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January 31, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Romans 14

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. Romans 14:1 (TM)

I've been a member in and served in a host of churches and denominations. In practically every church I've been in, there has been conflict over two issues: to clap or not to clap and raising your hands in worship.

Clappers and hand raisers are demonstrative in worship, taking literally the Bible's admonition to - well - clap and raise your hands. Clappers and hand-raisers can be a bit snooty in their zealous worship style with those who don't buy into their free expression with God.

The hands-at-your-sides-or-in-your-pockets crowd feel that all the noise and demonstrative worship does nothing but draw attention away from God and on to the worshiper. They can be a bit judgmental and self-righteous in their dignified piety.

Chill. Both of you. You're both being silly and ignoring God's word in Romans 14. It's really a great chapter and well worth clicking on the link above to read all of it in The Message. And, while I use clappers and non-clappers as a relatively safe example, it would also be a good idea to read for any two camps within the body:

Catholics and Protestants
Pentecostals and Non-Pentecostals
Evangelicals and Main-liners
Drinkers and Abstainers
Republicans and Democrats
Meat-eaters and Vegans
Christian Rockers and the Hooked-on-Classics Crowd
King James and NIV'ers
and on...
and on...
and on...

What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. Romans 14:6-9 (TM)

January 30, 2007

Chapter-a-Romans 13

But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. Romans 13:11 (TM)

I don't believe there is one person who doesn't have enough "day-by-day" obligations to distract us from God. That's why putting God on your "to-do" list next to the groceries, the kids' activities, and that client meeting doesn't work. He'll never make it up the list past all of the  daily fires and responsibilities.

Don't let God be an item on your to-do list. Let Him be the paper on which you write the list. He should be behind everything that you do and present in every activity, every task, every meeting, every relationship, and every thought.

It's the difference between church being 'a good thing to do' and Jesus being Lord and master of your life.

January 29, 2007

Sacred Marriage

Wendy and I enjoyed spending most of the weekend at church, attending Gary Thomas' Sacred Marriage conference. We had been asked to put together a skit as part of a kick-off to the weekend, so we wrote one and performed on Friday night. It went really well and we were encouraged that the skit reportedly added to everyone's experience.

I got through the seminar and realized that I really hadn't written too many notes. I don't remember much from the weekend, and certainly don't remember having any major revelations. Nevertheless, it was a great weekend of revisiting some important principles, talking about them, and renewing our commitment to making them a part of our every day relationship.

It's sort of like reading a chapter-a-day. Often times you read the same passage you've ready many times before - but it's still worthwhile. It gets your mind thinking on the right things and provides a little spiritual chiropractic - putting your mind and heart back in alignment.

Chapter-a-Day Romans 12

Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. Romans 12:2a (TM)

It's funny sometimes how the Holy Spirit orchestrates moments of synchronicity around my daily chapter. Yesterday, after church, Wendy and I were talking to Charlie Koopman - the new worship leader at our church. He was talking about some of his visions for worship and one of them was to "influence our culture". Then I read this morning's chapter, and I'm asking myself...

...am I influencing my culture more than I'm being influenced by it?

January 26, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Romans 11

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out. Romans 11:33 (TM)

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found - was blind, but now I see.

January 25, 2007

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Noah's Ark

 Woodpecker

  • One: Don't miss the boat.
  • Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat.
  • Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
  • Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
  • Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
  • Six: Build your future on high ground.
  • Seven: For safety sake, travel in pairs! !
  • Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
  • Nine: When you're stressed, float a while.
  • Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
  • Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.

I take no credit for this one. It has been making it around the net. Thanks to our friend Ann Wilkinson for sending it my way.

January 24, 2007

I Hate January

Ice I really do. January is my least favorite month.

I try very hard to be a "glass-half full" person and appreciate all that January has to offer - but the list is too thin to give my anemic optimism much of a boost.

It's the long dark nights, the short days, the cold, the wind, and the chill. Then there's the ice dam building up on my roof that will soon require me to climb on a ladder and hack away at it or else face the consequences of water drippng through a roof that needs even more attention. There's snow to be shoveled and freezing rain to make the drive a nail-biter.

Oh yeah...and there's at least another 8 weeks of it.

[sigh]

flickr photo courtesy of cnkimpel

Chapter-a-Day Romans 9

They were so absorbed in their "God projects" that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. Romans 9:32 (TM)

I know Paul is talking about Israel here, but he could be speaking about so many churches - so many of us who call ourselves Christians.

Ouch.

God, open the eyes of my heart. I don't want to miss you.

January 23, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Romans 8

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" Romans 8:15 (TM)

Are you a spiritual undertaker - constantly hovering around and performing CPR on the dead carcass of your sin nature? Do you focus time and energy tending the grave of your sin-centered self? There is so much good stuff that our Father has for us. Walk away from the death pit. Take off the mourning clothes!

"With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death...attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life."

As one teacher put it:

"If I spend my time doing the 'do's' I don't have time to do the 'don'ts'. And if I could I wouldn't but I can't so I don't so it's cool!"

January 22, 2007

Vander Well News Briefs 1-22-07

Newsies_4 Extra! Extra! Read all about it:

  • Mom e-mailed me yesterday to make sure I wasn't still in the Twilight Zone! Yes, I made it back safely late Friday night - though I think the plane I was on between Cheyenne and Denver was a near relative of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. It was great to be home.
  • Wendy was busy last week painting the hallways and stairs. We finished it up over the weekend. It looks great! Continue to pray for Wendy's next steps vocationally. She put her resume in at Central last week. We're still waiting to hear on a couple of opportunities.
  • Saturday night we celebrated the engagement of Wendy's friend Sarah Walston at a dinner party. We all met a Gino's restaurant in Des Moines. Todd and Denise Schemper were at the party with their son, Zachary, who was born on Christmas Day. What a cutie.
  • Taylor went to district speech competition with Pella High. Her team got a "1" rating and is going on to the State competition in February!!! Woo Hoo!! Go Taylor!!
  • I got both Taylor and Madison's first semester grades in the mail. [smiling]