The City

by DanWolgemuth on October 24, 2014

Jesus never wasted His tears, but He didn’t spare them either.

“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it.” ~ Luke 19:41

In compassion and without regret.

Not naively, but tenderly, emotionally.

Realistically, but hopefully.

Jesus understood that chaos had replaced peace. And His prayer for shalom was real and authentic and compelling.

Jesus didn’t isolate or segregate in His prayer – He included the entire city. From the darkest corners of evil to the sweetest avenues of hope. Jesus prayed for it all.

His tears instruct our soul and inform our journey. The brokenness of our city should break our hearts. This is why God has placed His followers in the city.

Prayers of polarization only divide; and the truth of God’s love and mercy and hope serve to reconcile. First in the church and then overflowing into the culture.

“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf. For in its welfare you will find your welfare.” ~ Jeremiah 29:7

Weep for your city. Grieve for the brokenness and evil and pain and poverty and injustice and corruption and arrogance. Repent for it. Beg on behalf of the exiles. Plead on behalf of the renegades.

For peace. For God’s peace. For restoration and revival.

It’s vogue to judge or rant or dismiss and condemn our city. There’s much to invite this kind of response… but from this posture the tears won’t flow.

Jesus invites us to weep. No posturing; no positioning. Tears. Lament.

For Denver. For Ferguson. For Houston. For Detroit. For Washington, DC…

For mercy. For peace.

For the brokenness of creation. From the heart of God.

Without despair. Without reservation. Tears.

{ 0 comments }

38 Stories of Amazing Grace

by DanWolgemuth on October 17, 2014

The last two weeks has afforded me the opportunity to host three separate small-group lunch events in three of our Youth for Christ regions.  At each lunch we had indigenous leaders from under-resourced communities that are now a part of the mission of Youth for Christ.

I asked each of these leaders to say their name, the city they are from, and a bit about their story.  Honestly, I think this is verbatim what I asked them.

Over the course of these three lunches, I heard 38 different stories from 38 individuals.  I gave no time constraint; my only parameter was, “a bit of your story.”

These 38 stories took roughly nine hours.  Roughly 15 minutes per individual.

Every individual entered the sharing without hurry and with a deep sense of thoughtful reflection.  Every room became sacred space as we sifted through the chaos of evil to the power of redemption.

There is very little mystery around what I heard.  This was anecdotal evidence of the statistics we hear every day.

Fatherlessness.  Abandonment.  Divorce.  Addiction.  Promiscuity.  Poverty.  Abuse.  Neglect.  Incarceration.  Educational failure.  Pregnancy.  Gangs.  Violence.   Racism.  Homelessness.  Suicide.

Hopelessness.  Shame.  Hatred.  Fear.

38 stories.

Yet, in every story, in varying degrees… rescue.  Truth.  Hope.  Pursuit.

Often the pursuing love of Jesus had a name other than His.  Frequently, the name of a YFC volunteer or staff person was blended into the brokenness like a precious herb; the name of an unrelenting relational ambassador that pressed into the pain and sin with more than sympathy or judgment.

Hope had a name before hope became Jesus.

Brianna, Erica, Dre, KT, Josh, Dane, Rob, Ken, Omar, Kara… and so many more.  Names.  Ushers.  Ambassadors.  For Jesus.  With Jesus.  To Jesus.

38 stories.  Piles of pain; not dismissed or swept away, but redeemed.   Not made-over, but made new.

Tears reminded everyone in the room of the lies; of the deception; of the enemy.  But tears were not the end of the story.  Tears watered the ground of hope.  Tears washed away the barriers to love.

The message of Jesus is true.  It’s powerful.  It’s redemptive.  It’s courageous.  It’s bold.  It’s compassionate.

 “For this is how God loved the world: He gavehis one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NLT

38 times.

Unbounded love.

Unconstrained grace.

{ 0 comments }

An October Kind of Feeling

October 3, 2014

This morning on my way to the airport I expressed to Mary that early fall brings a unique feeling for me.  There’s something about October.  When asked what that meant, I stumbled through a lame explanation of mellowness and reflection.  What I failed to express was the uniquely American perspective associated with October; playoff baseball. […]

Read the full article →

By This…

October 2, 2014

The seminar itself was not all that different from other seminars that I’ve attended from the standpoint of content or structure, but there was something wildly different about what was taking place. Every three years the national directors of each of the Youth for Christ programs from around the world get together for a week-long […]

Read the full article →

The Answer to the Question

October 2, 2014

Years ago we invented a birthday party game that includes questions about the birthday celebratee, and written responses by the party attendees.  The goal is to match the answers of the individual celebrating their birthday. A fresh set of questions are required each year… until this year.  Two weeks ago as we celebrated two birthdays, […]

Read the full article →

Crunchy

August 29, 2014

On a recent trip to the mountains, Mary and I popped into a local grocery store to replenish our inventory of peanut butter. PB&J sandwiches are a mountain staple when hiking or biking. As we walked the aisle I noted that it looked like the small market only had crunchy peanut butter. I looked at […]

Read the full article →

His Journal/My Journal

August 22, 2014

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:18, 19) Peter.  Good old Peter. Yep, the Disciple of Jesus.  The fisherman […]

Read the full article →

Because Grace is the Point

August 15, 2014

Imagine the mayhem that would exist in corporate boardrooms and executive suites when one of the primary spokespeople for the organization completely discredits and disconnects from the cause they have agreed to support.  Imagine. That’s Michael Jordan, in his prime, saying that he doesn’t know anything about Nike and he doesn’t want anything to do […]

Read the full article →

Fifty-One Verses

August 8, 2014

The room was filled and hearts were hungry.  Wednesday night was when young people would be invited to respond to the message of confession, grace, mercy, hope and transformation. Ray Villegas, our YFC staff member from Harlem, was bringing the message.  Although Ray’s address was 3,000 miles from most of the kids in the room, […]

Read the full article →

It Should Have Been Easy

August 1, 2014

This is the tenth summer that I’ve been a part of the mission of Youth for Christ/USA.  I’ve come to understand the varied rhythms that reflect the realities of my calendar year.  There are seasons of operational intensity, of mission focus, of leadership development, of fund raising, and of staff communication.  There also is a […]

Read the full article →