Tag Archives: Book

Chapter-a-Day Posts by Book

Click on an image to access a summary of posts for the book. I will slowly be going back and adding book summaries. Please bookmark and keep checking back.

Ezra (Aug/Sep 2019)
Nehemiah (Sep/Oct 2019)
Esther (Jul/Aug 2019)
Proverbs (Feb/Mar 2020)
Song of Solomon (Sep/Oct 2013)
Tom Vander Well's chapter-a-day posts for the book of Jonah published in June 2019.
Jonah (June 2019)
Haggai (October 2019)
Mark (Mar/Apr 2020)
Luke (Dec 2019 – Jan 2020)
Romans (Feb/Mar 2019)
1 Corinthians (Nov 2018-Jan 2019)
2 Corinthians (Jan-Feb 2019)
Ephesians (Apr-May 2019)
Philippians (May 2019)
Colossians (May 2019)
1 Timothy (June 2019)
2 Timothy (June 2019)
Titus (May 2019)
Philemon (May 2019)
1 Peter (November 2019)
1, 2, & 3 John (Apr May 2020)

About…

Tom Vander Well has been writing his Wayfarer blog since 2006. Since then he has blogged his way through the entirety of God’s Message twice along with posting about personal experiences and life observations. He continues pressing on one chapter at a time. Tom is a teaching leader among his local gathering of Jesus’ followers and serves as President and CEO of Intelligentics Inc., a market research and quality assessment firm. In addition, he is a speaker, actor, playwright, lover of history, and back porch musician. He lives in Pella, Iowa with his wife, Wendy.

web: tomvanderwell.com
email: tomvanderwell@gmail.com
twitter: @tomvanderwell

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The Book, and the Journey

While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the Lord, the priest Hilkiah found the book of the law of the Lord given through Moses.
2 Chronicles 34:14 (NRSVCE)

I was just 14 years old when I decided to become a follower of Jesus. The first thing I did after making that decision was to begin reading the Living Bible that I’d received for my confirmation a few years before with it’s puke green, imitation leather cover. I’d learned about the Bible all my life. I’d read verses from it, but I’d never really read it. Somehow I knew as I launched out on my faith journey that I had to read the Book for real.

A short time later I had an after school job and my boss asked if I’d like to do a Bible study together. I jumped at the chance. Every Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m. we met together in his office. One of the first things he had me do was memorize Joshua 1:8:

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. (FYI, I typed this from memory. It’s still in there!)

That first memorized verse set the course for me spiritually. I have been journeying through God’s Message ever since. The Book is the source material of faith. I have read it through in a year. I’ve read it in different translations and paraphrases. I have studied it academically. I have studied it alone and in groups. I have memorized parts of it. I keep plumbing the depths, discovering new layers, and finding new meaning as I make my way through it again and again from altogether different waypoints in my own Life journey. (And, I continue to read it with those few brave souls who follow along here a chapter a day!)

In today’s chapter we are nearing the end of the Chronicler’s historical summary of the Kings of Judah. Mannaseh had reigned for fifty-five years and the nation had fallen back into its idolatrous ways. Now young Josiah becomes King and leads the people in a revival back to the God of their ancestors. First, he gets rid of all the idols in the land, then he begins a restoration campaign of the Temple of Solomon. This was not a quick process. The restoration of the Temple began 18 years into Josiah’s reign. During the restoration they discovered the Book of the Law (what we would know today as Genesis through Deuteronomy). In other words, the source material of the Hebrew faith had been lost and forgotten for years. They didn’t even know where it was, let alone did they remember what was in it!

How long had they been stumbling along without the source material of their faith? What were they relying on to inform them, encourage them, and instruct them? Oral tradition? The memory of old priests? How did they know they were living in accordance with God’s Law if they didn’t even have a copy of the Law to reference? The discovery of the Book of the Law was huge, as we’ll find out in the final few chapters of Chronicles.

This morning I’m thinking about my never-ending journey through the Book and the Great Story. How different my journey would be without this Source of wisdom, history, instruction, inspiration, encouragement, admonishment, and insight. I’m so thankful I took Joshua 1:8 to heart. I’m so grateful that I’ve not had to fly blind in my faith journey, that I’ve had the Book as my Source material.

Thanks for reading along with me.

The Sour Feeling in My Gut

source: stickyii via Flickr
source: stickyii via Flickr

So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Revelation 10:9-10 (NIV)

As artists, Wendy and I love stories that are honest and well told, even when the honesty includes characters acting and speaking in ways we would find unacceptable for ourselves. Some people are offended when they hear a single profane word uttered in any context, but it typically doesn’t bother us when a truly profane character in a movie swears on the screen. Profane people say a lot of profane things. We usually roll with it without thinking much of it.

Having said this, there have been many times over the years that Wendy and I have felt spiritually soured when watching television, a movie, or when reading a book. For a couple of years we avidly watched a television program that was, and I’m sure still is, brilliantly written and well acted. It was network television, so there wasn’t anything in the weekly program which we found particularly objectionable. However, one night Wendy mentioned to me that she felt a “sourness” in her spirit watching the show. Coincidentally, I had been feeling the same gross feeling over the course of the previous few weeks, but without being sure why, I hadn’t said anything. To this day, I can’t tell you any one thing that was wrong or objectionable about the show, but in our gut we both felt spiritually gross watching it. So, we stopped.

I love the word picture of God asking John to eat the scroll in today’s chapter. The connection between God’s word and food is a recurring theme throughout God’s Message. For example, Jesus said when tempted to satiate his physical hunger that “man was not made for bread alone, but for every word that comes out of God’s mouth.”

A couple of related takeaways this morning:

There is a difference between reading and digesting. It’s one thing to have a small taste of greens, but popping a pea or two is not going to do you much good. You have to consume the green vegetable in larger portions if you want any health benefit. I have found the same to be true with reading God’s Message. For maximum spiritual health benefit, you can’t just have an occasional taste. It should be fully consumed and digested over time.

Transformation doesn’t take place without significant change, and change is often motivated by discomfort. When you get used to eating a healthier, more balanced diet you soon find that unhealthy things have a discomforting affect on your body and its functions. I don’t like the way I feel after eating all of those sweets or fats, and it motivates me to avoid doing it again. Once I changed my spiritual diet to include regular consumption of God’s Message, I found that I started feeling soured towards spiritually unhealthy things. I still can’t tell you what it was about the television program Wendy and I stopped watching, but the sourness in our spirits told us we needed to cut that program out of our entertainment diet. Call it what you want. I just know that when I something is spiritually off, the sour feeling in my soul motivates me to get things back in line.

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Chapter-a-Day Haggai 1

source: sualk61 via Flickr

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! Haggai 1:5-6 (NLT)

As you might suspect if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, I like to write. In fact, there are a couple of books and plays rattling around in my head most of the time. Ask me the question, “If you were going to write a book, what would it be?” and I’d have to start flipping coins to narrow it down to one. I can tell you for sure that these verses from today’s chapter would definitely be referenced in one of them.

As I look back on my journey, I find that the theme of contentment has largely been ignored by Jesus followers and the church organization. Even though God’s Message reminds us to be content in any and every circumstances, the louder voices of our culture and our economy cry for us to be continuously discontent. Historians will tell you that we are in the “Age of Technology” and nothing has tapped into our spirit of discontent like technology. The must have gadget or device we buy today is replaced by a newer, better, faster gadget or device tomorrow. Welcome to the hamster wheel. Start spinning.

I don’t write this to judge anyone but myself. I am increasingly convicted that I have given in to the spirit of discontent as much as anyone. My daily introspection and self-examination often leads to a conversation with God in which I’m asking forgiveness for not being content in one fashion or another. I am reminded again this morning that Jesus said the road to life is narrow, difficult, and runs against the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the super highway towards death. In God’s economy, godliness coupled with contentment are the means of great gain.

Maybe I should write that book: The Case for Contentment.

I’m afraid no one would be interested.

Tom’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge Day 29

If you could make a film of any book never produced as a film, what book would you pick?

Cover of "Fraternity of the Stone"
Cover of Fraternity of the Stone

David Morrell’s The Fraternity of the Stone. I believe a very loose (as in not at all like the book) adaptation was made at one point, but I would love to see the novel made into a movie as written. The story is of an ex-assassin who has given up the life and sought redemption for his soul in an extreme monastic order. Years pass by and the man’s enemies eventually track him down. A hit is ordered on the entire monastery in order to assure that he is killed, but by chance (or was it diving providence?) the man survives. He is motivated to find out who did this and avenge the death of his brethren, but it requires him to return to the life of violence he swore to leave.  Lots of great action, espionage and spiritual dilemma’s in this one.

Chapter-a-Day Amos 4

Sears Christmas Catalog Wish Book 1981
Image by flashbacks.com via Flickr

People would stagger from village to village crazed for water and never quenching their thirst. But you never got thirsty for me. You ignored me.” God’s Decree. Amos 4:8 (MSG)

Our daughter was here the other day to borrow Christmas music. It’s that time of year. The holidays are almost upon us. It is the time of year when, as a child, the Sears & Roebuck Christmas “Wish Book” would arrive. Hour upon hour was spent pouring over the massive toy section. I made my wish list for Santa Claus.

There has never been a Christmas when the gifts I received fell short of my need. I may not have gotten everythiny on my wish list, but I always ended up with more than I really needed.

When you have little need, it’s easy to feel little need for God.

God, as we enter this holiday season, help me hunger and thirst for you more than anything else.

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Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 25

Next David and the worship leaders selected some from the family of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun for special service in preaching and music. 1 Chronicles 25:1 (MSG)

I’m currently reading a trilogy of non-fiction books. The first book was good, but there was a lot that I didn’t get. I felt like a lot was going over my head or that I wasn’t catching some things that might be important. As I got into the second book, a lot of things became clear. I began making connections with things that happened early in the story; things which had initially confused me.

One of the things I appreciate about journeying through God’s Message is the way you begin to connect the dots. The more you read it, the more things begin to connect. What casual observers and spotty readers often lament is that the Bible seems so disjointed and confusing. There is a storyline, and there are very complex connections from beginning to end, but you have to spend time journeying through the disparate parts to find the threads which connect.

In today’s chapter we learn that special worship assignments for God’s temple were given to three families. One of them, Asaph, rang a bell. Asaph was the composer of several songs in the book of Psalms. When reading Psalms you see “A Psalm of Asaph” and wonder who in the world Asaph was. You find out in the Chronicles.

Sometimes, you have to stick with a book for a while before it starts coming together for you.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and ginnerobot