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

The Church and Donald Trump

The following is a quote from an article in Politico magazine. In it, they summarize some things but they also quote the current President a number of times.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacists. On Wednesday, he blamed suburban, low-income people of color for “ruining this American dream.”  The comments represent a feature — not a bug — of Trump’s presidency and campaign that are ramping up in the final month of the election.
A day after he told the far-right Proud Boys, to “stand by,” igniting outrage from Democrats and concern from Republicans, the president equated having a low income to being a minority. He also claimed — falsely — that Joe Biden wants to turn Minnesota into a refugee state.
Speaking to a mostly white crowd in Duluth, Minn., on Wednesday, Trump gave a shout-out to the suburbs, particularly “women in the suburbs.” He boasted he was the person to end an Obama-era fair housing rule, which he said brought “low-income housing” to suburbia.
“By the way, just so we can get this straight, 30 percent of the people in the suburbs are low-income people. Thirty percent of the people in the suburbs are minorities. And so we’re ruining this American dream for everybody,” Trump said.” From the Politico News

Can someone do me a favor?

Answer this question – “As a Christian, meaning you believe in Jesus, and you believe that what the Bible says is true, can you please explain to me how that works?

How does what Donald Trump does and says line up with the Bible calls Christians to do and to believe in and to support?

I’m not talking about the stuff he did and said in the 2016 campaign or the way that he verbally abused people (one handicapped reporter comes to mind). I’m not talking about those, I’m talking about the last couple of weeks.

If you feel you can answer that question in a calm well thought thorough manner and would like to share it with me and the rest of my readers, write it up and send it to me. But a couple of guidelines:
1. No name calling or blaming anyone else for anything (no words that I have to blank out either.) This has to be about you and Donald Trump. Why can you, a professing believer in Jesus Christ support him for president.
2. If it’s going to be more than 500 words, it needs to be split into parts so that each piece is no more than 500 words (give or take 20).
3. No using the term, “if only” or “but when” or “he tried” or “the Democrats wouldn’t allow him.” I don’t want you to make excuses for “the Donald.” I think that after four years, we pretty much know what we’re getting with (though it might be worse than we think based on hints dropped lately).
4. Pretty much what I’m asking for is for someone to attempt to explain to me how a Christian can vote for another 4 years and can at the same time acknowledge the ways that he has violated what God tells us in the Bible.

If anyone would like to take a stab at answering that, I would be happy to share my relatively small stage with you.

I will report back with brief updates if anyone says they are putting one together or anything like that. My hope is that all of us, Christians, non-Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and any other religious groups out there look at their beliefs and attempt to match it with our current president’s behaviors.

I look forward to seeing your thoughts and I will share mine once there has been ample time for others to share there.

Sincerely,

Tom

It’s okay….

What’s okay? The news?

Nope

The crime figures?

Nope

The fact checker results when politicians give speeches?

Nope

The most recent Covid statistics and the grief and pain that they represent?

Not a chance

The anxiety ridden discussions that take place on places like Facebook as parents wrestle with big questions about this school year. At home? Online? What about work? My career? My high school and college aged kids – what will this do to their plans?

Last week I had a relative whose job changed drastically, a friend who had to go back to college to bring her daughter home – because she’ll be doing college from the basement rather than at college. Oh, and two families who decided that they were going to home school this coming year rather than send their kids to the local private school. That reduced the number of students at the school by 4.

One of the difficult things about churches, private schools, orphanages, missions is that often you are forced to make business-like decisions in the middle of a charity run organization – and often in very desperate times. So, that school I mentioned above, they removed 4 kids from the local private school – I don’t know, but I would be surprised if that didn’t cost the school $25,000 or more this year. How do they make that up?

And this week, one of the major political parties held their “virtual” convention. I know it’s necessary to finalize the candidate the delegates are supporting, but let’s be real…..

If you watched the speeches and listened to the talking heads analyzing it all 6 ways from everywhere, how much of it can you really believe it is true? I’m working on a very personal piece about that which I promise will be out before the election. It is hard to write because basically, I’m…….. (sorry, not going to give you a sneak peek.)

I’ve had conversations with some of you about the whole concept of righteous anger. If something truly crosses that “line in the sand” for you, then it is okay to be mad about it. It’s okay to be angry that _______ is happening. It’s okay to be upset that the President said _________. It’s okay to be angry at what those who are not following Covid guidelines are doing to the health of so many and frankly the health of our nation.

It’s okay to be angry.

It’s okay to be angry at God because He didn’t give you what you wanted.

It’s okay to be angry at politicians who you feel betrayed their word.

It’s okay to be angry about children who are caught in immigration struggles that POWs shouldn’t even have to face.

Get angry. But then don’t stop there. Don’t just walk around being angry.

It reminds me of the song by the Christian Music Artist, “Mike’s Chair.” It goes something like this:

“Then I shook my fist at heaven and I hollered, ‘God, why don’t you do something?”

And then God said, “I did……I CREATED YOU!!!!!”

We’re going to be talking a lot more about the “do something” part of it, for a number of reasons, but for now, just think about this thought…..

The world is messed up.

God’s okay with us being mad about it.

But he wants us to not be satisfied with being angry but to do something about it.

More to come,

Tom

A Voice

I just heard it said on TV (so you know its true) that these last 70 days – with the pandemic, multiple high profile black murders…… These last 70 days make one of the most turbulent times we’ve been through since the Civil War.

The Civil War – think about it. That’s like 165 years ago.

We’ve seen riots breaking out all over.

I turned on Jimmy Fallon (Tonight Show) and he went through his entire show sharing his feelings on learning that he as a white man was making the world a more difficult place for those who aren’t white.

There have been a lot of people talking about whether rioting was appropriate and whether going to another town to protest was appropriate.

I’m going to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from “Letters from the Birmingham Jail.” This wont be the last time that I’ll be talking about what Dr. King says. For now……

“The riot is the voice of the unhearded.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Letters from a Burlington Jail) is saying that what you need to do is look at people who make their voice heard in a protest, well the majority of them at least, are rioting because they feel that is the only way they will be heard.

So, when you see a news report about a riot, look at it from the standpoint of the protestors doing that so they can have a voice.

It changes your perspective.

TJV

The Jamaican Water Truck Lady

The Jamaican Water Truck Lady

I wish I had had a chance to talk to her more, but I didn’t. You remember that Saturday night where things were kind of crazy at my house? There were people bringing stuff for my wife to take to Haiti (she flew out at 6:00 Sunday morning). One of my kids (who was already a relative veteran at flying to Haiti) came home from college to help Mom pack. Phone was ringing off the hook, lots of details, lots of people wanting to know…. wanting to know anything.

And the phone kept ringing and I was using the voice mail to screen the ones that needed attention now and keeping a list to get to eventually. And the lists kept getting longer – the “adoptive parent” list, the “been there want to help list” and then the “who knows” list.

To add to the chaos, the orphanage director was going to be on Larry King Live that night. So everyone was making sure they could record it and when it came on, we all stopped and watched and listened. We heard stories from other people in Haiti, we heard stories about “our kids.” We heard a rational and logical assessment of the needs and the orphanage director said, “Larry, I worry about water. If they can’t get another water truck up the mountain by Monday morning, we aren’t going to have enough to keep the kids healthy.” Ouch

Their part of the show was done and we all got busy again. My youngest two (adopted from Haiti when they were really little) were feeling a lot of anxiety and wondering about their birth families. So, I decided to take some time and provide some calm in their rooms before they went to sleep.

And then it happened. A phone call where the caller ID had too many digits. Sent it to voice mail. Repeat process 3 more times in the next 10 minutes. So finally I said to my kids, “I have to answer this, it might be someone who wants to help. I stepped out of their rooms and answered the phone.

“Hello, you are with orphanage?” (Said in English with a Haitian/Jamaican accent)

“Yes I am.” “Oh good, I want to help you.” She then told me part of an amazing story. She grew up in Haiti, not only in Haiti but just a small amount up the mountains from where the orphanage is and she is very familiar with that area.

“Your boss lady, she says you need water?” “Yes we do, it’s Saturday night and even skipping the Saturday evening bath routine, we will run out on Monday.” “Yeah, I know that, I watch Larry King too!” Chuckles

“Give me your address. My brother lives near there and he has water trucks. I will get you water, tomorrow, yes?”

“That would be great!” “Hang on a minute,” I ran downstairs and handed my phone to my daughter, “Hey Kristin, this lady is from Jamaica and is going to get the orphanage water, can you give her directions?” “Sure!”

She steps out where it is quieter and about 5 minutes later, she came back in and said, “That was simple – she knew the town square in Petionville and I got her directions to where we turn off the main road. Then I told her to tell the driver to roll down the window and ask where “Madam John’s house” was.”

Did she give you any names or anything? “Nope,” she said, “it’s not about me, it’s about your kids.” We then resumed some semblance of life and packing and disaster relief and wondered if what we had heard and talked to was real or was a prank or what……

Sunday, my wife is traveling so I kept my phone on and with me while at church. I’ll tell you more about Sunday morning later.

Sunday night, some of us were too strung out from only a few hours of sleep, but me and one of my girls were at church. Normally, if my phone buzzes while in church, I will ignore it. I didn’t that night.

About, I don’t know, maybe 15 minutes into church, my phone buzzed. I pulled my phone out of my pocket. A simple message on it that rocked my world.

“Water is here.”

At my current church, I think I would have interrupted church to tell the story, but I didn’t do it at our former church.

Water is here, music to many ears.

God is good.

TV