Seeing with New Eyes

by Stephen Trout

It’s an odd (and humbling) thing to wake up and realize that the glasses you’ve relied on to see are suddenly blurry.

Yesterday, they worked just fine; overnight, the darn things seem to have lost their focus.   

It’s an apt comparison to the eyes of our hearts.  

In fact, the need for clear “heart sight” is a central prayer throughout Scripture:

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Ps. 119:18). 


“… remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…” (Eph. 1:16-18)

Seeing with new “heart eyes” is both a gift and a multi-faceted reality. It includes having:

  • our imaginations engaged and purified (Genesis 6:5)
  • our understanding submitted to His Word (Prov. 3)
  • our thinking transformed (Matt. 15:19)
  • our faith redirected (Romans 10:9)
  • and our loves rightly ordered (1 Peter 1:22). 

And though we might have expected a list of “how-tos,” the “Spirit of wisdom” accomplishes all this by focusing our vision on a Person

“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:30, 31)

Note how this leads not to a puffed up or arrogant spirit, but actually produces less boasting in self, and more in him!

Why do we take the time to remember these things?

The main answer to this, of course, is that he alone is worthy of our heart’s worship. He is good, exchanging blindness for sight, and a vision for love where there was none. 

But we might also consider these two, common challenges: storms and headlines.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about storms. As the rains hit and we’re taking on water, our vision for life and ministry can begin to blur. We may even lose hope, feeling that Jesus is asleep in the boat!   

God knows, that is why the prayer is so central: Faith and rest in the finished work of Christ are the daily “spectacles” (faith) we all need to see clearly. Yet the good news is that even when our vision does get blurry, he continues to see us clearly:

“The eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.” Ps. 33:18

In addition, wisdom and renewed vision help us make more sense of the headlines. Like the sons of Issachar, we must learn to “understand the times” (1 Chron. 12:32) – even if the story’s details aren’t clear. 

But perhaps you will respond, “What do you mean, ‘understand the times’? There’s nothing new under the sun!” 

True enough. But sometimes, when this greater clarity comes, we realize that our old ways of interacting maybe weren’t the best after all.

New Ways of Interacting

Consider a case in point: 

One popular view of ministering to people is to first show them their sins, so that they will hopefully see their need for Christ. Essentially, the starting place is Genesis 3 – the Fall of man into sin. 

The classic tool for this is the “Roman’s Road” approach of scripture sharing. You may have even memorized the verses (good for you if so!)

Typically, the first step onto the road is to say something like this: “Do you admit that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God”? (Romans 3:23).

But let’s pause for a second: is that always the best first step? Besides the fact that your friend may not even have a clear understanding of “sin,” we might in fact be sending a moralistic message that they are merely “sin on two legs” (as someone put it), and nothing more.

Don’t get me wrong – our indwelling sin is indeed our greatest problem. Our greatest need therefore is to be forgiven, “justified by his grace, through the redemption that comes by Christ Jesus” which brings us into right relationship with God (3:24). (Note how Jesus actually demonstrates this with the paralyzed man, Lk. 5). 

This goes deeper than our concerns about poor self-image, broken relationships, or woundedness. 

Of course, those things certainly matter. But they’re the results of sin’s entrance into the world; the root cause being turning from worshipping God to ourselves and creation (Rom. 1).

(We hasten to add that abuse especially may not be the result of our own sin, but the sins of others against us. This is important to stress, for no one asks for abuse – though they can sometimes feel as if they did. Responding with compassion is critical to help them see a loving God; One who knows what it is to be abused and who intimately and emotionally involves himself with our pain).

But what if our starting point instead was Genesis 1 – where Scripture starts?

Here we see that every person – whether they know God or not – is made in his image, possessing inherent dignity and an honored place in God’s creation.

So what might we see if we aim for dignity first, instead of trying to convince someone of sin (which can come later by confessing our own!)? 

I want to suggest that this can lead to four things, at least:

1. Finding common ground. 

Rather than assuming a defensive posture where we “lob grenades over the wall” at all the ways an unbeliever is wrong, we can realize and affirm our common ground with them. 

For instance, our shared dignity as image-bearers will translate into both of us reflecting God’s heart in some way – maybe a passion for justice, or artistic creativity.

As John Calvin put it: “the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts…” 

They themselves may not acknowledge where these things come from, but we can certainly express our appreciation when we see them. And since everyone longs to be valued, our enjoyment of them will help build relational currency and trust, rather than immediately creating a spirit of opposition.

2. Being quick to listen, slow to speak.

We are called to this as believers, but it’s an area where often fail because we like to hear ourselves talk. We might tell ourselves it’s about righteousness, but usually a pride thing, this needing to be right, and approved.

In contrast, when someone feels heard, they will (again) feel valued, noting that someone took the time to listen carefully, see them more clearly, and not assume things about them.   

3. Asking questions, graciously. 

When we do open our mouths to speak, what if we began by asking some clarifying “get to know you better” questions? 

This too is a gracious way to build relationship, demonstrating the humility of wanting to understand, and that we’re more interested in them than being right, or heard. 

 4. Serving in love. 

This should really be #1, though it is actually a part of each point. 

We don’t listen and ask questions so that we might now set about fixing another person.

What if, instead, our main intent was to empathize; to comfort? 

Maybe we could pray with them – the very act of which demonstrates that we aren’t “the Fixer.” In truth, we’re both needy for grace, and can cry out together to the God who hears and is “close to the broken-hearted” – who alone can rescue and save. 

This shows them too that we’re not the Holy Spirt, who alone can convict. No one wants to know how much you know – until they see how much you care.

Our hope and prayer in mentioning these four things is that we’ll see others more clearly, with a “renewed mind” and heart that will help shape our ministry focus. 

If so, your writing, preaching, teaching, and website content will be more graciously informed, with the stronger, more pleasing aroma of Christ as a result. 

Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480–8791.



A Kingdom-Centered Website for Questioners – Part 2

by Stephen Trout


Lauren Whitman’s daughter was excited about her class hike through a nature preserve – until her glasses disappeared. 

She’d hung them on her collar in order to peer through her binoculars; but when the hike was over, the glasses were gone. To make matters worse, a sudden downpour swept in, making it even less likely the glasses would be found!

Afterward, Lauren recalls their conversation:

“…as she and I trudged along the muddy paths, I was trying to carry the mantle of hopefulness for our little two-member search party. “Look along the edges of the path!” “Keep praying!” “Keep your eyes on the ground!” 

But when we reached the end of the route that her class had traversed without spotting the glasses, discouragement started to set in.”

Can’t we relate? What a perfect metaphor for the journey of faith: we’re moving along fine, enjoying the scenery. Suddenly trouble comes. Things get cloudy; we lose our vision.

Such experiences are common to us all. But what we do next – as Lauren notes – isn’t always approved – either by us, or others. 

“As we turned around to go the same way back and comb back over the same terrain, my daughter’s questions started.

“Why doesn’t God just send angels to show us where the glasses are?”

Good question! “He certainly could do that,” I replied cheerfully.  

A few minutes later: “Why doesn’t God just end all the sin in the world right now?”

A deeper question—and much harder to answer! I could see her logic: a hardship like losing your glasses is connected to a world that isn’t fully redeemed.

We continued to talk and look, look and chat. And when we found the glasses several minutes later—yes, we found them!—I noticed that I felt a little disappointed. 

We were happy, of course, but a simultaneous feeling of disappointment after receiving the blessing of an answered prayer? Curious. Yet I understood it: finding her glasses meant we’d now head home and switch gears. With the glasses found, the tension she had been wrestling with— We’re praying. I know God can answer, but will he?—was resolved. 

My disappointment indicated just how much I valued that she was asking questions about her faith—so much so that I would’ve gladly kept looking for the glasses to give her more time to wrestle with that tension!”

Questions & Wrestling are Scripture’s Model

For many, expressing questions about God’s ways in our lives can seem like a weakness. “If you were really walking in faith,” they say, “you’d respond differently. Say ‘Praise the Lord anyway,’ and move on.”

But is that really what we’re called to? Are we meant to just passively or stoically accept whatever comes our way, without ever voicing our pain, or processing aloud what God is doing? 

Whitman says that on the contrary, questions (like her daughter’s) are actually a sign of honest engagement with God, and of being human. 

Do we question this? Notice the numerous examples in Scripture that show God’s people – and even the perfect human, Christ himself (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”) – questioning in the midst of suffering and pain. 

God includes questions like these in His Word, Whitman notes, to validate emotional engagement: 

“Why, Lord do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1–2)

“How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever? (Psalm 13:1)

“How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Habakkuk 1:2)

“Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?” (Habakkuk 1:3)

Our Ministry and Website

As we saw last week, we all have questions about God’s ways and his love, our guilt and shame, and whether we’ll be accepted. They’re natural in a fallen world.

Loneliness and despair may be understandable apart from knowing God as Father; yet even believers can “lose their glasses” and struggle with difficult providences.

In addition, we are strugglers with sin, often doing the things we don’t want to do (as Paul himself said in Romans 7). 

Yes, it’s true that there is no condemnation in Jesus (Romans 8) – but are we honest about the struggle? Do we validate for others?

So we need to ask a pertinent question: Do we make space – in our relationships as well as on our websites – for those kinds of questions?

  • Are you feeling alone? 
  • Hopeless? 
  • At the end of your rope? 
  • Helpless, possibly in the face of injustice?
  • What are you struggling with, and believing about your situation?

Perhaps we don’t ask because we’re not ready for the answers!

And so we opt for a glittering image of Christianity, everyone smiling and happy, all the time. And if they’re not, well they just need to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and fix things.

This is hardly an honest portrayal of the Christian life – life in God’s kingdom of grace. Nor is it a picture of the relational love to which we’re called. 

We’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: we tend to want to change our circumstances, but God wants to change our hearts. 

This is critical, because circumstances and sufferings may not change. A restored vision to see “a big God” who is with us is what we all need most.

This way, when we do face the fire and the storm, we will not ultimately be overcome, for we know and trust that the Lord is with us (Isa. 43). 

Let’s end with some final words from Lauren:

“The very essence of faith is believing in what we can’t see (Hebrews 11:6). That’s not easy to do! We live in a world that’s not our home, where all things haven’t been made right. And in this place, trusting God is not a given. The hope is that greater trust comes on the other side of asking questions. And that is indeed the goal when we wrestle with our uncertainties: that our love for God would increase, and that, after our wrestling, we’d be left with a deeper sense that true rest will only be found with him… when you are struggling with doubts and hard questions, find a trusted person to voice them to, someone who will value them. Wrestle through them together. Pose them to God directly, as the psalmists did—and as Jesus himself did (Psalm 22:1). And be encouraged that your questions are a sign of a living, engaged faith.” 


Lauren Whitman is a counselor with the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF). Her original article can be found here.


A Kingdom-Centered Website for Questioners, Part 1

If there’s one thing that’s true of all of us – embedded deep in our hearts from creation – it’s that we ask questions. 

We ask because we’re not self-sufficient; we’re dependent creatures. We need to wonder, wrestle, and learn – it’s actually a good thing. 

Relational inquisitiveness propels exploration, and deepens knowing. Gracious questions can be an expression of love, a way of not being preoccupied with self (1 Cor. 13:5).  

Yet sometimes our questions do reveal our unbelief:  

“Did God really say…?” (Gen. 3:1)

But then God himself comes asking us a question (though he already knows the answer!): “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9)

It’s a way of helping us face ourselves; we’re meant to hear and reflect: “Where am I indeed?” And, “Will I be honest about my hiding, and my guilt and shame?”

Now, since that great fracturing of our relationship with God, we ask even more questions, expressing our deepest fears, hopes, and longings:

“Am I loved? Will I be Accepted?”

“Can I really be forgiven? If so, will I always feel it?”

Is there healing for my shame?”

“What am I looking to (trusting in) to find meaning in my life right now?”


Multitudes of self-help gurus offer answers to these questions – yet their answers send us inward, and leave us wanting. After all, a curved-in self is part of the problem.  

But what if we linked our questions to God’s unfolding story?

The gospel – this “divinely orchestrated narrative” of good news (what “gospel” means) actually drives us outward, away from our own schemes, to the true King.

In other words, as Tim Keller notes, the gospel is news, not advice.

And the good news is, his heart is not set on crushing us (2 Pet. 3:9). He asks us to simply admit what we are, and come open-handed.

When we do, we see that this King is unlike all others, for he stoops from his throne to personally come and rescue us. The devastating effects of our cosmic treason – guilt and shame – are answered with unimaginable grace. 

The Kingdom

Yet what makes the gospel especially good news is that it’s not only our past and future hope, it’s our present hope in the face of heart struggles and sufferings as well.

We may have come to trust Christ as our Savior, yet our deepest questions about being loved, accepted, and finding true meaning still persist.

Thankfully, they find their ultimate answers not in ourselves, but in the finished work of Christ – including what he is now doing: interceding for us, and “making all things new” (Isa. 43:19).

Faith may wax and wane, but the cross and resurrection changed everything; now, wherever the King is, there you will find the kingdom.

So how do we understand this kingdom?

Unlike many conceptions, the kingdom of God isn’t an ethereal, pie-in-the-sky, off-in-the clouds reality. Rather, it’s an unfolding story now taking shape; a King ushering in his new society.

As theologian Nicholas Perrin says, it is a “sphere of reality conspiring with a community of human image-bearers in the task of restoring creation to the worship of the one true Creator God.”

The resurrection of Jesus has opened that door. 

NT Wright fleshes this out for us when he writes:

“The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die…What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether…They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”

Your Website

When it comes to your website, you may have heard the popular saying “content is king.” If you listen to marketing experts, they’ll tell you that you need to use keywords (that come up in searches), well-written content, and good visuals.

These things are helpful, and shouldn’t be neglected.

Yet, we also do justice to God’s work and his unfolding kingdom when our content helps questioners grapple with the true King and his kingdom. As we’ve noted in past posts, your site should anticipate the things they will ask about, with a posture of warm and loving welcome.

We facilitate this welcome by acknowledging that every person has a story. Because we were made for this King, the questions that arise in our stories can be answered in the most healing of ways: 

“Am I loved?” The gospel answers, Yes, you are loved more than you can imagine, for the king has suffered and shed his blood to rescue you (dying the death you deserve) and welcome you into his family.

“Am I accepted?” The Gospel says you’re accepted – even on your worst day. 

“Am I forgiven?” Yes, through faith in Jesus you are completely forgiven. Jesus has sealed the adoption papers in his blood. He will bring the good work he has begun in you to completion.  

“Is there healing for my shame?” Yes, but like our other questions and because of our sin, this is easy to forget. We need continual reminders that through his cross, he has separated our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west, ” and has taken our shame upon himself.  Though we want to take it back sometimes (we insist on self-salvation projects), he says “it is finished.” 

“What gives me meaning in my life right now?” Because we’re still prone to wander, the question of where we look for meaning is always relevant. Even as believers, our heart’s worship can deviate to “self-made, artificial saviors” – whether relationships, jobs, success, feeling good and always entertained, etc. The Gospel reminds us that Jesus is better than all. 

These kinds of questions must be unpacked carefully and continually – on your site, in sermons, conferences, Sunday School lessons, etc., – and especially in God’s new community, the welcoming fellowship of believers. 

It’s easy when it comes to questions of doctrine to simply proof-text answers without fleshing them out. Your website can offer more; inquirers need to hear down-to-earth stories from those in your church family to help them. 

In our next post, we’ll add to the questions above to help your site anticipate the questions that inquirers are asking.



A Graceful Reconsidering of the Ministry Website

The problem with our assumptions, someone once noted, is that we tend to assume they’re true. (This, despite that old quip about what assuming does to you and me!)

But if, as Einstein posited, most of our assumptions are wrong — why don’t we question them more?

Maybe it’s because we’re caught in a feedback loop of how we think the world should be — surrounded by what’s comfortable for us. Why ask a fish about the water, right?

But what we’re blind to — or maybe don’t want to see — can lead us down some unhelpful paths.

Take your ministry website and messaging, for example. 

As the main doorway for seekers to explore what you do, your site content may unwittingly communicate some misleading messages:

1. “Our website is really about us; become like us too.”

I know saying “our website” is unavoidable, but is it really for you?

If most visitors to your site are those exploring your church or ministry, will they interpret your site as a member or believer would?

Why does that matter?

It matters because if your site assumes a universal understanding of Christianity — using only words that even Christians sometimes find fuzzy, like “atonement,” or even “sin” — you might not be meeting visitors where they actually are.

Why not rather assume that they don’t understand these terms — which, culturally speaking, is much more likely the case — and seek to bring clarity to them?

Please understand — we’re not saying you shouldn’t retain good words or have Statements of Faith or “What we Believe” sections on your site. 

Those are definitely helpful — but mostly for those who are already believers, or transferring from another church.

But when surveys are showing that the average person today can’t name even half of the Ten Commandments — the law which reveals to us what sin really is, and our need for a Savior – why should we expect them to understand redemption?

2. “People will come to faith because we tell them to.”

There are lots of reasons why people doubt. Do you know them? (Take a moment to ponder some of your own). 

Further, did you suddenly believe in Jesus one day because someone gave you a list of truth propositions, and told you to accept them? Or was it rather love — worked out relationally — that wooed your heart to him? (John 13:35)

Instead of focusing on why people should believe — or assuming they will just do it because you said so — why not help them to believe?

We can start by remembering that Jesus didn’t approach everyone the same way — just read the gospels. He knew each person’s heart, and what they needed most.

We can seek to do the same, by getting to know people first. We do this by deeds of love — as we said — serving and asking good questions — not in order to trap them but to honestly learn their story and meet their needs.

You may come to find that they’ve been deeply hurt by distorted or abusive religious experiences, as many have. Wouldn’t this be good to know?

Learning about their struggles can bring a more sympathetic approach and an honest admission (where needed) that Christians often lose sight of grace (see Galatians 1:6–9).

Practical Tip: Including video clips of “Gospel testimonies” on your site is a great way to bring sin and grace “down to earth,” and let visitors know they can be real about their own stories.

3. “We know your concerns.”

Maybe you think everyone is concerned about life after death, or how the world began (evolution or intelligent design?), or even what you think are the most perplexing moral and political issues of our day.

Or maybe you think they should be concerned about those things — so you’re going to make sure they are.

Here’s a news flash: those things may not be anywhere near the forefront of their minds. So are those issues going to be your best points of contact?

You won’t know until you get to know them.

Maybe you’ll find their deeper questions are more like “Can I really be loved?” and “Does God (if he exists) even care, since he seems so remote?” or “What do I do with my shame?”

Those are deeper heart questions that are common to us all — even believers! Wouldn’t it be good for our seekers to know they’re not alone, and that we struggle with them too?

At the very least, they will feel heard — and loved — instead of steamrolled because you assumed you knew what they needed.

So ask yourself: does my website effectively acknowledge an unbeliever’s concerns and questions?

Does it address real struggles, and seek to meet people where they’re at — instead of assuming we know, or making them pass some kind of knowledge test to enter our “club?”

In short, does your website offer them a “hospital for sinners” where the healing balm of Jesus is applied?

These are important questions for ministry in general, but also as we seek to effectively use our sites to connect with real people with real struggles, as ambassadors of grace!


Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480–8791.