Now, for the first time, Inside Out and its companion study guide are conveniently packaged together, giving you two excellent resources at a great value.
Spiritual growth involves change--becoming more like Christ and less like our old selves. That's what Inside Out is all about. If you want a more vital union with God, a richer relationship with others, and a deeper sense of personal wholeness, let Dr. Larry Crabb help you look inside yourself. You'll discover how God works real, liberating change when you live from the inside out.
Inside Out Study Guide
Designed for individual or small-group use, this study guide will challenge and motivate you to apply the principles in Inside Out to your life, giving real change an opportunity to grow.
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Edition description:||Study Guide|
|Product dimensions:||4.24(w) x 6.98(h) x 0.68(d)|
Read an Excerpt
INSIDE OUT & STUDY GUIDE
By LARRY CRABB
NAVPRESSCopyright © 2001 Larry Crabb
All right reserved.
Chapter OneReal Change Requires an Inside Look
Although this book is written to anyone who wants to better understand how we can really change, certain groups of people come to mind as I write. First, those who are trying hard to do what the Bible commands but feel frustrated. You are doing all you know to do-not perfectly of course, but sincerely. And yet things just aren't right inside, and you know it. You feel more pressure than joy. God isn't changing either you or things in your world the way you ask Him to. You wonder if He listens to your prayers or if He simply doesn't care about your struggles.
Worries over money or children, hurt caused by a friend or spouse, fears about whether you can handle whatever problems may arise tomorrow-all keep you awake at night. Tears are for the night, the Bible says, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). But the sunrise brings no relief for you, just more pressure. You don't know what else to do to find those green pastures and still waters. You plug along but with a weight on your back that keeps you feeling heavy.
My message to you is, There's hope! More effort isn't the answer. Continued obedience is required, of course, but looking for more hoops to jump through before God becomes real is not the way. Freedom and quiet rest can replace the pressure and churning in your soul. But finding peace requires an honest look into your life at some hard things. Jumping through more hoops is sometimes easier than facing troubling things inside. But an inside look can lead to real change, change from the inside out.
Second, I think of those who are doing quite well and feel content and happy most of the time. You really do love the Lord, you have proved Him real and faithful in hard times. Time in His Word is often a rich experience. Prayer is far more than mere ritual in your life. You like your church, you're blessed with good friends and family, you feel satisfied with your work, and you enjoy your leisure time. Your life is not without tensions, but God gives you the strength to press on with confidence. By the grace of God, life is good.
My message to you is, There's more! Gratefully enjoy the blessings of God and live out the maturity He has developed in you-but don't settle for it. Don't let your legitimate comfort become complacency or your joy slip into smugness. There is more to knowing God than the most mature Christian has ever envisioned. Be willing to have the steadiness in your life disrupted if knowing God better requires it. The good fight is fought with a sweaty passion that develops only when the evenness of our soul is upset. God wants to change good disciples into powerfully loving servants who leave an indelible mark on people they touch. But His method of changing us, from the inside out, can be disturbing. Be open to new levels of struggle.
Third, I think of those who are hardened. Nothing has really gone your way. The promises of God you were taught don't seem to materialize, at least not in your life. Perhaps you've always felt different, never a good fit like your brother or sister. Youth leaders never considered your name for "boy or girl of the year" in your church. Your parents never held you up as the model for other kids to follow.
Teenage years (perhaps you're still there) were rough. You indulged in some drinking and drugs (more than your parents ever suspected) and sexual activity beyond moral boundaries. You made promises to God to reform that lasted a week after youth camp ended. You feel discouraged, hard. You attend church. Perhaps others are convinced that you're a nice normal Christian; you know how to play the game. But inside you're angry, cold, scared. Why "try God" again? It never worked before.
My message to you is, There's life! Pat answers won't do and you know it. Commitments to read your Bible every day and keep a spiritual journal may be good medicine for a lesser disease, but it won't work for you. Promises to make better friends, to spend more time in church, are not the paths to life. You've tried it. Maybe there is no life for you, just continued pretending with the occasional relief of "worldly pleasures."
If you're willing to be honest about some private matters that people rarely look at, to face some things about your life beneath the indifference and hardness, then talk about an abundant life can become more than irritating rhetoric. Meaning, relationships that stir you to joy and a sense of quiet wholeness as you face life are all available. But not easily and not overnight. The route is uphill, but you can change from the inside out.
Fourth, I think of those who are in positions of Christian leadership. The pressure to model for others what maturity looks like can lead to breakdown or pride. You realize that others think of you as better than you know yourself to be. It's hard to maintain an image. But the pressure to encourage people by displaying what God can do in a life surrendered to Him makes you hide a few of the real struggles.
Some of you are rightly grateful for the maturity that years of commitment have yielded. But you know the line between gratitude and pride is thin. Some of you are tired, close to burnout, weary of the loneliness that comes from battling with temptations you feel free to share with no one.
My message to you is, There's love! The church needs leaders who can involve themselves in other people's lives with the joy of integrity and transparency, confident that their love is unfeigned, willing to be deeply known for the sake of helping others. That awful distance from people that the aura of leadership creates can be bridged. The struggles that sometimes tear at your soul can be dealt with. Vulnerability, humility, intimacy, power-qualities of character that the pressures of leadership often weaken-can be developed. The model of a loving servant that our Lord both illustrated and taught can be followed. But more is required than keeping your head above the water of expectations and responsibilities. A long hard look at your life, preferably with a trusted friend, may be necessary to slow down the hectic pace of a life committed to ministry and to identify those internal issues buried beneath the demands of leadership. The joys of influence are available to people who change from the inside out.
Perhaps you don't easily fit into any of these groups. But you do bear Gods image; you were built to resemble God. The message of Christianity is that a relationship with Christ is available that can reach into every part of your life and can move you toward becoming the person He saved you to be. Real change is possible!
Be patient as you read this book. Some of what I say will be unclear at points and may seem more relevant to others than to you. I urge you to read on. When we get down to the bottom line of who we are and what struggles we experience, we're all pretty much alike: We long for a life that's real and full and happy, and we all think we can make this kind of life happen.
Our Lord came to bring life. We can possess His life now and look forward to enjoying perfect life later. Between the time when He gives us life and the time when He provides all the joys His life brings, He intends to change us into people who can more deeply enjoy Him now and represent Him well to others. The surgery required to make that change is always painful. But God will settle for nothing less than deep change in our character, a radical transformation and restructuring of how we approach life. This book is about that kind of change, change that flows from the inside out.
What Does It Mean to Change?
A good friend of mine recently sat in my office thinking out loud about whatever came to mind. The topics ranged from his marriage (which had its share of disappointments), to his future plans for ministry, to the quality of his walk with the Lord. As the conversation continued his mood became increasingly thoughtful-not gloomy, but quietly and deeply reflective, the kind of mood no one ever feels in a fast-food restaurant.
My friend, I should point out, is a committed Christian, a gifted counselor, and an unusually clear thinker. His life has known a few trials, but nothing remarkably different from what most middle-aged men have experienced. His friends describe him as friendly, hardworking, loyal, and sincere. A few see his spontaneous fun-loving side. Everyone agrees he's a solid, well-adjusted Christian.
After nearly an hour of reflective rambling, his thoughtful mood shifted into a profoundly sad, almost desperate, loneliness. As though talking to no one in particular, he quietly said, "I wonder what it would be like to feel really good for just ten minutes."
His sentence struck me. Did I know what it was like to feel really good for ten minutes? A fair number of people look reasonably happy. Do they feel really good? Utterly happy with no hint of emptiness or sorrow?
Maybe the question is wrong. Perhaps Christians are supposed to ask, "Do I know what it means to be consistently obedient?" and not worry about their feelings. But then, what is Peter referring to when he speaks of inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8)?
What is a maturing Christian like on the inside? What will he feel? Will he have a consistent desire to do what's right? Or will he fight a raging battle within between urges to do wrong and commitments to do right?
Does maturity feel good? Or is there a deepened sense of loneliness and struggle? Will there be the awareness of a thoroughly changed set of motives that delights to do God's will? Or will there continue to be evidence of corruption within? Will the pursuit of holiness lead to an increase in happiness? As we grow stronger, do we feel stronger-weaker?
Some people honestly feel quite happy. Are they pretending? Should they be struggling more? When others show deep pain and overwhelming frustration, these folks can't relate to them any more than someone well fed can feel the horror of starvation. Perhaps these "happy" people's lives reflect a healthy stability and contentment that we could wish for everyone. What does it mean for these folks to press on toward higher levels of maturity?
What does it mean to change, to grow, to conform more and more to the image of Christ? What kind of change is possible, and how does it come about?
The Appearance of Maturity: Looking Good
Not long ago I spoke to a large group of Christian leaders, men and women who had distinguished themselves in both business and church circles. The setting was a large, comfortable auditorium with thickly cushioned, theater-style seats. The mood was pleasant and cordial. People looked happy. Their appropriately fashionable clothing and the social ease with which they mingled before the meeting suggested that, unlike my friend, they felt really good. There was no evidence of struggle. Things looked fine, much as they do on a Sunday morning in church, where people chat warmly in the hallways and sit attentively during the service.
Sometimes when I stand before a group of such together-looking people, I feel a bit intimidated. I study the sea of faces before me and wonder: Am I the only one who feels a nagging sense that something is badly twisted within me? Is no one else struggling with the quality of their relationships, aware that despite their best efforts the depth of their love is still pretty shallow? Does no one else feel like a failure, at least occasionally?
Perhaps I'm an obsessive perfectionist who has yet to learn how to relax, to take life as it comes, appreciating the good and accepting the bad. Maybe people healthier than I have come to depend on God in a way that permits a more balanced life with less internal confusion and struggle. Yet as I looked out on the group I was about to address, I knew some were struggling with significant trials. In any large group, including an impressive collection of respected and successful people like the group I was addressing, there are, of course, some whose lives are breaking apart under the weight of financial pressures, health problems, rebellious teens, and strained marriages.
In the front row sat a missionary friend of mine who had just completed twenty-five years of faithful service in a difficult situation. Earlier that week he'd confided in me, choking back tears as he spoke, that his marriage was full of tension and he had no idea how to move closer to his wife. His teenage sons were adjusting to life in America by listening to rock music, and he wasn't sure whether to put an end to it or to say nothing. He told me he felt like a failure, able to do missionary work but incompetent to lead his own family. I was certain he wasn't the only one in the audience struggling with hard things.
But even among the strugglers there were undoubtedly a fair number who were sailing through their trials with an evenness and stability I could only envy. I've been with people when they heard news that would have shattered me. And their response was to thank God for His faithfulness, pray for strength, and press on.
Was that real? Do people like that not feel the crushing weight of bad news as a heaviness that sometimes robs them of a desire to go on? Do they not wrestle with their own ability to handle tough decisions? Are they as calm and confident as they appear?
Certainly there are those whose problems get the best of them, people who seek escape in drinking or drugs or spending or sex, others whose internal tensions find expression in depressed feelings or anxiety attacks or thoughts of suicide. These folks, most agree, need special help to get back on track. But the other people, those who even on close inspection seem to be doing well, are the ones who disturb me. They look so together. Have they really found a way to live that keeps them calm and happy and motivated to do right? Some, I think, have.
But I wonder if most people who look good all the time are really out of touch with themselves, unaware of how they impact others, and covering up deep pain with the pleasures of activity and achievement. Perhaps much of what passes for spiritual maturity is maintained by a rigid denial of all that is happening beneath the surface of their lives. Maybe in this life it's impossible to be as together as some people look.
The Way Things Are Beneath the Appearance
No matter how together we may appear, even to ourselves, buried deep within our heart is the vague sense that something is wrong, dreadfully wrong.
Excerpted from INSIDE OUT & STUDY GUIDE by LARRY CRABB Copyright © 2001 by Larry Crabb. Excerpted by permission.
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