Leave them…

by DanWolgemuth on 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 burden. A heavy comfort. A sacred trust.

And as I have prayed about the words to say, and the message to convey, I have been drawn to the ultimate final prayer. A timeless, boundless reminder of what we should be praying for ourselves, and our community.

The summary of this prayer often focuses, appropriately so, on a call to unity. But nestled in the cosmic call to unite, is a pointed and unlikely request. Against an agenda of hate and division Jesus speaks His plea…

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15, ESV)

Against the backdrop of Roman oppression. In the middle of religious abuse. Surrounded by tentative supporters and tenacious critics… Jesus asks His Father to keep His followers in the middle of the mess.

Don’t remove them, imbed them. Don’t seclude them, implant them. Wheat and weeds growing side by side. Light confronting the darkness. Justice calling out injustice. Love invading the margins. The weak with an advocate. The poor with resources. The lost with a pursuer. The self-righteous surrounded by humility. The impotent empowered.

Don’t take them out. Leave them. Not as victims. Not as sitting ducks. But followers with power. Followers on mission. Followers with a story to tell.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Power to remain. Witnesses. Truth tellers. Love givers. Light shiners. Miracle workers. Difference makers. Trustworthy ambassadors. Selfless servants. Passionate messengers. Good news carriers. Compassion deliverers. Hatred extinguishers. Justice defenders.

Advocates for the defenseless.
Amplifiers for the speechless.
Ambassadors for the alien.
Articulating hope.
Alive.
Active.
Amazed.
Amazing.

“Leave them.” Not behind, but in the middle. Not as orphans, but as daughters and sons. Not as citizens, but as exiles.

Here. Now.

To do His work. In His way.

Leave them. Protect them from evil… but don’t insulate them from tribulation.

A final prayer.

My prayer. For my children. For my grandchildren. For our Movement…

“Leave them.” So the darkness doesn’t win. So that evil knows it is no match. So the gates of hell crumble. So righteousness has a voice, and a name, and a reputation.

Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. The remnant remains. Until the King returns. Until He calls the faithful home.

Always a light.

Leave them.

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Published in 1807 and Still On Display

by DanWolgemuth on 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 of a completed design, and there were more pieces missing than supplied? What if?

Cruel? Unthinkable?

In 1807, Law and Gilbert Publishing of London produced a Bible with the intent to “educate and convert Negro slaves” specifically in the British West Indies. But instead of facilitating a righteous cause, the Bible was a cruel and overt form of manipulation.

Of the 1,189 chapters that make up the Bible that currently sits beside me… the Slave Bible, as it was called, only contained 232. And this was no innocent truncation. This was overt and calculated.

Only 10% of the Old Testament was present. And only 50% of the New Testament could be found in the 1807 edition. And missing from this text were references to freedom, liberty, rescue and hope. In fact, the escape of the Jews from Egypt was missing in action. The entire book of Revelation, AWOL.

Equal standing at the throne of God was not a part of the strategy of oppression.

A 1,189-piece puzzle… with a picture of the Kingdom of God on the cover… and 957 pieces missing. Disconnected realities. Aborted hope. A gift that became a weapon.

Justice. Dignity. Diversity. Equality. Unity. All on the cutting room floor.

The timeless, transcendent Word of God as a permission slip for hatred and abuse. For exploitation. For profitability and productivity. For slavery.

But before I become too comfortable in the judgment seat, I have to ask myself a probing question. Am I living fully into the Word of God? In far less overt or offensive ways, have I snipped, ignored, overlooked or avoided passages of scripture that land far too close to home?

Am I comfortable highlighting one section of scripture because it makes MY point, while I dismiss the full counsel of God’s Word? Have I created my own version of the Slave Bible that suits my purposes, that fits my agenda, that supports my platform?

The offensive travesty of the 1807 Slave Bible still ripples through time. On so many levels.

Pieces missing. A picture that is incomplete. A fractured and broken kingdom. An unfulfilled mandate.

But make no mistake… God has not lost these pieces. He is not on His hands and knees looking under the table to see if He can locate them. And He is not oblivious or indifferent to what we do with this gift. In His mercy He points us back to the power of His Word. Fully formed. Humbly revered.

Timeless. Redemptive. Restorative.

A picture of unconditional love. A picture of the Kingdom of God. A picture of a diverse Body working together. A picture of the Bride of Christ. A picture… with no pieces missing.

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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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Malia is 13…

December 18, 2020

Saturday was a night of celebration. Malia, our oldest granddaughter turned 13. A teenager. A beautiful young woman. Her own voice. Her own gifts. Malia. So it wasn’t surprising that on a subsequent night, in the middle of my sleep, I awoke with Malia on my mind. But what hovered over my restless night were […]

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No Buddies in Bethlehem

December 11, 2020

Road trip! But not in the back of a minivan. This trip was on foot. Roughly 65 miles to be exact. Nazareth to Jerusalem. This was Passover. An annual celebration of God’s protective hand. Liberty. Freedom. Passover. Jesus, at 12. A boy… emerging as a young man. No doubt familiar communities collected in Jerusalem. A […]

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Shame on Mary

December 4, 2020

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 not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Gabriel“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit […]

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Danny… The Expanded Story of Grace

November 20, 2020

19. Still a teenager, but with enough pain, brokenness, confusion and trauma to cover a lifetime. Drugs, alcohol, violence were the white noise of Danny’s existence. Then, desperation, a weapon, and an unsuspecting victim. At gun point Danny held up a man who confessed to having none of the cash that Danny hoped to retrieve. […]

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Then Danny…

November 13, 2020

It started with an invitation to share a bit of your personal story. A dozen of us. My YFC USA Cabinet. Some with stories that mirror mine… Then Danny… In the early days of Youth For Christ, it was Billy. Passionate. Powerful. Focused. Vigilant. Fierce. Humble. Gentle. Billy. Then Danny… New York City, not Charlotte. […]

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William Franklin Graham.

November 7, 2020

Billy. Just Billy. November 7, 1918 102 years ago. On the outer edges of Charlotte, a baby. A boy. A masterpiece. A promise. Time may erode the echo of his voice, but it will never silence the power of his message. Christ. And Christ alone. Billy, at 27. The first full-time Evangelist in Youth For […]

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