You’d Be Ugly If You Weren’t So Beautiful

It seems that blogs are good places for regurgitation and itemization.  If you’ve read something someplace else, or heard another speak on a topic, then the blog is the perfect spot to reword it and share it.  Additionally, if you’ve come up with five tips to a successful yard sale, or learned the six things grocery stores do to your fresh produce, or uncovered the secrets to make your day more productive, then turn it into a list and get that life-changing wisdom out there.

In keeping with this essence of the blog, I have come across some steps regarding women and beauty.  A woman wrote a book about 10 easy steps to feeling ugly, intending to help women avoid these traps and instead, to know their true beauty from God.  And so, I regurgitate and itemize a few below:

  1. Believe what you see on the screen – Assume every image is real and you should look like that, if you want to feel ugly.
  2. Get the look at all costs – No matter what the cost, whether it be time, money, or your dignity, get that look, if you want to feel ugly.
  3. Treat the scale like a magic mirror – Like the mirror in Snow White, look to the scale for your identity: “Scale, scale, on the floor, tell me I’m lighter than the day before,” if you want to feel ugly.

The writer wanted to stress that Satan has promulgated the lie that what God has said about women and their beauty and worth is not enough.  Satan longs to see God’s daughters idolize and worship their outward appearance, rather than relishing their loveliness in how God has formed them and what He has intended for them.

The Temptations sang back in 1966 that “Beauty’s Only Skin Deep,” but their lyrics proclaimed that love, warmth, sincerity, and tenderness were the things that counted most.

As followers of Christ, we know all about being pure in heart.  But we also have a natural inclination to look our best.  In surrender to Christ, we can have them both.  And though regurgitation is the furthest thing from any image whatsoever of beauty, retelling the worth the God has given us is indescribable and priceless.

So, for every spot of makeup or every drop of lotion or conditioner, let us be reminded of the words of Isaiah concerning our Savior Jesus, “He has no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.”  Long to look like Jesus, and they won’t be able to take their eyes off you.

Rich Holt

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What if he was your neighbor?

India hungryYou probably have seen pictures like this before, accompanied by a plea for financial help. This appeals often fall on a heart separated by the digital pixelated image by a few thousand miles, several countries, multiple bills, and upcoming errands. However, for a few hours this man was more than pixels in my eyes, but flesh, blood, bones and not much more.  He was my neighbor for one morning.  As he approached me, my mind raced as I imagined his story, his life, his future.   In every imagined scenario,  his life was vastly different from mine.  My story was birthed and nurtured in excess, while his story was born out of survival.  Questions assaulted my conscience like, “why was I born in the lap of luxury and this man wasn’t?”  In the midst of the mental question storm, one command prevailed, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Sometimes the actions of loving your neighbor will look radically different in degrees, but the principle will be the same.  Simply give out of your resources to bless someone without those resources.

This morning I read from John 4 about the encounter Jesus had with a Samaritan woman by a well.  Maybe she was carrying a jug like the man in the picture.  Jesus may not have seen a women in physical need like this man, but he did see her spiritual need.  Jesus promised a life giving source that could be implanted in the human heart which would be a “spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  Sometimes the bridge between ourselves and a neighbor is a willingness to invest in another person’s life.  The will to give out of our resources won’t come out of our bank account, but what God is implanting in our heart.   Today, ask God to work in our heart so when our neighbor comes in view we can love them well.

Jarrod Scott

Would you recognize Jesus?

net fish

John 21:4-8 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

In the passage above, the disciples, who had spent more than three years with Jesus “did not know that it was Jesus.” My question is, why did they not initially recognize Him? Interestingly, just one chapter earlier in John 20:14, Mary did not recognize Jesus when she encountered him at the tomb. It was not until He said her name “Mary” that she immediately knew it was Jesus.

One could speculate on the reasons Jesus was not immediately recognized in these Bible passages. It could be that Jesus or God actually blinded their eyes. However, that would seem a bit strange since, in each case, within a few verses, Jesus revealed Himself.

One thing that is interesting about the John 21 passage is that there were no fish on one side of the boat, and yet 5 feet or so (on the other side) there were so many fish they were almost not able to haul in such a huge quantity.

Is it coincidence or is God trying to tell us something? In John 21 the disciples were focused on fishing, stuck in their grief and concern over Jesus’ death. Notice no fruit from their efforts or their consternation. The same was true of Mary in John 20. She was so distraught over the tomb being open and empty, she was not paying attention to those around her, even the Son of God.

So, what is my point in all this? My point is that we can be so caught up in the drama and frustration of life, even when we think we are doing something good, like earning a living (fishing) or ministry (Mary at the tomb) we can completely miss Jesus, who is ready to help and instruct us.

Scripture says to “pray continuously” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This is not a call to have our heads bowed all day. It is a command to keep Jesus at the forefront of everything we do. As we go about work, ministry, raising our kids, paying bills, going on vacation and, we need to always be actively looking for Jesus. Henry Blackaby in “Experiencing God” would always say “Look for where God is working and join Him in that work.” John 15:4 asks us to “remain in me, as I also remain in you.” The point being, if we learn to recognize Christ, and concentrate on Him rather than our situation, He will tell us when to move our nets five feet to the right and, what seemed futile, confusing and perhaps pointless, will change into an abundance of fruit in our lives, something which we can directly attribute to Him and will consequently bring glory to God.

Jeff Hilles

When what we know is not enough

The Heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” Blaise Pascal

The MRI looked very bad with the brain stem curved around the tumor.  The internet information gave prophecies of doom and I desperately needed to know in my heart that God is still there. My mind knew God’s word, but my heart felt desolate.

In another season, my future looked bleak and I felt more frustration than accomplishment.  I was wondering if I was still obedient to God or had I misheard His direction.  I had good reason to doubt myself and I knew that in my head and my heart.  I needed more than knowledge of the truth.  I needed the truth to be made alive in my heart and life.

There will be seasons when all your accumulated knowledge of what is true will not be enough to help you carry on.  Sometimes these seasons develop instantly with tragic news and sometimes it is a slow build up of frustrations and worn out living. All of your personal pep talks will sound hollow and trite. Your mind will reaffirm what is true but your heart will feebly acknowledge or even disavow your mind’s professions of faith.  Yet, God calls us to love Him with all our heart, mind, and strength.

I believe Paul knew these experiences and expected these experiences in other believers. The solution isn’t just to know more things with your head but to experience God’s love to us.  This is something that God does, therefore Paul prays and teaches us to pray for a new experience and new perspective.  In those seasons, pray that we can have eyes in our heart to experience:

  1. the hope of God’s call in our life,
  2. how we are dear to Jesus,
  3. and the extent of God’s power at work in our life.

16 I ndo not cease to give thanks for you, oremembering you in myprayers, 17 that pthe God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, qmay give you theSpirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 rhaving the eyes of yourhearts enlightened, that you may know what is sthe hope to which he has called you, whatare tthe riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurablegreatness of his power toward us who believe, Ephesians 1:16-19

Jarrod Scott

Should I ask them if they know Jesus?

Let’s face it, this is a question that most of us face more often that we want to admit.  Whether we are at the store, eating out, standing in line at the bank, talking to a coworker, you name it, we are continually surrounded by our brothers and sisters who do not understand God’s love and grace thru Christ. And there we are as believers holding the key to forgiveness and eternal life with our Savior.  But we find ourselves trying to decide if we should step up, speak up and share our great news or if the 5 quick reasons we can come up with to keep quiet and move on will win out.

Well, God’s word makes it pretty clear for us in Matthew 28:19-20.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And Behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So it’s clear from what God says that we, as believers, are to Go to all the nations and share this great news.  And let’s be careful with the word “Nations” here as we can quickly think this means taking a long trip to a foreign nation which can turn it into one or our reasons not to share the good news. Traveling to a lost nation to share our good news is certainly a part of it as we are able to go, but I believe our nation as believers is anywhere God has us. God uniquely created you, he has uniquely gifted you and he is uniquely directing your steps daily into Your Nation of people who need Him.

If you read the whole scripture, He has a great promise for us that will help with another of our excuses not to share….”And Behold I am with you always to the end of the Age”
That’s right, He is with us and will equip us so we can count on Him to be with us and give us what we need always.

So let’s step it up, trust in Gods promise to be with us always and take a closer look at our daily nation.   That should free us up to ask that person we meet today if they know Jesus Christ.  Who knows, it just might be the best day of their life and it will definitely be a blessing to yours.

So GO and don’t be afraid to ask those who God puts in your nation today if they know Him!

Chris Best