Tag Archives: Do

Inside-Out


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

20, er….21


I just realized that I hit my 20 21-year sobriety date a few months ago.  21 years!  It’s hard to believe.  My counselor, Jeff, would have even a harder time believing it.  He told me at my one-year anniversary that he didn’t think i would ever make it to one year.

I got into drugs during my Freshman year in high school, got busted during the summer following my Sophomore year and went to drug rehab for 30 days in the hospital.  As far as I know, I was the only one of my peers who made it out.  I know that at least one is dead, but I didn’t keep up with the rest.

I’ve thought for some time that the reason why I made it when so many didn’t was because I never saw myself as a drug user.  I always thought I was a person who used drugs, but I didn’t believe I was a “druggie.”  Because of the training I received from my mom, I knew I was better than the way I was acting.  That was key. My WHO was greater than my DO.

I hope this is a word of encouragement to all you parents out there.  Make sure that your kids know exactly who they are and who they are not.  Their behaviors may deviate for a time, but they will eventually align with how they see themselves.

* This article was originally named, “20,” but my wife pointed out to me that I have poor math skills.  I actually hit 20 years LAST year!  Kinda anti-climactic now.

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Filed under christianity, Identity, Spiritual Growth, Spirituality

He Gives Good Things


Ever made a deal with God?  “God, if you’ll just do this, I promise…”  I’ve done it, but I think it shows our lack of understanding about our relationship with Him.

It’s not that God won’t take you up on your promise.  He has plenty of times with plenty of people.  But He doesn’t grant the prayer because of what we agree to do or not do.  He grants the prayer, because of who we are in Him.  As sons and daughters of God, we are recipients of our Daddy’s grace and favor.  He gives us good things, because He loves us.

When He grants a request that’s part of a promise, He’s not doing it because of the promise.  What could we ever do or not do that would make God’s day easier?  Nothing.  His will is sovereign.  It’s gonna happen whether we participate or not.

He grants the request, because He was going to grant it anyway.  We just sweetened the deal for Him.  We bargained with God to get Him to do something He was going to do anyway.

Instead of playing “Let’s Make a Deal,” try asking God to do things in your life because of WHO you are (not WHAT you do).

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Filed under christianity, God's Will, grace, love, Religion, Spiritual Growth, Spirituality, unconditional love