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Perfection

Titus 3:4-7 – “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

I saw a sign today for a church body that said “No perfect people allowed”. I have mixed feelings on this. 

On one hand, I’m thinking “that’s fabulous!”  Sometimes I think non-church goers make excuses in their head for not going to church because they have the perception that churches are filled with people who think they are better than everyone else. Well, not mine! We all know we are sinners saved by grace. We don’t go to church because we think we are perfect. We go because we know we aren’t! We know that the only way we are going to make it through until the next meeting is by soaking up what we can with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We know that personal Bible study is important, but worshipping as a group is important as well. We are continually learning that our righteousness is not in ourself but in Christ alone. 

And then on the other hand, I think of Jesus. He WAS the perfect person. He was all God and all man. He is the only “perfect” person allowed in a body of believers. 

So, the statement “No perfect people allowed” is somewhat correct in that no person physically walking the earth today can or will be perfect. 

I think perfection is a misconceived idea. There is no way that we will ever be complete while walking the sin-filled soil of this earth. (By the way, you do know that perfect means “complete”, right?) Jesus is the only hope we have for the possibility of achieving this goal. It is only a life in Him that opens that door. And even then, that door is in Heaven. So enjoy your imperfect life. With Christ, soon all things will be made complete. 

The Ring Leader Complex

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

God has been vigorously trying to teach me a lesson lately. And just like a stubborn old mule, it has taken many trials in an attempt get this lesson through this thick head of mine. I’m not sure I have it firmly established in my being yet, but I’m getting there. 

I’m trying to learn to wait and be flexible – more of the whole flexible thing. You see, I perceive myself as the ring leader of the circus. I feel that it is my responsibility to keep the animals and their shows in order and all doing what they are supposed to do. But sometimes I have a hiccup in the show. Sometimes tragedy strikes and I have to modify my plans. I don’t do so well when that happens. Monkey wrenches have not been my forte as of late. And God is doing His best to remind me that it isn’t really my circus and they really aren’t my monkeys.  

Every week while I am planning out my meals for next week and preparing my grocery list (this is a well oiled machine, mind you!), I am contemplating what sort of things I need to plan for. And when something pops up unexpectedly, that’s when the crazy lady comes out pulling hair and acting the fool. It is not pretty. But God knows my weaknesses and He is doing His best to modify this very unladylike behavior. 

For example, yesterday held an unexpected soccer practice, dance class, private soccer lesson, school awards and work. Oh, and let’s not forget about the monsoon! So, instead of going into freak out mode, I decided to let God take care of it and asked (multiple times) for grace and mercy to accept whatever He had in mind. Know what? All things worked together super smooth and life didn’t crumble because of the monkey wrenches. 

Yes, it was a victory that I am celebrating in Him. I know that if I had let the crazy lady out, it could have been ugly and tense. But she stayed away and the monsoon came and we had a peaceful dinner and I went to bed cheery. 

Sometimes we don’t want to admit that we don’t have it all together. We have this insane idea that we have to have it all together all the time. We aren’t allowed to say we don’t know what to do or that we don’t know how to handle this. These are ludicrous limitations we place on our self. Sometimes you need to throw up your hands and say, “That’s it! I have no clue how to handle this!” And guess what? That’s ok. You don’t have to have it together all the time. You don’t have to know how to handle every single situation. You just need to know when to turn it over to God – and that would be when you open your eyes in the morning. Give it to Him first – and I mean REALLY give it to Him, not just part but the whole entire thing!

I know I’m not the only one learning this lesson. I know I’m not the only one suffering from “The Ring Leader Complex”. But by the grace of God, we will learn it together. 

13

1 Peter 3:4b – “…even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

Today is my son’s 13th birthday. I officially have a teenager in the house today.

When I think about him and his character, this portion of this verse comes to mind. Now, I know that the verse is describing an attribute that a woman should obtain, but why can’t a man strive for that attribute as well? If it is “of great price” in the eyes of God, it must be important.

My son is very quiet. He doesn’t have a lot to say, most of the time. Now, get him to talking about soccer or sports cars and he will talk your ear off. But generally, he is quiet. He has a gentle spirit about him. He doesn’t get too upset very often. It takes quite a bit, usually, to make him mad. He has a very caring heart. He is very concerned about the people around him. He pays attention to their needs.

I think if there were one thing that I could learn from my son, it would be to be more easy going. He just rolls with the punches. He likes to know what is going on and when it will happen, but a monkey wrench doesn’t really phase him.

I am so blessed to have him in my life. I can’t imagine my life without him. And I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in his life. Well, actually, I can wait because I don’t know that I’m quite ready to see him grow up to a man just yet.

Birthdays are a great time to remember the past. I like to remember him as a little guy who would line his cars up in the hallway end to end and see how far they would stretch. Or the toddler who would beg me to come and build him a new Thomas the train track every day. Or the little boy out on the soccer field jumping because he just scored a goal. So many sweet memories.

So today, princess, let me encourage you to seek out and appreciate the attributes that God has placed in the hearts of your little people (or not so little people). And remember, God has given them to you for just a short time. Treasure every second.

Hospitality

Hebrews 13:1,2 – “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
1 Peter 4:9 – “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”

We have family staying with us for a while. The holidays usually bring family and friends to visit….or we are the ones visiting. It is so fun to have people you love and don’t see very often under your roof. It is more than a casual get together. It is a down in the trenches good time. You know, the kind where you ask your nephew to gather the trash in the bathroom because tomorrow is garbage day and he acts as if the world has ended because it is “the grossest job in the world!” Good times.

Sometimes I fear that hospitality is a lost art. I know I’m not as good at it as I should be. But back in Bible times, it was nothing at all to have random people come and stay with you. And they provided everything for every need. Totally different mindset than today. I cannot imagine having a stranger stay under my roof, but they did it without hesitation. And they were blessed by it. Their level of hospitality supersedes ours by a million. It may have been difficult on them but they were expected to be the “hostess with the mostest”.

Now, obviously not everyone was good at hospitality – otherwise the verse in 1 Peter would not have been necessary. Good old Webster’s 1828 defines hospitality as “The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality.” This definition reminds me that I need to be hospitable and not be a hotel. You go to a hotel and you pay a fee and you get the level of service that you pay for. You stay in an inexpensive hotel, you may get less than stellar service. You stay at a 5-star hotel, you expect the best.

Well, Jesus expects us to show His love by creating a 5-star environment in our home without the 5-star price tag. Now, how does that show His love? Just think about Him for a moment. He came to earth from Heaven in the form of a baby in a manger. Heaven. Manger. Heaven. Manger. Do you comprehend what He gave up for us? And He is asking us to give up a few days of our wonderful, perfect little life to create the best environment we can for a few people who have chosen to make their home our home. And He is asking us to do this without complaining. Because in doing so, we show His love. We show sacrifice. We show acceptance.

Hospitality should not be a chore. It should be a blessing. Yes, you will have a few more dishes to clean and a few more towels to wash. But think of all the sweet memories and opportunities to show the love of Jesus to those under your roof. Life is too short to be cranky and uncaring. It’s Christmas. Open the doors of your heart to someone. You don’t have to have them move in for a month in order to show them hospitality. Maybe you just need to send them a Christmas card or give them a plate of cookies or send them a text letting them know they are welcome to come to church on Sunday with your family. Little acts of hospitality are just as important as the big ones.

Practicing flexibility

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 – “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”

It is hard to be flexible sometimes. We have our plan and we want to stick to it. But sometimes life happens and throws a monkey wrench in all that we have laid out to do.

My son came down sick yesterday. I should have known something was terribly wrong when he only at one of the three waffles he usually has for breakfast. All of my fears of him being sick were confirmed yesterday when he didn’t play in his soccer game. He LOVES soccer. We got him home and he had a fever of 100.5. Off to bed he went with no school in his future for today.

A sick child can really mess with your plans. Oh, I know, it’s not the “persecution” and “cast down” mentioned in these verses but it is important nonetheless. These verses do encourage us to be the light through all that comes along beside us. But it is hard to be the light when your plans take an unexpected turn. It is difficult not to feel troubled and perplexed. Yet these are the times when we are supposed to show the Light even brighter. That Light shines brighter when we trust Him completely with all the things that might be bothering us.

So today, princess, if your plans go all wacky, don’t become perplexed and troubled. Just put on your big girl undies and be flexible about it. Trust that God is bigger than an illness or an unexpected delay or a car break down or traffic or whatever comes between you and your plans for today.