Posts Tagged freedom

What is True Beauty?

This past Sunday, we talked about Authenticity, which is being comfortable with who you actually are. As the father who’s trying to raise two girls to be authentically comfortable in their own skin, I think quite a bit about what culture says to women about what’s important. Many people — both men and women — struggle deeply with appearance issues. It’s easy to idolize a certain kind of look or body shape. One thing that can be helpful is to realize that many of the images and people we see and admire for their impeccable beauty or figure are not real. They look that way because of unnatural surgery, simple Photoshop editing, or other tips and tricks that fool the eye (or camera). When you realize that much of it is pretend, it frees you to not worry about living up to an unrealistic standard — after all it is unrealistic.

The following video that was produced as part of the Dove Evolution campaign provides an interesting look into this. I want to teach my girls that they are defined by what Jesus thinks of them and that basing their identity is like shadow-boxing, where you just can’t win.

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Could you forgive the person who killed your spouse?

Here’s a remarkable story of forgiveness from Cindy Winters, whose husband was gunned down in his church a few weeks ago.

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Best Advent Ever

For me, this season leading up to Christmas (what’s called “Advent”) has been more exciting than ever. I think this is for two reasons:

1) I learned for the first time that the church has historically looked at Advent as a time to anticipate Jesus’ second coming. I always thought that Advent was designed to remember Jesus’ birth–and that is definitely part of it. But the earlier generations of the church looked at Advent as a chance to anticipate his coming. They thought to themselves, “What if Jesus came back again on Christmas day? Would I be ready?” This approach has made this Advent season much more reverent and Christ-centered.

2) This past year I’ve done quite a bit of study on the big-picture story of redemption. Through books like The Drama of Scripture and Salvation Belongs to Our God, I’ve discovered that God’s ultimate design is not just to save individuals, but to redeem and restore all things to the way he originally created them. This means that the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced will culminate in his return and in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

These two things have added a real richness to Christmas and an anticipation for the Age to Come. This is summarized well in a few lines from “Glory Be” a Christmas song put out by Sojourn Community Church in Louisville (click here for other free songs from their “Advent Songs” album).

Hallelujah, the Lord of Life has come,
To reconcile the nations to their God!
Hallelujah, He’s coming back again,
To finish what began in Bethlehem!

May our hearts sing for joy not only that the child has come to set us free, but that he’s coming back again to renew and restore his world!

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Joy-killer #3: Death

Click here to submit your answer to the question, “What do you think are things that kill people’s joy?”

Well, it might seem that death is an obvious joy-killer. After all, we have all experienced the pain that comes in losing a loved one or a close friend. Death, and especially eternal death in hell, are major obstacles to everlating joy.

But it’s not just death itself that robs our joy — it’s also the process. The process of getting old, creaky, wrinkly, saggy, and diseased is a huge joy-killer. All of this is the result of living in a world that is wasting away because of sin. As it is, all creation is subject to “bondage to corruption” (Rom 8:21). This process of dying is an unstoppable force and robs millions of their joy. So, where is the hope to overcome death?

Of course, this hope is in Jesus. The author of Hebrews says that since Jesus took on a human body and entered into death himself, he destroyed the power of death and frees us from the never-ending fear of death (Heb 2:14-15). Those who love Christ will never die (John 11:26). This is the great news of the gospel. Everlasting joy is given to those who love Jesus and approach him in faith.

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The Only People Who Get Better

Thanks to “Of First Importance,” I was reminded of this quote by Steve Brown from his book A Scandalous Freedom.

“The only people who get better are people who know that, if they never get better, God will love them anyway.”

For more information about A Scandalous Freedom (the book and some accompanying free podcasts), click here.

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