A Reflection from a Father with Special Needs Children

Written by Jeremy Davis, Director of Student Ministry

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

The Davis Family

My wife, Tara, and I were sitting in the ultrasound room awaiting the results of our weekly ultrasound for our little girl who has a rare chromosome disorder. My phone buzzes, and it is Pastor Dave asking Tara and I to share a brief reflection on having special needs children. He wanted us to examine Psalm 139:13-16 and share our experience with other special needs families. As we’re awaiting the results to be read by the Maternal Fetal Medicine Doctor I begin reading out loud Psalm 139. We’re in the same room where many of expecting parents have heard devastating news about their child(ren), potentially news that their child would only have a few life-breaths before passing into eternity, news that their child will have a very challenging life ahead of them, news that no parent wants to hear of their child(ren) on the way. Does Psalm 139 change in these cases? Not one bit, in fact, as I’ve always thought long before having special needs children of my own, special needs individuals teach us so much about God.

God’s Word does not change when our circumstances do; 1 Peter 1:25 tells us that the Word of the Lord endures forever. These children, from the world’s perspective, are a mistake, an error in genetic coding, a mutation, a whoopsie, but from God’s perspective, these are wonderfully and fearfully made image bearers of God. This means they have incredible value in the eyes of God.

Being a special needs parent is tough, and there are often difficult questions to process through. The most common question that has rattled through my mind has been “Why? Why is this happening? Why would God allow this? Why? Why? Why?” These are natural questions to ask, and I’m thankful the Scriptures help answer these difficult questions. In John 9:1-3, the disciples observe a young man (at least 12 years of age) who was born blind. The natural question of that time was, “Who sinned to cause this man’s blindness?” Jesus reveals an important truth for every special needs family; Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The rest of the chapter unfolds with a beautiful narrative of how this man’s blindness displayed the works of God. Understanding this text changed everything for me. Instead of asking God, “Why have You done this?” I’m thanking God for the opportunity to see His works displayed in my children. I can share a multitude of ways that Elias’ life has made a lasting impression on others and how our unborn daughter has touched others; the works of God have already been displayed in their young lives.

We’ve established two truths thus far- special needs children are not a mistake, not a whoopsie. They are precious image bearers of God. We have also established that a child’s special needs give you a front row seat to watch the mighty works of God. With these two truths in mind, here’s an awesome encouragement for you all, which is one of the most profound things anyone has said to me. “Jeremy, you’ve been given an incredible gift. God has found you and Tara worthy to raise one of His precious children.” These words were from my previous youth pastor after sharing the news of Elias’ diagnosis. I praise the Lord for this truth. Instead of looking at this journey as a daunting, difficult task, I now have the freedom to see it as a precious gift, as I get to steward two of the most precious image bearers of God.

To my other brothers and sisters raising these blessings, God has found you worthy to raise His sweetest creations. What an awesome calling. What a weighty calling. These precious children are fearfully and wonderfully made; they are masterpieces created by God, knit together by His hand. You are not alone as you shepherd and disciple your children. You have your church family journeying alongside of you. More importantly, you have Christ. Always remember the promise Jesus made to His followers, “I am with you always, to the end of the Age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Your Brother In Christ,

Jeremy Davis

Reflections on Black History Month

As Black History Month comes to a close, guest contributor, Joan Bennett, Leader of Grace Point’s Ethnic Awareness Team, shares some thoughts with us regarding a biblical response to Black History.


The month of February is designated as Black History Month and is a time when people (Christians and non-Christians) across the country reflect on the many ways in which people of African descent have affected, shaped and influenced our culture and our world. The contributions (small and large) of Africans/Black Americans have been numerous and varied, influencing all our literature, music, entertainment, sciences, medicine, politics, economy and church history. Without a doubt these great accomplishments are to be celebrated, given proper credit and respected.

Black History is woven into the history of our country. Black History is woven into the history of the Church. Black History is biblical history. Black History is all our history.

As Dr. King so famously said, “…all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

After all, God made us all the same. In Genesis 1:27 we read, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” This truth is foundational. God created all human beings in His image. Gender, skin color and other physical differences do not change that reality.

In God’s eyes, all are equal. Acts 10:34-35 says, “God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right.”

God does not favor one person or group over another. He acknowledges the diversity of His creation, while showing grace equally. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to follow this example. Anything short of this, is a violation and disregard of God’s desire for His diverse creation.

“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Acts 17:26

“Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me.” Song of Solomon 1:6

And so, this February, Black History Month, let us together reflect, remember, honor the black men and women who have affected, shaped and influenced our culture, our church, and our country.

~ Joan Bennett, Leader of Grace Point’s Ethnic Awareness Team

Happy New Year 2019!

Dear Grace Point family,

Happy New Year! As we turn the calendar and begin 2019, I’m excited to celebrate with you some highlights of God’s work among us in 2018, and also look forward with expectation to the months ahead!

img_5552We start by celebrating 16 baptisms in 2018, including one special Sunday when we saw eight people take this step of faith! I am thrilled to see this number increase dramatically over the last few years: three in 2016, and five in 2017. To God be the glory for the way He is stirring in hearts and changing lives!

Praise the Lord for great participation in One Winter Night (including so many of you who volunteered to make it happen) and our Christmas Eve services! We know of at least one family whose first time at Grace Point was One Winter Night, and they have returned on Sundays in December. Let’s continue to pray for long-term life change as a result of the amazing outreach at OWN.

turn-on-the-tapAnother celebration from this past Advent season is the amazing movement of generosity among our church family, following our Advent Conspiracy study on “spending less and giving more,” and what a response! We set out with a goal to provide two wells (costing $10,000 each) to villages without clean water, and you responded so incredibly, we FAR EXCEEDED that expectation! We will give more specifics soon, after the year’s finances have been closed out, but for now I’ll say that we at least doubled our goal!  Let’s pray that these wells meet both physical and spiritual needs, as Samaritan’s Purse does this ministry in the name of Jesus.

I also want to take this opportunity on behalf of the staff to thank those who contributed to the staff Christmas gift – we are truly humbled and grateful to serve here!

Before leaving the topic of generosity, we can also celebrate that we finished 2018 in the black, as our General Fund giving has caught up to budgeted need. This positions us for some very exciting ministry in the year to come:

A dedicated FOCUS Team under the direction of Catalyst President Ellen Livingood and our Pastor of Missions Steve Weir will be examining our outreach strategy and working to flesh out what it looks like to “build bridges for life change through Christ” both locally and globally. If you are not part of our GP Prayer Team, please email vision@gracepointpa.org to be part of our 21 Days of Prayer for GP FOCUS, which begins Monday, January 7.

gp central logoOur staff is devoting new energy to our strategy of “creating a culture of belonging” as we read a book together called Fusion by Nelson Searcy. As part of our efforts we are upgrading our database, which will allow more personal and robust follow up with our guests. It will also facilitate better communication among our church family, including our Groups, which are the heartbeat of our connections with one another.

Toward that goal of improved communication, our pastors want to offer a new forum for conversation, “Coffee with the Pastors,” to give you the opportunity to share any constructive feedback or new ideas for our consideration. The inaugural conversation will be on January 27 (the day after the next business meeting) – you can choose to participate at either 1pm or 7pm in A5-6. The pastors look forward to talking with you about what’s on your mind.

I could go on, but you have your own New Year projects to tackle. Praying that God bears much fruit through us together, for HIS glory, in 2019!

In Christ,

Dave

Marriage Matters: Self-Worth vs. God-Worth

People wrestle with knowing, feeling, and accepting who they are. This goes back to the “fall of man” in Genesis.

The world’s definition of self-worth is based on performance and what you think about it. This basic concept leads to four FALSE BELIEFS:

  1. I must meet certain standards in order to feel OK about myself. (Fear of Failure)
  2. I must have the approval of others in order to feel OK about myself. (Fear of Rejection)
  3. Those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve punishment. (Fear of Condemnation)
  4. I am what I am; I cannot change; I am hopeless. (Fear of Hopelessness)

God’s definition of self-worth is based on what God’s truth says, not performance or what others say. It is who we are in the context of our relationship with Christ.

“…the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

God’s solution to the fear of failure is the doctrine of justification. Because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, we are complete in Him and fully pleasing.

God’s solution to the fear of rejection is the doctrine of reconciliation. Because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, He has reconciled us back to the Father. He has bridged the gap and we are, therefore, approved by God.

God’s solution to the fear of condemnation is the doctrine of propitiation. At the cross, Jesus took all Satan’s accusations and decrees against us and nailed them to the cross. Because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, we are deeply loved and completely forgiven.

God’s solution to the fear of hopelessness is the doctrine of regeneration. Because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, we have been made brand new and complete in Him. With Christ, we are able to make the changes necessary to live a life of faith and joy.

This Easter season ask God to help you write a new life story, while allowing Him to be the Author and Perfecter of your faith.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Staying the course

Think Back…You can never remember a time like this, can you? Turbulent, unsettled times…terrorism…political upheaval…the shredding of the moral fabric of our society…countless shifts in policies and programs and cultural fads. It can get scary.

So what is our posture? To lament, “God, take me home and get me out of this mess!” No, our deportment should rather be to stay the course, to fulfill our God-given mission: to help more people become fully committed followers of Jesus.

Why? Because this is the unwavering message brought to us in the pages of Scripture again and again:

Noah was called on to do something that seemed foolish—if not impossible—and he was mocked for it. Yet he stayed the course—and saved the human race.

Moses spent 40 years in the desert, caring for sheep, and 40 more years leading rebellious Israelites. Yet God gave him strength to stay the course—and he delivered the Israelites from 400 years of slavery.

Joseph was wrongly accused, nearly killed, imprisoned, but he stayed the course—and saved Israel from the devastating famine.

David was pursued within inches of losing his life, more than once. The king, whom he served, tried to kill him. Yet he stayed the course—and became the greatest king of Israel’s history.

Look at Jesus’ own life. He felt pressure. He groaned. He was troubled by the world. Yet he could say, in John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

Stay the course. God speaks that same message to this generation.

We do not need to live in fear, no matter what the latest news cable might say. God knows what is happening and He knows what He is doing. And you are here for His purposes, not your own. So, stay the course.