It’s Not Just for Funeral Homes

What isn’t?

Grief.

It comes at different times and different places.

It’s never the same for two people – even if they are grieving the loss of the same person.

Some of the times are “somewhat” predictable – like your Dad’s 81st birthday that came 15 days after he went home to be with Jesus.

Like the day your daughter became the 2nd Dr. Vanderwell (http://tomvanderwell.net/2018/04/the-passing-of-the-torch-a-tale-of-two-doctors/)

Some of them are totally unpredictable. 

Like when you’re having devotions and there’s something that you aren’t clear on.   “I think I’ll ask Dad……”

Oh wait, I can’t ask Dad.   I can’t ask him about that Bible passage. 

I can’t…. 

I can’t……

There’s a lot of things I can’t do because there’s a lot of things my Dad can do right now that he couldn’t. 

Like sit down and talk with John, the author of Revelations.

And ask him what I was going to ask my Dad.   In Revelations 20:11-15, it talks about the dead being judged by what they had done.   What does that mean?

Does “what they had done” mean whether or not they chose to believe?   Because if it means the works they did, isn’t the thief on the cross totally screwed over?   I mean think about it, he was a Christian for maybe 10 minutes before he died?

I think “what they had done” has to mean whether they chose to believe and chose to live for Christ.   It’s really the only way any of us have a chance at Heaven – and I believe that’s what John means.

Hey Dad – can you ask him the next time you see him?

In the mean time, any of my minister or seminary friends who want to chime in with your thoughts, please do so.

Tom

Can We Talk?

Welcome to what used to be “Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy” and is being reconstructed into “Can We Talk? – Not Easy Questions with No Easy Answers.”

Stay tuned, more changes will be happening soon.

Tom

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.”

The Politics of Poverty–Throwing Money is Not Enough

There is a rather large non-governmental organization in the United Kingdom called “OxFam.”   I’m not sure why it has that name, but it does.

They publish a blog with a series of articles on it that wrestle with some very big and very deep issues relating to poverty, to the governmental impact on poverty and how to hopefully do it better.    While I read it consistently, some of it is way too obtuse and hypothetical for me to see its relevance.

This one is not.   They wrote a post yesterday that you can read here if you want to  read the entire thing.   Let me attempt to hit some high points or low points for you:

  • The article is talking specifically about situations in Tanzania and Uganda where the government is displacing poor and poverty stricken people to clear room for industrial development and other things.   Sound like a good thing, right?   The governments are basically saying, “We need where you live so that we can build an oil refinery and make money.   Here’s $_________ go move.”   What’s wrong with that?
  • The article lays out a convincing case that it is not a situation where there is anything wrong with that.   No, instead it is a situation where that is not ENOUGH.    If you give someone who is struggling with poverty some money and tell them to move, they might have a little more money but if they move and then something happens, they have nothing to fall back on and that essentially puts them in a worse position than they were.

So if that’s not enough, what is enough?   Their point is that if someone (a government etc.) is going to relocate people because they need that land, they need to do three things:

1. Compensate them for their troubles – anyone who has ever moved knows how disruptive it can be.   It’s disruptive when you plan on it, it’s even more so when it is forced on you.

2. Help them – help them make the move to their new place.   Don’t just say, “move, here’s money.”   Instead, help them get through all of the logistics and the struggles of actually getting there.

3. Provide or help them obtain a place to move to.   Don’t let them get stuck strictly in a refugee camp, but help them get reestablished with either a place of their own or a place they can rent.

In the article that OxFam wrote, they are focusing on one particular situation.   A situation where a government or corporation needs to relocate people so that business can develop and expand.

Let me give you a couple of examples of where and how else it could happen:

  • Houston
  • The island of Barbuda
  • The Florida Keys
  • Puerto Rico
  • Mexico

What do all of those have in common?   In the last month, they have all been hit by natural disasters of epic proportions.  

There are millions of people who don’t know what to do, who don’t know how to do what needs to be done, who don’t have any way to help themselves.   They lost everything in that natural disaster.   If the governmental agencies or non-profits that are helping only do step 1, they aren’t really helping.

So, when you want to “do something” to help, make sure that the organization you are working with or want to support has all of those steps in mind.   They might not do all of them, but they see them and understand them and work with others who can help with those parts.

Helping is more complex than it appears, but it can be done and done well, if it’s done carefully.

Tom V