Tag Archives: beauty

Feeling Uncomfortable in Church?

Do you ever feel like running for the door when the pastor starts preaching? This is a normal response. No offense pastors, but sometimes your teaching makes me want to cover my ears and stuff my face in a pillow. It’s not that your message is bad or poorly delivered. It’s quite the opposite. Your message speaks such truth into my conscience that I feel guilty and sometimes ashamed. I realize, sometimes for the first time, how much I have wronged God.

Almost every morning I put on glasses. As I’ve gotten older I’ve decided contacts really aren’t worth the two seconds it takes to put them in my eyes and certainly not worth the money most of the time. In my mad rush to get out the door, I often don’t properly clean my glasses, at least not in the way my dad recently instructed me to go about cleaning them. Before leaving the house the lenses seem perfectly clean. I rush out the door and as soon as the lenses catch a glimpse of sunlight I can see all the blemishes, all the impurities.

The same happens in church. Out in the real world of distraction we don’t notice the blemishes of sin until we sit down without distraction and take in the truth and examine our sin. Sin is an ugly thing. Like the smudges on my glasses it can blur the way we see things.

Fortunately we can take time to examine ourselves daily, reflect on where we have failed, and most importantly, revel in the fact that we are forgiven and reconciled. To examine ourselves is to shine the light of God’s word, His truths on our lives and let Him reveal where we have mis-stepped. This is not to cause shame, but to release the guilt through repentance.

To see the blemishes is to see the light, for in the darkness neither blemish nor beauty is seen. Would you rather live without seeing at all or live with seeing what can be made pure through the blood of Jesus?

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Further from the Edge of your Seat

It’s the night before the concert I’ve been waiting months to see. I can’t wait. While getting ready for bed I think of what I will wear. ‘Will that blue skirt fit in with the style of the other fans?’ During work today my mind kept wandering. All important information escaped me. I likely won’t sleep a wink, mind spinning.

When I look forward to something different, new, exciting, a pivotal moment, I just can’t sit still. I’m sometimes literally at the edge of my seat. I remember my first day of work at the hospital almost nine years ago. It was nice and warm. I got on the train to arrive on time, but even though everything seemed to be going well I was still nervously pacing and perspiring. I arrived at my stop and exited the train to find that it was pouring rain. Don’t worry, the rain can’t kill this anxious anticipation. I arrive after a six-block dash at the front desk to check in for my first day on the job soaking wet from head to toe. But, you know what? Everyday I work at the same place, and ever since about my first week I don’t pace, or look forward to something new each morning. I know what and who to expect when I walk through the doors in the morning and walk out at night.

So, what is (or should be) the difference between my work routine and my walk with God? Our relationship with God is intended to be extraordinary, therefore sparking a new edge-of-your-seat feeling each day. While God is always the same He constantly surprises us because we could never completely understand everything about Him and His plan for our lives. On the same note, after nine years at my job, I still love it, but I probably know way more than my job description calls me to know. Unlike a simple job description, God is complex and perfect, something us imperfect humans will never grasp until He allows us to when we reach Heaven. Even the thought of that should put us at the edge of our seats.

Several years ago I visited a young adult group at my friend’s church. The speaker held up a glass of milk and pointed out it was white; it was just milk. Then he poured in some chocolate syrup. Again, he pointed out it was white. Then he took a spoon and stirred it until the milk turned a deep shade of brown. Putting the glass of now chocolate milk on the table he continued his message. At the end he lifted the glass to show that the milk was again white. He explained that when we accept Christ into our lives the Holy Spirit lives within us. This is the same Spirit that keeps us at the edge of our seat, but he can’t keep us there unless we keep stirring the Spirit through worship (worship can take on many forms). If we don’t continue to stir up the Spirit it will settle in us like the chocolate syrup in the milk. It doesn’t mean it’s gone, it just means that we haven’t tried to connect with Him.

In order to stay at the edge of your seat you first have to recognize why it is important. Think about the last time the Spirit was stirred in you. Do you long for that feeling again? What gave you that feeling? As you reflect on this it will be revealed to you, and not only will you have the joy of marveling at God’s beauty, but He will delight in you!

Blessings in Disguise

Have you ever looked at a landscape and thought “God paints the most beautiful pictures”? During the week of Christmas my parents and I went on a beautiful hike at Upper Bidwell Park in Chico, California. The landscape is gorgeous with oak trees sprinkled over rolling foothills and rocky ridges. We hiked from the base of an incline along Big Chico Creek. When we reached as far as we could go for the day and looked out across the creek to the climbing rocky ridges my mom exclaimed, “God paints the most beautiful pictures.” Looking down at my feet I noticed the dark, almost black rock winding down to the creek, lumpy and bumpy like bubbles in the rock. Looking to the northeast I saw Mt. Lassen in the distance. I knew this rock was volcanic. I turned to my mom and said, “They probably didn’t think that when the volcano was actually spewing lava and ash where we stand.” Image

It’s true. We go through life completely unaware of God’s plan, and when something doesn’t go our way we often think that God must have screwed up. What kind of God would send lava and ash spewing at me?!? The kind of God that knows exactly what he is doing is the kind of God that allows us to wrestle with our day-to-day struggles. In the moment we don’t see what good will come out of it, but I heard it said “Life only makes since in rewind.” If you don’t skip to the end of the novel everything leading up to the final chapter seems to be incomprehensible, unpredictable, sometimes happy yet sometimes unbearably painful. Since we will never know how each of our lives will end we must trust in the God that paints beautiful pictures.

Next time you are in a season of trials, frustrations, and disappointments reflect on God’s character and his faithfulness to see you through past trials. And lastly, take a look at a beautiful landscape, and know that in the end your life will make perfect sense like the lumpy, bumpy beauty of the rock at Upper Bidwell Park.