What Are You Going To Do Now

To all my friends saying how horrible the future will be, stop it. I know you, and know you are better than that. I’ve been to college with many of you and/or served our Lord along side you. Inspire hope into the lives of those you influence, not fear. 
To those who chose third-party, Good for you. It’s probably because of your conscience. But don’t think yourself holier than others who didn’t have a problem voting for the lesser of two evils. It’s their conscience, and it doesn’t have to match yours. 
To those who’s candidate loss last night, I say this. A woman who wanted to make it far easier to kill unborn babies is not in office. I think we have far to go in expanding the rights of so many people in America, but that price is too high to pay. 
I’m staying friends with you all, and encourage you to do the same. 

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Why I’m Leaving Facebook Pages

When I worked an internship with Word of Life overseas, I started a Facebook Group as a way to better keep in contact with those interested. Then I got married and decided that the better way to go was to use a Facebook Page (I’ll mention the differences in a little bit). Now a days, I’m back to using a Facebook Group.

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There’s several reason why I switched back. One is that I believe that a Group will be better for my ministry, and my followers.

 

  1. The Name. A Page is designed more for organizations, artists, or celebrities (all of which I am not). Whenever I would post my updates it would be under the fancy title of “Dan & Katie Vanderkooi’s Ministry.” I liked it at first, but after a while it started feeling impersonal. It’s fine if you’re a big organization, but it’s just my family and our ministry, and I like to keep things personal. Our Group has been renamed to “Vanderkooi Family Updates.” When I post now, it simply says my name. Personal is always better in my opinion.
  2. Privacy. A Page is open to anybody, but a Group can be private. The issue is that even Facebook has spam. Fake accounts pop up all the time. A private Group allows us to screen who’s following us.
  3. Features. A Group has most of the same features that a Page does. The only one I can think of that’s missing is scheduled posting. You can still post pictures, videos, and links. You can even do a Facebook Live event right in the privacy of your own group.
  4. More than just ministry. The feel of our group is much more friendly. There’s just something about the atmosphere that feels more friendly. Which is why it’s perfect for all kinds of updates. Because life is more than ministry. Yes, we’ll have posts about events we’re doing, speaking engagements, travels, and whatever else life throws at us. But it’s also about family. Everyday life is sometimes brushed over.

 

These are the reasons I switched back to Facebook Groups. Let me make it clear that I’m not against Facebook Pages. I’ve just found something that works better.

“Abba, where are we going?”

“Abba, where are we going?”

 

That’s what I heard from a little Jewish girl in the airport. I was waiting at my gate for my final flight home when a Jewish couple and their little, blonde-haired girl came up. I’m no expert on the different groups of Jewish beliefs, but I did notice this guy had a very secure-looking plastic case for his black brimmed hat.

 

But what I saw next (or heard rather) really struck me. When the man offered to take the girl out a little bit to give his wife a break, his daughter repeatedly asked of him, “Abba, where are we going?” And in the little 3 or 4 year old voice I could see us: believers curiously asking our Father in heaven where we are going. 

There’s a beautiful intimacy that we have as his children to approach him by saying, “Abba, Father.” 

Maybe I need to stop more often and just turn to God and ask, “Abba, where are we going?” and just trust in Him for all the details.

Why You Aren’t Lovable

Once while visiting a church, I overheard some women talking about another woman. Apparently this lady had recently divorced her husband and left him with both of their kids. But it was the next words that struck me: “That’s horrible. I can never imagine doing such a thing.”

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While that sounds admirable, it’s absolutely false. We as Christians can easily think that because someone is going down a darker path than us, we are immune to the same fate. But it’s gone a step further. The popular sermon of “feel-good” preachers is that you’re special, talented, and totally worth God’s time. In fact, I recently heard a song in which the chorus ended with the line “You were worth dying for”, meaning that it was definitely worth Jesus’ time and suffering to die for you.

But what’s the problem with this thinking?

  1. It blows your chance of living with God’s power. Since God’s power working in us is based on our dependence upon Him, how can we believe that we need Him if we’re worth so much.
  2. It prevents unity in the church. Why does it seem like Christians are attacking each other instead of helping? One reasons is because we buy into this idea that I’m better than the person next to me.
  3. We end up having zero self-worth. If we are good people, better than others, and worth it for Jesus to die for us, then what happens when we sin? Maybe I’m not actually worth it. Our sense of worth and purpose suddenly revolves around our actions instead of how God sees us.

Here’s the truth: Apart from God’s grace and Jesus Christ’s righteousness, you and I are dirty, rotten, self-loving, perverted sinners.

 

Don’t believe me? You don’t have to. Just believe the Apostle Paul.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 the Apostle Paul lists characteristics of those who won’t be found in heaven. But before his audience gets too puffed up about themselves, he reminds them that “such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

I don’t get my value from who I am, but from who chose me. “But Dan, because God chose you, that makes you valuable.” Also false. Why? Just because God chose me doesn’t mean there’s something special about me now. What it means is that God, in His sovereignty and mercy, chose me to be His adopted son. It doesn’t mean I’m valuable, but it does mean that I’m valued. You’re not lovable, but you are loved.

Try It!

An amazing exercise to help find your meaning is to go to Ephesians chapter 1, and circle every time you see the word “His,” “He,” or “Him.” Do that, and then read it through again. You will quickly realize the beautiful beautiful truth:

You’re not lovable, but you are loved.

How to Biblically Confront Someone

Christian unity is a beautiful thing. But what happens when you aren’t so unified? What do you do when someone hurts you, wrongs you, or attacks you? I’m not talking about physically; that simply requires a call to 9-1-1. I’m talking about verbally, emotionally, or any other kind of malicious attack, whether they know it or not.

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Learning to confront someone about a sin is one of the best things I ever learned, but I’ve found it’s not common knowledge. So allow me to very simply break it down, and Lord willing, this will be a help to you and your relationships. But first, let’s recognize what this is and isn’t.

What this IS NOT for:

simple Mistakes. If someone makes a mistake at work, you simply show them where they went wrong, how they can do better, and move on. No need for a big production.

Disagreements over opinions. If you feel the need to confront someone because they like the New England Patriots and not the Buffalo Bills, then you’ve got the wrong subject. Opinions needs fall into the category of “agree to disagree.”

What it IS for:

When someone does a hurtful wrong against you. I’m talking about an email meant to attack you, an hurtful word, an inappropriate action, an item stolen. Use discernment about what you think someone needs confronting about.

When someone is living with a sinful pattern in their life. Confrontation isn’t really about you, it’s about them. The examples in Scripture actually talk about confronting those living in sin in order to help them. This is the process to help your fellow Christ-follower.

How to confront someone. Matthew 18, Jesus gives use three levels of confrontation.

1) 1-on-1. You talk with that person privately. Make sure it’s discreet, and make sure you know what you’re going to say.

2) 2-on-1. If the person refuses to listen to you in this matter, then you bring in a third party. Make sure this is someone that should be involved. For example, your supervisor, church elder, deacon, pastor, etc.

3) Many-on-1. The final stage of confrontation is the entire church or assembly against the one person. This might sound harsh, but if they haven’t responded to the first two levels, then it’s very necessary.

Even when Christ confronts sin, the message is covered by hope.

The key to this is doing these in order. Most people want to skip to Level 2 because it’s easier to gang up on someone. But if that was the best way, wouldn’t Jesus have said so? Follow Christ’s teachings, and stick to the levels.

We can all learn from Christ’s confrontation of the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3. His pattern for 5 of the 7 churches is to give a compliment and then confront the sin (E.g. Rev. 2:19-20). He points out the positive attribute, but doesn’t hold back from sharing the truth of needed growth.

You might be thinking “But isn’t that just some salesman tactic, or manipulation?” Actually, it’s far more than that. It’s a glimmer of hope in the midst of hearing a difficult message. Even when Christ confronts sin, the message is covered by hope. Hope of coming off this destructive path. Hope of a brighter future. Hope of a renewed relationship among His bride, the Church. This brings me to the final and most important ingredient of biblical confrontation: Love.

The entire point of confronting others is restoration. It’s about life-change. It’s about hope. And that cannot be carried out unless you confront others in love. Paul said if we don’t have love, we’re just a big noise (1 Corinthians 13:1,13).

So consider these steps the next time someone has a sin against you. Consider the commands of Christ. I challenge you to follow them and see the difference it makes.

 

Learning How to Roll With Culture

I remember a time in my own life experience when skateboarding was generally looked at as a sign of a troubled life (at least in some conservative circles). Skate parks were known as where the “trouble kids” would hang out. But there were also many who not only looked past some of the punk-like atmosphere, but embraced this crowd as a ministry opportunity. A skateboard suddenly became a way to relate to others and start conversations. In fact, I know one guy who is really good at it!

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We’re talking about culture here. There’s so many things in our world that can have a positive side to it, but all we see is the negative. A positive ministry many churches are having is called Trunk or Treat, held on Halloween. You decorate your car trunks and families can get candy in a safe and controlled environment. But some people are can’t get past the fact the Halloween has its tradition in spirit-worship. So you have a choice: do you allow this night to go by or do you claim your freedom in Christ and use the evening to show the love of Jesus to others?

When it comets new facets of our culture, we Christians can get pretty crazy, right? We hear about something new, and we go to the extreme. It’s either a brilliant idea that we throw ourselves at whole-heartedly, or we see it as the spawn of the devil and shun it altogether.

When it comes to new trends and fads, we need to ask ourselves this question: can all things be used for good?

Here’s some qualifiers.

  1. Is it permissible? Yes. Paul said in his letter to the Colossians “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in question of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17).

    All things belong to Christ. You won’t look better before God because you didn’t go to that party or you ate a certain food on a certain day. You are justified before God because of Jesus Christ’s righteousness.

  2. Is it good for me? Simple questions require straightforward answers. If it’s bad for you, then don’t do it. Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Can all things be used for evil? Yes. But if something that isn’t has a strong chance of tempting you to sin, get rid of it. Cut if off, burn it, throw it in the trash, and then burn the trash.
  3. Is it good for others? Does this cause others to stumble? For example, would it be right to share the gospel in the slums while wearing a tux? Would it be good to bring a beer with you while you help others at AA?

 

This is a difficult subject to work through, and this blog post certainly doesn’t contain all the answers. But I hope that you start to look at things through the lens of a simple question: Can I claim this for Christ, and still keep my testimony?

It’s a tricky business trying to be culturally relevant while also obeying our Lord’s commands not to hurt ourselves. But let me encourage you not to shun away from trying new things. Be bold! Claim the culture for Christ.

3 Books to Start Your Marriage In The Right Direction

My wife and I have gone through all three of these books during our engagement and the first 1 1/2 years of our marriage. Looking back on them we’re so thankful that we read these early on in our marriage and can grow and apply them for the rest of our lives. This is not an exhaustive list, just what we did and how it helped us. Ok, so, you ready to find out what these are?92H

  • Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage, by Dr. Kevin Leman. If this title makes you blush, then you definitely need to read it. Whether you’ve saved sex for marriage or it’s nothing new to you, this book will help prepare you for your new life. It talks about subjects everyone has questions about, but never once does it get vulgar.This book should definitely be read while you’re engaged. The best part is you won’t be overwhelmed as an engaged couple because he prescribes that you only read 3-4 particular chapters before you’re wedding night, and the rest for afterwards.
  • Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Once you’re married, jump right into this one. The premise: God commands in Ephesians 5:33 that husbands should love their wives, and wives should respect their husbands. This speaks to the strengths of how women and men communicate and interact.It was really encouraging and relieving to know that when my wife and I disagree about something it’s probably more about seeing things differently than actually disagreeing.
  • The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. The basic idea of this teaching is that we all have different ways of showing and receiving love, and these are broken down into the 5 love languages. For example, growing up gift-giving was a big deal in my family. So I was baffled when I gave a gift to my wife it didn’t “rock her world.” But through this book I learned that acts of kindness speaks much more loudly to her. If you learn to do things in a way that says “I love you” that your spouse appreciates, it will definitely strengthen your marriage.

What books have helped you in your marriage? What did you think of these books? 

Note: I don’t receive anything for promoting these books. I’m just sharing something that’s been helpful to me, to help you.