Vander's Thoughts

Vander's Thoughts

Thursday, August 21, 2014


People are just different. The more I engage people the more I realize this obvious truth. We all live and interact with all sorts of people who are different from us and different from each other. Whether its their race, their culture, their wiring, their opinions, their passions or if they like their coffee iced or brewed, these things make us unique and at the same time can set us against each other.

I can’t help but notice in the news what these difference are causing to happen in our world. The Gaza conflict, the persecutions in Iraq, even the recent riots in Ferguson are evidence that the world is not handling these differences very well. The problem seems a world away until it hits home. And when it actually affects our life, that’s when it really hits home.

Not too long ago I pulled up on an accident scene that just happened. I pulled over to make sure everyone was alright and next thing I know I’m being accused of being a racist just because I have a shaved head. I think I’m starting to understand the depths and the challenge behind Rodney King’s infamous words, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

I believe when we focus on the differences in each other is sets us against each other, but when we do our best to embrace and understand the differences, that’s when we begin to work through them. If we always expect people to be just like us, no matter what we are dealing with, we are setting ourselves up for frustration. It could be as simple as disagreeing on which restaurant to eat at or as difficult as deciding a strategic direction for an organization, embracing our differences is the starting point to changing our world.

Even Jesus never forced anyone to change, but by embracing people in spite of their differences, He gave them a reason to change. That’s why He is the great example for all of us to “just get along” and change our world.

So let me challenge you, like I am challenged every day, to embrace those who are different than you and give them a reason to change themselves. Imagine if the whole world started to do this, what would the news talk about?

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:28

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit my daughter Nicole at her college. While there she asked if I could help her with a project and go with her to interview some homeless people. At first I don’t want to too and I didn't want her to either, but I realized this was something God had laid on her heart to do, so of course I gave in. I’m not even sure if it is PC anymore to call people who live on the streets homeless, but that’s where they were at so that’s where we went.

Nicole offered them some water to break the ice and then asked them if she could ask them a few questions about their current situation.  She had a series of questions to ask them in regards to how they got to this position in their life, but the kicker questions was asked at the end. She asked each of them if they had any regrets in their lives. Talk about a dangerous question! One would almost expect it to induce denial, anger, or both. Each time she came to that question I was ready to grab Nicole’s arm and run her off to safety just in case, but I was surprised by the sadness that this question evoked.

I distinctly remember two gentlemen’s answers that really impacted me. They first was from David who found himself homeless after being laid off a number of times and just gave up trying. His regret was never pursuing becoming a pilot. He had always loved airplanes and never did anything about it. You could see the sadness in his face as he thought of what could have been. The other response, which was the most emotional, was from Clark. Clark had been hardened by the streets. He had a college education and at one point had a really good career, so it really wasn't clear why Clark made a decision to drop out of society until he answered the regret question. He simply said, “I wish I would have never left my wife.” Not only did his response evoke sadness in him, but I felt overwhelming compassion like never before for a person on the streets.  An abandoned dream and an abandoned relationship had left both of these men broken.  

I’m sure we have all done things in our lives that we regret, things that we wish would have done differently or wouldn't have done at all, but we don’t have to live with regret. Regret stops the moment we do something about it. If you don’t your regret with get the best of you. God wants to help us overcome our regrets and get on with the best life possible.

“But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets and end up on a deathbed of regrets.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10

Do you have a dream? What are you doing to pursue it? Do you have a hurt in your life? What are doing to heal it? Move on your idea. Pursue your dream. Say you’re sorry. Rebuild the relationship. Don’t wake up one day with a life filled with regret because regret is a painful place to lay your head every day.

Maybe it’s time to stop tucking regret in with you every night when you go to bed. 

Monday, January 13, 2014


While on my way to work recently I had the car behind me uncomfortably close to my rear bumper. Some call it tail-gating some call bumper-riding all I know is its annoying. I don’t know why this guy had to drive so close to me but for some reason that I can’t explain, the closer he got to me the slower my car seemed to go. It’s almost like I purposely (unconsciously of course) lifted my foot off the accelerator. Regardless, what happened was that I found myself looking out my review mirror more than my front windshield. Because of this I made a discovery, that looking back is one of the most dangerous things we can do when we are moving forward. While looking behind me I almost rear-ended the car in front of me!

Makes me think about why what has happened in our past, so often, has such a profound effect on our future. Maybe it’s because we start thinking so much about our past that we fail to see what we have to look forward to. Sure we have all had things that have happened in our life that we regret, but what good does it do us when we are always thinking backward. The best moments of my life had nothing to do with my past, but had everything to do with recognizing the moment I was in and taking it for what is was. Maybe it’s time for the past to be just that, the past and embrace the future that God has provided for each of us through His grace.

Next time your past keeps you from focusing forward, try and remember what Jesus says about the life that God calls us to look forward to everyday….

Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” – Luke 9:62