A Putin Pay Cut

by DanWolgemuth on September 23, 2022

It was seven years ago that I wrote the following words about Vladimir Putin.  And frankly, while I don’t have an update on his projected net worth, the world has a more vivid picture of just who this man is.

This makes the contrast with the finest teacher who ever walked the planet more stark.  As I ponder the humility of Jesus, I am profoundly moved.  We all should be…


From 2015
This just in… the Russian economy is slowly imploding, burdened with the weight of mounting expenses and declining oil revenues. With the realities of this economic crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin has enacted a sweeping cut in government pay of 10%. The story also highlights the fact that Putin will include his own compensation in this pay cut.

At first blush this leadership gesture seems heroic and sacrificial. But in this case, first blush simply isn’t adequate.

Some estimate that Vladimir Putin is the wealthiest human being alive. His net worth has been pegged as high as $200 billion. Yes, billion. At that rate he can barely see Bill Gates in his rearview mirror.

This includes 20 homes, 58 aircraft and four yachts. Most of the wealth is stashed in foreign accounts.

Frankly, that changes my perspective on a $10,000 a year pay cut. While the optics of the gesture and the local headlines might read with a sense of solidarity, the reality defies the assertion. Quite simply, Vladimir Putin has become mind-bogglingly rich at the expense of his people, his economy, and his nation. Vladimir Putin views his position as a platform from which to exploit what he believes is ultimately due to him. All this while the bulk of the population in Russia spends 50% of their income on food.

As the curtain opens on a comparison to a man who was interested in more than headlines, we read the following: who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Jesus did more than just cut His pay by $10,000. He did more than sell one of His houses. Jesus not only sacrificed, He abandoned the position… He walked away from the crown…

From infinite God to vulnerable baby.

From master of the universe, to the son of a carpenter.

From glory to Nazareth.

From King to servant.

From Creator to conceived.

From omnipotent to helpless.

From cosmic to vagabond.

From coequal with God to convict.

From glorified to shameful.

Jesus liquidated His entire Balance Sheet to ransom mankind, to pay the price, to bring us home.

His optics match reality. Jesus embraced the bankruptcy of mankind by paying it all.

This is my leader. This is my King.

Everything. 

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Hand in hand

by DanWolgemuth on September 16, 2022

His was the first day of second grade. A new school. Unfamiliarity in excess. Hers was the start of school. Kindergarten. Again, all new… facilities, instructors, administrators and relationships. New.

But as Abe and Juni ventured off to school together on day one, they had something that transcended new. Something that more than equalized the uncertainty. They had each other. And so, hand in hand, they walked into elementary school together. Yes, hand in hand. A big brother. His little sister. Unmarked, unmoved, and unaware of any narrative that would make such a display out of step, or uncool.

What Juni and Abe knew was that a strange environment was no match for shared, consistent and persistent love. A red carpet may have signaled a welcome, but a warm hand assured safety and security.

Separate classrooms. Different teachers. Unfamiliar faces… but companions. Sojourners. Family. Friends. Advocates. Guardians.

Abe and Juni weren’t coached or coerced into holding hands. They wanted to. They needed to. A seven-year-old and a five year old.

So when did the rest of us stop holding hands? When did we start believing that it was weak, or overly sentimental, or unfashionable, or restrictive, or dependent?

Words like isolated, alone, disconnected, alienated, or overlooked often surface as descriptors of our culture and society. Perhaps because we stopped reaching out to hold a hand. Perhaps because we stopped looking for others who had their hands out. Perhaps because individualism became the god that we worshiped. Perhaps because autonomy became the expectation and then the demand. Perhaps because it’s harder to take a selfie when you’re holding somebody’s hand. Perhaps because we believed that what was true for Adam in the Garden, is not true for me.

Alone isn’t what we were made for.

In our preoccupation with self, we stopped looking to the margins for hands to hold. In our image consciousness we elevated appearance above authenticity.

The dial tone of our soul is independence. And with this dial tone comes the illusion of control and freedom.

Not for Juni and Abe. Hand in hand into the unknown, because your hand in mine makes it known.

The warmth of your hand against the cold reality of the unfamiliar.

When? When did we stop reaching out? When did we stop looking for others with outstretched hands? When did we start misinterpreting individualism for strength? When?

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:14–15)

Hand in hand to a new classroom. Hand in hand as a classroom taught by children. Hand in hand with the full endorsement of Jesus.

Together. It’s how we were designed. It’s how we survive. It’s how we flourish.

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Queen Elizabeth II has died

September 9, 2022

At 96 years old, and after serving as England’s prime monarch for over 70 years, the Queen passed away.   And as the news breaks, the world seems to recoil. Words like tragic, and unexpected, and devastating emerge. With surprising intensity, dignity, and urgency. It is indisputable that Queen Elizabeth II lived a noteworthy, and […]

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Neighbors From Different Neighborhoods

September 2, 2022

I’m not sure that I can put a firm timeframe together on when our Colorado Community Church “neighborhood” began to assemble, but at the start it coalesced as a community of care for Mary and me as we brought Eunice Cargo, Mary’s 90-year-old Mom, to church with us. We tended to gravitate to a particular […]

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Cosmic FaceTime

August 26, 2022

Picture the scene… a classroom in a vibrant church in the Chicago suburbs. The date is March, 2010, and the context is a Sunday shortly after the death of my Mom. Grace Wolgemuth was a regular attender at the church, and loved by all who knew her. Ruth Guillaume, my sister, was interacting with a […]

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Emmie…

August 19, 2022

Just, Emmie. As summer begins to retreat, some days more willingly than others, I’m prone to reflect on this past season. Perhaps a throwback to the years of reporting to my classmates at Whittier Elementary School in Wheaton on my summer activities. This summer was punctuated by significant time with our eleven grandchildren. Seldom all […]

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Does Jesus Know Sign Language?

August 5, 2022

The video rolled… all 3 minutes and 53 seconds of it. Watch the video here, Deaf Teen Quest – Ajah’s Story. It told a story. Actually, several stories. Of a mission, of a message, of a passion for the overlooked and silenced. Ellen Kameraad was the storyteller. But there was no mistake that it was […]

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I Got It Wrong, or Did I?

July 22, 2022

For years I’ve enjoyed quoting Thomas Friedman in his noteworthy book, The World Is Flat. Nearing the end of this work he sets the criteria from which to judge the worth of a culture. In essence, Friedman says that you “judge a culture, society, or organization, by whether it has more dreams than memories, or more […]

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Queen Juni

July 15, 2022

Juni and I sat in an exam room, waiting for a doctor to come and give us the treatment options for the weeks ahead. Juni and her three siblings are staying with us for a few days, and a “hill rolling adventure” gone awry had resulted in a broken humerus bone for our 5-year-old granddaughter. […]

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He wept. We weep.

July 1, 2022

But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. (Luke 19:41) “It wouldn’t be so bad if my Mom just smoked pot.” A 12-year-old. A camper at our YFC middle school camp. A throwaway line to a cabin leader who had helped to get this boy to camp. […]

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