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Four Words  

The other night, I felt the futility of an anxious spirit. In the gray gloom of not-yet-sleep, I pondered my past expenditures on worry.

Weariness shrouded me, a sadness for all that wasted emotion and abused adrenalin. And then four words settled upon me: “It is not necessary.”

I will not pretend to tell you this was the voice of God, though the thought was certainly of God: “It is not necessary.”

  • This constant churning of ours. It is not necessary.
  • This rehearsing and rehashing of past failures. It is not necessary.
  • This endless doomsday forecasting we gravitate toward. It is not necessary.

In the bright light of an answered prayer, this all became so clear. It wasn’t so much shame that I felt (God never intends that). It was more like a sigh—the kind that comes when you realize you just bought an expensive item you now know you don't need—and there's no return policy. That's worry for you. It takes—but never gives back.

Is your soul churning over a fractured relationship? It is not necessary. Are you crushed by a dream gone bad? It is not necessary. Do you fear that this or that unmet need will surely spell your doom? It is not necessary.

What is necessary? God, Himself tells us: "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Note the word all in this verse. Your Heavenly Father wants every shred of dread you've ever pondered—wants you to cast it on Him. And why? Because He cares for you. He said so! And that's enough.

You and I have only so much thought currency. Why spend a dime on worry?

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Kat Smith from Pexels

 
Clean Your Dirty Face  

"Clean your dirty face."  That's what the sign on the store said. It made me want to grab a mirror and check for grime or grease on my mug.

Curious, I picked up the store's brochure and learned they were selling thirty-minute facials.

As a guy, I’m not well versed here (washing my face takes about 20 seconds). But in talking to my beautiful wife—who has beautiful skin—I learned there’s more to having a clean face than the absence of visible dirt. Hence, the availability of these thirty-minute facial treatments.

Being clean is a massive theme in Scripture:

  • David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart” (Psalm 51:10).
  • Job said, “The one who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger” (Job 17:9).
  • Isaiah commanded, “Wash yourselves. Make yourselves clean (Isaiah 1:16).

God is intensely, eternally interested in our being clean deep inside. But that will take more than a session at a beauty shop. Rather than getting a facial, I suggest we need a "soul-cial"—a cleansing at the soul level. I need this!

Just like we set aside time for a facial, let’s make an actual appointment with God. Maybe you skip breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. The main thing is, set a specific date and time.    

Begin by confessing any known sin. Then—and here comes the “deep clean”—invite the Holy Spirit to point out any dirt or filth you might have overlooked. Confess all that, too, and ask Him to remove it. 

Then, pray with David—who knew exactly what we’re talking about—“Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Seems to me if we give 30 minutes to a facial, we could do the same for cleaning our souls.

This week, I’m going to make an appointment with God for a soul-cial. If you want to do the same, I’ll email you a pdf of 10 Bible passages to help you focus your prayer time. Just say, "Send me those verses" when you connect at Jon@jongauger.com. 

 
Shrinking Groceries  

You’ve noticed, haven't you? Your groceries are shrinking. But not the prices, mind you.

A few weeks ago, I made a batch of brownies. Problem is the (brand name withheld) company has thinned down the amount of mix in the box to the point those brownies looked more like a chocolate-flavored postage stamp in a 13 x 9 pan.

My suspicions were confirmed a few days ago when making brownies again. Different brand this time, but the directions told me to use TWO boxes! 

We've seen the same thing with other foods. Though the macaroni box remains the same size, the noodles and the powdered cheese packet are so reduced they could easily fit into a box half the current size.

Lest you think this is merely personal perception, the Nielsen Company confirms that up to 30% of packaged goods “have lost content over the past year.” In other words, your groceries really are shrinking. They call it shrinkflation.

It means 32-ounce Gatorade bottles have now shrunk to 28 ounces, and you’re getting about 2 ounces less of Keebler Chips Deluxe cookies. It means there’s less Charmin toilet paper to squeeze: 8-count mega rolls now contain 244 two-ply sheets instead of 264.

Do these people think we don’t notice? How can they honestly believe this practice (price increases they’re hoping you don’t see) comes across as anything other than deception?

I'm so glad we serve a God who has never known a stingy thought and never shrunken a single blessing. In contrast to America's miserly manufacturers, Paul speaks of our God, "who richly provides us with everything to enjoy" (1 Tim 6:17).

Though inflation may well continue to jack up prices, though food manufacturers may continue shrinking their products, you and I can count on the continuing generosity of our King. Philippians 4:19 says of Him, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

Anybody care for a brownie?

 

 

https://abcnews.go.com/amp/Business/story?id=5051337&page=1

https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/08/business/toilet-paper-roll-shrinking-inflation/index.html

 
God is Always Doing Something  

We weren’t trying to pry.

But the story just tumbled out.

Over dinner, Parker and Lia updated us on their adult children. Two of them were divorced, and one of them—their daughter, Clara—moved back home with her two little girls.

While we were touched hearing the stories of how Parker and Lia were stepping up, creating a loving environment for these little ones, our hearts were also sad.

Here is a young mom going it alone. And despite all the great support from Clara’s parents, this is a rough ride—for all of them. But there’s more to this story.

We’ve been praying for Parker and Lia and their family for years. Actually, decades. We’ve prayed that God would open their eyes and save them. Honestly, I can’t say that we’ve sensed a lot of activity.

But we were enjoying dinner together, which I considered an answer to prayer. And in the course of that dinner, we then learned that Clara and her two little girls had started attending an evangelical church. Clara loved the programs they had for her girls, and she seemed to connect with the Bible teaching. We could hardly believe what we were hearing!

Yet why should we have been surprised in the least? God is always at work. God is always answering our prayers. God is always doing something—even if it doesn’t seem that way.

I share all this with one goal in mind: to encourage you in your prayer journey. I don't know the unsaved family members or friends in your life. But I'm guessing that, like me, you sometimes feel nothing is happening. Take heart!

God is always doing something.

Even if it doesn’t seem that way.

 

 
We Want the Wrong Country  

Do you long for the America that used to be? I remember the day when no one questioned a prayer at graduation. Or considered a mention of hell as hate speech.

Not that America was ever totally Christian, but one could argue there was a day when this nation had more of a collective conscience concerning the Almighty.

Statistics show many more of us used to attend church. Or read the Bible. Or pray.

And most folks, born again or not, affirmed some notion of a coming judgment day.

Back before America welcomed Buddha, Allah, Krishna, Zen, and the force, we mostly had God. And He was enough.

Our ship has sailed far from that holy harbor, to the point that many of us long exceedingly for the old country. And that can be a problem. While we are called to be salt and light, to affirm what is good, and to stand against evil, we must not forget that our real citizenship is in heaven.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to live in a nation that demonstrates a healthy respect for God. And engaging in the task of forging godly national values is noble. But when we care more about the country we’re leaving than our heavenly country, our hearts are in the wrong place.

I’m guilty here, for sure. I dislike the growing disrespect for anything remotely Christian. I bristle at the welcome accommodation of other faiths (or no faith) while believers face marginalization. It ticks me off when even a polite explanation of biblical beliefs leads to the charge of our being hateful or even domestic terrorists.

Yet how can we read the Bible or history itself and not realize this is how it has always been? We are hated by the most hateful of enemies.

In the famous "Faith Hall of Fame" in Hebrews 11, it says of the great saints, "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen and welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…And indeed, if they had been thinking of that country which they left, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”

For now, we Christians have dual citizenship of sorts. But we cannot expect the smile of our Savior if we've set our affections on this country—rather than His.

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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