Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson


One of my favorite sports columnists is Nick Canepa, who covers sports in San Diego. It’s an unfortunate assignment.

The good thing is that he has a wonderful sense of humor. One has to have this to survive the tragic endings of so many Charger games, as well as the dreadful beginnings of so many Padre contests.  If you type in “Charger Fans Crying” on Google, you are actually introduced to numerous pictures. I could not find a picture of me (it’s there somewhere), but I did not have time to sift through the 437,183 images.

Canepa occasionally writes a “Sez me” column. I think he does this when he is at a loss for what to write. There are deadlines, and it is probably unnerving. Those who cover sports in San Diego must face this terror often, for I am guessing there are a lot of dead moments. “Sez me” are his random thoughts on just about anything that comes to his mind (from flying economy to the clothing attire of a head coach). I have found this so inspiring I thought I would conclude another Friday afternoon with a few of my own “Sez me”…for I too am at a loss. I have been so immersed in finishing my edits for a publisher, as well as wrapping up 32 years of being a pastor, that I have not been so attentive to my blog. Not that I am counting, but there are 93 days before my “repositioning”, a.k.a. retirement from Village. So, here are some random thoughts on Good Friday…

Sez Me…

There will be a lot I will miss in preaching every week, but preparing for Christmas and Easter will not necessarily be one of them.  It is a wonderful opportunity to reach so many new faces, but I have sometimes wondered why we put so much additional effort in programming, creative art, videos, parking attendants, etc…for so many who have no intention of coming back until the next holiday.

On the other hand, I will miss preaching regularly to those faithful, the ones who come week after week because they take serious the mandate to follow Christ—who have no intention of staying where they are in their walk with God, but pressing forward.

Speaking of staying in a rut, I really liked David Brooks column this week, “The Middle-Age Surge.” He redefines what middle age should be—the season to reimagine. By this point, a person should know who he/she is, as well as has built the necessary resources. Quoting from Karl Barth, “The run has been taken; now is the time to leap.” Since I am right in the center of middle age (exaggerating of course), that’s how I want to approach the third third of life. Time to move with measured haste. Time to surge. Some possibilities are closing, but limitation can be wonderfully liberating. The remaining possibilities can be lived more deeply.

Back to sports. Carl Elliott writes a wonderful article in the New York Times this week on Steph Curry. Whether you follow the NBA or not, his way with words is worth the read. Reflecting on Curry’s college days at Davidson, a small Presbyterian college, he describes his “twisting reverse layups, the divinely inspired crossover dribble, those long range jump shots, which ascended to heaven and back: It was enough tomake a Presbyterian speak in tongues.” I love people who have a way with words—like Eugene Peterson and Barbara Brown Taylor.

I will miss Jerry Bridges, who died two weeks ago. He was a writer with Navigators ministry, and he once taught a course for me when I directed the doctoral program at Western. He won’t be in the obituaries of the NY Times, reserved for the likes of movie editors, soccer stars, or famous chefs, but he was a giant in the world of ministry. Perhaps the humblest man I have ever met on earth. I remember his opening words to the students, reminding them that we are more sinful than we will ever realize, but more loved by God than we will ever know.

I shared an article with my board this week on Donald Trump and Evangelicals. Stephen Prothero, a religion prof at Boston University, makes a fair observation that the evangelicals that politicians like Trump and Cruz are courting are not the evangelicals of another era. Definitions have changed—the ones often referred to in the news are not defined by the same commitment to core spiritual values today. Political identity has trumped religious identity. “Politics has become more real to many American Christians than theology.”  I believe this is sadly true, and it should give us pause. Are we, like ancient Israel, going after a Saul because we have fallen in love—more with power than with God?

 I could go on with this randomness—why is it I just changed cable providers, offering lots of movie channel extras, and still can’t find a movie to watch on Friday night? (Wait, there is “Cornbread, Earl and Me “on ASPIRE at 9:00pm).

 Thankfully, there is something far better tonight—reflecting on Good Friday with my community. There is something powerful about the reminder that we have such great worth to God—so loved that He would die for us.

1 Comment
  • sewcreative
    4:13 PM, 25 April 2016

    This post was quite comical….you jumped between several conversations, yet all reflected your thoughts quite honestly. I loved the fact that you mentioned the CEO’s of the church..those that come Christmas, Easter, and other special Sunday’s where they are asked to. Funny…every church has them don’t they? And then there’s David Brooks, I’ve never been a fan, but I know that you have always enjoyed his articles. Jerry Bridges…now there’s someone I liked…I know he will be missed by those who had the pleasure of either meeting him or reading his books. Donald Trump IS a Saul….too bad so many people have been placed in a seemingly irreversible trance by his promises. As far as Friday night movies…Cornbread, Earl and Me?…now there’s one for mom. 😊 Your favorite…..how about only….sister.

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