February 2012


In dealing with people with disabilities and it is true with all ministries, it is impossible to delete the Love Factor.  Bob is a member of Special Gathering and I pick him up each week.

Dealing with his family has become a bit of a prick for me but I’ve known and respected them for more years than I can remember.  Before Bob was born, I had enormous respect for the integrity of this family.  Even though I find them a bit difficult, I have never lost my great respect for them and for the way they have raised their son who was born with multiple disabilities in addition to being intellectually disabled.

He is a miracle and it is because his mother has been a tyrant when dealing with his therapists, teachers and other professionals.

I find myself having to be cautious to not do too many things which show favortism regarding Bob.  However, I’m told that occasionally I overstep the line and my partiality is obvious.

I’ve read that feeling partiality is natural.  Even in ministry, it is normal to love one person over another.  However, we should not deny our feelings because denial almost always  means that we will then deny that we are being partial.  In Bob’s case, I’ve known him since he was a baby.  I’ve loved him all his life.  

It is important in dealing with our members that we acknowledge and take into account the Love Factor.  This may come from many avenues.  Perhaps, like Bob, you have a long history that has cemented the love in your heart.

There can also be a personality attraction that causes us to love one member over another.  Teresa is not the best behaved person in our program; but she is hilarously funny.  Without trying, she can get an entire bus of people laughing and enjoying themselves.  I find this very appealing.  I love Teresa for that reason.

Faithfulness may also be a reason that you love one person over another.  Saul was forced to leave Melbourne SpG because he moved to another town.  I didn’t expect to miss him but I do.  He attended for 22 years and didn’t miss more than 5 Sundays.  That kind of faithfulness draws us together with a bond of love that cannot be denied.

There is also a factor when someone loves you more than the other members.  Years ago, SpG did an exercise where we asked our members to put into several circles their friends and people who were close to them.  One member, Lars, had only two people in the four circles.  They were a man he was closely associated with at work and at church.  The other name was me.  When I inquired about his circles, he explained that we were the only two people who really cared about him.  I’d known that Lars was faithful but I had no idea that  he felt that only two people in the world cared about him.

Of course, there are other reasons but these are a few that help to explain why the Love Factor is strong in our lives.

Is there someone you love in your program above the others?  Do you know the reason?  Share it with us.

It seemed like three hours but it was no more than 10 minutes.  Ginny–an elderly Special Gathering member with diabetes–has seen her cognitive abilities eaten away from the circumstances that surround her life.  As Ginny got off the SCAT bus to join us at Special Gathering, she was separated from the members going into the gymnasium; and she was swept away by a different group of adults going into the elevator.  She followed them into a different Bible study class.

They knew that she belonged with Special Gathering; but Ginny refused to go with a stranger from the classroom.  In the meantime, we were frantically trying to find her.  After a search of the church and the neighborhood, she was found by our supervisor who crashed the Bible study class and was told that Ginny was with them.

In the end, when I heart began to beat again, I was grateful for the system of checks that we have in place at Special Gathering.  Each person is checked four times:  1) When they arrive.  2) When they enter the room for worship.  3) When they go into their Bible study classsroom. 4) When they leave.  With 60 or more people, it could be easy to lose track of one person without this checking system.

As soon as we realized that Ginny had not entered the room for worship, we began to check the bathrooms.  Her routine is to go to the bathroom because she has a long bus ride.  When she wasn’t there, we checked the obvious places.  When that search didn’t produce any results, we canvased the building.  Then, the entire campus and the neighorhood was reviewed.   She was found safely tucked in a class in a secluded corner of the room.

The lesson I learned was that God’s protection sometimes involves our being proactive with safe guards.  My husband often warned me that my impulsive personality frequently prompted me to move from the bounds of God’s protection.  When our son was younger, he got large carbuncles as a result of playing in the sand in the vacant lot adjacent to our back yard.  His greatest joy in life was digging great big holes and then playing in them.

For about a year, I didn’t know why he was getting these bad sores.  The doctors had no clue regarding the source.  Then I noticed a correlation between his playing in the sand and these infections.  “We are tempting the Lord, if we continue to let him play in the sand,” my husband said.  Even though I knew we would be taking away his greatest pleasure in life,  it made sense.  He was no longer allowed to go into the back lot and the carbuncles stopped.

While our checks may seem inconvenient, it is a great blessing when we realize that the system works.  God’s protection is there but we must avoid tempting the Lord with our careless actions.

Today began the myriad of e-mails that Special Gathering staff will exchange in preparation for Camp Agape that will be held May 25 to 28 in Vero Beach, Florida.  Actually, the e-mails, faxes and memos began in January but they were mostly to other businesses or organizations: transit operators, business owners, and professionals that we need to contract with to start our preparations.

I know camp is well on the way when we begin the MANY decisions regarding health and safely.  Each year should we hit a snag, we methodically endeavor to fix that error by the next year.  The one thing that Richard Stimson, Special Gathering Executive Director, tries to drill into each new employee’s head is that the safety of our members, especially at camp, is the paramount thing.

Those of us who consider ourselves deeply spiritual try to discount his concerns.  After all, “The Lord will provide.  He keeps watch and guards over the weak,”  we mumble to ourselves as we walk away from our less spiritual mentor.   It is the spiritual well-being that we must be concerned about and let the Lord take care of the mundane things like health and safety.

Then one day the truth of his assertions slams us square in the face.  Usually it about noon time the first day, we have total responsibility for a person, group or activity.  It could be something small, like Joanie who stumbles over a shoe lace getting up one step leading to her position where she will sing with the choir.  And you suddenly realize that in her fragile physical condition, she could have fallen and seriously hurt herself.  Checking shoe laces becomes a priority from that day forward.

Or it could be a large rock that bops you in the forehead.  My least favorite shocker was the day that someone dropped off a new person at the front door of the building where we were meeting and then drove off.  I had no information, no phone number, no way to reach anyone should there be an emergency.   You didn’t know the person’s name and he was non-verbal.  I didn’t have to be told again that the safely of our members becomes the hippopotamus in middle the room that can rip the heart of your program into shreds.

You see, in this ministry to people with special needs, we cannot continue to survive unless we take care of our members in a safe and professional manner.  When we come into a new community, we intend to be there forever.  We aren’t there for a year or two but for decades.  However, we must build the trust of parents before they will entrust their children into our care.  That means sweating the little details, like proper shoe care and getting up-to-date information about each of our members.

After a time, you realize that God will methodically take care of the spiritual needs of his children.  Of course, we prepare for the spiritual needs, also; but it is ultimately, his work and his work alone.  Only a supernatural power of the Holy Spirit can open and change a heart. allowing us to understand his love and grace.   But we are his hands and feet making sure that the shoe laces are tied and the information sheets are up to date.

Is there one thing that you have found is vital in the operation of your program?  What safety factors have you put in place?

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Believers Obey

I John 3:22

Central Theme:   When we are God‘s children, we obey what he wants.

Introduction–Buy a bracelet with the initial’s “WWJD.”  Or ask someone to show you their bracelet, “What would Jesus do?” This bracelet is really about learning how to obey God.  When we become a Christian, we want to obey and we make it hard.  Understanding that we can simply ask “What would Jesus do?” makes it simpler and easier.  Have a member read I John 3:22.

I.     Tell the story of the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip found in Acts 8:26-30.

1.  The eunuch wanted to show that he was a believer and therefore we wanted to obey God.

2.  Baptism is one way we show that we are a believer.

3.  Baptism is an act of obedience.

II.     God wants us to obey him and he really does make it simple.

A. We are to love God and love people.

B. We are to act as though we love God and love people.

III.     We can put into practice all the things we have learned.

A. God changes us and makes us different.

B. God makes us think about other people and want to please them.

C. I heard about a grandmother who had three grand children.  Two of the children lived in her town.  The other didn’t live near her.  This grandmother didn’t but gifts for the out-of-town granddaughter because this grandchild didn’t live in her town.  However,  when Granny came to visit the out of town granddaughter, all she did was shop for toys for the grandchildren who she lived near her.  It’s easy to see which grandchildren she really loved.  It was the grandchildren to whom she gave her gifts.

D.  It is the same with us.  We will obey God when we love him.  We want to give ourselves to Him because we love Him.

Conclusion: Show the bracelet.  “What would Jesus do?”  God wants us to change and remember to do what Jesus would do.

Governor Rick Scott Proclaims The Month of March as Disabilities Awareness Month

The following is what is written on the document that was signed by Governor Rick Scott on February 20th 2012
Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
WHEREAS, people born with developmental disabilities are a part of every community, socioeconomic class, religion and country; and
WHEREAS, developmental disabilities are natural parts of the human experience that should not diminish the rights of individuals to live independently, enjoy self-determination, make choices, contribute to communities, and experience the economic, political, social, cultural and educational mainstreams of society; and
WHEREAS, more than 40 million Americans have developmental disabilities, resulting in substantial limitations in self care, communications, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficiency; and
WHEREAS, the State of Florida supports more than 50,00 citizens with developmental disabilities through services provided by state agencies, including the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Division of Blind Services and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; and
WHEREAS, the State of Florida also works with dozens of partner organizations and thousands of private-sector and community providers to support those with developmental disabilities; and
WHEREAS, Florida provides citizens with developmental disabilities the opportunities and support to make informed choices, live in their communities, exercise their rights, pursue productive lives, contribute to their city, state and nation, and achieve full inclusion in society.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Rick Scott, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby extend greetings and the beast wishes to all observing March 2012 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
Click on the link below or past it into your browser to see the document signed by Governor Rick Scott.
https://acrobat.com/#d=-YOZ0q5fM45mewXZ8gpPcw

Yes, I update my own data base.  There are several reasons why.  First, for more than 8 years, I worked in a church office as a secretary.  I found that I often knew far more about the congregation than the pastors did.  The reason was that I kept and updated the data base and they did not.  At that point, I determined that no matter what my position in a ministry was, if possible, I would always keep the data base within the reach of my fingertips.

Second, we can’t afford a secretary or typist; and I’m the one person who does almost everything.

Because we work with many churches across all denominations, I especially try to keep my church data information current.  However, with the constraints of time, this has been hard.  In the past, I’ve called the church office and explained that we were updating our information and would like to verify that our information was correct.  This was good policy because I would have personal contact with the person who actually ran the church–the secretary.  However, the drawback was that these calls were extremely time consuming.

The last time I updated this data base of more than 200 churches I was able to do it in less than three hours.  How did I do this?  I did all my updates from the Internet.  I hadn’t planned to update every church, only those that seemed hardest to find.  I found that every church had a website that was current with the names of their pastors.  Interestingly, I found that almost none of the phone numbers had changed.  Even churches which had moved their locations have kept their phone numbers.  Email addresses were on almost all of the church sites.  In today’s world, this is a valuable resource.

If you find that updating your church data base has become a concern, perhaps you may want to look at drawing your information from the Internet.  If you’ve found that your time is better spent doing other things and you have delegated this job to another person, you may want to suggest that s/he do updates from the Internet.

Quaker Worship Service

Several years ago, my friend who is a wonderful Catholic and an elder at Special Gathering, gave me a book.  I’m not sure of the title or the author because as soon as I finished it, I lent the book to another friend and it hasn’t returned home.

The book was written by a Quaker pastor, living in a small, upper New York State community.  While my views of many things were radically different from his, I have no doubts that this pastor is a deeply, dedicated believer.  As a Conservative, Evangelical Christian, I was fascinated by the characterization of my scriptural and traditional viewpoints as seen through the eyes of this liberal pastor.

While everything was crouched in delightfully, loving humor, I was stung more than once to see how others view a presentation of truths with which I am quite comfortable.  It was as though a light had been beamed on my attitudes and beliefs that exposed dimensions which were unattractive and downright ugly.

As a result, I looked with fascination at the controversy still stirring and the snippets of the sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Obama’s pastor.  As a conservative, I’ve hated when the media or either political party has torn apart things which have been said in the context of my belief system.  And I find that I’m equally uncomfortable with what happened with Pastor Wright.

I remember there was a fire storm about 20 or 30 years ago when Christian TV personality, Pat Robertson prayed to keep a hurricane from the shores of Virginia.  When the storm moved, it went up the coast, gathered strength and destroyed much of the New England coastline.  Horrible accusations were hurled at Robertson for selfishly thinking only of his region of the country and being totally uncaring about the areas which were hit by the storm.

Now, it appears as the liberal political spectrum has desired to be more closely identified with the Christian moral arena, it’s their turn to be criticized.  At The Special Gathering we function within the cloistered, sub-culture of the mentally challenged community.  Because of the successful civil rights battles fought by African-American pastors,  we have been affected by Afro-Centric Theology.

 Without pointing fingers at anyone else, I cannot help but wonder:

How much of what I’ve written and said in regard to the discrimination foisted upon mentally challenged persons could be viewed as hateful, anti-social rhetoric?

How loving am I in presenting my viewpoints regarding the hurts leveled against the population I serve?

Is biased uproar an indication of how important it is to guard with our very lives the truths of the scriptures?  Is making the truths of scripture real to our particular sub-culture ever an excuse for not being true to the text?

When we are enveloped into a cloistered sub-culture such as the mentally challenged community, how often does group-think cause us to go places that do not make sense to other people?

How different do things that are said within our own sub-culture sound when heard by people not familiar with that sub-culture?

It is inevitable that conflict will come when two people live, work, play or worship together.  An extremely quotable pastor from years past, Jack Green, once said, “If two people live together, there will be conflict, unless one of the two people is dead.”

I’ve always assumed that if there is a conflict between two people at least one of those people is angry.  That does not mean, of course, that one of the two people is sinning.  The Bible clearly says, “Be angry and sin not.”  This makes it pretty clear that you can be angry and not sin.

I am area director of Special Gathering of Indian River, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community. Our mission is to do classic ministry, evangelizing and discipling the people we serve.  Like every other pastor who ministers to a particular group, we deliberately tackle issues that are relevant to our members.  We talk about the sheltered workshop and having a job on the outside.  We try to deal with the issue of having to live with your parents FOREVER.  Proper behavior with your girl/boyfriend is a scorching hot topic.  Yet, I’ve never squarely faced with our members the issue of siblings–until last week.

Our sermon was on Jacob and Esau.  We are all familiar with the bitter rivalry that these men faced, even in the womb.  Both mother and father were guilty of fostering these battles, which eventually led to resentments.  This week in our sermon I explained to our members that their brothers and sisters have given up a lot for them.  Because many of them were sick as children and they always have had special needs, their siblings lives were different from others.  I urged them to say thank you to their brothers or sisters for helping them and for being kind to them.

I was surprised because one especially sensitive young woman, Michal, spoke up and said, “I don’t have to, my sister loves me.”  While I don’t often welcome interruptions during our devotion time, I was happy for this one.  As she spoke several of our members vocally agreed with her.  Obviously, I’d not made my point clearly.

“No!”  I tried to clarify.  “I’m not saying that they resent you so you need to say thank you.  I’m saying they have given up a lot for you, and for that reason you need to say thank you. Recently, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “You are so involved with what you don’t have that you don’t appreciate what you do have.”

It is true that our members are discriminated against almost everywhere.  But in their homes, they often receive preferential treatment.  Siblings see it.  They may even be angry but it’s been my experience that few of them sin.  They embrace their disabled partner in family life and move on, helping where they can.  Siblings deserve a big thank you for their love, understanding, and caring.

Is there someone in your life that you need to thank?  Perhaps your husband or wife who does so many little things to please you?  What about one of your members who is careful to help you each time you meet?

Is there a way that we can super charge our ministry?  Perhaps a better question is “Should we even try to have a super-charged ministry?”  Last October, as I sat with more than ten people who head special needs ministries from many parts of the US and Canada, I saw men and women who weren’t looking for a position of importance or even a national platform.  They merely want to do an effective job in the ministry to which God has called them.

In studying men and women who have been successful in ministry, there are several things I’ve observed which factor into their success.

First is a strong sense of CALL.  Each person I’ve met who heads a successful ministry within the mentally challenged community has felt that the Lord has called them to share the gospel with men and women who are intellectually disabled.  They can pin-point a day and hour when God cemented their call within their spirits.  There have been a few folks who have sort of fallen into this ministry for one reason or another. Even though they are fine people, they don’t have the a burning gut to reach special needs people for the Lord.  They seem to fall away quickly.

Second, they are hard-working people.  Ten-to-16-hour days are the norm–not the exception in their lives.  Taking a day off is one of the hardest things they do every week.

Third, they are able to intensely focus on their God-given purpose.  Having a singular focus means that they are able to eliminate things in their lives which distract from what God has called them to do.

Fourth, they maintain a relationship with the Lord that is separate from their ministry.  They learn early that losing a relationship with God will shipwreck their calling.

Fifth, they are able to change their mode of operation.  Even though they know what God wants them to do, they are not married to the methods.

Sixth, they are eager to learn from others.  They read and study.  They welcome times to gather with others who are doing what they do to be able to hear what others are doing.

Seventh, they are willing to generously share their methods with others.  They liberally give away their thoughts and techniques to other people who minister within this community.

What are some of the other things you have observed which have makes a ministry head successful in their ability to reach people for the Lord?

Today is a day I will NOT remember.  I got up at my usual 4:30A.M.  After my prayer time, I went into the kitchen to start a pot of decaf; but instead, I had a text message from my son.  I sat down on the couch to answer the message.  After I pressed Send, I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

The rest of the morning is a bit of a fog.  I woke up a few minutes before 9A.M. to the sound of cable news.  Sometime during those four hours, I’d turned on the TV and fallen back asleep.

Perhaps this is a good thing that I’m having a forgettable day because the last three days were pretty significant.  In fact, I was so excited about the happenings of Friday, Saturday and Sunday that I awakened at 1A.M. each day and I couldn’t seem to get my mind to stop revolving and rehearsing the events of the coming weekend.

To others, there may not be much significance regarding what happened.  I was directing one of the Special Gathering choirs on Saturday and again on Sunday.  The Special Gathering is a ministry within the intellectually disabled community.  Our mission is evangelism and discipleship.  I’ve been a choir director for a Special Gathering choir for about 22 years now; and I’ve not lost the joy of experiencing their performances.  In addition, they share my excitement about being given the privilege to minister and sing for the Lord.

In contrast, last night, I watched an extremely painful interview with Whitney Houston by Oprah Winfrey.  The painful thing was that Ms. Houston had lost the joy of singing.  Again and again, Oprah tried to pull from her some recognition of sorrow for having lost the opportunity to sing for almost 10 years.  But the only response from this extremely gifted woman was “I had all I needed.  I didn’t need money.  I had everything.  I didn’t need to sing anymore.”

Of course, Ms. Houston wasn’t singing for the Lord and that may have made a difference.  Nevertheless, I could not help but compare the joy The Special Gathering choir has in worship and ministry to this sad woman who “had everything.”

To be honest with you, The Special Gathering choirs are “better felt, than telt.”  Some of the choir members would even be put into the category of  Tone Deaf.  Yet what they lack in talent, they make up with joy and excitement to be serving the Lord.

Forgettable days should happen on occasion and I’m glad that for me it means a day of rest.  But to lose the joy of a new day would be sad beyond imagination for me.

What are the things that give you the most joy in your life?  Are forgettable days times of rest for you?

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/#ixzz1myQZ6EIm

God is Just
Ezekiel 18:2527
Central Theme: God is just, not like people.

Introduction–Show the a picture or a replica of the White House and the Congressional building. Talk about the three parts of our government. Each part of the government checks up on the other one; and they each have a only a part of the power. They balance each other out. That is because mankind is very wicked. Sometimes we are so evil that we think that even God is wicked.

I. Have a member read Ezekiel 18:25-27.
A. Tell about Ezekiel and how the people were being punished; yet they were still being evil and bad.
B. God said that they were so wicked that they even thought that God was evil.
C. Before my children became parents, they thought their dad and I were really mean and hateful.
1. Now they think we were really soft of them.
2. They are going to be tougher on their children.

II. We cannot understand God and sometimes we think that God is mean.
A. Richard Stimson says that we all see reality from our own perspective.
B. That means that we understand what is happening from the way we see it.

III. We must learn to trust God and believe that his way is right no matter that happens.
A. One day I lost your pocketbook and I wanted to blame God.  But I knew that was wrong and I told God that I knew I was the one to blame.  I asked that God would help me to find it.  I got home from looking for my pocketbook and I got a phone call from the police.  They had found it and not one penny or credit card was missing.
1. I learned to not blame God for my mistakes.
2. God is not responsible for my goofing up.

Conclusion–Because we are people who do not really understand what is right. We need godly people to help us understand.

On Saturday, several people who have not attended Special Gathering for almost a year came back.  I could tell from the expressions on their faces and from the look in their eyes that they completely enjoyed their time with us.  My questions when they left was “Will they come back?”

Scout is a man with a brain injury and severe short-term memory.  He is enthused about the way we allow him to take a leadership position.  Recently, he was moved from his group home to an independent apartment.  However, he can only come when a staff person from his former group home decides to pick him up from his apartment.  Because of his short-term-memory disability, he cannot keep track of the day of the week.  Even though he loves the worship experience and his time at Special Gathering, each week is a new experience for him.  Therefore, he doesn’t remember from one Saturday to the next what has happened.

There is no doubt that Scout is growing in the Lord.  Yet, keeping him focused is a concern for him and for Special Gathering staff.

Babs is a high functioning middle-aged woman who also lives in her own apartment.  She lives with a young woman who feels that Special Gathering is too structured and “religious” for her.  Her housemate influences her.  Babs is normally a sad person.  I haven’t seen her smile in almost a year.  On Saturday, she was smiling for the entire time she was at the chapel program.  While she didn’t want to enjoy her time with us, it was as though she had come home and her face showed it.

At times, people within the mentally challenged community struggle with the same issues that folks without their disability struggle.  For Scott, it is remembering and trying to fit Special Gathering into his schedule.  Babs struggles to sort through her emotions regarding her relationship with the Lord.

Our struggle is helping the men and women who are face these issue to remember that their peace and joy comes from worshiping and loving the Lord.  What are some of the things that you do help your members overcome these battles?  What have you found that does not work?

One year ago tomorrow, my husband came home from the skilled nursing center to die.  While I often say that I don’t live in denial, I had no idea that three months later, he would be dead.  For about a week, the nursing center had been telling me that I could not take care of him if I took him home; but I knew that I would not do heroics regarding his care.  Additionally, he greatly desired to come home.  I had been preparing financially for his care for years and we were ready to take on this monetary responsibility.

For two decades, I’ve observed families living with people who have disabilities and I’ve learned a great deal from their wisdom and mistakes.  Yet, I was struck a month later when I realized that my husband’s Hospice diagnoses had changed from “late-term dementia” to “adult failure to thrive.”  Simply speaking, this means that my husband was in the dying process.

As I remember the day he came home, so many things flood my mind.  Here are some things I learned.

  1. He was constantly falling in and out of reality.  It became my job to remind him where he was and who was taking care of him which greatly relieved his anxiety.  As each caregiver entered his room, I tried to reintroduce them.  “Frank, Terry is here.  Remember she is here to take care of you today while I’m going to work.”  
  2. I learned to leave him alone because that was his desire.  Additionally, he was no long about to respond.  I had no idea how much he understood; and I was concerned that when there were distractions he knew more about his atmosphere than we thought.
  3. He slept most of the day; and he no longer wanted the TV set playing.  Frank had always wanted the TV on constantly.  Now it disturbed him.  This was my cue that he no longer needed or desired distractions.
  4. I’d been critical of the nursing care staff who would not get him up each day.  However, when he came home, I realized how weak he was.  The first day, I got him up early.  He sat up for several hours.  It was clear that he was totally exhausted beyond anything I’d experienced from him.  The next day, I got him up.  Again, he sat up for several hours.  As I took off his feet props from his wheelchair, I turned to put them out-of-the-way.  When I pivoted back, he had slipped and was falling out of his chair.  I realized how weak he was.  This was his last day to get up.
  5. I realized that his great strength could only keep him alive for so long.  I felt that he would continue to live for many more years because he was the strongest person I’d ever met.  However, operations, pain and bone cancer had stolen his ability to fight.
  6. I learned that I must be firm with his support staff, especially the doctors and nurses.  I had assumed that they would keep me informed.  Yet, when I was told that my husband had bone cancer, this information had been kept from me for several months.  Additionally, I had not been told that he was in the dying process.  When I realized his condition, I made an appointment with the nurse and told her that I could take any information given to me.  I would not tolerate not being told my husband’s status.  From that time, everyone was aware that I needed to be informed.  However, I had to be emphatic about my need to know.

I am extremely grateful for the lesson I’ve learned from the disability community and the heroic family members who have walked “through the valley of death” for years.  Again, they have taught me more than I could ever teach them.

Salvation brings changes in my life

Matthew 5:16

Central Theme:   When we are saved, we will make changes in our lives.

Introduction–Point out some positive changes that you have noticed in your member‘s lives since you have known them.  When we have Jesus, he helps us to change in good ways.  Have a member read Matthew 5:16.

I.     Tell the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector.

1.  We know that Zacchaeus became a follower of Jesus, because he changed.

2.  Zacchaeus said that he would give half of what he had to the poor and pay back four times if he had cheated someone.

II.     When we repent of the things in our lives God makes changes.

A. Share a story about how the Lord helped you to change.

B.  My example:  For many years, I would do all my laundry on Monday–an all day process.   I would do my husband’s laundry last to insure that all the REST of the laundry would get done.  I felt putting his clothes last insured that I did all of the laundry.  However, every Tuesday, I would get up and remember that I had not put his laundry in the dryer.  I would rush to try to find him a clean underwear or frantically try to dry one pair.  On day, I was so frustrated with myself that I prayed, “Lord, help me solved this problem.”  Immediately, the thought came to do Frank’s laundry first.  That day I changed my behavior.  Frank always had underwear after that.  I call this example of drastic change, Underwear repentance.

B. I also learned that when I burning the peas and that I could not make excuses.  When I faced my responsibility, I quit burning the peas so often.

C. Tell about gossip and how Jesus is changing my talk.

1.  I love gossip but God hates it.

2.  I am seeing how it looks to God and why He hates it.

Conclusion–Zacchaeus gives us an important principle to live by.  He wanted God to be in his life; and he changed.  Change shows people that we are God‘s children.  We act differently from the rest of the world.

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