Truthful + Beautiful = Faithful

If I wanted you to visit Scotland, I might send you to Scotland’s entry on Wikipedia, where you would find a few thousand words on Scotland’s history, geography, economy, monuments, landmarks, etc.: lots of facts, lots of information, lots of arguments and reasons for why you should cross the pond and visit the old country.

Or I could send you to Flickr or YouTube and encourage you to search for Scottish pictures and videos.

Which do you think would be more successful?

The Wikipedia entry might make you say something like, “Well, that’s very interesting! Sounds like a great place. I think I’d like to go there someday.”

But the Flickr pictures and YouTube videos would evoke, “Wow, that’s beautiful. How do I get there and when can I go?”

Beauty is a more powerful persuader than data.

That’s Beautiful!
When the grocery store wants you to buy a new chocolate cake, what do they do? Do they set up a booth with a Powerpoint of the Nutrition Facts? Do they have books explaining the benefits of this low-carb, low-fat, low-sugar, high-protein, high-fiber chocolate cake?

Of course not, they set up tasting booths in aisles where the rich chocolate fragrance draws the nose, the light moist sponge draws the eyes, and the offered sample draws a drooling tongue. You taste and exclaim. “That’s beautiful! Where do I buy?”

Beauty attracts. Beauty draws. Beauty persuades. Beauty compels. Beauty convinces.

Yet, the church, especially the reformed branch of it, is not very good at beauty.

We do logical but not beautiful. We’re good at arguing, but not at attracting.  We’re good at systematizing but not at stunning. We’re good at organizing but not at awing. We’re good at clarity but not at beauty.

He’s Beautiful
Now, of course, we need logic, we need argument, we need system, we need organizing, and we need to be clear. But these are only servants to beauty, a means to an end – that of bringing people to the feet of Jesus exclaiming, “Wow! He’s beautiful!”

Facts, argument, logic, persuasion may bring you to nod your head in agreement.

Beauty produces, “Draw me, I will run after you!”

Truthful + Beautiful
When I’ve preached justification or sanctification, doctrine or devotion, Old Testament or New Testament, I ask not only, “Was it truthful?” but also, “Was Jesus beautiful?”

I don’t want my hearers just to say, “Well that was reasonable, logical, tightly argued, clear, etc.” I want them to say, “Jesus is so, so beautiful.”

Same goes for parenting. Amidst the noise, smoke, and dust of raising children, am I communicating the breathtaking, inimitable, irresistible, beauty of Christ?

Also for witnessing. I can proof text, win arguments, and beat down atheists, Arminians, Muslims and Mormons all day. But did I once try to show them the beauty of Jesus?

Beautiful inspiration
This post was partly inspired by Brian Zahnd’s Beauty will save the world: Rediscovering the allure and mystery of Christianity. Like Trevin Wax, I have some reservations about this book, especially the lack of clarity in a couple of places about the exclusive truth claims of Christianity. But the fundamental core message of the book is one that many of us in Calvinist churches (old and new) need to hear.

For too long we’ve limited the demand of faithfulness to “telling the truth.” To this we must also add “showing His beauty.”

Truthful + beautiful = faithful.

Check out

Ayn Rand, antichrist
Joel Miller: “But libertarians and conservatives — particularly those who confess Christian faith — should be wary of adopting Ayn Rand as their own lest they find themselves in the position of the man in Aesop’s story who took the snake to his bosom.”

Faith and High Office: Do the Religious Beliefs of American Presidents matter?
Aaron Blumer gives three reasons why it matters and two reasons why it doesn’t.

Social Media Changes Everything
Ron Edmondson talks about how social media considerations impacted his recent transition from one church to another, and calls for church hiring procedures to be changed to compensate for the speed that information travels these days.

What the Puritans can teach us about counseling
Another great resource list from Justin Taylor.

The Clown in the Pulpit
Challenging questions from Jeremy Walker: “What do you, preacher, strive after in the pulpit? Do you seek the titter or guffaw of the congregation? Do you simply want to bask in the warmth of people who find you amusing, who applaud your comic genius? Do you model yourself on the clowns and jesters of our age? Do you exhibit your own wit or do you exalt your Saviour?”

Typical Objections to the 10 Commandments
And that’s only the Christian objections.

Tweets of the Day

Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.

God’s Fatherhood: Better than the latest band-aid of self-help

Our theology drives our lives. What we know and understand about God impacts everything – everything we think, say, and do. It especially controls and directs spiritual activities such as preaching and counseling. In previous posts we looked at how the Fatherhood of God should impact the Counselor, and then at the role of this doctrine in the Counselee’s life.

There are also certain counseling problems that are especially helped by specific aspects of God’s Fatherhood. Before looking at these, let me just make two qualifications. First, while the whole Trinity is involved in every counseling solution, in this article we are limiting ourselves to the role of the Father in counseling. Second, while the Fatherhood of God is involved in every counseling scenario, I’m picking the issues in which God’s Fatherliness is especially helpful.

Click on over to for the rest of this article and read how the Fatherhood of God can help in dealing with:

  • Bereavement
  • Single Parenthood
  • Poverty
  • Abuse
  • Chastisement
  • Anxiety
  • Injustice
  • Prodigal Children
  • Bitterness
  • Church Disputes
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Parenting

Why You Need a Creative Community

Some of the best ideas in the world are sitting on old shelves gathering dust or in an old computer gathering viruses.

Why did these ideas never happen? In many cases it was fear of exposing the idea to public scrutiny and the possibility of criticism, mockery, or —worst of all — silence. The idea was born, lived, and died in fatal isolation.

Scott Belsky’s survey of top creatives in Making Ideas Happen found that community engagement was absolutely essential to moving ideas forward. The myth of the solitary genius is just that, a myth. Although some of the great inventions are associated with individuals — Thomas Edision, Alexander Bell, etc. — closer inspection almost always reveals that it was a community effort.

Physical and digital communities
Although your community may be limited to your physical environment – your family, church, workplace, neighbors, etc., the hyperconnectivity of the Internet age has multiplied the possibilities for community engagement:

  • A writer can share draft chapters on her blog.
  • Artists or photographers can display their work on a website or Flickr.
  • Singers can post free mp3’s of their new songs for review.
  • Preachers can post their sermons in written or audio form.
  • Teachers can share their lesson plans.

Benefits of sharing our work with a community are:

  • Accountability is strengthened through public commitment.
  • Creative energy is channeled into stated goals.
  • Feedback exposes holes and refines the idea.
  • Relationships provide support and inspiration.
  • Resources are multiplied through sharing.
  • Marketing and promotion opportunities are increased through wider stakeholding.
  • New ideas are generated and new dimensions to old ideas are developed.

Some other tips from these chapters:

  • The more diverse the community group the more helpful the engagement (variety in ages, genders, social circles, ethnicity, character – dreamers and doers, etc).
  • An MIT study published in the Harvard Business Review found that employees with the most extensive online and face-to-face networks are up to 30% more productive.
  • The most successful creatives have a fearless approach to sharing ideas.
  • Take an interest in helping others with their ideas too.

Best-selling author and Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson says: “I don’t believe you can do anything by yourself. Any project that’s run by a single person is basically destined to fail.” (Making Ideas Happen, 121).

Previous posts in the Making Ideas Happen series:
Making Ideas Happen: 99% Perspiration
A Swear Word for Creative Types
Paper v Pixels