Is a “B” Good Enough?

1257962367_38e5fdfe95_m I have a friend who frequently says to me, “Lissa, why strive for perfection when good enough will do?”  I always laugh because the thought hits me as such a novel idea! Most of us have heard of “Type A” personalities or at least we have been the uncomfortable recipients of their intensity as they navigate life and tasks. It seems that women are particularly susceptible to this personality inclination.  Here is how this type is described:

Type A Personality Characteristics & Behavior The Type A is a normal person operating at his maximum possible speed. She wants to achieve a big goal but she thinks that time is very limited and this results in the following behavior:

    • Exaggerated Sense of time urgency: Since the type A thinks that time is running out and since her goals are too big, she always races with time. If you want to lose a type A in a short time, then waste her time (by making long phone calls or making her wait for something too long). Time is a tool for measuring and a means of limiting, confining and defining. As such, time is important to someone who has always had to meet standards and deadlines for acceptance.
    • Issues with Valuing rightly: Type A people have esteem issues, as they don’t base their value on solid ground but rather on meeting standards. As such, rather than by their inherent value as people, they value themselves and what they do by money. What’s it worth, what did it cost, how much do they earn, have and spend? Their language is peppered by references to the cost of things.  They spend or give money as a way of showing love or affection. It is their empowerment and security. In relationships there is a medium of exchange and of acceptance with others and it is money.
    • Competitiveness: The type A is a very competitive person, she considers everything to be a challenge. She is challenging the circumstances that led to her insecurity and so she will challenge every thing else that does the same.
    • Cleanliness: Since A types tend toward perfectionism they have a high need for orderly, clean, neat surroundings. Disorder or dust makes them feel bad about themselves so they are driven to stay ahead of clutter and dust bunnies!
    • Multitasking: The type A can handle more tasks at the same time than Windows XP can.Smiling You know that a person is Type A if you have found that she is involved in at least five unrelated activities while performing well at them all.
    • The Price for Over Achievement: Over achievement does not come for free. Type A’s are subject to tremendous amounts of stress. Their life style is the main drive for this stress (always running, having lots of things to do & racing with time)

Doesn’t that list make you want to settle for a “B”?  As I was pondering the cost of striving for perfection, I ran across this quote from Noel Piper’s book “Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God.”  It caught my eye because it was about one of my missionary heroes, Helen Roseveare.  What a helpful, gospel-orienting help this was to my soul:

“Perhaps the deepest underlying personal factor in Helen’s tension was the need she felt to do her very best and, if possible, to be the very best. God called her to Africa where that was not possible. There were K8JTSCAUO7J84CAYVXZ7DCAFHY0HRCAOE5RKQCAK30FDACAF9OZ8KCA9CDTFACA4HF5OSCAJ4413ICAZV5LM5CACA26UMCAP8G9O4CASHO9Z0CAP2YNUJCAG65LSPCA7JTXEBCAJ89X62CAGTK75JCAZRV2G6 continuing lessons for her: learning to treat malaria by symptoms rather than with prescribed lab tests, having to operate without having been trained as a surgeon, needing to make bricks rather than spending the day with patients. Perhaps that is an issue for some of us–struggling with the reality that God has called us to do less than we want to do or less than what we believe is best. That can happen in any setting.

For me, it’s been especially true in my years with small children – ‘I got a college degree for this?’ Maybe the problem is the way we see ourselves. Maybe we think more highly of ourselves than we ought. If anyone was too good to die, it was Jesus. If anyone should have done greater things than walking dusty roads and talking with people too dense to understand him, it was Jesus.

In Philippians 3 . . . is the verse, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (verse 10). When God called Helen to less than she expected, he was helping her become like Christ, rather than like the best doctor or missionary she knew of. Who is it we want to be like?” (p. 172)

Can you imagine?  Our perfectionist impulses are evidences that we think too highly of ourselves? Oh little one, why strive for perfection–Jesus is the embodiment of it–so restfully settle for the “B”… it is very good enough!

The Gospel is Strong Wind!

"For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep doing…What a wretched man I am!   Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!…Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Romans 7:19, 24-25, 8:1

mistress1 What a gift to a believer’s heart are these words from Romans 7-8!

From his own experience, Paul describes the struggle of having new creation wants and desires coexisting and battling within the same body that still houses the desires that he had before being indwelt by Christ. 

He turns not to the law to resolve the inner conflict–he turns to Christ and the glory of the gospel!

"The law can tell us what obedience looks like and can chart our course for it, but it cannot give what it commands, and this is as true for the Christians as it is for unbelievers. 

Continue reading “The Gospel is Strong Wind!”

Do you Sense His Love?

image154 This morning I was revisiting a favorite book by A.W. Tozer The Pursuit of Man.

He used a wonderful illustration to make the important distinction between knowing about Christ and His love andknowing it experientially.

Tozer asked, “What good would it do a starving child to know about bread when his stomach rolled and growled begging for food to be satisfied?”

A person can die of starvation knowing all about the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables but knowing about them will not save him from starving!

“Knowledge by acquaintance is always better than mere knowledge by description.”

With that illustration in mind, I wondered about the love of God.  It is not uncommon to hear people proclaim that God is love, that He is by nature a loving and caring being.

loveofImage10b (Small) Wouldn’t life be more viscerally satisfying if we knew those truths by acquaintance rather than description? 

Maurice Roberts wrote on the subject of sensing the love of God and he suggested:

“The way to get God’s felt blessing on our hearts begins with an act of faith.  That is to say we must believe that there is such a thing to be had in this life. If we do not expect or even believe in such experiences, the probability is that we shall know but little of them.

There is, as we have sought to show, a true and scriptural enjoyment of Christ which is no fanaticism but the subjective fruit of the gospel.

Then, having become convinced that there is a genuine experience of a ‘felt Christ’ to be had on earth, we must go to God in prayer for it.  We come to the throne of grace as suppliants to receive this choice favor of ‘tasting’, or being made subjectively conscious of the love God has to us in Christ.

We do harm to our souls and hinder our own progress in the knowledge of God (remember how that differs from knowing about God) if we treat prayer as an exercise of the mind only and do not expect to emerge from the presence of God with a fresh token of His love born in us. ((Maurice Roberts, The Thought of God, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1993, p.61))

What vitality would be breathed into our living if we stopped existing on the knowledge about God and sunk our teeth into subjective experience of tasting and seeing that God is good! Psalm 34:8

Let’s starve no more!

Kidnapped Priest Released in Turkey

I read this report from Mission Network News this morning and thought of the Apostle Paul’s feet that walked miles and miles through Turkey sharing the gospel. He penetrated the inner regions spreading the message of peace and reconciliation in the ancient cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Troas, and Ephesus.

Today, Christians are constantly under attack.  As recently as April of this year, 3 workers in a Christian publishing office had their throats slit in a gruesome attack motivated by religious hatred.

May God protect what He planted and is planting in this country–in the Book of Acts we see that the Word of God cannot be imprisoned, murdered or snuffed out–it is a Living Word.

7 December, 2007


Turkey (MNN) ― Compass Direct reports good news in a kidnapping in southeastern Turkey.  According to their sources, unidentified assailants kidnapped Father Edip Daniel Savci, 42, last Wednesday. 

Two days later, he was freed by his captors 43 miles north of Midyat where he was kidnapped.   Church officials can’t confirm the identity of his kidnappers or whether a ransom was paid, but kidnappers had made a ransom demand of 300,000 euros. 

Deputy Governor Aziz Mercan said, “Given the information obtained from the priest, we now know who the perpetrators are, and security forces are tracking them down now.” He declined, however, to give the suspects’ names.

Most of Turkey’s 75 million people are Muslim, and it has barely 100,000 Christians–mostly of Greek and Armenian origin.

Although the incident appears to have been motivated by money, there are scattered reports that mission groups think Turkey’s anti-Christian atmosphere may have influenced the kidnappers.

Pray for opportunities for Christians in Turkey to share the truth of Christ. Despite the government reforms to facilitate joining the European Union, there is no indication of increasing religious freedom.

While the Turkish constitution includes freedom of religion, worship services are only permitted in “buildings created for this purpose,” and officials have restricted the construction of buildings for minority religions. In other cases, those who dare to profess Christ face harassment, threats and prison. Evangelism is difficult.

However, Glenn Penner of Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, “The church is continuing to move forward, and Christians are continuing to witness. But, of course, it does cause some anxiety. There have been a number of attacks on evangelicals in the last two years, and they’re wanting to know, ‘Will our government stand up for us? Will they defend us? Or will they allow us to be shot, killed and attacked with impunity?'”

Pray for those in Christian work in Turkey.

Clinging Impact

22667275It has been great to study the Book of Acts this Fall. To focus on the the power of the Holy Spirit as He spread the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and even to the ends of the earth has been thrilling.

As we draw upon this new power, in radical dependence on the Holy Spirit’s presence, what will it mean for us?
Among other things, it will enable us to reflect His Son to others and to advance His kingdom purposes in this world.

Jesus foretold what His disciples would become through the Holy Spirit’s power, ‘You shall be witnesses to Me…to the end of the earth.’

He calls His followers to make converts and to present these converts ‘complete in Christ.’

Christ is calling you and me and every believer to a life that furthers the gospel’s worldwide penetration as well as an in-depth cultivation of that gospel in those who respond.

Does that seem impossible? It should. Mark this: God will never call you to something you can do. Period. If you can do what God called you to without the new power God alone provides…then you missed what God has called you to. God calls us only to that which requires Him.

Reliance on Christ was the secret behind Paul’s impact on the world of his day; it’s also the secret behind our impact on the world of our day.” ((Dwight Edwards, Revolution Within, A Fresh Look at Supernatural Living, Waterbrook Press, 2001, p. 137-138))

“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Psalm 63:8

Believing and Behaving

Morality-Freethought-Large (Small) In the study of Acts, we are seeing the stresses and strains that grew out of preaching of the gospel to people whose roots were firmly planted in Judaism. This clarifying article , “Does our Ability to act Morally depend on Who we Worship?” by John Piper addresses what Paul was facing chapter after chapter of Acts. 

This helps us weigh what was at stake when Judaizers sought to pull the gospel off the axis of Jesus and what He has done– to some man centered religion about what man seeks to do for God. 

Our goal of making ourselves the source of righteousness reveals who we are worshipping!

I am reminded of a quote that I have read in so many places I do not know who to give credit to:

All we have or have ever had to offer God is sin!

Dangerous Confusion

J.I. Packer has lamented: “At no time, perhaps, since the Reformation have Christians as a  body been so unsure, tentative, and confused as to what they should believe and do. 

confusionCertainty about the great issues of Christian faith and conduct is lacking all along the line.  The outside observer sees us as staggering on from gimmick to gimmick and stunt to stunt like so many drunks in a fog, not knowing at all where we are or which way we should be going.   

 Preaching is hazy; heads are muddled; hearts fret; doubts strain our strength; uncertainty paralyzes action…We know in our bones that we were made for certainty, and we cannot be happy without it.  Yet unlike the first Christians who in three centuries won the Roman world…we lack certainty.”

We want to present the world with an upbeat message.  We want to create a positive image.  We want to emphasize the many and substantial benefits of the Christian life.  We want to put on a happy face.  A. W. Tozer decries this accommodated version of the Gospel as a “spiteful cruelty to the lost and languishing–a cruelty misguidedly offered in the name of comfort.”  This updated message of indifference does not slay the sinner; it redirects him.” 

Furthermore:  “It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect.  To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egoist if says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.”  To the thrill-seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of the Christian life.  The idea behind this kind of thing may be sincere, but its sincerity does not save it from being false.” ((George Grant, “By a Slender Thread,” Tabletalk, May 2002, 16.)) 

Righteousness from God

comes through faith in Jesus Christ

to all who believe (trust) in Christ.

(Romans 3:22)