Friday, March 21, 2014

Ok, Sure - I'll Die With You. . . .

"Then Jesus said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead. . . . Let us go to him.' Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with Him'” (John 11:14-16).

The Jews in Lazarus' area of the country had just tried to stone Jesus, and now He wanted to go back? Doubting Thomas was very loyal. Perhaps it was he who led the other disciples in accompanying Jesus; perhaps they had all been hanging back fearfully.

But we know the end of the story. We know that they had nothing to fear. The temptation can be to shake our heads at these 1st-century Christians and think, "Just trust Him already! He knows what He's doing!"

But don't we serve the same God? Isn't it just as true today that He's doing what He knows is best, and that one day we'll agree with Him?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Manners With the Disabled

It’s a little weird, but we never covered this in my “Family Book of Manners” course in elementary school. You would think we would have. Pretty much all I learned about this subject was learned after becoming one of the disabled myself, and therefore it’s possible that some of my thoughts might apply more to me than to the disabled people you know best; but we’ll just call this my ideas. . . .
1. Treat disabled people according to their apparent biological age, not their apparent shoe size. I know the shoe-size thing is tempting, and we might seem like that would be more accurate: We might have funny voices, we might be unable to walk (or to walk well), we might laugh too much or at weird times, and we might have a million other weird features. But we often still know how old we really are; and if you treat us too much younger than that, we’re likely to feel just a little slighted. Always remember the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” How would you feel if someone always treated you like a young child?
2. Know that it might take us a wee bit more time to eat our food. So if everyone else is finished or just about finished and we still have half or more than half of our food/drink, and if we suddenly start wolfing it down; there’s one thing we won’t want as soon as we finish. That one thing would be a sweet, charitable smile with the words, “Can I get you some more of X?” Naturally, we’ll say “no” every time. J
3. Be a little sensitive about bathroom conversations. A long time ago, I was not only totally unable to control myself. I was also literally and completely unaware of what happened in this respect. So next time you feel like reacting in any way or making any comment, please take a moment to consider how you would feel about people doing those same things toward you.
4. If someone really can’t help doing/not doing something, is it really fair to get upset with them? You tell me. The next time you are unable to achieve something or to avoid speeding/saying something/eating more than you should have, just imagine someone reacting condemningly. How that makes you feel might be similar to how we feel when we, let’s say, involuntarily laugh at the wrong time and that makes you mad.
5. Please give us an extra dose of understanding in general. We might have poor memories, we might have low inhibitions causing us to do/say things you would never do/say, we might have low mental processing speed and take a minute (or more!) to “get” stuff, etc. We might take extra time to do everything – sometimes the amount of time it takes us might really make you wonder!

6. Realize that we do know we’re not completely normal and that there are differences; so if we look like we need help, it wouldn’t hurt our feelings to have you offer. It could be that we’re doing therapy or pushing ourselves just a little bit and that therefore we’ll say no; but it could also be that we would really appreciate the offer. One time I was riding public transportation and we were at a standstill, in a traffic jam; I tried to get my book out of my walker basket, which was just beyond my reach, and the able-bodied man sitting behind me said, “Do you need something?” I told him I wanted my book, and he stood up and handed it to me; and I greatly appreciated his help!

7. Realize that although I have just told you a few ways we might be somewhat different from you, a lot of us are not that different! And we – like you – do not really enjoy having those differences highlighted. I appreciate when people treat me as more normal than I am more than I appreciate it when they treat me as less normal than I am. That said, I do understand people not having been around disabled people much and not knowing quite how to act. I used to be one of those people. So you try to understand me and I try to understand you, maybe we’ll both be smarter and better for it. J

8. Don’t be afraid to tell us what you think we need to know. That would be highlighting a difference you think is there, and we want to be as normal as possible. We can take a little advice/reproof. In that vein of thought – if you have a problem with this list, tell me! I want to hear it, and I can take it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

All (That Matters) About Love

1. Whose idea was love, anyway? Where did the idea even come from? 
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

“Volumes have been written about the characteristics of God, but when it is distilled to the most basic categories, He is love (1 John 4:8), life (Jeremiah 10:10; Revelation 22:1), and holiness (Psalms 99:9). And in reality, His life and holiness are based upon and are an expression of His love: love gives, so He gives life; love desires the best, so holiness proceeds from Him” (R. Keith Whitt, “The Unconditional Love of God,” Bible Study

2. Where can I go to find true love? 
“To live in God is to live in love” (Whitt).
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God IS love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16, emphasis mine).

3. How can I get His love?
"The LORD loveth the righteous" (Psalm 146:8). But how does a person become righteous? Is there a certain level of goodness I have to reach? The truth is, we are all essentially bad. "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). But trusting in Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross transfers His righteousness to our account! "And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6).

4. How can I lose His love?
 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39, emphasis mine).

5. How long will His love last? 
“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever” (Psalm 52:8). “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 106:1). “For I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). God’s mercy to me is forever, which means that I can’t stop it with anything I do; it’s forever and there’s nothing I can do about it!