Tag Archives: God

Scars To Your Subjectivity

I Heard a Song

Even though it’s been out for a while – like over a year – it was just a few months ago that I heard “Scars To Your Beautiful” for the first time while doing some channel surfing on the radio (actually, it was on my Amazon Prime music app, but let’s not get picky).

If you have never heard the song, or seen the official video featuring the artist, Alessia Cara, then take a moment and absorb the message… Then let’s talk.

OK, did you listen? Did you pay close attention to the lyrics, including the testimonies of the people featured in the video? What did you think?

Who Made Her the Beauty Judge?

First, I think it is terrible to bully people because of their looks. Despite what they say about sticks and stones, words hurt deeply. Therefore, I can sympathize with the message of the song, for I was made fun of when I was young. People, especially kids, can be cruel.

But, as I listened to the song in the car, something came to mind that made me pause the music (you can do that with Amazon Prime) and say to my daughter who was riding with me, “You do realize, don’t you, that this song makes absolutely no sense without God?”

“What do you mean,” Haley responded? Well, that’s not what she really said. Actually, she just turned in my direction, tilted her head down, lifted up her eyes and eyebrows, and mumbled out a “Hmmm?”

I then asked, “Who is this girl (the singer) to say someone is beautiful just the way she is? Who defines what is beautiful?”

Seriously, haven’t we always been told, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? Of course we have! So, if that is so, what is wrong with saying someone is ugly? What if I don’t behold beauty, but scary?

Alessia Cara sings the following in the chorus:

But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark
You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are
And you don’t have to change a thing
The world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

Honestly, I’m not trying to be funny, but what gives her the right to say those things? Why should anyone know she’s beautiful just the way she is? Why shouldn’t she or he have to change? For crying out loud, why should the whole world be expected to change its beauty standards to fit the self-proclaimed, totally subjective beauty definitions of an outwardly-odd human?

If we are nothing but space junk, the product of chance, and nothing any more special than naked apes, why should any of us think we are intrinsically beautiful? And what kind of hope is in the dark?

Intrinsic Beauty

Believe it or not, I talked about all this with my daughter while the song was paused. Then I said, “It’s because we are made in the image of God…because we were created by Him…because Jesus was willing to go to the cross for us so that we could be saved…because God loves us…

Each and every one of us is a unique masterpiece, intricately woven together, shaped by the Hand of the Master Artist of the universe. So, despite the critical eye of the beholder; despite the subjective, labeling trends that give definition to fleeting beauty; the One who made you, who loves you, and sees deep into your soul says, “You were worth the nails.”

That’s why you’re beautiful.

5 Comments

Filed under General Observations, Love of God, self-worth

The Simplicity of Grace in all its Complexity

This morning it’s my privilege to introduce you to a new guest contributor, J. David Peever. David blogs at Live 4 Him, so go check him out when you are done here –  and let him know I sent you 😉

Guest Post by: J. David Peever


I understand what grace means but I have to admit, I am not sure what it looks like. I know that grace is unmerited favour but I fail to fully grasp the resulting actions. It is possible that I am the only Christian that finds the scope of grace and the accompanying behaviours difficult to define and the only pastor who feels inadequate when it comes to this. With these shortcomings I hope you are willing to extend a little grace to me or it might as well be the end of this post.

Unmerited favour must be more than letting me off the hook.

I celebrate the grace I have been given. I bask in the thought that someone could do something for me based not on what I have done or deserve but on how much they love me. In my human weakness I miss the breadth and depth, the width and height of God’s love-motivated, unmerited favour. My small mind focuses on the fact that I am forgiven even though I have done nothing to earn that forgiveness. I limit God and His actions to the function of letting me off the hook without paying the price for the sin I have committed which would best be described as unmerited forgiveness. Unmerited favour seems to be much more than that.

Unmerited favour can’t mean out of sight out of mind.

People like to say God forgives and forgets as if He suddenly comes down with a case of memory impairment or experiences concussion like symptoms. This is not the biblical premise behind the way God treats our sins. When we sin we create a deficit in our perfection. God, because of the price Jesus paid on the cross, looks at the deficit in the Christ follower’s perfection as paid, the debt is forgotten and perfection is restored. The debt may be forgotten, but the sinful action is not. I know this sounds like bad theology but bear with me.

Unmerited favour is more than unmerited forgiveness.

I have taken a juvenile attitude toward my salvation for far too long. In my immature approach I have viewed God’s grace as taking care of my need for forgiveness and sending me on my way as if nothing happened. A drop of Jesus’ blood here and piece of broken body there and all is forgotten – wow, so simplistic, so incomplete. God’s grace is much more than my rich dad paying yet another one of my debts. His unmerited favour is the perfect example of the actions a loving father takes when he desires the best for his children.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)

6 Comments

Filed under grace, Guest Posts

I Will Sing a New Song

A Guest Post by: David Fuller


Over the years, my favorite creative outlets have been playing and composing music, and various attempts at written expression, both prose and poetry. I’m arguably better at the prose.

Some years ago, the person I was with at the time complained that I had never written a love song about her, which, given my musical aspirations, was awkwardly true. Also true was that I had never written a love song, period. Not for lack of trying. They just always seemed to come out cheesy and contrived. Not my niche, I guess. So I decided to give it another shot. Relationships take work, right? Unfortunately, my relationship at the time was not a great source of inspiration.

So, enamoured as I am with His woos and advances, I decided to draw inspiration from my relationship with God. I wrote the only love song I’ve ever written, and knew as soon as I finished, that He had actually written it for me.

And for you.

I love you more than the sun is bright
More than darkness fills the night
To the top of Everest’s freezing height,
My love still burns for you.

I love you more than the day is long
More sweetly than the saddest song
When the heavens and the earth are gone
I will be here with you.

I love you more romantically
Than moonlight on the lonely sea
The ways I’ll show you number more
Than grains of sand along the shore.

You and I will be together
Even longer than forever
And I will hold you close to me
Closer than the air we breathe.

2 Comments

Filed under Guest Posts, Love of God, music

“The Shack” (My Review)

To Begin With

To begin with, let’s spell out what we know is true about God and His relationship to mankind. I mean, before I start talking about my impressions of a work of fiction – a movie – let’s talk reality, theologically speaking.

First, God is best understood as existing in trinity:

TRINITY (from Lat. trinitas).† An expression for the revelation of the one God (Deut. 6:4) in three “persons,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the trinity is a theoretical model intended to systematize various expressions in the Bible. The basis in Scripture on which it was built can be summarized as follows: there is only one God; each of the three divine persons is recognized to be God; God’s selfrevelation recognizes distinctions among these three persons in that there are interactions among them; and these distinctions are not just a matter of revelation (as received by humans) but are also eternally immanent in the Godhead.

Source: Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 1019.

Second, God has spoken and speaks to His children through the revealed and completed work of Scripture (the Bible). Therefore, what contradicts or stands in opposition to the Word of God is contrary to truth, therefore in error.

Third, God also speaks in a general sense through the works and workings of His creation (Romans 1:19-20).

Does God still speak to his children through dreams? I believe it is possible, for God can do anything He wishes, and He’s the same today as He was yesterday. However, does He speak through dreams and visions to His children in the same way which is recorded in the Bible? That’s debatable.

Fourth, God works in ways we can’t always understand…

For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV

Therefore, if He wanted to, there’re’so nothing to stop the Lord from giving a man a dream of being with the Godhead in a shack for a weekend, eating Divinely-prepared breakfasts and dinners, while not compromising what He has already revealed in the completed canon of Scripture. Has He ever done such a thing? I don’t know. But He could.

My Review

Look, I am not a professional film critic. I don’t know much about industry lingo. The best I can do is simply tell you what I think about what I saw.

Despite what many of my Christian brothers and sisters have said, I thought The Shack was a really good movie. I have never read the book on which the movie was based, so I don’t know how it compares. But what I do know is that what I watched did not contradict the overall truths about God as mentioned above. That’s the first big point.

What we have in The Shack is a story about a man who lost his youngest daughter to a terrible sex crime. The aftermath of the loss brought about bitterness, guilt, and questions of God’s character. In short, the lead character felt qualified to judge God.

Instead of being angry or disappointed with the lead character, Mack, we find out that God loved him and wanted to restore joy and wonder to his faith. Even more, God wanted Mack to trust Him. In The Shack we see a God who wants to restore relationships with His children, those who are His, but have strayed as a result of their pain.

There are certain elements in this movie that have been criticized unfairly. One of those is in the way God the Father (“Papa”) is portrayed for a good portion of the film as an older black woman. This alone has cause some to flip their lid. However, should one watch the movie he would find out that there was a practical, personal reason for God appearing as woman – Mack had an abusive father as a child, and it was always an older black lady who comforted him with godly wisdom and fresh-baked apple pie. When Mack asked Papa why He was a woman, she (God) replied: “After what you’ve been through, I didn’t think you could handle a father right now.” Later in the movie when Mack needed the leadership of a man, God assumed the role of a masculine male.

Essentially, no doctrine was compromised by the depictions of God the Father. The film told a story which reflected the same truths as depicted in Luke 13:34 and 15:20…God can be both a mother hen and a merciful father.

Believe it or not, Jesus was portrayed by a mid-30’s, Israeli-born Jewish man. The casting was perfect.

The Holy Spirit was portrayed by a young Asian woman. I didn’t get that one, but it really didn’t matter; if your going to put a physical appearance to the Spirit, an Asian girl is just as logical as an older black woman.

Honestly, before the movie started, I had in front of me a note pad ready to record every blatant heresy I was expecting to see. Yet, when the movie was over the pad was still bank. Frankly, there was only one line in the movie that caused me to pause it and have a quick discussion with my family…(NOTE: Discussion is the important key to watching any movie with one’s family.)…Papa responded to a question Mack asked about punishing people for their sins by saying: “I don’t punish…sin is its own punishment.” I understood the sentiment, but a quick word search on BlueLetterBible.com through some in some wrenches.

The important thing to remember is that the movie storyline clearly indicates Mack never actually, physically, went to the old shack. What we are left with is the question of whether or not God might choose to miraculously step in through a vision or dream and individually speak to a man in order to change his heart. But even that is not the main point of The Shack.

The main point of this movie is to show through admitted fiction that what we think we know about God might be wrong. Even though The Shack does do a good job of reinforcing a biblical description of the Godhead, especially relating to the question of pain and evil in the world, there is an element of danger: If we don’t point people to the Bible to read what God has written about Himself, only cause people to question their perceptions, then we are only left with more questions and more uncertainty.

In conclusion, there are many quality moments in this movie worthy of open discussion. As a Christian, I was certainly blessed by what I watched. My only concern is that, other than showing the main character and his family in the end worshipping together in a Christian church, there are too many loose ends: an unbeliever who watches is not given any distinct instructions on how to experience a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, only an affirmation that it’s OK to trust God, even in the bad times, because He is always good.

I would love to hear your feedback, so share your thoughts in a comment. 

 

 

19 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Faith, General Observations, God, Movie review

The Day After Father’s Day

Please forgive me if there are any grammatical or spelling errors in this post, but I am talking into my iPhone as I’m walking around in the rain (The seven can handle that kind of stuff, thankfully), waiting while a bus driver trainee is taking his test at the DMV. I had to bring a school bus down for him to test own, so I’m on the clock and writing a post at the same time. What do you think about that?

Anyway, today is the day after Father’s Day, and I wanted to share with you a thought or two that I had as I was standing in the rain.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, and I enjoyed preaching a great message that was very convicting for all men present, including myself. And I also enjoyed spending time with my daughters who I love very much. 

One of our daughters lives in Charleston South Carolina, so she’s not able to be here. But the other two were in church with me yesterday, and then later for a lunch which a church member graciously provided the money for. 

Last night we ate dinner at home, late, and that is when my two younger girls gave me the presents that they purchased (with their own money!). I have included a picture below.


My youngest daughter, Haley, procured for me the complete box sets of the first two seasons of the television program called “The Unit.” And by the way, that was a fantastic series of which I think they should have never canceled.

The other daughter, Katie, brought back something very unique from Norway. She found a wallet made from the skin of the Nordic moose! I don’t know how much she paid for it, but I know it had to cost more than something I would’ve gotten at Walmart.

After both presents had been opened, Haley asked a question which was very difficult, if not impossible to answer. She asked, “Which one is your favorite?” Now, I don’t know if she was being facetious, or if she was being serious, but my wife quickly answered for me: “That’s like asking which one of you he loves the most; he loves you the same, just differently.” 

This morning as I was thinking about the gifts my daughters got me, and the question Haley asked, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Cain and Abel. I couldn’t help but think of Sunday morning and our worship. I couldn’t help but think of how so often we wonder if God loves us more or less than someone else, simply because of what we have to offer. I thought about what it must be like to be God the Father – our Abba – after a Sunday has passed. 

One of those gifts cost a lot of money (relatively speaking), while the others probably cost a lot less. However, based on the means of each daughter, both were a sacrifice. In the same way, when we go to church to worship God, the gifts and offerings we bring may cost one person a lot more than it cost another. But who are we to judge whether or not those gifts that were given were sacrificial? We don’t know the heart of the child, nor do we know the heart of the Father. All we can surely know is that if the gifts were given out of love, then they are of equal value. More so, if the Father truly loves his children, which He does, there’s nothing that can compare to those gifts given by the children who love Him.

So, in conclusion, this is not only the day after Father’s Day, this is the day after Sunday. What gifts of love did you give your Father in heaven yesterday? I have no doubt they are giving him a smile today.

Happy day after Father’s Day!

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, God, Life Lessons, Love of God, Relationships and Family, worship

Jesus Paid It All and You Really Don’t Want to Pay Your Own Way (Part 4)

Welcome to another installment of “Wally Wednesdays”! 


A guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

Off to Jail!

Last time we talked about God as a judge. What if we tried some of the things in an earthly courtroom we try with God?

“Judge, it wasn’t really a big robbery. I didn’t even use a gun! And I only got a little bit of money anyway.”

The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. “Off to jail!” says the judge. God likewise does not care about the size of our sin. God is perfect and Holy, remember? A small sin makes us just as guilty as a big on in they eyes of a perfect God. James 2:10 teaches us that a man can keep the whole law and yet offends in one point is still guilty of violation the entire law.

“Judge, I may have committed that robbery, but I never killed anybody!”

The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. “Off to jail!” says the judge. God is not going to look at all the things we could have done, but did not do. Once again, a violation of the law is a violation of the law.

“Judge, I may have committed that robbery, but did you know I have been working down at the food kitchen helping the homeless for years? What about all the money I gave to charity?”

The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. “Off to jail!” says the judge. No matter how many good things we may do, they do not make up for our violation of God’s law. We cannot cover our penalty due by doing anything good.

“Judge, look what THAT guy has done!”

The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. “Off to jail!” says the judge. God is not comparing us to each other to decide our innocence of guilt. He only compares us the the standard of His perfection and Holiness. It only matters what we have done, not what anyone else has done.

“Judge, I’m really, really sorry for committing the armed robbery.”

The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. “Off to jail!” says the judge. The idea that we could tell a judge we are sorry and expect to be released is really absurd. The law says what the penalty is, and the penalty must be paid. Why would God be any different?

Coming up next Wednesday…part 4 (the conclusion)

 

5 Comments

Filed under salvation

The Eye Doctor Visit

A while back I had to go to a new eye doctor.  Because of so many years of wondering whether or not I have glaucoma, my optician decided to send me to the place in town with the most high-tech equipment and eye doctors who specialize in glaucoma.  He sent me to Southeast Eye Specialists.  Wow!  Talk about a set up!  They had some cool gadgets, I must say.

While waiting in the exam room for the smartly dressed, highly intelligent Dr. McDaniel to greet me, I did what any bored, adult male would do…I started playing with the equipment.

In the process of flipping levers and turning dials on very expensive stuff, I began to have a thought (which must imply that I was not thinking when I was playing with things that I couldn’t afford).  With all the different prescriptions for glasses, and all the different lenses one could look through, how could anyone say for sure that what we see when we look at things is exactly the way it really is?  Just look at all of those dials!

Some people would say this is the reason for believing that everything is relative.  You know, they get all philosophical-like and say, “There’s no such thing as right and wrong,” or, “Perception is reality.”  The only problem is that what we think we see may not be what is actually there, but what is actually there IS there, whether we see it for what it is, or not.  Just like the chart on the wall with the jumbled letters that start big on top, then get smaller as they go down, we can call the letter “e” an “a” or a “c,” but it is still an “e“.

We may think what we see is correct, but that doesn’t change reality.

The only way we can know for sure if we are seeing things correctly is to go to a doctor of optometry and let him evaluate our sight. He is qualified to turn the knobs and do the tests.  He knows what the letters on the wall really are.  He can be objective.  Only a fool would go into his exam room and argue with him over the “rightness” or “wrongness” of his letter chart.  Maybe it was those type of people that God had in mind when he wrote the following verse:

  • Acts 28:27 For the heart of this people is stubborn, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Some people insist that they can be the judge of what is right and wrong.  Some people are so convinced of their own understanding of things that they will attempt to belittle other’s opinions and claim that what they see has to be incorrect, especially if it is any different. How sad!

You see, all of us are born with faulty eyes that want to see things in the most favorable way, like with “rose colored” lenses.  The only problem is that only God knows exactly what is on the wall.  And what is cool is that each one of us is different, so we may need one kind of lens, while someone else may need another.

God, our heavenly doctor, wants us to see the Truth for what He is; not through faulty eyes, but ones He has healed.

Leave a comment

Filed under General Observations, Theology