The Future–What Are Your Plans?

As my time at GLA winds down, I was having a conversation with someone I’ve known for a while (but not someone who I’d consider a friend – just more of an acquaintance).   We were getting reconnected regarding family, jobs, banking, my time at GLA and I told him that my time at GLA is very close to being done.

“What are your plans?   What do you see as your career moving forward?”

My response?   There were two parts:

To Find Out What God Wants – I know that God’s got a plan.   I could talk or write for hours (if not longer) about how God has been at work orchestrating our adoption of our two kids, our longer term involvement in Haiti, my move from banking to the non-profit world.   It has been obvious that God has been at work in all of this.   God is drawing one chapter to a close.    He hasn’t allowed me to turn the next page yet – glimpses of it, but not the full chapter.    My goal is to find out what God wants.

And do it.   Once I find out what God wants, I want to do it.   Because I know that if I do what He wants, I’ll be able to do it with His blessing, with His leadership and with the internal joy (not happiness – those are two different things) that comes from following God’s call.

So, I don’t know what’s next, but I know who does.   And that’s all I need to know right now.

Tom

P.S. Stay tuned, I promise I’ll share this journey with you……

Lessons from Noah

Genesis 6:22 – “Noah did everything God commanded him to do.”   (The Message)

It’s simple.   Do what God tells you.

It’s hard.   Because God isn’t always standing right next to you actually talking to you like he was with Noah.

It’s simple.   It says in the Bible what God wants us to do.

It’s hard.  Because some of the commands in the Bible don’t translate clearly from Bible times to today’s times.

It’s simple.   “‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’  Mark 12:29-31 (MSG)

It’s hard – the busyness, materialism and constant noise of our world make it hard to hear God let alone obey His commands.

But it’s worth it.   Noah followed God’s commands and had the opportunity to play a huge part in the future of God’s people.

If you and I follow God’s commands, what role is He having us play in the lives of His people?

And they are ALL his people, whether in the 1st world, the 3rd world, all of them.

Tom

50,296 Acts of Love

So, this morning, after I dropped my daughter off at school, the local Christian radio station played Jason Gray’s song, “Acts of Love.”   You know the line?

“With every act of love, we bring the kingdom come.”

“God put a million, million doors in the world
For his love to walk through
One of those doors is you”

This afternoon, my daughter and I spent some time finishing up the inventory of the diapers that we’re going to be sending on the container down to Haiti next week.   IMG_1253[2]

And guess what – we saw and counted 50,296 acts of love.

That’s right, 50,296 diapers so far – with another 40 boxes to come yet.    That’s 50,296 times where someone said,  “I want to help the kids in Haiti.”

IMG_1257[1]

With every act of love, we bring the kingdom come.

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With 50,296 acts of love, the kingdom is closer to the children in Haiti than it was.

It’s not just about diapers.   It’s not just about clean bottoms.   It’s about listening to the heart of God and caring for the little ones who don’t have a family who can care for them.

Thank you, 50,296 times – with more to come!

Tom

On Limiting God

Five Times.

Five times in the last 48 hours.

Five times in the last 48 hours, the topic of limiting God has come up.

Five different locations, five different situations.

The same theme – God is way bigger than we expect He is.

Don’t feel like your plans are too big – if they are aligned with God’s goals, they are probably too small.

Don’t feel like your problems are too big – God is bigger than any problems.

Don’t feel like the challenges with your kids are too big – God can grant healing and restoration even when we don’t see it.

Don’t feel  like a job loss is the end of all things good – that would limit God – instead look at it as an opportunity to determine what God’s plan is.

Will God always give us what we want?   Hah, not a chance.   Will it always be easy?   Not a chance.

But God’s plans are way bigger than ours.

Open your eyes, open your arms.   You’re limiting God.

I’m limiting God.

And He Has No Limits to what He can do.

Tom

Spiritual Warfare–It’s All In Your Head?

I heard a sermon this morning that really made me think.   

It made me think about spiritual warfare.   If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the past, you know that I’m a firm believer in the fact that we are in the middle of warfare.   

The pastor talked about experiences he’s had worshipping near witch doctors in Africa and being woken in the middle of the night to extremely vocal and graphic voodoo ceremonies in Haiti.   He told the story of a friend raised in a very bad part of Muskegon Heights (those of you in Michigan will know a bit about where that is) and he read a rap that his friend wrote while sitting across from the house that he grew up in in that very bad part of town.

What was the similarity to all of those situations?   It was a battle for the mind.   Satan is fighting for the minds of God’s people.

Because he knows that if he can win the minds of God’s people, then he will win God’s people and that’s his ultimate goal.

So, is spiritual warfare all in your head?   Well, not in the way that we typically say it is, but from the standpoint that it is Satan’s primary point of attack, it is in your head.

That means that Satan is fighting against our feelings of self worth.   He’s trying to make us feel full of shame, self doubt and disbelief.

That means that Satan is fighting against our belief that God’s got this.   God has “this” under control – and we need to believe that.  No matter what “this” is.

That means that the most important thing we can do is make sure that we continually rely on Jesus for the cure (see http://tomvanderwell.net/2014/04/accept-the-cure/).   But we also need to be aware of the condition of our minds and how the fight is going. 

Are we feeling the strength of God in our minds so that we can withstand the attack of the devil?   Or are we cluttering our minds with things that make it easy for him to find his way in?

Are we aware of what’s going on in our minds and how the love and forgiveness of Jesus counteract the negative feelings, the shame, the struggles?

Are we aware that helping others (or getting help ourselves) to make sure our minds stay strong against the attacks of the devil is not only “okay” it’s, frankly, God’s way of providing us some of the strength we need to combat the devil.

Get the devil out of your mind, keep your mind strong and focused on what God wants and anything else that Satan throws at us can be handled.

So, yes it is all in our heads – and if that’s the battle ground, then we need to rely on God’s strength and the help of others to fight back.

And we need to do what we can to help others fight that battle too……

Tom