Thankful for Green Lake Presbyterian Church and for the chance to share the Name with my brothers from that church.

I’m thankful to be speaking at a virtual retreat at Trinity Church, Seattle, at the end of May. The last five days, I’ve worked hard on another full edit of The Name so the guys at the retreat could have the best possible version. As I worked through the document, line by line, page by page, I realized afresh the impact Trinity (then Green Lake Presbyterian Church, GLPC) had on Jenny and my formation in ministry. It is woven in the stories throughout the book.

Jenny’s breakthrough to the gospel at a Sunday Evening prayer meeting on Easter Sunday, 2000, happened in and through the community of grace at GLPC. I tell that story in Chapter Three. I share about my subsequent breakthrough when I dared to be the broken man I am in Chapter Seven. The GLPC community had shown me it was safe to do that. Then there is the story of my friendship with Nathan Partain, which, again, began at GLPC and concludes the chapter on work. The chapter and tool on place has a number of stories tied to GLPC. From how God called us from Seattle to Indy, how God used Rev. Michael Kelly in my life, how we learned to be fully present where God planted us from saying goodbye to our Seattle friends and congregation.

My understanding of the grace of Jesus, conviction that Christian leadership means being the “chief repenter,” heart for urban ministry, and, most importantly, witnessing how the church is a community of broken people who dare to be honest about their mess because they know how much they are loved and accepted by God was a kind of launch pad for my pastoral ministry.

In light of how my story is so interwoven with GLPC I can only marvel at God’s promise that GLPC is the first church, outside of the two churches I’ve served as lead pastor of, where I get to present some of the material. I wonder if I should be surprised. After all, I believe in the sovereign LORD, whose providence directs all things for his glory.

So today I’m thankful for a community of grace that had a big impact in shaping me and my ministry, thankful that I can give back back in some small way, and thankful that I get to hang with these cool folks.

Is there a vaccine for the virus of shame and pride?

There’s lots of talk today about the need for a vaccine for coronavirus. It is a serious disease and I hope a vaccine is discovered soon. But I’m more concerned about two much more destructive viruses: shame and pride. These spiritual viruses are far more pervasive, insidious, and deadly. They infect almost every act that stirs moral outrage today, but no task force has been formed. Science isn’t racing for a cure. If there was a test for shame and pride, most of us would be in lockdown. But there is a potent cure: God’s love.

God’s love heals your shame

God’s love for you in Jesus Christ heals your shame. Your shame is founded in the real guilt you have as a son or daughter of Adam and Eve, the stain of original sin. Until your guilt is dealt with, there is no possible way to cleanse the defilement of shame. This is, of course, precisely what God’s love for us through Jesus does.  God once and for all addressed your guilt. Yes, you are an inheritor of Adam’s sin. Yes, you are a sinner at the core. And yet, at the very same time God says, “I love you and sent my Son into the world to save you from your sins. My beloved Son, Jesus,  died on the cross in your place, He took upon himself your guilt. When you place your trust in him, you are no longer condemned. I cover you with Jesus’ righteousness.  You are holy and blameless in my sight.” Don’t you see? Even though you are a sinner and unworthy, you are loved by your Heavenly Father. He loved you before the creation of the world. And he is permanently committed to you. He adopted you into his family and gave you his name. He clothes you in Jesus’ beauty; you are clean, spotless, holy before God. You are loved by the only one in the universe whose opinion of you matters. He delights in you. He is crafting you to be a masterpiece for his glory. The message of God’s love for you in Jesus deals with the underlying issue of guilt. It is the only cleansing potent enough to eradicate the fact of your guilt and wash away the pollution of your shame.

Let me speak personally to you. You may feel unlovable, unwanted, even defiled. But God’s love can heal you. It reveals your shame as untruth. You are God’s treasured possession, irrevocably loved by God. Your Heavenly Father delights in YOU, with all the baggage you bring. Accept God’s love. Come trembling out of the dark, into the light. Share the specific ways you have fallen short. God already knows them and still loves you. God’s love is everlasting. It sets you free from the need to immediately get it all right. He will complete the work of transforming you into your unique expression of the beauty of Jesus. Make God’s love the lens by which you see yourself, not shame. His love validates you. Defines you. Encircles you. Bask in it. Let its balm heal the sores of your shame, wash away your pollutions, scrub clean your defilements. Lift up your head with confidence and joy. You are God’s never-ending delight. He not only loves you, he likes you. 

God’s love humbles your pride 

God’s love is also a power able to destroy your pride. It attacks pride at its root. How does it do so? It brings you to the foot of the cross. The cross is God’s final word on who  you are. You are so wicked,  so uniquely depraved and so impotent to save yourself that it took the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of the Son of God to rescue you. You are lost. You need a Savior. The cross is also the demonstration of God’s unconditional love. God does not love you because you are beautiful, moral or worthy. You are not. You are unworthy, depraved, broken. He loves you not based on your merit, for you have none, but freely, of his own gracious will. God’s love crushes all boasting. Salvation is of God, not you! If there was some distinguishing merit in you that made you worthy of God’s love, then you could boast. But salvation is by grace. It comes to you as gift. It is received, not earned.

By God’s love, your pride is brought low, and boasting silenced. When God’s unmerited, undeserved, and unconditional love is accepted by you, the back of pride is broken. At the foot of the cross, where God demonstrated once and for all His gracious love for sinners, you are humbled. You confess that you are a sinner rightly deserving the wrath of God. At the foot of the cross, you feel God’s love in the most powerful way. You taste the forgiveness of sins, are adopted into God’s family and receive the gift of the Spirit. Held in the arms of God’s love, you can let go of your pride. You can rest like a child rests, dependent and happy in the arms of her father.

On the Photographs

I took these photographs of Jackie last week at Mom and Dad’s home. They are part of the series of senior pictures we are taking. I think they turned out great.  

Identity Mapping History

I took myself through a process of naming my identity and setting goals for the coming year, what I now call Identity Mapping, for the first time while on vacation in Sun River, OR, July, 2003. We were vacationing with Jenny’s side of the family at a home of family friends. Early each morning, I rode a bike to the donut shop, sat down with coffee and a maple bar and journaled. I had no idea that this would be anything more than a personal process.

It became my annual rhythm each summer. In 2008, I started taking people from my Redeemer Indianapolis congregation through what I now call “Identity Discovery” sessions. Really what they are is this: I listen for about two hours to a person sharing their story and ask follow up questions. I suggest a few words that seem to me to sum up who God crafted them to be, including their wounds and superpowers. I encouraged them to embrace who they are for God’s glory because they uniquely reflect and represent him.

These discovery sessions were meaningful, but they felt insufficient. So I started to take congregation members through material that I had written. In September 2012, the first Identity Mapping cohort launched. That first cohort of about twelve, studied early drafts of the curriculum, over thirty Sundays. We had a lot of fun, and I learned a lot from their input. I began to spend time with artist and theologian Barb Knuckles. She had participated in that first cohort. Barb and I had long conversations about personhood and identity. I learned much from her.

Marcia Newman, who also participated in that first cohort, began to assist me as the coach for the women. She was a professional coach and brought a lot of experience and excellence to the table. We eventually nailed down five coaching sessions, one for each sphere of responsibility: personal, family, work, community and place.

identity-mapping-retreat-7

A grant from Tim Shapiro at the Indianapolis Center for Congregations helped us develop capacity for the Identity Mapping ministry. The grant funded Sonship training for the coaches, and a retreat. In January, 2014, we held the first Identity Mapping retreat at Twin Oaks Lodge in Brown County, IN.

In July 2014, the elders at Redeemer gave me a month long writing retreat on Camano Island, WA. Over that month, I compiled my writings in 32 chapters. The first draft of the Identity Mapping handbook was officially completed.

In Spring 2015, an advisory committee led by Redeemer congregation member Mike Jones began to meet with me to offer advice on the next steps of the Identity Mapping ministry.  Different models for the Identity Mapping ministry were researched but no final decision was made. The committee clarified that Identity Mapping was a discipleship curriculum that should be made available to Christians outside of the Redeemer congregation.They recommend the first step be a professionally produced handbook, and raised a significant amount of money for that project. Committee members stepped up to the plate: Tom Peck designed the layout of The Name.

David Lichty provided creative editing.

identity-mapping-retreat-5

Barb Knuckles illustrated The Name. There are over 50 illustrations, each specially handcrafted by Barb. We call them “theological illustrations” because they bear so much rich biblical theology. They are perfect to be colored. Over the years people have made beautiful colorings of Barb’s illustrations, each as unique as they are!

barb-knuckles

In May 2015, I accepted a call to pastor Redeemer in Redmond, WA. It was hard to tell this to the advisory committee. I started at Redeemer Redmond in September, 2015. This put a hold on the Identity Mapping ministry for a couple of years. In January 2016, I flew back to Indy to enjoy a last retreat with my friends and fellow pilgrims. That was a sweet time, especially the long, lingering meals with laughter and stories. But it was also bittersweet. Things were never going to be the same. I’m so thankful for the support from Day One of the Redeemer, Indy, congregation. I owe them a debt of gratitude as the birthplace of Identity Mapping. Thank you!

In September 2016, I took the first cohort from Redeemer Redmond on the Identity Mapping discipleship journey. Jenny Dorsey agreed to be my assistant in coaching the women. Marty Cosgrove joined our team as administrator of the class, and a coach of the women. Jim Gibons also joined the team to help me coach the men. It’s been so great to have Jenny at my side. She’s an incredibly gifted as a coach. I love to see her in her sweet spot listening to women, calling for their strength and glories, cheering them on in grace.

cohort-1-3

In July 2017, based on great feedback from cohort participants at Redeemer Redmond, I did a major rewrite of The Name. The biggest changes were that I pulled out the Jacob story. It now is the basis of a second book focused on the family sphere. I also took the twelve chapters on the Bible’s story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration and made them one chapter. The Name now has a prelude, fourteen chapters, and postlude. Each chapter is accompanied by a Gospel tool to apply the chapter’s teaching.

I had planned to launch a website as a platform for the Identity Mapping ministry in September, 2020. However, Covid-19 and the Stay at Home, Stay Safe order changed my plans. I realized that I had a window of opportunity. So I got focused and am thrilled that as of May, 2020, the Identity Mapping website and Facebook group are launched.

I want to thank all the collaborators who came alongside and cheered me on, challenged me, sharpened me, and made this material better. The pilgrimage with each of you has been a joy!

Introducing Myself

I’m Jason Dorsey, a husband of twenty-eight years, father of four great kids, three sons and a daughter, and a presbyterian pastor.

My wife, Jenny, has been my strong ally since we were married June 20, 1992 in Redding, CA. Here’s a picture of us the day we first held hands: Valentines Day, February 14, 1988.

I grew up on beautiful Camano Island in Puget Sound, Washington, in a family of artists. Art has been a part of my life from my earliest days. Here’s a video that shares that part of my story.

I attended Stanwood High School, Stanwood, WA, Class of 1987. My spiritual awakening the summer after I graduated from SHS directed my steps to Corban University, in Salem, OR, where I double majored in the humanities and Bible. After Corban, I still didn’t have a very clear plan for my life. But dear family friends said I could stay with them in Chicago. While there I attend Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I graduated from Trinity in 1995 with a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology. I wrote my thesis on the nature of tradition in the theology of Georges Florovsky. The family friends I lived with in Chicago were leaders of a missionary organization and invited me to live with them in Moscow, Russia for a few months in 1992. Since then I’ve had an interest in Russia, Dostoyevsky, Orthodox architecture and theology, and currently have the privilege of serving on the board of Mission Eurasia.

In November, 1997 I was ordained in the Pacific Northwest Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. I served for five years as an assistant pastor at Green Lake Presbyterian, now Trinity (1997-2002). I served as lead pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in downtown Indianapolis for thirteen years (2002-2015). A big part of my calling in Indianapolis was to work for the renewal of Indianapolis Public Schools. Here’s a little bit of that story. I’m completing a documentary that tells the story of an inner city high school basketball team that won the state championship against all odds and inspired a city in doing so. I’m hoping to have a screening of that documentary titled We are Family in the summer of 2020. 

In the summer of 2003, I took myself through a process of mapping my identity and setting goals. I began to take my parishioners through this process and built out the content. I now call it Identity Mapping. In Indy, an advisory team provided valuable feedback on how to take the Identity Mapping discipleship curriculum beyond the walls of the church I pastored. They catalyzed the creation of the Identity Mapping curriculum, called The Name.

the-name-cover-4

In January 2015, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I took a call to serve at Redeemer in Redmond, WA so I could be there for my mom and dad. I also decided to move forward with an art studio that I had dreamed of on a plot of land just south of my parent’s home on Camano. I have the fun of serving as the Artistic Director of Sunnyshore Studio.

Over the years I have fine-tuned the Identity Mapping curriculum, led many cohorts through it, coached many people, and had the joy of leading Identity Discovery sessions. I’m glad that finally, so many years since I first began, I have a well trod path to walk journey and the joy of helping them embrace their unique identity in Jesus Christ and step courageously into their calling.