Sunday, December 30, 2007


As I look back on my life, I can search and search and search but I cannot find a time when God was negative with me, or short with me, or angry with me, or impatient with me... or when He focused on my sins. I have been that way with myself (unnecessarily) and others have been that way with me, and I have been that way with others, but yet in this New Covenant in which God has taken our sins away from us, there are no sins for Him to focus on! And the wonderful thing is that even when our behavior doesn't match the state of righteousness that we truly do stand in, I just no longer see God as someone who gets us back on track by beating us up or being angry or impatient with us.

And so I believe that renewing our minds daily in the things of our Lord Jesus Christ has to do with focusing on the truth of who God is rather than focusing on our sins and shortcomings. You know, we're always going to have 20 million things that are "wrong" with us that we could focus on, but yet there is a truth about God and there is also a truth about us that we can focus on that is much more restful and peaceful and oh so much more productive!

In my last post, I used the example of my daughter. When she gets off task in her morning routine (which happens every single morning... it really does... because she really likes taking her time), instead of focusing on how "poorly" she's performing (how late we're going to be if she keeps getting off track), I try to motivate her by looking ahead, and with smiles and with a pleasant voice, etc. And so much more than that, the underlying foundation that we're trying to build in the lives of our kids is that they are dearly loved and accepted at all times, with no exceptions, no matter what.

Although we want them to "perform well" (to do the things we teach them and ask of them), the underlying focus isn't on their performance, but rather on who they are apart from what they do or don't do. Really, when my kids are all grown up, I would much rather have them understand that they are loved and accepted no matter what, than I would have them performing all the things of life perfectly. And here's the wonderful thing. I believe that if they are built up solidly in who they are apart from their performance, their performance will more and more match who they are. What they "do" will simply be natural, and not contrived or forced.

I'm hoping that I can teach them more and more through my actions as well as through my words that God is patient, kind, etc. He is love. They are new creations in Him who don't have to perform for Him, but yet who have good works in front of them that God prepared beforehand that they should walk in them.

In my early walk with Christ, and even leading up to the past few years, I was very introspective and I thought of it as a very positive thing. But yet I've found that it was one of the most unproductive, guilt-producing things that a Christian can do! Well, at least the way that I was going about it. I was constantly looking "within" and measuring my Christian performance. I was weighing my motivations. I was constantly trying to figure out if I was in God's will or not. I was always trying to figure out what it was that I was supposed to be doing for God.

Like I said, if you want a life of guilt and fruitlessness, just focus on yourself. :) But I have slowly changed my introspection to "Godtrospection." I have been joined with God and He is now my life. The Bible says in Hebrews that He has perfected forever His children. The Bible says we have become the righteousness of God in Christ. God has done all the work Himself to make this happen, and so our daily perspective can now be what He has done for us, what He has made us to be. It can be a focus on the truth of who God is, and who we truly are in Him, rather than being a fruitless pondering about how far short we are falling in our actions.

As we rest in Him, and in the truth of who we truly are in Him (rather than focusing on how good or bad our behavior has been), we can look "inside" and begin seeing the truth of our righteousness, our holiness, our unbreakable union with the living God. We can "see" all of this even if we don't really "see" it, if you know what I mean. It's the plain and simple truth that God has made us holy and righteous, and even if we don't always see it in our behavior or in our emotions, we can "see" it by faith. We can see the truth by trusting in what God says. I'm convinced that if we keep preaching and teaching (and listening to) self-improvement sermons, and if we keep focusing on sin, we'll never truly enjoy the abundant life that we have right now in Jesus Christ!


  1. Hi Joel;

    It is so nice to walk down the hall to visit you!

    I am a bit concerned as I have over 20 million things wrong with me! LOL

    There is so much truth packed into this article that I will focus primarily on two…

    Your concept of “Godtrospection” is abundantly accurate…sometimes though it may take time for it to emerge from our introspection that so early on seems to be an issue in living the Jesus life…

    The other part of your article that gripped me the most was the self-improvement part, so many are so concerned with self-improvement that they are not open to transformation by God….When we spend time in the Scriptures God performs “spiritual surgery” upon us, often though people can’t see the forest for the trees….when we study God’s Word, meditating upon it we will be transformed…. Self-improvement so often works in concert with “keeping score” which bogs us down in being introspective, of course there are times to be introspective but many live just there….

    Happy New Year and thanks for posting your thoughts….by the way this article goes well with one I posted yesterday LOL

  2. Hi LS... thanks for the visit! And don't worry. I actually have 21 million things wrong with me, so you're doing ok. :)

    Yep what I'm saying here is that I've found that when I change my thought-life from a focus on how well I am or am not performing in my Christian life to a focus on God and my union with Him, then I worry less and less about my motivations and performance, and yet I've found that my motivations and performance become more pure. And you are so right. None of us have "arrived" by any means and it takes a lot of time to change from our focus on "self" to a focus on Christ-in-us.

    My early Christian walk was definitely one of constantly weighing my motivations and actions, and it only led to more and more of a discontent and more and more of a fear that I would never make it in my Christian life! Since that time, I've found that when I stop constantly judging my intentions and instead focus on learning who God is and who I am (my identity in Him), then my motivations eventually become more and more pure.

    God didn't send Jesus to "improve" my life. Jesus came to give me new life - abundant life! The life I live in the body - I don't live - but rather it's a life that's lived by faith in Jesus. So rather than focusing on what I can and can't do, or how well I am or am not doing it, I want to focus on Christ-joined-with-me.

    One last thing... and I'm open to thoughts from anyone and everyone on this... when the Bible says to examine yourself to see if you are of the faith, I see this not as a call to examine whether or not you're living right, but rather whether or not you're trusting God (faith), and the finished work of Christ on the cross (the broken body and shed blood). In other words, are you focused on and trusting in your own performance, or the perfect performance of Jesus.

    Any thoughts?

  3. This was good for me. I think of earlier in my married life and how impatient I got with my oldest even when he was a toddler. I never abused him, but my anger showed...all gone though and forgiven. Pray for me with my kids please. I believe I am a better daddy now, but it is only the truths of the gracewalk that is helping me. Always remembering what a loving Father we have helps me to be more patient with my children. You have ministered to me. I had anxiety issues when I was younger which caused my parents to explode at times, but the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. The Lord has really had to reverse my mindset, especially having been in the Marines as well. The Lord is so good to forgive me of so much and to give me such a new blessed future and hope.

  4. Yep my mindset has been in reverse for quite some time. :) There's a lot of 'unlearning' to do when a person has been through various negative experiences, whether it's in a church setting or in a marriage/family setting or in the Marines or in various other ways, and it takes time to reprogram the mind with the grace of God and His unconditional love.

    I'll certainly pray along with you in regards to your interaction with your children. I'm right there with you, as far as having grown in my role as a daddy and yet always having lots of room for growth remaining. :)

  5. Thank you for reminding me of the work that is being done in me. I had a rough day and a little (maybe a ton) hard on myself. Falling short in my own eyes. Missing the mark on two many things to count. I think I have your 20-21 million beat just today.

    Godtrospective is just the view I needed.

  6. Angela,

    I see your 20-21 million + and I raise you a million. :) I've definitely had those days. God's perspective of us, or being "Godtrospective" in our thinking, which is very contrary to the ways we seem to be programmed to think of ourselves, is something we all need to be reminded of often.