The Joy of Remembering
About the Guest
What’s your favorite memory? Jon Gauger shares a favorite memory about his dad. Also sharing their favorite memories are Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Pastor Tim Keller, author Gary Chapman, and more.
The Joy of Remembering
Bob: Sometimes we get lessons in faithfulness and perseverance from unexpected places. Here’s author and broadcaster, Jon Gauger.
Jon: We’ve got a little camper that we keep and go out to on the weekends—a trailer—we like to have our grandkids come out to sometimes. Because it’s off the ground, we built a series of steps. Joslyn, at the age of three or four, was on those steps—at the platform—and took a badtumble off of those steps! She comes up crying and just screaming. Well, a couple minutes later, she stands right back up at the top—climbs right back up. We hear her say—tears still kind of wet on her cheeks—[in a matter-of-fact voice] “Wow! Let’s try that again!” [Laughter]
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, December 7th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Jon Gauger had the opportunity, recently, to talk to a couple dozen Christian leaders about subjects like perseverance and faithfulness.
We’ll hear the lessons that they’ve learned over the years today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I don’t know how many of our listeners realize this, but you have a handful of questions that are some of your favorite questions to ask people.
Bob: The question about “What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?”—that’s one you love to ask. You used to have one that you asked more often than that. I used to give Dennis a hard time about this question because he—[Laughter] —he would say, “Out of all of the memories in your life / all the things you’ve done, if you could only save one memory, what one memory would you save and why?” Well, now, that is an impossible question to ask.
Dennis: —for someone who is sequential, like Bob.
Bob: You’ve kind of backed off on asking that question.
Dennis: Well, you’ve shamed me! [Laughter]
Jon: See, I’mgetting all set here to be askedthat question—I’m ready for it.
Dennis: Are you ready for it?—alright. Jon Gauger joins us on FamilyLife Today. He has written a book called If I Could Do it All Over Again.
Bob: You ask a lot of questions in this book—
Dennis: —of some very famous followers of Christ. He is a syndicated radio host. He has travelled—what—more than 35 countries?—is that right?
Dennis: Got two adult children—been married to your wife since 1983. In fact, I want to go back to the beginning—
Jon: Yes; sure.
Dennis: —because you have a connection to FamilyLife, back in ’83; but first, If you could only keep one memory, Jon, out of all the memories in your life, what memory would you keep and why?
Jon: You know, even as you guys were joking around earlier, the answer that flashed in my mind was our wedding day—when I married Diana. The thing for me is—for a lot of people—they’ve lived this life of whatever, and they had this dramatic conversion, and they remember that day when they came to Christ / I’m not in any way trying to dismiss that—I was a really little kid when I came to know the Lord.
Jon: I was—I was grateful for that / I’m incredibly and eternally grateful for that—and yet, on a human level, if you were to say, “What memory?”—it would have to be the day we got married. It was so special. We’d looked forward to it, and it was just great.
Bob: I thought for sure you were going to say, “It was the weekend we went to the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway,” and you’re just going to try to schmooze Dennis.
Dennis: I thought it was that he’d been on a radio show the past couple of days—[Laughter]
Jon: The reason the day that we got married was so special is we’d been properly prepared at a FamilyLife conference!
Dennis: That goes all the way back to ’83.
Dennis: You came as an engaged couple.
Dennis: What did you get out of it?
Jon: Well, I can still remember the “Five Threats to Marital Oneness”—going through that book—just the realistic way that marriage was—was laid out. I thought: “Wow! These are—these are real issues here.” We had to work through some stuff, right there; and I thought, “I guess it isn’t all just perfect.” So it was a great reality check before we ever said ‘” Do.”
Bob: You got convicted, listening to FamilyLife Today one day, when Dennis was talking about honoring your parents; right?
Jon: Yes; he spoke about writing a tribute to your parents. You were quite insistent, Dennis: “You need to get this done, and you need to share it with them!”
You were really kind of pushing.
Dennis: —face to face.
Jon: That’s right, and I got convicted by this.
Dennis: You did it immediately; didn’t you?
Jon: No; I did not. I put it off for years! [Laughter]
Jon: I’m a prodigal, but I got there! In the kindness of Jesus, in the summer, I was able to share it with them in person—never finished writing it out. Got it printed up in time for their 60th wedding anniversary.
Dennis: I want you, right now, to read a favorite memory of your dad. I want you to set the context for this favorite memory and a favorite memory of your mom.
Bob: These—you shared this in the tribute; right?
Dennis: This is in the tribute; alright?
Jon: So there I was—young twenty-ish-year-old kid. I thought I’d found the girl of my dreams—proposed to her—every indication was that she wanted to get married. I had a ring in my pocket—she said, “I want to think about this.” A week later, “No; I don’t ever want to see you again.”
Jon: I still have no explanation to this day. God, I think, was protecting me—I know He was, because she wasn’t the right one.
But at the time—you’re twenty-something with stars in your eyes and marriage on your mind—and your heart’s shattered into a thousand pieces. I came home and had to share this story with my folks, and I cried about it.
[Emotion in voice] My dad—he / he took me out—we rode bikes. We went over to a pie place, and we had pie together. He spoke kind things to me. That night—I’m really ashamed to say this—I / I had some sort of a nightmare. I know I cried out in my sleep. From the next bedroom over, he came over and he comforted me! That is just a memory I’ll always have. It’s just a great memory, and I love my dad for it—that and many other things. Dad, I want to say: “Thank You for that. Thank you again.”
Dennis: What about your mom?
Jon: Mom had six kids to cook for, and yet she never seemed to tire of baking.
I remember mom making these cinnamon rolls with frosting on them—fantastic! You could—
Dennis: I can smell them! [Laughter]
Jon: You could peel of these layers until you get to the center—I called it “the nugget”—
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Jon: —where most of the cinnamon kind of pocketed there. Oh! I can taste those rolls! I remember sitting at the table / eating them, as a family. I remember having fun with the game night with her mom—Grandma Blades. We were eating fritters that Grandma had made—winning small prizes and having big fun together.
Mom kind of looked out for me. She went easy on the creamed corn, and the spinach, and all that kind of stuff. She always—now, six kids; right?—she, for some reason, had a soft spot in her heart—she saved me a piece of lemon meringue pie that she made—kind of squirreled it away in a corner so no one else knew where it was. I’ve never forgotten that. “Mom, thank you. I love you.”
Dennis: If you want to see the Gaugers’ tribute that Jon has written to them, we have a copy of it on our website, here, for a few days.
Bob: You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to read what Jon wrote to his mom and dad.
I’m thinking about the power of— not just honoring your parents—but the power that moms and dads have in our lives. Jon, you’ve been at work on a project that has now become a book called If I Could Do It All Over Again, where you talked to three dozen Christian authors, speakers, leaders and just asked them a series of questions.
I know you ask Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth about her favorite quote. She went immediately to something her dad had shared; right?
Nancy: [Recording] I have lots of favorite quotes. I’m a big collector or quotes; and in fact, on Twitter, I mostly quote old, dead guys. [Laughs] That’s—I live a lot in those quotes—but I have one that’s maybe especially meaningful to me. It’s on a little paper weight that my dad had on his desk and that I got after he went to be with the Lord. It’s just a couplet—I don’t even know who originally said it—
—but it’s familiar to many of us. It was so important to him, and it’s become very important to me: “Only one life; twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Dennis: I was thinking about that, Bob, as she was saying it. How would you answer the question?
Bob: I’ve shared a favorite quote; in fact, I pulled it up, knowing that were going to be talking about this—I pulled up Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, who was talking about the issue of depression. He said: “Have you ever realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you’re listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You’ve not originated them, but they’re talking to you. They bring back the problems of yesterday. Somebody’s talking. Who’s talking to you? Your self is talking.”
Now he says: “David’s treatment in Psalm 42 was this—instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, ‘Why art thou cast down, oh my soul?’ he asks.
The soul has been depressing him / crushing him. He stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment. I’ll speak to you.’”
Dennis: That is great counsel—it really is. Jon, what about you?
Jon: I like Samuel Rutherford, “Millions of hells of sinners cannot come near to exhaust infinite grace.” I’ve been on a life-long study of grace. I once read through every instance of the use of grace in Scripture. Thought I could finally wrap my—my arms around it and couldn’t— came to my own conclusion: “Grace is the loveliness of Jesus at its loveliest.” The idea, “Millions of hells of sinners cannot come near to exhaust infinite grace,”—that’s assuring.
Dennis: I have never heard that one—that’s good. I want to copy of that.
Bob: You have a favorite too?
Dennis: I do. It really occurred to me when I was a junior in college. I was coming out of the spiritual toolies—having been a prodigal / having grown up in the church—and had really based my life on my doubts / hadn’t really come to grips with what I believe.
I ran into a guy by the name of Tom Skinner. He started and ended each of five messages with this quote; and it hit me between the spiritual eyes: “I spent a long time trying to come to grips with my doubt when suddenly I realized I better come to grips with what I believe. I have since moved from the agony of questions that I cannot answer to the reality of answers that I cannot escape, and it’s a great relief.”
When I kind of figured out that I had to come to grips with who Jesus is and His claims on my life—and I placed my wager on that / I placed my life against that—that’s when my life took off! It was like I moved from black and white to Technicolor® and quadraphonic sound!
I mean, life was exhilarating; because I was living it the way God designed it to be lived.
Bob: One of the questions you asked people, as a part of your book, Jon, was: “What truth would they want to pass on to somebody else?” Really, our favorite Bible verses / our favorite quotes—these are the things we do pass on to others.
One of the people you talked to was a past president of the Moody Bible Institute, Dr. Joe Stowell. He shared what it is that he often passes on to others.
Joe: [Recording] I have a friend—actually He’s my best friend, who said something one time—He said, “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” My best friend said that to me. That’s what I would want to pass on—that that is the core of virtue / that is the core of success, that that is the core for peace, that that is the core for a deep relationship with the Lord and a deep relationship with others—that that’s the key / that is kind of like the center of it all.
If I only had 30 seconds with my grandkids, and then I was going to be raptured, I would just say: “Hey, you guys, don’t ever forget this and be sure to live this: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your soul and your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Bob: Jesus goes on to say, “All of the law and the prophets can be summed up in those two statements.” He saying the whole Old Testament is all about loving God and loving your neighbor. You stop and think, “If the whole Old Testament is about that, I’m guessing the whole New Testament is in lock step with that.” That really is the center of it all; isn’t it?
Dennis: God is love, and He’s trying to train us in how to love. Unfortunately, we don’t know how to do it. We have to first experience His love, and forgiveness, and grace, and mercy; and then, we begin to enroll in the first grade of love.
If we pass that grade, He’ll move us into the next grade. Life is one long process, I think, of learning how to love.
If I think of America right now, our country—
Dennis: —this is what America needs right here—this verse.
Bob: What do you think—you know Josh McDowell pretty well.
Dennis: He’s a very good friend.
Bob: You have any idea—if he was asked that question, “What truth would you pass on?”—do you have any idea what he’d say?
Dennis: Well, he might say that there is absolute truth. [Laughter]
Bob: [To Jon] You asked him the question.
Jon: We did!
Bob: Let’s listen to how Josh answered it.
Josh: [Recording] How to stand tall in a depraved world. I’ve always desired to equip my children to stand out from the culture; because if you’re not willing—I don’t care what culture you’re raised in—if you’re not willing to be different / to stand out from your culture, you will never, ever be a true follower of Jesus and impact your world.
Bob: That’s vintage Josh McDowell; isn’t it?
Dennis: It is! I had to smile, because he’s all about equipping people with the truth so they can stand tall and stand firm because God said it. If God said it, you need to believe it; and you need to act on it.
Bob: One of the other people you asked the same question—again, the question is: “What truth would you want to pass on to others?”—you asked Dr. Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages book, what it is he’d pass on to others. Here’s what he shared.
Gary: [Recording] I think, fundamentally, I would pass on to my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren the reality that Jesus Christ is Lord; and He invaded human history so that we can know Him in a personal way—that’s fundamental. Once they understand that and accept that—accept Christ as their salvation—I think the thing I would want to impress upon them is that each of us is uniquely gifted by God. God wants to use what He’s given us to further His purposes in the world.
Life’s greatest meaning is found in taking what God has given you and developing it and then using it to interface and interact with other people as God’s representatives.
Bob: That sounds a lot like Ephesians 2:10, which says that “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared in advance that we would walk in them.” There is great joy in embracing that truth and saying, “This is who God made me to be.” It is Eric Liddell saying: “When I run, I feel His pleasure. God made me fast,”—figuring out what God made you to be and to do.
In fact, I’m just thinking: “That’s at the heart of the Passport2Identity™ resource that we created for parents and teens to go through together to help them understand “What is your identity?” / “What is your purpose?” because there’s nothing that will bring you greater satisfaction than to be doing what you were made to do.
Dennis: I don’t know how people today live in this changing tide of this culture if you don’t have the absolute word of God to be able to base your life on and you know where you’re headed for eternity. How in the world can you handle this life and what it throws you?—not to mention the disappointments, and the suffering, and the challenges that we face? What makes sense out of life but the Scriptures?
I’m sitting here thinking about this question: “What is a truth that you would pass on to another generation?” How would you answer it?
Jon: I would definitely want my children and grandchildren to know that the only life worth living is a life centered in Jesus—believing that He is the way, the truth and the life. No other way to heaven / no other way to happiness on the earth—it’s Jesus and Jesus only.
We’ve got a little camper that we keep and go out to on the weekends—a trailer—we like to have our grandkids come out to sometimes. Because it’s off the ground, as trailers are / several feet, we’ve built a series of steps. Joslyn, at the age of three or four, was on those steps—at the platform—and took a badtumble off of those steps—
—Bdoom! Bdoom! Bdoom! —she comes down. Of course, as a grandparent, you’re horrified! “Have I bruised this kid?—broken a bone?”
She comes up crying and just screaming. She’s just fine, in the kindness of God. Well, a couple minutes later, she stands right back up at the top—climbs right back up. We hear her say—tears still kind of wet on her cheeks—[in a matter-of-fact voice] “Wow! Let’s try that again!” [Laughter]
You know, the beauty of our relationship with Jesus is—He says to every one of us:
Jon: “Let’s try that again.”
Bob: That reminds me of a story that Michael Card told you [Jon] as you were working on this book—Michael Card, of course, the singer/songwriter who wrote the song, El Shaddai—wrote so many other songs. He had an experience, early in life, where somebody dusted him off and said: “Keep trying. Stay in there,”—something he never forgot. Listen to how he shares that story.
Michael: [Recording] When I was a kid, I sat in church next to an old man—his name was Basil Edwards. Mr. Edwards—I got in trouble—I was about seven years old / I got in trouble in church one time and was crying. He came up to me—and got down on his knees and got right, face to face, with me—and said: “Michael, I want you to know you’re wrong; right? What you did was wrong, but I want you to know I’m on your side. Right or wrong, I’m on your side; and in fact, especially when you’re wrong, I’m going to be on your side.”
I think what I’ll take to my grave is that was the first time that I ever really got the gospel—because, while we were sinners, Jesus says, “I’m going to be on your side.” Before there is any hope or any indication that we would repent, and turn, and come to Him, Jesus still—He gets down and basically gets, face to face, and says, “You’re wrong, but I’m going to be on your side.” I still think that changed everything for me in terms of understanding the gospel.
Later, I had a son who was—who had been arrested a couple of times and involved with smoking pot.
Every time we went to court with him—I went to court with him four times—I would say: “Nate, what you did was wrong; but I want you to know I’m here because I’m on your side. Right or wrong, I’m on your side—you need to know that. You’re wrong, and I choose to be on your side.” Later, after he kind of turned his life around, he called me and he said, “That was the gospel; wasn’t it?” I said, “Yes; absolutely.”
Dennis: And to that person, who’s listening right now: “Do you know that God’s on your side? Have you made that commitment?” These are the words of Jesus Christ—He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life [Ephesians 5:24].”
You’re really talking about God being on your side so much so that he visited the planet, lived a perfect life, died on a cross, defeated death, rose from the grave and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
He offers you eternal life. Will you take Him at His word and trust in Him? Don’t let the sun go down or don’t put your head on the pillow tonight before you take God at His word and surrender your soul / your life to the One who made you. He will transform you/He will redeem you. You will still face plenty of challenges, but you’re going to experience the One who is on your side.
Bob: Yes. On our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, we have a link that says, “Two Ways to Live.” It describes the choice that is in front of every one of us: “Are we going to live a life that is ultimately about self?” or “Are we going to live a life that is about God, and His purposes, and His ways?” I would encourage our listeners—go and click that link and read about that decision that is in front of us. Just evaluate your own life and ask: “Who am I living for?
“Who’s in control? Who’s calling the shots?” Again, find the link that says, “Two Ways to Live” when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
You’ll also find there copies of the book that Jon Gauger has written, called If I Could Do It All Over Again: Christian Leaders Share the Most Important Lessons of Their Lives. You can order copies of the book from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the phone number is 1-800-358-6329—1-800-FL-TODAY—or you can order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, here, in the first full week of December, we’re spending a lot of time, here at FamilyLife, praying that many of our listeners will consider making a significant yearend contribution to the ministry of FamilyLife Today. These yearend contributions determine what we are able to do in the year ahead:
“How aggressive can we be in addressing the issues that are in front of us in this culture? How can we reach more people?” All of that is determined by what yearend giving looks like. We’re asking listeners to consider making a generous yearend contribution so that we’ll be able to do even more in the year ahead than we’ve been able to do throughout 2016.
This year, the donations that you’re making are going to be matched in a special way. Our friend, Michelle Hill, is our FamilyLife Match Monitor. She’s keeping tabs on what’s going on with the matching gift. She’s got an update for us today. Michelle—
Michelle: Thanks Bob. We have heard from 569 donors already during the match campaign, and they have contributed a total of 341,500 dollars toward our match amount. Now, Bob, as you know we are matching gifts up to our goal of one and a quarter million dollars, so we’re thrilled with how much has already come in. We’re off to a good start, but there’s a long way to go, so we’re thankful for those of you who have gotten in touch with us so far…but we do hope to hear from even more people in the days ahead.
Bob: Yes; we sure do. Let me remind listeners that, when you make a donation—you [Michelle] mention the match amount—your donation is going to be effectively tripled until we hit that match amount. If you give a donation of $25, that will free up $50 from the matching-gift fund to effectively triple your donation. We’re asking you to be as generous as you can be and to go to FamilyLifeToday.com to make a donation online; or to call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate over the phone; or you can mail your donation to
FamilyLife Today, PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to be joined by our friend, Marty Machowski. He’s going to be here to help us understand how we can communicate big, lofty theological thoughts to children. He’s written a book called, The Ology. It is an allegory and a play-off of the word, “theology.” It is all about how we can communicate big truths to young hearts. Hope you can be here for us with that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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