Living From the Inside Out

I am 58 today.  In the last decade God’s gift to me has come by way of  regular house cleaning He is doing within, answering my prayer: “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” A humbling joy- filled peace is steadily replacing the cracks and corners where pride, anxiety, and fear once reigned. He has been at it again in this week, dealing with an aspect of my nature that can sneak in and cloud my heart. I am a people pleaser.   As such I can worry too much what others think.  I am breaking free of this tendency but there are times when I still need a stiff scrub brush.  I am not talking about casting off an unselfish life that prioritizes the needs of others.  I am referring to a consuming need to be approved by others resulting in a pressure to perform, that can mandate my decisions. It’s been a unique week.  But then what should I expect after writing about “seeing opportunity in trouble” in the previous blog.  I had an unsettled sense that I should not go to work last Friday, knowing that my oldest daughter was struggling – really struggling- with “hyperemesis gravidarum”, the medical term for relentless vomiting.  I ran up to her home, fed Josiah and Kate breakfast and carted them off to their aunt Stevi’s house before heading to work however, leaving Erin hooked to an IV and medicine pump alone at home. As I headed to work, my emotions were torn.  I wanted to be home with my daughter – a...

Seeing Opportunity in Trouble

Psalm 51 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.(verse 6) Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.(verse 10) David knew difficulty.  The foundation of his fame and faith is traceable to a period of severe trial during which time he learned to know God as his internal compass. He faced the dangers of war and carried the responsibilities of leading a nation. He knew the pain of committing grave mistakes.  He faced many giants during his life time. The giants in our lives are opportunities as well for us to grow virtue – a clean heart, and its counterpart courage –  a steadfast spirit. If plans just went along as we envisioned and desired, if we never got sick or injured, if people never let us down, if the economy never stumbled and money were plentiful, if cars never crashed and people never sinned, if others were understanding and my kids never make mistakes, if my husband never faltered and my church never blundered,  if temptation were not present and my kids always obeyed, if I could control their lives and keep them from all harm, then perhaps courage would not be necessary. But life is unpredictable in this fallen world as we live out life along side unpredictable people.  How I respond –  when sudden difficulty arises, when the pressures of life feel unbearable and I find myself at the end of the rope, when the challenges before me appear insurmountable –  reveals my internal compass.  Difficult...

Core Strength

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith aretē…..2 Peter 1:5 Aretē, the Greek word for goodness or virtue, is a rare word found only three times in the New Testament. Aretē refers to something YOU ARE before it is something that YOU DO. Aretē is what causes you to do good for absolutely no reason except that God is good and He resides in you: not because you are asked to, or because you will get something for it, or because it will bring you accolades. Aretē is about an inner strength that wells up from within, a moral excellence that results from the miracle of Christ in you. Chrēstotēs on the other hand is about doing good – about kindness expressed in action.  This type of goodness tends to be more attractive because we can see it and we can manage it. Doing good somehow feels more urgent and necessary than seeking deep within us the One who is good.   My daughter, Alisa, was a collegiate swimmer (Go Texas Longhorns!) and much of her training as a 400IM swimmer had to do with developing her core strength. No matter how perfect her arm strokes were or how well she kicked her legs, when her core strength gave out as it sometimes did at the end of a grueling race, her swimming would fall apart.  To do well in a race, she had to be strong from the inside out because the quality of her strokes depended upon the strength of her core.   No amount of effort in the end of a...

Be the Person You Ought to Be.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15 -17 We all have enough time each day to do God’s will.  So what causes our plates to overflow with too many things to do and not enough time to do them? Either we have things on our plates that should be removed or we are in the habit of allowing trivial things get our attention and focus. Trivial things are powerful attention grabbers, enticing us and capturing our time.  They entice perhaps because they require little of us – they are easy –  yet they  fill up our days with a false sense of busyness.  Each day we are given 86,400 seconds of time.  How many of those seconds are spent carelessly without thought of the gift they are intended to be? James Matthew Barrie said that “the life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another.”   How horrifying is the thought of someday having to look back and see the gap between what God intended for me and what I actually lived out.   Thankfully, God’s will is not some mysterious confusing concept that we have to grope for.   Rather it happens in the daily ordinary stuff of life as we do what we ought to do one day at a time.  And we discern “what we ought to do” when we yield our minds to Jesus each day...