Monthly Archives: October 2016


Blind Faith (No. 43, 2016)
Weekly Devotional for October 27, 2016

A sound, comprehensive, authoritative, accessible tutorial can
make all the difference in becoming competent to do things a new way. I am
currently progressing step-by-step through a superb tutorial as I strive to
master use of an iPhone. For years I have been a committed user of an
Android smart phone with a slide-out keyboard. Typing with an on-screen
keyboard did not make sense to me as a blind person. The “Talk Back” utility
built into all current android mobile operating systems offers some screen
reading capability, but many icons and other items displayed on the screen
remain minimally accessible to blind users. I could send and receive text
messages and occasionally make or answer a phone call, but web browsing,
searching for directions, and other common smart phone apps turned out to be
far too problematic or just didn’t work for me.

On my desktop computer – which does an excellent job of reading
almost anything that is displayed on the monitor – I read an article about
the robust accessibility offered for smart phone apps by apple iPhone’s
“Voice Over” utility. Voice Over can read most of what I was missing on my
Android phone. It can read screen content almost as well as my desktop
computer. The daunting deterrent to switching to an iPhone was the totally
unfamiliar dialect of gestures, taps, flicks, swipes, and location of icons
I knew nothing about from having used an Android phone. iPhones and iPads
are very intuitive if you can see the icons on the screen, but present an
insoluble puzzle for blind users.

But a link in an article about how blind people enthusiastically
use their iPhones took me to a magnificent help for mastering the iOS
environment. A tutorial website written by a blind IT instructor provides
careful descriptions of the iPhone screen, the arrangement of icons, and
clear descriptions of finger movements required to activate each item. The
author shared his experience of having very limited eyesight during his
early life, then becoming totally blind several years ago. He initially
found that manuals and guides to using an iPhone relied heavily on diagrams
and photos of the screen to explain operations of the devices. He wrote his
tutorial specifically for blind users. Content on the tutorial site can be
customized for the iPhone model and iOS version the new user has in hand. I
do not think that I would ever have been able to become an adroit iPhone
user without this tutorial.

Having a sound, comprehensive, authoritative, accessible
tutorial can make all the difference for a fledgling believer to become a
competent Christian, a mature disciple of Jesus. Our default position is to
“look out for Number One.” Human beings of every ethnic origin, from every
nation, at every socio-economic level have deeply ingrained tendencies to
act primarily out of self-interest, with family and community usually
treated as after-thoughts. “Me first!” is a visceral urge habituated from
our earliest days and often is exploited by power brokers and moguls who
enflame our selfish desires to enhance their own quests for primacy. The way
of Jesus runs counter to the way we have done things before we commit our
lives to him in faith. Jesus plainly said that his way is demanding: “If
people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must
be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me. (Luke 9:23b NCV)
Becoming a competent follower of Jesus is far beyond our natural
capabilities. We need a tutorial that is supremely relevant, accurate in
every situation, and engaging for all who will participate in the process.

Followers of Jesus can take hope because of the glorious
tutorials that are available for learning how to grow in Christian
competency. The word tutorial derives from Latin tueri, to guard; to watch
over. In the Greco-Roman world a tutor often served as both a guardian and
an academic instructor for minor children in a household, safeguarding both
their safety and their development of knowledge and skills. Christian
tutorials begin at the pinnacle of authority and comprehensiveness, that is
with Jesus, himself. Jesus assured believers of the value of his tutelage:
“Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his
house on rock. {25} It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and
hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. (Matthew
7:24-25 NCV) Jesus invited everyone to follow his instructions in order to
understand and to emulate his life of love and grace: “Accept my teachings
and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will
find rest for your lives.” (Matthew 11:29 NCV) Jesus’ teachings also come
not from just some third party trying to explain how to live; they come from
the Creator and source of all of life: “These words you hear are not my own;
they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:24b NIV) Further, ongoing
reviews and additional insights are inherent in this faith tutorial through
the constant, immediate presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised, “The
Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach
you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John
14:26 NIV) Paying attention to Jesus’ words, repeating his demonstrated
actions, and seeking fresh experiences of his presence are sure steps to
becoming a competent disciple.

We have other dependable sources available to assist with the
tutorial provided directly from God. The apostle Paul demonstrated through
his lifetime of self-sacrificial service that he had grown into a deep level
of understanding and practice of the way of Jesus. He confidently advised a
group of his favorite students: “Do what you learned and received from me,
what I told you, and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be
with you.” (Philippians 4:9 NCV) We have the advantage of Paul’s writings
still being available for ready reference to help us continue to develop our
skills in following Jesus. He echoes Jesus’ original promise, that if a
believer pays attention to the instructions provided by the Maker of all
systems, then God’s peace will be with us. We can develop increasing
competency for loving God and others and for living by grace every day.

Following Jesus faithfully can be daunting, but we can overcome
the trepidation if we avail ourselves of the right tutorial. Hear Jesus’
words and do them.

– J. Edward Culpepper

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