Toothpaste, Popcorn, and Our Only Hope for True Change

Erik Cooper —  October 9, 2013 — 1 Comment

Dad, Austin didn’t brush his teeth!

Older sisters get so much satisfaction from throwing their little brothers under the allegorical bus (and depending on the day, they may even harbor fantasies of real ones).

But she was right. My son’s date with Crest Plus for Kids had lasted all of about 3 seconds – not even long enough to vanquish the leftover smell of cupcakes on his breath, let alone promote good oral hygiene. He was trying to fulfill his obligation to my bedtime brushing request with the least amount of effort possible, he had no real interest in taking care of his teeth.

It was time for a Ward Clever moment.

“Son, if you don’t brush your teeth and your teeth rot out, who is that going to affect?”

He wasn’t getting it, so I tried again.

“If you don’t take care of your teeth, will mine rot out or will yours?”

“Mine, he finally relented.”

“So should you brush your teeth because I told you to, or because it’s the best thing for your health and your future? Am I telling you this because it impacts me, or because I might actually care about you?”

Logic and 8 year olds don’t always go well together.

When brushing his teeth was simply an external requirement laid down by dad, obeying was a chore to be avoided. But as he learns to own it internally, his perspective (and ultimately his actions) begin to change. Not to fulfill my external request, but because he actually wants to. From the inside out.

This is the kind of change our Heavenly Father wants for us, too.


My wife and I recently had the opportunity to hear Priscilla Shirer speak at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. To be honest, I don’t remember much of what she said, except for a powerful little analogy she shared about everyone’s favorite movie snack – popcorn.

Do you know what makes popcorn pop? Neither did I.

Inside every kernel of corn is a minuscule amount of water. As these water molecules are heated up they turn to vapor, rapidly expanding to 40-50 times their normal volume. The outer shell of the corn kernel eventually succumbs to this rapidly increasing internal pressure, and BANG! A completely new (and delicious) creation is born!

This is exactly how God changes us, too. The Gospel “heats up” our internal molecules releasing the power of the risen Christ from our broken, surrendered shell. Not straining from the outside-in, but exploding from the inside-out.

As we strive to become “better” Christians, let’s never forget that Gospel transformation is a supernatural, internal work. It’s not about striving to meet a standard, but allowing a new standard to erupt from deep inside a new you…

…in all of its fluffy, buttery goodness.

One response to Toothpaste, Popcorn, and Our Only Hope for True Change

  1. Lincoln Thompson October 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Good one Erik. Hits the nail on the head. Plan on sharing this one ( uh, now that I know how ) #FBsimpleton

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