Even When It Burns…..

To listen, to love, and to pray and discern
And to do the right thing even when it burns

Those words come from Josh Garrels song, “Beyond the Blue” from the album, “Love and War and the Sea In Between.”   If you have never listened to it, I recommend you do, several times.   Every time I listen to him, I learn more and more.

These two lines really hit me this morning and I wanted to share that “hit” with you……

To Listen – He’s not talking about listening to other people or the noise of the media or the chaos of modern life.    He’s talking about listening to God.

To love – Love God, love others, love yourself – don’t be evil, don’t be judgmental, don’t be mean.  As Josh says in another one of his songs, “We’re all castaways in need of rope.”   Love each other and love God that way.

To pray and to discern –  Without praying and talking to God about what He wants, you’re not going to be able to understand what His will is for you.   It’s like trying to understand your teenager without talking to them – it doesn’t work (and NO I am not comparing God to a moody teenager).   Discern – we’ve been talking a lot in Elders at my church about discernment.   How do we know what God wants?   How are we able to put aside what we might think and move towards what God wants us to do?

And to do the right thing even when it burns – Ouch.  This is the hard part.   Even when the right thing is hard, God calls us to do it.    Even when the right thing burns, He wants us to be faithful.

That means that when He is calling us to do the right thing caring for “our neighbors,”  we need to do it even if it burns.

That means that our comfort comes a very distant 2nd to our calling to do what God wants us to.

So, what is God calling you to do?   And does it burn?   Even if it does, be faithful.

Someone will be better off and either this world or the next world will be a better place because you did it.

Tom

Foolishness

A Franciscan Blessing:

“May God bless you with foolishness.   Enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim can not be done.   Amen”

Let’s think about this for a minute or two, working back from the end to the beginning…….

Others claim can not be done…..   There are many people in this world who seem to think that it is a gift to be able to tell others what can’t be done.   “But we’ve never done it that way before.”   “You can’t do that!”    “But how are we going to…….”

You can do what others claim can’t……   Don’t listen to those who say it can’t be done.   Do it.

Foolishness from God ….  First off, if it’s from God, it might seem like foolishness according to the world’s standards, but it’s not.   Secondly, nothing is foolish to God and all things are possible.

Bless you with foolishness ……  The kind of foolishness that comes from God is a blessing, not a curse.    Embrace it, run with it, shake life up and look for God in what you see around you.

I read another book where the author asked a “famous Christian speaker and writer” this question:

“How do I know if this is God’s plan for me?”  

The answer?  “If it matches up with God’s will in the Bible and you feel led to do it, go for it with confidence.”

So what sort of foolishness is God calling you to get involved in?    What sort of foolishness is God calling me to get involved in?

Hmmm…….

Tom

The Things I Learned on Saturday

So, Saturday, I spent the afternoon with approximately 100 of my close friends.    What makes them close friends?   Well, besides for the fact that they are all awesome people, the fact that they all have Haitian kids and a heart for Haiti make them close friends.

I learned (or relearned) a number of things on Saturday.    Let me share a few of them…….

  • 100 people can eat a LOT of pizza.    We ordered 14 extra large pizzas and there were 6 pieces left.   Of course my son ate 5 pieces.   Smile
  • Haitian kids are not quiet kids.   Enough said?
  • Even the kids get it.    The appreciation of the opportunity to be with other transracial families and other kids where the kids and the parents aren’t all the same color is important to everyone.
  • While the parents don’t “get it” they are willing to do it.    I had the opportunity to talk with a couple of adoptive parents who are just starting the process.    One of them said,  “I know that I don’t know what I’m getting into.   I know that I have no idea the challenges that I’ll face and I’m doing my best to prepare for that.   But I  know Who told me to do it and so we’re jumping in.”   That, my friends, is a rock star of faith and challenge.
  • We’re all the opposite of the Simon and Garfunkel song,  “I am a Rock.”    We aren’t rocks, we aren’t islands and we benefit from being supported by others who are walking the same path.
  • Two of the Haitian kids who were at the gathering were part of the group that was evacuated after the earthquake.    There were more of that group there, but these two were extra special.    Rose and Elli – if God hadn’t brought you to Miami and then to the Midwest when He did, you wouldn’t be here today.   Every time I get to play with, tease, tickle or just watch either of them I’m reminded of the goodness of God – even in times of pain and struggle.

Was it fun?    Yes it was.    Was it a learning experience?    Absolutely.    I’m better off and significantly richer for the  time spent…….

God is good (all the time)

All the time (God is good)

Tom

Tomorrow–a Day for Relationships

There’s something special happening tomorrow.   It’s not just a day for basketball games (though that does happen).  

Tomorrow, there’s a gathering of sorts happening in Hudsonville, Michigan.  Over 100 people will be coming to the gathering.

To eat pizza.

To eat other food.

To play games.

And why are we coming together?   Because we all have a connection.

We’re from Haiti.

We’ve adopted part of our family from Haiti.

We have worked in or for organizations in Haiti.

It’s a day of connections.   It’s an opportunity to relate to people who are walking the same path that you are.   An opportunity to hang out with people who don’t look like the stereotypical Caucasian family (just like we don’t.)

An opportunity to talk about where we’ve been – and where we are going.  

An opportunity to shine a light on the path for those who are following us.

Tomorrow  will be a day rich with memories and rich with opportunities.

As one adoptive dad said to me at one of these previously, “Thank you for helping us not feel so alone.”

God has called us all on a journey.   Tomorrow we are blessed by the opportunity to share it with people who are on that journey too.

God is good!   (All the time)

All the time!  (God is good)

Thoughts On Afflicting the Comfortable (Part #3)

“I believe pastors are called to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”  Mark Batterson, Catalyst

I have a confession to make.    I’m a member of a secret group on Facebook.   No it’s not a cult, it’s not anything evil.   I describe this group as a group of people who aren’t satisfied with the status quo.    They believe that things can be better.    They believe that in whatever area of life they are passionate about, things can be done better.

We are against the status quo.    Whether it’s building a better advertising agency, being a better mom, writing with a purpose, getting in better physical shape, being a better minister, going on a mission trip, whatever it is, we believe things can be and be done better.

What does that have to do with afflicting the comfortable?

There have been many many times when every single person in the group has stepped out of our comfort zones and have been uncomfortable.    There have been many many times when this group has challenged and stretched me and my thinking.    There have been many many times when people in the group have shared very vulnerable things – things that have motivated and encouraged me and many others as well.

Comfort the afflicted – there are many ways and areas and people who need comforting – don’t just stand there, do something.

Afflict the comfortable – make us all more aware that with privilege comes responsibility.

Responsibility to be Jesus hands and feet to the vulnerable  of the world.

A responsibility to be faithful to God’s calling to care for “The least of these,” even when it makes you uncomfortable.

A responsibility to not be satisfied with the comfortable.

But to know that God has called you.

And God has called me.

To be uncomfortable.

To m