Thank God he didn’t make me beautiful.

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I realised in early adolescence I was not to be one of those beautiful types with delicate bones, perfect features and bushels of shining curls. While I looked reasonably OK, my too round face and slightly saggy chin ruled out any such notions.
My self-perception, regarding looks, later became very confused. I was told often I was beautiful, but photos always brought me back to reality. Mirrors were the most confusing of all, a casual glance might depict me as surprisingly beautiful or jarringly ugly. It’s only in my latter years I’ve come to understand. You see it’s Jesus coming through, lighting up my plain face that transforms it – beauty of a different kind.
If I was naturally beautiful it wouldn’t be so noticeable. What is so nice about “my realisation” is it means anyone can be beautiful regardless of their actual physical appearance. How many times have you seen a plain (even ugly) person transform into beauty when they fall in love? I’ve seen it often, love itself, being a part of God, transforms. Not only that but this kind of beauty doesn’t fade, has no need of creams and face lifts (in fact these things tend to reduce it). If anything, it grows more apparent with age. So, if like me you don’t rate high on the physical looks scale, remember God’s love makes us all beautiful!
I chose this recent photo from my daughter’s 40th birthday party as somewhat of an example. My kids got so many compliments of how young and beautiful their mother was, some even commented directly. It all depends on how you look at the photo you see, the round face and “turtle effect” saggy chin are there, but I think the photo also caught something else. The couple I was talking to were wonderful people who I thoroughly enjoyed conversing with (as were many at the event). Forgetting my less than perfect self among such a glittering assortment of good looks I was fully engaged in conversation with them.

me party
Noticing the same effect in others, when happily relaxed with friends, or simply in love, I’ve termed a phrase, “their light’s come on”. Even more wonderful we can turn on other’s lights by sharing love, especially God’s love. Though I’d have liked to be beautiful I’m thankful God made me the way I am so I could understand this. There are no “ugly” or “plain” people in God’s eyes, because He loves us all. He even chose that kind of body for Himself – “there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isiah 53:2).

 

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“Everyone that loves is born of God and knows God.”

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Long ago whist at college my daughter’s class was asked by an atheistic teacher.

“Whoever here believes in God, stand up.” Only she and a Muslim girl dared to stand.

“And why do you believe?” He continued. Their answers were very similar, they had both seen God work in their lives and miraculously answer prayer. Not to be put off he announced.

“Well you, pointing to my daughter, are Christian, but how come this girl is Muslim says the same thing?” She couldn’t answer and came home troubled. I had never considered the question and had to pray for the answer. It came instantly.

God loves all His children whoever they are and whatever faith they embrace. If someone prays with a pure and believing heart He will answer (even if they call Him by another name). My daughter was content with that answer. For me however it triggered other questions.

I’ve never believed that if someone hasn’t received Jesus they’ll burn in hell for eternity – though a common fundmentalist doctrine, that just doesn’t jive with all I’ve known of God. What about all those that never had a chance to hear? Rather I’ve found Him to be far more loving, more merciful, going to far greater extremes to redeme His children than I could envisage. I think not to know Jesus maybe means to miss out on the fulness of life He brings right here and now, the joy, the freedom, the healing, the solace.

It is my personal belief that, rather than God as a stern judge dealing out rewards and eternal punishment at death, we, in a sense, judge ourselves. When God is revealed in all His splendour we either run to embrace Him, cringe in guilt and shame begging for mercy, or run in fear or rebelion. To come before God drenched in sin is perhaps akin to someone drenched in gasoline confronting a fire. God is always loving, forgiving, but we can only come into His presence naked and humble (one cannot pretend with God) we cannot bear His presence with any taint of sin or subterfuge.

It says “God looks on the heart” we must be careful to do likewise. A self-righteous, holier than thou Christian may further from God than a big-hearted atheist. Perhaps some of the “saved” may find themselves raised, not to glory, but to “everlasting shame and contempt” for their lack of love toward humanity, and the shamed single mum who loved too ardently find,  she that loves much will be forgiven much. Perhaps that’s what it means about the last being first and the first last.

Soul Windows.

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The face was old and wrinkled,
But the eyes were still the same.
They still retained the twinkle
She’d seen upon that day.
Some things there’s no erasing
Though the years may flood on by,
The flesh may see corruption
But the spirit never die.

How big is your God?

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Ever wondered how come some folks receive miraculous answers to prayer, live charmed lives, hardly ever get sick, depressed or even down, while other precious folks, true believers, kind, benevolent, seem powerless in the midst of troubles? I think the question above holds part of the answer. (For a great series on this see Mark Batterson’s “Chase the lion.”)
Which do you believe to be bigger/stronger/more powerful, God or cancer/adversity/ bankruptcy/etc. Understanding God is bigger than all these things put together and loves us unconditionally, not only gives peace of mind, it puts us in line for miracles.

Here are a few things about God I’ve come to understand over the years. (Perhaps you have others to share?)

1) A God “small” enough for us to figure out would not be God.
Man has a tendency to make god in his own image – ponder the old Greek and Roman gods for example with all their human flaws. One reason there are so many atheists around today is that they try to understand God with their intellect. A god who could be understood with the transient human mind would not be God. God cannot be put in a box and labelled, but He wants to be in intimate communication with us. He loves us, that’s why Jesus came, so we could understand better. Even so, our understanding is still as a child to a father, we take most things on trust, knowing “Dad can fix it”.

2) How can God be omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) in my heart, but also in yours, intimately concerned with every minute of our day? I found this hard to conceive till I realised if something is so much bigger it can envelope everything – best I can explain what I mean.

3) God is love.
There’s far more to this than the familiar phrase denotes. It doesn’t say “God is loving,” it says “God is love”. It also states, He is a spirit. Put that together. He is the spirit of love. When we feel love in any form we are feeling the tangible spirit of God. You might go so far as to say not, “I think therefore I am” but, “I love therefore I am.” When someone comes to Christ and/or receives the holy spirit this love is intensified.

4) Pride, (not immorality etc.) is the cardinal sin. The only folks Jesus ever got angry with were the Pharisees (the religious leaders of their day). They, not the Romans, had him crucified. Yet he was full of mercy toward the harlots and tax collectors etc. Pride is what caused Lucifer to fall from his top job as God’s light bearer. Pride destroys love, it’s humbling to love, it makes you vulnerable.

5) The “who made God” question. The answer to this is simple but hard to explain. As creatures born in time, living our lives in time, we cannot conceive being without it. Time is a part of the creation, God created time, He is not confined by it, nor will we be when we leave this life. Again, man tries to reduce God to his finite conceptions.

Well, there’s some of my Sunday morning thoughts. If you have any you’d like to add, please do. Have a great day everyone!

the message of christmas.

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To believe the unbelievable, and then to find it true.

To turn on the colour in a world of shades of grey.

To feel joy growing in your heart till it gushes out embracing all around.

To have a light, a candle, which, though it may flicker, can never be extinguished.

A flame to kindle others, as stars bedeck the night sky.

And Yet…

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Alone we watch last leaves of autumn fall upon this world
Fearing stark winter follows icy breath in hand.
Alone we watch the fleeting sun rise and set its measure of time
Believing one day the frost shall melt at the coming.
Alone we ponder and learn of wonders withheld,
And yet, at small space, from our present eyes
Alone we partake as one that peeps through a slit at a waiting world of wonder
One that is warmed with thoughts and emotions as yet unformulated.
For light streams through in colored glory from worlds beyond if we still ourselves to listen
Soft words of comfort echo through chasms formed by love long ago
Yet still they calm our senses , refresh our vision, as a fresh wind from the mountain.
Stop, look up, and we will see fresh vision here with God with we…

(While troubled and pained by recent attacks in London and in Syria I came across this old poem and found comfort.)