By Sheri LaFontaine.

True Beauty. What is it? What determines whether a girl is beautiful or not? What's the key ingredient, and does Wal-Mart sell it in a bottle? As a young single sister, I have often asked myself these strange but honest questions. Let me give you a little bit of a background of what prompted me to think about this subject.

For the past three years, I have traveled the United States singing with a denominational group called "The Arnolds." What a great experience it's been for me to share the good news with thousands of people every weekend through song. I never dreamed that i would go to the places I have been, or meet the people I have met. It has been awesome. To get the full effect of this story relating to our subject on "true beauty", i want to give you a detailed word picture. Every night, on each side of the stage, there stood a twelve-foot screen. Three to four cameras captured our every move, as a packed house of admirers and sometimes critics listened and watched with anticipation. Southern gospel fans had come to see their"heroes", get autographs, and buy CD's. Little girls wanted to be just like us, and little boys wanted to get their picture taken with us. Sounds glamorous, doesn't it? But with all this so-called glamour, came a great deal of pressure. If I had a zit, it was no longer a little dot on my face. It was like a six foot tall gorilla. And the little bit of dirt under my fingernail was now a huge black cloud on the screen. Okay, so I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea. During the months that I was on the road, I watched what this kind of pressure did to some of the artists. I watched it control their lives. Many of them had bought into the false idea that who we are is defined by what we look like on the outside. They would stop at nothing, including worldly fashion stage clothing, tons of make-up, gobs of jewelry, a change in hair colour, and even plastic surgery. Complete make-overs occurred so often I could hardly recognize some people from weekend to the next. I am not talking about the rock music industry, or pop, or even country. This is the Christian music world. What was it that these sincere and very talented divas were looking for? One thing: Beauty.

I watch my little nieces as they float through the house in their princess dress up costumes. To me, this confirms the fact that from girlhood to womanhood each of us has a natural born desire to look pretty. It is not wrong for us to feel this way.

QUESTIONS.AND.ANSWERS.3_ JEFF.IN COD SUNDAY_ 64-0830M 1102-188 And of course, I know women wants to look pretty; that's nature; and that--that's what they should be. See? They should be that way. And so, that's fine, but just don't--don't; otherwise like this, don't look like the world (See?); don't pattern after the world...

We are woman, and whether young or old, we will always have the longing to look good. I would laso like to go on record saying that it is okay and even essential that we, as young Christain ladies, invest some serious time and effort in the way we appear on the outside. We are to show the world a beautiful reflection of Christ's Bride in this sloppy, careless and often immodest age we live in, In other words, we should not just neglect our outward appearance for fear of putting too much emphasis on it. I don't believe God would have his bride to look like a ragamuffin!

The problem comes when we allow Satan to give us a warped idea of what makes us truly beautiful. He has a special team of demons working on this mission even as we speak. The demons of complexes! If you allow them, they will put you in bondage for your whole entire life, from kindergarten to the grave. Yes, Satan is a good one for destroying the inner peace and confidence of a beautiful sister, and he will rule you if you let im. He is in the rack at the supermarket checkouts and in every movie theater or video that displays Hollywood's best. From the local salon to your own car as you pass bill boards on the highway, he is always working overtime to try to get you to buy into the feeling inferior. He constantly plasters our world with pictures of girls that we will never measure up to physically. Oh come on... you DID know that every one of those photos has been digitally re-touched to perfection didn't you... that you would never recognize those models in real life if you met them on the street! (Can you imagine the complexes those girls must have knowing that some computer graphic design guy is soing to change their shape to make it more"acceptable to the public"?)

And out of these places, Satan's all-time favourite hangout would have to be... are you sitting down girl friend...? the girl's dorm at a message believeing youth camp. The father of lies rejoices with the insecurities inflicted by his demons of complexes even within our own ranks. He's always trying to pressure the beautiful daughters of God. and conform them to what the world calls beauty. what a fool! Don't let him do it, sister! Complexes are not of God (Even if you are a chubby redhead ) God has called us to be free from such things. Pray, and ask God to deliver you from feeling inferior, and start walking with your head held high! You are God's child and Satan has no right to give you complexes! My prayer is that you would feel a new kind of pressure: a burning obligation to seek the true beauty of God. There is a world that's watching us.

May we shine with the pure radiance of peace and inner happiness that only God can give! Always remember. if you have God living in your heart, you ARE truly beautiful.

Sister Sheri LaFontaine.