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Book Jacket

0830737308
Trade Paperback
92 pages
Jun 2005
Regal Books

Shine: Beautiful Inside and Out

by Aly Hawkins

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:

One

BEAUTIFUL

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27

I donít know about you, but when I read this verse, I find it pretty hard to believe. Me? In Godís image? Has God really lowered His standards or something?

Most of the time, I feel about as ďin Godís imageĒ as a ham and cheese sandwich. But my feelings aside, the Bible is pretty clear that when God puffed the breath of life into the first man and woman, it wasnít just oxygen that filled their lungs. God jump-started the hearts of Adam and Eve with a jolt of His very own imageóthe creative impulse that caused Him to invent them in the first place. Weird, huh? God invented people.

It appears that the creator had so much fun calling the universe into existence, and then decorating it, that He just had to share that joy with somebody. So God didnít stop with giving the first folks free will and intelligence. He went right on ahead and gifted them with an itch to create.

And He didnít stop with good olí Adam and Eve, either. Godís creative fingerprint has been stamped on you and me as well.

The truth is, God hasnít lowered His standards at all. Weíve lowered ours.

CREATED TO CREATE

We are Godís workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

In his paraphrase of the Bible called The Message, Eugene Peterson rewords Ephesians 2:10 like this: ďGod does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does . . . work we had better be doingĒ (emphasis added).

Jesus died on the cross and rose again so that we can become coworkers with God in the work He is doing. And thatís a bigger job than you might think! The Bible is chock full of stories about the work God does: rescuing people, answering prayers, healing people, forgiving people, listening to people, revealing truth, reconciling enemies to each otheróbut the very first work we see God doing at the very beginning of the Bible is creating. Thatís what gets the whole story going!

Have you ever wondered why you love beautiful things? Why your breath catches in your throat at the sight of a rainbow, the sound of rain on the roof or the smell of your favorite flower? Have you ever wondered why you like to draw, cook, write poetry, design clothes or decorate imaginary houses? Isnít it weird that hundreds of songs have been written about sunrises, but people keep writing more? Hereís one:

Godís glory is on tour in the skies,
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.

Their words arenít heard,
their voices arenít recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

God makes a huge dome
for the sunóa superdome!
The morning sunís a new husband
leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
racing to the tape.

Thatís how Godís Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.

óPsalm 19:1-6, The Message

Something all human beings have in common is a love for beauty. Sure, beauty is defined differently in various places. In some East African tribes, both men and women stretch their earlobes to hang down to their shoulders. We think itís disgusting; they think itís gorgeous! No matter where you go, youíll find people decorating their surroundings and ďimprovingĒ their appearance. We are delighted by beauty! Know why? Weíre fascinated by beauty because God is!

Read the book in the Bible called Song of Songs, or sometimes Song of Solomon. No, really read it. Yes, now! Okay, if you just have time for one chapter, read chapter 7. This chapter is a celebration of the passion between a man and a woman, but itís also a celebration of the passion with which God pursues us, His love! (Giggle-fest Warning: Song of Songs has some pretty sexy word pictures in it, so if you want to read it seriously, donít do it at a slumber party!)

Hereís another verse from the Bible that reveals how God feels about you:

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

God thinks youíre beautiful. In fact, He knows youíre beautiful, because He created you that way. God created you to enjoy the beauty He has created, and He created you as part of that beauty. And if that wasnít enough, He created you to add your beauty and creativity to His ongoing work!

I DONíT FEEL BEAUTIFUL!

I know, I know. Some days (okay, most days), I donít feel beautiful, either. Some days (most days), I feel like this:

Now go ahead . . . go crazy. Draw what you feel like most days in the space below.

But if itís true that God has created us in His image and delights in us, arenít we kind of making Him out to be a liar, or spitting on the beauty He made (us!), by disagreeing with His standard of beauty? Whoa.

Not good.

If God, the creator of the universe, says that you and I are beautiful, created in His image to delight in and to create more beauty, and we take a long, hard look in the mirror and canít see what He could possibly be talking about, then weíre insulting God.

Iím willing to bet that thatís something neither one of us wants to keep doing. But how do we stop?

TAKE GOD AT HIS WORD

At some point in time someone has probably said or done something that made you feel less than the beautiful, ďin Godís imageĒ creation that you are. Try to remember one of these times right now. In my memory, Iím walking down the hallway at my middle school, and Tommy Winter, the hottest guy in sixth grade, smiles at me. I smile back, just as he says, ďWhatís up, Hawkins?Ē (which is my last name), only when he says ďHawkinsĒ he makes the ďHawkĒ part into a gagging sound and pretends heís throwing up on my shoes. I did not feel beautiful and ďin Godís imageĒ at that moment.

Now, as youíre watching that memory replay (there may be more than one), make a conscious effort to see Jesus in the picture. The reality is that Jesus was there with you during that memory; you just didnít see Him. At the very same time the cruel thing is said or done, look Jesus in the face and hear Him say to you: ď[Your name], I delight in you! Let Me quiet your feelings with My love. And then weíll both sing and dance for joy, because you are re-created in Me to join My Father in doing beautiful things!Ē You might feel kind of weird at first. But the Bible is Godís Word to usóthat means God wants to use its words to speak to you. Thatís what words are for, right? So let Godís Word be the final word in those painful memories youíre carrying around in your head.

Use the space below to write out (or draw) a few more memories, and allow Jesus to speak His Words of healing into your spirit.

Itís all a matter of whom we choose to believe: God, the creator and lover of all that is beautiful, or Tommy Winter (or whoever has tried to hurt you in the past). After a lot of thought, Iím going with God. Honestly, it wasnít that hard of a choice. Tommy Winter wouldnít know beauty if it punched him in the nose (tempting!).

In the next five sessions, weíll take a look at five beautiful areas of your life in which you can shine in Godís image. These are areas in which God has uniquely fashioned you to be you!

So here we go!