Ukraine says the Registering Jews news story was made up to create hype. Click on this link to read it.
We can't let this happen again. Jews are being required to register in Ukraine. Read Tim Fall's blog here.
USA Today is reporting it. Read that report here.
We cannot allow this to happen again to God's people. I don't know what we can do but we can protest online and we acn pray and then be open to what God leads us to do.
God have mercy.
We had our weekly student Bible group meeting today. And I will admit I was disappointed. Lately the kids just don't want to listen. I try different things and they work at times. Other times it doesn't seem anything is working.
I know the kids want to be there. And good things do happen, but it sure doesn't go the way I want it to go.
And as I thought about it all afterwards I thought about one of my favorite words -- fractal. I first learned of this word when reading it in a very popular novel.
The official definition of a fractal from The Free Dictionary is "A geometric pattern that is repeated at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry. Fractals are used especially in computer modeling of irregular patterns and structures in nature."
For us lay people it means that when looking close up something looks like a mess, but when you step back (sometimes a long way back) you can see the pattern.
A blogger named Michael says on his website, "I am reminded of how little we actually see of what God is up to in life. Often I see a dark mass in front of me, but if I could see everything, I would see that that dark mass is only a tiny black thread in a tremendous mosaic of color and form and meaning. God is a God of order. But He is also the God who knows the order in what we perceive as random, chaotic, hopeless."
So who knows -- the chaos we experience at our student Bible Group (which we call the Blunt Bible Club) might be some of the brightest spots in God's pattern of beauty He is creating.
See this pencil? It is the kind the artist in my home uses (no, not me). I want to give you a brief glance into his life.
I was sitting at my table drinking my incredibly tasting very black and very hot coffee (my favorite is Gevalia's French Roast Ground coffee) while reading my Bible and doing a study by Max Lucado called Experiencing the Heart of Jesus when I heard a thump, thump, thump.
In my house that means only one thing.
The artist, Pete, is coming down the stairs.
Now, his thump, thump, thump sounds a bit rushed (he sounds like he has a limp due to his spastic cerebral palsy). The door flies open. He steps down onto the floor and throws his pad of paper on the floor. His pencil (like the one above) sticks straight out of his mouth and he thumps, thumps, thumps to the toilet. I hear his sigh of relief.
He walks back out and I say to him, "You're funny."
He replies with the pencil still in his mouth, "I had to pee."
He bends down to pick up his paper and plops down beside me at the table and immediately begins drawing.
He's got a great style. Very distinctive. Very Pete.
I ask him if he would like a cup of coffee. He wants hot chocolate (which he already drank -- right now he is drawing me a bug).
I don't know what is in store for this young artist, but I know it's going to be good. That's a promise straight from God:
"I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope."
Yesterday was my daughter Maggie's birthday. She would have been 13. We had her favorite food -- spaghetti!
And we had a chocolate cake.
And we flew the fairy kite. We flew this kite last year on her birthday - -the first birthday she celebrated in heaven.
When someone dies who is a part of the family and who also was in your daily life that person continues to stay around daily in the hearts and minds of those who loved that person.
I don't want the rest of our April 7ths to be completely sad. Our Maggie is so happy in heaven. And one day we'll see her again.
If there is a hole in your life where someone or something used to be, find new traditions. They won't replace what you lost, but they can bring joy to you in a new way. And yes you may cry a bit, but you also may laugh and smile and run while flying a kite!
Jesus says, "Behold I am making all things new." Revelation 21:5b
I just couldn't get rid of it.
I thought I had at one time because I knew it was the right thing to do (and I think when I supposedly got rid of it I wrote about it on this blog).
Yes, I am talking about the sweater pictured on the left. It is my comfort sweater. It is the sweater I feel just right in.
And it's ugly. I know it. There are holes in it I've tried to patch. There are some extra seams. I don't know if it ever gets really clean when I wash it.
It doesn't look good, but I still like it.
I like the length of it. I like the color. I like how the sleeves go over my hands.
I really do try to only wear it at home. And I think I threw it away at one time --or at least I told myself I did, but then I found it in my drawer underneath some other clothes. I was happy when I found it! It was like finding a long-lost friend.
The back is even worse than the front. See the holes under the arms? See the pieces left over from a belt it once had that I didn't like?
It is awful.
If I could find one just as long and shaped just like this one I'd get rid of it. I really would. Of course it would have to be charcoal gray or chocolate brown to be deemed acceptable as a replacement.
Why am I telling you about my sweater?
I know you don't care. You shouldn't. It is just a dumb sweater, a sweater that will definitely make any outfit look awful.
It is just like what looms in front of me today -- something that I repeatedly come back to. The something that pricks at my mind telling me to worry and try to fix stuff and scramble for answers and panic (which always makes it worse).
It's like these feelings that want to take me over are an old ugly sweater I am used to. They look terrible on. They don't do anything for me. They make everything look worse -- even if the situation is sunny these kinds of yucky feelings will make the sun look gloomy.
If you want different results you have to think about things differently, look at situations differently and do different things!
Don't put on those old ugly reactions today. They are worse than an ugly sweater. A person can take off an ugly sweater at any time, but once we allow those bad feelings, those bad reactions, those gloom-and-doom outlooks to overtake us they knock us down flat and it takes awhile to take them off. Just don't let them in.
"you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:9b
"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward." Hebrews 10:35
Most Wednesdays during the school year I conduct BBC meetings after school. BBC, in our local area, stands for the Blunt Bible Club. The kids who attend range in age from 3 to 18. Usually the 18 year old is one of my helpers along with a lady friend from my church family.
I've been a Believer since March 6, 1988 and have grown to understand how important the Word of God is to our spiritual growth. It is also the only offensive spiritual weapon God has given us -- the Word will transform our minds (check out Romans 12:2 for that) in incredible ways. It will make our minds more creative, stronger, freer, more confident and more developed.
That being said, for some weird reason I am going to share the worksheet the kids and I will do today. And feel free to use it yourself if you want to. It isn't all we are doing. We are also going to make a paper "red carpet" made of drawings of coats and palm branches and then we'll shout "Hosanna in the highest." I hope you can see we are acting out Palm Sunday!
Here is the worksheet (I'll put the answers they need to fill in in a different color):
April 2, 2014
ON THE WAY TO JERUSALEM
“they set out for Jerusalem. (Jesus said to the 12), 'Listen to me carefully. We're on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and sholars. They will sentence him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Romans, who will mock and spit on him, give him the third degree, and kill him. After three days he will rise alive.'” Mark 10:32-34
1. Jesus knows what is going to happen, and He is not (RUNNING AWAY).
2. Matthew 21:1-5. Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a DONKEY.
3. The disciples laid their COATS on the donkey for JESUS to sit on.
4. The people threw their COATS and palm BRANCHES on the ground to
welcome Jesus – like we do with a red carpet for celebrities. They were happy to see Him!
5. They shouted “HOSANNA! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!
HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST!”
FIG TREE STORY
6. Draw 2 fig trees – a healthy one and a shriveled one:
KICKING TABLES DOWN STORY
7. Immediately on entering the TEMPLE Jesus KICKED
over the TABLES of the moneychangers and the dove sellers.
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations. You have made it a robbers' den.”
9. How did they make it into a robbers' den?
PARENT SIGNATURE: __________________________________________________________
(#s 8 and 9 are discussion questions.)
Don't rush it.
Easy to say.
Hard to do.
We see what we want. We see what we don't want. We worry. We fret. We try to guard against our fears.
We plan. We fortify. We scheme. We try to work it all out.
And then it goes a whole different way than we expected. And we're knocked off the path we thought was right.
"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1
Ah man, I look back on my life, the last ten years or so, and boy, I've made mistakes. I saw what I hoped for -- freelancing and working from home. And those are good things. There's nothing wrong with them. But a lot of what I tried was done out of fear or worry -- trying to figure out how to pay the bills.
And that isn't the way to go about anything -- out of fear or worry (same thing really).
We gotta approach life with faith and courage and strength and joy.
About 18 months ago I began a middle grade novel which I now call The Marvelous and Amazing Adventures of Ruthie and Marcie. My three kids -- Maggie, Pete and Megan -- would come home from school and want to hear the next chapter. So I'd oblige (plus it kept me writing. If I didn't have a chapter to read to them they weren't happy). We did this for a few months. They saw it completed too.
I began to think about submitting it to literary agents or publishers. I got it in the right format.
And then suddenly, Maggie died. And life changed. Big time.
Since then I've written different things, draw and painted. My youngest child, Megan, would ask about Ruthie and Marcie, and I'd tell her they were put away for a while. I did submit it to a few literary agents in the month or so after Maggie died, and I even got a bite, but my heart wasn't in it.
A few weeks ago Ruthie and Marcie popped their heads back up, asked me if I was ready to hang out with them again. Here they are:
Ruthie is the taller one. Marcie is the one with glasses.
So, I got them out again and reread their story.
It is good, really good. Whimsical and funny.
And I realized I didn't agree with what the literary agent said.
So, I'm submitting again. I changed a bit on it but not too much.
And I will keep submitting until the right publisher says yes.
It is the right time now.
Will it get published?
I believe so.
I have no idea.
But I'm submitting it because I know whoever finally picks it up will love it. And the kids who read it will be blessed big time.
We might have a bunch of things in our lives we want to happen. And that's great. But if that stuff we want to happen is keeping us from enjoying this moment we ought to look at it a bit closer. We can't get this moment back.
"'do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.'" Matthew 6:34a
"He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap." Ecclesiastes 11:4
The kingdom of heaven is like percolating coffee pot. What is put in and sown takes time. It takes waiting time for the results to be produced.
OK, that is my attempt at a modern parable, a modern analogy if you will for the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Matthew 13 Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to the tiniest of seeds that ends up becoming "Larger than (all) the garden plants" because it becomes a tree, a tree so large that birds make nests in it. And from what I think right now, I think the scripture might mean so high that predator birds like hawks and eagles make nests in it. That means it is REALLY tall.
And Jesus compares the Kingdom of Haven to leaven or yeast -- yeast looks like nothing much. It looks dead. The amount you use for a batch of bread is hardly a handful (not even). But as you wait expectantly, you see it work through all the dough and bring out life. You have to wait watching for if you forget it about it it won't work as you need it to work. You gotta do your part once it has worked its way through the dough.
And Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to one costly pearl found by a merchant who was seeking pearls. So instead of continuing his search for pearls, he sells all he has for the ONE pearl which he finds more valuable than anything else in his life. In fact, it also changes his life's mission. I don't know what the pearl merchant did once he had the one great pearl but it wasn't pearl hunting any longer.
And Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a huge dragnet cast into the sea. It is pulled onto the beach full of fish. And when it is full it is then sorted through to find the good and bad fish.
What do these have in common?
They look insignificant, worthless even in some instances; it all takes time and waiting and work to find the treasure. It takes resources. The last one is different than the rest for it is a different part of the the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus explains the angels will sort out the good and bad -- that means we don't have to. Just bring all the people in and share the Kingdom. God will deal with the hearts.
Sometimes we try to do church activities the way the world does things -- bigger and brighter and louder to make huge impacts. But this isn't how Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is grown. It is grown through beginning small, being faithful in planting those tiny seeds and giving them to grow. Having faith that what we do will make a great pot of coffee.
Small, tiny, little, quiet -- those are adjectives that describe the beginnings of God's work.
Don't despise small beginnings (that is found in the Old Testament -- I think in Ezekiel).
"One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn't belong
Can you tell which one is not like the others
By the time I finish this song?
Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which one just doesn't belong?"
Thank you Sesame Street for furnishing the theme song to the pictures I've pasted below:
Which one doesn't belong?
It depends on who you ask.
If you ask Pete, He would have said they ALL belong. He got a great idea (from his sister Megan) to kneel on all fours on a skateboard and let Megan push him on the ice.
Guess what happened?
He fell off and landed on his face. His nose bled and his cheek got all scratched up.
When they came into the house and told me the story I just shook my head.
Megan did it first, he says (which means so I thought I could do it too).
Megan is a very athletic 11 year old. Pete has cerebral palsy, balance issues, dexterity issues and big-time following issues (meaning he does whatever his little sister Megan tells him to do).
A few days pass.
The ice melts.
Megan drags a big sheet of plywood to the back of the house where there is a small hill. She puts the skateboard on the piece of wood and tells Pete to get on.
She gives him a push.
Guess what happened.
Pete lands on his face and lies in the mud like a slug and cries.
And Megan says, "I didn't push hard. I just lifted up the skateboard."
If Pete makes it to adulthood in one piece it will be miraculous.
The funny thing is if I don't hide that skateboard (or throw it away) they will do it again (and the same thing will happen).
We adults act just as brainless. We want things to change but we keep doing things the same way over and over because we convince ourselves eventually our way will work.
I wonder if God laughs, cries or just shakes His head?