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WHOSE FACE IS IT?Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16 A friend and I were engrossed in conversation on our way somewhere on a hot California afternoon. She happens to own a beautiful BMW, complete with all the extras and an amazing sound system. As we stopped at a corner, over the music and over the talk, I heard a voice outside my window. A lady, obviously weathered from the streets, stood a few feet away from our car. Dirty. Hungry. They all look the same, laying on the sidewalk, park bench, or church steps. We've become accustomed to this familiar sight. Some of us turn away in disgust and some in sympathy. I try to challenge myself to turn in the way that Jesus would. Are these the faces of “soulless” people, or the faces of Christ? How can we sum up their situation and background in just a matter of seconds as we drive by? Jesus spoke to this issue directly in Matthew 25:42–45: “‘For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'” We smile at the beautiful little girl walking by us at the mall, we greet the Fed Ex man with courtesy, we ask for autographs at concerts, we sometimes stop for the motorist stranded on the side of the road, we greet visitors at our churchesthe list goes on and on. The Bible acknowledges our ease at loving the lovely and our resistance to loving the unlovely. I believe that Christ is disguised in men today just as he was after he rose from the dead. “How about a turkey sandwich and some hot coffee?” I asked the woman on the corner. She said with an expressionless face, “Yeah, that would be great.” It was a small contribution to my Jesus who is hungry and thirsty in people all over the world. May we be aware of his presence in humanity. May we be aware of his need in the needs of others. May we offer his love outside of the boundaries of our own love. May we never let our hearts become so numb and so blind that we cannot see the face of Jesus in the -people we meet in the everyday of our lives. Eyes speak so easily; the giving, reaching-to-touch, love-filled words our mouths so desperately try to say. Let the eyes you've created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.” HE WILL PROTECT YOU Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.... preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:24–25 A Spanish woman came up to me after one of my concerts. She was bubbly and colorful and full of life. I could tell immediately that she had a true love for God and a childlike excitement about knowing him. We talked and shared for awhile and then she said she wanted to show me something special. She began to tell me about her father, who loved Jesus and had fought in World War II. He found himself in a fierce battle one day, in which gunfire exploded and grenades blew up all around him. He survived, she said, because a miracle had happened. She then pulled a tiny Bible from her purse. She told me he had always carried it in his chest pocket, right next to his heart. I took it in my hands; a hole was blown through each and every page all the way to the back cover. I marveled at this act of God. The word of the Lord. By this man's heart. It protected him. In the same way, he wants to protect you and me every day of our lives. How often do we fail in letting God's Word protect our hearts? We too often lean into the circumstance or the emotion rather than God's truth about us. I can sometimes surrender to battles without even giving a thought to the words, “... in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Guilt hangs over me like a dark cloud before I acknowledge that, “... there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). In the eighth chapter of Romans alone I can win many wars that rage in and around my soul. In walking through tragic, trying situations, “consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). When I can hardly look up toward heaven and can barely mutter a prayer, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). When I have trouble understanding hardship, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When I feel misunderstood, slandered, and put up against the wall, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). I could go on and on. And the above is just one chapter from the whole of Scripture. God's Word is eternal, unchanging, faithful, true. It is not feelings, it is the Word of God. It is not circumstances, it is the Word of God. It is not our words that matter, but his. Keep them by your heart. They will surely protect you. Lord, teach me to give my very all to this life that you've given me, but to always remember to save my heart for you.