31 March 2016

28 March 2016

2016 brackets: Elite Eight update

Our family bracket challenge is over mathematically. And I defended my crown! The family trophy will stay with me for another year.

Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

2-2 in Elite Eight
38-22 overall
800 total points

1-3 in Elite Eight
37-23 overall
690 total points

Shirley (Grandma Hromada)
1-3 in Elite Eight
37-23 overall
650 total points

Jon (Grandpa Hromada)
0-4 in Elite Eight
36-24 overall
570 total points

0-4 in Elite Eight
34-26 overall
530 total points

1-3 in Elite Eight
29-31 overall
460 total points

26 March 2016

2016 brackets: Sweet Sixteen update

Avery's bracket is busted. As much as we wanted to believe that IU would beat Cal by 50 points in the final game, the Hoosiers had a difficult game last night and lost to UNC. She was very upset this morning when she learned that IU lost. But I told her she's still in good shape since she's beating Daddy!

Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

6-2 in Sweet Sixteen
36-20 overall
640 total points

5-3 in Sweet Sixteen
36-20 overall
610 total points

Shirley (Grandma Hromada)
4-4 in Sweet Sixteen
36-20 overall
570 total points

Jon (Grandpa Hromada)
4-4 in Sweet Sixteen
36-20 overall
570 total points

3-5 in Sweet Sixteen
34-22 overall
530 total points

2-6 in Sweet Sixteen
28-28 overall
380 total points

24 March 2016

22 March 2016

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 19

After seeing so much death, destruction, and judgment, the last several chapters of Revelation offer a beautiful picture of what awaits believers at the end of the world!

In chapter 19, John heard praise erupting from a great multitude in heaven. He heard the word “hallelujah” four times. Hallelujah means “praise Yahweh,” which is an Old Testament word for God.

First hallelujah praised God for bringing salvation and judgment. The second hallelujah praised God because Babylon (evil) was defeated and destroyed. The third hallelujah was the joy of the 24 elders and the four living creatures as they worshiped God. All of this praise celebrated who God is, what He has done, and what He will do. We can praise God in the same way today. Praise naturally erupts when we see who God is and what He has done.

The fourth hallelujah praised God because the wedding of the Lamb had arrived. This is the celebration of believers joining with Jesus. Jesus is the bridegroom, and His Church is the bride. We will have a full, perfect union with Jesus because sin no longer will exist.

God uses marriage throughout the Bible to explain His union with His Church. The marriage of Ruth and Boaz shows that our marriage to Jesus is about rescue and redemption. The marriage of Hosea and Gomer reminds us about the pain of spiritual adultery. Several times on earth, Jesus referred to Himself as the Bridegroom. There are many other passages that use marriage as a picture of our union with Christ.

John must have been overwhelmed by the four hallelujahs and the visions he was receiving from God. An angel got his attention and instructed John to write these things down. John reacted by worshiping the angel. The angel rebuked him, and called himself a fellow servant with John. This is a reminder that God alone is worthy of our worship. All glory belongs to God.

Next John saw a Rider on a white horse coming from heaven. This is Christ, our Warrior King, coming from heaven with His heavenly army behind Him. He has come to execute the fierce wrath of God.

I loved the following points from our lecture! John compared his vision in Revelation 19 with what he saw during Jesus’ first coming to earth:

  • At Jesus’ first coming, He had eyes full of compassion. At His second coming, Jesus’ eyes are like blazing fire.
  • At Jesus’ first coming, He wore a crown of thorns. At His second coming, Jesus wears many crowns on His head.
  • At Jesus’ first coming, He was an ordinary person with an ordinary name. At His second coming, Jesus has a name no one knows except Him.
  • At Jesus’ first coming, He wore a robe covered in His own blood and the soldiers gambled it away. At His second coming, Jesus wears a robe dipped in His own blood for redemption of believers and judgment of unbelievers.
  • At Jesus’ first coming, John wrote that Jesus is the Word of God. At His second coming, Jesus’ name is the Word of God. At Jesus’ first coming, Jesus came to reveal God in human flesh. At His second coming, Jesus reveals the revelation of God in final judgment.
  • At Jesus’ first coming, He was forsaken by even His closest friends. At His second coming, a heavenly army dressed in white rides on white horses and accompanies Jesus.
  • At Jesus’ first coming, a sword pierced His side. At His second coming, Jesus has a sword in His mouth, which He will use to strike the nations.
  • At Jesus’ first coming, He carried no weapons. At His second coming, Jesus carries an iron scepter to rule and reign with absolute power and justice.
  • At Jesus’ first coming, He bore the full wrath of God against sin. At His second coming, Jesus will exercise God’s wrath against the nations. (The wine press is a picture of judgment.)
  • At Jesus’ first coming, the soldiers mocked Him as king. At His second coming, Jesus is worshiped as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Previously, Jesus was a victim; now He is the victor.

Finally, John saw an angel calling for the leaders of the earth and the birds to come together. The beast and the leaders of the earth wage war against Jesus. But the beast and the false prophet are captured and thrown into the Lake of Fire. Their followers are killed, and the birds gorged on their flesh. God’s enemies became a feast for scavenger birds. Those who reject the invitation to the wedding supper will become the main course at God’s Supper.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus will return to conquer His enemies and claim His people as His bride.
  • Jesus has absolute, complete authority to reign in the world and in our lives.
  • Eternity for unbelievers begins with fire and death. Eternity for believers begins with a wedding feast and continual rejoicing.
  • This is a story of two suppers. Which one will you be invited to attend – the wedding supper of the Lamb or God’s supper of destruction?
  • History culminates with a hallelujah, a wedding, and the reign of King Jesus.

This Week’s Memory Verse
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” Revelation 19:11 NIV

21 March 2016

2016 brackets: Third Round update

When you look at our update below, you may wonder if I put the results in backwards. No, these are correct. Grandma, Karen, Avery, and Grandpa are in a four-way tie for first while Chris and I are pulling up the rear. It's been a very unusual year for our family pool!

Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

Shirley (Grandma Hromada)
9-7 in Third Round
32-16 overall
410 total points

10-6 in Third Round
31-17 overall
410 total points

10-6 in Third Round
31-17 overall
410 total points

9-7 in Third Rounda
32-16 overall
410 total points

10-6 in Third Round
30-18 overall
400 total points

4-12 in Third Round
26-22 overall
300 total points

19 March 2016

2016 brackets: Second Round update

As usual, the Second Round was a crazy one! Brackets were busted all over thanks to Michigan State going down to 14-seed Middle Tennessee. In our family pool, it's clear that I won't maintain possession of the trophy this year. Michigan State was my projected winner, so I don't have much hope of repeating my victory from last year.

On the other hand, Grandma and Grandpa Hromada were smart not to put so much hope and confidence in the Big Ten – their champions are still in the hunt. Avery did a much better job on her bracket since Chris explained the seedings to her. She might not finish at the bottom this year!

Here is our first update of the tournament (rankings are in order of ESPN points standing):

23-9 in Second Round

23-9 in Second Round

22-10 in Second Round

21-11 in Second Round

21-11 in Second Round

20-12 in Second Round

The Third Round begins soon, with the highlight game being IU-Kentucky. Go Hoosiers!

17 March 2016

16 March 2016

First dental check-up

Since he has a mouth full of teeth, it was time for Damon to see our pediatric dentist. So yesterday he joined Avery at her regular appointment.

When the dental hygienist called his name, Damon happily sauntered back to the exam area. I went with him, and most likely this will be the only time I accompany him. With Damon’s legs on my lap and his head on Dr. Mark’s lap, Damon got a quick check-up, teeth cleaning, and fluoride treatment – all with some tears and a little squirming. But he handled everything pretty well!

After the trauma was over, the hygienist offered Damon a balloon, and he excitedly said “boon!” He was willing to suffer through the check-up to get the “boon!”

As with Avery, it highly probable that Damon will need braces when he gets older. In fact, Dr. Mark mentioned that we probably will discuss braces for Avery within the next year. Egads!

Now Damon and Avery will commiserate together at teeth cleanings twice a year!

15 March 2016

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 18

One day, evil will expire! In chapter 18, we see evil’s expiration date. This chapter shows us that it is dangerous to put our trust solely in the world’s treasures. They can be taken away, and ultimately they fade away.

John saw an angel come from heaven. With a booming voice, the angel declared that Babylon has fallen. She fell because she committed the crime of spiritual adultery with the world’s merchants and leaders. She glorified the idols of pride, greed, excessive luxury, and self-indulgence.

Then John heard another voice telling God’s people to come out of Babylon. To share in Babylon’s sins is to share in her destruction. This is a call to repentance and a call to live the life worthy of their heavenly calling.

When God told His people to come out of Babylon, He told them to come away from evil and live differently than the world. Christians must live in the midst of our culture, but we don’t have to be a part of it. We can positively impact our culture for God. But we can do this only with the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Center your attention and affection on God, because He is the only one who can create lasting change in your life.

Babylon believed she was invincible. But she was destroyed quickly because God judged her. Three groups mourned Babylon’s destruction – kings, merchants, and mariners. They mourned not because she was punished for her sins but because their lifestyles changed through Babylon’s destruction.

And God’s people rejoiced. They rejoiced not because evil people were dying but because God kept His word and righteously judged Babylon.

Things to Think About
  • In which area of life are you waiting for God to end evil?
  • In what are you putting your trust – in the world’s treasures or in God Himself?
  • True significance, joy, and happiness are found in Christ alone.
  • The worldly trust in wealth and self while the godly trust in Christ.
  • The worldly lament while the godly repent.
  • The worldly reap justice while the godly reap joy.

This Week’s Memory Verse
“They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ ” Revelation 18:14 NIV

14 March 2016

Are you ready?

This week is Chris' favorite week of the year – the start of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Once again, we're hosting a family bracket challenge. I'm hoping to repeat my big win from last year!

Will you join us this year? Complete your bracket online and join our "C2 Family Group" in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. As always, we'll keep you updated on our results throughout the tournament!

10 March 2016

08 March 2016

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 17

This lesson is the first part of John’s vision in the wilderness. One of the angels with the bowl judgments came to John to show him the great destruction that will come. John recorded what he saw.

John saw the great prostitute sitting by many waters and sitting on a red beast. The many waters represent the people who oppose God. She had evil partnerships. She was immoral and had a wicked agenda. She was well dressed and bejeweled. She seduced the people of the earth with her wicked plans. She held a golden cup filled with her abominations and the filth of her adulteries.

On her forehead was written her name – Babylon. Babylon is the symbol in Scripture for the evil world system – idolatry, greed, luxury, sensuality. It also was the code name for Rome in the first century. Babylon represents anything that opposes Jesus, His cross, His kingdom, and His people.

The beast on which the woman sat was covered with blasphemous names. It had seven heads and ten horns. The beast represented political, military, and economic power being brought together under Satan to oppose God and His people.

John was astonished at this scene. He recognized Babylon’s evil and that she was on a path of destruction. Then the angel explained this scene to John. This all seems confusing. Remember that all Scripture is equally true but not equally clear!

The beast’s seven heads represent seven hills (Rome was built on seven hills) and seven kings (uncertain who they are). The eighth king (Revelation 17:11) is the Antichrist.

The beast’s ten horns are ten kings waiting for their kingdoms. When they receive their kingdoms, they will pass their power to the beast to stand in opposition to Jesus. The kings represent political powers that will become the beast’s allies. Their power is limited, and they are headed for destruction. The great prostitute and the beast’s destruction is assured just like Jesus’ victory is assured.

The focus of this passage is in verse 14 – all who believe in Christ will be with Him when He wins the battle. God is in charge, and He wins. God stands victorious, and we will stand victorious with Him too.

Things to Think About
  • Chapter 17 looks like a seemingly losing battle, but it’s not.
  • Are you fighting a seemingly losing battle? Our seemingly losing battles are not that in the hands of God.
  • No one is as powerful as God. We are not in a losing battle. We are on the side of victory.
  • Are you seeking God’s wisdom to discern the truth?
  • How has evil deceived you? How has fame, money, success, or status captured you?
  • A beautiful life comes from God Himself not the things of this world.
  • God takes evil, wicked things and turns them into His beautiful, sovereign purposes.

This Week’s Memory Verse
“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” Revelation 17:14 NIV

07 March 2016

Basketball is life

As you know, basketball has a pretty important place in our lives in the Clark household. With Chris’ reffing basketball, Avery’s playing basketball, and everyone watching it on TV, we kind of live and breathe the sport during the winter. So as you can imagine, Damon is fallen in love with Indiana’s game too.

Just recently, Damon finally has gotten tall enough that he can reach the rim of his basketball goal (a hand-me-down gift from Daddy). Thus, he’s finally making baskets. Everyone playing basketball in the living room is a pretty common sight around here:

Damon needs to stop celebrating his baskets and focus on getting back on defense!

03 March 2016

02 March 2016

Avery’s seventh birthday party

For several years, I’ve been eyeing a beautiful rainbow birthday cake. Several times, I tried convincing Avery that a rainbow birthday party would be so fun...brightly colored decor, rainbow-themed food, and of course that cake. This year, she finally relented and agreed to a have a rainbow birthday party with the grandparents and Aunt Karen.

Since her birthday was on a Sunday, we got to celebrate on her real birthday. The “entrée” was pizza since it’s one of Avery's favorite foods. She helped me create a rainbow M&M’s display like this one.

We also had rainbow fruit kabobs with chocolate dipping sauce...

...a rainbow veggie tray...

...and the pièce de résistance. I ended up following these instructions, which were quite helpful. I knew the cake would taste fine, but I was so nervous about what it would look like!

The extent of our decorating was adding rainbow streamers to the dining room. Surprisingly, Avery was very excited about them. Even Damon loved them!

Before everyone arrived, Chris and I gave our gifts to Avery.

It’s about time that she has a Center Grove Trojans T-shirt!

She was shocked and excited about her new Frozen sheet set.

After I took this picture, I marveled at how grown up she looks. She’s certainly becoming a beautiful young lady!

Damon had to get in on the picture action too!

After enjoying lunch, Avery was anxious to open her gifts. Her only wish list items were Legos (courtesy of Mommy and Daddy) and Shopkins (courtesy of everyone else). She is obsessed with Shopkins!

After blowing out her candle, it was time for the moment of truth. How would the cake look?

It actually looked like a rainbow!

The purple layer was too dark, and the blue layer was too light. But overall, I was pretty impressed with my baking skills...rather, my food coloring skills.

Another birthday is in the books. So hard to believe my girl now is 7 years old!

01 March 2016

BSF 2015-2016: God’s Justice and Mercy

This week, we briefly will step away from Revelation for another thematic lesson – God’s justice and mercy.

In Revelation, we have seen God’s wrath and justice poured out on the earth. But He also extended mercy to believers. God acts in perfect justice and powerful mercy for the good of His people. Thinking about God’s justice and mercy should lead us to worship Him.

God is just
God’s justice describes the quality of His character that moves Him to be actively and utterly righteous. God does what is right all the time. God cannot be unjust. That would go against His character. God does not have impure motives or selfish vengeance. He has divine anger against sin. Someone must be held accountable for sin. Jesus took the accountability for believers. Unbelievers still carry their sin and one day will be held accountable.

When God serves justice, it is with complete knowledge of every fact, of every motive, of our entire hearts. God serves justice to those who have wrong motives and who are not trusting Him.

God’s justice is expressed in two ways – punitive justice (when He punishes evil and sin) and remunerated justice (when He rewards righteousness, through Christ’s righteousness not our own). At the cross, we see the greatest demonstration of God’s justice and mercy. Jesus became our substitute. God did not look away from sin but put our sin on Jesus. The death of one meant the salvation for many. Consider the justice that fell on Jesus; consider the severity of your own sin.

Knowing and believing God’s attributes changes how we live. When you believe and act on the truth that God is just, you are comforted because you know that God is right, upholds justice, and will do what is right at the right time. Then you are drawn to worship God for who He is.

God is mercy
God’s mercy describes the quality of His character that moves Him to be actively compassionate and generous to sinners. God does not extend mercy because of our own goodness but because of Jesus’ goodness offered to us.

Without God’s mercy, we would be consumed and condemned. Instead, He withholds the wrath we deserve and bestows blessings. God’s mercy does not compromise His holy standards. No one is entitled to receive mercy. He extends mercy as He determines (Romans 9:15). God’s mercy acts in accordance with His faithfulness, His sovereignty, His authority, and His omnipotence.

God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), and His mercy is fresh every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Knowing and believing God’s attributes changes how we live. When you believe and act on the truth that God is merciful, you understand that God is not distant, that He is personal, that He responds with mercy when you cry out for mercy. Extend mercy to others. Then you are drawn to worship God for who He is.

God Himself
God doesn’t have to suspend His mercy to show justice, and He doesn’t have to suspend His justice to exercise mercy. The full fury of God’s wrath fell on God’s only Son, in my place. Jesus was the only one who could fully satisfy God’s justice.

Do you have peace with God? Have you been reconciled to God?

Things to Think About
  • One day, God will right all wrongs. We think that evil is winning because God has a delayed earthly justice. But one day, His perfect, complete heavenly justice will come.
  • God can be trusted to make everything right.
  • The full measure of God’s justice has not been handed out yet, but it will come. God will do what is right at the right time.
  • Who has wronged you? Release those wrongs to God. Show mercy to your enemies.
  • If we truly understood God’s mercy toward our sinfulness, we would not gloss over or ignore sin.
  • When God looks at believers, He doesn’t see spoiled, selfish sinners who resist His control. He sees the righteousness of Christ, and He extends His mercy.
  • Do you act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8)?
  • God can be trusted with everything. He knows everything. He can do anything. He is bigger than everything. He is our all in all.
  • Set your gaze on God not on the storms in your life.

This Week’s Memory Verse
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiven wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Exodus 34:6-7 NIV