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A View from the Waiting Room  

They want you to feel relaxed.

They want you to feel like you're in a friend's living room.

But you're not.  

You are in a surgical waiting room.  You and fifty others, doing everything to avoid thinking about the surgery your loved one is undergoing.

On a sofa-like chair, one woman knits what appears to be a soft baby blanket.  An older gentleman is playing Sudoku, while his wife is engaged in a computer laptop version of Solitaire.

Off to the side, a woman sips coffee, staring pensively into the cavernous room.  Another lady scribbles crayons in a kids' coloring book.  (She does a nice job staying inside the lines). Still another snoozes.

In the back corner around a table sit three women--the high tech trio.  Between them are two laptops and an i Pad.  But they appear to be processing more dialogue than data.

All these people share one thing in common: they are waiting. Everyone of them holds a pager—and a slender strand of hope.

Any other day, this might be an inordinate wait time for a favorite restaurant.  But the only thing being served today is life-changing news: “We were able to get the tumor entirely”....or....”We're sorry, but the cancer has spread.”  The veneer of chatty good naturedness in the room is as thin as a sandwich bag.

Me?  I'm one of the fifty—waiting.  But I have something many of these people lack—a ring of prayerful brothers and sisters, from several area churches who have been with me all day long.  From morning until evening they stay...because their love for Christ extends their love to me and my wife—now in surgery.

Seeing the body of Christ in action—loving and serving quietly for no glory but the glory of God--is a humbling, heartwarming thing.  The faithful presence of this loving platoon—who come from an army of praying soldiers--makes sharing the surgeon's good news really great news.

Funny thing how knowing Jesus even changes the view from a waiting room.

Serving our Service People  

Hi, my name is Jon and I have a new strategy for world evangelization--let me explain.

I believe we could reach a sizeable percentage of the world for Christ...if Christians started acting like Christ around service people.

What do I mean by “service people.”?

It's the guy that fixes your car. It's the lady with the accent that gives you your coffee at Dunkin' Donuts.  Service people.  I'm thinking about the waitress at your favorite restaurant hang-out.  The busboy that fills your water glass repeatedly—because you're so thirsty.

Give it a moment's thought, and you'll think of a bunch of these people.

Notice that I called them, “people.” 

Because all too, often, we don't think of them that way.  We treat them like mere servants.  After all, we're paying good money for that meal, so the waitress had BETTER get it right.....right?   Wrong. 

My brother once worked as a waiter for a successful Italian restaurant chain.  He told me that some of the worst tippers in the world...are born again Christians.

The leader of a major Christian organization once told me that he cringes at the knowledge that evangelical folks attending his national conference have the reputation for being the most demanding and least gracious of all the groups that show up at the hotel. And the list goes on and on—with my poor behavior...and yours.

But what if... instead of a reputation for being demanding or being cheapskates...we Christians were known by our love (um....the thing Jesus said we were SUPPOSED to be known by). 

What if we looked the busboy in the eye---and genuinely thanked him for filing our water glass? If Christians were known by the service industry for our “Please” and “thank you very much”  instead of our griping, it would open up a whole new platform for sharing Christ.

Think of it: The wrong food order comes to your table and instead of whining, you say, “Hey, no problem.  I'm in no danger of starving...”  Wow! 

But you know who are starving?  The service people around us.  They are starving for human affirmation....starving for the kindness that comes from being with Jesus.

Let's  you and I give them a taste of the Jesus life.

We can be sure they'll be hungry for more of Him.

No Name Too Special  

When it comes to our kids, no name is apparently too special.  A recent article in the “The Week” confirms parents are no longer content naming their kids from a list of—quote--familiar names.  James, Kathy and Robert are out.   Aiden, Emma, and Gunner are in.  Christopher is more likely to go by “Topher.”   And even familiar names must now be spelled uniquely.

Those who track names as a profession tell us that an emerging trend is to give your child a LAST name for his or her first name.  Hence the rise of names like Wilson and Taylor.  There is also a spike in names that are gender neutral:  Jordan. Addison, Dakota…

In 1912, when the most popular names in America were John and Mary, parents of 80 percent of American babies chose from among the 200 most common names. Today less than half of girls and about 60 percent of boys are accorded a top-200 name.

So what's behind the push for all these new names?  Mostly, the experts tell us, a desire for our children to be unique.  Special.  

I find it interesting that as we move further away from a Christian consensus, we reach further and further for significance—specialness--even in the way we name our kids.

You might argue, “How can you prove that?”  Actually, I can't prove it.  And the truth is, probably a lot of the new names are simply the expression of a fresh breath of naming creativity. 

Yet I am still haunted by the reality that on the one hand, we have a Creative God saying, “In me, you are complete.  In me, you are special.”  On the other hand, we have a culture that says, “We reject God.  We'll find our sense of specialness wherever we can.”  I can't help but wonder if at least part of the craze for new names stems from an ancient hunger: the hunger of wondering if God really knows us individually.  And if He does...does He care?  

Pondering all the new names, I'm Jon—spelled without the “H.” And those are my thoughts.

Afraid of the Holy Spirit  

I’m thinking of someone I love.  Someone on one of the branches of our family tree.  Because this person sort of intimidates me, I am friendly in person, yet don’t go out of my way to fully engage in conversation or in other social settings.  We are polite, genial, and…not as comfortable with each other as I might wish.

I suspect this might be a reliable snapshot—or at least, analogy—of how many of us feel about the Holy Spirit.  We know the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Godhead.  But we’re sort of intimidated by Him.  We’re polite, but definitely not comfortable with the Holy Spirit’s invisible, supernatural qualities.  And so, rarely do we fully embrace or engage the Holy Spirit.  As I said, we’re just not as comfortable with each other as we wish.

Maybe, like me, you grew up in a conservative evangelical church that –wary of excesses in some circles—all but ignored the Holy Spirit.  Don’t get me wrong.  We’re entirely comfortable with the Holy Spirit convicting the world of sin, judgment and the world to come.  We’d just rather He not do what He does with too much supernatural flair.    Frankly, anything that hints at the miraculous that’s outside the covers of our Bibles—we figure is fodder for snopes.com.  We don’t trust it. 

But the truth is, the Holy Spirit will not be boxed in by our beliefs of narrowness.  And to largely dismiss the supernatural workings of the third member of the Trinity is to rob ourselves of a proper sense of the otherness of God. 

Our discomfort notwithstanding, the Holy Spirit sometimes does do miraculous things.  It’s time we embraced the Holy Spirit—and His supernatural workings.  Not for the sake of “the show” or the wonders themselves…but for the sake of acknowledging the otherness of God.

Why This Election Matters Only Some  

The election is coming!  The election is coming!  To hear some folks, the outcome of the upcoming election will determine whether the human race...and planet earth itself...will survive.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm concerned about the election, too.  I look forward to fulfilling my patriotic responsibility and casting a vote.  I'm researching the candidates, studying the issues.   But my concern about this election is much bigger than which candidate wins the White House, or which party controls congress.

My concern is that too many Christians view this election just like non-Christians: we put way too much hope in it.

To the extent that a government passes just laws and upholds biblical principles, its representatives are to be highly esteemed.   So it DOES matter who's in office.  But not in an ultimate sense.

Because there is no “correct” party.  No party that is not filled with crooked and corrupt characters who look good, smell good, sell good....but who are morally and spiritually bankrupt...even if they do have noble intentions.   Isaiah 64:6  “But we are all like an unclean rag.”

I've listened as our current President promised us hope and change...and seen America slide further down our moral mud slide.

And I've also observed what happens when Republicans control the White House and Congress: We continue down our moral mud slide.

So there IS no salvation for America in either party.  Sin resides in both.

The evidence notwithstanding, too many of us are too quick to put too much hope in government and political parties.  As Joe Stowell reminds us in his preaching, “We are a fallen race in a fallen place.”

America's ticket back to prosperity will not be found on any ballot other than than the votes you and I will cast with our daily lives in favor—or in disobedience against—God's written Word.

As for me, I want to join the short list of folks listed in Hebrews 11 longing for a better country—a heavenly one.

So until then, I intend to be a good citizen.  I'll pray and vote and do my best to image a loving God reaching out to a fallen world.  But I will NOT place my highest hopes on this---or any election.

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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