Beauty

Hollywood, Nashville, New York, and much of the modern church say you must be beautiful for me to listen to what you say.  The importance of your word is directly proportional to the face that speaks.

I would mention names but then that would take away from the honesty, heartfelt worship and real suffering that are a part of some very beautiful people.

My point isn’t to take away from what they say.

I don’t mean to offend, and I’m preaching to myself. But, if you’re “ugly” and you feel unheard, part of the problem is you.

Two things are at work. First, do you really believe in the God who called you? If you do, then preach it, sing it, live it, share it.

Second, who’s your audience? Who do you want for an audience?

Side note: I don’t accept that we have an audience of one. Remember, Jesus said we were to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. AND love our neighbor.

Where was I? Oh yeah…

I want the big audience. I want everyone telling me how great and deep and amazing I am.

I don’t want the audience that can only stand to listen to me for two minutes (unless I’m reading a book to them). Or the one that gets bored with my intellectual dissertation. Or the one that hates my God, my Bible, my faith, but still needs to see me love them.

We ask, “who am I? Why would they listen to me?” And allow ourselves to be quiet. We ask, “who are they that I should invest my time, pour out my heart and soul?”

I think it is time for the ugly to speak up, to let our voice be heard. We have a unique perspective on God’s love, His calling, a relationship with Him that the beautiful, the popular, the successful need to hear.

Most of them only see their ugly.

And as His light and live shine through us. . .

We become beautiful too.

Project People

There is a trend in humanity that has invaded the church.  I find it difficult to understand, difficult to accept.  Let me see what you think.

We are a consumer society.  We want our products now, oh yeah, right now!   We want them cheap.  And we want them packaged properly, no danger to our children, no chance of them spilling their contents on us as we rush through the drive-through, no risk.

We want people the same way.  

We don’t want them smelly.  If they have baggage, we want it dealt with and tidied up.  We want them talented, beautiful and with some pretty impressive credentials.

Excellence is what we are striving for, right.

I’m not so sure.

I think we just want the finished product.  We want people serving who we don’t have to serve.  We want ministers who don’t need ministering.  We want teachers who have no need of being taught.  We want someone with a proven track record of discipling and growing others so that we don’t have to show them the way.

And, sometimes, we want that because we don’t know the way.

Can I remind us all that none of our completed projects?  The best of us are a hopeless mess.  We shouldn’t be shocked when leaders fall.  We shouldn’t wonder why when children are abused or money is embezzled.

Humans do that!

Even with credentials and talent and beauty…

Even with hearts that love Jesus, we still fall.

Ah, but a heart that loves Jesus, one that is yielded to Him, pursuing Him, even in failure, despite the risks and lack of glitter…

He can work with that.

You will never be…

You will never be skinny.

You will never be beautiful.

You will never be good.

You will never be brave.

You will never be worthy.

You will never be accepted.

You will never be loved.
You will never be more precious, no matter what your body type.

You will never be more beautiful than you are in His sight.

You will never be more clothed in righteousness than you are at the foot of the cross.

You will never be more fearless than you are with His Spirit.

You will never be more worthy to fulfill His calling, to obey His voice, than you are when you simply say, “YES!”

You will never be more accepted than you were when God had His first thought of you.

You will never be more loved than you are right now.
Feelings and voices may tell us different things.  But only one voice is speaking the truth.  

Which one will you believe?

A Fatal Beauty

I love the song by Jared Anderson called “Beauty of the Lord”.  To think of my God in the terms of a lover, to see my King as the one I want to hold me forever, to have my breath taken away by His presence, His love, are things that I want to have inside me.

But be warned my friends, His is a fatal beauty.  His beauty has, at its center, the cross of Golgotha.  His admonishment in Matthew 16:24 is not a clever play on words.  If we want to love Him and follow Him, we must take up our cross daily.  Isn’t it strange that to live in victory we must accept the cross.

A fatal beauty is someone who is so beautiful that it will break your heart.  It is someone who will cause wars to be fought, alliances to be broken, acts of chivalry and courage to rise up.  It is a beauty that should consume our thoughts, our lives.  The love that was poured out when Jesus came as a baby, took on humanity, lived with us, spoke to us, died for us, captures a beauty that goes beyond the physical.  But it is no less fatal.

My God, Your beauty is beyond what I can understand or describe in song, in poetry.  I long for the words to tell You what You mean to me but I get lost in repetitions, in cliches.

The only thing more amazing to me is the fact that in me, in us, in Your bride, You saw a fatal beauty too.

Where Beauty Lies

I came away from work yesterday and jumped right into fixing my car.  The belt broke a few days ago and it’s been sitting waiting for my attention.  It was a long day of painting and cleaning and dusting and working and I wanted the car job to be fast and easy.  It wasn’t.  And, just so we’re clear from the beginning, I didn’t get it fixed.

Seems that the designers of the Plymouth Neon were residents of Hades and wanted nothing better than to make a backyard mechanic feel stupid and incapable.  I tried loosening here and there, twisting this and grunting over that.  But I could not get that belt on.  I called on my son to come help me.  He’s mechanical and can fix lots of things but we couldn’t figure out how to get this done.

Frustrated, tired, dirty, sore we finally gave up and called it a day.

We were both already tired and dirty and sore from the work we had done during the day.  Then we added this frustration to it and walked into the house defeated, and together.

The reality of humanity is not success on success, victory to victory, kings of all we survey.  We, in our finite wisdom, our limited strengths and vision, our capacity for stupidity, find failure much more likely than success.  That’s why God gave us each other.  That’s why we walk with a family.  That’s why we marry and love and laugh.

Together, we can fail and still find meaning.  Together, we can grow and learn and believe in something greater.  Together, we can accomplish so much more than we can alone.

That is where the beauty of life lies.

He Carries Me!

I got fired.  I now work a job that pays me less than half of what I was making before.  I work physically hard at a time when I should probably be thinking about slowing down.

But that isn’t what God has lead me to at this point.

Is it fair?  Yeah, I think it might be.  I don’t exactly (understatement) deserve any of the blessings God has given.  I’ve made some choices that have lead me to this point.  Many of them were even the right decisions, but I still get to deal with the consequences. Is it cruel?  Pretty sure that it isn’t much fun.  I am hurting both in body and soul.  I wonder again whether God will ever let me work full time for a church and it hurts to think I might not.  Is it confusing?  More than I can express.  The only way I can write is to stay up late or get up early.  I then pay for it through the day because I didn’t get near enough sleep.  But I want to write.  I think God wants me to write.  So why do I find myself in a situation where it is so difficult.  I want to worship.  I want to play and sing.  But so much is being stripped away.

I was driving my truck today through rural Michigan.  I must admit that I have never loved Michigan.  I hate the winters.  There are no mountains, no great rivers, no vast forests that I love so much.  It is just, well, Michigan.  But today I was driving down a country road. I came over a rise and the farm land spread out before me.  A beautiful lake then appeared to my left and the view was just breathtaking.  I found my heart loving the world, the land, the life around me.

And in that moment, I felt carried.  I was lifted above my circumstances.  And it was good.

It didn’t pay my bills.  It didn’t really change a thing.  But, my friend, when He holds you up, changing things around you doesn’t matter so much anymore.

What’s Your Flavor?

The question caught me off guard.

It could’ve been asked different ways.  What’s your color?  What’s your background?  What’s your heart?

What’s your flavor?

He was trying to see what made me tick.  We were playing a song together and he saw through my attempts to sound like someone else, to immitate, to comply.

What’s your flavor?

I think Jesus asks us that some times.  He doesn’t want us to try to be like others.  He isn’t looking for us to fit some mold of contrived religion.  He created us as unique individuals that bring various facets of His nature, His beauty to light.  He didn’t bring us into creation to be like anyone.  He wants us, all of us.  He wants our light to shine, our purpose fulfilled – which is really His light shining through us.

So once again, I ask, what’s your flavor?