Magic marker, indeed!

There are several children’s books that feature a child who draws with a pencil (or marker, or crayon) and things magically appear from what they draw. They are all enjoyable. Here are some that I’ve particularly liked.
AUTHOR Gilliland, Judith Heide.
TITLE Not in the house, Newton! / Judith Heide Gilliland ; illustrated
by Elizabeth Sayles.
NOTE Everything Newton draws with his magic red crayon becomes real,
and heeding his mother’s admonition he flies the airplane he
draws right out the window.
AUTHOR Johnson, Crockett, 1906-1975.
TITLE Harold and the purple crayon / by Crockett Johnson.
NOTE Harold goes for an adventurous walk in the moonlight with his
purple crayon.

AUTHOR McCarty, Peter.
TITLE Jeremy draws a monster / Peter McCarty.
NOTE A young boy who spends most of his time alone in his bedroom
makes new friends after the monster in his drawing becomes a
monstrous nuisance.

AUTHOR Collins, Ross.
TITLE Doodleday / by Ross Collins.
NOTE Despite his mother’s warning, young Harvey draws on Doodleday,
but when his drawings come to life in frightening ways, only
his mother can help.

“Dog Loves Drawing” by Louise Yates

“The Pencil” by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman

Aaron Becker’s series – Journey, Quest, and Return

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Words

I kept using the word “crazy” to define myself when I was with my spiritual director. She knows my history with bipolar disorder. She knows I hear from God. She, unlike my former minister, doesn’t freak out when I say that. She doesn’t like it however when I say I’m crazy. She thinks my difference is a gift. She thinks that God made me this way on purpose, that it isn’t an accident and it isn’t a handicap.

She asked me recently to ask Jesus what words he would use to describe me. When I did, instantly I got back these two words:

Anointed. Chosen.

My reaction to this? That again? You have to be talking to someone else. Nobody is going to believe me.

Then I think of Moses, arguing with God. He didn’t want it either. He kept trying to get out of it. Moses was one guy, untrained, with a speech impediment. God told him to go in front of the most powerful person in the world at the time and ask him to free thousands of people. God was asking him to liberate people from a tyrant.

With no army.
With no diplomatic skills.
With nothing, except the word of God.

God called to Moses from a burning bush. He didn’t send an angel. This was a bush on fire, yet it wasn’t being consumed by the fire. Sounds like a hallucination.

It all sounds crazy, right? Yet it happened. Why can’t something like that happen now? Why wouldn’t it? If we believe in an active and living God, then we have to believe that God still talks to people.

Why does God call amateurs? Why not call the experts? If God keeps working through the amateurs, why become an expert? What is the point of becoming ordained? If “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called” as is frequently said, then it means the call is more important than the preparation.

God made the waves part for the Israelites to escape from the Egyptians. God made water come from a rock when they were thirsty. God made bread for them too.

Blessed are you God, who makes bread come from the earth. This Jewish prayer said at every meal where bread is served. It is a reminder of the manna from heaven. It is a reminder that God provides for us all the time. We didn’t buy or bake that bread. God gave us the ability to buy it or bake it. God made the grain grow from the earth. Sure, somebody planted it. But God made it happen.

If by my faith I am healed as Jesus says throughout the Gospels to people, then I want to believe that God has called me. I want to believe that I’m not making this up. I want to believe that the voice I hear is God’s voice. I want to believe that it is real.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 4:4 that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God.

Now, Jesus is the bread of life, and the Word.

When my spiritual director tells me I am amazing and special, I think that she tells that to everyone she directs.

Sure I’m special. And different and unique. I stress that to everybody how special they are and that they should celebrate their uniqueness. And then I have a very hard time fully believing it myself.

Perhaps my hesitancy is part of it all. Perhaps God needs me to be certain of my call. It has taken me a lot to tell ministers of the call I first heard when I was 12. It took me a lot of self convincing before I even told a minister. I had to convince myself first. There were a lot of walls that had to be overcome in my own heart first.

Why not believe that Jesus has made a home in my heart? Why not believe that I am called to build a new church?

What is the danger of believing this?

Embarrassing the church. Leading people away from the truth. Having them be mislead. Like David Koresh. Like Jim Jones.

Going so far that I am discredited, that the message is not heard.

But, then I think, if the message is from God, it will get out. If it really is of God, it will happen.

I ask to not get in the way, and to be the way. It is both at the same time. God made me the way he made me because he needs me this way.

My diagnosis means I am mindful and careful. It means I ask for guidance and for oversight. It means also that I self limit. This is good and bad.

I’m still upset that the place I asked for training and oversight didn’t know how to handle me. But then again if I am to do something new, I can’t follow an old pattern.

New wine, old wineskin, and all that.

Ego

The world goes out of its way to bring you down. Don’t join them.

Many people will show modesty. They will refuse to say that they are good at what they do for fear of being seen as arrogant.

I take it another way. God made you special. For you to downgrade or diminish something that you are good at is to talk badly about God.

Be proud of who you are. Let your light shine.

When someone tries to bring you down, they are really just jealous of you. They think they have to bring your down to raise themselves up. There is also a good chance that this is how they were talked to as a child. Their parents taught them that this is how you talk to people. They taught them to only see the bad. They taught them that they were bad.

This is a teachable moment.

You have a chance of re-educating them. You can respond gently, with love, that you are not the dirt they think you are. They haven’t seen your flowers yet.

If you let someone treat you like dirt, you’ll start to believe it too.

Don’t let somebody knock you down, even if that somebody is yourself.

Translation

When I pray, it sometimes feels like I have to translate.

Sometimes I feel that when I reach out to the beyond it all comes back so fast that I have a hard time keeping up. Communing with the infinite requires an interface.

I feel like I have to translate what I experience into something I can share. I don’t do it right all the time. Sometimes I completely miss the mark and the images or words that I get are all jumbled.

Maybe it isn’t about sharing it or ever getting it perfect. Maybe it can’t ever be fully brought down. Maybe I’ll always lose something in the translation.

Maybe the point is to just show the way and tell others that there is more to just this world than what we see. May be the goal is just to be a conductor and not a guide. I’m here not really to help you get there, but to know that there exists. I’m not here to take you to my secret hiding place, because it isn’t secret.

You are just seeing a different corner of it.

The fact that I had to go in the back door doesn’t matter. You had to go in the window. Another had to go in the dog door. Another had to cut a hole in the roof.

But we all got there.

My way in isn’t the only way, or the best way. Sometimes it isn’t even the best way for me. However, the more I do it, the better it gets.

Can I get an Amen?

I just read a news report about a pastor in Arizona who says that women shouldn’t even say “Amen” in church. He’s using the words of Paul in the first book of Corinthians to justify this.

In 1 Cor. 14:34-35, Paul says “…34 the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but should be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, they should ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church meeting.”

Once again, we see an example of someone who is a Paulian and not a Christian. Once again we see a pastor who isn’t spreading the Gospel. Once again we read a news report about someone who is making it hard to identify as Christian.

We have to distinguish between the words of Paul and the words of Jesus if we say we are Christians. Paul’s words are diluted. Jesus’ words are distilled. Jesus’ words are the very essence of love. Paul’s, not so much. Paul’s words are filtered through a very human person, a product of his time. Jesus’ words are filtered through someone whose words transcend time itself.

We don’t worship Paul. So why do people take his words as the Gospel, or as truth?

Jesus came to bring heaven to earth, not to bring us hell.

All bad reports about bad pastors just obscure the stories about the good ones. It is bad witness. We are fed trash by the news agencies and mislead. Why can’t “news” be good news instead of all bad? I feel like I’m constantly having to do damage control.

I will not defend Christianity. But I will defend Christ. The two aren’t the same at all. They were meant to be, and for some people they are. For some people who live the Word and have Jesus in their hearts, the two are the same. But for many, they aren’t.

Jesus says – 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus says – 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

Jesus says – “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:1-8)

Jesus is love. We have to be too. If what someone who says they are Christian does isn’t loving, then they aren’t connected to the source of love, which is Jesus. Just because they say they are Christian doesn’t mean they are. Look at what they do.

ID badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!

I don’t get why people won’t get their ID changed. I see people who have the wrong address on their license all the time when I’m signing people up for their library cards.

ID without proper information on it isn’t ID. If you are in an accident and are badly hurt, how are the police going to notify your family? How does this ID help the shopkeeper verify the information on your check, or the librarian get into the correct account?

The worst example I’ve seen was when a lady had moved and gotten married. That had all happened three years prior and she hadn’t gotten anything changed. The only things that were right on her ID were her first name and her birth date. How is this identification?

In Tennessee, you have to notify the DMV within ten days of moving. You don’t have to get it changed on your license, but it makes it easier all around if you do. The fee ranges from 8 to 16 dollars to get a new license with your new address on it. Making time to do it is a little tricky, because the hours for the offices are the same as the hours most people work, but then again so are doctor’s offices and people seem to manage to make time to go there. It is also possible to do it online, so there really is no excuse not to do it.

One lady recently said “But I just moved here in November” It is March. This is fairly common. I’ve noticed that when people say “But I just…” then some not-really-good excuse is going to happen for why they think they are above the rules. “But I just…” really means “But I just think that I’m special and I don’t have to do this.”

People will say that they are waiting for their license to expire before they take care of it. If your license is going to expire within that calendar year you can do both at the same time. Either way – you still have to do it. The law doesn’t care about your convenience.

They have their checkbook and bills with them with the current address, but not their ID. So it is readily apparent what is important to them. Cable TV and cell phone service are going to win that battle. They’ve often gotten their car registered too, which is far more tedious.

I told one lady that if she got pulled over with the wrong information on her ID that she might have to go before a judge to get it worked out. She got indignant. She said “But I am a taxpayer!” I said “So is the judge.” This stumped her.

Being a taxpayer doesn’t entitle you to break the law. In fact, if you aren’t paying taxes, you are breaking the law. Being a taxpayer doesn’t mean anything. The rules apply to everybody equally. You aren’t above them because you are a taxpayer. That is insane.

Getting your ID current is just something you have to do as part of being an adult. It isn’t impossible, and it doesn’t take all day. Not doing it causes far more problems. Ideally, there would be self-service kiosks where people could take care of simple things like this in most government offices, like at the county clerk’s office. I know that they are working on that in my county. But, it can still be done online if it is a simple address change from within Tennessee.

It gets more complicated if you moved into Tennessee from another state. You have to provide a little more documentation, but it is all stuff that you should have anyway as an adult. This includes your birth certificate and Social Security card. None of it is a surprise – it is all spelled out on the Tennessee DMV website. I suspect that all states have similar requirements and similarly informative websites. So there really is no excuse for not getting it changed.

But then the chorus of “But I just…” is rising.