An Invitation to a Spending Spree

by DanWolgemuth on 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 well as our commitment to eternal perspectives. We steward what we do not own. We protect what we don’t want to lose.

National platforms have been erected for voices like Dave Ramsey who consistently speak of debt-free living, and retirement planning. Credit is the evil taskmaster, and freedom is found once we untangle our personal lives from the bondage of red ink.

I buy this. Seriously, I think there’s a tremendous amount of truth and wisdom in this philosophy of living… unless it overflows into our soul in such a way that it clouds a central message of Jesus. Austerity and prudence with material goods is not a pattern for us in how we love others. Finite resources don’t define our capacity to love.

God lavished His love on us. He opened the door to the vault. He invested His most valuable asset… His Son. And we mocked Him, we abused Him, we squandered Him.

God didn’t balance the budget when it came to love. He spent without a transactional expectation.

If love is limited, then we pick our favorites; we target our affection. We appropriately work to decide who is “on our list” and who is not.

But Jesus has seen the storehouse of God’s love; He’s not concerned about limited capacity. Understanding the wealth of His Father’s love, Jesus says outrageous things like, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:43-44)

Generosity with love expands the square footage in the storehouse of our soul.

Stingy with love, our Balance Sheet shrinks. Selfish in our embrace, we extinguish the embers that keep our heart and soul warm and soft.

God lavished. Jesus was extravagant. They loved without limit. They invested without constraint.

Their pattern is our guide.

Keep your finances balanced, but love from a bank account that never runs dry.

By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News. Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.  (Ephesians 3: 7-8)

Endless treasures. Infinite love. Go on a spending spree… for a lifetime.

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The Check Cleared the Bank

by DanWolgemuth on 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 as they tried to construct a tangible image from the timber of an abstract commitment that floated from the lips of their friend; their master; their rabbi. For something. For someone. For comfort. For hope. For power.

Desperate, they waited. Life, as they had known it, was over. There was no going back, but going forward seemed unthinkable and daunting.

The pending promise tugged them together. They gripped hope in each other as they replayed the mind-blowing events that had marked their journey with Christ. From curiosity through failure He had drawn them; through the hallways of doubt into the classroom of faith.

But now, even now, especially now… they waited. Hopeful, but fragile. Transformed, but weak.

Between the ascension and Pentecost, rivers of emotion flowed like a bursting mountain stream in spring. Would He. Could He.

Then, into the hoisted sails of expectation, a mighty rushing wind. Into the vacuum of celestial silence God poured His voice… languages flowed, fire fell, hearts soared.

Condemnation couldn’t dampen the fuse of this explosion. God had come, no longer in flesh, but in Spirit. The Holy Spirit. Muted messages were amplified with unmistakable clarity.

The promise fulfilled. Power delegated. Hope restored.

The message went viral. 120 became 3,000. Lips that betrayed were transformed into a megaphone of truth.

Shame was left to rot. Forgiveness rang in the souls of tormented cowards. Authority replaced ambivalence. Jesus had delivered. The check cleared the bank.

 “…tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” ~ John 14:12

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” ~ John 14:18-19

God with us became the Holy Spirit in us. The incarnation became personal.

Pentecost.

Jesus promised. God delivered. The Church was birthed. And everything changed… everything.

Blessed Trinity. Blessed Holy Spirit.

Yes indeed, the check cleared the bank.

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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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He said, “Come.”

April 20, 2015

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” (Matthew 14:28-29a) The advent of instructional videos has been transformational to home repair and improvement projects. I use them. I appreciate them. Actually, I love them. From my 15-year-old dryer, to my GE dishwasher, […]

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Two outs; bottom of the 9th, bases are loaded; the Cubs are behind by three runs

April 13, 2015

Spring is like a magnet that draws me back to the dreams of a child growing up in Wheaton, Illinois. In April the calendar flipped to baseball season, and with it, the heroic dreams of a child took flight. The Cubs were loaded with talent. They sported an infield that was the envy of the […]

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The Step of Faith

April 6, 2015

In a sobering and stunning act, Andreas Lubitz voluntarily snuffed out his own life, and simultaneously ended the lives of 150 others. The suffocating realities of a deeply troubled man collided with the disregard for the lives of innocent passengers. An unwritten agreement of trust is forged when a passenger steps across the threshold of […]

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Untie the Donkey

March 27, 2015

As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie […]

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