Impact Church

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The Dream Finisher

Psalms 105:18(NLT) until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.

As a student of scripture and closet observer of the many expositors and expounders of them, perhaps no scriptural clause creates a veritable buffet of doctrine, theology, purpose, and understanding like this solitary, psalmic verse. Here, intertwined like the cords of a plaited rope – Creator, creation, and chaos run together – unraveling through life the strength, essence and purpose of each component and part.

Sandwiched strategically and voluminously between Abraham’s faith and Moses’ deliverance, stands a man who lived out extraordinary hope and inspiring perseverance. His place in the establishing of faith has implications and ripple effect throughout bible history, even to the salvific, eternal redemption of God’s chosen. And though few will ever be tested to the degree of severity in which Joseph’s faith was tested, be certain that all will be tested regarding the sincerity of their faith.

Like a porch light to the bugs at night, Joseph’s dream magnetized the envious naysayers of his day. When his ascending pedigree and posterity were openly declared among his brothers, invariably, relational chasms and beastly violence reached commonplace throughout his maturing years.

Though the path of Joseph’s dream and destination was interspersed with adversity and cruelty, the Author of his dream proved to be a far greater Finisher than all the desperate conspiracies and circumstances that sought to abort it.

For the dream, or prophetic words, that inspired Joseph’s life – words that propelled him, humbled him, protected him, and promoted him through numerous setbacks – outlived even him, as they contained words of foreknowledge regarding the inevitable formation of national Israel.

What some silently chafe at when trouble strikes is that there’s more at stake in trials than the mere wellbeing of the one tried. So that events that were ordained for Joseph to endure, in both Canaan and Egypt, were essential for Israel to be center stage in Messianic prophecy. For the coming of Christ and the creation of His redeemed Church were facilitated primarily on the shoulders of a bare few; a few that lived, not for themselves, but for the will of God.

Consider then the wisdom orchestrating the tumultuous years of Joseph’s rise to prominence. No one persists and pushes through difficulties as dark as those entertained by Joseph without possessing a faith that grasps something greater than themselves.

Surfacing quietly from the horrific rejections, accusations, injustices, neglect, wounding, dishonor, loneliness, imprisonment and separations Joseph experienced, four prominent truths arose:

  1. none of Joseph’s troubles were purposeless
  2. none resulted from his own improprieties
  3. none came without the allowances of God’s providence
  4. all things (even tribulations), worked together for his good!

To profit from life’s torrid trials, understand first that what’s valued greater than gold is the deeper faith and spiritual fruit that invariably flourishes, even when storms we experience are ratcheted to inexplicable levels.

While tempests of discouragement and turmoil of disappointment time and again ripped the external foliage from Joseph’s extraordinary dream, the character of a soon-to-be prince was being formed and deeply etched. As to integrity, the trustworthiness required in stewardship was groomed and proven dramatically in Potiphar’s house. And the leadership qualifications needed for the massive role he’d soon fill in Egypt were well satisfied through various other setbacks and testings.

How do we then engage the temptations and fiery trials that crop up in the path of every child of God? And what further purpose or benefit can the consuming fires of God provide us, even when we’re committed to Christ and obediently surrendering to His will?

Check out these three advisements when dreams are not fulfilled, and life doesn’t look anything like we thought it would:

— BE SURE—

  • Determine who and what’s unmovable, decide to be faithful, discern your true foe.
  • Focus on what transcends time; and the temporal things, even the troubles, find their effects lessened, either immediately or eventually.

— BE STILL—

  • Overcomers learn to rest more, not work more. More victories are won in prayer than on platforms and pulpits. Stay low and inside.
  • Only in patience do we review our priorities, and it’s then that we usually adjust and reduce them. And that’s ok. Be transformed.
  • The Holy Spirit is a better comforter than dancer. So receive comfort before we desire deliverance.

— BE SWEET—

  • To God. To oneself. To others. To antagonists.
  • It’s likely someone questioned your authenticity – so prove you, not them.
  • A rose doesn’t know that the suit to which it is pinned is actually worn by the grifter everyone despises. So be you. Do you. Be beautiful.
  • Rejoice in everything. I know, I don’t get it either, it sounds foolish. But He told us, so I’m on it. And if I’m going to grow in Him, I’ve got to believe Him in things I don’t like or understand.

And humorously, if a three-legged bar stool supports day after day the awkwardness of an overweight patron, surely these three practices can support a heavy heart overwhelmed by adversity and life’s unexpectedness.

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Love for Outsiders

“But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.'”Luke 10:5-9

Directly in the center of this evangelistic, apostolic narrative, just as Jesus is releasing and sending His followers to share His message with Gentiles for the first time, He introduces a theme that will become essential to the advancement of His Gospel. In the middle of explaining their authority over the enemy, commanding them to preach to sinners, and giving them power to heal the sick Jesus initiates the beginning declarations of a practice that seems inconsequential in this context but will become paramount to the fulfillment of His mission. This principle will become a place of refuge for Christians during persecution, a place of nourishment in times of famine, and a breeding ground for growth and increase. This principle is hospitality. As He sent them out to do His bidding, Jesus commanded them to stay in homes and eat meals with a “son of peace.”

If it were not for the remainder of the New Testament, it would be possible to skim past this instruction as unimportant or simply only necessary for this one occurrence. However as we read the Book of Acts and the Epistles to the early Church, it becomes glaringly clear that this practice was not background noise or peripheral to their mission, it was, in fact, foundational and indispensable.

The writer of Hebrews expounds upon these sentiments in verse 1 and 2 of chapter 13: “Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2 NASB) In Romans 12, as the Apostle Paul gives us practical function for how our lives should look as claimers of salvation, he says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Rom. 12:12–13). The Greek word for hospitality is “philozenia,” which comes from a compound of “love” and “strangers.” Otherwise stated, hospitality has its origin in the idea of welcoming and loving outsiders.

It is simple to understand the manifold advantage of gathering in this way with like-minded believers. However, I want to emphasize the importance of this principle as an asset in the Church’s evangelistic efforts. Increasingly, the most strategic turf on which to engage unbelievers with the good news of Jesus may be the turf of our own homes.

What if our homes were not just a place to dwell in or to reside? Not just a location to have bills sent to and a place to sleep? What if our homes were vital in the plan of God for the growth of His Kingdom in the earth? The New Testament announces that our living rooms can be sanctified. They can be sacred locations where the Holy Spirit ministers, serves, and draws mankind back to the Father. They can be strategic settings for welcoming and gathering unbelievers for the purpose of showing God’s love. They can be a breeding ground for enduring fruit and spiritual harvest.

My simple encouragement to the family of God is to create space in our living rooms and our lives to make converts and to make disciples. However, before you feel the need to get a microphone and stand on the street corner or seek ordination papers maybe what God is calling us to do is as fundamental as inviting friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family over to our house for dinner.

This may change the world.

Contentment

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever thecircumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”Philippians 4:11-13

Stomach bugs. Temper tantrums. All nighters. Hospital admissions. Potty training. Resident referee.

Motherhood isn’t always glamorous.

In fact there are days it’s just plain hard. And all the truthful, transparent mommas said, “Amen!” Paul says, however, in Philippians that he “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” Does this mean it is actually possible to be content in every season of our lives? Even the difficult ones? Is it possible to experience contentment even if our external circumstance is chaotic? Can we believe that motherhood is full of glory even when it isn’t glamorous? Could we dare to trust that God is at work in every detail of every day and that He wastes absolutely nothing?

My dear friends, contentment is ours for the taking. We can learn to access it daily. If Paul learned to be content from a prison cell then surely we can learn it while we are living in these glory-filled days of answered prayers. Many of us prayed for the days of marriage, motherhood, and ministry that we are living in right now. Therefore, let us refuse for the enemy to steal one inch of our beautiful, blessed ground. May the Lord not find us complaining and discontented. Let Him find us, instead, exceedingly thankful. He’s been so good to us.

That’s the key. He is good. Wildly, consistently, eternally GOOD.

Contentment has everything to do with what we know to be true about God and absolutely nothing to do with what is going on around us. Contentment, for a believer, begins inward and is independent of any external circumstance. We imagine that contentment is achievable only when our kids are obeying, the house is tidy, and our to-do list is checked off. But that’s a lieand I’m calling us up to clearer, higher, Kingdom-thinking. The Word tells us that contentment is all about Him and that He is our source of strength and joy. He is the ultimate, lasting refreshment we crave. This means we can be content on the ground our feet are planted on right this second. We don’t have to wait until another day to be content. We’re invited to experience it now.

This week, I pray, that we will be deeply satisfied with what we have and where we are. James1:17 says, “Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights.” Look around. Take inventory. He has lavished us with generous gifts and we have much to be thankful for. Let’s choose, therefore, to celebrate what we have and stop focusing on what we don’t. He is with us and He is working all things together for our good and His glory. What He starts He’ll finish and His goodness will be weaved through every line on every page of our story, amen!?

Spiritual Formation 101

You’re probably familiar with the Pareto Principle. In general, the principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. The takeaway is that it is most efficient to focus primarily on the few causes that make the greatest difference.

When it comes to discipleship, it turns out that a few behaviors make a disproportionate difference in our personal growth. In his book No Silver Bullets, Daniel Im summarizes the results of studies that analyze the effect of certain behaviors on spiritual maturity. Three practices consistently predict a higher score when it comes to measuring spiritual maturity.

Shockingly those three behaviors are amazingly elementary:

  1. Read the Bible
  2. Attend regular worship services
  3. Get connected with small classes or groups

In other words, if you want to grow, it’s important to read the Bible and to get involved in worship and community at a local church. Few things matter more than these in our personal spiritual maturity.

These findings even shape us as church leaders and pastors as we attempt to cut through the superfluous and the trendy to rightly encourage the congregation in their walk with Christ. If we want to help people grow, we must primarily encourage them to focus on reading Scripture and participating in the worship and community life of the Body of Christ.

Sometimes we look for new insights and approaches that will help people grow. I’m struck by how ordinary these key practices are. I’m also struck by how easy it is to underestimate them.

At Impact Church, we offer many opportunities to grow and increase in our relationship with Christ. However, our foundational strategy for the individual maturity of the members in our stewardship is to insist upon the faithful reading of God’s Word, regular attendance in corporate worship, and consistent involvement in biblical community.

Never underestimate or neglect the basics. Our spiritual growth is dependent on them!

Revival of Fatherhood

Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

It’s convenient for the gatekeepers of a social group to blame internal turbulence or embarrassing foolishness on its rowdy and rascally children.

Some of their common platitudes may slip out this way:

“I can’t believe kids these days; they got no respect for nothing and nobody!”
“I don’t know if there’s any hope left for this bunch of snotty-nosed brats!”
“I know one thing, if I’d done that (or said that) to my daddy, I couldn’t a sit down for a month of Sundays!”

But remarks of such triteness contribute no more than knee jerk reactions to systemic issues, issues for which few have time, energy, nor a redemptive strategy. In a nut shell, whatever seems to be wrong with the structure of a family, community, culture, or even the Church, the fault seems to inextricably shift to those unruly, unchecked, ungovernable, “kids”!

Ah, but there’s those pesky little scriptures!

For if not for scripture, we’d shove those young ‘uns behavioral issues right back on themselves, and piously place society’s burden on the soft shoulders of the “pimply faced”, “ain’t even shaving yet”, “still wet behind the ears”, that awkward-stage, know-it-all demographic – those rebellious little preteens and adolescents!

But slow down, stop, and reread this beautifully corrective, prophetic Malachi text. Before there’s any showdown with juveniles and their delinquency (a contagion that’s both easy to observe and even easier to critique), consider Malachi’s emphatic as He speaks first to the heart of the fathers. In Holy Spirit shorthand: “hey, address the head, and the body will work fine”.

Progenitorial and paternal, fathers are designed to lead, protect, provide, and bear responsibility for a family’s wellbeing. Numerous studies reveal (as though we needed statistics to prove what scripture and prior centuries of experience prove), that a direct correlation exists between diligent fatherhood and the relational health of family, community, and church.

Given the sacred heaviness of a father’s influence and presence within the family structure, a hearty return to such a mentality would provide immeasurable results. It is wise, worthy and clear, that the original paternal design was and will continue to bring glory to the Creator when faithfully adopted.

So consider, even in the throes of present relational and social angst, the generations that will ultimately arise triumphant from today’s generation of faithful fathers – fathers that sow daily in the rich soil of commitment, compassion, discipline, love and physical presence!

So what can today’s fathers do to ensure tomorrow’s families are fulfilled and edifying?

Will today’s dads follow in the dark shadows of previous fathers that lived selfishly, randomly, and without purpose?

Will this generation of fathers live wasted, void of investment in the generations to come?

What can today’s dads do to exercise their divine influence in seeing their wives and children enjoying life, and their Creator honored and glorified?

Here are a few random points for fathers, and since they’ll require more of our hearts than our wallets, why not jump on them!

1) Love the mother of your children, your wife! The kids will know!
2) Be playfully affectionate! They love it, and they’ll never forget it!
3) Be physically present- at meal times, bedtime, and game time!
4) Pray with them about everything – they believe better than we do!
5) Make nature a veritable classroom – hikes, oceans, flowers, dogs!
6) Make the Bible the most honored piece of literature ever penned.
7) Build that sandbox – it’s more fulfilling than cartoons and games!
8) Show them compassion through injured pets or elderly grandparents.
9) Cultivate a love for reading – words, knowledge, and critical thinking matters!
10) Make church attendance a thing of joy – they’ll perceive your authenticity, and in time believe your God!

The day that precedes the great Day of the Lord will experience a holy return to honor and respect among fathers and families – a renewal of such proportion the world will only marvel and admire. If that is to be, and it will be according to prophecy, then why should we not be part of that glorious appearing of Christ, even as it begins in the families of those who believe?

Happy Father’s Day, Impact Church!

Eyes Wide Open

“And Elisha prayed, Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17

In a few days my daughter will dance on stage at The Carolina Theatre for the first time. She’s anticipated recital weekend since she first started dancing ten months ago. With this special event finally here, she has been talking about it nonstop. Just the other day she was sharing who she hoped would attend, where she’d like her pictures taken, and how she prefers for her hair to look. Smack in the middle of her many recital thoughts the following truth bubbled up from her heart and fell out of her mouth. “I don’t have to be scared on the stage because Jesus will be right there with me.” It pricked my heart. She didn’t pause for me to confirm if it was so. There was no question mark or shred of doubt in her words. It was simply a confident proclamation about what she believes to be true.

Faith looks like a four-year-old believing Jesus will be with her even if she can’t see him.

In 2 Kings 6 the King of Aram sends a huge army to find the prophet Elisha. Once they find him they surround the city where he is staying. Upon waking up the following morning, Elisha’s servant sees the army surrounding them and is terrified. Elisha assures him in verse 16 that, “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” He then prays for the servant’s eyes to be opened so that he can see. Immediately the Lord opens the servant’s eyes and he sees “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire.”

Hebrews 11 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” We won’t always see, with our natural eyes, what we believe. In fact, our close proximity to our problems can often limit our ability to see supernaturally. Yet this remains – God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He’ll do. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not so.

In 1 Timothy 6:12 we are instructed to “fight the good fight of faith.” So we know, up front, it will sometimes be a fight. Rest assured, however, it’s a fixed fight and our victory is secure. We are God’s possession, purchased with the blood of Christ, full of the Holy Spirit and armed with knowledge about how this story ends. Our hope is alive and well because He is. So when we are facing something difficult and faith doesn’t come naturally, I admonish us to war for it. May we ask the Lord to open our eyes so that we may see Him at work.

We refuse to back down or give up. Read the rest of this entry »

Eagles Soar

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Few Old Testament books are quoted in the New Testament as often as Isaiah, and chapter 40 is uniquely recognized. That repository of prophetic insights depict the day when the irremovable, irremediable burdens of mankind would be unilaterally disposed of by the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

And for grace to reign thru Christ as the prophet declared it would be, any and all confidence in natural strength had to unequivocally be exposed as inept and futile. The preeminent powers and strengths heretofore trusted had to be dethroned and crushed.

And, boy, oh boy, did Isaiah take that assignment to heart!

Verse after verse, the Holy Spirit disrobed the self-righteousness of the religious proud! Line after line the haughtiness of natural thinking was condemned! Powerful nations and entrenched kingdoms were made insignificant in light of the coming King! No worldly wisdom, no governmental system, no multitude of people, and no idol would be able to compete or compare with the coming kingdom!

This coming King would have no rival, and the inhabitants of earth would soon have a Leader worthy of eternal love and trust. For this Burden-bearer would shoulder the heavy penalty of humanity’s sin, and through His death and resurrection free those perpetually enslaved and hopelessly imprisoned.

Such was Isaiah’s perspective that there’d soon be a people unwearied of mortality, unshackled from fear, and unbounded by perplexing circumstances! There’d soon be a people sustained freely by an unseen hand; and there’d soon be a people held, guided, and protected by the very God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!

Thus, the eagle was used by the prophet to demonstrate the way of the Spirit regarding today’s believer. To the nescient and unschooled, the eagle is admired for what is visible: his vision, wing span, impressively heavy physique, and his inimitable strength of talons and beak. But to the erudite and spiritual, what’s added to the eagle’s physicality is his unseen, but undeniably necessary, acuteness and sensitivity to wind currents and rising warm air thermals.

Boast in the eagle’s measurements and crushing strength if you’d like, but without the “elevator” currents of the thermals, that eagle would have a very short life span! It’s the eagle’s uncanny adeptness at recognizing wind currents that the eagle is able to soar at all.

Beating the air with his extraordinary wings is not the eagle’s strong suit; for he wasn’t created to soar to the heavens on his strength, but to soar with outstretched wings through the strength of One who makes the wind to blow. And from creation, it’s from superior heights that eagles build its nests and spies out its prey, as its very life is sustained only by ascending high above the elements of earth.

Maybe we all should take a breather from stressing ourselves about God’s expectations of us – and even more so, those highly visible images of culture and the many self-imposed goals that condemn us.

Maybe this is the moment we begin to rest in the One who called us, knowing that He who began a good work in us, well, He’ll be able to finish what He started!

Maybe today we take to heart once and for all the words of Jesus, “for without me you can do nothing”! And from those words learn to lean on His everlasting arms in everything!

And maybe we could glean from Pastor Jason’s sermon yesterday (if you haven’t gotten the recent messages of Jude, you should!), and soar now as if we were already there – “Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”

Building Homes

“A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1

This week, as I was studying the Word, the above verse leapt off the page. It’s always exciting when a verse you’ve read many times before comes alive as the Holy Spirit breathes fresh revelation over it! Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the Word of God is alive and active” and goodness is it true. When we open His Word He is faithful to show up and speak to His sons and daughters, amen? We know that we possess the power to build our homes or tear them down; Proverbs 14:1 says so. The only question remaining, then, is this – will we use our God-given authority to build or demolish?

If we desire to be a home-builder, I’ve concluded, there are several important things we get to do.

  1. We speak life knowing that, “the tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)

A home-builder takes every opportunity to use their words in a way that brings life to those they possess influence over. We know full well that the quality of life in our homes will be due, to some degree, by the words we choose to speak. Therefore, as ambassadors of God, we intentionally wield our words to bring peace, joy, and hope to those around us. Proverbs 12:25 reminds us that, “A life-giving word of encouragement can do wonders to restore joy to the heart.”

  1. We passionately pursue God knowing that relationship with Him positively impacts our ability to build.

Jesus was in the business of building up. He was never too busy to stop and supply the needs of those around Him. He seized everyday by speaking life, teaching valuable Kingdom truths, extending healing, and lavishly loving. When we hang around someone long enough we begin speaking, thinking, and responding similarly. In the same way, the more time we spend with God, the more He refines us. As a result, we begin to walk out, in agreement, our identity in Him as light bearers. Through Him we, too, are home-builders! He calls, qualifies, and equips us for the job.

  1. We study and pray the Word of God knowing it is our primary offensive weapon.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Prayer changes things. Our prayers for our spouse, children, and loved ones have the power to stop the enemy dead in his tracks. It’s a tool that can win battles, supply strength, and provide protection. Therefore, let’s use what God has given us to claim victories in Jesus’ name!

  1. We establish a culture of praise knowing God is worthy.

We get to set the thermostat in our homes. 1 Chronicles 16:29 says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.” Praise sets the focus where it rightfully belongs; on God. Through praise, the temperature of our homes can be God-honoring.

I am praying perseverance over us as we continue building our homes on the unshakable rock that is Jesus Christ. Proverbs 14:26 promises, “Confidence and strength flood the hearts of the lovers of God who live in awe of Him, and their devotion provides their children with a place of shelter and security.” Remember, our building is not just for us, it’s also for every generation still to come. Keep going, we’re doing  a good and important work!

Autism “Action” Month

The month of April at Impact Church is special! If you were in Worship this morning then you saw everyone wearing blue in honor of Autism Awareness Month. For those who have been connected with Impact for a while, our support and ministry to children with Autism is commonplace. However, for those who are not familiar with Impact, I would like to articulate why we feel so compelled and called to serve these children and their families.

The following is a letter written by a mother of a child with Autism. Although, many of us may not know her personally, her sentiments are shared by over 900 families in Greensboro. These are stories that Sarah Althoff, Kay Davis, and Norma McLamb heard almost every day in the public school system. The reality is that believing families were looking for a place to worship but were unable to because of the church’s inability to accommodate the needs of their children. We became “aware” of the problem. However, we began to feel God’s stirring to not just be aware but to be active participants in the solution.

Excerpt from Autism and The Church by Amy Fenton Lee:

Have you ever heard of a church that turned away a little boy because he had red hair? What if a mother was greeted at the children’s ministry check-in with news her redheaded son had to go back home? No, you can’t imagine. If any church ever sent home a child because of their natural hair color it would make the evening news!

Now, have you ever heard of a church that turned away a little boy because he was on the autism spectrum? What if a mother was greeted at church check-in with the news that her son with autism couldn’t be accommodated? Yes, you can imagine. It happens.

Did you know that the percentage of Americans with red hair is roughly equal to the percentage of 8-year-old boys diagnosed with autism? I think it’s fair to say that statistically speaking, a children’s ministry should have the same number of participating boys with autism as with red hair. That’s pretty sobering. People would go nuts (justifiably) if families of redheaded kids had to figure out which churches were “redhead friendly”. The reality is that this same scenario is happening now for families of kids with autism. While many churches are working to become special needs-friendly, there is room for improvement.

Recently a church leader said to me, “We just don’t have any kids with significant special needs in our church. We haven’t seen the need to create a ministry or think about doing anything special to accommodate students with disabilities.”

In the church world, we’re at a fork in the road. Up to now, it’s been an accepted norm that not all churches could or should accommodate kids with autism and other special needs. Realistically, churches cannot all accommodate these needs to the same degree. But times are changing. It is no longer acceptable for any church to be unaware of and unprepared to welcome families with special needs. Every church needs a plan for inclusion.

These real-life experiences led Impact to consider what we could do to help and in that searching we found a calling that has given us immeasurably more than we have given it. As of now, Impact Church has certified teachers at every worship service that provide individual and appropriate instruction and care for children with Autism. On Sunday mornings, we have a time of worship and music specifically for children with special needs. Furthermore, we have a 4 week Impact Autism Summer Camp, culminating in the Autism Extravaganza (a big block party, outdoor celebration) that is providing acceptance, love, and resources for hundreds of children in our area. Lastly, we have also founded Impact Journey School, a private school for children with special needs. We currently serve 30 children with 14 staff members including ABA curriculum, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and music therapy. Praise the Lord! We are thankful for the heart of the church that makes these events and ministries possible.

Lastly, as thankful as we are for all that we have been able to do, we are willing and desiring to learn and expand as we see needs increase. Therefore, if you have any ideas as to how we can better serve children with Autism and their families please let us know. We want to be a part of the solution!

How Much More

Luke 11:13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

A freshly-baptized disciple, flush with shameless joy and first-day-on-the-job zeal, popped the question bible teachers relish most – “Hey guys, now that I’m saved… what’s next? Where do we go from here?”

And from that childlike inquiry we sat around a bare table that night immersed, fascinated, and turned on: searching scripture, probing, testifying, teaching, encouraging… and praying!

We noticed it was prayer that intrigued the disciples to ask Jesus – “teach us to pray as John taught his disciples”. And it was from that Luke 11 exchange that Jesus spoke of prayer as ultimate access: a privileged connection to power drawn from the grace-provided relationship of earthly children and their Heavenly Father.

Rhetorically perhaps, but quite pointed nonetheless, Jesus challenged His disciples with logic:

  • Do dads give their children a bowl of rocks after they’ve asked for bread?
  • Or is there a relationship between dad and child so evil, that when requesting fish for lunch the child is given a serpent?
  • Or is there a dad so abusive that the eggs the child asks for breakfast is substituted for a dangerous scorpion?

No, of course not! There’s a natural, loving, caring concern for those we bring into the world! And there’s a committed, compassionate regard for those who depend on us for their survival! Parents have an inherent, preferential association with children that has no rival or equal; and that protective oversight flows freely from the perfect bond of love, a far greater caretaker than the oppressive bondage of mere duty.

Thus, in affirming parental affinity as something commonly expected and nothing beyond what any parent would do, Jesus advanced the natural concept and made the case spiritually for those who would believe on His Name.

If our earthly fathers (dads that have shortcomings, disposition shifts, forgetfulness, errors in judgment, etc), freely and gladly satisfy the basic needs of a child because of a father’s natural love – can we not unquestionably trust our Heavenly Father to give us any, and everything, we need? Is not our Heavenly Father love, itself; a Father birthing us after His own will and Word; a Father beyond error, and a Father who supplies needs from the limitlessness of His own creativity and power? Is not the answer to such questions an absolute, unashamed, did-you-hear-me-clearly, YES! YES! And YES!

Consequently, it’s upon this single, simple, time-honored precept of prayer that a believer’s days on earth are providentially safeguarded.

There is nothing lacking, to those who ask.
There is nothing lost, to those who seek.
There is nothing locked, to those who knock.
Whatever things we desire, when we pray, believe that we receive them, and we will have them!

So to the young man still dripping from his Jordan River experience, to the mature disciple serving faithfully in anticipation of the Lord’s return – faith filled prayers lifted to the Father determines the quality of the believer’s earthy, mortal existence.

Do not earthly fathers address their toddler’s late night fears when he hears strange sounds… especially when they’re under his bed? Yes! How much more then does our Heavenly Father assuage fears eliciting from our troubled, violent, and discordant world!

Do not earthly fathers encourage children to rise and redo, especially after that first bike ride results in an inglorious face plant? Yes! How much more then does our Heavenly Father comfort and instill fresh confidence after our “didn’t go as planned” endeavors!

Think then, of the many scenarios where earthly dads would be welcomed and needed, and from there you can count even more so of our Heavenly Father’s presence!

So, through prayer, let us include the Father’s presence and power in every facet of life, whether in the mundane or in the spectacular.

Petition Him for assurance.

Request of Him wisdom.

Call on Him in trouble.

Persist with Him when He seems unhearing.

Bug Him when you’re uncertain and doubtful.

Cry out to Him when you’re sinking.

Talk to Him when you’re lonely.

Thank Him when He listens. And He does.

Worship Him when you don’t understand.

Praise Him when you do.

Above all, pray.

All the time.

In every way.

At every intersection.

And on the open highway.

Just pray.

Just do it.

And, HOW MUCH MORE will He be everything we need… or desire!