Archives For beautiful

Monuments to Me

Erik Cooper —  January 31, 2011 — 5 Comments

We humans are a screwed up bunch.

Scripture clearly states we’re created with God’s nature (Genesis 1:27). Yet we’re also cursed with our own inner Charlie Sheen (Genesis 6:5). Don’t think that tension goes unnoticed as BeyondTheRisk 2.0 goes live today.


I write to express what God’s doing in me. To create something beautiful. To inspire action. To challenge perspective. To share something I value with you.

But I also write to please my inner narcissist. Because I want you to like me. For your approval. So you’ll make me feel valuable. So you’ll know who I am.

Just keeping it real.

Everything we create has the ability to elevate God and serve humanity, or become another monument to me.

We have to engage that tension with a lot of honest confession and repentance (and a good dose of loving community). It seems the only other option is to never create anything at all.

Where do you feel that tension?

(Maybe the spirit of the Hallmark channel has overtaken me, but this just felt like it needed to be said. Braveheart analogies the remainder of the week!).

Sometimes you just need to realize that you’re beautiful.

This is my oldest daughter Emma. Aspiring drummer. Hater of Barbies. First picked in backyard football scrums.

Elegant beauty.

I’ve always known that last part (and not just as an obligated father), but I’m not sure she’s ever thought of herself in that way. Until last week’s school play forced her into a role that suddenly had heads turning and cameras popping. Only then did she seem to subtly awaken to what I’ve been telling her consistently since she was too little to understand

she’s absolutely beautiful. (a 12 year old clone of her mother)

Beyond normal pre-teen insecurities, I think we all wrestle with wrong internal definitions. Past mistakes, unspoken insecurities, or unfortunate circumstances can cast a distorted reflection.

We are broken.

We aren’t good enough.

That’s what makes grace so amazing. That’s what makes the Father’s pursuit so astounding. And sometimes we just need to sit back and absorb the way our Daddy sees us.

Absolutely beautiful.

Beautifully Disturbing

Erik Cooper —  January 13, 2011 — 1 Comment

Sometimes beautiful and encouraging morphs into scary and disturbing. These two opposing forces strangely emanating from a single source.  Surprising. Confusing. Even disgusting.

A loving embrace from your favorite Aunt Sue: Beautiful
Aunt Sue’s jalapeno and cigarette breath:

Ben Affleck’s performance in Good Will Hunting: Beautiful
Ben Affleck in Gigli:

An aging Brett Favre playing football like a 16 year old boy: Beautiful
An aging Brett Favre text messaging like a 16 year old boy:

Get the picture? There’s a strange tension that emerges when two seemingly opposing expressions spring up from the same root. And in risk of sounding disrespectful, Jesus was no different. Thankfully, His take on disturbing was a substantial departure from the examples I listed above. But the Son of God definitely knew how to throw down some “did He really just say that?” moments.  For instance…

One minute He would say beautiful and encouraging things like this:

“The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live.” John 11:25-26

“You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” Luke 12:31-32

“I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:30

Warm. Delightful. Like a warm blanket next to the fire on a cold, snowy day.

Then a few paragraphs later He seems to shift directions like Sarah Palin voting democrat:

“Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor.  You will have riches in heaven.  Then come follow me.” Luke 18:22

[In response to a man who’s father just died] “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:22

“If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.” Matthew 10:37

Disturbing. Scary. Our fancy 21st century discussions and Bible study commentaries have become great at explaining these things away, but Jesus never did.  He just laid them out there. Left them for us to wrestle. Here you go. Chew on this.

Because He loves us.

Yep.  Because He loves us. Real love exists in the tension between unconditional encouragement and unyielding challenge. He takes us as we are, but He doesn’t leave us there.  His aim is our ultimate good.  And Jesus knows full well that journey has to be beautifully disturbing.  That’s real love.

What passages of Scripture do you find the most encouraging? The most disturbing?

How do you wrestle with them?