Book Review: Picture Perfect: When Life Doesn’t Line Up

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Matthew 11:28–30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

 

Do you struggle with the need to be perfect?  Me either.  Wait…who are we kidding?!  No one at all.  Let’s try and flip the need to be perfect on it’s head and band together to get victory in this area.  Picture Perfect: When Life Doesn’t Line Up by Amy Baker is a great tool in the path towards recognizing that we should be aiming for God’s best for our lives rather than settling for what we think is best.  Let’s not miss the best thing by settling for second best or sometimes even tenth best!

May 2016 be a year dedicated to getting off the unrelenting merry-go-round of unattainable perfection in favor of diving deep into understanding the redemption that is only present in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I highlighted several things while reading and posted my notes below…

  • Elyse Fitzpatrick asks, “In my pursuit of godliness, have I left Jesus behind? Am I more focused on my performance for him or his for me?”
  • As Christians it’s possible to live out our beliefs without a conscious acknowledgment or awareness of his presence. The person and work of the Redeemer becomes secondary to what we’re focused on—living the Christian life. We become primarily focused on us—on our performance, our spiritual growth.
  • Faith, simply put, is trusting in the work of Another. If you are struggling with perfectionism, I’m guessing it’s quite hard for you to trust anyone but yourself. But as you come to Christ by faith, you will find he is absolutely trustworthy. You can give him your whole life, and he will walk with you, give you his Spirit so you can grow more like him, and give you joy as you step into the good works he has prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10).
  • What creates the frustration and unhappiness that comes with perfectionism is what lies under the surface and drives these behaviors—the motives, beliefs, desires, fears, anxieties, and goals that live in and rule the heart and mind. These beliefs and desires interfere with loving relationships with God and others.
  • From the very beginning, God’s purpose has been that men and women would reflect his image, that they would radiate the glory of a perfect God, their Creator and Friend. Sadly sin has turned what was once a glorious mission into a source of tension. Sin has also caused us to come up with our own definition of perfection, a man-centered definition that often focuses on performance and outcomes that glorify us, not our Creator.
  • Because of sin, good desires become warped and twisted. When you look closely, you can often see that wanting to be excellent doesn’t come from a heart that longs to show others the beautiful perfection of God. Instead that desire shrinks and the focus becomes self-centered. You find you want to do all things with excellence because you want others to think highly of you; you want to look good to others or feel good about yourself. You want to have things under control so that nothing can hurt you.
  • Perfectionism is a harsh master and serving this master is frightening and exhausting.
  • Matthew 11:28–30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
  • Christ offers a better way. He makes incredible promises that only he can deliver. The life he promotes is radical. It’s restful. It’s stunningly beautiful.
  • God is merciful to people who have not measured up; merciful to people who have turned from God toward their own desires; merciful to people whom he created to glorify him but who found the god of perfection more alluring than the perfect God.
  • Because Jesus has given you a new heart, you have a growing desire to please him in everything that you do. For Jesus’s sake, you want to love well and from your heart. You want to extend the mercy and grace you have been given by Jesus to others.
  • 1 John 1:7, 9. . . . the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
  • If God could do that with the cross of Christ, do you believe he could take what appear to be defeats in your life and turn them into victories?
  • Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 7:25–8:2)
  • Christ has done what we can’t. He met the standard. Christ came and lived the perfect life we’ve failed to live. When Jesus raised the bar, he knew what he was doing. He knew we would never be able to meet the standard. He wanted to show us our need for him. He wanted to be our perfection.
  • John Piper explains, “Suffering deepens faith and holiness. The process through which Christ demonstrated deeper and deeper obedience was the process of suffering.”
  • Isaiah 26:3–4. You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
  • God’s plan is for us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). God plans for us to assume in daily life all Christ’s character and righteousness that has been attributed to us because of Christ’s work on our behalf. God desires his image to be reflected in us and that beauty is perfected through growth. Ephesians 4:22–24 explains the growth process this way: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
  • For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:5)
  • Jerry Bridges makes the following noteworthy statement about God’s sovereignty, “God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.”
  • Proverbs 19:21 reports, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.”
  • We can humbly accept that there may be areas in our lives where we will never be superior. Not because we didn’t try or work hard, but because God did not design each of us to excel in every way possible for a human. So we may never become a world-famous superstar. We may not even be the best cake decorator for our kids’ birthdays. However, we can work diligently and joyfully within the limits of time and ability God has given and let God use our efforts as he sees fit.
  • Jehoshaphat cries, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). We too can cry, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
  • The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).
  • The sad truth is that in one way or another we’re all glory thieves.
  • What do you treasure? Like me, do you struggle with treasuring the high regard of others more than your identity in Christ? Go to God and ask him to show you where you are going wrong.
  • When we meditate on God’s glory, a God able to free people from slavery, part the Red Sea, and provide food for two million people in the desert, pursuing our own glory starts to seem ludicrous.
  • Alfred Poirier points out: If I know myself as crucified with Christ, I can now receive another’s criticism with this attitude: “You have not discovered a fraction of my guilt. Christ has said more about my sin, my failings, my rebellion and my foolishness than any man can lay against me. I thank you for your corrections. They are a blessing and a kindness to me. For even when they are wrong or misplaced, they remind me of my true faults and sins for which my Lord and Savior paid dearly when he went to the cross for me.”. Alfred Poirier, “The Cross and Criticism,” Journal of Biblical Counseling 17, no. 3 (1999): 19.
  • As one who is a royal heir of God, practice the 1 Corinthians 13 characteristic of love by believing the best about the person who criticizes you. Believe that your criticizer may have observed a blind spot in your life. Trust that your criticizer truly wants to help you change areas that cause your relationships with others to be damaged. Having blind spots uncovered can only help you in your quest to be like Jesus. Accept the possibility that there might be some truth in the criticism you are hearing. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal to you if there are areas where you are wrong (Psalm 139:23–24).
  • “Mine it for gold.” referring to criticism
  • “Those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23).
  • By God’s grace our love for him can include a growing willingness to hear from others how we could change and grow.
  • Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1–5) David sings about forgiveness.
  • Praise the LORD, all his works Everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul. (Psalm 103:22)
  • “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone” (Psalm 62:5). Not in prestige, not in a job well done, not in the approval of others. There is no rest for the soul apart from God and God alone. The self-existent One, the Creator, the Savior, the Giver of every good gift, the Lover of your soul, the One who is worthy, the Lamb slain for you, the One who lavishes you with love, the One who can’t wait to show you the riches of his grace, the One who gives strength to the weary, the One who makes his creatures lie down in green pastures. “A heart at peace gives life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30).
  • Memorize Isaiah 26:3 as a reminder to trust in God rather than fretting and depending on myself.
  • But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
  • Our experience is a long way from what we hear in Psalm 34:5. In this passage we’re told, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
  • James 1:2–4 says, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
  • Do I want to quit because this is hard? Do I want to quit because I’m embarrassed? Do I want to quit because I’m discouraged? How will quitting help me bring glory to God? How will quitting help me to love others?

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