Tag Archives: christian living

The Perfectionist’s Problem

One of the first lessons I learned in writing is that it’s ok to send out a devotion with typos. I apologize to you for them, but it’s partly on purpose. I’m a perfectionist at heart. I like things to be a certain way. I don’t want you distracted by words that have been autocorrected into something I didn’t intend. I also want these devotions to be polished and have the finishing touches put on them so that it’s easy for you to read. However, if I wait until they’re perfect, I’d never put one on the website.

“Perfect” is an illusion that creates procrastination. I can hide behind that word all I want, but really my perfectionism is my fear keeping me from hitting the publish button. I will never have this devotion or any other one perfect because I’m imperfect. I’ll never have all the words just right, the grammatical pieces in place or the setting just right. I can tweak them over and over again, but if I never hit the publish button, what good is it?

I like how Ecclesiastes 11:4 puts this dilemma. It says, “If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything” (GNT). That verse is a huge gut check to my perfectionism. Not hitting the publish button is akin to not planting anything. If I wait until everything is perfect and just right, I’ll never do what God called me to do. It’s a trap that many of us fall into.

As I was wresting with it early on, I was reading a book by Mark Batterson. He wrote that we get “ready, set, go” backwards. We should be more like “go, set, ready”. If God has asked you to do something, start doing it. You’ll never have everything just right or perfect. If you wait until the conditions are right, you’re going to still be standing on the starting line when you die. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to let my perfectionism keep me procrastinating my whole life. I’m sorry if these aren’t perfect, but neither am I.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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A Seat At The Table

I’m a pretty self confident person normally. I can be in most situations and feel like I can hold my own. However, when I went to my first executive meeting at a major corporation, I got my confidence wrecked. The guy presenting before me couldn’t defend his projections for the next quarter. The higher ups questioned him and exposed him like nothing I had ever seen. He ended up getting tears in his eyes and shut down in front of everyone. They turned to me and said, “Next!” I don’t remember what I said or how I got through it, but that meeting left a mark. Every time after that, when I walked into a board room with a giant table full of suits sitting at it, I felt like I didn’t belong there. I became quiet and meek. When they asked what I thought about something, inside I wondered why they cared what little, old me cared about.

In 2 Samuel 9, King David asked if any of Jonathan’s relatives were still alive so that he could show kindness to them and to fulfill his promise to his best friend. They told him about Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth who became paralyzed when he was dropped as a child as they were on the run. David asked for him to be brought in. In those days, when a new king took over, they killed everyone who could possibly have a claim to the throne. Mephibosheth would have been second in line and was terrified to meet with David. When he arrived, David gave him all of Saul’s land and invited him to dine at the king’s table. In verse 8 Mephibosheth replied, “Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?” (NLT) He didn’t feel like he belonged at that table, but he began to eat there anyway.

After Peter had denied Jesus three times, Jesus appeared to him and the other disciples on the Galilean seashore in John 12. He called out to them and when they arrived at shore, He invited them to come and dine. I’m sure Peter didn’t feel like he belonged at the Lord’s Table, but Jesus gently gave him the charge to feed His sheep. Just like Peter and Mephibosheth, we can feel unworthy to sit at the King’s table because of things we’ve done. We can try to minimize our status as King’s kids, but there is a place for you there. Jesus is reminding us like He did Peter that it’s His righteousness that we wear, not our own. No matter what you’ve done, once it’s covered by His blood, it’s gone and there’s a seat waiting for you. Don’t shy away from God’s Table. Don’t feel you’re not enough to be there. You have been raised to new life and have been given a new nature and are clothed with a robe of Christ’s righteousness now. Don’t hold back. Come and dine. You have a seat at the table.

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Even If

In the spring of 1998, my family was sitting in a waiting room at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. We had been living in that waiting room for about six weeks along with other families. My mom had slipped into a coma a few weeks earlier, and now the doctor wanted to talk to us in the consultation room. He said, “There’s nothing else we can do except to make her comfortable.” We sat there shocked with our faith taking a major blow. My dad then got everyone’s attention and said, “We will keep praying for healing, but if He chooses not to heal her here, purpose in your heart now not to be bitter against Him.” She passed away a few weeks later.

In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar built a 90 foot tall statue for the people to worship. Then he got some bad advice from some jealous officials. They didn’t like that the Jews who had been captured and taken into their country had different customs. They convinced him to put to death anyone who didn’t bow down to the statue knowing several Jews had ascended the governmental ranks. The king made a law condemning anyone who didn’t bow. The advisors were quick to point out three Hebrew brothers who didn’t bow. When the king confronted them, they explained that they couldn’t bow so he ordered them to be thrown into a furnace. They told him that God was able to save them. Then in verse 18 they said, “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up!” (AMP)

“Even if He doesn’t” is a mindset we all must have. It’s great when prayers are answered the way we ask, but will you still trust, serve and love God if He doesn’t answer the way you want? Can you still follow Him with your whole hear when His answer doesn’t make sense and your world comes crashing down? The three Hebrews knew that God was able, but they were steadfast knowing He may not answer their prayer. I’ve learned, just as they did, that whether He answers you or not, He will stand with you in the fire. He won’t abandon you when the prayers go unanswered. He is still God. He is still in control. He still has a plan that I can’t see and I trust His decisions because He has proven His character over the history of this world. Will you still trust Him even if you don’t get the answers you want? Now is the time to make that decision, not later.

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Pushing Through

One of the things I’ve learned about when it comes to accomplishing things is that all of us get some kind of resistance in the brain. No matter how much we want to do it or how much we need to, some type of fear tries to come in and short circuit the brain to prevent us from following through fully. We face the fear of the unknown, the fear of how being successful in it might change us, the fear of what others will think and so on. These fears try to affect our physical actions, but they don’t have to. Each of us have the ability to push through when we recognize the fear and how it is trying to stop us. We have the capacity to follow through with what God has called us to do, but we must choose to push through no matter what.

You know the story in Genesis 22 where Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice Isaac. I’m sure Abraham”s mind was attacked by fear on the way up the mountain, yet he kept walking. Isaac was in the same boat. Every representation of this story you have seen has shown Isaac as a little boy. However, most Bible scholars believe he was an adult at the time of this encounter. Think about that. He understood what was going on as he carried the wood up the mountain and asked about it. He still took each step and presented himself as the sacrifice when he could have overpowered his father or run away. He didn’t let fear stop him from being obedient.

Romans 12:1 says, “So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer” (GNT). What has God asked you to step out in faith and do? What are the fears you’re facing? Whose voice are you listening to? We must be like Abraham and Isaac walking in faith the where God is leading us. We must take steps daily surrendering to His plan and will instead of ours. Yes, it is a sacrifice, and you’re going to have to give up some things along the way while carrying a heavy load. However, God will meet us in the place of provision when we push past the fears, submit ourselves as a sacrifice and dedicate ourselves to His purposes. Pick up His burden today and start taking steps in the direction He is leading you towards.

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Living Intentionally

When it comes to getting things done, my son can be slow at times. I’ve tried hurrying him up by using words, clapping, and singing. Sometimes they work, but usually it’s only for a short time. Ive learned to use a timer with him. When he sees the clock and how much time he has left, he focuses and gets the job done. All of a sudden, he gets an urgency to make things happen. By the way, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I often need something like that to give me an urgency to get things done.

My middle initial is “P”. When people ask what it stands for, my go to response is, “Procrastinator”. If something isn’t urgent and important to me, it can fall into my “I’ll get it done later” list. That just means I’ll keep putting it off until it becomes urgent and important. That’s not the best way to do things though. If we constantly focus only on what’s urgent and important, we are failing to live our lives with intentionality. We do need an urgency to get things done, but if we are intentional about doing the right things, our lives won’t be a constant fire drill.

The writer of Psalm 90:12 wrote a prayer to God that says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (NLT). He was praying, “God, give me a timer to help me get things done. Help me to grow in wisdom so I can be intentional about getting the right things done.” He was probably a lot like many of us who struggles with procrastination and focusing on what’s important. He wanted God to remind him how short life is and to help him grow in wisdom so he could be intentional.

What is it that we pray for? Is it more time to get things done? We could be praying for wisdom to get the right things done on time. God doesn’t need us to be in a constant fire drill. That only burns people out and doesn’t guarantee that the right things get done. He wants us to have wisdom so we can be urgent about the things that matter. If you’ve been praying the first prayer above, let me encourage you to change that prayer. Ask God for wisdom and to help you live intentionally. Watch what a difference that makes in your life.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Divine Encounters

When I was around 18 years old, a young man came into our church on a Sunday night and sat on the back row. I was bothered that no one went up to him. After service, I made my way to him and introduced myself. He was looking for a church with people his age. We became fast friends and were nearly inseparable. A few years later, I ended up saving his life. Our friendship grew to the point he had me over one Thanksgiving. At that lunch, I got to know his cousin who became my wife. Both of our lives were changed that night when I made the decision to go say hello.

In 1 Samuel 25, David heard a man named Nabal was sheering his sheep. Knowing he would be celebrating with a feast, David sent some men to greet him and to remind him that he and his small army had been protecting his shepherds and flocks. Nabal returned the favor by insulting David and his men, sending them away with nothing. David decided to kill him and was on his way when Nabal’s wife Abigail rushed to meet him with food. They’re encounter saved her husband’s life and kept David from having blood on his hands when he would become king. In verse 32, David said to her, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you today to meet me!” (GNT) She later became his wife and trusted advisor.

I believe God gives us opportunities for divine encounters that can change the course of our lives. It’s something I often pray for. We never know what direction our lives will take when we step out in faith following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We have opportunities each day to be a blessing to someone else changing their trajectory. We also have opportunities to meet people who will help us get to where we’re being led. I never want to miss those divine encounters, so I’m constantly on the look for them. Make sure you take time today to ask God to order your steps and to lead you into the path of a divine encounter where you can mutually benefit the people God brings into your life.

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Hearing “Well Done”

Have you ever participated in a stewardship campaign? That fancy church talk for raising money for the building fund. If your pastor has talked about stewardship, chances are they’re talking about giving money. I even talk to all my nieces and nephews about the importance of giving tithe and offerings. We spend a lot of time discussing stewardship in regards to money, but what about stewarding relationships? What about stewarding our possessions that God has blessed you with? What about stewarding your gifts?

Jesus told many parables regarding stewardship. In some the workers were the stewards of a vineyard (Matthew 21). In it the owner went away and entrusted the vineyard to the workers. At the harvest he went to collect, but they refused to pay no matter who he sent to collect. In another parable, the owner gave the workers talents of silver (Matthew 25). When he came to collect, two had grown their silver and one didn’t. He spoke this in verse 21 to the two, “Because you have been a faithful steward to manage a small sum, now I will put you in charge of much, much more. You will experience the delight of your master, who will say to you, ‘Enter into the joy of your Lord!’” (TPT)

Everything you have has been given to you by God to steward, including your life. How are you doing with that? Are you working on improving the relationships He’s entrusted to you? Are you tilling the ground to produce more out of them? What about your gifts? Are they still just raw talent you haven’t refined? What about your money? Are you using it wisely? What about your life? Are you just meandering through aimlessly? The list of questions goes on, but only you can answer them. In each of the parables, God comes to collect the surplus of what the workers were stewards of. He’ll ask us too what we did with what He gave us. If you want to hear, “Well done,” you’re going to have to be a good steward.

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Getting In God’s Face

My son is competitive like most kids. He wants to be first everywhere we go. The problem is that he doesn’t always know where we are going. Sometimes when he gets a few steps ahead, I turn and he keeps going straight. I’ll usually make a noise to let him notice. He then runs over and tries to stay in front. With each turn, I remind him that I’m the one who knows where we are going, and that he should follow.

There are other times when he’s just trying to keep my attention. If I’m trying to do something, he’ll get in my face. If I direct my attention elsewhere, he moves to try to stay in my face. Sometimes it makes me laugh how hard he tries to get and keep my attention. The truth is that it’s a picture of how we are to be with God. Sometimes we forget to be like children, which is what Jesus told us to be like.

I believe God is looking for us to be in His presence. He’s not wanting us to be out in front of Him trying to guess where He’s leading us, and He’s not just wanting us to be somewhere in His vicinity. He wants us to go get in His face, and to be where He is looking. Psalm 116:9 says, “I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (NLT) The Psalmist understood what God desires from each of us, and that is to walk in His presence.

The word “presence” in its original meaning, is the word for face. So to walk in the Lord’s presence is to walk where He’s facing. In order to do that, we need to be constantly looking at Him to make sure we are going the same way He is. We have to spend time in prayer throughout the day constantly grabbing His face and attention. It’s what children who love their parents do. God is not annoyed by us in trying to do this. He is honored when we walk in His presence.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Becoming Better

You can’t have the promises of God without going through the processes of God. Some processes are giving of tithes and offerings. Other processes can be difficult seasons. Those to me are the hardest ones to go through. They’re not as simple as give and it shall be given unto you. Many times these seasons are something God walks us into without asking us. There’s also no time limit to them or clear outcomes. However, when God takes us through these seasons, we can be sure He is with us and will produce something in us that makes us better.

David was a young shepherd when he was anointed king. He at least knew what the promise was before going through the process. For the next 15 years, he would go through more downs than ups. He would be forced to live in caves surrounded by outcasts. He would face many sleepless nights fearing for his life. For a while he even had to live in the country of his enemy. His wife and kids were kidnapped along with the wives and kids of his army. He faced a mutiny after that. After years of struggling, he finally became king. The process changed him from one who could watch a few sheep into one who could lead millions.

Psalms 66:12 says, “You’ve allowed our enemies to prevail against us. We’ve passed through fire and flood, yet in the end you always bring us out better than we were before, saturated with your goodness” (TPT). What God allows to happen in our life is often part of His process. He uses the darkest most painful times to either change us, push us closer to Him or to help us be able to empathize and connect with another person. God is always working in our lives to make us more like Him. When going through the hardest times, we can hold onto Romans 8:28 which reminds us that ALL things work together for our good. Keep going through the process. His promises are on their way.

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Understanding Spiritual Principles

I read recently that you can understand almost every spiritual principle through understanding farming. I grew up hearing that you reap what you sew, but there’s so much more. There’s faith that when you plant it, things are growing where you can’t see. There’s understanding the right soil and the right season to plant in. The list goes on and on. The more I learn and understand the concepts of farming, the better steward I can be with the spiritual realities God has entrusted to me. These concepts were obvious to people until we became a modern society where we get our produce from a store.

Think back to Genesis 3. Adam and Eve took the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. They had access to everything, but they squandered it trying to take a shortcut. What was Adam’s punishment? Verse 17 says, “And he said to the man, ‘You listened to your wife and ate the fruit which I told you not to eat. Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse. You will have to work hard all your life to make it produce enough food for you’” (GNT). What if his punishment was really about teaching him and us how to better manage and appreciate spiritual principles? Instead of leaving him in the dark, God created a way to understand Him better through having us work the land.

What lesson has God been trying to teach you? What concept has He been trying to get you to understand. I’m pretty sure you can better understand it through farming. Most of Jesus’ parables were about some form of farming. God wants us to learn more about Him and to understand spiritual realities better so He can entrust more to us. Take some time today to ask God to open your eyes to see what He’s showing you. God wants you and I to grow closer to Him and He’s given us the blueprint. We need to seek better understanding from Him so He can help us to be better stewards of all He’s entrusting to us. Don’t shy away or try to take the easy route. Lean in and learn from Him and His Word.

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