Don’t Yell At Your Neighbor

It’s times like these that make social media really uncomfortable.

There’s no escaping it.   Whether it’s what someone said years ago or what happened somewhere last week, there’s no escaping it.

Whether it’s the weather in St. Augustine or the storm surge in Jeremie, there’s no escaping it.

Whether you think someone is “the right man for the job” or the “wrong man for anything,” there’s no escaping it.

Whether it’s bombings in Aleppo or wind gusts in Les Cayes, or blowhards in Washington, there’s no escaping it.

Whether it’s shootings in Baton Rouge or random acts of kindness by police officers in New York, there is no escaping it.

This all reminds me of two famous quotes:

Margaret Meade – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Bob Goff, author of Love Does and skateboarding attorney, said,  “Most people need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice.

As you read the news, scan your Facebook feed, look at what’s happening on Twitter, remember that – a small group of people can change the world.

And most of those voices that are screaming for attention on the social media front don’t need advice, they just need love and acceptance.

I might disagree with you – but love me anyway.

I might get mad about this – but love me anyway.

Don’t unfriend me just because I don’t like your opinion – because I still like you.

The world is very small but very big.   That means your neighbor isn’t only the guy across the fence – your neighbor is also the black man who is marching in a protest, the Haitian mother who is watching her children die of cholera because they can’t get clean water.   The list could go on and on.

There is way too much giving of advice, way too much yelling advice.   God calls us to do differently…….

Because Love Does,

TJV

Monday Night – Things I Heard

Monday night I went to a dinner.   Yes, I have dinner pretty much every night (I like food too much to skip it) but this time I “went” to a dinner.

There were three main things that I heard at that dinner.   Well, there were a lot of things – but three main things…….

Oh, did I mention that Bob Goff was the keynote speaker?  Look up www.lovedoes.com if you don’t know Bob.  

Here’s the three things I learned:

“Living on the Edge of Yikes!”  God doesn’t want us to live comfortable lives.   He doesn’t want us to sit back and relax – well a little bit so we can recharge our spiritual and physical batteries.   But most of the time, he wants us out there living life on the edge.   Taking risks and sharing God’s love with others.  As he described it, “living on the edge of yikes!”

“Yikes, I don’t think I’m comfortable teaching that class.”

“Yikes, I don’t think I’d be comfortable going downtown and feeding the homeless.”

“Yikes, you want me to serve on a committee on race relations?”

“Yikes, God, are you really telling me to do THAT???????”

Those 6 words were huge  and are huge and could change the world if more of us lived and thought and followed God that way.

“Fill their bucket with love.”   Bob brought a steel bucket up on stage and one of the big points of his talk is that the best way we can tell others about God is by filling their buckets with love.   Show them you care and by showing them you care, you’ll show them God.   Oh and showing them you care means you care about them, not what they’ve done or who they are or who they want to be, you care about them, right now,

“Being a teenager is hard.”  I’m not going to tell you how many years ago I was one, but it’s been a long time.   I’ve got three children who made it through and two more who currently are teenagers.  It’s hard and when it’s hard, they need us, not only us, their parents, but us as their community to reach out, make a connection and show them that they are accepted and they have value.

The dinner was for Young Life and the stories of the differences they make were inspiriting, but……

Jesus was talking to me on Monday night.   Unfortunately I had the opportunity to do the second one last night with a friend who received some devastating news.  

May we all take a few steps closer to “Yikes!” and show God’s love to our neighbor and especially to the teenagers around us.

TJV

Of Rubber Bands, Original Paintings, Jesus and Social Media

I’m currently reading the book, “Love Does” by Bob Goff.   For the record, I highly recommend it.  This post is about something I learned from the book.

Chapter 22 is called “The Puppeteer.”   What is the “Puppeteer?”   Apparently it’s a very expensive painting that Bob liked very much.   Once he saved up enough money, he bought it.   When he picked it up, the art gallery gave him two paintings.    The original and a very good “fake.”    The thinking is that the original is too valuable to display, so you hide that in the closest or the safe and put the “fake” on display.

Bob didn’t do that.   Anyone who has read his book would know that a skateboard riding, mountain climbing attorney known for his epic rubber band gun fights with his kids wouldn’t put the fake one up.   He put the original one up.

And it got hit by a rubber band – hit in a way that it left a mark.   Now I don’t know how much the painting cost, but if an attorney had to save up money to buy it.    Well…….

So, did Bob get upset?  Did he ban all rubber band gun fights with his kids?   Did he bemoan the “ruin” of his perfect painting?

No, he didn’t.   He actually liked the painting more with the rubber band mark on it. 

Let me repeat, HE LIKED THE RUBBER BAND IMPERFECTION on the valuable painting.

Why?   Because it is a symbol of how God views us.   So many of us try to be perfect, try to look perfect, try to make it look like we have all of our stuff together.    But in reality, we’re covered with rubber band gun welts from losing battles.

And that’s the way God wants to see us.   He welcomes us with our imperfects.   He uses cracked pots, He uses scratched paintings – but for us to be used by God, we need to admit that we are those cracked pots and scratched paintings.

So how does this apply to social media?   Besides for the countless untruths being passed around on social media, I think that one of the biggest problems with social media is that it encourages people to put on a “front.”   You see the pretty pictures of the kids at Disney World, you don’t hear the stories about the car breaking down or the job loss or the emotional struggles.  

We can’t help each other and build honest and heartfelt relationships with each other if we can’t be honest with each other.

And being honest means not putting the fake front on, but showing the world our rubber band welts and scrape marks.

Tom

Being Vulnerable

I had a life changing opportunity today – and it happened at my desk in my office.   I had a chance to listen to Bob Goff (Google Love Does)as he spoke at the January Series at Calvin College.   I didn’t have time to drive over and hear him in person, but I did listen to him online while eating lunch and working.

Here’s a collection of the quotes of his that I shared on Facebook while listening.   I’ll have more thoughts at the end……

“Most of the things I was afraid of never happened; most of what I hoped for did. Let your hopes trump your fears.”

“It’s called the book of Acts, not the book of opinions. So let’s do that.”

“Don’t call it ministry, just call it Tuesday.”

“Stop keeping track of what you’re doing that is good. Be available and see what God is up to.”

“If we keep telling people that they are thirsty when they aren’t, they won’t know who to turn to when they are thirsty.”

“If we have a guide we can trust, we don’t need to worry about the path.”

There’s a couple of things/questions that I’m wrestling with after listening to him.    And all of them swirl around the idea of being vulnerable.

We are too worried about what happens – instead we should be vulnerable and go after our hopes and be vulnerable to God changing them.

We are too busy talking about it and attending Bible studies – we should be vulnerable and be out there doing what God wants us to.

Don’t worry about getting credit, don’t worry about keeping track, just be vulnerable, be open to what God wants and be available for it.   As my friend Carolyn Twietmeyer’s Project Hopeful T-shirts say, “It’s Not About Me!”  (By the way, I now have 3 of those t-shirts – very powerful reminders)

Don’t worry about where the path is, don’t worry about where you’re going – just be vulnerable and trust your guide.

In my opinion, there are too many people in the first world church who are too concerned with looking nice, looking pretty and looking like they know it all and have it all.    That’s not what God wants.

That’s not what the unchurched of the world want.   They want us to be vulnerable.   They want us to be real.   We shouldn’t pretend to know what they want, we should just love them.

Who is them?   Anyone who is hurting, who is lonely, who is struggling, even someone who appears to have it all together.  

I’d be willing to venture that of the next 10 people you see, at least 8 of the 10 are facing significant troubles and challenges.    And that 9 out of the 8 won’t admit it.  Smile

Don’t be the 9, be the 1.   Be the one to say, “It’s a fallen world and I’m hurting.”   Be the one to say, “I wish I could say I’m doing good but I need help.”   Be the one to say, “How can I help you?”   Or “What can I pray for?”  (But don’t say that if you don’t mean it.)

Be vulnerable, reach out and love others and watch what God can do.

Tom