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Songs I Wish We Sang  

Where’s all the music?

When I fill in as host for Moody Radio’s morning show, we do a feature called “Breakfast for the Soul.”  Essentially, it’s a brief devotional that I try to follow up with a song that fits the reading.    But I’m often stumped. Example?

Where is the chorus that reminds us fasting is the expected behavior of a normal Christian life?  Ever heard a song about the persecuted church?  Or loving people living a homosexual lifestyle?  Good luck finding that kind of stuff.

So I’ve taken the liberty of crafting an opening verse or chorus on some real life subjects that probably should be addressed in a song.  Like this one about sharing Christ with my neighbors:

Now that winter's come and gone

I'm more concerned about my lawn

Than the lost folks living right across the street.

I spend hours picking weeds

When I should be planting seeds:

Acts of kindness, prayers and times to meet and greet.

Now let’s be honest.  Most of us struggle at some point when we give our tithes or gifts on Sunday.   But nobody has yet to write a song about that.  Here’s a suggested opening:

Lord, in my heart, I know that tithing's good.

But I'd keep it all for me if I thought I could.

So overcome my greed

With the sense of a greater need.

Teach me what it means to really give.

 

Honestly, we need a song that speaks transparently of our struggle with fasting.  Example?

We’re not so big on fasting.

We much prefer to eat.

Deny ourselves and skip a meal—

To pray?  That’s such a feat!

 

And for those of us who are addicted to anxiety…how ‘bout a prayerful chorus like this:

Forgive me for my worry—it's the sin that just won't quit.

Sometimes it feels like praying doesn't help the slightest bit.

I've memorized the verses and I try to meditate.

But worry has been winning the upper hand of late.

 

So how ‘bout it song writers out there?

Isn’t it time our choruses got more honest?  More real?

I think so.

 

Psalms 9:11   Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion; Declare among the peoples His deeds.

 
What Matters  

Crawling across the plywood of our attic, I spied the tan plastic bag and knew exactly what was inside: Daytimers.

Before there was Google Calendar and Evernote...

Before there were Palm Pilots...

Back when Windows referred to the glass in your living room—not an operating system—we needed a way to keep track of our schedules.

Many of us in the business world used Daytimers—a spiral bound pocket book with calendars and appointment pages.  And in that tan plastic bag up in my attic were several years’ worth of old Daytimers.

You know what caught my eye as I flipped through those planners—more than a quarter of a century old?  It wasn't the business stuff, the appointments and meetings and billing issues.  It was the personal stuff—things that define a family.  Example?  I  found notated on one page where our baby girl, Lynnette, learned to say, “See you later” when talking on the phone.

In another planner, I found a note affirming our little girl performed both major bodily functions in her toddler toilet.  And as any parent can tell you, that's definitely a milestone worth recording.

As I flipped through more pages, I saw notes marking a movie my wife and I went to see...the date we went to a Cubs game...the list of guests invited to a surprise birthday party for her.

I frankly cannot point to a single business item that caught my eye or tugged at my heart.      Yet...the kid stuff...the me-and-my-wife stuff.....that mattered a whole lot.

All that meticulous tracking of billable hours that seemed so important at the time...just wasn't very important at all.

Life, I was reminded in that attic moment, is made up of daily, ordinary, routine things that are anything but insignificant viewed through the lens of time.

Strange how a coating of dust creates so much clarity.

 
Hang on to Your Gold  

I should have known the pleasant looking cowboy before me was an imposter.  But his gloves, hat and gun all looked legit.  He invited us to a sandpit where we could pan for gold (okay, it was actually pyrite—but it looked like the real deal).

I have to confess, it was exhilarating swirling the shallow pan, exposing the yellow glow of gold—just like I'd seen in the movies.  We carefully dumped our gold into miniature cloth sacks, pausing now and then to see what kind of fortunes we'd amassed.

I saw “we” because it was me, two young nieces of mine, along with our five year old granddaughter.   Wasn't long before we'd each collected some gold.  And that's when the cowboy kicked into action. 

He thrust a sack bulging at the seams right at our faces. “Tell ya what,” he drawled slyly.  “I'll trade any of you your puny little sack of gold for mine, here.  What do you say?”  Niece number one said no.  Granddaughter Joslynn said no.  But Niece number two quickly grabbed the bag out of his hands, gleefully trading her own. She was sure she'd gotten the bargain of a lifetime until she unlaced the string and discovered it was packed with nothing but sand.

I was immediately drawn to the scene in Eden where the serpent offers Eve an impossibly good exchange...which proved too good to be true. But it was too late.  She had already traded away her gold for a kind of sand.

The truth is, we ride a dangerous trail, you and I.  And despite pleasant appearances, we have an enemy determined to take our gold—and never give it back.  It could be the gold of your joy in Jesus.  Don't give it up.  It could be the gold of your sexual purity.  Don't give it up.  It could the gold of your contentedness at work.  Don't give it up. 

 Proverbs 4:23 says it another way:  “Guard  your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

My young niece got her bag of fake gold back, thanks to the cowboy.  But the enemy you meet out on the trail knows no such kindness.

Hang on to your gold, pardner!

 

 
Everybody's Hurting over Something  

He's back at it again—my buddy Jack.  He's the one that's trying to build bridges with his neighbor across the street.  In a previous blog, I promised to keep you up to date. Here goes.

All winter long, Jack has taken his snow blower over to his neighbor's driveway and blown it out.  In return his neighbor—we'll call him Steve—has blown out Jack's driveway.  But the best part is they've had opportunity to work on their driveways together.  Even shoveled side by side.   They wave at each other in their cars—and often chat when getting the mail.

Jack and his wife and have been praying that God would open a door of opportunity   for them to take the next step in this growing friendship. So imagine the smile on Jack's face when he told me they took their neighbor out to dinner!

It was a popular steak place.  And they had much more than dinner together.  They shared conversation—meaningful dialogue—and plenty of good laughs.  But there was plenty of sobering stuff, as well.

Jack told me all about Steve's troubled upbringing: a mother with five husbands...a father who died young....being told as a young adult that the last name he had used all his life wasn't really his. Then there's the half-sister that won't even speak to him.   The pain was so great….

Unexpectedly, the meal at the restaurant continued for nearly two and half hours—and Jack and his wife were honestly sad when the evening came to an end.  (1:30)

At this point in our conversation, Jack paused and then looked me in the eye almost whispering, “Everyone is hurting over something.”

Jack is right.

The question is, are we willing to engage those hurting people?  Are we willing to blow out their driveways and hear their sad stories...and love them enough to do it all again over another dinner—all in the name of Jesus?   Those are Jack's plans.

He would never claim to be a teacher, but Jack is taking me to school on reaching out to my lost neighbors.  So much to learn.

Me?  I'm still pondering lesson one: Everybody is hurting over something.

 
Addicted to Connectivity  

Are you a drug addict?

Don't answer too quickly.

It's possible you've never smoked a joint in your life...never popped a pill the doctor didn't prescribe.  But you could still be addicted.  I'm not talking about heroin or cocaine or meth.  I'm talking about the drug of connectivity—the need to have access to your email or Facebook page.

Recently, I was reminded of my own addiction. They did a major re-work of our email system at work on a Friday, and--BOOM--I was without remote access to email all weekend long.

You wanna know the really sick thing?  I actually sat on the couch with my phone on the armrest, alternatively staring--then glaring—at it, hungry to hear the thing ding.

I found myself checking it again and again...hoping something...someone might be getting through.  (Sure I could still text...but my addiction is with email, remember?).

The experience only underscored an embarrassing truth.  I am addicted to connectivity. I expect to be...desire to be...absolutely MUST be interrupted by chimes and ringtones.   Their lack creates a roar of silence that is uncomfortable, if not intolerable.

Now here's the disturbing question.  Why am I not equally addicted to connectivity with God?  Why does it not drive me crazy when I either rush or miss my morning prayer time with Him?  Why am I not compelled to continually check in with Him throughout the day?  Twenty-four/seven access to the King of the Universe is guaranteed.  And Scripture itself suggests this kind of behavior is actually expected: “Pray without ceasing,” we are told.

So how is it I must be connected to a stream of tedious information from friends and work that is temporary at best...while the Eternal sits unattended?

More to the point: How can I initiate a healthy addiction: a sense of need to commune with the Lord of the Universe?

O, God....set my heart aright.

I long to long for you, like David did.

Like a deer panting for water.

Amen!

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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