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The End of a Day  

The end of a day is a sobering thing.

As I write this, I’m watching it happen out the window of a jet bound from Tampa, Florida to Chicago.  Having risen at 4am—long before sunrise—in order to fly down to Tampa, I am now tired.  Happy to kick back and do not much of anything.

But as I peered out the window of our 737, I saw the crowning tip of the sun in its last gasp of orange glory. The crest of the glowing ball is now out of view.  I watched it slip away, pondering those last seconds of color and bombast.  All that remains now is a fading backlit sky of near turquoise and burnt orange.

Seeing all this take place in real time has gotten me to thinking.  This day—that has now turned into night—will never be repeated.  Ever.  Whatever moments that might have been—but weren’t—might never be…forever.

The extraordinary potential woven into the DNA strands of this day is now dimmed.  I’m not trying to wax poetic here.  I truly am sobered. Because…

Whatever I MIGHT have said for Jesus Christ today but did not…

Whatever I might have DONE for Jesus Christ but did not…

Whatever kindness I might have shown someone else for Christ’s sake but did not…

…Well let’s just say the opportunity for today has come and gone.

“But,” you say, “Jon, you’re being too hard on yourself.”  Am I? You say, “There’s always tomorrow.”  Yet Scripture says, “Boast not yourself of tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day will bring.”


Only one life

‘twill soon be past.

Only what’s done for Christ

Will last.


Darkness is now all that’s left in my window view from the 737.

One final reminder that the end of a day…is a sobering thing.

A Cab Ride Remembered  

4:45am and the taxi finally pulled into my driveway, 15 minutes late. Climbing into the cab, I was confronted with a man in full Muslim dress: white robe, white hat and curly black beard.

Apologizing for the delay, he was friendly and talkative.  So I prayed quietly, asking God to show me how to start a conversation with the man.

When I learned he was from India—and told him I had visited—he asked if my trip was for missionary work.  Responding yes, the conversation was immediately in high gear.

He was in my face right away: “If…peace be upon him…the prophet Jesus is really God, then who was in charge of Heaven when Jesus came to earth?”  This took us to a spirited discussion on the trinity.

I boldly shared that Jesus was not merely the son of God—but equal with God, quoting Christ’s own words: “I and my Father are One.”  The cabbie weaved between cars as he weaved around my Bible verses, clearly still hung up on the Trinity.

As we approached the airport, he told me that Jesus was only for Christians, but—quote—“Islam is for everybody.”  I again quoted Jesus, “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His one and only Son that WHOEVER believes in Him will not die, but have eternal life.”

Arriving at Midway airport, the conversation ended with the driver encouraging me to read the Koran…and me encouraging him to read the gospels.  I tipped him generously, we shook hands and the door was open and shut.

Or was it?  Perhaps a much more important door than the door to his taxi had just been opened.  In the kindness and mercy of God, I pray that the door of his heart is now open, if only a crack.

Wondering What Happened to Wonder  

Wonder has gone missing.

It’s true.

The problem with most of us is we have lost our wonder of God.

We say we love Him—and I suppose we do.

We say we worship Him—and no doubt we try.

But a sense of His otherness, His transcendence, that gut feeling of awe and mystery and an all-consuming fire…for most of us, that’s not our experience with the Most High God.

But I saw wonder this week in an unexpected place.  I was out on a long walk with one-year-old Caleb Jaeger, our grandson, when we passed by a “splash pad.”  For the uninitiated, a splash pad is a not-quite swimming pool for tiny tots.  Sprinklers and pipes of all shapes shower the little ones, and they absolutely love it.

Once under the sprinkler, one year old Caleb sat there for the longest time letting the water run right over him.  I watched as his pudgy fingers attempted to trace the path of the wet bubbles.  You could see his mouth open and close repeatedly as he tasted the water dribbling off his nose.

The look on his face was one of complete awe.  He was mesmerized. Literally drenched in wonder.  Every single one of his five senses was actively recording data to his one-year-old hard drive.

THIS…is what wonder looks like.  It’s a feeling of sensory overload.  Of marvel and mystery and mystical all converged.

So back to my opening assessment that for most of us, wonder about God has shriveled up like an October tomato left on the vine.

If it’s true we lost it, how do we regain this wonder?  Maybe it’s not unlike the solution for couples whose relationship has gone cold.  It’s simply a choice to notice, to acknowledge greatness in all its forms—little and big.  Global…and local.  Wherever God’s fingerprints are visible.

It’s time to regain our sense of wonder of God. 

A View from the Slave Castle  

Only if you have been punched in the stomach, left gasping for air, can you fully relate to my current emotional state.  We've just finished touring the Elmina slave castle.  You say you've never heard of it?

It's a foreboding fortress on the coast of Ghana, West Africa built in 1482.  For hundreds of years it was a slave processing center.  That's a polite way of saying that here, human beings were ripped from their families, stripped of their personal dignity, and prepped for a lifetime of misery.

For a slave-in-the-making, the three month stay at Elmina offered a daily diet of evil so wicked, you can almost taste the screams and wails from the 600 men and 400 women imprisoned here at any given time.

Just inside the fortress is a small room with iron bars, and massive latches. Noteworthy for the skull and crossbones above it, this was the place where slaves who had offended the soldiers were starved to death.

Or consider the hidden hatch and stairway that lead to the Governor's bedroom.  The staircase was reserved for female slaves the governor had selected to rape.

Yet far more disturbing than any of these was the sight of a church prominently positioned on the plaza inside the fortress.  Here, men ostensibly sang hymns, worshipped God and prayed---as a thousand slaves lay rotting in their own excrement.

Why didn't the solders' theology expose their hypocrisy, their inhumanity?  How could they be comfortable selling husbands and wives, sons and daughters...like stock for a general store?

It's easy to be shocked by their inhumanity.  But what about ours?  We sing hymns, worship God and pray, while around the world atrocities are the daily stuff of millions.

It’s time to hear THEIR cries…..THEIR screams….and then DO something.

A great place to begin: Visit persecution.com

Islam Bows to NO One  

I have spent the last 24 hours immersed in the religion of Islam.  And no surprise—we've been in Istanbul, Turkey.  You literally see the religion of Mohammed from the window of your airplane.  Minarets crowned with golden moons poke high into the sky.  And from that vantage point, it's almost staggering to ponder how many of these mosques they're really are.
To walk the streets of Istanbul is to swim in a crowded black sea, made black by the long robes of submissive Muslim women.  So thoroughly restrictive are these garments, that those requiring glasses wear them on the outside of their head mask.  Only the narrowest of slits is left for their eyes.
One of Istanbul's greatest tourist attractions, construction of the Blue Mosque began in 1609.  No wide angle lens is wide enough to capture the sense of scale in its arches, stained glass and—yes--blue tiles.
In this, my second tour walking through the Blue Mosque, I was sensitized to a powerful lesson about Islam.  Every male visitor is required to wear long pants—no shorts allowed.  All shoes must be removed and carried in a plastic bag, and every woman is thoroughly wrapped in a blue head scarf.  Meaning every single visitor desiring entrance must—in a small but significant gesture—bow to the religion of Mohammed.
The not so subtle lesson: Islam bows to nothing and no one.  No exceptions. 
The minarets are rising up all around us here at home.
But this is a not a time for fear.
This is a time for holy kindness, holy witness, holy boldness.
Yet the Word of God calls us—commands us-–to love our Muslim neighbors in the name of the One before whom “every knee” will someday bow: Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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