Symptoms of The Sickness

by DanWolgemuth on October 15, 2021

COVID has propelled internet activity at intense levels. Many of the searches have to do with symptoms associated with the disease. Of all of the symptoms that seem focused and telling… the loss of smell and taste is high on the list.

Over 50% of the individuals who contract COVID experience anosmia. Some say as many at 2/3 of the individuals.

Thankfully, it seems to be temporary… but in some cases it’s dangerous and devastating. Smell and taste not only enhance our lives, they also warn us of danger. Legitimate danger. Even as smell and taste invite us into joy and celebration.

A recent bout with these symptoms not only impacted my body, but my soul as well.

The Psalmist put it this way, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

Taste connects us to the goodness of God.

And again…

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Or the words of Jesus…

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

Is it possible that COVID has not only exposed the fragility of our human condition, but also, the condition of many in the church today? Does the evangelical church have COVID?

Are we tasteless to the world? Indistinguishable from the culture we are supposed to season. We have the texture and temperature of the church, but we are neither sweet nor savory to those we engage.

When the world is angry and bitter and defensive and divided, so are we. When the world is self-absorbed, ego driven, celebrity obsessed… so too, the church.

In a blind taste test, would Christians taste any different than the insipid world around them? And does this pointed symptom project a lifeless and suffocating faith?

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”

An aroma. The aroma. Of Jesus. Our Christ.

A smell that warns. A smell that ignites.

But today… nothing. No difference.

Smells often trigger memories. A favorite recipe. A compelling fragrance. A distinct warning.

The aroma of Christ should remind the world of justice and hope and love and grace and compassion and righteousness and mercy. But…

A generation is growing up without a positive sensory memory. They’ve smelled musty, rancid, or stale representations of faith that don’t smell anything like the fragrance of Christ. An aroma that lingers. A taste that lasts.

I’m convicted. Frankly, I’m embarrassed.

This is not the aroma of FOX News, or CNN, or MSNBC, or the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal.

We are to be set apart. Different. In the world to season it. Bold. Bright. Powerful. Unmistakable.

Just like the taste and smell of our Savior. Skeptics and saints were impacted. His enemies and his allies. The smell and taste of eternity. Distinguishable. Compelling. Undeniable. Taste and see… I think it’s time.

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Graybill and Cecelia

by DanWolgemuth on October 8, 2021

I stood at the gravesite. The place where a marble stone represents two lives that touched me deeply. At the very core, my grandparents, Graybill and Cecelia are the reason I am able to draw a breath, but in a very deep sense, their lives informed much of my earliest perspectives on what God was like.

Graybill Wolgemuth was quiet. Distant. Unengaged. He seemed sad and withdrawn. He was devout. Structured. Organized. Not particularly interested in the pulse and play of a grandson.

Cecelia on the other hand, was involved. Intensely involved. She painted a picture of God that cast him as a tyrant. The secret police. Holy, and on the war path.

She was gritty and determined. An iron will that kept her alive until she was 105 years old. Her ambition was clear. She was preparing a resume for God.

There were two sections in the resume… what she did for God, and more significantly, what she gave up for Him.  

Her resume required daily attention. A misplaced word, at the most inopportune time, and presto, you’re off God’s list. Forgotten. And worse, condemned. Unwelcome in Glory.

I stood. My mind spinning. My soul stirring. A three-month sabbatical had focused the beam of my theological attention on the grace of God… and now, here I stood, surveying a grave and pondering my own resume.  

Did I have two sections on my resume? Was I consumed with what I had done, and what I had avoided?

Was I preparing and rehearsing my own script to recite to God some day?

As Mary and I slipped back into our rental car, a silent heaviness accompanied me. Grief. Not for me, but for anyone who believes that a personal resume could ever suffice.

Don’t misunderstand me. We have a resume. All of us do.

For everyone that God welcomes home, there is only one word on our resume. One name, to be precise. Jesus.

He is my credential.

His accomplishment, not mine. His sacrifice, not mine.

Therefore, I am compelled by Christ to authentic acts of justice, compassion, sacrifice and love. His name is enough to ignite me. His grace controls me. And my obedience highlights His resume, not my own.

If I reach for a pen to write down an act of obedience, then I’ve immediately discredited what I’ve done, and more importantly, why I’ve done it.

Three months of sabbatical came to a close at the side of a grave. How fitting. How telling.

There is only one grave that matters. One man. One death. One victory.

Jesus.

Freedom. Liberty. Joy.

“For me to live… Is Christ.”

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Sabbatical.

October 1, 2021

Three months. Rest. Renewal. Refreshment. Recommitment. Restoration. 6,000 miles of driving. Dirt roads in Western Colorado. The Beltway in Washington D.C. Downshifting. National Parks. Museums. Less Zoom. More introspection. Silence. Conversation. Music. More conversation.  Audio Books. Quiet. Laughter. Tears. Tenderness. Grit. Flashes of selfishness. A buffet of grace. Pioneering. Trips down memory lane. Reset. Re. […]

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An Invitation to a Spending Spree

September 24, 2021

*Dan is away for a summer sabbatical – a time of rest, rejuvenation and reverence.  Please enjoy one of our favorite Friday Fragments.  This Fragment was initially published on May 29, 2015. See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  (1 John […]

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Drawing My Own Mushroom

September 17, 2021

*Dan is away for a summer sabbatical – a time of rest, rejuvenation and reverence.  Please enjoy one of our favorite Friday Fragments.  This Fragment was initially published on September 15, 2017. Kellen is a seven-year-old. He’s the bright and inquisitive grandson of my twin sister. Last week Kellen, his parents and his two siblings […]

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A Kiss for a Prodigal

September 3, 2021

*Dan is away for a summer sabbatical – a time of rest, rejuvenation and reverence.  Please enjoy one of our favorite Friday Fragments.  This Fragment was initially published on August 24, 2018. And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt […]

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Only a pebble…

August 27, 2021

*Dan is away for a summer sabbatical – a time of rest, rejuvenation and reverence.  Please enjoy one of our favorite Friday Fragments.  This Fragment was initially published on September 11, 2020. My workday had concluded, and I made the short commute from the office in our home to the front porch. Mary was sitting […]

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“We Don’t Say That”… But should we?”

August 20, 2021

*Dan is away for a summer sabbatical – a time of rest, rejuvenation and reverence.  Please enjoy one of our favorite Friday Fragments.  This Fragment was initially published on April 19, 2013. Hate was a word that simply wasn’t acceptable in the home in which I grew up. I don’t know if this was an […]

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“Well, do you know how to wrestle?”

August 13, 2021

*Dan is away for a summer sabbatical – a time of rest, rejuvenation and reverence.  Please enjoy one of our favorite Friday Fragments.  This Fragment was initially published on January 27, 2017. Rowan, our three-year-old grandson, posed the question to Mary as she invited input on plans for the afternoon at our house. I have […]

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Soft Clay

July 23, 2021

*Dan is away for a summer sabbatical – a time of rest, rejuvenation and reverence.  Please enjoy one of our favorite Friday Fragments.  This Fragment was initially published on May 5, 2017. Words are the soft clay that get formed into either useful or destructive purposes. I know this. I hear this. I am this. […]

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