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January 04, 2011

Boys AdriftLast week I posted a review of The Death of the Grown-Up by Diana West, a book that takes a hard look at our cultural obsession with immaturity. That review garnered quite a bit of attention, so I thought it might be interesting to go into the archives and pull out a review of another book I read some time ago, one with a fair bit of overlap—Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax. It takes a look at what may well be some of the background to some of this immaturity.

Something strange is going on with boys today. My memories of boyhood revolve around the great outdoors—running through fields with hockey stick guns, climbing trees, playing any and every sport, getting sunburns, heatstroke, ticks, sprained ankles and all the other bumps and bruises guaranteed to come to an active, rambunctious boy. Though today I live in a neighborhood filled with boys, rarely do I see them out and about; rarely do I see them engaging in the activities we’d expect of them. Something has changed. So many boys are inactive and unmotivated.

The changes go deeper than just the activities of young boys. “Fully one-third of men ages 22-34 are still living at home with their parents—about a 100 percent increase in the past twenty years. Boys nationwide are increasingly dropping out of school; fewer are going to college; and for the first time in American history, women are outnumbering men at undergraduate institutions three to two.” This lack of activity or lack of motivation seems to continue through life. Parents, educators and doctors are concerned.

Leonard Sax is a family physician and a research psychologist who has witnessed this change. He has seen it in a close and personal way through his busy medical practice. In his book Boys Adrift Dr. Sax offers his explanation as to why boys and men are failing in school and at home.

November 16, 2009

A few days ago I was talking to some friends about fatigue. It is a popular topic when you’re in the stage of life that includes young children (though, from what I’ve overheard, it also seems to be a popular topic as you begin to hit old age). I got to thinking about the topic and found something I had written about fatigue a couple of years ago, apparently after a particularly tough night.

*****

I got to bed just a little bit later than usual last night. But when I settled into bed, I felt that kind of comforting fatigue—the kind that is not so overbearing that I’m exhausted, but the kind that means I’m really looking forward to a good night’s rest. You know the kind, I’m sure. It’s the kind of tired that makes stretching out between the sheets a real pleasure.

There was one false start before I got to sleep. I was just drifting off when I heard the bedroom door rattle and Abby walked in. She told us that she couldn’t sleep. Aileen got up and tucked her back in, turning on a light to make sure she wouldn’t be scared. A few minutes later we were all asleep. But then, probably around 1 AM, I heard Abby calling for me. She was scared again and was crying. I have no memory of what happened next, but I guess I must have tucked her back into bed, convinced her that everything was fine, and crawled back into bed. A couple of hours later it was Nick’s turn. He marched into our room and woke me up, telling me that his ear was hurting so badly he couldn’t sleep. All things pain-related are Aileen’s department, so she dosed him with some kind of medication, put some hot cloths on his ear, and we went back to sleep. An hour later Michaela was awake, scared by the sound of the strong winds blowing through the trees outside our window. We awoke to her cries of “Mommy!” She ended up in bed with us—all twenty five hot, pointy, squirming, fuzzy pounds of her. At this point I turned off my alarm and figured I’d just have to let myself sleep in so I wouldn’t be completely comatose all day. And so the night went. I awoke at seven in the morning (which is sleeping late for me) feeling not the nice kind of tired, but the exhausted kind of tired that comes from too little rest; too little sleep. It’s the kind of tired that leaves circles under my eyes and requires an extra kick of caffeine to be able to go about the usual routine. It just wasn’t a very good night.

A few weeks after Nick was born, our first child, Aileen and I were facing the exhaustion that comes with a newborn baby. We were just learning to be parents and still assumed that every cough and every sigh meant he was dying. He was a restless baby and didn’t settle into good sleep patterns for a long time. Aileen and I both spent many nights pacing the floors with him. I remember talking to my mother around this time and the words she said stuck with me: “The next time you feel well-rested, you’ll be in heaven.” They may not have been particularly comforting words, but they were realistic. Mom said that, by the time the kids really settled into good sleep patterns, I’d be too old to sleep well anymore. When we had that first child I guess I threw away any hope of really feeling well-rested.

It’s worth it, of course. I wouldn’t trade my children for any number of good night’s sleeps or any amount of rest (though if you asked me in the middle of the night I might occasionally answer differently). But as I lay in bed last night, in those moments where I was just too tired to get to sleep, I began to wonder about heaven. What will it be like to feel really, really well-rested? What will it be like to be able to feel one hundred percent? Will there be fatigue in heaven? Will there be rest? Heaven will, of course, be rest…but will there be sleep?

As I tend to do when I’ve got questions about heaven, I opened Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven this morning and, sure enough, he had some things to say about this. He says:

Our lives in Heaven will include rest (Hebrews 4:1-11). …

Eden is a picture of rest—work that’s meaningful and enjoyable, abundant food, a beautiful environment, unhindered friendship with God and with other people and animals. Even with Eden’s restful perfection, one day was set aside for special rest and worship, Work will be refreshing on the New Earth, yet regular rest will be built into our lives.

To be honest, I am a little skeptical when it comes to Alcorn’s reasoning here, but he does make an interesting case. But what really stood out to me were his next words:

Part of our inability to appreciate Heaven as a place of rest relate to our failure to enter into a weekly day of rest now. By rarely turning attention from our responsibilities, we fail to anticipate our coming deliverance from the Curse to a full rest.

“Make every effort to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11). It’s ironic that it takes such effort to set aside time for rest, but it does. For me, and for many of us, it’s difficult to guard our schedules, but it’s worth it. The day of rest points us to Heaven and to Jesus, who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary … and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Rest is innately good. God Himself rested after completing His work of creation—a perfect being resting after completing the perfect work of creating a perfect world. God built rest into this world. And God gave us one day to practice rest—to learn how to rest. How good it is to set that day aside and to use it just to rest. But beyond that day, God also gives us little glimpses of the rest that is to come. When we used to own a cottage, one of my favorite things to do was to head out alone over the lake in the canoe. And halfway across the lake I would just sit back with a Coke in one hand, a book in the other, and the sun shining on my face. And I’d just relax and let the water take me where it wanted. It was such a beautiful time of peace and rest. And maybe it was a foretaste of the rest that is to come. Today a similar feeling comes as I kick back on a Sunday afternoon with a cold Coke, a good book and a comfortable couch. It is rest and it is good.

I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that only rarely will I really feel anywhere close to one hundred percent while on this earth. To be an adult, to be a parent, is to be tired. But as life goes on, I begin to look to those moments of rest as more than just a chance to rejuvenate. I see them also as a glimpse of what is to come. I see them as opportunities to learn how to rest—to learn how to enjoy the rest that will come with the new heavens and the new earth. They are a taste, even if only a faint one, of the true rest.

May 22, 2009

This is a topic I’ve written about before, but one that has been on my mind again lately. I’ll be interested in your feedback on it.

Ted Wallis, a doctor in Austin, Texas, recently came upon a lost child in tears in a mall. His first instinct was to help, but he feared people might consider him a predator. He walked away. ‘Being male,’ he explains, ‘I am guilty until proven innocent.’” As awful as it sounds, I sympathize with this guy. As terrible as it might be to see a young child lost and alone, as a man in this society I feel like accusing eyes would be upon me if I was I to walk up to that child and offer my help. My instinct would probably be to look for an authority figure—a police officer or mall security guard—or a harmless-looking stranger, perhaps an elderly woman or a pregnant mom. These people could help the child without making others assume that they have evil ulterior motives.

Jeff Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal has written a couple of compelling articles dealing with our society’s view of men as predators. They are well worth reading (Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Fearful of Men? and Avoiding Kids: How Men Cope With Being Cast as Predators). He asks, “Are we teaching children that men are out to hurt them? The answer, on many fronts, is yes. Child advocate John Walsh advises parents to never hire a male babysitter. Airlines are seating unaccompanied minors with female passengers rather than male passengers. Soccer leagues are telling male coaches not to touch players.” An ad campaign for Virginia’s Department of Health features a picture of a man’s hand holding a child’s hand with these words plastered over it: “It doesn’t feel right when I see them together.” The message seems clear. “The implication is that if you see a man holding a girl’s hand, he’s probably a predator,” according to Marc Rudov who runs a father’s rights site.

Clearly there are going to be consequences to making society (and children in particular) fearful of men. “Fathers’ rights activists and educators now argue that an inflated predator panic is damaging men’s relationships with kids. Some men are opting not to get involved with children at all, which partly explains why many youth groups can’t find male leaders, and why just 9% of elementary-school teachers are male, down from 18% in 1981.” Children are beginning to be distrustful of men and society in general is becoming increasingly distrustful of men. Men, meanwhile, bear the weight of feeling like they are always on the edge of being accused of some deviant behavior. “The result of all this hyper-carefulness, however, is that men often feel like untouchables.” “While we don’t want sexual predators to harm our kids, we do want our kids to develop healthy relationships with adults, both men and women. Instilling a fear of men is a profound disservice to everyone.”

Here are a few examples of how this is working itself out according to the testimonies of men who responded to Zaslow’s articles:

In Cochranville, Pa., Ray Simpson, a bus driver, says that he used to have 30 kids stop at his house on Halloween. But after his divorce, with people knowing he was a man living alone, he had zero visitors. “I felt like crying at the end of the evening,” he says.

At Houston Intercontinental Airport, businessman Mitch Reifel was having a meal with his 5-year-old daughter when a policeman showed up to question him. A passerby had reported his interactions with the child seemed “suspicious.”

In Skokie, Ill., Steve Frederick says the director of his son’s day-care center called him in to reprimand him for “inappropriately touching the children.” “I was shocked,” he says. “Whatever did she mean?” She was referring to him reading stories with his son and other kids on his lap. A parent had panicked when her child mentioned sitting on a man’s lap.

I am of two minds about this. On the one hand I don’t want to feel (and don’t want my children to feel) that all men are perverts who are untrustworthy simply by virtue of being men. At the same time, I have too often seen the harm done to children through predatory men. Though it may be the case that only the smallest percentage of men are predators, the fact remains that the vast majority of predators are men. Early on in our marriage my wife and I established a couple of ground rules pertaining to our children (such as not allowing men or boys to babysit our children and being exceedingly cautious about sleep-overs). To use these seemed like common sense rules and not ones born out of a great fear of all men. They are rules that we do not tell the children so as not to make them overly fearful toward men. We are cautious towards relationships between our children and other men, but rejoice when godly or otherwise concerned adults show a genuine interest in them.

I would be interested in hearing from the people who read this site to hear how you cope with these situations.

  1. Would you leave your children with male babysitters?
  2. Would you allow your teenage boy to babysit other children?
  3. Are you immediately hesitant or nervous when a man shows friendly interest in your children?
  4. For the men: if you saw a child standing alone and crying in the mall, would you stop to help the child? If so, would you do so with confidence or with some level of fear?
September 24, 2008

I woke up early this morning, a long time before my alarm was set to start buzzing. I woke up with a phrase bouncing through my mind—a phrase I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Some time ago I was thinking about children who have the privilege of growing up in Christian homes but was drawn to the many I know who have fallen away from the faith. Despite the great honor given them in being raised in a family where they were taught the Christian faith, they fell away and rejected the faith of their parents. What a horrifying thought it is that these people will have to stand before God knowing that they rejected a gift of inexpressible value.

I thought about this for a little bit and then turned to the lesson I’ll be teaching tonight at our mid-week services. Aileen and I lead a class for junior high kids and are working our way through a Children Desiring God curriculum. It just so happens that this week’s lesson is one that challenges these children not to neglect the gift they’ve been given. This week’s focus statement is “Man is without excuse when God rightly withdraws His restraining grace and gives man over to his sin.” As you might expect, the key verse is from Romans (Romans 2:4 - “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”).

The phrase that was bouncing in my head this morning and the phrase that summarizes this lesson, at least in my mind, is this: “living on borrowed grace.” Those children who are born into Christian homes—children who from their earliest days learn stories from the Bible, who watch their parents living the Christian life and who attend church week after week—are living on borrowed grace, at least until they turn to Christ in repentance and faith. This is true of all unbelievers though in a particularly pronounced way with the children of Christians. They enjoy a grace given by the God in whom they do not believe. As Jesus tells us, God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). Grace abounds in this world and grace abounds in a special way in the homes of those who love Him.

Those who do not love the Lord, those who do not serve Him, are living on borrowed grace. They are living in light of a grace that is not rightly theirs; they have not turned in love and faith to the One who gives such grace. They live like this grace will continue indefinitely, eternally, while in reality the clock is ticking down.

My heart longs for my children and for all of the children in my church that they would embrace the faith that is being taught to them and modeled for them. The consequences of such a rejection are terrifying. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” For those who turn away, this borrowed grace will begin to be withdrawn. God will withdraw His restraining hand and give them over to their sinful desires. Paul says as much in Romans 1:24-25: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” I have seen this and you undoubtedly have, too. I have seen young men turn away from Christ, turn away from their families, turn away from the faith, and embrace lifestyles of gross immorality. That borrowed grace that had restrained sin was gradually loosened as they rejected the source of all grace.

And still they continue to live on borrowed grace. Though they have rejected the Savior, rejected the Creator, they continue to enjoy the beauty of this world and so many of the graces it contains. This is what Christ would say to them: “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5). A time will come when all grace will be removed. Rain will no longer fall on the just and the unjust; the sun will no longer shine on those who have rejected God. God will demand an accounting of the grace that gave them life, the grace that sustained them through life, and the grace that was freely offered to give them everlasting life. May they, in that day, be found in Him.

August 20, 2008

I made my children cry. A short time ago my son and daughter came to me and Abby, representing both of them, I suppose, asked the kind of question little girls ask. It was a question they must have been thinking, or perhaps arguing, about. “Daddy, who do you love more, Mommy or us?” I thought for just a moment and told them the truth. They cried.

The fact is, I love their mother more than I love them and I told them as much. I did so gently and lovingly but with confidence that I am right to feel this way. I love my children desperately. I love them with the kind of love that wants only the best for them and which seeks to protect them from the pain and anger and evil that are so prevalent in this world. I pray for them continually, asking that God would protect them even from me and from my ineptitude and sin and ignorance. I never chose to love my children. From the moment Aileen and I learned that they were growing inside her, I loved them. I spoke to them and sang to them and prayed for them before they were born; I walked the house with them night after night when they were tiny; I love them fiercely and love to spend time with them. And still their mother has first place in my heart.

There are undoubtedly different kinds of love and we cannot necessary equate the passionate, romantic love I have for my wife with the parental love I have for my children. Where I never chose to love my children, I did choose to love Aileen, or I did as much as anyone can exercise his will in such matters of the heart. There came a time when I set my heart on her and committed myself to loving her for better or for worse.

When my children asked me who I loved more, I explained to them that the primacy of my love for their mother is a good thing that will give stability to all of our lives. They may be too young to really understand this, but some day it will make sense to them. If I were to love my children more than my wife, I might allow them to stand between me and her; were I to love them more, I might allow them to disrupt my relationship with my wife and divide our family. I have seen that happen in too many families. Because mom and dad are not first and foremost committed to each other, a child can stand between them and divide them. Too many family have been torn apart in exactly this way. Mom chooses daughter over dad and the family is ripped apart.

But I am not going to allow this to happen in my family. Because Aileen is my first love, I will not allow anyone or anything to stand between us—even people we love as much as our very own children. Our love for each other does not enter us into some kind of competition with our children; rather, it is an expression of our love and concern for them. It is exactly what they need most to grow up in a stable home where mom and dad will remain together, committed under God to each other and to them. And I pray that some day they will find loving spouses whom they love more than us and more than anyone else.

So tell me. Would you have answered the question as I did? Or is it really the kind of question which, because it crosses categories, should not be answered at all?

April 27, 2008

The Elisha FoundationIn the past months you may well have heard me mention The Elisha Foundation. This is a foundation I first discovered through my pastor (who is a regular speaker at the Foundation’s annual retreats) and subsequently learned about more when I designed a new website for it. I quickly came to respect what they do and wanted to share with you an interview I conducted with Justin Reimer who founded and still heads up the organization.

What is the Elisha Foundation?

The Elisha Foundation is a non-profit organization created to provide encouragement and resources for families of people with special needs (kids and adults). Our primary vehicle of ministry is through small and intimate Family Retreats geared towards biblical encouragement and disability specific resources. Soon we will be providing monthly respite resources for families in our area as well.

When and why did you begin the Foundation?

My wife, Tamara, and I started the foundation in the Fall of 2005 after years of anticipation. Though the idea started some 10 years ago through a series of Sovereign circumstances preparing us for our calling when our first child, Elisha was born. Just hours after his birth he was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit due to medical complications. During the early hours of this new and blessed addition to our family we were overcome with the moment. God saw fit to make us stewards of such a wondrous and enigmatic blessing as a special needs child. The enormity of this responsibility was only made more sweet by the grace of God. This was a defining moment in our young lives with profound impact on our faith, goals and dreams.

Prior to the birth of our son Tamara and I shared the ambition of one day being missionaries to a foreign country. With the new direction our lives were taking we were left wondering how we could minister to the needs of others. Early on a sweet lady put it plainly to Tamara in this way, “Instead of you going to the mission field, the mission field has been brought to you through Elisha.” So simple yet so profound was that little morsel of wisdom. It helped us to look beyond the circumstances and realize that God had given us a new direction, to minister to those with special needs and their families.

Over the next seven years we lived in six different states and experienced the disability resources and programs that each state offered. Though each offered great things none provided the foundational emphasis on family and definitely not on Christ. Through these travels and experiences our hearts desire was to provide an environment for families with disabled family members where the emphasis is on familial growth in Christ rather than on “dealing with” the disability. A place where faith in Christ is strengthened, love is flourished, passion is reformed and intimacy is encouraged. What greater resource than to build the family on those four fundamentals - faith, love, passion, intimacy in Christ. We experienced great growth in these areas through our own trials and experiences. We have had three more sweet children (and another on the way!) since the birth of Elisha and have been greatly encouraged by their interaction with Eli as well as the opportunity for them to recognize and minister to the needs of others of lesser health or condition.

Most confirming to us in our pursuits with TEF was our most recent Retreat. We had a family there who had a daughter with an extremely rare genetic disorder. So rare that the doctor’s gave her little chance of survival and recommended abortion. She is now 4 years old and although there are great delays in her development she is exceeding anything the doctor’s thought possible. It is a rough road though, be it feedings every 2 hours for the first three years of her life, the growth hormone shots, or the litany of other care she needs. She cannot sit up on her own and when she is ill she suffers from seizures. Along with raising her, her parents have six other children to not just care for, but to raise.

We invited them to the Retreat knowing that there was a good chance they wouldn’t be able to make it due to her situation. It was a stretch for her to be around a large group of people possibly carrying the latest flu strain. But they were able to come although under slight duress. By the end of the Retreat they were overwhelmed by how much they needed that time away as a family. You see it was the first time in three and a half years that they were able to worship together as a family. They had to take turns going to church and no one offered to help them with her so that they could go together. In tears, the dad stated what the whole weekend meant to them and that there were not words enough to describe the benefit to their family. He is now a dear friend of mine and his family has been challenged anew by the Word being taught at the Retreat and by simply being together and having people help them there be unencumbered.

How does the Foundation seek to serve families of people with disabilities?

Of primary importance to TEF is to see that families make much of Christ in their circumstances, not to make much of their circumstances with a side order of Christ - so to speak. It is common place to see a family put so much emphasis on their circumstances (autism, Down syndrome, etc.) that that becomes central to who they are as a family and , in a way, defines who they are. We know and understand the challenges from our own experience but by God’s grace He has compelled us to keep Christ central to our lives, not Down syndrome, and that is what ultimately should define our family - lives centered on Christ no matter what.

God has placed within our stewardship the blessed parent child relationship with a special needs child. We have been and will continue to be challenged and encouraged by this great blessing.

As our faith in Christ has been strengthened through this relationship we have sought to aid the growth of the faith of others in similar situations. Teaching them to love Jesus more deeply, develop a passion for the unique circumstance that God has placed them in and develop a more intimate relationship with Him out of which flows a more intimate relationship with God and family.

When focusing on the vehicle for this objective our minds were immediately set on a retreat. A quiet, beautiful, peaceful, rejuvenating place that would be conducive to allowing people to let down their guard and relax while providing them with pampering not common to them nor even available to them. And to provide focused Bible teaching to edify and build up the Faith.

Who typically attends the Elisha Foundation retreats? Who is permitted to attend?

We specifically chose a broad “label” to target our field of ministry - “special needs”. We have had varying levels of severity of diagnosis’ from Asperger’s to autism, from Down syndrome to Hunter’s syndrome, from extremely rare genetic disorders to malignant teratoma’s and even leukemia. One of the unique aspects of the environment we aim to create for a Retreat is that by having needs from a wide range of spectrums each set of parents is drawing from the diversity of experiences of the other parents.

For example, I have a child with Down syndrome and another parent has a child with Hunter’s syndrome. I can learn a lot from that parent as they may have a very short time on earth with that child and the window of interaction with the child is brief, where I see through a long term window for my child. It reminds me of the brevity of life and to treat each day with more earnestness; whereas, they can learn from our experiences perhaps in how we educate our son or even a level of endurance as we will care for our son until we pass from this life.

To answer your question, anyone who has a “special need” be it a disability, medical condition or other chronic issues is welcome to our Retreats. If they aren’t sure about how they might “fit in” they can call us and talk it over with us. Our future plans include Retreats for those who have lost children and for our wounded military veterans as well. If people are hurting we want to help them see Jesus in it and through it.

Are there any books you have found particularly useful in helping people come to terms with disabilities within their families or their churches?

The most obvious and significant answer is Scripture; however, God has Sovereignly placed the likes of Joni Erickson Tada in the midst of the Body of Christ to encourage support and help people come to His terms with their appointment in life. When God Weeps by Joni is a must read and is a book that we give to every family that comes to a Retreat. She and Steve Estes do a great job of applying the Christ to painful situations with experience and biblical conviction.

What books do you recommend on the subject of suffering?

With today’s technology sermons are a great source of encouragement, keep in mind some of these families can’t always make it to church, etc. Sermons by the likes of Paul Martin, John Piper, John MacArthur among others have been a great encouragement to my family and to others that I have been able to pass them along to. As for books, I guess I gave some of it away already but in addition to the aforementioned book there are a couple of others I would recommend.

The Holy Bible, by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by Justin Taylor, John Piper, Mark Talbot, and Stephen F. Saint

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot

The Power of Suffering by John MacArthur

Also, we have found biographies to be very helpful as well. The likes of William Cowper, Fannie Crosby, William Wilberforce, etc.

What can local churches do to better serve families that have a family member with a disability?

This is a good question as it doesn’t start with specialized programs. It starts with the Body of Christ first enfolding that family or person on a practical relational level. This is a challenge as many of us don’t feel comfortable around a person with a disability. Consider this, is a person with “special needs” any less created in the image of God than you or I? Answer, no. With that in mind I would challenge every believer to do something so sweetly simple when you see a needy person or family and you don’t know what you can do to help them. Just ask!

When a family walks in the door and you recognize that perhaps they may have a child with special needs, ask them what you can do to help them worship together with you. “May” is italicized intentionally as not all of us can spot and name a child’s “special need” so even if you have a suspicion offer to help. It is okay to not know or even be uncomfortable with a special needs situation. It may be awkward to you but think of what some families are faced with when they attend church and are told to leave the service because their autistic child yells out involuntarily.

This is an area of great concern as in certain parts of the country the willingness to approach someone in a needy situation is lacking. If a church finds themselves in a position to target a special needs ministry then there are two books I would recommend:

Special Needs Special Ministry by Jim Pierson, Pat Verbal and Louise Tucker Jones

Let All the Children Come to Me by MaLesa Breeding, Dana Hood and Jerry Whitworth

The simplest and, in many ways, the most helpful thing someone can do is to simply offer to be a special needs persons “buddy” on Sundays. Assist in whatever way needed to facilitate that family and that persons Lord’s Day.

How can Christians support the Foundation?

Praying, volunteering and giving. We have sought to have TEF not be exclusively Christian in our servicing these special families. At each of our Retreats we have had non-believers and believers alike in attendance. Pray that we would continue to have opportunities for the Gospel.

Volunteering is a vital part of all that we do. During a Retreat we have 20+ dedicated, full time volunteers. We have been richly blessed by our volunteers as we push them to the point of exhaustion but they see it as an act of worship. We are always looking to add to our book of volunteers. If anyone would like to volunteer please contact us we would love to have your help.

Giving is vital to us as well and is not my favorite subject but it is necessary for doing what we do, this includes not just our monetary needs but books for our Retreats as well. Right now we have no paid staff and schedule Retreats as we have funding.

If a person is interested in learning more about the Foundation and its ministries, how would they do that?

The web site is the easiest way to find out about us but you can contact myself (Justin.Reimer {at} TheElishaFoundation.org) or our newest Board Member, Chris (Chris.Wick {at} TheElishaFoundation.org) directly. My phone number is 541-419-6007.

February 29, 2004

This has been a long and somewhat difficult week. I spent the first part of the week stressing about The Passion of the Christ, wondering what the movie was going to be like and wondering if I should even see it. Finally Wednesday rolled around and against my better judgment I went to see it. I chronicled my disappointment and concerns in four rather long articles. I was gratified to see that there are many people who share my concerns with this movie. Many of these people took the time to post their concerns or to email me with comments and suggestions. The overwhelmingly majority were positive but there were few that were very challenging and led me to ask myself some important questions. I appreciate these as much as the positive comments provided they are posed in a constructive manner.

This week I hope to begin a new series that I am very excited about. Many times lately my thoughts and prayers have turned to a desire for wisdom and discernment – discernment to see what is right and what is wrong and wisdom to know what to do about it. I considered going to the Christian bookstore to look for a book that would teach me about discernment, but soon realized that God has given me the ultimate book on just that topic. Read the words that begin the book of Proverbs:

1The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
3to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

So through the month of March I hope to do a 31-day study of the 31 chapters of Proverbs. Though I will continue to post about other topics, this study will be the major focus of my site for the month. I am excited to learn what God has to teach me about wisdom and discernment.