On a hot July afternoon in 2010,  my husband and I went with my daughter and her family to the National Space and Aeronautics Museum in DC to see the IMAX presentation of the Hubble telescope.  Everything about it was spectacular.  It was especially impressive that my husband worked all the launches related to the Hubble, except one and we saw that launch in our front yard as it careened into space.

The movie showed the astronauts as they played in the Brevard County beaches only a few miles from our house. It was a an eerie feeling to realize that I had seen history being made a few steps from my front door.  Of course, we always glibly talk about the fact that we are watching history in the making.  But sitting in the theatre with approximately 1,000 other people puts the NASA experiences of the past 4 decades in a totally different light.

Then as the pictures that have been taken from the Hubble unfolded, we all gasped in wonder.  Perhaps the other people in the theatre didn’t have the same sense of amazement as our small group because we lived it.  When the Hubble first launched, the Hubble family came to see the first launch attempt.  They were Presbyterians and they attended Trinity Presbyterian Church in Satellite Beach where I was working.  It was an honor to have the Hubble family with us.

God has been such an important part of our history.  As I pushed him out of the theatre, my husband, Frank said, “We cannot even imagine how big and awesome our God is.”  We have prayed for each launch and the many astronauts.  We have their patches tucked away in desks drawers.  There are  framed photos of launches hanging on our walls.  Years ago, I stood on the road of our church when the Challenger exploded.  The stunned staff stopped to pray for the astronauts and their family, because the horror of the moment was more gut wrenching than we could imagine.

Our small troop walked from the Hubble movie and headed into the McDonald’s attached to the museum.  While licking our escaping ice cream, we discussed the wonders of what we had seen.  Reality was beginning to seep back into our lives.  After a heady time of reviewing history, ice cream was a refreshing touch of today.

We walked out of the museum blasted by the scouring heat.  Walking a few feet from the museum, we realized our car had been towed away by the police while we were reliving history.  A passing pedestrian said, with a grin, “Welcome to DC.”  We all laughed and I thought to myself,  welcome back to reality.

The song, “Riders on the Storm,” recorded in 1971 by the Doors invaded my mind this morning.  Perhaps I’m the only person in the US who can’t remember ever hearing this song.

My curiosity peaked by the title, I had to look up the lyrics.  Like many songs, some of the lyrics didn’t make sense to me.  However, the chorus is stunningly applicable to what happened a year ago.

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm

There is such amazing hope and despair coupled in these lyrics that my imagination was captured.  The songwriter says, we are riders on the storm.  Not tossed or turned in the storm but caught up riding above the storms of life.  However, once the hope is given, there is great despair because we are born to be thrown alone and lost.

One year ago today, my husband fell and broke his hip and leg.  He came home from an extended stay in the hospital and rehab centers on February 14, 2011 and died May 10.  I was only 10 feet from him when he fell; but we were in different rooms.  I bust through the door to find him sitting on the shower floor writhing in pain.  I knew he had broken his hip.  My first thoughts were our lives just radically changed.  Nevertheless, I had no idea how much change had stolen through our doorway.

From that moment, together he and I became riders on the storm, embracing and repelling the future with all our strength.  We laughed and cried in the same breath.  As his dementia accelerated, each moment became a bitter/sweet memory that I knew he would forget as soon as the hour passed.  I felt bitterly alone; yet surprisingly embraced second by second by Frank, our family and friends.  God’s wisdom was clearly working in our lives while the mystery of tomorrow became more and more clouded.

Often, God uses the secular to teach us His truths.  Today, I’m grateful to the Doors for their prophetic recording.  I ask God to bless them abundantly by leading them to know him through His Son, Jesus their Savior and Lord.

What about you?  Has there be one song–perhaps even a secular song–that God has used to help you through difficult circumstances?  Would you ever be able to use this teaching with your members who are mentally challenged?  How would you share this teaching?

waterGod is Forgiving

Psalm 86:5

Central Theme:   God forgives everyone, even me.

Introduction–If I have a cup of water and I pour it on to this rag, what will happen?  The rag will get wet.  (If appropriate pour the water on to the floor.  If not pour it into a saucer or rag.)  This rag is wet and it will be wet for a long time.  If I slap Sam in the face, will it hurt?  Yes.  I can’t instantly make this rag dry again.  If I hit Sam, I can‘t take it back.  Folks, we find ourselves in a mess.  We sin and we can’t take the bad things back.  We can’t make the rag dry.  And a slap will always hurt. But there is one thing we have.  We can get God’s forgiveness when we sin. Have a member read Psalm 86:5.

I.     Tell the story of David and Bathsheba

1.  David slept with Bathsheba; then he killed her husband.

2.  God told David that he was a sinner.

II.     David asked God to forgive him.

A. God did forgive David.

1.  God says that David was a man whose heart was like God‘s.

2.  But David had sinned and even God’s forgiveness did not take away the results of those sins.

B. David‘s little son died and many other bad things happened to his family after that.

III.     God forgives but he does not always take away the bad effects of those sins.  –Ex:  a woman who became a Christian after she had killed someone.  She still had to die.

Conclusion–God forgives everyone who asks for forgiveness.

accidentSaturday afternoon, during choir practice, I got a phone call from a colleague, who said, “My wife and I have just been in at terrible accident. Can you cover for me tomorrow?” This is a person who downplays everything. Therefore, his admission regarding the  severity of the accident set me into caution mode.

Having him interrupt choir, when he knows my schedule was another cautionary note.  After seeing the pictures, it’s obvious that accident was terrible.  A truck rear-ended their auto.  After the accident, driver of the truck could not move his body.  In addition, the impact of the accident slammed my colleague’s vehicle into the car in front of them.  This person was also seriously injured.

All indications from the damage done to the cars and the injuries the others received, it is a miracle that my co-workers were not critically injured.  But they were not.

Earlier that day, the news media reported that an entire neighborhood was covered with mud in California.  However, no one was hurt.  People were saying this was truly a miracle.

prudenceThese are two incidences of God’s miraculous work in the world today. As wonderful as miracles are, there needs to be a word of prudence given.

Discretion teaches to never use the word, “miracle” in a loose manner.  It seems that often when Christians are speaking to each other and to non-believers, we use the word miracles as frequently as possible.  We get a parking space after prayer; and we let everyone know that it’s a miracle.  We are able to safely cross a heavily traveled highway by foot; and it’s a miracle.

Understand, I’m not saying that these things are not miracles.  I am  saying that describing everything that happens in our lives as a miracle weakens our witness with the outside world.  It is important that we protect our witness regarding God’s intrigity and our relationship.

Years ago, I learned from a wise friend that many things are too sacred to be shared.  This has been hard for me because I like to tell everything.  When we throw out these sacred bits of information, we open ourselves and our witness to criticism.

We don’t fully understand the reason why the Lord often admonished people who had received great miracles in their lives. “Don’t tell anyone what has happened to you,”  Jesus advised. Perhaps one reason is that these things are too personal and too holy to be thrown out for critique and misunderstanding.

creationGenesis tells us that God made Adam from dirt and Eve from Adam’s rib.  However, he had made the earth with his Word.  He spoke the earth and heavens into existence.

There is no denying that the creation of life itself was a glorious miracle.  Yet, the miracle of human life is that God breathed His life into the man and man became a living soul–set a part from all other creatures and creation.  The human spirit was created with the breath of God.  This is the miracle of mankind.  However, once God formed man and woman and mankind became a human spirit, He put into place a well-order plan for the propagation of life.

When Adam and Eve sinned, the spirit of man was killed.  The part of mankind that was supernatural was no longer alive.  It was the work of the Holy Spirit, through the death, blood and resurrection of Jesus that produced the miracle of salvation and the regeneration of the spirit of man.

babyWhen a person is born, made from the egg of a mother and the sperm of a father, it is a wonderful extension of God’s creative power.  In that life, many miracles may follow, including the best miracle, salvation and transformation of that soul when and if s/he accepts Jesus as his or her savior.

However, the Biblical understanding does not place childbirth as a miracle. Children were not born until Adam and Eve had sinned and broke God’s covenant with them.

A miracle is when God breaks his own rules in order to do something different from the proper order of life.  Childbirth is a function of life. It conforms to God’s laws and order that have been carefully positioned for action.  Complicated, mysterious and wonderful, new life is part of God’s overall plan.  It flows through a well-ordered design set into place by our Creator-Father.

When a female egg is fertilized by a male sperm, human life is formed.  The natural order of creation is amazingly complicated, superbly detailed and designed to perfection.  Humankind is the crown-jewel of God’s creation.  However, it is not a miracle until the miracle of new-birth begins.

This idea offends every fiber of my heart as a mother because my brain and soulish nature say that children are miracles.  My grandchildren are double miracles.  Yet, when I look into the scripture and God’s plan for the propagation of life, I see that children are, indeed, a part of God’s purpose and design; but they are not miracles.  We cannot be placed into category of miracles, until the Spirit of God  brings to life the spirit of a man or woman transforming us into a child of God.

Beb LinderThe Power of Listening

(Like you, I get hundred’s of emails each week.  However, I look forward to receiving the newsletter from Bev Linder.  We’ve never met but her newsletter speaks to my heart each time I receive it.  I believe it will bless you also.  You may want to request her newsletter.  The information is at the bottom. )

James 1:19 says, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak…” There is power in active intentional, and respectful listening.  It’s the best way to help our kids have an open heart to receive what we have to say about faith in God.

Imparting faith to children (ed. note: everyone) involves listening to them, for that is the beginning of giving them an understanding of their value before God. It is an un-special need to be valued in this tangible way.

Josh McDowell has said, “Part of good communication is listening with the eyes as well as with the ears.” Our culture moves so fast. As a special parent you are probably moving from therapy session to school meeting to doctor appointment, but nothing will touch the life of your precious child more than slowing down and listening to his words and to his heart. You might have a child who is nonverbal, but you can still “listen” by giving him or her your undivided attention in a quiet setting.

A while ago, Mike and I attended a memorial service that changed our lives. We didn’t even know this person. His name was Jan, a man in his 40’s who died of cancer. We only went because we knew his sister and wanted to be supportive of her. Little did we know how Jan’s life would touch our own!

The sharing time came at the service, and thus started the most amazing accounts of a person touching people’s lives, and it all revolved around Jan’s giftedness to listen! There were homeless people, neighbors, couples whose marriages were in trouble, there were old people and young people, and they all were moved by Jan’s listening heart. One friend of Jan’s felt compelled to go up to the stairs of the church and demonstrate how Jan would listen. “He would hunker down and get comfortable, like this. Then he would set his gaze on me, and say, “What’s going on with you, brother?”

It was the perfect picture of James 1:19 because Jan would be quick and deliberate in his “hearing” and then he would slowly share the truth of God’s Word, which found fertile soil in the hearts of these individuals who felt so valued.

Have you ever had someone listen to you? I mean really “hunker down” and set their gaze on you and communicate through body language that what is in your soul matters to them? When that happens, life suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. And you are much more open to whatever that person wants to share with you.  Kids are no different. Our kids with special needs are especially hungry to have someone care about what is inside of their soul for it’s something they likely don’t experience very often. Their young hearts will respond to respectful attentiveness and that will set the stage for you to tell them about the love of God.

 
Bev Linderbev@special-heart.com

www.special-heart.com

 

Bible studyIn studying the life of Jesus, it is impossible to ignore miracles.  This quarter as we delve into the ministry of Jesus, the members of Special Gathering–a ministry within the intellectually disabled community– have asked lots of questions.  Their questions have led me to think again about miracles and how God uses them in the lives of the believer.

From my study of the Scripture, I found that miracles an interesting phenomena.  There are many misconceptions regarding miracles.  Here are a few of them.

Miracles are not magic.  Magic is not a miracle.  A miracle is when God breaks his own laws for a purpose.  Magic is an illusion or trick used to make it seem as though God’s laws have been broken.

Miracles happen instantaneously. 

A miracle is not healing.  Healings happen over a period of time.  Often people pray for healings, expecting a miracle and without understanding there is a difference.  If a healing happens instantly, then it is a miracle.  A healing may take a matter of minutes, hours or years.  Healing is a process.  Miracles are instantaneous activity from the hand of God.  This may seem like a matter of somatic.  However, it has caused a lot of people to doubt their healing because it did not happen instantly.

sunsetMost miracles involve inanimate objects. Even thought, miracles may happen within our bodies or outside our bodies.  On that rainy day when the car in front of me slammed on its brakes, I knew that there was no way our car could miss the stopping automobile.  I called out, “Jesus, help us” and slammed on my brakes.  Our car stopped instantaneously which is impossible.  My teenage son asked in wonder, “Mom, did you see what just happened?”  It was a miracle.

People don’t perform miracles.  God is the miracle-worker, not humans.  We may speak the word but the work is done by our Heavenly Father.

Miracles demonstrate God’s power and glory, not the faith of the individual. While the individual may have faith for a miracle, there is never a guarantee that God will perform a miracle.  The Lord has knowledge and understanding that is beyond our depth.  God may know that this supernatural act would harm the person and withhold the miracle.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list.  Yet, these are things which too often cause problems within the church regarding the miracle-working power of the Lord.