Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy

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

Author: tomvanderwell (page 1 of 121)

New Year’s Resolutions?

A quick walk down my Facebook wall (yes I know, walking down a wall is a bit theoretical but you know what I mean) and it’s full of resolutions. People promising to. do this or saying they want to do that. Or people promising that if you give them $XX.XX per month, they will help you do that thing.

It’s a constant parade this time of year. And most of them don’t last very long. Rarely do they even last until February.

I’ve been convinced that this needs to change. Rather than saying, “I’m going to do this……” Or “I can help you do this……” It needs to be different.

Remember how, in the Old Testament, Samuel, when he was a little boy and he heard a voice at night, what did he finally say?

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

God speaks and we listen.

But do we? Or do we speak and hope that God listens?

I’m going to try to do that more this year.

Listen to God, seek out what He is saying.

And do it.

It’s a dangerous path some times. It’s way outside the comfort zone most times.

But God is good.

All the time.

Even when we don’t know what God’s up to.

I’m going to try.

And I’m going to try to share it with you.

I hope you’ll join me……

Tom

Do Less and Be More

So, today at church, Mary and Martha taught us a lesson.

And their brother Lazarus wasn’t even involved.

At the end of Luke 10, there’s a short story with a big impact.

Jesus stops by and visits Mary and Martha. Well, what would you do if God stopped by and visited?

Martha was flying around trying to get everything done. Frazzled, over worked and exhausted. You know how that happens right?

Oh wait? My house is the only one that happens at? Yeah, right.

What was her sister doing? Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to him and soaking in his wisdom.

That’s right, Martha was flying around getting everything ready and Mary was sitting and listening to Jesus. And Martha got ticked off.

Ticked off at Mary enough that she went to Jesus, in front of everyone, and said, “Master, would you do something about this sister of mine? She’s just sitting here while I’m cleaning, cooking and doing laundry and everything! Argh! I can’t stand it, I want to be sitting here talking to you but someone has to put dinner in the oven!”

How did Jesus respond?

Did he side with Martha and scold Mary and tell her to get busy?

Or did he basically say, “chill, Martha, it’s okay. Mary is focusing on what’s really important?”

Yep, that’s right. Jesus didn’t tell Mary to go help Martha, instead he urged Martha to spend more time like Mary – focusing on the one thing that really matters.

And what is that one thing?

Do less and be more.

Don’t be so busy doing things for God that you don’t have time to be with God.

Don’t be so busy with “churchy” things that you miss out on the opportunity to hear and be with Jesus.

Now that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to show our gratitude to Him for all he has done for us. He still expects us to live a life that is a healthy blend of faith (an overarching believe that Jesus died for us) and works (showing gratitude through the way we live.)

But He’s saying, rather loudly, that we need to make sure we have the appropriate balance – the balance between doing good things for God and His Kingdom and spending time with Him.

I don’t know about you but I think too many of us (including me) spend too much time being busy and not enough time just being with God.

May we all learn from Mary and Martha this Christmas time and going forward…….

TV

P.S. Thank you for bringing it home and making it real, Pastor Darrell

LOVE

Posted anonymously from a good friend’s Facebook page.

I posted this four years ago.
A year after I posted this,
I almost quit ministry work.

Why?

Because love is hard.

Yes, LOVE IS HARD.

Love perseveres, but to persevere there must be struggle. Without struggle, there’s no need to persevere.

Love is kind, but to be kind, there must be a reason and opportunity to not be kind.

Love is patient, but to be patient, there must be difficult situations to either quit or allow patience to grow.

Yes, LOVE IS HARD

Love is a journey into unknowns
but we do not journey alone.

December 14, 2013 ·

This morning I woke up asking God, “How do I love people who are purposely difficult and hurtful?”

And in the silence of my heart, I heard the answer. He said, “Love me…yes, love me…love me with ALL of your heart…and as you love me, I will fill you with my love…and my love will overwhelm your fears and strengthen you to see with eyes filled with love for all people…even the ones you think are difficult.”

And tears came to my eyes, because I knew these words were filled with truth and wisdom. And all I could say was, “Ok…I will love you…and I will stay focused on my love for you…and I will trust you to fill me with the kind of love that will remain strong and unbreakable.”

That moment……

You know that moment…..

That moment when you realize that the conversation you’re having isn’t just academic.

It isn’t just theoretical.

It’s real. It’s here. It’s now.

I had one of those today. With about 20 high schoolers at once.

It was a wide ranging conversation ranging from the importance of being taken seriously to individuality to social media to the importance of family to reactions to other religions.

Why don’t the older generations take the younger generations seriously? From where I sit, they are still finding their way but have a LOT to offer this world.

Why do older generations think that younger people are superficial? Yeah, a lot of them are, but the ones I was talking to feel like they want to make a difference in this world – and I think they will. But they feel like very few people think they have much to offer.

Oh and then there’s social media – you know, that place where you are reading this……?

So many people say social media is bad. Social media makes you feel bad, social media makes you depressed. It’s all bad.

These kids, they looked at it differently. You know what, they said? It’s just like pretty much everything else in the world.

There’s the good.

And there is the bad.

And you have to be able to weed out the good and the bad.

What else did they say? Even though they don’t like it, family “screen’s out” bed times are good. In other words, every night, their screens go off at ________ time. They agreed it helps them get more sleep.

But they also said there have been times that they have used social media to communicate with a friend who was struggling and help that friend.

And they also agreed that it is hard to be the one who stays home on Spring Break and watches “everyone” else’s pictures of all of their “wonderful” vacations.

So what did they think the answer to social media’s problems is? Some of them thought that avoiding it was the answer. Many of them thought that education was the answer.

Help kids realize that what they see on social media isn’t the whole story.

Help kids realize that what people say on social media isn’t the whole story.

Help kids realize that what people say to them on social media is probably about the same as what politicians say – sometimes it’s true – a lot of the time it isn’t.

And so, if someone looks like they are having the perfect life and everything is going perfect for them, remember, this is a fallen world.

We all have a story.

We all have struggles.

We all have times when “sadness” takes over from “Joy” (think the movie Inside Out.)

And so when things look so perfect “over there” remember the saying, “The grass is always greener over the septic tank.” (One of them brought that up……)

As if that wasn’t enough conversation for the class period, we ended with a discussion about Islam, the US Constitution, Sharia Law, the difference between welcoming all people and welcoming all ideologies.

That is one impressive and though provoking bunch of teenagers.

And I was privileged to get to hang out with them for a while today and talk about things that matter.

Tom

What do we do now?

What now?

This world seems to be literally coming apart on it’s hinges. There are natural disasters and man made disasters and childish pranks and deviant leaders and……and………

How is a Christian supposed to respond?

How do we help with the natural disasters?

How do we stand up for what’s right with the political, humanitarian and social disasters?

Immigration………

Nuclear bullies……..

Political bullies…….

Terrorist bullies……

Cyber bullies……..

We’re going to wrestle with that, but in many ways, God makes it clear what we should

“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women……” Micah 6:8 MSG
http://bible.com/97/mic.6.8.msg

More to come………

Tom

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