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No Power  

267,000 households without electricity. That’s a whole lot of fridges and freezers on the fritz. That’s a whole lot of air conditioners that aren’t conditioning!  But that’s the state of things after a swath of storms cut through northeastern Illinois Monday night.

Gratefully, our home remains spared, though we have friends who needed help.  So I took a generator to their house, fired the thing up, and plugged in a refrigerator and deep freezer.

All was well until I saw a text the next morning: “Generator runs—but no power.”   Huh?

I drove over right away, and sure enough, ol’ Bessie was cranking away noisily.  But at some point in the wee hours of the night,  she ceased being of any use. 

I tried unplugging and restarting the unit.  I tried mashing the reset buttons.  Result: Lots of noise and plenty of action—but no power. I am certainly not an electrical expert—and even less a gas engine guy.  So, for now, I have a generator that does not generate.  It only sounds like it’s doing something.

It’s a perfect metaphor—both visually and aurally—for the lives so many of us live. We're busy.  Very busy.  We satisfy ourselves declaring we're busy at work for Christ.  But we often do what we do in our flesh.  Publicly, we claim we're doing it all for Him, but privately it's really about us and how good we feel "serving Jesus."

Lord, forgive us for being engines without power. Forgive us for mistaking action and noise for godliness.  Lead us away from hurriedness to holiness.  Work your works in us and through us.   Only then can we be found useful for your kingdom.




Missing Masks  

Candy wrappers. Beer cans.  McDonald’s packaging.  This kind of litter is seen everywhere in my daily quest for 10,000 steps.  But lately, I’ve noticed there’s a new trash in town: face masks. 

Regardless of our opinions about their effectiveness, most of us would at least agree that those who wear them perceive them to be of great value.  Which makes me ask, why are there so many on the ground?  How could something potentially life-saving just tumble out of your pocket?

Now, I myself have been guilty of stuffing one into my pants, only to have it flutter to the ground.  But so far, I’ve been fortunate enough to notice and snatch it off the parking lot or grass. Missing masks are bound to happen—and that’s hardly the end of the world.

Sill, it seems to me there is a disproportionate number of face masks lying around our streets and sidewalks.  These are not mere tissues or candy wrappers.  These are potential lifesavers. So—shouldn’t we treat them a bit more carefully?

Which takes me to the real point of this blog (forgive my bait and switch).  I'm amazed at the number of Bibles I see laying around.  Some are left unattended on tables or chairs.  You'll see other Bibles abandoned on the ground at church. And—I know for a fact—many of them go unclaimed for weeks and months.

Unlike a potentially life-saving face mask, the Bible has a long history of being used by God to save lives from the ultimate virus—sin.  So how could we treat our Bibles so carelessly?  I have Christian friends who were born in Muslim countries.  They tell me that Muslims are shocked at the disrespectful way we Christians treat our holy book.

If the B-I-B-L-E is truly the book for me, I'd better learn to show it some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Come Back  

They asked me to shoot pictures at the birthday party.  And shoot pictures I did: posed groups, informal shots, family groupings, silly moments—some 462 photos in all. The heat and humidity were so smothering, it's a wonder the lens didn't fog over. Or melt shut. 

Between shutter clicks, I recognized one of the relatives. We’ll call her Sarah.  Years ago, reliable sources told us Sarah and her husband had taken their kids to a Bible-believing church where they got involved in Awana.  But the kids were now in high school.  So was the family still actively attending?

I took her picture and struck up a conversation, eventually asking, “Do you guys have a church home?” 

“We used to,” she said.  Was that a wistful tone in her voice?  “But not any more.” 

"Well, you know," I offered with a smile, “Ya could go back.”  Pause.

“We could.”

“Yep. You could go back.”

She smiled. After that, it was just small talk.  Part of me was sad to learn of their drifting.  Part of me was glad to be able to offer her a welcome back.

Maybe you—or someone you love—has drifted.  Hear me carefully.  Whether you've drifted a little or a lot, God has a word for you: "Come back!"  Come back.  You are still loved, still valued, still precious in His sight.  So—come back.


This is how the LORD responds: “If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me.” 

—Jeremiah 15:19




Wanted--An Encourager  

Do you have the gift of discouragement?

A surprising amount of people do! 

They’re the ones who text or post things like:

  • I don’t have the energy to pretend I like you today.
  • Your call will be ignored in the order it was received.
  • I don’t understand your specific kind of crazy, but I DO admire your total commitment to it.

The gift of discouragement is everywhere, which is odd. Because most people already have enough of that:

  • It's a relationship that burns as sandpaper rubbed across the back of your sunburned hand.
  • It’s a job that eats at your soul like battery acid.
  • It’s a prodigal who—despite your prayers—seems farther from God than ever.
  • It’s the bill you can’t pay. The hurt you can’t share. The sin that won’t quit.

Discouragement is everywhere.  Meaning everybody could use some encouragement.  Yet surprisingly few excel at this.

As followers of Jesus, we're called to a lifestyle of encouraging others. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 commands, “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

And why aren’t we better at this business of encouragement?  Calvin Miller observes, “Because we don't want to get involved.  Because most people are so bent on appearing self-sufficient, they all but make it impossible for us to see their hurt.  Only when we train ourselves to see with the eyes of Christ will be able to penetrate people's affable armor and see that in spite of their grinning facade, they are bleeding."

WANTED: An Encourager.  A man or woman committed to building up others more than self.  Must be willing to listen without lecture.  Our ideal candidate is presently enrolled in—or recently graduated from--the School of Hard Knocks. Those who have their act together need not apply. Those too self-absorbed in their hurts—need not apply. BUT...for those willing to walk in the sandals of the Savior…those who themselves are bruised yet committed more to refreshment than judgment, to comfort more than criticism, there's a place for you--on every street in every town. So grab a cup of cold water.  Thirsty folks are everywhere.  Thirsty for encouragement.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.  --1 Thessalonians 5:11




Gone to Heaven!  

Charlie Daniels—dead?  It can't be true!  Talk about a guy who was larger than life.  If you ever saw his iconic beard or watched him play the fiddle or heard him sing (country, rock, or Christian—he did it all), you never forgot him.

A few years ago, Diana and I met Charlie Daniels as part of an interview for Moody Radio.  Like most truly great people, he was as humble and homespun as his blue jeans.  Jeans accompanied by a large brass belt buckle that read, "Jesus is Lord."

Most of us know CD’s music—but not as many know that he used his platform to support the military, underprivileged children and others in need.  Or that he closed every one of his famous “Soap Box” blogs (last one posted July 3) with “Pray for our troops, and for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Charlie toured Israel in 2008, and he never got over it. During our 15-minute interview, he bubbled about the wonder of all that God has done in and through Israel.  And boy—could he quote the Bible!  It was amazing to hear so much memorized Scripture rolling off his tongue.

Given backstage passes, we marveled as this 80-year-old hopped up the stairs when the lights came on.  And when Charlie reached the edge of the stage, he jumped high and landed with a stomp that kicked the whole concert into high gear that never backed down.

Not that Charlie Daniels backed down from much of anything. From his faith to his firearms, Charlie was bold.  May we be the same for Christ.

The devil may have gone down to Georgia--but Charlie Daniels has gone to heaven!

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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