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Sin is the Enemy!  

As Christians, we’re angry.

  • We’re angry that educators and legislators are attempting to deny parents any say in the sexual choices of their own children.
  • We’re angry that criminals are put back on the street without posting bail.
  • We’re angry that concerned parents who speak up at school meetings are branded as domestic terrorists.

We’re angry about a lot of things. But we’re wise to test our anger against the standards of Scripture.

  • It’s okay to be angry about sin.
  • It’s okay to hate sin—we must!
  • But it’s not okay to hate sinners.  

Have you noticed that many Christians seem to be excelling at yelling yet shriveled in compassion for those opposing them?

Jesus said, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you.” But how often do we give people around us the idea that we hate them—not just their ungodly ideas?

Do unbelievers around us know us for our frowns and fists—clenched in anger? Or are they comforted (perhaps even confused) by the kind ways we care for them, even as we oppose their ideas?

When Jesus was dragged away in chains from the garden of Gethsemane, He did not hate one single sword-bearing brute in the mob. He loved them!  He said of the soldiers who pounded the nails into His hands and feet, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  No doubt Christ hated the pain and the sin that created it, but He loved those sinners.

News Flash: It is not in our future to be respected and loved, and affirmed by the world. It didn’t happen for Jesus and surely won’t for us, either.

This does not mean Christians should smile wanly and become roadkill. This does not mean we should remain silent as ungodly laws and immoral ideas are debated in the public square.

Those who oppose what is godly ought to feel our (biblical) vehemence—but never our venom. Much more than that, they must know we love them.

Tricky business, eh? No wonder Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing!”

 
Proud--Like a Fly  

Imagine a pile of dead files shaped like an Angel Food cake. Disgusting, right?

That’s what our fly trap looks like. It’s a green mesh cylinder with an inverted cone featuring an opening the size of a nickel. Attracted by smelly bait, the flies crawl into that hole, one by one. All day. Every day.

Once inside the fabric cylinder, they flitter about. Eventually, they lose interest and want to leave the party. But they don’t. Instead, they flutter against the trap walls, figuring there must be an exit "out there." Or they zoom up to the top of the fabric. They seem determined that the way up is the way out.

Ironically, nothing prevents them from coming down and crawling out of that narrow opening. But almost none escape. Instead, worn out from flights that lead to nowhere, their dead bodies pile up by the hundreds and thousands.

Like those flies, we humans buzz with excitement at the idea of moving up:

  • Up the corporate ladder
  • Up the chain of social standing
  • Up the ranks of authority

So, we engage in flights of fancy that ultimately lead nowhere: self-fulfillment and self-actualization.

But Jesus showed us a different way. Philippians 2 tells us, “He humbled Himself” (went down) and “became obedient unto death" (further down), “even the death of the cross” (can’t get any lower).

The way up is not the way out.

The way out is down.

That’s the Jesus way!

 

Lord, help us learn this!

Lest we waste our lives on flights to nowhere.

 

 

 
They Want Your Phone Number--Desperately  

I am weary of apps and websites determined to collect my mobile number. From Amazon to eBay, we're assured the request is merely for our "safety," perhaps as a backup so they can contact us in an "emergency." But these aren't doctors. They're digital distractions!

Still, they seem rabidly preoccupied with having me surrender my number. And the reason they want it is access. They want access to my wallet, my vote, and my mind. 

But I resent the demand…ur request. I really don't want every business (or shyster) in the world to be able to tell me about

  • The sale I should not miss.
  • The link I can't live without. 
  • The blog that could change my career forever. 

I don't want my phone to ping and ding all day long. Is that so wrong? 

These websites, apps, and companies all want complete, unhindered access to me—but not for my good. It's for theirs!

What a contrast is Jesus. He wants access not just to our phones but to our hearts, our souls, our passions. Refreshingly, His every intention is for our good. 

Jesus invites you to cast all your cares upon Him "because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). More than that, "He is not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). 

Take me, Jesus.
Take my heart and my mind, my soul, and my body.

You who gave all are worthy of all.

I want you and you only to have access to the real me. All of me.

Amen!

 

 
Remembering Mike Kellogg  

Frankly, I was struggling—in need of an honest perspective, That’s when I reached out to Mike Kellogg. A mentor at Moody Radio, Mike was the much-beloved voice heard on Music Thru the Night.

I was in the process of becoming ordained and needed a second set of eyes on a sermon outline. As I handed him my stack of note pages, his eyes were laser locked onto mine. More than a stare, it was more like a glare. Glasses slid half-down his nose, he jostled those papers on his (always) cluttered desk. Then he growled as he graveled, “This had better be about the Bible! Not some story or cute illustration.”

Honestly, I don’t even recall his assessment of that sermon outline. But I’ve never forgotten his admonition. I hear it nearly every time I prepare a sermon. The thing is, Mike Kellogg actually lived this way—his life truly was about the Bible.

On another occasion, I was stressed out about a friendship gone sour and launched into the story sitting in Mike’s office. But before I even finished, I heard Michael softly quoting from Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

I tried to interrupt with “Mike, I hear ya, but you don’t understand.” His only response was to continue his recitation: “But in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves.”

Frustrated, I countered, “Mike, you don’t get it!”

Softly, he insisted, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus….” And Mike went on to finish the passage.

It’s a passage I, too, have now memorized—thanks to Mike Kellogg, whose life really was about the Bible.

What’s your life about?

Someday, we will all reach the end of our earthly journey, as Mike now has. Hebrews 9:27 assures us, "It is appointed unto men once to die—and after this the judgment."

What then? What will YOU say when you stand before Almighty God?

HINT: It had better be about the Bible!

 

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. –Acts 16:31

 

 

 

 

 
He Just Blesses Us!  

At 40, he was dead—and nobody knew.

For several days, his body slumped, then stiffened in the Lazy-boy chair—his favorite. Finally, someone called the police, suggesting a wellness check.

Just hours after his body was hauled away, my son Tim was asked to help clean out the house. “We’ll pay ya,” he was told. The money sounded good, as Tim was on the hunt for a pair of high-quality speakers. But a casket full of cash would not be worth what he encountered there next.

Knee-high garbage proved this guy was well on his way to becoming a hoarder. There was a path to his chair—which was adjacent to two-gallon jugs full of (forgive me) urine. 

The place smelled like a mixture of sewer odor, dead mice, and general decomposition. The entire home was covered in mouse poop, and spider egg sacks covered the legs of the furniture. Dead flies and fly larvae were so thick, they covered the entire windowsill.

Boxes from more than a thousand bottles of hard liquor made mountains of cardboard (it took Tim’s friend two hours just to flatten the cartons). Working more than two days, they finally emptied the house, filling two large dumpsters.

Ironically, buried in the rubble, was a pair of speakers. But not just any speakers, these were the very speakers Tim was wanting to buy. And the owner said he was free to take what he wanted. With a bit of elbow grease, they cleaned up beautifully—and they sound awesome.

Tim told me, “I really didn’t want to clean out that house. It was hideous. But God seemed to bless me for the effort.” Then he added, “I’m not suggesting that’s how God operates every time we obey Him. Still, once in a while, He just blesses us.”

Tim's right, of course. It's always right to point to the kindness of God.

There are a thousand reasons I’m proud of my son, Tim. Now you know a couple of them.

Every good thing given, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

-James 1:17

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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