A Little Man

by DanWolgemuth on January 5, 2018

Rob Wolgemuth is my nephew. He’s a fine, Godly man who, along with his wife, Rebecca, shepherd a family with five young kids.

During Rob’s childhood, I had many opportunities to interact with him. He was the son of my oldest brother and as such, Rob was often more like a little brother to me than a nephew.

Rob’s early introduction to the Christian faith included some of the familiar phrases that many of us utilized to describe a relationship with Jesus. This included the frequently used description, birthed out of Ephesians 3 that paraphrases into the explanation that when you become a Christian, “Jesus lives in your heart.”

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14–19, ESV)

With the inquisitiveness that was a part of Rob’s youthfully naïve demeanor, he asked an appropriate and logical question. It went something like this; “If Jesus lives in my heart, is there a little man who lives in my stomach who throws food to Him?”

Over the years I’ve relished thinking about this story. It has produced both laughter and stark reflection.

Exactly how does the Jesus that lives in my heart get nourishment to survive and thrive? In fact, the question of a child has opened the pursuit of a lifetime. Feeding Jesus.

Here again, Ephesians 3 informs the menu for Christ. Rooted and grounded in love, and consequently invited into an unending supply of His love that obliterates all knowledge, so that I can be filled with the fullness of God.

Rob nailed it. The Jesus who dwells in my heart is nourished moment by moment by what I feed my heart, soul, mind and strength.

The beginning of the new year escorts many of us to reconsider our diet. Perhaps we would be well served to first consider Rob’s question? What am I feeding Jesus? Then, and only then, will we be satisfied.

I’m starting 2018 by considering what’s on my menu.

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The Senior Class at Bethlehem High

by DanWolgemuth on December 22, 2017

At roughly 5PM today, our front door will burst open and kids and grandkids will be welcomed with open arms and full hearts. It’s cousin Christmas exchange at the Wolgemuth household and my expectation is high!

One of the ten grandchildren who will climb into my arms is Drew. He’s two years old and full of life. Actually, Drew is so full of life that his two-year-old body can’t quite contain it.

But tonight, as I cling to Drew, my perspective will be different, more reflective, and frankly, a bit more somber.

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. (Matthew 2:16, ESV)

My domesticated and sanitized rendition of Christmas often omits the harsh realities of Christ’s birth. Truth liberates, but it also polarizes and confronts.

Simeon got it right when he said to Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34–35, ESV)

Somewhere between 20 and 30 little boys died in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus. Parents begged. Families mourned. But Herod’s all-consuming fear propelled him to an act of catastrophic proportion. This wasn’t random or arbitrary. No, it was measured and calculated.

Tears are an important part of Christmas. Perhaps you feel them swell without an apparent cause. Perhaps Matthew’s account helps inform this emotion. The light of the world came at great expense.

This was not a popularity contest; it was war against evil and injustice and power and greed and exploitation. It was light invading the darkness. A fist got raised in Bethlehem. Satan’s rule and reign was under attack. And two-year-old boys died. Full of life and love and hope and promise, but a clear and present danger to the status quo.

Jesus came as a baby, but He was born a King. Before He preached a sermon or performed a miracle, He offended the power-hungry. He enflamed the paranoia of the oppressor. Jesus parachuted behind the enemy lines into the arms of a courageous teenaged mom.

This is why shepherds were beckoned. This is why Wise Men came. The war was on… for the hearts and souls of mankind. And the battle would be bloody, right from the very start.

Hope is costly. And grace is offensive to the self-righteous.
The class of 18, 19 and 20 AD at Bethlehem High School had no boys… a vivid reminder; a poignant picture of the wages of sin.

Christmas is most certainly about a baby… but make no mistake, it’s primarily about a King.

For to us a child is born,
                        to us a son is given;
            and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
                        and his name shall be called
            Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
                        Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)

A baby was born… and a fist got raised.

“God and sinners reconciled…” at untold expense.

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More Light than Polish

December 15, 2017

The auditorium was packed and expectations were high. Keith and Kristyn Getty were about to begin their Irish Christmas concert, and those of us in the room were filled with anticipation. As the artists entered, applause rose. The welcome inspired and encouraged the artists, and the evening didn’t disappoint. From the opening song to the […]

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In a tear…

December 1, 2017

It would have been his 91st birthday in late November. Don Cargo was my father-in- law, and to this day, he remains a powerful inspiration. Even in how he passed into eternity over seven years ago. “Jesus wept.” ~ John 11:35 In a tear. Through a tear. With a tear… Jesus shows the way. In the […]

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A $450.3 Million Jesus

November 17, 2017

Perhaps you saw the story. An original Leonardo da Vinci painting sold this week for $450.3 million. The painting is titled, “ Salvator Mundi,” which means, Savior of the World. The painting shows Christ, in Renaissance dress, giving a benediction with His raised right hand and crossed fingers while holding a crystal sphere in His left hand. […]

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Power

November 13, 2017

Power “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, ESV) “Well, at four years old I lost my dad… and my story really unfolds from there.” Jeff Ross […]

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His Wounds, Our Balm

November 3, 2017

Going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”  (Matthew 26:39) I remember vividly the days when our three children would struggle with a variety of illnesses.  Often it was my […]

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Unlikely – The Sequel

October 27, 2017

It was a week ago that I confessed openly the unlikeliness of my being on the platform at Bethel Gospel Assembly in Harlem, New York for a panel discussion on the mass incarceration of youth. http://www.yfc.net/friday-fragments/unlikely So here’s what happened. An amazing spontaneous unanimous standing ovation happened. In fact, over the 24-hour conference, this standing […]

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Unlikely

October 20, 2017

On Saturday morning I will step onto the platform of Bethel Gospel Assembly Church in Harlem. I will be speaking along with several others to a group of roughly 1,000 Movement Day NYC participants. The topic for the morning, Mass Incarceration & the Plight of our Urban Youth. Even as I type these words I’m […]

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‘Joy

October 13, 2017

“He’s the joy of my life.” The words exploded from the lips of Nick Wallace. Nick is a friend and a member of the Taylor University Board of Trustees. His reflective words were about his 26-year-old son, Ben. Joy. A son. A beautiful script. A father’s love. Expressed openly and emphatically. But there’s more. So […]

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