Making Cents of Sparrows

by DanWolgemuth on 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 breakfast table. Like an artist displaying some of their finest work.

Yet the Flicker isn’t our only feeder patron. In fact, many birds come to feast on Mary’s generous provision each day. Many birds.

Pinyon Jays, Purple Finches, House Finches, and Chickadees. Each creating their own attraction.

But our primary visitor each day is the common sparrow. These ordinary little birds are abundant. They invite no comment, they invoke no inspiration. They splash around in the seed in utter oblivion until a celebrity appears.

In the language of Jesus, a couple of them are worth about a penny. One cent.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. (Matthew 10:29, ESV)

But just as rapidly as Jesus mentions their economic value, He discloses their placement in the hands of His Sovereign Father.

Not one of them, not a single sparrow that visits our home in Aurora, Colorado is unknown to God. Each flap of their wing, every seed that they pluck from our feeder… all of them are known to Him.

But Jesus told us this not to make us feel guilty about loving the Flicker more than the sparrow… He told us this to give us perspective on our worth and significance to “our Father”.

Feeling alone?

Feeling insignificant?

Feeling overwhelmed?

Feeling oblivious?

Feeling lost?

Feeling trapped in the rat race?

Feeling overpowered by circumstances?

Feeling like your life is out of control?

Dealing with pain?

Dealing with a gut wrenching diagnosis?

Convinced that what you do doesn’t matter?

Hiding in the darkness because you think you are invisible?

Every day of your life; every step that you take; every breath that you breathe; every flap of your wings; every meal you eat… known to God.

You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139:16, NLT)

But unlike a sparrow, we are an image bearer of God. Unlike a sparrow, we are considered a masterpiece. Unlike a sparrow, Jesus came to rescue us. Unlike a sparrow, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us.

Infinite worth. Unmeasurable love.

Perspective. Promise. Hope.

In the classroom of the bird feeder.

Not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 

Not one. Not you. Not me. Not one.

Fear not.

So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (Matthew 10:31, NLT)

This is where we rest. This is where we hope.

Every sparrow.

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Mary knew…

by DanWolgemuth on 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 accompanied her son, as only a mother can. Through the joys and sorrows. In times of intimacy and times of public outrage. While the palm branches waved and when the accusations flew. When the compliments simmered, and while the hatred surged.

Mary knew just how miraculous and sacred this child was. Others believed by faith, Mary knew. Her fidelity to Joseph had never waned. Her vow was secure. But pregnant she was.

And Mary also knew… right from the start, that the life of her son would be controversial. Polarizing. “God with us” wasn’t welcome news for everyone. “Peace on earth” stirred hatred, jealousy and evil in the corridors of the clergy and elite. Jesus was anything but good news to those who clung to power.

She’d been warned…

Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Just days after His birth into austerity, she had been told. First a humble and gracious blessing, and then a reality check. Praise mingled with a prophetic warning.

And thirty-three years later, when most Hebrew mothers are reveling and reflecting over the reputations of their children… Mary stood by a cross. Listening. Aching. Weeping.

“A sword will pierce your very soul.” Indeed.

Every fiber of her being, pierced. In anguish.

Her son. Now becoming her Savior… on the cross. Because of the cross. Through the cross.

Mary. The aspirational starring role for every young lady in Sunday school… a burden bearer. First she carried a secret, then the false accusations, then the ridicule of those He offended, then the mockery of her home town, and then the flaming ire of those who despised Him.

He was misjudged. He was maligned. He was misunderstood. The whispers and sneering only intensified after His birth.

She looked up to Him throughout His life, but now she looked up to Him on a cross. Jesus. Forever her firstborn. A miracle worker… from conception to the cross. Her son. Jesus.

Yet Jesus, even in His most desperate hour, did not abandon her. Even with the salvation of the world hanging in the balance, He saw her. He advocated for her. He loved her.

Mary knew. From the manger to the cross. Mary knew.

Rumors about His conception gave way to lies about His confession. “I am the way…”

The pain of childbirth paling in comparison to the pain of injustice.

Mary knew. She knew first. But she no longer knows alone.

First it was Joseph at her side. Faithful. Honorably. Then John. A surrogate son. A custodian of love.

A mix of joy and sorrow. For the sake of hope. For the cause of love.

Mary knew.

And now, so do we.

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Shame on Mary

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Two years ago I ventured down a reflective pathway as I thought about the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus… Before the miracles, gossip. Before the cross, whispers. Before an empty tomb, rumors. Before the swaddling clothes, a pregnant, unmarried teenager. Before glorious praise, scandal. Before Magi worship, neighborhood humiliation. Before confidence, doubt. “Do […]

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The words and the tune floated through the air at the Christmas program that Malia, our eleven-year-old granddaughter participated in. Malia’s fingers moved confidently across the white and black piano keys, and her voice pounced securely on every word and note. Malia’s practice, preparation and courage had positioned her on the bench that faced the […]

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75216

November 30, 2018

A zip code. A community on the south side of Dallas. For our Youth For Christ mission… a calling. In the words of an employee in the local juvenile detention facility… 75216 is a “cradle to prison pipeline” for young people in the neighborhood. Predictable. Gut-wrenchingly predictable. 92.5% of the students in 75216 are eligible […]

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A Rolling Stop?

November 16, 2018

Littered throughout my neighborhood are stop signs. In fact, just about 100 feet north of my driveway is one, and a quarter of a mile south, another that I have traversed hundreds of times over the last 13 years. While I understand that the octagonal sign says STOP, seldom do I feel compelled to do […]

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In Captivity to be Set Free

November 9, 2018

As the temperature drops in Colorado so does the obvious food supply for the variety of birds that call our neighborhood their home. So, before Mary hangs her wintertime bird feeder, she wanted to reduce, if not eliminate any potential competition. That means a live animal trap on our deck. And yes, within hours, our […]

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No Shortcuts

November 2, 2018

On October 22nd I held Mack William Horst in my arms for the first time. He was hours old and beautiful. All 10 pounds and 3 ounces of him. My grandson. As I held him, I stared, and as I stared, I marveled at the magnanimous gift of life. Mack’s mom, our daughter Alli, was […]

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Eddie Daniels III

October 19, 2018

On Wednesday night I received word that Eddie Daniels had been shot. A short time later, he was gone. Eddie, a 15-year-old who frequented our City Life Center in downtown Spokane had been embraced and loved by Jeff Ross, our local site director. In Jeff’s words… “He was like a son to me”. A year […]

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Still Gardner

October 12, 2018

The pre-dinner mingling began at 6PM. The Taylor University Board of Trustees had finished a full day of meetings and it was time for dinner with key members of the Administration. The agenda was simple and scripted. An opening prayer, a few remarks, a beautiful tribute to a 1951 Alum all leading to an 8PM […]

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