The Challenge of Obedience

As Christians our general expectation is that if we just obey God and do what He tells us to do, then circumstances, although difficult, will somehow work out in the end. In the macro sense, that statement is certainly true. Ultimately, obedience to God is always the best choice. However, it is that little word “ultimately” that causes us to stumble. Taking giant steps of faith in a direction we believe to be right and then watching the results plummet can certainly challenge our faith. Obedience may seem quite unpleasant to us when we try to do the right thing and our efforts seem to explode in our face. We take a giant step forward, obey God with as much courage as we can muster, and still we end up frustrated and wondering if we read Him wrong. It’s easy in many cultures to view ourselves as the center of the universe. We may spend hours seeking God on behalf of our family, our job, our education, and our future plans. But, life simply doesn’t begin and end with us. Our needs and wants should not be the focal points of our lives and our prayers. As the cliché goes: if you start with “you,” you’ll end with “you” and you will accomplish little—starting with yourself and your problems can lead to confusion and to more discouragement. However, starting with God, laying it all at His feet, leads us to the only solid ground we’ll ever know. 

Indestructible Daughters

Mission Obstacles

Unforgiveness is excess baggage, daughters, weighing down our lives and destroying our mission. People need loving the most when they deserve it the least. If Jesus had waited until His enemies repented He’d never have prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Sure, it’s easier to forgive when others acknowledge their offense. But if that’s a prerequisite, you may never experience victory. In his book Surprised by Hope, N. T. Wright, a New Testament scholar says, “Forgiveness, is God’s way of life and God’s way to life.” You may let someone off your hook, but that doesn’t mean they’re off God’s hook. He will deal with them the right way and bring about the right result, which is something you can’t do. Besides, what you don’t forgive—you have to relive. So for your own sake daughters, forgive, take back your lives, and begin walking in the blessing of the Lord. Walking in forgiveness is choosing to live a large life. As N.T Wright puts it, “If we close our hearts to forgiveness, then we close our hearts to God!”

Indestructible Daughters

Bread for the Hungry

My father, a pilot in the Air Force, was killed on active duty flying into French Guiana many years ago. As a result, at 8 years old, I was officially classified by the military as a war orphan. Today I read an interesting article about war orphans. It seems that at the end of World War II, the Allied forces found many hungry and starving orphans. And while they received excellent care and were well fed, the orphans couldn’t fall asleep or stay asleep. One psychologist came up with a solution that worked. Each child was given a piece of bread to hold on to when they went to bed. This allowed the children to sleep soundly, because they were assured they would have food the next day.

Today many people live in spiritual hunger every day and they don’t even recognize it. And many people face types of wars like anger, unrest, temptation, illness, doubt, and unbelief, they can’t even begin to navigate.
My friend if you want peace, comfort and sustaining food for your life, regardless of the battles you may face… hold on to Jesus, He is the bread of life, the bread that fills and sustains, the bread that gives eternal life to all who believe in Him.

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
(John 6:35)

The Real Story

The Real Story of St. Patrick’s Day
Many celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 and hang pictures of shamrocks and mythical creatures called leprechauns. But who was St. Patrick, and why do we celebrate his life on this day?
Patrick lived a full life, but not without his share of suffering and adventure. He was born in Britain, in the fourth century A.D., during a time of great uncertainty for the Roman Empire. The Roman legions that once protected civilized Britain from barbaric invaders were called away to defend themselves in other regions of the Roman Empire. Therefore, Britain was left vulnerable to attacks.
Just before Patrick turned 16 years old, he and his family spent time at their holiday villa by the sea, located outside the town of Bannaventa Berniae, when Irish pirates attacked it just before dawn. Some say the villa was attacked during the day while Patrick played on the beach. Although Patrick’s family escaped, Patrick and many of the family’s workers did not; and soon they were en route to Ireland, where Patrick was sold as a slave to Miliuc of Slemich, a Druid tribal chieftain.
Patrick was given the task of a herdsman. Though raised in a Christian home (his father, Calpornius, was a civil magistrate and tax collector, as well as a church deacon), Patrick never made a decision to follow Christ until he was kidnapped and made a slave. In his autobiography, Confessions, Patrick wrote, “…‘the Lord opened my senses to my unbelief,’ so that, though late in the day, I might remember my many sins; and accordingly ‘I might turn to the Lord my God with all my heart.’” He also wrote about how his faith in God grew as he prayed to Him while he shepherded the flocks: “But after l had come to Ireland, it was then that I was made to shepherd the flocks day after day, and, as l did so, I would pray all the time, right through the day. More and more the love of God and fear of Him grew strong within me, and as my faith grew, so the Spirit became more and more active … In snow, in frost, in rain, I would hardly notice any discomfort, and I was never slack but always full of energy. It is clear to me now, that this was due to … the Spirit within me.”
But Patrick’s devotion to God did not go unnoticed. He soon earned the nickname “Holy Boy” among his fellow slaves.
One night Patrick had a dream. In it he heard a voice telling him, “Soon you will be returning to your own country.” In another dream he received a response to the first dream, being told, “Come and see where your ship is waiting for you.” At the age of 22, Patrick escaped and traveled 200 miles to the coast of Ireland. Of his long journey across Ireland, he wrote: “I turned on my heel and ran away, leaving behind the man to whom I had been bound for six years. Yet I came away from him in the power of God, for it was He who was guiding my every step for the best. And so I felt not the least anxiety until I reached the ship.”
Patrick approached one of the men on the ship that rested on the coast. When he asked to board, the seaman scowled at him. Patrick started to leave when the man called back to him, saying the other passengers wanted him on board. Patrick wrote, “In spite of this, I still hoped that they might come to have faith in Jesus Christ.”
The journey by boat was long, including a stop where they journeyed on land for 28 days. After having run out of food, the captain turned to Patrick and challenged him to ask his God for more. Glad to oblige, Patrick responded, “Turn trustingly to the Lord who is my God and put your faith in Him with all your heart, because nothing is impossible to Him. On this day, He will send us food sufficient for our journey, because for Him there is abundance everywhere.” According to Patrick’s autobiography, when the men turned around, a herd of pigs was standing before them. They feasted for days and gave thanks to God.
Two years later Patrick finally made it to his beloved Britain and into the arms of his mother and father who pleaded with him never to leave them again. Patrick began to settle back into his life in Britain and studied to become a priest and a bishop. But one night Patrick had a dream of a man who seemed to come from Ireland and was carrying a letter with the words “The Voice of the Irish.” As Patrick began to read the words, he seemed to hear the voice of the same men he worked with as if they were shouting, “Holy broth of a boy, we beg you, come back and walk once more among us.”
But church leaders and Patrick’s parents fiercely opposed his plans to return to Ireland. They did not think the Druids were worth saving. His family shuddered at the thought of him returning to barbaric Ireland with the gospel, as the Druids were known to weave criminals and runaway slaves into giant wicker baskets and suspend them over a fire. Of this opposition Patrick later wrote, “So at last I came here to the Irish gentiles to preach the gospel. And now I had to endure insults from unbelievers, to ‘hear criticism of my journeys’ and suffer many persecutions ‘even to the point of chains.’… And should I prove worthy, I am ready and willing to give up my own life, without hesitation, for His name … There was always someone talking behind my back and whispering, ‘Why does he want to put himself in such danger among his enemies who do not know God?’” Patrick had to sell his title of nobility to become the “slave of Christ serving the barbaric nation.”
While in Ireland, Patrick shared the gospel with his former slave owner, Miliuc the Druid. But instead of turning his back on his pagan gods, Miliuc locked himself in his house and set it on fire while Patrick stood outside and pleaded with him to turn to Christ. It is said that Miliuc drowned out Patrick’s pleas by crying out to his false gods.
Miliuc’s refusal to hear the gospel was just the beginning of Patrick’s challenges with the Druids as he spread the Good News across Ireland and taught its people how to read and write. One story that some believe is legend mentions Patrick challenging the Druid wizards in 433 A.D., on the vernal equinox, which occurred on Easter Sunday that year. Patrick challenged the wizards’ power of control by starting a bonfire, which was central to the Druids’ ritual, on a hillside opposite of the barbaric idol-worshippers. Patrick was dragged before the Druid council where he had the opportunity to share about Jesus, the light of the world. While some Druids believed, others tried to kill him.
Patrick continued his journey across Ireland. He preached at racetracks and other places of worldly indulgences, seeing many come to Christ. However, this was not without opposition. The Druids often tried to poison him. One time a barbarian warrior speared Patrick’s chariot driver to death in an attempt to kill Patrick. He was often ambushed at his evangelistic events and was enslaved again for a short time. He had to purchase safe passage through a hostile warlord’s land to continue on his journey. Another time Patrick and his companions were taken as prisoners and were going to be killed, but they were later released. In Confessions, Patrick wrote, “As every day arrives, I expect either sudden death or deception, or being taken back as a slave or some such other misfortune. But I fear none of these, since I look to the promise of heaven and have flung myself into the hands of the all-powerful God, who rules as Lord everywhere.”
Patrick journeyed throughout Ireland, sharing Christ until his death on March 17, around the year 461 A.D. Later Irish mythological creatures known as leprechauns would creep into the holiday celebrations, as well as the symbol of the shamrock, believed to have been used by Patrick to illustrate the Trinity as he preached and taught. Some legends have circulated stating Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. Since there are no snakes in Ireland and snakes often symbolize the devil and evil, many believe the “snakes” were a metaphor representing his work of driving the idol-worshipping Druid cult out of the country.
Enslavement, torture, imprisonment and death for one’s faith in Christ were not confined to Patrick’s lifetime. Today Christians in communist nations like China, Vietnam and Cuba are imprisoned if caught sharing the gospel with fellow countrymen. In Sudan, a Christian boy named Demare was kidnapped by militant Muslims and sold as a slave. And in Vietnam, when members of some tribal groups have come to Christ, they destroy the altars used to pray to their dead ancestors. When fellow villagers and even members of the government hear about this, these new believers in Christ are harassed. Some are even imprisoned for turning away from their empty religions of idol and ancestor worship.
We may never be enslaved, imprisoned or beaten because of our faith in Christ, but many may make fun of us for believing in Jesus’ promise of heaven and placing our faith in a God they do not see with their eyes and cannot touch with their hands.
I pray this version of Patrick’s courageous life will inspire you to stand firm in Christ and stand strong for Him as you tell others about the greatest gift we can ever be given – salvation through Jesus!

(VOM Global Ministry)

Seeing God’s Glory

I received this email recently from a former student:
Dear Karen, I’m writing because I would love to hear more from you on what “God’s Glory” means. I was reading my Bible today and the verse in John 12:43 stuck out to me…it says “for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God”. I was meditating on that and wanting God’s glory in my life, far above my own glory. But I’m often not sure how I practically live that out or what it fully means for God to be glorified.

By the grace of God I did my best to answer:

What is the glory that Jesus sought? Steve Hawthorne, of Waymakers Ministry, in The Story of His Glory defines glory as the essential worth, the substance, and the radiant beauty of something. Jesus’ life purpose was to glorify His Father, to recognize His intrinsic worth and spread it to the multitudes.
In John 17: 1-5 Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

On the final night of His life Jesus does not refer to his life in terms of himself. He realized that he had a specific assignment and a mission: His Father’s mission. He also understood and believed that the incomprehensible depth of His sacrifice on the cross was worth it all! To pursue our Father’s glory gives passion for the mission he has called us to do.

John Piper describes it in this way:
Take a look at the scripture: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).
The glory of God is the manifest beauty of his holiness. It is the going public of his holiness. It is the way he puts his holiness on display for people to understand. So the glory of God is the holiness of God made manifest.

How does it play out practically today?
As a believer you can see the glory of God everywhere. We need eyes. We need eyes more than we need anything. The enemy of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the knowledge of His glory (2 Corinthians 4:4–6). They can’t see what you and I have the ability to see. Abiding in His presence is key. When His presence is on me, I can see his glory everywhere I look. I say to myself, “ That’s it, that’s it over there, I see it everywhere: in the mountains, in the sky, in my living room as I sit on the floor and His spirit washes over me, in the birth of a child, in healing miracles, in the deaf Ethiopian woman whose ears were opened to hear, in the joy on the face of a Somalian woman who just received Christ. His glory also manifests through His gifting, through visions, dreams, word of knowledge, through the scripture. Dear friend pray that the Lord enhances your gifting. You have many gifts. Don’t limit them. Don’t limit yourself and don’t limit God. Ask Him to endow you with all the gifts to be used for the glory of His kingdom. His glory manifests through them.
When I am in His presence, I am alert to see everything that He manifests, therefore I can abide in His glory because I can abide continually in His presence. Begin praying that daily for yourself.
Pray: “Lord help me to abide in your presence. Show me your glory every day of my life.”
Worship more. His presence abides in worship. When I wake up each morning I hear worship in my ears as if He’s singing to me and I know He’s there. It’s such a beautiful touch from my Father. He alters my perspective of everything I see and hear. When His glory is loosed on us, we manifest it to reach and benefit others, then they manifest it and it becomes a gift of glory that we give back to our Father.
My friend, cry out as Moses did, ” Show me your glory Lord. Please use me as a vessel of your glory Lord that I may serve you fully to reach others and then bring that glory back to you. I surrender all that I am to you. May your glory rain over me. In Jesus’ name. Amen”

May His glory rain on you and through you my friend.May you one day stand before him and say:
“My Father, I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”

Blessings,
Karen

 

Tackling Avoidance

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” James 4:17.  
If we know what we should do, the bottom line is … we must do it. God wants us to do our part and He will do His part. He wants us to do what is possible and thankfully He is the one who handles the impossible. This morning I started a new regimen of diet, gym and prayer. Lately, I’ve been feeling compelled to kick it up a notch. Several mornings I’ve been envisioning myself on my knees for a much longer stint than usual. Some of the ideas and tasks that keep popping in my mind are more challenging than I can possibly handle. Regrettably, I know I’ve been pushing the avoidance button on some of these things way too long. So today is a new day and by God’s grace, I’m essentially stepping it up, decidedly doing my part, building myself up for the task, strengthening my inner man, confronting my fears, and trying to do all that I can to prepare for the challenge before me. 

Remember Noah. What a guy! When God spoke to him, he didn’t wait for God to put a boat in his front yard—he did his part and built the boat. So lately I’ve been asking myself, Karen, are you doing all you can to obey God in the latest task he’s laid before you? Are you obeying God’s directions in your life or selectively closing your eyes and ears on some things and hitting the avoidance button on others? Are you really trusting God to do the impossible?
The good news is God wants to work in our lives right now. He wants to use us where we are and just as we are. He’s not waiting for us to be holier, or more educated, or better equipped. It’s His holiness, His wisdom, and His power in us that brings success and victory. He’s just waiting for us to be obedient and take the next step.
What battle or challenge are you facing today? What gifts and talents do you have that God can use to bring victory in that challenge?
Prayer is a powerful weapon. How is your prayer life? Do you consistently cover your life and your family with prayer?
God wants us to start where we are, use what we have, and do what we can.

Today I’m asking him to strengthen each of us to accomplish these principles in our lives. We don’t want to waste a single day of our lives trying to substitute other things for the destiny God has planned for us. God put that destiny inside us. He wants us to live it out. May we not allow discouragement or doubt to overtake us. Regret looks back. Worry looks around. But victory looks up.

Father, may You strengthen us all. May we not hesitate and avoid the tasks You have called us to do. Forgive us Father for avoidance, which is also disobedience to You. May we live in fullness the future you have planned for us.

Amen

Expectant Hope

As strangely as it sounds, I’ve been pondering “ hope” in the context of “semicolons” as of late. Yes I know it’s a bit peculiar, but here goes:

The semicolon tells you that there is still some further response or addition to the preceding full sentence; something is still to be added. I’d have to say I’m a bit more intrigued when coming across a semicolon than a period. Perhaps it’s because as a person of this culture, I’m generally enamored with the quest for “more”.

On the other hand, the period is so matter of factly; it tells you that that is that. If you didn’t get all that you expected, you still have to move along. It’s finished. You’re done. There’s simply no more.

But with a semicolon, there’s a pleasant feeling of expectancy; there is always something more to come, as if to say, “Continue on my friend, it will become clearer soon”.

I love how “hope” through Jesus always finishes with a semicolon; there is always a certainty, an expectancy, that “more” is yet to come. I’m so glad I don’t live my life in periods. Every day with Jesus is an abundant life of semicolons. With Jesus there is always more; His additions are purposeful and limitless, filling completely that cry for “more” that clamors within me, and within all of us, as only He can do.

Blessings friends,
Karen

Intimacy With Grace

Our valley churches are joining together in a 21 day fast. A fast is a way of expressing a greater need beyond ourselves, our need of God and greater intimacy with Him. There is so much more I could say on the subject, but essentially its a surrender, a renewal, a relinquishing of self, and a pressing in to the very heart of God.
During a fast there comes a moment when you have to come clean with God. A moment when you need to unveil your secrets, struggles, and sins. A moment when you need to fall full weight on the grace of God.
Sometimes the conviction and grace of God becomes skewed in our minds turning to guilt and condemnation of ourselves and our weaknesses. With vain efforts, we may feel compelled to whitewash ourselves before God or others, or we may find ourselves slipping into a guilt pool of our own making.
My friends, why do we act as though our sin disqualifies us from the grace of God? That is the only thing that qualifies us! Anything else is a self-righteous attempt to earn God’s grace. You cannot trust God’s grace 99 percent. It’s all or nothing. When we try to save ourselves, we forfeit the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ alone, by grace through faith. (Eph 2:8-9).

Blessings,

Karen

Wretched Me

Today in prayer, I asked Jesus to help me with something I’ve been struggling to get beyond for quite a while. It was one of those heartfelt moments when I lay before Him groaning, “ugh, wretched me.” During those times when I truly seek Him, after prayer I come away feeling a peace and assurance that He will indeed meet my need in His way and in His time.  But this afternoon as I was reading the Bible, I thought what if Jesus were to have rebuked or rejected me the way the story of the Canaanite woman begins in Matthew 15:21-28. What would I have done? This brave woman has got to be one of the most composed and tenacious figures Jesus encounters. To be told by the Lord that you’re no better than a dog, how could you withstand it? Any person of ordinary bearing would crumble at such rejection. But not she.

There is no apparent reason for such composure. She isn’t rich, educated, or highborn. Like others who seek Jesus, she is in need. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David,” she pleads; “my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” Her plea puts her in a long train of faithful, agonizing people who are seeking restoration through Jesus. However, there is more to her than wretchedness and faith… there is more force, more impetus:

“And behold a Canaanite woman came out and cried, ‘Have mercy on me . . .’”

This desperate woman is a Gentile, from a tribe historically hostile to the region. And yet, she cries out boldly, maybe a little imposing, a little pushy, with none of the meekness of other seekers.  You might imagine her nudging people, pushing them aside, while butting in line to reach Jesus. Her driving spirit suggests her ability to recognize Him across the social divide. She’s desperate, of course, with a daughter at home in the clenches of evil, but her bold address, “O Lord, Son of David,” is also the declaration of a new awakening for the nations.This brazen woman pressures Jesus to act. However, Jesus doesn’t reply, “But he did not answer her a word.”

It sounds like a tense interlude, one of those scenes everyone eventually undergoes, the kind you remember for a long time with a shiver. You were vulnerable and sensitive for some reason one day, a person insulted or mocked you and shame flooded over you. However, in this story in Matthew 15, it’s the King of Kings shunning a distressed foreign woman. What a shock! We might readily expect the poor woman to slink away mortified. Nevertheless, she turns from Jesus and without pause begins pressuring the disciples for help. The disciples rebuke her, but she still isn’t put off. As ordinary types, we are rarely ‘that’ persistent. “Send her away,” the disciples beg Jesus, “for she is crying after us.” They can’t rid themselves of her. Just imagine her tugging at their cloaks and pleading for help as they chide, “Run along, foolish woman.” This time Jesus answers, not her but them, making clear the limits of his mission: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” A rejection once again—no Canaanites allowed. If his intention is to muffle her, it works. Her demeanor changes; she moves from persistent to meek. But with it comes another sweet irony. Her humility makes her more undeniable than in her previous efforts. Kneeling before him she utters the most basic appeal of all: “Lord, help me.”

This Jesus cannot deny. Her ego is gone, not a shred of it remains. In a single plea for help, she symbolizes the whole of suffering humanity. She represents every person who has a suffering child, whom the world has rejected, while trusting in authority that has proved deaf and without care. She is universal. She is not simply Canaanite, female or male, young or old, blond or brunette. Her authentic plea overrides the limitation Jesus has just declared, the exclusion of all but Israel. He must, he absolutely must, we think, grant her request. Instead, Jesus utters what seems the most callous statement of all: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

At this point, we register shock at the cruelty of that remark. How will she respond? She has bowed and lowered herself to the dirt, but if we assume she has lost her strength and wit, we forget a basic Christian paradox: the “power made perfect in weakness,” as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 12:9. The lower she falls, the easier it is to endure judgment: “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10). When you concede to your wretched condition, the word dog in the Lord’s mouth doesn’t rattle or dismantle you. You’re not looking for evidence that you are not a dog, but only seeking mercy, even as a scavenging animal. Her comeback is solid. “She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’”! Of course, Jesus is not forgetting himself nor does He need a reminder of his mission.He knows well the parable of the dog and the crumbs. It is, instead, a ready opportunity for the Canaanite woman to hollow out her pride.

Her example is a lesson for us, particularly during those times of confession, when we feel ourselves as dirty rags before Him, and yet, we still cling to bits of pride. This suffering Canaanite woman empties herself of ego and lays herself prostrate. She is humble but without humiliation, because she is before Jesus. She dares to edit His statement about the dogs because she trusts in His boundless mercy. Her petition is the kind that only those with no insecurities to defend are able to make because they have surrendered their sins to Jesus confident in what He will do.  Kneeling before Him, she is solemn “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs . . .”.

Jesus’s final decision: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you desire.”

Many of us begin where the Canaanite woman does, with fumbling words and vain hopes even in our repentance and prayers. The French have an expression, l’esprit d’escalier (“the wit of the staircase”). It refers to an individual at a dinner party who blunders in conversation and exits in embarrassment. After he leaves, a few brilliant, but all too late comebacks, pop into his head. He wanted the others to judge him witty and bold, but he was too self-conscious to do it well.

God saves us from this foolish pride. When we confess, we don’t ask Him for anything—only undeserved help. When we see ourselves in His eyes, just about everything about us is shameful, which means that if we are sincerely repentant, we need not be at all ashamed in his presence. We aren’t trying to flee or conceal our sin. We are acknowledging it fully before Him. In total obedience to him, there is no more trying to bear our pride. This is the gift of confession in Christ. For a brief and remarkable time, the struggle of self-sufficiency stops, the schemes of ego cease, and we are free to absorb whatever God deems us, whatever it may be… rebuke, judgment, forgiveness, His love, His mercy…we open ourselves to Him. There is freedom and healing there…in Him.

” The Other”

Do you see “the others”? Sight and insight (discernment) are valuable gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we had been able to genuinely “see the other” is it a possibility that the refugee crisis, the destruction of Syria, and terrorists groups like ISIS, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram might never have been? If we were able “to see the other” might the chaotic civil strife taking place in our own country, the ignorance and apathy concerning orphans and abused children, the ethnic cleansing in the Sudan, worldwide trafficking,– might all of this have been avoided – if only we could see? What prevents us from seeing the “other” person wittingly or unwittingly? Are we practicing a system of exclusion or oppression rather than one of embrace?

Might it be the young people whose music is so loud, whose language is incomprehensible, whose body-piercing and head shaving is so alien – have we ever stopped to look at them, to consider them– the broken homes, the bleak prospect of unemployment, an uncertain future – have we ever stopped long enough to look at them as God’s children and try to understand them in that context? Might it be those immigrants and refugees who do not know our language, having different faiths and skin colors, who are moving into our country and the suburbs of our cities – have we ever had them in our homes, offered them hospitality and tried to genuinely “see” their culture. Are we so bound in fear, in apathy, in ignorance, in exclusion and separatism? Is a weapon always to be our ready response rather than an arm of embrace and welcome?

Spiritual sight encourages Christians to acknowledge the identity of the “other” – the “other” who is full of potential that can be realized in relationship with Christ. As for me, it is in encountering “others”, not of my culture, my faith and the broken and the lost, where I am often confronted with the truth of myself and all that I am capable of becoming. When I embrace the “other”, in a small way I begin to die to myself and begin to see myself in the “other”. There is a linking there. We are all God’s children made in His image and in His sight. This is not a cliche, it is truth.

John V. Taylor comments, “But no less necessary to the Christian mission is the opening of our eyes towards other people. The scales fell from the eyes of the convert in Damascus precisely when he heard one of those whose very lives he had been threatening say, ‘Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus has sent me to you.’”

The gift of sight truly enables us to see the “other” person, to share our common humanity and to establish relationship. The gift of sight embraces the “other”, and acknowledges and welcomes the potential in the “other”. Mother Theresa saw this in her selfless giving and serving of the poor and the sick and the “unclean” lepers of Calcutta. She knew that Jesus had sent her to them and she saw the potential in the “other”. God allowed me to see the “other” in the hopeless faces of starving children and despairing refugee moms as I journeyed through the Middle East, Europe and Africa. It is never too late with God. The battle is not lost no matter what the media or your friends might say. He is the God of hope and the God of miracles. He is not a sensational headline. He is a sensational, miraculous God with a global vision for all His children. He is just waiting on us to “see” Him and to “see others”. Genuine sight (discernment) embraces the “other” and will inevitably lead to human flourishing not only for the “other” but within the deepest part of who we are called to be.

May God lavish each of you this day with His wondrous sight. Pray for it my friends.
Blessings,
Karen