We live in a world of veneer.
Too many leaders present a front, a thin covering of fine grain material designed to make them shine. Beneath that false surface they are really made of cheap stuff, unreliable material with no inner strength.

This world of veneer endangers the Kingdom of God. For entertainers, stage lights and TV lights catch this shiny veneer and make it sparkle and the money rolls into the coffers, probably cardboard with a veneer of gold tinfoil. The platform lights in the church house can do the same thing to a local pastor making him/her the point of it all. We are in danger of imitating the world to the point of becoming like it.

The poet Wordsworth saw this in the 19th century:

The World Is too much with Us
The world is too much with us, late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Today, we must strip away the veneer of showbiz and self-promotion. We must bare our degraded souls to the surgery of the Sword of the Spirit which can divide our sham from our sincerity, our pretense from our piety and make us true from the inside out.

The Spirit always moves from the inside out.
He changes us at the inmost level of our being, revealing in the cold light of scripture the base motives that prompt our most holy looking postures. At the horror of such iniquity deep in our hearts, we must repent of such wickedness. Then, with a cleansing flash of grace, the Sword of the Spirit cuts away our sin and our guilt making us new again, new from the inside out.

No longer showing a thin veneer to the world, we offer others a true life, one that is fine from the core to the surface. When the pressure comes, the counter pressure of integrity gives us inner strength and, far from being crushed, we sail through the pressure with grace and peace.

Jesus is that core.

  • Yes, He was crushed at the cross. His heel bruised by the Devil, His body lay in a tomb for the requisite number of days.
  • And, yes, He rose again, no longer crushed by the weight of our sins, for He bore them far away from us, never to be remembered against us again.
  • Yes, He crushed the Serpent’s head and now Satan may hiss and slither, but he cannot reach the core of us—Jesus our Strength and Redeemer.

From that core, a new reality forms, clear through to the surface of our lives, where people see us and hear us and touch us.

In a world of veneer, the solid item is easily seen. Upon close inspection the world sees the integrity of Jesus in us because the surface of our lives, like the core, reflects the image of Christ.

Proverbs 10:9; 11:3; 13:6; 20:27
The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out. The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner. The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.
Psalm 25:20-21
Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.
Psalm 51:5-7
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height –to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Lord Jesus, you are real. I do not adhere to a philosophy; I am in relationship with a divine Person! You said that you would come and live in those who believed in and followed You and it is true. Holy Spirit, You dwell in my inmost part, I invite you to do Your work—conform me to the image of Christ from the deepest part of me that no one but You sees to the surface of my life that everyone sees. Life will cut into me like a saw. When that happens, I pray that all who witness my trial will see that I am the same from the inside out—I pray that they see You in me. I don’t want to be veneer. I desire integrity in all of my life. Grant this prayer, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Oh to Be Like Thee
Words: T. O. Chisholm; Music: W. J. Kirkpatrick

1. Oh! To be like Thee! Blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, thy perfect likeness to bear.

Oh! To be like Thee! Oh! To be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou Art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine on image deep on my heart.

2. Oh! To be like Thee! Full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
seeking the wandering sinner to find.


3. Oh! To be like Thee! Lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer, others to save.


4. Oh! To be like Thee! Lord, I am coming,
Now to receive the anointing divine,
All that I am and have I am bringing,
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine


5. Oh! To be like Thee! While I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love,
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and heaven above.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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