Jesus on the Banjo

by DanWolgemuth on April 23, 2018

Bela Fleck. It seems that I was almost the only one in my family who didn’t know his music or his prowess.

Bela is considered by many to be the finest banjo player in the world. Nearly 60 years old, he was named after renowned classical composer Bela Bartok.

Over the course of Fleck’s career, he has written a number of classical pieces, including the one that he performed with the Denver Symphony Orchestra on Friday night. While sitting on a slightly elevated platform next to Brett Mitchell, the young Orchestra Conductor, Bela played the music he had written. A full orchestra played behind him, while Brett Mitchell made certain that the symmetry between the lead musician and his team stayed aligned. However, make no mistake, this was Bela’s music, his symphony.

Throughout the 25 minutes of nonstop music, Bela would glance over his shoulder at the full ensemble that played behind him, that played with him. From time to time he would fix his gaze on Brett Mitchell, as though to assure him of his support, his blessing, his commissioning. It was Bela’s banjo, his fingers on the frets. He had placed the notes on the page, all for the orchestra to play. With him. For him.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, ESV)

The Word. Flesh. Among.

The composer came and played his banjo beside us. As part of the orchestra. But make no mistake, this is His music, His composition.

Find hope… a misplayed note in the woodwind section doesn’t mean that the composition is flawed. This is a masterpiece, a classic. It is the honor of the orchestra to steward the notes that the composer etched, but he is gracious, even as he is a perfectionist.

Not only did Bela write the music, he played with the orchestra. He showed them the way. He inspired each participant by flawlessly pressing his fingers on the strings. He was one of them, but so much more.

Jesus, on the banjo. Violins, oboes, tympany, trumpets… playing the notes written, playing with the composer, following the banjo.

The composer lives, the composer plays with us.

Full of grace and truth.


Spend Freely…

by DanWolgemuth on April 13, 2018

We make lists… we write notes… we use an app called Wunderlist… we send text messages, all for the purpose of remembering to buy something that we’re out of.

You’ve got a list. We all do.

Exhaustible resources.

Our refrigerators are empty, our gas tanks need to be filled, our cupboards look bare.

Much of our existence and much of the global turmoil in the world swirls around the discovery, management and utilization of finite resources.

In the very kitchen where many of the edible resources get prepared and consumed, Mary has positioned three words on top of our cabinets. In bold block letters the words read… FAITH HOPE LOVE.

They’ve been in a place of prominence for over a decade… but they’ve been on the heart of God since the foundation of the world.

By contrast, these words are inexhaustible. Infinite.

In many ways, the more we use them, the more vast they become.

There are times that I’ve been stingy with love or hope or grace or mercy… and when that happens, my soul begins to shrivel and my pool of joy dries up. But, when I am liberal with love, when I am lavish with hope, when I am extravagant with grace, my supply increases.

The beautiful story in 2 Kings 4 of Elisha and a widow gives us a snapshot of what this looks like. A poor, debt-ridden woman is told by Elisha to go to her neighbors and borrow some empty vessels. She is then instructed to pour what little precious oil she has into each container. Amazingly, miraculous, the oil pours freely; abundantly.

While this is an engaging story, I believe it’s also intended to inspire us to pour out the gifts of God as freely and confidently, and at times, as outrageously as possible.

We pour, He fills.

Ironically, and confessionally, I realize that I spend much too much time protecting and preserving my finite resources, when I should be preoccupied with investing what will never be consumed.

His love is inexhaustible. His hope is infinite. His grace is endless.

Milk. Bread. Coffee… here today, on my shopping list for tomorrow.

But love. Vast and limitless. Boundless love.

Go crazy. Spend freely. Give outrageously. Love.


Then. And Now.

April 6, 2018

It was a bright Spring day in Franklin, Michigan. April 8, 1978. At 7PM, with the wedding attendants at the front of the church, Mary and her dad moved in front of the double doors at the back of the church. I could see her. The dress she wore was ivory, satin and beautiful. A […]

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The Joy of Juni

March 16, 2018
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It was two and a half years ago that Eunice Cargo moved into Peakview Assisted Living. She’s been a beautiful part of this community. She knows the names of the residents and she smiles and greets them, often without reciprocation. Enter, Juni. Juni is our 15-month-old granddaughter, and Eunice’s great-granddaughter. On Monday morning, Juni and […]

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The Commemorative Issue

March 9, 2018

America’s Preacher (Time Magazine – Billy Graham Commemorative Issue) Remembering America’s Man of God (Newsweek – Billy Graham Commemorative Issue) The accolades flowed like Colorado streams after a spring thaw. From print to video. From spoken word to lyrics sung. Pastor to the Presidents. Evangelist to the world. But the word that surfaced over and […]

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From a Tent in Charlotte… Celebrating Billy

March 2, 2018

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (John 6:9, ESV) A boy. With a meal. It’s hard to imagine what thoughts raced through the head and heart of the boy who offered his barley bread and fish to Andrew. His meal, relinquished. […]

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On the day that Billy Graham died, I heard him preach

February 23, 2018

At 7:33AM Eastern Time, on February 21st, Billy Graham, the first, full-time Evangelist in our Youth For Christ mission tugged oxygen out of his last breath, and then marched humbly into glory. Graham, a profound amplifier of the name and fame of Jesus the Christ. Graham, by his own admission, a sinner, saved by grace. […]

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February 19, 2018

Cling. Cleave. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9, NKJV – my emphasis) Like glue. To good. And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. (Mark 10:18, ESV) Jesus turned a question from a wealthy young ruler on its […]

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Setting the songbird free…

February 2, 2018

“…but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things  enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19)  Songbirds! That’s what we’re attracting to our bird feeder these days. A wide assortment that collect each day to feast on the breakfast of seeds and nuts that Mary diligently assembles for them each day. That is until the squirrels showed up. These resourceful and agile and committed critters […]

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Not a make over or a do over…

January 29, 2018

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV) In a small Oregon community, a 13-year-old girl, Ella, recoils from the impact of years of unhealthy relationships in her life. Unable to process her feelings, she sinks deeper into […]

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