Beyond a Hero

by DanWolgemuth on March 15, 2019

Thanks for continuing to read my weekly Friday Fragments.  I hope they encourage and inspire you.  The Fragment below is a piece that I wrote a couple of years ago.

Against the backdrop of focused evil, heroes emerge. Names surface from the ashes. Individuals step in harms way on behalf of others.

From Brussels, to Paris, to Columbine… heroes.

Brave and strong. Courageous and committed.

Raising a fist to injustice and prejudice and hatred. Standing in the gap. Blood- splattered photographs expose the risk. Funerals define the ultimate sacrifice.

Names are highlighted with tears. Medals adorn in insufficient distinction.

A Purple Heart. A Bronze Star.

Honor is due when evil is confronted.

Valor meets terror… destiny turns.

But what about when someone steps in front of justice? How do you describe an act when a just sentence is averted by the sacrifice of another?

Foolishness?
Travesty?
Rubbish?

In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 Message)

Jesus didn’t step in front of an evil or terrorist act on our behalf… no, He stepped in front of justice.

His medal of honor was a crown of thorns. His grave a borrowed tomb. His trial a mockery.

His act of courage was mercy.

He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed. (1 Peter 2:24, NLT)

He hoisted our rebellious and evil acts. He carried the horror of our misdeeds. And not after we got our act together… our sentence was not commuted because of good behavior.

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8 ESV)

Beyond the boundary lines of bravery… a Savior. Eclipsing the definition of a hero… Jesus.

He stepped in front of justice for me… for us. On assignment from His Father.

Absorbing our guilt. Redeeming our shame.

Jesus threw Himself on the wrath of God so that we could live, and live abundantly.

An empty tomb invites celebration. Sweets. Egg hunts. Banquets.

The cross demands worship.

Beyond a hero… a Savior. Born to die. Crushed. Mocked. Condemned.

For me. For us.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:9-11 Message)

Jesus.

Savior.

King.

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From Boggle to Beauty

by DanWolgemuth on March 8, 2019

Thanks for continuing to read my weekly Friday Fragments.  I hope they encourage and inspire you.  The Fragment below is a piece that I wrote a couple of years ago with the shadow of Good Friday and Easter on my soul.

The letters dance, the timer gets flipped, and the competitors unleash their minds to construct words out of the clutter. Boggle.

Sixteen cubic dice settle into individual boxes inviting a thoughtful evaluation and assembly into words of varying lengths.

Chaotic possibilities finding order. Meaninglessness finding definition.
A game with a prophetic voice. A metaphor waiting for the light of meaning.

Boggle. Letters spilled in front of us. Pregnant with possibility. Poised for either good or evil. Each day, moment by moment the letters tumble in my sight. Words form from the clutter. Poison or promise. The letters stand poised for either.

When my feet hit the floor in the morning… the letters spill. When I walk into my first unexpected encounter. When the phone rings. When a toxic email explodes inside my inbox. Letters waiting in the assembly line of my mind.

The letters spill.

Often my first reaction is to craft words of self-defense and retaliation… of protection and rationalization and vindication. I condemn, because those are easier letters to align.

Words. A collection of letters from the chaos of life that expose the condition of the soul.

In the three years that Jesus ministered on earth, he chose to assemble the random letters of life into words of grace. His settled soul found a vocabulary of love from the letters spilled in front of him. While others were crafting words of hatred, birthed of jealousy and power… Jesus crafted the language of hope.

His critics assembled letters into the word “harlot”, while Jesus spelled “daughter”.

The religious critics of Jesus spelled “love” with the letters LAW. By contrast, Jesus spelled the word “law” with the letters LOVE.

Religious leaders spelled the word “sinner” with masterful precision. Jesus assembled the letters into “forgiven”.

His disciples spelled “nuisance and distraction”, while Jesus, in celestial penmanship wrote “Kingdom keepers”.

To the politically and ethnically elite she was a “Samaritan woman”, to Jesus, she was “sister”.

To many, a “despised tax collector”, to Jesus, “redeemed”.

Over and over Jesus assembled the letters of life into the words of grace… and he invites us and equips us to do the same. To think twice before we reach into the convenient vernacular of condemnation.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6, ESV)

Always gracious. Always assembled with humble thoughtfulness.

Every day, in hundreds of ways… letters are spilled in our path. We choose over and over again how to connect them.

Connect the letters in front of you using the dictionary of love. Make the choice. Look past the first words that assemble in your mind. Push past that poison… all the way to grace.

Our Master was a master at turning the letters of decay into the dialect of life.

Boggle into beauty.

Only Jesus. Always Jesus. Master of the letters of life.

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Only June…

March 1, 2019

She was young…but we were younger. Youth For Christ was all of ten years old when June Thompson joined the chorus. March 1, 1954 in Brantford, Ontario, Canada – the hometown of hockey icon Wayne Gretzky. It was Evon Headley who recruited her and it was Evon who invited her to join him on the […]

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The Slave Bible

February 26, 2019

It was my final stop on a day of stops. The Museum of the Bible had been a profoundly impactful and inspirational experience… but the most powerful was yet to come. All six floors of the Museum are packed with remarkable artifacts and inspirational stories, but the most convicting was yet to come. It was […]

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Pops… “What if?”

February 15, 2019

Drew Jones Wolgemuth. All boy. Nearly four years old. A tornado of activity. A tsunami of questions. But not just inquisitive questions, ponderous and vast and provocative questions. They leap over symmetry or continuity, but they never lack sincerity and passion. “Pops… what if my finger falls off?” And while I’m forming a thoughtful response […]

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Beyond the Blizzard

January 25, 2019

A recent onslaught of snow has tugged me back to a reflection I did just over three years ago. Worth noting, three years later, I still have my little Toro… The snow fell, and it fell, and then in the howling wind it flew. It’s not often that the weather forecasters in Denver underestimate the […]

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He knocked the city out of me…

January 18, 2019

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.” (Romans 12:2, Phillips) My parents, Sam and […]

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Making Cents of Sparrows

January 11, 2019

Having spent time, once again, watching the beautifully adorned Flicker at our feeder, I was drawn to some thoughts I shared a year ago… Ah, the beautiful Flicker. A bird of size, color, elegance and stature. A bird that frequents the feeders on the deck outside our kitchen window. Like an extra guest at the […]

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Mary knew…

January 4, 2019

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” The scandalous and rumor-filled beginning to Mary’s journey into motherhood was a precursor to what was ahead. A bookend that would have a brutal Roman cross at the other end. For thirty-three years Mary […]

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Shame on Mary

December 21, 2018

Two years ago I ventured down a reflective pathway as I thought about the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus… Before the miracles, gossip. Before the cross, whispers. Before an empty tomb, rumors. Before the swaddling clothes, a pregnant, unmarried teenager. Before glorious praise, scandal. Before Magi worship, neighborhood humiliation. Before confidence, doubt. “Do […]

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