Beauty Beyond the Beholders

Some say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, as if people and things are beautiful only if we think they are. I don’t think so. A fresh flower is itself beautiful. Who sees a colorful sunset or a waterfall in the woods reflecting rays of sunshine and claims that its beauty depends on beholders? My Grandmother, Margaret Icylon Solliday (1909 – 2003), was just beautiful. If you could not see it, you needed new beholders!

Grandma grew up in the Sooner State (OK) because her dad, Bud Spurgeon, took part in a famous Land Rush on the Cherokee Strip in the 1890s and staked his claim there. Little Margaret was a rough and tumble girl who lived, worked and played hard. Her farmer father was the only one who could call her, “Maggie!”

Margaret met her future husband (my grandfather) when he came to town as a preaching intern. They married in 1928 and my dad (“Horace, Jr.”) was their first baby boy. He once said of his mom, “She never embarrassed us in front of others, though we must have embarrassed her at times.” Four more children followed and Margaret filled her multiple roles (preacher’s wife, mother of five, Sunday School teacher, softball pitcher, popular conference speaker, family manager, Bible study leader, and benefactor to the needy) with grace. Se studied the Bible every morning and went to bed with the Kitchen Klatter magazine. Thus, her family always knew they would soon sample a new recipe. Horace and Margaret Solliday supported each other through thirteen different ministries in such states as Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Iowa.

Most of us know only a tiny fraction of her kindnesses over the years. She had nary a harsh word for others, yet we knew it when she disapproved of something that wasn’t right. She had a wonderful way of mixing character qualities that don’t mix easily, like frugality and generosity; obedience and grace; tolerance and conviction. She left to her loved ones a four-fold legacy that is nicely captured in the four following words:


    In 1986, at my Grandfather’s funeral, I sang a song about hope and I can still picture Grandma on the second row, with a deep grief over her loss on her face but also a beaming with affection for me in her tearful smile. After the services, our family made a large half-circle around Grandpa’s casket. Grandma broke loose from the supportive hands holding her up (her sons; Horace, Harry and David) and approached the frail frame of the man she loved. Fifty-nine years ago, she promised him, “till death do us part.” She leaned down and kissed him goodbye, having kept her promise. To his credit, my Grandpa knew her beauty, inside and out, was more than just a beholder’s opinion. Faithfulness to her family was just one of the many ways she lived out her faith in God. She trusted in things mere beholders cannot see. A Bible scholar in her own right, her knowledge reached her heart too.


    After suffering some strokes, Grandma was getting to the point where she could not finish sentences or various tasks. Yet, at a family reunion three years before she passed, she saw me washing dishes and it did not sit right with her. As was her way, she got up and shushed me out of the kitchen with a clear sentence telling me to go have some fun. She would mind the kitchen. I could hardly resist since she made herself so wonderfully clear. I looked back and saw her standing in a state of confusion over what to do next. She had long programmed herself for unselfishness and this virtue was still working in her on auto-pilot. My heart swelled with pride and affection. I shared this wonderful grandmother with Mindy Louscher, my cousin, who recalls setting her baby son Landon on his great grandmother’s lap and being told to go have fun while she minded the kids. Mindy knew Grandma was no longer able to fulfill that desire, yet that unselfish desire still lived in her heart. How many of us are programmed that well for unselfishness?


    Grandma loved many people and so many loved her. She was well known for her kindness to the needy. I remember a rather “challenged” and challenging man who roamed the streets in her little town of Hamburg, Iowa. He knew he could find a friendly face, a helping hand and a simple meal at my Grandma’s house. And if you fear that such friendliness was risky, let me remind you that Margaret was as tough a “tom-boy” as Oklahoma ever produced. She could handle most any horse with confidence, she raised five kids, she spoke at conferences, and she knew how to handle church committees and elders. Fear would not hamper her compassion. Grandma taught us much about love.


    Life was brighter around Margaret. As a child, Matthew Schaffner (another grandson), remembers how at Grandma’s place, the strawberries were always better, the crayons brighter and the pie juicier. One of my last memories of Grandma was of her in a wheelchair at her nursing home beaming with gladness at the sight of her grandson coming toward her. She could not finish sentences but she sure could still shine! Like a fresh flower in a field, God gave her the power to shine, making her beautiful, inside and out.

Grandma’s legacy of Faithfulness, Unselfishness, Love and Light creates an acronym: “F.U.L.L.” Her life was truly full and our lives are too for having known and loved her. Margaret budded on earth (for 94 years) to bloom in heaven.


The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

Look Before You Leap!

The year was 1997. I lived in New Haven, Connecticut, with my feline roommate, Calypso. Life together had settled into certain routines. After my morning shower, Clipper (her nickname) routinely jumped into the tub in her birthday suit to watch me shave through an opening in the curtains. Okay, there is no accounting for taste.

Calypso’s birthday suit was a fine tuxedo. Her smooth black coat came with an elegant tail. Her tummy was fluffy white with matching socks. It was amusing to see such a well-dressed figure in my bathtub.

One morning, unknown to Calypso, water lingered in the tub because the drain was clogged. After I got out, Clipper leaped over the rim toward her usual destination in the tub. During her downward descent, she noticed that something was different. However, she was dead to rights committed to a bath. Gravity demanded it.

Then an amazing thing happened. She decided in a fraction of a split second that she would just as soon not have a bath that morning, thank you. She performed the most astounding cat acrobatics I have ever seen. She managed to spring from one vertical side of the tub to the other and catch a portion of the curtain with one paw while hooking the rim of the tub with another. She downright defied the laws of physics to avoid a baptism by immersion (isn’t it amazing what some will do to avoid baptism?) I tell you, that cat had virtual mid-air brakes! It was like watching a frantic cartoon character suspend itself in animated animation to avoid an undesirable encounter.

(editor’s notes: this is not Calpyso, nor do we endorse tricking cats to jump into a tub full of water)

Having escaped a feline fate worse than a visit to the vet, I saw Clipper shake a paw. It must have grazed the watery surface, indicating she may not have completely defied all the realities of life in the elemental world after all. Still, if Olympic judges had seen it, she would have scored perfect tens across the board. I was duly impressed and I laughed so hard I could hardly brush my teeth.

I miss Calypso but I still relish the lesson she taught me that morning: Look before you leap!

I have a list of favorite oxymorons and “cat baptism” is on it. You, however, are not a cat so Christian baptism may be for you. If so, look before you leap! Jesus used the example of a builder intending to erect a tower to teach that those who wish to follow him need to first sit down and estimate the costs (Luke 14:28-30). Consider carefully the life-transforming ramifications of being buried with Christ in baptism and don’t start something you cannot finish. Count the cost before taking the plunge. Here are some Bible passages to peruse as you consider baptism:

  • Matthew 3:13-17.
  • Luke 3:1-6.
  • Acts 2:36-39.
  • Romans 6:1-11.
  • Galatians 3:23-29.
  • Colossians 3:8-15.
  • 1 Peter 3:18-22.

And by all means, never jump into a tub with your tux on, even if it is your birthday suit.


The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

Or Else…


1. Should a private dating service be forced against their conscience to facilitate homosexual relationships? This happened to E-Harmony in 2008 under the prospect of huge court costs (much of which they had to pay anyhow). Homosexuals are not hindered from starting dating services and many exist. Nevertheless, homosexual activists and their lawyers forced E-Harmony to meet their demands, or else.

2. Do you think a faith-based adoption agency should be forced by law to abandon any priority given to traditional families (with a mom and a dad), or else? This too is happening. After “same-sex marriage” was imposed by some judges in Massachusetts, Catholic Charities had to end its longstanding work of placing orphans in good homes. A legal mandate to place children in same-sex households (a violation Catholic teaching) was forced on them, or else.

3. Do you think private business owners (wedding photographers, caterers, bed-and-breakfast owners, etc.) should, under legal intimidation or intense boycott pressure, be forced to support the homosexual lifestyle or suffer financial loss or be shut down? A quasi-marital “civil unions” policy in New Jersey caused a Methodist institution to be stripped of its tax exempt status because they could not in good conscience allow ceremonies blessing homosexual unions in their privately owned facility.

4. Should the Boy Scouts be forced to comply with homosexual demands to abandon their scoutmaster qualifications? Shouldn’t they be free to as a private organization to set their own safety policies? The Scouts do nothing to interfere with anyone’s right to start an alternative organization with different policies. Yet, their freedom of conscience has been under attack by the ACLU and homosexual militants for two decades. Since losing a 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision in 2000 (favoring the free association rights of the Scouts), opponents have formed a coalition of groups to escalate attacks against the Scouts at state and local levels. They pressure companies to withdraw support from the Scouts, demand that United Way drop the Scouts from their fundraising drives and file countless law suits against local governments to prohibit the Scouts from using parks and public buildings. The ACLU has managed to deprive the Scouts from recruiting resources and public fund-raising avenues that are freely used by radical homosexual activist and atheist groups.

5. Should our government compel pro-life hospitals, clinics, physicians, surgeons, nurses and other health care professionals to perform or participate in abortions or refer patients to those who do, or else? Or should the public respect the consciences of others and take their own initiative to find non-religious institutions and health care workers who do not have pro-life scruples? In 2012, the Obama administration (Department of Health and Human Services) attempted to impose a mandate on religious organizations to provide insurance for things which violate their conscience. For the first time, such a decision violating religious liberty came by executive fiat.

6. Do you think children in public schools should be exposed to homosexual recruiting literature and indoctrination at taxpayer expense? Should public school kids grow up being asked to decide if they want to marry a boy or a girl someday? It’s happening, whether our media report it or not.

7. Should Christian clergy be prosecuted for preaching biblical morality related to sexuality? This has happened in other Western countries. In America, hate-crime legislation as well as alleged anti-bullying pretexts are regularly abused to intimidate people of conscience who don’t have an ounce of hate in them and would never bully a soul. It is people of faith and good conscience who are more often being bullied.


Religious conscience is not well respected today. Threats and intimidation have worked on many (not the Boy Scouts which is why they remain under relentless attack). Following Jesus means truly loving all sinners while objecting to and actively opposing the destructive and disrespectful trends we see in our current culture. When faced with another intimidating “or else,” we will take “else” rather than compromise our conscience for a cheap reward or to appease an intimidator. Like Jesus, we will stand alone if we must. Our culture is toxic enough.

A month before Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson passed away, he was placed on a black list by The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation along with 35 others who GLAAD targeted for demonization and exclusion from major media outlets. No one is more fair and gracious than Colson, even in disagreement. Let’s give him the last word here:

“A believer may risk prison for his own religious beliefs, but he may never build prisons for those of other beliefs… It is our duty to create a cultural environment where conscience can flourish.” Charles Colson, The Enduring Revolution


The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

Goodness Vs. Gaga

Our popular culture seems to love sin and hate sinners.

Face it–we live in a scandal-mongering society. The same media that celebrate so many sins also love to devour the sinners who commit them. Sympathetic portrayals of homosexuality, prostitution, shacking up and adultery pervade our entertainment media while public figures caught engaging in such celebrated pathologies are often crucified by the media. National elections often teeter and totter on the latest outrage over someone’s sin, depending on who the self-righteous media choose to destroy. Ruining reputations, shattering careers, shaming the “guilty,” are specialties of our national media. And we eat it up.

Speaking of loving sin and hating sinners, Lady Gaga, a pop-culture entertainer with some 21 million Twitter followers, calls her fans “little monsters.” I fully realize it’s a term of alleged affection (and a marketing tactic) for people who are seen as nerds, freaks, weird, queer or rejects. They apparently love being called “little monsters” and she loves getting rich off of their “love.” This label does not apply to her fans respectfully as individuals but as a category defined by traits she wants to glorify. Her song, “Bad Kid” (from her Born This Way CD), celebrates monstrous traits with terms like “b-t-h,” “loser,” “jerk,” “brat,” “twit” and “degenerate.” Reveling in her badness, Gaga croons, “I’m so bad and I don’t give a d-mn, I love it when you’re mad.” Turning from herself to her fans, she sings, “You’re still good to me if you’re a bad kid baby.”

She’s gaga over blatant badness and I can’t spin this as respect or genuine affection.

Long ago, the prophet Isaiah saw through such spins. He sang of those who “call evil good and good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20). Gaga glorifies badness as goodness and celebrates the alienation that can come with being bad. Her evil-glorifying influence tightens the shackles that sin has on the hearts of the fans she belittles as “monsters,” at the expense of their dignity as human beings. The fact that so many revel in this and idolize Gaga does not make it right.

Christianity turns all this right-side-up! The life-changing ministry of Jesus to struggling marginalized people bears no comparison to the sin-glorifying destruction that pop-icons like Lady Gaga bring to them. God showed a harrowing hatred of sin and an incredible love for sinners when He executed His plan for Jesus to die on our behalf and then rise again. The maxim, “hate the sin and love the sinner” is rooted in the cross of Christ where God demonstrated His holy hate for sin and divine love for sinners at the same time. Christians see God’s dynamic posture toward sin and sinners as marching orders as we take up our cross to follow Jesus. The Bible contains countless calls to hate evil. And though our neighbors (like us) are sinners, we are commanded to love them.

In the Christian classic, The City of God, St. Augustine wrote:

St. Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430 AD)

That is, he should not hate the man because of the fault, nor should he love the fault because of the man; rather, he should hate the fault but love the man. And when the fault has been healed there will remain only what he ought to love, and nothing that he ought to hate.

Over a millennium later, the ever articulate poet, Alexander Pope (1688-1744) said, “Love the offender, yet detest the offense.”

This motto, however, is a crippling cop-out if you claim both sides of it (hating sin and loving sinners) but only practice one side. The principle reflects the gospel at its core, but if we pay it lip service to both sides but still hate sinners in actual practice, we are without excuse. And if we say we love sinners while “lovingly” excusing sin, this is an equally ungodly stance.

The Christian gospel has always turned the world’s values on its head. It humbles the exalted and exalts the humble. It puts the first last and the last first. It transforms our love of sin into repentance and our self-righteous disdain for sinners into sacrificial love. Isn’t grace amazing?


The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.