LIVE Worship Video from The Prayer Room – “Beautiful”

The past few months, there’s been a trend of worship leaders at The Prayer Room making a Facebook Live video as they play. I was super nervous at first, but I finally did a few myself. (If you’re my Facebook friend, feel free to look them up!) One day we hope to be able to stream all our prayer room hours on our website, but in the meantime, Facebook Live is a really fun way to share a glimpse into the atmosphere of prayer and worship we’re cultivating.

I’d like to share a video with you, but I need to tell you a little bit about it first.

This video has a special place in my heart because the song I’m playing, “Beautiful” by Sam Lane, was introduced to me by Ted Dekker. He used the chorus of it in his book Green, the fourth book released in the Circle Series. In this scene, the spiritual community called The Circle is ceremonially reenacting our “Great Wedding” with Elyon — God.

Six maidens in white faced Thomas and Chelise on their knees and sang the Great Wedding’s song. Their sweet, yearning voices filled the valley as they cried the refrain in melodic unison, faces bright with an eager desperation.

You are beautiful… so Beautiful… Beautiful… Beautiful…

…And in many ways they were all perfectly beautiful as Elyon was beautiful. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful.

-Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson 2009

Shortly before Green was released in 2009, I attended a Ted Dekker fan event near Nashville at which Ted went all out to bring us into the world of his stories. He gave us an exclusive cd which included the original recording of the song (you can find it on youtube) as well as a message from himself describing his heart for Green and this song. In Ted’s own words:

“I have to say that this song has always exemplified the heart of the Circle Series, of God’s creation calling out to Him, ‘You are beautiful,’ but also God, Elyon, saying to his creation ‘You are beautiful’–the Lover and the Beloved crying to each other, singing to each other, ‘You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.’ When I first heard this song many years ago, you know, it brought me to tears. It was an incredible touching experience, where I thought, ‘This is what it’s really all about.’ In the end, everything distills down to this moment, this song, a song like this. And I knew I had to write about it…

“Really, at the heart of this whole series is this song, ‘You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.’… think of the people on the edge of the lake singing this song to Elyon over and over and over again… It’s all about this yearning that we have to be reunited once again–on the lake, on the shores of the lake, in the bowels of the lake, deep in the lake–to go back and be with God, with Elyon (in this story), in the same way we once were. It’s an irresistible calling to us. My hope and prayer is that this song would work its way into your spirit.”

-Ted Dekker, The Gathering 2009 cd

This is what it’s all about. This is actually my third time this week blogging about the beauty of Jesus, and I didn’t even plan it that way. The purpose of all existence is anchored in the beauty of Jesus. He is so deserving of all of our obsession and adoration, and this is our truest and deepest life’s calling–to sing this song to Him and to hear Him singing back to us. To love and to be loved.

In this recording, in between choruses of the song, I also started singing spontaneously some scriptural phrases from Song of Solomon and other passages about His beauty to us and our beauty to Him. Below you can listen to the song on Youtube (it’s unlisted, so you won’t find it if you try searching Youtube itself), and below that you can read the verses that I was singing from. (The song “Beautiful” in the video is only about the first 11 minutes, and the rest of the video segues into “Jesus, You’re Beautiful” by Jon Thurlow.)

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

 

“Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”
Song of Solomon 2:14

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.”
Song of Solomon 1:15, also 4:1

“Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me.”
Song of Solomon 6:5

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you… You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”
Song of Solomon 4:7, 9

 

You are fairer than the sons of men”
Psalm 45:2 NKJV

My beloved is white and ruddy, chief among ten thousand.”
Song of Solomon 5:10 NKJV

“In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious,”
Isaiah 4:2

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Psalm 29:2, also 69:9 NKJV

“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you;”
1 Samuel 2:2

“…so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.”
Exodus 8:10

“The LORD is my light and my salvation;”
Psalm 27:1

“even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
Psalm 39:12

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Why the Beauty of Jesus is My Life Message

A few years ago, someone asked me what my “life message” is. I don’t remember what my answer was at the time, but having taken some time to think about it, I think I know. My life message is the beauty of Jesus.

As I put it on my teaching resources page:

I want people to see the supremacy of the beauty of Jesus in a way that makes their hearts come alive with love for Him and catches them up into the Story of what He’s doing in our generation.

First, here’s what I mean by the beauty of Jesus. The Bible repeatedly refers to this idea, and here are a taste of my favourite references:

“One thing I have desired of the LORD…to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD…” (Psalm 27:4)

“You are fairer than the sons of men…” (Psalm 45:2)

“My beloved is white [radiant, ESV] and ruddy, chief among ten thousand…” (Song of Songs 5:10)

“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty…” (Isaiah 33:17)

The beauty of Jesus is mostly the beauty–the excellence–of His personality. I used to think of Jesus’ beauty as only the visual aspects of light and glory described in passages such as Revelation 4 and 5. While those are certainly a part of Jesus’ beauty, the full truth is so much deeper than that. Jesus is beautiful because of who He is. Every single facet of His character is gloriously beautiful. His love, joy, playfulness, fierceness, humility, honesty, cleverness, justice, dedication, wisdom, faithfulness, and a thousand other traits are what make Him stunning. As mere humans, we can never be all of these things as fully as we wish we could be, and no person in our lives could fulfill all of these needs for us, but Jesus possesses all of these characteristics to their fullest possible extreme, all at once!

I’m going to say that the beauty of Jesus draws us into four things: 1) Worship, 2) Relationship, 3) Discipleship, and 4) Partnership.

1. Worship

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

Jesus’ beauty is directly tied to His holiness, which is His complete OTHERness. Part of what this means is that His every characteristic is higher and more pure and perfect than its earthly equivalent.

Jesus is beautiful in every single facet of his character, in His love and mercy as well as His wrath and justice. Think about that. Every justice system on earth is guaranteed to screw up. Human justice will always be imperfect, no matter how hard we try to refine the system, because no man can really see into the heart of another. But Jesus’ justice is completely perfect. Every single time.

That moves me to awe. Everything He is and does is absolute perfection, and not just harsh, to-the-standard perfection, like a starched white cleanroom. No, this is vibrant, colourful perfection, like an overwhelming symphony of music and movement and colour in wild extravagance and perfect harmony. There is a fullness and a richness to His personality that is completely unique and stunning.

How can I not give myself over in awe and worship before such a God?

2. Relationship

My favourite quote about the beauty of Jesus is from the book Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge:

We all know brilliant minds who could do with a touch of humility, humble folk who ought to stand up for themselves, driven types who need to lighten up, jokesters who should grow up, and gracious souls who really ought to get good and mad once in a while…

But imagine if you found it all in on person—superb before a jury, terrific taste in movies, ready at the drop of a hat for a riot of a vacation, and also able to handle your deepest, darkest secrets. Wouldn’t you want that person to be your friend?!…

He is not glistening white marble. He is the playfulness of creation, scandal and utter goodness, the generosity of the ocean and the ferocity of a thunderstorm; he is cunning as a snake and gentle as a whisper; the gladness of sunshine and the humility of a thirty-mile walk by foot on a dirt road. Reclining at a meal, laughing with friends, and then going to the cross.

This is what we mean when we say Jesus is beautiful. (Beautiful Outlaw, page 136-137)

Isn’t that a Person you want to know?

This is someone I would never get tired of spending time with. This is someone I would never get bored of discovering more about. He is fun, and fascinating, and brilliant. He’s infinitely gentle and wise and also knows how to kick my butt when I need it.

And He wants to know me. He deeply, achingly desires relationship with me. Knowing who He is, knowing how perfect and amazing His love is, how could I not fall in love in return?

3. Discipleship

“What a beautiful example You are to me, Jesus”
Caleb Andrews, “Beautiful Example” [click for youtube]

The more I see of the beauty of Jesus’ character, the more I want to be like Him. Just being told to do things doesn’t change my heart. Moralism isn’t enough. My heart changes when I become captivated by the beauty of those charactersistics in Him.

Growing up, I always knew that being humble was a good thing, but my attempts to “be more humble” were almost completely without vision until I caught sight of the remarkable humility of Jesus… how He came so low to take the form of a servant and become obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:6-11), and even when He comes back as a warrior He’s coming to fight for truth, meekness, and righteousness (Psalm 45:4).

There’s a principle in Scripture often stated as “what we behold is what we become,” taken from 1 John 3:2, which says “when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see him as He is.” That’s true of our physical bodies on the day of His return, and it’s also true to a lesser degree of our hearts now. The more clearly we see Jesus, the more we are empowered to become like Him–and in fact, the more we want to become like Him.

4. Partnership

Part of being friends with Jesus is caring about what He cares about and doing what we see Him doing. We want Him to have the dreams of His heart come to pass, and we want to be part of making those things happen, because of love. Falling in love with Jesus drives everything else I do in my life. Intercession, discipleship, evangelism, social justice–they’re all about Him. I want Him to have what He so deeply desires, because I know that He is beautiful and worthy, and because I know the things He wants are beautiful and worthy. His desires are perfectly pure and holy. The more clearly I see His sense of justice and fall in love with that quality in Him, the more I want to see justice done in the earth–because I have connected with the beauty of true justice in the heart of Jesus.

 

There is truly no one like Jesus. He really is “fairer than the sons of men” and “chief among ten thousand.” He is worthy of all of our worship and all of our trust and all of our lives lived completely for His glory– because the extravagant beauty of His character actually deserves such an extravagant response.

What Is the Beauty of God?

(One of my IHOPU classes, Basic Christian Beliefs, is giving the assignment of blogging on certain questions from the lessons every week. This week, I’m choosing the question “What is the beauty of God? Is it a communicable attribute? How?”)

The beauty of God is such a fascinating subject to me because the more God reveals to me, the less I realise I know.

Revelation 4 is often described as a doorway into the “beauty realm of God.” Certainly it is that. Just last night in the prayer room we were singing a chorus based on these verses:

And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald… From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God.
~Revelation 4:3, 5 ESV

What must that have been like for John to behold? God’s beauty in that scene is truly overwhelming. But more than that, God’s beauty is directly tied to His holiness. God’s holiness is His complete OTHERness. Part of what this means is that His every characteristic is higher and more pure and perfect than its earthly equivalent.

God is beautiful in every single facet of his character, in His love and mercy as well as His wrath and justice. Think about that. Every justice system on earth is guaranteed to screw up. Human justice will always be imperfect, no matter how hard we try to refine the system, because no man can really see into the heart of another. But God’s justice is completely perfect. Every single time. No one will be under judgment who doesn’t completely deserve it, and they won’t experience a single drop more or less than exactly what they deserve. That is perfect justice. And even in judgement there is grace and mercy. Every single time.

That moves me to awe. Everything he does and is absolute perfection, and not just harsh, to-the-standard perfection, like a starched white cleanroom. No, this is vibrant, colourful perfection, like an overwhelming symphony of music and movement and colour that can break your heart with a single note.

And I do believe we can take on some of the beauty of God. It happens when His Spirit begins to transform us from the inside out. The more we become like Him, the more we shine with His beauty. As we are sanctified, our actions and motivations become more and more refined into the beauty of holiness.

I know that someday, when I see Jesus, I’ll be transformed into His likeness and take on more of His beauty than is now possible. (Colossians 3:4, 1 John 3:2) But in the meantime, I want to be set ablaze with His beauty in my spirit. I want every thought and every action to radiate His nature. I’m after holiness that hurts the eyes, and a light that flickers from every secret motive.

“Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Psalm 29:2 NKJV