From Zephaniah to South Carolina

by DanWolgemuth on June 26, 2015

But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, (Zephaniah 3:12)

A prophetic voice echoed in the souls of God’s chosen people. Through the valley of corruption, of injustice, of oppression, of religious heresy, of violence, during an historic time of fragmentation within the nation of Israel. A tribe to the north, a remnant to the south. Chaos was the order of the day.

But God wasn’t out of options. His plan was straightforward, relational, and impactful. He would plant His people in the middle of the brokenness.

There was no military counterattack, no strategic retaliation, and no weapon of war. God met the prevailing culture of chaos with the presence of His people. Hope embedded. Love extended.

In Charleston, SC, the violence that left a community reeling has ignited something similar. Outrageous hatred has been met with extravagant love. The Church of Jesus Christ has flourished in the face of pain, loss, and prejudice. Bullets poured fuel on the fire of a humble, God-honoring congregation.

The actions of a 21-year-old self-proclaimed racist couldn’t divide what God Himself blesses and ordains. Compassion, solidarity and unity answered the ringing sounds of murder with the eternal impact of love.

The images coming from Charleston were vivid, raw, authentic and compelling. Circles of men and women… hands clasped in unity, hearts lifted in grace and courage.

When other religious systems would reload, the Christians in Charleston forgave. While others would retaliate, the people of Charleston opened their hands and hearts… there were no fists raised.

What Dylann Roof believed would polarize and demoralize, God used to unite, inspire, restore, and transform. God’s people did what God’s people are called to do… they loved and served in the midst of the chaos as humble, lowly, grace-filled believers of Jesus.

And the world watched… in amazement and in disbelief. As embedded exiles stood tall. As light conquered darkness. As salt healed the wounds. Emmanuel AME and the community of Charleston showed us the way… indeed, they illuminated The Way, The Truth, The Life.

From Zephaniah to South Carolina. Consistent, powerful, profound… bullets are no match for the power of God’s amazing love.

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The Snake Came Out of the High Grass… Once Again

by DanWolgemuth on June 19, 2015

The temperatures were mild, the wind was light, and the sidewalk was smooth and wide. Nearly perfect. Mary and I have pedaled many miles on the local reservoir path; an eight-mile loop.

We rolled, talked, and then rolled along in silence. At mile six we both glanced up to see a sizable snake stretched across the middle of the concrete path. We gasped a bit and then split apart and hugged the respective side of the path. The plan worked, but the heart-stopping encounter was enough to alter our evening ride.

Drawn to the warmth of the sun-baked sidewalk, the snake left the shadow of the high grass to interrupt the evening. That’s the way snakes operate.

Last evening, in Charleston, South Carolina, a snake emerged from the tall grass. Evil walked into the warmth of Emanuel AME church. An hour later they were counting bodies. An hour later a community recoiled. An hour later the outrage of all civil human beings swelled at the reality that in that moment evil had an address… evil pitched a tent.

One snake… one unthinkable mission. Satan found an ally. Hatred found fertile ground.

The snake is not new. The snake lurks, it slithers, it postures… and then it strikes. For those in its way, the journey is changed forever, and let’s face it, in some ways we’re all in its way.

Four miles later Mary and I were riding on the access road into the park. There, just two feet off the right shoulder was another snake. This one had been crushed… a passing adversary had claimed victory. The threat was gone.

In Genesis 2 we catch a glimpse of evil. It claimed an address. It entered the perfection of the garden. It interrupted the journey. It altered history.

But God wasn’t done. God promised the snake killer. He committed to send a solution. Evil would have a worthy opponent.

The unthinkable had an adversary. The defenseless had a hero. The snake would never have the final word… never. Not in Charleston, not in Sandy Hook, not at Columbine High School, not on the campus of Virginia Tech, not in a tranquil Amish school, not anywhere. The final word doesn’t belong to evil.

In the face of evil; on the sidewalk of life, God sent an answer to the snake. The Word became flesh. Righteousness had a name and an address. The wait was over. Hope had a pulse.

Jesus came. And while the snake still shows its hideous strategy far too often, we know that someday the final crushing blow will come. Road kill with eternal consequences.

Don’t be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this, and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus! (Romans 16:19, 20 MSG)

With both feet… but until then, grief and pain and tears.

In Charleston, in the very place where the Word of God is preached, the snake came out of the high grass… but evil has an adversary. The crushing blow will come.

Hope through the tears. Perspective in the pain.

Together with Charleston. Forever with Jesus, our snake-crushing King.

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Your Reservation is Ready… Now

June 12, 2015

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9) Inexpressible joy. Unbounded. Unconstrained. Unleashed. Words can be beautiful, particularly […]

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God Without Matches and Lighter Fluid

June 8, 2015

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) She was […]

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An Invitation to a Spending Spree

May 29, 2015

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  (1 John 3:1a) Managing finite resources is a daily challenge for each of us. We work to match income and expenses in a way that reflects the reality of our personal situation, as […]

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The Check Cleared the Bank

May 22, 2015

Into the abyss of fear, confusion, and uncertainty, Jesus makes good on a promise that has reverberated throughout time. The blood of Jesus had been splashed against the canvas of history and now His followers clung to the cosmic image of a wounded king ascended. Emmanuel was gone. God was gone. And so they waited […]

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Sometimes…

May 15, 2015

Several weeks ago on an ideal Saturday afternoon, I took a pruning saw and clipper to my back yard. We have three trees that are flourishing, but in their exuberant growth they had outpaced both aesthetics and convenience, and so they needed a gardener’s hand. With exceptional care I picked the branches to trim. As […]

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The Denver Post as my Amplified Version (Revisited)

May 8, 2015

In June of 2013 I wrote the following Fragment. While the news about the IRS is not as prominently in the spotlight, it is nonetheless a proxy for many other scandalous issues. As such, the lesson below continues to rattle my soul. “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. […]

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Window or Aisle

May 1, 2015

As I boarded a Southwest flight this week I trailed a boy who was boarding as an “unaccompanied minor.” That meant a flight attendant was thoughtfully escorting him on every step of his journey. Once the young man was on the flight, the flight attendant waved her hand across the expanse of the empty airplane […]

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When all there is…

April 24, 2015

This past Tuesday I was invited to join a group of pastors and ministry leaders from Parker, Colorado. Teen suicide has hit the shores of this Denver suburb with tsunami-like impact. A day before the breakfast I was asked if I would be willing to share a few thoughts with these men and women. As […]

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