got to get to that one because that's not making me happy.

    I still feel like a failure. I still feel like I'm not enough. Whereas this person here is-- I think that's what Jesus meant when He said die to yourself. He didn't mean die to love or die to grace or die to a godly ambition that wants to extend love to a hurting world. He didn't mean die to that. He meant die to the self-built construct of our life that is based on a world system and exchange it. That's the thing, you'll never get rid of the old until you see a better alternative. For most of us, we don't see-- okay, gosh, this is hard to say, but I was reading something the other day that said, "Would you rather be a good father or a great success in your field of labor?" If I'm honest, I tend towards the great success.

    Bob: We think if we're a great success, we'd be a good father. We'll take care of that in the backend, right?

    Gary: Yes, but I don't know if that's what they're meaning. I think they're meaning he could be only one or the other. I know what I'm supposed to say and the good moral Christian that I am wants to be a good father, but when I look back to my history of my life, I think I've proven the opposite, that the career and the calling and the so-called work for God, I think the thing that I struggle most when I look back at my relationship with my own father was that for large portions, large chunks, he chose-- not God over us, I wouldn't mind that because you've got do that, but chose the vocational career of ministry.

    Even though it's ministry-- The problem with that is when you're a child, you can't accuse that. If your dad is out there and he's running some corporation, you're like, "That corporation is more important than me? No way, dad. You've got to give me your attention." If it's ministry, you feel guilty if you come against that.

    Bob:  Once again, it's a good thing that we have taken in the wrong direction.

    Gary: There's nothing wrong with being successful in your career and wanting to be really good at what you do, and these guys here are amazing, right? If you had to choose between a good father and being great at your career, you got to choose being a good father because, during that season of your kid's life, that's your greatest vocation. Your kids know it if it's not, you can tell them that and you can try to -- I remember times where my dad would take me for a bike ride when he came home from work. I'd think, "What a great bonding time," and his mind would be like—

    Bob: He's somewhere else.

    Gary: Yes, he's somewhere else. That hurts as well. This idea of what you value, you've got to value life, and especially exchanging the success syndrome of the American dream. Exchanging that for these really much more meaningful things, but most people can't be convinced that this compassion is more meaningful than success, or grace, whether it be extended towards others or towards yourself, is a much more meaningful way to live your life than being affluent or popular.

    But we live in a culture that constantly, the whole-- if you watch TV, everything you hear on the TV is, "You're not enough. Buy my product and you'll be enough." That is the American corporate ladder, success ladder, or fame ladder that totally goes against the whole gospel is being, "That stuff, it's okay. You need some of it in your life." It doesn't hurt to have a little bit of applause and a pat on the back, but what you really want is His grace and compassion and mercy and kindness, but those things are not.

    Occasionally, you'll hear a sermon series at church on them and stuff like that, but more-- would you agree with this? We're more likely to hear how to have a good marriage, how to choose your right career, how to financially be sound and secure.

    Bob: We want to be a success in everything we do. Even the churches want to be a success. As you've mentioned, if the numbers aren't there, then you're a failure. We especially see it now in the era of megachurches and the rest that's going on, that's just what everybody's after. This is just a different version of it.

    Gary: Then those mega-churches, gosh--and I'll put myself in that category too. I was in the deception of, "I'm not good enough, but when my church gets to be 2,000, that's the number that makes you a mega church. We were right on the edge of getting to be almost 2,000 members. I remember thinking like, "I can't wait. If we can get a couple more hundred people in the church, then I'll be a pastor of a mega church.

    Then I can go to the meetings and say, yes, I'm a pastor of a mega church." It doesn't mean anything.

    Megachurches, I'm not into all that. I'm lying. I actually was and probably still am to some degree. You're not only ministering to try to fill your own needs, but you're attracting people who are just like you. I'm coming to church because you're a guy who can speak to the issue of, "What do you do to get your needs met?"

    I'm not talking about the need to love and to have grace. That's an appropriate spiritual hunger. One's a spiritual hunger and the other is of carnal hunger. The carnal hungry is, "Pastor, would you teach me how to become more successful? Now, how do I pray? I'm in this house but I want that house. Can you teach me how to pray?"

    Bob: Even Jabez has a prayer [laughs].

    Gary: Yes, right. I heard somebody say if one of the first things that God will say to the author of Prayer of Jabez is like, "Where did you get all that?"

    [laughter]

    Gary: That was a lot for just that one little sentence.

    Bob: Yes, I understand what you're saying. Alfred brings up a point with this then. He asked the question of these pastors, can't he resign? I guess the underlying question there is, should he resign? Should a pastor going through depression that is so severe that he's considering this, should he step out?

    Gary: Yes, I think so. I think you need to get diagnosed medically if you're in clinical depression. If you're not medically in a place where you're given the green light like, "Okay, you're safe. You're dealing with depression, you're dealing with suicidal thoughts, but you're managing it and you're getting the right soul care internally yourself, and externally through community and through counsel, so you're safe," but if you're fresh into it and you haven't been going through the process of understanding what you have, why you have it, maybe some strategies, how to live in the midst of it, and then maybe even, Lord willing, as we talked about earlier, the healing part of it and how to come out of it.

    During that process, if you're doing all that we talked about, like you're getting those critical emails and you're self-critical, and the next Sunday sermon is going to be… Can you imagine being self-critical, and depressed, and you get up and you preach, you've just poured your gut out to people and you leave and just feel miserable, and then you get an email like, "What's wrong with you?" I think you are setting yourself up for greater soul damage to stay in the ministry at that point.

    But I think, again, a lot of people do it because they don't know what else to do. They don't know if they have the finances to be able to do that. I wish there was a ministry. Maybe there's one out there and they could send in some information about how a pastor could be provided for for a season while they take a sabbatical. Again, most churches are under 200 people in America, and so they can't afford to pay a year salary while a pastor is maybe on a sabbatical getting the care that they need.

    But I would recommend if possible, and this is maybe me on a mountaintop sending my coordinates down how to get there, but even if you had to work at 7-11 or something like that, and I'm not putting that job down, it's a good work that somebody is doing, but if you had to do something different that maybe don't pay as much but less demanding and give you time for the soul care, for the community that you need to build, and going into counseling, then that'd be good.

    Because my kids have struggled with addiction before, I've been to a group called-- What's it called? Al-Anon. It's for the family members of those who have addictions. I love being there. I know people say like, "You shouldn't go to that because it's not Christian." It's not anti-Christian either, but I go there because it's anonymous, and so no one knows I'm a pastor or a Christian or a leader. I go there. The anonymity, it's so cool because it's like I can say what I want without a filter. I can be who I am. Isn’t that sad that a lot of pastors can't. You can't do that in a small men's ministry. Men in the group can, and the pastor can hear that like, "I'm so sorry, you're hurting," but the pastor can't say, "My wife is..."

    I say all that to say, if a pastor is listening to this and you're dealing with some issues: an addiction or pain, or an internal suffering that is beyond your capacity to move beyond and it's getting to be depression and maybe suicidal thoughts is getting counseling. Get a group like that, something outside your own church, a therapy group for people that are suffering with depression. Go in anonymously and talk, and you'll be able to say things that-- I walk away from those meetings just feeling like-- and it felt really good to say what I had to say, but also felt good to hear what other people, their stories, like "Okay, I'm not in this alone."

    Bob: You're not trying to hide anything anymore.

    Gary: Yes. We need to say that to pastors who are depressed and maybe even thinking of suicide, "You're not alone. You're not one in a billion. There's other men and women out there like you because of the pain you've been through and because of the hardship. Because you're doing so good dealing with people who are hurting all around you and you're so compassionate, it's just causing you to hurt in ways that maybe it had become unmanageable to you. Again, that's where you put your own oxygen mask on.

    Bob: Yes, before you help the person next to you.

    Gary: Right, yes. A lot of these pastor's conference we do, we'll give-- Remember I talked about the altar call? A good response. If we're talking about a particular issue, a lot of pastors come to the front and the expectation would be, "Pray for me," I was like, "Yes, I'm dealing with that issue." Maybe I'm going to say I’m preaching on anger for instance, might have a pastor come forward. "I can't. I've been dealing with anger, anger at my congregation and maybe even a little bit angry at God. Pray for me."

    Oftentimes, it's not like that. It's like the guy falls on his face and weeps and sobs, and you're looking at him like, "What did I say?" It's so much aloneness, so much loneliness, so much having not dealt with issues that it comes-- It doesn't come out like a tear. It comes out as-- gushes out or a cry of anguish.

    It says to me, it's like, "Okay, there's some stuff that--" instead of going to the revival, this is the long haul, this is the long journey over a long period of time of healing and growing and processing.

    I would recommend you find some books about healing of the soul, of caring for your soul, of things that feed you. There comes a time, you have to put down the leadership books, as good as they are, and the how-to books and the church growth books, and just feed your own soul.

    Bob: Gary, why don’t we finish up with this one, it came from a Pastor Roy Kerr who I guess you know.

    Gary: If it's the same one, from Ireland. Used to head up Teen Challenge in Ireland, a good friend of mine if that's you—

    Bob: Here's what he asks. He says, "Gary, what's being done to support these pastors?"

    Gary: Well, the little bit we can do, and it feels very little, and I guard my heart to not be that kind of person that bleeds all over the world and feels like I have to fix every problem. My little bit is, it's my bread and loaves. I think that's the best anybody can do is just say, "I can't care for the souls of all these men and women, but I can sure try to do that." We do with these pastors conferences that I was talking about.

    One of the other questions that we didn't go into that I noticed you mentioned before that we didn't talk about is like the five-fold gifts of ministry. That's a way you can intentionally help yourself by having other people-- Even if you're in a small church, you don't have to be a one-man show. You can ask for help. There was a church in Kenya we were at last month or two months ago, and it's a church of maybe 10,000 people and they only have one staff member, the pastor. Everybody else is a volunteer.

    The place is run better than any organization I've ever seen here in American, powerful, because the people just know their calling and their giftedness. You can have a church even if you have not a lot of money by willingly giving up some of the power and control. Some people are harming themselves because they are under such a need to control everything. You’ve seen that before, right? Pastors who like-- they say the Catholic Church.

    Bob: My Dad was one of those. He just did it all himself.

    Gary: He was in radio ministry, right?

    Bob: He was a pastor and [crosstalk].

    Gary: He's a pastor? Okay.

    Bob: He was in pastorate, then he was in radio, went back to the pastorate, just did everything himself and it took its toll on him.

    Gary: What did you think of that when you watch him do that?

    Bob: Fortunately, it wasn't a young child when he did this. He did it after I was an adult, but I could see it from afar and see how it would tear him up, see how he would take everything so personally because he dealt with everything, and any criticism came his way, he'd lived and died it every day. It was just hard to watch. He just needed more people around him, but he was not willing to ask help from that generation. You don't ask for help. You didn't want help. They can, but I'll do it. They don't do it, I'll do it.

    Gary: It hurts us to do that and it hurts the people that were meant to be doing that position that we're filling, that God had called them to do. If they have a particular gift and you're feeling, "I'm the only person who can do that," if they have the gift of service but you feel like you have to go out and be at every hospital visit yourself. That doesn't necessarily answer the question directly because that's that pastor's job to gather around them the kind of people with the five-fold or all the gifts of the body, not just five, but we could maybe recommend that more if we see a pastor hurting.

    That's when we could reach out and help just by saying like, "If you're in that church, maybe be a little bit more not selfishly looking for a position, 'like I should be the Sunday school teacher or head of the men's ministry,'" that's corruption as well, but offering like, "I'm here to help," and maybe being honest with your pastor like, "Can we talk about this? It seems like you're doing a lot of stuff. How are you feeling about that?"

    See if you can help a little bit. That's the way people in the church could help. There are ministries that are out there specifically designed for pastors to get help. Maybe I can do a little bit of research and get a couple of names. I have one that I actually want to be on this podcast, a really close friend of mine, Pastor Doug Wellborn. He's involved in a ministry that exists. There's several. I don't know, there's several, at least a handful of their leadership that go all over the country.

    When I was going through a hard time, he actually flew here without me asking and just spent three days with me. I don't know if he can do that for everybody that's listening to this podcast who needs help, but that ministry can help. We'll put his name and some of the contacts for that ministry in the notes.

    Bob: We'll do that. Great. Well, I would hope those listening that aren't pastors would get from this program that you could probably do a lot yourself, as you pointed out, if you see a need in the church. I know it's harder with mega churches. It's harder to find a place and find things to do but perhaps look for ways that you might help relieve the pastor from some of the burden he's under and just understand that he has issues just as you do and that he needs help as well. Be compassionate, show them some grace, and help out wherever you can.

    Well, Gary, thank you for the answers on these. I like this. Hopefully, we'll get some more questions on topics, hear what the listeners are thinking and the viewers. A reminder to those listening and watching, if there's something that you've wondered about, have a question about, or something that we've touched on and you have questions about, send them in.

    Key Questions from the Podcast

    • Can God heal depression?
    • How should pastors and church leaders truly measure success?
    • Should pastors who are struggling with depression and suicide resign?
    • What can we do to support pastors who are hurting?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    Pastors are exposed to the depths of human suffering unlike any other profession.…without the grace of God, probably every pastor would have been depressed, quit, given up, committed suicide. I believe it is the healing power of God that has kept 99.999% of us from clinical severe depression. – Gary Wilkerson

    Exchanging the success syndrome of the American dream for these really much more meaningful things, but most people can't be convinced that compassion is more meaningful than success, or grace, whether it be extended towards others or towards yourself, is a much more meaningful way to live your life than being affluent or popular. – Gary Wilkerson

    We need to say to pastors who are depressed and maybe even thinking of suicide, "You're not alone. There's other men and women out there like you, because of the pain you've been through and because of the hardship. You're doing so good at dealing with people who are hurting all around you and you're so compassionate, it's just causing you to hurt in ways that maybe it have become unmanageable to you.” – Gary Wilkerson

    I would recommend pastors find some books about healing of the soul, of caring for your soul, of things that feed you. There comes a time when you have to put down the leadership books, as good as they are, and the how-to books and the church growth books, and just feed your own soul. – Gary Wilkerson

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

    Facebook | Twitter

  • Is a Lack of Self-Worth at the Root of Your Anxiety?

    Those in the church seem to suffer from anxiety every bit as much as those outside it. God’s work of salvation would seem to free us from fear and stress, but instead it often seems to do the exact opposite. This week, Gary explores the deeper reasons many believers struggle with anxiety, despite our faith.

    Those in the church seem to suffer from anxiety every bit as much as those outside it. God’s work of salvation would seem to free us from fear and stress, but instead it often seems to do the exact opposite. This week, Gary explores the deeper reasons many believers struggle with anxiety, despite our faith.

    Bob: Welcome to another Gary Wilkerson's podcast. Today, we're going to be talking about something that a lot of Christians face and that is fear, anxiety, and stress. In fact it’s been such an issue for such a long time that back in 1965, Billy Graham called that era, the age of anxiety. Can you imagine what he would say about this day and age now because it only seems to have gotten worse and Gary, why are we living with such fear and anxiety and the stress that comes from it?

    Gary: Well, as a pastor, let me speak to Christian anxiety and stress. When we believe we're meant to live a perfect life because there are some scriptures that refer to that, "Be perfect even as I am perfect, be holy as holy." There's this sense of demand in our hearts and a requirement on us to be perfect. The desire for holiness and perfection is good but the angst that comes from the failure of attaining perfection, causes this anxiety, it causes stress, it causes fear, I'm not right with God.

    Christian anxiety, maybe it's a little different than anxiety for non-believers. That's what I wanted to address today is the idea of anxiety being coming from, when you place-- Here's what I really believe, spiritual hunger, which is good with perfectionism, which is my spiritual hunger can only be met if I'm perfect. Religion plus perfectionism is going to equal anxiety. Until we get to the place where we realize God has for us and it's not against us, that He is drawing us towards the process of sanctification, is drawing us to a place of holiness.

    I was reading Hebrews today where he was talking about discipline and in that discipline he says, "You're not brought to the old mountain of Sinai, you're brought to the City of Angels and good men made perfect." As soon as I saw that, that's really good, that will relieve a lot of my anxiety and I think the listener as well is that He sees us as good men, when we get to heaven will be made perfect. The call is towards perfection, the movement is towards perfection but the demand is not. If you're not perfect today you are considered a failure and I'm going to leave you and forsake you.

    If we don't understand our value to God, our worth to God, we're going to live in stress, anxiety, performancism that kind of stress. I asked my wife the other day, I said, "Do you believe that you as you are, are worthy of love and belonging?" And she said, "In Christ, I am. I am not worthy in myself but in Christ, he makes me worthy." And I said, "So, somebody that doesn't know Christ, are they unworthy of love or belonging?"

    It caught her off guard and it was a trick question because I had been wrestling with it for weeks before because I was asking myself, is my worth only in the single experience of salvation, or is there some worth and merit in our life, because we're born and created in God's image? I told her a non-Christian has worth and merit and value, we obviously want the experience of the cross. The idea behind that is we have the grace that covers our imperfections, but we are worthy not in ourselves we are worthy because we're created in God's image, we can be loved, we can belong.

    To me, that's going to help us root out some anxiety and some stress and some this idea that I have to perform perfectionist that's going to cause me to finally be accepted, finally be loved. It's just a miserable way to live and that's why I think a lot of Christians are unhappy, a lot of people sitting in churches, and they're smiling externally, and they're raising their hands and they're worshiping God, and they're listening to sermons and they go to small groups, but inside they're just full of stress and anxiety and turmoil and sadness and brokenness because they're not realizing that Jesus loves them and accepts them and there's grace in their life.

    Bob: It runs contrary to what we've been taught through hymns to the church where we're worm, or wretched. Has the church perpetuated the idea that we're worth nothing without Christ?

    Gary: Yes. I think we have to hold this thing in harmony. The tension of this is that I do believe in the total depravity of man, and that we are born in sin and that without Christ, we are not saved. Not being saved or being in depravity does not mean that you are worthless, you have no dignity, there's no-- I think we have to understand whether Christian or not there is a basic human dignity, there is a basic human value, that God put within man. All men are worthy of being loved and not rejected, of being belonging and not cast aside.

    Now certainly, when we come to Christ, there is a greater measure of joy and life and freedom and the bondage to sin is broken so the depravity is reversed, in a sense of now we have a new nature in Christ. I think Christians get stuck in that worm mentality. I call it the perpetual worm. I think myself, I'm worthless, I'm no good. Therefore, I have to perform perfectly in order to meet this standard, and I never perform perfectly so my life is filled with existential angst, dread, always waking up feeling like I'm never enough until I get to this level.

    What that does, then it causes, and I see this a lot in ministry, in pastors conferences, it causes this striving for success for ambitious, when I finally accomplish this in ministry, or in life or business, then I'll belong then I'll be accepted. It's just never enough that the bar is never high enough and that will lead to anxiety. The only way out of that anxiety and stress and fear is not to try to perform better but to reverse the curse and say, "Wait a minute, I have human dignity and value.

    When I met Christ, and he forgave my sins, now I have the throne of grace accessible to my life, and I have peace and joy now that I didn't have before." You have a double blessing of not only being valuable because God created you in your mother's womb, he put you together, he knitted together, you have that intrinsic value but now you even have a greater grace in your life.

    Bob: When it comes down to that question, whether we believe as you put it, do you believe God is good? Do you believe God is for you? That's the question of faith, right? As Jesus said, in Luke, He was talking to disciples about this very issue when he said Oh ye of little faith. Is this a faith issue when it comes right down to it?

    Gary: There's a need for two types of faith there. One is the faith that God believes in me, that he loves me, that he accepts me. The second hand of faith is, I believe I can accept myself, I believe there's dignity and worth and value in my own life. I've always believed that God loves me. I have always wrestled with, can accept myself? Am I good enough? Always feeling insignificant or insufficient therefore you tend to not speak up for yourself, like just in our relationship.

    Just a few minutes ago, we were talking about this podcast, and you were saying, let's move in this direction I wasn't really agreeing with you. My tendency would be to say, like, I don't have a voice, I don't really have anything to say so let me back down. What I'm trying to say, wait a minute, I have value I have worth, I have something of significance to offer others.

    That only comes through understanding who we are as human beings and having that dignity, worth and value and understanding then in Christ, we have a whole new nature, and therefore we're not operating from an emptiness that's trying to obtain that value. That's what causes the stress, that's what causes the anxiety, that's what causes the fear, I'm afraid I'm not enough, I'm afraid I'm not enough that causes all. That's the door with all other fear. Once I reverse the curse and say, "Wait a minute, I am complete in Christ, I'm still being sanctified, but his life is in me."

    Then I'm not wrestling to try to get it, I'm not grasping for straws, I have something in me. Then there's this new power I can give now. I'm not operating out of anxiety of lack or of scarcity. I don't have enough so I'm grasping at straws to get enough. Now, I feel like I am sufficient. There's grace upon my life now. Now, I have something to give because I've rivers of living water in me, they flow out of me. That's different a feeling I'm empty inside, I have nothing to give so I better start performing well so I get enough inside to me to be able to have something to give.

    Then one other thing I would say is if you're living in that place of anxiety and stress and fear that is born out of these feelings of insufficiency and inadequacy, unacceptedness, unworthiness, every decision you're going to be making them is going to be wrong because you going to be making decisions. What is my career? What should I do for a career? Well, I'm not enough so I'm going to make sure I get that top job and if somebody gets the promotion and I don't I'm going to be angry and all that stuff comes out of that. Everything comes out of this. This core sense of who we are in Christ or who we believe we're not.

    I think every decision we make and in this first-hand experience, every decision I've made when I'm doing it out of I'm not enough and I'll never be enough and I'm insufficient and I'm unacceptable when I start making decisions based on that I'm not doing it for others or for love or for the kingdom of God, I'm doing it for me to try to get myself to prove I am enough or I can be enough, I can do enough, I am finally acceptable because of all these valuable things that I've offered, rather than starting from the point of God has made me valuable. Now out of that, I can give value to others and it doesn't cause me to be fearful.

    It doesn't cause me to as we're talking about today to live in that anxiety that just you wake up with it, you go to sleep with it, you wake up at 3:00 AM in the morning, you're worried about this or worried about that. All those are just the fruit of this internal thing, the anxiety that we feel over issues comes from this core thing of, there's something wrong with me inside.

    Bob: What do you suggest for our listeners and viewers? What should they do to build their faith and also at the same time understanding exactly who they are so they don't go down this path?

    Gary: You always hear, believe the Word of God, believe what God says about you. Again, I may get some negative feedback on this but I don't believe that's enough. Because I spent my whole life believing what God says about me, but not believing what I need to believe about me. I think there's two things, one, believing what God says about you, but then also believing things about yourself that he says about you.

    I can easily believe he says about me, he loves me, he accepts me, he forgives me but do I believe about myself? I'm loved. I'm accepted. I'm forgiven. I think those are-- It might be just a shade of a difference, but it's enough to be extremely significant as to whether or not we are walking in a Holy Ghost confidence rather than walking in that fear of never feeling like we're enough.

    Bob: Ones the head knowledge the other is internalized, right? We actually accept it.

    Gary: Yes. I don't know about you, but I think I do. I think a lot of people have more biblical, theological, spiritual head knowledge than they do the heart knowledge. I think we change in the heart more than we change in the mind. Both are important, but the mind speaks into it, but it's once you and that's why there's a process here to go back to your previous question.

    I'm sorry. To go back to what we were talking about previously was, how do you navigate this? Believe in what God says about you, believing what you should believe about yourself. Then realizing it's a journey and in this journey, you have to allow into your heart, not to repress you have to allow it to heart almost the negative stuff to say, "Okay, well, wait a minute, I'm feeling anxious now. Where does that come from?" Most of us as Christians we want to rebuke the anxiety or say, "Devil get behind me." Or repent of that anxiety.

    I believe you actually have to invite anxiety and examine it. Paul says, "Examine your heart." Why do I have anxiety? Where did that come from? What triggered that today? Somebody said something about me somebody did something. I got an email yesterday and it was, "Please do this." I was, the email wasn't meant that way but the way I took it was, this person doesn't trust me, and I have to kind of report, here's the data that I have to report to you.

    It made me feel not enough again. Okay, instead of just saying, "I rebuke that thought, or, I'm sorry, Lord." Actually say, "Okay, why do I feel that way?" Okay, that goes back to my insecurity, then I can really repent in the deeper roots of my heart saying, "Oh, Lord, I'm sorry, I'm not trusting you that you are sufficient and that you have made me sufficient in Christ even as Paul said.

    That had much more power than cutting the fruit off of the experience, "Okay, I'm sorry, I got a little bit upset at that I'm sorry I felt insecure Lord." Deeper level like, "Okay, I'm sorry that I don't understand who I am in Christ. I don't understand who you made me to be." That gives a greater power. I don't think you'll ever deal with anxiety by just dealing with the external issues has to be, as you said, dealing with it through the heart.

    Key Questions from the Podcast

    • Why is there so much fear, anxiety and stress today even among Christians?
    • Has the church wrongly perpetuated the idea that we are worthless without Christ?
    • Is anxiety an issue of faith?
    • How can we overcome anxiety that stems from feeling worthless?

    Notable Quotes from the Podcast

    As a pastor, let me speak to Christian anxiety and stress. When we believe we're meant to live a perfect life, because there are some scriptures that refer to that, "Be perfect even as I am perfect, be holy as he is holy." There's this sense of demand in our hearts and a requirement on us to be perfect. The desire for holiness and perfection is good but the angst that comes from the failure of attaining perfection causes this anxiety. It causes stress. It causes fear. – Gary Wilkerson

    Every decision I've made when I'm doing it out of “I'm not enough” and “I'll never be enough” and “I'm insufficient” and “I'm unacceptable”… when I start making decisions based on that, I'm not doing it for others or for love or for the kingdom of God. I'm doing it for me to prove I am enough, or I can be enough, I can do enough, I am finally acceptable because of all these valuable things that I've offered, rather than starting from the point of God has made me valuable. Now out of that, I can give value to others. – Gary Wilkerson

    Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

    About Gary Wilkerson

    Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

    Facebook | Twitter

  • Shame: a Blessing and a Curse

    What is shame? Is it that one thing we deliberately push away every time we think about it? If others knew about that one thing, are we absolutely certain they’d look at us differently? Why do we feel this way? How do we find freedom? This week, Gary Wilkerson talks about the answers to these questions and more.

    What is shame? Is it that one thing we deliberately push away every time we think about it? If others knew about that one thing, are we absolutely certain they’d look at us differently? Why do we feel this way? How do we find freedom? This week, Gary Wilkerson talks about the answers to these questions and more.

      Bob: Well, Gary we're talking today about a topic that everybody deals with, I guess, at one time or another, and that shame. Although we realize that people deal with it, I guess some of our listeners and viewers may be asking, "So why are you talking about it?" Why do you think this is an issue that we need to address?

      Gary: Each week, Bob, we pray about, we talk about what topic to discuss here. When we think about putting something online and somebody reads it and it says, "Hey, listen to this podcast because it's talking about shame," my mind goes to who's going to want to listen to this? What merit… because so many of us don't even know that we have shame. It's not a word we use as often or an emotion we describe as often as we do say like, fear, anxiety, stress, exhaustion. Those are topics that sort of like, "I want to hear that because I'm facing that." This one is harder because someone may not even know they have it.

      I've been a Christian since I was about six years old and I was just thinking about this this week as I've been studying this issue of shame. I realized I have never heard a sermon on shame in my whole life. I've read a couple of books, one by the famous author Brené Brown, a secular author and then one by a Christian doctor named Kurt Thomas. Both of them have written on shame, and they describe the same thing that for decades now this has been sort of an untapped topic. The reality is why this is so important is because shame is the fuel for almost every other emotional difficulty. Someone who is angry, nine out of ten times they're angry because they've been shamed.

      Somebody reacts in an angry negative fashion because somebody accused them of something or hurt them. That caused shame, that shame caused anger, or that shame caused, in other people it caused fear, "I'm afraid I'm going to be rejected by you, so my heart is ashamed." It causes shame before the presence of God. A Christian has a sense of being a failure, of being of being not enough in God's eyes and God's presence. It filters through to them as well. It's really important, and so many people are facing this.

      Shame is sort of like cancer to a degree. Most people don't know they have it until it's really deep in their system and so it's really a topic that I think is really important for people to listen to, to assess, to take an inward look. Paul says examine your hearts. I want us today to examine our hearts to see if there's shame in us, where it came from, what we can do with it. Yes, I think it's is important.

      Bob: Maybe we should start with a definition, because I imagine some listeners are thinking, "I thought shame was a good thing. Shame keeps us from doing bad things, shame keeps us from going back to bad things that we have done." Apparently, that's a wrong view. Give us a definition, if you would, of what shame is.

      Gary: All right. Some words that correlate with it are embarrassment, to be embarrassed, but I think that probably doesn't quite describe it. Others would look at it as a sense of being wronged and the hurt by that, or doing wrong and being hurt, the inner hurt of sensing of a failure. For me, I think I describe shame as that sense of not being enough, and then how that relates to other people. For instance, anxiety is a very personal thing, I'm just anxious, but shame is a shared-- It's a relational crisis, it's a relational problem. It's not just, "I'm ashamed, I feel shame inside of me." It has to do with a connection with other people.

      As an example, let me think of this. Let’s use a teenage girl. She comes home from school. She got a smile on her face, she has a piece of paper in her hands. She got a 92 in her test, and her mother looks at it and goes, "What happened the other 8%? I expect better from you." That girl's going to be ashamed. She's going to say, "No matter what I do, I'm not enough. I can't please anybody." The shame is relational. It has the connection to do with her mother and has connection to do with friends, or lack thereof, or what somebody said to you. I guess it is the embarrassment of events, of circumstances, of things said to you, and then ultimately of how you feel about yourself.

      The phrase that would come to the mind of this teenage girl or anybody that's ashamed, "I'm unprepared to live a life that is pleasing to others, therefore, I am feeling insufficient, inadequate, unwanted myself." It comes down to some really core issues of the heart, it that causes a lot of pain. Then as I said earlier, that shame internally causes all these other secondary issues. Normally, we're dealing with the secondary issues. "Why am I angry? Why am I fearful? Why am I stressed?" But shame is the core. Shame is the first, by the way, I know you didn’t ask this, [chuckles] but I'll get here anyway. Shame is the first emotion ever mentioned in the scriptures, before fear, even before—

      Bob: In the garden?

      Gary: In the garden. It says they ate the apple-- They ate the fruit, not the apple, but they eat the fruit, and they said, "We realized we were naked and we were ashamed." Then they covered themselves and they hid themselves. Maybe later the podcast too we’ll talk about the effects of shame and the hiding part of it.

      Bob: How do you contrast it with, say, guilt? Is there a difference? Are they synonymous terms?

      Gary: In a secular mindset, say a psychotherapist or a counselor, an author, a Brené Brown type person, an Oprah type person, they would look at shame as totally negative. Very rarely is there anything good out of shame. The Bible is different. The Bible has two types of shame. One is the false lies of the devil, the accusation, the fear. The other one is a little bit more healthy, even though it doesn't feel good. It's mentioned in Jeremiah Chapter 2, where God's speaking to Israel and said, "You keep going after other gods. You keep running into every field and you set up your idols there, and you're not even ashamed that you're doing it."

      God seems to be saying there that that sense of shame when you're backsliding, when you're living in sin, when you're committing adultery, when you're cheating on your income taxes, when you're not honoring your family, caring for your kids, that there could be a sense of guilt and shame inside of you. Guilt is, "I did something wrong." I'm embarrassed to say this, but I like to be vulnerable. The other day I was with a friend and he said, "Did you get that basket I sent you?" I said, "Yes, I got it. Thank you." He goes, "Did you like the little drink?" It's a fizzy water with flavoring, because I usually drink mine straight.

      [laughter]

      Bob: Just ice.

      Gary: Yes. I said, "That was so good, thank you." I walked away and I was so embarrassed. I actually didn't drink it, but I didn't want him to feel bad. The Holy Spirit told me, "You just lied to him. You got to go tell him, 'Hey, excuse me. I'm sorry, I just--'" Because I don't want to be a liar, and I want to keep my heart clean. I was guilty. I told a lie. That's guilt, but then I was ashamed of it. "I can't believe-- I'm 60 years old, and I'm a pastor, and I'm going to be on a podcast," and I can't believe I'm actually talking about this right now.

      [laughter]

      Gary: But shame keeps things in the darkness, like, "I can't talk to him. I can't mention this now because it's going to make me look bad." That's what shame does, but guilt is, "I actually did that wrong. I told a lie. I'm guilty of that." Shame is how I feel about my guilt. I can go and confess. I can make it right. I can feel confident enough to be, and I'm not going to be crushed by talking about this. I can deal with shame. Guilt is, "I did wrong." Shame is, "I am wrong." "I did something bad," is guilt. Shame is, "I am bad, I am worthless, I am no good, I am a liar, I'm a loser. I keep making the same mistakes over and over again."

      The three enemies of the believer is sin, self, or the flesh, and Satan. All three of those are shooting arrows of shame at us. It's this trifecta of, "You are bad," but sometimes shame can also-- Guilt is there, and then the shame starts speaking like you're not doing anything about your guilt. Jeremiah 2, "You ran away from God." That's guilt. Shame starts speaking to you like you're not functioning healthily, you're messing up, so it can draw you back if you allow shame to be functional in the good way, allow shame to draw you to repentance. To be ashamed of our sin, to be ashamed that I lied.

      Probably if I just had guilt and not shame at that point, I might not have repented, but the two together work hand in hand healthily. Now, if I don't repent and I continue-- Shame, when I've done something wrong, can draw me towards repentance and righteousness, as when others have shamed me, then I'm not at fault. The mother who says to the teenage daughter, "What happened to that other 8%," young man who graduates from college and his father doesn't show up for the graduation because he's drunk, or he shows up drunk, there's that shame. It's like somebody else did something to you.

      That's not biblically something that you are called to repent of or feel sorry that you are that way, that you deserve that. That you must have done something wrong for your mother to say that, or your dad to be like that. That is something to be rejected, to be dealt with, to be moved away from your heart.

      Bob: I think everybody's been through a situation you just described. We did something wrong, we feel some shame for doing it, whether that's our personal shame or one that came from someone else. What happens when we let that sit there? When we don't deal with it? What comes into our lives and what gets messed up as a result?

      Gary: When shame has its work in us, it causes us to, as we read in Genesis, third chapter there, it says, "At the moment, their eyes were open, and suddenly they felt shame at their nakedness. They sewed fig leaves to cover themselves," to cover yourself. Then later on, God comes into the cool of the garden and says, "Where are you?" They said, "We hid because we knew we were naked, and we were ashamed." Shame is a hiding. The inner voice of shame, the inner critic of shame says, "You're not good enough, you're not worth enough, you're not loved enough, you're not beloved, you don't belong. You're insignificant." So, we hide ourselves. We don't venture out into really who we are.

      I think at the root of shame is a demonic attempt to stifle who you are actually. You're this joyful, creative, adventurous, other-centered person, and you give and you love to give. That's who you are. Then shame comes in, like, "I tried to give and I was rejected. This person hurt me." Each event is drawing you in more inwardly until your system shuts down and you're saying, "I'm just going to go to work nine to five. I'm not going to make any waves. I'm not going to talk to my-- I'm not going to suggest any new ventures. I'm not going to present this new thing, or I won't maybe look at getting further education for a career."

      There's no risk. It's too scary, because you're already ashamed of who you are and any more failures is just too much to bear. That's why I said earlier, it causes fear, anxiety, stress, boredom, because your shame has you hide who you are. Even when you're at a fellowship, or a party, you're just not being yourself and you have this protective wall. Picture a community group at a church, a core group, care group, whatever they call them. A small group that meets in a church. Let's just say I'm covered with shame and I'm hiding. I'm so full of the sense of I'm not enough. I don't have anything to offer. I'm afraid I'm going to say something wrong.

      I walk into that room. Let's just say I'm with 10 other people, and they all have the same thing to some degree or another. Some are better at being boisterous and compensating for that shame, but they still feel it. They're the aggressive type, and they're the know-it-alls, and they have every scripture verse. Others are taking their shame, and they're doing opposite with it. "I have nothing to offer. I have nothing to say. I just read something really good in Genesis 3, but I don't dare say that, because it may not be good enough." The whole room is filled with these people with these fig leaves around them.

      Shame destroys community. It destroys creativity, and then it destroys peace—a sense of that quiet confidence that we have in the Lord, that he's for me and not against me. Shame, I would say, also masks. One of the problems it does, it masks the voice of the Lord. It filters it the wrong way. So, I was reading the other day. It says Jesus said to his disciples, and he's saying to us too, this blows me away. I can't fathom this.

      Jesus turned to his friends, and he's saying to us, "Hey you guys, I just want you to know something." "Yeah, what is it, Jesus?" "You guys are the light of the world. You light up the world. Everywhere you go, you're brilliant. You're luminous. You guys, there's darkness everywhere. Everywhere you go, you’re brilliantly lit up."

      When I read that, my filter of shame sometimes will say like, "Okay, good admonition. I've really got to try to be the light of the world. I'm not right now, but I'm going to, because I'm going to try harder. I'm going to work at this." Or, "I better not screw this up. He told me I'm the light of the world. That's my job. I'm not doing it well (because I'm full of shame, self-hatred really). I'm going to really work hard at be the light of the world."

      Now you're not coming out of the sense of, "He just called me the light of the world. The King of Kings thinks that well of me." Instead of enjoying that, and then actually glowing in that, basking in that glow of his word over you, you're filtering it through shame, "I'm not good enough. I'm not light enough." Now you're striving for that, and that diminishes the light. You're still hiding yourself, because of being afraid of being ashamed again, of not being worth it again, of not being lovable enough again.

      Bob: Shame certainly short-circuits who we can be and who we are. Does it get in the way of our relationship with God?

      Gary: Totally. Shame it comes through the brain. I'm not a scientist or a doctor here, so please forgive me if this isn't quite accurate. From what I understand, your brain has different elements, and when you're being formed in your mother's womb, the brain stem is the first thing to form. Then it goes up to the secondary of your brain, third, fourth area. The last area to be formed is the one that processes all the thoughts of every other part of your brain. It's the rational. Shame is rationally thinking like, "I'm not enough. I'm a failure."

      We try to deal with it through thinking, "Okay, maybe I should stop thinking that. That's a bad thought. Stop thinking that. I rebuke that thought in Jesus' name." That thought comes from another part of your brain that's deeper inside of you, that is your emotions, and your emotions are-- It's almost unsaid. You can't really-- That's why shame is very difficult. As much as I've read about this, and studied it, and looked at scriptures, it's a hard one to define. I mentioned lying before. I can define lying, it's not telling the truth. Shame, as you could tell, I was having a harder time, even as the authors that wrote whole books on it are having a hard time.

      They say, in their books, it's hard to define. Well, because it's not just in the thought, "I think this," but it's, "I feel this about myself." Then that emotional part of the brain comes from the deepest part of your brain, the very thing that is formed without words. It's the deepest sense of emotion, and so you have this emotional sense of, "Man, I feel something in me. I can't put words to it, but it's something wrong." What's that going to do with this? As we've just been talking about, it's going to hinder us.

      This is a long answer to your question about how it relates to God. That brain that I have is the only brain that I have. It's my mind, the spirit, soul, body, and part of the soul is our mind. Not just the functional brain, but the mind that thinks and feels. All those comes from our mind. You're talking to me, and you're talking to my mind in a sense, and my mind is thinking of things to respond to you. When I relate to God and when God relates to me, it's not a different mind. Does that makes sense? It's not like I have my Christian God mind and my friend, co-worker mind.

      Bob: That schizophrenic, right?

      Gary: Yes.

      [laughter]

      Gary: I say all that, it's a long way around to get to the core of what the answer is. The way we relate to others, we don't have a choice to relate to God differently. It's who we are. If there is shame in my mind, if I feel like, "Every time I go to work, when I come home to my wife, when I'm around my kids, I feel like I'm not enough. I'm insignificant, I'm unworthy." If I'm feeling that way, that's my mind saying that's who I am. It's not something that I can escape then when I'm in the presence of God.

      When God says something to me like, "You are the light of the world. You are my beloved son in whom I'm well pleased," it's filtered through that shame. We go like, "Yeah, right, God, sure I'm loved like others you love." You have Christians who-- I've had so many come to me in my pastoral ministry in the counseling office, and say-- They read the Word and they're not reading it incorrectly, but they read it like-- As an example they read about David and Saul. When they're reading about it, they relate to Saul. "I'm a Saul. I'm going to backslide at the end, I'm going to fail."

      Read about the 12 apostles, "Well, I'm the Judas. I'm probably going to backslide." Shame causes us to even read the scriptures in relationship to-- I'm David, not when he says, "Better is one day in the house of the Lord," I'm David staring at Bathsheba. They see themselves, they identify with all the bad, shameful, wrong things, because their mind is saying that's who they are. There is that element of filtering it through that. When they hear a sermon, they pick up on the bad things. They just see that. Instead of the rose-colored lenses, it has this dark lens of—

      Bob: You're talking about unbelief in God's word then. Your view of yourself overrides what God has said about you-

      Gary: That's a good point.

      Bob: -and brings in unbelief. Just this week, I was watching one of one of your dad's sermons. He was talking of unbelief about someone he counseled, who said, "I had this word from God who said He was going to do this for me. It didn't happen." "God doesn't answer prayer," was the unbelief that stood in his way. I guess shame can be that unbelief at the same time, couldn't it?

      Gary: Yes. Shame is so insidious because what it will do then is it will take that realization of unbelief, and instead of repentance and restoration, it shames you even more. I had shame that caused unbelief. I didn't believe God's word. Now I'm ashamed that I didn't believe God's word. It just doubles up, and then it quadruples, and then it goes eight times, just a constant work of increase and increase. It's a devastating thing unless we start looking at ways to escape that, and that's what the Holy Spirit has for us.

      Bob: If we've done something wrong and we believe God had forgiven us of that, does your shame stand in the way of that ever being accomplished, or is there some different dynamic at work there?

      Gary: You're asking if we—

      Bob: If God's forgiven me, I have not forgiven myself. Is that continuing to sin? If I'm not forgiving myself, if God has already forgiven me.

      Gary: It is, yes. It goes to unbelief, but if you don't deal with the shame, it's going to be hard to deal with unbelief. It's almost like if you don't deal with the shame, it's hard to deal with fear. Going back to this girl that got the 8% wrong, so she starts feeling, "I'm unworthy, I'm no good, I'm worthless." God comes up and says, "You can do all things." She doesn't believe that. That's unbelief. She could repent of that and say, "Okay, I'm going to really start believing that," but if she still in her core believes, "I'm no good, I'm worthless," that's going to be a little bit harder to deal with. I'm not saying she is not still responsible for belief. You have to take God's word and believe it no matter what you feel.

      It's not by feelings, it's by faith, so she has to have faith, but her feelings can still work against her to come into a full faith if she doesn't deal with that simply by realizing, "Where did that come from. It didn't come from God. It came from the deceiver. It came from the wicked one. The vessel at that point was the conversation my mother had with me about not being enough, but it's my system of hearing that word and believing about myself things that God has not said about me, believing things that the critic says about myself, that I say about myself, that my flesh says about myself, that the devil says about me."

      We deal with sin and shame. Some shame is as a result of sin, and that repentance works real well with that, but the type of shame that is not sin, like, "I didn't sin, I was sinned against, or I was hurt and it caused me shame," that's not a matter of repentance, that's a matter of healing. I was just in a country in Europe last week, and there was about 2,500 people there. This country is known for being reserved, they're not very emotional, they don't deal with their past, they don't talk a lot or openly about, "This hurt me." It's a very like, "Go to work and do your job" type of culture.

      There's 2,500 people there, and I gave an altar call after speaking on the topic. We might have it online at some point, healing of the wounded heart. I just talked to them about this issue of shame and hurt and woundedness, things that have been said to us that we begin believing these lies about ourselves and it cripples us. Then I gave some hopeful means of escaping that. I gave an altar call. I was expecting because they told me beforehand, "This is not a very emotional crowd." Knowing your subject might not be one that a lot of us can relate to. We can relate to it, but we won't be open about it.

      Out of 2,500 people, I would not be exaggerating if I say maybe 2,000 people came forward at the altar call to respond. Tears, weeping. The sponsors, they were sitting up on the stage with me, they were in shock because we've never seen anything like this. I went down into the crowd and started talking to people. There was a 75-year old man, he said, "I'm 75, and every word you said, the Holy Spirit was just digging in my heart. I've been dealing with this for my whole life." But then he said, "But not really dealing with it, just knowing it's there, but not really facing it, not really confronting it, not really giving it to the Lord. Just feeling like I have to tough it out and be strong in the Lord and claim my…"

      He just says, "I have all these wounds, it hurts and I've never just let the Lord heal them. I never offered them to the Lord and said, 'I'm hurt, my heart is broken over this,' or 'Here's how I feel about myself,' or 'Can you heal this broken image my mind says to me about myself?'" Then next woman I prayed for, she's probably her early 40s maybe, something like that. She brought her six-year-old daughter. She's has tears in her eyes, she says, "I was molested as a little girl, and I just found out last month my six-year-old girl was molested as well by a family member." She goes, "I'm just so--" She felt guilty. She felt shame in a wrong way, "How did I let this happen to my daughter? Did I do something wrong that this happened to me?"

      Shame is working in 2,000 out of 2,500 people so much so that when they have an offer of healing, they run to the altar with tears, saying, "Thank you, Jesus. There's hope.

      Key Questions from the Podcast

      • What is shame? Is shame good or bad?
      • Is there a difference between guilt and shame?
      • What happens if we do not deal with our shame?
      • How does shame affect our relationship with God?

      Notable Quotes from the Podcast

      Shame is sort of like cancer to a degree. Most people don't know they have it until it's really deep in their system. It's really important for people to listen to, to assess, to take an inward look. Paul says examine your hearts. – Gary Wilkerson

      Shame keeps things in the darkness. – Gary Wilkerson

      The three enemies of the believer are sin, self—or the flesh—and Satan. All three of those are shooting arrows of shame at us. It's this trifecta… - Gary Wilkerson

      Shame destroys community. It destroys creativity, and then it destroys peace—a sense of that quiet confidence that we have in the Lord, that he's for me and not against me. Shame also masks the voice of the Lord. It filters it the wrong way. – Gary Wilkerson

      Some shame is a result of sin and requires repentance. Other shame is because you were sinned against and requires healing. – Gary Wilkerson

      Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

      About Gary Wilkerson

      Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

      Facebook | Twitter

       

    • Taking an Axe to the Root of Pornography Addiction

      Many of us deal with bad habits. Some are easy to talk about. We joke about how we need to cut out those “comfort foods” or watch less television. Other obsessions feel deeply private and difficult to discuss, especially in church. Every addiction is planted in a deeper heart problem. Too often, the church has addressed sexual addictions by simply telling us to “stop” without digging deeper to the root of the issue. Today, Gary explores some of the fears and heart wounds that can lead to pornography addiction.

      Many of us deal with bad habits. Some are easy to talk about. We joke about how we need to cut out those “comfort foods” or watch less television. Other obsessions feel deeply private and difficult to discuss, especially in church. Every addiction is planted in a deeper heart problem. Too often, the church has addressed sexual addictions by simply telling us to “stop” without digging deeper to the root of the issue. Today, Gary explores some of the fears and heart wounds that can lead to pornography addiction.

      What are the ultimate ramifications of being addicted to pornography?

      Gary Wilkerson replied, “My personal opinion and belief is that what Satan is really after is not necessarily to get a man or woman to look at pornography but to start being so stuck in that pattern of shame, of relief from the shame, by viewing something that brings us temporary pleasure.

      “That cycle continues for such a long time unbroken without victory that ultimately, I believe the enemy's after our faith, like, ‘Are you ever going to really be set free? Is God strong enough to help you with this? How come you've cried a thousand tears and you're still stuck? Why is there no hope? Why have you repented, and you still have this deep, deep drive to go back to the same thing that you kind of hate but you kind of love?’

      “Ultimately Satan is after God. He's after our view of God: that God's not for us, he's not strong, he's not powerful, he's not on our side, he doesn't care about us, we’ve failed so much that he's forgotten us, we're such losers and such sinners that we're no longer in his grace or favor so he's cast us out. So, Satan, that's really when he gets his ultimate victory.”

       

      How did you find freedom from pornography addiction?

      “I think most people never get free because they're only dealing with pornography or masturbation or lust. "I've got to stop lusting." "I've got to stop masturbating." "I've got to stop looking at pornography." They're not dealing with what's underneath. They go to church, and they might hear a whole series about sexual sin or whatever, and it's almost always dealing with, "Don't do this." "Men, don't look at that." "Let's have covenant with our eyes." "Let's have an accountability partner." It can be good if used the right way, but they're looking at the surface issue.

      “For me, my freedom came when I looked underneath the surface, and I realized there's loneliness there and that there was a sense of fulfillment. There was a sense of being insignificant and that gave me a sense, "All these women—" It’s a weird feeling in pornography. It's like, "These women want me. They're attracted to me. I must be really masculine. I must be really powerful." If you feel like you're lacking power and you go to pornography to get that, or you feel like you're lacking significance and you go to get that. "I must be of significance because these women seem to be just showering their love all over me."

      “If you just deal with stop wanting that love, stop wanting that power, stop wanting that affection, stop wanting that intimacy, it's not going to be enough because you were built to be loved, accepted, and have intimacy. It's just that you're looking in the wrong places for it, and so to deal with the issue of “Why do I feel unempowered? Why do I feel less than? Why do I not feel masculine—or feminine, for women? Why do I not feel accepted?” As I started dealing with those issues, I realized that God created me as someone who is significant. He created me as someone who's sufficient, who's lovable, who belongs,” answered Gary Wilkerson.

       

      About Gary Wilkerson

      Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

      Facebook | Twitter

    • Faith and Fitness: Don't Do Either Alone

      Our physical fitness and spiritual life affect one another in surprising ways. Unfortunately, this relationship has often been ignored or misrepresented in the church. This week Eric Cartier, Senior Pastor of Rocky Mountain Calvary, joins Gary Wilkerson to look at the gracious and good connection God has made between our bodies and our souls.

      Our physical fitness and spiritual life affect one another in surprising ways. Unfortunately, this relationship has often been ignored or misrepresented in the church. This week Eric Cartier, Senior Pastor of Rocky Mountain Calvary, joins Gary Wilkerson to look at the gracious and good connection God has made between our bodies and our souls.

      Pastor Eric, with such a busy schedule, is it challenging to find time to maintain your physical health?

      “I would say traditionally in the past it was, now it's not. I've seen the value of it and I've started to enjoy it. It really has to be a priority otherwise it doesn't happen. I think motivation wise, something I've wrestled through with is some false guilt probably, like, ‘Man, I should be giving this time to preparing a message,’ or I feel bad in taking the time to go to the gym or run when that's time I could spend with the kids. There's a little bit of foresight or looking into the future of, ‘Man, if I do this, this'll actually give me more time with the kids down the road.’ I battle that like not only not having the time, but I should be using this time differently,” answered Pastor Eric Cartier.

      Have being intentional about fitness and nutrition helped you have more energy and better concentration?

      Pastor Eric replied, “Yes, it really has. The biggest thing that I notice is when I go and workout, the mental fog really clears. A lot of times as a pastor I'm thinking about decisions that need to be made, problems that are going, praying for vision, and it can be overwhelming and before you know it you're just in a bit of a fog. After the workout, it just seems like that fog is cleared. If I'm intentional, then that provides a really fresh slate to meet with the Lord, just for Him to speak to me in the midst of the workout, or at the end of the workout.

      “I definitely feel like I have more energy preaching as well, we have three-weekend services, and so by eating right, staying hydrated, having some exercise in my weekly routine, it's a lot easier to have energy throughout those three services, come home and not be as exhausted.”

      How are faith and fitness connected?

       

      “It seems like it's one of Paul's favorite illustrations to look at the athlete and then to draw parallels with our faith. In 1 Corinthians 9, he talks about athletes running to win a temporal prize, but he wants to win the eternal prize, but then he said he disciplines his body. What I found is that discipline seems to carry over into other areas, like when you discipline your body in nutrition and fitness, that also carries over into your faith,” responded Pastor Eric.

      Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

      He continued, “Then, I love too, when you are working out with other people or even going on a walk with someone else, it really gives you a chance to get into their lives in a unique way that without fitness you don't have that opportunity.”

      Why do many Christians have a hard time disciplining their bodies in fitness and nutrition?

      “Sometimes in the area of our Christian life, we don't necessarily see the need to discipline our body when it comes to nutrition or fitness like we do with sexual integrity or anger. Those are some of the things that seem to be more traditional for us to focus on. They're legitimate, but when it comes to, ‘How do I take care of this physical body that God has given me?’ I think it's hard even to see that the scriptures and God have guidance for how we eat and if we exercise, and it's highly personal. It's a hard topic to preach on, teach on, venture into because it's so personal. I think some of it is just being open to the reality that God would have instruction for us in nutrition and in fitness,” answered Pastor Eric.

      He continued, “We do fail to see the stewardship of it because when you stop and think about it, the physical body that God has given us is amazing. It really is his temple, that when we take care of it, there's more opportunity to do the Great Commandment: to love God and to love our neighbor, to do the Great Commission. If we don't take care of our body, it really inhibits us from some of the things that God may be calling us to do.”

      What practical advice would you offer someone who wants to get started on their journey with fitness and nutrition?

       

      Pastor Eric responded, “What comes to mind is first focusing on the nutrition. I've really experienced you can't out-exercise bad nutrition. A really simple thing is to really eat things that aren't processed. So if it grows, or you can kill it, eat it, but if you've got to open up a bag… really starting to look at the nutrition piece of it is huge.

      “Finding people to do it with. It's really hard to get consistent in nutrition and exercise if you're not doing it with someone and so looking in your family, your friends, a gym that offers where you can workout in community. I think trainers can be really helpful; finding the right trainer that is going to help you learn how to exercise and what to eat, those are things that are really, really helpful at least for me.”

      Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

      About Gary Wilkerson

      Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

      Facebook | Twitter

      About Eric Cartier

      I realized at a young age that the Lord was calling me to reach those without Christ. Through teachings at Applegate Christian Fellowship and Calvary Bible College, God began to equip me for a life of ministry. In March 2000, I accepted a permanent position with Rocky Mountain Calvary that grew into overseeing and ministering to both teenagers and young adults. After five years of service, I was offered the position of senior pastor. I believe the Lord’s house should be one of prayer and that the Bible should be taught verse-by-verse. This allows God’s word to challenge and encourage us to walk in obedience. My desire is to lead by example, to be a disciple and make disciples, and to share God’s loving kindness. I have been married to my beautiful wife, Amber, for 10+ years and we have four children, Hannah, Adelyn, Ileanne, and Wyatt.

      Facebook | Twitter

    • Cornerstones for Success in Life and Finances

      Money is sometimes seen as a taboo or touchy subject, but it affects nearly every aspect of our lives. It can open new opportunities or allow us to pass on blessings to our children and others. It can also bring out struggles faster than almost anything else. Investment Advisor and ministry worker Jim Palumbo joins us this week to discuss money and the spiritual impact it can have.

      Money is sometimes seen as a taboo or touchy subject, but it affects nearly every aspect of our lives. It can open new opportunities or allow us to pass on blessings to our children and others. It can also bring out struggles faster than almost anything else. Investment Advisor and ministry worker Jim Palumbo joins us this week to discuss money and the spiritual impact it can have.

      Is having a lot of money and wealth the proper measure of success in life?

      Jim Palumbo answers, “If you're thinking about money, thinking about success, seeking happiness in life, people often correlate it to materialism. If it's not money, it's the things that money can buy, the material goods and possessions or even experiences now are even more important. People say, well forget about things, you have to have grand vacations and experiences; but in reality, those are not the things that we live for. The things that money can buy; they don't satisfy ultimately even if you get to possess them for a time in this life. The satisfaction is fleeting. It's gone very soon.

      “We live for the things that matter the most. That begins with God, family, and others. The foundation of that is Jesus Christ. That is the foundation upon which we build everything. It's our relationship with God, being right with God, understanding that that is our purpose in life: to love God and enjoy him forever.”

      Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. – Matthew 7:24–25

      My relationship with God is good, so why are my finances a mess?

      “Sometimes those situations that are not good are revealing something more on the inside, something needs to happen because those things are wrong, and God allows it. God's a loving Father. He allows those difficult circumstances that people might find themselves in financially, family, stress, and anxieties. He's using those as tools to get you where he wants you to be as a person and your relationship with him,” says Jim Palumbo.

      How are my Christian faith and my finances connected?

      “There are over 2,000 verses in the Bible about money and stewardship. There are twice as many as faith. Further, if you look at the parables, Jesus’ two longest parables are about stewardship, about money, the parable of the talents and also the parable of the unjust steward. These lessons were really important to Jesus. He wanted to teach us about these things.

      “What you're hinting at, Bob, is they're not disconnected at all. They're woven together into a single fabric. The life that we live, our faith toward God is expressed in how we handle the things to which he's entrusted us,” responded Jim Palumbo.

      Is the parable of the talents really about money?

      Jim Palumbo answered, “The parable of the talents is one of my favorites because he is talking about money. But he's talking about everything that goes with it. He's talking about the servant, he gave the money to and then he went away and so occupy till I come. We know this is a metaphor parable about the coming of the Son of God to who? To Israel. That Israel were the people and they were anticipating the Messiah. The Messiah came back and they had not done a good job while he was gone. We get that part of the metaphor.

      “At the same time, if you think about money as fiat currency, money represents materialism. It represents almost everything in this world because it's something you trade for goods. You take some food, and you get food by trading money, and the person takes that money and buys a house. It has to do with goods. That goes back to the law of God. What is the commandment that addresses these things? Thou shalt not covet.

      “What is at the root of problems with money, if you want to say the sin part of it? It's covetousness. The verse that is oft-quoted in the parable of talents is, “Occupy till I come.” I believe it's this: I believe it's not just spiritual. It's about everything. Occupy this life, the money, the house, the family. You're a member of this church? Be a good church member. Don't go there to get. It's not a movie theater. Go there to give. Go occupy your role as a member in the church, the wife to your husband, the mom, to your kids, the father to your kids, occupy it. Occupy it like crazy. Do it awesome. Guess what? Jesus comes back and says well done.”

      And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. – Luke 19:13

      Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

      About Gary Wilkerson

      Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

      About Jim Palumbo

      Jim Palumbo is Principal & Chief Development Officer at Dynamic Wealth Advisors. He is a veteran of the financial services industry with over 25 years of creating and managing organizations that create, grow, and preserve wealth

    • How to Turn Your Anxiety Into Healing

      Many of us have struggles that we aren’t comfortable sharing with others. These secret sins seem so taboo that if we told anyone, they might stop speaking to us. Often these deep soul wounds manifest as anxiety or anger or other sins that affect our relationships with friends, family and community. So how do we get to the root of these issues? How do we find healing from these sins that constantly seem to trip us up?

      Many of us have struggles that we aren’t comfortable sharing with others. These secret sins seem so taboo that if we told anyone, they might stop speaking to us. Often these deep soul wounds manifest as anxiety or anger or other sins that affect our relationships with friends, family and community. So how do we get to the root of these issues? How do we find healing from these sins that constantly seem to trip us up?

      Key Questions from the Podcast

      • How should Christians deal with fear, anxiety and stress?
      • Is it a sin to be anxious?
      • How can we learn to be content?
      • If our discontentment is coming from misaligned values, how can we get them back on track?
      • If someone doesn’t feel they can be truly vulnerable in church, where can they find healing for the deep issues of the soul?

      Notable Quotes from the Podcast

      I pray that we, as Christians, get beyond always happy, peppy, bursting with songs. That is where we were meant to live, but you don't get there through denial. You get there through facing the crisis, hardship, suffering, and pain of life. Once you do, you come out of that with a maturity that you would not have otherwise. – Gary Wilkerson

      Worry is like a good rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere. - Erma Bombeck

      When you're examining yourself and you're full of anxiety, that's a signal that something is off. We think, "Oh Lord, I'm so sorry. I'm anxious." There can be sin in anxiety because it's a lack of trust, but it also can be a signal. A lot of our emotions that we label as sinful are actually gifts. – Gary Wilkerson

      Contentment is born out of understanding biblical values, wanting those biblical values, and then asking for the grace to live in those biblical values.  – Gary Wilkerson

      God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can,
      And wisdom to know the difference. - Reinhold Niebuhr

      Sin is born out of a core pain and the poor choices we make because of that pain. I'm not saying that sin has an excuse. You are responsible for your sin. We have to deal with the fruit that we see, which is the sin. And we have to deal with the root as well, the healing. Our churches are very well versed at dealing with the sin and the fruit, but very poorly schooled and able to deal with the root of it, which is the need for healing of the soul. – Gary Wilkerson

      Bible Verses Referenced in the Podcast

      “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” – Psalm 46:10

      do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6

      Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. – Philippians 4:11

      Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

      About Gary Wilkerson

      Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

    • Caring For Yourself Will Help You Love Others Better

      On Instagram, the hashtag “loveyourself” has been used around 42 million times. In modern culture, however, this idea is usually attached to a ‘me’ mentality. But is there such a thing as biblical self-love? Can Christians unselfishly practice self-care? Yes! Learning to love ourselves in a biblical, God-centered way is the best thing we can do for our relationships. Once we care for ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, then we are better able to love others in a godly way.

      On Instagram, the hashtag “loveyourself” has been used around 42 million times. In modern culture, however, this idea is usually attached to a ‘me’ mentality. But is there such a thing as biblical self-love? Can Christians unselfishly practice self-care? Yes! Learning to love ourselves in a biblical, God-centered way is the best thing we can do for our relationships. Once we care for ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, then we are better able to love others in a godly way.

      Key Questions from the Podcast

      • Why do my mistakes lead to thoughts of self-criticism and judgment?
      • How do I care for myself without being selfish?
      • Should regular self-care be a priority in my life?
      • How does my opinion of myself affect my relationships?

      Notable Quotes from the Podcast

      Mindfulness in the context of the mind of Christ can take you into truly knowing what needs to be jettison from yourself: behaviors, sinful patterns, and even internal voices of self-criticism. All of that's flesh, not just the bad things you do, but the bad things we believe about ourselves too. All of that doesn't belong in us. We jettison all that through repentance, through faith, through confession. – Gary Wilkerson

      As Jesus said, we should remember the poor. When I think about a world that is dying, my caring for myself, my soul care that the Bible requires and calls me and blesses me to be able to do, does not diminish me from the ability to be a servant, to love, to give, to be generous. It actually fuels me. It's not selfish. It's actually more generous because now I have something to give. – Gary Wilkerson

      Jesus said you clean the inside of the cup then the outside begins to take care of itself. So inside I have to be healed and healthy, and I need soul care to get me in that place. – Gary Wilkerson

      We start off in self-loathing, then try to earn our way into the good graces of other people and we're not ourselves. Every moment of the day there are still battles and there are still outward circumstances that try to draw us back into self-loathing and self-hatred. Once that battle has, to a large degree, been won, then there's that freedom that springs up to be yourself in an authentic way. People appreciate authenticity. – Gary Wilkerson

      A good tree bears good fruit. Being healed inside bears healthy results of healthy fruit, healthy relationships, healthy impact. – Gary Wilkerson

      The greatest impact I've ever had in my life has not been preaching to tens of thousands of people, traveling the world, or writing books. The greatest impact that I've had is a small group of people that I've been able to be myself and be alive and be healed, and then bring healing to them. – Gary Wilkerson

      Bible Verses Referenced in the Podcast

      for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7

      The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2:15-16

      Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! – 2 Corinthians 13:5

      You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. – Matthew 23:26

      So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. – Matthew 7:17-18

      About Gary Wilkerson

      Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

    • Called to Be Perfect but Not Perfectionists

      A lot of people say that they’re a perfectionist. Being hyper-critical of our situation, our friends, our work and ourselves is encouraged by our culture. Many would say this is what drives us to do better. But what if it mostly just drives people to exhaustion, anxiety and depression? Perfectionism, never feeling like anything is good enough, always feeling like you need to do better and accomplish more, is like running on an endless treadmill. Worst of all, it’s motivated by fear. What if we were motivated by love rather than the fear of being less than perfect?

      Key Questions from the Podcast

      • What is self-compassion? Is it selfish and self-indulgent?
      • If you’re supposed to die to self, how do you love yourself?
      • Why do small mistakes sometimes turn into self-loathing?
      • How do we stop treating ourselves in a loathsome way, but rather in a loving way?

      Notable Quotes from the Podcast

      I understand the mentality of such a wretch I am, and I can say that. I can say there's worminess to me, and there's wretchedness in me, and there's sinfulness in me, and there's despicable parts of me that I don't want to be like, but that's not who I am. – Gary Wilkerson

      There is a sinful wretchedness in a lost soul, but it doesn't mean that that's a worthlessness. A human being has value and worth in God's eyes, even a non-Christian human being. – Gary Wilkerson

      Just as the Bible says, "Don't be drunk with wine," it also says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." The word there' is "agape." It means unconditional love that is not based on performance. There's this call of scripture to obedience to love yourself. – Gary Wilkerson

      Loving yourself is not being selfish. It is not being self-absorbed. It is not being self-centered. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. The more you have the agape for yourself, you're better able to give it. – Gary Wilkerson

      We spend a lot of our life not actually being ourselves, not comfortable with ourselves, feeling like everything we're doing is wrong. That's where perfectionism comes from. "I can correct the sense of worthlessness, the sense of never being enough, I can correct that if I'm perfect.” – Gary Wilkerson

      So many Christians are phonies, because they're not able to be real. They're not able to tell God or others their struggles pain, or failures. We hide things and we cover things, and we put on fronts. That's why the church gets the reputation of hypocritical. – Gary Wilkerson

      If you feel like you're never enough, no external validation will ever prove to you that you are enough. You'll never be healed of that internal wound, as long as you have the idol of external validation. – Gary Wilkerson

      Bible Verses Referenced in the Podcast

      But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” – Acts 10:15

      Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? – Matthew 6:26

      The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Mark 12:31a

      And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. – Matthew 7:26-27

      Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” – John 2:19

      Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

      About Gary Wilkerson

      Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.