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« Critical Leadership Questions | Main | Proving God »

Dig Deep

Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:47-49 (KJV)

There is always the obvious and the obscure; the point that everybody sees versus the point that few people see; the conspicuous over against hidden.  It is the easy way as opposed to the difficult path; the quick versus the long and arduous.  Some meals can be done in a microwave;  others have to be cooked for hours in a crockpot.  Some lessons can be learned before noon; others take a semester to grasp.  Some books can be flipped through requiring only a few cursory glances to comprehend; other books must be pored over with agonizing effort and digested slowly, and even then you’re not sure if you totally understand everything the author is trying to say.  Some projects can be wrapped up overnight; others (like road construction) can consume five years or more.

The parable of the two builders and two houses cannot be understood by merely looking at the purpose and intent.  The floor plans and elevation drawings were no doubt very similar.  The building materials were not in question.  The time of construction, the skill of the builders, and the location of the structures may have been virtually identical.  We can go on citing the similarities between the two houses, and yet there are two very different outcomes.  The gale-force wind, the driving rain and the rising tide had little or no impact on the first house, while the storms left the second house in disastrous ruins.  The obvious answer between the two houses had everything to do with the foundation.  The one on the rock stood still; the house built on the sand collapsed.  We all understand that much.

But the less obvious key to the difference is found in verse forty-eight:  the first builder took the time and put forth the effort to dig deep. 

The second man took the short cut and decided that all that digging was a waste.  We are not told all the details, but I venture to guess that the second man built his house in record time.  He was probably finishing up the latch on the front door, or drawing the paint brush across that last piece of trim when he looked out and saw that the first builder was just lining up the rafters and nailing them into place.  He probably smirked, shook his head, and remarked to his wife, “Honey, poor Levi hasn’t even got his roof done yet!” 

But, from this parable of Jesus, the question that needs to be asked, the question that begs to be explored is this:  How deep are you willing to dig?  The integrity of your house is a function of the depth of your digging.  You can live cheap or you can dig deep!  You can race to the finish line and lose or you can laboriously, agonizingly, painstakingly do the job right and win in the end. 

Let’s cut to the chase.  We’re not talking about literal houses.  We’re talking about people…about the soul…about the real, authentic you.  You and I are complex creatures.  David said we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  The writer to the Hebrews said “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.

You are more than muscle and blood, skin and bones.  You are more than a homo sapien who walks upright, breathes, eats, sleeps, wears clothes and works for a living.  Inside of you lives a dynamic personality with motivations, desires, loves, affections, drives, beliefs and intentions.  God has a vested interest in this inner person.

“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:13. 

That simply means that God has x-ray vision.  He sees all that is hidden from view.  That’s why there is a divine invention called repentance.  Repentance represents the invasive process of digging.  Shallow, incomplete repentance gives the appearance of godliness and sacrifice, but in reality, it is only an exercise in self-deception.  Shallow repentance stops short of real pain and embarrassment.  Deep repentance drives through the pain and risks embarrassment because a real relationship with God is worth any amount of pain and discomfort it causes. 

SR = Shallow Repentance

DR = Deep Repentance


  • SR: I am sorry only for what I DO.
  • DR: I am sorry also for what I AM.
  • SR: I confess after I have sinned.
  • DR: I am continually repentant because of my sin.
  • SR: I am sorry that I offended you.
  • DR: I am sorrowful that my sinful heart is so offensive.
  • SR: I am sorry because I got found out.
  • DR: I am thankful God brought this to my attention
  • SR: I focus on my behavior and desire moral reformation
  • DR: I focus on my disposition and desire spiritual transformation
  • SR: I can’t believe I am like that. Let’s not talk about it anymore.
  • DR: I can believe I am like that. We need to talk more about it.
  • SR: I have an explanation.
  • DR: I am sick of my explanations.
  • SR: I want quick resolution so God will get off my back.
  • DR: I want deeper insight, so God I need you to hang in there with me.
  • SR: I repent by trying to do it right the next time.
  • DR: I repent that I don’t have it right and trust Christ to be my righteousness
  • SR: I am sorry for my sin because the consequences it’s brought
  • DR: I am sorry for my sin because it’s offended God and violated the humanity of myself and others.
  • SR: I am sorry for my sin and must personally atone for it.
  • DR: I am sorry for my sin and know that only Jesus can atone for it.
  • SR: I will repent tomorrow.
  • DR: I will repent right now.  (Adapted from an unknown source.) 

Psalm 51:6-7 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

And so the quest, the goal, the mission that each of us has is to get to that place of the inward parts, to keep digging until we reach the solid rock of truth.  If you think that is an easy task, you’re crazy.  Self-evaluation, self-analysis, introspection is the most difficult challenges any of us will ever face.  If you ask me what is wrong with you, I can tell you in a few short minutes.  But, if you ask me what is wrong with me, I have no clue.  And, even if I could identify something in me that needs to be fixed, I would sooner have a tooth pulled than deal with it. 

Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison.  What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.  So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.  But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!  I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it.  I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.  My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.  It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God’s commands,  but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.  I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? Romans 7:15-24 (MSG) 

In January of 2016, I was in Deridder, LA and baptized my granddaughter.  Before I baptized her, I told her the story of the priest who put his hand on the head of the sacrifice, thus transferring the sins of the person to the lamb.  The lamb was then sacrificed and the sins were erased.  I looked up the story again when I got home, but I was amazed once again at the thorough way that the lamb was sacrificed.

Leviticus 3:6-11
 And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering unto the LORD be of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish.  If he offer a lamb for his offering, then shall he offer it before the LORD.  And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof round about upon the altar.  And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat thereof, and the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,   And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.   And the priest shall burn it upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire unto the LORD.  

You couldn’t have a weak stomach and go through that process.  It was brutal.  It was bloody.  It was a complete carving up of the animal.  The lamb was so thoroughly slain that there was no chance it would come back to life. 

You have heard it said when an uncomfortable subject comes up, “I’m not going there.”  I’m sorry, but you have to “go there” if you have a true repentance experience.

The Art of Digging a Hole

  • What is the purpose of hole?  (To get to   the foundation rock; otherwise you will be destroyed)
  • Where are you going to dig?  (Your relationships, your loves, your habits, your weaknesses)
  • How dirty are you willing to get?  (No such thing as a nice repentance.  It is going to hurt)
  • Digging up boulders.  (Offenses, attitudes, hurts, questions about God)
  • Digging through roots.  (Bitterness, shame, inadequacies, loss)
  • Digging through clay.  (Habits, addictions, failures, disappointments)
  • Be careful of cave ins.  (Loss of identity, chaos, setbacks, sabotage)
  • Discard the loose dirt.  (Your dirt is preventing a solid foundation stone from being laid.)

Psalm 77:1-6  I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.  In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.  I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.  Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.  I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.  I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

Psalm 139:23-24  Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

When is your mission over?

  • You are not through digging just because you get tired.
  • You are not through digging just because you hit boulder too big for you to handle.
  • You are not through digging just because you run out of time.
  • You are not through digging just because you have run out of inspiration.
  • You are only through digging when you have reached the foundation rock!

1 Corinthians 3:10-13 (KJV)  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

The foundation is Jesus!  When you get to the place where the only thing that matters is Jesus Christ, you will have your foundation. 

The storms are coming.

I had a sister whom I never knew.  Her name was Marian.  She was the firstborn of my parents and she died of diphtheria when she was ten months old.  I cannot imagine losing a ten-month old baby.  My parents, however, not only survived the tragedy, they flourished.  They went on to plant a church in Indianapolis and then pastor the church in Jackson, Michigan.  (Here, I also tell about other families in the church who have gone through major storms and yet survived.)  The key is that they had dug down to the foundation rock! 

Dig deep.  Dig deep.  Dig deep. 

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