Monday, December 27, 2010

Beth Moore & Living Proof Ministries


In order to heal, it's really necessary to read the Scriptures and apply them to your life on a daily basis. I can think of no better person to help you do that than Beth Moore (in the picture here which I snagged from her blog).

Beth is one of the best Bible study teachers of our time. She loves the Word and even more importantly she genuinely loves people. These qualities and more pour out from the pages of her books, so if you want to read them to see what I'm talking about, you can find her material at Living Proof Ministries.

And if you are up for a Scripture memorization challenge, she just posted the details of one coming up that's going to last throughout the entire year. I hope you check it out. It's on the blog, and by the way, it's an awesome blog. She takes the time to write heartwarming things. Each entry is like getting a letter from your mama. That's healing, too.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Prayer for the Hurting


Heavenly Father, as I sit here alone in a brand new city this Christmas season, I cannot help but think of others who are in similar or worse situations tonight. For some, tonight or tomorrow may be their last day here because life has beaten them down too much. I am thinking of them and hurting for them, too.

Lord Jesus, this season is so hard because we know once upon a time You showed up here on earth, and since then whether we know it or not, or even like it or not, I think we still expect You to come again somehow--on Christmas Day.

Whether it's the family who is down to their last meal or the single mom down to her last penny, there's something in all of us in dire need which compels us to look to Heaven this time of year for a miracle. For relief. For redemption. For healing. For whatever our need might be. Sometimes those miracles happen, but many times they don't. And for some, Your lack of intervention is simply the last straw.

With this in mind, O Lord, I pray, Father, with all of my heart that You hear me from Heaven tonight. I pray you immediately send your healing, warrior, and messenger angels to people crying out for You all over the earth. I pray You restore hope to the lonely and defeated. I pray You heal depression, mend fractures in families, restore finances, provide jobs, fill up pantries, and most importantly, glue back together the pieces of shattered hearts in only ways that You can.

I pray for Your peace to permeate the lives of all those who call upon Your name tonight. I especially pray for those on the verge of suicide. Holy Spirit, right now I pray you fill those children up with Your loving and comforting presence. I pray for divine intervention right now for these people. A ringing phone. A knock on the door. Anything, Lord. Also restore their brain chemistry. Heal addictions. Bring prostitutes off the street. Remember the homeless. Keep them warm, safe, and fed. Heal them so they can go back home. Reveal the depth of Your love to Your lost and wounded children. They do not know it.

You are the Lord God Almighty, Jesus, and oh, how we need You to return to us. We expect you, Father. We are waiting for You. Looking for you tonight. Please come again, Lord Jesus. Come. You are Emmanuel. You are God with us.

Hold on just for one more day, dear children. Hold on.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Acceptance & Love



O Holy Night!

Every Christmas I cannot help but fall more deeply in love with the song, "O Holy Night." The lyrics clearly and beautifully express the purpose for Christ's birth and His life here on earth. Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace.
  
Love is the only law of Jesus Christ and with love--when we choose to love--comes the ability to accept others. Love and acceptance of others naturally go hand in hand.

And In His Name All Oppression Shall Cease...

This song has been on my mind because for the last few days I've been thinking about how autistic people tend to be treated by others. Even now as I heal and grow, I still experience a great deal of oppression and sometimes at the hands of well-intentioned people. We (and I include those with other cognitive disabilities and traumatic brain injuries) have a terribly long way to go before we are accepted, loved, and understood by society.

That said, there's nothing new under the sun so I don't want to be yet another hypervigilant person crying out day and night for social justice over the smallest of slights. Things happen and we--autistic people especially--must and can learn to be flexible when dealing with others when they lack understanding and patience for people who are simply different from themselves. In other words, we must be intentional in forgiving people if we feel we have been mistreated or oppressed. 

Chains Shall He Break...

An interesting promise is found in Isaiah 58. It says if we loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, set the oppressed free and break every yoke (v. 6), then "your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear (v. 8)." 

For a long time, I felt like the person wearing the yoke and entangled by the chains of injustice. Eventually, however, I saw that regardless of my condition, I had and still have a responsibility to love my brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet I'm here to tell you that as I chose more and more to set others free--free from my anger, unforgiveness, and resentment over how was treated--my healing I've experienced so far did quickly appear. The promise is true and is something you can count on.

During this holiday season, or what's left of it, remember why Jesus came. So many of us now know more than one autistic individual. Extend your love to them. If they cannot receive it, stay close to them and just silently pray for their healing and freedom. No prayer ever goes unanswered, and if we are to bring healing to this next generation of autistic children already growing up, that is what we must learn to do. We must pray for them, but the desire to do so only comes from our choice to love them. And loving is a choice which I hope you will make today.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up...Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

~Romans 15:2 & 7

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Child Is Born



The Birth of Jesus
Despite the many times I heard the story of the birth of Jesus, I have to admit that for years I really didn't understand the reasons He came to live with us here on Earth. I knew Jesus was a prophet, and of course, our Savior, but even those things I only knew in a limited and solely intellectual sense. 

Just a few years ago, however, I developed a curiosity about the Lord's emotions--what did He feel when He taught the disciples? When He was about to die on the cross or ate dinner with His friends (Yes, even the Lord had friends!)? He was fully God but fully human, too. Both. His humanity intrigued me to the point where I became hungry to know more about His too short time here on earth.

I was shocked and startled to see, through reading the Scriptures, that Jesus was first and foremost a healer. He never sought the glory He was due while living on earth. He rarely spoke of being the Messiah, though He didn't deny it when identified as such. Instead He said in Luke 4:18-19, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Did you notice the word because? "The Spirit of the Lord is on me because..." Jesus was not anointed because He was God's Son. He wasn't anointed because His birth fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophecies. He wasn't anointed for any other reason but to bring healing and life to His beloved children on this side of heaven. In fact, while Jesus lived on earth, no one ever died in His presence.

Jesus came to earth to be an exact representation of His Father in order to demonstrate God's love for us. He could only say what the Father said, and He could only do what He saw the Father doing. The Scriptures repeatedly say Jesus was filled with compassion and that compassion drove Him to heal. Did you know He healed every single person who came to Him for healing? Not one person was ever turned away.

Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday, and He will remain the same forever. So, if you are in need of healing this Christmas, I pray you will be filled with the knowledge of who He really is and why He really came to us. If you understand Him, you will understand you can ask and believe the Lord for anything. Whatever your need is, He truly wants to and can meet it.

This child, the Baby Jesus, was born just for you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Prayer for Parents



Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to [Jerusalem]; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. ~Jeremiah 33:6

Jesus, today I lift up all the parents of autistic children to You. I cannot help but think of those who are longing for answers from You, from science, from books, from any source that will give these people a sense of relief and hope. Along with their children, I know they are suffering, Father.

Lord, draw Your children to Yourself. Hide them in the refuge of the shadow of your wings today where they can find rest in You. Answer them when they call out to You, and tell them great and unsearchable things they do not currently know, as You have promised in Jeremiah 33:3. Give each parent wisdom from Your throne. Give them hope today. Give them a sign You are still with them, and remind them You will never forsake them.

Restore order and Your peace to each home today. Release Your Holy Spirit in their hearts, and let Your love flow through each child who calls upon Your Name. Give each one of these parents the courage and the desire to pray for their own children rather than avoiding it because they feel they are not able or qualified. And I ask that they do not pray just for their autistic children, but for their non-autistic children as well. You desire to heal everyone who comes to You for healing.

I pray you provide respite for these parents. Relief from having to burn the candle at both ends. I pray for the restoration of extended family--that You call back aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents to step in and be a source of support for too many people trying to do too much on their own these days. Call us all back to You so you can teach us how to carry the burdens of others who have been weighed down for far too long. 

I bring these people to You today, Jesus, and ask you to wrap Your loving arms around them all, especially during Hanukkah and Christmas when life is or often feels a lot harder for those already struggling. Keep all of these people in Your perfect and tender care.

If you would like more information about how to pray for your family or even if you would simply like to know why it helps, Francis MacNutt's book pictured above is an excellent resource.

Friday, December 3, 2010

God Loves Underdogs!



Just a reminder for all of you who may need encouragement today:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him (emphasis added) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our  righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."  ~ I Corinthians 1:27-31

My thanks go out to Judith for reminding me of this very important truth today.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Today's Healing Prayer for Autism

Lord Jesus and Most Gracious Father, I lift up my brothers and sisters all over the world today who are suffering with autism and other similar neurological disorders.

Holy Spirit, I ask you to permeate and infiltrate the minds and thoughts of each one of these children because you are Emmanuel. There was a time, because of the great darkness of our sin, when we could neither approach God the Father nor stand in His presence. Still, knowing our need for Him and forgiveness from Him, You came to us in human form so we might know Your Father and to have life eternal.

Jesus, autistic children do not have a way to escape the darkness of their minds. But I know first hand this does not limit You. Nothing is too hard for You. Be with these children, Father. Go to live with them. Let them understand the voice of Your Holy Spirit the way You allowed me to understand when I was just a child. It was Your voice which set me free.

Give each child eyes to see You, ears to hear You, and a tongue to proclaim Your marvelous deeds. Let scores of children over all the earth stand up and testify to Your redeeming power. Let them say, "Not only does He give sight to the blind, but He also sets the prisoner free! And He who the Son sets free is free indeed! That is me. I am free indeed!"

In Your Most Holy and Worthy Name, Lord Jesus, I pray these things today.

Amen

Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. The mind of the rash will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear.

~Isaiah 32:3-4

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is It Really Autism?


Auditory Processing Disorder Instead?

Not long ago, in my neighborhood I met a charming four-year-old boy and his mom. He walked up to me and happily chatted for a moment before I asked him his name. Although still happy and still chatty, he simply could not answer the question. He tried several times, but his name just would not roll off his tongue.

His mother finally told me her son's name was William. And she said, "We were just at the pediatrician's the other day, and William was diagnosed with autism." Her eyes welled up with tears as she explained, "He has some social issues and he's not really potty trained. The doctor said he's functioning on a two-year-old level."

Well, I have to say, I didn't see that. This child was all over his mom, hugging her, laughing with her, asking her to play. He asked me to play. He was busy looking at some frogs in the grass. And when he wanted to ride his skateboard, he asked, "Mom, I ride orange?" The real problem seemed to be that he couldn't say proper nouns. Other than that, I saw no other "issues" as this doctor described. Instead of autism, it just looked like this child perhaps had an auditory processing disorder and nothing more.

Fragile X

Another disorder that produces symptoms of autism is Fragile X Syndrome, which is a genetic disease. Some experts say that at least 7% of children diagnosed with autism actually have Fragile X, while other experts claim that the percentage is as high as 30%. While this might sound like bad news, scientists are diligently working on a cure for this syndrome and expect to find one in the next five to seven years. They firmly believe that by curing this disease the symptoms of autism will disappear in children afflicted by Fragile X.

Autism awareness is important. However, there's an expression I keep hearing that I think applies in this case. "When all you have is a hammer, everything in the world looks like a nail." I'm starting to think that autism is the hammer right now. Just because a cluster of symptoms may look like autism on the surface doesn't really mean it is. I think people have a greater responsibility than they realize to not rush to judgment when they are trying to either make or obtain a diagnosis.

Get A Proper Evaluation

In my neighbor's case, by the way, her son was never professionally evaluated. Her pediatrician made the diagnosis on a routine visit that lasted probably no more than fifteen minutes. Still, because this man was a doctor, William's mother believed his opinion without any further consideration. This is unacceptable and could mean a lifetime of sorrow for her little boy when in fact, speech therapy may be all he needs to turn things around.

Labels Can Be Damning

Labels can make a person but more often they break them instead. Do all that you can to make sure the latter doesn't happen to your child or loved one. I guarantee you that a proper diagnosis will make all the difference in the world.