June 2009

On Sunday, I received a “comment” from Iran regarding the “Give Us a King” entry of last week.  The words were simply, “Pray for revolution.”  My heart was torn.  Of course, I left the comment.  As all of us know the uprising in Iran has been driven and publicized by the most unconventional means.  Tweeter has played a big part.  The world has seen the young woman, Nada, who was killed while walking with her father and other shocking images transferred via cell phones.

Yet, my mind could not help but go back to a meeting that I was told about by a head of a ministry for mentally challenged persons living in another state.  He had attended this conference several years ago.  It was a Christian men’s rally and the emphasis was reconciliation with the black community.  There were prayers and forgiveness and confessions.  God moved in a powerful way.

This brief acquaintance of mine had come to Florida on his way home.  He had stopped to visit DisneyWorld with his family and to see what is happening in Central Florida in regard to ministry to people who are mentally challenged.  In the debriefing that often goes on after a large conference, the pastor sat quietly stoic.  His head was lowered and he rested his arms on this legs as he confided that in the midst of the meeting he was shaken because most of what was begin discussed is still openly and unashamedly happening to people who are mentally challenged. 

I am proud of President Barak Obama.  I’m a staunch conservative and I’m leery of most of the social programs that he supports; but I am incrdibly proud that we have a black president.   However, even he isn’t shy about using a degrading “Special Olympics” comparison.

From the highest offices to degrading movies and slang on the streets, the mentally challenged community still suffers the most degrading and ungodly discrimination.  And I wish it stopped there. 

 Again and again, the most vulnerable are chosen to receive the most budget cuts.  It is considered good social work to put a mentally challenged person, in a low rent apartment in extremely horrific parts of town, with little money and virtually no supports.  What other group of people in America would be victimized in this way? 

A couple of years ago, a good friend and a member of Special Gathering was encouraged by her supported living coach to move from her safe and secure Adult Living Facility (ALF) into another town in a section of that city which was considered the worst part of our county.  She was told that it would be good for her because she would be around younger people.  Her family and all her friends were against the move but her social worker wanted her to “taste the joys of real independence.” 

The first night Kathy’s next door neighbor was shoot and killed in a gun battle that took place in the hallway of the apartment complex.  Kathy became a virtual prisoner in her own apartment, afraid to even venture outside the door.  Her mother could no longer do the twice-weekly drop-in visits that meant so much to Kathy’s mental stability.  Because Kathy was wheel-chair bound, her family and friends could no longer rescue her when she fell.  911 was available but it wasn’t the same. 

Kathy found that the “young people” who lived in her apartment were prostitutes and criminals.  Their vile lifestyles were abhorrent to her.  Of course, she had lost her much-sought-after apartment in the ALF.  She had to endure the fear and danger of her new situation for more than a year before another apartment became available.   

This is only one story.  One incident.  However, it is an all too-common picture.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  There are responsible social workers but many of them are caught in a system that demands an inclusion paradigm above all other considerations. 

Therefore, my request today is pray for the non-revolution within the mentally challenged community.  These vulnerable people will never rebel.  They want approval and have few demands.  Pray for a most vulnerable people who suffer discrimination, abuse and wrong everyday and it isn’t in Iran.  It may even be in your state, in your city, in your community.

Over the year in various entries, I’ve recommended music that we use in our praise and worship at Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  While many of SpG in Melbourne and Vero members have a home church they attended and still attend with their parents, their array of musical knowledge is pretty limited.  Basically, they know what I’ve taught them.  There are a couple of people who listen to Christian radio.  Their knowledge is broader and leans toward the contemporary side.

Because I play the piano badly and no other musical instruments, I’m restricted to using the orchastrations that are prerecorded.  The problem I find with almost all of the music that is being recorded today, especially the music that is “contemporary” is that songwriter have taken the admonishion of their critiques and they are now writing teaching songs.  These songs are long and quite complicated.  While I applaud them for taking every effort to teach the truths of the gospel, I find that they are too complicated for our members to understand.  In addition, if a song goes over four minutes, it loses most of our members.  

 This week I received four more recommendations for possible additions to our musical repotiore:

  1. How we Thank You found at www.consumingworship.com.  Use coupon code ADUK.  It is a two disk set with 20 songs.  The company boasts:  “The digital songbook + trax contains reporducible lead sheets, chord charts, group vocals, lyric text files as well as split-channed accompaniment CD for practice of performance.”  The cost is $79.99 (plus shipping and handling).
  2. http://wholeheartedworship.com/cwk/index.html

 Special Features

  • Great singable songs from Integrity, Maranatha, Vineyard, Scripture in Song, etc.
  • Singable keys for ordinary folks.
  • Available in standard stereo mix for listening enjoyment as well as accompanying small group worship; or in split tracks mix (voices & instruments separated on right & left channels) for performance and accompanying worship in larger settings.
  • “Mix and Match” capability for changing the recorded order of songs or the length of the worship time.
  • Each Volume has four complete “mini worship services” (each about 18 minutes long) with a mix of faster songs and slower songs that perfectly fit into a youth group, new church or outreach ministry format.
  • High quality production with skillful and anointed musicians, including Randy Rothwell, Marty Nystom, Bob Fitts, Lynn DeShazo, Lenny LeBlanc, Joey Holder, and Jamie Harvill.
  • WordSheets booklets available. These are words-only handouts which come in packets of 15.

        3.  Praise and Worship for Small Groups to which the link above takes you.

         4.  Worship Digest (which is more current songs)

In reality, we haven’t reviewed any of these albums but they have been ordered and I’ll give you a review when I have it.  I went ahead and posted this because praise and worship that is good for our members seems as scarse as a 30 foot tape measure.

What do you do with praise and worship?  Are you able to use the current music or do you find it too complicated?  What seems to be a good lenght for songs to be for your members before they stop singing?

Working Together Is Always Fun

Ephesians 2:15

Central Theme:  working together is fun and makes life a lot easier. 


       1.     When my family is down to visit us, things are always fun for me.

       2.     Everyone pitches in to help.

       3.     I do the cooking because I love to do it.

       4.     Then everyone helps to do the dishes, except me because I did the cooking. 

       5.     Working with Christians should be the same way. 

       6.     Have a member read Ephesians 2:15.

       I.     Tell the story of Apollos and Priscilla and Aquilla (He did not understand the ways of God and they helped him).

              A. We are at a picnic and there are many things to do.

              B. Karen could do it all but that would not be fair.

              C. We can each do a little and it will help a lot–because we are a family.

      II.     Jesus wanted to tear down all barriers and make us one family.

              A.  Families help each other.

                    1.  Families accept and love each other.

                    2.  Families know the worst about each other and forgive each other.

Conclusion–Our families help each other but we are part of the family of God and we must help each other also.

Find Florida Medicaid Doctors & Services, Call Medicaid Resources 

“Florida Medicaid Beneficiary Services can assist anyone who is receiving Medicaid. You can call or have a family member call for you. Services are free. Your records are confidential, except for the purpose of administering the program. For more information regarding these services, call the Medicaid Area Office in the list below that serves your county.” Source

Note- Medicaid Areas are not designated the same as Medicaid Waiver Districts.. Look at the county information, to find your Medicaid area.

Area 1 Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
(850) 595-5700
Okaloosa and Walton Counties
Area 2A Bay County
(850) 872-7690
Franklin, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington Counties
Area 2B Calhoun, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Madison, and Wakulla Counties
(850) 921-8474
Taylor and Liberty Counties Only
Area 3A Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Putnam, Suwannee, and Union Counties
(386) 418-5350, Option 6
Area 3B Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter Counties
(352) 732-1349
Toll Free 1-877-724-2358
Area 4 Duval County
(904) 353-2100
Volusia, Baker, Clay, Flagler, Nassau, and St Johns Counties
Area 5 Pinellas County
(727) 552-1191, Ext. 276
Pasco County
1-800-299-4844, Ext. 276
Area 6 Hillsborough County
(813) 871-7600, #4
Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Polk Counties
1-800-226-2316, #4
Area 7 Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Brevard Counties
(407) 317-7851
Toll Free 1-877-254-1055
Area 8 Charlotte, Collier, De Soto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota Counties
(239) 338-2620
Area 9 Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Counties
(561) 616-5255, #5
1-800-226-5082, #5
Area 10 Broward County
(954) 202-3200, Ext. 277
Toll Free 1-866-875-9131
Area 11 Miami-Dade County
(305) 499-2100
(305) 499-2111 (Español)
Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties

A description of the services offered by the Florida Medicaid program can be found in the Summary of Services, 2007-2008

[3.6 MB PDF]. Updated 7/11/07


Medicaid is NOT the Same Thing As Medicaid Waiver.

-If you are on the Medicaid Waiver, you are also recieving Medicaid.
-Medicaid is health insurance.
-Medicaid Waiver helps people to live in the community by providing some services that medicaid and other resources does not cover, such as adult day training or respite.


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Israel wanted a king like all the other nations.  They got their king along with all the mistakes, misjudgements and wickedness that God knew would accompany their request.  God told Samuel, “They aren’t rejecting you.  They are rejecting me.”

In his mercy, God allowed great men like David, Solomon, Jehosaphat and Hezekiah to emerge through the linage of Israel’s kingship.  However, the people also had to suffer through the depravity and neglect of kings such as Ahab and Rehoboram. 

Each day in our lives, we make decisions.  At times, they are godly and right.  Other times, decisions are based on the morays of the day.  Those are the days that we straighten up our frame to look as tall and broad as possible and declare, “Give me a king!”

Many of my male pastor friends are bikers.  More and more of them are joining the league of people who enjoy having bugs wedged between their teeth and smashed on their eye lids.  In reality, it makes sense considering the amount of travel they must do.  With an economic down turn and their parishioners still needing care in a county so long and narrow, it’s difficult to get into your car and not travel 20 plus miles to make one visit.  I often wonder if this bike mania is an extreme male ego thing or a godly decision to save on the resources of their congregation. 

However, I’ve also learned that ego (whether male or female) is a tricky varmint capable of extreme humility and grace when controlled by the Holy Spirit and diabolic enough to make you think that you are sacrificing when you are actually entertaining your bases senses.  The mentally challenged community is not void of ego.  Even the most disabled among us can become the most selfish and the most uncaring.

However, in my teenage years, I was greatly effected by a elderly woman who lived in our neighborhood.  Bedridden, her body was bent and twisted by arthritis.  Yet her days of pain were spent in prayer for others.  People would come from all over to have her pray for them.   Miracles happened as she prayed.  Was it the arthritis that made her holy?  Of course not.  But this is I do know.  She chose to use her days in activity that reached the heavens.

Judy is like that.  She is developmentally disabled but she is a pray-er.  Sam often reaches over to touch my head and bless me.  His prayer blessings have carried me through difficult days and weeks more times than I can count.  Each Saturday and Sunday, I fight to be the first in the prayer line to have Carlos or Eric or Annie pray for me.  Their simplistic, “God bless Linda and heal her family,” has ministered far more to me than the most poetic and prophetic words of great evangelists.

It is good to know that whether we are making  life changing, godly choices or asking for a king, God can produce a David in our lives.   It is also wonderful to know that God can use the simplistic prayer of a developmentally delayed saint to bless and transform us.

I’m currently reading Jane Austin’s final novel, Persuasion.  After her death, Sir Walter Scott wrote about Austin, “That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements, feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I have ever met with.”

As I sit in my garden or rest in my bed at night reading the book, I’m a bit amazed.  My thoughts have been, I’m reading the same book that Sir Walter Scott read.  Books have a way of transcending generations and cultures to teach and explain.  We hold them in our hands and we see the times and places with vivid detail, experiencing boredom, delight or horror. 

Because I love to read, it’s been a great sadness that members within the mentally challenged community often don’t have the ability to read.  And if they do read, there is almost nothing for them to read that relates to their lives on a reading level that they can comprehend. 

It isn’t that they don’t enjoy a good story.  In fact, they probably enjoy The Story more than most.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed this past year is going to a movie with Special Gathering members on vacation from South Carolina and seeing their reactions.  Thelma and Laura laugh and cry with hearty abandon.  Tommy and Josh sit silently with their hands properly folded in front of them.  However, when questioned, each one can recite her favorite scene and what part was the funniest to him.

I do understand that Austin’s treaties would be a bit complicated for people who are developmentally delayed to read and comprehend.   Austin’s first sentence in Persuasion reads:

Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his facultieswere roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt, as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century–and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed–this was the passage at which the favourite volume always opened: “ELLLIOT OF KELLYNCH HALL.”

That is part of why we always include a continuing story in Connecting Point for our members.  They are written by E. Williams.  She is a novelist whose published works rivaled Nancy Drew  in the early fifties.  She has always written Christian books.  We are grateful for her 20 years of contributions to our newsletter.  As you can imagine, her age has slowed her down but one of her greatest delights is that Special Gathering still finds value in her writing.  You can also go to Special Gathering Stories to read some of her books. 

Have you found any books that are suitable for people who are mentally challenged?  What are the favorite books of your members?

This is an excellent comment received from Tony Piantine regarding the post on Saturday, June 13, and planned residential communities.  I know not everyone looks at the comments so I wanted you to see this.  Hooray for Tony!  Visit his blog for more insight on disability issues from a Christian perspective.

When a slave is given a choice he is still a slave. Moses lived in the ruling culture of his time, he also lived isolated from society. He did not really choose or live until he accepted God’s opportunity to choose to be free.

I see the importance of issues that affect everyday life, such as where to live and whom to live with.  Yet we must understand that people with disabilities are in bondage to a system that keeps them from the full, free experience where they can really make decisions. Decisions based on policy, philosophical biases, social workers’ bias, or whatever the latest funding source that is provided, are not based in freedom that comes from God. 

The Christian community needs to wake up see the value of people with disabilities.  We must give them opportunity for a real choice of living in Christian community where real freedom to choose is understood only to come from God.

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