heart

You're more beautiful than you think you are...

http://youtu.be/XpaOjMXyJGk I have been having many interesting conversations with both students and adults, of both genders, about what really matters to them in life. It seems that many people, myself included, live by the fear of man rather than the fear of God. It's as if we are slaves to what other people think of us and we become hindered and paralyzed by this. What's interesting is that many times how we think people see us and what we think about ourselves has become convoluted and twisted. How I see myself isn't necessarily how someone else sees me.

A friend of mine is getting married in a couple of weeks and I'm in the wedding, so this morning I went to get fitted for my tuxedo. As an employee called out my measurements to the another who was taking the measurements down, I became quite uncomfortable hearing the numbers called out aloud... Yep. I could stand to loose about 5, 10, okay about 20 pounds... In the midst of this my mind started racing. I was thinking that if I lost all that weight, I might look like James Bond from the film Casino Royale. How would people see me? Would I draw a lot of looks from the ladies (I say this in jest, just in case my wife reads this)? Would the guys envy me and think I have one of those cool cars parked in the parking lot? Then as the excitement and reality settled in, I came to the conclusion that I am who I am; and that while I do need to loose some weight, I should really be focused on the fact that I just spent the duration of getting fitted for my tuxedo wishing I looked like 007 from Casino Royale, something internally isn't right.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. To be honest I was dreading about getting fitted for a tuxedo. I was embarrassed about how out-of-shape I am. The first jacket they gave me to try-on was bit loose. I knew it! Instead of looking like James Bond, I was going to look like (insert embarrassing description here), and my dream of looking good was crushed!. I was getting a little self-conscious. Then the guy helping me shed some sunlight on my overcast moment; he said that it was much to loose on me and that I had a good physique which needed a jacket that would fit tighter. I realized that how I see myself isn't always the way how others see me. If we could be free for a moment with our thoughts and words we would admit that we are more judgmental about ourselves than others are with us.

Beauty is as much an inner thing as it is an outer thing and probably even more so. Many times we feel outward appearances are the factors in which we are either approved or disapproved by people. So much time and money is spent trying to improve our outward looks that we neglect what really matters and that is our heart. If we come to understand that the heart is where beauty truly is formed then what we look like on the outside really doesn't matter (Please understand that I do believe we need to take care of ourselves physically as well - I'm not discounting that). 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that God does not concern himself with the things that man uses to judge someone's worth which is the outward appearance. Instead he deems someone worthy by looking at their heart. Jesus said it another way when he addressed the religious leaders, who by the way were more concerned with outward appearances, by telling them that it's not what goes inside a person that makes them defiled (outward appearances), but it is what comes out (the heart) of a person that defiles them.

Jesus said, "For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” - Mark 7:21-23

Our hearts drive our true beauty both inward and outward. Jesus came to mold our hearts into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:16-17). And because of this God sees us differently than the way we see ourselves. Just like at the end of the video sometimes we need to ponder how other people see us - You're more beautiful than you think you are.

A Letter To My Son - "Above All Else, Guard Your heart..."

(This post will be the first of several randomly placed posts that I plan on writing to my son. My thoughts behind these posts are to archive life lessons that I want my son to grab hold of and live out as he transforms into becoming a man... I will also eventually add posts to my two daughters addressed, "A Letter To My Daughters...")

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." - Proverbs 4:23

IMG_1448Thomas,

There are many thoughts I can say to you, many lessons I can teach you, but there are only few things that you must hold on to in order to live a life that you were meant to live - and that is an abundant life (John 10:10 ESV).

If you do not to take these nuggets of wisdom that I am handing down to you, they could be the enabler of many tragic events in your life that can bring about pain, regret, remorse, and chronic stress that you nor any other human is not meant to endure.

There are many types and many sources of wisdom, but there is only one type and one source, and that is everlasting and eternal which comes from our Heavenly Father - holdfast too it and impress it in your heart.

The first thing that I want to share with you is the need to guard your heart. For the heart is epicenter of who you are. Who you are and all that your are becoming flows from your heart. Your heart is the very essence of who your are - it is the lock box of your characteristics and values.

Be careful to who you surrender your heart too!

There will be many things and people in this world that will seek to entice you to handover your loyalty, your passion, your desires, your goodness, your purity, your faithfulness, and your love. It is through this forfeiture of these characteristics and values, the surrender of your heart, that they will seek to mold and shape you into what they want you to become - be who you want to be, not what others expect you to be. Son, do not set foot in the path of the wicked, or walk in the ways of evildoers (Proverbs 4:14).

Their ways are treacherous and lead to death. Know who you are, remember where you come from, do not forget who you belong too, and understand where you want to go.

Below are only a four circumstances which you need to guard your heart from. There are many more, but these are the more prevalent ones that each man wrestles in his life time...

Women - Many women will seek to lay claim to your heart. Some are just playing games with your heart, others because they can. Women will desire ownership of your heart and envision who you should become. Some for good intentions and others for bad (Read the story of Ahab and Jezebel in 1 Kings 16:29-22:40 & 2 Kings 9:30-37 ). Even the good intentioned women should never own your heart, for it should belong to God and to Him alone.

Women are beautiful, amazing, complex, and the perfection of all of God's creation. But they are still just humans like you, and prone to selfish desires and misinformed intentions.

When you find that one woman who you must become vulnerable with and reveal the depths of your heart to, make sure that her values and her purpose in life are similar to yours. Be diligent in finding out that she serves no one, but the King of kings, and then love her with every fiber of your being, and serve her with humility and grace.

This will be your greatest temptation and weakness; it is for every man. You will make mistakes in this area, but remember to humbly seek God's grace and restoration when you do. Do not fall trap to despair, it is not then end; and God does have that special partner in life for you. Be patient and use discernment. I could say more on this, but this will do for now - The first woman you should chase after is Wisdom, she will protect you and watch over you (Proverbs 4:5-9).

Fame and Fortune - Many in their youth seek after the twin towers. Many see fame and fortune as the thing that will give them identity, purpose, and dignity. This is far from the truth! What many think they own ends up owning them. The desire for fame and fortune is never ending and never satisfying. Trust me my son, for I have sought both in life and have obtained both to some degree. Fame is nothing but a platform to be used for either selfish desires or for kingdom purposes. Your heart will decide which one you will promote, so guard your heart. Money is a tool to accomplish the work of the kingdom, it is just a means to an end, never the outcome or the purpose of why you do something.

I leave you with the words of Jesus, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." - Matthew 6:24

Power - "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." - John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). Power in itself is not bad, it can be a change-agent that causes good and great things to happen for the betterment of people that need help and are less fortunate than you. It can also be a destructive force that brings nothing but sorrow and calamity to those who are defenseless and hurting. Son, there have been times in my life that I have had power and there have been times it has corrupted me.

My son, if you ever find yourself in a position of power, remember it is not for your personal gain or selfish desires, it is a gift from our Father in heaven to be used for the benefit of those who are powerless and in need. Unbridled power can cause even the best and strongest of men to corruption. Guard your heart and receive all power as a gift from God to be used to serve and not to be served. Do not lord it over people, but instead with love and humility, become a servant of all and think of the needs of others before your own (Mark 10:41-45 & Philippians 2:1-11). If you do this great will be your reward in heaven.

Success - Success can be defined in many different ways and with many different measurements. What one deems success another will call it a failure. Do not chase after succes as a way to define you or bring you purpose and value in this world. Chasing after success is like chasing after the wind, it is never ending and not achievable. Success has many flavors and I have tasted many of them and they are all different. God has already given you everything that you could ever need. If you desire what Jesus desires for you then you have already accomplished success.

What Jesus desires for you is to love God with everything that you are and all that you have; and similarly love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40). Likewise true success comes when you seek after the things of God first and have faith that he will provide all that you need and deem your life a success (Matthew 6:19-34). Guard your heart from the allure of success and finding accomplishment from success. Work hard, give glory to God, and trust Him to define success for you.

In all that I have written in this letter, above all; act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Love,

Dad