The Mustard Seed

Matthew 13:31-32 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

31 He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. 3It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

Praying at the Church of Lazarus

The mustard seed is the smallest seed, yet it is mentioned in the Bible five times. Small things matter in the kingdom of God. Though the seed is small, once it is planted in fertile soil it can sprout within five to ten days. Life is like the mustard seed; we all start small and, depending on how we are nurtured, we grow in the right direction.

The Altar

I had my first encounter with mustard seeds in the small town of Bethany. The Church of Lazarus, located behind Jerusalem stone walls, is a real life sanctuary from chaos of Bethany now know as Al-Eizariya. Once you get through the gate, you must pass through a beautiful garden with lush flowers, and a meandering pathway to reach the main church. This church, like most Catholic Churches in the Holy Land, is run by the Franciscans. The number of Catholics in this parish has dwindled to less than 20 families in this mostly Muslim community.

When we arrived the priest was preparing for Easter Sunday service. He was not expecting a large crowd, yet the church was being adorned with white linens and white lilies on the altar. We prayed and sang a few hymns. The acoustics in this small church even made my flat voice sound angelic bouncing off the interior walls of this sanctuary.  Though I have been to this church many times, my eyes never fail to gaze at the beautiful mosaics; even while praying, I do not want to miss their awe-inspiring allure.  The altar is made of eilat stone, a deep green with blue hues, makes it the focal point of the tabernacle. This particular stone can only be found in Solomon’s mine. The pews are ordinary hard wood that creek loudly when you move. Only a small part of the Byzantine floor remains of the original church.

Steps down to the tomb
Father Leonard exiting the tomb
Me figuring out how to crawl out of the tomb
Robert, Danny, me, and Jim

After we finished our petitions we headed outside the iron gates to get to Lazarus’ tomb. You cannot help but notice the mosque built almost directly on top of Lazarus’ Tomb.

Waiting at the entrance to the tomb was kind Arab man charging 3 shekels to enter the holy site. Going down the steps this time seemed a lot steeper and more claustrophobic. I held on to the walls and some guard railing to guide my footing, but I was still uneasy because the twenty-four steps are irregular, some shorter and some more narrow; even the opening to the tomb seemed smaller. I was with three men from our ministry, and they found it amusing that I had to talk my way into the tomb. When we reached the sacred site, we prayed. We prayed for those who needed to believe God for the impossible. When it was time to leave, I had to really psych myself on how to crawl out of the tomb.

I always feel the presence of God after praying at holy sites, and this was no exception. Just a few feet outside the tomb we saw a mature mustard tree located on private property. There is always someone there to greet us and to sell us some mustard seeds. This is the only place that I know of in the Holy Land where you can conveniently purchase mustard seeds, and depending on who is selling them, they could cost between two to four dollars. I always make it a point to purchase these biblical seeds.

In order to use the mustard seed it must be crushed; it has a bitter taste. The Word of the Lord has a bitter taste to those who do not believe. The Lord is telling  us that even if our faith is as small as a grain of mustard seed, He will take care of our concerns. God can use that small faith that you have to move mountains. God does not measure your faith, nor does He  compare your faith to other’s. He just wants you to have faith so that He can complete the work in you.

We are all called, and each of us has special gifts. God did not leave anyone out when He bestowed His gifts.

the actual size of mustard seed

Look at those around you and you will recognize their gifts. My husband Mike’s greatest gift is servanthood; he cannot help but take care of those he loves, and he does this with great humility. I don’t have that gift, but I do understand my gifts and the calling God has chosen for me. As much as I would like to have a great voice, I do not because this is not one of my gifts. I love to teach the Word of God, which entails a lot of study, and with study comes discipline. I must manage my time in order to fulfill my calling. I teach three different groups, and it would be so helpful if I could use the same lesson plan for all three groups, but that is not how God would have it. Each of these classes has students who are at different levels of faith and understanding.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; 10 to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

The mustard seed may seem small and insignificant to the world, but to God it is a tool for us to live by. Even a little faith can grow into big belief. When I taught Bible study in the public schools through “Release Time Christian Education, ” I would always tape a seed to the childrens’ Bibles to remind them to have faith. It did not matter if their faith was as small as a grain of mustard seed because God was going to cause it to grow.

 

 

Ben Sira 6:14 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) 14 Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever
Mike, St. Louis Cathedral Jackson Square New Orleans 1 John 4:1
Ephesians 5:11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) 11 Take no part in the fruitless works
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First Day of School Wake Up Call

Sonja 2nd grade and Mikos 5th grade

Matthew 18:10 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.

I remember the first days of school for my kids. School clothes, new shoes, new backpacks, etc. Throughout all their years, I only have one picture because  we could never find the camera, and  it was probably out of film anyway. Things have changed; along with a kiss good-bye comes a prayer for their safety.

We invested in a good set of encyclopedias because that’s how our kids did their research.  Life was easier because we worked to gain knowledge; it was not immediately available at our fingertips. When you did not understand the meaning of a word, you would looked up in a dictionary. Reports for school were done with a pen, and in written cursive, or sometimes, they were typed.  If your writing was too illegible, the entire paper had to be rewritten, or sometimes, if it was a just a small mistake, you could use whiteout. The word “delete” was not in our vocabulary. When Mikos was a senior, and Sonja a freshman in high school, we finally purchased an Apple computer. The dated printer was a dot matrix device, but this was a great advancement for our small family.

I never joined the PTA because I was still a little too liberal; I thought it was some type of conspiracy to brainwash parents into a groupthink. I was indifferent about the PTA, and believed it was not for me. Today I thank God for these groups of caring parents looking out for the interests of our children. Now I attend school board meetings to support parents who are making sure that my grandchildren’s minds are not altered with the new sex laws.

My kids, like most children of their generation, learned about the birds and the bees in the playground of their junior high and elementary schools. As parents it was our job to mold the convoluted, misguided information of their peers into what was moral and right in the eyes of God. The school provided guidelines for parents, but they were simple and direct, never intrusive.

Did you know that in the Anaheim School District teachers can no longer refer to students as boys or girls? Because these words are considered non-inclusive, all children are now referred to as students or scholars. Due to the infiltration of the diabolical work of Satan, these new sex education laws are passed so fast no one has time to investigate the changes. A $5,000,000 contract for implementing the Health Framework is being used to train the teacher to indoctrinate the students to comply with these new sex education laws. As soon as AB-493 is passed, these laws will be mandated by all school districts. Parents’ rights are being stripped away, and soon our children, both boys and girls, will be under the control of the government. The reality is here, this is not a practice drill! This has worked so well in the colleges  that now this group, which has Planned Parenthood written all over it, is going further to poison the minds of the elementary school boys and girls to think like them.

I can recall  that when my daughter was in high school, several of her friends were put on the birth control pill with their parents’ consent, because of health issues.  I did not agree with their decisions, but at least their parents were allowed to make these choices for their children. With the new laws, everything is left up to the children; parents are excluded because they will “interfere” with what’s best for their kids. Any school-age girl can go to Plannned Parenthood for birth control and even get an abortion without the consent of either parent. Are we living in a communist country where our opinions are kept in secret for fear of the surveillance of Big Brother? How did this get so out of control?

I can only offer what I, as a God-fearing person, believe. We as a country have been brainwashed into believing that everything has to be done in a nanosecond; the legislators in Sacramento are rushing to get these laws enacted, without regard for the future danger to the students. Do not teach your children/grandchildren that they are boys and girls because the new sex education laws mandated to be taught in the public schools are going confuse their gender identity. They are too young to be exposed to this biased propaganda. We are already dealing with the reality of the school shootings that are happening all around us. Fear is in the hearts of all parents because of these killings. Now this invisible smoke coming through the locked doors of the schools is meant to kill their spirits. These perverse lessons, which have nothing to do with education, are meant to justify the beliefs of the LGBT community.

Part of this lesson plan is to teach children that anal sex is safe as long as a condom is used. This is from the Centers for Disease Control fact sheet on condoms: However, condom use cannot provide absolute protection against any STD. The most reliable ways to avoid transmission of STDs are to abstain from sexual activity, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. None of these new laws  recommends abstaining from sex as a way to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

As parents we can change the direction of this fast-moving agenda by getting involved. If you are a parent, ask your child’s teacher what sex education materials are  being used in the classroom. It is your right to know. Talk to your principal about your concerns, and call your school board members. Remember that they are elected officials and are accountable to represent parents in a just manner. Educate yourself on all the indoctrination that is quickly making its way through the back doors of your schools. Look up AB-329 and investigate for yourself what the mostly Democrat legislators in Sacramento are trying to do to boys and girls. Do not sit back and think that it’s going to go away on its own, because it would be your biggest mistake. Remember, we are accountable to God ,not man.

Teach them at home about love and acceptance. Teach them the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity. The Fruits of  the Spirit are God’s instruction on how to live in this imperfect world. It starts with love, and love can move mountains of hatred. After you have mastered love comes joy. Joy is a feeling of peace, even in turmoil. Peace is what makes us accept things that we cannot change but receive in love. Patience enables us to tolerate suffering and problems without becoming angry or anxious. Kindness is being considerate and having an understanding of those who have different beliefs. Generosity is giving from your heart to help others. Gentleness enables us to understand the position  of others without judging. Faithfulness is always believing that God will prevail in all circumstances. Modesty requires you to be sensitive to the feeling and needs or others. Self-control is exercising caution in the way you speak and deal with others.. The last one is chastity, remaining pious in both body and spirit. Do not allow the world to distort these Biblical truths.

I cannot, and will not, force anyone to believe what I believe. Only God can change our hearts. Pass all the laws you may, but consider that those of us who know better will never accept these teachings because they are contrary to the Word of God.

Mark 9:42 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Temptations to Sin. 42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

 

Ben Sira 6:14 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) 14 Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever
Mike, St. Louis Cathedral Jackson Square New Orleans 1 John 4:1
Ephesians 5:11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) 11 Take no part in the fruitless works
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Tired of Seeing Homeless People?

Deuteronomy 15:7 New King James Version (NKJV)

Generosity to the Poor

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother,

Walmart Pots and Pans

I have a special calling to serve the homeless. The first time I felt this calling was when our family took a trip to San Francisco in the mid 80’s. With little know-how, I gathered tooth brushes, toothpaste, soap, and other basic essentials. I made 15 small bags with a Bible verse, and put them in my suitcase. I did not share this with anyone in my family.

We traveled to San Francisco on an annual basis to celebrate my birthday, and to go school-clothes shopping, so I always used a larger sized luggage. While we were all getting ready for dinner, I made the announcement about the bags. Mike’s response was, “You did what?” I got all the bags out and laid them across the bed. Mike’s reaction: “How did you hide these bags in your suitcase?” “I didn’t hide them! I packed them.” I answered. “Well, I guess we need to get rid of them.”  Mike’s plan was to drive and hand out the bag where the homeless congregated. We dropped our son off to hand out the goodie bags, Mikos came back with his head downcast and said, “Mom, you didn’t make enough.” That was the beginning of my work with homeless people.

We are now in the biggest battle with the homeless crisis in the United States. It is no longer safe to go to Skid Row. There are now medieval diseases in the midst of homeless, and, worse yet, some are airborne. So instead of going to hand out lunches, the Lord has changed my direction to get involved in the genesis of a new program: Churches in Action.

This organization is spearheaded by Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez. Bishop Mendez has pulled together many other churches to help with this enormous endeavor. Churches in Action is an ecumenical outreach to help place homeless people into apartments. As of today, there are more that 60,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County alone! This program will help shelter 1,000 displaced people into a apartment within a year.

Bishop Mendez is working in partnership with the government to get tax breaks,  The Jewish communities of various synagogues are lovingly raising funds for this outreach. “Lavame,” which mean “wash me” in Spanish, provides portable mobile showers that are moved throughout Skid Row in order to enable the homeless to shower on a more regular basis. These are a few steps in the right direction to help homeless people regain their dignity.

Before any displaced persons is given apartments, they must attend classes like: Life skills, which  teach them to transition back into society with acceptable ease. Financial management classes will teach them how to manage the stipend they will receive to live. They will also be required to attend time-management classes to better understand how the rest of the world operates. Many churches will be available for spiritual counseling, because we all need God.

There will be counselors available for mental health, but due to the interference of  liberal groups, this cannot be a forced issue. Even though one of primary causes of homelessness is the abuse of drugs and alcohol, these groups have actually hindered the recovery of  substance abuser by making the treatment voluntary instead of mandatory. Why? Because they are serving their own interest, and not that of the displaced. This type of bureaucratic dung is what the real problems about. The good intentions of honest, compassionate people always hit a brick wall with the proposals of the misguided politicians.

Skid Row’s mountain lion
Someones son

 

Skid Row rats: cause of death, old age or obesity

Secondly these groups have put into law the protection of the trash of the homeless; therefore, no police officer or public workers can remove any garbage because it’s against the law! Now due to his new ordinance, we have developed medieval diseases.

In the Old Testament when the Israelites were homeless for 40 years, God provided them manna, this was their daily bread, they could not save the manna for the next day because it would spoil. All the officials are attempting to do is rid the streets of all contaminants that breed rodents, public official are not taking any personal items from the displaced, they are just trying to repel the rats.

Exodus 16:19-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

19 And Moses said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning.” 20 Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.

Rodenticides have been banned for the killing of rats in California. Why? Because the pesticides are killing other wild life like mountain lions when the rat is injusted. For the twenty years that I have been going to Skid Row, I have yet to run into a mountain lion. The closest thing to the big cats are domestic cats with their kittens. We need to give these self-serving politicans, a wake up call. Stop tying to save the rats, instead think of the human beings! Honestly the rats on Skid Row are dying of old age while the buffoons sit on the high hill protecting the rodents. Shame on you!

Jacob taking inventory of cups purchased at a second hand store
Lucas counting the silverware

If you are really tired of seeing homeless people you can help do something about it. We are filling large boxes with the bare essentials: pillows, queen-sized sheets, blankets, comforters, pot, and pans, cooking and eating utensils, cups, plates, bowls, glasses. We also need shampoo, toothpaste, soap, towel/washcloths toilet paper paper, towels, and cleaning supplies. Please, I implore you to help.

I purchased about 50 items at The Sheep Fold, a local second-hand store, everything was 75% off! I walked in and out Goodwill because they were too expensive. The Dollar Tree has knives, spoons and forks, 2 for a dollar, plus I also purchased cooking utensils there. Another great place for silverware is Ross. Big Lots has queen size sheets for $16.99, but at Macy’s (online only) you can purchase queen-sized sheets for $15.99. HomeGoods has mixing bowls for $7.99, I purchased pots and pans with a donated Walmart gift card from Bishop Mendez.

We separate these items into twos: two forks, two spoons, etc. They will either receive one pot or a frying pan, two pillows, one set of sheets, and one set of towels. All this shopping took me about a week to accumulate enough items to fill at least 10 boxes. Instead of getting new shoes or new clothes, my money was put to better use. I call this shopping with a purpose.

How can you help? You can purchase the items yourself or you can donate the money and I will do the shopping. Either way this is 100% tax deductible, because Churches in Action is a 501-C3 non profit. You can also send the money directly to them at:

Churches in Action, 9641 Virigina Ave., South Gate, Ca 90280

Proverbs 28:27 New King James Version (NKJV)

27 He who gives to the poor will not lack,
But he who hides his eyes will have many curses.

A special thanks to Jason and Sarah, and Al from St. Norbert Parish in Orange, great is your reward!

Ben Sira 6:14 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) 14 Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever
Mike, St. Louis Cathedral Jackson Square New Orleans 1 John 4:1
Ephesians 5:11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) 11 Take no part in the fruitless works
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