Loving Jesus-Style

by DanWolgemuth on July 20, 2017

(The following is an encore Fragment.  Although written and published some time ago, I hope that it refreshes your soul today.)

I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  (Matthew 5:44, 46)

I love my friends.  In fact, recently I spent time with some of my closest and most faithful friends… many of whom are family as well.  These individuals are loyal, wise, and trusted.  They know my weaknesses and strengths.  They know how to pick me up when I’m down, and how to celebrate with me as well.  It is a treasure to have them as a part of my life.

As Jesus approached the halfway point in His most profound sermon, He started to drastically up the stakes for those who desired to follow Him.  In doing so, He called His followers to distinguish themselves in powerful and provocative ways.

One portion of that discourse focused on those that I love… you know, the very people that I just described.  Jesus doesn’t discount or discourage my love for these important people in my life; He simply puts this love in context.

Real love, Jesus-style love, expands the breadth of love.  It understands that embracing and being embraced by those I find easily lovable is only the preface to a landmark classic on love.

So Jesus does what Jesus alone can do… He raises the bar to levels only achievable when He is firmly in the mix.  His admonition comes in the first verse above.  And He delivered this word just moments after He had sucked the life out of the human tendency to retaliate.  “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also;” “let him have your cloak as well;” “go with him two miles” (5:39-41).

And so Jesus does it again.  He sets a standard that defies the inclination of my soul, and in doing so He proclaims:  “With God all things are possible” (19:26).

The life of Jesus reflected and resolved the disconnects of our human nature with our divine appointments.  Jesus did it, and He instructed us to follow His lead.

And so we pray for, sacrifice for, work for, weep over, laugh with our enemies.  When we do, we show the world what Jesus is all about.

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One of Those Days

by DanWolgemuth on July 14, 2017

(The following is an encore Fragment.  Although written and published some time ago, I hope that it refreshes your soul today.)

On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem.  And the power of the Lord was with him to heal.  (Luke 5:17)

Have you ever had “one of those days?”  It strikes me that Dr. Luke, the author of this Gospel, begins relating this story with a description that this was just a normal day on the ministry calendar of Jesus.  It wasn’t a Sabbath or a large public gathering; most likely it was a private home with a group of curious Pharisees and teachers.  It was just “one of those days.”

But even on “one of those days,” Jesus had extraordinary power to heal.  In Luke 5:17-26, Jesus heals a paralytic through the persistent and compassionate care of his friends.  They believed that a full room was no barrier to getting their companion in front of Jesus.  Jesus was fueled with the inexhaustible resource of God.  It is this power to heal that compelled Jesus to declare the health of the soul before the healing of the body.  “Man, your sins are forgiven you” (5:20).  A broken body was the second focus of our Lord.  The power to heal was first applied to the most profound need.

My guess is that the Pharisees and teachers viewed themselves as whole and complete, but Jesus’ declaration was intended to highlight the paralysis that existed in their hearts and souls.  Jesus had diagnosed their problem long before the roof started to come down.  He knew that self-righteousness had paralyzed the hearts and minds of the religious zealots.  He had “the power of the Lord” to heal.  But only for those who understood their need.

I’ve had “one of those days”… a non-spectacular twenty-four-hour period where I wonder if God has shifted his attention to more important matters – quite frequently.  In that moment, on those terms, Luke 5 reminds me that even ordinary days are reserved for the extraordinary working of God to heal, to mend, to inspire, to restore, to propel, to convict, to mobilize, to expose the paralysis of my own soul.

Yes, on one of those days…

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Yes, Again

July 7, 2017

The day was an amazing collection of sounds and smells and tastes. Emotion pulsed through every moment, through every memory, through every dream. Promises cascaded with clarity and confidence. Mike and Cheryl were celebrating, but they were doing significantly more than that. July 5, 1977. Cheryl, a seventeen-year-old. Mike, just slightly older. An unscripted beginning. […]

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“The Queen City of the North”

June 30, 2017
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Ah, yes. Virginia, Minnesota. The Mesabi Range. Iron ore. Three hours north of Minneapolis and an hour northwest of Duluth. But it wasn’t iron ore that interested me in Virginia. It was the birth of a 7 pound 11 ounces girl on June 27th that changed the trajectory of my life. Nearly eight hours from […]

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Under Non-Glare Glass?

June 23, 2017

I wrote this Fragment five years ago… but the truth it highlights is more powerfully true today. I stepped into my closet and scanned the pants that I had hanging on a rod.  It was as though my REI hiking pants were waving at me like a second grader who knew the answer to a […]

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Sorry Spokane

June 19, 2017

Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. The first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. There you have it. […]

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He is Always in the Chair

June 13, 2017

Last Thursday night Mary and I were the primary caregivers to six young kids. Three had a genetic connection to us, the other three were a part of our daughter-in-law’s family. The assignment was designed to facilitate an adult evening around a Rehearsal Dinner. The park, pizza and lots of outdoor play was our strategy. […]

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More… So Much More

June 2, 2017

I’m sixty-two years old, and over the course of my life I’ve done two stupid and regrettable things. Not heinous, but wrong. What’s amazing about reflecting on this subject is that I did some stupid and regrettable things yesterday. Unfortunately, I keep getting in the way of my heartfelt desire to live in the full […]

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Strangers With Scissors – Part 2

May 30, 2017

A week ago I shared a story about our 2-year-old grandson, Abe, and his adventures in a barber chair. http://fridayfragments.com/dan-wolgemuth/strangers-with-scissors/ I called the reflection, “Strangers with Scissors.” Since the moment my fingers stopped typing the story, I’ve continued to face into the powerful realities of this metaphor. In some profound way, the story continues to […]

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Strangers With Scissors

May 19, 2017
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Haircuts can be traumatic, but especially when it’s your first in a barber shop. That’s precisely what our two-year-old grandson, Abe, was facing. His flowing blond locks may have been adorable, but they were increasingly impractical. Alli, our daughter, met Mary at the selected shop and the process began. When it was Abe’s turn on […]

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