Vander Well News Briefs 08-31-08

NewsbriefsThe craziness of the autumn season has hit. Kids are back in school. Church and community activities are back in full swing. Clients’ summer vacations are over and everyone is back to needing their projects done. It’s strange to hear football on the radio. Did we even have a summer? It’s been a crazy week, and it doesn’t look any better in the near future. Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • Wendy has had a couple of unexpected work projects that have had her working evenings and she worked yesterday. At least they’re keeping her out of trouble 😉
  • We were  able to see Heidi, Jesse and Josh for a few minutes this week when we made a quick run to Iowa City. Unfortunately, we missed out on seeing little Sophia.
  • Taylor is still working on support. She is just over half way to having what she needs for the first part of the DTS program. She’s been putting in hours and Smokey Row and the hospital as well. I think it’s been strange for her not to be in school and watching all of her friends going off to college.
  • Madison is back in the swing of school and has been working at the local florist one evening a week and Saturdays. When I asked her how school was this week, the answer was "school."
  • Madison was cast as Ernestine in USP’s Cheaper by the Dozen, which is one of the major roles. Her character narrates the play. I was cast in a small role as Dr. Burton. Wendy is producing.
  • I had a trip to the Twin Cities last week and will be there three days this coming week.
  • It’s been a quiet Labor Day weekend for us. We both have a full day at church this morning. Wendy is directing video in all services while I play with the worship team. We’re going to be in Des Moines tonight. Wendy has the finishing touches put on her new tattoo and then we’re meeting our friends Kevin and Becky for some wine and conversation. Tomorrow is going to be some work around the house and then it’s eirflensje (Dutch crepes) night at Grandpa and Grandma Vander Wells.

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Beat Up Nephews While You Still Can

Wendy_beating_up_sol_thanksgiving_4 I took this picture of Wendy beating up on Solomon last Thanksgiving at Grandma Jeanne’s house. The picture has gained significance over the past year. When it was taken, Solomon was about Wendy’s height and she could still pretend, at least, to take him. A few months later, he’s a MUCH TALLER and bigger young man. The days of beating up on Solomon are over, I’m afraid! 

Chapter-a-Day Acts 20

Travel_journalThey went on ahead and waited for us in Troas. Meanwhile, we stayed in Philippi for Passover Week, and then set sail. Within five days we were again in Troas and stayed a week. Acts 20:5-6 (TM)

I like to keep a journal when I travel. I have three or four Travel Journals on my bookshelf that chronicle trips to Israel, Ireland and the Philippines among others. There is so much that happens when you are travelling. You see new places, you experience new foods, new customs, and you meet fascinating people. Within days, weeks and months of your return you’ve forgotten so many little details about what you experienced. The journal becomes a historial record, an heirloom and can even make a great gift. When travelling with companions, I have sometimes copied my journal and given it to my companions at a later date as a gift.

There was a subtle shift in Acts 20 that many readers don’t catch. The pronoun "they" has been replaced with "we." Luke, the author of the book of Acts, was a doctor and believer who was investigating the story of Jesus and the early Christians and reporting back to his friend, Theophilus. At this point in the story, Luke’s letter stops being a history book and becomes a personal travel journal. Luke hooked up with Paul and began travelling with him. The stories now become a first-hand record of Luke’s experiences.

There’s something in knowing this that helps me appreciate the book of Acts even more. I read my Travel Journals and it takes my thoughts back to a very specific place in time. Today, I felt like Luke himself, reading the words as they pointed to specific moments in his life. I tried to picture him, picture Paul stretched out on the dead body of a sleepy boy, think about what they talked about on their travels from one town to the other.

As you read the rest of the book of Acts, keep in mind that you are reading the personal Travel Journal of a doctor named Luke who was a very real part of the events he’s describing.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and refracted moments.

Chapter-a-Day Acts 19

Heart_of_the_matter_2"Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?" Acts 19:2 (TM)

I was raised in church. I went to Sunday School. I sang in the children’s choir. I attended Vacation Bible School. I was in church most Sundays with my family. I went to confirmation classes. But, I still didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. God was in my head. I read about him. I pondered him. I hung around him. But, I didn’t know him. There was still and emptiness in my heart and in my life that begged to be filled.

Then, it happened on a cold February night when I was a Freshman in high school. God got inside me. He transcended my head and entered into my heart. My life was different. Like the Ephesians, I experienced a moment in time when I entered into a personal relationship with Jesus. I know others who can’t point to an exact timeline, but who have experienced the same transformation over time. It’s the transformation from head knowledge about God into a heart to heart relationship with Jesus.

Is God in your head or in your heart?

Chapter-a-Day Acts 18

Hitting_the_wallAfter spending a considerable time with the Antioch Christians, Paul set off again for Galatia and Phrygia, retracing his old tracks, one town after another, putting fresh heart into the disciples. Acts 18:23 (TM)

My wife and I watched the Olympic women’s marathon a few weeks ago. Marathons aren’t normally on television, so we found the race fascinating. Early in the race, a particular runner was leading the pack and running strong. She had a great stride and was running with authority as she led the other runners through the course.

The marathon is a long race and I was distracted for a few minutes. When I looked back, the woman who had led the entire race was now behind the lead pack. Her stride had lessened. She was no longer running with authority. Every step looked like a painful struggle. In the words of my friends who are runners, she had "hit the wall".

I forgot about the woman, thinking that she was done. As the race ended, I was surprised to see her enter Olympic stadium with some of the other leaders. She had pushed through the wall and kept running. She found her second wind, and perhaps her third wind, and fourth wind and however many winds she needed to complete the grueling race. While she didn’t win the marathon that day, she finished the race among the leading runners.

The journey is long and the road winds both up and down. We’re all human. We will have days when we run with authority and lead the pack. There will be other days that we hit the wall. I have to believe that many of the early Christians felt powerful elation when they first heard God’s message and believed. They probably were on a spiritual high as Paul shared God’s truth with them and everything was new and exciting. But, Paul moved on, life went back to normal, and they hit the wall. So it was, that Paul visited to refresh their hearts and give them a second wind.

It’s normal to feel both the ups and downs of the journey. We all need our hearts refreshed from time to time.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Kevron.

Chapter-a-Day Acts 17

We_need_to_know_the_wordThe Jews received Paul’s message with enthusiasm and met with him daily, examining the Scriptures to see if they supported what he said. Acts 17:11 (TM)

Reading about the Bereans brought back memories of sitting in class at Bible college. It was a small, conservative school and the professors were well educated. Most of the students sat in class and absorbed the professors lectures without question. While I found that most of my professors taught with integrity and accuracy, there was one that I considered to be a loose cannon.

The professor in question was held in high esteem among the students, faculty and community. He spoke with tremendous authority and would find a way to punish any who questioned him (you should have seen my grades). His lectures laced Biblical truth with his own pompous opinions about every subject and every person. I endured lectures about Jesus having short hair (men having short hair was a cornerstone of the college’s dress policy) and about Billy Graham’s salvation being questionable (he was an authority on who was and wasn’t going to heaven). These things weren’t scriptural, but he used a combination of obscure, out of context Bible references along with secondary material. No one questioned him.

One the reasons that it’s important to read God’s message is so you can discern when teachers are telling you the truth and when they are twisting things for their own ends. The Bereans weren’t content to accept Paul’s message without question, but they weren’t going to dismiss it, either. When Paul’s message was over they went back to double check and make sure his message was true.

Most people struggle to know the Bible. Reading a chapter each day is a great way to start. It only takes a few minutes each day and it’s amazing how quickly you make your way through. If you’re spending time each day reading the Bible, you’ll be more equipped to know when a teacher or preacher is speaking the truth and when they are twisting the scriptures for their own purposes.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and barkaway