We should all wear Camo

Things I’ve learned #2

No, I’m not advocating that we all join the Army – though I have a TON of respect for those who do serve to protect and defend our country,.

I believe we should all wear camo because whether we like it or not, we are in the middle of battle.   A spiritual battle with Satan and his forces of evil.

I’ve known all of my life that Satan was a force to be reckoned with but it’s really been the last 10 years or so when I’ve learned how deeply and how openly he hates what a Christian is and what being a Christian means.    I first saw it from my brother’s experiences.   Let me explain…..

At that point, my brother, a pastor, was planting a church out in California.   They were meeting on Sunday mornings in a movie theater and I remember getting e-mails from him week after week after month about things that would go wrong on Saturday.    Their welcome sign would break, the power would go out, the projector would break, the guitar player would get sick, the list goes on and on and on.

I might not be the smartest apple in the bunch (just compare my high school GPA’s with a couple of my kids) but it doesn’t take long to realize that something’s up.   Satan didn’t want that church to impact lives and was fighting against it.

Many of you who read this know that almost 12 years ago, we adopted our two youngest kids from Haiti.   It’s no surprise they are adopted – they certainly don’t look like us.

Well, I’m not going to because I could write for hours if not days about the specific ways that we’ve seen the devil fighting against not only the adoption of our two but many of our friends who have adopted as well.    Satan does not want these children in stable, God loving homes where healing can begin from the trauma they have gone through.

If you want to go into more detail, invite me to come talk to your bible study  or something else.   I could tell stories for hours.

We are in spiritual warfare and we are fighting against the effects of the devil.   He is using a large number of really sneaky and really brutal weapons to attempt to knock us out.

It’s a good thing that we know God is in control and we can trust in Him.

It’s a God thing that we don’t have to fight on our own.

It’s spiritual warfare and we should all wear camo to illustrate it.

Until tomorrow,



Things have been weighing a lot lately.









It’s hard to see so many things that are happening and feel like, in many ways, it’s hard to know what to do.   I mean, we all know that none of these situations are acceptable but why so many right now and what do we do about it?

And then to feel like God is saying, “No, I want you to work at home.   Your kids, their struggles need to come first.”

I’ll be honest, I’ve seen that and seen significant growth in that this summer – both in them and in me.    But it’s also mixed with frustration.    God, I want to go out and make a difference!

And then tonight, I open my devotions, and one of the chapters I read is Psalm 37.    Vs. 7 hits me straight across the forehead.

“Be still before the Lord.   Wait patiently for him.”


Is that what God wants me to do?  

That’s a whole lot easier said than done.   May we all experience more stillness and more waiting for God.

Less noise, more God.

I like that idea.


“This Mess Is So Big” Dr. Seuss and 3rd World Children

In the last week in Haiti, there have been 4 incidents of horrific violence that have impacted friends of mine.   While they are physically unharmed, they have lost friends and they have seen and felt things that are so big and so ugly that it is truly heartbreaking.

You can read her recounting of one of the stories at http://www.haitifoundationagainstpoverty.blogspot.com/2014/05/we-cannot-unsee.html.   Warning – make sure you read her disclaimer at the top of the post.

Two other of my friends are currently in Haiti.   They are training mental health professionals (Haitians) on the impacts of trauma on children and the long term destruction (her word, not mine, but I agree) of the lives of children and its impact on the future of Haiti.   Sobering to say the least, heart wrenching to more accurately describe it.

You can read her “Short Sermon” at http://sahzu.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/a-short-sermon/.

So, if you read both of those posts, you’ll know a good part of the reason that I was up until after 1:00 this morning.  Heavy, heavy stuff.

This morning, as I’m driving back from bringing my daughter to school, this phrase from “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss popped into my mind:

“And this mess is so big
And so deep and so tall,
We cannot pick it up.
There is no way at all!”

― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

No, I’m not suggesting giving up.    God doesn’t give up on us, so we don’t give up on fellow man, especially on the vulnerable women and children who are the ones most in need (Read Gary Haugen’s The Locust Effect – it will scare you).

Instead, I’m suggesting, proposing that we take an additional approach to fighting this battle.

Continue with the physical aid that is being offered to those who are in need of help.   But ramp it up on the spiritual side.

Acknowledge more openly that we are fighting the devil and fight back with a concerted effort at more and more focused prayer on behalf of those who are being impacted by poverty, by disease, by violence and by the devil’s efforts to make it harder for the good to triumph in this world.

What is this prayer effort going to look like?    Frankly, I don’t know.

I just know that God says that He will win the war but He wants us to be his prayer warriors.

If you have ideas or want to be part of whatever “it” might be, leave a note in the comments or e-mail me at thomas.vanderwell@gmail.com.

This mess is so big that we can’t pick it up all by our selves.

But I know someone who can and will.   The question is when and how.


Spiritual Warfare–It’s All In Your Head?

I heard a sermon this morning that really made me think.   

It made me think about spiritual warfare.   If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the past, you know that I’m a firm believer in the fact that we are in the middle of warfare.   

The pastor talked about experiences he’s had worshipping near witch doctors in Africa and being woken in the middle of the night to extremely vocal and graphic voodoo ceremonies in Haiti.   He told the story of a friend raised in a very bad part of Muskegon Heights (those of you in Michigan will know a bit about where that is) and he read a rap that his friend wrote while sitting across from the house that he grew up in in that very bad part of town.

What was the similarity to all of those situations?   It was a battle for the mind.   Satan is fighting for the minds of God’s people.

Because he knows that if he can win the minds of God’s people, then he will win God’s people and that’s his ultimate goal.

So, is spiritual warfare all in your head?   Well, not in the way that we typically say it is, but from the standpoint that it is Satan’s primary point of attack, it is in your head.

That means that Satan is fighting against our feelings of self worth.   He’s trying to make us feel full of shame, self doubt and disbelief.

That means that Satan is fighting against our belief that God’s got this.   God has “this” under control – and we need to believe that.  No matter what “this” is.

That means that the most important thing we can do is make sure that we continually rely on Jesus for the cure (see http://tomvanderwell.net/2014/04/accept-the-cure/).   But we also need to be aware of the condition of our minds and how the fight is going. 

Are we feeling the strength of God in our minds so that we can withstand the attack of the devil?   Or are we cluttering our minds with things that make it easy for him to find his way in?

Are we aware of what’s going on in our minds and how the love and forgiveness of Jesus counteract the negative feelings, the shame, the struggles?

Are we aware that helping others (or getting help ourselves) to make sure our minds stay strong against the attacks of the devil is not only “okay” it’s, frankly, God’s way of providing us some of the strength we need to combat the devil.

Get the devil out of your mind, keep your mind strong and focused on what God wants and anything else that Satan throws at us can be handled.

So, yes it is all in our heads – and if that’s the battle ground, then we need to rely on God’s strength and the help of others to fight back.

And we need to do what we can to help others fight that battle too……