The power of danke

by DanWolgemuth on November 25, 2015

I would never have guessed that a 50-year-old pair of lederhosen could provide the perfect costume for my five-year-old grandson, but that’s exactly what happened. A year ago that German getup took some significant salesmanship from our daughter Alli, but the explosive results in Halloween 2014 made the 2015 repurposing a no-brainer for Desmond. He was all about the leather shorts with built in suspenders, along with knee high socks.

I saw it with my own eyes. Desmond, going solo (with careful oversight from the street) marching through a well-cared-for urban neighborhood with confidence, resolve, and delight. For Desmond, it was about filling the orange plastic bucket, but it was about so much more.

I watched the interaction, at first with curiosity, and then with a sense of inspiration, as over and over again Desmond thoughtfully followed the script. At first the homeowners seemed curious about the costume (it stands out among super heroes and characters from Frozen), then they were engaged by the thoughtful dialog of the five-year-old, and then they were completely captivated by a single word… danke.


Thank you…

I heard enough other trick or treaters to know that nearly every child dutifully proclaimed “thank you” at the generosity of the candy givers, but there was something noteworthy and different about the response that Desmond received with a single, fresh, unexpected word… danke.

People immediately broke into smiles. Some dusted off their high school German. Others dug into their candy bowl one more time. Still others laughed out loud.

Over and over again.


Sometimes a new twist on an old theme can have profound power. Certainly “thank-you” isn’t dated or passé; but when it’s remodeled in an unexpected expression, the meaning is amplified. Compounded. Infused.


Oh give thanks to the LORD (Danket dem HERRN),
for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 107:1)


Maybe our words of thanksgiving need a little German flare. Perhaps they need a new translation.

To our King. For our Creator. To our family. With our friends…

Danke. Lederhosen optional.

Happy Thanksgiving!


“You are…”

by DanWolgemuth on November 20, 2015

The stories flow with clarity, transparency and pain. Young people, from every region in our country, describe the personal travail of having their identities defined by friends and family who poison the promises of God.

Words emerge. Descriptions cascade. The narrative begins with, “You are…” and the catalog of what follows includes…


Identity, built on a foundation of lies; forged in the fire of abuse. Identity, edited from the pit of hell; amplified through the lips of those we value.

Identity theft started in the Garden of Eden.

…you will be like God,”

Crafty and ruthless, the snake attacked identity. His strategy remains the same with relentless effort.

Any act of rebellion, any destructive addiction, any commitment to sin begins with an identity crisis.

Once in crisis, often from the damaging and destructive words of those close by, our hearts become receptive to lies, to deceit and to exploitation. From the lips of abusers and thieves come verbal candy to a hungry soul…

You are sexy.
You are only valuable if you do…

At first the words revive, but they soon reveal the conditional and corrupt scheme of the perpetrator. Used, not loved. Merchandise.

Then God. But God.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:4-6)

God has not lost His voice. He has not retreated. He fights on the battlefield of identity. He spilt the blood of His own Son to remind us who we are.

His words rebuild and restore and dignify. We are… You are… I am

His child.
A holy nation.
A royal priesthood.
His masterpiece.

Identity defined. Hope restored. A future secured.

There is no attack from Satan that will not assault our identity. Guilt and shame hijack our purpose; they cloud our vision of who we were created to be.

Fear not, our true identity is not hidden from God. He has not lost track of us. He has not misplaced the blueprint.

We are His. Created. Rescued. Redeemed. Commissioned. Entrusted.

Stories that begin with the ink of condemnation are not beyond the reach of the pen of our King. His truth overpowers the lies. He brings life, not condemnation.

We are…
You are…
I am…

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3:1)

And so we are…


Echoing Praises to Our King

November 13, 2015

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! You are amazing, God. I cry out your name and I shout it out loud. It erupts from my soul. Praise you. Glory in his […]

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Wounds that heal

November 6, 2015

…with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5b Wounds that heal. Scars that point the way to restoration. This week I talked to Jameson White. Jameson works on our staff in Fresno, California. A ministry partner and colleague of his is Ron Giovanetti, who serves with YFC as a chaplain in a local Juvenile Detention […]

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“We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”

November 2, 2015

With this credo, Horst Schulze launched a hotel chain and a corporate value system that has propelled both exemplary service and dignity in service. As an under qualified young German, Horst got exposed to the hotel service business at the most modest levels. His vision for both quality and self-esteem ignited a brand that is […]

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Day 0

October 23, 2015

A chemo-depleted and germ-vulnerable body receives a bone marrow transplant… Day 0. The intensity of the cancer battle before the physiological reset button is pushed has been nearly unthinkable. An assault of nearly fatal proportion has led up to this. The annihilation of cancer cells takes with it many healthy civilian cells. With a body […]

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The harvest is plentiful and my hair is really short…

October 16, 2015

Tony has been cutting my hair for several years. While his location is inconvenient, he’s one of a kind. His shop is located on the back of a cigar store in downtown Denver. I first met Tony when I was given a gift of an old-school shave a few years ago. He won my business […]

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October 9, 2015

Moviegoers flocked to theaters to watch the movie, The Martian, on the opening weekend of the show. Thousands and thousands came… spending millions and millions. The film is riveting and the production is compelling… but the story is two thousand years old. In short, the fictional story tells of an astronaut, presumed dead, left on […]

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But not Mary

October 5, 2015

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…” Ephesians 3:20 A string of relationally intense activities had left me tired, withdrawn, and reflective. I was ready to fill the hours before we flew back to Denver by sleeping in, reading, and methodically sipping my cup […]

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“But mostly it’s about…”

September 28, 2015

It was just about bedtime, but Desmond had a specific hankering for a little cereal to wrap up his day. He sat beside me and wrestled the elusive flakes onto his spoon while I poured through my notes and my Bible in preparation for a devotional I was giving. At one point I looked at […]

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