David with his Birthday Cake (Made from scratch by my wife).
I have a friend named David. He lives in an orange grove. He lives in a tent. Most people would say he is homeless. And I would have to agree except David’s real home is 1041 Corporate Drive. That’s the address of the church I pastor.
I have a friend named David. He rarely changes his clothes. His hygiene is almost non-existent . David smells bad too. When I talk to him, I am greeted by the odor of cigarettes and Bud light beer. People don’t like to sit near him in church. I’ve even heard people don’t want to worship God when David is near.
I have a friend named David. He comes to church every week. He comes on Friday night to hear the worship team rehearse for the next day. He comes back again the following day, for both services. He sits through CrossWalk U. where we talk theology and philosophy. David tells us about the night Jesus Christ walked into his tent and talked to him—and he wasn’t even doing drugs. He tells us this story, again, and again, and again. David loves our church. David prays for our church—every night.
I have a friend named David. He’s a former drug addict. He’s an alcoholic. His mind is gone. At times he doesn’t remember my name, my wife’s name, or my kid’s names. What does David remember? He remembers how his mother died when he was young. How his wife left him in Colorado and broke his heart. He remembers that he used to do the “hard stuff, but not anymore”, as he says. He remembers to tell me these stories every time I see him, as if it’s the first time. And David remembers, that every week when he gets to church there’s warm coffee waiting for him, sometimes a bagel and donuts too. Continue reading 'I Have a Friend Named David'»
Note: I am re-reading Dallas Willard’s book, The Divine Conspiracy. Over the next several weeks’ I’ll be posting my reflections as I make my way through a book that changed my life nearly a decade ago.
Dallas Willard, says he wrote The Divine Conspiracy, “to gain a fresh hearing of Jesus.” Willard believes over familiarity with Jesus’ teachings have led many Christians to “profound ignorance” about following him, meaning “he [Jesus] is not taken to be a person of much ability.” For example, when Jesus says love your enemies, he can’t be serious, it’s an ideal that doesn’t work in the “real” world. In contrast Willard argues, Jesus’ original followers took him at his word, they saw his teachings as the best way to live in this world. He writes:
The early message was, accordingly, not experienced as something its hearers had to believe or do because otherwise something bad—something with no essential connection with real life—would happen to them. The people generally impacted by that message generally concluded that they would be fools to disregard it. That was the basis of their conversion.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And … love your neighbor as yourself.”
I pastor a church in the suburbs called CrossWalk. We have a saying around our church that we are learning to love well. It’s our mission and it comes from this simple yet challenging teaching of Jesus. Scot McKnight refers to this as the Jesus Creed. Several years ago be began reciting it throughout the day. It transformed his life and eventually led him to write The Jesus Creed.
Since the Jesus Creed is the basis of CrossWalk’s mission we decided to encourage our community to go through Scot’s companion book 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed during the season of Lent. Each day provides a simple reflection on learning to love well. So far it’s been a good experience. In fact my family is using it everyday. We’re reciting the Jesus Creed with our kids each morning and evening (we’ve even had some fun with it while driving around town).
So if you’re looking for something to add to your Lenten practices this year, there’s still time to grab a copy and join us on our journey. In fact, come by CrossWalk this week if you are in town and I’ll give you a free copy (We gave away 300 copies at CrossWalk the last few weeks). There’s a few books left, but its first come first serve at this point.
This week is Transfiguration Sabbath at CrossWalk. The lectionary readings come from Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; and Luke 9:28-36, (37-43). I am focusing on the Gospel reading for my sermon this week, but I’m weaving all of the readings together to make my point. Dwelling in these passages leaves me in awe of God’s humility. What kind of a God chooses to reveal his glory to the world through suffering (Lk. 9:57-62) and brokenness (2 Cor. 4)? Would anyone choose to make up this kind of god? We want temples and shrines for our gods. But the God of the Gospels gets things done another way. And our “departure” (Lk. 9:31) is the same—the path of Jesus Christ and his radical call to discipleship. So what are the implications? How about the church is meant to give herself away rather than prop herself up with success, impressing people with her buildings, attendance, or cash (a kind of pseudo-glory)? Seems to me, Jesus’ path is the only way the world is transformed. I think Henry Nouwen would agree:
“Jesus showed us all that the very things we often flee – our vulnerability and mortality – can, at any moment, become the place of holy transfiguration, for us and for our world.”
- Henri Nouwen: Writings Selected With An Introduction By Robert A. Jonas
Here’s a sermon I preached at CrossWalk, Sabbath, January 30. Matt Burdette asked me to post it on the Constructing Adventist Theology blog. So I decided to go ahead and cross post it here for you as well. We are currently preaching through the Revised Common Lectionary. It’s the Season of Epiphany, when the church focuses on Jesus revealing as God’s Son. I chose to preach on the Gospel reading for that week, Luke 4:21-30.
If you watched the NFL Championship games this past weekend, you may have seen the debut of a television ad that’s gone viral on the internet. The ad is for Wal-Mart. And as much as it pains me to promote their business in any form, you’ve got to see it if you haven’t already [I paused the ad just as the Dad was jumping into the air]:
Let’s pause it for a moment; I promise we’ll come back. When was the last time you were surprised? I remember the surprise birthday party my wife threw for me when I turned thirty… last year. Okay, so its been a few years. Anyways, Gina blindfolded me, put me in a car and drove me around town until I was completely disoriented, and then she took me to another house where my friends were waiting to surprise me. I knew something was up since it was my birthday, but you know what really got me? She left me blindfolded for the big “surprise;” I totally didn’t see it coming, literally. Continue reading 'The Unlimitable Gift (A Sermon for Epiphany)'»
The Suburban Pastor is the personal blog of Jeff Gang. I’m pastor for the Anaheim Seventh-day Adventist Church in Anaheim, California. This blog is a place for me to share my thoughts about ordinary life as a Jesus follower, pastor, husband, father of three, friend, and triathlete in my spare time.