Being a perfectionist in the things that count

Are you a detail person?

Do you like everything just so?

Are you a person who tries to look perfect, keep a beautiful house, and be completely organized—perhaps above and beyond?

Do you get frustrated when you don’t hit your personal targets and goals?

You’re not alone!

By the way, who doesn’t like a clean, pretty home, nice hair and make-up, and being organized? Some of us only dream of it, but some—hats off to you—actually live that way.

I truly believe there’s sloppy and neat DNA. Some children are born organizers, and others are . . . “relaxed.” A man once told us about his mother-in-law, who “walked around with a cloth in her hand, wiping surfaces all day long.” He said he was afraid to move in her house. (I know his own mother keeps a spotless home, so you can imagine that this was excessive.) Others are quite comfortable not being able to walk across the floor without doing some kind of obstacle course maneuver. They move a pile of magazines to be able to sit down without batting an eye! Dust? What dust?

Everyone is a pocket perfectionist. There are things every person has to do in a certain way.

  • Think of the scientist who may not match his blazer to his shirt or tie, but this guy will never make a mistake in measurements.
  • How about the chef? The sauce is perfect. He knows just how much salt to sprinkle, how to brown the butter, how to simmer the onions so they caramelize. But, he doesn’t care if the living room has furniture or the fence gets fixed.
  • The author edits, re-edits, and she reads her sentences out loud. She asks friends for input. She wants to produce the next great masterpiece—or at least keep her readers entertained and flipping pages. She might totally overlook piling laundry and forget to iron.
  • A nurse is compassionate and efficient. She conserves movement and liberally expends her emotional energies. She works twelve-hour shifts and honestly doesn’t care if her bed gets made.

But, what about the always perfectionist? She’s the lady who has to have everything perfect all the time.

“Impossible,” you say. And, you’re right.

She’s set herself up for disappointment before she even begins. In seeking perfection, this woman is always looking at herself: her performance, her organization skills, her manicure, her make-up, her housekeeping, her decorating . . . her . . . own . . . life. She does think of others—after all, they’re the ones who see and judge all she accomplishes—but, she’s mostly thinking of her life. She’s selfish.

I used to have a magnet on my refrigerator. It said, “Self-ish or self-less?” Ouch.

Are you a perfectionist?

Do you hold yourself up to an almost impossible ideal?

Do you feel like you’re always lacking?

Moms think they need all kinds of advice, when all they need to do is follow God’s Word, the Bible, and learn from older women (Titus 2:3-5, below).

Women think they need to follow styles and look a certain way, when the Bible says, Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:3-4). The heart matters much more than clothing and accessories.

Some women compare themselves to their impressions of others. Believe me, I’ve found out that some of the women who look very put-together don’t have everything in order. And, some of the scatterbrained and seemingly unorganized ladies do. (There are a few superwomen out there. I have met a few, and I could probably count all these phenomena on one hand.)

What does God want in a woman? What are His standards?

  • She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).
  • A meek and quiet spirit (strength, self-control, and trusting God (1 Peter 3:4).
  • She’s gracious. A gracious woman retaineth honour (Proverbs 11:16a).
  • The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:11-12).
  • She takes care of her household. (Proverbs 31:15, 21, 27)
  • She dresses nicely, but her character is the most important thing. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come (Proverbs 31:22, 25).
  • She respects the Lord. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).
  • Older women are to be examples and teach younger women. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:3-5).

So, what should we strive for? Good character, a sweet attitude, wise and pleasant speech, responsibility, housekeeping, and learning from and teaching others.

A woman’s reward? Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:28, 30).

Transparency: How much of your story should you tell?

I know I appreciate a transparent person. Don’t you? A sincere testimony, someone admitting “I’ve been there” and telling his story. Empathy. Understanding.

If you follow social media, you probably have been embarrassed a time or two when someone shared too much very publicly—at least in your opinion.

How much transparency is too much?

I believe it varies from person to person and with situations, but I also believe we can find a balance.

It is good to tell our stories.

It helps others when we share how we’ve overcome.

It’s encouraging when we can truly empathize with people going through the same kind of trial we’ve been through.

But, there can be some issues with transparency:

  1. Pride—building ourselves up as the superhero who overcame. The truth is, we all need the Lord’s help.
  2. Hurting others when we tell our story—We might reference someone who did us wrong and identify the person, trouble in our family, financial information, or something else. Is that person still living? Has this wrong been reported and justice been served? Or, will telling the story hurt someone’s feelings? Are you betraying a confidence? If abuse is part of the story, consider other people in the families and other victims.
  3. Forgetting to edify—Some people tell all the sad parts of their story, set themselves on a pedestal as an overcomer, and forget to help others. Christians should build up and help others. Your transparency should have that goal in mind.
  4. Couching gossip as a “prayer request”—While it is great to share prayer requests, we need to be careful not to air someone else’s dirty laundry in the guise of sharing a prayer request.

Be real. Let people feel your humanity. Tell how you learned a particular lesson, and give the glory to the Lord.

Do you need wisdom? (All the time.) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5). Pray for wisdom about sharing (yes or no) and for how to share, if God gives you a yes answer.

Think and pray before you speak—even in casual conversation.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

God bless you as you bless others.

So, where’s Hosea?

Okay, I admit it.

Sometimes I have a hard time finding a book of the Bible. Take Hosea, for example. Old Testament for sure, but is it one of those before Psalms or after the Major Prophets? I have to think about it every single time—and go back over my memorized books list until I find it. Amos is another one that trips me up. And, which book comes before Nehemiah? Where’s Nahum?

Familiarity with the Bible comes with use, but it also helps to memorize the order of the books in the Old and New Testaments. I surely won’t judge you if the preacher announces Obadiah and you look in the Table of Contents.

Have you ever read the Bible—all the way through? Or did you get bogged down in Leviticus and quit—forever?

We’re at the beginning of a new year, and I hope you’ve considered Bible reading as a regular practice. There are all kinds of Bible reading plans. You can use an app. or the Internet or have it on your phone. There are lists you can check off. My personal favorite is The Bible in One Year. See what works best for you.

The important thing is to read God’s Word. Make it a priority.

The Bible is the only living book. That means that it is supernatural—God breathed—and the Holy Spirit applies it to each person’s life. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged 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). No other book can do that. It’s the only Book that knows you.

If you started once in Genesis and got bogged down by Leviticus or so, consider starting in a different place: the Gospel of John. It’s 21 chapters. That means you can easily finish it in less than a month, reading a chapter a day. The gospels are about Jesus and His ministry, and any of them would make a great place to start (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Ask God to speak to you. He will.

After John, try Acts. A good friend calls it the “Acts of the Holy Spirit”—which is an accurate representation. It chronicles the time after the resurrection of Jesus and what was happening in the early church. Read the entire New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. Go for the Old Testament, as well. Genesis 1-11 is all about beginnings. There’s lots of history in Chronicles, Kings, and the Samuels. Enjoy reading about the Old Testament heroes and villains. Learn how God works in the history of mankind. Read prophecy and find out what has already happened and what is yet to come. Finish up with Revelation—almost all of it still to occur. There’s a blessing for everyone who reads it (Revelation 1:3).

As you read through the Bible, you’ll see the amazing connections between then and now and different passages. It’s the most awesome Book in the world, and it will change your life, if you let it.

Find out where Hosea is, Nahum, and all the rest. Become biblically literate, and let the Word of God change you.

Begin today! You still have 29 days in January to finish the 21 chapters in John.

God bless you.

Depending on Jesus

What is it about human nature that we hate to be dependent on others? We don’t like to accept help, go to others for support, or reach out. We don’t want to be a burden.

This includes how we feel about God. We almost feel guilty when we have no other recourse but Him.

Have you ever considered that God wants us to live exactly that way? God wants us to depend wholly on Him.

The Father delights when his children come to Him. He desires our complete dependence. Just like a good daddy wants to take care of his children—and infinitely more so—God wants to take care of us.

He promises sufficiency. He’s ready and willing to meet every single need.

Why do you think God permits some of the situations he allows in our lives? So that we’ll look to Him. When everything goes smoothly, we believe in our own sufficiency. We might even forget to pray. Maybe we think we don’t need anything. But when something happens—sickness, financial need, and negative circumstances—we start praying more, opening our Bibles, and looking for answers. Sadly, that’s human nature. And, that’s why God allows some of our trials. He wants us to look to Him.

Let’s read some of the Scriptures about going to God with our needs.

  • The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him (Psalm 28:7).
  • Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved (Psalm 55:22).
  • Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him (Psalm 103:13).
  • I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living (Psalm 142:5).
  • In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26).
  • For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall (Isaiah 25:4).
  • If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11)
  • But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
  • Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).

Whatever your situation today, God cares. He wants you to go to Him with it. Whether you’re in prosperity or need, He craves a relationship with you.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Merry Christmas!

How to be holy in two easy lessons–and what to do when you’re not

Being holy thoretically depends on two easy concepts:

  1. Knowing God’s Word—what He wants.
  2. Obeying.

The problem is, we can’t do it. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10). For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10).

Not one person in the history of the whole world has been able to live up to the standard of holiness, even the first two, Adam and Eve, who were created holy. The only exception was God in the flesh, Jesus.

So, does this mean we throw up our hands in despair?

Of course not. The command to be holy is part of Scripture: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

We can’t be holy, but we should be? Is that right?

Yep.

It’s a goal.

How do we do this? Know God’s Word. Obey it.

For example, here are some of God’s commands:

  • Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it (Psalm 34:14).
  • Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:37).
  • But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Romans 6:22).
  • There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).Take the escape!
  • Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
  • Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).

And, so many more!

When we sin, we can get clean again by confessing our sin and forsaking it. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

The only goodness that we can have is through forgiveness in Christ. We have none by ourselves. 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 (Titus 3:5).

Holiness will ultimately happen when our spirits are completely redeemed—in heaven. Until then, we learn and obey—and confess—and go on.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 1:24)