Done What?

Psalm 118:24  “The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.”

Done what?

And why this very day?

Why did the Psalmist say, “this very day?”  Did something miraculous happen on that very day?

If you read the entire chapter, I don’t think you’ll find one particular event that is referred to by “it.”

Instead, I think you’ll find a challenge and a blessing.

A challenge – look to see what the Lord has done this very day.     On the day that you are reading this, look to see what God has done.2014-11-05 07.30.23

Tomorrow – look to see what God is doing.

Every day, look around you to see what God is up to.

Be aware of His blessings.   Be aware of the doors that He opens.   Be aware of the people He puts around you.

Look to see God in everything and everywhere.

And then you’ll find what the “it” is.   And every day “it” will be a little bit different.

And every day, for every person, “it” will be a little different.

Because the way God works in you and the way God works in me is different.

And the blessing – the Psalmist is calling us to rejoice in the ways that God is working.

When things are going well, rejoice.

When things are tougher, rejoice.

Rejoice that God is with you.   Rejoice that no matter what happens, you know who’s side you’re on.

Rejoice when you see the big things in life.   Rejoice when you see the small things in life.

Rejoice when you have the opportunity to encourage someone else.

Rejoice when someone else comes alongside you and lifts you up.

God has done it.   He’s done “it” today.   He’s going to do  “it” tomorrow.

Rejoice.

TJV

The Importance of Being

A little cutie I met at "Church on Halloween"
A little cutie I met at “Church on Halloween”

As I have journeyed through this last 6 months of trying to figure out what God had as #plannext for me and my skills and my passions and my desire to make a difference, I’ve learned a lot of things.

One of the things that I’ve learned is the importance of being.   No, that’s not an incomplete sentence.   It’s the importance of BEING.

Being what?   Being many things.

Being aware of God.   God doesn’t usually shout His plans from the mountain top (thank you Moses) or from the clouds or by means of a person visiting you at your tent.    But that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t speak.    But we’re too often too busy to hear God.

Being able to step into the fog.   Fog?   The unknown of life.   The “I don’t know how this is going to end up but I feel strongly that God is calling me to do this, so here goes.   God uses many ways to help us see “just enough” of the path so that we can take the next step.   One of the ways that He has helped me step into the fog has been a group of very dissimilar but very like minded people on Facebook that was started by Jon Acuff (of Stuff Christians Like fame).   We’re called the Dreamers and the Builders – and every single one of us is stepping into the fog of life and convicted that we’re meant to do something big with that fog.   Even if it’s big in a small way (huh?)

Being able to see the small things as big things.    Investing in the lives of those around me.   Seeing the difference that small things can do to bring healing, to bring hope, to bring encouragement.

Being able to see the big picture.    There are things that I wasn’t able to see in prior situations in life, working for the orphanage, working in the banking world, that I have a different perspective on many things.    But those “things” are a topic for many other days.

Being here.   Being now.   Being the hands and feet of Jesus here and now.   Today.

Being able to dream.   Being able to say, “What if…..”    Being able to say, “God what do you want?”

Being able to write.   It’s invigorating.   It’s thought provoking.   It helps me be where I am.

Being.

Being with God.

Being able to sit in where God has put me and say, “Here’s where God has put me.  So here’s where I’ll be for Him.”

Thanks for being here with me.   God promises us that He has an amazing journey with an awe filled ending to it.

Tom

P.S. If you want to read about Church on Halloween where I met that little cutie in the picture, go to http://tomvanderwell.net/2014/11/i-went-to-church-on-halloween/

What Do I Know?

So What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
So What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

by Addison Road “What Do I Know of Holy?”

Where have I even stood but the shore along your ocean?Ocean from UN.org

That’s a wonderful metaphor for our experience with God.   Have you ever stood on the shore of the ocean?   And as far as you can see, it’s all water.

This says two things to me:

  • God is way bigger than we give him credit for.   Just like you can stand on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean and you don’t realize that this body of water extends all of the way to Europe and all of the way to Africa, when you stand in God’s presence, then you’re in front of “someone” who is way bigger than you can see or imagine..
  • When you stand on the shore, you see the ocean if you’re looking forward.     The same thing can be said of God.   If you look forward, you can see a glimpse of the grandness and the greatness of God.   If you look back, you can see where you’ve been and can see how God has brought you to the shore of his ocean.   But the only way you can truly experience the greatness of God is by looking forward and taking in the depth and width and vastness of God.

May we all stand on the shore of God’s ocean and marvel at the grandness of God’s plan and strength and trust Him.

What do I know of Holy?  I know God is.

And that’s all I need to know.

Stand at the shore and know God’s holiness and his vastness.

You won’t regret it.

TJV

Mock? really?

Proverbs 17:5  “Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;”

Really?  Does God think that we might mock the poor?   Obviously He does, otherwise He would not have put this in the Bible.

But let’s think a little bit about what “mock” might mean:

Obviously, it means the typical meaning – to make fun of – to ridicule.   

  • “Hah, you’re driving a 1999 Ford Escort because that’s all you can afford?” 
  • “You see that guy sitting over in the corner in the library?   He sits there to stay warm because it’s the only place he has!”

But what about a couple of other variations on what “mock” might mean?

    • Disrespect – volunteering at a soup kitchen and making fun of the way a homeless person smells?Soup Kitchen by ssa.gov
    • Disrespect – donating clothes or other things that are dirty, worn and deserving of the trash but you give them to a third world mission “because it’s better than they have.”
    • Disrespect – being on a short term mission trip and wearing matching t-shirts that say,  “Bringing Jesus to __________.”   There are very few places that would take short term mission trips that haven’t already heard of Jesus.   But that kind of an attitude doesn’t show Jesus.
    • Disrespect – taking pictures of the poor, the downtrodden, the ill and injured without asking them first.
    • Disrespect –  sharing pictures of the sick, the poor, the malnourished in ways that rob them of dignity or is used only to manipulate potential donors and not done with dignity.

And what about mocking by being quiet?

  • Being quiet when you hear allegations of abuse.
  • Being quiet when justice doesn’t prevail.
  • Being quiet when you see evidence of resources that are supposed to go toward the poor that are going elsewhere?

I believe it is also possible to mock the poor by being one-sided:

  • Tell the stories of the poor, the poverty, the illness – without describing the inner courage and inner beauty that you see.
  • Show the pictures of the run down huts and the tar paper shacks without also sharing the natural beauty that God has  put around those who are suffering and poor.2012-08-04 17.44.06
  • Behaving and working and treating the poor like they know less than we do.   Just because we were born in the First World doesn’t mean that we have it right.   Respect the culture, respect their dignity and work with them.    That means that you don’t do things that will damage their economy – actually you structure your support to help their economy.

At first glance, “mock the poor” seems very easy to avoid.   But it’s not actually so easy.    There are a lot of intricacies in how we interact with the poor.    Those intricacies make it tricky.

We all need to be aware of what we say, the message we send with our words and with our actions and how it reflects on our God.

And how it reflects on us.

We all, especially the poor, deserve better.

Tom

“We were made to Thrive”–at Church?

I had the privilege of attending chapel at my daughter’s school today.   One of the things that was part of the chapel Casting Crowns Logowas the Casting Crowns video from their song, “Thrive.”   Watch the video and more thoughts below…….

On the way home, it got me thinking.   Thinking about church, thinking about the role of the church, thinking about what I’ve written over the last 5 weeks about church.    Casting Crowns says it well:

Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun, make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
Its time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Into Your word, were digging deep
To know our Fathers heart
Into the world, were reaching out
To show them who You are

Those two verses right there.   They describe church.   They describe what church should be:

  • Lifting God’s name on high.
  • Pushing back darkness – the darkness that each of us faces every day and every week.  The darkness that plagues our world.
  • Encouraging us, through Christ, to be more than ordinary.
  • Digging deep into the Bible to know God.
  • Reaching out into the world to show them who God is.

That’s the church.   That’s what God intends.

I like it.   I want to find it and build it.

Tom