John Stumbo Video Blog No. 15
October 11, 2014
As you see the beauty of this fall season, as you look at the beauty of the Bride of Christ—your church—may your blood pressure go down a few points. May your joy and cause for worship rise within you.
Hey, team, I’m coming at you today from Vail, Colorado. Three quick news items to begin with: one is there’s a podcast I’m not sure you are aware of—200churches.com. It’s on iTunes. It’s for churches of less than 200 in attendance, and it’s put out by two of our Alliance guys. Second, there is another live stream Praise and Prayer event coming up October 30th. We’ve done this a few times; some of you have joined us. It’s been a very gathering and inspiring time for the Alliance family—from Omaha, Nebraska, this time. The Board of Managers of The Alliance and other of our international workers will be there with some great worship, and I just invite you to join us. Information is on the Web site, but that’s coming up October 30th.
And the third news item is that the Great Commission Fund has gotten off to a slow start this year, and we just wanted to thank you, those pastors who are out there that give the congregations an opportunity to participate. Bless you for that, and if you would do so at this year-end, that would be a great encouragement to us. Keep an eye open for the Year-End materials that have probably already come to your office or will be soon. So thanks for any mention that you would make of the Great Commission Fund in these days to keep the work of The Alliance moving forward with strength.
So I’m in Vail. The Rockies are always stunning. But this time of year, brilliant yellows with hues of gold, and orange, and red speckle and freckle and sometimes explode across the mountainside, and it’s just an amazing display. So fall is my favorite time of year, at least until spring comes. Then I’ll love that, too.
But in this fall season, as I admire the beauty, I know that one of the leading questions of the day is, “Why is there so much evil in the world?” And it’s a valid question, a historic question, and one that I believe the Christian faith has the best answer to. But the question I want to raise today is, “Why is there so much beauty in the world?”
Now, I’m sure that the naturalists have some reasons for the splashes of color across the hillsides or the dimples on the cheeks of a baby, like my new grandson, who is doing well. And thank you for your prayers. But when I see beauty such as this, I have to ask the question “why?” Why is there so much beauty in the world?
What do I see? I see evidence of a Creator. The design, the intricacy, the variety, the imagination—it all speaks of a Designer, a creative, artistic, loving, poetic Designer that’s expressed Himself in countless ways in this world. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” What we see speaks to us of One who is truly beautiful Himself.
I not only see evidence, I see a foretaste—a foretaste of what is to come, a foreshadowing of what heaven will be like for us. [In] Revelation 21, it is said, “Behold, I am making all things new”—the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, this earth recreated in its virgin-perfect, garden-of-Eden form—“behold I am making.” It’s a continuous present tense, if I understand the Greek correctly. A God who is continuously creative and will continuously be making new things.
I also see this beauty as a great gift to us. The Creator has wanted to express Himself in creation so that people like us would receive the gift. “Every good and perfect gift is from the Father of heavenly lights,” James 1 tells us. On the drive over here, I have to confess that I was missing out on this gift. About halfway through the drive as I was stressed about various things on my calendar right now, including this video blog, I felt this gentle and sweet rebuke of the Spirit saying, “You know you are missing out on this opportunity, all this gorgeous scenery around you.” And so as I was able to trust Him with the stresses and enter into the moment, blood pressure went down a few points, and I was able to receive the gift given.
A friend of mine moved to a section of the world where there is a gorgeous forest. He was having his personal devotions each day by a walk through the forest but apologized to God one day, because his prayer time was being so interrupted by the beauty of the forest around him that he’d stop and admire. And I said to my friend, “I don’t think that the Creator is insulted when you interrupt your prayers by enjoying what He has created for you to enjoy. That is part of your prayer experience, so receive the gift that He has granted to you in the beauty of this world.”
Next, I see this beauty as an opportunity to humble ourselves. When we really enter into the vastness, the intricacy of this creation, I would hope that it would cause us to have a deep pause in our spirit. We feel so or want to be so in control of everything, but just a few good glances around us, and we realize that there is so much more going on in the story line than our own lives or what we can control and that we would humble ourselves.
One day, I was on a good run through a forest that I loved. One of my favorite trails—a combination of blackberry bushes and mountain views and wonderful streams and a river—and I was running along, and I was complaining to God about some current circumstances in my life. What I heard the voice of the Spirit say to me that day was, “What if I happen to be working on something bigger than your personal happiness right now?” What? There is something bigger than my personal happiness? I heard the Spirit of God saying that there is a much bigger story being written here.
And, yes, we often think of that when we see news items or what have you, but I’m saying even as you look at the spider crawling across the floor or the bird sitting outside your window, be very aware, be very humbled that our God is very complex, very vast. The plan that He has—very interwoven—you are part of that plan, you have a sweet contribution to make to that plan, but to be humbled by the vastness, the beauty of this creation.
What do I see in this beauty? I see an invitation to worship. As we look at all that God has created around us that it would draw our hearts, that we would lean in, that we would want to give praise to our Creator, that this would be an invitation to be drawn into another worship moment to not miss out on the chance to give credit and praise to our Creator God. And as we do, what I also see in this beauty is a drawing closer to Jesus Himself.
I get concerned that sometimes in Christian circles when we think of Jesus, we think of Matthew, chapter 1, and we forget that He’s way back in Genesis, chapter 1, part of the Creation story, as “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the Spirit of God is hovering over the water.” Colossians 1 tells us, “By Him [by Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
John 1, Hebrews 1, they all tell us the same thing—that Jesus is intimately involved in this creation process. And so, why beauty? This is just a partial answer I would love for you to consider to pursuing it in more depth, but see the evidences of a Creator. Enjoy the foretaste of heaven to come. Receive the gift that has being given to you to enter into this. Allow it to humble ourselves. Welcome the invitation to worship, and let it lead you all the way to Christ Himself.
The reason my wife and I came to Vail this week was because of a pastors and wives retreat for this district. It has been great to see families worshiping together, teams interacting with one another, and an ordination service that I spoke at. One of the guys had been in my youth group 30 years ago, when I was youth pastor. Well, he really wasn’t in the youth group, because he was very disinterested. But in his college days, he came to know Jesus, and now 30 years later, he’s ordained as a Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor. It is a joy to be part of that. One of the pastors is from the church where my dad got saved and had been a pastor in 1930-something as an 18-year-old, pastoring a rural church in Iowa, and one of those pastors was ordained last night from that church. So it was great joy for me to be part of that.
And I’m on my way to a family wedding in Montana, where I am officiating a service. So I see ordinations and weddings as a very similar experience that cause me to remember my own wedding, my own ordination, and more significant than just the events themselves, causing me to appreciate once again the beauty of the bride that God has given to me and the beauty of the Bride of Christ that is His Church.
Ordination and wedding moments are opportunities for me to be reminded that we live in a world of beauty, Christ follower. Not just the beauty of creation, as powerful as that is, but a beauty that is interwoven into every fabric of our lives, if we have eyes to see.
So I opened by asking why all this beauty in this world? You can give a more comprehensive answer than I have. But as you see the beauty of this fall season, as you look at the beauty of the Bride of Christ—your church—for those of you that are married, as you look at the eyes of your beautiful bride, may your blood pressure go down a few points. May your joy and cause for worship rise within you. Don’t miss the opportunity this season provides.