Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On preparing for heaven by Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter was a Puritan, 1615-1691, who wrote many books. "How to lead a heavenly life upon Earth" is part of The Saints Everlasting Rest. This section of praise is interesting and useful for preparing for heaven:
    Praising God is the work of angels and saints in heaven, and will be our own everlasting work; and if we were more in it now, we should be more like what we shall be then. As desire, faith and hope are of shorter continuance than love and joy, so also preaching, prayer, and ordinances, and all means for expressing and confirming our faith and hope, shall cease, when our triumphant expressions of love and joy shall abide for ever. The liveliest emblem of heaven that I know upon earth, is when the people of God, in the deep sense of his excellency and bounty, from hearts abounding with love and joy, join together, both in heart and voice, in the cheerful and melodious singing of his praises. These delights, like the testimony of the Spirit, witness themselves to be of God, and bring the evidences of their heavenly parentage along with them."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Do you hear what I hear?

This morning I was reading an article in Christianity Today (March 2010) about evangelizing the deaf, one video at a time. So I went on-line to look at the ministry started by David and Ruby Stecca, Deaf Video Communications (DVC). They began the ministry in their basement in 1983, and today have a broadcast quality studio with $300,000 of video equipment. They have produced almost 500 videos of Bible stories, sermons, dramas, and marriage counseling sessions as well as children's programing. The roots of this actually go back to a domestic dispute when David was a policeman and responded to a fight between deaf parents. He learned ASL and later left his job to begin this ministry.

Christianity began as The Word, spoken and written, but both leave many deaf without the gospel. What a wonderful use of modern technology.

DVC History

Also, yesterday I came across the website for Shepherd's College for the Developmentally Disabled. Here's another mission field right at home to reach a group most churches miss. Located in Wisconsin, it's a 3 year program focusing on life skills and two career paths, culinary arts and horticulture. This college is an outgrowth of a Sunday School class started over 50 years ago by Sheperd's Ministries.
    Shepherds Ministries has traditionally focused on a residential home for severely disabled adults. At a chapel service for these residents, audience members share something in common besides their various disabilities: age. The contrast between the fresh-faced, high-functioning students of Shepherds College, and the gray-haired, often severely disabled clients of Shepherds Ministries is crystal clear. Many of these residents have lived here for over 30 years, a legacy of a different era. Shepherds was built and expanded throughout the '50s, '60s, and '70s, a time when institutionalization was the national model. Children were labeled "retarded" and hidden away. In the '80s and '90s, the approach changed as parents more often kept their children at home. Special education programs in public schools helped make it possible for parents of developmentally disabled children to keep their families intact. As the population living at Shepherds grew older, new admissions slowed to a trickle. "Shepherds was guilty of trying to keep the old way intact," William Amstutz, President of Shepherds Ministries, said. "If we would have continued on as we were, we would have aged out." Shepherds College is perhaps the ultimate realization of the new goal of helping the developmentally disabled reach independence rather than institutionalization. Although it is located on the same property and run by Shepherds Ministries, the program is otherwise completely separate from the programs for the more severely disabled residents. It helps to fill a new gap in the social safety net, the transition between graduation from a high-school special education program to work and independent living.