Dr. Calvin Miller invited me to lunch. This was troublesome. When my parents moved to Omaha, he was the Pastor at their church. Why would a college student, home for Christmas, want to go eat with a local Pastor?
Mom told me that “Cal” was a best-selling author, with his trilogy “The Singer”, a poetic rendering of the life of Christ. Hmmm…
He was a physics major in college. That’s, interesting.
He started preaching at 19. Cheeky.
He grew a twelve person Bible Study in Omaha into a mega church. He was a painter, pastor, poet, so, well…maybe I could have lunch with him., Just this once.
What a lunch! What questions he asked! A man who had plenty else to do, took time with a brash college kid, to talk and to listen. He was cool. His thought-provoking words resonated. They drew me out of my little world and into the rare air of having a discipler in my life.
Sometimes over the years he’d say “You’re really screwed up thinking like that.” He would always point out a better way. He wrote me! (Not emails – letters, with stamps and everything.) Forty letters and I cherish all of them. Some of them, mysteriously, were lines in a book he wrote a few years later called “The Philippian Fragment”, about a young believer’s counsel from an elder brother in Christ. Hmmm.
My deep transformation in those years came about because of an older brother in Christ. It was Cal – discipling me. Cal and Barbara took me into their home, spent time with me, loved me. Oh God, did they love me!
Calvin would eventually leave Omaha to become a Seminary professor at two major Christian Universities, all the while writing, painting, speaking and enjoying life with Barbara until his death in 2012. I really miss him.
In 2019 I was attending a series of lectures at Oxford University in England. Our speaker was recounting the author who had the most influence on him as a Christian. I was stunned as he opened his talk, reading from “The Singer”. Here, forty-three years after that encounter with Cal, I sat hearing Cal’s words again, as a major influencer of people at Oxford University.
Cal was a discipling leader, and he set the bar for me in discipleship. I shall rejoice to see him again, soon enough, when we’re with Christ. We have a lot to talk about Cal.
Team up with others! Run the race set before you as a disciple, and invite people to “come check out Jesus”, just like Cal did for me.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 28.19 (ESV)
Dennis Allen and his wife Karen live in the Washington DC area and are members of Reston Presbyterian Church. Dennis is the Author of “The Disciple Dilemma” and works as a CEO, specializing in corporate turnarounds