by DanWolgemuth on January 23, 2015

The Urban Dictionary defines this new social media propelled phrase as: ThrowBack Thursday.

The letters are a preamble to post a picture or narrative that reflects on some experience from the past. It makes Thursday the perfect day to glance in the rear view mirror, and to include others in that look backward.

Today, a Youth for Christ colleague posted the following text along with a grainy picture from over 20 years ago:

TBT: 15 yrs old. Just back from lock up. Went to see Hellraiser at 161st movie theater in the BX. High on 3 different drugs. Lost. But God. His Love. Redemption. New life in Jesus his Son. New mission. New purpose. Spread His fame. 

For Ray, a glance backward is not a journey to shame. No, for Ray, the look at yesterday is a celebration of grace.

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world… But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (Ephesians 2:1, 4)

For Ray, as for any of us, a TBT glance awakens the sleeping reality of who we used to be. Without grace condemnation runs free, ravaging the present in response to the past. But God, through Jesus, unlocked the chains of damning glances. The lavish love of Christ gave us new eyes to look at the chaos of the past. We marvel at what we’ve been saved from and what we were saved for.

The condemnation of TBT is no match for the amnesty from our King. We are set free… from the lies… from the abuse… from the addiction… from the arrogance.

And so a picture, a narrative, a snapshot of the past becomes the podium from which we proclaim the magnitude of His mercy.

Set free. New life is Jesus.

From shame to celebration. TBT is no match for God’s amazing grace.


The Tale of the Thermostat

by DanWolgemuth on January 16, 2015

The house that Mary and I bought in June of 2005 had a thermostat that could be managed with a scheduling setting. This included both furnace and air-conditioner settings.

Certainly there have been times when we’ve found this useful, but there have also been times when we have chosen to manually manage the temperature. Christmas was one of those times.

Our operational norm in the winter is 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night. I’m not sure why… it just is.

However, family visits compelled Mary to reconsider these norms. Several times during the past three weeks we have hosted one or more of our grandchildren on an overnight stay. When the grands are sleeping, Mary’s new night time temperature setting rises to 67.

Then we hosted Eunice Cargo during the holidays. Mary’s mom is the last living parent that we have. We treasure her. She’s precious to us.

When Mom was in the house, Mary made sure that the house was “89-year-old comfortable.” That meant that our automatic system was overridden with age-honoring temperatures. 70 to 72 during the day, and usually 68 or 69 at night.

It was love and care that calibrated our thermostat during the last three weeks. It was compassion and tenderness that pressed into our norms.

“My house; my temps” found no traction in Mary’s heart. She set aside her own rhythm in thoughtful deference to the others that made our house their home. No requests were made. This wasn’t a reaction to a complaint, but rather an act of love.

Compassion pushed our thermostat. It increased our Xcel Energy bill. It impacted our personal preferences.

I’ve also learned that compassion and sensitivity don’t always require the same temperature. Relational knowledge yields merciful variation. And there are priorities in this mix, with sensitivity to the most vulnerable.

In order to create a culture that values what the King values, compassion trumps convenience. And as a microcosm of a true cosmic call, Jesus once again shows us the way.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:3-5)

My comfort, my preferences, my convenience don’t shape my Kingdom agenda. Not with my thermostat, or in my bank account, or on my calendar.

His Kingdom come. On earth. As it is in heaven.


Language Found A Pulse

December 12, 2014

“In the beginning was the Word” Language. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) The expression of God became tangible. The language of God became personal. The distance between God and […]

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Proclaim It

November 21, 2014

I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. (Psalm 26:6-7) Proclaim it. Verbalize it. Out loud. Unleash your heart to reflect. Remove the constraints of business to explore boldly and humbly the landscape of His wondrous deeds. Resist the urge to […]

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Lake-Effect Snow

November 18, 2014

The western edge of Michigan is known for a weather phenomenon known as lake-effect snow. Cold winds blow over the vast expanse of Lake Michigan, drawing the warmer lake moisture into the atmosphere and depositing the newly crystalized water onto communities along the shore. Last night and this morning, I witnessed this event, but from […]

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Yard Signs

November 7, 2014

Ballots have been counted and recounted. Polling locations have turned out the lights. Radio and television space has been vacated. The election is over. And yet, littered across the landscape, the yard signs remain. Candidates who just a week ago were in the thick of the race, don’t have the motivation or work force to […]

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Training for a Marathon; Competing in a Sprint

October 31, 2014

It was 1924 and Scottish athlete Eric Liddell was perfectly prepared for the race of his lifetime. The 100 meters was Eric’s specialty and the Olympics in Paris would serve as a perfect platform to showcase his talent. That was until Eric discovered that the preliminary heats for the 100 meter race would be held […]

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The City

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 […]

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38 Stories of Amazing Grace

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 […]

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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. […]

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