Tag Archives: Chapter-a-Day

New Layers of Perception

New Layers of Perception (CaD Heb 1) Wayfarer

…in these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
Hebrews 1:2 (NIV)

I woke this morning remembering that it was time to choose which book in the Great Story to trek through on this chapter-a-day journey. There has never been much rhyme or reason to where the journey goes next. At this point, I believe every book has been blogged through at least twice with many having been revisited four or five times.

So why keep going?

When Jesus was tempted by the Prince of this World, He compared the Great Story to spiritual bread. It is basic nutrients. It is sustenance. It is a foundational, life-giving staple. When Moses commissions Joshua to be his successor as leader of the Hebrew people, he tells Joshua, “Always keep this book of the Law [the only written pieces of the Great Story at that time] on your lips; meditate on it day and night, and be careful to do everything written in it.”

That was the first verse I ever memorized. It launched my perpetual reading, meditation, and study, and it has never gotten old. In fact, it only gets deeper and more fascinating for me. Why?

First, because every time I trek through a book again I am at a different place on the journey. My perspective from this waypoint in the journey changes what I see, hear, and receive in spiritual nutrients and sustenance. It’s like going back to a favorite restaurant and having your favorite meal off the menu after not having tasted and experienced it in years. It is the same meal, but you experience it differently.

Second, with every step of my life journey, I acquire new information, inputs, and experiences which lead to greater insight into the stories, episodes, lyrics, and poems as well as the Great Story as a whole. Metaphor is layered with meaning, and the more experiences I have in life the more I see layered in the Message, and the more connections I make the text, both to other pieces of the Great Story and to other pieces of my life.

Third, I have found it to be exactly what Jesus said it was: foundational, life-giving, spiritual staple. It centers me at the beginning of the day. It informs my thoughts and meditations for the day. It reminds me how to think, speak, act, relate, and live this day. It often gives me an encouragement to inspire, a promise on which to cling, or an affirmation to comfort.

And so, a quick perusal of the latest chapter-a-day treks by book revealed to me only a couple of books missing from the list referred to as New Testament books. The first one I noticed missing was Hebrews. So, here we go…

Since the last time I’ve made the chapter-a-day trek through Hebrews, my dear friend sent me a personal essay about Pierre de Chardin that has greatly inspired me to learn more about this 20th century Jesuit priest, mystic, and scientist. His writings were banned, his teaching was censored, and he was silenced by the institutional Catholic church. History teaches me that this is always a credible sign that he was on to something true. In particular, Chardin’s thinking around “the Omega point” had a huge influence on both the worlds of science and art in the 20th century. In short, “the Omega point” theorizes that everything in the universe is connected, and just as the entire universe sprang from the explosion of a tiny point of matter (I guess that’s the Alpha point), so it will eventually collapse and return to a tiny point of matter: the Omega point.

As I launched into the first chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews this morning I only had to get to the second verse before I ran into something I’ve never seen in my reading of this text before.

“...in these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son [Jesus] whom he appointed heir of all things...

The heir receives the inheritance. If Jesus is the heir of all things then all things eventually return to Him. He is the “Omega Point.”

and through whom also he made the universe.

Jesus was also the “Alpha Point.” And, the author of Hebrews goes on to state in the next verse, Jesus is “sustains all things.” In this letter to the followers of Jesus in Colossae, Paul states that in Jesus “all things hold together.” Therefore, I am reminded this morning that Jesus is the “Alpha Point” from which all things spring, the “Omega Point” to which all things return, and also what science ironically refers to as “dark matter” which holds everything together.

So, what does this have to do with my day today?

My meditation on Jesus being the “heir of all things” leads me to conclude that nothing I think I own or possess is truly mine. I will die and it will be passed onto others (who will also die) and/or it will erode, decay, or be destroyed to eventually flow back to the Omega Point. Makes sense, then why Jesus would tell His followers not to worry about, or invest in, the things of this world. He sees the bigger picture. He’s looking in context of the Great Story in which all of creation Jesus “will roll up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed.” And, if Jesus is the sustainer holding all of creation together, then how ever-present and accessible He is. He’s holding me together in ways I never consider.

In the quiet this morning, I head into my day considering everything in my temporal life in the context of a much larger reality. This is what I find Jesus constantly teaching His followers: “Break out of the crimped tunnel vision of this human existence. Learn to see as I see! Step back and see in the context of Alpha and Omega, inter-connectedness and omnipresent sustaining. Then you will see each day, each moment, each interaction with hope and possibility!”

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Acts (Sep-Oct 2018)

Each photo below corresponds to a chapter-a-day post for the book of Acts published by Tom Vander Well in November 2018. Click on the photo linked to each chapter to read the post.

Acts 1: Waiting and Watching

Acts 2: Worship Like You’re Drunk at 9 a.m.

Acts 3: Waypoints and Wisdom

Acts 4: When Systemic Power is Threatened

Acts 5: Human Endeavor vs. Divine Direction

Acts 6: Everyday People Making a Difference

Acts 7: Not Bricks and Mortar, but Flesh and Blood

Acts 8: Explosion Begets Expansion

Acts 9: Outside of the Lines

Acts 10: Arriving

Acts 11: Change, Action, & Reaction

Acts 12: Angels

Acts 13: Organism and Organization

Acts 14: He Went Back Into the City

Acts 15: Old Habits Die Hard

Acts 16: Money Trouble

Acts 17: The Truth About Trouble

Acts 18: Resurrection of the Organism

Acts 19: Of Mobs and Motives

Acts 20: Life, Death, Sacrifice, & the Multiverse

Acts 21: One of the Things We Continually Get Wrong

Acts 22: Paul the Lawyer & His Legal Chess Game

Acts 23: Polarized Parties, Powder Keg Issues, and Paul

Acts 24: The People v. Paul of Tarsus (Part 1)

Acts 25: The People v. Paul of Tarsus (Part 2)

Acts 26: The People v. Paul of Tarsus (Part 3)

Acts 27: Weathering the Storm

Acts 28: To Be Continued…

You’re all caught up! Posts will be added here as they are published. Click on the image below for easy access to other recent posts indexed by book.

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Galatians (Oct-Nov 2018)

Each photo below corresponds to a chapter-a-day post for the book of Galatians published by Tom Vander Well in October and November 2018. Click on the photo linked to each chapter to read the post.

Galatians 1: The Maverick

Galatians 2: From “Members Only” to “A Can of Worms”

Galatians 3: The Gap Instinct

Galatians 4: The Boulevard and the Gate

Galatians 5: Freedom, Indulgence, Hard Knocks, and Wisdom

Galatians 6: Sharing the Burden, Carrying the Weight

You’re all caught up! Posts will be added here as they are published. Click on the image below for easy access to other recent posts indexed by book.

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#1: The Pros and Cons of Tradition

Note: I’m on a holiday hiatus through January 9, 2022. While I’m away, I thought it would be fun to reblog the top 15 chapter-a-day posts (according to number of views) from the past 15 years. Cheers!

Originally published July 27, 2015

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

Wendy and I went to see Union Street Players’ production of Fiddler on the Roof yesterday afternoon. It has been a long time since I’ve seen the show. I was a bit surprised how the musical, about changing times within a small, Russian Jewish community in the early 20th century, resonated with me.

We live in a small community with very deep Christian convictions, and our “Traditions” are very much like those of Anatevka, the community portrayed in Fiddler. For many, our Christian traditions provide a deep sense order and temporal peace in a rapidly changing world. When our traditions are threatened by change, it usually meets with loud and passionate objections fueled by anxiety and fear. As with Anatevka, there has historically been strong societal pressure to conform to the community traditions.

Paul was dealing with a very similar situation when he wrote to Jesus’ followers in Galatia. Most of Jesus’ early followers came from Jewish traditions which were then being threatened by non-Jewsish (a.k.a. Gentile) believers. The changes this wrought within these fledgling communities of believers was immense and the passionate divisions it stirred was intense. Those from Jewish traditions saw their faith in Jesus as a mere extension of their Jewish traditions.  Those from Gentile traditions did not wish to adopt Jewish traditions to be followers of Jesus.

Paul, addressing these divisions, makes it clear that he has no interest in doing things simply to bow to human traditions and become a people pleaser. As Tevye and the residents of Anatevka discover in Fiddler on the Roof, the times, they are a-changing. Paul makes it clear that he will follow Jesus, even if it means abandoning many of his traditions and raising the ire of the society in which he was raised and from which he came.

Today, I’m thinking about my own traditions, the ones passed down to me by family and community. Some I honor and obey because I feel Jesus clearly commands His followers to do so. Some I honor and follow because I find them beneficial to me and to my life, relationships, and community. Some, I find silly and don’t care about whatsoever. Traditions are a good thing right up to the point they become more about keeping up appearances and pleasing the community than they do about sincere faith and personal spiritual benefit.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

#2: David’s Personal Relationship With God

Note: I’m on a holiday hiatus through January 9, 2022. While I’m away, I thought it would be fun to reblog the top 15 chapter-a-day posts (according to number of views) from the past 15 years. Cheers!

Originally published June 23, 2014

David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets. 1 Chronicles 13:8 (NIV)

For the better part of this year, we’ve been journeying through the story of David and before that the psalms which are ancient song lyrics attributed largely to David. In a bit of synchronicity, the group of believers with whom Wendy and I worship on Sunday mornings are starting a series of messages on the life of David next week. It flows out of a five week series in which we’ve been looking at the “chain reaction of praise,” and I’ve been asked to give the lead off message of the series.

The connection between the two series is the fact that, no matter the circumstances, David was a man of praise and faith. David the hero, David the warrior, David the outlaw, David the sinner, David the King, David the victim — no matter which part of David’s life you study you find him seeking God, praising God, crying to God, and consulting God. You can almost always find a psalm that corresponds to a particular episode in David’s life. Throughout his long journey David was always translating his daily life experiences into songs, poems, and prayers of faith and praise.

I thought about that as I read this morning of David the King who was not embarrassed nor ashamed to worship and dance “with all his might” before God and the ark of the covenant. He was not concerned with what it might look like to others. He was not worried about looking cool, kingly, and above it all. He was not one to order others to do his praising for him. For David, his relationship with God was not just “a part of the job.” David’s relationship with God was personal from the time he was a boy until he was uttering his last words on his death bed.

Today, I’m thinking about my own life and David’s example. I don’t want my faith and praise to be a compartment of my life which I take out on Sunday morning and sundry, appropriate occasions. I don’t want my faith to fit neatly into others sense of propriety. I want my praise to be with “all my might” and my relationship to be intensely personal each and every day of my life.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

#3: Blind Spots

Note: I’m on a holiday hiatus through January 9, 2022. While I’m away, I thought it would be fun to reblog the top 15 chapter-a-day posts (according to number of views) from the past 15 years. Cheers!

Originally published May 15, 2014

When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.
2 Samuel 13:21 (NSRV)

David was a great warrior, a great general, and a great leader of men. Evidence leads me to believe that he was not, however, a great husband or father. As we’ve read David’s story he has slowly been amassing wives like the spoils of war and the result was many children. But, an army of children do not an army make. A family system and the complex relationships between birth order and gender can be difficult enough for a monogamous, nuclear family. I can’t imagine the exponential complexities that emerge when you have eight wives, ten concubines and children with most all of them.

As I read through these chapters I’ve noticed that we never see David telling his children “no” nor do we see him discipline them for their behavior. David appears to have even had a reputation among his offspring of not refusing their requests. David’s daughter, Tamar, tells her half brother Amnon that if he simply asks Dad she’s sure he’ll let them get married. When Amnon rapes Tamar instead and then turns her away we hear of David’s anger, but he doesn’t do anything about disciplining his beloved first born son. When Tamar’s full brother Absalom plots to kill their half brother Amnon in revenge, Absalom goes to David and presses good ol’ dad until David relents and sends all the brothers on Absalom’s little fratricidal sheep-shearing retreat.

David has a blind spot. He can lead an army to endless victories but his record as leader of a family is a tragic string of failures and defeats.

I cannot point at David without three fingers pointing back at me. We all have our blind spots. Our greatest strengths have their corollary weaknesses. We cannot escape this reality, but we can escape being enslaved to it. What we can do is be honest about our blind spots. We can choose to shine a light of our time and attention to addressing them. We can surround ourselves with others who will graciously help us see them, work through them, and who will patiently love us as we do.

Today’s chapter seems perfectly timed as I’ve been made painfully aware of a blind spot in my life. If you’re reading this, and are a person who prays, please say a prayer for me as I address it.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

#5: Joseph’s Talents

Note: I’m on a holiday hiatus through January 9, 2022. While I’m away, I thought it would be fun to reblog the top 15 chapter-a-day posts (according to number of views) from the past 15 years. Cheers!

Originally published March 4, 2013

Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. Genesis 39:22 (NLT)

The other week a client told me about a capable young person in their employ. The young man, though rough around the edges, had shown promise of being management material. The employer arranged to fast track the young man into managerial training and told him so. I had no doubt that, with a little time and effort, the young man would have found himself managing a department and moving up the corporate ladder quickly.

The young man, however, was not content with the fast track. Assuming that his employer’s interest in his career gave him instant leverage, he quickly demanded a huge increase in salary. When the employer refused and explained that he still had to prove himself, the young man walked off the job.

In reading about Joseph’s rapid and successful rise in both the employment of Potiphar and even in his imprisonment, I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable of the talents. Yes, God’s favor was certainly on Joseph, but Joseph didn’t sit around and have rewards thrown at him. He obviously worked hard, managed wisely, and served his master faithfully no matter who that master was. I can almost hear Potiphar and the prison warden echoing Jesus’ words from his parable: “You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things.”

In the business world I see fewer and fewer young people who take this very simple life lesson to heart: Patiently prove yourself faithful and capable with a few things and you’ll find yourself being given greater responsibilities and earning better compensation. Could it be that we as a culture have so filled our children’s minds with positive messages of self-esteem and freely showered them with everything they both need and desire that they have walked away with the expectation that the world will reward them with their heart’s desire just for showing up?

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

1 Thessalonians (Nov 2018)

Each photo below corresponds to a chapter-a-day post for the book of 1 Thessalonians published by Tom Vander Well in November 2018. Click on the photo linked to each chapter to read the post.

1 Thessalonians 1: “What’s My Motivation?”

1 Thessalonians 2: Managing Misinterpreted Motives

1 Thessalonians 3: Destined for Tough Terrain

1 Thessalonians 4: Work, Retirement, and “Enjoying Life”

1 Thessalonians 5: Maturing into Child-like Wonder

You’re all caught up! Posts will be added here as they are published. Click on the image below for easy access to other recent posts indexed by book.

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2 Thessalonians (Nov 2018)

Each photo below corresponds to a chapter-a-day post for the book of 2 Thessalonians published by Tom Vander Well in November 2018. Click on the photo linked to each chapter to read the post.

2 Thessalonians 1: Progress

2 Thessalonians 2: The Dude Abides

2 Thessalonians 3: The Simple Honor of Labor

You’re all caught up! Posts will be added here as they are published. Click on the image below for easy access to other recent posts indexed by book.

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#6: “YOU’RE GOING TO PEE YOUR PANTS!”

Top Chapter-a-Day Post #6 (CaD) Wayfarer

Note: I’m on a holiday hiatus through January 9, 2022. While I’m away, I thought it would be fun to reblog the top 15 chapter-a-day posts (according to number of views) from the past 15 years. Cheers!

Originally published March 13, 2015

And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Ezekiel 21:7 (NIV)

The prophets had to have been a strange lot. They were prone to do strange things and act out obscure (what we would, today, call “performance art”) productions in public places. Their personal lives were often metaphors for the messy spiritual condition of the culture. Their steady stream of public messages were not known for their tact or their propriety.

Take today’s chapter, for example. God tells Ezekiel to stand out in the public square and groan. Not just a little “I think the cream cheese on that bagel didn’t agree with me” groan. GROAN like your beloved mother just died. GROAN like a husband who just found out his wife was sleeping with his best friend. GROAN like you feel a hideous creature ready to burst out of your insides as in the movie Alien. Make a public spectacle of yourself so that people will circle around you in wonder and mothers shoo their young children away from you in fear.

Then, when people start asking Zeke what’s wrong, God tells him to say, “When I tell you YOU’RE GOING TO PEE YOUR PANTS!”

While I’m not sure they would make the most enjoyable dinner guests, there are times when I find the old prophets really refreshing. They remind me that, while there is a time for propriety, there are also times in life for saying things in a way that would make your Aunt Nita blush and shrink back in shame. There are moments for communication that smacks of brash, in-your-face impropriety.

Of course, wisdom is required in choosing the right moments. The key part is knowing when to speak and when to keep silent.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.