A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

Eating fish

posted by Linda G. Howard

We all know that when you eat fish you will usually come across a bone or two no matter how carefully the fish has been filleted.  We also know that the bones aren’t digestible and should be spit out.  Fish bones, in fact, can be dangerous; but that fact never kept me from eating and appreciating fish.

I often approach authors in the same way.  I almost never agree with everything that I read.  At times, I’ve found that I’m wrong and that what I rejected was a truth that I didn’t want to accept.  That is usually became of some pride or greed in my life.  However, in reading, I simply spit out the parts with which I don’t agree.

In watching the new TV series, The Bible, I’ve done a lot of bone spitting.  In this way, I’ve thoroughly savored it.  The entire Bible is being speed-enacted in 10 hours.  When you condense 6,000 years of history into five segments of TV, there must be some distortions and misgivings.

I confess that portions of the enactments have made me laugh.  When one of Lot’s angelic visitors turned out to be a Ninja warrior, I roared with laughter as he whirled and spun with the ease and graceful moves of a Hollywood stunt man.  In contrast, the Negro Samson wasn’t nearly as unrealistic as the nearly blond Jesus.  I’d always picture Samson as a slight man who gained his strength when the Spirit of God came on him.  But that could because all my life I’ve been surrounded by extremely strong men who were short in statue.

Yet, all in all, the series has been mind-bending to watch. A good friend said, “I’ve read the Old Testament many times but seeing it has made me think about things a bit differently.  So many good men and women have been lured into sin by illicit sexual relationships.”  Another friend laments that men and women of God are still making the same mistakes and justifying them with the same lame excuses.

As the viewership has soared, I’m thankful for the non-Christians who are watching the series.  However, I’ve seen the most impact on people who know the Bible and love the Lord.  Nevertheless, there is a bit of fish-eating that must be practiced in the process.

A history lesson

posted by Linda G. Howard

Over the past months, I’ve discovered the classics from Sir Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper, St. Augustine to Andrew Murray.  Of course, most of these volumes were written in the early 1800’s.  Unlocking the labyrinth of historical fact wrapped around the old English prose of that earlier century presents a challenge.  Yet years of reading the King James Version of the Bible and Jane Austin relieves the struggle.

All of these books are in the public domain.  Therefore, they can be found as free downloads through my iPad and iPhone.  I listen to them through Audio-Books and when I find a volume confusing, I open it on the Free eBooks app and I read along with the audio.  In addition, when I’m not driving or working, I listen and read to get a fuller sense of what the author is saying.

Yes, I must reread (or re-listen) to most of the volumes several times to truly follow the convoluted  plots and fantastic adventures; but it’s an activity well worth the effort.  Years ago, I discovered George MacDonald, the Scottish author, whom C. S. Lewis called his mentor.  Even though, MacDonald died before Lewis because a Christian through MacDonald’s writings, Lewis credited MacDonald with understanding of the Kingdom of God; and he was inspired by MacDonald’s books and writings.

Sometime in the 1980’s a few of MacDonald’s books were rewritten in an attempt to make them easier to follow.  It was these volumes that first introduced me to him.  At time I learned  that J. R. R. Tolkien as well as C. S. Lewis had patterned their fantasies after MacDonald’s wistful tramps through the lands that lived in his imagination.

The thing which has struck me is how much the Gospel is interwoven into the “secular” writing and novels.  Of course, there are the Christian distractors, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne.  However, the volumes I’ve chosen to read such as an obscure book called Work by Louisa Mae Alcott are dripping with the virtues of living for Christ and dying with the joy and peace that only comes from knowing and embracing the Living Christ.

In addition, there is a fresh sense of what life was like in a time when men and women were either dirt-floor poor or overwhelmed with wealth.  It appears that no matter where people fell within the socio-economic struggles, their lives were much like ours.  Love of the Lord was a thing to be cherished; and love of our fellow human beings could only be fully obtained through loving and obeying Christ.

End of an era

posted by Linda G. Howard

end of a roadCarla is not adjusting well to this time.  It is an end of an era for her.  Carla  is a high functioning person with intellectual disabilities.   Both parents have died.  She became too ill to live in her own apartment any longer.  For health and safety reasons, Carla has been moved into a group home where she can receive medical attention and help with her personal care needs.

Joseph is experiencing the opposite.  It is also an end of an era for him.  His mother’s health has forced his family to make a hard decision.  He, too, moved into a group home.  While living with his family, Joseph was never allowed to dress, shave or clean himself.  He was told where to go and what to do.  At the group home, he is required to clean, dress and shave himself.  He must take part in the chores and activities of the household.  He is required to do his own laundry and clean his own room.

Carla’s personality is softly pleasant.  Her manners are tender and appealing.  Joseph’s manner is gruff and abrasive.  He never walks.  He struts, giving the impression that he thinks more highly of himself than he ought.

unhappy catWhile Carla finds group home living restrictive and oppressive, Joseph has never felt more freedom.  Carla has fewer chores and responsibilities now that she no longer lives in her own apartment. Someone cooks her meals, helps her with her household chores when necessary.   Without even informing her, the staff completes the paperwork required by the government which she often hid rather than traverse through the unintelligible maze of questions.  They worry about her medications and take care of her doctor’s appointments.  Carla resents the assistance she receives.

The demands on Joseph have multiplied but his finds increasing freedom in this new arrangement even though it is wrapped tightly with chores and requirements.  Of course, Joseph has never been one to complain.  He takes life as it come; and he trusts the Lord to work things out for his benefit.  Joseph often prays out loud, seriously or happily asking God to help him.

Carla admits that she almost never prays.  The requirements of “religion” are much too difficult and confining.  Carla cannot grasp the concept of God being a friend–her friend.

Joseph’s cognitive level is far below Carla’s; but his faith quotient soars far above most other people.  He prays and expects an answer “because God loves me.”  He believes that “all things work” for his good.  “God said it in the Bible.  Therefore, it’s true.”

In short, Carla is miserable and has been for years.  Joseph is joyous. Each day is a welcomed adventure.

sitting on a porchEach of us come to times in our lives when things radically change.  We graduate from college.  We get married.  Our first baby is born.  The first child enters kindergarten.  Then poof.   In a few short days, she is entering college.  The children leave home.  The children come back home.  A spouse dies.

Our IQ does not determine the position of our misery barometer.  Through prayer and fellowship with our Heavenly Father and Savior-Redeemer-Friend Jesus our barometers are adjusted, determining the joy and love into which we motivate through life.  I am praying that my life follows the example set by Joseph.  Even though, he is a young man with a lousy personality and low IQ,  Joseph has trapped the life-giving force of the Lord Jesus and released it into his surroundings and lifestyle.  His example gives me hope and joy.

Wilted

posted by Linda G. Howard

gardenA couple of times a year I must dedicate several days to my garden.  I have a small yard.  Therefore, most of my back and side yards are devoted to my garden.  I’m not consistent enough with my yard work to be considered a true gardener; but I enjoy the fruits of my sporadic labors all year round.

Often in my pruning and pulling, I find a wilted perennial.  Usually, there seems to be no reason for the decay of the dying plant.  In sunny Florida near the ocean, we need water almost everyday for our growing ornamentals; but I’m pretty diligent about providing that.  Yet, the mystery is that these wilted plants often grow along side the healthy ones.

wiltedIn some plants that seems to be a deficiency in their ability to grow.  They are receiving the same fertilizer and water.  The share equally with the soil and sunlight; but they remain stunted until they are gone.

I remember a young man who was raised in a large family.  He told of an abusive childhood.  Finally, he left home, rejecting the opportunity to go to college as his siblings had done because he didn’t want to be obligated to his unforgiving and vengeful parents.  Yet, when you realized that this young man had been raised by godly parents and his six other siblings told a completely different story about their childhood, you knew something had gone badly wrong with this young man; and his parents probably were not to blame. There were obvious distortions in his life.

distortionsAs the man has matured, his attitude has improved but not totally changed.  The distortions in his life remain.  Wherever he goes, people are making his life miserable.  Employers fire him for no reason.  Women break his heart without regrets or scruples.  Hospital mix up his test results and give him the wrong medications which make him sicker.  Even though, the man rejected church in his youth, he has returned to his faith; but there is no joy in his relationship with the Father.

Several weeks ago, I revisited the parable of the talents as told by Jesus in Matthew 25.  We all remember the three employees who were given various amounts of money from their employer, a business owner.  They were expected to invest the money.  The first two did exactly what was expected of them, doubling the amount they received.

moneyThe third, however, buried his money with this explanation to his employer, “I know that you were a hard man and that you expect growth from investments, even where you don’t invest any money.  You want more for your labors than you are willing to make an effort to produce.  Therefore, I was afraid.  I buried your money and here it is.  I’m returning the amount you gave to me.”

His employer was outraged with his employee.  ”If you knew that I was that kind of employer, why didn’t you take my money and put it in the bank so it would at least draw interest.”  The employer took away the money and gave it to the employee who had earned the greatest money from his investment.

The employer explained through is torrent of anger, “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them”  (Matthew 25:29)  The employer fired the slothful employee and then had him arrested and sent to prison.

We know that the employer is God in this parable.  In reading the Biblical account, we find that the three men had the same employer but two expected goodness from him.  And that is precisely what they received.  The third employee, driven by indolence, sluggishness and laziness, expected exactly the opposite from the same man and that is what he received.

There are those who expect only the worst from God–and that is what they receive.  Like my wilted garden plant, they never learn to partake of the water, sunlight, warmth and food provided all around them.

Many of my friends within the mentally challenged community exhibit the exact opposite attitude.  Their IQ’s a deficient.  Their bodies may not function properly.  However, they grow and mature without distortions within their spirit.  The Lord in his mercy has graciously provided for all of us.  His blessings abound all during the day and night but often without reason we become overcome by doubts and fears.  Our spirits wilt in the presence of a gracious Lord.

My prayer is that I will command my doubting heart know the love of the Lord.  That I will demand for my whining spirit to look full into the sunlight of his love expecting and receiving the abundant blessings that surround me.

Previous Posts

Explaining Grace
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posted 5:55:58am Jan. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Holidays and grief
Today, I heard again the Christmas song about the little boy whose mother is dying on Christmas eve and he wants to buy her shoes to wear as she goes into heaven. He doesn’t have enough money to buy the shoes and a person in line gives him the money he needs. It’s never been my favorite Christma

posted 8:29:32am Jan. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Can You Come?
Maddie is one of those people within the mentally challenged community whom everyone loves.  She is friendly and happy.  Maddie makes everyone feel as though they are her "extra-special friend."  Several years ago Mattie and her husband moved from our city to a small town out of the state.  Bec

posted 12:20:34am Dec. 29, 2014 | read full post »

The Choice that Changed Everything--a sermon for the mentally challenged community
The choice that changed everything Nehemiah 9:17 Central Theme: Man choices to sin and God chooses to be gracious. A ream of paper has 500 sheets--not more and not less. A foot is 12 inches--not more and not less. There are many absolutes in our lives. There is a couple of absolutes that totally

posted 10:48:30pm Aug. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Friendship Evangelism
For many years, I taught a seminar called "Friendship Evangelism."  The basis of this teaching was that people are much more susceptible to hear the promises of the Gospel, if they know and respect you.  We all have a knowledge of the friendship of David and Jonathan from the Bible.  Even if we o

posted 9:12:04am Aug. 16, 2014 | read full post »


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