Chapter-a-Day Ephesians 3

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! Ephesians 3:20 (TM)

One summer afternoon many years ago my daughter (she was about eight or nine at the time) came running into the house. "Daddy? Can we  play in the sprinklers?" she asked with a touch of fear in her voice.
I thought for a minute before answering her question with a question.
"Are you a child?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied with a questioning look.
"Is it a beautiful day outside?" I quizzed.
"Yes," came the answer again.
"And are the sprinklers on outside?" I asked with more energy.
"YES!" she said hardly able to contain her excitement.
"Then by all means, GET OUT THERE AND PLAY IN THE SPRINKLER!!" I said as she screamed and giggled and ran out to tell her sister to put on her swimsuit.

I’ve noticed that children are sometimes afraid to ask for things. Perhaps they anticipate a gruff "NO!" to their request. The thing is, I like saying "yes" to my kids. I like blessing them whenever I can. Our heavenly Father makes it clear that He likes blessing us!

Perhaps when God seems miserly with His blessing it’s because we’ve been miserly with our requests, and we’ve chosen to believe that He’ll say ‘no’ before we even ask. So, we never ask….and never receive.

Vander Well Newsbriefs April 27, 2007

Here’s the latest:

  • Wendy’s dad and brother, Lucas, returned home from a two-week mission to Mozambique. They were working with refugees who were homeless and without food due to intense flooding of the Zambizi River. We’re anxious to hear all the details – but thanking God for their safe return.
  • Mom and Dad Vander Well are taking a trip East to visit friends in Virginia. They’re planning to be back for Tulip Time before heading down to their playhouse on Lake of the Ozarks in May.
  • Taylor was just hired as a server at the restaurant at Bos Landen golf course. She has worked as a hostess at Monarch’s for three years, but couldn’t serve until she was 18 – so she’s hoping to make some more money. Taylor will be going on a mission to Mexico with the church youth group in June.
  • Madison’s plate has been full with track (which is about over), the Tulip Time play, Worship Team at church, and choir at school. She will be going to Mexico and Costa Rica on missions projects this summer.
  • Wendy and I are looking forward to a break from theatre this summer so that we can recharge our batteries and focus our time and energy on some other projects we’ve been putting off around the house.
  • We’re also hoping to spend a lot more time at the lake this summer. Mom and Dad’s neighbors down at the lake are moving – and Wendy and I bought their waverunner, so we’re looking forward to giving it a good workout 🙂

Chapter-a-Day Ephesians 2

Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross
got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came
and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He
treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share
the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father
. Ephesians 2:16-18 (TM)

When Jesus chose His 12 disciples, He picked a motley crew who would not have gotten along well. There were those on the radical political right who believed in armed uprising against the Roman government, and those on the radical left who were "in bed" with Rome. There were disciples on the far ends of the socio-economic spectrum of that day. Why? Because His mission was the cross, and "The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of hostility." Jesus came to bring love and salvation across all of these barriers.

The man who penned these words was Paul – a fanatical, religious Jew who had persecuted Christians and had them killed for a living. A man who used to be known as Saul and who, before he met Jesus, began each day thanking God he wasn’t a gentile (a non-Jew), was now embracing the gentiles – treating them as equals – and giving his very life to share with them Jesus’ love.

As followers of Christ, I’m called to love. I’m called to forgive. I’m called to look beyond my pre-conceived notions, my human perspectives and my ingrained hatreds – and see Jesus in each person I meet.

Words Women Use

"Words Women Use" – this, from Wendy…

  1. FINE: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.
  2. Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five Minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
  3. Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.
  4. Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don’t Do It!
  5. Loud Sigh: This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of nothing.)
  6. That’s Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That’s okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.
  7. Thanks: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or Faint. Just say you’re welcome.
  8. Whatever: Is a women’s way of saying F%#& YOU!
  9. Don’t worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking "what’s wrong", for the woman’s response refer to # 3.
    (The following is my addition to the list!)
  10. I’m okay: Don’t believe it for a second, buster – I’m not okay – I’m really ticked (most likely at you) and you better start probing to find out what’s really wrong or it’s only going to get worse for you!

Chapter-a-Day Ephesians 1

It’s in Christ that we find
out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard
of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us
for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in
everything and everyone
. Ephesians 1:11-12 (TM)

I was in high school when I first believed (over 25 years ago! yikes!), but I can still remember the overwhelming feeling of insecurity that came with not having any purpose in life. Even as a child it nagged me. "What is this all about?" and "Why am I here?". I can still remember feeling so depressed when one of my teachers laughed and confidently told my class that there was no purpose. We were a cosmic coincidence and there was no reason for our existence.

But then I heard and believed. I still remember the song that was playing…
I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.

I never did turn back. The purpose-less-ness I used to feel has never returned. Sure, life has taken its twists and turns and had plenty of ups and downs. But since that day it has never lost the purpose. I’m following Jesus

Chapter-a-Day Galatians 6

Live creatively, friends. Galatians 6:1a (TM)

I grieve every time I hear a follower of Jesus say "I’m not creative". That’s as much a lie of the enemy as "I’m worthless", "I’m not gifted", or "No one loves me". Jesus was the author of creation and the Bible clearly teaches that everything was created by Him, through Him and for Him (John 1:1-5). If we are to be Christ-like – then we are to be creative just as He is creative. Living the fullness of Christ includes experiencing the fullness of His creative nature and power.

"Psssst. Hey you. Are you serious? You’re not creative. You don’t have a creative bone in your body!"

We have too easily believed that subtle lie whispered in our spirits.
The result is that we are less like Jesus than we should be. Our Light
shines less brightly. Our message is more impotent than it should be.
Until the Body of Christ reclaims our creative birthright, our Gospel
mission will be greatly impeded.

Chapter-a-Day Galatians 5

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just
make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever
you want to do and destroy your freedom
. Galatians 5:13 (TM)

Wendy and I went to the play see Huck Finn at the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre a few weeks ago. It brought back a great story that I hadn’t heard in a long time as Huck and his mother’s slave, Jim, make their way up the Mississippi on a raft. They are trying to get Jim to freedom in the North. The show made me think a lot about freedom.

I believe we take freedom for granted – just like linoleum. While on a mission in the Philippines I was ushered into the straw hut of a woman who was my host for lunch. She was so excited to show me the scrap of linoleum that was stretched across her hut. It was dirty and had been pulled out of a garbage dump somewhere but it was new to her and it covered her floor. She hadn’t known anything but a dirt floor her entire life. She was excited and proud, and I rejoiced with her. When I returned home, I had a new perspective and appreciation for linoleum.

Freedom is a precious thing, and it’s easy to take it for granted. It’s tempting, over time, to mistake our freedom for license – to do what we want, when we please, with whomever we please. Instead, God intends that our freedom – contained by our love of Christ – will unleash us to love graciously, actively, extravagantly.

Chapter-a-Day Galatians 4

My dear friends, what I would really like you to do is try to put
yourselves in my shoes to the same extent that I, when I was with you,
put myself in yours
. Galatians 4:12 (TM)

I don’t find people as considerate today as I remember when I was a child. Perhaps it’s because we isolate ourselves more and our sensitivity to what others are thinking and feeling has been dulled. Paul gives a good metaphor for being considerate – trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

As an actor, I’m used to trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I meditate long and hard on what my character thinks and feels. I consider what it is that makes him tick and try to understand what motivates him. The funny thing is, no matter who the character is, I walk away with a greater appreciation for and empathy for that character.

Today I’m going to try and be considerate of those around me today – and let that help dictate my actions. Only then can I expect them to be considerate of me.

Art Imitating Life

Rehearsals are going well for Tulip House. Less than two weeks to curtain. It’s been a lot of fun to be on stage with both Wendy and Madison. As an actor, there’s safety in being on stage with family. When Wendy and I play intimate moments and arguments (both verbal and non-verbal) on stage, we have a deep well from which to draw and there isn’t any of the awkwardness and boundary issues that you face when playing opposite a stranger.

The same is true with Madison. While Madison’s character is very different than Madison – there is another deep well of parent/child and parent/teen relationship to draw from. With Madison I find that it helps to find the little moments that happen between parent child like "the dad look" or glances at each other at certain moments on stage. With a stranger they take a lot more time to find and develop. When you’re on stage with your own teen-ager they just seem to happen naturally.

I certainly hope that it makes for a better performance – that the natural relationship that I feel on stage translates to the audience and heightens the experience.

Photo: Wendy and Madison having an on-stage argument

Chapter-a-Day Galatians 3

But now you have arrived at
your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship
with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a
fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith
wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise
. Galatians 3:25-27 (TM)

What kind of marriage would you have if, after the wedding ceremony, you shook hands and retreated to opposite corners of the house? Once a week you spend and hour or so in the same room, though not always communicating during that time. Sound like a recipe for marital disaster?

Then why do we often treat our relationship with Jesus (which scripture describes in the metaphor of marriage) in exactly that way? We accept His proposal, and enter into a covenant only to ignore the relationship. Or as Paul put it to the Galatians, we get washed up but refuse to get dressed.