What Matters to Me Part 2

Earlier we had talked about exploring what matters to me and what matters to you.

We talked about it in somewhat general terms – and said that we’ll get more specific.

Let’s get more specific.

To start that out, I want to share with you a statement, I don’t believe it originated with him, that our Senior Pastor uses on a regular basis……

“I’m just one blind beggar trying to help other blind beggars find bread.”

and another one…..

“You are worse off and more undeserving than you could ever imagine.”

and at the same time

“You are more loved and cared for than you could ever possibly deserve.”

Combine those two and what do you have? You have someone who is no better than anyone else trying to lead a group of struggling sinners to see and accept the grace of Jesus.

And once you realize that and truly accept the gift that you’ve been given, how do you respond?

You look around.

You look around and see that there are other blind beggars around you.

You look around, see the blind beggars around you, and say, “Here, let me help you.”

And then you help them find bread.

You don’t just read Bible verses to them.

You don’t just write long posts on Facebook about different Bible passages.

You help them find bread. Physical bread when they are hungry. But more than that.

Meet them where they are. See their need and help meet their need.

““Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Matthew 25:34-40 NIV
http://bible.com/111/mat.25.34-40.niv

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8 NIV
http://bible.com/111/mic.6.8.niv

That’s what matters to me.

I hope it matters to you too.

Tom

My Dad was a Wise Guy

Many of you know my dad.  Some of you don’t.

He passed away on March 23 of this year after a 15 month battle with pancreatic cancer. Ironically, it was side effects of the treatments that brought him to glory, not the cancer itself. The fact that he had cancer 4 times was a lot of chemo and radiation……

My dad was a Christian Reformed minister. But he was also a teacher, counselor, friend, author, mentor and many other things. He was a wise man.

Okay, and sometimes he was a wise guy too. He had a sense of mischief and a sense of humor that kept all of us on our toes. I could tell you stories for a long time, but that’s not for now – maybe later.

You know how every child goes through the stages of thinking about their parents? First, their father knows everything. Then as they get to be teenagers, they think that their Dad knows nothing. Finally, when they grow up, they realize that yeah, guess what, Dad was pretty smart?

There’s another stage beyond that. Not everyone has a good enough relationship with their dad to get to this stage. It’s the stage when, you’re an adult, and as you are discussing things, often deep things, tough things, important things, your dad admits something to you. “I don’t know.”

Yep, my Dad didn’t know everything. He knew a lot. He made a lot of people’s lives a lot better. I love him dearly, I miss him dearly and I’m grateful for the role he has played in my life and the lives of my family members. I’m also grateful that he was free to admit he didn’t know everything. Why?

When you admit you don’t know everything and encourage discussions with others, you are all better off. You might learn from him or from her.

When you admit you don’t know everything you are providing others with the opportunity to share their opinions. That shows them respect and value and we need more of that in the world.

When you admit you don’t know everything, the person you are talking with is encouraged to discuss and search for truth while feeling important. There is so little of that trust and respect these days.

Admit you don’t know everything. Not only everything about EVERYTHING, but also admit that you probably aren’t the one who knows the most about the subject you’re talking about.

Admit it but keep talking.

And listening.

Really listening. Listening to learn.

You might be surprised what will happen.

Tom

Getting Smart

In the previous post, we talked about how it is important to push back against confusion and misunderstanding. We talked about how it’s important to push back against those because if we can clear up confusion and misunderstanding, it’s easier to push back against evil.

Why? Because evil likes to create confusion.

Evil likes to use misunderstanding to hide from the light of day.

Now I want to make it more personal. I don’t want to talk about government policies that are confusing. I don’t want to talk about how the motives behind what so and so does are being misunderstood.

I want to talk about you. I want to talk about me.

I can’t speak for you, maybe you do. I don’t.

Don’t what? I don’t know everything.

Not even close. Actually, so far from close that it’s funny to even think about.

But I know that if I get smarter, I can make more of a difference. If I ask questions, I can learn more. If I read about things, I can learn what is going on.

Most people are more afraid of what they don’t know about than what they do. If they don’t understand what is happening or why, that can create fear. It can create contempt.

I don’t understand your music – so it must be bad music.

I don’t understand your language – so you must be talking nasty about something or someone.

I don’t understand your religion so I don’t like you.

I don’t…….

The list can go on and on and on.

But if I do understand, then I can see you for you, not for what I didn’t understand.

If I do understand, then I can see the reason behind behaviors and not be afraid of the behaviors as evil or hostile.

If I understand your history, then I can appreciate your cultural festivals and respect them and you better.

If I understand the reason behind events in history, then I can see them for the impact they have on you and on me.

Most people are afraid of things that they don’t understand.

Many people will, when they understand things or people or traditions or habits or whatever, respond in a way that furthers communication and relationships.

And that makes the world a better place.

Tom

Tom

E>C + M (Part 1)

In my previous work on behalf of children in Haiti, one of the things I learned was that E is definitely greater than C & M.

But it’s a LOT easier to solve for C & M than it is to uncover E.

Huh?

C = Confusion

M = Misunderstanding

E = Evil

There is definitely more evil at work attempting to hurt and destroy. Abuse, trafficking, corruption, government malfeasance (a $64 word for – bad stuff), illness, poverty, greed, let alone things like kidnapping, robbery, murder – it’s a long list of things that are really evil in this world. I’ll be talking more about this and spiritual warfare going forward.

Oh, and then there are places like Haiti where, in addition to all of those, there’s also this thing called voodoo. All I’m going to say about that is the stories that some of my friends in Haiti have told me, well, they make the TV show “Criminal Minds” seem tame.

But it’s easier to solve for Confusion and Misunderstanding than evil. How’s that?

Let me quote Donald Rumsfeld when he was the Secretary of Defense during the first Persian Gulf War (yeah, I’m old enough to remember that). He said, “There are known knowns. There are known unknowns. There unknown unknowns.” He said these in terms of the military action against Iraq. In the fight against evil.

There are things we know we know. If there isn’t confusion and misunderstanding, then it’s a lot more straightforward in terms of fighting evil. If we know that something or someone is evil, it is easier to fight against them.

There are things we know we don’t know. There is confusion and misunderstanding – and we know there is. We don’t know what we’re dealing with – even though we know that it is evil. Before we can truly fight against that evil, we need to remove the confusion and the misunderstanding so that we can truly understand the evil.

And then there are the things we don’t know that we don’t know. Those things that you don’t realize have an underlying problem. But then, as you learn more, you realize that something that appeared to be neutral or even good for some ended up having really bad outcomes for other people. Outcomes that, if the person who originally made the decision knew it, they might have done differently.

What’s an example of that? A former US administration thought they were doing a really good thing for US farmers and implemented a series of tariffs and subsidies on rice that made US rice much more attractive. It was actually so attractively priced that the US farmers could export that rice and sell it in Haiti.

What’s wrong with that? The US government subsidized US rice so substantially that US farmers sold it in Haiti – for substantially below market rates and below what Haitian rice farmers could afford to sell rice. Suddenly, the Haitian farmers had no one who wanted to buy their rice – because they could pay less to buy the US rice.

An entire industry in Haiti was decimated. Thousands of farmers went out of business. Fields were left abandoned. People starved to death. All because a former US President didn’t know that his actions that supposedly helped US rice farmers had actually wiped out the livelihoods and actual lives of other people.

I’m going to spend a lot of time working through, writing about, talking about things that we probably don’t understand. Things that I don’t fully understand. Things that appear to be one way. Things that when you dig into them further, show that they are actually a different way.

When we eliminate confusion and misunderstanding, it will be easier to see and then fight evil.

That’s what I plan on doing – I hope you will too.

TJV