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July 31, 2006

Madison Update

Got a call from Madison on Saturday night (Sunday morning, really). She had just returned from spending the week working in a remote mountain village. Madison is very excited about the work there and her experiences. They've witnessed several people putting their faith in Christ. Madison related that the Thai people have been a great example to her of what being a follower of Christ is all about. She is going elephant riding and bamboo rafting Tuesday and heads back for the states Wednesday. She'll fly home on Saturday.

Madison sends her love and said to thank everyone for their prayers!

Chapter-a-Day Joshua 17

They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, "God commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our kinsmen." Joshua 17:4 (TM)

I find that sometimes it's helpful to read between the lines when it comes to scriptural history. For the past few chapters of Joshua, different tribes and factions have been coming to Joshua to ask for this or that land. Joshua gives it to them. It's all nice and factual. You have to believe, however, that the real negotiations between Joshua and the tribal leaders was hotly debated. Trusting that human nature hasn't changed, I'm sure Joshua found it impossible to please everyone, got constantly harassed with decisions of minute detail and was vilified by almost everyone at one time or another. Kind of like a pastor in a building campaign.

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July 28, 2006

"Our Town" Lesson

Wendy and I went to USP's production of "Our Town" last night. Spence VerMeer did a nice job directing the classic and adding a few unique twists of his own. You can always trust Spence to have his own take on things, which is cool. It makes him interesting. It was a huge cast and everyone  was terriffic.

I've always thought that Thornton Wilder hits a couple of themes out of the park in the play, while completely striking out on others. Nevertheless, the show is great at hitting home the truth that we don't spend enough time appreciating the little moments of everyday. Looking your loved ones in the eye - really looking at them. Drinking in the sound of your child's laughter. The well tuned orchestration of your morning routine. The smell of coffee that hits your nostrils first thing. Each one is a wonder and a blessing all it's own. I heard God speaking to me last night through the play. "Slow down, Tom. Look, listen, smell, touch...and enjoy.

A couple quick hits:

Read Joshua 16 today, but it was short and there wasn't much there - in case you were wondering.

Taylor is off on her TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) weekend. She's on the team that prays all weekend for the participants and speakers. She asked me pray specifically that lives would be changed this weekend. I figured I'd pass the request along in case you're so inclined to join in the prayers.

Still no word from Madison this week. Taylor informed me that Madison's trip to the remote mountain village was supposed to last all week and she wouldn't have access to e-mail or phone until later this weekend. That was news to me, but explains why I haven't heard from her. Keep praying. I'll post an update as soon as I hear from her. She returns home Saturday August 5th.

July 27, 2006

New Pics Added to Tom's Album

I've uploaded some new pictures of our trip to Chicago for your viewing pleasure! Click on "Tom's Album" on the left side bar.

Chapter-a-Day Joshua 15

The people of Judah couldn't get rid of the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. The Jebusites stayed put, living alongside the people of Judah. They are still living there in Jerusalem. Joshua 15:63 (TM)

"If only..." - "But if..." - "If I had..."

Retrospect is an interesting thing. This little tag at the end of Joshua 15 would figure prominently a few hundred years later when David makes Jerusalem the capital city and location for the temple. The Jebusites were living there. David made some of them key figures in his military and administration. As is still happening today, the Israelites and Jebusites could not live together and the conflict was an important component in nearly breaking David's kingdom. It would help propel the civil war between Judah and Israel a few years later.

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July 26, 2006

Chapter-a-Day Joshua 14

And here I am today, eighty-five years old! I'm as strong as I was the day Moses sent me out. I'm as strong as ever in battle, whether coming or going. So give me this hill country that God promised me. You yourself heard the report, that the Anakim were there with their great fortress cities. If God goes with me, I will drive them out, just as God said. Joshua 14:11-12

You've got to admire Caleb's faith. Not only was he one of the only two spies to bring back a report to Moses saying "We can do it! God is with us! Let's go for it!" - but here he is forty-five years later at the ripe old age of 85 - still keeping the faith. I hope and pray that my faith, my passion and my "spunk" for God only increases with age.

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July 25, 2006

Chapter-a-Day Joshua 13

You may have noticed that it's been a few days since I posted a "chapter-a-day". You know, sometimes reading scripture, especially some sections of the Old Testament is like mining for gold. There are days you strike it rich, days you find a few nuggets for your soul and days you seem to come up empty. Here's today's nugget:

But Moses gave no inheritance to the tribe of Levi. God, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, just as he told them. Joshua 13:31 (TM)

I think it's cool that God established the fact that the priests - the Levites would be provided for by the offerings of the rest of the tribes. What a great message for the Levites to hear - that they were not to be concerned with inheriting land and possessions but inheriting God Himself. It's also a good reminder for those of us who live on this side of the cross and the empty tomb. If we believe in the "priesthood of all believers", then we should look to God's message to the Levites as a guide. Our inheritance is not of this earth. We should focus on God to be our inheritance.

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July 24, 2006

Vander Well News Briefs

Livingroom_001 What have the Vander Wells' and our families been up to? Here's a few quick hits:

  • Wendy and I spent the weekend painting our living room [see picture]. We started Friday night and worked until the wee hours, then hit it hard again Saturday. We love it. The dining room is next! Our bathrooms continue to be under construction. The contractor hopes to have that all finished in the next week or two.
  • I uploaded pictures from our trip with Taylor and her friend Rachel to Chicago. Click on the "Tom's Album" link on the left side-bar of the blog.
  • I've gotten a couple of e-mails from Madison this weekend. She's doing great in Thailand. She was preparing to go with her Global Expeditions team to a mountain village to minister to the people there. Last week was spent helping University students on their conversational English. They were having a party Friday night with all of the students with the intention of sharing the Good News with them.
  • Taylor continues to work at the Restaurant and is working at the area TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) retreat this weekend. It's hard to believe that school is just around the corner.
  • Wendy and I are headed to the lake to see my folks this coming weekend. We can't wait!
  • Wendy's siblings Josh, Jesse and Heidi are in the process of moving to Iowa City to start Dental school this fall. We can't wait to have them a little closer to home so we can see them more often!
  • Wendy's dad and brother, Lucas went on a short mission to Tijuana a week or two ago. We saw them this past week and got the scoop on the trip. They handed out clothes & toys to the poor and taught VBS. They're hoping to go back down with some men to build houses in the near future.
  • My folks have been entertaining guests down at the lake in recently. Friends from church visited, then Jody, Emma and Sol were down there this past week.

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July 21, 2006

Reality Bites

Some days just suck.

July 20, 2006

A Report from Madison in the Field

I received a phone call from Madison yesterday morning. She tripped on a brick street and twisted her ankle. By the time she called it was already feeling much better. Her team had prayed over her and she said that made a huge difference. Her team has been spending each day this week working with students at the University and helping them with conversational English. She has fallen in love with the Thai people. She said that they are all very sweet and welcoming. She's also learning how good we have it here in the states. "Americans are so spoiled!" she said. She's getting it.

I asked if she was homesick and she said that she really hadn't been homesick, though she missed talking to people she knew. She's made two friends - Jenna, who reminds her of Taylor - and another girl who she is rooming with. When it came time to end the call, I could tell she was a bit reticent to do so, but I could tell that she was doing just fine.