Phan Thị Kim Phúc’s Journey from War to Forgiveness

Probably the most memorable photo from the Vietnam War was the image of a naked little girl running down a road in her village of Trang Bang, South Vietnam with her arms outstretched from burns she had just received from a napalm bomb attack on June 8, 1972. She is running with her brothers and cousins attempting to escape the burning of their bodies from that jelly-like substance that sticks to clothes and skin. AP photographer, Nick Ut (himself a South Vietnamese), captured that horrifying moment in a photograph for which he received a Pulitzer Prize. For those of us who watched the war on our black and white TV sets it is a photo that most of us will not ever forget.

Today, October 15, 2017 we watched a video about the story of Kim Phúc, and listened to that little girl who survived not only her burns, but a life of intense pain and disappointment, and eventually finding healing and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. In later years she was reunited with the photographer and several of her enemy’s from that time of war. She met them face-to-face extending grace and forgiveness that only Jesus could allow. According to Kim, her mental and emotional healing began when she became a Christian on December 23, 1982.

The impact of that picture on the world and her decision to follow Jesus has allowed her to achieve goals far loftier than any that she had set for herself. Both Kim and Nick realize that this one photograph changed the world’s view of that war helping to bring it to an end. Kim, now 54 years of age, married, and with two children, always prays for her enemies and has chosen to turn her negatives into positives to show how healing can take place in the lives of the people of the world. When we look at a globe and wonder what impact one person, living a half a world away, could have on us we can look to Kim’s story and how she allowed God to work His miracles in her life.

Here is the link to today’s video.

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How God Can Use Adversity to Our Advantage

Christine Sun Kim is an American sound artist who has been deaf since birth. She was taught to believe that sound wasn’t a part of her life, that it was a hearing person’s thing. Through her art, she discovered similarities between American Sign Language (ASL) and music, and she realized that sound doesn’t have to be known solely through the ears. She says that “you don’t need to be deaf to learn ASL, nor do you have to be hearing to learn music.”

Today, October 1, 2017 we watched Christine’s TED Talk to learn how she is motivated by her hearing “disability” to learn more about sound. One of her friends says “…she is not just a disabled artist, but rather an artist with an extra ability to see things in ways that others couldn’t.” There are profound spiritual truths revealed for us in this short video, although that was not its intended purpose.

For example, Christine’s interpretation of sound is something that she challenged herself to discover, while a hearing person would take sound for granted and probably never work to interpret it for themselves. Sometimes she feels like a foreigner in a hearing world. In our spiritual lives when we are faced with a disability, usually in the form of adversity, we try to stretch further to make sense of the insensible and in the process we find growth from what God is saying to us. This is difficult to do on a regular basis without being forced to do so by the adversity. But it can be done. It can be done with a focused, intentional effort. God, through the Holy Spirit, can show us things that others might not be able to see.

All He wants us to do is ask. He will show answers to our own circumstances, and He will help us become more aware of the circumstances of others. Everyone wants to be understood. And on that day when we are faced with our own adversity and surrounded by negativity, we will be as prepared as we can be to deal with the circumstances and also be a blessing to those around us. Here are a few scriptures that can be good reminders of what God wants for us:

“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will lead them.”
– Isaiah 42:16

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
– Jeremiah 29:13

“When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
– Job 23:10

Here is a link to Christine’s TED Talk:  https://www.ted.com/talks/christine_sun_kim_the_enchanting_music_of_sign_language

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The Conversion Experience of Moses

Today, September 17, 2017 we listened to an interesting discussion by the Discover the Word team of Haddon Robinson, Alice Matthews, and Mart Dehaan about a life changing decision by Moses. It is about the most important decision we will ever make, and how we come to make that decision.

The Bible’s New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 24-26 talks about Moses’ experience: “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”

Has it ever bothered you when someone asks “when did you become a follower of Jesus Christ?” Can you define the moment, or would you consider it more of a process with no particularly defining moment? And, maybe, that moment has not yet been reached for some. It is different for all of us, and today’s question prompted some good discussion about our own experiences and the people and situations that have brought us to where we are today. It was good to learn about each other in this way.

It really doesn’t matter that you know the time or place you crossed the line from non-faith to faith. What really matters is right now if somebody asked “who are you trusting in to bring you home to God?”  that you would say “I’m trusting Jesus Christ alone to do that.” The emphasis on today’s question is not “when” you made the decision, but that you “did” make a decision. For some it is a dramatic moment and for others it is a process.

Here is a link to today’s discussion.

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A New Identity: The Gospel of Matthew, Part 5

Today, September 10, 2017 we concluded our five parts of the Day of Discovery series on the Gospel of Matthew hosted by Michael Card.

“Host Michael Card finishes his teaching on Matthew’s Gospel beginning in Chapter 26 at Gethsemane. On an insightful journey through Scripture, Michael Card offers a clear and thoughtful presentation that reveals Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior of the world. Join us as we examine the disciples’ discovery of a new identity in Jesus.”

This part of the Gospel is the most heartrending for me because it brings out the humanness of Jesus. How He was let down by his closest friends when He needed them most. How He actually, for a moment, had reservations about God’s plan… but then submitted to it “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup be taken away from me. But I want your will, not mine.” And then there was the “whipping” of Jesus ordered by Pilate.

Michael Card adds the context from the everyday situations of those days so that our understanding of the scripture has much more meaning. Playing games in order to humiliate and torture Jesus such as outfitting him with a crown of thorns. The “whipping” was the very Roman practice of flogging until the flesh hung from the body.

Jesus did not come to fight these people, but to die for them. And to die for you and for me. It is a plan and purpose that only our God can devise so that we might have eternal salvation through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sound crazy? Maybe it does… but it’s true.

Here is a link to today’s video.

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A New Identity: The Gospel of Matthew, Part 4

Today, August 27, 2017 we watched part four of a five part Day of Discovery series on the Gospel of Matthew hosted by Michael Card.

“Michael Card teaches us on Matthew’s Gospel. This program not only uncovers the identity of Jesus, but also helps us find greater meaning as followers of Christ. Travel to the northern region of Israel, along the shorelines of the Sea of Galilee, and finally to Jerusalem.”

In chapter 22 it is interesting how Jesus responds to trick questions from three groups: the Pharisees (“should we pay taxes to Caesar?”), the Sadducees (“if a woman’s husband dies and she marries his brother, and he dies so she marries his brother… whose wife will she be in heaven?”), and the Scribes (“which is the greatest commandment?”)… and he confounds all of those groups with his responses. None of them quite knows what to do with what he is saying. And, it is interesting that at one point He tells the crowd to “do what the Pharisees tell you to do, but don’t do as they do.”

It is always remarkable when Michael Card walks on the same steps as Jesus walked. He is telling the story of Matthew’s Gospel surrounded by the very stones (HUGE stones) that Jesus predicted, when talking about the destruction of Herod’s temple, “…not one stone will be left on top of the other.” To the Jews, the destruction of Jerusalem was the most devastating event in the history of the world.

To understand the power of some of these questions and responses, Michael Card helps us to understand the Jewish mindset in a world that, in Matthew’s day, was dominated by Rabbis and Pharisees.

Here is a link to the video.

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A New Identity: The Gospel of Matthew, Part 3

Today, August 20, 2017 we watched part three of a five part Day of Discovery series on the Gospel of Matthew hosted by Michael Card.

“Host Michael Card explores Matthew chapters 9-13. Join us as we uncover the identity of Jesus, see how His disciples found a new identity for themselves, and find out what that means about our own identity in the One who promised to always be with us.”

We are learning more and more about how Jesus turns the world upside down, both literally and figuratively. When asked by his disciples “who is the greatest?” Jesus gives a response that reminds them that they are not looking at the world from God’s perspective. In God’s world, to be rich you need to let go of your wealth. In order to be wise you must embrace foolishness. In order to be the greatest you must become like a child.

We are faced with situations every day where our response to them is couched in the perspective of this world. Attempting to put that aside, it is a worthy effort on our part if we try to see each situation as Jesus would see it, and respond to it as Jesus would respond… possibly in an “upside down” kind of way. As humans, this is so easy to say but very hard to do. Still, we should be aware enough to ask for the help of the Holy Spirit and aspire to do our best.

Here is a link to the video.

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A New Identity: The Gospel of Matthew, Part 2

Today, August 13, 2017 we watched part two of a five part Day of Discovery series on the Gospel of Matthew hosted by Michael Card.

Do not give up asking: “Host Michael Card brings Matthew chapters 5-8 to life. Offering a clear and thoughtful presentation, Card takes us on an insightful journey through Scripture that reveals Jesus as the promised Messiah to the Jewish people and the Savior of the world to the Gentiles.”

Matthew’s perspective, as compared with the other three Gospels, is on what Jesus said… His words, his “take” on things, without the fluff, were of utmost importance to Matthew. This Gospel has more references to the Old Testament than any of the other Gospels, and it is the most succinct of them all, primarily due to Matthew’s “editing down” of his content to just the essentials. It is specifically speaking to a Jewish audience.

So, if you’d like to bridge the gap between the Old Testament and the New Testament then Matthew is the one Gospel to read.

Here is a link to the video.

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