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Unholy Expectations  

While plopped on the couch one night, I placed an Amazon order for a ceiling fan. Would you believe it was perched on our porch the next morning at 6:30? Another time I ordered some office supplies at 11:00 am. By 3:00 that afternoon, guess what was waiting on our porch?

Boy! Wasn’t all that long ago when TV marketers urged us, “Allow six to eight weeks for delivery.”

But now, second-day-air is ancient history, and Fed-Ex overnight has ceased to dazzle. We have tasted—indeed, increasingly expect—same-day delivery.

Yet, I wonder. Does all this click-today-get-today consumerism school us in unholy expectations? Does our immediate acquisition of stuff create a sense of “give it to me now” when it comes to the spiritual life?

We’re told to pray without ceasing. But prayer is not a portal to instant answers.

  • Elijah prayed for rain for three and a half years.
  • Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth, prayed for a son for many years.
  • Abraham prayed for God to fulfill His promise of a son for 25 years. On and on the biblical examples go.

Don’t get me wrong. I want answers to my prayers as fast as the next person. But maybe we need to be reminded that there are schedules more important than ours.

Assuredly, things in the storehouses of heaven run on a different timetable—God’s.

 
Just in Case  

While still a tadpole himself, our son Tim liked fishing. Whenever we camped, Tim wanted to fish. But we were not always prepared. With two young kids in a pop-up camper, Diana and I thought we were doing great just to remember the cooler and the clothes, let alone bait for the fish.

One unprepared weekend, we were desperate and asked George—whose trailer was next to ours—if by any chance he had any nightcrawlers we could “borrow.” He did and was only too glad to share.

On another occasion, a fish swallowed Tim’s hook, and we had no extras. Would George have one? Of course. Years rolled by, and we realized that whatever I'd forgotten, George usually stocked—and was kind enough to share: bobbers, weights, worms, whatever.

Only when Tim was grown up did we learn the rest of the story. Diana and I took George and his wife, Julie, out to dinner, and we swapped stories about kids and camping. Eventually, the conversation turned to our many ill-stocked fishing expeditions—and George's routine rescues.

Julie smiled and squeezed her husband's hand, saying, "You know, George stocked up on worms just for you guys. Every week." The man actually bought worms "just in case."

Last weekend, we attended a memorial service for George, and lots of folks shared lots of memories. Me? I’ll never forget the kindness of that quiet friend who seemed determined that our little boy had a good time at the lake.

Know anybody who seems unprepared for the curveball life has thrown their way? They’re hurting, and feeling helpless—maybe even hopeless. I bet you’ve got something they could use: a meal, a hand, a card, a call, a smile.

Better stock up—just in case.

 

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. 

—Proverbs 11:25

 
Wickedness at Warp Speed  

Do you ever marvel at the speed of evil?

My dad will turn 89 this month. I recently asked him, “Is it just me, or do you feel like in the last 20 years or so, we’ve seen not just a shift toward evil, but a rush toward evil?” His response was a firm yes.

When it comes to American morality, it’s not just that we’re plunging deeper and deeper into evil. It’s that we’re sliding at such an accelerated pace. Just ten or twenty years ago, what would have been considered ridiculous (by our secular society!) is now mainstream—normal. Call it wickedness at warp speed.

One could understand a general spiral downward—inevitable in a sin-soaked world. But again, I'm talking about the rate of our rot, even over the last two or three years.

Consider these observations from God Himself about the workers of wickedness:

“Their feet run to do evil, and they rush to commit murder. They think only about sinning.” Isaiah 59:7 

Proverbs 6:18 speaks to the speed issue:

“a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong.”

And why this mad dash toward darkness? Jesus Himself told us in John 3:19,

“God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.”

Note—they don’t merely like darkness—they love it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we have wickedness at warp speed.

Scientists talk about the speed of light.

Me? I'm pondering the speed of the dark. 

 
The Blame Game  

Sadie is possibly the most adorable brown-eyed little girl you could ever meet. She's also charming, intelligent—and too old to be sucking her thumb. Nor is this lost on her mother, as evidenced in a recent conversation:

Mom: Sadie! Take your fingers out of your mouth!

Sadie: (Bats her long eyelashes) But mo-om…Don't you always say God made me?

Mom: Yes…

Sadie: And don’t you always say He made me perfect? Just exactly the way I am?

Mom: Yes, but…

Sadie: And doesn’t He know I am doing it RIGHT NOW?

Mom: Sadie...

Sadie: So REALLY, if you think about it, He is ok with it because He made me a thumb sucker, and I am just how He made me to be!

Wow! Guilt avoidance and blame-shifting in one snappy sentence! If there's a pre-school award for twisted theology, Sadie must surely be a nominee.

But don’t most of us big kids also try to bend our bad behavior around our beliefs? Aren’t we just as glib and just as guilty at trying to explain away our conduct as we play the blame game:

  • “I was born with a short fuse.”
  • “I wasn’t raised to apologize.”
  • “It’s just who I am.”

Jesus didn't die on the cross to give us better excuses for our crimes. He came to pay for the wreckage—and empower us to turn away from them. The word is repent.

 

Lord,

Forgive us our clever speech defending unholy deeds.

Help us own up to every crumb of our crummy behavior.

More than that, help us repent.

Amen!

 
A Bold Villain  

He is relentless. Unstoppable. And he seems to turn up just about everywhere at just the wrong time. I'm talking about my nemesis—and yours: Shame. 

He’s the voice that accuses you.

He’s two shots of Red Bull—at midnight.

He’s the one who remembers every detail of every regret you’ve tried to forget.

He's the broken record whispering your faith is too small, your prayers are too short, and your guilt is too great.

That’s Shame. And he’s been on the trail—your trail—for a long time.

Shame has many brothers and sisters. Unless I'm mistaken, you've met fear, resentment, and jealousy. Many siblings. But they all have one father: the father of lies.

In his allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan shares this slice of conversation between Christian and Faithful who have just met with Shame on a journey to the Celestial City:

Shame tells me what men are. But he tells me nothing about what God or the Word of God is. …Therefore, what God says is best…though all the world is against it.

Faithful then makes this bold demand:

Shame, depart—thou art an enemy to my salvation.

Shame is an enemy to your salvation, too, and will leave if commanded in the name of Jesus. But rest assured, Shame will be back. As Faithful remarks in Pilgrim’s Progress, “Indeed this Shame was a bold villain. I could scarcely shake him out of my company.”

But shake him we must.

And shake him we can.

 

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

-1 Corinthians 15:67

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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