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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

"In the Eye of the Beholder"


“Beauty is as beauty does.”
“Beauty comes from within.”
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

We’ve heard them all our lives. Did we believe these sayings?

When I was young, I adored beauty. I dreamed of being Miss America, wearing a long, sparkling white evening gown and a tiara, holding an armful of red roses, and smiling, with flashbulbs going off all around me. Alas, it was only a dream! But it was so real … I think I woke up with a tear in my eye.

“Beauty is as beauty does.” Every mother says that to make her daughter want to do right. I don’t think it worked on me.

“Beauty comes from within.” I half believed this one. After all, I knew some pretty homely people who were truly handsome once you got to know them. They laughed with their eyes. That’s always attractive. You have to have something inside for it to show outside. Yes, I think I believed this one most of my youth.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I laugh at my younger self for being so shallow. I was always marveling if a beautiful person—in my judgment—married a mud fence. I couldn’t figure it out! One of my female relatives used to say, “There’s a Jack for every Jill.” And, it’s true. We all have our preferences. Also, we see the beauty in someone because we love him. We might also see him differently because we really know him. And then, there are fads of beauty. Right now, the ideal is skinny and tall—nice if you’re naturally that way. Back in the 1960s the ideal (except for Twiggy) was more fleshed out. In the 1930s waists were impossibly small, but back a few hundred years, people preferred “pleasantly plump,” “healthy” looking women. Pretty round faces … sounds great to me! The same goes for men. Just compare Cary Grant and Gregory Peck with any of the actors today. Beauty is definitely in the eye—and the era—of the beholder.

Beauty.

Do you want to be beautiful?

(I do.)

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:
but a woman that feareth the LORD,
she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

Let’s take the second part of this verse first: a woman who respects the Lord will be praised. The first part of the verse provides the negative contrast. Negative? Yep. It says favour is deceitful. Let’s think about that part for a little while. Deceitful means: tricky or lying. Favor—other people fawning over you—can be a form of flattery, which is most often because of jealousy and hatred. Beauty is vain. The word vain means: “conceited, self-centered,” and it can also mean “useless.” Beauty on the outside is just superficial. Beauty that comes from the inside—a soul that is in submission to God—is praiseworthy.

God isn't against physical beauty. In fact, the Bible describes several women as fair or beautiful. You can look them up, here:
  • Sarai (Genesis 12:11, 14)
  • Rebekah (Genesis 24:16; 26:7)
  • Rachel (Genesis 29:17)
  • Abigail (1 Samuel 25:3)
  • Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2)
  • Abishag (1 Kings 1:3-4)
  • Esther (Esther 2:7)
  • Job’s daughters: Jemima, Kesia, and Kerenhappuch (Job 42:15)
  • the Shulamite (Song of Solomon, throughout the book)

A biblical perspective, however, always values inward beauty over glamour. Consider these passages:
  • As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion (Proverbs 11:22).
  • A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones (Proverbs 12:4).
  • Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10).
  • Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come (Proverbs 31:25).
  • I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also (just like the men in the previous verse), that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works (1 Timothy 2:8-10).
  • Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands (1 Peter 3:3-5a).

Does this mean that the outside doesn’t matter? Some Christians think so, and that’s their prerogative. I differ because the Bible seems to value a woman’s appearance to a certain degree.

Look at Queen Esther, for example: And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful … Now when the turn of Esther … was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her. So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month … And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti (from Esther 2:7, 15-17).

I don’t know if you ever noticed it before, but Esther understood the power of simple elegance. She was gorgeous, but she didn’t add to the clothing that was given to her. She could have had all kinds of accessories, but she chose to go to the king in the simplest attire possible. Coco Chanel, the famous clothing designer said, “Once you've dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.”

This next biblical passage is an allegory about God and the nation of Israel, which He compares to a queen bride. Read how she’s dressed: Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee (Psalm 45:9, 11, 13-14).

Here’s another allegorical passage about God (speaking) and the nation of Israel. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness (Ezekiel 16:10-14).

And, here’s a description of the Virtuous Woman’s clothing and what she provided for her household: She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple (Proverbs 31:21-22).

Beauty indeed comes from within, from respecting God and obeying His commands. It comes from the joy we have in Christ and from not stressing over things but praying about them. Beauty comes from a peaceful heart. When the inner person is right, it shows in the care the woman exercises in order to reflect God’s beauty. She dresses with style and grace and is known for the lovely smile on her face.

May God bless you!


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Want a Better World?


Would you like to see an end to terrorism, bloodshed, war, and chaos? Would you like to live in a world where everyone treats others with kindness? Can you imagine never having to turn on the news to view something ugly?

It’s going to happen! Not now, but it will. (More about this later.)

But, for now, there’s one way you can make a better world. If you’re a born again Christian, you can begin to change the world.

How?

Share the gospel with everyone you know. So that we understand what the gospel is, the Apostle Paul gives us a perfect three-point outline: Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that (1) Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that (2) he was buried, and that (3) he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). All we need to do is share those three points!
  1. Jesus died for our sins.
  2. Jesus was buried.
  3. Jesus rose again.

When a person believes the gospel in His heart, turns from his sin, and cries out to the Lord for salvation,* he is saved. When a person’s heart changes, everything about him changes. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Even terrorists?

Yes. Islamic terror is all about false teachings and false ideology. It’s also about the false promise of having many virgins and unlimited pleasures in Paradise for the warrior who dies in jihad. Non-Islamic terrorists are motivated by different false teachings and goals, many of them political. Every terrorist does what he does because he actually believes in his cause.

If he would listen to the gospel and turn from his wicked ways, he would be a new person. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die (Ezekiel 18:21). Jesus said, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).

The problem, as I see it, is that Christians don’t feel the urgency to spread the gospel. They also might feel afraid to reach certain people groups. Another difficulty is that many countries of the world are closed to traditional missions. But, that doesn’t mean no one can go and these people can’t be reached. And, more than anything, it doesn’t mean you can’t reach your neighbors where you live!

I can hardly believe that people don’t know their neighbors. Why? There are lots of reasons. We live such busy lives. But God put us on the earth with a purpose: glorify God. We actually glorify Him when we share the gospel of salvation with others. It isn’t an option; it’s a command. And he (Jesus) said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).

So, how can a normal woman, living a normal life (whatever that is!) “preach” the gospel? Each person has a different personality and varying abilities. We’re in different jobs and places. The important thing is to look for ways to reach your world for Christ. I’m going to float some ideas out there, but you can ask God what you can do. You might be surprised at how He leads!

Ideas for women to spread the gospel:
  1. Give gospel tracts to people you actually engage in conversation: clerks, friends, etc.
  2. Leave gospel tracts—just one—in public places: hotel rooms, restrooms, etc.
  3. Get to know people. Start with your neighbors, but this can broaden into a neighborhood Bible study. You can join a club, gym, or even an online group that caters to people in your interests. I think online forums are great places for witness and networking.
  4. Write. Do you have a novel in you—waiting to be written? Do you blog? Are you a poet? Try being a witness through your writing.
  5. Volunteer. Can you work in a hospice, with a pregnancy center, or as a counselor? What can you do to help in your church? (Ask your pastor where there are needs.) Sunday school teachers can impact children for God.
  6. Teach. Can you teach English as a second language? Can you offer tutoring? Are you a teacher in a school?
  7. Think outside the box. This begins with prayer. Ask God for ways to meet and impact unsaved people. He will answer.

I am not so naïve as to think that everyone you witness to will respond with genuine faith and repentance. But, I also don't think that every Christian is actively looking for ways to share Christ. If your neighbor accepts Christ, he will be a new neighbor. If a child knows the Lord, he will be a different child. If your friend gets to know Jesus, she’ll not only be on her way to heaven, but you’ll have someone to disciple and mentor. You’ll have sweet fellowship with her. If whole Christian communities were actively sharing the gospel—not “love” or watered down messages—we’d see a revival. A revival means changed towns and ultimately a changed world.

Do I believe that will happen? I don’t know. Personally, I think Bible prophecy is being fulfilled under our noses, and I’m not sure if that includes another Great Awakening—but it might. Even if not, we are debtors** to the world around us. We must spread the Good News of the gospel.

So, when will there be peace on earth and an ideal kingdom? Read Revelation 20:1-6. Jesus will rule for a thousand years. It might be as close as seven years away!

Jesus said, I must work the works of him that sent me,
while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work (John 9:4).

Do you want a better world? Reach out to others, sharing the gospel of Christ! The time is short, and the need is great.

_______________

* For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).
** The idea of debtors is from Romans 1:14, where Paul says he’s a debtor to the world.




Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Great Mysteries of Life: The Answers Are So Hard, So Simple



A few of these mysteries come to mind:
How did the universe begin?
What is life?
Where did we come from?
Why am I here?
Is there anything after death?

Scientists spend millions of dollars trying to find the beginning of the universe. If they can only collide atoms well enough, they’ll find the “God particle” that holds things together. Archaeologists and paleontologists look for keys to understanding the beginnings of mankind. Evolutionists are constantly changing their theory with new discoveries, but they always talk about links between apes or other creatures and humans and evolution over millions of years. Astronomers can see farther and farther into the universe with new telescopes and satellites. They find innumerable galaxies and consider the possibility of the existence of other earths and civilizations. They’re sure something’s out there. Everyone wants to know his purpose. Why am I here, anyway?

These are the mysteries of life.

The more complicated humans make it, the less they know . . . .

Someone Who knows everything
has already revealed the answers!

It’s so simple.

All we need to do is open the Bible!

Let’s take the mysteries one by one.


1. How did the universe begin?
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1). For more details about the creation of the world, read Genesis 1 and 2.


2. What is life?
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so (Genesis 1:30).

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7).

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (John 10:28).

God gives life to plants, animals, and people. He provides humans with eternal life, if they accept His gift through Jesus Christ. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).


3. Where did we come from?
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Genesis 1:26-27).


4. Why am I here?
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).


5. What happens after death?
And Jesus said unto him (the thief on the cross), Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).

The Apostle Paul said, We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Jesus told this true story. (It is not a parable.) There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Luke 16:19-31). Jesus illustrates the two different places people go after they have died. One is heaven, and the other is hell, a place of torment. Yes, God Himself clearly says there’s life after death.

There are probably more mysteries of the universe that I didn’t think of, but all the answers are in the Holy Word of God, the Bible. We don't need to scratch our heads. We only need to trust the One Who created, the One Who died for us, the One Who gives us life and purpose.


  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Young Adult Style


















As you know, I enjoy fashion and style. You might not know I worked for a time in a design department for children's fashions. I wasn't a designer, but we drew the designs for screen prints, appliqués, and embroidery. We also drew and painted the children's clothing catalog by hand. Can you imagine?

Some time ago, I asked for volunteers--all young adults--to be my models for a virtual fashion show. It's not as much about fashion as style. Each person was free to choose his clothing and model as he saw fit. Enjoy!









Many thanks to my volunteer models: A. J., Damaris, Daniel, Jessica, Raquel, Sarah, Sol, and Victoria (as well as two adorable dogs). You demonstrate style, fun, and a lovely Christian attitude.

My models live in Ecuador, Guatemala, Japan, Micronesia, Spain, and the United States. One has modeled professionally, but the others confess to being nervous in front of a camera. One of my models is a mother and another is expecting a baby. My models work at: assembling car parts, writing (one's a published author), and studying. They're active in their churches. Some of them teach Sunday school.

Why do a post about style? Because I think Christian role models are important, and modest style demonstrates variety and flair.

God bless these young adults as they serve Him in many different capacities!


Monday, August 7, 2017

Fiction Review: Tested by Fire


Tested by Fire, by Pat Patterson is the second book I’ve read by this author. It’s the sequel to Paramedic Killer. It's good to read Paramedic Killer before this one, but not necessary. Each book stands on its own.

They say, “write what you know” and Mr. Patterson certainly does! A paramedic himself, Tested by Fire showcases his medical expertise while telling a poignant story.

It begins with the sad martyrdom of his partner Sid on the streets of East Beach. Gang members taunt his faith, beat him, and then fill him with lead. Jim Stockbridge vows to get revenge. No one deserves that kind of death.

Follow Jim as he goes after gang leader J-Rock and ends up in the hospital himself on more than one occasion. Follow him as he finds Truth as does Zee, a member of the gang. Go with Jim as he seeks to revenge his partner.

There’s a little bit of romance and a lot of violence in this book. Frankly, I am a tad too squeamish for some of the graphic medical details, though they greatly contribute to the book’s authenticity. Tested by Fire is a strongly Christian book set in the unlikely setting of the inner city. The author seems to know a lot about gang and drug culture. The whole book sounds like it could easily be true.

I personally enjoy Patterson’s writing. I believe he’ll reach a niche of readers that’s rarely spoken to in Christian books: older teen and young adult men. This second book, like the first, is hard to put down. There’s no sensuality, no bad language, but it does contain a lot of violence. I give it four stars.