Bring them…

by DanWolgemuth on May 20, 2016

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (John 6:8-9)

Visionary Leadership. This has been an aspiration of mine as I have led the mission of Youth For Christ USA for the last 11 years. I want to be a forward thinking, trend setting, courage displaying, Braveheart kind of leader.  A visionary leader.

Yet as I read the candid account of Jesus’ life and leadership on earth, I wonder if this is what He was looking for, or even living out Himself. The Bible records the words of Jesus Himself in John 5 when He says, “I can do nothing on my own.”

And yet, we seem to elevate leaders who promote themselves as “self-made men and women.” Perhaps what Jesus was really looking to develop were Visionary Stewards. You know, the kind of people that aren’t afraid to humiliate themselves by suggesting that five small loaves of bread and two measly fish could in any way impact the appetites of 5,000 men and many more women and children.

And then there’s the boy. The lad who relinquishes his personal provision in an act of faith. If he had started his day with a vision of feeding thousands with a brown bag inventory calibrated for one, we might well have esteemed him as a leadership prodigy. A leader of uncharacteristic insight and vision. But that’s not what happened. His vision, his dream, his courage started and ended in the hands of Jesus.

Visionary Leadership promotes the profile and platform of the leader, while visionary stewardship elevates the power of the hands that bless the gift. One clings to control; the other liberates. One builds from the foundation of personal credibility and the other understands that He must increase and I must decrease.  One is constrained by the talent and resources and capacity of the authority granted; the other is propelled from a heart of vulnerability and multiplied by the infinite omnipotence of the Creator. One counts and calibrates the potential of the inventory; the other relinquishes control and unleashes miraculous power.

“…but what are they for so many?”

Even as Andrew dropped the loaves and fish into the hands of the Master he wondered; he wavered. A swell of foolishness rose in his gut as his fellow disciples likely snickered under their breath.

It was up to Jesus now. And Jesus rested on the power of the Almighty.

A courageous and outrageous act of stewardship. Visionary stewardship.

Insignificant and inadequate resources… when I cling to them, they feed me; when I release them, there are leftovers. Baskets full of leftovers.

God doesn’t need me to be a visionary leader of a 72-year-old movement… He asks me to confess, like Jesus did, that I can do nothing on my own. Until and unless I heed the instruction that Jesus gave to Andrew… “Bring them here to me,” I will be confined to the barriers of my own imagination. But my boundaries are where Jesus begins, not ends.

Bring them. Barley loaves. A couple of fish.

Trust me… that is precisely what visionary stewards do. They trust Him and not themselves. And when we do, if we do, crowds get fed.

20 million teenagers in the United States don’t know about the love of Jesus. They’re not waiting for a visionary leader; they’re hungry for an omnipotent and loving God.

I’ve got my lunch sack packed… decision time.


Picture Perfect

by DanWolgemuth on May 13, 2016

“he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.” Isaiah 53:2b

These prophetic words constructed by the prophet Isaiah are scandalous.  As God breathed into the soul of Isaiah, these words become the projection of a father declaring that someday the son that would be His offspring would have nothing physically compelling about Him.

“Someday I’m going to have a son… but he won’t be much to look at.”

And yet God knew that His son would possess an attractiveness unlike any human to ever walk the planet.

There was something ever so beautiful about Jesus.  He attracted enormous crowds, not because He was a side show, or hideous to look at… but because, in His rapturous humility He attracted the lowly, the weak, the wounded, the contrite, the forgotten, the invisible, the blind, the lame, the deaf, the possessed, the rejected, the leprous, the destitute, the irreligious, the scoundrel, the promiscuous, the simple, the desperate.

In fact, Jesus’ gloriously attractive heart was repulsive to the proud, and the prominent, and the power-hungry, and the political.  The self-righteous reviled Him, while the humble embraced Him.

Make no mistake, Jesus was beautiful… but in a way that transcended time.

God knew.  His plan was perfect.

A square jaw and chiseled body would create a hysteria that would mask the glorious beauty of Jesus.  God’s cosmic design was to deliver a Savior that would be impossible to ignore because of the transcendent beauty of His life.

We can wonder what He looked like, but we will never wonder what He was.

God flashed no pocket photos of His son – but He made certain that we could know Him.  That we could approach Him.  That we could be transformed by Him.

Is it any wonder that Jesus invites us to live beautiful lives… of meekness, of humility, of generosity, of grace, of mercy, of compassion, of forgiveness, of love… because this was His beauty.  His majesty.

In his physical austerity Jesus found a wealth of beauty in a heart consumed with the things of God.

What amazing love.  What mind-numbing humility… that the creator of the most beautiful things imaginable became something so profoundly unimpressive in order to point us to the things that matter most.

This is good news to everyone except those consumed with their own beauty.  This is liberating to everyone except those held captive by their love for themselves.  This is transformational to everyone except those that are content with “me.”

“he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.”   But make no mistake He was and He is our Beautiful Savior.


The Secret of Grace

May 9, 2016

For the love of Christ controls us, (2 Corinthians 5:14a) Roughly a quarter of a mile from Wheaton Central High School was 103 East Park. This address was home for 16 years of my life, including my high school years. The close proximity to the school property made it possible for me to eat many […]

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“With the first pick…”

May 2, 2016

“With the first pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Los Angeles Rams select Jarod Goff, quarterback California.” These words rolled off the lips of Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the National Football League, as he announced the first, and each subsequent player selected by the professional football teams in the United States. Pride swelled. […]

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Calling All Shepherds… Yes, All of You

April 22, 2016

I’m several weeks away from a Youth For Christ USA National Board meeting. It’s in this context that I will receive my performance review. The process started several weeks ago and included the candid feedback of my Cabinet, of the board members, along with my own perspective related to my job performance. It’s a part […]

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The Keys to the Kingdom

April 15, 2016

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  (Matthew 16:19) Recently in the course of racing from a conference call to an appointment, I found myself digging in my pocket […]

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“I Need Help”

April 8, 2016

It was just about two weeks ago that our daughter and son-in-law welcomed a 10-month-old into their home. I’ll call him JB. In fact, JB was not only welcomed by Alli and Chris, but by Desmond (5) and Abe (1-1/2 ). JB joined us for Easter and a family birthday celebration, even as he merged into […]

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You Messed With the Wrong Person

April 1, 2016

On September 11, 2001… time stood still. Our country stopped. Planes quit flying. A hideous enemy struck with devastating force and wonderful, innocent, unsuspecting people died. But while the metal of the World Trade Center melted into a molten pool, so too the resolve and commitment of a disconnected and fragmented people came together. A […]

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Beyond a Hero

March 24, 2016

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 […]

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Cling to What is Good

March 18, 2016

This week Mary and I participated in a half-day marriage seminar. The presentation and conversation propelled me to a moment… to an instant… to an experience that took place in a hospital room on July 14, 2012. Mary was four days removed from a serious cycling accident. A skilled and seasoned Orthopedic surgeon had meticulously […]

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