“We’re beggars who happened to have found bread” is a quote I remember vividly sitting under the teaching of Dan Cummings. As I looked at Dan for the first time I thought, “Wow, he’s small.” Then after listening to him for the first time I thought, “Dan, I want MORE…give me more.”
We moved to West Michigan from East Michigan. I had never heard Grace preached like Dan preached. Deep inside I knew what I believed, but
was never able to verbalize it. Then I heard Dan preach the Gospel as I have heard no other preach. It was a breath of fresh air. Knowing that God had forgiven my sins completely and that He CHOSE me before the foundation of the world to be His. That there was absolutely NOTHING this dead person could do to save himself. ‘But God, being rich in mercy…’ It was an unbelievable thing to process. How could he love me and want me to be His so badly? And, more importantly, what was I doing in return for this gratitude.
I had so many questions about salvation. “If God chooses us, why do we need to do ANY evangelism? If He can choose people, why doesn’t He choose everyone? If God is, “not willing that any should perish and that all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9) Do people really have a free will? All of these questions were answered by God’s Word with love and grace. I was truly amazed by his love for the Word and the answers he gave.
Today, I’m a man who LOVES the Gospel because it means so MUCH to me. I’m truly amazed at grace. I marvel that God chose me for “honorable use” (Romans 9:21). I certainly don’t understand why he chose ME? There are certainly other people who deserve it more. I’m just a beggar who found bread given to me by a merciful and loving God.
I sat under Dan’s teaching for just three short years. But, today I still consider him THE man who helped me understand my salvation and what Christ’s death on the cross accomplished for me. HE’S the one God chose to share the truth of the Gospel at a pivotal point in my life. He was the man God used to help Grace Community Church to start being a church of Grace in our community. He was such a gifted communicator that even my young kids came home talking about the messages they heard each Sunday, not just once in a while. Each Sunday we sat riveted, wondering what new truth he would help us understand.
I loved his passionate plea for a church to be more like an AA meeting — “Hi, I’m Greg Yoder, I’m a sinner. I’ve been a sinner since birth…” Instead of people in the pews putting on some kind of act, thinking they’ve got it altogether, when in reality we all fall short of God’s Holiness every day. I remember when he actually did this in front of church and someone yelling from the back and said, “But, we love you Dan!” Apart from Christ we can do absolutely NOTHING. Even on our best day we’re smelly rags before God. “But, God….” We can’t help but love our sin, “But, God.”
If the world had more preachers like Dan Cummings, we’d have a lot less churches preaching ‘another Gospel, which really isn’t another Gospel’ (Galatians 1).
I wish I could write more about this man I called my captain. That comes from a movie both Dan and I enjoy, “Dead Poets Society.” It’s a scene that reminds me of how many of us ‘reformers’ are viewed by those who claim Christ does some and we do something to earn our salvation. Since Dan is the man who helped me understand truths of the Gospel, I’ve called him oh captain, my captain.
Oh, captain, my captain, a young pilgrim on his way to the City has arrived. Dan Cummings completed his journey Thursday February 5 at around 9:30pm at the age of 48 after suffering from cancer. He was a great fighter.
Here’s a quote from what Dan called HIS pastor, Jonathon Edwards:
“To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husband, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.”
On Dan’s blog on January 19, he wrote: “Jonathan Edwards’ physicians’ note to Sarah captures what I want for my life in these days: “This afternoon [Mar 22, 1758], between two and three o’clock, it pleased God to let him sleep in that dear Lord Jesus….”
If you’d like to see Dan’s writings during his sickness, you can go here: http://5pointscc.org/dan/
If you want a sense of Dan’s passion for the Gospel, watch this from John Irvine’s wonderful tribute.
Thank you Dan for being true to God’s Word, true to your faith in living and in dying. Til we meet again oh captain, my captain.
Mourning in Dan’s loss, rejoicing in Dan’s gain,
Great post, Greg! Dan’s passion for the gospel is the reason that Tom and I first visited Grace. The gospel he loved is the reason that the Raemisches are here today. We stand very much on his shoulders. We are humbled by that. We rejoice, along with all those who knew him, that He sees his Savior’s face. We grieve for his family’s loss though we know that they will find God’s grace sufficient even in the midst of their tears. And we long for the day when we all stand beside him in worship of our great and good God. Even so….
With hope-filled tears,
Thank you for this wonderful tribute to a man that I will never forget and who will always spur me on to run this race and not quit. My heart is broken today because Dan Cummings is gone. I will miss his preaching, his wisdom, his unique sense of humor, and his writings. Although I only visited at his church, I would weekly listen to his sermons at the Five Points website. Wow! The passionate plea that this dear brother conveyed to those that listened. Take up your cross and follow Christ! Unless you are willing to lose everything for His sake, you cannot be a true follower! I loved Pastor Dan and today my sorrow (and tears) are bittersweet. Dan has truly entered into our Lord’s rest and is now safe in the arms of Christ. Dan was a marathon runner (which I am also) and he ran the most important race with humility and passion and perseverance. On Thursday evening, Dan won the Marathon! I am certain our Lord will say to him, “well done, thou good and faithful servant”.
Thanks for sharing this moving tribute. We are praying for Dan’s wife and children and for the church there!
Greg, I don’t believe I’ve met you, but I have met Dan, and this is such a true discription of him. It reminded me of so many things that I heard Dan say in the year that I was privileged to sit under his preaching at Five Points Community Church. It also reminded me of how Dan stayed the course, impacting so many along the way… May God cause Dan’s ripple to extend to many generations!
To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husband, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.. This really touched my spirit.. I just randomnly came across your blog,but I am really enjoying it. It sounds like Pastor Dan was a great man of God and touched the lives of many.. When we die it is not the end,but the beginning of our eternal life.. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.. in Christ’s love,Holly
Hello, my name is John Marchand. Moments ago i was just searching the internet for old friends that i knew. Paster Dan Cummings was my paster at Grace Community Church years ago. At that time, Dan married my wife and i. He was our friend, and at times all we had. His message was powerful and altering, he made me into a better man. At this moment i share your pain, and your loss. There are only a few people in my life that i can say changed me like this man did. He loved his people and he gave everything he had. If this describes the Dan Cummings that you knew, then we know the same man. Dan I love you, and I will deeply miss you my friend…
A beautiful tribute. I loved Dan like a second father as I grew up with his teachings in Hudsonville, MI and miss him dearly. Although I know he always near. God bless
Dan’s messages from Hudsonville still ring in my ears after the years. After listening to Joseph Prince, The power of Right Believing. It brings back many memories of Dan and his passion for Grace.