Monday, September 22, 2014


Perfection is not the same thing as excellence.  To strive for perfection is to try to control everything and to feel that your world cannot survive without you, whether it’s your circumstances, marriage, family, workplace, team, or friendships.  Perfection is what the world wants from you.  If we’re not striving for perfection, our culture makes us feel like a worthless nonproductive bystander.  Perfection generates arrogance. 

To strive for excellence is to excel in who God made you to be.  You recognize your abilities and opportunities and strengths, and you accept your limits.  God reminds us by saying, Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all (Rom. 12:3 Ph).  Excellence is what God wants from you because it requires faith in Him, belief in His truth, and trust in how He has created you.  To strive for excellence is to give your all for God’s purpose in your life.  It’s to trust His infinite wisdom, His purpose in all things, and His comprehensive administration.

To try to be someone else other than who God made you is to abuse who God made.  And that is arrogance.  If we follow the script the world gives us, this is where it leads.  In Disney’s Fantasia, in the animation of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey Mouse plays the apprentice and uses sorcery to bring to life a broom to do the chore his master wants done – fetching water in a bucket.  This is not just laziness.  Mickey is too arrogant to do something so lowly, working slowly within the limits of his own body.  But Mickey has started something he can’t stop.  When the water is flooding the room and the broom still will not stop, Mickey chops it up, and soon hundreds of headless brooms are carrying water and drowning Mickey in the fulfillment of his ideas, which are beyond his abilities and limits.

That’s the revenge we can expect when we strive for perfection according to what our culture wants from us, when we try to be what we’re not, when we disrespect the abilities and opportunities God has entrusted to us, and when we don’t accept our limits.  The oppression it brings is a life of inhuman competition.

Striving for excellence doesn’t mean we are less energetic or less enthused about life and what God has called us to do.  On the contrary it’s about going forward full throttle according to God’s design and purpose for us.  As you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God, that you excel still more (1 Thess. 4:1 NAS).  Some of you need to press on the accelerator to follow God’s direction and let Him do the steering.  Strive for excellence, not perfection.  Love God, love others, and love yourself.

Monday, September 8, 2014


To borrow from Skye Jethani, in our culture we interpret everything through a lens of “what works for me”.  We tend to look at everything in this world as a transaction, a business contract, a negotiation.  We may come to church each Sunday with the expectation to solely receive something. We want God to give us something.  We want God to do for us.  We want God to quickly fix what we’ve broken.  Certainly God loves and provides, but He doesn’t exist to be useful.  God exists to be adored, simply because of Who He is.  True worship is never transactional.  True worship expects nothing in return.  True worship is, at its core, an act of senseless, wasteful, indulgent beauty.

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.  When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked.  “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”  Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman?  She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.  When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.  Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matt. 26:6-13)