My Tribute. My Inspiration.

by DanWolgemuth on November 18, 2022

It seemed to be a fitting finale to a wonderful six-month adventure. I had been on assignment with General Electric in Folkestone, Kent in the U.K., and now, this global IT project had provided the perfect launching pad for a July trip to Western Scotland.

It was 1996, Mary and our three kids had adjusted beautifully to life in a small row house. The adventure provided an open invitation to explore new communities and cultures

What awaited us now was the rough and quiet Scottish terrain.

During one of our excursions into the rolling Scottish countryside, on a single lane road, we noticed a small sign that announced a “Sheepdog Contest”. We were intrigued and quickly hooked.

I navigated our rental car to a group of parked pickup trucks and we ventured to the edge of a vast Scottish field. The day was blustery and unfriendly, even in July. Once adequately bundled, we watched… first with curiosity and then with amazement.

A small cluster of sheep were positioned at the far end of the field, barely visible. Then, a shepherd, located in close proximity to us, with a dog at his side, would signal for his companion to move. And move they did. Racing to the far side of the field with purpose, energy and focus.

We watched through a howling wind as the dog worked the flock to the shepherd. The clock was running, but the precision was more important. Would the flock stay together? Could the dog manage a rebel lamb? Would the dog be able to maneuver the small herd around an obstacle? Would the entire flock arrive at the feet of the shepherd?

We watched. We marveled. Each dog living into its calling.  A sheepdog delighting in serving its master. A sheepdog committed to drawing every lamb to the shepherd. And then, once the mission had been accomplished, the delight in the dog having pleased the shepherd was contagious. The exhausted animal would bark and leap and beg for more.

On October 29th, 2022, the Christian community lost one of its finest leaders. A sheepdog.

Steve Douglass had served with Cru for decades, including 19 years as President. But Steve was so much more than a brilliant, humble and visionary leader. His highest and best calling was as a sheepdog. One of the most committed and focused I have ever met.

Steve Douglass loved his Shepherd, the Good Shepherd. And because of that love, he loved lost sheep. He loved pursuing them. He loved wooing them. He loved directing them, and he loved celebrating with them… because that’s what his Shepherd wanted. It’s what his Shepherd commanded. It’s what brought his Shepherd glory and delight.

Everywhere. Anywhere. A sheepdog. Never for his own fame or glory, but for the satisfaction of bringing his Shepherd honor and joy.

Yes, on October 29th, we lost one of the best.

Picture of our friends from various ministries, ironically at the funeral of Denny Rydberg, the past President of Young Life… another faithful friend. Steve and Judy Douglas are on the far left of this picture. Beside the Douglass’ are Chris and Les Steckel  (FCA), and beside Mary and me are Alec and Mary Hill (InterVarsity).

And I imagine magnanimous joy as the sheepdog met the Good Shepherd face to face. Celestial barking. A Shepherd well pleased. A sheepdog that followed the Shepherd’s command.

“Bring them to me.” Yes, to me. To Jesus. To the Good Shepherd.

Well done, Steve Douglass. Sheep to the Shepherd. Well done.

May your inspiration invite action for all the sheepdogs that remain. You will be missed.

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All of me…

by DanWolgemuth on November 11, 2022

“Doubt is not at odds with faith; irony or cruelty does not cancel out beauty or truth. God knows all of me, including the darkest parts. Sometimes I can even see heaven easier for the clouds than for the perfect blue. And he loves me still?”

These words from Surprised by Oxford jumped off the page like an unwelcome intruder. Just days before, in a paced and calibrated read through the book of Revelation I read the words of Jesus through the pen of John with particular and uncharacteristic engagement. Like the words written by Carolyn Weber, I was unintentionally arrested by two very basic words.

Sometimes it takes a large passage, or a complete chapter, or even an entire book of the Bible to surround my thoughts, but not this passage. Not these words. Just two of them… and they aligned in uncanny synchrony with page 255 in the Weber memoir.

Two words that invite scrutiny, and then, a host of other reactions and actions.

The words… “I know…”

Jesus, in a personalized note to seven churches, prefaces each evaluation with those two words. I KNOW.

Then, again, with mortal amplification, Weber writes… “God knows all of me.”

Not in an academic or exploratory way, but in a transcendent and pursuing way. “I know”.

Even as I write these two words… five simple letters, I realize the significance of inflection, of tone, of emphasis. And yet, even with the inferred inflection, the meaning and significance remain untainted.

In pain, and anguish. In grief, and fear… “I know.”

In naïve secrecy. In hidden addiction… “I know.”

In helpless plea. In desperate appeal… “I know.”

In reckless dismissal. In arrogant disregard… “I know.”

In unspoken doubt. In fear of discovery… “I know.”

In worship. In selfless generosity… “I know.”

Nothing concealed. Nothing overlooked.

God knows.

Everything.

Fatigued, we do our best to conceal. Our foolishness is no match for His relentless love.

There is no discovery that disqualifies, no revelation that surprises.

“I know.”

He does.

Knowledge that liberates when confessed honestly. Our acknowledging matching His knowing. Knowledge that humbles. Agreement that unlocks the chains of shame.

He is no star struck lover. His love is informed. His compassion is anchored in a full awareness.

His knowledge neither accommodates nor obliterates.

While we were still sinners. While we are still sinners, Christ died for us.

He knew, and yet He died.

He knew, and yet He left the other 99.

He knew, and yet He loved.

God knows all of me, including the darkest parts.

Grace upon grace. Truth without compromise.

“I know…”

“And he loves me still?”

Indeed, He loves me still!

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75 and Holding

November 8, 2022

Integrity. Honesty. Trustworthiness. Yes, please. It was a few weeks ago as I was standing in the hallway of our church that my unexpected data collection effort began. I stood watching as one of our pastors counted the number of children who would make up the Children’s Choir for the second Sunday morning service. The […]

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It was almost exactly 45 years ago that I walked the rural streets of Upland, Indiana with Mary at my side. We were in the midst of the most intense dialog that we had experienced in our courtship. I had graduated from Taylor University in May of that year, specifically 1977, and Mary was back […]

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The One…

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“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4, NASB) The one. Jesus made the strategy exceptionally clear. Pursuit of the lost. But namelessly. Simply, the […]

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East Troublesome…

October 7, 2022

On October 23rd, 2020, a massive and explosive forest fire crossed the border into Rocky Mountain National Park. The fire had been started just about a week before near Kremling, Colorado. But parched conditions, a ferocious wind, and beetle-infested pines all provided the perfect storm. The fire, the second largest in Colorado history, was called […]

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A Putin Pay Cut

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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.  […]

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Hand in hand

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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 […]

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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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