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Come On!  

Attempting to put sunscreen on a two-year-old is like trying to catch a greased pig. You can try, but it’s not going to be pretty.

Yet Emma wanted to play in the park and it was sunny outside and since she was in our care, we dug out the sunscreen. A dab on her nose and each cheek should have been easy to smooth out.

Should have.

Did I mention Emma is two? She looked this way and that and up and down and around. I tried rubbing that lotion in for all I was worth. And failed.

Her head was wiggling and wobbling and there was no way that sun screen was going to get smoothed out.

Finally, she’d had enough and—spoiler alert—she did not decide to sit still.  Instead, she muttered, “Come on!”  As if I was laying down on the job.

Emma could not know that A), I had her best interests at heart and that B), she herself was the cause of the delay. All I wanted was for her to sit still so I could finish my task.

I wonder how often our Heavenly Father feels the same way about us. He’s trying to protect us from something. And we’re wiggling and wobbling and increasingly frustrated that “nothing is happening.”  We even wonder (secretly of course) if He’s laying down on the job.

But the whole time He has our best interests at heart.  And—like Emma—we are often the cause of our own delays. None of which keeps us from muttering a frustrated prayer that sounds remarkably like Emma’s: “Come on!”

Maybe it’s time to just sit and let God be God.

 
Learning on a Jet Plane  

Air travel is back.  In a big way!

Between July 1 and July 5, TSA workers screened more than 10 million people.  That's a record exceeding any pre-pandemic numbers.

Snaking through the Disney-like security lines at O’Hare last week, I observed a flight attendant's ID tag marked in bold black letters, "Known Crew Member."

The speed with which she breezed through lines that bogged down the rest of us gave new meaning to the expression, "cleared for takeoff.”

Finally shoehorned into my airplane seat, I watched as fellow travelers attempted to mash luggage into overhead bins that seem to shrink with every flight. Naturally, we were all wearing masks—required by the FAA.

One lady sported a black mask with a single word in a white scripted font: “Filthy.” Wonder what her motive was.

The more I puzzled over this, the more my mind was drawn to things eternal. In the eyes of God, there isn’t a single one of us who isn’t filthy, spiritually. Isaiah 64:6 assesses that “all our righteousness,” meaning our Sunday best behavior, “is like filthy rags.” Now that’s dirty!

So, where’s the hope? Jesus! He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (eternal death in hell). He made it possible for us to be forgiven—cleansed of all our filth.

1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If you have asked Jesus to be the leader of your life—the Bible word is “Savior”—then your filth has been removed! Better yet, on judgment day (and there really is a judgment day coming), Jesus will see you as a “Known Crew Member.”

When that day is here at last, what will your ID tag say?

 
My Truth  

I heard something the other day that nearly curled my toes and curdled my milk. Some guy was relating a personal incident that he summarized with the phrase, "that's my truth."

Like a noxious weed, this expression is invading the landscape of American thought. The big deal? Truth and personal experience are both treated as equals. But there's an ocean of difference between the two.

Truth operates independently of experience. Experience is personal, flexible, and open to interpretation. Truth is impersonal, fixed, and not open to interpretation. Truth exists outside of opinion—yours or mine.

For me to claim that water boils at 212 degrees is not “my truth.” It is truth. To say that Sunday follows Saturday is not “my truth.” It is truth.

Experience, on the other hand, is highly personal and driven by taste. One person’s bad experience with Mexican food is another person’s culinary delight.

When we elevate experience to the level of truth, truth is the loser because it is stripped of any objective measurement. But this is exactly what society has done. Unnerved by judgments our culture despises, we have erased our guilt by elevating experience to the realm of truth. That way, any experience can be called good or truthful—particularly those behaviors that were formerly believed to be harmful. At the same time, those old-fashioned souls who believe in old-fashioned truth are dismissed or ignored or ridiculed (they are, after all, old-fashioned).

The journey is hardly surprising. When a society is determined to call evil good and good evil, it has no choice but to redefine truth as experience. This way, the "new truth" can be melted and molded as needed while still wearing that bullet-proof, don't-mess-with-me reputation that real truth still has.

Jesus didn’t say “I am a truth”—meaning one among many.  He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Language matters—and that’s the truth.

 
What are you Seeking?  

What are you seeking most in life?

What’s the secret driving passion of your soul?

The honest answer is surprisingly easy to gauge. I say real because most believers are wired to give a “Sunday School answer.” That Sunday School answer, of course, would be Jesus: He’s number one in my life, we insist.

But here's a simple test to determine what you are genuinely seeking: it's the first thing you think about every morning and, likely, the last thing you think about at night.

Despite our claims to love Jesus best, many of us primarily seek comfort, power, influence, money, sex, fame, or success.

Psalms 14:2 is something of a wake-up call:

The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

Catch that? To understand God is to seek God. We can’t say we understand God if we do not seek God. So, I ask again, what—or whom—are you seeking?

What if, for the next seven days, we chose to start each day quoting Scripture before we ever get out of bed? And what if at night, before drifting off to sleep, we decided to make Scripture our last thought? That would be a significant first step.

In the early 1800s, there was a growing sense of mistrust between the United States and Great Britain. Given Canada's relationship with Great Britain, the U.S. decided to build a military fort right up against the Canadian border. But in the middle of construction, a significant misunderstanding came to light. The surveyors had mistakenly positioned our fort on Canadian soil. Once discovered, workers immediately removed any unused materials and chose an alternate location on the American side. Still, the original fort remained and was given the unceremonious name, Fort Blunder.

It's one thing to build a fort upon a misunderstanding. It’s quite another to build a life upon a misunderstanding.

The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand.

Do you understand?

You do if you seek after God.

 

 

 
When God Examines Your Paths  

Dressed in a powder blue paper gown, I sit crinkling on the exam table.  The doctor looks over every inch of my skin for evidence of skin cancer or pre-cancerous growths. Armed with her magnifier, she always finds something (thankfully pre-cancerous, to this point). Nothing escapes her examination!

The reward for all this probing and poking and intimidation? She blasts every problem area with a can of liquid nitrogen. It's an instant burn that throbs, turns red, then oozes, then scabs over. Maybe you’ve had the same (not joyful) experience.

Frankly, there is nothing about this examination that is pleasant. It is embarrassing and painful, and intimidating. But it has to be done. Every six months, in my case.

Whether we like it—or acknowledge it—such examinations have to be done, spiritually, as well. Proverbs 5:21 observes, "For a man's ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths."

Thoughts are like paths. They all take us somewhere. Will your chosen paths today take you toward godly places or ungodly places? Toward Jesus or away from Jesus? What paths are you taking?

Today you and I will not take one step, speak one word, think one thought that God will not examine. We will not write one email, make one call, watch one show, surf one site that God will not examine.

As you plop your head on your pillow tonight and the diary of your day is officially closed, what will God see when He examines your paths?

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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