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May you be strengthened in your faith unto God, and be powerful witnesses filled with His compassion!
Revelation 12:11 "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death."

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David Wiltfong

David Wiltfong

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Posted by on in LoveHOP Academy Life

One of things that I have been thinking about since I was in junior high is what does it mean for someone to be beautiful.  In other words, what are the criteria in which we should judge to declare that someone is beautiful? The reason why I have been pondering this question off and on for so long was because when I was in junior high and high school I felt like I didn’t have much of a reason to think anyone was beautiful. This was because I didn’t think that there was any absolute standard by which I could determine if anyone was beautiful. If anyone were to ask me back then if I thought any the girls I knew were beautiful in my mind I would think something along the line of “according to society’s standard of beauty I think she is beautiful.” I always had trouble with believing this world’s stand of beauty because people in and of themselves have no ability to determine what is true. Truth is only found in Christ (John 14:6).

I believe beauty and truth are closely related because to believe something is beautiful you have a have a standard to compare it to. Psalm 96:9 says, “Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” So according to God holiness is beautiful. Other words to describe holiness are sacred, set apart, pure or in other words not common. Uncommon is not enough though, true holiness is whatever is in relationship with God, for Revelation 15:4 says “For you alone are holy.” Since holiness is beautiful and only God is holy therefore only God and whatever reflects his nature can be called beautiful. Also whatever reflects the nature of God the most should be considered most holy; this is why people are greater than the rest of creation because we reflect the glory of God more than any other created being.

Now consider the standard of beauty that our society holds up and displays. In our society and others worldwide there is standard that is held up and says this is what is beautiful and you need to look like this image. This type of reasoning says that whatever we perceive to be true is truth. The result of people declaring what truth is instead of God destroys beauty because in doing so we seek to replace the natural reflection of God’s holiness and beauty that is found in us and replace it with the reflection of a made up standard of beauty. This mindset seeks to exalt the glory of the image of man over the glory of the image of God. We have to be very careful and ask God to cleanse our minds and give us clarity on what he values and what he exalts. In Romans 1: 18-32 Paul goes into detail of what happens when we do not give God the glory that is due and instead we give glory to other gods and images. Among the things that Paul lists is sexual perversion of all kinds and being given over to a debased mind. Please take what you consider to be beautiful seriously because it has become very easy in our society to call what is evil, good and what is good, evil (Isaiah 5:20).

What does it mean then to think someone is beautiful? I sought the Lord on this for a while and I believe the Lord gave me an answer. It means two things and the first part is the bigger than the second. The first part is to simply delight in someone especially in how God made them unique and special. Be cautious though, you need to delight in what God delights in and not necessarily what the world delights in. The second part, which is smaller than the first but is still important, is a desire to connect with the person. This is not a sexual connection and doesn’t even have to be a deep connection but to consider someone to be beautiful there should be a desire to know the person and to bless what God delights in. It looks something like this; you don’t just want to see pictures of Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon but you want to go there and experience it. Likewise in similar fashion when we delight in someone we should have a desire to go and connect and bless what God has made.

This subject of beauty is quite large and very deep. This is not the end at all of the matter at all. The purpose of this post was to encourage you to think about what you admire and what you lift up to be called beautiful. Seek the Lord for wisdom and take delight in what God delights in because this is God’s heart for us that we would find joy in what is good and beautiful. 

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Posted by on in LoveHOP Academy Life

The book of Ezra is the story of how the people of God who were once in captivity because of their sin returned to Jerusalem to reestablish worship. One of the major themes in the book is how leaders arose to lead the exiles and to fulfill the will of God in rebuilding the city of Jerusalem.

There are four times in the book of Ezra where it says that leaders arose. The first time is found in Chapter 1 where Cyrus King of Persia gives the exiles permission to return and rebuild the city and the Temple in Jerusalem. The people who arise are the elders of the tribes of Jerusalem and Benjamin along with the Levites. The second time occurred to rebuild the altar in Jerusalem in chapter 3; this time it was Zerubbabel and Joshua who stood up. The third occurred in chapter 5 to complete the task of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem under persecution from the surrounding nations and it was again Zerubbabel and Joshua to arise along with the help of the prophets Zechariah and Haggai. The final time is found in Chapter 10 in which Ezra, who is a priest, is confronted with the sin and compromise of the nation arises and calls those in sin to repentance.

Ezra is an interesting guy in this story because he is a priest without a Temple for most of his life. In those days one of the main functions of a priest was to minister before God in the Temple in Jerusalem; but Ezra had no Temple yet he became very well known as someone who passionate about the word of God (Ezra 7:6). What inspires me so much about Ezra is that he did not waste his time in exile but devoted himself to the word of God and to obey it and to teach it to the people of Israel. He could have been lazy and wasted his time in exile only to start learning the word of God when the call to go back to Jerusalem was given. He even could have acted like so many other people who have left their calling to fulfill their own desires. As a result Ezra was ready when the time to arise and lead people in following God.

I believe that we are very near to a time when it will be required of all of us who hear the call of God to rise up and rebuild the house of the Lord. We must get ready now and we must not give into the temptation to just sit and wait. Like Ezra we must be in the place of seeking to know and obey the word of God and not let ourselves fall into compromise.

1 Peter 5: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

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