bulliesFighting Fair

The Philistine also said, “Today I stand and make fun of the army of Israel! Let me have one of your men to fight!”  I Sam 17:10

Introduction–A few years ago, two young men tried to steal my purse from me by grabbing it and driving off in their car.  They weren’t able to get my purse or really hurt me.  You see, even through they were driving a Honda and there were two of them and only one of me, it was not a fair fight because God was on my side.  As we look at the story of David and Goliath, I want us to think about what makes a fair fight.  Have a member read I Samuel 17:10.

  1.  The story of David and Goliath.  Goliath was taunting the Army of Israel and making fun of them.  He said to send one man to fight.  (I Samuel 17)
    1. What Goliath didn’t know was that this was not a fair fight.
    2. He thought he had the advantage but God had the advantage
    3. God sent David to the camp to be able to fight Goliath and to win.
    4. What we need to understand is that God wants us to win every battle and to have the victory everytime and in every way.
  1. God gives victory to his children because he loves us.
  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 that does not know Jesus as their Savior and we saw the young people ministering to each other.
  3. Have you ever been in a problem and seen God turn that problem around for your good?
  1. I have a person in my life that has tried to hurt me and my family.  This person has only made us stronger people.
  2. I had a person one time who wanted to really hurt me; and for a while it seemed to work. Then in my hurt, I found SpG and God gave me all you folks to love me and for me to love.

Conclusion:   God doesn’t fight fair when it comes to his children.  There will be people who will try to hurt you; but they cannot because God is on your side and he always gives us victory.

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Dear Friend,

It’s almost time to register online for The Family Café’s “Sweet Sixteen,” The 16th Annual Family Cafe!

Online registration for The 16th Annual Family Café will open on another sweet occasion, Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14th at 9:00 AM (EST). At that time, you will be able to visitwww.FamilyCafe.net to register. As part of the registration process, you will also be able to request Financial Assistance to cover the cost of your hotel stay at the Hilton Orlando, host site for The 16th Annual Family Café.

A PDF version of the registration brochure is available on our website right now. It can be viewed by following this link. Feel free to download the brochure and share it with other families in your community! If you wish to send in your registration form immediately instead of waiting until February 14th to register online, you can fax it to us at 850/224-4674 or mail it to The Family Cafe at 519 N Gadsden St., Tallahassee FL 32301.

Remember, Financial Assistance will be distributed through a lottery process. Whether you register online, by fax, or by mail, your chances of receiving Financial Assistance remain the same.

Also, if you register by mail or fax, there is no need to register again online after the online registration form becomes available.

The Family Café’s Sweet Sixteen will be held June 6-8, 2014 at the Hilton Orlando, 6001 Destination Parkway in Orlando.  A block of rooms has been reserved at a special conference rate of $109 per night.  To make a reservation, call the Hilton at 407/313-4300. Make sure to mention The Family Café to get the special room rate.

No matter how you register, please remember to mark your calendar for The 16th Annual Cafe! It should be a fantastic Sweet Sixteen weekend with much to offer you and your family. If you have any questions about the event or the registration process, feel free to contact us at 888-309-2233(CAFE) or by replying to this message. Otherwise, we will look forward to seeing you in June!

Thanks,

The Family Cafe

The Family Cafe 888-309-CAFE www.FamilyCafe.net

519 North Gadsden Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
United States

chatEven though saying what we mean is difficult, it may be harder to mean what we say.  When working with people with intellectually disabilities, I’ve found that our sub-culture is actually less prone to say things they do not mean than other segments of the population.  Yet, this is a continuing problem within our society.

A good friend of mine tells me that his wife was constantly threatening to “leave and never come back.”  He learned eventually that this was only an idle threat; but even in knowing this, it put him in continual trauma.  Finally, he realized that the sense of drama which produces trauma was her true purpose.  This is when he learned to ignore the threats.

However, threats about almost everything is a part of many people’s lives.  A parent may tell the Bible study teacher, “If that happens again, my daughter won’t be able to come back to your program.”  A member may inform you, “I’m never coming back…” if I don’t get my way.

talking to each otherOne of the great life lessons is to mean what we say.  Our members who are mentally challenged are concrete learners.  They must have truth in everything they do, especially in their relationship with the Lord. I’ve found that even some people who claim to have a vital relationship with the Lord have a little problem with mangling the truth.

Understand that I’m not speaking from the lofty tower of innocence.  I’ve caught myself more often than I care to remember torturing the truth in my speech.  When we mean what we say, there is a release that comes for everyone with whom you must interface.

“I will go” becomes a sealed covenant.  “I can’t do that” releases you and the other person from future expectations.  “If you do that, I must punish you” is a committment that should not be violated.  This week there was a conflict between two members.  One member began to curse at the other person.  I had to pull him out and ask for him to apologize.  He refused.

argueThis refusal meant that I had to separate him from the others.  Once we were in a more private area, I could reason with him.  Within a few minutes, he was able to understand what was needed and what should be done.  He agreed and could be moved back to his normal seat.  My greatest danger  in this situation was threatening something that I could not or would not do.  It was essential to mean what I said.

Only the Lord’s strength and wisdom can help us to follow through on what we say.  Asking for his help always allows us to become the people of integrity that who can be the example we need to be for our members.

praying on her kneesPrayer is an eternal mystery that haunts even the most devote warrior in God’s kingdom.  For Frances, prayer was her bread and drink.  She spent her days and nights in supplication to the Lord.  I earnestly believe that it was the prayers of Frances that turned our nation back to the Lord in a great way in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.

Of course there were many others who also prayed and sought God but I experienced first-hand the result of Frances’ ministry.  I sat under her teaching and walked hand in hand with her during her times of struggle.  I also saw her confidence in prayer.  I rejoiced in what God was accomplishing through the hours spend listening, speaking, loving and even wrestling with a holy God.

tent meetingsWhile TV pundents often proclaim that everyone was stoned during those decades, there was an underground movement that consisted of late teens and young adults whose hearts pled for God to change them and our nation.  My husband and I were part that movement–the Jesus Movement.  We led a vibrant and holy group of teenagers whose sole ambition was to find a deep relationship with Jesus.  They gathered under tents and in churches.  They fasted and held all night prayer meetings.

While the focus beamed on the teens and the other young men and women who led this army of teenagers, it was the matrons and masters of prayer–such as Frances–who had plowed the ground, planted the seed and rejoiced in the harvest.  Their battle was hard-fought.  They struggled and wrestled with the enemy of our souls on their knees, weeping, laughing and facing that dreaded enemy with grace, courage and valor. The power of the Holy Spirit never failed them.  The Father’s love always embraced them and assured them that his great destiny would save even the most horrible reprobate.

These prayer warriors didn’t possess the advantages of social media, blogs or the Internet but their prayers had world-wide and lasting effects.  Somehow, Christian leaders from around the world heard about Frances and came to her humble home for prayer.  They delighted in staying in the home of Frances and her husband. eating her food, laughing and enjoying fellowship long into the night.  But they came for prayer–recognizing her vital connection to God that brought success in ministry.

joanFew of us have been given the grace Frances possessed in determined, steadfast prayer.  Yet, all of us can seek God with the grace God has given to us.  Frances died stubbornly, without fanfare.  She resisted death even after her strength and vigor had been long spent.  I asked her oldest daughter, “Why does she struggle, resisting death so strongly?”  She believed that Frances clung to a desire to be on earth when the Lord returned.

Was this woman of God perfect?  No! Was she a warrior who helped to change the world for Christ?  Yes!

Ethel was a Bible teacher at Special Gathering.  Additionally, she wrote many books for the mentally challenged community and they were published in our monthly newsletter.  Ethel and I shared a passion for writing and Special Gathering.  Therefore, we became good friends through our shared ministry concerns.  In addition, we both excelled at “going to lunch” and we practiced that part of our friendship often.

Ethel wrote for our monthly newsletter “Connecting Point,” and she was incredibly faithful in her efforts.  Even after she moved to Volusia County, Ethel always met our deadlines; and she wrote with great skill and feeling for the special needs population.
As a Bible teacher, Ethel could not be matched.  She taught the Scriptures with a keen eye for truth and clarity.  Her class was a verse-by-verse discussion study for our readers.  It has become the model for our leadership and readers classes.
My first view of Ethel came 22 years ago through Sarah, her daughter who was mentally challenged.  It was my first year at Camp Agape, our annual ministry retreat.  Sarah was my bunk mate.  I had the top bunk and she had the bottom.
On Sunday afternoon, after two days of camp, I thought I was too tired to climb to the top bunk.  Therefore, I decided to lay on Sarah’s bottom bed, thinking that she would never notice or understand.  I was wrong!
Sarah came into the cabin and jumped me.  “Get off my bed,” she insisted. “You can’t get on my bed!”  Ethel had taught Sarah well.  It is vital for our population to understand their rights and Sarah knew that I was an intruder and she wasn’t intimidated by me.  Ethel treated Sarah as an adult, and she allowed Sarah the dignity of being valued for being a child of the Lord.
One year, in touring our campgrounds, Ethel asked Sarah what she liked best about camp.  Immediately, Sarah said, “Pool.”
Shocked, Ethel said, “You don’t know how to play pool.”  Sarah walked over to the pool table and demonstrated to her mother that she certainly did know how to play the game.  Ethel laughed, “Guess she showed me.”
Ethel was never willing to compromise her faith.  Yet, she shared the message of Jesus with compassion and great love.  Her greatest legacy is her faith in Christ and love for all people but especially for the men and women who knew and loved her through her ministry within the mentally challenged community.

Linda G. Howard

This is my opinion and reaction alone.  It does not reflect the opinions of Special Gathering or any other staff member or volunteer.

Since sarcasm is a staple in the life of my family, here are 11 reasons to NOT evacuate when a life-threatening storm is approaching.  I’ve had plenty of experience to accumulate reasons over the 45 years we’ve lived in a beach community.

I live in Florida on an island about a half mile from the ocean and 1 and 1/2 miles from the inlet waterway.  My family and I have faced repeated evacuations.  When our children were younger, we told them that they could bring one thing with them that they could not live without.  We had a hurricane box with needed supplies and food for a week.  We learned to pack a week of clothing in about five minutes.  We had a big supply of candles and a gas lantern.  We left our home at the first call for evacuation, long before the traffic jams or mandatory evacuation orders were given and house to house searches were performed by the police.

Each year, many others stay on the island.  Therefore, I’ve heard all the excuses for not leaving.  However, I’ve accumulated 11 reasons that I believe motivate people to stay in dangerous places.

  1. I have a death wish for myself and my family.
  2. Because I enjoy watching my home burn down to the ground should there be a gas leak that would cause a fire near my home, I won’t leave.  I know that 40 mile-an-hour winds cause fires to spread.  Yet, I assume that my life is The Great Exception and my home won’t burn down like the house down the street.
  3. Because I am much larger than my 1,500 square-foot house, I must stay to protect it.
  4. The possibility of losing my roof is common; but it certainly will not happen to me or my house.
  5. I am a thrill seeker and risking my life is the biggest thrill of a lifetime.  Riding a roller coaster is a small thrill. Watching trees fall onto my roof and trying to dodge broken glass is much more exciting.
  6. I am an intelligent person; but I am stupid when it comes to common sense involving my life and limbs.
  7. I truly believe that I am the strongest person who ever lived. I am much stronger than any storm a hundred mile wide pounding 90 mile-per-hour winds for 12 to 14 hours.
  8. Should I have to be rescued, I enjoy putting other people’s lives at risk.
  9. While I’m the first person to give lip-service to the heroes in my community,  I do not truly value the lives of our firemen and police officers.  Therefore, I will happily put their lives at risk so that they can rescue me in the middle of the storm.
  10. I can use my beloved pets as an excuse for my fool-hearty actions for facing dangerous, devastating conditions.
  11. The fact that I can take my pets with me and deliver them from danger does not make sense to me.  Even though almost all hotels will waive their restrictions on pets and keeping a pet safely in a car makes more sense than putting their lives in danger, they are such a convenient excuse why not use it and put their lives in danger also?

Of course, there are exceptional circumstances.  During Sandy, the floods were higher than predicted.  Yet, people who lived on these islands did not leave until their homes, clothes, shoes and outerwear were underwater.  They have not coats, food or water.  It is sadder than anyone can imagine.

However, when devastation can be seen approaching, isn’t it common sense to simply pack a bag and leave?

Worship is the apex of all the many things we do at Special Gathering.  Therefore, it is vitally important to us that things go smoothly but there are weeks that are beyond interesting and border on bazaar.

A couple of years ago, there was a Sunday at our Melbourne program that was “beyond interesting.”  We were celebrating a birthday.  Then some of our members with autism began to exhibit behaviors.  As I was closing the devotions for the day, Criss began to yell, “Don’t do that!  Stop it!”  Criss and her twin always sit in the back of the room.  They have a friend/volunteer who sits with them because even though Criss is high functioning she is blind and in a wheel chair.  She needs physical assistance.  Her twin is much lower functioning but with no physical disabilities.

When I looked over her way, Criss was frailing and trying to hit her friend.  Because this is totally out of character for Criss, I knew that she must be seizuring.  Without changing the tone of my voice, I said, “God wants to honor each of us.  Time it,”  However, everyone seemed to be confused about what was happening and no one began timing the seizure.

I knew I needed to get the attention of our most experienced volunteer.  David is a professional who owns and operates three group homes.  He has been on staff with Special Gathering.  “David,”  I said, “please begin to time this.”  He immediately started to time the seizure and walk toward Criss’ small group.

I closed in prayer and dismissed everyone.  The other volunteers snapped to attention and put their best plans into action.  “We have birthday cake,” Priscilla said loudly.  “Let’s go celebrate.”  After worship we normally go to the social hall for refreshments with the church body.  The other volunteers began ushering all the members out of the gym into the social hall.  David was still timing the seizure, by now it had been 1 minute and 45 seconds.  I called the girls’ caretaker.  After explaining the situation to her, I said, “We normally call 911 after three minutes.  It’s been 3 minutes and 10 seconds now.  I believe that most of the seizing has stopped but we can’t get her to respond.”

“Call 911,” the caregiver said.   “I’ll meet the ambulance at the hospital.”

After my phone call to the caregiver and while I was dialing 911, I asked David to go to the hospital with Criss.  I gave the 911 rescue personnel the exact address of the church, the details of the situation and my phone number.  The ambulance factility was close by the church.  They assured me that they would be less than two or three minutes for them to get to the church.

By now children’s church had invaded the gym with basketballs and other ball games.  They were not able to move out of the gym because there were too many of them and there was only one person to supervise them during this play time.  Therefore, I thought it would be better to move Criss out to the large hallway that is also used as a lounge.  Normally, you would never attempt to move a person in her condition.  However, she was in her chair and this would be an easy and safer situation for her.  By the time we had moved her chair the few feet into the lounge, the fire department had arrived.

Before they would take her, they wanted to see her ID and her Social Security card.  This was a new requirement from emergency personnel and Cris didn’t have any ID with her.  We again called the caregiver.  She had the needed information.  Once the ambulance arrived, she wanted to have the caregiver give her the same information.  The ambulance attendant was insistent that information regarding her medication could not be taken from our database that we carry with us accessed from the Internet but must be in writing.  I believe that this was HERrequirement, only.  We have never had anyone ask for this.

I can’t explain how extremely proud I was regarding the performance of our volunteers during this emergency situation.  To review quickly, these were the things that went smoothly and wer done right in the face of a seizure emergency.

  1. Our volunteers had been trained to know what should and should not be done in the case of an emergency.
  2. Timing of the seizure began immediately.
  3. Our staff and most experienced volunteers took control of the members and relieved me of the concern for their safety.
  4. Our senior volunteer knew that it would be expected of him/her to go to the hospital.  Before I asked, he had made plans to be at the hospital until I could arrive, after the program.
  5. Unlike the shepherd who left the 99 to seek after the one sheep, a program director doesn’t have the luxury to leave the members and rush to the hospital.  However, I can assure that my most experienced volunteer goes.  Then after I have insured that all our members have gotten on the bus and they are on their way home, I can go to the hospital.
  6. After 3 minutes of seizuring, call 911.
  7. Have medical information ready for the EMT or fire department.
  8. According to a group of experienced nurses who have worked with us, you need to have a list of medications, information regarding if there are allergies or seizures for the EMT.
  9. Be sure that you have current phone numbers, emergency numbers and cell phone numbers for the people in your program.
  10. Members should be moved from the area as quickly as possible.
  11. Do not move the person seizuring, unless they are in danger of being hurt where they are.
  12. Do not attempt to stop the fall.  However, you might cushion his/her head as s/he hits the floor.
  13. Do not attempt to pull the tongue out.
  14. Try to get the person to respond to you by asking questions.  Don’t hit or slap the person but try to get a verbal answer from him/her.
  15. When you call 911, they will need the exact address of the place where you are at.  Be sure that you have this physical address memorized to the point that it will roll off your tongue.  If the address contains an East or West, this is essential for the ambulance to know.
  16. Remain calm.  Speak in a measured and calm, quiet voice.  In this way, your members will pick up from your cue and they will remain calm.

What are some other things you have learned in dealing with emergencies and seizures?

Turning your back on behavior may work

What do you do when some of your members become agitated and cause confusion in your services?  That is what we faced at The Special Gathering of Melbourne on Sunday morning.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, doing evangelism and discipleship.

Over the past several weeks, Johnny has become increasingly agitated during the worship time.  He is on the autism spectrum and mentally challenged; normally, there are no problems.  He sits quietly rocking and humming.  Yesterday was different.  For some reason, he became excited and confused.  His humming was almost at the volume of yelling.

In addition, it appears that another member, Lawrence, is on a new behavioral program.  He is also on the autism spectrum.  His caregiver put him in the middle of the seating area and walked to the back of the room.  The Lawrence and his caregiver have always sat together in the back of the room because of Lawrence’s behaviors.

About every five minutes Lawrence would stand up, talking in an agitated way to no one in paticular and point repeatedly and extravagantly to his companion.  Like troopers, all the members ignored Lawrence’s behaviors trying to concentrate on the sermon.

At Special Gathering, we have several rules of thumb when dealing with disruptive behaviors.  We aren’t behaviorist and we don’t claim to be but we have found certain techniques that seem to work.

  • It is always wise to chose your battles.  Decide what behaviors should be ignored and which ones should be confronted.  When I first came to Special Gathering, I would always error on the side of confrontation.  I believed that if behaviors were allowed, it would erode the authority I needed to establish for myself as the leader of the group.  However, after years of losing battles,  I now prefer to error on the side of ignoring.  As long as you are completely and totally ignoring the person, it will be evident to everyone that you are choosing to not become a part of the scene.  Because this was a totally new behavior for Larry, I chose the totally ignore him and so did our members
  • Behaviors that are best ignored are those that are part of a person’s disability.  I would never stop Johnny’s quiet humming and rocking.  It gives him comfort; and he only does it on the days that he is deeply disturbed.  When he becomes loud, there is one volunteer who is able to calm him immediately, with only a gentle touch on the shoulder.  She has trained herself to be acutely aware of his moods and to move quietly to Johnny when the noise level gets to a certain point and gently touch his shoulder.
  • I also find that our members monitor each other.  As long as it is done without condemnation and in a polite and appropriate manner, allow the members of the class to do the correction.  A simple “that’s not appropriate behavior” from a peer is almost always enough to get someone who is acting out to cease.
  • Try to determine if the behavior is an attention-getting devise.  If you believe it is, then totally ignore the person or put the person in a place where they will not get the attention they crave.
  • Asking the person to sit in the back of the room may be the worst kind ofpunishment for an attention-starved individual.  Charles has starting echoing my sermons.  Because it’s his tenth year as a member and he has never done this before, I felt it was an attention-getting behavior.  When I saw him looking at me, trying to get my attention, I knew that it was.
  • Try giving the offending person a small amount of added attention.  Charles loves sitting on the front row.  Each week Charles and I have a short talk.  “Charles, if you are going to repeat me during the devotions, you need to sit in the back of the room,”  I tell him.  “I’ll be good” is always his answer.  I assume he just needs that few minutes on undivided attention to reassure him of his place in the program.
  • Become sensitive to your volunteers. If there is one volunteer who seems to have a good repore with a certain member, casually pair them and encourage them to hang out together.  This will help to eliminate some, if not most, of the concerns.
  • Prayer works wonders.  After asking permission, you may find it effective to gently lay your hands on the agitated person.  If the person is autistic, ask him/her if s/he would like to hold your hand.  Hold your hand out in space but don’t touch.  Allow her/him to reach over and take your hand, don’t initiate the touching.
  • Should the situation really get out of hand and there appears to be danger, the volunteers must remove the members from the room or area of danger.  You may also want to remove yourself from the room.  Allow the person to work through his agitations and be sure the room is quiet before returning in to the room.  Remember you can replace furniture.  You can’t replace a person.
  • It is best to have one person (the person who holds the highest position in the organization) deal with the problems while all the volunteers and staff offer assistance and comfort to the rest of the members.
  • Calling 911 should be an option.  Before a person is allowed to hurt someone or themselves, calling in professional help may save a broken bone.

Again, we aren’t trained behaviorist; and we don’t claim to be.  However, these are some helpful techniques that we have found that work.  What are some of the things that you have found which work to calm down a person who has become agitated?

This is a daily email I receive from TGIF by Os Hillman.  This businessman often touches areas that I feel are important for everyone.  All of us have had someone say something to us that snaps our insecurities.  Our reactions are vital to our growth in ministry and in our life in Christ.  If you would like to receive this daily email, there is a link below.

When Insecurity Turns Evil
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1, by Os Hillman

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

Saul was the King of Israel. David was in Saul’s army and beginning to build a reputation as a great warrior. One day when David came back from a battle, the women danced and sang: ” ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’ ” (1 Sam. 18:7).

Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” (1 Samuel 18:8)

This statement caused something to snap in King Saul. From this point on, Saul was never the leader God intended him to be. He allowed insecurity to drive his every decision. Insecurity leads to the need to control people and circumstances. The need to control leads to anger once we realize we are unable to control the circumstance. King Saul could not accept, much less rejoice, over David’s success. David’s life would never be the same, because Saul sought to kill David every chance he had. Saul had a choice; he could have seen David as an up-and-coming general in his army who could have become an important part of his team and made the kingdom of Israel even stronger. Instead, he looked at him as a threat. When you hear good news about fellow workers or associates, do you rejoice with them? If you find yourself comparing your life’s circumstances to others and don’t feel you measure up, recognize that this is one of satan’s greatest ploys to destroy you.

Christ has given you all things in Him. He has a unique plan for you that cannot be compared to another. He alone is your security. Trust in the purposes He has for your life. And remember, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19 KJV). 

Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

Walking tall and straight, she had a commanding effect when she entered a room.  Even after strokes, sickness and the loss of language, Frances sat erect in her wheelchair and her presence demanded attention.  Frances wasn’t a woman who entertained fools.  Frances spoke through the experience of years in prayer and studying God’s word.  Often, her words were stern and sharp, reaching into the souls of men and women and pulling out the most heart wrenching hurts.  Then she would pray for healing and release.  And God answered her pleas for mercy and grace again and again.

Roman 11 speaks of the kindness and sterness of God.  Our Lord is unbelievably kind to those who follow him. Yet, unrelentlessly stern to women and men who refuse to trust and release themselves into his saving grace.  It is a part of God’s nature from which even his most faithful worshipers turn away because of humanity’s lack of understanding into the nature of our Father.

However, Paul tells us that it is God’s sternness that allows us to see your own inability to handle even the most simple details of life.  It is the Father’s unrelenting pressure pushing us away from Him into greater depth of  sin–wrapped in our rebellion–which drives us to His loving forgiveness and grace.

As Frances’ daughter I was often the target of her sterness and the object of her love.  In pondering Roman 11, I’ve yearned for the Lord to teach me the truth of his character revealed in these startling verses.  He drew my thoughts back to my own mother, Frances.  She was never the tender and compassionate matriarch. Frances was the teacher and leader who gave firm directions with her eyes, her actions and her words.  However, there was never a doubt regarding her love for us.

Frances’ selfless love often extendied past her family into a lost and dying world.  While her words and actions seemed stern to those closest to Frances, we never doubted her heart was kind, forgiving and merciful.  This is the picture of our loving Father revealed by Paul in Romans 11.

32 God has given all people over to their stubborn ways so that he can show mercy to all.

 33 Yes, God’s riches are very great, and his wisdom and knowledge have no end! No one can explain the things God decides or understand his ways. 34 As the Scripture says,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been able to give him advice?” — Isaiah 40:13
35 “No one has ever given God anything
that he must pay back.” — Job 41:11

36 Yes, God made all things, and everything continues through him and for him. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Author and teacher Oz Hillman teaches that God deals with leaders in specific ways.  “There are three patterns of preparation that have been common among most of God’s leaders,” Hillman asserts.

He teaches that there are three steps God uses.   First, God removes a leader from the familar and old ways.  Hillman says, “Consider Moses, Joseph, Abraham, and Paul. In order for God to mold and shape them into His nature, it appears that He had to remove them from the life of comfort.”  No matter how much we may chaff at the God’s notion to remove us from our zones of well-being, most of us understand that we cannot travel with God and stay at our point of origin,

Second, comes a time of solitude.  Hillman teaching from Hosea 2:14 reveals God’s heart for his people.  As Hosea is pleading with his children to speak to their prostitute mother, Hosea slips into a prophetic utterance and God begins to speak about his children,  “So I am going to attract her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”

Anyone who has followed God knows the times of desert dwelling.  The desert is a hostile place where only the strongest survive.  Yet, God promises to speak tenderly to his leaders.  His tender words draw us ever closer to his heart.  Again, Moses, Joseph and Paul are our examples.  Joseph unjustly spent 21 years in prison.  Moses was forced to abide 40 years in the desert.  Paul was in Arabia for two years.

About the time leaders become comfortable and adjust to the environment of the desert, God moves us into the third level for preparation:  discomfort.  Regarding this third time of preparation, Hillman writes, “The setting in which the preparation takes place usually is not a place of comfort. Abraham traveled through the difficult deserts. David lived in caves fleeing Saul. Paul was frequently persecuted.”  This third classroom is the place of God’s own chosing, uniquely designed to mold our character into the likeness of Christ.

Hillman believes that there are three reactions to leadership training:

If God chooses to bring you into this class, you may have one of three reactions to the events. First, you may say, “I don’t need it.” Perhaps you know intellectually that you do need this, but God wants you to know it in your heart. Pride prevents us from entering this classroom. The second reaction may be, “I’m tired of it.” You decide you’ve had enough. If so, this will disqualify you from leadership. Finally, God’s desired response from us in this preparation is, “I accept it.” To accept it with joy is the place of maturity in Christ. God often keeps us in these places until we come to accept and agree that Jesus is enough. Is He all you need?

How long and how severe will this training period be.  Much will be depend on us.  “If My people would but listen to Me, if Israel would follow My ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes!” (Ps. 81:13-14).  Again and again, God promises that if we, his people, will listen and yield to him, he will incline his grace and mercy toward us.

 

One of my greatest fears is that I won’t know when to leave, stop and quit.  When my husband retired 11 years ago, I had told him that I didn’t intend to “retire.”  Yet, on the other hand, I also don’t want to hang around after my time is up.  No matter whether it’s ministry or a treasured friendship or a time to stop any other activity, knowing when to step way is vital to the growth of a person and an organization, especially the church.

Of course, I remember Corrie Ten Boon’s greatest evangelistic meetings and world-wide travel didn’t begin until after she was 65 years old.  There is the reality of Winston Churchill who didn’t become Prime Minister of England until he was 66.  He became prime minister again at the age of 77 and served until he was 81.  But what about the person who has outlived his days of freshness and everyone knows he should walk away but he wants to continue to be the final authority, the boss.

In facing the years ahead, there are things I can do to prepare for the time the Lord nudges me away so that others can move forward.

  1. I can be determined to walk in humility.  Of course, this isn’t easy for anyone,  However, stepping back is especially for a person who sees herself as a “leader.”  For me, the easiest position I can take is being the one who oversees the action.
  2. Understand that the main job of a leader is to cast the vision for an organization.  When the ability to cast a vision is gone, it could be  time to step down from leadership.  The greatest clue is when you want to do things the way we’ve always done them.  Change becomes abhorrent.
  3. I can continue to learn how to be a better helper.  While I know that the spiritual gift God has placed on me is administration, I, also, realize that sometimes people who are the leaders needs other eyes and ears to help shape and implement their vision.
  4. I must keep in mind that God is able to cover all the parts when the need arises.  Most of the time when I’ve left one position, I find that it’s a lot like taking my hand out of a bucket of water.  The water remains and so does the bucket.

When it happens to us, change is almost never seen as a good thing.  We all like the status quo.  Yet, as a Christian, we know that God is never a static God.  Everything is in constant flux, regarding God’s world and the Church.

Part of the godly way is knowing when we are part of the Lord’s plan for change and walking into that change.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

–Corrie ten Boom

As a child I could not memorize.  I could learn, of course, but anything that had to be memorized was a loss for me.  For years I wanted to learn the names of the disciples but I felt it was too hard.  Then one day I decided that I was going to do it.  I worked out a system that seemed easy.  Even though, my brother tells me that I can make even the simpliest things difficult, this system works for me.  Perhaps it will help you also.

I began with the first book of the New Testament:  Matthew

From the word, Matthew, I created an acrostic of the names of three disciples that are often over looked and are the hardest for me to remember.  Using the first four letters of Matthew’s name, I learned the first four disciples:

1.  Matthew

2.  Andrew

3.  Thaddeus

4.  Thomas

Then I listed all the “J” names because they were the easiest to recall.  I arrange them in alphabetical order:

5.  James (the brother of Jesus)

6.  James the Lesser

7.  John

8.  Judas

There are two Simons:

9.  Simon the Zealot

10. Simon Peter

That only leaves two disciples:

11. Bartholemew

12. Philip

Even if this system doesn’t seem to be easy for you , my method might jar your brain into figuring out a method that works for you.  Using this system, I was able to teach my class of adults who are mentally challenged all the names of the disciples in about three weeks.  Of course, you will have to review them pretty often to keep the name sealed in your brain.  Yet with this method, you will have several memory hooks to hang the names in your brain.  Happy memorizing!

Recently, I began teaching a Bible class for higher function adults who are mentally challenged.  I am currently teaching them the books of the New Testament.  Most of us who have been in church for years know more about the Bible than we imagine.  This week, our class learned about half of the books in the New Testament.  Here are come cues to help you learn the New Testament books in the Bible.

First, there are the four gospels.  They are

  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John

After the resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven and the church was built by the

  • Acts of the Apostles

Then we have recorded, the letters from Paul.  They are divided into two segments–letters to cities and letters to young pastors and friends.  The first three Pauline letters are easy because they are longer in length and many people teach and preach from them.  They are:

  • Romans
  • I Corinthians
  • II Corinthians

After this there are four books that almost no one remembers.  However, there is an easy acronym that will help remember.  It is General Electric Power Company.

  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians

We already know that Revelations is the last book of the New Testament.  We have now learned 13 of the 27 books.  There are only 14 left.  Dividing Paul’s letters will again make things easier.  First, there two more letters written to cities.

  • I Thessalonians
  • II Thessalonians

Now there are four letters written to his friends.  Again, it’s easy to remember because the first two are written to his adopted son:

  • I Timothy
  • II Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon

Philemon is the only one that may be difficult to remember.  However, since it is the only one that will be difficult, you will simply need to remember it.  The next letter is disputed as to who wrote the letter.  Many believe it is Paul.  Therefore, it makes it easier to remember.  The book is

  • Hebrews

The other letters are written by well-known apostles.  James, Peter and John and Jude.  The main thing is to remember the order of these books.  I recall them backwards.  John wrote the three letters and Revelation.  Jude is stuck in between the two John letters because there are some disputes about the true author of the epistles (another word for letters).  Here are the final books in order:

  • James
  • I Peter
  • II Peter
  • I John
  • II John
  • III John
  • Jude
  • Revelation
That’s all 27.  Teaching yourself is simple.  Adding a small set each week, you can also teach your Bible class the books of the New Testament.