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These are the scripture references from my talk on October 1:

All of Us, of Every Ability, Created for Good Works

Ephesians 2:1:9 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins – in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)

Exodus 4:11 Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? (ESV)

John 9:1-3 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 4:17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. . . (ESV)

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (ESV)

Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. (ESV)

1 Corinthians 12:21-22 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. . . (ESV)

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (ESV)

I’m sure The Wall Street Journal thought they were merely posting a cute story about unusual job interview strategies. But it says something profound about how much of the world views physical ability as the benchmark of our value as human beings.

Rexrode and Ng’s article, Thanks for the Job Application! Shall We Begin at the Bench Press, begins with an investment banker who endured an interview that included a run, pull-ups and burpees. It all ended well for him, “He made the cut, though. Mr. Harris is now chief financial officer of the food company, aptly named Health Warrior, Inc.”

There are plenty of jobs that require a certain level of physical fitness: police and emergency responders; members of the military; and the like. Of course we want those men and women to meet high standards for physical ability!

I doubt, though, that being a chief financial officer requires doing squats with the boss. Yet how else should we interpret his physical abilities helping him ‘make the cut’ for that job?

Even those without physical disabilities were put off, like the woman who wore high heels to her interview only to discover her potential boss turned it into an hour long ‘walking interview.’ It worked out for her as well; she decided she didn’t want to work for someone like that.

But imagine you have a moderate to severe mobility disability and have the eduction and experience that makes you a qualified applicant, possibly the best applicant. This boss clearly finds it acceptable to not warn candidates about his interview strategy. Does anyone really believe that he would also NOT hold a person’s disability against him or her?

At a time when technology is opening up many more jobs for people with physical disabilities, employers like the ones mentioned in the article are creating new artificial standards. Unspoken, of course, because those standards are against the law. Or maybe they are just ignorant of how they are ruled by their own biases.

And, ironically, it is against their best interests. Those unstated standards are more likely to result in a workplace made up entirely of people just like them, creating a workplace that becomes stagnant, insular and unresponsive over time.

Making people aware of the value and inherent dignity of people with disabilities isn’t the primary reason I bring my son to church, but it is one of the benefits he brings by his presence. Every week, my pastor opens God’s word and rightly points us to a sovereign, loving, just, merciful God. And every week that he’s there, a young man with multiple disabilities requires the people around him to acknowledge that the God of ‘all things’ of John 1:2 or Romans 8:28 and ‘his workmanship’ of Ephesians 2:10 includes Paul Knight. No mistake, no accident; sovereign design.

His isn’t a normal life, however that is defined, but it is a life God made. I’m glad to be part of a local body of believers who don’t just acknowledge his existence but embrace him as part of their community, who miss him when he isn’t there, and who give glory to God for his life. And that is accruing eternal rewards for the people of Bethlehem, unlike the unwise practices of a few business leaders who just don’t get it.

O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD. (Psalm 58:6 ESV)

I’ve read hundreds of books and can’t remember any that referenced Psalm 58:6. That is, until my most recent two fiction books!

Jewel

Jewel, by Bret Lott, tells the story of Jewel from the time she is a girl until nearing her death as an old lady. Beautifully written with rich, complex characters, it is especially moving when Brenda Kay, Jewel’s daughter with Down syndrome is introduced. Lott expertly explores the vast range of emotions and responses that Jewel and her family experience because of Brenda Kay’s disabilities. Both the seasons of sadness and moments of joy feel right and familiar.

Adding to the complexity of the relationships is how Lott deals with the language and mores of Mississippi in the 1930’s through 60’s. Lott does not avoid using the ugly language of the day for Black Americans or people with disabilities. But he also shows, in a brief but powerful scene, that when the stakes are high enough even the most ‘normal’ of language usage can change in an instant.

The reference to Psalm 58:6 comes near the end of the book in a dramatic encounter between two deeply hurting women.

One of the best written books I have ever read, it is for adults interested in engaging complex issues of race, class, marriage, and parenting through compelling people and circumstances. It was an Oprah Book Club Selection in 1999.

Outlaws of Time #2: The Song of Glory and Ghost

Outlaws of Time #2: The Song of Glory and Ghost by N.D. Wilson is the story of Sam, a boy who has been given unusual powers after the loss of his arms, and Glory, a girl with the ability to shift time. To share more would be to give away too much!

Written for an 8-12 year-old audience, I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I have all of Wilson’s work. Though not his best book (that would be Death by Living) nor his best series (that would be the unfinished Ashtown Burials series), Outlaws of Time #2 continues in Wilson’s colorful, imaginative, constant-motion story telling. His characters are courageous, intelligent, loving and loyal in the best sense of those words. The antagonists are evil and cunning and interesting. I’m always sorry when one of his stories is complete.

The reference to Psalm 58:6 also comes near the end in this book, again between two female characters. As Millie, Sam’s sister notes, “she knew she hadn’t quoted any of the old Scriptures even close to correctly. But this was war.”

And a great war it was.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 ESV)

Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11 ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

I’m looking forward to attending Children Desiring God’s National Conference this weekend: Persevering in the Whole Counsel of God.

Children Desiring God has included sessions on disability since their very first conference in 2005. So I’m possibly even more excited to get to meet the leaders of other church-based disability and special needs ministries while I’m there, including those from the host church, College Park Church in Indianapolis.

Please pray for those leading sessions and for those gathering from all over the country. The main sessions, including David Michael, Al Mohler and John Piper, will all be live streamed! You can find the schedule here.

The entire clip is great, but the best part starts at 3:07.

Thank you to Pastor David Zuleger of Sojourners Church for sending immediately after the Republican Presidential Debate. A helpful, encouraging reminder of what power actually looks like.

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