Saturday, May 17, 2014


                                  Handicaps come in all sizes and shapes

When I was younger, we used some words that were moderately harsh, but extremely accurate when used without prejudice. Take the word, "retarded," as an example. By definition the word is harmless; however, being slow mentally, physically or emotionally is a fact of life for many of us. You can be born this way, be made that way by an accident, by medication anomalies or street drugs, and by allowing your personal world convince you that you are different from everyone else. In today's world, we choose to ignore inflammatory and disparaging words like retarded, psychotic, stupid, touched, imbecile or moronic. The new "politically correct" word is HANDICAPPED and right behind that is CHALLENGED. I even sport a handicap placard in my car window!

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul, the writer, deals plainly with being handicapped or challenged. It is an emotional chapter, but you miss all the emotion if you only read the KJV version of this letter. Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, feels that his ministry is now being viewed by the church in Corinth as tainted, incomplete and in some cases thought to be less than accurate. You know that his feelings have been hurt, because he spends vs.1-6, reminding those in Corinth that he was brought to Jesus on the road to Damascus by none other than Jesus himself. In an effort to re-establish himself and, of course, tame his bruised ego, he resorts to reminding them of his past. We probably would do the same thing in a similar circumstance. Scripture in not clear on why there is controversy; however, it involved the 12 "true" apostles, who were thought to be extra special. All the times I have read this, I truly did not pick up on the fact that Paul carried a chip on his shoulder, because he was not an "original." Here are the original apostles commissioned by Jesus:
  1. Peter
  2. Andrew, the brother of Peter
  3. James
  4. John
  5. Philip
  6. Bartholomew
  7. Matthew
  8. Thomas
  9. James, the son of Alpheus
  10. Simon, the Zealot
  11. Judas, the son of James
  12. Judas Iscariot, the traitor to Jesus
These are the men that dropped everything to follow Jesus without question. They were far from perfect, and in fact, had many of same faults and sinful natures that you or I may have today. Peter for example was impulsive and emotional. One minute he was denying his savior and the next he was walking on water...These traits seem to fit many of us today, which makes the apostles examples that we can relate to on many levels.


Just like you and me, each of these original followers of Jesus was given a gift, even James, the Less. "Mikros" is an interesting dual meaning word from the Septuagint. It can mean youngest or smallest. If you string them together James was the youngest and the smallest. There was a time in my life when I was the youngest, but never the smallest!

                                            Look at the smile

All of us are aware of individual gifts, given to us by God...Some can preach, some can teach, some can write, and some, like Paul were uniquely saved, so that you could perform a specific function. Who better to evangelize other Jews, steeped in OT law and tradition? Remember he was Jewish in every way, until Jesus, himself, stopped him right in his tracks en route to Damascus.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul describes another type of gift from God, but not the ones that we would naturally call a "gift." These special gifts don't even feel or look like gifts. They feel to our selfish and sinful minds like punishment of the worse kind. Paul says clearly that it took him years to understand how gifts like, sickness, disease, death and other "challenges" along each of our paths are nothing but gifts from above from a loving, heavenly father who will use the loss of something or someone special to change ego into humility. Paul says that God knew exactly what would keep him faithful, and each challenge, large or small, was used by God to teach him, to mold him and even protect him from himself or the forces of evil. Paul says that he thanks God for all the good showered on him by God; however, knowing that God loves him enough to mete our punishment and challenges on a personal basis
to each of us, solidifies his faith in God. When he prays he thanks God for these, life lessons, without which he knows that he would be destined to stray.

                                                       No arms, painted with feet...

I suppose we thank God if we win the lottery, inherit money, grow a business, get that promotion you wanted, or the spouse that completes you. Try thanking God for losing your house, losing your job, staying unemployed for months on end. Try thanking God for having to have another hip replacement or knee replacement. Try thanking God for humiliation to reign in your ego, for financial problems that make you more fully trust him, not yourself or anything in this world. Try thanking God for your depression, your anxiety, and your hunger for all those things in this life that can give you temporary respite from the responsibility that comes with truly serving our Master, Jesus Christ. 

When you retire for the evening and communicate with your Creator, you will no doubt pray for your family, families in need, 
our troops overseas, and you will give thanks for the good things happening in your life. If your baby was spared, if you beat cancer, if you made a difference in someone's life by letting God's light shine through you, you will thank Him profusely...

                                      Thanks for my gifts, including my particular handicaps

Tonight try thanking this same Creator for either giving you or allowing you to experience anguish, fear, persecution and hatred. Recognize that everything that happens to God's children is part of a grand plan to nurture you along your path to righteousness. He allows you to be cold, so you will appreciate his warmth, and he allows you to walk in the rain, so that you appreciate his sun. He allows physical pain to make you stronger, he allows depression, so that you will seek him for the cure, and he allows anxiety to teach us all to trust in him, not ourselves.

All gifts from God are positive, you just might not have noticed some of them, just like my favorite writer, Paul.

The Digital Disciple 

                                                             THANK YOU, LORD!

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Hearing from you is certainly not a requirement. Consideration of what is researched and written is all I ask of anyone who stumbles upon my writings. I believe that my God will take it from there. With His help I try to separate fact from fiction, sense from nonsense, and ultimately clarity from chaos.


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