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Naama's Story  

We are seated in comfortable chairs in a comfortable conference room. But I have rarely been less comfortable.

Seated next to me at Jerusalem's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is Dr. Ayelet Levi-Shachar, a woman we have come to interview. She is the mother of a vivacious 19-year-old daughter (a triathlete, no less) named Naama. On October 6, Naama traveled from home to a Kibbutz in southern Israel, where she spent the night.

Early Saturday morning that kibbutz was attacked by Hamas. She was hit in the leg with shrapnel. When Naama resisted capture, she was dragged by her hair, thrown into the back of a pickup truck, and driven into Gaza—still wearing pajamas—where she presumably remains captive.

In measured tones, Ayelet shares what it's like to go to bed each night not knowing where her daughter is or how she is faring. She tells us of her other three children who still need her to do ordinary things like make school lunches. She reminds us that she still has a medical practice with patients who need her attention. All this, while flicking through photos of Naama on her phone, which she shares with me. 

The longer Ayelet talks, the more painful her reality becomes. How am I supposed to hold a microphone up to her face, lock eyes with her, and not cry? No matter how gently I phrase my questions, merely asking feels like I'm jabbing a knife into her already bleeding soul.

Ayelet's eyes speak the worst of her agony. And in the end, there is no way to hold back emotion—for her, for me, for every person in the room.

Not many will have the opportunity to sit down in person with the families of Israeli hostages. But that doesn’t mean believers can’t make a difference.

You can! Here's how: Go to bringthemhomenow.net. Look at the faces you see—like Naama's (there are more than 130)—and pray for them by name. Pray for their safety and release, their families, their salvation, and an end to the war.

I dare you to get uncomfortable.

Enough that you’re fired up to pray. 


Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.

—Psalm 122:6

Electrician Not For Hire  

She flipped the switch—but the lights didn’t come on. 


The day we left for Florida, half of our kitchen lights decided to go on strike. My wife tried exercising the light switches and I checked the breaker box. No evidence of anything gone wrong. 


I scanned the web for possible causes and fixes. Though I’m no electrician, I knew I could at least buy identical switches and replace the old ones, should they have worn out. This, I did. Alas, we were still in the dark (in more ways than one). 


That’s when a friend at church referred me to a retired Christian electrician who agreed to come out and survey the situation. Two and a half hours later, he finally…ur…shed some light on the mystery.


When I got out my check book to pay the guy, he refused me. I said, “That’s not fair for you to work for free. It’s not right.” Yet he insisted I keep the money. I replied, “But I don’t want to take advantage of you. In fact, I’d like you to feel comfortable if I were to call you with another problem.”


His reply was memorable: “You’re welcome to call me every day for the rest of your life. And if you really want to give money, find somebody in need. Give them a generous gift.”  Then, under the fully restored kitchen lights, we prayed together—asking that God would lead me to the right person.


An electrician not for hire. He was God’s blessing to us. And now, we’re looking to bless someone else. 


Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

-Luke 6:38



People of Faith  

It’s a phrase that has reached the top of the religiously acceptable food chain: “person of faith.”

Online, on television, or in podcasts, you cannot escape the phrase:

  • Did you know the quarterback is a person of faith?
  • That singer is definitely a person of faith.

But am I the only one wary of this increasingly popular expression?

I'm not trying to pick a fight, but it bugs me. Why?

In current American culture, saying your faith got you through is okay. But it is not okay to say that Jesus got you through. We're okay with religion in a fuzzy, generic sense, and most folks will tolerate an occasional "God mention." But the name of Jesus is strictly off-limits. That's why we prefer to talk about someone being a "person of faith."

But I have news:

  • Osama bin Laden was a person of faith.
  • Adolph Hitler was a person of faith.
  • The Hamas attackers who raped women, burned babies, and bombed Israel are definitely people of faith.
  • In fact, the devil himself is a person of faith (and believes Jesus is real!).

All those folks had a very strong faith—but vastly different than that shared by Christ followers. The point is obvious. Describing someone as a “person of faith” can mean almost anything—so it means almost nothing.

I'm not saying that every Christian needs to firehose every person in every conversation with everything there is to know about the gospel. But we had better avoid being so ashamed of Jesus that we fail to mention His name.

“But whoever denies Me before people, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

- Mat 10:33  

About Fishing  

The wind knocked my hat off, though the Captain—flashing a sly grin—bellowed that we were only using one-third of the Yamaha 250's engine. Eleven-year-old Caleb and I cruised the San Pablo River, Pablo Creek, and St. John’s River—all in search of fish.

I smiled, pondering how the disciples might have processed this fishing charter of ours. What would James and John have thought of our fishing rods? Would Judas have stroked his beard in disapproval at our engine's 30-thousand-dollar price tag?

Ultimately, we hauled in Trout, Red Fish, and Croakers during that four-hour charter. But not before I was reminded of some lessons about fishing for fish—and fishing for souls.

Reminder #1: You gotta go where the fish are!

Our Captain made frequent use of a digital "fish finder" screen. But he had also developed a keen sense of what the water surface looks like when many fish are present. But the same is true spiritually. Don't rely on lost people showing up at your church by themselves. Though this does happen, you usually have to go where they are.

Reminder #2: Different fish respond to different bait.

At each stop, we changed bait—and rods. Then, the casting began. The same is true with fishing for souls. Different people respond to different approaches. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for evangelism. A good fisherman doesn't just know "about" fish in general. You have to know the fish personally!

Reminder #3: The majority of the time, you catch nothing!

Fishing is a great sport, but even the pros you see online or on television spend most of their lives baiting hooks, casting out lines—and hauling in nothing. But that doesn't stop them. Nor should you and I stop if people reject our message. Remember—most people didn't believe Jesus when He preached!

Reminder #4: If you cast long enough, you will catch something.

Like sales, fishing is a numbers game. Stay at it long enough, and you'll catch a fish. I have no chapter and verse to quote you here—only personal experience. And that experience suggests the more people you witness to, the more likely someone will respond to Christ.

Reminder #5: Catching fish is a thrill that never gets old!

Every time Caleb or I cranked in a fish, we felt a rush of adrenalin. It never got old. The same is true spiritually. Our heavenly Captain designed it that way. There’s nothing like being a part of someone’s journey to Christ.

Reminder #6: Trust your Captain

Even if I owned a fancy boat with a costly engine with the most advanced digital fish finder in the world, it would be nothing without the expertise of a knowledgeable captain. The same is true with catching souls. Yes, we need to be ready. Yes, there are verses we should memorize and fundamentals we should know. But ultimately, fishers of souls must trust our Captain, Jesus.

Now—get out there and do some fishing!



Plant Anyway  

January is not prime planting season. But we planted anyway.

The story has its—ur—roots back in September. That’s when I discovered some odd-looking pods on the sidewalk. Backlit by the early morning sun, these coiled curiosities looked like snakes ready to strike.

I learned these are the seed pods of the Honey Locust tree, and for months, they sat on my garage bench. Finally, I decided to plant some of these seeds. But how? You must shred the pod to get to the seeds (a more arduous task than you might think).

Online, I read three very different planting strategies. I’m new and inexperienced. So, I did all three. 

The thing is, January in the Chicago suburbs is not exactly prime planting season. I had to scoop three inches of snow off our garden just to get to some soil.

Nevertheless, I planted, watered, and waited. Nothing. Not in three days. Not in a week. Not in two weeks.

By the third week, I was ready to give up. That's when the lime green sprouts pushed through the winter soil, defying odds and expectations. And I have every hope they will someday become full-grown trees offering shade, beauty—and life itself.

This story has a point, and it's all too obvious. As Christ-followers, you and I are called to plant seeds—gospel seeds. And, like me, you may feel inexperienced and unsure.

Still, you can’t help but notice how God is connecting you with others who need Jesus:

  • It’s an unexpected friendship.
  • It’s a neighbor you keep running into.
  • It’s an inner prompting you can’t explain.

All three of those mean the same thing. It’s time to plant some gospel seeds.

You might feel underqualified. You might feel like you're not the best person. You might feel like this is NOT prime planting season. But share Jesus anyway. Plant the seed. How?

Give these friends a gift. Help them with a project. Treat them to dinner. Share how Christ has changed your life. Ask how you can pray for them. But you might not see results right away—and that’s okay!

Any time is the right time to plant a gospel seed.

So, what are you waiting for?

Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.  -Mark 4:26, 27


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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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