Abide in Love ~ Abound in Thanksgiving ~ Work in Joy...
Live Fully ~ Suffer Rightly ~ Trust Deeply ~ Bless Truly!


"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."
~ Psalms 25:4,5

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Perfect is the enemy of...

...Good Enough.

My husband is a structural engineer - he puts complicated math equations to big hunks of concrete to make buildings stand up.  He lives by the motto: "Perfect is the enemy of good enough."  As he's calculating, he could spend lots of time (and time = money) to come up with the strongEST, cheapEST, most "perfect" combination when a strong enough, cost effective calculation is "good enough."  People are safe without costing too much on the manufacturer; to spend more time to make it perfect could cost enough more money that it's NOT worth it to be "perfect."

My dear husband has helped me apply this principle on the home front as well.  As a recovering perfectionist, I'm learning when good enough is good enough.

I was journaling yesterday morning.  I was processing with the LORD about something specific. It related to timing on when to do something and how best to go about it.  I was thinking of how there is what I consider the "right way," which would be the "perfect" way, following the plan to the "T."  But for this recovering perfectionist who has followed a similar plan to the "T" before, that was quite overwhelming and I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to THAT.  I wrote in my journal, "I guess if I am spending money to do it, I might as well 'do it right' or at least 'do it well.'"  And then my mind (a.k.a the Holy Spirit, sometimes:)) took me on a rabbit trail (the thought processes that are exactly why this blog outlet is a blessing to me:))...Writing the word "Well" made me think of Matthew 25:21,23 "Well done, good and faithful servant...."

No where in that passage is the master asking for perfection.  The servant is commended for being faithful, for being good, for "doing well."

This specific instance I was processing with the LORD is not connected to an area of sin or even a character issue.  It does involve staying in step with the Spirit, a heart of obedience, and a sensitivity to the LORD, but shouldn't all things!?!

It made me think of the process of sanctification that we are all in.  The word "process" implies in and of itself that there is going to be imperfection.  How freeing!  Not that that is an excuse TO sin (Romans 6:1,2), but in the instances where we step out on our own strength instead of walking with the Spirit, when our rebellious hearts choose our own way instead of submitting in obedience, when I am not being sensitive to the LORD's presence - in those times of the PROCESS, I can cling to GRACE instead of feeling defeated by the enemy of perfectionism.  I can pause, take a deep breath in the present presence of The Great I AM and get back in step with the Spirit, remembering Titus 3:5.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Grass is Greener

I recall a message I heard in my college days from a woman talking about taking her dog to play.  They were inside a baseball field where she was throwing a ball and they were running together - but the dog kept running to the fence and looking out.  She reflected how much we are like that, pining for life on the other side of our God-given boundary.  

We are trying to instill in our children that the rules and boundaries Daddy and Mommy establish are for the good and safety of them and others.  And isn't that reflective of the rules and boundaries God wants us to live within - they are for our good and safety.  Are we content with the many places God has allowed our feet to trod in the goodness of His provision or are we contemplating the possibility that God is withholding good from us (Psalm 84:11)?  Like Jen's dog, do we think there is something we want "over there" or are we content to be where God has us, in the presence of our Master?

What He's already given me...

I was at a frozen yogurt shop last night.  I noticed a woman who was the mom of a little girl I taught swim lessons to.  She's a runner.  She's cute and trendy.  She was sitting with 4 other 30 something ladies, presumably friends, all "attractive and modern"...and it sparked in me this DESIRE.  This aching desire that keeps appearing and causing me to long for sweet times of unhindered fun with friends.  I don't believe there is anything wrong with this desire.  The only problem with that feeling was that I WAS WALKING OUT WITH THREE OTHER 30 SOMETHING LADIES WHOM I HAD JUST HAD A LOVELY TIME OF SWEET TRUE FELLOWSHIP WITH!!!  I WAS WANTING SOMETHING THE LORD HAD JUST GIVEN ME!!!  Ugh!  How the enemy can so easily deceive our weak hearts!  How he can stir in me this discontentment SO QUICKLY.  Why and how does this happen?  THANK YOU, LORD, that You enabled me to recognize the falsehood just as quickly and to process it in a way to uproot the ugliness and plant in Your nurturing Truth!

I remember a friend of mine in college talking with me about the "phantom woman."  The one who has it all and does it all and is so godly...the one who DOESN'T EXIST but we strive to be!  I think the picture of "suave popularity" is a phantom in my life.  But where does THAT come from and why is it there?  Is it really still lingering from my desire as a 12 year old for popularity?  What is popularity?  To know and be known?  For attention, affection, approval?  But with "popularity" usually comes a compromise of character, purity...of godliness.  I certainly don't want THAT!  Maybe before I knew Christ at age 15 (knowing who He is, not just what He's done), but now I am confident that compared to knowing Christ (and living in His righteousness) all other things are rubbish (Philippians 3).  Or do I?  I know it in my head, I even believe it in my why am I so easily persuaded to think the lie of the enemy?   

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Colossians 3:2)  

Does discontentment come because our minds are set on earthly things?  If my heart was soaring with gratitude for time of fellowship with friends (which would have been a genuine feeling!), would there even have been room for the discontentment to sneak in?  Is discontentment birthed because we believe the grass is greener on the other side; we believe God is withholding good from us?  (Psalm 84:11)

LORD, Please, Let me learn: To be thankful, content (a contentment of feeling fulfilled!)
                                        To set my mind on things above
                                        To rest in Your Goodness
                                        To recognize what You DO GIVE ME and Delight in it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Not flesh and blood...

"For we do not battle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."  ~Ephesians 6:12

Spiritual Warfare

I am not pentecostal.  I do believe in spiritual warfare.  Because the bible says it's real and because I experience it.  Not in overt ways; in the subtleties of that crafty, cunning, deceitful Satan.  The one who steals, kills, and destroys.  The one who would strive to steal the joy that I've been so intently seeking to live out.  The one who hopes to kill God's Word being proclaim by whispering "who is really going to care about the things you say in a silly blog?"  The one who would attempt to destroy a marriage by tempting me to believe that frustration with my husband means he's the enemy I'm battling against.   This is the subtle scheme of Satan since Sunday, when I chose to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and proclaim, "Lord, Let Me Learn!"  And I can choose to undiscerningly listen and be emotionally swayed or I can take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) and choose to believe the living active word of God (Heb. 4:12; 1 Pet. 1:23).  No, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10) (Parenthesis and italics mine).  And the lies of darkness are exposed by the light of Truth.  I'm not often aware of the invisible reality of spiritual warfare around me.  But today, even in the subtleties, thank you, LORD, for shining Your light. Thank You for allowing me to see the schemes of Satan and replace emotion with reality.  Satan throws circumstances at us in the effort to steal, kill, and destroy: You allow them, loving Father, to purify the genuineness of our faith.

Monday, September 19, 2011

1 Peter 1:1-12

Black = Me; Blue = Sunday School Teacher, John; Green = Insight from someone else in class
Summary sentence:
"Peter is telling the dispersed that they are elected by the foreknowledge of God the Father to suffer through various trials for the sanctification of their faith in order to obey with holiness and with a joyful hope that their faith will lead to a salvation of a glorious, imperishable inheritance kept in heaven for them."

In short: Obediently suffer with holiness and hope and glorious joy!

Other "neat" insights: (well, neat to me, but that's what this blog is for writing:))
v. 1 - People from 4 of those places were present at Pentecost when Peter spoke, so he probably had previous relationship with them.
     "Exile" is term used of Israel, but Peter is speaking to Gentiles (all Roman cities) of the Church.  An exile lives in a land opposed to his God and living unholy.  Peter is expecting them to live like God expected Israel to live while in exile.  Do we feel like we are in exile?  How comfortable are we in "this land"?  
v. 2 - "foreknowledge"...God foreknew they were going to be exiles.  God foreknows our various trials.  It was helpful for me to have that perspective when facing my trials.
   John asked us to look into the word "sprinkled".  I thought that it was just a word connecting to the death of Jesus Christ.  But upon further cross referencing, the blood sacrifice sprinkled in Leviticus was to set apart His people.  Cleanse from sin in order to be in God's presence!  This struck me as it fits with the "Call to Holiness" (See 1 Peter Overview).  
   The PRIESTS were "sprinkled with blood" for work in the temple (cross reference us being called priests in 1 Peter 2)!
v.4 - I thought putting difference words to describe our inheritance was helpful as we often get read over something we've read a lot without really pondering it.  Our inheritance remains forever (imperishable), is holy (undefiled - like we're called to pursue!), and glorious (unfading)!  
v. 5 - "Last Time" is a term of present and future.  In Old Testament "Last times" started when Messiah appears.  So the "last times" starts in Matthew and goes through Christ's second coming.  This was a helpful explanation of "last times" for me because I've tended to get tripped up when I've come across that term.
v.6 - "if" in great can be written to assume "yes" or "no".  This "if" assumes "yes" it WILL be NECESSARY for you to have trials (not a contingent "if"...if you happen to come across a trial.)  The way we will survive suffering is to focus on the future hope.  The future propels the Christian from the uncomfortable present because the present is NOT going to be comfortable for the person living in exile.
v. 7 - I have this verse memorized in NIV and I'm studying it in ESV.  We were encouraged to read through 1 Peter in different translation and when I read it in NASB I was really struck!  NASB reads, "so that the [fn]proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which [fn]is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;" (from  For some reason, the phrase "proof of your faith" struck me.  It occurred to me that HOW I handle "this trial" is proof of my faith.  What kind of faith do I have?  Does this trial prove that my faith is more focused on myself and my comfort or does this my response to this trial prove that I am trusting God.  Does it prove I am worrying about money more than I am putting faith in the faithfulness of God.  God has brought that phrase to mind more than the other translations...what I am proving about my faith (and my God) by how I am responding to these inevitable trials!
v.8 - To be continued...

1 Peter Overview

I am currently in a Sunday School class that is doing and in depth study of 1 Peter.  We also did a brief overview of the General Epistles (as opposed to the Pauline Epistles) this summer, so I have a bit of background from that as well.  I had spent some time in 1 Peter a few years ago and found that there were three callings in 1 Peter.

1:15, 16 - called to be Holy
2:20,21 - called to Suffer
3:9 - called to Bless

Through the General Epistles Sunday School class, it was emphasized that those epistles in particular have a very strong focus on our future inheritance and to hope in that above current circumstances.  So, as I was going through 1 Peter, I recognized a FOURTH CALLING!  We are CALLED to Eternal Glory (5:10)!

So I have established my summary statement for 1 Peter to be:

"Be holy while you suffer and bless with the hope of eternal glory!"

What a calling as Christians!  We WILL suffer.  We will image Christ when we are holy and bless others WHILE we are suffering.  This is all possible because we have a hope of a glory that will not fade and lasts forever!

So, SUFFER RIGHTLY, my fellow Christian!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Birth of "LORD, Let Me Learn"...

I have resisted the media avenues of blogs and the social networks of facebook, etc. because I have wanted to invest in the real people in my life with the limited capacity I have in this stage of life with two little ones.  However, this blog is the door the LORD has opened for me as an opportunity to have a cup-filling experience!  It "fills my cup" to have refreshing drinks in The Word with others.  So, whether I personally know you or not, it is my cup-filling joy to share these drinks of the living, refreshing Word of God with you!  Here is the story of seeds that have flourished into "LORD, Let Me Learn".

In 2003, I was a speaker for a Christian retreat of college women.  One of the volunteers approached me afterward and said something to the affect of, "You are an intense person.  That is such a good quality, don't let anyone discourage you of that."   That was a powerful statement as I often do feel a little "out of touch" with others.  Others who are more funny and laugh easily, Others who are light-hearted and spontaneous.  I'm just not wired that way.  I am serious and intense and structured.  Not that I don't appreciate a good laugh or a spontaneous adventure, but that just doesn't come naturally for me. I have held that affirmation dear over the years as it has encouraged who the LORD has made me to be, helps me reign in my intensity when needed, and helps me understand why I may feel "out of touch."  

Over the years, I have longed for intimate fellowship - dear friends I can share my deep spiritual thoughts and ponderings with.  People who also appreciate digging deeply into the Scriptures and hearing from and obeying the voice of the Spirit.  I have a few of these dear friends, but don't have those type of conversations as often as I would desire or would be soul fulfilling for me.

In July of 2011, I was riding in the car with my husband on the way home from a little getaway we had.  I was sharing how I am so energized by insights the LORD has taught me, but don't feel like I have many "outlets" for that.  

September 17, 2011 - an evening of discouragement.:(
September 18, 2011 - a day a many rejuvenating insights!  I had decided to go to the local coffee shop to get some extended time with the LORD while my family napped.  Before I went I wanted to read a blog that a friend had recommended.  (Mind you at the time I was not a follower on any blog and had only occasionally read blogs of friends or specific posts friends sent from other blogs.)  But this friend had been sharing that she struggled maintaining the LORD's perspective of thankfulness and that this blog (of Ann Voskamp) helped her.  Considering, I slumped into sadness the evening before, I decided it would be good to be refreshed on a thankful perspective before spending time with God at the coffee shop.  Ann's post on Sept. 18 took my breath away!  I was so moved to be in step with the Spirit.  It's been something I've been striving for consciously recently, but to read hear of another fellow believer have a sense of victory in this area was motivating.  I basically ran out the door, grabbing a book on worship to read and drink deeply of, and rushed off to the coffee shop.  On the way over, I thought about the points of insight the LORD had shared with me so far that day - in my personal time with Him in the morning, during our Sunday School class, and during the sermon.  Because of how inpactful Ann's blog was on me and because I have these insights that I don't feel like I have an outlet for, the idea of starting my own blog crossed my mind!  If only a few people can be encouraged in their walks with Christ by only a few of my posts, like I was, it would be worth it.  When I got to the coffee shop, the barista asked, "How are you?"  I responded, "Good."  AND I MEANT it!  That's the first time I've FELT "GOOD" in a long time.  (Though I've been trying to LEARN the TRUTH of JOY for years now:)).  I sat with my white hot chocolate and journal and scribbled all the exciting thoughts going through me head.  I wanted to ask God if it was just my fleshly idea to do a blog or Spirit inspired.  I sensed Him saying that as long as I keep the focus on proclaiming the insights He's guided me to and am sensitive to it not taking time away from the other responsibilities He's entrusted me with, it would be disobedient not to pursue it at this point!  

I had jotted down some of the phrases that have stuck with me lately (which I used as my subtitle, "Abide in Love, etc." and on the drive home (I couldn't get home fast enough to get started!) the phrase "Teach Me" came to mind as  a Title, then Teach Me To.  They weren't available, but Lord Teach Me To was.  I was hesitant to have "Lord" in the title as not to "scare away" non-believers, but since sharing deep insights with believers serious about walking more intimately with Jesus was my focus, it seemed weak not to.  Then the alliteration of "Lord Let Me Learn" came to mind and I like how that has a more humble tone and a tone of the learning "process" as I learn something initially but then the LORD continues bringing it to mind and bringing opportunities that enable me to actually learn and put into practice what He's been teaching.  So, LORD, Please Let Me Learn...