Anderson, Joshua, Jaylin

by DanWolgemuth on March 5, 2021

Names. Families. Community.

Deep links to our Youth For Christ mission in Northern Indiana.

Two 19-year-olds. Gone. Defenselessly murdered. The other, Jaylin, critically wounded.

As I listened to the story through another Zoom update… my heart ached. But then, an unexpected jolt. Pictures. The beautiful faces. Names and a tragic story giving way to an image.

It was early in the 1900’s that the phrase, “A picture paints a thousand words”,  came to be.

We get it. I experienced it. We have all experienced this over the last difficult year. Pictures. Video tape. The real-time journal entries of evil, and brokenness, and pain, and suffering, and sorrow, and confusion, and relief, and joy…

But, in reality, a picture paints far fewer than a thousand words. In fact, it paints the two most significant and compelling words to describe the human race. Two words. That’s all.

Imago Dei.

Latin and loaded. Image bearers. Yes, image of God bearers.

Two Latin words that should inform every interaction, every conversation, every push toward justice, every avenue for peace, every dispute we engage in, every verdict we render, every tear we shed.

Three young black men in Fort Wayne, Indiana… not a headline, but image bearers. A masterpiece. Profoundly and uniquely crafted by the picture maker of all picture makers. His image in millions of portraits. His singular design, brought to life in a collage of color and contours.

Not some, but all. Not a few, but every.

And when God stepped back from His creative work… He whispered to Himself… “Very good”. His crowning achievement.

This is why we fight for every human life. This is why we speak up for the vulnerable. This is why we defend the defenseless. This is why we rail against injustice. This is why we invite scrutiny and self-examination. This is why even a secular culture recoils over sexual abuse, and harassment, and exploitation of any kind… because at the core we know, we are His design. His image.

This is why we can’t remain silent. This is why we weep over the loss of human life. This is why God didn’t spare His own son. Our Savior. Our Redeemer.

He sent Jesus to reclaim His finest creation.

It was C. S. Lewis in Weight of Glory who wrote… “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal.”

A picture. An image.

The Imago Dei.

Anderson. Joshua. Jaylin.

There is no higher calling. There is no more significant stewardship. A human life. A sacred trust.

No wonder this breaks the heart of God.

I can’t help wonder what would happen if before every and any interaction I had, I reminded myself that I am interacting with an Imago Dei. Every time. Any time.

A political agenda or platform doesn’t propel me. Even a Constitution doesn’t fuel me.

No, God Himself compels me. He compels us.

Lord have mercy.

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Cazzie, among others…

by DanWolgemuth on February 26, 2021

Sitting on a table in my office is a small black leather Bible. Stamped on the cover in gold lettering are the words… Holy Bible. It’s a Bible that I’ve had for nearly sixty years.

It’s a King James translation with very low mileage. In fact, I can’t ever remember reading it. I’ve kept it for all these decades, because on the blank white pages on the inside of the cover are signatures. Autographs to be specific. It’s a Bible I used to carry at Youth For Christ national conferences at Winona Lake, Indiana. This was an annual event that attracted individuals who I considered to be national celebrities. I kept my Bible close in hopes of getting a signature or two. And that’s exactly what I have.

  • Cazzie Russell – who played for the New York Knicks in the late 1960’s
  • Vonda Kay Van Dyke – Miss America 1965 (a beauty queen and a ventriloquist! – what a combination)
  • Clyde Lee – the 3rd pick in the National Basketball Association draft of 1965
  • Raymond Berry – who played split end for the Baltimore Colts (yes, the Colts used to be in Baltimore… but that’s a story for another Fragment!)
  • Bill Glass – a giant of a man who played defensive end for the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns for 11 years.

You get the point. At 10 or 11 years old, these were names to be revered. Signatures to be treasured.

And what better place to accumulate signatures than on the front pages of my little black Bible. And frankly, with those signatures on the front few pages, who needed to read the rest?

Celebrities who loved Jesus. Celebrities who had stories to tell, trophies to hoist, pageants to win.

And while it’s easy to dismiss the foolishness of a ten-year-old boy, the celebrity worship of today is far more subtle, and frankly, far more destructive.

Who needs The Book, when you have high profile Christian leaders who can guide and shape our beliefs?

Who needs The Book?

Well… I need the book. We need The Book. Because in The Book we’re told by Jesus Himself that whoever wants to be the greatest must be the servant of all. He essentially tells us that those who should really be signing The Book are not pro athletes or beauty queens, but those who bandage the wounds of the injured, and those who give their lives to the poor.

It’s not individuals with the most Twitter followers or the most “likes” on FaceBook or the latest viral video…

It’s Fred Wright who lives next door to me and who started volunteering at the Hope Starts Here Food Pantry years and years ago… and who is now their Executive Director. Fred helps distribute food to roughly 400 families in Aurora, Colorado every Saturday morning. He starts before I roll out of bed. He finishes without fanfare.

It’s Rodney McAuley who has patiently, wisely, and courageously spoken into my life for years. Both of us born in 1955, Rodney’s life experience has been vastly different than mine. He’s an overcomer. He’s a messenger of truth. He’s a gracious and Godly friend who loves me too much to leave me where I am in my understanding of Jesus and His Kingdom. Under the radar. Behind the scenes. Humble, but courageous.

It’s Mary. Who serves and leads and loves without a business card to validate her. She’s selfless and gritty. She washes our kitchen floor, while I’m standing on a platform.

Celebrity worship might have been cute for a ten-year-old. It’s dangerous now.

Serving the least. Pursuing the lost. Loving in Jesus’ name.

No signatures but Jesus.

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Fueled by more than headlines

February 19, 2021

The longer I live in Colorado, the more I appreciate my little Toro snowblower. I’ve had it for over ten years… and it serves me well. What I’ve learned about this machine is that it can be tricky to start. That’s why, sitting on a shelf, just above my snowblower is a can of carburetor […]

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Be Mine

February 12, 2021

Actually, I think the words most typically look like this…  Be Mine And in mid-February these letters are assembled on the top of a petrified glob of sugar, tinted with color, and molded into a Valentine-shaped human organ. It was Valentine’s Day 1975 that I went on a lengthy winter walk in rural Indiana with the […]

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Social Security

February 5, 2021

It was August 14, 1935 when the Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt, but it was just this week that this act became more personal. No, I haven’t started receiving my benefits, but as Mary and I begin to think about our financial plans for the years ahead, it now […]

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What do we need?

January 29, 2021

It was in early 1965 that Jackie DeShannon recorded the hit song… What the world needs now is love. Burt Bacharach and Hal David had cowritten this musical masterpiece. The song was planted in fertile soil during a season of controversy over the Vietnam War and the escalating Civil Rights push. A year later, Dionne […]

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Leave them…

January 22, 2021

A week from Saturday I will walk up to a virtual podium and deliver what will likely be my last official sermon to the broadest YFC USA family as the President of the organization. Like a weighted blanket, the topic and reality have rested on me… not in a suffocating way, but as a righteous […]

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Published in 1807 and Still On Display

January 15, 2021

A picture. A puzzle. One thousand pieces. We received two for Christmas. One is complete, another is beckoning for attention. But what if, without my knowledge, the packers of the puzzles withheld pieces? What if it wasn’t just a piece or two, but many? What if the package showed a beautiful picture with the promise […]

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Dough-Time

January 8, 2021

Some non-Zoom focused days over Christmas afforded me a unique opportunity. I’ll call them “dough-times”. I grew up in a house where the smell of fresh bread often wafted about. My mother was a master. She mixed hymn singing with her bread making, and the results were heavenly, and worth every carbohydrate ingested. So over […]

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From Wuhan to Bethlehem

December 28, 2020

In late April I felt inspired to write the following content. Because of the relevance to Christmas, I thought we would run it again. Yes… Christ came. And it changed everything. 6900 miles. That’s how far it is from Wuhan, China to Denver. 6900 miles from the genesis of a global disease. A genesis that […]

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