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Cereal Killer  

Feasting on a breakfast of presweetened cereal—the kind kids like me love best—I bumped into a curious bit of philosophy. The back of the cereal box offered advice for your “Biggest Week Ever.” 

The box suggested we should be kind, be confident, be adventurous, and a few other “nice” things. One could hardly argue with the list.  Nothing wrong with being a dreamer, as was also suggested. 

Curiously missing from the list, though, were virtues like honesty. Or perseverance. Or integrity.

Since the audience here is young children, why not introduce them to respect as a value worthy of pursuit?Previous generations did.

I get that these virtues are not nearly as fun. And in fairness, we are talking about a cereal box here. Nobody released this as an official lifetime guide for raising kids. Still, when you sniff the cultural air, it feels almost like there’s a kill order on virtues no longer in vogue.

Have you noticed that virtues like temperance and prudence have all but disappeared from public discourse?  One web headline I saw reads, Why be honest if honesty doesn’t pay? 

Increasingly, our culture encourages niceness over integrity, agreeableness over principal.

Which leads to narrative trumping facts and tolerance over truth. 

As Christ-followers, we must resist the seduction of a lexicon of virtues that ignores biblical principles.  Instead, let us endorse what is “true and lovely” (Phil. 4:8) and “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).   All this while living “above reproach in a world full of crooked and perverse people" (Phil. 2:15).

God help us live a biblically virtuous life!

 

 

 

 
Of Hornets and Heroes  

The beefy hornet dove at me again and again.  I’d had enough, so I grabbed the fly swatter and, with a well-timed swing, sent him on to his reward.  I wondered where he came from and how big was his hive.

The next day I met the family. Several hundred of them buzzed in and out of a nest bigger than a football.  

The problem is, the hive was not far from our bathhouse out at the campground. Time for action!

A search and destroy mission was set for dusk Saturday night, led by special ops team Mike and Gary. From the comfort of lawn chairs, we watched phase one: mega doses of hornet spray. 

At phase two, Gary hoisted a plastic-lined garbage can underneath the hive while Mike's pruning loppers snipped a branch.  The lid snapped shut and was opened only long enough for Mike to tie off the plastic bag.  

Suddenly I found my courage and walked up to Gary, who held the bag of angry insects.  The sound of the buzzing was so intense I recorded it on my phone.  Gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "mad as hornets."  But that all ended at phase three: incineration in a campfire.

Why do I share this story with you?  I see it as a metaphor.  Some people watch crises from the comfort of their lawn chairs, as I did.  Some stand at the point of danger to do what must be done. 

At the risk of sounding alarmist, I gently underscore that we followers of Christ live in dark and dangerous times.  God has always had faithful men and women who do difficult things, despite personal discomfort or danger. People who do the right thing because God says it’s the right thing. 

There aren't many of these folks, mind you.  Their ranks are thin. But make no mistake—you and I are called of God to be among them.

Keep alert. Be firm in your faith. Stay brave and strong.

I Corinthians 16:13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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.

Amen!

 

 

 
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

 

 

 

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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