“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The plan of salvation


Years ago, I believe I shared this pictorial presentation of the gospel message. I have used it literally for decades to teach about the plan of salvation to persons with intellectual and other disabilities. I draw the picture on the whiteboard and then go through it with our group. 


-First picture of sad face shows that we are all sinners, we all do bad things. We are NOT right with God.

Romans 3:10-12 As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous – not even one. No one is truly

wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does

good, not a single one.”


-Picture of cross – but Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

Romans 3:22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.


-Smiling face and gift – If we place our faith in Jesus we are forgiven. Our forgiveness is a free


Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through

Christ Jesus our Lord.

I will sometimes say at this point, “You know, if we work real hard and try to do what is right, then God will give us a pay check of forgiveness and life with Him in heaven, right?” They have come the expect this joke and will respond, “No Jeff, it is not a paycheck it is a free gift.” Which I will affirm. “Yes! It is a free gift we get if we believe in Jesus.”


-Picture of the dove – God then gives us his Holy Spirit to guide us. The dove is based upon Jesus' baptism where the spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. Because of my picture, I also always get the comment that we receive the "holy chicken" which is always good for a laugh!

Romans 5:5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves

us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 8:26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.


-Picture of the house – Someday we will be with the Lord in Heaven because of our faith.

John 14:1-3 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is

more than enough room in my father’s home. If there were not so, would I have told you that I

am going to prepare a place for you.

2 Corinthians 5:8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly

bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.

I always ask our group, “What will you say when you go to the place that Jesus has prepared for

you?” They respond, “I am home!”

You might ask if people in your group believe this. If it is for the first time, you can pray with

them. We have actually used this picture as a way that people can explain their faith such that

they can be baptized and join the church.

Hope this helps!


Monday, May 17, 2021

Sow what? A different perspective on the parable of the sower


Galatians 6:7 -  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

A farmer was having trouble with a crop that he was attempting to grow. In desperation, he called the county agricultural office who promptly sent an expert to help him solve his problem.
     “Thank you so much for coming!”
     “We are here to help. What seems to be the problem?”
     “Well, it’s like my field isn’t producing the right crop. I plant the seeds, but never get exactly what I have planted.” The farmer rubbed his chin. “I don’t’ know what is wrong.”
     The expert began to walk through the field as the spoke.
     The farmer continued. “I know the story about the seed falling on rocky ground but as you can see, no rocky ground here. And also about the birds eating the seeds or the weeds choking them out. The birds are always a challenge, but they wouldn’t cause the kind of problem we are having. As you can see, the crop itself looks pretty pure. Not a lot of weeds growing up.”
     “What exactly are you planting?” asked the expert.
     “Oh, just wheat.”
     The expert knelt down to the plants. He brushed his hand across the top of the stubby, short growing, green blades. He picked a few of and studied them.
     Watching the expert, the farmer continued, “The only thing I can figure is that there must be something wrong with the soil. Why wouldn’t it grow, why wouldn’t it produce the right thing, the thing I am planting?”
     The expert took off his hat and scratched his head. “You say you are trying to grow wheat?”
     “Yep. Have been trying to grow it for years. Always get the same result. Most of the farms around here have the same problem. At Friday morning coffee we get together and can’t understand what is up. I mean we all get our seed from the same place. They have a self-service kind of an operation, so we pick out our own seed that we plant.”
     The expert reached down and pulled up a small plant from the field. “Look at this plant” he said as he held it out to the farmer. "Forget about what you are trying to grow and tell me what this plant looks like.”
     “Well, yeah. It looks like grass to me. But all the other farmers are producing the same kind of plants.”
      The farmer stood silently.
     “Let me see you seeds.”
     The farmer reached into a bag, pulled out a handful, and held out his palm covered with the seed.
     The expert shook his head and scoffed. “This is grass seed! It looks a little like wheat, but you aren’t getting wheat because you aren’t planting wheat.”
     “C’mon, you are a farmer. At least I thought you were a farmer. You want wheat to grow, you need to plant wheat seeds. You can’t plant grass seed and expect wheat to grow.”
     The farmer just stared surprised at the expert with open mouth.
     “I would bet that the farmers that taught you how to farm didn’t know the difference between wheat seed and grass seed either…”

In my experience, all around the world, churches are places where people with disabilities are too often not sought out, not invited in, not included and loved like anyone else. How could we literally have generations of Christian communities where this is the accepted practice? Perhaps for generations, the farmers, the leadership of the Christian community, have been planting the wrong seed. The soil, in other words the congregation, is not necessarily the problem. It is the seed that is being planted by the farmer, what is taught and expected from the leadership, that is the problem.


Thursday, May 06, 2021

Suffering and prayer

 I was watching a TV show last night. In it, a couple was separated. As children, there was a scene where they were hiding from school authorities by lying on their backs in a field. At a poignant moment, the boy reaches over and holds the girl's hand. Later, they are best friends. When they are separated from each other, each lays in bed thinking of that event of holding the other's hand. Each  reaches out their hand to a space next to them and thinks of the other but no one is there. They are each completely helpless.

As I watched that, I felt sad. There was nothing they could do but sadly think about their missing friend and whether they would see them again. They could do nothing to help the other and perhaps alleviate whatever they might be facing.

I have been in that place where I knew of the suffering of friends and others that I love. But there was something that I could do. I could pray. Prayer is always a good practice. But particularly when you are in a place where there is nothing else that you can do, God provides something extremely powerful that you can do. You can pray. That is a big comfort! You have the ability to boldly approach God and ask him to intervene in a situation (Hebrews 4:16). You ask him for his will to be done (Mark 14:36). You ask him to comfort and give grace to those who are going through a difficult time (2 Corinthians 12:9). You ask him to help you and those for whom you are praying to not worry (Philippians 4:6).

People will also sometimes say, there was nothing I could do but pray. Can you see that prayer is the first and the best thing you could do? Of course when there are other ways to assist, we should try to do those things. However, prayer should not be minimized.

A hard right turn...

I worry about the direction our country is going in. We are moving away from foundational principles like freedom of speech. I talk about this in my university classes, but otherwise I am not sure what to do. But the Bible tells us what we can do. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 the Lord said the following to Solomon.

...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Notice it says "if MY people, who are called by MY name, will humble themselves and pray..." We have power to change our direction. The answer is not whining and condemnation of others. A major part of the answer is people's prayer.


Friday, March 05, 2021

Disability and the sovereignty of God

 I recently had the opportunity to do a sermon at my church. My topic was God's sovereignty, particularly in the context of disability.  I talked about how we support or "carry" others for whom the sovereignty of God is difficult, and also how to respond when it is difficult for us our selves. 

Should you be interested in watching the sermon, here is the link.

Responding to God's Sovereignty


Disability and the fall of man

 I recently had a conversation with a friend who was doing research on issues surrounding disability ministry. In the midst of the conversation he asked, "Do you think that disability is the result of the fall of man?' Well, he knows who I am. I am not a theologian or pastor, but just a person who reads his Bible and thinks a lot about disability issues. So on some level I am not sure what kind of a response he was expecting. But as I thought about it I responded in the only way I could think of.

"It doesn't matter" I replied.

That isn't the response a theologian wants. And sure, on many levels it is important to try to understand deep things. However, in terms of whether or not there is disability is a result of the fall of man, makes absolutely no difference relative to the way I interact with people with disabilities in my life. Obviously there are things that people have experienced resulting in disability that are very important to understand in order to come alongside of them to support them. Whether it is violence, disease or some form of emotional abuse, I want to be sensitive to a person's history. But it doesn't matter to me whether or not Adam's sin caused disability or didn't. His sin definitely led to the sinful world we all live in. My response to that is to ask, "How can I be made right with God?"

I do have an answer to that question. Romans 3:22 says, "We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ and this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are." This is the bigger answer that we need to have. This is also what we need to help everyone to understand, "no matter who we are."


Thursday, February 11, 2021

The cancel culture and allegiance to ideas vs allegiance to relationships: The prophetic presence of persons with disabilities

 It has been a while since I have posted here! I am hoping to get back into posting so cross your fingers!

Recently, I have been thinking about a Wolfensberger idea regarding the prophetic presence of persons with disabilities. He talks about it in his writing a bit. I am working on expanding his idea. 

I have a friend and colleague, Dr. Keith Walters, and we have become kind of political foils to each other. Our conversations are just the type that people should have with those with whom they don't completely agree. Our talks are deep, at times contentious, but always friendly and always fun. I am confident we have each influenced each other's thoughts through them (I think we would both like to think we have had a greater impact on the other, HAHA!). 

In one of our conversations regarding the political climate, Keith said something to the effect of understanding the difference between allegiance to relationships vs. allegiance to ideas. Particularly from a Christian perspective, clearly we hold allegiance to our ideas, however, we don't jettison relationships over them. We are called to be in relationships with people who do not agree with our ideas. The plan is that perhaps through our winsome arguments, we can influence them.

However, in the context of disability, particularly intellectual disability, we see Keith's idea played out in their prophetic presence within the church and Christian community. Because of their intellectual disability, they may not have the bandwidth to engage in deep thinking about ideas. However, that causes them to be people who are relationship focused. Are you a democrat? I don't care. Are you a republican? I don't care. I just care about you. Our relationship is the most important thing.

As an older guy, I have friends who have lost contact with their children. Because of a relationship that has been broken in some way, they may not have spoken to a person for decades. I wonder if this might have been the issue there. Differences in thought about politics or religion or myriad other issues destroyed the relationship. I don't think as Christians and even just as people, we are called to that. This is what the cancel culture is about. The media teaches us, encourages us batters us with the idea that people with who whom we disagree are stupid or evil. 


They really don't believe what they are selling and they are selling this. They get you to cancel relationships and then praise you for your intolerance. Both sides in the political debate get you worked up, almost addicted to their diatribe so you will be "hooked" on their position and keep coming back.

But back to individuals with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual disabilities. Their presence teaches us, in a prophetic way, to turn away from cancelling others because of their ideas and holding tight to your allegiance to relationships. It is a lesson we really need to learn from them today!