On Being Loved More Gently, [Disability]

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Some of us struggle with mental or physical illness.  Some people don’t understand us and they walk away.  This really hurts, and so we isolate ourselves even more.  We might feel not only forsaken, but cursed. We may see ourselves as consummate losers. But these things shouldn’t separate us from our Father’s love.  I think He loves “his special needs” children even more, lol.

But we must believe that we our transformation is happening, more and more, into the image of Christ.  We are becoming like him (hence the word, Christlikeness).  This is a long process, but it is happening!  God has given his word.  Don’t give up.  Don’t give up on his plan for you.

SpecialNeeds-300x300I’m seeing lately that spiritual growth and getting older often work hand-in-hand (and why shouldn’t they?)  As we get older, we will start having many different issues.  When your 50 years old, you don’t have the same situations that you had when you were 14 or 30.  Physically we grow and understand things differently, and this works into us spiritually.  This blends or melds together, especially when the Word and Spirit are present.

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Philippians 1:3-6, NLT

It is my wish for you that you could walk in your own shoes, and not somebody elses. Also that you would know the grace of God intimately. Being disabled means special efforts will often be necessary, but Jesus’ love for your soul will be molded to fit that disability. There will be no wheelchairs or canes, or even ‘seeing-eye dogs’ allowed in heaven. I imagine there will be a considerable pile outside the gates. Glory awaits.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Romans 8:18

Amen.

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Only He Can Transform the Heart

“Give up the struggle and the fight; relax in the omnipotence of the Lord Jesus; look up into His lovely face and as you behold Him, He will transform you into His likeness. You do the beholding–He does the transforming. There is no short-cut to holiness.”

–Alan Redpath

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10

 

 

 

 

 

Horses and Chariots, [Seeing the Invisible]

Photo: Therrol Andrews, Homer Alaska

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

― Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Just beyond our earthly vision there exists the world of the invisible. There are things happening all around us. Things that are of a spiritual essence but no less real because we can’t see them.

 “When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.”

2 Kings 6:15-17, NLT

Elisha’s servant saw the physical presence of the enemy. It was a fearful sight to see and the servant was afraid. They were surrounded. There was no escape–no way out. All seemed lost.

Elisha’s concern for his servant is touching. He didn’t rebuke or harshly correct the young man. He simply prayed and then it was done. The servant would see what actually existed. You might say that he would really see for the first time.

The Bible is the best way to perceive the imperceptible. It frames and then guides us into what is really real. It is God’s of introducing us to what is really real. The Holy Spirit delights in revealing truth to our incredulous souls.

We have severe limitations as men and women. We have to be instructed in these things. We’re not equipped to perceive the supernatural. It is not a part of our lives. I find when God shows me what is really out there I get a bit freaked out. I need the firm hand of the Father in those times.

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Isaiah 6:5, ESV

Consider the prophet Isaiah when he came in contact with the “real” world. He was completely undone. I can’t imagine acting any differently. I probably would become unglued.

A thought on this subject for you to consider:

“It is not the objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.”

–Frederick Buechner

Creativity– Coloring Outside the Lines

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“So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.”

Genesis 1:27

“Christianity is not about learning how to live within the lines; Christianity is about the joy of coloring.”

— Mike Yaconelli (Dangerous Wonder)

I know that this is not Bible, I have thought a lot about this and I can see no direct biblical correlation.  But my topical Bible lists dozens of occupations requiring giftedness.  And I know deep down that our Father is full of creativity.  He has done things that are exceptionally innovative, he reveals imagination in everything he has created.  Think about a butterfly, or the color purple, or, wonder about a giraffe.  And your house cat is a work of intense beauty and motion that rivals anything found in the Louvre.

When we first begin to color with crayons, we are told that we must color in the boundaries.  Our picture will get taped up on the classroom wall if we can manage this feat.  We become aware that this ability is extrapolated into the different areas of living life.  The desire to be accepted and appreciated squashes anything creative we might do.

Perhaps, these issues that involve us being creative, do need to be stifled or shut down.  I suppose we could make a case out of this.  We definitely as believers should avoid these theatrics, and conform into a homogeneous place of acceptability.  The Japanese have a phrase, “The nail that sticks up will be hammered down.”  But I wonder, why then do we desire to create and imagine things? Why do I want to write, paint, dance, sculpt, sing, and play the guitar?

Each of us carries a deep sense of aesthetics  or what is beautiful.  We instantly understand beauty when we see it.  We stand in front of a Van Gogh in a museum, or before Michelangelo’s’ statue of David.  They collectively undo us.  We step back and take a deep breath.  One becomes gentle in the face of such wonder and beauty. And after all, we create really for “an audience of One.”

Dance of the Joyful Bride
Dance of the Joyful Bride

We were built for creativity and beauty.  It is part of our DNA.  It also means that we have been created in God’s image.  When we pick up our crayons, we are revealing his presence.  When we color, our Father notes what we have done.  Some may see a scrawling.  But they honestly do not matter.  The Father completely understands and is thrilled.

“It’s like you come onto this planet with a crayon box. Now, you may get the 8-pak, or you may get the 16-pak, but it’s all in what you do with the crayons–the colors– that you’re given. Now don’t worry about coloring inside the lines or outside the lines. I say, color outside the lines! Color right off the page!”

Waking Life

I’m of the firm opinion that we need to communicate to our children the wonderful gift of being creative.  We must release them, to imagine and be inspired.  We need to encourage them to use their crayons, even if they color outside the lines.

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Why Are You Still Outside?

http://www.glogster.com

There are so many that are outside our walls.  Those who are blinded and confused by the Church and the gospel.

People are for the most part not this blatant or obvious in their pain.  But it is what they are asking that tunes us in. “Where?”

Humans have been created with a special spot inside them.  This place is designed by our Creator for his use only.  Life just doesn’t make sense unless he is the center.  Christians are just people who are trying to be fueled by God’s Spirit.

Answers abound to questions unasked.  Confusion is rampant and it seems no one can get a unified direction for his companions.  This is precisely why the Bible brings a piercing and clear call to the children of man.  Its promises are not dated, they are not obsolete.

They are many who have gone before us, thousands of generations who have found light and solace for darkened and wounded hearts.  They testify to us of the spiritual reality that can be found in God and in his Word.  We are not called to perfection, but a real obedience of faith and love.

At this throbbing moment in history, Jesus is calling so many to “follow”. 

He is populating eternity with beggars, the sick, the poor the addicted.  He loves “sinners”.  He loves the mentally ill.  The Bible tells us, “that he ever lives to make intercession for them”.

You have a purpose, and life does have clear meaning.  Don’t lose hope and don’t try to fill yourself with foolish and empty pursuits.  Come to Jesus, ask for forgiveness.  Find the people that will help solidify and confirm your decision.  Feel free to contact me about your decision to follow Jesus.

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

 

For more info on becoming a believer please contact 1-888-NEED-HIM.

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Stand With Her in the Rain

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“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2, NLT

By Lisa Schubert, Guest Author

Samantha approached me outside the church on Thanksgiving morning with her hair disheveled and her coat covered with dirt smudges and rain drops. She demanded to borrow my cell phone to find if the Thanksgiving dinner she had requested from a charitable organization would be ready for pick-up in an hour. I was in a hurry. I needed to be inside preparing to lead worship. I begrudgingly let her borrow my phone, but I insisted on dialing the number myself and standing with her in the gentle rain.

Samantha issued commands to the person on the other end of line. When she hung up, the rant continued against our church, our staff, the weather, and this meal that would serve as her Thanksgiving dinner. I had to let her go mid-rant, but not before reminding her that I would keep her in my prayers.

My encounters with Samantha have continued over the past few months. She’s almost always confused, angry and paranoid. She tells stories about growing up with another member of our staff, who never met her until recently. It’s hard to know how to respond to Samantha.Cross-in-the-Rain-

A friend called me recently to ask if our church had any resources for helping congregations to welcome those who struggle with mental illness. I pointed her in a few directions, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at www.nami.org. Even as I offered her the information, I felt uneasy. Connecting with those who have mental illnesses is a complex, difficult journey.

It was raining again on Monday when I saw Samantha. She was sitting in the front lobby of the church. She shouted at me as I walked out the door, “Be careful out there! Two guys tried to kidnap me, and I wouldn’t want that to happen to you.” Unwilling to believe her, I replied, “Samantha, I’m sorry you had a rough morning. I’ll be thinking of you. Hope your day gets better.” I continued out the church doors and opened my umbrella.

I later discovered that Samantha was mugged that morning. Thankfully, the police believed her while I had blown her off. They arrested the alleged perpetrators that afternoon.

I’m embarrassed by my lack of gentleness and compassion toward Samantha, and I know I’m not alone. I wonder what it means for the Church to embrace, accept and listen to those who have mental illnesses. I wonder how church leaders like myself can grow and help others to deepen their care for people like Samantha.

There are no simple answers, but I think the answer starts in a simple place: We stand with them in the rain.

 

Lisa Schubert is Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Formation of North United Methodist Church, Indianapolis

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Source: FaithNet NAMI-
http://www.nami.org/MSTemplate.cfm?Section=Standing_with_Her_in_the_Rain1&Site=FaithNet
 

The Ugly Ducklings

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Illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen, Andersen‘s first illustrator

An old fairy tale came crashing through my study this morning. Perhaps you can remember it, “The Ugly Duckling”  by Hans Christian Andersen.

Now I don’t think about children’s stories very often. I regard my thinking about them to be a bit of an anomaly, and certainly not everyday fare. Maybe it should be a more regular occurance. CS Lewis once wrote,Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” I think he might be right.

“The Ugly Duckling” is a story about an homely little bird raised by a flock of ducks in a barnyard. He doesn’t really fit in and can’t ever seem to master being a duck. He is clumsy and ungainly and rather strange looking.  He is abused or ignored by his companions. He doesn’t fit.

You see, he is a swan. He can’t seem to fit in with the other ducklings. He really doesn’t belong. He tries hard to make it work, but his best efforts at being a duck are doomed to failure. It isn’t who he is. He isn’t a duckling, he is cynget.

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Romans 8:29, ESV

You see, you are different. And you can’t fit in. We have a different destiny than those who surround us. We are “swans” and we can’t change who we really are. (Some try, but to no avail).

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:2

We are the ugly duckling who will never fit in. The transformation takes time, but to the amazement of his “friends, he becomes what he was meant to be all along.

Brokenbeliever, try to understand– once you accepted Christ as your Savior, you began to be transformed. You are now a “new creation.” You will never fit in.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT

This is a miracle that the world can’t grasp. It is the spiritual makeover that defies any explanation or reasoning. You have become a swan, the most “graceful” of all creatures.

ybic, Bryan

 

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