January 2010

I choose Faithfulness

Psalm 119:30

Central Theme:  Faithfulness is an active choice we make.

Introduction–My glasses do not have a choice in  whether they will work or not.  They let me see and see clearly every time I put them on.  I wish I could say I was that faithful.  I wish I was as consistent and dependable as my glasses BUT my glasses do not have a choice.  I have a choice.

       I.     Have a member read Ps 119:30

          A. I must choose each day, if I will be faithful to God and the people around me.  Tell of a member that you know set his/her heart on God.

          B. Faithfulness is choosing each time you are faced with a choice to obey God.

          C. Faithfulness is setting our hearts on God.  We choose.

           II.     Things do not have a choice.

              A. Does the SCAT bus decide where it will go?  The driver decides.

              B. My glasses did not decide the strength they would be, the optician did that.

     III.     I cannot put my heart on a permanent setting to be faithful.

                   A. Each day is a new time of making myself faithful.

                   1.  In our community, we hear a lot about choices.

              2.  Everyone makes choices to be faithful or unfaithful to the Lord.

              3.  Perhaps one of the most faithful men in the Bible was Noah.

                   (Tell a short story about Noah.)

              4.  Jesus choice to be faithful and went to the cross.

Conclusion–Faithfulness is choosing to obey God.  Objects may be faithful but they don’t get to choose.  God has given us the wonderful benefit of choice.

This is the latest iBudget.  Go to the website to see it and to comment.

The draft ibudget plan has been posted and comments are being requested.
Please review and send this communication out through your emailing lists.
/D08/DCF on 01/25/2010 09:51 AM —–
             Sent by: Hilary                                            To
             Brazzell                  APD_Area_Administration,            
                                       APD_Central Office                  
         01/25/2010 06:18                                              
             AM                                                    Subject
                                       Draft iBudget Florida plan posted  
                                       online–comments sought         

The draft iBudget Florida plan is posted online at
http://apd.myflorida.com/ibudget/draft-ibudget-florida-plan.htm.  This is
the plan for a new system featuring individual budgeting that is intended
to simplify the system and enhance self-direction, equity, and system
We are seeking comment from consumers, families, waiver support
coordinators, providers, advocates, and APD staff.  Comments received by
Thursday, 1/28/10 will be summarized in the plan, though comments received
after that date will still be welcome and considered.  Comments can be
–by email to apdibudget@apd.state.fl.us
–by web through http://apd.myflorida.com/ibudget/contact-us.htm
–leaving a voice mail for iBudget Florida at 850-414-8274 or 1-866-APD
CARES (1-866-273-2273)
The full report and some appendices are posted; more appendices will be
posted soon.
Please spread the word!
Thanks so much–

Hilary Brazzell
Agency for Persons with Disabilities
Central Office
4030 Esplanade Way
Tallahassee FL  32399
Ph (850) 414-8274
Fax (850) 410-0665
Toll-free 1-866-APD-CARES or 1-866-273-2273

Few of us admit that we actually enjoy studying and learning.  Yet, having an opinion that is founded in real facts is an exciting experience.  Some facts are learned in books; others are learned from junkets into real life.

Last night several speakers at the disability conference held at Northland Church in Orlando met for a dinner of fellowship and to learn from each other.  Yes, we discussed facts and figures of ministry.  Slowly, the conversation melted into fun and laughter, comparing notes of foibles and misadventures that we all experience.  Things that we will all try to avoid. 

Part of the serious discussion had revolved around liability.  How far do we  take this looming threat?  When does legitimate concern before fear?  One ministry head quoted Nehemiah.  He said, “It is important to guard the walls and pray.”  He believes that his job as head of a ministry is to guard against ruinous events that could take down a ministry and pray for God’s protection. 

Until I was heading a ministry, I must admit that I was on the side of the argument that his actions were over zealous.  However, a few weeks after I took the reigns of SpG of Indian River, Inc., I understood his zeal.  When it is your members, you want to do everything you can to safeguard their safety.  When it is your ministry, you become aware that maintaining the longevity of what God has called you to do is essential.   Lastly, your reputation and, therefore, your ministry and your members are put at risk without these safeguards.

True, there were a couple of hours of laughter.  But in the silence of my ride home, I pondered what I had learned.  The most important thing was a fortressing of the overarching need for protection in libelous areas. 

What about you?  Do you feel that risk managements is folly?  Or do you side with a zealous proactive approach?  Perhaps you are somewhere between.  Have you thought about why you have taken this position?  Share with us.

Today I had a pastor’s wife who asked me about a former member of Special Gathering.  Margie and I were extremely close until she moved into our town, got into supported living and later got married. 

I tried to continue the relationship by being friendly to Margie at social events even though she quit coming to Special Gathering.  When it was apparent that she was turning her back on me when I spoke to her, I stopped speaking.  That prompted a call from her supported living coach saying that she was extremely hurt with me because I was ignoring her.  I explained the events from my point of view. 

After a couple more calls from various support staff, it had become perfectly clear to me that I had become the person to whom she felt an obligation and she didn’t like it.  As someone put it, I became “the man.”  She felt that I was the one person from her past to whom she had to answer.  I could certainly understand her dilemma. 

Margie had lived under the thumb of her mother and older brother all her life.  She had been directed, abused and neglected during those 50 years.  Now she was on her own.  She was a married woman. Was she seeing me as a remnant of an unpleasant past that she wanted to leave behind?  I thought that was the case.

I had directed her from several abusive situations after her mother died.  But I wasn’t needed any longer and I was a bitter reminder of the situation from which she had been released.

I remember author and pastor, Jamie Buckingham, once telling me, “It is the people for whom you pour your life’s blood out who leave the church.”    I remembered his comment as I hung up the phone with the supported living coach for the last time.  Now, I’m friendly.  But I don’t invite her to church.  Because I picked her up on Sunday mornings, it had become my custom as I do with most people I pick up to call her and verify that she would be waiting for me.  I quit calling. 

Without going into detail, I explained a bit about the situation to the pastor’s wife.  She responded,  “Why would you drop her?  There is a church around the corner, from her apartment.  Call the pastor.  I know him.  He will pick the couple up.  Then you can call Margie to let her know that she has a ride to church again.”

“I will give the pastor a call.  But he will need to call the couple to inquire.  I don’t think I can get that involved.”

“Well, okay,”  she said with a disappointed look. 

It is always a question, when do you let go of a member?  If Margie called and asked for help, I would be there.  However, she has made it completely clear, through her support staff and in her actions that she doesn’t want my involvement.  What do you think?  When do you let go?

I read this morning an interesting newsletter that spoke about the coming and present new church world.  This wasn’t some new age hocus pocus; but it encapsulated a discussion about what the church may look like should we move past buildings and props into an ever-increasing  internet world of learning and relationships. 

No one can deny that our youth no longer communicate as we once did.  However, texting and Twittering isn’t limited to teens and college students.  During the staff meeting at 100-year-old First Church, the associate pastor sent everyone a text message because she was at a conference in another state.  Her purpose was to touch base with all the staff even though she could not be there.  She wanted everyone to know that she was available during that time should she be needed.  The senior pastor does the same thing when he is on vacation.

While all this may seem pretty reasonable to everyone with an average IQ, this scenario appears to completely eliminate people who are not able to read or manipulate a key board.  Ninety-nine percent of my members will never be able to text.  Two out of 150 of my members are on Facebook.  I know of none of  the Vero or Melbourne members who have e-mail addresses. 

Two years ago, I felt that it was important that young people understand that there are ministries in the world that evangelize and disciple people who are mentally challenged.  When I started a blog, I felt it was a commitment that could have far-reaching effects.  Yet, I knew that it would not and could not be geared to our members.  Later, I started a blog for people who are mentally challenged.  In the year and a half that it has been functioning, it has received only 638 hits.  And most of those people wanted to read the poetry and they we not developmentally delayed.  In contrast, this blog has received to date 38,664 hits.  Yes, that number is a trival amount compared to most blogs but the contrast between our two blogs is shocking. 

If our members aren’t Internet savvy, do these changes in how we, the church, interacts with each other impact ministry to mentally challenged persons?  Perhaps not.  However, there is a good chance that an even greater divide may appear between our members and the local church membership.  For those ministries who believe that our support should could from the local church, it could have a large impact in our funding. 

What do you think?  Will our ministries change?  How would you envision these changes?

Pat Robertson has opened an interesting door of discussion that actually relates to our members.  Many Christians believe–and they may even be taught–that our members are disabled because they are cursed.  I know this is not a subject that we like to discuss.  However, like it or not, it is a topic that our members will face sometime in their lives.  Therefore, I believe that it is a subject that should be discussed.

First, after hearing much of what Robertson actually said, I don’t believe that he was saying that God was cursing the Haitian people.  I believe he was saying that the demonic influence they submit themselves to through voodoo and their bad choices mean that they live under a curse from the devil. 

The problem may stem from the fact that many people believe that there is only one supernatural power and that is from the God.  Clearly, there is more than one powerful force operating in the heavens.  Not everything that is supernatural is from God.

I also don’t believe that Robertson was saying that every individual in Haiti is living a cursed life.  The Scriptures clearly teach that if we are Christians, we have been freed from the curse of sin and death. 

While I believe that there are consequences to our sins and bad choices, I don’t see that God curses people but bad choices and sin put them under a curse from the enemy of their souls. 

Now the bigger questions is: Does this relate to our members?

As an overview, I believe that every person born is able to come to the saving grace of Jesus and every person is able to be released from any curses of the devil by coming to know the Lord as our Savior.  A few nights ago, I read an article written in 2007 by one of Billy Graham’s sons in which he tells of a deliverance he received from an affliction of demonic activity.  God didn’t curse him.  However, God was willing and able to deliver him.  That is the God we serve.

In some cases, I do believe that the bad choices (alcoholism, drug addiction) may lead to mental disabilities.  However, this does not mean that God has put a curse on this person. 

I also do not believe that an irregular or missing chromosome means that a person is under a demonic curse.  One pastor believes that this is part of God’s creative ability to make all people different and that those differences may not be evil–only different.  I personally like that explanation.  After all, if a person is born with an off-the-charts IQ, we don’t assume that there was demonic activity which caused that person to be born different.  Therefore, why wouldn’t the opposite be true also?  I don’t believe that IQ determines a person’s ability to come to know the Lord as their Savior and be eternally released from sin and death.

God has given each person the wonderful opportunity to know him as Father through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  As we pray for the Haitian people, remember the people with mental disabilities who may be left confused, hurt and with no one take care of them.

This is a comment that David Hayward from Joy Fellowship wrote regarding making disciples.  I thought you would all want to share in what he wrote:

In Joy Fellowship, making disciples has long been one of our goals. We have over 100 people who attend our worship services each Sunday morning, and 90% of them are involved in weekly Bible Studies. They love their Bibles, and they love to worship, and they love to pray. Perhaps 15% of them want more.
Years ago, Jean Vanier suggested that our friends with disabilities have had others serve them all their lives, but as disciples of Jesus, WE are ALL called to serve. We came to see that we all grow most as Christians in the practice of serving each other, and serving God – letting our light shine in the corner where we are.
So we began taking these folks who were more ‘motivated’ and wanted a deeper involvement on weekly outings to places where they could minister – first in a big institution for people with disabilties and then to group homes, and hospitals. Now this is a significant part of our ministry.
My ministry is always richer if I have some of my disabled friends with me, and those who are involved in this are almost always the ones who grow into leaders and in whose life we can see the Fruit of the Spirit flourish the most. Now we have leadership Retreats each year when 30 of us will go away for a weekend and work on skills, or discuss how we can better use our gifts, etc.

« Previous PageNext Page »