The Impossible Dream! (Diet for Dreamers)

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A dream of redemption, of rebuilding, of returning HOME:

Modern Israel, roughly located on the lands of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, is tiny — about the size of Wales or New Jersey. It’s the birthplace of the Hebrew language and of Judaism and Christianity. Although the region welcomed a variety of ethnicities, and weathered the influence and interference of several empires,  the region remained predominantly Jewish until the 3rd century. Afterwards, the Israeli people endured hundreds of years of religious and cultural persecution that led them to flee their homeland, scattering throughout the world — where they remained as strangers in strange lands, further persecuted and alienated. Many Jews dreamed of a place they could call their own … a home, a haven. But after centuries of being harassed, uprooted, dispersed — and even murdered — their dream seemed like an impossible one.

Theodor Herzl shared their “impossible dream.” He was an Austro-Hungarian journalist, political activist, and writer. More importantly, he became one of the fathers of modern Zionism, forming the World Zionist Organization and promoting Jewish migration back to the region renamed Palestine, in an effort to recreate the Jewish nation of Israel. Herzl (May 2, 1860 – July 3, 1904) was born in Budapest, Hungary, to a family of secular, German-speaking, assimilated Jews. His father was a successful German businessman who tried to blend in.

Theodor Herzl, who considered himself an atheist, had a passion for poetry and the humanities, which led to a successful career in journalism. But despite having no religious affiliation with Jews, despite being a successful writer, and the son of a successful businessman, despite being assimilated (blending in), Herzl nonetheless felt the sting of antisemitism. Bottom Line? Herzl was a Jew.

Herzl believed that antisemitism could not be defeated or cured, only avoided. In his acclaimed 1896 book The Jewish State, he outlined reasons for Jews to leave Europe, should they desire, preferably to return to their historic homeland. Herzl believed the Jewish people already possessed a nationality and all they lacked was a nation. He fervently believed the only way to avoid antisemitism was for the Jewish people to have their own state, where they’d be free to practice their unique culture and religion. Little could Herzl imagine the greatest time of persecution, the Holocaust, was only four decades away — less than a lifetime; and if the modern State of Israel had been established prior to the Holocaust, the massacre of 6 million Jews could have been avoided.

Herzl’s ideas quickly spread and, although embraced by many, were largely criticized and rejected — ironically, by many Jews settled in many countries. These critical Jews, who at the time were attempting to blend in and gain acceptance by the gentile population, felt Herzl’s ideas would only fan the flames of antisemitism. But think about it: should any person or people group have to deny their origins, beliefs, culture, identity, and individuality to gain acceptance? What’s this blog about? ACCEPTANCE.

Undeterred by his detractors, Herzl enthusiastically pursued his impossible dream. He gained influential and powerful supporters in several countries, and with each passing year, his impossible dream advanced into the realm of the possible. Although Herzl wouldn’t see it realized before his death, his work had laid the foundation to make his dream a reality.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations recommended a new Jewish state. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel’s first Prime Minister, declared “the establishment of a Jewish state … to be known as the State of Israel”! On the same day, the United States, in the person of President Harry Truman, officially recognized the new Jewish nation.

Today, more than 42% of the world’s Jews reside in the State of Israel, making it the largest Jewish community in the world. Israel is their home, their freedom, and their vindication. April 19th will mark the nation’s 72nd Birthday, a time of celebration and thanksgiving … a time to acknowledge that dreams, even impossible ones, can come true!

“Listen to this message from the LORD, you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands: The LORD, who scattered His people, will gather them and watch over them as a shepherd does His flock.” (Jeremiah 31:10 NLT)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ISRAEL!

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Easy Open! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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There’s this funny comedy sketch from the old Carol Burnett Show, in which Carol’s character enters her kitchen with several bags of groceries. She’s hungry and she’s looking forward to snacking on some of the treats she just purchased. Unfortunately, she can’t get any of the bags, boxes or cans opened! Over the next 5 minutes, she struggles in vain to get into various packages, and toward the end succeeds only in opening a gash in her thumb! She hurries to apply a band-aid, but … she can’t get into the protective sterile wrapper!

Have you ever experienced anything like this? We have. That is, one of us routinely struggles with opening kitchen items! Yes, one of us is container challenged! A bottle of cola? We need a pair of pliers to unscrew the top! A bag of chips: we need heavy-duty kitchen shears. And you know those wide-mouthed caps that come on those huge plastic bottles of laundry detergent — the caps that double as “wash load” measuring cups — we still haven’t quite figured out that one!

Once, we got this plastic tub of little frozen cream puffs, and we had to read the opening instructions three times before we figured out what the manufacturer was telling us. We located this nearly imperceptible indentation along the edge of the container, and (according to the label) needed to pry up near this indentation in order to “break loose” a tab. Once the tab broke loose, all we had to do was lift the lid at that corner. One big problem: we couldn’t get the plastic to break! We had to go to the garage and get a screwdriver, and then spent several aggravating moments digging and twisting into the edge of the plastic lid. Maybe the real  “cream puffs” were outside the box!

Sometimes we wonder if the engineers who design these cans, bottles, boxes and bags aren’t enjoying a private little joke at our expense. Then we remind ourselves that consumer goods are supposed to be hard to open — and there are good reasons why! Manufacturers want to protect their consumers, for one. They don’t want shoppers easily opening a can of mixed nuts in the aisle at Walmart to see if they’re salty enough to suit their tastes — or to simply satisfy a sudden snack attack — and then putting the container back on the shelf. Manufacturers want to protect their products from being consumed, contaminated, pilfered, and possibly even poisoned! (Yes, that actually happened a couple decades ago.)

Furthermore, cleaning fluids and over-the-counter drugs labeled as “childproof” need to be just that: impervious to the curiosity and tenacity of industrious little kids! The downside of “safe and secure” packaging is that it makes it really tough for some of us to get into a bag of cookies or a box of crackers! We’re all for safety, but does everything have to be so hard to get into?!?!

Grrrr–struggle, struggle–ggrrrrrrr! Oops!

Well, not everything in life is hard to get into. In fact, there’s at least two things we can think of that were actually designed to be easy to get into: the Family of God and, by extension, the Kingdom of Heaven. These two things aren’t even childproof! Jesus said, “…Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 Berean Study Bible)

The instructions for getting into God’s Family are easy to follow. It’s all outlined in the Word of God — and our Heavenly Father even made getting into His Word easy! The Gospel of Salvation through Christ is simple enough that even a child can understand it, because God wants everyone to have easy access to Him.

We may have trouble opening a can of spam, but opening our Bibles is a breeze! We may have trouble getting into a bag of chips, but getting into God’s Spiritual Family is a cinch: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name….” (John 1:12 NASB)

Want God to open the way for you? Just follow these “EASY OPEN” instructions: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved..” (Roman 10:9 NLT)

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