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Fighting the Ugly

Romans 7:15-25

When I visit amusement parks, ballgames, concerts, community festivals, basically any public event, I’m always reminded of one simple truth.

The world is filled with ugly people.

That may not be politically correct to say out loud, but it’s easy to prove both statistically and scientifically. There are entire websites devoted to weird looking people at WalMart! Face it, ugly people far outnumber pretty ones. I think that may be why Hollywood is so popular. It’s a place for pretty people to gather and flaunt their pretty-ness.

Like slaves in the Roman Empire I think it’s time for ugly people to rise up and demand their place in the spotlight!

But that’s really the problem, isn’t it? Ugly is already in the spotlight. It’s not the ugly defined by physical comeliness or attractive beauty. It’s the ugly that comes from inside, the ugly that stains the soul. No matter how much make up, exercise, or Photoshop editing, regardless of the sparkle or shine on the outside the ugly inside has a way of making it’s way out. It’s why pretty people get divorced. It’s what tarnishes the beauty of success and strangles satisfaction.

The ugly inside, regardless of our external circumstance, finds a way to make its way out and corrodes even the most pristine of appearances. So how do we fight the ugly?

Powerless

It’s a principle from Celebrate Recovery. We must recognize we are powerless, on our own, to overcome the ugly inside. The ugly has a source. It’s our own heart. We need a change of heart that will lead to a change of mind, attitude and action. We can slap on some new paint. We can turn over a new leaf. But until we have a change of heart we’ll only find old dirt.

Heart change is Jesus’ specialty. You can trust Him to lovingly work in you and through you to remake you into someone beautiful from the inside out.

Patience

Real change takes time. Whatever ugly is in you has been there from birth and has been reinforced through your life experiences. Patience with yourself and with others gives you the space – think bandwidth – you need for genuine transformation to take place.

Practice

Repetition is a powerful tool. Repetition is a powerful tool. Repetition is a powerful tool. Getting it right once isn’t enough. Get it right again. Then again. Then do it again. Take one step at a time and when you experience a setback get up and get on with it. The team that wins the Super Bowl, the artist giving the concert – they made it that far through hours and hours of practice.

I could give you more bullet points, but none of that matters without a change of heart. That’s not a change you can make on your own. Trust Jesus with your ugly today.

 

 

A Comfortable Scandal – Trials

Photo credit: Dave Saffran/MSG Photos

The world loves a good scandal. Facebook’s buzzing with the latest pic of someone doing something insane. Twitter’s tweets are tuned to the news of the NBA – Chauncey Billup is headed to the Clippers for a paltry $2 million. It’s Christmas – businesses once again debate over whether or not they should wish people ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’ – either choice, someone’s gonna lose their mind!

Scandalous new travels fast!

There’s a comfortable scandal that takes place everyday in the hearts of Believers. There’s a subtle line of obedience we simply aren’t willing to cross. We hear what Jesus has to say. We agree in spirit and nod our heads in affirmation until we realize He’s talking about us. That’s where the scandal lies. We follow Jesus until He asks us to do something seemingly difficult, counter-cultural, or just plain inconvenient. This isn’t new. John 6:66 tells us it happened during Jesus time as well. “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with him no more.” They came to the line they simply weren’t willing to cross. Scandalous…

There are 4 reasons why we walk away. And 4 ways to take the leap of faith Jesus asks us to make when He challenges us to do the difficult, impractical or inconvenient. Most everyone has drawn a line that says, “Jesus, I’m willing to follow you this far, but no farther.” I wonder, as you consider these 4 things how you might redraw your line.

4 Scandalous Distractions that Set the Limits of Our Faith

  1. Temptation – read more…
  2. Trials
  3. Teaching
  4. Transitions

Today – let’s focus on Trials.

TRIALS – I have a friend. He spends a lot of time away from his home and family. He believes God has called him to raise the next generation of missionaries so he spends a lot of time taking teenagers to some of the most dangerous parts of our world to share the gospel. He’s been imprisoned, beaten and held at gun point. At least one of his students has given their life on the mission field, taken by a disease caught while sharing the gospel overseas. I’m guessing the trials we face don’t rise to this level, but it seems they are trials enough. They are enough to cause some to question their faith. They are enough to distract us from fulfilling our mission or following God. Our trials often become the place where we draw the line. My friend says that without a TEST their can be no TESTIMONY. I’ve heard it said that a faith that can’t be TESTED is a faith that can’t be TRUSTED. James 1:2-3 says, “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience…” God doesn’t put you through trials so you can prove your faith to Him. He puts you through trials so He can prove your faith to YOU. He wants you to know the depths of your faith. He wants to put you through the test for the sake of the testimony He’s building in you. When trials tempt you to draw the line be PATIENT. God is working out His divine story in you. It’s a story that will strengthen your faith and bless someone else. The trials we face today become the epic stories of tomorrow that encourage, inspire and challenge others to grow deeper in their faith. Are you in the middle of a trial? Be patient. God is not finished with you yet.

What trial do you face today that causes you to draw the line? How far are you willing to go for your faith? Today, pray that God would give you the PATIENCE you need so He can finish the divine story He is writing in you.


Finding Patience Sooner

On Saturday night, as I watched the Sooners play football, I found myself screaming at the television. On their first two possessions Missouri absolutely schooled the OU secondary on how NOT to run a defense. The result? A quick 14 to 3 lead in the first 9 minutes of the game and an odd sense of deja vu that Missouri would once again topple the Sooners out of their #1 position in the polls.

Looking back it’s strange that I would get so frustrated over the Sooner’s early game performance. I’m not on the team. I’ve never played one down of real football. I’m not even Sooner alumni. I’m just a guy who grew up near Norman and married a girl who bleeds crimson and cream. Yet, in spite of my distant relationship and laughable qualifications for speaking with intelligence on the subject of what it takes to run a defense – let alone win a game – there I was, screaming at my TV and the secondary that virtually placed a red carpet on the field – twice – to escort the Mizzou offense into the end zone. I’m reminded that this is how many of us approach the topic of patience.

Patience is an admirable quality…in someone else. It’s one of those virtues we admire from a distance. We expect immediate satisfaction from others while asking them to have patience with us. The problem is simple. I want what I want when I want it and I want what I want right now!

Impatience is an epidemic in our culture today. We’re not really interested in waiting on much. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty impatient with how long it’s taken to write this post. I can only imagine how impatient you must be to finish it! So, in the spirit of brevity – and in the hope I won’t wear your patience thin – let’s see if we can find some practical wisdom in bullet point form!

  • Patience is being willing to let the process unfold. It’s waiting to judge the quality of the OU defense till the end of the game rather than forming your opinion in the first two plays of the game.
  • Patience provides the margin that helps you adjust to the unavoidable. It’s guaranteed. People will get sick. They will make mistakes. They will need rest. Some will deliberately disappoint. Patience makes it possible to find success in spite of unavoidable circumstances.
  • Patience is deeper than tolerance. Patience is not letting people get by with bad behavior. Patience instructs then gives the instruction time to sink in. Patience confronts the problem then allows maturity to do it’s work.
  • Patience creates space; space to learn, space to understand, space to change your mind, space to rest, space to grow.
  • And now for my favorite truth – Patience is the calm assurance that comes from trusting that God is not finished with us yet.
It’s true. God is still working in you and through for His good pleasure. He is patiently reshaping you into an instrument of His glory and grace. He’s doing the same thing in the people around you. Will you give people and circumstances the space and time they need for the process to work in them.
In the Bible, James 1 tells us that patience has a perfect work – it’s a work that completes you and me. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, in spite of the hurry that you feel, stop now. Take a breath and let patience have it’s perfect work in you. Now – offer that patience to someone else.

God Bless,
Chad