spot the difference

2014-03-17 12.41.15I recently needed to change the grille on the front of my car because of some damage to the badge. Actually the badge conceals the access to the mechanism to open the bonnet (hood if you are from across the Atlantic) using the key.

20140327_121204The one at the top of the page is ‘before’ and the one below is ‘after’. Is it just my imagination or does the car look a bit meaner with the black surround to the grille? Is it my imagination or did it take longer for a kind person to let me out when turning onto the main road this morning and is that linked to the meaner look of the car?

We have mixed messages about how something looks: we say that ‘looks can be deceiving’ and ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ yet we also say that ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’ and ‘beauty is only skin deep’ (although it is also in the eye of the beholder!).

I was watching a TV show recently where someone was commended for how good he looked while in his late 50s. He commented that one reason was that he had a full head of hair. “Hmmm,” thought I, “God gave some people beautiful heads, the rest he had to give hair.” Yet not long afterwards some young people at our church youth club were adding 10 years to my age because I am bald (and understandably taking 10 years off my wife’s age – she loved it!)

If we are honest we often do judge books by their covers. We may choose not to explore a website because it looks rather lame, or prefer one program over another one because it has a cool interface. We may judge someone by the way that they look – I was often told as a child not to worry but I wasn’t worried, it was just the way I looked. We may think that someone is aloof or disinterested because they don’t look at us and smile, not aware of the 101 things on their mind that distracted them. We may think someone is laughing at us when they are actually laughing at a joke someone told them before they saw us.

Thankfully God is not superficial. He knows what we are really like. And he loves us anyway! He knows what we are really like and he wants to enhance the good and diminish the bad.

So, next time you see a car that looks mean, don’t assume that the driver is mean and let them out. And next time you are tempted to judge by appearances, remember that God’s looking way beneath the surface!

Be blessed, be a blessing

look both ways…

glassesThis morning I gave in.

It was inevitable.

I am definitely getting older.

There is proof.

I bought myself some reading glasses!

They are ‘off the peg’ glasses at the lowest possible strength, which I will use when I am wearing my contact lenses. I don’t need them when I am not using my contact lenses or ‘normal’ glasses. I only realised I needed them when I bought a new Bible recently and found that the print was too small. So now I am in the curious position of correcting my eyes with contact lenses to correct my distance vision and then having to overcorrect my eyes with glasses to correct my close up vision. 

So now I am ‘double-looking’. Hmmm. Something seems a bit daft about that. But daft is normal for me! It reminds me of an analogy created by John Stott, one of the most prolific and inspiring writers of our time about the Bible and the Christian Faith writes about ‘double listening’:

“The phrase “double listening” has always been significant for me. And it means that we’re called to listen both to the Word of God, and to today’s world, in order to relate the one to the other.”

My double-looking reminds me that as well as double-listening to the Word and today’s culture I also need to pay attention to what is close to me and what is further away, looking through the lenses of the Bible. How does it relate to my own life and circumstances? How does it relate to those who are trying to follow Jesus; exploring following Jesus; interested in Jesus; dis-interested in Jesus? That is not just the task of preachers on Sundays, we all need to seek to do it all day, every day.
There’s a guy with a Doberman Pincer and a guy with a Chihuahua. The guy with the Doberman Pincer says to the guy with a Chihuahua, “Let’s go over to that restaurant and get something to eat.”

The guy with the Chihuahua says, “We can’t go in there. We’ve got dogs with us.”

The guy with the Doberman Pincer says, “Just follow my lead.”

They walk over to the restaurant, the guy with the Doberman Pincer puts on a pair of dark glasses, and he starts to walk in.

A guy at the door says, “Sorry, no pets allowed.”

The guy with the Doberman Pincer says, “You don’t understand. This is my seeing-eye dog.”

The guy at the door says, “A Doberman Pincer?” 

He says, “Yes, they’re using them now, they’re very good.”

The guy at the door says, “Come on in.”

The guy with the Chihuahua figures, “hey why not?,” so he puts on a pair of dark glasses and starts to walk in.

The guy at the door says, “Sorry, pal, no pets allowed.”

The guy with the Chihuahua says, “You don’t understand. This is my seeing-eye dog.”

The guy at the door says, “A Chihuahua?”

The guy with the Chihuahua says, “You mean they gave me a Chihuahua!?”

DISCLAIMER: This Blog does not endorse the impersonation of disabled people for the purposes of ‘getting away with it’, save in the telling of jokes. Don’t park in a disabled space and fake a limp. It’s not big and it’s not clever!

Face furniture

I normally wear contact lenses. I find them far more convenient and less intrusive than wearing glasses. Indeed I find wearing glasses to be uncomfortable after a while. Today, however, I wore my glasses at church because one of my eyes has become a little irritable (I don’t know what I did to make it so fussy) and wearing contact lenses is uncomfortable.
Today was the first Sunday I have worn them and I think that people spent more time focusing on the glasses (pun intended) than anything I said or did. You would not believe how many people commented on me wearing the glasses.

I had people telling me that the glasses suited me and my bald head; that they made me look more intellectual / intelligent / studious / distinguished; that they made me look more like a doctor (?); that they made me look more handsome; even that they went well with my suit! I think people were being complimentary. But why is it that when I don’t wear them nobody comments on how I look? 

Nobody normally tells me that I look intelligent or like a professional person. It may well be that I look daft, unprofessional, plain, that my face does not go well with my suit and people are keeping quiet to avoid insulting me. In which case, ‘Thank you for your consideration’. On the other hand I suspect that it is the unexpected appearance of a pair of glasses on my face that made them think about the way I look.

I’m relieved that God is not as worried about what’s on the outside. A pair of glasses don’t make him think any differently about me. He already knows me completely (although the Bible verse about him knowing how many hairs are on my head is becoming less impressive by the week as the hairs continue to evacuate my scalp). He’s not affected by how I look. He simply takes me as I am (the real me, not the superficial one I project) and says, ‘Let’s start from here’ as I seek to follow Jesus with his help.

However, I am tempted to wear a wig to church next week and see who is brave enough to comment then!!