What Did Jesus Really Look Like?

what did jesus really look like

Images of art and culture often shape our minds concerning those faces we have never seen. The depictions of historical figures before the days of photographs have often cast into our minds a portrayal that may not be completely accurate.  How many times have you gotten to know a radio personality by ear, had a vision of that person in your mind, and then saw them on television or in a photograph – only to find they look completely different than what you had imagined?

If one were to compare the picture that the Bible paints of Jesus with the last 2000 years of  portraits of Christ from art and culture, there would be a stark contrast between the true Jesus and the one we have come to know. Just google “what did Jesus look like” and search images. You will find everything from blonde and beardless to a man of Asian or African descent. The point is that people have decided to paint their own image of who they would like for Him to be and what they would be comfortable with as far as a Savior is concerned. But I would like you to think for a few moments with me about a man that was more beautiful than we could imagine, but not in physical appearance.

Jesus was a rugged man. He was a carpenter and he had carpenter’s hands. They would have been rough and calloused. They would have been cracked and possibly scarred. They would not have been soft and gentle. They were beautiful because they were working hands.

Jesus was a strong man. He was a man’s man. We get the image from pictures that he was slight of build and not too muscular. Pictures show him as average in size, and at times even effeminate. But I know of a man who drove out money changers and overturned tables in the temple. He took a whip and drove men of prominence and influence away from God’s holy place of worship. Nobody dared fight back. He was a man who could win a physical match against one or more like himself. This makes his physically imposing appearance even more beautiful. Children longed to sit on his lap, and he willingly went to the cross without objection when people he could have handled were spitting in his face.

Jesus was not a good looking man. This may bother you. You may want him to be handsome, but the Bible says that he was not. One version says, “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him” (Isaiah 53:2). He was of Jewish decent and so he looked like a common male of his culture and time. Unless you knew him personally you would not have said, “This must be the Son of God.” He often slipped through crowds unnoticed (Luke 4:30; John 5:15, 7:11, 11:56). The people he grew up with saw just another boy from Nazareth. The women who came to him did not do so because he looked like a movie star. They were often broken and just needed someone who cared. This makes the face of Jesus so much more beautiful. It was not what was seen in the outer man that drew multitudes, it was what was coming out of him from within.

Jesus probably didn’t have long hair. But you’ve probably never seen him depicted without it. You see the beard, the flowing locks, and the glowing countenance. The men of his day did not wear their hair long, and if they did it was often thought of as a disgrace (1 Cor. 11:14). It is likely he had a beard as this was common among the Jewish men. This would have made him even more unrecognizable. In short there was nothing about him in outward appearance that would have made anyone give him a second look. This makes the appearance of Jesus more beautiful, in that in reminds us that God sees beauty in what may be viewed by humanity as common or plain.

Jesus had a humble birth. He was raised in a poor family. He was not attractive. He had to work hard. He walked lonely and dusty roads. He was despised and rejected and we did not esteem him. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid our faces from him. Jesus was all of these things because God loved us too much to send a Redeemer that looked the way we would have wanted. He sent the Advocate we needed. The real Jesus is too beautiful for pictures and portraits. Only God can paint a Savior.

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

– 2 Corinthians 4:6

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Training Your Children for Worship 1: A Devotional on Worship {Free Printable}

In our latest podcast, Leah and I talked about the importance of training our children for worship. Also in that podcast, we mentioned how we are going to be sharing some posts and printables to help you do that. We have settled on four posts–to be released on Wednesdays–and today is the first in those posts.

The importance of a family discussing things in the home cannot be overstated. Through family devotionals, a family can gain a great deal of closeness and can focus more clearly on connecting with God. These times are also wonderful training grounds to discuss areas in which we want our children to grow. (By the way, if you are new to the idea of a family devotional, here is a post I wrote over four years ago that will help you focus on what to be doing.)

So, for the first two posts in this series (today and next Wednesday), we are going to share brief devotional guides to help you focus your family on worship. The first is a simple printable that gives you an outline of a short devotional on worship in general. The devotional is not meant to last more than about 10 minutes, but has a lot of questions, to help your children be involved in the learning process.

We have also included a song to sing at both the beginning and end called “We Will Glorify.” If you happen to be unfamiliar with this song, you can find it here and learn it ahead of time. It is a simple song, and one that will help focus your minds on what worship really means.

We hope you enjoy this first printable, and we’ll be back next Wednesday with a great set of guides to help you with more family devotionals!

(Click on the picture and a new tab will open with the printable, ready for you to use!)

worship guide 2

On Disruptive Children in Worship

on disruptive children in worship

As a preacher, I get asked a lot of interesting questions. Often, people are just seeking my opinion on a matter, while at other times, they are questions about how certain things affect (or don’t) my work.

One of the more common questions I get asked is along these lines: Do crying babies bother you when you are preaching?

My immediate answer is “No!” I can honestly say that, probably only once or twice, has a child’s “disruption” disrupted me while preaching. Thankfully, I have been told that it wasn’t noticed by those listening. Instead, it was all in just my train of thought and trying to keep my thinking straight.

So, if you are a parent with a baby who cries in worship, this post is not written to complain. You are bringing your baby or small child to worship. Those cries are music to my ears, because a parent has that child right where that little one needs to be!

That said, are there times when a child needs to be taken out of a worship service? Sure. A baby, toddler, or small child can get disruptive, especially to those who are sitting nearby and doing their best to worship the Lord. Let me say, they are doing their best to focus on the Lord, not your child. They may have “a look” on their face, but if that person has the heart of a Christian, it is not because they are angry with you. They might be frustrated, but if they have ever been a parent, they understand what you are going through.

So what can a parent do when a child gets disruptive? Here are 5 suggestions for dealing with a disruptive child in worship.

1. Have quiet things for the child to do. One way to help some children is to distract their minds. But, please, have these distractions be quiet things, like Bible books or puzzles. I have known of parents who let their baby play with a cell phone during worship, and we can all guess how that turned out!

2. Have “related” things for the child to do. This is similar, but I believe it is best to make sure what the child is doing is still related to the Bible and worship. Please do not think that letting a child play Temple Run or Minecraft on your iPad is going to help. The child will learn to act up to get to play a favorite game!

3. Do not be embarrassed in taking your child out. I know this is easier said than done (I’ve taken my children out when someone else was preaching), but you are doing your job as a parent. There is no shame in that.

4. Take them out, but do not reward them. Parents, please do not take your child out if you are going to give that child candy or just let them play around on the floor! When you must take a child out for disrupting worship, calm the child by singing or just letting the child rest. If the child has been intentionally disruptive…well…let’s just say it this way: do not make the trip out a pleasant experience. If you reward the negative behavior, guess what you will get more of next Sunday?

5. Make the trips out as brief as possible. Yes, sometimes the sermon is boring, but take the child out, get your point across, and come back in. A child needs to learn to be in the worship service by actually being in the worship service, not taking 30 minute trips to the cry room. Every child is different, but just a few minutes is usually sufficient, unless a child is physically ill.

As I said before, this post is not written to pick on parents who have children when their children cry. Mine have done it, and I’m sure they will probably have to be taken out again sometime for discipline.

Even if they cry, parents please bring those children to worship! They are learning about worship, and you are doing a great job in having them present.

[NOTE: Tomorrow, we will release the first of our "Training Your Children for Worship" posts with a free printable! To learn more about this series of posts, check out this podcast.]

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An Important Lesson from an Unexpected Source

an important lesson from an unexpected source

I’ve been reading a book our son gave me for my birthday. The name of the book is When Pride Still Mattered:  A Life of Vince Lombardi. The author of the book is David Maraniss. Even the most casual observer of “the sports world” probably recognizes that Vince Lombardi coached the Green Bay Packers and led them to a number of NFL championships (five world championships in nine years, to be exact).

This is not a book from which I would expect to find much about God, religion, etc. I thought I would only learn about a man who is legendary as a football coach. I thought I’d learn some interesting things about his family, his coaching career, some of his philosophy of life and coaching, etc. I am not too far into the book and I have, in fact, already learned some of that.

One of the things I learned was that, as a youth, Vince Lombardi had a desire to become a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, he even began some training with that goal in mind.

It was in that context and about that period in Lombardi’s life that Mr. Maraniss wrote these words:

Daily mass became a lifelong practice, often cited as evidence of his extraordinary faith.   True enough, but as Lombardi himself explained in later years, he was expected to worship every day when he was growing up, so it had become a habit; his religion was as much a matter of discipline and routine as devotion (p. 25).

I don’t know about you, but, to me, those words are striking and challenging. In these few words, there is a contrast between a concept of Christianity that is characterized by practice, habit, discipline and routine on the one hand and faith and devotion on the other.

It seems to me that this contrast is seen in the New Testament. The Jewish religious leaders who were so opposed to Jesus could be said to have habitual, disciplined, and routine practices. For them, this could have been the “sum total” of their commitment to God.

Jesus would challenge them and us with statements such as:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 22:37-39, NKJV).

When the “record book” of my life is opened (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10, Rev. 20:121-13), what will be revealed? Will my life be seen as one based only on obligation and duty or will I be seen as one who lived his life based on faith and devotion.

The “Lombardi Trophy” will not be handed out on that day. That temporal trophy is now given each year to the winner of the Super Bowl.

What will be given on that day will be “the crown of life.” The recipients of that high and eternal honor will be those whose lives are characterized by love for Jesus (cf. James 1:12) and faithfulness to Him (Rev. 2:10).

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {October 17, 2014 edition}

The signs of Autumn continue to grow all around us. From the beautiful changing leaves to the vitriol on Facebook over college football, it is obvious that the seasons are changing. The longer I live, the more I believe that time just seems to speed up and seasons slip quickly by. I hope we will all take the time to notice the beauty of the changing seasons.

With that said, we move on to this week’s family links.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

A Love Story: 3 Things Every Father Needs to Tell His Daughter {We are THAT Family}

10 Things I Want My Sons to Have When They Leave Home {Life and Favor}

Making Time for Your Spouse When Life is Busy {for the family}

Buy Your Kids an Alarm, and Take Away the Cell! {Life in the Kingdom}

For Sale {The Morning Drive}

The Ultimate List of 100 Non-Toy Gift Ideas {Raising Memories}

Our Week in Review

The following were our five most-viewed posts over the past week. These were not necessarily published in the last 7 days; they just drew the most views. (Original publication date in parentheses.)

#5: Is This Progress? (October 13, 2014)

#4: The Purpose of God’s Mercy (October 14, 2014)

#3: Why the “Right Side of History” Argument Works, but Shouldn’t (October 15, 2014)

#2: Can We Choose When to Die? (October 10, 2014)

#1: What if Satan Subpoenaed Your Sermons? (October 16, 2014)

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What If Satan Subpoenaed Your Sermons?

The backlash over a recent subpoena of sermons in Houston, Texas has been loud and it has been clear. When the mayor’s office asked for all records pertaining to a particular order, including sermons preached by several local church leaders, even some who are very liberal stated that she had overstepped her bounds. While Mayor Annise Parker has since backed down (a bit), many were very concerned about how “Big Brother” this all sounds.

But I have a bigger question for those of us who preach: What if Satan was to subpoena your sermons?

Far too much of what passes as Christian preaching is nothing more than self-help talk or glorified after-dinner material. Tell a few jokes. Give everyone a pep talk. Throw in some Song of Solomon for spice, and viola! you’ve got 15 minutes or so that will fill some time on Sunday and make people feel better.

I wonder how that preaching compares with that of Jesus Christ? How does it match up with what we see in the life of men like Paul?

When Paul met with the Ephesian elders, knowing it would likely be the last time he would see them face-to-face, he gave a powerful and heartfelt speech. Included in those words, he said, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Instead of preaching feel good sermons each time he stood before people, Paul was able–by inspiration–to state that he had declared all that God wanted said.

Preaching does not just involve exhortation, though that is certainly included. Yes, we who preach need to fill people with hope, because that is the “product” of walking with Jesus.

But Paul, writing to a younger preacher, shared that preaching the Word includes exhortation, but also reproving and rebuking (2 Timothy 4:2). No preacher should enjoy times when he must speak a word that is hard to hear–one that rebukes–but no Gospel preacher should ever shy away from it, either.

You see, Satan does not mind in the least if people come to a church building, so long as they are not being fed the full counsel of God. When people are told that “they” have all the answers and that God will just give them whatever they want, Satan is fine with that. After all, it’s not Biblical.

But preachers, I challenge us all to look back over what we have preached lately. In the last 1-2 years, have you been bold enough to preach…

…that the one who aborts a baby is shedding innocent blood, and the Lord hates such (Proverbs 6:16-17)?

…that one who practices homosexuality cannot enter heaven, but must be washed clean of that sin by the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)?

…that worshiping only as we prefer, and not as God commands, is idolatrous and selfish (John 4:24)?

…that immodesty, though culturally acceptable, is sinful and shameful (1 Timothy 2:9-10)?

…that we are responsible for our entertainment choices, and will be judged if we choose to entertain ourselves with sinful actions like blasphemy and adultery (Romans 1:32)?

…that there is just one Church and not many ways to God (John 14:6; Matthew 16:16; Ephesians 4:4)?

If Satan were to get into your files, or seek them by subpoena, would he have enough evidence to put you on the witness stand?

And would it be for his side, or for the Lord’s?

“Preach the Word!”

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Episode 7 : Training Your Children for Worship {Podcast}

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LOFpodcast (1)

Welcome to “A Legacy of Faith,” the podcast. In this episode, Leah and Adam try to encourage parents in ways they can help not just teach their children about worship, but train them to be active and joy-filled participants in worshiping God. They also introduce an exciting set of resources that will be released for free on the blog, starting next Wednesday.

training children for worship

Suggestions

1. Discuss worship often (and not just in the building)

2. Design ways to engage the minds of children. (To get all blog posts, including the Wednesday posts that will include free printables to help you, go here.)

3. Expect participation (which must start with the parents!)

4. “Review” after services

Resources

What is Holy” (audio sermon from Dan Jenkins)

More from A Legacy of Faith

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——————

Music Credit

Opening theme: “Josie Has the Upper Hand” by Josh Woodward

Closing theme: “Afterglow” by Josh Woodward

Why the “Right Side of History” Argument Works, but Shouldn’t

why the right side of history argument is working

I have seen it and heard it more times than I care to consider. With the continuing push for homosexual rights, and now the growth of the movement for transgender rights, it is a phrase that has been uttered so much that it has become commonplace.

Especially in the movement for the legalization of homosexual “marriage” (here is why I put that in quotes), this phrase is trumpeted in media, both traditional and social. It is used in court orders and common conversation. It has, in many ways, become the calling card of the movement.

It is that gay marriage (and related issues) are for those on the “right side of history.”

Of course, sometimes you will hear the other side, that those who stand opposed are on the “wrong side of history.”

Some examples:

Former Vice-President Dick Cheyne’s daughter Mary said in late 2013 that her own sister, Liz, who opposes gay “marriage,” was on “the wrong side of history.”

Shepherd Smith of Fox News has said that the Republican Party, in standing against this issue, is on “the wrong side of history.”

Just last week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said that the fight against gay “marriage” was over, due to the Supreme Court of the United States not hearing cases on the issue. Still, he spoke for a ban, and his opponent, Mary Burke, said that he was on “the wrong side of history.”

To say I am tired of this argument would be a grand understatement. Now, to be clear, it has worked. Whether you are for, against, or don’t care about this issue, the “right side of history” argument has, without question, been effective.

Why? In a word, Fear.

If we can tell them that a person is born gay, despite scientific evidence that such is not true (does anyone in the media actually remember the Human Genome Project?), then the comparisons to the civil rights movement become easy. If you are born this way, then who are we to deny you basic rights? History moves toward freedom, so we certainly don’t want to be on the “wrong side” of that, do we?

If we show growing support for an issue, and that support crosses political party lines, then it is just obvious that it is inevitable. Do you want to be the “only one” who doesn’t see this movement in history and end up on the “wrong side?”

Ultimately, if we can get enough people to believe that tolerance means I cannot disagree with anyone about anything (except when they actually stand for something), then we raise a generation–and a society–of wimps. We don’t want to be wrong, and we are too weak to speak out, so we just go along for the tidal-wave-like change, even if we don’t really agree with it. After all, our little psyches might be hurt if we were on “the wrong side.”

Here is what is truly sad, though. It is that this “argument” for gay “marriage” (and related issues) is not really an argument at all. At least, it shouldn’t be.

The same people who are telling us that we are on the “wrong” side of history if we stand opposed to gay “marriage” and they are on the “right” side…

…are the same people who go to our high schools, colleges, universities, and other places touting relative, postmodern truth. In other words, the belief that there is no such thing as “right” and “wrong,” objectively speaking.

So, here you have “experts” (and Twitter trolls) coming out of the woodwork to tell us that we are on the “wrong side of history.” Yet, if you ask them if something is objectively “right” or “wrong,” they would have to answer “no one can know” to stay true to their worldview.

And these are the ones we are listening to?

Now, is it inevitable that gay “marriage” will be legal across our nation, and that in fairly short order? While I cannot know for certain, last week’s cowardly “pass” by the US Supreme Court certainly made it seem that way. Do opinion polls show that I’m probably going to be hated more for writing this post and continually putting “marriage” in quotation marks in reference to those who would want homosexual unions? No doubt that is true.

In other words, is the pro-gay “marriage” agenda winning the day in our culture? There is no way to miss that they are.

But all Christians need to remember: it is not about winning the day. It is not about winning an argument on one issue (though issues are important). The Christian religion has, certainly, never been about being on top of the polls or making sure the celebrity or political culture is at our beck and call.

It also is not about being on the “right side of history.”

Instead, it has always been about being in the right hand of Jesus in judgment.

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The Purpose of God’s Mercy

the purpose of gods mercy

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh because the Assyrians were wicked. They persecuted the Israelites on a regular basis. They had a godless mindset that included a reputation for torturing the innocent, including children. Jonah was tired of seeing his people suffer. Even after being swallowed by the big fish and having a change of heart about obeying God’s command to preach, he was hoping Nineveh would be destroyed. When God responded mercifully to their repentance, Jonah was upset and said, “…Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm” (Jonah 4:2).

Jonah knew something that every person who learns about God eventually understands. It is in God’s loving nature to be merciful. And aren’t we thankful? When we stand before our Creator in judgment we will desire mercy and grace and not what we deserve. The thoughts of Lamentations 3:22-24 are so beautiful and encouraging to our sinful souls, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’” Each day we live is another example of the patience and mercy of God. We account that His longsuffering is our salvation (2 Pet. 3:15).

But while we are in appreciation of the grace of God, let us not forget that mercy has been extended for a reason. It has been given to us because God loves us too much to leave us in a state of sin. He desires our holiness (1 Pet. 1:15-16). God’s Son visited earth to create abundant life (John 10:10). He commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). He wants us not to be conformed to the world but rather transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). Jesus, “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

God attached a purpose to His abundant mercy. Mercy was meant for more than just dealing with our sin problem. It has been given so we can have an opportunity, motivated by the power of perfect love, to be like Jesus. Saul of Tarsus remains the perfect example of the purpose of God’s mercy. He said so himself: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy…And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus…However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:12-13a, 14, 16).

Paul realized that God had chosen to bless his life with grace in order to shape him into a vessel of honor and service to the church. He knew that if he, in spite of his terrible past, was chosen by God as qualified to save the lost, then any person could become a fruitful worker for Christ. How sad that Christians leave mercy and grace hanging with their dripping baptismal garments! How tragic that so many view mercy and grace as completely disassociated with the resulting works of faith! Grace came that we should no longer be enslaved by sin (Romans 6). Mercy came that we might be motivated to be merciful to others and choose a life a sacrifice for our Savior who sacrificed for us!

If you are a Christian, you ought to know better than anyone about the internal impacts of mercy and grace, “If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:3). The results should be love for God and men, and forgiveness, and dedication, and joyful labor in the kingdom of God.

It will be sad indeed in judgment for the one who never chooses to respond to the grace of God in obedience to the gospel. But just as sad on that day will be the state of the Christian who was never so changed by God’s mercy so as to allow that same mercy through the power of a changed life to change the lives of others.

“…and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share in God’s mercy.” – Romans 11:31

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Is This Progress?

is this progress

The New York Gazette of June 3, 1752 contained the following information in an advertisement. The ad was for an educational institution. Here is the wording of that advertisement:

The chief thing aimed at in this college is to know God in Jesus Christ, and to love and serve Him in all sobriety, godliness and righteousness of life, with a perfect heart and a willing mind.

The institution placing that ad was then known as King’s College. We now know it as Columbia University.

When people of my generation (and generations younger than mine) think of Columbia University, one of the last things thought of is religion. Riots and protests of years ago come to mind. Things such as experimentation with drugs and “sexual freedom” also would join that list. Does it seem strange somehow that our institutions of higher learning used to uphold and defend the Bible?  Does that now seem “quaint” to you as most of these same institutions lead the fight against God and His Word?

Twenty-four years before we declared our freedom from England, educators were using whatever freedom they had to promote a belief in the Bible and the God of the Bible. Now, over two centuries later, educators (and others) are telling us that we should have freedom from religion, not freedom of religion.

Is this progress?

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