A Lesson For Clive. A Lesson From Clive.

by DanWolgemuth on April 16, 2021

Last Fall, Clive, a Portuguese Water dog joined our extended family. Andrew and Chrissy pulled the trigger on this addition to their family of six and the adventure of puppy life quickly impacted them… and us.

On Clive’s first visit to our house, Andrew and Chrissy provided a kennel. When our new family puppy is in our house, the kennel finds its way to the laundry room floor. From time to time it proves to be in everyone’s best interest to restrict Clive’s movement around the house by confining him to this space.

This isn’t cruel or ugly or unfair… it’s wise and appropriate for all involved. We like this dog a lot. And frankly, that’s why we opt to place him in the kennel from time to time.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5 – ESV)

Captive.

Not just for a puppy, but as the Apostle Paul reminds us, our thoughts. Every thought.

At a time when speed feels more critical than accuracy or restraint or appropriateness, captive thoughts seem irrational or unnecessary.

Speed to post is of utmost importance. And so we do. We post first and think later… or maybe we don’t ever think at all.

We post without pondering. We comment without consideration. We argue without empathy. We fuel the embers of bias and at the same time feed the algorithms that amplify whatever position we have taken.

In our current culture, it’s rare to see any thought held captive. In obedience to Christ. As an example of ripened fruit.

Every thought held. For our good, and for the good of others.

Until the yeast of wisdom has time to leaven the entire loaf. Until we hear first from the Spirit of God. Until we weigh the accuracy of what we’re about to say. Until we assess that damage of what we are about to communicate. Until we can season our thoughts and words with salt (Colossians 4:6). Perhaps until we have the courage to hit delete… or in some cases, hit “post”.

When every story seems to be a “Breaking Story”, and every post seems to be an urgent post… captivity seems unwise. Outdated. Unnecessary. But perhaps, it is the wisest thing possible.

In reality, my thoughts, unconstrained are far more like a puppy than I care to admit. And frankly, it’s much smarter to keep them captive than to have to clean up a mess.

Sorry Facebook. Sorry Instagram. Sorry Twitter…

Every thought captive.

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My Hero. Me?

by DanWolgemuth on March 26, 2021

As a young boy, I grew up with a deep connection to the Chicago Cubs. It was daytime drama at Wrigley Field. No lights. No night games. WGN. A perfect solution for a little boy with an early bedtime.

Soon, I was imagining scenarios. Building epic moments. Constructing outrageous hometown predicaments that only I could solve.

Thoughts like this pushed me out the backdoor of our home at 103 East Park, with a baseball mitt, a bat, and a tennis ball. Hours and hours, I would throw the ball against the side of our house as my dreams became flesh. Diving catches. Perfectly placed pitches. A self-toss and a whack of the bat for a timely home run.

Hometown hero born… Me!

The bottom of the 9th was no match for me… an undersized little boy, with an oversized dream.

But boyhood fantasies can birth a posture in life that can be misinformed. A heroic dream. An overestimation… not of athletic prowess, but of character quality.

A well-constructed and underinformed character posture can tilt the balance of perspective in a direction that often distorts reality. That germinates overconfidence and self-reliance.

Such a posture invites me to read a story like the Good Samaritan, and to project myself as the hero. The Samaritan. Courageous. Selfless. Generous.

I become the faithful servant that invests his talents and produces ten-fold the results. Bold. Wise. Shrewd.

When I read God’s Word… I’m afraid that I misunderstand and misrepresent who I am, which in turn, undervalues who Jesus is, and what He has done for me.

This is Satan’s ploy. His scheme. His whisper in my wanting ear. “He needs you, more than you need Him.” Lies.

A reality check reveals the fact that not only am I not the hero… and not even the victim… in many cases I might well be the villain in these stories.

I find myself, like Peter, looking in the face of Jesus and saying… “Not me”. “I’ll never walk away.” “Maybe these other Bozo’s will, but you can count on me.” Yes, the bases are loaded in the bottom of the 9th with two outs, and the Cubs are down by three runs… but be of good cheer, I have the bat in my hands. Good news… it’s me. “Jesus, I’ve got this!”

But Peter folds.

Peter caves.

Peter denies.

And I’m afraid that if I don’t read the story of Peter with an understanding that this would have been me, I miss a critical aspect of my own sinfulness and God’s abundant grace.

It isn’t until the tears of reality flow, just like they did down the cheeks of Peter, that I become what Jesus requires me to become… dead to myself. Broken beyond repair. Desperate. The bum, not the hero.

Not for the sake of shame, but for the joy of grace. Not for the weight of guilt, but the freedom of mercy. Not for the burden of sin, but for the liberation of love.  

The spotlight shifts away from a trophy case and onto a cross.

My sin. His price.

Villain. Hero.

Lost. Found.

Dead. Alive.

I’ve come to realize that I need to reread many of my beloved Gospel stories with a course correction in mind.

I am the reckless younger son. I am the judgmental older brother. I am the Levite, or the Scribe, or even the thief. I am a Pharisee. I am the Apostle who stands by a fire and caves under the pressure.

I am no hero. Then or now.

And this stark and difficult reality makes me ever so grateful for a Savior… my hero. My King.

He. Not me.

Jesus. The King of the Jews.

Jesus. Lord of all.

Yes, Jesus in the bottom of the 9th. Then and now.

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Just Bruce

March 19, 2021

I met Mary’s oldest brother in the Spring of 1975. We were sitting around a kitchen table in Indianapolis where I was an invited guest for a Sunday lunch. I was 20, and Bruce Cargo was 25. I was a sophomore at Taylor University, Bruce was a Vietnam veteran. I had been the co-captain of […]

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His Plan For My Tears

March 12, 2021

              You have kept count of my tossings;               put my tears in your bottle.               Are they not in your book? (Psalm 56:8, ESV) These incredible words from King David are an invitation into authenticity. David’s pain is real. He’s lost in the agony of defeat. His hope […]

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Anderson, Joshua, Jaylin

March 5, 2021

Names. Families. Community. Deep links to our Youth For Christ mission in Northern Indiana. Two 19-year-olds. Gone. Defenselessly murdered. The other, Jaylin, critically wounded. As I listened to the story through another Zoom update… my heart ached. But then, an unexpected jolt. Pictures. The beautiful faces. Names and a tragic story giving way to an […]

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Cazzie, among others…

February 26, 2021

Sitting on a table in my office is a small black leather Bible. Stamped on the cover in gold lettering are the words… Holy Bible. It’s a Bible that I’ve had for nearly sixty years. It’s a King James translation with very low mileage. In fact, I can’t ever remember reading it. I’ve kept it […]

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Fueled by more than headlines

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 […]

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Be Mine

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 […]

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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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