IMPACT! – Raising Deaf Sons
This video testimonial describes the challenges of raising deaf children in the church and details how Deaf 316 Ministries has impacted their family.
This video testimonial describes the challenges of raising deaf children in the church and details how Deaf 316 Ministries has impacted their family.
Learn about Jacob’s struggle to live in a hearing world and how God’s blessing of sign language impacted him.
In this race we run called life, we turn to many things to fulfill our “needs.” Often what we ignore is what we need the most, Jesus. We fixate on material distractions and forget our Heavenly Father, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. We forget Jesus sits patiently, waiting for us to respond to His desire for communication with us. While we seek out desires of the flesh, we come up empty and run ourselves ragged. We reach for things that do not satisfy, then despair is created and Satan takes the reigns. We are ashamed to turn to our Father in Heaven because we feel unworthy. I have news for you, you are unworthy. I am unworthy. Our sin creates a barrier between us and God and without remedy, we will succumb to it and be apart from God.
Regardless of what sins we commit, ignoring God leads to the shame we experience when we finally realize we must return to Him.
Think about your childhood when you did something you knew your parents would not approve of. Maybe you lied, maybe you yelled at them, maybe you broke the rules because you thought you could get away with it. When one or both of your parents confronted you with their disapproval and/or punishment, how did you feel? Maybe your parent(s) directed you to your room to contemplate your actions, to later return after letting you “think about what you did.” They may have hugged you with loving words to remind you everything would be ok. How did you feel after that? I can remember multiple occasions in which I disobeyed as a child and even as an adult. I recall groveling back to my parents with my head hung low apologizing and often crying tears of shame. Every single time this happened, I can vividly see how my mother or father would take me in their arms, hug me, tell me they loved me and offer their forgiveness.
As children of God, no matter what age, because of our human sin nature, we will always do things which are sinful. Sometimes its accidental, sometimes on purpose, but a truly saved soul will always feel the pain we cause to our Father. Sometimes it’s identified sooner, other times we fester in our sin and later come to terms with our actions. Again, as a child we are so undeserving of forgiveness, but God Himself has extended something called grace. He wraps us up in His arms, embraces us and tells us He loves us. The grace of God is something I will never understand. How can a perfect God love me so much? Why would He choose too? Remember God sent Jesus and Jesus willingly died for us, because the love of His Father was so overwhelming He could not say no. We do not have to understand it, only accept.
Now I realize there are some of you out there who maybe did not grow up with loving parents, two parents or even any parents. I will not discount your experience and I do not know your situation or how you have struggled in your life with parental figures. I do know this, your earthly parents were chosen for you, but they do NOT define you. More importantly, they do not define who your Heavenly Father is. I am praying healing over you. I know with certainty I cannot understand what you may have experienced and your struggles are not ignored. Jesus is perfect. PERIOD. End of story. He loves you, He chose you, He died for you. HE IS ENOUGH.
How do we make Him enough in our own life?
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 if we are tired and weary, we need only to come to him and He will give us rest.
Jesus also says in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us.
The most important advice I can share about this, is time. Spending time with Jesus every day is crucial. How do you have a relationship with your husband, wife, mother, father, best friend or even your dog? You spend time with them right? How do we grow a relationship with Jesus? Time. Set aside time every day to talk to Him. Figure out what that looks like for you. You can sit and journal, you can extol Him with praises, sing/sign songs, memorize scripture and pray. These are all ways to get closer to God. Start off with 15 mins a day. It does not have to be in the morning, or right before bed. Life gets busy, but set aside time every day to talk to Jesus. Find a spot in your house to be your spot with God. Maybe it is on the couch, in your backyard or a park. Make sure it is a place you will frequent every day and pass by every day. Sit comfortably. Turn off your phone, computer and have your bible with you. Tell God whatever is on your mind and ask Him to teach you. Be still, quiet and wait for Him to guide you on what that looks like for you in those moments. There is no structured way to spend time with God. How I do it might look different for me than it will look for you. God knows your heart and will meet you wherever you are. God also REJOICES over the time you spend with Him and loves to be with you.
Jesus is enough. He will never be enough if we keep Him on the shelf behind our dusty books and pull Him out when we “need” something. Let Jesus be your friend and when all else fails in life, remember HE cares. Do not buy into the lies of the enemy. JESUS CARES FOR YOU. Think about those four words and thank Him for all He has done for you.
I am guilty of selfishness and at times not making much of Jesus. Making changes in our selfish habits can be tough, but if I can do it anyone can. Jesus will always be enough, but you have to take the first step.
1 John 2:15-17
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
Sin is an all-consuming evil. The all-inclusive list of each individual’s sins, as well as the sins of the entire human race pierce the heart of our Lord. They are innumerable. The main problem with sin, is once it sneaks into our lives, those who Follow Christ do not take it serious enough to terminate it. Any pitfall leading to sin can cause a believer’s thoughts to be minimized to the severity of their decision. Justification of clear disobedience to purity is often viewed as “not that serious,” or “God will forgive me.”
God will always forgive sin if your heart is sincere and desires change, but God will not tolerant being used. Living in such a way to promote purity is not only following in obedience to God’s design for your life, it frees you from past, present and future bondage. Only because of Jesus do we possess freedom to give over the weight of sin within the timespan of life. When I feel the temptation to sin, I remember Matthew 12:36, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” When my life is over, I will stand face to face with God and be reminded of everything I did while on earth, both evil and beneficial. If there is any hope for His reprimands to be minimized, I must display intentionality every day of my life to think before I speak and act. Not with my mind, but with God’s wisdom I only obtain through a relationship with Him.
Starting in verse 15 of the passage from 1 John 2, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Everyone gets distracted at times and desires possessions and success. The problem is, worldly desires leave you only feeling empty, beginning a cycle of lifelong dissatisfaction. When you want and get, you always want more. The encouragement is knowing the same is true of Christ. The more we get of Him, the more we want and He can always give us more. The distinct difference is HE Satisfies. He will never leave us empty. If your desires are focused on all this world can offer you, when it fades you will have nothing. You will only be left with an eternal death without Jesus. If you find yourself at any point getting distracted with shifty yearning eyes, it is time to ask God for help to refocus. Verse 17, “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” A comfort to know obedience in Christ and reliance on Him to remove sin, means a lifelong meaningful exemplary Christ like existence.
2 Peter 1:10 states, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” It is not complicated, but it is a serious decision. Who do you want to follow; the world or Christ? You cannot follow both. Those who chose Christ must be all the more diligent as Paul says, by developing a deep bond with Christ. When the world entices you, you will be wiser to its schemes and less likely to fall into a black hole of impulse.
Our story today focuses on another powerful biblical human testimony, Jonah. God told Jonah to “arise and go to Nineveh.” The city of Nineveh was not a pleasant place. It is said to be the location of modern day Iraq. Not pleasant before, not pleasant now. We know Jonah feared whatever was currently taking place there because instead of being obedient to God’s command, he ran the opposite direction, optimistic God would change His mind. It says in the first chapter of Jonah he, “rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” (Jonah 1:3).
After getting on a boat to flee to Tarshish from Joppa, God caused a great storm to disrupt Jonah’s journey. If you are familiar with geography, think of the distance equivalent to that of modern day Israel to Spain. Quite the journey across the Mediterranean Sea.
“Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.”
Jonah fell asleep maybe hoping to be forgotten. After being woken up by the captain of the ship, Jonah recognizes the storm is God’s way of communicating responsible for the calamity befalling those onboard. He acknowledges his disobedience and it becomes apparent that God isn’t going to find someone else.
“So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.”
Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and he stayed in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. Certainly this allowed Jonah time to think upon his actions. Eventually he felt exceedingly remorseful for dishonoring God. In chapter two he speaks beautiful words to God and ends with the proclamation, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:10). God accepts Jonah’s cry of repentance and allows the fish to vomit Jonah up onto dry land.
God told Jonah a second time to go preach to the people of Nineveh and this time Jonah obeyed. After a long journey to walk there, Jonah told the people God would destroy them if they continued sinning. The people became afraid began fasting, asking God to forgive them. The people of Nineveh turned away from their evil deeds and God decided not to destroy the inhabitants of the city which exceeded 120,000.
The irony of Jonah’s story is all the while we read it, we shake our heads in disbelief of how in his “stupidity” he ignores God, yet we are all the same. We all run away from God. Sometimes in obvious ways, God says, “Become a Missionary,” or “DON’T DO THAT,” you say, “It’s too scary,” “I’m not smart enough” or my personal favorite, “I know what I’m doing.” Certainly if we knew what we were doing, God wouldn’t be telling us to do things differently. Sometimes His voice is more subtle, “Pray for that woman,” “Invite your neighbor to church,” “Buy that homeless man food.” We ignore the voice of God far too frequently. We fear others may perceive us as weird, dumb or even completely reject us. Ultimately you have to ask yourself, “Who’s opinion is important?” We will all stand before God once day and answer for every single thing we did or didn’t do. Don’t dwell on missed opportunities from the past, use those disobedient experiences as motivation to listen and act the next time God tosses you a line. Ask for those opportunities and He will deliver. Imagine God in front of you in those moments and ignore the confused stares or weird looks from those around you. You might even be surprised at the positive responses you receive from people when approaching them as God’s hands and feet. His voice will give you courage and His words will come to mind.
“Do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
With a willing heart, say yes to God and let Him use you in might ways.
It is a common spiritual emotion to feel inadequate, the feeling we as Christians get, that we will never be good enough to be used by God. Although this is a natural human feeling, it is not biblical or from God our Father in any way. It is important for us to recognize those thoughts and feelings when they surface, but it is even more important to note if we are willing and obedient, God can use anyone to accomplish anything. There are many extraordinary examples of ordinary people in the bible God used for mighty Kingdom works. I bet these people never thought themselves worthy of grace or even cared to have it, but God cares for the path of every sinner.
One of the most notorious of all Christian haters was a man we know by the name of Saul. In Acts 9, we are introduced to Saul, a ruthless Pharisee and a malicious persecutor of Christians. His task was to seek out those following Jesus Christ, put them on trial in hopes to convict them of Christ following and be sentenced to death. Think of him in modern day terms as what we would call, a terrorist. Hopefully this gives you a clear image to describe the magnitude of how vile he was.
Acts 9: 1-2
“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
Saul did not fear religious leaders. He sought out the support of the High Priest to be granted permission to seek followers of Jesus, so they could be brought back to Jerusalem to face the ultimate penalty for it, death.
God knew that Saul was doing everything in his own human power to thwart His righteous plans. God could have let Satan continue to influence Saul’s actions, but instead of condemning him, He saved then used him.
Acts 9: 3-9
“Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “SAUL, SAUL, WHY ARE YOU PERSECUTING ME?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I AM JESUS, WHOM YOU ARE PERSECUTING. BUT RISE AND ENTER THE CITY, AND YOU WILL BE TOLD WHAT YOU ARE TO DO.”
After this miraculous event, God gave Saul specific instructions. Saul was led by his men since the light from heaven had caused him temporary blindness. It wasn’t until finding Annias, the man God told Saul to go to, that his sight was restored. The Lord also tells Saul part of this life change is the sufferings he is set to endure for the Lord’s namesake. At once, we see how Saul has changed.
“And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon his name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.”
Before Saul’s blinding conversion on the road to Damascus, he wasn’t worried about God having the final say in his life. Saul was doing what he thought profitable, condemning to death all who believed in Christ, yet we see how God had mercy on him. Saul was given a new name after his conversion, Paul. This man went on to do much and suffer much for the sake of His and Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Paul wrote 13 of the 27 New Testament books and they are filled with boldness, conviction and unwavering passion for His life’s purpose and challenging others to live with that same intensity for Christ.
It reminds me that no matter the decisions I have made that may have strayed me from the hand of God, I was never out of His reach. It also reminds me of the excitement and obvious change others should see in my life because of my faith in Christ and decision to follow Him. I pray that after learning Paul’s story, you feel encouraged to stop fighting God. Regardless of the sins you have committed, God has already provided you with a way out. Your excuses are futile and they cannot measure up to the love Jesus has already bestowed upon you. You have two choices; reject Him or proclaim Him. Either way, God has already won the battle over your sins by dying on the cross.
The most powerful story you can share is your own. I can tell you story after story about the many hero’s of the bible, how they triumphed and failed, but there is something very empowering in how God shapes us through our testimony. People have argued for centuries about the interpretations of biblical stories, but no one can argue with your own life story. You experienced it, you have been changed by it, you have the responsibility to share it.
My name is Lindsey and like many people, I grew up in the church. My siblings and I were involved in children’s church, AWANA’s and the youth group. At home my dad led us in evening family devotionals and both my parents stressed the importance of scripture memorization. I was very lucky to have godly parents whom both love the LORD. Their example helped me understand the importance in following Him. God’s ultimate plan for me was to become His child and at the age of six, I stood in our kitchen and told my mother and father I wanted to accept Jesus. I remember praying a prayer of salvation and being very excited to become saved. My mind was flooded with questions, but I knew for certain Jesus was MY Savior. I continued to live happily as a little girl, but a few short years later life radically changed.
As Followers of Jesus Christ, we must recognize Satan is real and note as a believer he has no authority over you. When we are saved from the perils of darkness, out of the Enemy’s control, Satan cringes in terror. Before we are saved, we live in sin often oblivious to Satans schemes, but after salvation through faith in Christ, Satan begins to fear. He does everything in his power to pull us off the path of righteousness and convince us to love the path of wickedness. If we are not ready, we will start following his army, even if we are saved and have good intentions. The way of the world is wicked and easily entices us. Around the age of 9, I began to feel unsettled in my heart. I was being bullied at school by a few girls I had considered good friends with for several years. I would pretend their words didn’t bother me, but my parents noticed a significant change. I started lashing out in fits of anger and being hostile towards them. I threatened them and desired to harm myself. Inside I knew something was going on, but I didn’t know how to stop it. Although I was saved from the dominion of darkness, there was still a fight waging against my soul. I could tangibly feel that war swirling inside of me. Satan was furious and wanted me to give up My Jesus.
The bullying didn’t stop, these “ friends” of mine spoke ugly words about my appearance leading me to harm myself in the less noticeable way I thought. I developed an eating disorder called Anorexia. Most young girls who develop this eating disorder are between the ages of 15-24. I was 11. Many of them die from the disorder or struggle with it in some way mentally their whole lives. I would refuse to eat for days on end, sometimes just a bite here or there. I was required to sit with the school nurse everyday during lunch so she could monitor my eating. My parents sought counsel for me from a professional. As I think back to everyone who did what they could to help me, I can recall one distinct constant, kindness. My mothers patience, my teachers love, the nurse’s encouragement, the counselor who helped me conquer many fears, I am thankful God showed himself in all those women and thankful He never gave up on me. He also showed up in a profound way through the one man I loved most, my father.
One particular session with my counselor closed with advice she gave my parents. She told them about a movie on airing on tv that night she recommended we watch. My parents sat with me that night and we all watched together. The story followed two friends both who developed eating disorders, one willingly got help while she watched her friend who refused help die. It terrified me. My Heavenly Father gave my earthly father the most stern, harsh, but loving words I think I could ever remember. He told me I had only two options; either get better or die. I couldn’t bear what I was doing to my family any longer. My loving fathers stern words pierced me deep and I began a path to change. I recovered and fully regained my health after a two year battle with the disorder. Although I am grateful God spared me and granted full recovery to my health, I sadly coasted through much of my teen life, giving God recognition here and there, but not fully understanding the weight of what it meant to live for Him.
After college, I moved away from my family and started my first job in a city about 45 minutes from home. The year started off fine, but shortly afterward I was miserable. One thing after another plagued my life; a sexual harassment claim i had to file against a teacher I worked with, broken relationships and suppressed emotions from my childhood were finally catching up with me. I felt empty, worthless and very angry with God. I refused church, I refused the bible and I refused wisdom from others. Months passed and the anger I was harboring spewed out onto those around me. I hated everything. One Saturday morning, I was sitting at the desk in my room of my apartment I shared with three other non-believers. Alone, I began mulling over things I hated. The list seemed endless when without warning I began to cry. I wept silently for several minutes before I understood why. God was telling me it was time to surrender. I ran from God for so long because I was convinced I was too far gone to be loved by Him. His words filled my mind and I realized, I was loved just as much when I wanted nothing to do with Him. Even when my feelings of anger and hate were directed at Him, His unfailing love never changed. God never gave up on me. My strength and love for Jesus was renewed and I desired to live for Him in a way I never had before.
My life is not perfect. I still have days in which my strength in the Lord is stronger than others.
I don’t wish to imagine the current state of my life without Jesus. I am exceedingly thankful for His love on the cross and His personal love I get to encounter with Him as my friend. The love of Jesus can melt even the hardest hearts and wash clean the darkest and dirtiest of sins. There is no life without Him and eternity is a long time to be separated from love beyond measure.
My Life Verse,
Isaiah 40: 28-31
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not fait or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to Him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
If you are already a believer, I would encourage you to do two things. 1). Ask Him for a life verse. Its a powerful thing to have the Lord give you a specific word you can cling to in your life. 2). Write your testimony. I am thankful for the ability to refer back to my experience to continually rejoice in how the Lord has shaped me. It also gives me clarity and confidence in my own life to connect with someone going through the same thing or allow God to use my story as a way to speak truth into another life.
Maybe you are like I was and your anger or bitterness has kept you far away from God. Don’t allow the enemy to deceive you any longer with guilt that you will never be good enough to love. Jesus loves you just as you are; dirty, broken and empty. He desires for you to surrender all you are by taking the weight of your burdens so you can walk closer than a brother with Him. It’s time for a new start and that time is now.