Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beautiful or Beastly?

This is a theme for yesterday and today, from TV and Internet browsing and thoughts running around in the fields of my mind.

First, I took a look at after a redirect from some comedy site (BTW- IT’S NOT PORN or anything dangerous or such.  Just sad.  Might be bad language)  It reminded me a lot of the horrors of (IT’S JUST LIKE ABOVE, but definitely bad language.)  Sad words, sad thoughts.

Next, I have been watching the Glee marathon on Oxygen.  Yeah, I know.  But the episode I just watched was partly about the character of Beist and her challenge to see herself as beautiful.  And Kurt trying to find his voice and identity.

Finally, the ad for a new movie showed during the commercial break: Beastly.  Either it’s good planning by the people over at Oxygen to run the commercial during the “Beist” episode, or a God thing.  Or both.

The other day, we were sharing our pet peeves, and I thought about what I wanted to say.  People who clap out of time.  That used to be my old standby, but I actually like it now.  Eggs?  No.  Two and a Half Men?  That’s just obvious.  People who like Two and a Half Men?  That’s just cruel.

So I said something along these lines: “I can’t stand people who refuse to open their minds and look beyond their area of understanding.”  That is awkwardly phrased, and it was probably more awkward than that.  But it was such.

It is a pet peeve of mine.  Learned in elementary school where I got to know people of different cultures, relearned when I saw myself being a cruel little kid to the “less cool” kids in school, empathized when I became one of the “less cool” kids from middle school to high school and generally understood over my life as an outsider, an oddball.  Not just that I can’t stand it when people look at me and don’t understand who I really am, but even more when people see my friends or others and can’t look beyond simple appearances.

We are a culture of image.  We try to imitate the beautiful, successful ones, whether we realize it or not.  Even our idea of “perfected bodies” or “angels”- we typically think of bright glowing skin (usually white) and youthful, thin, unblemished appearance.  What if we spent forever in eternity as chubby individuals with potmarked faces for every sin we committed on earth?  Now, I’m not putting out a theological view—simply dreaming a “What If?” 

People are beautiful.  All people.  And not just some on the outside, some on the inside.  It’s both.  Because as they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  But you’ll argue, “Does that mean beauty is subjective?  Are there any standards of truth, goodness, beauty?  Yes.  External.  Because the beholder is God.  And we are his art.  Yes, we are sinful and fallen, much like a painting that has been destroyed over the ages.  But God is the painter.  He sees the original as well as the present condition as well as the redeemed possibility.  And when He looks at us, He sees “the image of God” within us all. 

The difference is the person who refuses to see the beauty in others.  Like a wire coiling around itself, all they can see is things from their perspective, their eyes, their standards.  And so they look at others and see them as nothing but animals and creatures.  Such is the case with the websites above.  They throw around insults and tear down other people that they forget it’s supposed to be humor.  Sure, maybe you can laugh at someone’s awkward clothing or bad hair day.  But it just gets twisted and perverted and turns wrong—such as seen before.  If you say, “But it’s just a joke.”  I say “Fine.”  But the words we say and the words we read are like air we breathe.  If we breathe out foul air, there’s probably something foul underneath.  If we breathe in foul air, it’s gonna get at us eventually.  Now, yes, those people are loved by God and beautiful as well.  Heck, I’m sure their wit is God given. And I’m not better than them.  This is just a personal thought of what is going on over there.

In Glee, we see people trying to find their identity, find their own meaning in life.  I’ve posted about it before.  Probably a lot of the same thoughts are coming up again.  But with Beist, we see a person who is so unlike others, so foreign to the norm.  It’s almost impossible to find a person that can say she is lovable.  But Will steps up and does that.  And he seems honest.  Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but can we do the same?  Speak love and beauty into the lives of others? 

In this movie, we see a guy who is all wrapped up in himself and he looks down on others, so he is changed to be ugly in the eyes of the people who once loved him, and he has to find someone to love him as he is.  Okay, yes, I just told you the plot of Beauty and the Beast.  It’s a take off of that story.  But relevant all the same.  When we turn to the point of seeing all others as beasts compared to our own beauty, we turn into beasts ourselves. 

So who do you look down on?  Who do you “feel sorry for”?  Who do you pity?  Who do you ignore?  Who do you hate?  Who are you disgusted by?  Who can you not stand?  Who irritates you?  Who is awkward beyond all belief?  Who is ugly and gross and weird and just wrong?


They are the beautiful artwork of Creator God, Incarnate One, Redeemer and Lover of the soul.

So love them.  Love him. Love her.  Love them like you love yourself and maybe you will see the beauty of the “beast”.


I will try to do the same.  I have no handle on this.  I fail as well.  But now that I am aware of it, I can try.  Try.  Yoda was wrong.  There is try.  But you try by doing.  So do.  Try.  Love.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


So, I have a confession.  Embarrassing as it is, I must speak.

I actually really like “Firework” by Katy Perry.

Despite the fact that I don’t really think too highly of some of her decisions or most of her music or the fact that she shoots fireworks from her.. chest… I have to say, the song hits me right where it’s supposed to hit.


A lot of people got up in arms a few years ago because a professor decided that the reason that his students were acting selfish or self-entitled was because, back in the day when they were in diapers or kindergarten, a certain someone told them they were special: Mister Rogers.  It got to the point that one news channel were questioning if we could even describe him as evil. 

Now, while I don’t like people who are proud, self-centered, or think they deserve anything and everything, often I would prefer that to the opposite possibility: people living lives without a sense of meaning, uniqueness, and identity.

Maybe it’s because it’s because of my past.  I felt very alone and lost my identity after a tough move in middle school.  But after a life-changing experience at camp, I found my life in the life of Jesus.

Maybe it’s because of my present.  For the past few months I’ve been dealing with some depression, anxiety, and other stuff that clouds up the mind.  There are days when I need a reminder that my life has meaning.

Maybe it’s because of my past, present, and future.  I have been, am, and will be involved in ministry, probably for the rest of my life.  Specifically younger people, children and youth.  I have a calling to them because, I believe, they are ones at the crossroads of life, vulnerable and hurting.  Of course, all people are hurting, but children and youth are still forming their identity and I would love to help them. 

But we are all searching for some meaning, whether it’s in religion or philosophy, literature or science, family or friends or love or war or nation or nature, we all want life to mean more than the day to day.  We want to believe that we matter more than just a handful of dust.  And while we are just that, we are so much more.

I believe that God sees each person as a unique creation, an individual work of art.  He loves and cares about each person he has made and wants them to know how special they are to Him.  Now, we are not God’s gods.  He does not worship us- we are still to be reflections of his glory.  But just as a painter loves a picture of a flower for the glory of the real existing flower found on a canvas, God loves us and loves the image that He has placed within us: the image of God.

When I speak to kids or youth or, well, anyone, I hope (and it is hope, because I fail every time I know) to tell them they are unique and special and loved.  Specifically in the eyes of God, but honestly sometimes I’d rather a person simply find joy in being unique even out of the context of faith.  I know, I shouldn’t.  I too believe the that life lived outside of serving God is not a full, abundant life.  But all life outside is not feeble and pale.  People can find true joy in being loved by family, true happiness in their ability to play a sport or make art, true identity in the context of community.  Sure, the family or community or sport or art or whatever is giving them joy may not be properly directed towards the Maker of all things, but nevertheless, He is the Maker of all things.  Including joy, meaning, acceptance.  Satan can try to twist and pervert and change those good graces, but that’s all.  He can’t manufacture them himself.  So when a youth is accepted into a clique, is that a good thing?  Maybe acceptance is, but that situation isn’t.  When two people of the same gender enter into a relationship, is that a good thing?  Maybe love is, but that loving relationship isn’t.  When a parent showers down affection upon their child even though the kid is a brat and will grow up with an ego the size of Montana, is that a good thing?  Maybe affection is, but the actions aren’t.  I don’t know.  These are just my thoughts.  They are fueled by the faith in the Maker and Maintainer of Good, but I can’t completely speak for Him.

So, baby, you’re a firework.  Come on let your colors burn.  Make ‘em go “Ah, Ah, Ah!” You’re going to leave them all in awe.

“You don't have to feel like a waste of space”
”You're original, cannot be replaced”
”Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed so you can open one that leads you to the perfect road”

Are these things that we are teaching our kids, telling our friends?  Are we believing it ourselves?  Sometimes this is why I have trouble with the idea of absolute depravity.  I feel that even though we sinned and made a mess of this world, it’s still not our world.  God is still Creator and Redeemer, and while he saved us at the cross, He saved us forever before that and forever after.  Incarnation.  Image of God.  Omnipresence.  “I will be with you, even to the end of the age.” God has come and made his home among us.  And though we perverted ourselves like picklers pervert cucumbers, at the core, we are still creations of God, just like a pickle is still a cucumber in nature.  (Yet I still hate pickles.)

Anyway, to end off this soapbox ramble, let me just say three things.

1. You are so very unique and special and loved.

2. Tell the people around you how much they mean to you

3. Remind yourself of 1 and 2 every day

Oh yeah, and Jesus loves you.

Extra Credit: 

Look at the songs that GLEE has done and see how many of them speak of hope, identity, finding meaning and joy.  It’s such a common issue we all struggle with, especially those in high school.  We all need a reminder here and there.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Home is not where you live, but where they understand you”- Christian Morganstern

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”- Maya Angelou

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”- Charles Dickens

“Home is an invention on which no one has yet improved.”- Ann Douglas

“There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits”- Robert Southey

“Home is the most popular, and will be the most enduring of all earthly establishments”- Channing Pollack

“Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserved; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room, from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind...cast-off and everyday clothing.”- Harriet Beecher Stowe

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.- Maya Angelou

Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.- Billy Graham

Home is where one starts from.- TS Eliot

Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.- Oliver Wendell Holmes

I really don’t have much to say after all these wise words.

But I was in four homes this weekend.

One was a home of living.  A place where I reside and eat my meals and go through daily activities. 

One was a home of friends.  A place where I visit from time to time and interact with a family’s life.

One was a home of family.  An old home that is ever new, that I get to come back to on occasion.

One was a home of faith.  A place where I serve, and participate in ministry and worship.

At one place I was welcomed by perhaps two people, which consisted of asking about Christmas break.  Other than that, I was left alone.

At one place I was welcomed and hugged and inquired about details of my life and things of the future.  I was given a place that was my very own and felt loved.

At another place I was greeted by no one, given a hello or two and thrown the occasional question about life.  This was all very polite and seemed to be going through the motions. 

And at another place I was engaged in conversation, taken out for food and entertainment, loved on with time and attention, words and actions.  It was a brief stay, but it was a true home.

I will not say which is which.  But I will say this: There’s no place like home.

Monday, January 10, 2011


A few months ago, I spoke at Elementary Chapel at Cypress Christian School, as I do occasionally.  I spoke about Names.


What does your name mean?

My name is Evan Christopher Weppler. 

Evan means Young Warrior / God is Gracious (or Young Warrior of God’s Grace, as I like to see it)

Christopher means Christ-Bearer.

Weppler means Weapon/Shield Bearer.

So I am a Young Warrior of God’s Grace, Christ Inside, Shield at my Side. 

Mister Rogers, on the other hand…

Well, Mister Rogers has become a hero of mine lately.  Involved in television and children and fantasy and more, all as his ministry to families everywhere.  I noticed some similarities between our names a while back.

Fred McFeely Rogers.

Fred comes from Frederick or Alfred.  Frederick means Peaceful Ruler.  Alfred means Wise Counsel.  So, Peaceful Ruler of Wise Counsel.

McFeely means Chess Player (or Chess Player’s son, really.)

Rogers means Famous Spear. 

So his name is Peaceful Ruler of Wise Counsel, Chess Player, Famous Spear Bearer.  My name is Young Warrior of God’s Grace, Christ Bearer, Shield Bearer.


Grace/Peace.  Old/Young.  Ruler/Warrior.  Spear/Shield. 

Anyway, all of this doesn’t really have anything to do with my point.

But Names are amazing, aren’t they?  You hear your name in a crowd and jump to attention.  The name of a good friend brings a smile to the face.  Everyone has a different name (Well, yes, there are many many many many John Smiths and more in the world, but still with all the combinations of First, Middle, and Last names, there is a wide variety.)

And so now to the reason I’m blogging about names today.  In both of my classes, we spent a considerate amount of time hearing each other’s names.  And not just their names, but their stories as well.  For the two go hand in hand.  Who can think of the name Barack Obama and not picture the whole drama of his rise to Presidency?  Who can hear Shakespeare and not instantly think of “to be or not to be” and “a rose by any other name” (although that rose quote kind of goes against my thoughts)?  Name and Story, like Chips and Salsa, a dish that must be consumed bit by bit, bite by bite.  That is why we get to know people first by name, then by story, then more and more as we go.

I have been in classes where I just can’t remember people, even if we are close and have had great conversations.  But it gets to the point that you can’t ask for their name.  Seriously, we need a word for those people: people who we know very well but cannot remember their name.  It’s like eating the Salsa without the Chip—it’s just not as good.

But how great it is to know another person’s name.  We connect to each other through knowing each other’s names.  It’s like a doorway into their life.  (Yes, a Name is a Chip and a Doorway.  And a Magnet and a Jewel and… and so on and so forth march the metaphors.

But how amazing it is to know God by name.  He told Moses his name- Yahweh.  Jehovah.  I AM.  And God came in the form of man.  Emmanuel.  And we came to know him—Jesus Christ.  And in the name of Jesus Christ, the mountains rise and demons fall. 

And God knows us by name.  And not only by name, he knows the hairs on our head, the cells in our brain, the veins in our body.  He knows our heart, our soul, our self.  He knows our name.  He knows us.  He knows me.  He knows you.  And he wants you to know him too.

Do you know more than the name?  Of a friend or a God?  Have you stuck to the chips and not tasted the salsa?  It’s spicy, but oh so good. 

Know the name.  Know the story.  Chips and Salsa.  Mmmm.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Person to Person

The holidays are always wonderful, not just because we take a break from school and celebrate traditions and culture, but mainly because we spend time with the people we love. I went to London with my family and had a number of sweet memories. Before that I visited with friends and relaxed at home with my sister. And this past week, I've traveled around, meeting friends, playing games, having conversations, loving people, being loved.
I am a person person.
There are people people, but I'm not a people person. That stresses me out. When I arrived at the retreat for Forest Glen counselors, there were too many people around talking and greeting each other-- I didn't know who to talk to, who to hug, who to greet, so I just went over to the ping pong table and played with one of the kids. The one on one, I'm great at that. Even when it looks like I excel at talking to large groups of people, it's just because I'm making a whole bunch of single connections. I was never good at "popcorn talking" where one person says something and another person says something and the conversations "pops" around to different things. I'm better at thinking about that one person at that one moment in time.
Mister Rogers was the exact same way. When he spoke on his show, speaking to millions of children around the country, he focused on speaking to that ONE child in front of the television screen.
We get that weird feeling, when we look at George Washington on the dollar bill or the Mona Lisa, when the eyes in a picture follow us around. It's a little off putting, a little awkward, just like when a person actually looks at us when we're talking to them. It's right, but also feels wrong.
Now I'm not allowing the over-individualistic tendencies of Americans or modern day Christians to take over. No, speaking to the one is something that has transcended the years. Jesus spoke to Zaccheus in the tree, the woman who stole a healing touch, the children on his knee. He broke the rule of talking to everyone at once and no-one at all, the way we think we're supposed to be when making speeches or sermons.
But when we talk to the one, we are connecting heart to heart, soul to soul. We are recreating the simplicity of two humans interacting, like Adam and Eve at the beginning of it all. There's nothing like it. Nothing like it at all.
Then again, maybe I'm generalizing, and making my personality the norm. Maybe you're a people person and can connect to thousands at once. Cool. I'm glad you can. I'm happy being a person person. We're each just one person anyway. God has made us each different. Thank God.

Special Features

Read either Leo Tolstoy's story, "The Three Questions" (if you need to be validated by reading a story by a famous author, or maybe you just like Tolstoy. No judment.) or the text to a children's version by John Muth (with animals, so its fun.) What do you think? Do you agree?


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


"I never read an autobiography in which the parts devoted
to the earlier years were not far the most interesting."
- CS LEWIS, "Preface" of Surprised By Joy

It took me a few tries to read this sentence. Was he saying that the early years were boring, or that they weren't boring or...? Well, I pulled the ole "pull out the contrasting contractions" trick and it made sense.
Isn't it true, though? Yes, in biographies we like our adventures or romances or humorous anecdotes, but aren't the childhood tales the most "right"? Though another person's childhood might differ from us in many ways, we all experience the same emotions, fears, desires, and hopes. When you read of another person finding friendship, dealing with a parent's death, struggling through school days, etc. the words jump up off the page at you, causing you to call out "Yes! I agree! Of course! I hated that! That happened to me!" Or, as Lewis put it- "What! Have you felt t hat too? I always thought I was the only one."
We all start out as child
ren. There's no skipping over those years. They are our formative years. I spent them in England and Norway. Where were you?
This is why I love to hear about other people's childhoods-- the TV shows they watched, the games they played, the books they read, the friends they had. It's so much easier to find a connection from those days because that was when we were so ready for friendship. We bonded over pudding and kickball and Nickelodeon and colors. It is the smallest things we share in common. When we get older, we pursue the large issues at hand, trying to pledge ourselves to a group or system or company, becoming a majority or minority or somewhere in between. We like swimming in the sea with a million others when its just as fun (if not more) to sit on the shore and find shells. The little things.
It is the little things that affect us and make us who we are. Lewis describes three small moments in his childhood that carried with him for the rest of his life. They come from reading and remembering, simple thoughts and memories. But for Lewis...
"The reader who finds these three episodes of no interest need read this book no further, for in a sense the central story of my life is about nothing else."
In those little moments, he experienced something larger. He calls it Joy. He was surprised by Joy. Hence the title.
He goes from talking about Joy to talking about pain, grief, sadness, mourning. His mother has died and he experiences the loss, though different from his father, in ways that are very real and very heart-wrenching.
In childhood, there are the small things. But we do not escape the monsters. Death is real. Joy is real. Life is real.

Many wish to hide children away from big problems, scary monsters, depressing times. Some think that the happiness a child experiences from hearing his mother tell a story is low and sentimental, not the true happiness which philosophers seek. Yes, children grow. Yes, they are developmentally different from adults. But God does not withhold his hand. He sends rain on the evil and the good, whether child, adult, or elder. Every good and perfect gift is from above, and he gives them to all, not just those who are ready to comprehend them. He spoke to Samuel as a boy and called teenage Mary to be the mother of God. Children experience Joy. Children experience Sorrow. Children meet Evil every day and every night, and when they applaud the fairy tale's happy ending, they are cheering on the Good they know is real.

"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." Lewis, "On Three Ways of Writing For Children"

Childhood. It is short, small, but highly important. It is the stem that forms the apple, the stream that flows into the river, the word that changes lives. We must never forget its value.


Dessert: Mister Rogers spoke a lot about the real-ity of childhood. He comforted kids and helped them know there are no such thing as real monsters, but didn't pretend that those real real monsters didn't exist: Death, Pain, Loneliness, Loss.
"Almost all of us who have been parents have had the feeling of wanting to give our children perfect lives, lives without pain and sorrow, but of course none of can. There are many times in life when we can't solve our children's problems or get rid of their fears. Perhaps all we can do is to provide a safe, loving place and a willingness to listen."
Being there. Love. Doing the little things that matter ever so much.

Monday, July 20, 2009

1 Corinthians 10 and more

Well, last week was great- hanging at the mall, visiting at the Davidhizars, seeing counselors, watching Kung Fu Panda, meeting with Brandon, seeing Jeff and Maggie, speaking in Jr. High and High School, and overall work...

So- what's in the Word today?

1 Corinthians 10
We aren't to fall to grumbling, sexual immorality, testing the Lord, or idolatry.
God gives us a way out each time-- why did Paul list these four? Are they suppposed to be the definitive list, or are they just four of many sins?
Grumbling- God satisfies us. He provides for us. He gives everything- How can we grumble?
Sexual Immorality- God lives in us. Our body is a temple- How can we treat it in sinful ways?
Testing the Lord- God is faithful. He proves that over and over again. How can we lose faith?
Idolatry- God is God alone. He made everything, including our idols. How can we lose focus?

Of course, we can all come up with good enough excuses to stay in each of these sins (what I talked about in Jr High). But in the end, they don't hold up. And why should we rely on them, when God gives us promises that endure much longer than Satan's excuses?

In the end, we have freedom to partake of these things- But why would we want to? It's not good for us, not good for others (and we must think about others first), not good for God's glory.

31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

This has been my life verse (kind of) for a long time- It's so good.
1. Do everything for God
2. Live an authentic life- pointing to God, not causing others to fall
3. Please others- Seek the good of others- Ultimately, that they might come to know Christ

Worship. Witness. Service.

I pray that I might be able to do this today, this week, for the rest of the summer- in all my life. Praying for the Jr. High and for the High School and for the Mexico Team- Work...