thankfulness


looking at her watchShe is never early.  Always late.  He cannot speak without using offensive or vulgar expressions.  “I’M marching to a different drummer” is her excuse for breaking all the rules and acting selfishly.  He only seems interested in hurting others, if he doesn’t get his way.

I’ve deliberately left out names.  Because we all can fit into any of those statements but for the mercy and work of God in our hearts.  In fact, even though we have come to Lord and asked for his saving grace, one of the greatest tricks of our enemy is to erase from our memory the place where we dwelt before God’s forgiveness entered our hearts and lives.

sitting in a boxWe’ve been told by the Lord, “Do this to remember me.”  Often to the Church, Jesus is saying, “Remember me so you can be reminded of the point where you started.  Remember where you were; and you still are a sinner.  You need a Savior.”

My heart desires to reach out and slap some folks I know.  They aren’t following the Lord up to my standards.  Or they are giving to the point of hurting the people they want to bless.  Their lives shout, “I need a Savior.”  Yet, their eyes are blind to their own needs.  They can see the fault of everyone around them.  Nevertheless, they cannot see their own needs and sins.

Others are like me.  We are born-again but we still walk through life succumbing to sinful desires.  Or there are those of us who have become self-righteous looking through our salvation binoculars at everyone who does not know the Lord as their Savior.  Carnal or baby Christians are an anathema to us.  We cannot understand why they can’t get their lives together.

We understand God’s amazing grace in our lives but we want to customize the way God’s deals with others according to our plan and our dictates.  We have forgotten our starting point.  We’ve become self-righteous to the core.

crossroadsPaul instructed the church to never forget from where we came.  The Lord wants us to lead by example; not proclamation. Each year, Special Gathering ministry takes about 175 people who are intellectually disabled on a four-day retreat experience.  In my first year at Camp Agape, one of the hardest things for me to learn as a new staff person was the principle of “leading by example.”  I wanted to tell everyone what to do and where to do it.

The problem is that telling is much easier than leading by example.  Nevertheless, God has given us an airtight way to overturn our self-righteous ways.  “Remember where we came from.”

Image Crossroads (C) by www.martin-liebermann.de“.

keep calmOkay! I had to do this.  But I have more reason to write about December 21, 2012 than most folk.  It’s my birthday and it’s a big one.  That is, it’s a big number.  For many people, my age might even signal the end of the world.

However, I don’t intend to go away today.  I plan to live to my societal prophetic 100 years and continue to work.  There is a great deal of freedom that comes with age.  I’ve heard from a variety of people different milestones that change you.

My good friend Mama Poulsen said that 50 was the changing age.  When my friend, Grace Caldwell, died at 79, her only regret was that she didn’t reach 80.  “Because at 80 you can say and do whatever you want.”

me rabbittSince I’ve pretty much lived that way many years of my life,  maybe it’s time for me to pull back.  Whenever I asked my husband for his opinion about a decision, he used the old phrase, “Do whatever you want.  That’s what you always end up doing anyway.”  When he said it, I chaffed at the notion.  Nevertheless, looking back, I see that he was right more times than he was wrong.

Of course, I had three children and a fairly demanding husband; but in the end, I’ve seen circumstances and realities change to the point that I seem to “end up doing whatever I want.”  Through this, I’ve learned that in the Christian life sacrificial giving often becomes a doorway to your greatest blessing.  The first really become the last and the last often finish first.

HB to meIt takes years to comprehend.  Yet in God’s economy, there is a strength in weakness.  The poor in spirit always obtain the heavenly riches.  Those who weep acquire the greatest consolation because their comfort emanates from the throne of God.  And the whole earth will be given to the humble.

Happy Birthday to me!  I pray your day will be as blessed as mine.

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?

Today, is Global Day of Prayer.  The international chairperson is Graham Power of  South Africa.  This is a day set aside to pray for people around the world.  Here is a suggested prayer for the nations.

Lord, we love and praise you for who you.  Though you dwell in heaven, you chose to bless the earth.  We pray for the world you have made and all the people who dwell on the earth.  We pray your blessings on each person.  We ask that you would provide for all needs.

Forgive the sins of the nations and for the transgressions of each person. We pray that your Son, Jesus, will make himself known to each person through your great power and love and that all  hearts will be softened to know and receive your Holy Spirit into our lives.  Let the peace of God flow from all who love you and impact all creation.

We pray that your kingdom will be known and rule here on earth.   Lord, you are good to us.  Thank you for today and for the blessings you will be pouring on us.  In Jesus name, we pray.  Amen.

Graham PowerGraham Power

Below  is some information about the Global Day of Prayer.

Vision

The glory of Christ and the blessing of the nations.

“For the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)

Mission

To call Christians from all nations to unite in repentance and prayer,
and to collaborate as God’s instruments for the blessing and healing of the nations.

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray
and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways,
then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
(2 Chronicles 7: 14)

Purpose

To meet as God’s united church to worship Him, seek His face and intercede for the transformation of our city and the nations. We seek God for revival, intercede on behalf of our world, and collaborate with Him for the blessing and transformation of our cultures.

Core Values

Every local Global Day of Prayer organizer and team member should strive to live by the following core values:

The Bible and the Apostle’s Creed—These define the doctrinal foundation of our unity. Worship and Prayer—We strive to do everything we do out of a heart of worship and for our counsel and instruction to come from prayer.

Respect—We use a consultative style of leadership that expresses respect for every people and our desire to include every part of the body of Christ.

Humility and Repentance—We embrace a lifestyle of repentance, agree with adversaries quickly, and confront pride and arrogance in the opposite spirit.

Servant Leadership—We lead by serving. It is intimidating to lead leaders, even presumptuous to take on that role. It puts everything in proper perspective when we commit to serve leaders.

Quality—We are committed to serve the vision with excellence. Quality is not a financial decision.

Relationship—We are an expression of existing relationships and a growing network of people who recognize the value and significance of relationship. People are more important than the task.

Integrity—We are committed to honest communication without falsehood or exaggeration. We submit to a clear line of accountability and open financial records.

Inclusiveness—We celebrate diversity, seek inclusive leadership, and mourn the tragedy of any missing part.

Sacrificial Giving—The Global Day of Prayer is empowered by the sacrificial giving of God’s people. Each locality relies on its own resources.

Declaration of Faith

The Global Day of Prayer is designed to encourage the widest participation. Therefore we have chosen one of the simplest, oldest affirmations of faith, The Apostles’ Creed.

THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth;

and in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy, catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and life everlasting. AMEN

Global Day of Prayer Video

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/2011/06/global-day-of-prayer-june-11-2011.html#ixzz1OtiV6Wzy

It’s cold in sunny Central Florida.  I’m off to see my husband in the hospital and to spend the morning and early afternoon with him.  My arms are loaded with lots of presents and surprises for him.  In his confused, after surgery, state he doesn’t even realize that it’s Christmas day. 

 Our children and grandchildren will be coming in a few days to visit their ailing (grand) father and to play with their mother and grandmother.  I would like a hamburger for my Christmas dinner and go to see the Disney’s, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Think I’ll call my friends living in the Gillespie group home who have no family living and no place to go.  I know that the staff has planned a Christmas lunch so we can take a late-afternoon movie and then grab a hamburger at MacDonald’s for supper. 

Sounds like a great Christmas day plan.  On days that I’m alone, I know that I have good friends within the mentally challenged community who will always welcome a visit and a Christmas day adventure!  Charge!

I came back from South Carolina late Saturday evening tired to the bone.  Sunday’s worship was wonderful.  Pam Gillespie, a former Special Gathering staff person and now a volunteer, preached and lead praise and worship.  I was able to sit back and observe.  It was an anointed service.

Today is our son’s birthday.  He is older than I feel, even carrying the tireness of a busy week.  However, I wanted to say that it’s a wonderful thing to have adult children who love each other and love their mother and father.  This past week, our son saw his son pass into adulthood.  It is interesting watching the passage of children and grandchildren venturing into the world of adulthood.

A very wise mother of a mentally challenged woman once told me to never cry when my children successfully pass from one stage of life to another.  These are the normal things which should happen.  I knew that she was speaking about her own daughter who would never don a wedding dress or attend college.  She would never have children or grandchildren.  She would not even be able to speak a clear sentence. 

I met a doctor many years ago whose daughter had spoken her name that morning.  She wept at the meeting.  “It’s taken her 15 years to be able to say ‘Mommy,’  but this is the happiest day of my life.”

I often think of my friend who is now struggling with cancer and whose daughter faces an uncertain future.  I pray for her and the doctor whose daughter is no longer 15 but approaching  her 30’s. 

Birthdays and graduations are times of celebration and rejoicing for all of us.

The last time I saw my friend, she said, “You know, I’ve been blessed beyond measure.  What a good life God has given to me and my daughter.”  Perhaps achievements and accomplishments are overrated commodities in the light of eternity.  Parents of special needs children seem to be able to understand that better than the rest of us. 

I do thank God for birthdays and graduations!  But also thank God for the peace and assurance of having just one more day shared with a loved one.

Sometime in my early 20’s, a friend gave me the book, Praying Hyde.  It was the story of a missionary to India, John Hyde who lived from 1865-1912.  Hyde spent so much time on his knees praying for the Indian people and other countries that he had calloused knees.  His story had a great impact on me; and from the day I picked up the book, I wanted Praying Hyde knees. 

What I had known since my childhood became a burning fire in my belly.  Through prayer, I could be a part of God’s hand moving around the world and never leave my house. 

Of course, being “The Perfect Pharisee” that I am, this become a great source of pride for me as I strived to acquire my own calloused knees.  Finally, the Lord spoke to me and told me to get up off my knees and learn to pray in a different position.  Quietly, He said in loving correction, “You’ll never have Praying Hyde knees.” 

Of ten our best efforts become times of silly extravagance and distortion.  That is when we realize how miserably Adamic our human nature really is.  Therefore, I’m not terribly surprised by off-handed comments people make that are offensive or disparaging–even when they are made about the wonderful population that we serve.

However, what did surprise me last night was a comment made by the comedian, Dennis Miller, who said that he worked on a weekly basis with people with intellectual disabilities.  “They have more dignity and integrity than most people I’ve ever met,”  Miller said.

Thank you, Mr. Miller for your keen insight.  Of course, the members of our population have their faults, sins and shortcomings.  But it is a wonderful privilege to be able to minister to these men and women who daily exhibit integrity and love. 

The Holy Spirit was right.  I never got my Praying Hyde knees and I’m sure it’s too late now.  Yet, I got something much better.  I get to pray for and work for an amazing population of God’s most amazing individuals.  Thanks be to God.

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