February 2014


jesus movementRecently, I’ve heard a great deal about the things the Holy Spirit was doing in the 1960′s and 1970′s.  It is interesting to me because those were days through which we lived.  There were times that it seemed that the Lord was tangible enough to reach out and touch.  Even though I was very young–bearly out of my teenage years–I had been a Christian long enough to realize that this kind of mysterious, glorious revelation would not last forever.

It is part of the curse that we live under.  We leak.  There are some things that we need to understand when we are faced with our leaky humanity.  Here are a few that I’ve learned over the years

leaking bucket

  1. Though we leak, God has not moved away from us.
  2. Neither has He removed His love and compassion.
  3. Miracles don’t grow faith.
  4. Day-to-day living grows faith.
  5. Living out the Word of God when you feel nothing makes our faith strong and resilient.
  6. Leaking isn’t a sin.
  7. Leaking is simply a reality and part of our Adamic nature.
  8. Leaking doesn’t mean that we love God less than we did when there was almost a tangible presence of the Holy Spirit.
  9. Abundant faith and abundant faithfulness are different.
  10. Adundant faith is a gift from God.
  11. Abundant faithfulness is our gift to God.

A wonderful Christian Mentor–my mother–often quietly mused, “Will the Lord find a faithful people when He returns?”  It seems like a simple question; but she repeated it so often that I came to understand that Mother was expressing the plaintive cry of God’s heart.  Ministering within the mentally challenged community for many years has helped me to see the fruit of a faithful people.  Most of my members will never write a book, sonnet or poem.  About half of them cannot read.  Some cannot talk.  But they are faithful.  I’ve had several members who did not miss a week in 20 years.

Mighty deeds and amazing miracles are wonderful.  They attract crowds and bring great joy into our lives.  But I’ve become more and more convinced that God is looking for a faithful people who will love Him no matter what the circumstances, delights, hardship, joy or trials.

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/simplelife/2014/02/when-we-leak.html#ixzz2tvJZA8JO

insecureOne of the most important things a person can provide for any person and especially for a man or woman who is developmentally disabled is a safe harbor–a place where they can securely share their thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Because of their intellectual development, many people within the mentally challenged community are also stunted in expressing their deep emotions.

There are only a few vehicles wherein this population would be expected or allowed to share their genuine thoughts.  All of us are heavily invested in teaching this population Scriptural principles.  Nonetheless, unless the precepts become practical applications in their lives, they will never learn them effectively.

Therefore, it is vital to give our members the space wherein they are allowed to share their thoughts.  How we do this is not easy.  Though the answers regarding a “how to” may seem simplistic.

  1. wrting on a boardYou must asked targeted and pointed questions.
  2. You must allow the members to share without interruption.
  3. You must allow the members time to answer.  When a question is asked, the leader of the group will often wait a few seconds and then answer the question themselves.  Waiting is hard but it reaps great dividends.
  4. You must be sure that the answer to your questions are not to complicated or a vehicle to showcase how smart the examiner is. In other words, don’t ask trick questions.
  5. You must give the members many successes with their answers.  If a person gives a totally off-the-rail answer, rephrase either your question or his/her answer until you find the answer with which he or she agrees.
  6. When asking an opinion question, be sure that every answer is given validity.  No opinion is incorrect.  An opinion is owned by the responder–not the asker.
  7. Give the answers extra validity by writing the answers down on a board of some type.
  8. It is most important that the answering party knows without a doubt that the questioner loves him or her.  It takes time and a great deal of patience to truly show that you love your members.

It takes extremely secure people to be able to express their opinions, thoughts and emotions.  We must understand that most people within the disability community are not secure.  Many of them know the full range of their deficiencies better than anyone else.  They must be given a safe harbor to insure that they are able to receive the healing that the Holy Spirit wants to give through your ministry.

Stack of BooksI’ve just had a prayer answered.  I mean immediately my prayer was answered.  Years ago, I learned from reading the wonderful book, Practice of the Presence of the Lord, by Brother Lawrance, the importance of having constant communication with the Lord.

Therefore, much of my thought life has become prayer.  Monday is my day off.  As I sat on my couch about an hour ago, I thought/prayed, “Lord, I’d love to have a book to read.”  I especially love children’s books.

Within a few minutes, I got a text from my daughter.  “Did you get the gift book we sent to you?”  After a few texts, I downloaded my new book on my iPad.  Needless to say, I was thrilled–not only with my new book but also with the Lord’s immediate answer to my prayer.  In fact, He had set the answer into motion even before I had prayed.

formulaI wish there were a “supernatural formula” that I could pass on to you that would make these kinds of wonderful miracles happen every time we pray.  If there is such a formula, I don’t know it.  I believe there are simply times when God’s miraculous grace is poured out into our lives.

I had a discussion with a dear friend yesterday.  I said that all miracles are big because they are supernatural interventions into our lives orchestrated by God.  He laughed and said, “No!  It’s exactly the opposite.  All miracles are small because our God is much more mighty than mere miracles.  They are simply like breathing in and out to God.”

Both explanations could be absolutely true.   From the perspective of humankind, every miracle–no  matter  how small–is enormous because we are able to see the  intervention of God in our lives.  To imagine that God cares enough about us that he will break his own rules is a breath-taking concept.

Yet, viewed from the perspective of God–healing, deliverance, parting the sea, feeding 5,000 people–all miracles are child’s play.

Nevertheless, when I view into the looking-glass of the history of humankind regarding what price was paid by the Lord Jesus to give me total access to a loving and gracious God, I cannot but stand in awe of the salvation Jesus’ sacrifice provided for me.  I sit dumbfounded at the big miracles from an amazing, loving God who will answer a prayer desiring a new book to read.

Small or big miracles?  Small for God.  But a huge act of graciousness that demonstrates to me his love for me.  That’s a big miracle.

Who are the helpers at church
When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it  (Gal 6:10:

Introduction–Some years ago, we were all glued to our TV’s because two boys were kidnapped.  Then they were found . Ben (4days old) and Shawn (4 ½ years old) were kidnapped by a man and the police found them yesterday. Everyone is said that a young teenager named Mitchell was the key to finding the boys because he was willing to help his friend in identifying a truck. We are all to be helpers for others.  Have a member read, Galatians 6:10.

  1. The story of the first men who were chosen to be helpers in the church.
  2. The church would come together, bring their food and eat their meals together. The Jewish men were helping their older family members who were women to have food.
  3. The non-Jewish women did not have a family member to help them so they were not getting food.
  4. They complained and the Apostles decided they could not wait on the table but they would choose men who could help these women get the food they needed.

All of us need help at certain times in our lives.

  1. The Lord send helpers to the church because there were older women who were not being given the food they needed.
  2. Last week we had a funeral for my brother-in-law and it was sad but wonderful because we were able to spend time together and be with the family.  We were all helping each other.  But there were some people who were doing more than their share.
  3. These men and woman and boys and girls were happy to be able to help.
  4. God has designated certain men and women who love helping.

There are other people who are better at studying and planning for the church.  We all have a special place in the church.

  1. I am usually better at planning and studying and sharing the gospel.
  2. Our teachers are all gifted in sharing God’s word with you.
  3. There are some of us who really want to be helpers.  They take up the money and help with the chairs.

All of us are important to the Lord and to the work of the Lord.  We need all of God’s people to work together and share the gifts that God has given to them.

Minimum Wage Executive Order to Include People with Disabilities

white house signingWashington, DC (February 12, 2014) – Today, the White House announced that President Barack Obama will sign an Executive Order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for all future federal contract workers, including workers with disabilities.

This Covers individuals with disabilities.  Under current law, workers whose productivity is affected because of their disabilities may be paid less than the wage paid to others doing the same job under certain specialized certificate programs. Under this Executive Order, all individuals working under service or concessions contracts with the federal government will be covered by the same $10.10 per hour minimum wage protections.

By including people with disabilities in his Executive Order, the President has opened the doors of equal opportunity to many federally contracted employees with disabilities.

tonyMy friend, Tony Piantine of Camp Daniel in Wisconsin, wrote on his Facebook wall, “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.”  That is a quote from Edward DeBono.  Not sure who Ed DeBono is but he must be important.

(You see, Piantine writes lofty things on his Facebook wall.  He doesn’t know that Facebook is for more important stuff, such as, “I just finished a whole bag of potato chips.  I don’t even feel fat yet.  Searching the cabinet for another bag.”  Or,  “I haven’t brushed my teeth in four days.  Hope you read this because no one has come close to me in 48 hours.”)

In her later years, my mother–who was important in my life–often instructed me, “It’s amazing.  When I was actively doing ministry, there was always someone angry with me.  Now that I’m doing nothing, everyone loves me.” Then she would say with a whimzical smile.  ”If you are busy doing work for the Lord, you are bound to do something that someone doesn’t like.  If you do nothing, no one has a complaint.”

Working with Special Gathering, I’ve also found Mother’s advice to be true.  We are a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our mission is evangelism and discipleship.  That is what we do and that is all we do.

dont do itInteresting, there are people who don’t like us because of what we do.  These are usually wonderful people who deeply believe in a more  inclusive ministry for this sub-culture.  We applaud the work they are doing.  However, we also strongly believe that a specialized, community-based ministry is better able to reach the population with the dynamic, life-changing gospel.

There are equally adament folks who don’t like us because of what we do not do.  Often, these are people who believe that we should be more aggressive in our approach.  There are several areas, including funding and social work, that seem to get caught in their cross-hairs.  Several years ago, I sat in a meeting with a pychiatrist, well-known in our area.  I was surprised at how angry he became with our stand against taking federal funding.  “You are just lazy,” he concluded.  “There is money out there.  You simply need to access it for your ministry.”  After I questioned him about compromise, he said, “Of course, you’ll have to do a bit of compromising but the extra funding is worth it.  And you can find ways to work around the restrictions.”

We left the meeting without his agreeing with our principle.  In addition, he hadn’t convinced me that working around restrictions and additional funding was worth the compromise.  However, that is okay.  He had found ways with which he was enthusiastic in helping a children’s home obtain federal and state funding.  He only wanted us to tap into this supply of cash.  He was genuinely concerned and he sincerely felt we were wrong.

Other people believe that we are too aggressive in our advocacy for the population.  Our exec, Richard Stimson, loves to tell about a time that he argued before a day program staff in the same week.  He was representing two different people.  They wanted to different things in regard to the same issue.  Stimson first argued for the issue.  Later in the week, he argued again the same issue.

One of the staff members came out of the meeting and confronted Stimson.  “How can you argue for and against the same issue?”

Stimson smiled, “Because each consumer wanted something different.  I try to obtain what they need and want, not what I need or want.”

Without compromising our basic principles, we will argue for or against an issue, depending on what the people we represent desire.  This doesn’t always make the professional community happy with us.

We aren’t saying that our critics are right or wrong.  We are just different.   We value our supporting churches and the way we must depend on them for our existance.  And we desire to keep their contributions valuable to us.

What are some of the things that make people angry with you?  Would changing these methods go against your principles.  Or would they enhance your ministry?

Chemistry Teacher with Students in Class

The value of learning is understood worldwide.  In the Western Civilization, our emphasis has always come from the Greek understanding of learning.  That is, having knowledge for its own value.  Knowledge, facts and intellectual pursuit are paramount.  It does not matter whether the information can be actually used.

The Eastern world has only valued knowledge that can be used in our daily lives.  There is little value placed on learning without application to real life.  In one of the karate films, the young man spent weeks taking his coat off of a hook and putting it back on the hook.  He felt this was a total waste of time.  However, when his karate master approached him with a surprise attack, the young student found that he automatically knew how to defend himself because the coat-removal movements had become automatic to him.  This is knowledge that can be experienced.

TransformationIn teaching our members, we strive to impart knowledge that can be practiced in their daily life.  There are three levels of knowledge:

1.  Head knowledge

2.  Knowing that you cannot facilitate the knowledge learned.

3.  Facilitating the knowledge and putting it to practice in your life.

Especially within the disability community, we must teach realizing that our members need to be able to reach the third level of knowledge.  That is why, when teaching a Bible study class, I replay the same Bible lesson several times.

However, there must also be a practical application that is connected to the Bible passage studied.  Unless a practical way of implementing the Scriptures is emphasized, it will remain head knowledge.

In addition, if this knowledge reaches only the second level, it will add to the sense of failure that our members live with on a daily basis.  Rather than elevating them into a place of transformation, this knowledge may add another level of defeat in their lives.

Head knowledge has no value in any Christian life unless it reaches the third level of knowledge–the ability to facilitate that understanding into your life.  It is especially true with a person who is intellectually delayed.

The Word of God was never meant to give us the puffed up attitude that head knowledge germinates and propagates.  It is always meant to change our hearts and thereby, change our way of living.

« Previous PageNext Page »