Intoxicated With Winning

by DanWolgemuth on July 19, 2024

Over the last six months Mary and I have been witnesses to our grandkids’ competitive participation in hockey, soccer, flag-football, softball, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and baseball.

As I sit and watch, often with a churning gut, I find myself whispering prayers. The primary theme of these conversations with the Almighty revolve around some aspect of success. “Please… a goal, a save, a touchdown, a winner, a dig, a pass, a hit, a three pointer, please. And yes, Lord, a ‘W’ would be great.”

Subtly, I’ve begun to equate winning with answered prayer. Not just in my own heart, but perhaps in the young lives in front of me.

Feels harmless and natural with kids’ sports, but the question is, does the line stop there? Where else have I equated winning with answered prayer?

Perhaps the disciples did the same thing. Jesus. The promised one. The prophesied one. The King. The writing was on the wall.

Roman occupation and oppression. Now the cavalry. Sweet retaliation on the way. An overthrow. A thrashing.

Whispered prayers.

I’ve become increasingly convinced that my walk with Christ is hindered anytime I equate the infinite will of God to the finite results of life.

There is no question that Jesus came to establish victory. But over death, not Rome. Frankly, victory over Rome would take care of itself, as cultural rot eroded the foundation of a society.

Did Jesus win? Did He talk about winning?

“Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant to all.”

The direct quotes from the heart and lips and example of Jesus are hardly your traditional pregame pep talk. His whispered prayer was not for conquest, but obedience to the will of His Father.

Jesus understood that setting the bar on winning was far too low a standard.

Rome was never the problem. Sin was.

Winning was never the solution. Salvation was.

Political control was never the objective. Love of God and neighbor was.

Accumulation was never the sign of success. Generosity was.

Jesus replaced a podium with a basin and a towel.

He never panicked over popular opinion, because He answered only to His Father.

His platform was solid. His guidelines clear. His grace abundant.

Jesus didn’t come to win. He came to transform.

He chose to rule and reign in hearts, not in the halls of power.

Winning. A preoccupation with the things that moth and rust and thieves have full access to.

But not Jesus. Not the early church.

Voteless followers of Jesus knew that winning was always temporary, but victory in Christ was eternal.

My whispered prayers.

Victory in Jesus.

Period.

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They’ll Know, Or Will They?

by DanWolgemuth on July 12, 2024

“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love”

Skip and Margaret Wilson. That’s who I think of when I think of this song. Actually, just “Skip and Margaret”.

This young married college couple lived in Wheaton, Illinois during the period of time when I was in high school. Once a week they opened their home to young people.

It was ecumenical, before I knew what the word meant. A mix of faith traditions and of worship expressions. It was vibrant and authentic. I remember feeling safe and comfortable. I remember hearing from people who loved Jesus and wanted to make sure that others knew who Christ was, and is.

Certainly, some of the details and memories about Skip and Margaret’s Bible Studies have yellowing edges, but what has never faded is the reality that I encountered Jesus at this home in a way that I hadn’t anywhere else.

And it was there. In a cramped living room, with other curious teenagers that I remember hearing “They’ll know we are Christians” for the first time.

Peter Scholtes, a Catholic priest from the South Side of Chicago wrote the song in 1966 for his youth choir. But it didn’t stay contained for long. Not geographically or denominationally. The simplicity, repeatability, and Biblical credibility of the song propelled it, even into a small living room in Wheaton, Illinois.

In recent days, I’ve revisited these lyrics. “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord”.

One.

One. In answer to the prayer of Jesus, oneness is the answer to isolation. It’s what I found at Skip and Margaret’s.

Unity without diluting the truth. Oneness without losing individual dignity and worth.

So the prevailing question is, are we?

Are we, the followers of Jesus, His disciples, one in the Spirit? We will never be one without the Spirit, but with it, we can be.

Every other agenda secondary. Every other disagreement quieted. Every other platform lowered.

One.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6, ESV)

Oneness made possible.

Oneness that preaches.

Oneness that the Spirit both facilitates and demands.

It’s time to start singing again. Anything less casts a dark shadow across the message of Jesus.

They will know we are Christians by our love…

Do they?

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YFC Camp Goes to Prison

June 28, 2024

The name Carlos Portillo first came to my attention a few weeks ago in an email. The email had to do with a camp scholarship request that Carlos was making for a camp that our Suncoast YFC chapter was organizing. This was about a day camp. Three days long. Roughly 70 young people in attendance. […]

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900 Days

June 21, 2024

It was January 1, 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. A day to mark freedom and liberty, for all. For all. But the proclamation took 900 days to resound into the deaf ears of slave owners in Texas. 900 days of continued separation from family. 900 days of isolation and […]

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The Numbers Only Tell Part of the Story

June 14, 2024

It was 1944 when a fledgling group of young leaders with a Kingdom-sized vision began to coalesce around an idea. A mission. A dream. Eighty years ago, Youth For Christ was born, launched, and propelled into action. Within a few years, the mission had spread throughout the globe. In the small Canadian community of Brantford, […]

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The Gift of Good-Bye

June 7, 2024

On April 22, 2020, Eunice Cargo moved out of Peakview Assisted Living and moved in with us. The uncertainty of a pandemic, and the lack of personal interaction fueled our desire to make this happen. My mother-in-law was convinced that this was a temporary relocation, and that she would be back at Peakview in time […]

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A Faith That Doesn’t Need To Be Fixed

May 24, 2024

Early this morning I woke with a number of friends and family members on my heart. These are people that I love and pray for… regularly. They are also people who have been exposed to the Gospel message, but who either actively or passively resist, and at times reject the message altogether. My guess is […]

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Hidden…

May 10, 2024

“Do not let your adorning be external… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV) The hidden person of the heart. Imperishable beauty. A gentle and quiet spirit. Did the Apostle […]

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Not For Sale

May 3, 2024

On March 16th, I received an email with the following Subject Line: “Dan, quick question”. The email was sent to me from Nathan Willis, a name that was close enough to a few other individuals that I know, so I opened it. The opening of the email read as follows… “Hi Dan, I hope you […]

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A Maserati in Amish Country

April 26, 2024

Over the past 19 years, I have rented a lot of Alamo cars. On Monday evening at Philadelphia International Airport, with an Alamo agent walking in the parking lot at my side, I got asked a question I’ve never been asked. It started with this observation, “Sir, I know you rented a small SUV (which […]

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