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Out in the Cold  

It has been an exceptional year for mice.

Out at the camper, we see them climbing outside here, there, and everywhere.  Last week, I yanked off the lid to the plastic garbage can that serves as our wood kindling stockpile and noticed a brown and beady eyed little fellow glaring up at me.  Nothing shy or flitty in his behavior. Fact is, he appeared angry that I’d blown his cover—literally.

In smacking the side of the trash can and wiggling it back and forth, I’m sure I gave his tiny ticker the closest thing to a heart attack a rodent can experience. 

Mice. There may be as many as 1300 different species of them. One observer suggests that though they are the tiniest of mammals, they are one of the most “successful” species in the world.  Talk about an understatement!

Somehow…somehow they manage to avoid predators like hawks, wolves, dogs and even larges spiders. Not to mention good ol’ cats.  And then they go on to have a zillion baby mice—all of whom survive, thrive and drive us crazy.

I once went to a concert at our church where the artist sang about a mouse he happened to see trying to sneak into his house.  It was late fall.  The temperatures had dropped and the guy almost took pity on the critter.  The song hook is worth noting:

All of creation’s your next of kin—

When you’re out in the cold and you want to come in.

So—it’s fall season.  I’m guessing that with very little effort, you could come up with a list of folks who are “out in the cold.”  People who, through bad luck or bad choices, are just not in a very good place.  I’m not simply talking about homeless people, though they surely deserve our compassion.

I’m talking about friends—maybe even family—who are emotionally out in the cold. They might have even less appeal than a furry mouse. Still, they want to come in.  Is your door open?  Is my door open?

The door to your home.  The door to your wallet.  The door to your heart.

Is it open?

 

Share your food with the hungry,

    and give shelter to the homeless.

Give clothes to those who need them,

    and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

                                           --Isaiah 58:7

 
Remembering Mom  

Mom is gone.

She went home to be with Christ earlier this week.  We’re glad for her relief. But losing her feels like the sticky side of a Band-Aid being torn off a deep gash on your arm.  Or maybe your heart.

Mom was the first to send a get-well card.  The first to remember your birthday. The first to visit shut-ins.  The first to send a thank you if you did the slightest favor. The first to send an email.  The first to give you a call and ask how your “thing” went—whatever your thing was.

Her life was often a living illustration of Hebrews 13:6, “Do not forget to do good and to share with others.  For with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Need a meal? Mom would make you one.  And boy, could she bake:

• Cinnamon rolls with a gooey white frosting…

• A “Peach Kuchen” coffee cake every Christmas…

• Sugar cookies so perfectly done, they were great even without sugar...

• An apple pie with a crust my wife says is the absolute best…

 

In addition to her baking, Mom was a seamstress whose projects looked professional—never tacky.  She knit scarfs and mittens for her kids and sewed pajamas for her many grandkids.  She was a quilter, a traveler and a camper.

She raised six kids—imagine  having four little ones under the age of four. I was the fourth child, born on her birthday.  We’ve always celebrated together.  Not this year.  Never again this side of eternity.  Underline that last phrase—”this side of eternity.”  Because there is another side.

I have every expectation of seeing Mom alive again in heaven.  Not because of wishful thinking or feel good religion.  The Bible says, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not die but have eternal life.”  Mom received Christ as Savior, which means she will be forever in heaven.

I’ve never lost a parent before.

Wish I didn’t have to start now.

But knowing the certainty of heaven—and seeing Mom again—is good medicine for a sad soul.  Mine.

 
  

When you’re at the same house or the same office for thirty years, you collect stuff.  A lot of stuff.  Too much stuff.  

 

That’s my situation at Moody Radio where, after more than three decades in a building called Crowell Hall, I’m moving to our brand new Chapman Center, which houses Moody Radio and Moody Publishing.  

 

The new “Smart Studio” which will also double as my office is about a third smaller than my current space.  So instead of two full-size bookcases, I’ll cram everything on to just one. The round table and two chairs I’ve known for three-plus decades have almost become like friends, but they will not make the trip to the new building.  Nor will the large media cabinet housing everything from CDs to old reel-to-reel recordings.  So I’m in the process of digitizing as much of the audio as I can—and getting rid of the rest. 

 

Still, I’ve had to give away and throw away an uncomfortable amount of books, CDs and other materials.  It’s not like I’m a candidate for A&E’s Hoarders program, but the number of get-rid-of-this-or-not decisions has wearied me to the point of numbness.

 

But here’s the ironic truth.  If I was only allowed to take one small box, I know precisely what I’d take.  It would be easy!

 

In it would be the Polaroid photo of our two toddlers (from nearly 30 years ago) standing on the fireplace hearth. There’s a hand-painted “Dad’s Keys” wooden plaque that our boy, Tim, made—it would certainly make it into the box.  As would the Bible, still holding two bulletin inserts from when Diana and I attended Moody Church as a dating couple.   Diana’s pre-wedding paper creation of a bride and groom (Liquid Paper bottles forming the legs for the groom and tissue paper for the bride’s veil) would certainly earn a spot in the box.   

 

If you’ve analyzed the curious catalogue of stuff I’ve listed, you’ll note that very little of it has any street value, and almost none of it has to do with “work.”  They are just  symbols. Visual metaphors.  Reminders of people that matter most. So what’s in your box?  

 

Someone much wiser than me observed the only things that will last into eternity are people—and the Word of God. What holds your fascination, and mine?  Is this what we’re mostly about—people and the Word of God?  What’s in your box?

 

One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

—Jesus

 
What's in Your Box?  

When you’re at the same house or the same office for thirty years, you collect stuff.  A lot of stuff.  

That’s my situation at Moody Radio where, after more than three decades in a building called Crowell Hall, I’m moving to our brand new Chapman Center, which houses Moody Radio and Moody Publishing. 

The new “Smart Studio” which will also double as my office is about a third smaller than my current space.  So instead of two full-size bookcases, I’ll cram everything on to just one. The round table and two chairs I’ve known for three-plus decades have almost become like friends, but they will not make the trip to the new building.  Nor will the large media cabinet housing everything from CDs to old reel-to-reel recordings.  So I’m in the process of digitizing as much of the audio as I can—and getting rid of the rest.

Still, I’ve had to give away and throw away an uncomfortable amount of books, CDs and other materials.  It’s not like I’m a candidate for A&E’s Hoarders program, but the number of get-rid-of-this-or-not decisions has wearied me to the point of numbness.

But here’s the ironic truth.  If I was only allowed to take one small box of stuff, I know precisely what I’d take.  It would be easy!

In it would be the Polaroid photo of our two toddlers (from nearly 30 years ago) standing on the fireplace hearth. There’s a hand-painted “Dad’s Keys” wooden plaque that our boy, Tim, made—it would certainly make it into the box.  As would the Bible, still holding two bulletin inserts from when Diana and I attended Moody Church as a dating couple.   Diana’s pre-wedding paper creation of a bride and groom (Liquid Paper bottles forming the legs for the groom and tissue paper for the bride’s veil) would certainly earn a spot in the box.  

If you’ve analyzed the curious catalogue of stuff I’ve listed, you’ll note that very little of it has any street value, and almost none of it has to do with “work.”  They are just  symbols. Visual metaphors.  Reminders of people that matter most. So what’s in your box? 

Someone much wiser than me observed the only things that will last into eternity are people—and the Word of God. What holds your fascination, and mine?  Is this what we’re mostly about—people and the Word of God?  What’s in your box?

One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (Luke 12:15).

         —Jesus

 

 

 

 

 
Caleb's Considerations  

Found any spiritual messages in your food, lately?  It will come as no surprise that the web is filled with them.

There’s Jesus as supposedly seen in an orange, Jesus on a pie crust, Jesus on a piece of toast—even Jesus on a French fry. How many of the visuals are the product of skilled Photoshop-equipped imagination versus authentic edibles, I know not. But I do have a story that is verifiably true. 

Caleb is six and full of questions he asks with abandon.  When it comes to family devotions, don’t think you’re going to simply read from a Bible or book, say a prayer and call it done. Not with curious Caleb around. 

He’d recently encountered the story of Joseph and his brothers—the ones who sold him into slavery after throwing him into a pit. Here’s a snapshot from lunch the other day:

Caleb is munching away, deep in thought.  He finally speaks: “How deep was that pit they threw Joseph into?”  Now would you know the answer?  If not, would you put the effort into finding out? 

Mom immediately Googles some images of  Middle Eastern cisterns and pits from Bible times.  Showing Caleb the photos and illustrations she asks, “What made you think of that?”

“Well,” he replies, “I was sitting here eating my yogurt, and I thought, ‘this (pointing to a hole in the partially eaten snack) is kind of like a pit.’  Then that made me think of the Bible and Joseph.”

Mom comments in a text to me, “So now yogurt = Bible study.  Opportunities in everything.” 

Opportunities.  Strange how frequently they come cleverly disguised.  But wise parents will seize them—even when presented in a cup of yogurt.

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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