Monday, August 30, 2010


(1 Timothy 4:7–9) But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.  
As I write this, I am in "cool down mode."  That means that I need to be careful not to drip sweat onto my laptop.  I've completed my morning exercise routine - the one I try to do three times a week.  I have worked at this kind of "bodily exercise" for about twenty-five years.  You would think that I would be used to it by now.

Exercise requires discipline because it takes time, it takes physical exertion and it makes you sweaty.  It is much easier to sit in an easy chair and watch TV or read the news on my computer.  It always surprises me when studies show that Americans watch an average of 4 hours of TV a day.  But it doesn't surprise me at all that Americans don't spend four hours a day exercising!

The scripture says "exercise yourself toward godliness."  This would include Bible study, memorization, meditation, prayer and then the practice of godliness in life.  The Greek lexicon says the word translated exercise means "to experience vigorous training and control, with the implication of increased physical and/or moral strength."

Exercising yourself toward godliness is harder than physical exercise.  On the treadmill I can allow my mind to wander and my body will keep going on it's own.  I get the exercise as long as I expend the physical effort long enough. (Don't you wish you could just take a pill?)  But spiritual exercise requires the concentrated attention focused on the truths of God's word and their application to my life.  If my mind wanders while I am reading - then I am not reading and I don't get any benefit.  If my mind wanders while I am praying, then I am not praying.  If I am not focused on my behavior and keeping it in control, then I am not controlling my behavior and not training myself to behave in a godly way.

I continue to apply myself to my physical exercise program because I know the truth that "bodily exercise profits a little."  When I am faithfully exercising I feel better, I have better energy, my weight stays under control and I have better stamina.

But this is nothing compared to the benefits of godliness.  "For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."  The pursuit of godliness is not about the academic knowledge of theological truth, but the knowledge of God Himself and growth relationship to Him.  Surely such a pursuit is worth the time and effort expended - no matter how much that is.  In this pursuit, everything in this life and the next is affected.

You cannot be physically fit if you spend all of your discretionary time sitting on the couch in front of the TV (or computer, etc.)  You cannot be spiritually fit if you never discipline yourself toward godliness through a rigorous program of study, prayer and deliberate obedience.  Both take discipline. 

So set the alarm earlier.  Cut out some other activity.  Find a way to stay focused.  Get others to hold you accountable.  Keep your eyes on the goal.  Measure your progress.  Do whatever it takes.  Even though it is hard, it is eternally worth it.
(1 Timothy 4:7–9) But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Drought Of God's Word

We have had a beautiful summer of sunny days.  A few thunderstorms have dropped some water on us, but now, at the end of August, the ground is very dry.

I'm not too worried about the brown patches of grass, but the dogwood tree we planted last year is very dry right now.  It is small and its root system doesn't reach deep enough.  Most of it's leaves are dried to a crisp.  Many have already fallen to the ground.  I am concerned that this tree might not recover.

Consider God's judgment described in Amos.
(Amos 8:11)  “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD.
The Word of God is the source of our life.  It is essential to our being.  Without it we shrivel up and blow away.  When God's Word flows it refreshes us and sustains us.  The Word of God allows us to be fruitful in life for God.

Generally speaking, people like sunny summer weather - they don't like rain.  Unfortunately there is a parallel in people's taste for religious teaching.  People like the upbeat, self esteem stroking, ten easy steps to success kinds of "sunshine."  They are not so enthusiastic about being thoroughly soaked with the knowledge of the Word of God that humbles them, calls them to repentance and requires them to depend completely on God.

No wonder that so much of popular Christianity is so brittle - so shallow - so entertainment dependent.  For the most part it is more like a Christian flavored theme park than it is like biblical Christianity.  It is Christian in name, but in every other way just like the Vanity Fair of our modern culture.

People are dry and thirsty.  They eagerly pounce on every new book, every new church, every new approach, every new fad.  Why?  Because they are so thirsty for the Word of God.
(2 Timothy 4:1–3) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 
 Soak in the Word of God this week!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Take Heart!

(Psa 149:4) For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
What could be more encouraging than this? We trust in the Lord. That means the most when we realize our own inability to control our lives.
 (1Pe 5:6-7) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Perils of Church Leadership

(Hebrews 13:17) Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
How do you respond to your pastor's leadership?

For about eight years I held administrative positions in a secular organization. For at least five years I supervised all of the dozens of staff on three campuses either directly or indirectly. I signed off on all of the programs and services offered in my program and managed a multimillion dollar budget. I had the final say in hiring and firing and promoting staff within the program. It was an insanely busy, meeting intensive, highly demanding job that required hours of overtime and heart wrenching decisions that impacted many lives.

I say that to say this. The pressure of corporate leadership is NOTHING compared to leadership in a small church. Back in those days I read the leadership gurus... and appreciated their insights and profited from their ideas. But much of what they write about is not transferable to small churches. The high intensity, constant scrutiny and sense of jeopardy in secular organizations is small potatoes compared with the high wire act of leading a small church.

"Why is that so?" you may ask. (Smile) Consider a few secular/organizational reasons.
  1. Small churches have evolved their own culture and pecking order. They have arrived at a unique and comfortable stasis where everyone knows who is in, who is out and how things run. Any change to any aspect is upsetting to someone, but leadership requires change.
  2. Small churches are invariably a web of human relationships - often family relationships. Since someone will be upset by almost any change, any change will also upset the people who are in relationships with that person and then on to other persons in a chain reaction. Consequently any leadership decision is likely to cause seismic ripples through the small church.
  3. Small churches tend to be looking backward. The small church is nostalgic for the golden days of the past, but leadership urges them to catch a vision for the future and embrace the change.
  4. Small churches tend to be looking inward. They are very committed to each other, but have difficulty assimilating new people. Typically the pastor and his wife are new people. The small church always struggles with where do these pushy new people fit in and why should we grant them authority?
  5. Small churches are always on the verge of disaster. They need all the workers. They need all the tithers. A pastor knows that if he makes an unpopular decision it is likely to cause upset that may well result in departures and/or decreased giving.
These secular/organizational reasons create a tremendous prejudice against leadership - not from the people, but from the supposed leader. It is much easier - much better for your nerves - much healthier for your ulcer - to adopt a non-intervention approach.

A pastor could serve as the hired preacher of the church and leave everything else alone. He could let the church run as it "has always run" - letting the people do whatever they want to do and not interfering. He can "mind his own business" and preach his sermons, and carefully avoid any pointed applications that might cause upsets.

He could. But he would be doing that because of secular/organizational reasons. He would, in fact, be abandoning his leadership responsibilities, because letting everybody do whatever they decide to do is NOT LEADING.

A pastor is more than a preacher. He is a leader. He is a shepherd under the authority of Chief Shepherd. Maybe it will give him ulcers, but he must step up to the challenge and LEAD.
(1 Peter 5:2–4) Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;
3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;
4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
There are certainly boundaries here. Because of the difficulties inherent in small church leadership the pastor faces varied temptations.
  1. "Not by compulsion but willingly." This is the temptation to do as little as possible. This pastor is lazy or frightened and only leads when absolutely forced to do so.
  2. "Not for dishonest gain but eagerly." This is the temptation to be directed by financial and other practical priorities. The result is "leadership" based on respect of persons because of how those persons affect the bottom line.
  3. "Nor as being lords over those entrusted to you." This is the temptation to use dictatorial force to drive the church. The pastor should lead by the teaching and preaching of the word of God. The pastor leads the church by explaining the application of biblical principles to the matters at hand. He cannot be wishy-washy about these things, but he also needs patience and grace.
  4. "But being examples to the flock." The pastor must live by the biblical principles he teaches. His control of his temper, his humility, his devotional life, his evangelistic zeal, his honesty, his diligence, his love for his flock, his prayer life and his family life are all essential to moving a small church forward. There are no shortcuts through programs or techniques.
  5. "When the Chief Shepherd appears..." This is the real authority for the pastor and for the church. The pastor does not work for the church. He serves the Chief Shepherd. That is why it is so important for him to actually LEAD the flock in following Jesus.
Pastors and people, there is good news! From a secular/organizational perspective, small church leadership is almost impossible, but the church is not a secular organization.

The Church is the body of Christ. The local churches are truly communities of converted people covenanting together to follow Christ. The true believers have the Holy Spirit of God working in their hearts. The hope for the progress of any church is not in the secular leadership skills of the pastor, but in the supernatural work of God growing His people in Christ.

People - pray for your pastor and give yourselves to Christ.
Pastors - pray for your people and give yourselves to Christ.
(Ephesians 4:11–13) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

Friday, August 20, 2010


(Matthew 5:10–12) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Yesterday I read yet another article referring to conservative Christians as "homophobic." By this they do not mean we are afraid of homosexuals. They mean it in a pejorative sense. To be homophobic is to hate homosexuals and to persecute them by denying them basic civil rights. To be homophobic is to be evil, narrow minded and mean. "Homophobic" is a handy catchphrase that has the added advantage (from their viewpoint) of sounding like a disease. (If homophobia is a disease, perhaps those who have it should be quarantined and forced to undergo corrective treatment.)

I know of no simple way to disarm people who look at the world in this way. The term "homophobic" and the use of the term is not a part of reasonable discourse. It is rather a part of a very aggressive (and successful) campaign to re-order the mores of western society. There is no desire for understanding and mutual respect - only for political and judicial domination of the society we share.

Even though there are homosexuals I know and love, my primary loyalty is to God. God has revealed Himself in His word. God gets to say what is moral and what is immoral. God says that homosexual behavior is immoral. All the arguments in the world, all the lawsuits in the world, all the studies in the world, all the polls in the world and the public opinion of the whole world do not change a thing. It may be legal, it may be socially acceptable, it may be popular, it may be glamorized, but the Bible still says it is contrary to God's standard of righteousness. Those who practice such things will need to answer to God for it.
(1 Corinthians 6:9–10) Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Christians should not make the mistake of suggesting that homosexuality is worse than any other sin. Homosexuality is not in a class by itself as far as God is concerned. Homosexual sin is the same as heterosexual sin and worshiping gods of your own invention. It is immoral in the same way as stealing or coveting or drunkenness. An abusive slanderer or a swindler are in the same boat - under God's condemnation. Everyone has the same problem and everyone has the same hope - God will save us from our sins.
(1 Corinthians 6:11) And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Maybe homosexuals ARE unfairly pilloried from some pulpits. They are a minority - particularly in conservative Christian congregations. People find it easy to say "AMEN" to the condemnation of the sins that they are not tempted by. Maybe we should say less about the sins our people are NOT practicing and more about the sins they ARE.

Homosexuals are sinners - and so am I. The difference between us is not some intrinsic goodness or badness. The only difference is that by God's grace I came to believe God's word and God delivered me from the power of my sin and the penalty for my sin. I didn't deliver myself. I don't deserve God's forgiveness. In myself I stood condemned - but now I have the righteousness of Christ applied to my account.

Homophobic? No, not hardly. Let us speak the truth in love. Let it always be God's truth. Let it always be in loving humility as those who have been saved by grace.
(Titus 2:11–12) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zealous For Good Works

(Titus 2:13–14) looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Those who believe you must work to earn your salvation - or somehow to deserve salvation - say, "If you don't need good works to be saved, then people could be saved and live for the devil." To be fair to them, it is a fact that some people DO teach that sort of "cheap grace."

But what does the Bible say?

Salvation is by God's grace and not earned by good works.
(Ephesians 2:8–9) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

(Titus 3:5) not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

But that is not the end of the story. Salvation is not just about our final destination in heaven or hell. Salvation is about the work of God that delivers us from spiritual death to spiritual life.
(2 Corinthians 5:17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

(Colossians 1:13) He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

(Romans 6:4) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

(Galatians 2:20) I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Those who are saved are not saved BY their good works, but by God's grace through the finished work of Jesus Christ received by faith. But those who are saved are fundamentally changed. They are converted. They are delivered. They are given a new heart and a new relationship with God. They are now God's new creation - created by God for God's good purposes.
(Ephesians 2:10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The three short chapters of Titus use the word "good" eleven times in reference to how the followers of God should live. Six of those are in the term "good works."
Titus 1:16 - The false teachers are "disqualified for every good work."
Titus 2:7 - God's minister should be "a pattern of good works."
Titus 2:14 - God wants His people to be "zealous for good works."
Titus 3:1 - "Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work"
Titus 3:8 - "Those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works."
Titus 3:14 - "And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful."

Salvation is by grace, through faith and not of ourselves. It is God's gift. It is not by our works. But where that grace has worked in a person's heart there will be a change. There will be fruit. There will be a new zeal for doing the good things that please our Holy God and Savior - Jesus Christ.

God deliver us from works religion and from cheap grace!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fishers of Men

Two weeks ago I was on vacation at my parent's home in upstate New York and I spent quite a few hours on the lake in a rowboat fishing for bass. Saddlebag Lake is secluded, deep, quiet and cold. The water is clear. Trees come down to the shoreline on every side and submerged trees at the edges of the lake make reefs for the bass. The weather was beautiful. I fished most mornings and a few evenings. Over the week I caught 36 fish that were big enough to be "keepers."

As I fished, I couldn't help thinking about Jesus calling some Galilean fishermen to become His disciples.
(Matthew 4:18–20) And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
I'm not exactly sure how my experience parallels theirs. They were professionals. Fishing was their livelihood. They didn't do it for the sport, but for the money. They didn't use rods and reels and artificial bait. In fact, I doubt that they often used bait at all. They used nets. I, on the other hand, fish for fun. I want to catch fish and I enjoy a big fish fry, but if I didn't catch any fish I wouldn't starve. I fish with a rod and reel and artificial lures. Even when I am not getting any bites, I have the entertainment of trying to figure out what type of lure will better suit the situation I am facing (shadow or sunlight, calm or windy, deep water or shallow, etc.)

Jesus still wants people to become "fishers of men." But what does that mean? He isn't offering a new form of entertainment. So what are the lessons here? What meanings can we take away today?

1. Jesus wants us to leave all and follow Him. Jesus was calling the disciples away from their homes, families, possessions and professions. His promise to make them fishers of men was really the offer of a new occupation - one in which they would deal with people rather than fish.

This doesn't require that every disciple enter vocational ministry, but that every believer put following Jesus ahead of everything else. Disciples are "fishers of men." This is now our primary identity and it comes before our vocation, our family, our possessions and our entertainment.

2. Jesus wants us to value people like fishermen value fish. Fishermen dream of catching fish. Fishermen think about catching fish. Fishermen invest in catching fish. Fishermen read about catching fish. Fishermen spend time trying to catch fish. Fishermen work hard at catching fish.

You get the idea. So, how much do I dream about reaching people for Jesus Christ? How much do I think about it, invest in it and read about it? How much time do I devote to reaching people for Christ? How hard do I work at it?

3. Jesus wants us to go fishing for men. To catch fish you must actually engage in fishing. To reach people for Jesus Christ requires action to communicate the gospel to people.
(Romans 10:14) How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
Just because this says "preacher" doesn't mean it is the pastor's job and everyone else is off the hook (pardon the pun.) "Preacher" here is any person who proclaims the message. Unless you talk to people about Jesus you will never reach them with the gospel.

4. Jesus wants us to reach into the world like a fisherman reaches into the water. Fish do not travel onto the land and into the fisherman's house on their own. The fisherman must go to the water. Fish do not (usually) jump into the boats. Fishermen must somehow reach into the world of the fish with a net or with a line.

So it is with us. We must go to the place where the people who need Jesus are. We must reach into their world with the gospel of salvation. We don't need to become fish, but we must become students of the fish. Where will they be? When will they be there? How should I approach them?

5. Jesus wants us to demonstrate the same kind of patience required of fishermen. I caught 36 "keepers" on vacation because I spent 12 hours on the lake fishing. Those 36 fish account for about 36 minutes of that 12 hours. Add in time for the small fish I threw back and the fish that I failed to get to the boat and we might be up to an hour of excitement. The other other eleven hours were all quiet - casting, retrieving, changing lures, rowing, drifting, clearing snags, etc.

That is just like evangelism. It requires patience. You patiently and diligently look for people to talk to. You try to talk to the people you find. Some don't want to talk to you. Others talk, but do not come to belief. Only a few - here and there - now and then - respond with faith. But to be effective evangelists we must continue to work at it with patience.
(Galatians 6:9) And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Happy fishing!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You're So Vain!

Jesus' disciples wanted a lesson on prayer.
(Luke 11:2) So He [Jesus] said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
I believe that this means our prayer MUST be focused on who God is - and I argued that in a previous blog. But a comment on that blog has been rattling around in my mind for a while. I will reproduce the comment here in full.
Once we know who God is, fully and deeply in our heart and soul, to continually speak of it in prayer seems to me to be 'repitions'. Once He knows and we know who He is, I think He's interested in us conversing with Him... Thanking him for our blessings, asking for His guidance, and discussing our concerns. I don't think He is vain and needs us always us to continually stroke Him. He loves us too much for that. He wants a relationship WITH us.
I completely agree with the idea that in prayer we should be "thanking him for our blessings, asking for His guidance, and discussing our concerns." In many cases I think we are not nearly candid enough about these things in our prayer life. I look at the Psalms in particular and see the psalmist crying out in prayer or praise. I see Hezekiah going to the temple to spread out the blasphemous threatening letter from the Assyrians before God in prayer. I see Jesus agonizing in prayer in Gethsemane - to the point of sweating blood. Our own prayer life should be marked by this kind of passionate personal pursuit of God - both in praise and in requests. That is thoroughly biblical. That kind of prayer is REAL PRAYER - not just pretty pretense.

[Now a disclaimer. I suspect that the person who left the comment did not intend to communicate any of the things that bother me about the comment. Nevertheless, ideas are important.]

I am troubled by the idea that we might come to a point where we (finite sinful creatures) can completely comprehend and somehow get over our wonder and worship of God (our Infinite Holy Creator.) There is no such thing as "once we know, fully and deeply..." The more we know, the more we see that there is more to know. The perfections of God and the glory of God are a bottomless ocean of wonder. The more we "taste and see that the Lord is good" the more we desire to praise Him continually.
(Psalms 34:1–3) I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.
(Psalms 34:8–9) Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.
I am also troubled by the idea that God's call for His own praise would ever be considered VANITY on God's part. The comment says, "I don't think He is vain and needs us always... to continually stroke Him."

This is dangerous ground. It suggests that God can be praised too much. It suggests that the God who is the source of all things and the measure of all things - would be sinfully inflated with conceit if He required the praise of all His creatures for all time. This borders on blasphemy.

God DOES think that everything is about Him, because everything IS about Him. As John Piper has written somewhere, it would be sinful for God to point to anything or anyone else as the center of all things. Pointing to Himself is not VANITY, it is TRUTH.

Requiring our praise and adoration is not the selfish ranting of an egomaniacal despot surrounding himself with sycophantic groupies. It is the True God expressing reality and desiring truth from us. For us it is not a chore, but the rare privilege of those who really know Him.
(Romans 11:33–36) Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”
35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”
36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Perfectionism Is Next To Godlessness

(2 Timothy 2:15) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Over the years I've come to realize that perfectionism is not a fruit of the Spirit of God. Quite the contrary! Perfectionism is next to godlessness.

Perfectionism is the drive to control all the variables and all the circumstances so that the outcome will be "perfect." All I want is perfect harmony, perfect quality, perfect aesthetics, perfect peace, perfect truth, perfect agreement, perfect joy, perfect progress and perfect success.

How can there be anything wrong with a concern for quality? Should we NOT strive for excellence? I think we should, but we need to be very careful. There is a very big difference between trying to please God with good work, and trying to BE God.

In perfectionism we are not satisfied with diligently applying ourselves to the work that is before us. In perfectionism we want to control God's part - the results.

Ironically, nothing we do will ever be perfect because we are not perfect. But everything God does is perfect, because God is perfect. Our process will always be flawed, but God's purposes will always be accomplished perfectly - far beyond our ability to perceive them.

Don't think that I am arguing for slipshod, sloppy or slovenly work. Far from it. We are working to please God and we should put our absolute best effort into all of our work. But what is God's perfect result from the work that we do? We don't really know.

God is less interested in my perfect completion of some project than He is in His perfect completion of ME. What I suppose are perfect successes are often failures because they inflate my pride, or they take inordinate amounts of time that should have been spent elsewhere, or they are accomplished through ungodly attitudes or actions. What looks like failure, on the other hand, may be God's success if it contributes to my humility, patience, and growth in grace.

Perfectionism results in bitter disappointment - or even in rage. I usurped God's place by deciding what the results must be and by believing that I can control everything to bring about those results. But in spite of my obsessive efforts, things still fall apart and I fall apart with them.

Godliness is very different. In godliness our focus is on faithfulness, patience, diligence, prayer, faith, trust and study. In godliness our goal is God's pleasure and God's glory. In godliness the highest priority is yielding to the work of the Spirit of God in changing our hearts and bringing us into conformity with Jesus Christ.

In godliness our challenge is not to achieve perfect results, but to respond with godliness regardless of the circumstances we can perceive.
(Romans 8:28–29) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son...

(Galatians 5:22–23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.