Vander's Thoughts

Vander's Thoughts

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I just got back from a great time In Lake Tahoe with my entire family to celebrate Christmas. It was a week early, but the busy lives we live and the miles that separate us all, cause us to work our schedules out this way. Unfortunately we were planning for a little more White Christmas than we got, but we made the best of it and created many great memories for years to come.

One of the plans we had was for all of us to going skiing or snowboarding, but the only option at the slopes was Man-made snow. You can choose your side on this debate, but once snow is packed I really can’t tell the difference and after a day of snowboarding neither can my quadriceps. Don’t get me wrong, nothing compares to fresh powder brought down from the heavens and shredding it on a snowboard (Sorry skiers I jumped onto one board years ago and I’m not going back anytime soon). However, this gets me to the point about the Christmas season that we are all celebrating today because there are two realities at Christmas, the Man-made and the Heavenly.

The true meaning of Christmas came down from heaven in the form of the incarnate baby Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect life to show us what life with the Father can truly be like. And then gave up his life to allow us the privilege to live our life to the fullest with God’s guidance. And ever since the first Christmas, man has been attempting his Man-made efforts to celebrate this truth and it’s gotten us farther and farther away from the real Heavenly reality. Now every where we look we see the evidence of Christmas, but it’s getting harder and harder to see the difference between the Man-made and the true Heavenly.

There is only one true meaning of Christmas and The Grinch, Scrooge, and Clark Griswold may have gotten close, but they didn’t truly discovery it because it’s not just being nice to our fellow man or giving gifts with sincerity. The true meaning of Christmas will radically change your entire life and can never be duplicated in Man-made efforts. The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the gift of life He brings. You can never be fulfilled with the Man-made efforts because they don’t really change anything, but can only mimic what only God can do.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” - 2 Corinthians 9:15

May the true meaning of Christmas bring the joy of fresh powder to your lives today and throughout the New Year.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 7, 2011


If you are anything like me, when you listen to a song that you can’t understand the lyrics you simply make them up as you sing along. Eventually you start to believe that those are the actual words. I’ve had some pretty funny moments with my wife Amber when she hears me sing a lyric and she’s like, “that’s not what they say.”

When we get the lyrics to a song wrong it’s no big deal, but if we don’t hear what someone is trying to tell us it can cause big problems. When we don’t listen to what others are saying, just like lyrics, we make up whatever we want to believe about their lives. We fill in the gaps with our own understanding instead of the truth. But when we take the time to listen we start to hear things we never heard before. We begin to hear a need our friend has or a struggle our children may be dealing with. I’ve even been able to hear my wife drop a hint that I am not loving her the way she needs me to. I’ve discovered that when I take the time to listen, I learn more about what I am supposed to do then if someone were to simply tell me what to do.

Listening is the key to understanding and in our crazy busy lives, one of the hardest things to do is slow down and listen. That’s why God tell us to slow down and listen to Him. It helps us to be a listener first before anything else. The bible says over and over again, “Listen to what the Lord says.” It is a call to slow our lives down and listen to what God has to say to us before we act and before we make a mess of things.

Next time you try to sing the lyrics of a song that you don’t know, slow down and listen to what the creator of the song is really saying. And the next time you can’t figure out what to do in life, slow down and listen to what the creator of life has to say to you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


You made the sky so incredibly blue and yet the world does not recognize You.

A dog that’s lost will always find it’s way, but a child still goes hungry everyday.

So many questions that fill my mind; So many things I ponder that I can’t unwind.

If I ever stand in your presence to ask, I’ll probably just forget the task.

I may not be able to clearly see, but I trust that there is a reason to be.

Today I ask you to take my hand and lead me through all that I don’t understand.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The other day I had the chance to just hang out by the side of a river and watch the water flow over the rocks. It was seriously an awesome time of just contemplating the things of life that God has provided us with. It made me start thinking about the significance that water plays in our lives. We wash with water, we play in water, and we drink water. We literally can’t live without water. This thought caused me to start thinking about my own significance.

I want to make a difference in the world and I want to have a sense that my life mattered. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t. But the way that we most likely measure our own significance is to compare our lives to the difference we see other people making. Then we determine that if we want to make a significant difference then we have to go out and do something to achieve it.

I heard a joke the other day about a business man who was on vacation and came upon a guy who was sitting on a chair on the beach with a lone fishing pole in the water. The businessman asked the guy fishing “Why don’t you have two poles in the water, so that you can sale the fish you don’t need and make a profit?”
The fisherman asked in response, “Why would I need to do that?”
The businessman responded, “So that you can eventually buy a boat and catch even more fish”.
The fisherman replied, “And then what?”
The businessman excitedly replied, “Well then you can expand to two boats and eventually hire other people to fish for you!”
The fisherman asked, “And then what would I do?”
At this the businessman was noticeably agitated and said, “Obviously you could relax on the beach like me and do all the fishing you want!”
The fisherman replied, “And your point?”

You see we so often get caught up in being significant that we miss the whole point. Our significance isn’t found in what we do in this world as much as being a part of what God is doing.

“But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of.” - 1 Corinthians 12:19 (The Message)

God has a plan and you are part of it. God has uniquely placed you in your life for a reason, so stop looking for a way to be significant and be significant. Be the difference maker in the lives of those who are already around you.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Every time I open up a new package of bread I have to remove one of those twist ties off the end of the packaging. Then after I remove the bread I usually just disregard the twist tie and spin the bag and tuck it under the bread. Because how many times have you gone looking for those twisty’s when you want to put the bread away and they seem to disappear? And then there are those square ones, those are just annoying because you have to spin the bag enough to get them all the way around the bag.

Well then just the other day I go to get my favorite raisin bread for breakfast and it’s all hard and stale because it wasn’t wrapped up correctly. It was a tragedy to ruin perfectly good raisin bread that way. It made me realize that using those twisty things really are the only way to guarantee the freshness of the bread. I can do my best to preserve something, but if the bag gets moved and air gets inside there is nothing I can do to make it right again.

Protecting something is all about preserving it’s life. That’s why God gave us his word to protect and preserve us.

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands." - Psalm 119:9-10

Unfortunately, just like those twisty’s, people have disregarded God’s word and experienced a pretty stale life in the process. So let your life be twisted by God’s word found in the bible, it is the only way to keep your life fresh and preserve your existence from the stale corruption of the world.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


We have all been in traffic caused by an accident. I’m not sure what compels us to slow down and look, but there is something within us that is drawn to the affects of a wreck. We slow down to see the damage done to both car and person and maybe even try to make sense of how it occurred in the first place. Wrecks cause pain, wrecks ruin lives, and wrecks make traffic happen. Even though there is nothing good about a wreck, sometimes seeing a wreck is actually a good thing if it causes us to drive more cautious and attentive.

This past week I was in a wreck. It wasn’t a car wreck that caused any physical damage, but it was a heart wreck that caused me to slow down and look at myself and it actually was a good thing.

I’ll spare you the details, but something happened that got me incredibly angry at a guy who offended my son Chad. I had every right to be angry, but the problem was my anger turned into disgust for this guy, so much that I found myself fantasizing about putting him in his place, embarrassing him in front of his friends and making him apologize to Chad while serving me lemonade. Okay not really about the lemonade part, but its funny how our minds work when we start imagining things. In the midst of dreaming of how I would wreck this guy’s life, God was preparing to wreck my heart.

About two days later, Amber asked when I was going to forget about it and move on. As I was answering her that I was justified in my anger, God reminded me that He was angry too, not at this guy, but that I wasn’t showing this guy real love, a love based on compassion and mercy. And that’s when my heart got into a head on collision with God’s heart. I was headed in a completely different direction and I got spiritually wrecked. It was painful, but a good kind of pain that got my attention and reminded me of what compassion and mercy really look like.

The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. - 1 John 4:8-10 (The Message)

I’m so glad that God rescued me from my wrecked life by sending His Son to die for me and I’m glad that He continually wrecks my heart to show me how He intends to use me to show others His love.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I’ve never been a big fan of wrestling, maybe because I just don’t get it. Two people engaged in a struggle to overpower the other and get them to a point of immobility or submission. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good fight and seeing two guys engaged in conflict is quite entertaining, but wrestling is different. In fighting there is a clear outcome and you see the evidence of the fight, but in wrestling it’s not so obvious. After a wrestling match, if you didn’t see the match, you may not be able to determine the victor over the defeated.

Honestly there are times in my life when I feel the same way. I often wrestle over issues or causes or convictions that I’m not sure what winning or loosing looks like. I often see some type of injustice in the world or in my life and when I don’t I have a sense of exactly what to do, I feel like I’m wrestling myself. There are times when I think know what I should do, but I fail to do something about it and it feels like I’m loosing. Then there are times when I don’t know what to do and it causes me to react and I get a sense that I’m winning. What I am beginning to realize is that it’s time to stop wrestling and start fighting.

Is it time to pick a fight in your life with something besides yourself? When was the last time you stood up for injustice by refusing to buy something? Or spook up for someone who couldn’t by writing a letter? Or run in a cause just because you could? Or supported an organization that’s helping people put there lives back together? I don’t care what you fight for just stop wrestling over what to do and just pick a cause and fight for it.

God fought for us so that we could fight for His causes. He calls us into conflict with the world, not ourselves.

Jude 1:3 - I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Thursday is trash day. Every Wednesday night we have to take our garbage and refuse that we have collected throughout the week and bring it to the curb, so that I t can be picked up and trucked to a far away place where we no longer have to deal with it any more. But we always have trash.

We are always creating trash. Open something new and you instantly have trash. Something gets old and it turns into trash. You can even turn something perfectly fine into trash when you drop it or forget that it’s on the roof of your car (another story).

Trash is a burden. No one likes trash day. No one likes taking out the trash. No one likes the smell of trash. I bet the Trashman doesn’t even like trash!

It’s interesting that when someone makes a mess of their physical body, we say they’re “Trashed”. And the same is true when we make a mess of our lives, we “Trash” it.

God didn’t make trash when he made us and He never intended us to become trash, but we sure do create a lot of trash with our lives in terms of outcomes. There are trashed relationships, trashed marriages, trashed brain cells, trashed lives all because we didn’t take out the trash in our lives in the first place. Unless we let God work in our lives and help us deal with the trash, all we will do is trash our lives and make a bigger mess.

When God works in our lives look at what the bible says will happen…

“(He) will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He's going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned.” Matthew 3:11 (The Message)

I know it’s not fun, but in life everyday is trash day. Deal with it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


This past week we took a little adventure and went floating down a local river. I can honestly say I have a new favorite way to relax. There is nothing like letting the current of a river pull you along at an undetermined course and once in awhile surprise you with a rapid.

Floating is a cool thing but it is also one of those words we often associate with laziness or having no direction in life. Which makes me realize that there really are two ways to look at floating, I can go floating and do nothing or I can go floating and do something. I know it sounds contradictory, but let me explain.

Floating in a river i have the benefit of being pulled in the direction that the river determines. The river is flowing in one direction and I can know where I am headed even though I don’t necessarily know will happen on my way. It is my responsibility to pay attention to the current and what is happening around me so I don’t get into a bad situation. If I don’t position myself correctly on the river I might flip my tube or worse pop it.

It is the same reality in life when trusting God’s plan for our lives. God has a plan for our lives that carries us along like a river. The more I trust His overall plan for my life I can navigate the ripples of life and adjust my course in an enjoyable manner. If I were to ignore the sovereignty of God over my life I can get caught in unsuspecting torrents and not know what to do thus flipping my world upside down. I can float trusting God and use the instincts and wisdom to guide me or I can float aimlessly in life and see what happens and then blame him when I don't like the outcome.

The bible speaks of two types of floaters in this world, the one who trusts and rests in God and the other who ignores and fights Him. I like the first type of floater because the way I see it, I can both rest and live in Him. I think I'll continue to float like this because it just seems much more enjoyable this way.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


We measure life in 24 hour increments. No matter how many times we attempt to step back and look at the big picture of our life, every morning the alarm clock tells us it’s time to check back into the reality of the moment and face the day. And at the end of each day we get about 6-8 hours of sleep to prepare for the next one. Before we know it a year has passed and we wonder, "Did 8760 hours really just happen?"

The pursuit of a better life isn’t about the changes we make as much as the changes that happen when we allow God to change us. All of us are going to be tomorrow what we are becoming today and God wants to usher those changes in our lives right now.

I think Micah was right on when he wrote to God’s people about how to live without regret right now.

“But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.” – Micah 6:8 (The Message)

It’s not that complicated but we have to start now before another 24 hours passes us by. Are you ready to take God seriously?

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I was speaking to a good friend today and I realized something that seemed so simple yet hit me as profound wisdom. I hope you can relate.

We were talking about our unwillingness to change and how when it comes to our idiosyncrasies many people will say, “That’s just they way I am.” And I get it, I’m as off center as the next guy when it comes to my routines and quirks. I also understand that we can resist change because we have grown use to ourselves, but from a spiritual standpoint, change is not an option.

God wants us all to change. Christ died so that you and I would change. To say, “That’s just the way I am” is to reject God’s transformation within each and every one of us. We may not like to do something or face personal change, but that was the old person, not the new man created to be like Christ. The true expression is to say, “That’s who I was”.

But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. – Ephesians 4:20-24

We can’t accept who we are becoming until we reject who we were.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I finally got around to start painting some of the walls in our new home. I’ve come to realize that I enjoy painting, but could never do it for a living. No matter how motivated I am when I start, I get to a point when I’m finished even before I am finished. I can only tape and cut and roll and brush for so long before I start to feel trapped in painter’s purgatory.

In spite of this I like to paint because painting is an easy way to make a house feel more like a home. We paint to cover up what was. We paint to hide what has been. We paint because for $18 a gallon we can make our homes feel a little newer, no matter how old they are.

However, there is a big difference between painting to make something seem newer and painting to cover-up a flaw. If you try and paint over a crack in the wall or peeling paint, no matter how much paint you use the flaw underneath will still show through. To truly make it new, you would have to fix the crack or scrap the old paint off and then paint.

The problem is that we often try and do this very thing in life. There are areas of our lives that are flawed and imperfect and rather then deal with the true issue we try and cover it up. We cover it up with our pretend smiles when we really are feeling depressed, or when we make up excuses every time we let someone one down. Worse yet we often act like there is nothing wrong in a relationship when in truth we know we’ve caused someone pain by our words. And the saddest thing is that we really believe no one can see who we really are underneath, but the truth is it always shows through. Always.

Every one of us has flaws. We need to accept this fact and rather then try and pretend they are not there, deal with them so that we can change and stop trying to cover them up.

I resonate with this verse in Colossians because it deals with this. God calls us to live authentically before Him and before others. When we do we experience the transformation and therefore the renewal He wants for us, not the cover-up we are so good at.

“Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your new Creator and become like him.” Colossians 3:9-10

It’s almost as if this verse is saying that we are all like walls full of cracks and flaws, but when we stop trying to cover it all up and hand God the paint and brush, he truly starts to make us new. New with His character. New with His life. Renewal that only comes from Him.

God’s not finished with me and you just like I’m not finished with the painting in my house. Three rooms down and only ten more to go

Monday, February 28, 2011


Maybe you have or maybe you haven’t run into the blogs that are ripping on Rob Bell for potential discovery that he is a Universalist from his upcoming book, Love Wins: Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Now I really don’t know what Bell believes about the reality of Hell, frankly because I haven’t asked him personally and the book doesn’t come out until March 29. I guess we will all just have to wait until then to see or if you’re lucky enough to have his cell number, give him a call and ask him.

The buzz about Bell’s new book seems to be centered on the description that a loving God doesn’t send people to Hell. And the truth is, why would a loving God want to send people to Hell? In fact why would anyone want to send someone to Hell? Oh wait, there are some people out there aren’t there that are pretty content saying that they are okay with some people going to Hell, but isn’t that what Bell is addressing in his book? Why is it that we have come to think that God is okay with the whole Hell thing? Yes He did create it, but why?

Now I’m not quite ready or have the room to deal with the problem of evil here in my blog, but what I do know is God is good and we live in a world that once was good, but it went bad. And because of Christ there are some really good things happening in our world today, but the world is not the way it should be. I believe God has done something and is doing something about the state of the world that you and I live in.

Imagine if you just bought a new expensive shirt and the first time that you wear it you spill hot sauce all over the front of it staining it (never happens to me). At that moment you would have two choices: throw it away or wash it out. Hopefully you are on the side that decided to wash it out. It only makes sense since you bought it to enjoy it for a long time. Now to remove the stain you would soak the shirt, then add a cleansing agent and finally work out the stain until it was perfectly clean again. But what would you do with the dirty water? You would throw it out right? Exactly.

God created this world perfectly good, nothing wrong with it at all. And then it got stained by sin. God in His perfect wisdom decided not to destroy the world, but to start a cleansing process that took care of the stain of sin. We are currently in the midst of that cleansing process and the stain is still affecting this world. Eventually the stain will be completely removed from this world and when that happens the stain has to go somewhere. That’s why there is Hell, to contain the stain of sin and keep it from affecting God’s perfect creation anymore. God’s grace allows us to remove the stain of sin from our lives and be made right with Him. He would never force this on us it is our choice to receive this grace and be made right.

So you see Bell is right at least in his statement that God doesn’t send people to Hell, people decide where they want to spend eternity; either in the perfect environment of our Creator or in the cesspool with the rest of the stain.

I’m not into stains and don’t want others to be stained either. How about you?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Super Bowl?

In a few days we will watch the most important football game of the year. Over 100 million people will gather worldwide to watch the game. Cowboys Stadium itself will hold 80,000 in seats and an additional 30,000 standing to watch the greatest game of the year. With each person paying an average of $4500 per ticket! Man that’s super expensive to me.

With all that, I’m hearing just as much about the super-funny commercials, the super-entertaining Halftime Show and how to have a really super-Super Bowl party as the game itself. In fact pizza chains across America are gearing up to serve over 5 million super-delicious pizzas for the game. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’ll be watching the game, laughing at the commercials, anticipating the controversy of the Halftime Show and probably choking down one of those pizzas. I’m just saying that we can tag something as super and that doesn’t really guarantee anything. Makes me think what makes something super anyways?

Think of all the ways we use super as a prefix. We have superhighways and supertankers, supermarkets and supersized meals, Superman and Super Mario. Expressing they are in some way greater than everything else comparable. So with that, the term super really means to be greater than everything else. And being considered great is usually associated with accomplishment, and accomplishment is usually associated with recognition and of course recognition is always associated with fame.

But Jesus, the real super-Man, turned this understanding of greatness upside down, literally. He said that if you want to be remembered as great than you must become less than everyone. Not super, but servant. Greatness is God’s eye is not associated with what accomplishments we make as much as it is about the impact we have on others. Why? Because like the Super Bowl, life on this earth will one day end, but eternity (a super-long time) lasts forever. Therefore what we do today matters for all time.

If you want to win in the Super Bowl life, you need super-natural wisdom.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Man life can really make us busy. I know this all too well, so lately I’ve been trying to be better at time management and making sure that I am keeping my priorities in line with my responsibilities. The problem is I’m always getting buzzed. Wait, before you assume the worst let me explain.

Because we live in a technologically advanced world it is easier for me to keep track of all that I am supposed to do. I can schedule my calendar to remind me that I have an appointment or there is something to do – Buzz. I can receive my emails right to my iPhone so that no matter where I am I can stay in the loop – Buzz. People who need to tell me something can text me and get my attention at any time – Buzz. I can even set my phone to silent in case I’m busy with another person when someone tries to call me – Buzz. You see I keep getting buzzed! And with each buzz I am reminded that I have more and more to do and less and less time to get it all done. This ultimately leads to the problem I have in the first place that caused me to work on my time management.

Now it has been suggested that we should all just turn off our cell phones and go back to the age of snail mail and Morse code, but all that will do is make life boring again. And besides I like having easy access to everything and being able to look up useless information any time I want. That’s not what makes me busy, I make myself busy with my lack of discipline. You see busyness isn’t always a condition of productivity; it can be the results of ineffective living. Because sometimes being busy means accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Basically Paul says about the same thing to the church in Thessalonica, busyness is pretty much doing a whole lot of nothing.

2 Thessalonians 3:11 - We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.

That’s why God instructs us to rest regularly to make sure our busyness isn’t getting the best of us, but He is. When was the last time you unplugged to seek His priorities for your life? Rest in Him and get over your buzz.

Hebrews 4:9-11- There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

One Word

One Word

It’s that time of year again when we look back on our lives and make a decision to change some things. Perhaps all the things that we wished we would have done or realized we should have done or stopped doing or started doing all to improve our lives.

This past weekend I heard an intriguing message at my church that dealt with a new concept of New Years change called One Word. They idea is simple, instead of making a New Years resolution and change only one thing in your life, focus on One Word that could actually change everything in your life.

I really don’t know how many times I have a made a resolution to change, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been successful exactly 0% of the time. That’s’ why I’m so intrigued by One Word because it just might actually work. Maybe your struggling with your weight, well instead of resolving to eat better, your One Word may be ‘Healthy’. Therefore instead of just changing your eating habits, you focus on everything that makes your life healthy and just maybe for the first time you actually achieve the weight that you have always wanted.

My word for 2011 is ‘Truth’. It’s not because I have a problem with lying or anything, but my hope is that I can pursue truth in my life like never before. I want to dedicate myself to seeking God’s truth everyday in His word, I want to live His truth everyday of my life, and I want to speak the truth to others no matter how hard or at what cost. For me I want 2011 to be a year where living in the truth of God’s word will change my habits, my relationships and most importantly change me for the better.

What’s your One Word that will change everything in 2011?