The Curse of Makeup

I took my two youngest children to the city today for a Recce (reconnaissance orientation) and a relaxing time together. For those who know Melbourne I have a list of things to see at the end of this article.

I surprised my nearly 15 year old daughter as we walked through a department store, suggesting that she allow one of the beauticians to show her their range of makeup. It was a surprise because it was spontaneous and unexpected, but also because I don’t encourage makeup.

After a few moments of embarrassment, Sophia yielded to the lady’s request and sat for a demonstration and to have various cosmetics applied to her face. The beautician recognised that a youthful face is best left to its natural glow, but a tinted moisturiser would help cover the breakouts (that was her politically correct term for acne and pimples).

So Sophia endured the exfoliation, moisturiser, eye shadow, lip gloss and whatever they call that stuff you put on your cheeks for highlight (is it rouge?). About an hour later there was little of the makeup left, as Sophia ate a souvlaki, scratched her skin and splashed water onto her face. Having a high fashion face must make life very difficult for people.

Something New

I explained to Sophia that, while I do not encourage her to use makeup, I want her to be comfortable with it and to know how to use it if and when she chooses to. She has used stage makeup before, but the idea of “putting on a face” for vanity is not something she has been concerned about.

New things are strange to us for the first few times, but we soon become comfortable with what was once strange. Such things as wearing a tie, dressing up in a tuxedo, walking in high heels, or using roller blades can be quite uncomfortable and challenging until we get used to it.

So I want Sophia to be comfortable with those things that women need to have recourse to from time to time. And today “makeup” was the matter in hand.

So that brings me to a quick explanation about the Curse of Makeup. I trust that these thoughts can be a caution for all those young ladies who think it might be exciting to enhance their natural beauty.

The Beauty Issue

It seems natural for girls and women to desire to be beautiful. The Cinderella princess fantasy is one that the West promotes and which girls take a liking to. The inherent desire to be loved leads many women to assume that if they are beautiful and attract men’s attention they will be much more likely to be happy in love.

That’s why you will observe some chap walking down the street in grungy clothes, looking like a slob who couldn’t care less about how he looks, and yet his girlfriend or wife beside him will be dressed sharp, trim, neat and as attractive as she can. The miss-match can be laughable at times. If she really did value carefully manicured beauty you would think she would demand some level of care from him as well.

But what is at stake in the mind of the woman is her need to be beautiful, to ensure that she keeps “him”. He does not need to attract her eye. She is in the place of insecurity, not him. She must perform to his expectations, not him to hers.

So it is easy for a woman to fall into the curse of feeling that she has to rise to high standards of beauty, fashion and attractiveness.

The Lure

When a girl or woman thinks she needs to prove herself by attracting the attention of men, she will take care to make herself attractive to others. While she may not realise it, the more she makes herself attractive in human terms, by fashion, makeup, flirtatious behaviour, or the like, the more she lures the lustful interests of men.

I notice that many women dress shamefully, as if their intention was to have men look at them lustfully. I assume that some if not many of those women don’t realise how their appearance cheapens them. They appear to be immoral, loose women, who wish to be ranked for their sex appeal, rather than valued as a person to be respected.

Insecurity at Heart

The Bible advises that the most wonderful beauty any woman has is the beauty of a heart that is free and confident in God. If the “hidden man of the heart” (see 1Peter 3:1-6) is full of joy, confidence, security and faith, then the countenance will glow with a radiance from within.

However, if a woman is insecure, fearful, ashamed, anxious, hurting, selfish or the like, the hidden man of her heart will not be able to radiate from within her. That woman will very likely rely heavily on painting herself to mask the dullness of her own spirit.

And if a woman has immoral attitudes, disrespect for her personal value, sensual desires and cheap values, then she will also fail to have an inner beauty which will make her stand out as a woman to be valued and prized.

The more insecure a person is, the more they will use props and excuses in their life. Insecure people hide, cover up, deceive, avoid revealing the truth about themselves, and so on. And that has direct connection to the way a woman deals with makeup.

The Cover Up

When a woman feels the need to cover up her natural appearance, either because she believes it needs to be enhanced to make her more beautiful, or because she feels she needs to make men look at her, she has become trapped in a snare.

Makeup for such a woman is not something she can use as and when she wishes. Instead, makeup becomes a vital part of who she is. She is no longer complete without makeup.

Once a woman uses makeup as a prop she will never be free from it. She will fear that she will not be properly appreciated without it. And that’s where the slavery takes over.

Put Your Face On

Let me repeat an incident a friend told me about many years ago. One day he had to visit a client near his family home. He decided to call in unexpectedly for morning tea with his mum. But when he went to the door and knocked she made him wait on the step for about ten minutes.

When his mum finally let him in she was still dressed in her dressing gown. He asked her why she didn’t just let him straight in. Her reply shocked him.

She said, “I couldn’t let you see me until I had put my face on,”

He had never realised how insecure his mum was. He was her own son. If she could be relaxed and natural with anyone, surely it would be with him. Yet she would not let him see her without makeup.

Now, that’s Slavery!

Be Warned

Girls, I know that you want to be beautiful. I don’t begrudge you that aspiration. And I know that many of you are insecure about whether you will really be beautiful enough and stay beautiful enough to catch and keep the attentions of some young man who will make you happy.

But if you carry insecurity and look to fashion and makeup to help you, there is a grave risk of you losing the joy of just being you. God already made you beautiful, and he put your loveliest beauty in your heart, not on your face.

Let the joy of your heart, your fascination for life, your heart to serve and bless others, and your confidence in God shine through. Let you heart be filled with the love of God, being His love for you and your compassion for others.

When you do that, you don’t need makeup and high fashion. You don’t need to lure men to look at you. After all, you only need that one man to commit himself to you. There’s no reason why any other man should be looking at you too. That will only lead to moral challenges that you don’t need in your life.

Free to be Me

I want you to tell me that you’re “Free to be Me!” God did not make a mistake when He fashioned you. You don’t need a plastic mask. Just enjoy being you.

Now, enjoy nice clothes and play with your hair, and even throw a bit of colour on your face from time to time. But never become enslaved to those things. Make sure you are not depending on them.

If you can do that, then you have a lifetime of enjoyment and freedom to explore.

I pray that the Lord grant you His grace to live in the glorious liberty (freedom) which He created you for.

Recce in Melbourne

Now, for those who may want to scout around Melbourne…

The early sailing ships in Port Phillip Bay needed a landmark to find the tiny settlement. A flag was raised on the highest hill, which is now named Flagstaff Gardens. The Paris end of Collins Street displays European décor on the buildings and the Sofitel Hotel has a great view from the restaurant level – from the toilets. We take our Kiwi and UK friends there for a birds-eye view of the MCG. In the basement of the Rialto Building the original flagstones were preserved, showing where the steel rimmed wheels gouged their track. The old Shot Tower at Melbourne Central shows how lead pellets were formed in olden days. The military museum under the Cenotaph is worth a look. Melbourne Town Hall was jam packed with men over 100 years ago when a prayer revival was at its peak, spreading from here to the world and feeding into the Welsh Revival. There’s Parliament house, Docklands, Southbank, The Museum, Exhibition Building, Melbourne Gallery, Bourke Street Mall, the Free City Circle Tram, the underground trains, Flinders Street Station, the Yarra River, and more. Enjoy!

Be a Blessing

Following up on my recent post about “Finding Fault” I sense that I need to further exhort you to “Be a Blessing”.

You would think that being a blessing is a natural thing for people to do. It is a joy to bless others. It is more blessed to give than to receive. When you bless others they love and appreciate you in return. You can even become famous by blessing people.

Yet, sadly, many people find it hard to be a blessing, even to their family and children.

Stern Exhortation

So this is a direct word to your heart. I am giving you a stern exhortation to BE A BLESSING!

Stop being stingy in your spirit and negative in your outlook. Stop spoiling other people’s happiness, raining on their parade, stealing their joy, finding fault and being negative about things.

Being a blessing is not just a nice thing to do it is God’s purpose in the earth in this generation.

Be Like Dad

Your Heavenly Father is a God of abundant grace. God pours abundant blessings on people who don’t deserve it. He brings rain and sunshine on everyone, good and bad. He allows us to enjoy life, from a good night’s sleep to the laughter of our children. We have flavours, colours, breezes, smiles, friends, views, sounds, and so much more to enjoy on a daily basis. Even the evil people are not denied these myriad blessings.

“But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44,45

Calling for This Generation

I sense that God intends to open up fountains of blessing on the earth. He intends to open up millions of them. He intends that His people would each become a light in a darkened world, pouring grace into the lives of hurting, lonely, unloved people.

I sense that being a blessing is not just a nice idea or the right thing for Christians to do. Instead it is a peculiar calling on this generation of Christians. I believe God is calling men and women, youth and children today to become open wells of grace and favour into other people’s lives.

Please take this seriously. God is calling YOU to be a blessing. You are to become famous for your ability to fill others with joy, encouragement, faith, confidence, love, grace and blessing.

Commanded to Bless

You are commanded to bless others. You are even commanded to bless those who hate you and curse you. Imagine that. Your spiritual DNA is so full of blessing that even those who curse you receive a blessing in return.

“Bless those who persecute you: bless, and curse not.” Romans 12:14

This is particularly relevant to those I addressed in my ‘Finding Fault’ post, who use their poison pen to tear down and demean things, rather than to bless. You are commanded to be a blessing, not to be a destroyer and one who sows discord, separating people from things or others they would otherwise find blessing through.

Reversing Evil

A wonderful aspect of being a blessing is your ability to reverse evil. Rather than becoming bogged down in the mire of other people’s limitations, evil heart, negative behaviour and so on, you can actually overcome all of that evil, by simply blessing those who don’t deserve it.

The Apostle Paul, as he followed on from the instructions given in Romans 12:14 (quoted above) went on to elaborate and to point out that blessing those who curse us causes the good in us to overcome the evil in them.

“Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink: for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20,21

I Bless You

I bless you in the name of the Lord. I release God’s grace onto you and your family, your life and your destiny. Be filled with the fullness of God. Walk and live in the favour of God. Be brought under the mighty hand of God. I pray that the devil’s hold on your life be broken and that all that holds you back be cut off your life, so you can catapult forward into the things God has for you.

I release you to be a blessing, to bring favour, peace, joy and love to those who are desperate for it, but don’t know where to find it. I bless you with protection from moral harm and from the enemy’s destructions. No weapon formed against you will prosper. The Angel of the Lord encamps around you and delivers you.

Be blessed in Spirit, in Soul and in Body. Be blessed in your family, your provisions, your heart and mind. Sleep sweetly, speak powerfully, live joyfully, thrive in strength, reap the harvest of the earth and use it as a blessing for others.

Now, go and be a blessing!

Sneering

I met someone today who I haven’t seen for a few years. We chatted briefly in a carpark and I had to be careful not to mention several topics. There are some issues this chap won’t deal with and if you bring them up he sneers, curls his lip and the whole meeting goes sour.

I have met many people like that. They just can’t get past some issue of other that upset them. They may be upset at a minister who pushed through his plans for a new building, without the support of the congregation. They may be upset that their child wasn’t given an opportunity the parent thought the child deserved. They may be resentful of how something worked out to their disadvantage. The possibilities are endless.

Dead End

The problem for this chap and people like him is that the upset becomes a Dead End for them. It is a road-block to their progress and to getting on with life. Instead of letting the matter go, or forgiving the offender, or humbling themselves, or other productive responses, these people dig in and take offence.

From that moment on the issue is toxic to them. They can’t put it aside or resolve it, so it is like an open sore in their thinking. If someone is insensitive enough to bring up the offensive situation, person or issue the offence is immediately on the surface. The person curls their lip, adopts a sneering tone and reels off the little speech they reserve specially for the matter.

Very Important People

I like what someone once said in response to this sneering attitude that is adopted by some. They pointed out that those who sneer must be very important people. They must be incredibly privileged people indeed.

They are obviously important because they have the right to do what only God can do! They have the right to sit in judgement of others and to refuse to forgive or let the person have grace. That makes those people incredibly important people.

All the rest of us are under the fear of God and will be judged if we judge. We will have God deal with us the same way we deal with others. We will end up in a prison of our own making if we do not forgive.

But these VIP’s can get away with doing all the things we are forbidden to do.

Or Very Foolish People

The truth is that these sneerers are very foolish people. They are elevating their own pride to the point they reject God’s instructions and put themselves into a place of superiority and judgement.

Now we all have opinions about things. I am as inclined to think someone else has it wrong as anyone else. But it’s what we do with those ideas that is important. If we elevate our ideas and ourselves over others we err.

Very foolish people make room for their own importance, their own opinions, and their own self-will. Very foolish people forget that they too are made of mud. They forget that they too have had to be forgiven. They forget that they have done stupid, selfish, irresponsible things in their time.

Very foolish people have closed themselves off from God’s grace, by not offering it to others who need it too.

Change My Heart O God

I wonder if my heart is clean enough for God to use me to reach those who the world holds in contempt. Someone has to be able to get past the sneering, accusing, unforgiving attitudes that we all feel toward those who we deem worthy of contempt. What would God have to do in my heart to get me to the place where I could serve Him, meeting the needs of people I would otherwise despise?

I need God to change my heart and to deliver me from the fleshly urge to judge, sneer, punish, condemn and reject others. Maybe you need something like that in your heart too. But that’s none of my business (is it?).

Finding Fault

I find fault with those who find fault.

OK, so that’s an oxymoron, but I’m unimpressed with those who think their calling in life is fault finding. I’m sure for some it’s their favourite past-time. Maybe they find meaning and value in such things, but I can’t believe it’s good for their spirit.

The world-wide-web has delivered us the ‘world-wide-whisper’ – speaking evil of all and sundry. And the purpose is the same today as it was in the days when King Solomon spoke against it. Oh Yeah, King Solomon had a word about the ‘web’ before it was ever invented.

“A froward man sows strife: and a whisperer separates chief friends.” Proverbs 16:28

Perverse and Cruel

King Solomon talks in that verse about a person who is “froward”, translated from a root word meaning perverse or fraudulent. He is also talking about a slanderer or talebearer.

The purpose of such perverse passing on of adverse opinions is to create “strife”, such as argument, tension, disagreement, quarrel, contention, discord and division. And that’s what the web has been widely used for.

Opinion Fest

Everybody has an opinion. They even have opinions about other people’s opinions. The web has become an ‘opinion fest’ forum. Now, that’s great for freedom of speech, but it’s unhealthy in many respects too.

People speak from their heart, and the heart is perverse.

“O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

So the readily supplied opinions of people fit easily into Solomon’s category of froward (perverse) people sowing strife. And the gossip passed on about this one or that is devilishly destructive.

Poison Pen

In the days of snail mail the term ‘poison pen’ letter described a letter that passed on slanderous information to poison the opinion of the reader. Whether the information shared was true or not its purpose was not to bless and edify but to cause the reader to take offence against the person being exposed or accused.

Now, thanks to the wonder of modern technology, we can be baptised in poison, drinking it as readily as mother’s milk. Just do a search on anyone who has reached some prominence and discover to your dismay that a bunch of people are committed to tearing them down.

No matter how wonderful the preacher, politician, leader, businessman, philanthropist or hero there is someone in search of their dark side, ready to immerse us in a baptism in their negative opinion.

Shut Down

The problem is that negativity causes a shut down. It “separates close friends”. It causes something that was positive to wither and die on the spot. It is toxic. And it’s the devil’s favourite game.

As soon as you become negative about something you are shut down, at least to some degree, from the potential, blessing and benefit of that thing. I continue to be impressed with how effective toxic attitudes are.

I once bought a newly released translation of the Bible. I enjoyed its language and style and enjoyed reading my way through it. Then someone happened to mention that particular translation and gave a scathing summary of its flaws and defects.

I am experienced enough as a Bible scholar to know that no translation is perfect. They all have their limitations. I did not expect that version to be wonderful, but I was enjoying it. However, from that very moment of hearing the scathing put down I lost all heart for reading that version.

Building Walls

The negative comments built a wall between me and the book I enjoyed reading. A form of separation was created in an instant. And that’s what King Solomon described. The whisperer, the talebearer’s report, “separates” good friends. I was separated from the good friend I found in that translation.

And now we have millions of web sites, blog posts, forum articles and the like which are intent on separating people from things which someone has an opinion about. The addiction to finding fault has become an epidemic of offence, slander, false accusation, poison pen writings and baseless violence against the accused and those who would otherwise respect them.

Search Your Heart

If you are one of those given to tearing down others please take a moment to search your heart. Your pen is writing “out of the abundance of your heart” and it is showing your heart to be toxic. You will be a far greater blessing if your tongue and pen brought forth ‘sweet’ water, instead of the bitter water you are spouting over others.

If you are blessed with the capacity to write, why use that gift as a weapon? You are supposed to turn your weapons into farm implements that bring forth a good crop and a blessed harvest. If your tongue is a poison pen ask God to heal it and make it a source of life-giving water to those who have already consumed too much toxin.

The Lord is opening up fountains of blessing. It is His heart to bless, and to cause His rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Join the Living God in one of the most blessed professions you can ever fulfil. Join Him in being a source of blessing to others.

Bring out that which is good, noble, or good report, edifying, encouraging, enriching, comforting and God glorifying. If you find you must splash poison, then maybe writing is not your calling as yet.

Separated Life

At a recent Youth Retreat many youth responded for prayer. The first person I went to pray for was one of the young men. I immediately sensed a strong impression that he was called to a “Separated Life”. I sensed that he was called to such high and holy things that God wanted him to avoid all contamination that could spoil his future destiny.

I prayed with him and encouraged him to receive my exhortation as from the Lord that he was to protect his heart and mind from grimy things of this world that would spoil the high destiny on his life.

As I stepped to pray for the next young man in line I had exactly the same impression. He too was to protect his life from contamination and from things that would take from him the glory and wonder of what God had for him.

At that point I realised that this was not only a message for individual lives, but a calling across a generation of young men and women, called by God to live a separated life and distance themselves from the tacky and dishonouring things of this world in the life they would otherwise be drawn into.

Nazarite Vow

Living a ‘separated life’ was so much a part of God’s chosen people in history that Moses made provision for a vow to be taken by a person to live for a time under special restraint, set aside to seek God and worship Him. This was the Nazarite vow.

The Nazarite vow meant that no alcohol was to be consumed and the hair was not to be cut for the duration of the vow. After the time set aside for special devotion was completed the person could cut their hair and drink wine and eat grapes again.

Samson and John

Two famous Nazarites in the Bible are Samson and John the Baptist. Both were set apart for God before they were born. They lived their whole life under the Nazarite vow. Their whole lives were separated for God’s purposes.

When Samson’s parents were visited by an angel and told they would have a son the mother was warned not even to eat grapes, let alone drink wine while she was carrying the baby. Not only was the boy to be separated from wine and grapes, he was even to be protected from them while in his mother’s womb.

John the Baptist’s birth was also announced before he was conceived and he was dedicated for God’s calling from that very moment.

Crumpled Lives

Several years ago I hosted a series of Impartation meetings in which a ministry team prayed for those who waiting on the Lord. The ministry team members sought to hear from God and share a personal word of encouragement or Biblical truth that would be beneficial to those on the prayer line.

One church I visited I had never ministered in before, so all of those who responded were unknown to me. As I stood before a young woman who would have been in her high school years I had a fleeting impression of a beautiful flower meant to bloom for the Prince. The image had a fairy tale quality of a Prince riding his horse through the forest and coming across the beautiful blossom and choosing it for himself.

However in that fleeting moment I also sensed that there was a bear nearby in the forest who was simply stomping around and messing things up. My heart went out to the young lady that the Lord wanted to protect that which was beautiful and precious in her life from the ignorant and selfish bear that would simply crush and mangle her.

I prayed earnestly for her protection.

Many at Risk

What troubled me that night was that as I went on to pray for the mixed crowd of men and women, I found that each time I came to pray for one of the young ladies I had the same sense of their danger. I spoke with my wife about it later, sensing that there was a high level of moral danger for today’s youth. They were in danger of being trampled on and having all that is precious in them crumpled.

The Prince was not going to find their beauty and be delighted with them once they had been trodden under foot by the careless bear.

I became concerned for those Christian youth who consume the world’s messages about who they are and what they are to expect in life. They are being lied to so they can be trampled on and miss out on the blessedness which God has for them.

Separation

There are many reasons to live a ‘separated life’ and one of them is to be protected. Dads and mums don’t have the same sense for protecting their children and youth today as we saw in past generations. Family break-up contributes to that, but so too does the intimidation pushed at parents who want to hold to healthy standards and who believe they have a responsibility to protect and guide their children into adulthood.

There is a calling on today’s youth. God intends to do amazing things in the earth in the coming decades and young Christians today will be at the vanguard of that awesome work. However, those who have become entangled, broken, polluted, distracted and mired by the world will not be in the place of mighty men and women of God when the time comes for them.

Call To Separation

It has never been easier to be entangled and damaged. The internet, mobile phones, social networks, ubiquitous media messages, self-serving people in every place you turn, and the lax social norms of today combine with the evil in man’s hearts to make it tough for those who don’t take care.

Unless you are choosing to live a separated life you will almost certainly be damaged by compromise and much more.

So hear the Word of the Lord to your heart. Come out from among them and be separate. Don’t do it because you think you’re special. Do it because Jesus IS special. God’s call on your life and the destiny He has for you in His kingdom are far more precious than all the trinkets and shallow amusements that will tempt you this way and that.

I don’t promise you any special joy and spiritual experience. It’s not about you and what you get from doing this or that. It’s all about Him. It’s about God being God in your life. It’s about you humbling yourself and submitting to God.

Your part in the years ahead may be hard and unrewarding in human terms. This is no calling to a party or a glory ride. I call you to set yourself apart for the Master’s use as something dedicated to Him. It’s an act of worship. It’s your reasonable service.

And it’s the best thing you can possibly do with your life.