Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Will Make You Happy?

The possession of the whole world, and all that it contains, will never make a person happy. Its pleasures are false and deceptive. Its riches, rank, and honors, have no power to satisfy the heart. So long as we have not got them they glitter, sparkle, and seem desirable. The moment we have them we find that they are empty bubbles, and cannot make us feel content. And, worst of all, when we possess this world’s good things, to the utmost bound of our desire, we cannot keep them. Death comes in and separates us from all our property forever. Naked we came upon earth, and naked we go forth, and of all our possessions we can carry nothing with us. Such is the world, which occupies the whole attention of thousands! Such is the world, for the sake of which millions are every year destroying their souls!

~ J.C. Ryle

Many men think that when they are troubled and have not got contentment it is because they have but a little in the world, and that if they had more then they should be content. That is just as if a man were hungry, and to satisfy his craving stomach he should gape and hold open his mouth to take in the wind, and then should think that the reason why he is not satisfied is because he has not got enough of the wind. No, the reason is because the thing is not suitable to a craving stomach. Yet there is really the same madness in the world: the wind which a man takes in by gaping will as soon satisfy a craving stomach ready to starve, as all the comforts in the world can satisfy a soul who knows what true happiness means.
O poor deulded man! It is not because you have not got enough of it, but because it is not the thing that is proportionable to the immortal soul that God has given you.

~ Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, pg. 91

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review: Overcoming Perfectionism by Amy Baker

By Kim W.

I recently purchased the workbook Overcoming Perfectionism by Amy Baker to go through myself as a summer project. I have known for quite some time that the sin of perfectionism was one I struggle with often. This book is a study guide that asks questions, gives lists, and points to Scripture as the sufficient answer to this attitude of sin that can secretly be harboring in a woman's (or man's) heart. I had no idea how deeply rooted this sin was in my own heart, and some of you may struggle with it as well.

As a young girl, I can remember having feelings of not being good enough... not so much in God's eyes, but in the eyes of other people. I struggled with desiring things, accomplishments, and productivity to validate myself. This weakness in my heart set my sinful nature into a battle of striving for perfection by the world's standards. I wanted to be the best at things, and when I wasn't, I felt devastated and like a failure. When I became a Christian, I knew I had sinned and needed a loving Savior. I wanted to live for Him, but because at this time in my life I did not actually know and see all of my sinful habits, seeking perfectionism still continued on in my heart.

Fast forward to my adult life...I began studying God's Word more and more. As I did, God so graciously showed me how much pride and perfectionism had affected my life. I could give many examples of how this played out in my life, but the reality is that perfectionism can look very different for different people: it could show itself by expecting children to behave perfectly, by demanding and working towards a perfectly clean house all the time, or even by desiring to appear "perfect" spiritually. The list could go on and on. It all comes down to a prideful heart that desires to appear a certain way before men, with little regard to what God thinks.

Amy Baker's workbook is so helpful in revealing our hearts and motives while lining everything up with Scripture. It is a very practical help for those of us who have realized we need God's guidance on how to deal with these attitudes and actions Biblically.

To see if you are dealing with this sin, here are some ways Dr. Baker describes a perfectionist in her book:

  1. This person may always appear very well put together--disciplined, neat, orderly, and thorough...but they can place excessive demands on time and energy for things which may matter little in eternity.
  2. They create extra-Biblical standards for themselves and others, which they insist must be met.
  3. They believe they can never please God.
  4. They view themselves in terms of accomplishments and productivity.
  5. When they fail, they are devastated because they failed - not because God is grieved, but more because they are worried about what others may think of them.
  6. Perfectionists are not willing to be beginners.
  7. There is continual nagging self doubt and regret over lost opportunities and perceived failures.
  8. They mentally review everything said or done in relationships with others looking for a flaw (in themselves).
  9. They get very upset if they make a mistake.
  10. Perfectionists are motivated, not by a desire to please God, but by the fear of failure.

Thankfully, God has given us everything we need through His Word to remedy our sinful hearts! Through this study by Amy Baker, we can see God's true concerns for us...and it is not our perfection.

God is most concerned about:

  1. Our continual growth towards holiness...this helped me a lot. We are always growing and perfection is not attained on this earth. The wonderful thing about this is God is growing us as we strive to please Him, not others.
  2. A repentant heart that is willing to say that yes, we are flawed, and we need Christ's perfection to satisfy God's heart toward us. We must be willing to honestly see and admit our failures, so that we can rely on Christ and His perfect sacrifice on the cross. But we cannot just admit we have failed; we must repent and turn from our sin in response to our love for Christ.
  3. A broken and contrite heart desiring to please God alone
  4. Our obedience to His Word and our integrity before God
I recommend this study guide to anyone who is struggling with sinful perfectionism or anyone that would like to help someone who is struggling with it. It would be a wonderful tool for a mentor to use as a short Bible study to go through with another woman to edify and encourage her in her walk with Christ.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thanking God for Afflictions

If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other people. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory to the end – all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that.

By affliction He teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction He shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from the world and makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall all say, ‘it is good for me that I was afflicted.’ [Psalm 119:71] We shall thank God for every storm.

~ J.C. Ryle

Monday, August 22, 2011

Teaching Our Children to be Thankful for Their Food

“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever… Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Ps 136:1 and 25).

The Israelites complained about the food God gave them. There it was, miraculously appearing on the ground every morning, “angels’ food” (Ps. 78:5), free for the gathering. It tasted good. It was good for them. Their loving Father, creator of the universe, provided it for them. But they chose to grumble. “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (Numbers 11:4-6, ESV) Not exactly the epitome of thankfulness, huh?

Sometimes our children don’t like the food God gives them. It appears on the table at meal times. It’s good for them. God has graciously provided it through the labors of their loving father, and it has been prepared by the hands of a devoted mother or other family member. But they choose to complain about it. They may refuse to eat a particular food. They may ask for (or demand) something different. They may spit it out, drop it on the floor, or hide it in their napkins (or pockets…yuck).

Our children reveal ungrateful hearts when they grumble about the food that is given to them. In response, instead of correcting them we are often tempted to:

  • Tolerate or ignore their complaints.

  • Manipulate them into eating.

  • Give in to their complaints or tantrums in order to preserve peace during mealtimes.

  • Go to the fridge to search for some other food that will please them more.

  • Allow mid-meal snacks because they are hungry after not eating at meal times.

  • Grow impatient and angry with the child, and start to do our own complaining about their attitudes.

When we do these things, we are encouraging them to become unthankful children who turn into ungrateful teenagers, and then grumpy, never-satisfied adults. Worse, we are teaching them to not give thanks to God, who is the Provider of all things.

Mealtimes are training opportunities:

  • Teach your children to give thanks for the food that is placed before them. Pray aloud with them. Teach them to pray aloud. Thank God for the food He has provided, and for the people who have worked to purchase and prepare it.

  • Teach them to cheerfully eat at least one bite of everything they are served, and to graciously explain when they don’t care for more. Make sure they understand, however, that they may not ask for a different food to replace the food they have chosen not to eat.

  • Teach them to quietly taste new foods when visiting in others’ homes, and to refrain from comments when they don’t care for something. My step-mom, Vickie, loved to tell the story of my little step-sister objecting to her piece of pumpkin pie at a Thanksgiving dinner at our house many years ago. Vickie was about to quietly insist that Jessica eat at least some of her pie, when my dad caught her eye with a discreet but clearly sympathetic grimace. Later, when I finally had my piece (I was too full to eat it at the meal), I discovered that I had neglected to put the sweetener in with the pumpkin! That was clearly a time when it was good to excuse a child from politely eating what was put before her. The funny part is that my father-in-law had insisted it was the best pumpkin pie he had ever eaten!

  • Train them to thank the cook, and to compliment them on dishes they especially enjoyed. This should happen at home, as well as when visiting in others’ homes.

  • Involve your children early in cooking and meal cleanup. Helping prepare and clean up a meal will give them a greater appreciation for the work entailed, and they will also be more interested in eating something they have helped prepare.

  • Teach them to obey you at all times, including meal times. If they have learned to obey in other areas, they will be less likely to challenge you during meals. When issues do arise during meals, however, deal promptly with them. A spanking for disobedience may be appropriate. Other times, grumblers may learn by cleaning up after the meal, losing the privilege of eating the meal, or taking responsibility for preparing all or part of the next meal. Discipline will ultimately lead to peaceful obedience and a pleasant meal for all.

This post was originally posted on the Doorposts of Your House blog. Go to their website to sign up to receive their blog posts via email.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You're Not

This great poem/prayer was posted by Paul Tripp on his blog today.

When I'm
Weary and exhausted
You're not.
When I'm
Confused and discouraged
You're not.
When I'm
Fickle and unfaithful
You're not.
When I'm
Doubtful and disheartened
You're not.
When I'm
Fearful and anxious
You're not.
When I'm
Short-sighted and fearful
You're not.
When I'm
Tired and about to quit
You're not.
When I'm
Lacking in hope and love
You're not.
When I'm
Shocked and surprised
You're not.
When I'm
Angrily withholding grace
You're not.
When I'm
Unfaithful to what I've promised
You're not.
When I'm
Selfish and disloyal
You're not.
Oh, Lord of
Faithfulness and grace
I am so thankful
In those moments
When I'm
Losing my way
You're not.

~ Paul Tripp

Monday, August 15, 2011

Choosing Our Mental Direction

By Kim W.

What do we as women focus our hearts and minds on? Are we constantly meditating on God's Word or easily distracted by the things of this world? I can think of many times that I have disobeyed the Lord because I was ignorant of what His Word said. I was thinking about what others thought of me, I was so busy that I didn't even consider God's Word, or I was simply making choices based on what I wanted, not what God wanted. All of these things show a lack of love for His Word... so let's challenge one another to be studying and meditating on what God wants for us, which is only found in Scripture. As we study and meditate on His Truths, we will grow in the Lord and allow God's Word to govern our lives. Our minds will be focused in the right and best direction if we do this.

"Meditation on Scripture is a discipline. We must commit ourselves to be proactive. We must memorize key passages (or carry them on cards) so we can think about them. We must be alert for those times during the day when we can turn our minds to the Word of God, and then we must do it. Even the practice of daily Bible reading is insufficient if we go the rest of the day without meditating on some truths of Scripture. We must choose to meditate instead of thinking about other things or listening to the radio or watching television. We simply have to decide what we want our minds to be influenced by, and take steps accordingly."

~ Jerry Bridges

Friday, August 12, 2011


By Aaron Wilson

It's really not called "The Mom Song," but that's my own name for it, because every time I hear it, I think of my wife - who is, of course, the mom to our four children. And, judging by the tears that fill my eyes when I listen to this song, it's really not just for moms, dads can benefit from it as well.

Sung by Danielle Young (Caedmon's Call), this upbeat song is about seeing the mundane tasks of home life as sacred events. It's about seeing motherhood as worship. This is described throughout the lyrics of the song, as you can read below. But it's most beautifully displayed in the short bridge, where the songwriter seamlessly weaves from a morning wake up call to a child, into a brief burst of praise in the melody of "Holy, Holy, Holy."

After dialing the album, "Overdressed," into my iPod this morning and hearing this song, I prayed along with the line Teach me to run to you like [my children] run to me for every little thing.

So I commend this song to you mothers and homemakers to prompt you to worship God in the midst of laundry and spills and chores and bills and dust bunnies and runny noses.

All of it is sacred.


This house is a good mess it’s the proof of life
No way would I trade jobs but I don’t pay overtime
I’ll get to the laundry I don’t know when
I’m saying a prayer tonight cause tomorrow it starts again

Could it be that everything is sacred
And all this time
Everything I’ve dreamed of has been right before my eyes

The children are sleeping but they’re running through my mind
The sun makes them happy and the music makes them unwind
My cup runneth over, I worry about the stain
Teach me to run to you like they run to me for every little thing

Cause everything is sacred
And all this time
Everything I’ve dreamed of has been right before my eyes

When I forget to drink from you I can feel the banks harden
Lord make me like a stream to feed the garden

Wake up little sleeper
The Lord God Almighty
Made your mama keeper
So rise and shine, rise and shine, rise and shine

Cause everything is sacred
And all this time
Everything I’ve dreamed of has been right before my eyes

Words and Music by Randall Goodgame and Andrew Osenga
(c) 2007 House of Mirrors Music (ASCAP) admin. by Simpleville Music, Inc. / 2007 Mighty Molecule Music. (ASCAP) admin by Music Services

Download the song or album on Amazon or iTunes.
Also, check out this 3 minute video clip where Danielle and the band talk about how this song came about.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Around the Blogosphere: List Edition

By Jennifer R.

It seems there have been a lot of "lists" around the blogosphere lately. Here are some of the more interesting, helpful, and humorous ones I've found.

13 Signs Your Sermon Isn’t Going Well - Mike Wittmer offers up a humorous top-13 list of signs that your sermon isn’t going too well.

100 Ways for Your Family to Make a Difference - Kristen at We are THAT Family composes a list of things you can do to help others.

22 Liberating Truths for Christian Women - True Woman presented these twenty-two liberating truths to wrap your arms and heart around on Independence Day, taken from Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ book, Lies Women Believe: And the Truth That Sets Them Free!

Salsa and Submission - Thabiti Anyabwile's wife shares five lessons on submission gleaned from a conversation about salsa (the dancing variety, not the stuff you eat with tortilla chips).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Encouraging Our Husbands

By Kim W.

It is so important to encourage our husbands as they work so hard to provide for us, sacrifice for us, and try to love us as Christ loved the church. I am guilty at times of having a heart that says "What about me...what about my needs?" I forget that God wants me to lovingly meet my husband's needs without expecting anything in return. It is very typical in this world for wives, Christians and non-Christians, to criticize or belittle their husbands. I have seen this my extended family, on television, in magazines, and even in some Christian books. I pray we will be women who want to build up our husbands on a daily basis... to tell them and show them by our actions how much we love and appreciate them. If you need help knowing how to do this, Nancy Leigh Demoss has a 30-day challenge on how to love your husband by encouraging him. I have personally found this very helpful to me in my relationship with my husband. It is found here.