I asked my friend, Sharla Fritz, to share this guest post with my readers in honor of her new book that will be such a blessing to young women. I’m pleased to say I am giving away a copy. Be sure to enter before you go.
“Hey Mom, can I buy this mascara?”
“Can I get this lip gloss? I’ll use my own money. Pleeeease?”
“Will you ever let me wear makeup?
When I was thirteen, these were the questions I pestered my mother with constantly. After reading teen magazines, I was convinced that makeup was what I needed to be beautiful. Just a little mascara, a bit of blush, and a dab of lip gloss and I would be able to look like the models on the glossy pages I read over and over. A few cosmetics were all I needed to make everyone at school like me—to make me like me.
Plenty of Products
Judging by the thousands of beauty products available, I’m not the only one who has ever had those thoughts. During a quick trip to the drug store today, I stopped to browse in the makeup aisle. I was astounded by the number of mascaras available for sale. Under the Maybelline sign alone I counted twelve different colorful tubes of the stuff. Almay had five. Cover Girl had thirteen. In all, I found 73 unique products guaranteed to enhance my eyelashes!
That doesn’t even take into account all of the other items offered in the cosmetic aisle. We can buy products to make our cheeks appear rosier, our eyebrows darker, and our lips shinier. Thousands of choices are available to buff up our appearance—our physical beauty.
But even when I looked up and down all the aisles of the store, I couldn’t find any products to help me enhance my inner beauty. I didn’t see any gels or lotions to help me develop a beautiful heart.
True Beauty is Inside
Which is sad, because that’s the kind of beauty God wants us to have.
In the book of 1 Peter, He tells us:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV 1984)
Now I don’t think that Peter was telling these women that it was wrong to fix their hair or wear cute clothes. He isn’t saying we shouldn’t wear makeup or put on a necklace. I think he was telling them, telling us, that the latest hairstyle or the trendiest wardrobe isn’t what makes a girl lovely. True beauty comes from inside.
God tells us that instead of 73 tubes of mascara, instead of hundreds of cosmetics, there is only one thing we need to be truly beautiful: a gentle and quiet spirit.
What Does a Gentle and Quiet Spirit Look Like?
You’ll be relieved to know that a gentle spirit doesn’t mean being a timid, pathetic person. A quiet spirit doesn’t mean we have to sit in a corner all day never talking to our friends.
The word used for gentle in 1 Peter 3 means having a graceful soul. If we could buy a jar of cream that could give a gentle spirit, it would enable us to accept what God is doing in our lives. It would help us to trust that God knows what He is doing, even when we can’t make any sense out of it at all.
The word quiet in this passage describes a peaceful heart that is not upset by chaotic circumstances. A bottle of this kind of quiet gives a tranquility that isn’t dependent on having a perfect day. It’s like the one person who manages to remain calm and clean during a cafeteria food fight.
Although there aren’t any products available in the cosmetics aisle to give us a gentle and quiet heart we don’t have to lose hope. God is more than willing to give us the grace we need to be able to hold His hand in trust when we start to question what’s happening in our lives. He gives us His Spirit to quiet down our chaotic hearts.
I think our heavenly Father seriously wonders why we expect bottles of liquids and tubes of gels to give us worth and beauty. Because He has already done that.
God has made us beautiful.
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I was expecting my fourth child as a mother of three sons. At the time, I had a number of online friends who also had boys and only boys. One of them shared that she had prayed about the gender of the child she was expecting and her son then had a dream that she would have a girl. The ultrasound revealed that he was right. I decided to pray about my child’s gender, too. I knew I would be happy either way, but this time (for what I thought was for sure my last child), I wanted to know.
I prayed and opened my daily Bible to the date my ultrasound was scheduled. The passage for that day read:
And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.”
Now, I was pretty sure there wasn’t a passage in Scripture that said, “Guess what? You’re having a daughter!” But I was still so struck by the direct answer to my prayer that I believed come ultrasound day, I would learn that boy number four was joining our family.
The ultrasound technician confirmed what God had already told me through His Word.
That evening, I had arranged to go out for dinner with my Bible study friends to give them the news. They were dying to know and not long after we were seated, a family with four boys sat behind us. I just gestured to them and said that my family would look just like that. After my friends were sure that I wasn’t upset about not having a daughter, they began deciding what I should name our son.
I had given my three sons biblical names, so that made the decision easier for them. Names were written on a paper napkin and then the debate started. Finally, after much discussion, they told me his name ought to be Benjamin. As I considered this name, I thought about the Scripture God had given me predicting another son. When I got home, I read further in Genesis:
18 As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.
Of course, I hoped I wasn’t going to die in childbirth! But I knew that my son’s name would be Benjamin and that God had known him even before he was conceived.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Want to know what a Joshua Journal is? Read the first installment here.
If you ever sang traditional Sunday School songs, you know you aren’t supposed to hide the light of Christ under a bushel basket. You’re supposed to share the Good News with others. But often, when it comes to our talents and gifts, the bushel basket seems like an acceptable option.
I wrote a book in the summer of 2007 and aside from selling it at several speaking engagements, I haven’t shared it with many people. The copies aren’t under a bushel basket, but rather in a cardboard box under our ping pong table. I decided to take one step to share it and that was putting the link to it on my email signature. A woman I corresponded with saw the link, clicked it, read the sample chapter, ordered the book, read it, and loved it. She has been raving about how it has changed her life ever since.
The point is we all have gifts and talents given to us by God that were meant to be shared–not stored under a bushel basket. Often we get confused and think that we have to be celebrity quality in order to share our gifts. What a shame! I’m no Beth Moore, yet my book has been a blessing to others.
In the interest of sharing my book with even more readers, I am doing an interview with Felice Gerwitz on Monday, April 9th at 11:00a.m. Central time. Hope you can listen in or that you’ll share this link and this blog with the people you know who would benefit from it. All the proceeds from my book are donated to charity and missions.
Are you a closet writer, photographer, artist, singer, musician, athlete, speaker, teacher, leader, or money manager? Don’t hide it under a bushel. Use it for the glory of God and to benefit those around you!
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b]do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8
How are you going to let your light shine this week?
I thought I was done with my series on contentment that begins here, but the Lord had more to say to me about it.
I just returned from a homeschool speech and debate tournament with my oldest son. How strange it is to watch your child agonize over others’ evaluations of him as you once did. I remember the feelings of frustration I had in being praised and criticized for the very same aspect of my speeches. I remember feeling like I wasn’t as good as my teammates who had taken home trophies when I did not. I remember feeling so low at times that I considered quitting.
Don’t get me wrong. I think speech competition (and even the constructive criticism I received) prepared me for what I do today as a speaker. I was driven to improve and I learned to use discernment about the feedback I received. (Just because a judge says it, doesn’t make it so.) But competition can also confuse us; I know it does me.
When I watch my son debate, I just think, “Wow!” I am unable to be objective about how his speaking skills compare to others’, because I love him so much. To me, he isn’t better, just beloved.
One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. – John 13:23
I have heard a number of teachings on John’s reference to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Most of them emphasized that Jesus spent more time with John and as a result, was closer to him. I can’t deny that. But I don’t think that John was emphasizing that he was better, just beloved. The most amazing thing about Jesus for John was that He loved him.
When I am tempted to be discontented about not being better or my children not comparing to others, I want to remember this: I am the disciple that Jesus loves. When He looks at me, He sees what I see when I look at my son. Wow.
What do you think? Does Jesus spend time considering which of us is better?
Our relationships, like money and time, are gifts from the Lord. I’ve never tried to dye the clothing I’ve been given as gifts. I’ve never tried to reconstruct a present of jewelry. I’ve never edited a gifted book. But I’ve tried to change the people God has given to me as gifts many, many times.
I could blame it on my profession, I suppose. But more likely my desire to change people has to do with my pride (my way is better) and lack of understanding (he is purposely trying to make me miserable!). Only recently did it occur to me that all of our upsets with spouses, kids, friends, neighbors, bosses and more are symptoms of our discontent.
The Apostle Paul was someone who dealt with a lot of difficult people. Acts 16 details Paul’s encounter with a demon-possessed girl who annoys him. He drove the demon out of her, but was then beaten and thrown in jail –into stocks, no less! Yet what does he do? Praises the Lord in song.
If I were Paul, I would have:
- complained about the demon-possessed girl and demanded that God get her to stop annoying me so I could get on with life. When we are discontent with our relationships, we want the person who’s annoying us to chage.
- begged God to save me from beatings and incarceration. When we are discontent with our relationships, we don’t want people to change us.
- had the world’s biggest pity party in jail. When we are discontent with our relationships, we don’t want to serve the Lord.
I’m so glad that Paul had contentment with his relationships. As a result, a young girl was delivered of a demon and a jailer’s family was saved.
Who’s annoying you lately? Let’s practice the contentment of Paul and:
- pray in the name of Jesus Christ for our annoying person. Let’s be more concerned with them than we are with ourselves.
- understand that God is using the difficult person for our good. Although painful, the changes challenging people can make in us are more valuable than gold.
- give God thanks for how He will use a tough relationship for His glory. When Paul was annoyed with the slave girl, He had no idea that God was setting in motion a sequence of events that would have glorious consequences. I believe the Lord is still working in our relationships this way.
Has the Lord ever used a difficult relationship in your life for your good and His glory?
The Secret to Learning Contentment