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Bread for the Journey

The following thoughts are from a journal entry by my brother Steve Bagdanov who gave me permission to share them here. My brother is pastor at Olive Grove Church in Nuevo, California. The photo above is from the evening of the rehearsal dinner before our son's wedding this past June. My brother Steve is praying with the wedding party and afterwards we were treated to the beautiful sunset.

“Holiness is doing something beautiful as opposed to not doing something ugly.”

I chose the words beautiful and ugly purposefully because they are not usually used in conjunction with holy behavior, and yet I think that they are wholly appropriate, and challenging. We are much more attracted to behaving beautifully, which may be defined as the most good. Beautiful is related to a word much closer to holiness: beatific.Being holy, being a holder of beauty. I like that correlation, it is an inspirational definition.

This perspective also hits the core issue in successful Christian living. What God wants from us is not simply the absence of evil acts, not even that we stop wanting to do bad things. God wants us to love to do the beautiful thing, the holy thing, the right thing. With regard to our speech, that is also the goal. So many of us, self included, have seen it as a matter of Christian freedom to use an occasional “strong” term, that was ultimately ugly. I am striving now to have only things of beauty as my expression in life, to the glory of the Beautiful One.

Be beautiful.


  1. I am not a Christian but this really resonates with me. Beautiful is holy though it is difficult to avoid the ugliness, if you live in the middle of society. Superb words, thank you !

  2. These are such good thoughts to ponder Ellen! Thank you for sharing your brother's wise words.

  3. What?! I know Steve, I used to go to that church back when it was plain ol' Nuevo Community. I would bet that I have even seen/heard you sing. I remember a few times when "the Russians" came to visit and share with us. Those times were special. Such a small world isn't it. I have been reading this blog for many years but I hardly ever post in comments. It never occurred to me to think of any connections or commonalities.

    God bless.


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