Category Archives: rules


My youngest son often puts his shirts on inside-out. Not a big deal. I’ve done it when I was in a rush to get somewhere. But even when I tell him he is inside-out, he doesn’t care. He’s content to go around all day with his shirt tag announcing that he can’t dress himself.

I was thinking about my son as I read Matthew 23 this morning, because Jesus also liked to turn things inside-out. In the passage, He is dealing out the “seven woes” to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, and He criticizes them for “cleaning the outside of the cup or dish” while the inside is full of nastiness. To drive home His point, He compares them to freshly painted tombs filled with dead men’s bones. They look good on the outside, but they reek of death inside.

He challenges them to clean up their insides first, because when the inside is clean, the outside will become clean, too. Jesus is saying that if they will change their character, their behavior will follow. If they change their WHO, their DO will soon match.

I’m guilty of making the same mistakes as the Pharisees sometimes. I clean up my behaviors, because I want to be seen as a godly Christian. I want people to think highly of me for the way I follow God. But the problem is that it’s difficult to keep the act going when I’m not on stage. Behind the curtains with my family and even more in private moments or times of stress, I step out of character, and I find myself leading two lives. A “hypocrite” (the Greek word for “actor” that Jesus used to label false spiritual leaders) like the Pharisees.

I’ve tried outside-in for years, and it doesn’t work. Who I am has to change first, and this means changing my heart. It’s got to happen from the inside-out.

I find this clean-up project to be exhausting, but the great news is that I don’t have to do it alone. Jesus is ready to roll-up His sleeves if I invite Him to join me. And honestly, I can’t do it without Him. Jesus is the Project Manager. He plans the work and works the plan. I’m just the assistant, and I have two main roles: invite Him onto the worksite each day and follow His directions.

Inside-out work is exceedingly slow and exceedingly difficult. It never goes as fast as I want it to, and it always requires lots of challenging situations that Jesus uses as a tool to shape my character and a test to reveal the quality of my heart. It’s a project that won’t be done until I join the Project Manager in heaven, but I’m encouraged by this Scripture:

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Maybe my son is the one who has got it right. Pay less attention to how you look on the outside and more attention to being the right person on the inside. Wear your shirt inside-out every once in awhile, and you will find that life is a lot more fun when you don’t pretend to be someone you are not.


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Filed under Attitude, Authenticity, Change, character, Christ, christianity, comfort zone, comparison, deception, discipleship, discipline, growth, heart, Jesus, modeling, obedience, performance, Religion, righteousness, rules, sanctification, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth

My Dad’s A Speeder, Officer!

My friend and his family were headed to the mountains to ski one weekend.  They were making the trip with another family from their neighborhood, and everyone was excited about getting to the slopes.  Excitement turned into anxiety, however, when my friend noticed the red, flashing lights of a police car in his rearview mirror.  The police officer pulled both vehicles over and went to my friend’s car first.

“Sir, are you aware of why I stopped you?”

“Yes, sir, officer.  I was speeding.”

From the back seat came the vociferous voice of his five-year-old daughter, “My daddy’s a speeder, Officer!  He speeds all the time.  I tell him not to but he does it anyway.  You should arrest him, Officer.”

The police officer looked down at his ticket pad and began to chuckle.  “Wait here for a minute,” he said and returned to his squad car.

While the officer was at his car, my friend’s wife tried to convince her daughter to be quiet.  Despite the possibility of a ticket, my friend told his daughter, “No, it’s okay.  I was speeding, and I shouldn’t have been.”

A few minutes later, he returned and knocked on the daughter’s window.  When her parents lowered it, the officer asked, “Young lady, is your daddy a speeder?”

“Yes he is.  He does it all the time even though I tell him not to.  You should take him to jail!”

The police officer gave my friend’s daughter a police badge sticker and told her to make sure her daddy doesn’t speed anymore.  To my friend he said, “You know, it’s been a long time since I laughed at a traffic citation stop.  You’re off the hook for this one.”

Between the two families, a daughter’s candidness saved them over $500 in fines.  I guess honesty does pay.

(S – A special thanks to Sydney Epstein for keeping her daddy honest.)

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