“Perfection vs. Perfectionist”

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After my sabbatical few months back, I have given myself permission to take more thought time than I had before. And permission to understand that this time is not a waste of time. This was a big hurdle. I have so much I can be doing, but fortunately the Lord clearly grants permission for such times, right? Pondering His Word. Meditating in His Presence.

So the other day during one of these Pondering His Word Moments, the phrase hit me: “Jesus was Perfection, but He wasn’t a perfectionist.” Intriguingly, this staggered me. Being a recovering perfectionist and being one who wants to be like Jesus, the gulf between the two was so glaring. Why hadn’t I seen this before? And worse, I pondered all that Jesus did pleased the Father (cf John 8:29)! And He was never uptight, anxious, frantic that “it” needed to be just so,…. Then I started to laugh and picture Jesus  being this frantic, etc. perfectionist …. It didn’t fit. 

If He were, people wouldn’t want to be around Him  because He would be so demanding. His quality standards would be well beyond what anyone could achieve.  …

And in the juxtaposition of all these thoughts, I could see the Lord Jesus smiling at me: “Yes, Michael, I am perfection, but I need not fret about it, demand it of myself or of others. I just do what comes natural to Me.” The thought was so calming and reassuring.

As I let the Lord Jesus’ Life flow through me, He is perfection in me; even in my mistakes. (And this is another topic for another discussion!) He accomplishes through me what I could never accomplish. And so gracious, so peaceful. No demands upon myself or overly burdensome expectations on others. Just Calm.

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with being OCD or a perfectionist? Share a few moments of your journey with us.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.(Colossians 2:9–10 NIV84)

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:9–10 NIV84)

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“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree”

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Have you ever noticed that the Christmas Tree is much different than the Easter “Tree”?  One is an evergreen, symbolizing Life, the other an instrument of torture, symbolizing death. And yet the one leads to the other. Two trees, two symbols, but One Lord and One Life—Life eternal and abundant because of what was done on the one Tree that gives us gifts under the other tree.

As you take time this season to ponder these two trees, perhaps the one will be a pleasant reminder of the other, and the gifts that are exchange from under the one will remind you of the Gift that was exchanged for you on the other?

Join me this December in being truly Merry People who sincerely wish others a Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year.

13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:13–15 NIV2011)

A Blessed and Merry Christmas & a Peace-filled New Year,

Coach Mike

Time for Questions?

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Have you ever noticed how often Jesus would ask questions? I did. And it is fascinating that He engages friend and foe alike with a question. He offers them a chance to answer. His questions at times seem innocent and innocuous enough, but other times like He has the “witness” on the stand and He is cross examining them.

Have you also noticed that when sharing Jesus with others, asking questions actually opens up the conversation? Have you found that in doing so, this establishes rapport as well as respect? I have.

I have also found that I need not be in a hurry to win the argument, if one should ensue, but rather take my time and build a relationship. To be sure, Jesus was an itinerant preacher of sorts. He would move from town to town and village to village. But who’s to say He wasn’t speaking to some of the same people? Even some of His adversaries may have been following Him, and in some strange sort of way, a relationship, though adversarial, was being developed. And out of respect for them, our Master would genuinely ask a question.

Oh, He may have asked a rhetorical question here or there, but more often than not His questions engaged His hearers, expecting sincere and honest answers….

Do you think its about time we become more skilled at asking sincere and deep questions that engage our relationships (friends and foes), rather than making harsh and dogmatic statements—even if true? What do you think?

Main Text— Mark 8:27–30 (NIV) 27 Jesus and His disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way He asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” 30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about Him.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:51 (NIV)

 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  “What is written in the Law?” He replied. How do you read it?”Luke 10:25–26 (NIV)

  “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’  ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.   Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted? “The first,” they answered.—Matthew 21:28–31 (NIV)

Lord Jesus Christ, empower me to discover the needs of others through the questions You prompt me to ask. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

Content with Relationships

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We all have relationships that are indeed like ships. They come; and they go. Some pass in the night; others after but a few short years. But there are those relationships that endure and are dear. All these can impact our lives

I yearn for the latter: For those relationships that last a life time. But in this morning’s main text, the Apostle Paul is showing me two simple protectors that can prevent my joy from being sapped. One is, I rejoice in the Lord for relationships that come and go because they show a timely concern. They may not have opportunity to develop the relationship to the degree I’d desire, but we had a very dear relationship all the same—even if for a short time. And this is okay.

The second protector of my joy is to learn contentment in those circumstances where a relationship is cut short, for whatever reason. There is a phrase I have employed with volunteers over the years when it comes to their commitment to a particular task or position: “Expect no less; demand no more.” Expect them to do no less than what they agreed to volunteer for; but demand no more of them, least I chase them away or burn them out.

Perhaps this can be applied to relationships, too? What do you think? What are the implications of not being content with the level/degree of a particular relationship? What results from discontent? Or even malcontent?

Main Text— Philippians 4:11–13 (NIV)— 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3–9 (NIV84)

 [Jesus said,] In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me.”John 16:16 (NIV84

Lord Jesus Christ, guard my heart as the Prince of Peace as You teach me these lessons of contentment in relationships. May I realize all the more that rejoicing in You is more than enough. In Your Name. Amen

Pastor Mike