Are you beautiful?

Are you beautiful?

It’s good to be beautiful in America.

It has been said that a beautiful person can achieve great success in our society, even without being talented. Looks is sometimes the deciding factor in hiring certain employees in many organizations.

Every day, someone in charge of hiring is looking over various applications, and choosing the less qualified person because of their looks. Age of course, is part of that as well. But if you are older yet beautiful, you still have a great chance. People who work in retail treat you better when you are beautiful. They smile, feel better about you, and sometimes they will bend the rules and give you what you ask for, because your beautiful.

When your beautiful, everyone wants to be your friend. When your beautiful, you don’t have to pay as much as the others; and in some cases, you may not have to pay at all.

When your beautiful, they give you the honored seats, the attention and focus. When your beautiful, they will treat you with respect. When your beautiful, they will roll out the red carpet. When you are beautiful, they will make you a star.

If we are not careful, we will treat people this same way in our churches.

Do we pay special attention to the beautiful people, while giving the less beautiful people a passing glance, or patronizing word of greeting? Do we make the beautiful people the guest of honor in our presence, while taking a step back from the unattractive?

I am sure God understands our discomfort, or reticence to embrace the ugly people; especially the dirty, smelly, ugly people. On the other hand, how many angels have we dissed because they were ugly?

“But Angels are beautiful in the Bible!”

Uh, right, but they apparently also enjoy sneaking around incognito in eclectic costumes and acting like strangers in need. (Hebrews 13:2)  Lot comes to mind here; as two angels who came to him masquerading as men.

God loves beautiful people. He calls us to be beautiful. Here is the problem – God doesn’t look at the outside, and He doesn’t care about the outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7  “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart”), God wants us to be beautiful on the inside.

You may be an outwardly beautiful person. You may be dressed to the nines, or trendy and stylish. There is nothing wrong with that. If you want to succeed in this world, it is only wise to look your best. You may be blessed with an attractive body and face. That is certainly not a crime – God gave you that “blessing”. But the problem is – we are mistaken if we think our outward appearance is what pleases God. It’s not.

Your inner beauty is truly BEAUTY DEFINED from God’s point of view. Your inner beauty is what is attractive to God.

Proverbs says a beautiful woman who shows no discretion is like a pig with a ring in its snout. (Proverbs 11:22)

You might be beautiful on the outside, but are you filled with envy and jealousy and greed? You might be hot, but are you also full of selfish thoughts and lustful passions? You might be smokin’, but are you full of hate and anger and bitterness?

Do people give you honor and praise for your outward looks? Watch out! Looks can distract us from the God who is unimpressed with your pretty face.

Was Christ really outwardly as beautiful as artists typically depict? We do know that he was not especially attractive on the outside. (Isaiah 53:2) So then why do we call him beautiful? Because of his heart! His unbounding love! His compassion! His empathy! His tenderness! His care!

If Jesus came to our church this Sunday as he looked when he walked the earth, he would have come as a relatively poor person, with no physically drawing looks, and most likely wearing quite humble clothing.

We might miss him. We may not greet him. Some would not talk to him. Others maybe cordial, but perhaps also suspecting. But he would be beautiful! The most beautiful of all!

So the sum of it all is this – Be attractive to God!

Be truly beautiful in your heart.

That’s REAL beauty.

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What’s Your Story?

I love a good story.

Especially do I love a good story well told.

One of my favorite memories growing up was listening to my father and his brothers telling stories about their childhood. The crazy pranks they pulled on each other growing up on a Southern Minnesota farm rank in my mind as some of the most hilarious and outlandish stories I can ever remember hearing.

One such story that I recall them telling often was when my uncle (5 uncles and 1 aunt on my father’s side) was a teenager and working shirtless in the yard under a sweltering sun, my father (2 years younger) saw a perfect opportunity to pull the daily prank. He plucked a corn cob out of the field, emptied the core, and filled it with the usual load of gun powder. Then my father attached a fairly short wick – judging his distance (as all of them had become increasingly proficient at estimating when it came to homemade explosives), he snuck behind the large hay barn, and lit the wick. Immediately he flung the corn bomb over the barn, not really knowing how close his throw was to hitting his brother.

It should be noted that this particular corn cob was not of the soft sweet corn variety. Rather, it was the hard as rock kernel kind. As luck, or fate, would have it, my father threw the most accurate corn grenade in the history of corn cob explosive tosses. It was heading point blank for the bare back of my bent-over uncle. And when it got to about five feet from his back, it exploded into a spray of hard corn kernel shrapnel. Needless to say, I shrill cry of agonizing pain went out from the family acreage and was heard fifteen miles away in every direction. Cut to – the lifeless body of my uncle laying prostrate and unconscious on the ground, with about one hundred red dots swelling at a rapid rate.

That story has been told probably over a thousand times over the years. The amazing thing is, it was just one story among dozens and dozens of equally dangerous and hilarious stories about my father’s family. Somehow they survived, I am happy to report!

The skill with which each uncle told their story is especially remarkable. After a few of these story sessions, it was clear they had learned the art of telling stories. They all seemed to have a knack for setting up each story with enough backdrop and detail, but also knew how to deliver the pay-off, or punch line depending on the story.

They were all true stories, with very little exaggerations. But what was amazing was the roar of laughter that was always produced with each story. Many times, there were twenty or thirty cousins and nephews and aunts and relatives gathered around. I dont know if I have ever laughed harder in my life.

I have always been a story-teller. I have always enjoyed hearing stories and watching or reading stories. Most likely this has to do with my upbringing.

God is the ultimate storyteller. It has been said that the story of Jesus is the ultimate story. Some of the greatest movies of all time have a messianic storyline. Many superhero storylines follow a messianic plot line. In fact, God is in the habit of making great stories out of you and I. Each one of us has a journey, a destiny, a story to fulfill. Just read the Old Testament for five minutes and you will come across some amazing stories of people in need, and trusting God as He once again comes through.

So the next time you find yourself really enjoying a good story, just think about the story you are in – your own life! Believe God for miracles in your life today. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t let others discourage you. Usually those who discourage us are too afraid to finish their own story so they spend their time foolishly tearing down other’s stories. Quite frankly, the Bible has strong words for the small people who resort to such actions. Don’t give up on your story! But even when we fall down, He will be there to complete the story He started in you! (Philippians 1:6)

Like a child

“Grow up!” We hear it constantly when we are very young, but approaching adulthood. We need to act our age. We are supposed to become mature adults. We are supposed to become self-sufficient, able and responsible.

That’s why it was so shocking when Jesus said to his disciples and the crowds who listened to his sermon that day, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I mean, he totally turned upside down a basic moral and social code that our entire society is founded upon. Of course Jesus was not asking us to become childish and immature. However, what He was saying was that in terms of our propensity for self-reliance and pride of life as adults, he expects us to let go of all of that and become reliant upon God and dependent on Him for everything in our lives.  Easier said than done.

And the children seemed so unimportant in comparison to thousands of adults that clammored to get close to the newly famous rabbi from Nazareth. Those who work with kids don’t usually get equal status to those who work with adults.

My wife works with children in a daycare she runs out of our home. She used to lead adult women’s ministry. As you might guess, she used to get alot of praise and respect when she had the more flashly role with adults. But now that she works with kids, there are times she has had to deal with a measure of disrespect and patronization from others.

That’s how mature men and women see things. But God said in I Samuel 16:7 “man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” King David was just a boy when Samuel anointed him as the next king. But God saw what no one else did – he saw the heart. I may look like an accomplished and succesful person now that I am a published author, licensed minister, filmmaker, blah, blah, blah. Maybe someday I will have a bunch of letters after my name. But in the whole heavenly scheme of things, I have been demoted since the days when I worked with youth and children.  If I hope to be great, Jesus says I must become less than others.

If we really believed in the Kingdom of God, we would be scrapping and clawing to outserve each other and descend that proberbial corporate ladder, looking to elevate each other above ourselves and promote each other above ourselves.

Woe. What a thought. Are we impressed with the things that impress the hosts of heaven? Are the great cloud of witnesses above us looking down with admiration of how humble we keep our own hearts? Or are they embarrased for us “There he goes again thinking this whole deal is about him instead of God. What a fool!”

I just hope I can keep my focus on Him… And be like what he has only, ever, always wanted me to be… like a child.

peace out!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”