Beauty, Baptism, and the Glorious Body of Christ

“Where have you seen the beauty of the Lord over the past year?” Patty and I were blessed to come back to the States for a short time for some ministry opportunities and an Oceans’ Board meeting. During the first night of our board meeting we discussed this question based on Psalm 27:4:

“One thing I asked of the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”

 As board members and staff shared that night a common thread ran through their answers. In our circle there had been deep pain from loss of a loved one, almost a loss of life, and other challenges, but the Beauty of Christ came through people who reflected Christ’s glory to them.

The next day we saw this same theme brilliantly displayed as we move our meeting to the Parker Task Force, a holistic feeding ministry in Parker, Colorado run by board member Steve Budnack.

As we walked in the door we had a divine appointment with a volunteer named Pat. Pat had received and read the books I had written and wanted to talk about baptism. As Steve gave a tour to our team I sat and listened to Pat’s story. He was a successful executive in the food industry, retired and traveled the country in a motor home with his wife, and was living the dream life when the wheels started to fall off in his family.

A series of painful events left Pat and his wife searching for answers and hope. They turned to daily reading the Bible, found a church, and was encouraged to inquire about serving at the Parker Task Force. Even though Steve didn’t need volunteers at the time he felt prompted to invite Pat to help. God used the community at the Task Force as a healing agent of peace and pointed him back to what matters most-a relationship with Jesus Christ.

It was after this conversation that Pat asked if I could baptize him before heading back to South Africa. I sensed the LORD’s prompting to do it now. Even though we had much on our agenda, this was way more important. And so we gathered in the lobby, Pat shared his story and confessed his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and was baptized.

As we gathered around for prayer, laying hands on him, my heart leaped at the beauty of the Lord. How the Holy Spirit worked in Pat’s life taking the pain and leading him to the generous love of Jesus through the Bible and the glorious Body of Christ.

Our Good Father broke right into our board meeting to show us His vision for bringing His Beauty to a world in pain. When we make our passion “One Thing” “gazing on the beauty of the Lord” we will reflect His transforming love to those around us. This is what our desperate divided world needs now more than ever.

Oh Father, by your Holy Spirit help us to gaze on the beauty of Jesus Christ so that the earth will be filled with your glory as the waters cover the sea! Amen.

Its Where You Look

One of the blessings of power outages or load shedding in South Africa is how it enhances our view of the stars. Without light pollution the night sky in the Southern hemisphere is dazzling leaving one speechless. On a good night you can see the Southern Cross, which is composed of 5 stars in the shape of a cross.

It is amazing to think that one of the brightest of the 5 stars is Alpha Crucis, which is only 321 light years from earth. To put that into perspective, if we were to board an airplane going 500 miles an hour it would take well over 4 million years to get there (feel free to check my math, not my best subject). I don’t know about you but those numbers hurt my head.

A few days ago I had a conversation with a US service man who served in Afghanistan. He was sharing his struggle with PTSD and his battle with addictions. As we talked about steps toward healing, he said one of the things that settles his soul is to climb up a mountain and let the stars speak. The stars always tell him “there is something out there bigger than me!”

The young man probably didn’t know it but he was following the advice of the prophet Isaiah who knew healing could be found by looking up:

“Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out one after another, calling each by its name. And He counts them to see that none are lost or have strayed away.” (Isaiah 40:26)

 The prophet Isaiah was addressing a group of people stressed out by the events of their day. They were looking to false gods who gave false hope to problems that need supernatural intervention. Only a God who created the billions times billions of stars and knew them by name had the power to rescue His children from the battles surrounding them.

Where are you looking for your hope? Politics, People, Plenty, Power, fleeting Pleasures of the day. Take a moment to go outside at night to look at the stars and think about the One who created them. Everything else is puny and as the apostle Paul said, “poop” compared to knowing Christ, the one who created the stars (see Philippians 3:7-9, Colossians 1:16-17).

I truly believe in the hour we are living in the Holy Spirit is calling the Father’s Children to “look up into the heavens” and behold the glory of God the Creator. He who made the stars, knows them by name, and makes sure none are lost does the same for the children He created.

Notice the famous promises given by Isaiah to those who look up to the Creator of the Stars as their only hope:

“He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)