More Light than Polish

by DanWolgemuth on December 15, 2017

The auditorium was packed and expectations were high. Keith and Kristyn Getty were about to begin their Irish Christmas concert, and those of us in the room were filled with anticipation.

As the artists entered, applause rose. The welcome inspired and encouraged the artists, and the evening didn’t disappoint. From the opening song to the closing ovation, artistry was embraced with celebration and praise.

Familiar Christmas anthems echoed throughout the auditorium. Accompanied with lights and dance and a vast array of musicians, every ingredient made for a recipe of joy.

But then, as the words settled into my soul, I was struck by the harsh and stunning reality of the austerity and invisibility into which Christ Himself was born.

A teenaged mother. An obscure location. An unwelcoming environment.

And yet, as Tim Keller reflects, “The incarnation is the universe-sundering, history-altering, life-transforming, paradigm-shattering event of history.”

Jesus set His glory aside to enter the planet and population He created.

The fanfare came from the heavenly realm. Angels and stars provided the introduction. But the introduction was not for a celebrity, but for an infant.

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

The prophet continues…

He was despised and rejected by men,
                        a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
            and as one from whom men hide their faces
                        he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3, ESV)

Christ. The Son of God. The Creator of the Universe.

He enters the scene surrounded by the smells and sounds of a barn. Mary and Joseph were his initial audience. A feeding trough was His podium.

Majesty gives way to vulnerability. Glory exchanged for ridicule.

There is no glamour in this story, only sacrifice for the sake of hope. Condescension for the sake of rescue.

Jesus created a garden, but He entered a stable. He spoke and the world was formed, but now His Words become flesh. He proclaimed the galaxies into being, and now His muted cries land in oblivion.

This is not a Broadway show, no; it is an act of incomparable humility.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 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. (Philippians 2:5-7)

Emptied. Poured out. Despised. Ultimately abandoned.

No thunderous applause. Just sacrificial obedience.

Light into the darkness. Hope pushed aside despair. Jesus became a human.

Don’t polish this story… instead, shine a light on the cost of grace.

“The incarnation is the universe-sundering, history-altering, life-transforming, paradigm-shattering event of history.”

The Word became flesh… at enormous expense. What amazing grace.


In a tear…

by DanWolgemuth on December 1, 2017

It would have been his 91st birthday in late November. Don Cargo was my father-in- law, and to this day, he remains a powerful inspiration. Even in how he passed into eternity over seven years ago.

“Jesus wept.” ~ John 11:35

In a tear. Through a tear. With a tear… Jesus shows the way.

In the waning moments of the morning on May 5, Donald William Cargo showed us the way.

His four children, his precious wife… and a few others were gathered at his bedside. His body, unable to keep up with the ongoing physical battle was shutting down. And we were there to march with him to the entrance gate. To the narrow hallway where only those with tickets can go further. We were there to listen and learn and wonder and pray and sing and cry and read and assure…

We wondered, sometimes out loud, just how much Dad heard or understood what was going on. But several times during the hours together; most often after a wonderful story, or a season of laughter, or a pause to cry… a tear would swell in the corner of his eye. Just a tear.

In that tear… love. In that tear… pain. In that tear… commitment. In that tear… a blessing. In that tear… courage. In that tear… power.

In that tear… a secret word to Eunice.
In that tear… a powerful legacy dispatched to Bruce, Liz, Mary and Bill.
In that tear… embrace to those who were family without genetics.
In that tear… a call to arms to his grands and greats.
In that tear… a fist in the face of the evil one.
In that tear… a thank you.
In that tear… goodbye.
If Jesus, then why not Don. He said so much with a tear.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” ~ Revelation 21:1-4

And so… at 12:50 P.M. on May 5… Don’s tears stopped, even as ours continue.

In a tear… we find our courage, our promise, our companionship… and our commissioning.

Until He wipes them away, until death is no more, until the mourning stops, until the pain subsides…

In a tear.


A $450.3 Million Jesus

November 17, 2017

Perhaps you saw the story. An original Leonardo da Vinci painting sold this week for $450.3 million. The painting is titled, “ Salvator Mundi,” which means, Savior of the World. The painting shows Christ, in Renaissance dress, giving a benediction with His raised right hand and crossed fingers while holding a crystal sphere in His left hand. […]

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November 13, 2017

Power “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, ESV) “Well, at four years old I lost my dad… and my story really unfolds from there.” Jeff Ross […]

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His Wounds, Our Balm

November 3, 2017

Going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”  (Matthew 26:39) I remember vividly the days when our three children would struggle with a variety of illnesses.  Often it was my […]

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Unlikely – The Sequel

October 27, 2017

It was a week ago that I confessed openly the unlikeliness of my being on the platform at Bethel Gospel Assembly in Harlem, New York for a panel discussion on the mass incarceration of youth. So here’s what happened. An amazing spontaneous unanimous standing ovation happened. In fact, over the 24-hour conference, this standing […]

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October 20, 2017

On Saturday morning I will step onto the platform of Bethel Gospel Assembly Church in Harlem. I will be speaking along with several others to a group of roughly 1,000 Movement Day NYC participants. The topic for the morning, Mass Incarceration & the Plight of our Urban Youth. Even as I type these words I’m […]

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October 13, 2017

“He’s the joy of my life.” The words exploded from the lips of Nick Wallace. Nick is a friend and a member of the Taylor University Board of Trustees. His reflective words were about his 26-year-old son, Ben. Joy. A son. A beautiful script. A father’s love. Expressed openly and emphatically. But there’s more. So […]

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Journey Towards Vulnerability

October 6, 2017

Periodically I write for a dad serving website called Today, one of my posts landed on the site. I wanted to share it with my Fragments list as well. Read it as a confession and a vision. Whether I was aware of it or not, I often found myself as a dad navigating my […]

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Six Days and Counting

September 29, 2017

Don’t tell the Chamber of Commerce, but Denver is in the middle of a weather funk that I’ve not seen before. Six days and counting. September should bring seventy degrees and sunshine. Frankly, nearly every day in Denver delivers sunshine… but not the past six days. The skies have pulled a grey blanket of clouds […]

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