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Dial-tone

by DanWolgemuth on August 11, 2017

240 middle school students filed out of the Club Room at Sunstream Camp in Odgen, Iowa in silence. They had just been riveted to every word that Jarell Roach (J-Roach) had communicated about brokenness, confession, forgiveness, restoration and hope. It was time to reflect and respond. It was time to consider and declare.  It was solo time.

Solo time… a 15-minute oasis in the midst of activity, music, food, conversation, laughter and despair. The waning moments of dusk provided the canvas on which the landscape of life was contemplated. Students found a patch of grass roughly ten feet from any other individual. 240 of them littered across the terrain. Another 40 leaders following the same routine of solitude.

The intended silence was violated from the very first moment by a middle school student I’ll refer to as Josh.

For 15 minutes Josh wept.

An unmasked cry became the dial-tone for 15 minutes of reflection. Tears… dipped from the well of brokenness, sin, and pain poured from Josh. They poured across every soul that covered the grass at Sunstream. They washed over me as well.

There was no rush to comfort, no race to console. Authentic lament demands a clear line of sight to righteousness. Lament is birthed from unrestricted access to the throne of a just and holy God.

And so Josh wailed.

But in his breath, the breath of a middle school student from Nebraska, he became the surrogate amplification of every other lament in that field. Every desperate plea, every word of regret, every ounce of shame used Josh’s vocal cords.

It was my breath in his lungs. He cried my tears.

In that field, on that Monday night, Josh articulated a robust theology of sin. He wept.

Lament is the bedrock upon which restoration builds. Tears water the seeds of hope. Guilt is the landfill on which the magnitude of mercy is exposed. Grace flourishes where sin is understood.

Lament was the dial-tone. Then the voice of hope.

Shouts of “YES” echoed across the camp. Yes to Jesus. Yes to forgiveness. Yes to transformation. Yes to destiny and dignity. Yes to a transformed identity.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
                        you have loosed my sackcloth
                        and clothed me with gladness,
            that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
                        O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
(Psalm 30:11-12 ESV)

Josh… the voice of lament. The usher to grace.

His voice amplified in every soul at Sunstream as a warmup act for Jesus.

Then praise. Then shouts of joy.

Saved. Rescued. Reborn.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

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A Plea For More

by DanWolgemuth on August 4, 2017

(The following is an encore Fragment.  Although written and published some time ago, I hope that it refreshes your soul today.)

“Do you see anything?”  And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.”  (Mark 8:23, 24)

Jesus’ encounter with the blind man at Bethsaida looks an awful lot like His supernatural power misfired.  Either He underestimated the force of the defect, or He misappropriated His healing power.  In either case, when Jesus asked the blind man to take a quick glance at the eye chart after He had applied His healing balm, He got a “less than satisfactory” on the report.

Was this a divine foul ball?  Had the sheer exhaustion from the pace of feeding thousands, dialoging with skeptics, teaching, mentoring, and healing finally caught up with Him?  Was He out of juice, under powered, overtaxed or unprepared?

Not a chance!  Jesus, God’s Son, spoke every word and delivered every action with the precise purposes and plans of God as His guide.  A multi-phased healing process was not a “two-swings at bat” in the game of life.

Masterfully, Jesus used this healing experience as a metaphor for life and learning.

What if this blind man, exposed to a world of darkness, had been prepared to live with the vast improvement of imperfect sight?  What if he had stopped wanting more?  For undoubtedly, seeing men that look like trees walking is a quantum leap over the chasm of nothing.  Yet his honesty became his petition, and the response of Christ became a megaphone to the body and the soul.

More of Christ.  More of His healing power.  More drink for the thirsty, more healing for the broken, more forgiveness for the shamed, more love for the bitter, more tenderness for the rigid, more holiness for the sinner. Just more of Jesus.

What if the prayer of my soul was an acknowledgment of the progress and a plea for more? What if our prayers echoed the heartbeat of the father of the boy in Mark 9:24 who pled, “I believe; help my unbelief?”

What if our bodies and souls clamored for more… not in disrespect but in expectation; not with dissatisfaction but with anticipation?

Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.  (Mark 8:25)

Our hunger for more becomes His banquet table.  Our thirst invites His wellspring.

More of Jesus… I want more.

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At the Trailhead of Wow

July 28, 2017
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“A life-changing hike…” Those are the exact words extracted from the “National Parks of America” book that I gave to Mary for Christmas. The words wrap around the description of the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park in Montana. They are part of an invitation to drive on the breathtaking “Going to the Sun” Road […]

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Loving Jesus-Style

July 20, 2017

(The following is an encore Fragment.  Although written and published some time ago, I hope that it refreshes your soul today.) I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do […]

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One of Those Days

July 14, 2017

(The following is an encore Fragment.  Although written and published some time ago, I hope that it refreshes your soul today.) On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem.  And the power […]

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Yes, Again

July 7, 2017

The day was an amazing collection of sounds and smells and tastes. Emotion pulsed through every moment, through every memory, through every dream. Promises cascaded with clarity and confidence. Mike and Cheryl were celebrating, but they were doing significantly more than that. July 5, 1977. Cheryl, a seventeen-year-old. Mike, just slightly older. An unscripted beginning. […]

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“The Queen City of the North”

June 30, 2017
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Ah, yes. Virginia, Minnesota. The Mesabi Range. Iron ore. Three hours north of Minneapolis and an hour northwest of Duluth. But it wasn’t iron ore that interested me in Virginia. It was the birth of a 7 pound 11 ounces girl on June 27th that changed the trajectory of my life. Nearly eight hours from […]

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Under Non-Glare Glass?

June 23, 2017

I wrote this Fragment five years ago… but the truth it highlights is more powerfully true today. I stepped into my closet and scanned the pants that I had hanging on a rod.  It was as though my REI hiking pants were waving at me like a second grader who knew the answer to a […]

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Sorry Spokane

June 19, 2017

Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. The first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. There you have it. […]

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He is Always in the Chair

June 13, 2017

Last Thursday night Mary and I were the primary caregivers to six young kids. Three had a genetic connection to us, the other three were a part of our daughter-in-law’s family. The assignment was designed to facilitate an adult evening around a Rehearsal Dinner. The park, pizza and lots of outdoor play was our strategy. […]

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