Soft Clay

by DanWolgemuth on 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.

Ten years ago, while visiting our Youth For Christ chapter in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a young woman walked up to a cold metal microphone and announced to the world that as a sixteen-year-old she had never heard the words, “I love you,” from a family member. Never.

I can still see her face. No visible bruises, but black and blue to the core.

Words are free, but expensive.

In the many years that have followed my Fort Wayne experience, I have heard teenagers over and over again relate the damage done with words. Sometimes baseless, but often graceless… words land in the souls of vulnerable kids and anchor themselves in the bedrock of identity.

Letters assembled in a toxic brew. Words forming sentences that construct paragraphs that shape destinies.

Words shaped from the overflow of our soul. Words formed from the vocabulary that has been instilled in us.

“In the beginning was the Word…”

From the foundation of the world, words have mattered. While it was a piece of forbidden fruit that caught Eve’s eye in the Garden, it was words that confused her identity and opened her soul to defy God.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5, ESV)

Lies with glossy promise.

But God.

Rich in mercy. Abounding in love. Just and compassionate.

But God… dispatched His only begotten son to become the Word in the flesh.

The Word with a pulse. The Word with legs. The Word who could raise a fist to the lies and speak honest words of redemption, hope and transformation into every soul that would listen.

That beautiful young teenager who stood at the microphone in Fort Wayne had been rescued. Not through the education system. Not through the courts. Not through economic opportunity. She had been rescued with words. With the Word. In the flesh. Christ in us. Our hope. Our identity.

Today, you will form somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 words. Some with your lips, some with your fingers… all from your soul. Shape them wisely. Use hands of truth and grace to form them.

Once spoken/written they become like pottery fired in the oven. They are impossible to reshape.

“…and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, ESV)

Even God. Especially God used words.

Beloved.

His son. Our brother. Beloved.

Words. A sacred trust.

Form them wisely, then use them boldly. To defy the lies.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (John 1:14, NLT)

The Word. Unfailing love. 

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Key Lime Pie

by DanWolgemuth on July 16, 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 February 18, 2011.

“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.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” ~ Matthew 5:13-15

In the waning moments of a dinner conversation the subject turned to dessert. Since our location was Florida, the focus became Key Lime Pie. In spite of the fact that this was one of the options on the menu, we declined because a wonderful meal with new friends had left us full. The seed, however, had been planted… deeply. Key Lime Pie.

When we returned to our hotel later that evening I turned and looked at Mary and in an instant, we knew… we both wanted a piece of pie before we closed the curtain on the day. We obliged the urge.

A word, deeply planted, can be powerful. It stirs in our mind before it impacts our behavior. Most of the time the implications are more significant than a few extra calories at the end of a busy day.

Throughout my life I’ve been a witness to, a participant in, and a recipient of words that indict and paralyze, and words that inspire and motivate. All of us have been.

I find it comforting to know that Jesus was both the target and the dispenser of powerful words.

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. ~ Mark 6:3

Dismissive and pointed… even our Lord endured the poison.

This fuels the bonfire of truth that Jesus declares in His most famous sermon… “You are the salt of the earth…” and again “You are the light of the world…”

Although the facts indicted us; Jesus commissioned us. Although our sin condemned us; grace transformed us… to be salt and light. And Jesus told us so. He used His words to nestle the seed deeply in our soul, to germinate, to sprout, to grow and to ultimately bear fruit.

Jesus wasn’t the biblical version of a motivational speaker… for His words riveted and convicted before they inspired. He polarized just as He united. Truth extinguishes the flames of arrogance and hatred, just as it launches sacrificial courage and love. It exposes sin, while it proclaims Good News. Yes, Jesus spoke…

It started with Key Lime Pie… but the lesson landed squarely in my soul.

You are…

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Dear July

July 9, 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 June 29, 2018. Welcome back, dear friend. I’m looking forward to being with you soon. There’s always been something very special about you, but this year, […]

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Selah…

July 2, 2021

              O LORD, how many are my foes!                              Many are rising against me;               many are saying of my soul,                              “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah (Psalm 3:1–2) Selah… Over seventy times in the book of Psalms the word is used. Selah. While the […]

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History and a Lifelong Lesson

June 18, 2021

It was early in the morning of April 17, 1978 when Mary and I walked into our apartment on 1815 ½ Street, in Fort Wayne, IN. Actually, it was more like the middle of the night. Much to our surprise, soon after we walked up the very steep steps to our second-floor abode, the phone […]

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Glory to God… and Uninvited Guests

June 4, 2021

In a way that only the Spirit of God can orchestrate… we adjusted our plans. Actually, our sleeping configuration. The night was June 7th, 2020. Almost exactly a year ago. The pandemic was raging. Racial tensions at a boiling point. Economic uncertainty loomed. Political rhetoric was being hurled about with toxic results… but none of […]

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Dave Dunbar – In the Transition Zone

May 28, 2021

They called it Bikathon, and for me, the event provided a fitting crescendo to the end of another school year. I was a college Sophomore when I rode for the first time in May of 1975. Each class assembled a team of riders who had been preparing for the months that preceded the big event. […]

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Carpe Diem

May 21, 2021

Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (John 6:15) He was about to go viral. His popularity was soaring. The campaign pledges were skyrocketing… KING! The miracle worker. The bread breaker. The fish multiplier. The brilliant teacher. […]

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Christine C. Currie 1/31/1979 – 4/23/2021

April 30, 2021

Tucked neatly in the closing verses of Acts 8 is a compelling and beautiful story. A gem, hidden between Stephen, the first biblical martyr, and the conversion of Saul. It’s the story of the Apostle Philip and a dark-skinned Gentile from Ethiopia. A nameless lost soul, on a journey home… with questions to be answered. […]

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Across the Great Divide

April 23, 2021

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ (Matthew 26:30–31, ESV) Scattered. While the disciples […]

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