Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy

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

Month: September 2016 (page 2 of 2)

New Possibilities

In the last two days, in different ways, different people have spoke to me, most likely without realizing what they were doing.    Now obviously, you’re thinking, you spoke to two people?   So what…..

No, I have 5 kids, I talk to a lot more people than that.  

But two different people, in different ways, spoke the same thing.

What did they say?

“Don’t let your dreams be too small.”  

“Don’t limit God by the size of your dreams.”

Now one of the two people knew that I’m embarking on a new adventure (more coming on that soon) but the other didn’t.

But that got me thinking, especially in middle class America, do we limit God?

I know I have.   Many times.

But I don’t want to any more.

There’s too much riding on what I’m dreaming about to limit God.   There’s too much that God wants for me to limit how He uses me.

Instead, I want to be open to new possibilities, to look at what God’s up to and follow Him.

That’s when we can make the world into His better place.

Tom

P.S. And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go dream big dreams and see what God’s up to……

Walking in the Fog…..

Even though I don’t live in London or any other place that has a lot of fog, I feel like I have spent a very long time lately walking in the fog.

Trying to figure out where God wanted me to be.

Trying to figure out who God wanted me to be.

Trying to figure out who God wanted me to help.

I would be foolish to say that the fog has lifted, completely.

It hasn’t.   I don’t think it ever will.

But I know this.  Part of the fog has lifted and I can see more than 6 inches in front of my face.

Part of the fog has lifted and I can see that there are people I can impact who live outside of my nice little 117 year old farm house.

It was on Facebook yesterday but let me tell you here.

I’ve joined the staff of The Apparent Project.  

I’ll have a lot more going forward, but let me tell you two things about The Apparent Project:

1. Their goal is to keep Haitian children with their families and out of orphanages through jobs, training progress, child care, a pre-school and more (the more is where I come in).   Throughout all of this, the goal is to inspire independence, develop the skills and the mindset that works towards self sufficiency and do it with the utmost respect for the children and families we work with.   It’s a hand up, not a hand out.  Is it easy?   Absolutely not.   Is it crucial?   Yes.  Do we do it right all the time?   Hah, anyone who thinks that any charity does things right all the time needs to think again.

2. There are many more things that we’d like to do, that the Haitians need us to do, so that they can truly generate a spirit of independence and the pride that comes from being self reliant rather than needing to look to the “blan” (white guys) for help.  

It’s a long road.   It’s not nearly as easy as “adopt an adorable two year old” appears to be (until they become teenagers and beyond).   But it’s a road that I’m excited to travel down.

I hope you’ll join us and keep in touch.

There’s a box right next to this post where you can sign up to keep up anything I write on my personal blog.   I will be doing even more writing about helping, hurting, building, supporting and changing at the Apparent Project blog.

Thanks for coming along on this adventure!

Tom
tom@apparentproject.org

Words Mean Things

Well, thank you for that, Captain Obvious…..

Bear with me on this.   Words mean things.   And the same words don’t mean the same things to all people.   Let me give you some examples……

Economic privilege vs. white privilege.   Let’s take Colin Kapernick as an example.   Colin grew up as an adopted bi-racial son of an upper middle class (maybe even upper, I don’t know) white family.   There have been pictures of his family floating around the internet and they are all definitely white people – except for Colin.

Many people are complaining about Colin’s protests.   In those complaints, the general theme seems to be (generalization – not everyone) that because Colin grew up in an upper middle class white family and is making millions of dollars playing a game, he has no right to protest.   After all, he’s taken advantage of the system he’s protesting, hasn’t he?

That’s where the difference comes in – yes, Colin has taken advantage of the economic privileges that come his way.   That’s not what he’s protesting.   He’s protesting the fact that many black people in the United States are not being treated fairly and are not being given the opportunities to succeed and are being abused by the police.   He’s not protesting economic privilege, he’s protesting white privilege and a LACK of black privilege.

For those who disagree with Mr. Kapernick, keep in mind that just as you have the right to protest against what he’s saying, you have to give Mr. Kapernick the right and the privilege to protest as he sees fit.   Freedom of speech works both ways.

Protesting against a national anthem vs. insulting the military who defend our country and keep us safe.   There’s another example of where words mean things.   Mr. Kapernick and others are protesting the National Anthem because they don’t believe that the government and society that it represents  treats black people as equals to white people. 

But if anyone has found a place where Mr. K has insulted the military or said anything derogatory about the men and women who defend our country, I’d like to know where you found that.   It is possible to protest against certain practices in our government and certain social consequences that remain from the past and still support the military who keeps our America safe.

I see and hear a lot of confusion about these words – white privilege, economic privilege, protest, disloyal to military, First Amendment.   I’d like to end this hopefully clarifying a few things…..

America is a great place – the reason we have to have discussions and conversations about immigration is because people want to live here.

America is not a perfect place – whether you choose to look at economics, racism, poverty, drugs, Congress, there are many places where it is obvious that this country has many things screwed up.

While I don’t like either of the main party political candidates, they both have the right to say what they want.   And so do I.   And so does Colin Kapernick.

Protesting against problems in this country doesn’t mean you don’t love this country any more than reprimanding a misbehaving teenager means you’re going to kick him out of the family home.

The problem with the “All Lives Matter” movement is that not all lives matter the same in the United States of America……

  • Not all black lives matter as much as white lives do.
  • Aborted lives, aborted babies don’t matter.

We have a problem in our country.   That problem has been a bit “under the radar” for most of us for a while.    It’s not any more.   Now it’s front and center.

We don’t treat all of us the same.   Until we do, we need to be open to the protests of others and realize they have the right to their opinions.

Just as you have the right to yours.

And so does Colin.

TJV

Things You Learn in Art Class

For the record, I haven’t taken an art class in a VERY long time…….

But I attended one for 10 minutes last night.   My daughter’s high school had a parent open house where the parents follow their kids schedules and get a chance to meet all of their teachers.

For 10 minutes each class.

The art teacher said something that changed my perspectives on art class.   She said that, yes, there are some people who are truly talented in the arts – drawing, sculpture, painting etc…..    But most of us aren’t.

For most of us, art isn’t about drawing the prettiest picture or making the most modern sculpture or whatever.   For the majority of us, art is a way of addressing a much more important question…..

“How is God going to come out of you?”

How is God going to make himself known to the world through you?

How can you be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who need help?

How can you be the comforter that sits with someone who is suffering like Job (without opening your mouth and ruining everything!)

How is God going to come out of you to share your life and your personal walk with God with people who need encouragement?

Everyone has a story and everyone has a perspective that is valuable and needs to be heard.

I learned a lot from an art teacher last night.  

Teaser alert – there will be some things happening soon that will make that a relevant and ongoing question for me and for a lot of you as well.

TJV

In the Mood?

In the mood to talk to God?

Shouldn’t we always be in the mood?  Eugene Petersen, in “Seeking God’s Face” says this….

“God who speaks and listens, if I waited to feel in the mood, I fear you wouldn’t hear much from me.  I need prayer to keep me freshly aware that I depend on you for everything and that everything I have is a gift from you.”  (pg. 677)

Think about it.   If I waited until I felt in the mood, you wouldn’t hear from me?   Do we really have the audacity to think that we can solve all of our problems without God?   or do we only go to Him when there is a problem?

Either one isn’t good.

But then take it one step further, actually two steps.

“God help me be freshly aware that I depend on you for everything.”  The worship leaders at our church will quite often say something like, “God woke you up today so you could come gather with fellow believers, with fellow strugglers and be in his presence.”   We need to be freshly aware that we depend on God for everything.   Even waking up to go to church or work or school or frankly the kitchen or the garage or…….

“everything I have is a gift from you.”    How often do we actually live that way?

Yeah, me too.

Everything we have is a gift from God.

My wife spent last week in the hospital with a nasty foot infection.   Every one of those nurses, doctors, staff, medicine, tests and more are a gift from God.

May we all be more aware that we need God for everything and that everything we have (not just material – especially not just material) is a gift from God.

And talk to Him like we mean it. 

Because we do?  

I need to mean it more, I’m sure we all do.

TJV

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