Friday, April 24, 2009

The Sweet Spot

“In His splendid discontent, God made the world.” --Ela Wheeeler Wilcox

I come from a long line of people who tend to see life from the negative side, we ussually think with negative minds. It is a curse to think in that way, as I am rarely satisfied with things as they are. Over the last few years I have realized that my negativeness has a positive and negative side. Some of what would seem negative, stems from a discontenet that swells from my heart. These last few years God has helped me become very aware of the negativeness of my mind , but has also shown light upon a discontent of my soul. this discontent , I believe, is a good thing God has given to help me serve Him.

The negativeness of my mind is flesh problem, wrapped in ego, pain, and selfishness. It is something I must be constantly vigilant in dealing with, consistently praying for help in and always looking for accountability to guard against it.

The discontent of my soul is usually the sign I need to push ahead with an action or decision for God. It is what compels me to action as I can no longer stand to see things go as they are going. I must be tireless in understanding God's direction by listening to others, reading my Bible, and praying for help.

The battle comes as both voices in my heart and in my head, can be loud. I must be able to recognize the difference in these voices if I am to an effective servant for Jesus. If I ere on the negative side I become a sullen, jaded, angry man with depression nipping at my heals. I have often been that man, and have had to climb out of that pit many, many times. Every day I must be vigilant, and yet still I think I lose the battle more than I win.

The discontent of my soul is sweet spot, it is when I feel most connected to God, and the more I am in that place the easier it is to hear that voice. The discontent of my soul is also a painful place, where hurt occurs, where refining is happening. That is where I need to be, where God can grow me. The negativness of my mind is stunting, it is water on the refining process that makes my heart brittle and hard.

I tend to be someone who is often looking at a picture off in the future. The picture that God has given me of where I stand many years from now scares me. I feel unequipped to be the man I see off in the distance, doing what he is doing. So I must grab on to those things that cause me holy discontent, as those are the places of change where God works to make us into usable clay. I want to be His vessel, I want to molded into what he wants. But the devil is always close, waiting to knock me off of God's potters wheel. What a jerk that devil is, God surely could have done better in dealing with that...there I go again, with my negative mind. O God help me hear your voice, give a discontented heart that crys out to you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

God Loves you, God made you, God has a plan for your life

Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible." -- C.T. Studd
At the heart of what we do in the many ministries of Camp Daniel,  is our belief that people with mental disabilities are created for a purpose by a loving God, who is good all the time. It is the basis for all our ministry and we believe it is essential to teach these truths for the mentally disabled community to even to begin to  grasp the God they need to accept, love, and believe in. Historically, people with disabilities have been shunned by the church and the world. Bad Church theologies have existed right from the Day of Jesus when we are told the story of the man born blind in John 9. Prevailing theology seemed to be this man had sinned or his parents because he was blind. Jesus dispelled this immediately expressing that God made this man and his blindness in order for Gods work to get done. This man whom was saved that day experienced Gods power, and was used to witness to the Pharisees. 
So here is my synopsis of that story:  A man who has a disability meets Jesus, Jesus is doing Gods work, so Gods power is displayed, man is saved, man immediately becomes a missionary going to the Pharisees and witnessing to them. Man is Jesus' inspiration to say that we must be doing God's work, or be missionaries, while we can.
That is powerful, that is exciting, that is our ministry. Raising up ministers and missionaries amongst the culture of mental disability in order that people would get saved. This is a seemingly overwhelming idea, some say impossible, where do we start?
People with mental disabilities have been put in place to believe that God has made a mistake in  creating them, or because of sin, they are created faulty. How do we teach  those who have this experience,  that the God who screwed up,  or  the God that allowed them to have their “condition”  really loves them as  much as someone who is seemingly more “like” God in most theologies? We teach that everyone is purposely made, that we are all made in God’s image, and like Moses, who  questioned God’s plan, that we must accept God’s assurance that He is in control and has a plan for us.  Some deaf, some blind, some talking, some not, but all are parts of the body that God uses to for His  purpose.
So our first step is to create situations where the truth is being peached. Letting people with mental disabilities know God loves them, by the church loving them. The next phase is to bring people to the feet of their creator so they can be saved and accept that God made them just as they are. Thirdly we must instruct people that they are disciples and that Gods purpose is for all people, to share the gospel and see others saved.
The body is not full unless all the parts are present, I ask that if you read this you would commit with me to making sure the body is full, because as long as the devil keeps us divided we will not experience God's power as He has intended in the church.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

God lives under the bed!

 April 10th is  National Sibs Day every year.  I know they have a day for everything these days, but the fact that it is on Dans birthday is incredibly meaningful for my sister and I. Being a sibling of a brother or sister with a disability is an incredibly unique experience. I have a kinship with most other people who grew up in this circumstance. We deal with many of the same issues, have allot of the same takes on life, and the statistics show overwhelmingly that sibs will spend their lives in the fields that are service orientated like teaching, nursing, social work, working for non-profits and in ministry. I wonder why at times because most of us seem to have issues with the time our parents dedicated to us, having to care give as kids, worrying about things kids shouldn't have to, guilt, control. All things I would think would lead us to places of where these issues would not be present. Yet it is the opposite. I believe that weakness and dependence are two major factors, two qualities God wants from us and many of our sibs have because of life's circumstance. We grew up being taught living lessons of service, faith, hope, love, dependance, and loss of control. Not to say we are better than anyone, I am just saying we have been blessed by the gift of disability. Below is an email forward I received for Sibs Day, it explains some from a sibs perspective on a lesson learned from their brother Kevin.

I envy my brother, Kevin, who thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, 'Are you there, God?' he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed...'
Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor.  I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, with a mental disablity as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he acts as an adult. He reasons and communicates likea 7-year-old would, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.
   I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child. He does not seem dissatisfied.
   He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores. And Saturdays - oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go! ' Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.He doesn't know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple.

He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be. His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.
Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child.

Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.
In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.
It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care. Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.

And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed. Kevin won't be surprised at all!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Dan

Today it is April 10th. For most people just another day, this year April 10th is Good Friday. For my family it is a day that I believe keeps us all remembering and mildly sad. April 10th was my brother Dan's birthday. For many years after he died we sent cards to each other on this day. Eventually we stopped, because it seemed less to do with grieving and more to do with habit. But this day always is one I know is coming and like to see going. This week I have been remembering allot about those days growing up. Recently several of our friends with kids with disabilities have had to spend time in the hospital. Hospitals always make me think of Dan and my family.

We did spend allot of time at Children's Hospital in Chicago. On one hand it seemed to be the most hellish place on earth to me. Kids sick, dying. Parents hurting and crying. Brothers and sisters trying to make sense of the fear, hurt, worry, stress, love, tears and hugs. But on the other hand I know that was where I learned to know God. I remember always having to walk through the ER after hours to get into the hospital. Walking amongst those families with kids crying, I remember finding a quiet corner and wanting to be so angry that so many people where so sad and hurting. I remember the baby boy in the intensive care room next to Dan's that no one came to visit. I remember the morning after that baby boy died, crying in the waiting room bathroom because it seemed so unfair that no one was there to love him. I remember my mom so fatigued and sick after so many sleepless nights on the intensive care chair/bed at Dans side that she stumbled when she walked. I remember being so scared as I shut the door on her bedroom that night after I looked in on her when she came home. I remember standing in the hall outside Dans room as we left to go home for the night with Dad, and hugging my mom and feeling her sobs of sadness that Dan was so sick. I remember sobbing  in my bed that night as I wondered if Dan would die, or if my mom would die because she seemed to hurt so bad.

But I also remember spending time in Dan's hospital room watching movies, talking, just hanging out with our family. Sometimes we would get Chicago pizza, or snacks. Sometimes we would goof off and try to scare the nurses. Those where moments most families don't understand, in the middle of the crisis, the middle of the battle, in the middle of suffering and heartache there was peace,love and always time for our family. It was secure, loving, never rushed and no one had anything better to do. Those moments when life in the outside world stopped abruptly and all that mattered was each other. 

This may sound stupid, but Oh how I wish to be sitting in that intensive care room now. With beeps, and buttons, equipment, doctors and nurses in and out, Dan in his iron lung right in the middle of it all and our family gathered round, watching the Cubs game and eating pizza. Those days in the hospital have shaped my life, my belief. It was where I first sensed the God I was learning about in Sunday School and Children's Church. In the calm of the storm, the peace in the intensive care room... I knew God was there with us. It made sense to me then. So now As I try to search out that peace and calm that only God can bring, I find it in Camp, in the hectic pace, extreme heat, suffering people, the long days, short nights, worry, the tears, the loving embraces. 

So how can it be the place I hate the most is place I love the most? It makes sense only if I know the first will be last, the poor will be rich, that I must die to have life. God's ways are not our ways, why is that so hard to embrace?

Friday, April 3, 2009


"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer."
Albert Calmus

It has always been interesting to me that Jesus spent His down time, his rest time, in the town of Bethany.  Jesus' friends lived there, people he could relax around, people who seemed to want nothing from him except to listen to him, feed him.
The name Bethany, is translated to be House of Suffering. The people who lived in this little community just two miles outside of Jerusalem where there because they where suffering, they where sick, dying,  and hurting. Those unwanted, unclean, with out value to the Jerusalem community would live there or be sent there. Lazerus died there, with some kind of sickness, Jesus hung out at Simon the Lepers house. Many, many times the Bible refers to Jesus spending his nights in Bethany. In fact I cannot recall right now that the Bible says Jesus ever spent a night in Jerusalem during His ministry, except to be beaten and killed, in other words to suffer himself. 
The incredible power to bring life to the dead happened there, Jesus spent his last days before going to his death there, he ascended to heaven there. Why so much power in a place of so much suffering, why would Jesus choose to be with this community of people regularly?
I have no particular Bibical answer. I can only say that I understand why this was, I know the draw to that place. The people there had extreme faith in Gods power, they loved Jesus, they listened to Jesus, they served Jesus. Those are the people I love to be with, those are the people who have taught me most of what I know about love, compassion, faith,  prayer, honesty, humbleness, serving, and grace. In this community I have seen God's power active in ways I have never seen anywhere else. The spiritual giants in my life have come from this community. What was their common denominator... suffering.I so badly want people to know that a church body cannot be full without this element. We need those who know suffering to be with us. During this Easter season we celebrate our freedom, our victory, our life that was wrought in suffering and rejection, humbleness and love, through the cross. As we celebrate lets commit to those Jesus loved enough to call his friends through his time, actions and power. If we want the church to be all it can be, we must take a walk outside the golden palace walls, to the foot of the mountain, to a place like Bethany and embrace those with leprosy, sickness, and suffering, just like Jesus did.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Able Attack

Just an announcement:

The Able Church's Special Olympic Basketball Team, The Attack, has made it to the State Finals. They will be playing at 10:00 AM Saturday, April 4th in the semifinals for division 6. If they win they will play for the Gold Medal at 11:30 AM Sunday morning. If they lose they will play for the bronze on Saturday afternoon at 3:30. The games take place at The University of WI in Oshkosh. Come join the cheering section from Camp Daniel. Blue and White Able Attack

T- shirts are available for $16 to support the team.

The Attack took 2nd place in their division winning the silver medal. They are happy.