Sermon Illustrations - Tag: beauty
Posted by Douglas on Apr 25, 2014

4:8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

I'm in the process of launching a new Content Management System for some of my clients who own websites. The control panel for my clients' websites gives them fine-tuned control not just over the appearance of the site, but also over how it appears in different devices (desktops, phones, etc).

It's exciting for me to be launching this software, but it's even more exciting to hear the positive feedback from web masters who are enjoying creating content for their websites. "This is fun," I heard from a couple clients, and one client is creating beautiful pages filled with images and nicely formatted text that looks great not only on a desktop computer, but also on tablets and phones.

I sent that client an e-mail, saying, "By the way, your site looks great -- you're really doing a great job of building your pages!"

His response was interesting: "Regarding the site, I appreciate the compliment, but it would be like God telling me that I'm doing a good job with His word. Can't really take any credit for it. I'm just utilizing a good creation."

An interesting comparison. But it got me thinking...

There is really a very strong sense of satisfaction for me in watching people make use of the software I created to make something beautiful. I guess you could say that I "delight" in seeing what people are doing with what I built.

In the same way, don't you suppose God takes a great deal of delight in watching as we make use of His creations in good and beautiful ways? When I pick up my guitar and improvise something new, I'm really just building on something God created in the first place. And it honors him, as the Creator, when I do so.

So be beautiful. Improvise. Make beautiful music, carve beautiful sculptures. Photograph beautiful rivers, sunsets, flowers and oceans. Stand at the top of a mountain at sunrise and belt out a verse of "This Is My Father's World." It's all just stuff that God made in the first place, but don't you think he loves our improvisations on his handiwork?

I do.

Posted by Douglas on Feb 18, 2006

"Your mother's wrinkles, your daughter's pimples, and your face is right in the middle."

That was the voice-over in an Oil of Olay advertisement I saw last night. And it got me thinking...

Oil of Olay has been around (under various names like Oil of Ulan and Oil of Olaz) since 1949. I remember seeing ads for the product when I was a kid (so very many years ago ;D). What I got thinking about is this: the women who were targeted by the Oil of Olay ads when I was a kid are the mothers of the women who are now being targeted by the ads.

And apparently it's a done deal that they've got wrinkles now...they're beyond the hope and help of the rejuvenating wonder.

And...let's take this a step further...the women who will be targeted by the ads in another twenty years are the pimply-faced daughters, whose pimples will be gone, but will be in fear of those wrinkles...who will be afraid they won't stay young forever...who will be looking at their mothers and praying, "Dear Lord, let me never have that many wrinkles..."

Seems like a kind of pointless and repetitive cycle. But it made me think of two seemingly unrelated Scripture passages:

1:4A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.5The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.6The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.7All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.8All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.9What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.10Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.Ecclesiastes 1:4-10 (ESV)

Kind of depressing, isn't it?

Here's the other one. This is from I Peter:

3:3Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—4but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV)

There's a word in those verses that I absolutely love -- one that keeps cropping up again and again in the book of 1 Peter: imperishable.

When we look at beauty in the terms that the world sees it, it is not imperishable -- it is, like any other earthly treasure, destined to fall apart over time. No moisturizing cream, no anti-wrinkle formula, no anti-aging drugs can forever prevent it.

On the other hand, the character we develop, as followers of Jesus Christ, the "hidden person of the heart" -- that lasts forever. It is, in a word, imperishable.

But which do we spend more time worrying about? Outward beauty? Or inward character?

No wonder Solomon talked about "vanity." And he didn't mean "vanity" in the way we mean it today -- he was talking about emptiness.

And there is something painfully empty about a life spent worrying more about the outward than the inward, more about the perishable than about the imperishable...

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