The Great Unplugged

I woke this morning to bad news, terrible news, the sort of things that makes you throw your head back and howl “Nooooo!” so the neighbors hear and wonder what wounded animal is in the area.

Picking up my phone, I looked at the charge indicator: 66%. What? It sat plugged in on my nightstand for more than eight hours. How could it be at 66%

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new phone. I had limped along on the old one for a year, charging it at every opportunity. That thing held a charge the way the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen holds a lead: not at all. Then, when old unreliable started to turn itself off and lock up inexplicably, I decided to retire it.

The new one is great. Recently, I went through two days of steady use and still had 11% on the battery at the close of the second day. But this new phone uses the USB-C cord to connect. Not only does that mean I need all new cords but also I have to be deliberate about getting it plugged in, absolutely making it click. Otherwise, I get 66% in the morning.

These are the times that try men’s souls!

Our world is powered by electricity. Sitting between my living room and kitchen, I can see 26 things that run on electricity. Most of them plug in or are wired into the house, while a few, like that phone, have batteries. Regardless, if you cut off their power supply, they’re dead and useless.

Why do people in the church run out of juice? Why does that person who was clearly brimming with energy at 100% a year ago suddenly drag in at 66% or lower. Why do some of our people wind up completely out of energy, sitting uselessly somewhere like my old phone?

The answer, of course, is that they’ve been cut off from their power source. Like those devices we all carry around, we need to be recharged periodically. In Luke 5:16 we read of Jesus,

Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.

Not only do we find that “often” statement, but at least three other times in Luke we’re told of Jesus praying alone. If Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, needed to be recharged, how much more do we need to do so.

It’s easy in our busy lives to forget to plug ourselves in to the charger. Sometimes we might go through the motions of a plug-in, like I did with my phone last night, but not actually make the connection. That’s how we get those people sitting in our pews, bowing their heads at the right times, saying the right sort of words, and yet remaining powerless. As you look around the church for those people, make sure they aren’t you!

My phone’s nearly charged now. That’s good, but I need to ensure that my heart is just as powered up.

So You Want to Win the Lottery?

All that glittersI’d love to have a bucket full of money come my way. Wouldn’t you? Every day, it seems, I watch people clog the checkout at QuikTrip as they agonize over their Lottery ticket purchases or gleefully collect the $25 they “earned” after buying $50 in tickets. (And they typically give that “winning” back for more tickets.)

In case you’re tempted by the lure of easy money, consider the fates of 21 Lottery winners who wound up being Lottery losers. This one is typical.

David Lee Edwards split a $280 million Powerball jackpot with three others, a win that came while he was unemployed and living in his parents’ basement. After taxes, he received a lump sum of $27 million. He bought a $600,000 house, a $1 million fleet of cars, a $78,000 watch, a $1.9 million jet, 200 swords and other medieval weapons, and a $4.5 million fiber-optics installation company. He also married a woman 19 years younger than he was.

Within a year, he had spent $12 million. The house was soon lost to foreclosure, his wife was arrested for stabbing a boyfriend, and David died at age 58 in 2013.

A jet and 200 swords? Wow. Beware of what you hope for. Jesus warned his followers about the lure of wealth: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13). In my experience, when we serve God, the money, though not in epic quantities, will come along for the ride.