I don’t get it.

I mean, on one hand, I do understand.

But then on the other hand I don’t get it.

I get that people are upset about the flag. They feel that a respectful knee rather than standing is actually a show of disrespect.

I can understand that, in some ways. I have the utmost respect for the military and the sacrifice so many have made to keep our country, the country this flag represents, safe. I have the utmost respect for the people who, every day, are working to keep our country safe.

And I realize that we are by no means a perfect country. Actually we’ve done a lot of things to a lot of people that has tarnished that reputation. That hurts and the more I see and understand how that worked and works, the more it pains me.

But it is a protest, people. Protests are supposed to be a bit disrespectful. Jesus was protesting the money changers in the temple – how did He do it? By turning over their tables and trashing their place. The American Revolutionaries protested British tax policies by dumping tea in the Boston Harbor. Rosa Parks protested Jim Crow by refusing to sit in the back of the bus. Jackie Robinson protested the Major League Baseball “whites only” policy by going out and standing up to the racist players, managers and owners.

Disrespectful? All of them are, to some degree or another.

That is, to some extent, what makes them a protest against an injustice.

But why? Help me understand.

I was recently in a local public high school and it appeared to be homecoming week. There were a lot of events happening and the day I was there must have been dress in red white and blue day or something of the sort.

I saw teenage boys wearing athletic shorts that came down to the knees with the flag on the shorts. Parts of the flag were in very potentially awkward positions on said teenage boys posteriors.

I saw teenage girls wearing yoga pants that were made out of the flag. Well, let’s just say that what might have appropriate attire for the yoga class or a workout at the gym was way too tight for at school. That flag stretched and pulled and bent in rather interesting ways in interesting places.

Now, help me understand. This was an almost all white school, but how can wearing those type of clothes – shorts and yoga pants – with the flag on them be respectful of the flag and respectful of the country and yet kneeling quietly during the national anthem isn’t?

Or were the teenagers at the local high school protesting something too?

If they were, I missed it.


2 Words

I had the opportunity this past week to talk with a bunch of high school students about the shortest verse in the Bible.

What is it?

John 11:34

“Jesus Wept”

That’s it. That’s all that the verse says. Jesus cried.

But why?

Why what? Why did he cry? He was sad about Lazarus, wasn’t he?

Was he? Think about it a minute.

Did Jesus know what he was going to do next? I believe He did. I believe that he stood there and wept knowing very well that within the next 10 minutes, His friend Lazarus would be raised from the dead. That HE would raise Lazarus from the dead.

So why was He crying?

Was He crying because all of these people didn’t truly believe that He was who He said He was and they doubted?

Was He crying about what He had to face that next week in Jerusalem?

Was He crying about the evil that was running rampant around the world?

Was He weeping about Hitler?

Was He weeping about the madmen in Rwanda and other places who are responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of people?

Was He weeping about Las Vegas?

And Orlando

And London

And Sandy Hook

And Columbine

After a good bit of wrestling with the question, we came up with what was probably a bit of a cop-out…….

We said that Jesus was probably weeping over all of these and more.

He was looking death in the face and was faced with the evil in the world.

The evil that has come down in the past and since then and knew that He had a big job ahead of him.

That’s what He was weeping about.

But we also agreed it will be really cool to be able to sit around the table with Jesus some day and ask Him.

Smart bunch of teenagers…….


Chess or Checkers?

This morning, in church, our pastor said something in the sermon that really hit home with me. We’re just starting a series on King David – “A Mess After God’s Own Heart.”

While talking about God’s transition from the King the people of Israel wanted (Saul) to the King that God wanted (David), Pastor Darrell said, “God doesn’t play checkers, he plays chess – think about it…….”

I have been……

Checkers is a game that usually takes minutes not hours.
Chess is a game that takes hours, days or even longer.

Checkers is a game requires minimal skills and intelligence.
Chess is a game that requires significant intelligence if you are going to play it well.

Checkers is a game that rarely requires seeing more than one or two steps in advance.
Chess is a game that requires seeing far into the future and planning not just the next move or two, but the next dozen moves and anticipating your opponent’s move far into the future.

Checkers can have multiple kings and everyone else is exactly the same.
Chess has only one leader, only one King and it celebrates and coordinates the differences between the players.

So, what do we have? We have God playing a “game” that requires patience, takes a long time, requires seeing into the future and planning many steps, celebrates and protects one leader and one King.

Yeah, I’d say God plays chess. What do you think?

Tom V

On Being Uncomfortable

I had a conversation with a young man the other day and the topic turned to going on mission trips – particularly overseas trips to places where it is totally different than where we are.

Me: “I would encourage you to take some time and talk to your parents, talk to God, talk to others about whether you should do a mission trip like that.”

Him: “I’m just not the right type.”

Me: “What do you mean by that? Who is the right type?”

Him: “Someone who likes to travel. Someone who speaks a couple of languages. Someone who is a doctor or a construction worker or something like that.”

Him: “I would feel uncomfortable.”

Me: “Now we’re talking……”

Him: “Huh?”

Me: “Let me tell you a couple of things: 1) Every time I have gone on a mission trip, especially one to a country other than the United States, I have been nervous or uncomfortable. Sometimes the nervousness goes away soon, sometimes it doesn’t go away until I land back in the United States. 2) What have I been nervous about? Well, in random order, language, water, language, heat, water, sweat, driving up the mountains in the back of a pick up with no seat belts and a huge drop off on the edge of the road, being able to do the right work without insulting the locals, strange food, oh and did I mention water?. “These are some of my favorite things…….”

But do you want to know what my favorite thing to be uncomfortable about is?”

Him: “Yeah.”

Me: “My favorite thing to be uncomfortable about when I go on a mission trip is that I will miss God. I know He is there. I want to go there, see Him, hear Him and a part of what He is doing.”

“The thought of missing the chance to see God at work makes me uncomfortable.”