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Speak the Name!  

Carl is one of those guys who calls ‘em as he sees 'em.  He works for a public school that features an annual Breakfast with Santa the first Saturday in December.  "It's a nice event," Carl assesses.  "Pancakes and sausages and Santa.  What's not to like?"  

It’s a lot of extra work for Carl.  “We get maybe 100 kids with their parents.” But at this year’s breakfast with Santa, Carl—who is a believer—stood talking with a school official. "You know it's funny when you think about it," offered Carl.   "All this work because of a guy who doesn't even exist—Santa.  But say one word about Jesus, and you're in big trouble."  The administrator said, “I have to agree.” 

Maybe one of the reasons hearing about Jesus is so troubling to some is because the moment we’re out in public, those of us who know Him often act like we don’t.  So the name of Jesus is increasingly rarely heard. 

At the same time, in our secular culture, many Christ-followers feel they've somehow forfeited the right to speak His name.

Not so!  Not Constitutionally and not biblically! On the contrary, Jesus said, "Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32,33).

It’s Christmas.  Let’s speak the name of Jesus.  The holiday unmistakably bears His name!  Sing it!  Say it!  Share it! 

 
Hey, Bug Guy!  

There are 34,000 species of spiders in America, and this time of year, a disturbing number of them decide it’s time to crawl from the backyard into your home.  Hence, our daughter’s appointment with an exterminator. The pest control industry will pardon three-year-old, Sadie, for labeling the guy who showed up at her door as "Bug Guy."

If Bug Guy was on a mission, so was Sadie. The moment he stepped inside their home, she got right to it.  "Hey, Bug Guy, do you love Jesus?"  Sadie giggled, but the man offered no reply as he clomped down the stairs. Sadie was undeterred and hiked down right after him.  Cranking up the volume so he couldn't possibly fail to hear, she projected with slow deliberation, "Bug guy—DO/YOU/ LOVE/ JESUS?"  He sweetly ignored her and got to work.

I wondered when was the last time that anybody asked him a question like that.  Maybe this was the first!  Who knows? 

Can you think of a more important question to ask someone than that—Do you love Jesus?  I can’t.  Think of the seed Sadie may have planted, just by speaking up. 

Some might argue we ought instead to ease into a conversation about spiritual things.  Or take the time to build a bridge.  Or first, address a "felt need."

But Bug Guy's visit was short, so Sadie got right to the point.  Now, if a three-year-old can do that, then why can’t we?

 

P.S.  If you enjoy the frank honesty of kids and their conversations, pick up a copy of Kids Say the Wisest Things.  It’s filled with stories like this one—and (amazingly) makes a great Christmas gift, too!  Available at Amazon and Christianbook.com.

 
Unfinished  

“One more thing,” Tim said. “Next time you come over, can you bring the LEGOs?” 

Our grown son is now a father of two, and his oldest is able to play, so—why not?  We were thrilled at the prospect of reclaiming some shelf space in his old closet.

Having hauled the LEGOs to Tim's house, I pried off the dusty plastic lid.  Instead of a mound of red, white, and blue plastic bricks, I encountered the remains of several LEGO creations—along with handfuls of loose pieces.

Two of the sub-assembly chunks were big enough we could snap them together and tell it was a building of some kind.  There were partial vehicles fastened to wheels and axles (see actual photo).

Tim and I grew pensive.  “Odd,” I thought out loud.  “It’s like a time capsule or something. Projects froze in time."

“Ya know,” he said. “These things are probably 20 plus years old.  I haven’t played with the LEGOs for at least that long.”

So were these uncompleted projects?  If so, why didn't they ever get finished?  Was playtime interrupted by dinner?  Or bedtime? Was there ever an intent to finish these things?

The mystery swirled and twisted in my brain until it morphed into an altogether different question.  At some future moment, when I stand before God, what will He find as He lifts the lid off of my life?

Will there be important—but unfinished—projects there?  Things He has asked me to complete that I have failed to finish?  As the heavenly inventory of my life ends, what will pain me—and Him—the most?

I suspect I will regret having invested time and energy in lesser tasks than the sacred agenda of the Almighty. Things that seemed important at the time will melt away, revealing the dusty delusions they were all along.

Could it be the sorrow over this much unfinished living is the reason we are twice promised in Revelation, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes”?

God help us finish the tasks to which He has called us!

 

 

 

 

 
If CNN Covered the First Thanksgiving  

Imagine if CNN were around when the Pilgrims celebrated that first Thanksgiving...

 

CNN: Their homes are mostly huts, their story—more tragedy than triumph.  I'm speaking of the group of religious Separatists who left England for a 67-day ocean crossing on the Mayflower. Their voyage was about one goal: obtaining religious freedom.   I’m joined by William Bradford, a spokesman for the Separatists.

CNN: Mr. Bradford, I understand your group paid a high price for this venture. Do you think in retrospect these folks who came over with you really understood what they were getting into?

BRADFORD: They knew they were pilgrims.

CNN: Meaning what?

BRADFORD: They were ready to perish in this wilderness.

CNN: And perish they have.  You originally sailed with a group of 102.  But the cold weather you encountered was devastating.  How many died?

BRADFORD: We  buried half the original group that sailed from England during our first winter,

CNN:  I understand that only four of the married women who left England still have husbands.  Forgive me, but it doesn’t seem like you have much to show for all this suffering and death.

BRADFORD:  All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

CNN: And you still feel the same commitment to this ideal of freedom to worship God in your own way?

BRADFORD: To keep a good conscience, and walk in such a way as God has prescribed in his Word, is a thing which I must prefer before you all, and above life itself.

CNN: Today, you gather with 90 Native Americans to express thanks to God.  But don't you have more reason for grief than gratitude?  On what basis have you encouraged the pilgrims?

BRADFORD: Let them praise the Lord because He is good, and His mercies endure forever.

CNN: So ended my conversation with William Bradford. Separatists—or extremists? We’ll leave it to our viewers to decide.

 

NOTE: Though this conversation obviously never took place, William Bradford actually said these very words (I have made only minor edits) in his book, Of Plymouth Plantation.

 

 

 

 

 
Location Services  

I just upgraded my cell phone—exciting, but a pain. I struggled with all those account numbers, PIN numbers, Apple ID...Yikes!   Doesn't it seem like getting a new phone should be a whole lot easier than it is?

One thing jumped out at me—the intense interest the tech world exhibits in wanting to monitor my location.  I'm leery and—increasingly—irritated by the insatiable appetites of Google, Apple, Samsung, and others—to know of my location.   I get this feeling when installing (or reinstalling) an app. It's one thing for a map program to ask—but a bowling game?  C’mon!

Observe the euphemistic label the industry chooses to use instead of GPS.  They insist on calling it “Location Services.”  As if someone is doing you and me a favor or service.  But make no mistake.  Tech companies see your phone as a satellite tracking device, for sure.  And indeed, they are tracking.

Now I'm not exactly a conspiracy theorist. But something seems out of whack.  They say the use of location services allows third parties to be much more selective in targeting the ads with which bombard us. And this is supposed to be a benefit?

When given a choice, my response is to uncheck the box for Location Services.   Tech-savvy readers will counter that those companies can use other means to get your location. True.  But it's not as accurate—or they wouldn't nearly bludgeon me into turning on my GPS....urr Location Services.

Only the most gullible believe tech companies have nothing but our best interests at heart in attempting to monitor our every move. It’s odd how few have grasped the fact that for the benefits we receive in using GPS (yes, I love Google Maps), we are at the same time trading away the simple dignity of our anonymity.

By contrast, we serve a benevolent God in heaven who not only knows our current location—but where we will be the next hour, the next month—and the next millennia. And unlike the big brother-ish companies clutching at our data, God has nothing but our best interests at heart.

The Psalmist asked, “Where can I go from your presence?”  The reassuring answer from the God who is all-loving and all-present: Nowhere!  The certainty that He knows our location at all times is a comfort and kindness in stark contrast to the data miners and marketers that haunt our phones!

 

 

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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