Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy

This journey through life is never boring......

Month: November 2014 (page 2 of 2)

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

Doorkeeper

So, the last two days, I’ve had the privilege of speaking at one of the breakout sessions (aka the small groups) at two “His Kids” Orphan Initiative conferences (think Orphan Sunday).    It was essentially the same conference done in two different counties.

I learned a lot from what I heard.   I learned a lot from the people I had a chance to interact with.

And then this morning, I read Psalm 84:10: “I would ratherDoor  www.energy.gov be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

I spent the weekend interacting with doorkeepers.

I spent the weekend interacting with adoptive parents, church leaders, volunteers who are all putting someone else first.

I spent weekend listening to people who are doing seemingly mundane things and making a difference for God’s Kingdom.

Creating “emergency care” kits for foster children who are put in foster care with literally nothing but the clothes they are wearing.   That’s a door keeper.

Being willing to share your difficult story to help someone else get through theirs.   That’s a door keeper.

Being open, being honest, being vulnerable to help others.   That’s a door keeper.

Letting your eyes be opened to the world around you and then once you see it, doing something about it.   That’s a door keeper.

None of it’s for glory, none of it’s for publicity.   It’s all for God and it’s all because, as door keepers in His house, we want to reflect His love to others.

I met a lot of door keepers this weekend.   I pray we can all be more of that, we can all put God and His people first.

TJV

What are We Willing to Accept from God?

Job 2:10 – ‘’He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Job raises a tough question.    Should we accept good from God and not trouble?

There’s a couple of underlying principles to how you answer that question:

  • While we believe that God has given us the ultimate good gift when He sent His Son to save us from ourselves and from our sins, do we believe that God believes everything should always be good and easy for those who believe in Him?   (Hint – if he did that, people would be Christians for the wrong reason).
  • Do we believe that we can learn more about ourselves and about God when all is not going well?
  • Why would God allow trouble to happen to His people?

The obvious “on the surface” answer is that of course we need to accept both the good and also the trouble from God.    He is after all, in charge.

But if you look at it a little deeper, a couple of things bubble up to  the surface…….

  • If we believe that God allows the trouble to happen, then we have to believe that there is a reason for the trouble.    What is that reason?    I believe a majority of the reasons will be seen only once life on this earth ends and we join Jesus in Heaven.    Our plans and our thoughts are too small to comprehend His master plan.
  • It shapes our response to trouble.   Rather than it being an overwhelming attack by the forces of evil, we can look at troubles that we face as something that God has “allowed” in order to further His kingdom.    Whether we’ll ever be able to see the way that it furthers the kingdom – frankly that doesn’t matter.   It’s not up to us to say, ‘I want to see what it will do.”    It’s up to us to say, “God, help me to be faithful in spite of troubles.”

Job is an excellent example of someone who had it all really good and got hit with a ton of pain and suffering.    He got mad at God but he never walked away from God.

It’s okay to be mad at God.   It’s actually quite healthy some times.

And if we’re willing to accept the troubles of this life, we’re going to have reason to be mad at God.    But we also have to be willing to accept it and work within and through it and look to see His plan.

“For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist.” ~AugustineScales of Justice - Wikipedia.org

Because He does have a plan.

And He will show us His plan – in His time.

Tom

Yes, No, Not Yet, According to My Plan

Prayer – it’s such a difficult thing.    But it shouldn’t be a difficult thing.

It’s a conversation with our God.    It’s a conversation with the one who cares more deeply for us than anyone else.

It’s a conversation with the one who paid the ultimate price to save me.   Not because of what I did, but because of who He is.

But so many times, we turn it into a laundry list.   Please do this, please help with that……..

Psalm 66:20 offers a different view of prayer:

“Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”

God has not rejected our prayers.    As trivial as they might seem, as greedy as they might seem, God doesn’t reject our prayers.

He wants to hear from us.

That doesn’t mean He’s going to give us everything we ask for.   But the line of communication is always open.

Sometimes He will say,  “Yes.”

Sometimes He will say, “No, I have a different plan.”

Sometimes He will say, “Not yet, trust me my child.”

Sometimes He will say, “The answer will come according to my plan and my time, so stay faithful and stay with me.”

The answers aren’t always what we want, but God is always there and will not reject our prayers.

He always listens.

He always cares.

But like our earthly parents, doesn’t give us just what we want – but what we need.

Rest in that comfort that God listens, God hears and God doesn’t reject our prayers.

Tom

Yield to the one who can and will answer all your questions

Yield to the one who can and will answer all your questions

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