Perfect is the Enemy of Good

As we move into the New Year, there is a lot to keep in mind. One thing that will help us all is if we can remember that “Perfect is the Enemy of Good.”wisdom-92901_640

 

As a recovering perfectionist, I have to keep remembering this. Whether I am cleaning my house, doing a project, or writing an article; there is a point where I must say, “It is good enough.” If I keep striving to make it perfect, I am only going to be spinning my wheels and wasting my time.

I began to learn this lesson when my oldest son was a toddler. I would clean the house, look around and think, “Everything looks so good, it is perfect.” That would last about five minutes. He would drag his toys into the living room, spread them out and begin to play. My perfect home was no more. At some point, he would be done with those toys; we would pick them up, put them away and he would drag out some more. All day long this would go on, and only at night, when all the toys were put away and he was in bed sleeping, did my house look “perfect” again.

I then had another child. The cycle continued and I continued to be stressed on the inside because my “house wasn’t perfect.” Looking back, I can see that I should have just relaxed and enjoyed the fact that my children were having fun. That was really a good thing; my children had a good childhood and enjoyed their home. If I would have learned the lesson then, I could have saved myself years of stress.

You see, when you are a perfectionist, you look at life through a lens that casts a negative light on everything you see. That critical eye can find something that is not quite right in every situation. It can rob you of your happiness because as you look around, you see the things that take away from the perfection in every situation.

The truth is, life is not perfect, nothing really is. The new car is only perfect until you drive it off the lot and a rock puts a ding in the paint. That new home is only perfect until you move into it and someone spills coffee on the rug. The new husband or wife is only perfect until you start living with them. Instead of seeing things through the lens of perfection, we need to see things through a lens that sees the good in every situation.

As we move into the New Year, I wish you one that is good – not perfect!

“For Unto Us a Child is Born,”

pexels-photo-51524.jpeg“For unto us a child is born,

unto us a son is given,

and the government shall be upon his shoulder;

and his name shall be called Wonderful,

Counselor,

The Mighty God,

The Everlasting Father,

The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,

upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it,

and to establish it with justice and with righteousness

from henceforth even forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 (KJV)

 

Lord Jesus, as we reflect on Your first advent, we await Your second advent when You shall truly bring peace to the earth and the restoration of all things. Amen

 

BLESSINGS OF THE SEASON TO ALL!!!

Is America “Babylon the Great?”

Every year, I try to read through the Bible. As I was nearing the end of Revelation in November, I wondered, “Is America “Babylon the Great?” For years, people have asked, “Where is America in Scripture?” They couldn’t find her and thought that perhaps she would have receded in power and would no longer be part of the End Times Scenario.

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But what if she is there under another name?

Some great scholars believe that America and Babylon the great are one and the same because of the information presented in the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, plus the words of John the seer in Revelation, chapter 18.

Consider the following momentarily. Isaiah 18:1,2 depicts a latter-day nation that amazingly resembles modern America. This nation (1) has the insignia of wings – similar to our national emblem, the bald eagle; (2) is a land that is beyond the sea from Israel; (3) is scattered and peeled – meaning it is widely spread out or has great land areas; (4) is meted out – or staked out – by acres and miles; and (5) is a land whose rivers are spoiled – or polluted.

As one studies Jeremiah’s remarks, he is amazed to see that modern America seems to be the fulfillment of these predictions because : (1) she is a nation of mingled people (Jeremiah 50:37); (2) she is a nation whose mother shall be sorely confounded and who coexists with the “mother” at the hour of her decline (50:12);  (3) she dwellest upon many waters (51:13); (4) her wealth plagues the nations of the earth to the point of insane jealousy (51:17); (5) her space exploits are so utterly fantastic that she tries to mount up to heaven (51:53) and (6) she exists when Israel is back in the land.”  from Revelation Revealed by Jack Van Impe.

I thought about these references a lot and decided to reread a book I had read a few years ago. “The Bablyon Code” by Paul McGuire and Troy Anderson delves into these questions and covers: Mystery Babylon, Geopolitical-Military Babylon, Economic Babylon and Spiritual-Technical Babylon. It is a really interesting book and I would recommend it to anyone interested in this subject.  

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Is America “Babylon the Great?”  I don’t know, but I am convinced more and more that she just might be.

The Facts are not Equal to the Truth

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When you think about your life, do you focus on the negative facts about it? Were you raised in poverty? Did your mother or father leave your family? Have you lost a business, an election or had to declare bankruptcy? Did you not have much of a formal education? Do you suffer from a physical or mental disability? Do you focus on these facts and believe that they are the sum total of who you are?

I just want you to know that the negative things that have happened to you do not define who you are. They are NOT the sum total of who you are. In other words the facts about your life are not equal to the truth of who you really are. Those negative things are just a part of the story of your life, they are not the totality of who you are. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a few examples:

This man was born into poverty. He had about eighteen months of formal schooling. He failed at his first business. He lost eight times he ran for public office. He was estranged from his father. He battled depression for most of his adult life. Who was he? Abraham Lincoln. We all know that he was not the sum total of the negative facts about him and he made one of the greatest contributions to the history of our country.

This man was born into poverty. His parents were on the run from the authorities for the first few years of his life. He lived as an immigrant in a foreign country during those years. He worked as a skilled laborer. The last few years of his life, he lived as a transient. Who was he? Jesus. I don’t need to tell you the contribution he made to the planet.

Just remember one thing: THE FACTS DON’T EQUAL THE TRUTH. 

The truth of who you are is so much greater than any negative facts about you. Everyone has negative things happen to them. It is only part of the story of their lives. The truth about each one of us is far greater than any negative aspect about us. If we want to be productive people, we need to focus on the positive things in our lives and not focus on the negative things that have happened to us. When we do this, we can live our lives knowing that the facts about us don’t equal the truth of who we really are!positive-455580_640image by geralt. courtesy of Pixabay

 

Seeing is Only Part of the Equation

SEEING  +      +       =    UNDERSTANDING

Have you ever looked at a situation and thought you knew what was going on? As time developed and more facts were revealed, you then found out that the situation was nothing like you thought it was. This happens all the time to us. Whether it is in the personal realm, the social realm, the national or international realm, a situation happens and we see what is happening on the surface. We think we understand what is going on and then Boom! some sort of information is brought out, and what we thought was happening is entirely different than what was really happening.

To put this into perspective, think about the Kennedy assassination. That event was captured on film and we thought we knew what was going on. Our beloved president was killed and a man was arrested for the crime. The evidence pointed to him and we thought that was all there was to the situation. A few days later, that man was killed and all of a sudden we wondered, “What is going on in Dallas?” Time continued on, the Warren Report was released, and we were all supposed to put the matter to rest. The matter is still not at rest, and perhaps we will never really know what happened and what was happening behind the scenes because the real facts have never been released.

This continues to happen today. Think of the Kavanaugh hearings; some people saw a man who was unfit for office, other people saw a man who was being destroyed by people who had an agenda. Or take the Mueller investigation; some people see evidence of Russian collusion everywhere, others see a man on a witch hunt. Look at the Paris riots, are they really just about a gasoline tax? What is the truth? How do we recognize what is really going on?

Most of the time, it takes a while to recognize what is happening in these different situations. We have to sit back, wait and not jump to any conclusions or on any bandwagon. Eventually the real facts will come out and we will all gain some perspective. Seeing a situation on the surface or in the news is not enough to gain a real understanding of what is happening. Seeing is only part of the equation. If we want understanding, we will have to put our biases aside, do some research, and see if we can come up with the facts.  Then we may recognize what is happening and gain some understanding of the situation. 

SEEING + THE FACTS + RECOGNITION = UNDERSTANDING

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Men on a Mission

A few weeks ago, I was reading these verses in Matthew and I was struck by the sheer enormity of what these men did: 

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” Matthew 2: 1-2 NKJV

christmas-934181_640 photo by Geralt. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Here were wise men, Magi they were called in the Greek, from the Persian word Magoi, meaning men who studied the stars, and they were from the East. The Bible does not tell us anything else about them. Tradition says they many have been from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, or India, but we do not know. 

This is what we do know: they studied the stars and saw something extraordinary in the heavens. It may have been a conjunction of planets or a comet. Whatever it was, they studied it and determined that a King was born to the Jews, and His birth announcement was in the night sky. This event was so immense that they decided they had to come find this King and worship Him. They were men on a mission.

We don’t know how far they came, but they were probably not from Israel. Once they made the decision to find this King, they were going to have to plan a trip, spend a lot of money and travel a long ways to find what they were looking for. They could have come from as far away as five hundred or a thousand miles. If they came by camel and rode every day, they may have made the trip in a few weeks or a month, but the trip could have taken a lot longer. This was not going to be a comfortable undertaking.

There are a few things that really strike me about what these men did. First, they recognized the fact that the universe was making an announcement. They saw the star and from their studies, whether it was from star charts or the Hebrew Scriptures, they figured out that a King was born in Israel. They knew this birth had immense significance. Second, they were willing to make an effort to go find this King and worship Him. These men were probably court advisors in whatever kingdom they lived in. They were men of status and probably lived in great comfort. In spite of this, they wanted to travel to Israel to worship this newborn King. 

During this Christmas season, I will think about the wise men and the lessons I can learn from them. First, I need to study and know what is going on around the world prophetically. If there are actual signs in the heavens of His Second Coming, I need to be aware of them and find out what they mean. Second, I need to be willing to get out of my comfort zone and go where I need to in order to serve and worship the King. 

Men on a mission, an example to us all.

Illumination vs. Comfort

A few weeks ago, it got really cold outside. I thought perhaps if I curtained off the door to the inner porch it would make the house warmer.  It did in fact add warmth to the house, but it also cut out a lot of light coming in. After a few days, I decided to remove the curtain. I preferred the light to the warmth.room-932321_640 (1)

That little incident got me to thinking, “So how does this apply to our lives?” Do we in fact, prefer illumination to comfort or is it usually the other way around? After pondering it a bit, I thought, “I bet we usually prefer comfort to illumination.” Do you think that is true?

Is it much easier to hang out with people who think like we do, watch newscasts that support our point of view, and read magazines and articles that confirm our pre-existing ideas? I think it is. It usually takes effort to spend time with those that think differently than we do, read books that challenge our thinking, or watch another news channel. Do we want to remain in the orbit of those that are similar to us or are we willing to move out of that orbit and seek to understand others that are different than ourselves?

I’ve been asking myself those questions and I don’t like the answers I am getting. I am going to have to be intentional if I want to expose myself to those who think differently than I do. If I do that, then perhaps, I will have a better understanding of others and also the world around me.light-bulb-3104355_640

Advent – Preparing for the Coming of Christ

Having been raised in a traditional church, I thought I was familiar with Advent. I thought it was all about Christ’s first coming as a baby in Bethlehem. During the Advent Season I would read the Christmas story and think about Jesus’ first coming in its historical context.

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Imagine my surprise,when a few years ago, I learned that is not all that Advent is about. I learned that the first two Sundays of Advent anticipate Christ’s Second Coming. That got me to thinking about the Season…what is the real history of Advent?

I would like to quote from an article entitled “What Is Advent?” by Justin Holcomb on Christianity.com.:

“The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus,  meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus.

By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.”

In summary, the early Church understood that we need to prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming. New believers would prepare for baptism and celebrate Christ’s coming into their hearts. By the 6th century, Christians would use the season to prepare their hearts for Christ’s Second Coming. From medieval times forward, Christians would prepare their hearts during Advent anticipating His Second Coming while also remembering his first coming as a babe in Bethlehem.

For me, the bottom line is, “Am I preparing my heart for Christ’s coming?” As the Advent season begins this Sunday, am I thinking about the possibility that Christ could return at any moment? Am I prepared to meet Him or am I distracted by the busyness of the season? Those are the real questions I need to ask myself. I hope you will take some time during this season of Advent to ask yourself those questions also. 

Have a Blessed Advent! 

 

Astroturfing – Giving You Everything But the Truth!

Have you ever been researching something and you click on a website that looks like it has some real information and public feedback in it? You begin reading and something doesn’t seem quite right. Even though the website is supposed to have public input and comments, it seems more like a public service announcement for the company or organization you are researching. Before you leave the site, you say to yourself, “What’s up with this site?” Have you ever thought that it could be a site set up by people who are Astroturfing? Unless you are familiar with the word, you probably won’t be thinking in those terms.

So what is Astroturfing? Wikipedia defines it like this: “Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants.” In other words, it is an artificial site set up by the organization or company in order to promote their views. Think of it this way:  You are looking up the efficacy of a certain drug. You don’t want to go to the manufacture’s site and so you click on another site that talks about the drug. It has testimonials promoting the drug and its efficacy. Because of the statements of the people, you are inclined to try the drug because so many people are talking about the positive results they had when they took it.

What you don’t know is that the site was set up by the manufacturer of the drug and that the testimonials were not written by real users of the drug. They were written by people hired by the company in order to promote the drug and get you to buy it! Does it really happen that way? Astroturfing happens every day of the week. As the definition stated: political parties, religions, companies, and people promoting certain issues will create a site in order to skew people in favor of what they are promoting. Sounds unethical doesn’t it? But is it illegal?

On the face of it, Astroturfing is not illegal. However, once it has come to light that the site is, in fact a false front for the company or organization, it can possibly be fined for illegal business practices. Has someone suffered irreparable harm because of the information on the site? There may be a cause for action there also. 

Astroturfing, as disingenuous as it is, comes in other forms also. A company may send in their own people to a public hearing and take up all of the seats in the room so that there is no room for dissenters. It is used by organizations to stack the deck against the opposition and stifle dissent. If you look closely, you can find it in lots of arenas. 

As writers and researchers, we can be incensed about sites and information that has been Astroturfed.But when it comes to reviews, we also have to be careful that we are not Astroturfing. Reviewtracker.com defines Astroturfing this way: “Astroturfing is the practice of preparing or disseminating a false or deceptive review that a reasonable consumer would believe to be a neutral third-party testimonial…On the surface, this practice is simply unethical but not necessarily damaging for those reading the review, and certainly not illegal.” In other words, if most of our reviews are written by our friends and family and are not written by unbiased consumers, people will not get an objective opinion about our product. We are, in fact, Astroturfing!

In the end, whether seeking truth or disseminating it, one has to ask oneself, “Is it real or is it Astroturf?

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