June 2012


God Gives Us what we Need

My God will use his wonderful riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need  (Philippians 4:19).

Central Theme:   God gives us what we need.

Introduction–I have an adding machine that can add up numbers and do all kinds of complicated math.  I sometimes use the adding machine to add up all the things I have.  But I cannot always know what I need. God knows and God knows that he will provide for all our needs. Have a member read Philippians 4:19.

I.     Show the book that you found with a letter in it written to God.

1.  It had a list of all our bills and a letter asking for God to help.

2.  I don‘t remember how that prayer/letter was answered but I do know that it was.

3.  I learned during those hard years that God provides for us what we need.

4.  We had to do our part–turn off A/C, etc.

II.     Tell the story of Elijah and the widow.

A. Elijah had told the King that there would not be any rain for three years.  And there was not.

B.  God provided for Elijah by sending birds.

C. He sent him to a widow with a little boy and told her to make him a cake with the last of the oil and flour.  She did and lived

III.     Jesus knows that we have needs.

A. He personally promised to give to us what we need.

B.  As I have loved Him over the years, I have seen He does that for us.

Conclusion:  God gives to us what we need and sometimes He does it in supernatural ways.  Sometimes He does it naturally.

I received the call at 7:30 that night.  John died at 6pm.  I was at Universal Studios Theme Park with a group of people who are mentally challenged.  There was no way for me to run over to help comfort the family because I could not leave the people who were at the amusement park.  So we talked on the phone for about 20 minutes.  His sister shared the pain and suffering he endured in his last hours.  I talked to her about the visits we had together in the last two weeks.

John started attending Special Gathering of Melbourne–a ministry within the mentally challenged community–about 10 years ago.  He soon joined the choir and helped each week to set up the room for worship.  A man of few words, he depended on his smile to portray his deep feelings of love, joy and satisfaction.  Two years ago, John went to the nursing home because he was expected to live no longer than a few months.  Two weeks ago, Hospice was called in and the family was told that the cancer which had been gnawing at his physical body for years was finally destroying his fragile frame.

On Wednesday of last week, I had gone into his room and softly touched his arm.  He opened his eyes and looked up.  His smile was gone. His eyes seemed larger because his face was gaunt and thin.

I knew his time was short.  “You’re ready to go home, aren’t you?”

John gently shook his head.

“You know it’s going to be a wonderful homecoming.  You’ll see your mother and father.  You’re going to be really happy.”

“I know,” he whispered.  I prayed for him and left.

Another member was convolesing in the same facility.  She’s a young woman who is confined to a wheelchair and doesn’t speak.  The next day I came back to visit both of them.  I knew Christine would want to see John; but I didn’t think it was useful to have her see him in the weak and sick condition he had been in the previous day.  Before going to her room, I stuck my head in the door of John’s room.  The room was bare.

Shocked, I went to the nurses’ station.  “Where’s John?”

“He’s in the television room, watching TV,” she said, grinning and pointing to the gray headed man sitting straight and tall in his wheelchair.  When I came into the TV room, he smiled and waved to me by lifting his fingers from the arm of the wheelchair.  After a few minutes, I wheeled Christine into see him.  She had a stuffed yellow chicken toy to give to him.  Together, they giggled and played with the chicken that cheeped like a biddie.

We prayed with him and left.  That was the last time I saw John but it won’t be the last time that I will see him.  He was smiling as he waved good-bye to us.

I think John is singing somewhere in heaven right now.  I can’t wait to see him healed and whole. I know from the reactions of our members when we talk about heaven that they look forward to the time that their minds will be made whole.  I often ask myself.  What will our members be like when they get to heaven? 

Who have you lost to death?  When you are with a person who is about to reach the threshold of death, are you able to talk to them about dying?  What do you say?

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/#ixzz1zDb027J1

During the past week, I’ve spent a lot of time riding the bus. I’m visiting my son in Oahu, Hawaii. They have one car which works great for them because his wife enjoys riding the bus. He has been working this week, giving his wife and me some quality time together.

“I was warned,” she told me, “that it wasn’t safe to ride the bus. However, there are mostly elderly folks and working people.” Because it is summer there is also a generous sprinkling of teenagers, eager to get to the ocean.

I serve as a Citizen Advocate on a county coordinating board in Brevard County Florida. Therefore, I am interested in seeing the operations of the bus systems wherever I go. In Oahu, people with disabilities primarily use HandiVan’s for their work transport. I also suspect that they have a system similar to Transportation Disadvantaged in Florida because I have not seen many folks with intellectual or developmental disabilities on the city buses.

Each time I go to another state and take the time to commute on the bus, I’m impressed with several things. First, the willingness of the bus drivers to help their passengers. I can’t imagine that anyone could get lost unless they are simply too shy to ask questions.

Second, I’m constantly pleased with the quality of bus riders. Of course, there are people from the lowest economic structure who are abusing/using drugs and alcohol on the buses but they are the exception, not the rule. When a tourist couple got on the bus asking the driver to take them to what the tourist guide had called the best “shrimp truck” on the North Shore. He assure them he would show them where to get off. However, the bus was filled with “locals” who were more than willing to give their expert advice. It was agreed by unanimous decree that the best shrimp wasn’t at the truck the tourist guide recommended but at a truck much closer and easier to find.

Third, the cleanliness of the buses. Sure, by the end of the day, dirt and trash has been tracked into the bus but isn’t that to be expected? Even though the Brevard County SCAT drivers sweep and clean their buses on a regular bases, the foot traffic in a place like Honolulu is much larger. This increases the potential for dirty buses. Yet, on a whole, even in a laid-back place like the Aloha state, clean buses are the rule, not the exception.

The fourth thing is purely personal. I don’t have to worry about the traffic. If there are cars everywhere, I can busy myself with other things–such as, catching up with Facebook or writing a blog entry. Riding the bus gives me permission to do things I would not ordinarily do. After all, I’m not driving. This would be wasted time for me if I were behind the wheel–so why not spend it doing something I enjoy like reading a book or guacking out the window at the scenery and the people.

Perhaps, like me you don’t normally ride the bus; but I recommend becoming one whenever you are a tourist or traveling in an unknown town. It’s a great adventure and a wonderful way to find the “very best shrimp truck.”

On most street corners on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, I find such a diverse mixture of folks.  There are the extremely affluent who seem to be always looking up as though searching the sky for a new adventure or advantage.  These folks are casually mingling with the “wacked-out” street people who mumble while constantly looking at the ground.

This visual upward-downward difference hits me almost everywhere I’ve ventured; but the stark comparision is even more apparent here on the islands that most people call “Paradise.”  My son explains the downward folk.  He says many people come for vacation.  They have such a great time. They decide to stay.  Then, the reality of no job and no chance for a job hits them hard just before they crash land in a drug-induced semi-coma.

The contrast of the upward people, however, is the most interesting to me.  Because these people may be equally as lost but in a different reality-jungle.  Successful folks are never quite successful enough.  And if you reach the pennicle achieving your ultimate life’s goals, then you are like Alexander the Great.  Broken because there are no more worlds to conquer.

It seems apparent that all of us are searching for something whether it is our next meal or next extravagant jaunt.  Peace, joy and a quiet spirit appear to be a rare commodity all over the world.  There is, of course, only one thing which gives us real joy, peace and calmness and that is a relationship with the Lord Jesus.  Our relationship is a free gift and each step that leads to true friendship is also a gift.  Yet, in our humanity, we do have to work hard at finding the steps that lead to the gift.

The gift/work paradiam is as great a paradox as God’s blessing for all–whether we are affluent or destitute.  Perhaps because of their childlike approach to most things in life, I have found that the mentally challenged community  is best able to bridge that gap than others.

Who are you?  Part of the world that is looking upward but never satisfied with what you have?  Or do you find yourself constantly looking downward, as though searching for the next stumbling rock?  Or have you been able to find real peace and joy?

God is Just

 “But you say, ‘That the Lord does isn’t fair.’ Listen, people of Israel. I am fair. It is what you do that is not fair!  When good people stop doing good and do wrong, they will die because of it. They will die, because they did wrong.  When the wicked stop being wicked and do what is fair and right, they will save their lives  (Ezekiel 18:25‑27).

Central Theme:  God is just, not like people.

Introduction–Show 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 by the Lord; and they were still being evil and bad.

B.  God said that they were so wicked that they even thought that God was the evil and bad.

C. Before my children became parents, they thought their father 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, Executive Director of Special Gathering, 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. Tell about the day you lost your pocketbook and it was found in Merritt Island.

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 other people to help us understand.

Often people with intellectual disabilities may have a language barrier.  Even though she is high functioning and can do almost any job, Teena’s language is muddled and confused.  She speaks her word-phrases backwards.  For most of her life, she has remained mutely silent because she understands that people can’t always interpret the twisted way her words flow from her brain into her mouth.

Yet, in the past year, because of her love for the Lord, Teena has been released from her chains of fear and doubt and she now communicates with the people she trusts, especially during the discussions in her Bible class.  Teena is a leader at The Special Gathering which is ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our mission is evangelism and discipleship.

The Arc is a national organization that provides various services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Yesterday, as I visited the Wahiawa Arc, I saw in Renee Subee, the manager, and her staff, the language of love at work. “Jon,” Renee encouraged one of the consumers, “show us your birds.”  Jon went to his box and pulled out a maticulously and beautifully cut paper hawk.  “Jon does these birds without a pattern.  They are all cut freehand.”  Then taking the bird, he positioned it around his fingers and caused the bird to fly.  The grace of his large gentle fingers made you see the hawk in graceful flight.  “We’ve tried to make the birds fly as Jon does; but we can’t do it.  He is an artist,” Renee bragged.

Then Jon took the bird.  He gave it to Renee and motioned for her to keep it.  Renee clutched it to her heart.  “For me?  You are REALLY giving this to me?”  Jon smiled slightly and sat back down in his chair.  Renee said to me, “Jon doesn’t give his birds away.  I’m the first.”  Jon peeked from his work toward Renee and almost awarded us with another smile.

No words needed to be spoken to hear the shouts of love, acceptance, gratitude, beauty and grace resounding in the room.

The Arc in Wahiawa, Hawaii is a secular program.  They don’t claim to be Christian or Christ centered but it is clear that the language of love is spoken here.

Sitting in a clean and bright room, Jonathan meticulously moved the yellow magic marker.  He sat hunched close to the table in order to more carefully observe the imprints that spread over the picture of 4th of July fireworks.  Like most artists, Jonathan studied each line and mark as he made it.  After a few moments, Jonathan lifted his large frame to greet us with his steel eyes and expression-filled face.  Yet, he never stopped his art work.  He carefully stayed within the lines, making the colors smooth and sleek, no easy task with magic markers on plain paper.

As we walked into his room, her staff smiled while Renee Subee greeted Jonathan before she spoke to the paid personnel.  This simple gesture by Ms. Subee, the manager of The Arc in Wahiawa, Hawaii, spoke volumes to me about the quality of care and attention given to the individuals who receive services at this sheltered workshop.

Renee–you feel comfortable calling her by her first name–showed us each room where people with intellectual disabilities are trained.  Every room had a fish tank inhabited by at least one bright yellow fish.  With the intensity of a hungry feline, Debbie stared at the fish swimming until we entered her room; and then her attention was drawn to her legs.  Shy and self-conscious, Debbie only caught quick glimpses of us.

Community inclusion is more than a buzz word for this small group of folks.  Each morning, the ingredients for Meals on Wheels are delivered to the workshop.  The individuals assemble the lunches and then deliver them into the surrounding homes.  “It is such an important part of our out reach,” said Renee. “Our consumers go into the homes of the elderly and distribute the meals.  It helps everyone.  The consumers love it and so do the men and women receiving the meals.”   Explaining the purpose of their thrift shop, she said, “We keep the cost of our merchandise very low so that we can give back to our neighbors.  This community is very important to us.”

The location of the Wahiawa Arc isn’t the most desirable section of town. However, you wouldn’t know it from the pride Renee and her staff take in their location.  “We are in the perfect spot,” she bragged.

Reluctant to leave, I felt that I’d known Renee and her small community for years.  But Renee’s day isn’t over when the last consumer is loaded on a HandiVan and leaves the parking lot.  Ms. Subee is more than the Wahiawa ADH Manager, she is also the independent living coach for about 10 people who live in the upstairs apartments of the two-story building.  “I’m on call 24 hours a day.  Our residents are independent; therefore, I’m here for questions and emergencies.”

It was apparent that Renee Subee and her staff enjoy the amazing wonder of the unique people they serve.  Her humor and joy permeate every inch of the facility.  I, too, left smiling and happy that there can be such joy in working within our community, even in Paradise.

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