Vander's Thoughts

Vander's Thoughts

Thursday, July 25, 2013


In light of the latest sports scandal involving Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) and cheating, I am compelled to write something that was on my heart since discovering Lance Armstrong had cheated his way to 7 Tour De France titles. The other day as I was watching Sportscenter and it was announced that Major League Baseball’s 2011 MVP Ryan Braun was suspended for using illegal PED’s I was crushed. Here is a guy who last year you rooted for as he defended his innocence and assured baseball fans everywhere that he was wrongly accused, only to discover that a year later he was only out to protect himself and hide behind someone else’s supposed ineptness. Now here he stands, just like Lance Armstrong, exposed and left to excuse his behavior and ask for our forgiveness.

This world will always be filled with people who make mistakes, fall short, and do stupid things, but I’m a little tired of people who won’t own-up to them. I know I've made my share of mistakes, missteps, and messes and I’m quite sure I’m not finished. I can even understand someone trying to find an edge and unintentionally crossing the line and even getting caught up in it and not being sure how to get out of it, but when you’re called out on it, be honest.  Come clean. Be straight-up. And in borrowing and tweaking a term that Lance Armstrong made famous, LIVEHONEST.

The strongest people in the world aren't those who never mess up, the strongest and best in the world are those who shoulder the truth no matter how difficult.  

Proverbs 10:9 - Honesty lives confident and carefree, but Shifty is sure to be exposed.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Recently I was hoping to grab a quick bite to eat at one of my favorite restaurants, but when I got there the line was out the door. I was disappointed by the crowd there because I didn't have time to wait and eat my favorite tacos. At the same time it affirmed in me that I wasn't the only one who thought highly of those tacos.
Crowds are interesting. When we see a crowd we avoid them, but at the same time crowds draw our attention to things we weren't aware of before. So in that sense, we both avoid crowds and follow the crowd at the same time. What a paradox. If it wasn't for crowds I probably wouldn't know as much about this world as I would have without them, so crowds aren't all bad. But then again crowds can be anything but good. When the crowd makes us do things we wouldn't normally do, that’s bad. And when the crowd makes us lose our individual identity, that’s bad as well.

To crowd or not to crowd?

Jesus dealt with crowds a lot. During His ministry as He had more and more impact in this world, He always drew a crowd, which in turn created bigger crowds. And because of that, the crowd became both a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. If it weren't for the crowd a lot of individuals would have missed hearing the good news, but at the same time if it weren't for the crowd a lot of individuals would have been able to hear His message of hope. Another paradox!

Crowds contain two types of people, those who are there because they like what happening and those who are there because they just like being a part of it.

When it comes to His crowd, which one are you? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Country Music

When it comes to music I have always appreciated all types of music. Of course I can never get enough of my 80’s and I’m always up for some 90’s Hair bands, but for the most part I like all types of music. However, when it came to country music I have to admit that I used to make fun of it. When I listened to it, the girls always sounded pretty, but the guys sounded dumb. The words seemed to be a mixture of the blues and punk, sort of an “I-lost-my-dog-so-I-drank-some-beer-and-shot-my-gun” philosophy of life. In fact I used to say that if you spelled country backwards it starts with a “Y” (why?).  But lately something has changed and I’ve really been enjoying country music and I think I know why. In fact there are a few things I’ve come to love about country music.

First, I’ve come to realize how authentic country music is. Country music isn’t trying to be something it’s not. It’s not trying to change from one generation to the next or trying to come up with a progressive way to be country. Country music is what country music has always been, music from the heart of America expressing the true realities of life and how we deal with them. As far as I am concerned, country music is the real deal when it comes to my view on the way things work in this world.

Next, I’ve come to appreciate the way country music expresses its love for life. From pickup trucks to pickup lines and hunting with our dogs to hanging with our friends, country music has a unique way of expressing the essence of the love of life.  Love is what we were created to do and the more I listen to country music I find it easier and easier to express this myself.

And finally, even king David liked country music because I’m pretty sure Psalm 57 is a country song:
“I’m thanking you, God, out loud in the streets, singing your praises in town and country. The deeper your love, the higher it goes; every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness.”

When you take the authenticity of country music and the way it expresses the love of life, I believe you get pretty close to what the gospel is all about. A never changing God who loved us so much that he came down to express to us an authentic love to help us understand what life is truly all about.  

I’ll leave you with words of Eric Church “We need a country music Jesus to come and save us all”

Yeehah and Amen! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


This past week I spent a week in a cabin with my family in Lake Tahoe to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. We had great weather and tons of snow to build some great memories. I know rough life right? But snowboarding, snowmobiling, and snowball fights can really have their effect on a 45 year old body. On the last morning we were there, it snowed about 6 inches, enough to cover everything with the fascinating frozen white crystal. Nothing else can make your life more enjoyable or more miserable depending on what you are doing.

The cabin we were staying in was situated next to a road with a pretty good incline. It was steep enough that cars without all-wheel drive having a difficult time navigating up it. Then, as the snow increased some cars with chains couldn't even make it up, so as one car after another failed to climb the hill, the cars without chains helplessly pulled along onto the side of the road. At one point I think there were about 10 cars stuck just sitting there watching. Finally one guy without chains came driving by and to everyone’s astonishment, drove right up the hill. When everyone saw this, the cars without chains made a go if it and made it up as well. Pretty soon everyone one was removing their chains and heading up the hill and out of sight.

Observing this really flew in the face of reason because chains are supposed to help us, not hinder us. The sad truth is the same can be said of religion. The world has fallen into a belief that religion is good, but unfortunately religion is nothing more than a system of behavior based on rules and regulations that has caused a lot of people to be stuck in life. God isn't into telling us how to live our lives; He is about being part of our lives. The rules and regulations of religion just keep us from experiencing the freedom that comes from God alone because rules make us believe there is a spiritual formula for life, but there isn't  There is no formula for grace, it just doesn't make sense, but it works. I've learned that God’s grace offers me the freedom from the chains of a religious system and empowers me to experience a life of love for others.  People get stuck in religion, but freedom is found in a relationship in Christ.  

I love what the wisdom of Colossians says: So, then, if with Christ you've put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? “Don’t touch this! Don’t taste that! Don’t go near this!” Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important. So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Are you sick of being stuck and spinning your wheels in life? It’s time to remove the chains of rules and live a life of freedom to love like Christ calls us all too.  That’s the only way you will ever see His perspective.

Happy New Year!