The Comeback of the Year

by DanWolgemuth on December 2, 2016

I love comeback stories. Who doesn’t. The underdog. The outcast. From benched to the best.

The National Football League and Major League Baseball recognize the athlete that best defines an athletic comeback each year.

With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, I’ve come to believe that one of the most noteworthy comebacks in our present day belongs to a vegetable. Perhaps you’ve thoughtfully observed something similar. Menus across the country included the most traditional items this past year… but making a strong and unexpected showing were Brussels sprouts.

In fact, the finest and hippest restaurants in Denver boast of fine variations and adaptations that include this edible bud. But who would have thought it was possible?

Certainly not me.  I recall gagging my way through meals with these little balls on my plate. But to be fair, something has happened to this vegetable that transcends my aging taste buds and the gravitational tug to do what old people do… repeat the misguided perspectives of their parents.

No, Brussels sprouts have been reinvented and revitalized. My memory of these boiled blobs rolling around on my plate was that they carried an unappealing odor that was only eclipsed by their texture and taste.

Enter comeback. Enter roasted, grilled or sautéed varieties that collaborate with onions, bacon, olive oil, and a plethora of fresh herbs and spices. Good-bye boiling water, hello beautifully browned outer leaves and tantalizing tastes.

Is there a better vegetable story? Is there any other green orb that has risen to the top of the charts from the depths of oblivion and disdain? I think not.

From tasteless to palate pleasing.

Is it possible that Christians today are viewed like the Brussels sprouts of the 1960’s and 1970’s? Boiled. Unattractive. Tasteless. Irrelevant.

I think so. I fear so.

But wait, this is not what we were called to be. This isn’t what Jesus had in mind. No, His powerful and inspirational words in John 10:10 say; “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

We’re to be a highlight on the menu. Roasted not boiled.

What if we, as followers of Jesus the Christ, decided that we wouldn’t pride ourselves on being the most distasteful thing on the menu?

Our culture thinks of us as boiled blobs… when our Savior has declared that we’re the seasoning that makes life come alive.

Roasted, sautéed… combined with spices and herbs. Alive. Rich. Beautiful and full of taste.

It’s time for a comeback. It’s time for new recipes. It’s time to be what God created us to be.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! (Psalm 34:8a)

“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.” (Matthew 5:13)

Let’s confront the misconception.

Hello beautifully browned outer leaves and tantalizing tastes.

Hello followers of Jesus.

It’s time to shake up the menu.

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What I Didn’t Expect Was Brandon

by DanWolgemuth on November 21, 2016

The final appeal had been made. The cards had been filled out. The closing prayer offered.

I stood by Table 12 at the front of the room, assembled my belongs, and turned for the conversations that typically occur after a Youth For Christ fund raising banquet. What I didn’t expect was Brandon.

Brandon is a high school junior. He was a student volunteer for our event in rural Illinois. He stood in the back of the room while I filled my 30-minute speaking slot with scripture, stories and an appeal.

While I had hoped that my talk would touch the hearts of receptive partners, I hadn’t expected it to ignite the heart of a 17-year-old.

Brandon’s cheeks were flushed and his eyes were alive. Whatever protocol might have been typical in waiting in a queue, he violated, but passionately and appropriately so.

He raced to recap the evening. Ironically, my mind had just been doing the same thing. I had wondered, not more than 5 minutes before, whether my words had been focused enough to make a compelling case. I had leaned into a theme that pressed into our created identity. Image bearers. God’s masterpiece.

Genesis 1:27 and Ephesians 2:10. Had it worked? Did it connect? Was it too much too fast?

Amazingly, Brandon pitched a tent on that very theme.

“Two years ago I was an atheist. I didn’t believe God existed.”

From there he unpacked a bit of his family background and then he launched, with joy, into the delight of his discovery… “God is my Father. I have an identity in Him. I know who I am. I know who He is.”

I was rocked by the power of the story. I had expected the customary handshakes, introductions, and reminiscing that accompanies an evening like this, but I never expected the explosive delight of a student volunteer.

I don’t know if Brandon caught a glimpse of the reservoir of tears that had begun to accumulate in the corners of my eyes… but his story and the power of God’s rescuing reach touched me. No, it embraced me in unconstrained joy.

Hope is uncontainable. Transformation is irresistible. Brandon was inspirational.

I wanted to grab the microphone and pull everyone back to their seats. “This is what I was talking about. The love of Jesus works. The grace of God is powerful.”

But it was my soul that needed the message. It was my heart that needed to be rocked once again. Through Brandon.

From the lips of a young man whose assignment had been to clear dishes and pour coffee… a transcendent message. The Good News about Jesus is still Good News.

This is why. This is who. This is how.

For Brandon. Through Jesus. By grace.

Thanksgiving indeed. Grace unveiled.

Brandon.

Jesus.

Image bearers of God. His masterpiece.

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A Shoebox Filled With Love

November 11, 2016

“Greater love has no one that this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  ~ John 15:13 Bruce Cargo was a young man when he walked into the jungle of Viet Nam. Thousands of miles from his family in Port Huron, Michigan, surrounded by the confusion of war, Bruce stewarded the honor of […]

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The Wait is Over

November 4, 2016

Thursday morning I clicked on the radio to catch a glimpse at the top news and weather stories in the Mile High City. Instead, I was fed a steady diet of Chicago Cubs related updates. Even in Denver. Smiles pushed through the airwaves as the good news was shared. The Cubs are World Series Champions. […]

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“If” gave way to “if only” which yielded to “wait until next year.”

October 24, 2016

71 years. 108 years. These two specific numbers ooze out of the sports recaps these days as the Chicago Cubs now hover a single win away from going to the World Series for the first time in 71 years. If the Cubs outscore the Los Angeles Dodgers in one of the next two baseball games, […]

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His Beloved

October 14, 2016

and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17 “Beloved Son.” “I am well pleased with Him.” i.e. – “Hey humans – my created ones, this is Jesus. He’s my son and I’m crazy about Him. He brings me extraordinary joy and pleasure. I’m proud of […]

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Inviting Hatred for All the Right Reasons

October 7, 2016

“Follow me.” This was the invitation of Jesus, first to His disciples, then to others, now to us. “Follow me.” Be like Jesus. In one of the early sermons of Jesus’ ministry He defines His character, His attitude, and His incarnational persona. “Blessed are the poor in spirit… “Blessed are those who mourn… “Blessed are […]

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All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

September 30, 2016

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men Couldn’t put Humpty together again. The earliest version of this well known nursery rhyme was published in Samuel Arnold’s Juvenile Amusements in 1797. The primary content has remained the same for over two hundred years. It […]

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The Door Slams

September 23, 2016

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17 ESV) Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I […]

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Joy.

September 16, 2016

Not a momentary lapse into a positive frame of mind. Not a good mood kind of day. Not an outcome due to perfect circumstances. Not a function of ideal situations. Joy. “Christian joy is both a privilege and a duty.” (Jerry Bridges – The Fruitful Life) Cultivated in the soil of real life… Birthed through […]

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