Vander's Thoughts

Vander's Thoughts

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Heart

I found myself at my favorite burger place, Five Guys, yesterday for an awesome bacon jalapeno cheeseburger and their amazing fries, when something tragic occurred. I saw this gentleman stand up from his table and then immediately crash to the floor. I jumped from my chair to assist him, as did many others in the restaurant. Someone shouted out to call 911, so I reached for my phone, dialed, and found myself instantly speaking to an emergency dispatcher. After giving them the address and a brief description of what happened, I went back into the restaurant to see a motionless man lying on the floor with his wife laying over him trying to give him any type of comfort and everyone else standing there helpless. I was compelled to reach out to her and offered the only thing I could in that moment, prayer. I asked her if I could pray and she immediately shouted her affirmation. It was in that moment that I called upon to the Great Physician and His intervention.

As I laid my hand on the fallen man, however, I could feel that his life was no longer in his hand, it was cold. I remember the feelings of inadequacy in that moment as I kneeled there with this women and her husband and all I could do was plead for God’s involvement and His peace.  As I prayed out loud I could sense others in the room joining me and it was confirmed when I heard a collective Amen when I was finished. Within moments the paramedics where in the room and immediately went to work on this man’s heart which I found out later had been stopped for at least 5 minutes. They were able to regain a heartbeat with the defibrillator and whisked him off to the Emergency Room for the fight of his life. 

In the aftermath I was able to speak to a few people about the precious nature of life and the need to be right with God, but by the time I got back to my lunch it was cold and soggy and not very appetizing for a number of reasons. The manager let me know he appreciated my efforts and told me to come back for lunch on him whenever I wanted. As I made my way to the soda fountain for a quick refill, I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion and completely lost it. I was shocked. I mean I have been doing this pastor thing for over 17 years and the many funerals and countless hospital visits had never done this to me before. Why was my heart so burdened in this moment like never before?

It really makes you ponder the condition of your physical heart when you experience something like that. However, the most important condition of our hearts is the one Jesus mentions in Matthew 22,

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’"

The true condition of our heart is measured in our love for God, for others and ourselves. It all goes hand in hand. What good is a physically healthy heart if the true condition of our heart is corrupted with a lack of love? What I experienced yesterday was a culmination of what I believe Jesus was expressing.

Our hearts need to be primarily focused on our love for God and need for Him in our lives. He is our true heartbeat and source of life. We then to need to be sharing that love with others by the way we share our lives. And finally, we need to love ourselves by caring for the physical bodies He has given us to glorify Him as long as possible in this life.

I hope your heart is in the best condition possible and you are seeking His love, sharing His love and allowing Him to love you.

By the way, I made sure to go an extra mile on the Elliptical for my workout this morning and I’m also not sure when I’ll be up to consuming one of those burgers again.

Monday, October 15, 2012


I’m not sure how you define a shortcut, but for me it’s a way to get somewhere faster. It doesn't necessarily have to be shorter, but if I can get where I want to be quicker, then I’m all for finding a shortcut. There are all kinds of short cuts in life. Like skipping the freeway at rush hour to take surface streets or taking a diet pill to raise your metabolism to lose weight faster (if that even really works). I even look for the shortest checkout lines to get into even if that means cutting off someone who has been there longer. We all do that right? Man, I hope I’m not the only one who does this because then I’m a chump!

But have you ever thought about the cost of shortcuts? Sure they help us get to where we want to be quicker, but we may be missing an opportunity to grow in the process. We often speak of life with God as a journey and on this journey there are lots of choices we get to make. Many of those choices have to do with choosing the quickest path or the most beneficial path, and all too often they aren't the same.

Let’s say you need to develop patience, do you think it’s wise to always look for the quickest path or to start practicing waiting? What if you want to develop temperance, do you think it’s better to treat yourself to whatever makes you feel better or begin to practice saving or self-care? I think we could ably this process to all of our struggles like anger, stress and even envy. Shortcuts don’t just cut off time they can cut into our very life.

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.” Matthew 7:13-14 (Message)

Next time you’re tempted to take a short cut, first ask yourself what you might learn if you choose to work through it and then see how God develops and grows you because of it.

Don’t sell yourself short with shortcuts.