Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Vibrations of Beauty … who can deny?

I can paint faces and these are my brushes...

I posted these questions a few weeks ago on Facebook, “If you knew that your beauty was given in order to be the visible evidence of God’s splendor on the earth, what would you do different? How much more would you tend to it’s care? How much more would you guard it from exploitation? There were no replies.

I’ve been disturbed in recent months at my own attraction to beauty. I’m not talking about an attraction to the beauty of nature or beautiful things. I am disturbed more than ever by my attraction to beautiful people. I get caught up in the flawlessness, the symmetry, and the brightness of a face or a frame.

Why disturbed? After all, attraction to beauty is human nature right? Yes, I agree that it is. However, when you are one who grew up in the fat-lane, beauty becomes a terrorizing voice of condemnation. Beauty was my biggest bully growing up. So why, after all these years do I find myself attracted to my archenemy?

If the victims of beauty were to protest there would be two sides: one side would hold up signs saying, “Flaunt it if you got!” and the other side would say, “It’s what’s on the inside the counts!” Both sides, if they were honest, would have to point back to a moment of violation where the ideals of beauty raped them of their worth. I remember mine. Do you remember yours?

The greater truth is that every encounter with beauty was originally intended to point people to the very essence of our God. Flawless skin, unrivaled symmetry, and the brilliance of light combine to equal perfection. Beauty is perfection. We are attracted to perfection and shouldn’t we be? Jesus Christ is coming back for a bride who is without spot or wrinkle. He called us to be perfect as His Father in Heaven is perfect. What is wrong with being attracted to perfection? I might want to suggest it just maybe a holy attraction but we’ve stopped way short of its fulfillment.

If it is true that within every human heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty and beauty was given in order to be the visible evidence of God’s splendor on the earth then why do we cheat ourselves? Why do we stop short of what was intended to be holy and instead feast upon its shadow: the flesh? We either lust after beauty by spending every resource to possess it or we hate it and make up every imaginable excuse to keep ourselves from shining. Either way we have fallen into the trap of trusting in our beauty to get us what we want or to excuse us from the potential and dreams we actually fear.

The pursuit of beauty in its origin was Holy. Is this why the satisfactions we enjoy in porn, as well as extremes in fitness and cosmetics are so fleeting? Is this why our self-abasement and our self-righteousness never seem to keep the loneliness at bay? While we are chasing it or hating it I believe we are all together missing it.

I dare you the next time your chasing it or your hating it to admit that you want it, and ask the Creator of all things beautiful to show you more than this world has offered you. Let’s stop being satisfied with lesser pleasures and look past them to a realm of beauty so good to be true that takes faith to believe it.


“Daddy, are we there yet?”

God winked at me today on my iPhone

It was one of those days. You know, one of those days in your life where you swear it’s the longest day ever expiring within the longest week ever, folded within the longest month ever as it rotates within the longest year ever which, dreadfully, might finally and fully convince you that you just may be living out one of the longest “life-in-waiting” ever. That was the moment that I looked down at my phone with weak anticipation that maybe, just maybe, the most thrilling thing waiting to happen to my world could be one single glance away and then I see it again. For the umpteenth time I see my beloved 33.

Every day for the last seven years I have yet to lay my head to rest without the unusual coincidence of glancing upon the number 33. Seriously, everyday, at least once a day I run into a 33. Most days it’s more than once. It’s no longer unusual to me when I glance at a receipt, a clock, a license plate, a sale ad, a scoreboard, an address, an odometer, a mile marker, an exit sign, a bar code, blah-blah-blah that I don’t see it. What does amaze me is that within the split of a second of a glance I catch it. Within that split second I know for the umpteenth time God is reassuring me like a tender wink.

One of the ways God speaks to us is through unusual coincidences. God is a romantic. He loves to create an intimate language of love that belongs to just you and Him. It’s a language of love that only the two of you completely get much like the “code-talk” only close friends or couples can share. He gets you. In fact no one gets you like He does. He takes full responsibility for the uniqueness of those He has created. He also takes full advantage of His intimate knowledge of you in order to talk to you in ways that increase your priceless affections for Him.

When I see the number 33 it speaks volumes to my heart, seven years of intimate knowledge only the two of us share. We have so much mind-blowing history related to this ordinary number. It flashes before the masses a million times a day and they pass right by it without a thought. Not me, I am one who has to stop and smile again for the umpteenth time. I have to stop in my mind, in my heart, and in my tasks and remember Him and His promises to me. 33 is not a superstition like a lucky number. 33 points me to Jeremiah 33:3 where God promised to show me great and mighty things of which I’ve never known before whenever I would called upon Him.

Great and mighty things has He been showing me indeed. God shows me great and mighty things about Himself. He shows me great and mighty things about those we love. He shows me great and mighty things about the kind of influence He wants to be through leaders and organizations. He even shows me great and mighty things about my future and myself. Of all the great and mighty things He shows me these are the ones that usually make me cry. I have discovered that tears are great at dismantling my unbelief.

There will be days like today, the day that never ends, and you’ll wonder if you are “there” yet. Living this life by faith and not by sight always runs the risk to wander off and ask if anything, ANYTHING, is being accomplished in favor of all He has promised. Your childlike heart can’t help itself but ask, “Daddy, are we there yet?” When you least expect it, like a pulse proving there is still life, your “33” will flash before you within a split second for the umpteenth and one time. When it does you’ll smile and remember that the Lover of your soul truly is intimately acquainted with all of your ways. You’ll be grateful He orders your steps right up to the split second.

Though you may not arrived in your promised land today, you’re closer than you were the last time you asked: ten minutes ago. You can also be sure He is still watching over every one of those promising words He has whispered into your heart. After all, that’s what lovers do.

What’s your “33”?

Love A Hater

Photo credit: Me Candle credit: Andee Bugg


“It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all – was put to death and then made alive – to bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:16-18, The Message

Blessing our enemies serves as a “human video,” a live demonstration of the crucifixion and the resurrection. Us, being right before God, taking the abuse of those who are wrong, and then choosing to bless them rather than repay them. It is our chance to prove He lives.

“This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, and it’s the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came His way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it step by step…They called Him every name in the book and He said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right.” 1 Peter 2:21-23, The Message

We suffer for doing what is right and we heal. This is the normal Christian life. To repay is to forfeit our healing. To be content in God to set things right frees us from experiencing the rage of self-righteousness and vengeance—emotions He never intended for us to live from.

I can walk more confidently today knowing that I am expected to suffer for doing right, just being right before God, and that healing is a sure companion to suffering. They go hand-in-hand, and I must engage my faith believing He is able and willing to set things right without my involvement. While I am tucked away in the healing of His wings, His vengeance is setting wrong things right. The blessing I inherit is healing, a greater fullness, and the open window for my offender to be reconciled back to the Father, too.


The Lord has been instructing me not to expose the weakness and brokenness of my offenders. Their offense toward me is not intentional. They are limited in the revelation and experience of Christ. Their brokenness (limitations) causes me to suffer pain even though they may love God too; they may cry out to be right before Him, as well. He is assuring me that my suffering is due to their weakness not intentional sin. And what is His response to my weakness? His love covers my weakness; He does not repay my weakness with weakness but strength. He does not repay my ignorance with ignorance, but with knowledge and revelation. He does not repay my brokenness with brokenness, but wholeness. He does not repay my unbelief with unbelief, but faith. I am not to respond in any way less than that.

Romans make a clear statement that the act of kindness is not to be a vengeful act. If my bible commentary is accurate: coals from a burnt offering (sacrifice) with incense (pleasing fragrance) covers the mercy-seat making the sacrifice acceptable to God for forgiveness. Is this a metaphor for our own acts of kindness? Kindness in response to evil is like a pleasing act of sacrifice (right and painful) making a way for God’s undeserved mercy to become available to a yet-repentant offender? Does my act of kindness pave the way for their eventual repentance?

Forgive Until You Feel It

So many Christians struggle with forgiveness. They say they have forgiven but cannot understand why the offense resurges with each remembrance. Is it because the forgiveness is incomplete when in word only? Is it possible that complete forgiveness goes beyond word, and beyond tolerance? Is it complete when it shows itself in deed? Is it the undeserved deeds of kindness that make an offender a renewed candidate for His mercy? Is a smoking head of coals a target for God to relent and bless? If so, we may find our own selves offended; our own self-righteousness, like Jonah resisting the kind deed of giving a warning for an undeserving people, are we too afraid God will follow through and grant them a mercy they don’t deserve? Forgiveness never says the offender was right. Giving sinners what they don’t deserve is grace, the unearned favor of God. It is what was given to me, and the humility of such undeserved kindness led to my own repentance.

Are we only kind while remembering the vengeance of God, thus fueling our self-righteousness? If returning acts of goodness for evil are for the sake of the offender getting what they deserve, then our so-called love for our enemies is really motivated by selfish gain. This is not love. Jesus looked upon those blind guides, the self-serving religious generation who nailed His body to a cross and said in words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And then He followed through with a deed that backed-up His words and died for their sins.

The most challenging thing for us is to believe that same love—the ability to love the offender—lives on in us and is dying to be expressed through us. We don’t believe we can love those who offend us. We dare not consider it because we know it will cost us our best manmade defenses and we will have to live a life of vulnerability, like sheep among wolves. We get stuck in a crisis of faith and secretly, in our own hearts, doubt God. What kind of God would send sheep among wolves? A God we have yet to know in this way. If we dare to love our enemies then the reward is a life free of defenses, full of an undeserved love, and experiencing God to be all He has promised to be…narrow is the way and few are they who find Him like this.

Does my sacrifice of kindness returned for evil heap the burning coals intended to mark an undeserved enemy for God’s mercy to be demonstrated on the earth? Not only is this sacrifice pleasing to God, but our deed of love covers the sin and must make a way for God’s forgiveness to be received by the offender.

If we love only those who love us and simply tolerate our offenders, what credit is that to us? There must be an amazing well of invincible love for us to love from or He wouldn’t have asked us to love a hater.

Love Embraces Mystery … the rest of the story

Photo Credit: Me

What if God led you into a hope and the hope led to disappointment? The bible tells us if we delay or depress hope it will only serve to make our hearts sick. It would be a wrong response to give up our hope or to compromise it. The truth is that God does not lead us into disappointments. He leads us into what could be possible. Truly, our disappointment isn’t with God. Our disappointment is more likely with who we think He should be for us. Disappointing outcomes challenge our knowledge of God and that is not a bad thing. He desires to be known for exactly Who He is. When we embrace the mystery of a disappointment we move into a pursuit of knowing Him more.

If you did not move into this Christian culture for the sake of knowing Him then you might want to turn back now. Disappointments will only prove to over take you and eventually bury you. Adhering your life to Jesus is to come into your eternal life.

Your new eternal life is to live forever increasing in the knowledge of Him. Knowing Him is to experience Him for yourself. Experiencing Jesus has two edges to it: sharing His sufferings and encountering His power, at the same time. To share in His sufferings does not make you a victim of His will it makes you intimate. To share in His power does not make you famous, it makes Him famous. Embracing the mystery of a disappointment has to be the right response. It’s the response designed to heal your broken heart. It’s the only response that will revive your hope.

What Could Be Could Be

It may help you to know God’s spoken words to our hearts do no tell us outcome they speak to our potential. The hope-filled words He speaks into our hearts are actually power-filled to create what could be possible. Each hope-filled word He speaks into your heart lays out another possibility under your feet. He is simultaneously empowering you and directing you to the fulfillment. How we respond to disappointment will determine what He says next. We must contend for the words He speaks to our hearts without quitting or taking short cuts. We need to continue until the author of our faith pens the final period.

God is not intimidated by the questions that pull at our devastated lil core. Those “Why God?” petitions can’t be avoided but they can be filled with accusation or they can be filled with investigation. We need to know why the “why” is still in our hearts? Here are some of the things I have learned on my way to embracing a mystery:

  • Thank Him. It is the greatest act of faith you can do this side of Heaven. Thank Him for the honor of being trusted to carry out such a hope and for the chance to grow through the endurance of seeking it out. You will discover your new “muscles” when you dare to pursue hope again.
  • Feel the disappointment and feel it all the way through. Disappointment is a loss and it needs to be fully grieved if you are to ever fully hope again. To depress your honest emotions will only insure a de-pression later on. You will know you are through the grief because you heart will soften into a new surrender.
  • Give time to forgiveness. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and expose those areas where you may have erred in the journey to hope. Ask Him to renew a right and loyal spirit within you so you can embrace the unlocking of the mystery. When the forgiveness is complete, you will be ready to forgive any others who may have fallen short with you along the way. You will be ready to release them from any misplaced expectations you may have put upon them.
  • Give up your rights to understanding the outcome. When you give up the entitlement to understand, peace will come and the time for healing can begin. I’ve learned a very precious attribute of God here. You will vacillate from puzzlement to peace from peace to puzzlement and God will continue to hold the mystery in silence. Why? Because His love must honor the healing of your broken heart. He needs your heart ready to receive what He has to say next. While you wrestle with your pain and confusion there is a chance you could easily misunderstand the wisdom of His love. He will patiently wait for your trust in Him to return.
  • When the time comes to unlock the mystery God will only tell you what you need to hear for now. His intentions are to carefully re-direct you back into His passion and His purpose as well as your potential.


If He reveals that you had been misled, God will pen a period. You will have closure and a precious lesson learned to take with you when you move into a hope that truly is of Him. His love won’t let your experience go to waste. He is a good Father Who brings us correction with much love and attention. I believe He adores your ambition to follow Him even if you got it wrong. That is why repentance is such an awesome gift. We get to turn around and try again.

However, if you have processed your disappointment and He does not correct you then you have an encountered a comma penned within your hope. It would not be unusual for God to reveal the happy ending of a thing at the beginning. He had Jesus planned to die and raise again while you were yet a sinner, right? Maybe He planned you into the redemption of a thing. God may not have planned your disappointing outcome but He did foresee it. He has the ability to look past it with redemption in His eyes and a beautiful vengeance burning in His heart. He will have a plan to turn it all around for His good. Maybe your part in the plan has more to do with its ending then it’s beginning. You’ll never know unless you embrace the mystery.

I will warn you however, to search out a mystery will only grow a hope that was once impossible into greater impossibilities. It will be difficult, harder than you could have imagined. You will want it as much as you will want to run away from it. You will even wonder at times if you’ve lost it and the only truth that will keep you sane and moving forward is that He has given you the Spirit of Truth to lead you into all truth.

You see embracing a mystery is this genius way of God to prod you to keep asking, seeking and knocking. Once you’ve tasted of something too good to be true you can’t shake it, love will compel you to embrace mystery. The rest of the story belongs to you. Embracing the mysteries of your disappointments will transform you into that person you foresee, a person fit to live the hope your heart holds. He forever lives to make the wrong things right.

What if embracing the mystery of that premature death to cancer can take you farther into an untapped power to heal everyone who would ask?

What if embracing the mystery of that last financial nose dive can take you farther into an epic business strategy of transferring a wealth that heals a national economy?

What if embracing the mystery of your desolate orphaned life can take you farther into a global revival where adoption is no longer a charitable act but an evangelistic movement of compounding proportions?

What if embracing the mystery of a bewildering heartbreak in your untold love story can take you farther into a profound knowledge of love that has the power to turn the moral compass of an entire generation?

Would you embrace the mystery?

What if your disappointment was not a period but a comma?

Will you embrace the mystery in order to gain a profoundly intimate knowledge of God and live to see the impossibilities that first mocked you finally bend their knees to His power in you?

Go get your hope back because it’s not over until God says it’s over.

Love Embraces Mystery

Photo Credit: Me

Within one of the cafe’s tall dinning booths she settled herself deep into the cozy bench seat. The aroma of fresh cheesy bagels and steamy lattes permeated the air as she upgraded her slow-brewed ice tea with just a hint of sweetener, the pink packet of course.

Her attentions were slowly being reeled away into the frantic inquires of the adorable young woman seated across the table from her. It was not uncommon for inquisitive young people to request one on one time with her. It was as though she had something to offer them that they couldn’t seem find anywhere else. You might call it somewhat of a proven wisdom. She was always able to help them see things they had never considered before. Request after request was beginning to point to the fact that she just might have something to offer an audience that was not of her peers but rather of her legacy.

The questions began to fire at her one after another, and then another, and soon they were coming one on top of another. The questions were quite characteristic of most young women this age, young women who’d decided to give Jesus their life, and  yes, even their love life. “How will I know?” “What if I miss him?” “What if God wants me to be single my whole life?” “What if God chooses a husband for me that I’m not even attracted to?” “What, what, what, … well, what if the man I am supposed to marry marries someone else?” Kaaa-boom! That final question shot through her like the firing of an old artillery cannon. The echo of it thumbed down the “been-there-done-that” pages of an untold love story she kept guarded deep within her heart.

Everything in her was stunned with unexpected exposure. After all, that question, it was so exacting to this most recent heartbreak. It would be impossible for such a precise question to come from someone she just met the week before. She quickly suppressed her unbelief, sobered up her attentions, and calmly replied with the answer she had been giving to all the young woman’s questions. It was the only answer she knew, “You just keep your eyes upon Jesus.”

The Embrace

As that question came firing at me, some 5 years ago, as I was in the middle of holding onto the hand rails of my recovery. That particular heartbreak was not my first rodeo in being “led” into a devastating disappointment with God. You see, several years before that I was contending for a different miracle of sorts. My mom was three months into a battle with cancer when I was led to believe, according to the bible, that God wanted to heal her and would heal her. The healing never came. Instead, her death came quickly.

Disappointment also came. It stood at the door of my life wagging its finger at God just waiting to escort me back into a life of cynicism and despondency. However, hope, so tender and so sweet whispered into my ear a dare. The dare was to risk against all reason and trust God one more time in order to discover something higher than just another disappointment. Fretfully I said yes and God introduced me into something I call “embracing mystery”.

To clarify, a disappointment with God would be an experience where you followed His voice into a hope that never made it into its hopeful expectation.

Consider the disciples: They too must have been stunned in those last-minutes when Jesus gave up His final breath and then hung there stone cold dead on that cross. It was God Who had led them there. God had promised them a King to rule the nations. They were “led” to believe they were finally getting what generations before them had hoped for and labored for in prayer and faith. Their hope was actually fastened to a hope centuries old. There, hanging on a cross was their promised King, their friend, their hope. He was dead, simply and surely dead. Why would God work so hard those last three years to convince them this was the One they had been waiting for only to have it end like it did? Why the disappointment? Why the mystery?

One of the definitions of mystery is: any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation. As Christians we are called to hope, trust, and believe; to live this new life by faith rather than by what we see with our eyes. We are called to trust God’s Word and the words He speaks personally into our hearts. It would be good for us to know that there will come circumstances that completely contradict the hope that is living in our hearts, a hope that God gave. We have to know we will, at some point, collide head-on with a giant in our promised land; a giant called disappointment. However, if we embrace the mystery we will embrace a truth that will only come through divine revelation.

The Nobility

When we experience disappointment we generally have one of two reactions: one is to harden our hearts and just flat-out quit. We make an inner vow to live safe and set boundaries all around ourselves to avoid further risk. A second reaction would be to forfeit the full value of our hope by making compromising choices. This reaction ultimately compromises our own personal value as well. We will conveniently put God in a box and secretly determine that He was never that good in the first place. Worse yet we will decide God never considered us good enough for something too good to be true.

Consider Proverbs 25:2:

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a thing.”

What if we walked through the valley of disappointment and chose to embrace a mystery instead? The greatest revenge on a disappointment with God is to embrace it as a mystery. It has been my experience that the ingredients to overcoming disappointment with God is actually buried within its own mystery. In God’s kingdom mysteries are not meant to be hidden from us, they are hidden for us, designed to spur a seeker on to seek even more. Mystery is noble, much like a king it doesn’t give way to fatalism any more than it demands a reason. Like royalty, we are invited to steward a mystery with wide-eye wonder and to abandon ourselves to a greater brilliance, a greater love, and a greater purpose than has been revealed up to that point. The revealing of mystery is an ancient way of God. In Romans 16:25 we see Paul giving away a secret:

“Now to Him Who is able to strengthen you in the faith which is in accordance with my Gospel and the preaching of (concerning) Jesus Christ (the Messiah), according to the revelation (the unveiling) of the mystery of the plan of redemption which was kept in silence and secret for long ages…”

The crucifixion of Jesus looked like a period penned at the end of an epic true life story. To the disciples the cross had all the finishing characteristics of a sentence’s period but it wasn’t. The mystery was starting to unveil. On this side of that mystery you and I can see it was really a comma. It was a big ol’ mysterious pause between God-sized thoughts. The cross was so much more than a disappointing end, it was actually a “to be continued” footnote directing its spectators onto the next part of the story. You see, until God pens a period upon your hope it is not the end. Mystery means your wounded hope is open and available for your investigation.


Every disappointing outcome is not always God’s will, not every thing that happens in our lives is His will. If everything that happened was His will Jesus would never had instructed us to pray for His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Not every death is in God’s timing that’s why Jesus would raise the dead. Not every heartbreak is the will of God. Not every loss or natural disaster is the will of God.

Jesus left us in charge down here. He told us while we are here on the Earth to seek and to ask and to knock until Heaven shows up in our hearts and in our circumstances. Remember when you said yes to salvation? News flash: you entered into your eternal life that very day. You are now living in two worlds at once. It’s why most days feel like a stretch. I believe if we could learn to walk through a disappointment without losing our hope and instead embrace its mysterious outcome then we will grow to be a culture of people to whom nothing will be impossible in relationship to Jesus.

Within our own disappointment do we ever consider that maybe, just maybe God was disappointed too?

I will close here for now but fear not, it’s only a comma; a pause between blogs: “Love Embraces Mystery… the rest of the story” should post tomorrow.

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