What’s Required?

Posted without permission – created by the Madison Square Church Youth Group and some additional very talented artists (if you know who, please comment to give them credit)

Available for viewing at 1401 Madison St Grand Rapids MI

The Passing of the Torch – a tale of two Doctors

Once upon a time, there was this kid from Muskegon (for those of you not from Michigan, that’s about 45 minutes northwest of Grand Rapids.)

As he grew up, he wanted to become a preacher.

So he did.

And it was good.

And he was good at it.

And God used him to serve and help many people.

And that kid went on to get additional education. After a while, he got another Master’s degree and then he got a doctorate.

But he never wanted to use that title. That’s just not what he was about. He was about helping people and serving God.

And it was good. It wasn’t easy but it was good.

Many times, it was hard but it was good.

And God used him to serve and help many people.

Four of those hard times came when his body was hit by cancer.

Those times impacted many people, touched many lives, encouraged many other people going through hard times.

In 1972, he beat the cancer.

In 1984, he beat the cancer.

In 1990, he beat the cancer.

And then it came back in 2017. A different type, a new battle, but still that “c” word.

By then, this kid from Muskegon was pushing close to 80 years old. That’s far enough along in years to have grandkids pursuing careers.

There was this girl from Jenison who wanted to become a nurse.

And she did.

And it was good.

And she was good at it.

And God used her to help people, particularly very sick kids and their families, in very difficult times.

It was hard, but it was good.

And then this girl from Jenison wanted to do more.

And God opened doors and she learned more and figured out more ways to help kids and their families.

And she taught college students who are learning to be nurses.

And she got more education.

After her grandpa was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, she said to her dad, “I think it’s too much to hope for, but I’d love it if Grandpa could be at my graduation.”

Dr. Vanderwell could attend Dr. Vanderwell’s graduation and be part of watching her become the next generation of Dr. Vanderwells.

But it wasn’t to be.

35 days. 

God called the first Dr. Vanderwell home 35 days ago.

For 35 days, there wasn’t a Dr. Vanderwell here on this earth.

But there is again.

In many ways, she’s a different Doctor.

But in many ways, she’s the same and has learned much from the first Dr. Vanderwell.

Do what you do to care for people.

Do what you do to make the world a better place.

Do what you do to spread the love of Jesus.

Today, we witnessed the passing of the torch.

From Grandpa to granddaughter.

While it hurts that he wasn’t able to be “here” to see the graduation, I know, we know, that he saw it from Heaven.

And it was good.

May God continue to bless the new Dr. Vanderwell and give her the continued passion to impact people and change lives like her Grandpa did – even though she’ll do it in her own special way.

And this Dad is proud of both generations today. Proud to be the first Dr. Vanderwell’s son and proud to be the second Dr. Vanderwell’s Dad.

God is good. (All the time)

All the time. (God is good)

Tom

McDonald’s Billboard – Really?

Okay, maybe I’m the only one who sees it.

Maybe it’s just a billboard run by local McDonalds restaurants.

But I doubt it.

In the environment that we are in, the political, racial and governmental environment, there isn’t a day that goes by where immigration isn’t in the news.

Temporary Protective Status

DACA

The Wall

Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary Churches

Deportations

Rallies

Articles about how the United States allowed a grand total of 11 refugees from Syria to immigrate in 2017.

Eleven.

We had that many people for a relatively small breakfast birthday party on Saturday.

So what does McDonald’s do?

They run a series of billboards – I know there are at least two in West Michigan, probably more that have the McDonald’s logo on them. And they have pictures of a couple of the McDonald’s frozen drinks.

What words does it say?

“Have an ICE Day!”

You’re probably thinking, yeah, they are talking about frozen drinks and they want you to have an ICE day. In other words, get yourself one of our ice cold frozen drinks and your life will be better.

But given our current environment, ICE isn’t only about frozen water.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE is about a family from my son’s school who got separated because the dad isn’t allowed back in the United States.

ICE is about one of the pastors our church supports (here in Grand Rapids), having government people show up at his door one night asking to see papers and for him to prove that he is here legally. (He’s Hispanic and he’s a US citizen – so he’s fine).

ICE is about a church in Kalamazoo consulting with attorneys about how they can lawfully keep ICE out of their church because there are people staying in their church who are concerned for their safety at the hands of ICE.

ICE is about 60,000 Haitians who are afraid they will have to face the decision – “I have been here since 2010 and the earthquake that wiped out my city, under temporary protection status, my children who have been born since then are US citizens. What do I do?”

Words mean things.

In certain environments and certain times, words mean different things than they did at a different time. We are in a time where the current government has made ICE a word that means way more than just frozen water.

For thousands if not millions of people in the United States, ICE represents a government agency that can disrupt families, ruin lives, fracture communities.

At best, McDonald’s decision to wish you an ICE day is strictly an advertising choice that wasn’t thought through completely.

At worst, McDonald’s just might be telling us something more.

Come on, McDonald’s, you can do better. You know better.

TJV

A Trans-Racial Parent Speaks Out

That’s what we’re called.  Parents who have children who are of a different race than they are – whether it is through adoption or through interracial marriage, I don’t think it matters.  

It’s different.  It’s different because you straddle two worlds.  You are in one world, your child(ren) are often in another world.   Sometimes those worlds mesh together, often they don’t.   Sometimes people in the white world understand, more often they don’t.

Read what Katie Ganshert had to say on Ann Voskamp’s site today. 

Read the whole post at http://annvoskamp.com/2018/04/why-the-church-cant-keep-turning-away-from-our-race-issues-why-we-cant-put-the-past-behind-us-because-its-buried-in-us/

“The world is wrong. You can’t put the past behind you. It’s buried in you.” – Claudia Rankine

Slavery. Convict leasing. Over 4,000 lynchings. Jim Crow segregation. White flight and red-lining.

All of it is buried in us. All of it points to an appallingly racist past that has left a racist legacy that manifests itself in policies and systems that disadvantage and oppress specific people groups.

Like our education system, where black and brown students find themselves more segregated than they were in 1968—stuck in schools that are understaffed and under-resourced.

Or a criminal justice system that frisks 85% of blacks and Latinos stopped by police, but only 8% of whites. Those are just two examples of many—the tippity-top of a giant racial iceberg. Statistics I didn’t know until I started to listen.

I had no idea that Sunday remains the most segregated hour in America. I saw a handful of black people inside my church as proof that we were fine. I had no idea that many black evangelicals in predominately white churches report feeling unseen and unheard.

That wasn’t something I learned until I leaned closer.

But now I see.

I see it in the person who posts Galatians 3:28 on Facebook, then goes on a rant about how much they can’t stand Colin Kaepernick.

I see it in the way people love the pictures I post of my daughter, but get really quiet when I start talking about the issues that will directly impact her as a black woman in this country.

We want Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech, not his letter from a Birmingham jail, where he calls out the white moderate, “who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”


What to Think, what to think……?

Easter

Facebook is literally covered with good well founded Easter celebration posts.

Much to be thankful for….

Jesus has died and rose from the dead and saved us eternally. 

Much to be thankful for……

But as I sit in church this morning,  I hear the pain.

The desire for wholeness.

The end to illness and racism and discrimination and poverty.

I sit in church a few rows up from a friend who is “celebrating” her first Easter as a widow and she’s younger than I am.

I walked out of church with my ears rining and my head pounding like I had been to a rock concert (and I hadn’t) – because of medical issues that aren’t resolving as quickly as we’d like – and I only heard of half of the music beccause some of the side effects aren’t going away – yet.

We go to Easter dinner at my Mom’s – 9 days after my Dad left this world and went to join Jesus in Heaven.

We talk about the blessings that my Dad was and the fact that he’s not here to enjoy Easter with us.   He’s enjoying Easter in a much better place.

Easter – it tells the end of the story.

But we’re not at the end yet. 

We know the final outcome.

But we struggle with the sadness and pain and loneliness in this world.

What to think?  How to deal with the struggles?

It’s hard to trust with all of the pain – but as we were told in church this morning, the truth is incontrovertible – ask C.S. Lewis or Lee Strobel – the resurrection is real.

And so, all of this pain and suffering and loneliness will come to an end.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come Quickly,

Tom