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Where's Our Song?  

Goodbye watermelon.

Goodbye swimming pool.

Goodbye lawn chair.

Fall comes at an exorbitant price.

For me, one of the sadder summer losses is crickets.  They speak peace to the troubled night and calm to the cacophony we call early morning.  But as I take my sunrise walks in the second half of October, the cricket symphony decrescendos dramatically.

A few courageous critters sill scrape their wings and make the music.  But as early morning temperatures dip into the upper 30s, the insect orchestra reduces to a few brave soloists. 

When I hear one now, I smile big and walk gently toward the source of the sound, trying for a louder listening experience.  Inevitably, I find the crickets go mute.  You can't blame them for being terrified at the vibration of something hundreds of times their size.

Still, a few—a very few—can yet be heard.  The season is late.  The landscape is dark, and the conditions are cold.  But they sing anyway.

These hearty crickets are a metaphor for the lifestyle required of Christians on the front edge of the end times. Meaning—the season is late.  The spiritual landscape is dark.  The conditions are cold—and getting colder.  But we're called to "sing" anyway.

So let us:

  • Sing the love of Jesus.
  • Sing the great gospel story.
  • Sing the glorious hope of heaven.
  • Sing so that a cold world in dark darkness can find the hope and joy that is Jesus.

Let us Sing!

 

 
Breathe Normally  

It’s one of the funniest lines—that never gets a laugh.

I refer to the safety demonstration from a flight last week:

  • This aircraft is equipped with six emergency exits...
  • Your seat cushion may be used as a flotation device...
  • Smoking in the lavatories at any time is prohibited...

Then the flight attendant rattles off this disturbing scenario: “In the event of a sudden loss in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down automatically.  Reach up and pull the mask to your face—and breathe normally.”

Think about it.  What could possibly cause a “sudden loss” in cabin pressure?  A bullet through the fuselage?  A blown out window?  A severed tail?

There simply is no scenario that would result in a sudden loss of cabin pressure  that would allow any sane and sober person to “breathe normally.”

But if sanity and safety are to be restored in the middle of a crisis—in the air, on the ground—or in our spiritual lives—breathing normally is exactly what we must do.  Consider:

  • There seems to be no end to Coronavirus, despite the efforts of the world’s greatest scientists. But breathe normally:  “The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul” (Psalms 121:7).
  • The election finds us tense—and getting tenser.  But breathe normally: “Behold the nations are like a drop from a bucket and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales” (Isaiah 40:15).
  • Our history is being rewritten—and none of it for good. But breathe normally: “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
  • Our culture has traded truth for narrative and facts that “don’t fit” are discarded.  But breathe normally: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him” (Psalms 28:7).
  • In many cities, our streets are in flames.   But breathe normally: “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:27).
  • Our nation and our world reject and ridicule the very name of Jesus.  But breathe normally: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him” (Revelation 1:7).

Feeling a sudden loss of cabin pressure?

Breathe normally.

“The Lord reigns” (Psalms 93:1).

 

Amen and Amen!

 

 
I Sat in the Batmobile  

I sat in the Batmobile!

In case you missed it, the Batmobile made a stop in Hinsdale, Illinois.   But I was impressed by more than the car itself.  In an age of high crime and low trust, the dynamic duo simply left the Batmobile right on the street.  Neither Commissioner James Gordon nor the Gotham Chief of Police was on hand to guard the iconic vehicle.

What was it like to sit in the Batmobile, you ask?

Impressive, frankly.  From the bubbled Plexiglas windshield to the dash-mounted Detect-A-Scope, I was lost in the lore of Gotham City.  I grabbed the Bat Phone (see photo), desperately hoping to speak with the Caped Crusader.  But it was not to be.

How I wish Batman and Robin had shown up.  How I wish they would show up now! 

Isn't that what this world needs —a superhero?

We need someone ferociously fearless, unfailingly fair, and consistently courageous.  We need someone who is genuinely humble—not one who merely pretends to be.  And is it too much to ask that our Hero be kind to the core?

And here we leave the pages of DC Comics to ponder the ultimate Hero.  No Bat Phone for this champion.  He has better: uninterrupted communication with His Father.

Don’t look for a cape.  But He did wear a crown—made of thorns.

Don’t look for Him in the Batmobile.  You’ll see Him next on a white horse.  Given Covid-19, the election, the hurricanes, and national unrest, I don’t think Jesus can come soon enough!  Amen?

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

--Revelation 19:11-16

 

 
Would Jesus Wear a Mask?  

Should you wear a mask or not?

It’s the Coronavirus conversation guaranteed to generate as much heat as it does light.  But I wonder—would Jesus wear a mask?

Note that I’m not asking if masks are effective.  I’m asking if Jesus would wear a mask.

The short answer is yes. I think it's clear Jesus would wear a mask—whenever it was either required by ordinances or by His desire to "look out for the interests of others." On what basis do I make such a claim?  

When officials questioned whether or not Jesus paid the temple tax, He paid by producing a shekel coin in the mouth of a fish.  In other words—He submitted to authority.

Romans 13: 1-2 urges,

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

Not a lot of wiggle room there, right? 

In I Peter 2:13,14, we're commanded,

"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”

We miss the moral mark if we presume our “informed opinion” on an issue outweighs our need to obey the law—or allows us to set aside the conscience of another believer.  But this is precisely what's happening in many churches.  People who think masks are unnecessary are flaunting their "freedom."  Those who feel the need to wear masks are enormously offended.  I've known some to leave a church over the issue.

Personally, I can't stand wearing a mask.  I dislike the feeling of not being able to breathe as easily.  And the heat is no fun, either.  But this is where our American individualism needs the corrective of God's Holy Word, like Titus 3:1,2:

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

That last phrase tells us where our hearts should be on this issue: "to be gentle and to show perfect courtesy toward all people."   

Jesus never asked for my opinion.

But He does ask for my obedience.

 

 

 
Shrill--and Getting Shriller  

Shrill—and getting shriller.

Such is the state of our digital demeanor.  Have you noticed? Our public discourse is often just coarse.  If you’re a conservative, every democrat is despicable.  If you’re a liberal, conservatives are kooky. 

Those who disagree with some of the data presented by the Climate Change crowd are “science deniers.”  That’s right!  They deny 100% of everything scientific.  No middle ground—who needs it?

We have all but lost our capacity to disagree, let alone discuss much of anything with others.  Civility is dead.

In our posts, texts, and media, we celebrate the crass, specialize in the snarky, and cherish the choice to demolish.  What was once a stream of anonymous attacks from strangers in a chat room is now publicly endorsed online and on television.

We are shrill and getting shriller. Profanity—proudly used. Vulgarity—very in vogue.  

This is hardly a surprising assessment of our secular culture.  Unredeemed people will act in unredeemed ways.

But my concern is not so much for the wide wicked world out there as it is for the world inside the Church.  I'm seeing an acceleration of Christians attacking other Christians for their views on the election, climate change, and social justice. Worse, we express our opinions with the same meanness as those outside the faith.

How in the world can we call any of this Christian?  What makes us think our Savior would possibly sanction such savagery?

We are shrill and getting shriller, rather than kind and getting kinder. But please note. The song never says, “They’ll know that we are Christians by our tweets.”  It’s our love, folks.  That’s what we’re to be known for.

Shame on us!

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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