“I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it. Then I moved so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.” —C.S. Lewis
“So we can say that when we ‘look along’ the heavens and not just ‘at’ the heavens, they succeed in their aim of ‘declaring the glory of God.’ That is, we see the glory of God, not just the glory of the heavens. We don’t just stand outside and analyze the natural world as a beam, but we let the beam fall on the eyes of our heart, so that we see the source of the beauty—the original Beauty, God Himself. This is the essential key to unlocking the proper use of the physical world of sensation for spiritual purposes. All of God’s creation becomes a beam to be ‘looked along’ or a sound to be ‘heard along’ or a fragrance to be ‘smelled along’ or a flavor to be ‘tasted along’ or a touch to be ‘felt along.” —John Piper
Praise is awaiting You, O God… (Psalm 65:1).
There is no like You, O God!
“If you want to empty your mind of those awful cancer what-ifs, you need to find something else to put in their place. Because if all you do is try really hard not to think about something, you’ll think about it all the more! … You need to crowd cancer what-ifs right out of your mind by pouring in much more productive thoughts. …
“A mind filled with the best doesn’t have room for the worst. A mind filled with the beautiful doesn’t have space for the ugly. A mind filled with things to praise doesn’t have a spot for cursing.” —Lynn Eib, in Peace In The Face Of Cancer (emphasis mine)
Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
…praise from the upright is beautiful (Psalm 33:1).
Whose life does God think is “upright”?
Well, God helps me with that too! “The Lord looks from heaven” and He sees me (v. 13), and “He considers all [my] works.” But before looking at my works, He develops the inside part of me from which my works flow—“He fashions [my] heart individually” (v. 15). I am not an assembly-line, mass-produced product. I am a unique, one-of-a-kind creation!
So how do I get God to spend this individualized attention on me? “Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him” (v. 18). Just standing in awe of His greatness—worshiping Him—asking for His kingdom to come and His will to be done—is the kind of invitation God delights in.
When I fear God it gets His attention and invites His individualized heart work on me. That makes me beautifully upright in His sight, and makes my praise pleasing to His ears. My praise glorifies God and increases my reverential awe of Him, which develops an even deeper fear of God … [and the cycle repeats!].
God’s design for sex is truly the most beautiful thing that exists between two people. Its counterfeit is called pornography. Porn is simulated, imitated, and purchased; but no price tag can ever buy true beauty.
God demonstrates the purest love in Himself, when one part of the Godhead is the Lover and the other parts of the Godhead are the Beloved. The Lover is constantly discovering the beauty in the Beloved, and then praising that beauty. The Beloved then reciprocates back to the Lover. It’s a love dance!
Humans are created in God’s image. We are first created to be God’s beloved. Then we are designed to be both lover and beloved in the bonds of marriage. True beauty—real, lasting beauty that pleases God—is discovered. It’s something that starts inside and radiates outside. A true lover takes the time to discover who the beloved truly is.
To see this in action, just look at some of the compliments between husband and wife in the Song of Songs—How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! … How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! … Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens. … My lover is mine and I am his. … All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
True love that sees this kind of beauty cannot be imitated, purchased or simulated. If someone attempts to, it’s called pornography.
The dictionary gives this definition of pornography: sexually explicit materials whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal. In other words, porn tries to imitate and simulate true beauty at a purchase price.
Jesus identified this sell-out of true love with the Greek word porneia (see Mark 7:14-23). This word means any sexual involvement outside the marriage between a husband and wife. Porneia comes from words that fill out its definition: things like prostitution, idolatry, and slavery.
Your body was not made for porneia but for God (1 Corinthians 6:13). You were made in His image: to be His Beloved, and He your Lover, and then to have a marriage relationship with another image-bearer of God, where you are both lover and beloved, and where you focus on true beauty.
Anything else is imitated, purchased, and simulated. It’s pornography. It’s idolatry.
Christians are told to fight many temptations, but there are only two that we are told not to fight, but to flee: pornography (1 Corinthians 6:18) and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). So our prayer for the purity and enjoyment of God’s true beauty should be: Turn my eyes away from worthless things (Psalm 119:37).
Don’t sell out to the fake beauty in pornography. Discover true beauty exclusively in your spouse!
We’ll be looking at more relationship builders and killers, and I’d love to have you along for this journey of discovery.
“It is natural for a man to desire what he reckons better than that which he has already, and be satisfied with nothing which lacks that special quality which he misses. Thus, if it is for her beauty that he loves his wife, he will cast longing eyes after a fairer woman. If he is clad in a rich garment, he will covet a costlier one; and no matter how rich he may be he will envy a man richer than himself. … No matter how many such things one has, he is always lusting after what he has not; never at peace, he sighs for new possessions. Discontented, he spends himself in fruitless toil, and finds only weariness in the evanescent and unreal pleasures of the world. In his greediness, he counts all that he has clutched as nothing in comparison with what is beyond his grasp, and loses all pleasure in his actual possessions by longing after what he has not, yet covets. … They wear themselves out in vain travail, without reaching their blessed consummation, because they delight in creatures, not in the Creator.” —Bernard of Clairvaux