God-School Graduation Rates?

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out.
He’s treating you as dear children.
This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training , the normal experience of children.
Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God?
We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live ?
While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them.
But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best.
At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain.
Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.’
Hebrews 12:4-11 https://my.bible.com/bible/97/HEB.12.4-11
As I write this, I think of several friends….

  • One is joined with her husband in the battle for his life against the ugly word – Cancer.
  • Another has a son in jail facing very serious violent crime charges.
  • Another has a son with an arrest record longer than my first college English paper.
  • Another has a daughter……

So what is the writer of Hebrews saying here?  I think he’s saying a couple of things:

1. Don’t be a God-School Drop Out.   Don’t rebel against what God is telling you because it’s for your own good.

2. Don’t look at the trouble in your life (as a friend of mine said last night, if anyone tells you they don’t have troubles, they are either lying or mentally unstable) as punishment.  Instead look at it as training – as Laura Story said (I’ve told some of her story before) – you need to go from being angry and saying, “Why God?” to saying, “How God?”   “This is the path you’ve set before me how can I be faithful to you and help others on it?

3. If you read the chapter before this, Hebrews 11, it talks about the heroes of the faith and so many of them never got to see what they believed in and never lived to see God’s kingdom here on this earth.

If you’ve been reading for a while now, I’ve told you some of what 2018 has brought my way.   It hasn’t exactly been a banner year for the Vanderwells.   On January 30, I had a medical procedure(surgery sort of) for the AVM (google it) in my left neck and shoulder to reduce risks of a brain bleed.   A very good think and the surgery was successful.   But remember how they always tell you that there is a “remote chance” that _______ or __________ could happen but it rarely does?

Hi, my name is rarely.   Without going into too many details, let’s just say my ears, my auditory system and my vocal system, none of them are working the way they used to.   Yeah, not fun.

So when I read in Hebrews 12 where it says, “The trouble you are in isn’t punishment, it’s training,” a couple of things pop in my head:

  • I’m glad it’s not because of something I did because then I’d feel guilty.
  • I find myself on a long journey from being mad at God and saying, “why?” to saying, “Okay, God, this is the new me, now what?”

Will we see the rewards for our efforts here?   Or do wait until God calls us home?

Only God knows,



John 20:16 – Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

I see you for who you are.
I see you for how you care about me.
I see how you believe in me.
But I also see your unbelief.
You came to the grave to see me and give me a proper burial.

Oh, Mary. Did you not hear what I told you?
3 days.
3 days and I will return.
3 days and I will permanently defeat my enemies.
3 days and I will come again.

I love you.
I’ve done what I said I would.
I will always do what I say I will.
Now go tell my brothers that I am back.

And Mary, believe in me.
It will change your life.
I will change your life.
I already have.


Crock Pots and Contemplation

So, yesterday, I told you how one of our pastors preached on Mary and Martha’s story and how God uses Crock Pots and not microwaves.  

Part of that crock pot mentality requires that we spend more time thinking and looking and waiting for God and less time being too busy.

This morning, even before the usual “morning fog” (in my head, not outside) cleared, this song was playing on my internal iTunes.     Why did God plant it there?   We haven’t sang this song in church for a number of weeks.    I don’t know.

But listen to the words – it is the type of action that God is calling us to be and do……

“From my heart to the heavens, Jesus be the center.   It’s all about you.”

Israel & New Breed Jesus At the Center Performance Video from Jeferson Gomes on Vimeo.

Listen to it.   All of it.   As it washes over you, ask yourself, am I really letting Jesus be the center?

What would this world be like if more of us really truly let Jesus be the center?

What would my life be like if I let Jesus be the center of it all?

What would our churches be like if we spent time every Sunday and every day thinking and talking about what it really means to make Jesus the center?

The center of how we live with our family.

The center of how we react to things on social media.

The center of how we judge who we are going to support in presidential races.

The center of how we treat those who look different and maybe believe differently than we do.

The center of how we wrestle with the need for security along with the pressing needs of millions in Syria and Greece.

From my heart to the heavens, Jesus be the center, because it’s all about you, yes it’s all about you.”


Who Cares Who Had Whom?

Ever since I was a kid, I always used to (important past tense) think that the genealogies that are listed in the Bible are a sort of really bland, really boring record keeping and they held no meaning other than to verify that there actually were people involved in the Bible and that there was a “line” from Abraham to Jesus.

I realize now that I was wrong.

Let’s look at Matthew 1.    A couple of things stand out:

Judah had two sons – and one of them was  with his daughter in law.   That’s incest and is illegal around here.

Salmon married Rahab – remember Rahab?   The prostitute from Jericho?   So she was a foreigner and also a “woman of ill repute.”

Boaz married Ruth – she was a foreigner.

King David had Solomon – and Solomon’s mother was Uriah’s wife.   So he could marry his wife.

As we get closer and closer to Christmas, remember this……

God uses mixed up people, He uses sinners, He uses people who “don’t belong.”    All of them have a role in the Christmas story.

If God can use them to be part of the Christmas story, He can certainly use you and me.