Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy

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

Category: Thoughts (page 1 of 51)

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

Reminders of Thanksgiving

On the way into church tonight, something really interesting happened…….

While most of the time, at Thanksgiving, we look back at this past year someone at church said something that sparked an amazing conversation.

A conversation that brought back memories from 6, 7 and even 8 years ago.

A conversation that brought to mind 5 different kids.

And several doctors all over the country.

And the charge nurse of an intensive care unit in Haiti.

And an adoption agency employee who traveled many hours to be in Miami “just in case” someone needed him. And someone did.

And a nurse in Miami who had a “gut feeling” about one of the girls. That girl is now in 3rd grade and doing well. Oh and the nurse – she happened to be my wife who was down helping out with a medical team after the earthquake in Haiti.

And a Senior Pastor in Miami who wasn’t afraid to call some of his friends and ask for a favor. Some of his friends who happen to be board members of a hospital.

Sometimes when you have a year that has a lot of struggles, when you have a year of wondering what God’s up to, when things don’t seem to go the way you think they should, it’s good to look a little farther.

Pastor Dave, thank you for reminding me that we have a lot to be thankful for. Thank you for reminding me of Sonia, and Elli and RoseLaure and Danny and Johnny and Susan and…….

God is good!

All the time!

Tom

27,000 Citizens of the United States

Before I get into the topic in the title, let me explain why the blog has been quiet for the last month. I’m helping out a local school that has one of it’s most well liked teachers at least temporarily hit hard by the Big C – cancer. So between lesson plans and more, I haven’t had time to share my thoughts as I like to.

But I have to. So, let me ask you a question, if you were walking down the street and a reporter put a mic in front of you and asked you,

“Should the government pass an immigration law that would potentially require 27,000 children who are US citizens to either be separated from their parents or require them to move to a country they have never been in and one where it is doubtful whether their parents will be able to support them?”

What would you say?

That’s not the way the media portrays it. That’s not the way the US government portrays it.

“We’ve checked it out and Haiti is SIGNIFICANTLY better than it was and it can welcome home those who were in the US on TPS.”

I was in Haiti about a year after the earthquake (February of 2011). I was also in Haiti in May of 2017. Are things better? Yes.

But in no way that you could look at it, could you say that Haiti is doing well enough.

Not.a.chance.

But the US government says, “Oh, we took a 4 hour trip to Haiti and it’s doing well enough.”

Remember that thing I said earlier? Are things better? Yes. If you only look at 5% of the country, then, well, you could…….

Can you imagine being a Haitian parent of US citizens and know that you are stuck in this hard place?

Do you take your US citizen children to Haiti with you – and hope they survive?

Or do you………

Does anyone want to set up a temporary foster care system for US children of Haitian descent?

And does anyone find it a bit awkward that the President was on national TV pardoning two turkey just hours after he signed documents throwing so many lives into turmoil?

We can’t sit back and do nothing while this unfolds.

But what can we do? What would you do if it was you?

27,000 children

59,000 adults

One stroke of the pen.

May God have mercy on them and may He move us to not be silent while this unfolds.

Tom

“It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor……..” Part of Micah 6:8

Oh that’s easy. If my neighbor has a baby, bring them cookies.

If their car breaks down, offer them a ride.

If they need help, offer to help shovel their driveway.

But wait a minute. That’s not all is it?

Nope. Those are only the neighbors right next door. And the easy things……

What about the homeless man on the corner on your way to work?

Or the friend who runs a care center for single teenage moms?

Or the former golfing buddy who is now in the US House of Representatives?

How do you do what is fair and just for them?

And then there are the neighbors who aren’t so close. But they are still neighbors……
• The victims of the Harvey, Irma and Maria.
• The victims of the earthquake in Mexico.
• The little girl growing up next to your friends in Haiti who is suffering from malnutrition.
• The children in the United States who fear being deported to a country they have never lived in.
• The families who are risking death to take a boat across the Mediterrean Sea because they are willing to risk a significant chance of death on the sea rather than a guaranteed death at the hands of terrorists.

How do you do what is fair and just for them?

And there’s one more important type of neighbor we can’t forget. The neighbors who don’t look like us.

They have brown or black skin and we don’t.

They might or might not speak English as well as we do.

Their favorite food might be different than ours.

And that’s just a small list of the variations that we could see.

They are our neighbors too.

So then ask yourself:
• Would Jesus want you to build a huge wall between us and their home country?
• Would Jesus want you to send 59,000 of them back to Haiti based on one person’s 3 hour visit that says, “Haiti is good, send them back?”
• Would Jesus want you to send……

I think you get the picture. There are a lot of ways that God can call us to be fair and just to our neighbors. And it really isn’t simple.

So what do you do? Stay tuned……

Tom V

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