Monthly Archives: February 2013

Love Story of an Ogre

Kara Knight is a 27-year-old licensed minister.  She works at Sox Place, a drop-in center for homeless and at-risk youth and young adults in Denver, CO.  Sox Place exists to bring the Father’s heart to the fatherless.  Kara and her husband of five years, Brian, also are helping with a church plant in Boulder County, CO.  In her spare time, Kara enjoys getting in shape to climb her next 14er, cooking, reading, and watching Doctor Who.

“You ready?” I asked Ogre.

“Yup,” she replied with a smile on her dirty face.  “I only let myself have one drink this morning so I would be sober while I speak.”  I could tell she was proud of herself.

“Great!  Let’s go!”

We were driving over an hour to introduce some ladies to Sox Place.  Ogre had been coming to Sox Place off-and-on for ten years.  She is a train rider – a traveler – if this was 100 years ago, she’d be called a hobo – a train hopper.  If you’venever experienced train riders, then, well, let’s just say they are dirty.  They usually have mud and soot on their skin to the point that you don’t know if they are tan or just dirty.  They smell like a mixture of a boy’s high school locker room after football practice and the bottom of a bar’s dumpster after an especially wild Friday night.  And they never wash their clothes because, according to them, the dirt is what is preventing the fabric from completely falling apart. 

Ogre was no different, and she knew it.

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In addition to being a traveler, Ogre proclaims to be a Christian, and I have no reason to doubt her.  Sure, she has a problem with alcohol and she swears more than a poorly made R-rated action movie.  However, she is constantly trying to live in a way that pleases God, even though she knows she fails in many ways.

So, here we were, on an hour-plus car ride.  Train riders may not be pretty to look at, but they have some of the best stories.  One in particular stood out to me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it:

Being a good Southern girl, one Sunday Ogre decided she wanted to step into a church to hear “the Word.”  She sat in the back, with her Bible, ready to be fed.  But before the sermon even began, a deacon, in all his suit-and-tie glory, came up to Ogre and asked her to leave because she was “too dirty.”

I’ve heard many-a sermon on accepting people in the church and many-a story about how people aren’t, but to hear such a blatant story of unacceptance blew my mind.  I was angry.  How dare this man – who represented a church, who was supposed to represent Christianity, and, in that way, me, and ultimately represented Christ – show such the opposite of a Christ-like love?  I could begin to feel a hatred for this man, whom I had never met.

As that day – and the days after – wore on, Ogre’s story stayed with me.  I soon realized (with a nudge from the Holy Spirit, I’m sure) that I had no right to hold a grudge against this man.  We all, including me, have Ogres in our lives – those people we’d rather not have in our church.  We may not verbally tell them to leave, but we wish they would.  And we don’t do anything that would make them think otherwise.  Even the disciples had their Ogres.

Think of the Samaritan woman from John 4.  She, also, was a dirty woman.  She was a Samaritan (think Mudblood), a woman (gasp!), and an adulterer (dirty sinner!).  Three strikes of dirtiness.  The disciples knew it and wondered why Jesus was even talking to such a woman (v 27).  But we all know the end of the story.  Because Jesus displayed such compassion toward this woman, the whole town came to him (v 28-30).

Who are the Ogres and Women at the Well in your life? 

Who are the ones that deserve to be shown Christ-like love even though it is the last thing you want to do?

The young adult with too many body modifications?

The homosexual couple that holds hands on the back pew?

The parents whose children need some discipline?

The teen who wears too-short skirts?

The middle-aged man who wears a three piece suit and thinks everyone else should too?

The little old lady who always complains about the music?

My Ogre is the guy who tells people to leave because they are too dirty.  I want to say, “If you don’t show Christ’s love to others, then you don’t deserve to feel Christ’s love through me.”

But, of course, that’s not true.  Everyone deserves Christ’s compassionate love.  As with the woman at the well, such love may result in remarkable things for the Kingdom!

by Kara Knight

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Misrepresented

The author and her husband have two boys and live in India. Through teaching English, she and her family work in an unreached area. Her passion is to see those that have never understood who Jesus is, come to a true understanding of his love and forgiveness!

When I think of the word ‘misrepresented’, I think how much that word is an ESL nightmare, and how difficult of a word that is! There are 3 prefixes and 1 suffix. How is it ever possible to teach an English learner what all that means? Obviously, ESL is my world right now so that’s why my thoughts go there quickly. I know most wouldn’t even think twice about all that!

My friend planted Freedom Church in Lebanon, Indiana 5 years ago. One thing God spoke to my friend is that they were planting this church because he (God) had been misrepresented and they could represent Christ in the right ways.

I appreciate that. First, I appreciate that God has entrusted people that I care about so deeply with something so huge. Second, I agree. I agree that Christ has been misrepresented in many ways. It’s an important part of a non-believers journey to belief to be able to truly understand who Christ is and what he represents. If (more likely when) parts of his character are not understood correctly, then many times it takes quite a while for those things to be ‘discovered’ as untrue and turned into truth.

But, wow, when that truth is made known inside of us…when our heart is softened and our mentality shifts? When Christ makes known His character to us, those are amazing moments.

When our understanding of him lines up more accurately with who he really is, then we can represent him more effectively.

How do we uncover those misrepresentations? How do we get to places where we understand who Christ is in relation to us personally and the rest of the world as a whole?

Discipline.

Now that’s another difficult word, I know. Not necessarily from an ESL standpoint, though! Discipline is what it takes to represent Christ well.

Discipline in our time with God, in our reading of His word so we can better understand the words he left for us.

Discipline in our attitudes and behaviors, in our priorities and discipline to do something about the lostness of our world.

In those moments when we are denying ourselves and exercising his discipline in our lives, that’s when our hearts and minds are open more to him than any other time. Those can be very hard times. Especially if it turns into a long season of discipline. It’s one thing to hold your tongue or develop a good habit of Bible reading. Add to that spending time in his presence. These are all great attributes and excellent disciplines to develop. It’s a whole other thing, when a season of discipline comes into our lives. We have to respond to God continually. This process enables us to who Christ’s character and it may be easier said than done.

Hebrews 12:7 says we are ‘to endure hardship AS discipline’ (NIV). Notice the word ‘as’. At times we skip over that word and read that passage as saying that hardship IS discipline. No. Our hardships are as discipline in our lives. We will be more fully able to represent the heart of Christ because of our discipline through enduring hardships.

“As” and “is”…may be only 1 letter different, yet it makes a tremendous difference in how we approach hardship!

We can move from misrepresenting Christ, in even small ways, to representing him with our best and with all he has for us. As we allow discipline to be more prevalent in our lives, we understand more about Christ and share that with others. That’s what it is really all about anyways, isn’t it? Sharing Christ and bringing others along on the journey.

I am very thankful to have all the SHWAG sisters on this journey together!

written by a SHWAG Sister*