February 2010

We Please God When we Obey Him

Acts 5:29

Central Theme:   God gave us His 10 laws so that we can live happy and safe lives.

Introduction–All of God’s laws have been given to us to help us and for our good.  As an example, when I was a little girl, I stole a piece of cloth from my good friend, Mrs. Youngblood.  It was a scrap but she knew I took it and she sat me down and talked to me about stealing.

                1.    She explained that we only steal from ourselves when we take things that don’t belong to us.  I did not understand but I stopped stealing.

                2.    When I was in junior high I started cheating on tests and then I found out that I was only cheating myself because I was giving more answers than I was getting.

                5.      Have a member read Act 5:29.

       I.     Each of the ten commandments or laws is given for our good.

      II.     God expects us to follow his laws but he does not expect us to do it alone.

              A. He gave us Jesus as an example.

              B. He gives us the Holy Spirit who helps to teach us and show us the way.  (We all have a conscience)

              C. He gives us the Bible to explain the laws and how we can live and examples of good people and bad people.

              D. He gives us the church where we can meet Christian friends who will help us do what is right.

              E.  He gives us teachers who explain God’s ways to us and remind us of what we should do.

              F.  He gives us prayer so that we can talk to Him and confess our weaknesses.

Conclusion–God‘s laws make our lives easier and he gives us lots of helps to make obey his laws easier.


Dr. Susan Gold, Chairperson
Debra Dowds, Executive Director

To: PIP Graduates

From: Debbie Hannifan, Partners in Policymaking Project

Re: Partners in Policymaking Program
The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc. is currently accepting
applications for the Partners in Policymaking Program Class of 2010. Please
take a few minutes to review the attached information and application and
forward to those whom you work with within the developmental disability
community. Space is limited and the application deadline is April 1, 2010.
Please note that this is a free program only available to those with
developmental disabilities and parents or guardians of young children with
developmental disabilities.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at
Dhannifan@tampabay.rr.com or call me at (863) 738-6367.
Debbie Hannifan
Partners in Policymaking Coordinator
Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc.
P.O. Box 2864
Lakeland, Florida 33806
phone (863) 738-6367
fax (863) 688-2551

For years, The Special Gathering has used the Southern Baptist Curriculum published by their publishing arm, LIFEWAY.  In their current curriculum, they have announced that they are now publishing a special series for children.  It is called Bible Teaching for Kids Special Buddies. 

This is a great addition to the resource materials for special needs Bible teachers.  Asking the question, “Are their needs being met?”  LifeWay designed this specific material for children who are in first to sixth grades. 

LifeWay believes that versatility is the key to successfully using this curriculum.  They say

One of the most exciting features about Special Buddies  is that it works well in all kinds of situations with children of varying developmental levels.  Try it out with:

  • a self-contained classroom of school-age children with special needs.
  • an individual child who receives one-on-one care at church while parents attend Bible study.
  • a child with special needs who attends a typical Sunday school setting but responds well to modified lessons and individualized attention.

Check out their website and see if this is something you can use with your ministry.

JAF (Joni and Friends) has moved all of their operations from Florida.  A few days ago, they met with their Florida representative and told him that he had been laid off.  I understand, but this has not been confirmed, that they asked for the keys to his office, his computer and files.  It is suspected that financial concerns may have resulted in the closure.  For more than a decade, JAF has had one of their Family Camps in Florida.  Their state headquarters was in Orlando, Florida.  When you go to their national map on their website, there is no longer a dot in the state which indicates that they have operations in this state.. 

JAF is the premiere organization within the disability community.  As Joni Tada, the founder and head of this national ministry, has aged, it appears she wisely wanted to move the emphasis from a personality-based ministry to a ministry that highlighted needs within the disability community.  From the viewpoint of JAF headquarters, this move must have appeared to be a natural outgrowth from their prominence.  Their goal was to establish community-based support ministries to aid and empower other special needs ministries that were smaller and perhaps struggling.  That support has not actually materialized in to the type of intricate web of support that was originally envisioned.

Like Mrs. Tada, I believe there is a need for a national organization that supports, trains and certifies local ministries.  Even though a certification process did not appear to the part of the JAF vision, it is sad to see that this ministry is no longer operating in the fourth largest state in the US.

This is an entry from my prayer journal dated April 8, 2006.  Eric died a few weeks later.  He got sick beginning in December 2005 when the hepatitis appeared in the form of a severe nose bleed that his mother could not stop.

I just got a call from Susan, Eric’s mom.  He is dying.  Hepatitis from contaminated blood that he received as an infant possibly from a druggie who never imagined that 21 years later, he would be come a murderer.  Therefore, he sold his blood and the blood is killing Eric. 

Consequences from our actions are amazingly far-reaching–for good and for bad.

Lord, help me to know You and live Your life through the power of the Holy Spirit.  May my life change–not destroy–lives.

A couple of months ago, I received a note from a parent who is a friend.  It was scribbled on the corner of a sheet of paper.  “What do you do when your child is physically abusive to his family?”  She and I had spoken about the things that were happening in their home.  Her son had not become physically abusive with their parents; but there are a great deal to tension as their son began to struggle with a middle-aged crisis.

His job of 25-years was no longer good enough for him.  He no longer wanted to live in the apartment they had built for him away from the main house.  He wanted them to continue to help him with his daily needs; but he thought he had outgrown the need to mow the lawn and help with the laundry and to do the other things that needed to be done in their compound. 

Again, I went to her and I asked if things had become physical with her son.  She assured me that she and her husband were safe; but she had started to be concerned about others.  Does a parent call the police on their mentally challenged child should he or she become physically abusive?  Perhaps the answer is yes, but I also understand that few parents will do that. 

Because it is likely a mental health issue, speaking to someone who is a professional counselor could be the best answer that will insure the safety of the family and their child.  A behavorialist can often help to pinpoint the problem and bring a worable resolution. 

Unfortunately, because of the cut-backs in the social services all over the nation, these expenses may have to come from a parent’s own pocket. 

However, the expense can be well worth it.  Of course, there are other solutions that can and should be explored.  No, I am not ignoring the help of the Holy Spirit in issues like this.  Prayer and teaching should be an inticate part of bringing a member back to good mental health.  Nevertheless, I believe that we need to be realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of our ministry.   Pastoral counseling is valuable and we know our members more than most people.  But there is a time and place for good, professional intervention. 

What about your minstry?  What would you suggest to a family facing this crisis situation?  What do you believe can be the solution to this  problem?

I have often joked that people who minister within the special needs population are the only pastors in the world who carry rubber gloves in our pockets.  In addition, each Special Gathering has a biohazard kit that we are to have with us during each program.  The kit basically contains the supplies needed to clean up and dispose of bodily fluids that may be harmful to others.  Along with the kit, we received training on the proper way to handle the supplies contained in the kit.

A rather boring teaching video contained the bulk of our training.  I have to admit that the first time the teaching film was shown, I slept through it.  However, about six months later, I closely reviewed it.  Within a few weeks, I was extremely glad that I had stayed awake during the second viewing of the film because I needed to apply everything that was contained in the video. 

Since that time, I’ve had several occasions to use the information but I never thought that I would need it in my own home.  However, a couple of days ago, my husband’s doctor prescribed nitroglycerin cream to help stimulate the blood vessels in his feet.  I was given precious little training by the doctor, none from the nurses and a sheet of paper with the medication telling me how dangerous it was but no information on how to prepare my home for this toxic cream.

The doctor did tell me that if the cream was used improperly, it could cause a drastic drop in my husband’s blood pressure and he could die.  Because I was the person administering and handling the cream, I was as much–if not more–at risk as my spouse. 

My biohazard training kicked in immediately.  Yes, my training helped me to understand the potential side effects and the dangers.  But more importantly, it took all fear away. I understand how to handle even more dangerous materials than a simple cream that increases blood flow but, if abused, can cause cardiac arrest.  I got out my rubber gloves, my extra sturdy plastic bags.  I reread and followed the directions exactly.

Preparing for potential danger is not only prudent for people who minister to the special needs population, it also could save a life. And that life could be yours.  God desires that we be wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove.  In the case of people who minister within the mentally challenged population, wisdom may include biohazardous training.

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