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Ultimate Picture of Love  

The knock at the orphanage door brought a little child with no birth certificate and almost no background.  Would they take in this little one? 

Not many will ever hear this saga of a young Mexican mother whose child was taken from her. You, however, are among a handful who will know the truth (minus a few key details I must hold back for security reasons). 

This lady had once thought her boyfriend the man of her dreams, so they married and had a baby.  But the dreams turned to nightmares when her husband immersed himself in a life of crime, ultimately kidnapping his child from his wife.

When arrested, the father cruelly told police that the child’s mother was dead.   The father was then hauled off to jail. That’s when the little one was taken to a Christian orphanage, launching an odyssey fit for Hollywood.

At the orphanage, the administration worked tirelessly with authorities, pushing them to uncover the truth. At the same time, the mother plugged away relentlessly—searching, looking, hoping.

Ultimately, the mother finally learned the truth, trekked to the orphanage and identified her beloved.  But authorities demanded a DNA test before they would let the child go—a financial roadblock for this Mexican mother who had pursued her child for so long. In God’s kindness, the test was finally performed, proving the birth connection. Yet there was no fairytale reunion.

In fact, the mother cried herself to sleep for the first few nights when the child, separated for so long, refused to leave the orphanage. The orphanage leaders proposed that if the child would get into the car with the mom, they would ride together with them to the mother’s home. The idea worked.

But upon arrival, there was initial resistance to entering the house!  Finally, at the sight of many family members eagerly welcoming the long lost child, the door opened and the little one walked in.  Home.

Quietly, the orphanage workers left the scene, confident that though the adjustment would take more time, it would surely succeed.  And it has.

Consider the extreme lengths this mother went to in bringing her lost child home.

Consider the extreme lengths our heavenly Father went to so He could bring us home!

If this isn’t the ultimate picture of love, what is?

 
Tony and Tory  

Everyone has heard of Tony Evans.

Okay, I’ll qualify that: almost every single Christian who has a pulse has heard of Tony Evans.

But not as many know Tory.  I met them both last week.

We were at Dr. Evans’ church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, to record some audio and video content for Moody Radio.   Now, recording a radio interview doesn’t take much more than a microphone and a portable recorder.  But video?  That requires a camera, tripod, lights, batteries, shotgun microphone, backdrop, etc.  It’s a long list of stuff—and you never seem to have enough of it.

That’s where Tory came in.   The room we were going to record in sounded a bit boomy and we needed to absorb some of the reflections.  Tory quickly found a large throw rug and lugged it inside.  The sound was better, but still not right.  Could we borrow a fabric covered room divider? Tory carted it in.   Acoustics were better…but not good enough. Tory then found some sound-absorptive panels and he schlepped them into the room as well.   Much better. 

About then, I discovered I was in need of an extra microphone stand.  Tory dug around for one and hauled it over. Then we decided I was shy one light (the plant next to where Dr. Evans would be sitting looked a little wimpy in the shadows). Tory came up with a light. 

The truth is, Tory bailed me out again and again.  And he did it all with a cheerful attitude and a kind smile.  People will hear our interview on the radio or watch the video clips and never know that it was Tory who really made it possible.  But I know.  More importantly, God knows.  And God will remember Tory’s servant spirit.

Are you one of those behind-the-scenes people?  Hebrews 6:10 has a word for you: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

Thanks for the help, Tory—and your example in godliness!

 
When Jesus Comes for Dinner  

“Been pokin’ around the gospels a bit,” spouted my friend, Jack, as he shoved a toothpick in his mouth.  The long pause he left dangling meant I was supposed to inquire further. 

“Whatcha find in the gospels lately, Jack?”

“I’ve noticed Jesus spent a surprising amount of time at dinner with lost people—and amazing things often happened at those dinners.”  Here his toothpick waggled in the left corner of his upturned mouth.

“Take me to one of.…”  Jack anticipated my response.  Didn’t let me finish. 

“Luke 19.  The short guy—Zaccheus.  Couldn’t see Jesus so he climbed the sycamore tree.  But Jesus saw him up there and urged him to come down quickly so he could stay at Zaccheus’ home.”

“Sure.  Every Sunday School kid knows this one,” I offered.

“Then you’ll recall that the religious folks were less than thrilled with Christ’s choice of dinner associates.”  With an impressive (and thankfully invisible) swish of his tongue, Jack whisked the toothpick from the left corner of his mouth to the right.  He continued. 

“‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner!’ Jesus critics charge. And Jesus Himself is silent with regard to any defense for Zaccheus’ character or conduct.  Not even Zaccheus defends himself.”

“Maybe Zaccheus was a bigger man than his short stature suggested,” I offered.

“Not a bigger man.  A changed man.  Zaccheus assures Christ, ‘Half of my possessions I will give to the poor.’  Then comes the show stopper. Jesus gestures toward Zaccheus (here Jack removes the toothpick and jabs at the air) pointing out that ‘today salvation has come to this house because he, too, is a son of Abraham.’  In other words, he is now headed for heaven.  And it all happened over dinner.  Amazing!”  Jack was suddenly silent.

“So what’s your big takeaway?” I asked, my friend still lost in Zaccheus’ story.

“Discipleship—sometimes it begins at dinner.”

Jack could read my mind—I’m sure of it.  He saw me pondering too many of my comfortable dinners with too many comfortable Christian friends.  Yet I’m guessing he saw something else deep inside—a hunger to have dinner with unsaved people.

That’s when he smiled—and popped the toothpick back in his mouth. 

 

 

 

 

 
Only One God  

Four little kids in a museum filled with priceless objects.  A recipe for disaster, right?   If they were yours, you’d want to keep an eye on those little ones for sure—and we did.

Imagine a porcelain vase standing about two-and-half feet tall.  It was a magnificent shade of blue covered with gilded gold. The thing had a diameter of about two feet, so it was plenty big.

Mythological characters in raised relief walked the entire circumference of the vase, their fantastic appearance engaging the laser focus of Caleb.  Caleb is five and fearless and faith-filled (a tribute to his mom and dad).  He’s also curious. 

His large brown eyes drank in the images of those creatures as the museum docent pointed to the vase’s rim and explained, “That’s the god of creation….and there’s the god of water…This one here is the god of….”  Abruptly Caleb turned, looked the lady right in the eye and said with equal measures of politeness and boldness, “Excuse me.”

The docent paused.  Caleb continued with an innocent smile on his face proclaiming, “There’s only one God.”

To say the lady was caught off guard would be an understatement.   “Well, yes,” she stammered.  Regaining her groove, she said pleasantly, “You’ll read more about these in school.”  And that’s pretty much how it ended. 

Think of it. We live in a world of museums and media and classrooms and conversations filled with false information about God.  Like the exchange with the museum lady, not all of it is deliberately hostile. Yet it’s there.  Everywhere.

But what if we Christ followers were all a bit more courageous, like Caleb?  What if—instead of angry shouts, boycotts, and protests—we gently but firmly asserted the truth about God when culture says otherwise?  Consistently.  What if we tried Caleb’s way: put a smile on your face and say with your life as well as your mouth, “Excuse me—there’s only one God.”

Caleb is five and fearless and faith-filled.   I hope to grow up to be like him. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
A Heart Like Art's  

At the age of nine, you haven’t lived long enough to sense greatness—let alone define it.  But there was something special about that summer at Camp Awana in Fredonia, Wisconsin.  

There was a guy there with a flat-top haircut and a twinkle that never left his eye.  He called himself Art.  Decades later, I can still hear him speaking to us kids that night in the “Long House.”  

Art told us the story of how when he was a kid, he really didn’t know Jesus as the leader of His life—His personal Savior.  But his mom and dad did.  So did his brother Roy.   When Roy was struck by Spinal Meningitis, he lay on his bed, dwindling away.  Exactly one night before he died, Roy pled with his mom and dad to challenge Art to receive Christ.   Art overhead the entire conversation and was deeply moved.  The next day, he made Jesus his Lord and Savior.

As Art told us all this, I saw tears forming in his eyes, then trickling down his cheeks.  I’d never seen a man cry before.  As best I could—at the age of nine—I tried to process all of this.  Even at that young age, I knew there was something right about a heart like Art’s.

Over the decades that followed, I continued to observe the heart of Art Rorheim: always tender on this matter of salvation.  Working part-time at Awana Headquarters, I watched as Art traveled the globe with his singular passion: more boys and girls for Christ.  I remember hearing his stories as he came home from far-flung places with engaging photos…exotic souvenirs…and—always—more tears.

It all came together on a Moody Radio trip I took with Awana to Kenya and Zambia.  Watching kids run around an Awana game circle scratched out in the African dust, I was fighting tears of my own as I processed just how far God has taken the Awana ministry that Art helped to create.

And now, Art Rorheim is gone.  He passed away earlier this week. But what a legacy.

Elisha of old asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.  I seek no such thing.  That would be far too great.  Me, I want a heart like Art’s: tender always…easily touched by lost people.  If I could have that legacy, the sun would never set on a day not lived for “more boys and girls for Christ.” 

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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