Category Archives: Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy

“I Too” by Langston Hughes

This was brought to my attention a year ago today. Randall Pierson from “This is Us” brought it to many people’s attention……

“I too” by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.
I the darker brother
they send me to eat in the kitchen
when company comes,
But I laugh, eat well, and grow strong
tomorrow, I’ll be at the table
when company comes.
nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“eat in the kitchen, “
then.
besides,
they’ll see how beautiful we are
and be ashamed–
I, too, am
American.

Thanks to Randall Pearson – “This is Us”

Conforming and Transforming – on Facebook?

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I’m reading in my devotions this morning and I come to Romans 12:2. “Do Not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind – on Facebook.”

Romans 12:2 NIV

Wait, what? Did Paul actually tell us to transform ourselves and renew our minds on FACEBOOK?

Well, not really. He didn’t specifically mention Facebook. I mean, really, Mr. Z wasn’t even alive back then. But look at a couple of things with me, and Mr. Zuckerberg might actually be making more sense than we thought.

I mean, if you look at it, does Paul state what we should be doing during an election period? Should we be following what the “leaders of this world” say? Not only the governmental leaders, but the media leaders, the news leaders, the local pastor, the mayor. Is Paul stating that we should follow them? Oh and also the Facebook stars and the Instagram “leaders.” Is he saying we should follow what Kim Kardashian is saying on Twitter? (I actually have more thoughts on that for another time)

Yes, he does and no he doesn’t. Paul says he wants us to transform our minds and by that we will be able to follow God’s pattern for our lives.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world?”

How do you avoid conforming to the pattern of this world? I mean especially during an election season where there are so many people yelling and yelling and blaming this guy and saying it was that guy’s fault and inflating this figure and that one.

I think you have to use the tools that are in front of you to make those decisions. And you can’t say that 1 particular “test” means that that is the right person. Especially in our tumultuous times, it’s really hard to honestly say that one line item tells you everything you need to know to vote wisely. Well, Mr. ______ said that Ronald Reagan was a __________ so I’m never going to vote for him.

Yeah, not so smart.

Instead, we need to fight the patterns of the world and look seriously at not only one question, but what God says and what he wants.

And then you can go tomorrow (or today) and vote knowing that you searched out where you felt God was calling you to listen.

TJV

Why……

Is your pastor quiet about racism? I listened to a college professor recently who switched churches because she, as a person of color, and her family could not sit every Sunday and never once hear anything about color, the effects of color, the effects of Covid19 on people of color. She told her pastor on the first Wednesday of November 2016 that they weren’t sure where they would be going, but they knew they couldn’t stay where someone with the beliefs and statements of Donald Trump was elected, but even more disappointing to her and her family was the fact that so many White evangelicals (pretty much all of West Michigan could fit in or be close to that description) supported the beliefs and morals and ethics of Donald Trump. The most recent statement of people the likes of Franklin Graham show that the number is easing slightly but not enough to make a difference yet.

If you happen to know Franklin Graham or have read a lot of his works (I have not – I just know him as Billy’s son) and can direct me to a place in his writings and speaking where he explains how an American Christian can support Donald Trump in.particular his lies, his verbal assaults and the money paid out to women because of those assaults of various type, I would love to read it.

I don’t expect you’ll be able to find such things. At lease not in documents that are issued by anyone with any sort of credibility on the subject.

Until you do, we’re stuck with pastors who are quiet about major social justice issues and Christian publicists/speakers promoting a Commander in Chief who, well, I’m going to fall back on something my Mom has had a saying she used for decades (well, we’re all growing up – or old) “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything….

………………..

TV

This is Us?

I’ve never seen it before.

Reality TV, eh, not really that real.

The news – is it truly factual or is it someone’s opinion?

Then there’s this TV show – called “This is Us.”

It’s been around and it started with a bang.
⁃ Triplets where one of them died at birth.
⁃ Adoption – a baby of color by the white parents who lost a triplet while the other two were healthy.
⁃ Grief, going from 0 kids to 3 kids at once, all of the plethora of emotions all piling on at the same time.

And then it starts this season tonight……
⁃ Impending births (I’m trying to not give too much away)
⁃ 40th birthdays for the three.
⁃ Aging issues for Mom
⁃ Racial tensions between siblings (they aren’t all white)

Overtop of all of this is woven the story of George Floyd’s murder and the riots and protests and Covid and the impact that has. The impact on the “trio” of different racial makeup and the impact on the bigger family, very difficult and very hard to watch.

A conversation with one of Randall’s daughter’s boyfriends illustrates how painful everything that’s going on really is.

Attempts at mending fences inside families – doesn’t happen quickly, happens little by little.

In depth but subtle insights in what the Covid virus is doing to our county but especially to the people of color who are struggling.

This is Us…….

This is Us?

I believe it is……

TV

What to Do? What to Do? What to Do?

Every time I’ve heard that series of three questions, (typically at church) it always makes me pause and think about it in three ways:

What to do?? What is God showing you that you need to do to follow him? Let’s look at three things in Micah 6:8 that God tells us we need to do:

Act Justly – oh yeah, got that one in the “win” column. But hold on a minute, if you’re talking to/to about the people at work that you socialize with, yeah, it’s easily to act justly (at least most of the time). But what about the single mother who is living in the homeless shelter downtown? And what about the family member who insists on voting for the presidential nominee that you think is abhorrent?

To Love Mercy – oh yeah, this one is easier. I’ve got this one in the bag. I just have to be fair to everyone. Right?”

.eh,,,,yeah, That means I need to show mercy to my neighbor, how hard is that? What about the guy with the REALLY LOUD pick up who either comes home from something at around 2:00 in the morning or leaves at that time. Wakes dogs, dogs bark and bark and bark and wake up most of the dogs in the neighborhood which then wake up more people.

Now how easy is acting justly and loving mercy? Let’s put it down this way:
• If you act according to God’s design and follow his rules, all will be well.
• If you act justly to the “good guys” that doesn’t make a dent in this requirement. You need to act justly to the not so nice guys. Huh? Why would I want to be just and merciful to people who are on the opposite side of one of the _________(fill in your own four letter words) presidential elections in our time. Why because God says so.

Looking just at social media, how can we walk humbly with our God?
• Always respond in a set time frame. If someone compliments something you wrote, thank them right away.
• If someone responds with a clear well thought question or opinion and you are not sure whether it’s something you agree with, thank them for the feedback. And then put it on your schedule to be dealt with a bit later. We owe God the time to let him stir in our hearts the right way to respond.
• No one ever said something more obnoxiously by waiting and stepping away from it for a bit. We need to take a middle ground – not necessarily our opinions regarding the issue but with how we talk back and forth about it.

This is Not to say that you don’t speak from your heart and you don’t speak boldly, it’s to say that you speak calmly with conviction and with well thought rationality.

Don’t get way too excited and pushy about it, stay calm and your words will ring much more true and will be taken more seriously than if your readers feel verbally attacked by what you say and they will then shut down and won’t listen to you..

“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
https://www.bible.com/111/mic.6.8.niv

Tom V