Vander's Thoughts

Vander's Thoughts

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I’m realizing that my life is full of stuff. Some old stuff, some new stuff, some good stuff, and some not-so-needed stuff. I have loved stuff since I can remember. I even love watching shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars because it is about stuff. Stuff is interesting. Every time I get ride of some stuff I eventually replace it with more stuff. Lately I have been asking myself what is it about stuff that makes me want more stuff no matter how much I already have?

What I have concluded is that stuff brings me three things: Security, Comfort and Identity. The quantity of stuff I have makes me feel secure. The quality of stuff I have makes me more comfortable. The price I pay for my stuff determines my identity. Of course what I realize is that although these things are fine to seek, God desires us to seek them in Him and Him alone.

I heard a great story this past week about a teacher asking her class to recite Psalm 23. One girl help up her hand and said that she could do it. She walked to the front of the class took a deep breath and said, “The LORD is my shepherd, He is all I want”. With that she proudly walked back to her seat.

It was a great reminder for me this Christmas, that in Christ I have security, comfort, and an identity that no stuff I can buy or receive can ever compare to.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

May your Christmas not be so much about seeking stuff as much as it is about seeking Him.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful Responsibility

I had a great Thanksgiving! I was able to hang with my family and spend a great day just relaxing while recovering from eating too much, falling asleep while watching football and then waking up to pumpkin and apple pie! Man do I love Thanksgiving day.

There was a cool moment that happened around the dinner table while we were getting ready for prayer. My sister read an article that she found that reminded us about what blessing really means and in response we all shared what blessings we were thankful for. I am so thankful to belong to a family that loves God and recognizes Him not just on Thanksgiving day, but regularly in their lives.

It was a good reminder to me that living with thanks is something that should happen everyday and can easily be taken for granted. Because as good as my day was, I can’t help but wonder how bad someone else’s year may have been. Thankfulness should drive me everyday to help other people see God’s goodness not by me telling them how good God is, but by showing them that I care because God cares for them. I believe that being thankful isn’t an action as much as it is an expression of our lives. When you or I see someone who is truly thankful for something, it shows in their face, their eyes, and their entire disposition.

If I am thankful for being a part of a family that knows and lives out God’s love, then I need to make sure others are a part of my life for the same reason. I want to take the time to be thankful to God every moment of my life by being more considerate of others opinions, more patient with others differences, and more sympathetic of someone’s hang-ups. Then others will know that the true source of thankfulness comes from God and no where else. That's why it’s not just about Thanksgiving, but about Thanks-Living.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I consider myself a lucky person. I have never been shot with a gun, stabbed with a knife, pierced with a sword, or broken a bone in my body. Of course I have had my share of injuries throughout my life, but I can’t imagine the physical pain that comes with injuries and tragedies caused by someone else. Some probably can affect and even debilitate a person the rest of their life.

But I have been wounded in manner that I believe is just as debilitating. I’m sure you’ve experienced similar injuries in your life like me. Have you ever shoot yourself in the foot? Been stabbed in the back? Pierced with a grief? Or had your heart broken. I’m sure we would agree that these painful moments can cause as much hurt or more then physical injuries. In fact sometimes these injuries damage us in a place that is much more difficult to heal.

I think what makes it so hard is correctly identifying the pain. When you go to the hospital a Doctor will ask you, “Where does it hurt” and you can instantly say or point to where the injury is. They even have those charts that show different faces that rate your pain level. But it’s not so easy to identify social pain. Someone may ask you, “Where does it hurt” and you honestly can’t answer them. It’s not like we don’t want to, but how do you say, “I just got snipered by a friend and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be angry or lay here bleeding out emotion”.

The only way we can really seek healing is by going to the source and seeking understanding. Jesus himself told us that if an offense has occurred, whether it happened to us or we caused it, we are responsible to seek healing. It may be the last, no it is the last thing that we want to do, but it is the only way to truly get healing. All too often someone walks around like a social zombie because they refuse to go to the source and seek the healing that they desperately need. And then they wonder why they are so isolated and alone in their lives. It is a sad truth, but an unfortunately reality that is all too common.

Have you been wounded? Do you have a hurt in your life that is causing you a deep pain that’s debilitating your life? As hard as it is, seek out the source of your pain and get the healing that Jesus prescribes. Either that or have fun hanging out in Zombieland.

“Don't mistreat someone who has mistreated you...and do your best to live at peace with everyone.” - Romans 12:17-18

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Disciplined Variety

For the past month I have been living in a 5th wheel trailer while I am between homes (keep the trailer trash comments to yourself please). What I have discovered is that life in a trailer lacks variety. Actually life in a trailer becomes very routine. I have been using the same spoon fork plate and bowl for all my meals. I use them and wash them, and use them and wash them again. There is just no need to use any others. In fact every morning and every evening pretty much looks the same because there's not much room to do much else than what I normally do. I'm a loser I know, but I have discovered that using and doing the same thing over and over again isn't a bad thing at all. In fact I have discovered the joy in simplicity and routine.

Now I like new things and new places like anyone else, but somehow there is a belief out there that routine is bad thing. That routine is some sort of trap that we must break free of if you really want to enjoy life. Where did that thinking come from really? In fact the opposite is really true, real life is found in routine. Think about it, if you want to get better at something what are you supposed to do? Do it over and over again. And if you want to get in stronger what are you supposed to do? Lift weights over and over again. Routine is what makes our lives better, but yet somehow we avoid routine because it's boring or ordinary if you lack variety in your life.

God showed us His abilities through the variety we see in this world, but if you want to really live the life that He offers, than you must establish a routine with Him. It's called a discipline and it improves every area of our lives.

"Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this." 1 Timothy 4:8 The Message

So go to a new place for vacation or eat at a new restaurant, but revisit the God of variety everyday to really live.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lost Contact

Last week I thought I was being really smart by deleting my old email account from my phone. What I actually did was discover how fine the line is between being a genius and an idiot really is. I didn't realize that along with my email account I would be deletaing all of my contacts as well. D'OH!

I couldn't believe that all my contacts were gone in an instant. Some of those contacts were my only connection to friends and family (of course only those who aren't on Face Book). In a real sense I felt like I lost more then a contact, it felt like I lost a connection with someone I cared about. The moment I lost my contacts I was reminded of how important each of those people are to my life and still were.

I can't imagine my life without relationships, even the painful difficult ones remind me that relationships matter and there is a value in working through problems. You and I were created for relationships and when we loose a connection with someone a part of our past dies off. We may not see it as that, but that is exactly what happens.

Have you lost contact with someone that used to matter to you? Regardless of the past joy or pain of the relationship, right now would be the perfect time to call, reach out, email, text, do whatever you have to to reestablish the connection. The bible calls this reconciliation and it is our responsibility to make it happen. When we do we will find new life in a relationship that was dormant.

Thankfully I had previously backed up my files and was able to restore all of them, I hope you can do the same today, and with the real ones too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hitting the Wall

Yesterday I went on a five mile bike ride next to an old railroad track. It was awesome just riding on a trial that I had no idea where it was taking me. However, about half way through my ride I seriously hit the wall, so much that I thought I could go no farther and figured I would be looking for a highway to catch a ride in the back of a pickup truck. I know what your thinking, half way through a five mile ride is only 2 1/2 miles, but this was a tough trail and besides it was one of those trails that is up hill both ways, you know the ones our parents talked about. Well after taking a moment to catch my breath and make the decision to not flag down a passing truck, I started back for home. The thing was as I continued on my ride, I found a new strength that not only got me back home but I ended up adding another mile down the trail in the opposite direction. Of course when I finally finished my ride I remembered again that someone really needs to invent a better bike seat. Really why is it that those seats have to be so small with such little padding?

There are moments in life when we all will hit the wall. You never know when you are going to hit it, but it really is inevitable. You're just going along and it seems to hit you out of no where and always at the most unexpected times. It's in those moments enduring is critical because if we give up we will never realize the rush that comes from God as we fight through the difficulty. It doesn't matter where we hit it, in our job, or our relationships, or our finances, God always promises that he will give us the ability to endure as we lean into Him. And the greatest part is the new strength we find in the midst of the struggle is like spiritual adrenaline. Hitting the wall has a purpose, it reminds us that we need to rely on a deeper strength, one that can only be found in God's Spirit.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." Romans 5:3-5

When you hit the wall don't give up, but rather give in, so that you can experience a strength that only comes from God.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Battery Life

Last night I placed my cell phone (don't worry I won't make a shameless plug for the far superior iPhone here) on my iHome charger (sorry this is a shameless plug) like I always do. Throughout the night my phone kept blinking on and off, which made me simply turn away from the bright light. I never really thought to check why, I was just annoyed by the light keeping me awake. Well I discovered the reason in the morning when my battery wasn't charged, in fact my phone was completely dead because the iHome wasn't even plugged in!

There is nothing worse then a dead or poorly charged phone when you need it throughout the day. Even though I placed it on the charger as much as possible throughout the day, it never reached full capacity. In fact I pretty much had to read the low battery warning throughout the day.

Our spiritual life can be just like the battery life on our phone. We may get by by checking in with God a little here and a little there, but unless we are taking the time to be fully charged by God, we will never experience life at it's fullest capacity.

What kind of life do you want to live? One full of uncertainty because we are pushing our limits or a life that is as Jesus said, "Life in all of it's fullness".

The only way we can find out what that type of life is like is to discipline ourselves and plug into God daily. There is no other way.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Packing and Picking

For the last three days I've been packing. My office, my garage, my stuff. But packing is really a two stage process of determining value. I have to determine if something has served my purposes or if there is some future value for me to hang on to it. I want to get rid of most of my stuff mainly because I don't want to have to box it all up, but there is a bigger problem I'm having. The problem is I've been into that show American Pickers lately, where two guys travel all over America looking for valuables in other people's stuff. Well the shows not the problem, but because of the show, every time I try and assess the value of something that I have, I can't help but imagine one of those guys offering me like $50 for something I really want to throw out.

Value is a hard thing to determine. What is worthless to me, may be incredibly valuable to you. No matter what the circumstance, value is always determined outside of ourselves.

I dig what Jesus said about our value as recorded in the Message,
"What's the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! You're worth more than a million canaries." Matthew 10:29

You may not feel like much right now, but in God's eyes you are beyond value. That's a good thing to know in a world that has an ever changing value system

Oh yeah if you're into picking, were having a garage sale this weekend.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Relational Reality

I was reminded the other day of a time when I met with a college student who had lost a friend to an accidental death. He was sad, he was broken hearted,he was experiencing loss and he was in mourning. The thing was, he never met this person face to face. He had developed a relationship with them over My Space and, just like in any relationship, was hopeful about the relationship enduring. When the relationship was suddenly over, he began suffering the affects. Now, I am big on face to face relationships and not an advocate for internet relationships, but who am I to say that internet wife hunting isn't practical. However, what I discovered in the process of helping my friend through this was regardless of the relational reality, all relationships are real.

I know that God is real. I can't prove it, but because of my faith in Him, he has proven himself to me. My relationship with God is as real as the relationship that I have with my wife, my family, and my friends. It doesn't matter what other people think about this relationship, I know it's real and that's all that matters.

What Relational Reality do you have with God? I hope it's as real as mine.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


In my new city there are many routes to get home each day. Yesterday I needed to get home and change so that I could get back to pick someone up and I had 30 minutes to do it in. I live about 15 miles away from the church, so I sought out the advice of others to determine what was the fastest way to get there. After hearing all the options I choose the route in which I thought would give me the best outcome. Unfortunately I didn't factor in for traffic. So there I sat in particularly long line at a stop sign and what do I see? One of the guys I asked for advice passed through the intersection I was waiting at and he had left 15 minutes after me!

You never know when you'll be in traffic until it's too late and it always disrupts your plans. I don't know about you, but sometimes I need my plans disrupted because it reminds me that I'm not really in control. Traffic forces me to stop and surrender my timeline, my plans and my desires to the fact that I am not in control, but it also reminds me that God is in control and I need to seek him.

I love how The Message relays the truth of Psalm 27:4-5, "I'm asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I'll contemplate his beauty; I'll study at his feet. That's the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic."

We may not be able to avoid traffic, but at least we can spend some time with God while were in it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One Hour Parking

Parking in downtown Sac today to grab some lunch with my co-laborer Scott and we both saw that the sign clearly read, "One Hour Parking". We parked headed to lunch knowing that we had to be back at the car at 12:48 to avoid a parking ticket. So the shock we had when we discovered a parking ticket on the windshield at 12:45. What the heck!?

What we both failed to see was the "other" sign that read, "Pay Station". Who pays for One Hour Parking? I guess Scott does now since he was driving, but really when was the last time you had to read two signs to determine how to park?

This causes me to think about God's word. You can't just read what you want, you have to read all of God's word to experience all of it's wisdom. I want direction not correction, but sometimes to head in the right direction in my life, I must first be corrected.

Next time that you read a portion of God's word that you don't like realize it's only there so that we can really live out the parts that we do enjoy.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. - 2 Timothy 3:16

Monday, October 4, 2010


The other morning I went out for a morning walk to see the Elk Grove area. I was following the instructions of my father, that he had told me since i was kid, that you should always walk facing traffic so that you can see what's coming at you. Good thing too because as I was in a particularly narrow stretch of highway, I noticed a young girl driving directly at me. I assessed my surroundings and knew that if I had to I would be jumping a barbed wire fence into some brush that wouldn't have been comfortable, but definitely better then the front bumper of her car. When she was about 20 feet from me she looked up and our eyes met. It was one of the moments when you can see what the other person is thinking and I'm pretty sure she knew what i was thinking too (which I already confessed to God). But in her right hand was her phone, I couldn't believe it i was almost the victim of 'Drexting' or better known as texting while driving.

Proverbs 4:25-27 reminds us, "Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil."

Distractions happen, but we can limit the distractions when we stay focused on the moment and not on anything else. I avoided pain because I was looking forward and almost experienced major pain because someone else was distracted. Let's keep your eyes on what God's plan is for our lives and his path and He will lead us to a place of real abundant life.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It Begins

Well I made it to Elk Grove and so begins my new life here. I've never been so excited about the uncertain and unknown before. It's like God is showing me all over again what living by faith is all about.