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Jack and the Wheelchair Guy  

“I just dunno if I did the right thing or not."  Jack shifted back and forth from one leg to the other.  My friend was upset, so naturally, I urged Jack to spill his story.

“It was midafternoon in downtown Chicago,” he recalled.  “I walked past a truck being unloaded outside a CVS store. Then I saw him.”

“Saw who, Jack?”

"This guy in a wheelchair was coming toward me.  As I got closer, he somehow managed to flip his wheelchair over on its back.  Made me suspicious, so my antennae were up."

“Did you help him up, Jack?”

“Well...no.  Part of me wanted to.  Part of me was afraid that this was a setup.  I wondered if the moment I stooped down, some accomplice would appear from nowhere with a knife to my back."

“What’d the guy do?”

“He slowly twisted around, trying to get himself upright.  I felt more guilty than ever when I saw he had no feet.  Just rolled up cuffs—plenty dirty, too. Truthfully, every inch of him was filthy. I asked him if he was okay, and did he need any help."


“He said he was fine—didn’t need help.  But I sure felt conflicted watching him crawling on the pavement.”

Jack shook his head, shifted his weight back and forth again, and continued. "I'm thinking....This guy is filthy.  This guy may be part of a setup.   This guy may have Coronavirus. So—I eventually left, as he seemed to be making progress. And now, I wonder if I just played a starring role in a 21st century edition of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. Was I wrong?”

Here’s my answer: it’s never wrong to stop and care. It’s always right to ask if someone needs help. But we cannot force our help, our gospel, or our Savior. We can—and must—offer all three!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.   

--2 Cor. 1:3,4

Weary of Coronavirus  

I am weary of Coronavirus.

I am weary of the apocalyptic level of coverage found on every news channel or website.

I am weary of watching health experts and reporters and news anchors each vying to outdo each other in a bid for higher ratings.

I am weary of trying to sort through what is hype and what is truth.

Weary of wondering whether we'll get to go on an upcoming trip.

Weary of wondering if I've made a fatal error because I haven't bought 900 rolls of toilet paper. 

Weary of the dizzying stock market maelstrom (can our retirement savings possibly recover?).

And of course, I’m weary of the compulsion to wash or reach for hand sanitizer every single time I happen to touch a door or counter or....even think about doing so!

I’m weary.  Maybe you are, too.

But Jesus has a special invitation to folks like you and me, people who are weary at the level of the soul.  He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

That’s not a suggestion to stick our heads in the sand.  Or pretend all is well and sing Kum Bah Yah. The invitation is to come to Him—and let Him be our rest.  That rest is found in His Word, His kingdom, and His righteousness.

As for the Coronavirus,  I don't have any answers.  And—despite their many degrees and dour faces--neither do the experts on TV.  

But I don't have to have answers to have rest.  All I have to do is come to Jesus.  Right about now, that sounds mighty appealing to me.

Covid-19 or Matthew 11:28.  Where’s your focus?


Lost ID  

It controls nearly every aspect of my work life. With it, I can freely access buildings, elevators, studios, and locked doors. Without it, I am stuck on the outside. I’m referring to my Moody Radio security ID, of course.  The one I misplaced.

For about a week, I borrowed a Lost ID card from our Public Safety team but delayed replacing my own.  What held me back, you ask?  Vanity.

Like most employee IDs, ours feature a prominent photo of your face. Having been treated by a dermatologist (who burned off several areas of facial skin), it didn't seem like the best time to take a photo. So I delayed and delayed.

At last, the scabs healed over, so I finally went in to get my replacement card.  The kicker? They didn't bother to take a new photo!  They merely used the image they had on file.  If only I'd known.

My walk down Vanity Lane is a likely metaphor for the attitude that many of us have toward God.  He hungers for our intimate companionship.  But a twisted sense of guilt screams at us that we are dirty and unworthy—that we need to clean ourselves up somehow. 

And make no mistake—sin is an insult to God.  It is a cancer of the soul, a stench of the most wretched imaginable.  But having received Christ's forgiveness, the ugly scabs of our sin are gone.  Not even a scar is left.

When God thinks of you, the image He has on file is of someone who has been washed thoroughly, forgiven entirely, and is loved unconditionally.  All of this because of Christ. 

Perfectly righteous.  Perfectly forgiven.  Perfectly lovable. That’s you—in Christ!

God longs for your company.  So what’s holding you back?


What's in Your Mouth?  

It’s a verse I wish wasn’t in the Bible. Do you relate?

I’m referring to Psalms 34:1, a harmless—if not pleasant-sounding—verse.  David said, “I will bless the Lord at all times.  His praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth” (emphasis added).

The ad campaign humorously asks, “What’s in your wallet?” This Psalm asks, “What’s in your mouth?”

I wish David hadn’t used that word in Psalms 34:1, continually.   Because a lot of the time, you’ll hear complaining coming out of my mouth.  Or criticism.  Or worse.  What’s in your mouth?

The more I study, the more convinced I am that when it comes down to it, praise really is a choice.  It’s not about a spiritual mist that wafts over you.  It’s a decision to give God credit or thanks or glory—regardless of our circumstances.

Problem is, praise is not natural!  Not for sinners like us. In fact, praise is sometimes the grittiest, gutsiest thing you could possibly do.

Last week, I flew to Jacksonville, Florida to shoot some video and photos for Moody Radio.  Upon landing, I attempted to connect with my car rental company.  But nobody answered the phone.  On top of that, a rainstorm unleashed on us.  There I stood, sulking—and soaking—wondering if I would be forever stranded at the airport. 

I confess this Psalm popped into my head at that very moment.   Talk about an inconvenient truth!  Honestly, I struggled to “praise the Lord at all times.”  I was angry. 

But consider this thought from Joni Tada.  You’ll recall that at the age of 17, she dove into the Chesapeake Bay, injured her neck and has now spent  50 years in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic.  Joni writes:

Half a century of paralysis has also shown me how high the cosmic stakes really are. Whenever I fidget in my confinement, I can almost hear Satan taunt God—as he did with Job—“Look at her, see? She doesn’t really trust you. Test her with more pain and you’ll see her true colors!” When the Devil insists God’s people only serve him when life is easy, I have the high honor of proving him wrong. To be on the battlefield where the mightiest forces in the universe converge in warfare? By God’s grace, I’m all in.

Guess my little airport hiccup wasn’t worth the rant.

Maybe your problem isn’t, either.

Hey—what’s in your mouth?

No Other Gods  

What do seven-year-olds read?  Simple books. Funny little stories.  Maybe a pint-sized graphic novel. 

Not Caleb.  He’s into, well, biblical archaeology. Seriously.  So, when his parents took him and his siblings to a museum exhibit focused on Egyptian Iconoclasm, Caleb was engaged to the max.

Upon learning that the museum docent had taken part in a dig in Cairo, Caleb peppered her with questions.  He then steered the conversation toward the biblical account of Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt.  Caleb highlighted new research supported by biblical evidence, suggesting that the timeline in many history books may be wrong—and perhaps requires revision.

I can’t imagine what was going on in this lady’s head as Caleb interviewed her about her experiences.  At the end of their conversation, she suggested Caleb might want to choose a gift store artifact for his bedroom (Caleb’s room looks like the set of an Indiana Jones movie).

The docent recommended a box containing replicas of small statues.  But Caleb, who knew all about those statutes and what they represented, blurted, "No, thank you.  No other gods in my room!”  And he chose something else instead.

All this from a seven-year-old?  Yup.  Kinda messes with your mind a little, doesn't it?  But I find that it's my heart that needs to be "messed with." 

Truthfully, I can’t believe the number of times God has had to point His holy finger at something in my heart and call it an idol.  It has happened within the last 24 hours!  Idol after idol.  My heart wreaks of them.  

John Calvin graphically stated, “The human heart is an idol factory.”  To which I would add, “that idol factory runs 24/7, 365 days a year on an inexhaustible supply of raw materials.”

Lord, strike down the idols of my heart. 

Grant me the courage of Caleb to say no to the next one.  And the next.  And the next.  

I will have no other gods before you!


P.S.  If you found yourself connecting with this story, you'll enjoy Kids Say the Wisest Things.  Real conversations with real kids that help you see Jesus more clearly and love Him more boldly.  Get it on Amazon, or at Moody Publishers: https://www.moodypublishers.com/books/evangelism-and-discipleship/kids-say-the-wisest-things/.  Also available at Christian Book.com: https://www.christianbook.com/wisest-things-lessons-children-could-teach/jon-gauger/9780802418944/pd/418943?event=ESRCG





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