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From Arbel

by DanWolgemuth on March 22, 2019

A simple walk. A familiar setting, and once again, Mary spotted wild life that I would have walked past. This time, a Cooper’s Hawk in a Ponderosa Pine.

I paused and she calibrated my line of sight. And yes, there it was. Beautiful. Elegant, really. A puffed chest and a spotted tail. Virtually motionless. Hidden to anyone who is distracted or unfocused. Like me.

But not to Mary.

She wants to see wild life. She works to see wild life. And yes, she sees it. Consistently.

Days before Mary spotted the Cooper’s Hawk, I stood on the top of Mt. Arbel in Lower Galilee. It was the morning of our fourth day on tour in Israel. The city of Capernaum anchored my view to the left, and the Sea of Galilee stretched out in front of me. The view was breathtaking. Timeless.  A variation on a view that Jesus would have had. Perhaps as He taught, most certainly as He prayed.

The canvas of His mission stretched in front of Him. A city of encounters. A Sea as a classroom. A distant shore as a mission to engage the possessed and abandoned.

While I had expected to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, I hadn’t expected to catch an unrestricted view of what Jesus saw. From every vantage point, Jesus saw His mission. His focus was precise and locked.

He pursued what others dismissed. He engaged what others avoided. He loved what others despised… and from the mountain top at Arbel, I saw it. My version of a Cooper’s Hawk sitting on a branch that I had looked right past.

The overlooked. The ignored.

The least of these.

His eyes. His vision.

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. (Mark 5:1–2, ESV)

From Capernaum. Through a storm. To the other side. For an outcast.

On mission… always, on mission.

Unclean. Possessed. But in the center of Jesus’ vision. Beyond the nakedness, the self-destruction, the fear.

Jesus calibrated the eyes of His followers on why He came. Why He sacrificed. Why He endured.

In that instant, from Arbel, I caught a glimpse of what Jesus saw on the other side. I saw what His eyes never missed.

Eyes of compassion. A message of hope.

A Cooper’s Hawk. From Arbel.

“…For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10, ESV)

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Beyond a Hero

by DanWolgemuth on March 15, 2019

Thanks for continuing to read my weekly Friday Fragments.  I hope they encourage and inspire you.  The Fragment below is a piece that I wrote a couple of years ago.

Against the backdrop of focused evil, heroes emerge. Names surface from the ashes. Individuals step in harms way on behalf of others.

From Brussels, to Paris, to Columbine… heroes.

Brave and strong. Courageous and committed.

Raising a fist to injustice and prejudice and hatred. Standing in the gap. Blood- splattered photographs expose the risk. Funerals define the ultimate sacrifice.

Names are highlighted with tears. Medals adorn in insufficient distinction.

A Purple Heart. A Bronze Star.

Honor is due when evil is confronted.

Valor meets terror… destiny turns.

But what about when someone steps in front of justice? How do you describe an act when a just sentence is averted by the sacrifice of another?

Foolishness?
Travesty?
Rubbish?

In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 Message)

Jesus didn’t step in front of an evil or terrorist act on our behalf… no, He stepped in front of justice.

His medal of honor was a crown of thorns. His grave a borrowed tomb. His trial a mockery.

His act of courage was mercy.

He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed. (1 Peter 2:24, NLT)

He hoisted our rebellious and evil acts. He carried the horror of our misdeeds. And not after we got our act together… our sentence was not commuted because of good behavior.

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8 ESV)

Beyond the boundary lines of bravery… a Savior. Eclipsing the definition of a hero… Jesus.

He stepped in front of justice for me… for us. On assignment from His Father.

Absorbing our guilt. Redeeming our shame.

Jesus threw Himself on the wrath of God so that we could live, and live abundantly.

An empty tomb invites celebration. Sweets. Egg hunts. Banquets.

The cross demands worship.

Beyond a hero… a Savior. Born to die. Crushed. Mocked. Condemned.

For me. For us.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:9-11 Message)

Jesus.

Savior.

King.

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From Boggle to Beauty

March 8, 2019

Thanks for continuing to read my weekly Friday Fragments.  I hope they encourage and inspire you.  The Fragment below is a piece that I wrote a couple of years ago with the shadow of Good Friday and Easter on my soul. The letters dance, the timer gets flipped, and the competitors unleash their minds to […]

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Only June…

March 1, 2019

She was young…but we were younger. Youth For Christ was all of ten years old when June Thompson joined the chorus. March 1, 1954 in Brantford, Ontario, Canada – the hometown of hockey icon Wayne Gretzky. It was Evon Headley who recruited her and it was Evon who invited her to join him on the […]

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The Slave Bible

February 26, 2019

It was my final stop on a day of stops. The Museum of the Bible had been a profoundly impactful and inspirational experience… but the most powerful was yet to come. All six floors of the Museum are packed with remarkable artifacts and inspirational stories, but the most convicting was yet to come. It was […]

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Pops… “What if?”

February 15, 2019

Drew Jones Wolgemuth. All boy. Nearly four years old. A tornado of activity. A tsunami of questions. But not just inquisitive questions, ponderous and vast and provocative questions. They leap over symmetry or continuity, but they never lack sincerity and passion. “Pops… what if my finger falls off?” And while I’m forming a thoughtful response […]

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Beyond the Blizzard

January 25, 2019

A recent onslaught of snow has tugged me back to a reflection I did just over three years ago. Worth noting, three years later, I still have my little Toro… The snow fell, and it fell, and then in the howling wind it flew. It’s not often that the weather forecasters in Denver underestimate the […]

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He knocked the city out of me…

January 18, 2019

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.” (Romans 12:2, Phillips) My parents, Sam and […]

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Making Cents of Sparrows

January 11, 2019

Having spent time, once again, watching the beautifully adorned Flicker at our feeder, I was drawn to some thoughts I shared a year ago… Ah, the beautiful Flicker. A bird of size, color, elegance and stature. A bird that frequents the feeders on the deck outside our kitchen window. Like an extra guest at the […]

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Mary knew…

January 4, 2019

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” The scandalous and rumor-filled beginning to Mary’s journey into motherhood was a precursor to what was ahead. A bookend that would have a brutal Roman cross at the other end. For thirty-three years Mary […]

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