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Argument with God  

Sometimes the Word of God really messes with your life.  Have you noticed?

The other morning, I prayed on the train in to Chicago that God would specifically direct me to someone who needed some encouragement, or something of Jesus Himself.   Know what happened?  Nothing.  Nothing that morning.   In fact, nothing out of the ordinary happened all day long. 

That afternoon, as I walked the 1.5 miles back to the train, I reviewed some memory work, the third chapter of First John. Because it helps to cement the verses, I often quote them out loud.  I was three-fourths of the way to the train and about to turn a familiar corner.  That's when he came into view.

A homeless man, baseball cap shielding him from the afternoon sun, crouched on the corner.  As I walked past his outstretched paper cup and the donation plea that went with it, I was actually hearing my own voice recite 1 John 3:17: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need and has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

I managed to make it almost to the other side of the street when the unwanted selfie of my own Phariseeism prompted an inner conversation:

“Really?!  You can quote that verse about seeing a brother in need and not have pity on him?  Exactly what, then, is the point of memorizing this passage?”

“But what if I’m just empowering his drug or alcohol addiction?”

Well….even I know you can't win an argument with the third member of the Trinity.   I knew at once I needed to make a U-turn back to the man on the corner. As I gave the guy some money, I said something about the Lord.  He immediately produced a Bible in a surprisingly nice case.   “I haven't had one of these in a long time,” he said.  “Believe me.  I use it.”  I had no reason to doubt him.  We talked a bit further and he gave evidence of a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

So why was that guy there on the street corner?  Did God place him there just to check my integrity?  I don't know.

I can only confess my own struggle and remind you as I remind myself: It is not advisable to attempt an argument with the Holy Spirit.  Trust me--you can't win!

 
Sting Job  

I can still feel the burning sensation of the stinger, jabbed into my flesh. But honestly the fault was mine.  

At one of the grandest camping places in the country (kings-camp.org) our old pop-up                                                                                                                                                 is on loan to our son and daughter-in-law.  For some time, the hatch that covers the power cord coming out of the thing was broken off.  I should have replaced it months ago but didn't.

A few weeks back, my Dad asked if I needed anything from the local camping store.  I walked him over to our pop-up trailer, showing him the plastic power cord inlet that had lost its cover.  As we peered at the protruding cord, I noticed a wasp on the thing—right there at the opening.  I gave the cord a wiggle (not recommended).  Immediately, a small squadron of very angry wasps descended on me, one immediately stinging the back of my leg. 

Hours later, having foamed the wasps' entrance (aka, the camper's power cord storage inlet) I counted as 12 wasps crawled, tumbled and suffocated out of the opening.  Next, we examined the cavity in the wall of the camper, just to be sure there were no more wasps hiding out.  What I found was a honey comb, complete with embedded wasp larvae.  With long nose pliers, I gently pulled out the honeycomb (photo on this page), observing a few more dead wasps and one on its last legs (literally). 

I offer not one, but two spiritual morals to this tale.

Moral #1: Don't delay taking care of the small openings for sin in your life. Left unattended, you're sure to invite trouble...right in the walls of your soul.

Moral #2:  If you hang around wasps, you're going to get stung.  We cannot play with sin.....      

 
Lavished Love  

Her slightly chunky two-year old arm twined around mine as stray blonde hairs from her head tickled my shoulder. As Lucy nuzzled into me, my heart was as gooey as a chocolate bar in summer. 

At that moment, the tot at my side could have asked for the moon, and I would immediately have called up NASA with a down payment.  

Lucy and her older sister, Joslynn, recently came out with us to spend a weekend at the camper.   Because my natural “gifting” tends toward silliness, two-year old Lucy is usually not far away.  

Silly faces.  Silly noises.  Silly stories.  These seem to be my specialty.  But if it's true that I can communicate on the level of a toddler, our toddler granddaughter taught me something of the profound that weekend.

1 John 3:1 speaks of an unusual kind of affection.  The verse reads, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.”

I saw several glimpses of “lavished love” as the weekend unfolded.  For no apparent reason Lucy would frequently lean her head against my arm or shoulder.  More than once, she wrapped her arm around my own, flashing perfect white teeth and a smile that would melt granite.

While her sister, Joslynn, hauled fish out of the lake (at eight years old, she has quite a thing for fishing) Lucy took a break from guarding our bait supply.  From behind, she threw her arms around my neck and insisted on kissing me generously, laughingly.  At night, she laid her head on my chest or arm. Most profoundly, she gently stroked my cheek.

It was rich.  Lovely.  Lavish. 

With nearly every kiss, or pat, or gentle touch, I saw an image of “the great love the Father has lavished on us.” When was the last time you experienced—or expressed—that kind of love?

 
O Say, Can You Stand?  

Lit A Fire!

When NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit during the National Anthem, he lit the fire of a roaring national debate.  In a journalism culture that overdoses on a news story and then gets quickly bored with it, I'm intrigued the flames seem only to have intensified.  One commentator I read suggested Kaepernick's career is finished. An ESPN poll shows him as the NFL’s most disliked player.  Others are standing with (or is that sitting beside) Kaepernick. 

 

Nothing Illegal, But...

What should a Christian think?  May I share with you my own thoughts? 

There seems to be nothing illegal about Kaepernick's decision.  Nothing forbidden by the NFL.  Indeed, the 49ers management has repeatedly expressed their support for the quarterback's decision.  Yet I disagree.

Mr. Kaepernick—along with every American—surely has the right to voice his opinion.  But I believe his anthem stance (or lack thereof) is inappropriate.  Here's why.

 

What If We All Sat?!

This nation has never been perfect.  We have always had problems...issues...ugly wounds.    But if all of us decided we'd “had enough” with regard to whatever our particular issue is (abortion, immigration, excessive taxes, loss of religious freedom, etc.) and sat down during the national anthem, than almost no one would stand. 

We do not stand up for the National Anthem because America is perfect or without serious flaws.  We stand up because we have a country where these issues can actually be freely debated and—when in need—corrected through discussion and legislation. We stand up because doing so shows respect, just as not standing shows disrespect

 

Render Unto Caesar

To sit down during the national anthem is perceived as a slap in the face to everyone who has ever put on a uniform to defend our flag. 

It seems to me Christ's words, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” might well include the respect associated with standing for our national anthem.  Even if our nation is less than perfect.  

 
Looking Forward to Heaven  

What’s the number one thing you’re looking forward to doing or seeing in heaven?  Here’s what a few Christian leaders told me…

Anne Graham Lotz said…

I would love to be taught the Scriptures by the Lord Jesus Himself with the kind of understanding He would give. I’m hoping we will have that opportunity.

Tony Evans told me…

I want to see a replay—a video replay—of some of the great events of the Bible, like the opening of the Red Sea or the Jordan River.

Michael W. Smith smiled and shared…

I want to make some music! Join in with the angels! I wonder what that’s going to be like!  I have a feeling it’s going to happen!

Bob Moeller stated…

One thing I can’t wait to do in heaven is thank people. There are so many people I am so grateful for that God put in my life as a youngster, as a high school student, as a college student, seminarian, young pastor. I’m grateful that even though in this life we are separated, there will be a chance to do that in heaven.

Joni Tada shared with me…

Most people assume I will jump up and dance and kick and do aerobics and be so excited about my new glorified body. My goodness, how wonderful it will be to have a body with hands that work and feet that walk and knees that bend, and a back that arches and hands that can be lifted high. But I think what I am most looking forward to in heaven is having a new heart. I cannot wait to feel—I mean, really feel—what it’s like not to have a sinful thought, a rebellious inclination, a tendency to

pity myself, or growl or grumble or complain. I can’t wait to see what it feels like to have a heart free of sin. That will be heaven for me.

You can read many more insights like these in the book, If I Could Do It All Over Again.  But frankly, I’d like to know what you are looking forward to doing in heaven. Email me at jon.gauger@moody.edu.  Maybe we’ll share your thoughts next week!

 

Read more thoughts about heaven in Jon's new book, If I Could Do It All Over Again

https://www.amazon.com/Could-All-Over-Again-Christian/dp/0736967966/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1472481625&sr=8-1&keywords=Jon+Gauger

Facebook.com/authorjongauger 

 
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