This is the third in a series to honor men who have been helpful by their examples.
David Michael is the Pastor for Parenting and Family Discipleship and oversees the disability ministry at Bethlehem. He also received a couple of emails in the early, dark days of my parenting that I wish I could take back! But his responses were like Pastor John’s responses – kind, pastoral, Biblical.
He and I have been in conversation about disability and the Bible for well over a decade, and he has been pivotal in making the disability ministry happen at Bethlehem. Without God’s call on David Michael to nurture, support and oversee this ministry, we would not have the ministry we have. I love this man and am grateful to God for him!
But the thing I want to emphasize here is how much he wants people to talk about God. He particularly wants fathers to live up to Psalm 78:
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them. . . Psalm 78:5-6a
And he wants us to do it carefully! I have learned so much from this man in how to think about and talk about God and God’s word. I couldn’t find a clip of David’s telling and then retelling the story of David and Goliath. It is priceless and very helpful, because Pastor David completely turns the typical telling – that the boy is courageous and we should be like David – to a more accurate telling – God did a mighty deed through a boy; to God be the glory!
Out of that passion he and his equally God-centered wife Sally started developing curriculum which has turned into Children Desiring God. It has been deeply encouraging to see how God has fueled David’s passion for talking about God, and God has turned that passion into a movement that includes hundreds of churches using this curriculum – including churches in Africa, South America and Eastern Europe!
But I don’t think about that too often when I think about David. I mostly think about him as my pastor and my friend. And as my pastor he has been in the middle of every important thing that has happened in my life at church in the past 15 years. More specifically, David has called me to publicly proclaim God’s sovereignty over disease and disability, and then given me a platform.
And typical of David, he has done it under the most unusual, some might even say foolish, of circumstances.
David was the last person to pray for Dianne before her cancer surgery in March 2005, and he took me to lunch. I appreciated the distraction; the surgery was going to take a while.
God was very close to us in those days; Dianne and I both felt held by him. It was easy to talk about the goodness of God in the midst of Stage IV breast cancer because we felt it so profoundly.
I still remember David looking at me across the table and saying, ‘do you think people should hear about the sovereignty of God over all things?’ I was perplexed at that, because of all people he should know that EVERYONE needed to hear about this God! And then, in the basement cafeteria (what a cheery place that wasn’t!) of Fairview Hospital while my wife was being cut open to attack a disease that could kill her – he asked me to speak the very next month at the first Children Desiring God conference with him for the keynote address.
So, with God’s help, I said yes and we did that session together, though Dianne was still in the midst of her radiation treatment and we didn’t know the outcome.
And David has continued to press on me to talk about God and his good, kind, merciful, helpful, sovereign role in disease and disability. This blog is one outgrowth of his encouragement to talk about God. I’m grateful for that encouragement, and for both of us pointing directly at God as the source.
I want to encourage my children (and I hope you want to encourage your children) to talk about God like that!