Fathers and Mothers: do not exasperate your children!

A couple of weeks ago two of my children were leading worship at a local congregation that serves individuals that are participants in the recovery community. We have ministered there before and were especially excited about the fact that this particular night they were celebrating the accomplishments of a few graduates of this long-term treatment program.  This particular recovery community is extremely loving and encouraging toward one another and the graduation happened just prior to the worship service that our band was leading.  My youngest son Ian was with us to enjoy this particular service. Ian loves music! He is one of the biggest fans of his sibling’s praise and worship band, Meacham toward Carper!  Although Ian has autism and many of the sensory issues like occasional over stimulation that goes with this, Ian loves worship! However, this particular night the speaker introduced the graduates with a loud and excited voice. Most of the folks in the room understood that this was uplifting and exciting for the graduates and that the loud claps and yelling was that of celebration! Ian, however, interpreted this to mean angry and aggressive and his instinct was to cover his ears and bolt to the back door of the church, walking briskly down the ramp outside! After several minutes of calming him down we returned to the church where he was able to enjoy the service with some hesitancy due to fear of being yelled at! I began to think to myself, “I wonder how many kids or even adults have been scared out of church due to a misunderstanding on their behalf or one of the church members/leaders?” I have been guilty of reacting wrong to discipline of my children in or out of church or even provided poor guidance that was not truly a loving guidance that they needed.


In James 1:19 it reads: My dear brothers and sisters take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Then in Ephesians 6:4 it reads, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instructions of the Lord. We always need to understand that communication can be misunderstood by the receiver. I wonder how many times we may have innocently scared off a person due to our actions, or our behaviors. How sad that even one child may cover their ears in fear and run to the door! All are precious in His sight! It is our jobs to carefully look after His sheep!
In Him,
Susan Swanson

Matthew 18

Matthew 18 

18-- At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” 

It has been frequently said that it takes “special” people to work with individuals who have special needs. Although I agree that we each have different skill-sets that wire us to be experts with different talents and gifts, I will have to strongly disagree with the above statement. The apostle Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all means I might save some.” Paul was fully aware that all people have “special” needs. Therefore, it was necessary that he develop his skill-set with the assistance of The Holy Spirit and be all things to all people. Does that mean that we are to be a phony? Absolutely not! We are commanded by Jesus to fulfill the Great Commission. It would be impossible to be obedient to Christ and exclude anyone from the list of those we are to disciple. We are not acting “fake” by working on our knowledge and understanding of a people group with which we are unfamiliar. Relationships with all people take time. Understanding individuals with unique gifts and challenges also take time. 

I propose to you and me that the real ones with the “special needs” are us! Our need is to acquire the skills, plus supports, to minister to a different population of individuals that we may not be familiar with. Is it easy to minister to a unique people group? I answer that question with a statement that Jesus never said that discipleship was easy.  He requires us to step outside of our comfort zone or figurative boat and allow Him to guide us on an incredible journey to be “fishers of men!” The Great Commission mentions that we reach out to everyone. There is no special exemption for those that may be unfamiliar to us. 

I am encouraging each of us to pray for an open heart and an open mind to the new experience and opportunities to use us for His Kingdom! And whoever welcomes such an opportunity in His Name, welcomes Him!

How to Serve Those Requiring a Unique Shepherd Skill-set

It has been frequently said that it takes “special” people to work with individuals who have special needs. Although I agree that we each have different skill-sets that wire us to be experts with different talents and gifts, I will have to strongly disagree with the above statement. The apostle Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all means I might save some.”