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November 22, 2013

Truck and pumpkins (photo by Nick Nichols)
Our local friend Nick Nichols took this photo of two of my favorite subjects,
an old truck and pumpkins!

"Outward Appearance"

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"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).

I visited a young man last week whom I see weekly in the course of our chaplain work. He gave me permission to share his photo and this story as a means of illustrating a spiritual truth.

Jeff KurtzHe was wearing a t-shirt that had what appeared to be random letters on it. It reminded me of a VBS craft project when I was a child in the sixties. We would take a sheet of paper and then with an Elmer's glue bottle squirt out letters spelling something like "Jesus Loves Me" or "God Is Good". Then you covered the paper with macaroni. When it dried you shook the paper and you had a design of the letters with raised macaroni! (I suppose a few of you remember that craft project!)

Being rather oblivious to current fashions (according to my wife), I asked Jeff if he had made the T-shirt design at home. Well, I was kindly corrected and informed that it was actually a shirt he purchased at the Hollister Store, which I've learned is a "hip" place where the younger people like to buy clothing.  Most of Jeff's peers would look at that shirt and immediately recognize it was a cool Hollister shirt, but an older guy like me looked at it and came to a completely different conclusion!

Judging someone's clothes or judging people from their outside appearance can lead to wrong conclusions. Today's Scripture text concerns Samuel's selection of a king. Initially he was focused on man's outward appearance and assumed these were the things that mattered to God.

He saw one of Jesse's sons named Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed stands here before the LORD." It might have been Eliab's height or muscular appearance that led Samuel to conclude this was the future king but he received correction from the Lord. The full verse states, "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart'."

We can make a lot of assumptions based on appearance and sometimes we're correct but other times we stand corrected. Before jumping to conclusions we need to go below the outward surface and hear a person's heart. We need to view people in the same light that God views them, though God sees and knows far more than we as humans can so His evaluation far surpasses people's assessments.

A couple of thoughts concerning "Man looks at the outward appearance":
  • Outward appearance can be deceiving; a clean-cut, well-dressed individual on the outside may be altogether different on the inside, and vice-versa!
  • Acceptable outward appearance varies by culture and age. Features like facial hair, clothing styles and so forth vary generation by generation. Very few of us dress as those in the Bible times! Coincidentally, Brooksyne is dressed in pilgrim costume as we share this message due to the fact she is sharing with two groups today about The Mayflower Voyage. Others outside her presentations could certainly draw wrong conclusions by her strange and out of date manner of dress.
Photo of Brooksyne dressed as a Pilgrim
Brooksyne dressed for her Pilgrim history presentation.

However there are standards of modesty that should be followed by those desiring to live a godly life. These are personal convictions informed by such Scriptures as 1 Corinthians 12:22-24, 1 Timothy 2:8-10, 1 Peter 3. Although we believe these personal convictions should be thoughtfully and prayerfully followed we must be careful about imposing them on others and certainly on those with unregenerate hearts. However we do believe a role in a maturing Christian is to provide loving guidance to the younger in a pattern similar to Titus 2:3-5.

Since "the Lord looks at the heart" we also need to direct our attention to the heart of a person. He or she is someone God loves and wants to redeem or someone God has redeemed and is in the process of transforming.  Actually, we are all in that transforming process aren't we?

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, while the world obsesses over outward appearances such as good looks, muscular bodies or perfect figures Your Word is impassioned with teaching regarding the inner heart; the very character of who we are when no one but You are looking. Help us to be more concerned what You see on the inside than what others view from the outside. Peace, joy and love come from within the soul and no outward adornment, fashion accessory or muscular frame can produce or duplicate those fruit of the Spirit. Help us to be slow to judge and quick to pray for those who are different from us and help us to see them and love them as Jesus does. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.

Update on Ester: I (Brooksyne) was at Hershey Medical Center with Ester all day Thursday, but I came home to rest last night with her blessings. She had a very good day and was wonderfully blessed by her visitors. She walked three times and is getting stronger but still having a tough time coughing as she needs to do. The concern presently is the fluid that is in and around her lungs and her low oxygen saturation. A chest x-ray was taken around 5 A.M. this morning and indicates that some fluid remains so this may delay the possibility of her being discharged in the late afternoon or early evening as doctors had hoped. Thanks for prayers, dear friends!

She was blessed by several visits including Stan and Deb Miller, her youth leaders when she was a teen.

Since Brooksyne has her Pilgrim presentation this afternoon and has a busy day with a chaplaincy visit and time at the hospital with Ester she is wearing her Pilgrim outfit (shown above). She asked me what I thought and I told her people in the hospital would probably just think she is a member of one our old-order type groups such as the Amish who dress in a similar way. For any who may be interested here is a page describing her presentation.

60's visit to the dentistA final thought: As many of our readers know this is the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It is also one of my most distinct early childhood memories. I was sitting in the waiting room of my dentist when an announcement came over the small black and white television mounted on the waiting room wall that President Kennedy had been assassinated. The memory is so distinct that I can recall the exact direction I was facing. The photo to the right may bring back some dental memories for those my age especially the ceramic bowl "spittoon"!

Brooksyne recalls that she was in her 3rd grade music class when the teacher began to cry. All the students knew something was wrong. And then she made the announcement and most of the class began to cry. Every generation has special moments when a national event is permanently etched in one's memory such as the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion and 9/11.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Only God Knows"  Video  Brian Free and Assurance  A very powerful perspective!

"God Sees the Heart"  Video  Heirs Of Grace  This appears to be some young people in a church setting.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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