Fueled by more than headlines

by DanWolgemuth on February 19, 2021

The longer I live in Colorado, the more I appreciate my little Toro snowblower. I’ve had it for over ten years… and it serves me well.

What I’ve learned about this machine is that it can be tricky to start. That’s why, sitting on a shelf, just above my snowblower is a can of carburetor clean-out. I often have to spray this magic mist into the carburetor to get the engine to fire off. I’m not sure what’s in this mix, but it seems to instantly create ignition.

There is, however, a problem with this method. Often, the engine starts, but it only stays running for a few seconds. This forces me to go back through the ritual again to get the engine to fire over.

As much as I love my snowblower, it won’t run on my Gumout, carburetor clean-out spray. Start, yes. Stay running, no.

Perhaps you’ve noticed, like me, that it seems as though a lot of carburetor clean-out spray is being used to ignite issues in our country, and around the world. A global pandemic fueled elevated urgency on the value of human life. The video record of the unthinkable killing of George Floyd turbo-charged discussions on race, and justice, and equality. Political platforms ignited heated debate on the questions of human sexuality, the dignity and value of human life, and the care for those on the margins. Our first female Vice President stoked the celebration of gender equity.

But, as history demonstrates… the red hot immediacy of these issues is not a sustaining force for change. Real transformation and change requires an anchored view of life. A centralized perspective on human value. It requires an understanding and a respect for the Creator God who formed humans in His likeness. A God who poured His image into human beings.

The headlines don’t fuel our passion for justice or equality or freedom or life or the protection of the most vulnerable or care for the sick, or liberty for the oppressed… God does. And anything short of His sustaining view of mankind will be extinguished as quickly as it was ignited.

Justice is God’s standard.

Righteousness is God’s rule.

Mercy is God’s heart.

Self-sacrifice is God’s posture.

Diversity is God’s design.

Marriage is God’s plan.

Care for the poor is God’s priority.

Proclaiming Good News is God’s calling.

Pursuit of the lost is God’s mission.

The Church is God’s architecture.

Community is God’s blueprint.

Compassion is God’s answer to human distress.

Generosity is God’s response to abundance.

And love is the inexhaustible fuel that makes all of this possible and sustainable.

God supreme. Christ preeminent. The Spirit empowering.

His Kingdom.

Everything else is carburetor clean-out. Start, yes. Stay running, no.

Fuel for a lifetime.

Image bearers. On His mission. Sustainable change. Cosmic transformation.

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Be Mine

by DanWolgemuth on February 12, 2021

Actually, I think the words most typically look like this…

 Be
Mine

And in mid-February these letters are assembled on the top of a petrified glob of sugar, tinted with color, and molded into a Valentine-shaped human organ.

It was Valentine’s Day 1975 that I went on a lengthy winter walk in rural Indiana with the woman who would one day become my soulmate. It was my first significant conversation with her. It felt like magic.

It didn’t take long after that February walk for me to realize that there was something refreshing, inspiring, and captivating about Mary. Her level of relational confidence lagged behind mine. I pressed forward as she tapped the brakes. I pushed to close the deal, while she was still in the due diligence process. I rushed to Be Mine… while she righteously wrestled with who she was.

On April 8, 1978 I closed the deal.

Really?

What deal? Was it really a deal?

I thought it was.

Mary. A picturesque church. A minister. Family. Friends. A beautiful dress. A rented tux. “I do”. “I will”. “With this ring…”

Be Mine.

Sounds romantic. Sounds appropriate. Sounds sweet. After all, it’s biblical…

My beloved is mine, and I am his; (Song of Solomon 2:16a)

But this language was poetic, not transactional, and I fear that too often we make it the latter.

Mary is not mine.

She never has been. She never will be. She never should be.

Relational ownership is not the goal. Not in marriage. Not with children. Not with friendships. Not with family.

It’s about the Imago Dei. Image bearers of God.

We are stewards. Sacredly entrusted with the lives and love and pain and joy and burdens of others.

But somehow, “Be Stewards”, doesn’t have the same “sugar high” ring as Be Mine. Hallmark is not racing to develop a new line of Valentine’s cards.

The reality is that we don’t even “own ourselves”. We are stewards of our own lives.

…You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)

Mine. The language of a toddler. The philosophy of the powerful. The religion of the self-absorbed.

No… Mary wasn’t mine in February of 1975, and she’s not mine today. That’s what makes her love so life-giving. It’s why loving her brings me so much joy.

Imago Dei.

Image bearers.

Stewards of every precious conversation. Guardians of the pinnacle of God’s creation.

Nothing more. Never more. But nothing less.

You are His. You are unleashed to love. Empowered to steward. Compelled to serve.

This is love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

I love you, Mary. Now, more than ever.

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Social Security

February 5, 2021

It was August 14, 1935 when the Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt, but it was just this week that this act became more personal. No, I haven’t started receiving my benefits, but as Mary and I begin to think about our financial plans for the years ahead, it now […]

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What do we need?

January 29, 2021

It was in early 1965 that Jackie DeShannon recorded the hit song… What the world needs now is love. Burt Bacharach and Hal David had cowritten this musical masterpiece. The song was planted in fertile soil during a season of controversy over the Vietnam War and the escalating Civil Rights push. A year later, Dionne […]

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Leave them…

January 22, 2021

A week from Saturday I will walk up to a virtual podium and deliver what will likely be my last official sermon to the broadest YFC USA family as the President of the organization. Like a weighted blanket, the topic and reality have rested on me… not in a suffocating way, but as a righteous […]

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Published in 1807 and Still On Display

January 15, 2021

A picture. A puzzle. One thousand pieces. We received two for Christmas. One is complete, another is beckoning for attention. But what if, without my knowledge, the packers of the puzzles withheld pieces? What if it wasn’t just a piece or two, but many? What if the package showed a beautiful picture with the promise […]

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Dough-Time

January 8, 2021

Some non-Zoom focused days over Christmas afforded me a unique opportunity. I’ll call them “dough-times”. I grew up in a house where the smell of fresh bread often wafted about. My mother was a master. She mixed hymn singing with her bread making, and the results were heavenly, and worth every carbohydrate ingested. So over […]

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From Wuhan to Bethlehem

December 28, 2020

In late April I felt inspired to write the following content. Because of the relevance to Christmas, I thought we would run it again. Yes… Christ came. And it changed everything. 6900 miles. That’s how far it is from Wuhan, China to Denver. 6900 miles from the genesis of a global disease. A genesis that […]

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Malia is 13…

December 18, 2020

Saturday was a night of celebration. Malia, our oldest granddaughter turned 13. A teenager. A beautiful young woman. Her own voice. Her own gifts. Malia. So it wasn’t surprising that on a subsequent night, in the middle of my sleep, I awoke with Malia on my mind. But what hovered over my restless night were […]

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No Buddies in Bethlehem

December 11, 2020

Road trip! But not in the back of a minivan. This trip was on foot. Roughly 65 miles to be exact. Nazareth to Jerusalem. This was Passover. An annual celebration of God’s protective hand. Liberty. Freedom. Passover. Jesus, at 12. A boy… emerging as a young man. No doubt familiar communities collected in Jerusalem. A […]

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