March 2011


Is there a way to insure that God is working in our lives and in the lives of those to whom we minister?  Perhaps it is the common and mundane that accents the Christian life more than any other attribute.

When I was in my early 20’s, God suddenly started moving in the youth group that my husband and I led.  The miraculous became almost routine.  We prayed and God answered in wonderfully amazing ways.  Young men and women were changed, healed and transformed in our home.

One Friday evening, we had invited another youth choir to sing for our group.  After their concert, the Holy Spirit fell on the young people.  Without any prompting, they rushed to the altar weeping and seeking God to change them, our town, our state and our country.  Into the night, these teens prayed for each other, seeking God with an earnestness that I never witnessed in the conventional staid churches where I had been raised.  Those of us who were leading stood back.  We wondered what we should do; and yet we were afraid to do anything, except let God have his way with those young men and women.

God was merciful to let us know that we were experiencing a revival and a move of His Spirit that was unusual in its scope and influence.  Later, this time period became known as The Jesus Movement.

As wonderful as that time was, we saw some of the young people walk away from the Lord.  They saw miracles but the bobbles of the world were much more exciting for them.  Then there was Cindy, Mike, Rick, Denise and twenty others.  They came and learned quietly.  They were faithful and consistent in their commitment to the Lord.  They took study of the Scriptures seriously. They prayed without seeking the limelight.  They weren’t shoot stars but beacons of light.

During those years, I learned valuable lessons about what it means to live the Christian life.  God seems selective about when he moves in the miraculous.  He prefers to anoint daily prayers and work by small increments in our lives.  It appears that He delights in our acknowledgments of His power and might as we view a sunset or witness a thunder-storm.

I think I understand.  One of the great things about The Special Gathering members  is that they are grateful for even the smallest favors.  They relish a smile or a handshake.  They delight in Dollar Tree gifts. The spectacular is good but it isn’t necessary to garner their approval.  As I walk into their workshop, they are thrilled to see me.

While God is able to shower miracles on anyone at anytime, it must be thrilling to Him when a child seeks Him wanting a pleasant conversation first thing in the morning.  When we simply want to crawl into his lap and rest at the end of the day, our Father must breathe with peaceful approval.  Perhaps excitement is over rated and commitment is more what warms the heart of our Lord and is the sign of real spiritual growth.

I admit that there are some things that I do pretty well.  These are things at which I work hard to do as well as I can.  They are also things I enjoy.  My list seems to grow as I get older.  I enjoy writing, gardening, children, playing, teaching and administration.

There are several things that I don’t enjoy, however.  One is waiting.  As much waiting as I’ve done in my life, you would think that I would have acquired a “likin'” for the process but I still rebel like a 13-year-old when I have to wait for longer than one minute.

There are some things that I’ve found that are worse than waiting, however.  Several of them are

  1. Having other people have to wait on me.
  2. Having the people who are waiting for me blow the horn of their car.
  3. Having my husband have to wait on me.
  4. Having my husband who is waiting for me blow the horn of the car.

Today, as our South Carolina program director worked to get three of her members ready for a day at Magic Kingdom in Disney, she was reduced to waiting.  “You would think that I’d be used to it by now,” she commented in passing.

Our conversation quickly deteriorated to the other times we have waited for our members.  It takes half a day to load a 15 passenger van with people, add luggage and you better plan to spend the day waiting.  A buffet line can take up to four hours, depending on whether the person in front of you wants everything, wants nothing or changes her mind 37 times before putting the first thing on her plate.   In essence, we decided that waiting is one outgrowth of special needs ministry that will either make you stronger or break your strength.

There are some things that you can do while waiting:

  1. Clean your fingernails.  Cleaning toenails is not recommended.
  2. Pick your teeth.  Picking someone else’s teeth is not recommended.
  3. Prayer at the beginning of the process is recommended.  Praying by the end of the process is not recommended because the prayers you will find yourself praying will not promote spiritual growth.
  4. Playing mind games is recommended.  Playing video or on-line games is not recommended.  The length of time you will spend playing the game while waiting will put you on such a high level that you will want to cancel the activity and spend the rest of your day playing games.
  5. People observing is recommended as long as you are not looking at your members trying to get ready.

If you are in special needs ministry, you will want to make a copy of this list and tuck it into a shirt pocket for easy reference the next time you are waiting.

I was a bit shocked to read in Ecclesiastes that Solomon said that there will always be books and reading too much will confuse you.  God understands that we will never learn everything about any subject.  When I was a young woman, I learned the importance of studying and reading the Bible.  I thought that information about God would transform my life.

I did my daily Bible reading.  I read and studied books that my church recommended.  But my worries and concerns didn’t seem to be changing.  Then I found a book.  Go Home and Tell was written by Bertha Smith, a missionary in China.  Something happened as I read her book.  I began to see things beyond the pages.  I could see myself and my short comings.  I also saw who I could become through the power of the Holy Spirit.  While I didn’t understand it at the time, I received my first revelation from the Lord.

There is a powerful difference between information and revelation.  From that day, I was able to see beyond the information found of the pages of the Bible.  Sure, I wanted to understand what the author was saying to the people to whom it was written; but like a mirror held before me, I could see things in my life that needed changing.  I began to see some of what God was seeing when he looked at me, his child.  I saw future possibilities and godly results that were available for me.

Each time I teach or share with our members who are mentally challenged, I desire to help them to receive more than information about God.  The revelation of God’s word is a powerful things.  I pray that God’s supernatural power will reach out and help each person to see and hear the needs and desires of their own hearts.  I pray that they will understand their potential and how God can use them.

One of our teachers is uniquely gifted to help our members discover God’s purpose in their lives.  Several of our members are seeing how much Jesus sacrificed for them.  They are discovering supernatural revelations from the Scriptures.  These revelations extend beyond the black and white words on the page.  “Each week,” the teacher reports, “we see new growth.  Last week, after Brian talked about his health problems, Denise said, ‘Let’s pray for him right now.’  They gathered around him and prayed.  I didn’t need to say a word.”

Can people who are developmentally disabled understand complicated theology?  No.  Can they understand God?  Oh, yes.  In fact, armed with revelations of God, they can understand better than the rest of us.

There are many things about the developmental disability community that are misunderstood.  Here are a few.

  • They don’t understand insults or compliments. The fact is that they love compliments and completely understand insults.  Their feelings can be hurt and they are as sensitive as any other person.
  • They are dangerous and cannot be trusted. While they are people and can do harm to themselves and others, in reality, our population is usually eager to please.  In addition, they are much more apt to harm themselves than someone else.
  • They are over-sexed individuals, especially the men. Most developmentally disabled women want to have babies; but they are not usually interested in sex for any other reason.   Men who have had sexual experiences are always more aware than men who have not experimented with sex.  However, in most cases, the hormones of men and women who are mentally challenged are not underdeveloped.
  • Individuals who are mentally challenged are loud and unpleasant. The personalities of people who are mentally challenged are as varied and complicated as any other people’s group.
  • All people born with Down’s Syndrome are sweet and compliant. While there are those with the typical personality attributed to a person born with Down’s, they too have a variety of personality types.
  • People who are mentally challenged are God’s special people.  This usually means that they are exempt from sin; and they are given a “get-out-of-jail-free card” in regard to the judgment of God.  The reality is that they need salvation and discipleship just like everyone else.  There are some .
  • They can never understand the plan of salvation because their minds are too simple. Everyone can understand “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  This is the essence of the salvation plan provided by Jesus.
  • When you meet one mentally challenged person, you have met them all because they are all just alike. This community is extremely diverse.  Not only are their personalities different but they also have disabilities that are varied and different.
  • Medication should be given to modify every behavior. Medications are important and they are a wonderful gift for modern man.  Nevertheless, discipline can be learned by our population.  At times, habits are formed but they can be broken by godly teachings.

There are other things that are common wisdom.  What are some of the things you have learned that are not true about the population to which we minister?

 

God will give us the power to confront

Acts 17:30

Central Theme:  We are able to confront others because God gives us that power.

Introduction–Have your label out of your dress and have someone come up and tell you about it.  Has this ever happened to you?  Paper caught on your shoe.  Tell about the woman who had paper hanging from her dress as she walked through the airport.  No one told her.  Telling people bad things is hard but Paul confronted people when they were wrong.  Have a member read Acts 17:30.

I.     Tell about how Paul went to Athens and told the people they were wrong.

A. They had all kinds of gods.

B. Paul said, “I want to tell you about the Unknown God–Jesus.”

 

II.     Being able to confront is hard; but it will help us grow.

A. Bring a pearl and a shell.

B. A piece of sand gets in the shell and the little oyster tries to get it out.  This is how the oyster forms the pearl.

C. When we have the courage to confront, we help others.

III.     Sometimes we take liberties that we should not take–other times we are shy.

A. Don’t talk to strangers.

B. Don’t be too quick to criticize others–that is not confronting.  Confronting comes from love for the other person.

C. Learn how to take criticism.

D. Reach out in love and tell people when they are wrong.

Conclusion     Paul had the courage to confront.  We need to take a stand against wrong and be willing to be confronted when we are wrong.

 

Medicaid bill eyes HMO profits

By Jim Saunders
03/14/11 © Health News Florida

As Florida lawmakers get ready to transform Medicaid into a managed-care system, they are split on a complex question: How do you make sure HMOs don’t receive a windfall at the expense of patient care?  For more, see original at Health News Florida

 

By the time I was born, my father had started several successful businesses.  As a teenager, he was an ice man, selling ice to many people in his small town.  After he married my mother, he started a grocery store with a brother.  When misunderstanding threatened to ruin the relationship, he moved away from the store and established a restaurant.

As the population of the area around the restaurant deteriorated and the market changed, he moved closer to our home and began an ice cream parlor.  He and mother worked long, hard hours in each business.

When Dad left the business world, he took a civil service job.  Through every venture, my parents kept their hearts focused on a bigger picture than the hardships of the day.  They did without many of the toys that people think are essential to their lives.  When our parents died, they left an inheritance for their children.  They had no debts, only assets and savings.  Yet, what they left for us was more than money in a bank account and a paid-off home mortgage.

Perhaps their greatest heritage for us was their ability to see beyond today and into the future, trusting God to orchestra our lives.  They taught us a myriad of lessons in delayed gratification, even though they never used those two words.  Often, when someone has left Special Gathering for one reason or another, we don’t grieve because we know that they will be back and when they come back, we will be here waiting and welcoming them.  We will be here for years in the future.  We plan to continue ministry now and from now on.

Discouragement is part of ministry; but it isn’t the most important part.  Patience is a hallmark virtue of life in Christ.  Waiting for God to move means rewards from our Sovereign Lord.  Our parents’ life wasn’t exciting or thrilling.  However, their legacy is.

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