Hannibal Smith

One of my favorite shows growing up was the A-Team, a crack-commando unit that was sent to a military prison for a crime they didn’t commit. No worries. They promptly escaped to the Los Angeles underground, surviving as “soldiers of fortune.” If you had a problem, and you could find them, maybe YOU could hire the A-Team.

It was a fine tv show, I guess. They were all kind of the same. Someone in need would hire them. Things would always be pretty chaotic…at least they looked chaotic. The A-Team half way through every episode looked like they might actually lose. B.A. would be knocked out because he was afraid of flying and Mad Murdock had been committed into a mental hospital, and just when things looked the most bleak, the random character in the episode would remove his mask and there stood Face, the master of disguise and you found out what looked like chaos had been planned all along. 

Every episode ended the same way: when Col. Hannibal Smith, cigar protruding from his mouth, would smile and say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Here is what is interesting though. The A-Team’s plans never improved their situation. At the end of every episode, they remained fugitives…forever on the run without direction.

It’s weird to think of our lives as plans, but it is probably the most accurate description. We have all these plans for our lives and it seems the more plans we make, the more chaotic it gets. I mean, really! Whose life has gone exactly according to some plan you made when you were a teenager? I planned on being the starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls. Plans don’t work out, huh? My plan fell through for the same reason a lot of our plans fall through: we don’t really know ourselves.

I know what you are thinking. 

“Dave, who knows me better than me?”

 The answer: Only the one who created you. 

There was a version of you that God imagined when He was knitting you together in your mother’s womb. A perfect version of you. Then when you were born, a broken world started to break you. It was unavoidable. 

I floundered around in young adulthood with absolutely no sense of identity. I couldn’t find my direction. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be. As I got farther away from the dreamscape known as childhood, my options and plans began to dwindle. All of my plans failed. I am betting a lot of you can identify with that.

God has a plan. He imagined it before you were born; a plan that results in a perfect you. A you that is perfectly resting in God’s will. Jesus came to get the result of brokenness (sin) out of the way of our relationship with the Creator, and soon He will come back to restore all of that Creation (including you and me) to its perfect state.

“You mean I just have to walk through my life with this broken version of myself?”

Not at all. God has a plan. He sent His Son. In turn, Jesus sent the Spirit. Acknowledging the reality of God gives us access to the Spirit.

“What is the Spirit?”

The Spirit is a guide. In Hebrew, the same word used for the Spirit was used for the wind. If you will allow me to run with the metaphor…When we see the truth of God’s plan, we choose to follow Jesus. We take our broken shells, and limp along in his footsteps, all leading to this version of ourselves that God imagined. And when we are aligned with God’s plan, the wind of the Spirit propels us towards who we were always meant to be. We call that sanctification. 

Each day we get a little closer, inching our way toward a version of us we won’t see in this life. But in this way, we get a glimpse. You can call it a glimpse of heaven. You can call it perfection. Whatever it is, I know this: It’s God’s plan, and it’s the only plan that works.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

There is hope…and it is a plan.

God loves it when a plan comes together.


Don’t Dream It’s Over

“Hey now, hey now,
Don't dream it's over.
Hey now, hey now,
When the world comes in.
They come, they come,
To build a wall between us;
We know they won't win.” -Crowded House, Don’t Dream It’s Over

Jesus told the rich, young ruler to get rid of the things that would come between them.

He told the woman at the well that if she, a sinner, asked, he would give.

He told stories of a father who wouldn’t just watchfully wait for you to come back from your sinfulness, but run to shower you with affection when you were still “a long way off.”

He fed, loved and washed the feet of someone he knew was about to sell him out.

Paul would say that no powers, rulers, anything present in the world today, nor death itself could divide you from God’s love.

As followers of Jesus, there’s absolutely nothing that should come between us and anyone else. The Kingdom citizen strives to break down walls that society and culture threaten to barricade among us.

We know that they won’t win.

Hi! Welcome to Pop Culture Pastor

This is going to be awkward no matter how I do it, so i will just go for the vocabulary vomit technique and just get it all out there. I am not really sure how one starts a blog or, frankly, why anyone would choose to read one. I guess, if you really want to know, I am trying to find my people. Much like Kal El, I have always felt an aloneness that was deeper than being shy or introverted. A young and impressionable comic book reader wondered many times if he was really an orphaned alien, just waiting for his powers to manifest. I guess in many ways I was. When I received my call to ministry, for the first time I felt inclusion rather than exclusion. I felt what it must feel like to be the popular kid in high school (None of us geeks know that feeling, right? lol). I felt the thrill of adoption into a family of love. The amazing thing is, this adoption came with a job: Go back to the ones like you, and tell them the good news.

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul, rather long-windedly, expounds on how his position as essentially a missionary for the new church would allow him to be funded by the people of the church. However, Paul is getting at something here and when he eventually arrives, the point of his choice to be a tentmaker becomes clear.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 9:19–23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

By using his skill set to make tents, Paul makes himself a part of the marketplace, the melting pot of the ancient world. He makes his money just like everyone else in the marketplace. This gives him relational connection points that “handing out tracts” would never afford him. He joins a subculture and does relationship to “show” people Jesus.

So here we are…Pop Culture Pastor. The name alone sums me up in a completeness that makes me giggle and the most devout grumble. I was the only child of a single mother who worked long hours to put food on the table. Much like Bill Murray’s character in the movie Scrooged, I was raised on pop culture. I dreamed of rebel alliances in the stars being led by light sword wielding monks. I imagined looking for treasures of history with only my whip and sidearm to guard me. My best friends were the neighborhood kids from the Goon Docks. I ingested copious amounts of cereal from the biggest bowl I could find everyday after school while wondering why no one on GI Joe ever died. Even the bad guys always had time to parachute out when their planes were hit. Cartoons, movies, television, music, comics…my life blood. I still love it all. I love the stories and the tropes! I love Jesus and people!

So this blog is me. It is just so completely me. Its the conversations I have and the life I lead. I am looking for my people. The geeks. The sci fi lovers. People who quote LOTR freely and know immediately what LOTR is short for. Are you my people? Then welcome.

Here is a picture of 7 year old me getting Castle Grayskull for Christmas in 1983, just because.