It’s great to hear some of our ministry partners talking about the persecuted church. Speaking briefly at a mosque over the weekend really opened my eyes to how much work is needed to begin reaching them with the gospel. www.doctrineanddevotion.com
When we arrived in America, back after a year away, we had two kids. We had some suitcases and a guitar case. We had a skid on a container ship. We had each other and we had a feeling of unfinished work.
Unfinished work is kind of a specialty of mine. Ideas come more frequently than they can be implemented and seen to their full end. Notebooks lay mostly but not completely full. Bottles of ink, fountain pens that sit in a pen cup with the ink still in them slowly turning to sludge that future-Dan may or may not ever get around to cleaning out.
We came back because God pulled us back. When the decision was made, we were compelled. It took a little bit of time, but once the gears were in motion, everything just kind of… happened. I was barely making any money at the time, there was a financial crisis (not this one, the other one that happened) and so better paying work was hard to come by. But I had work, in factories and then in a pub kitchen, which to this day is still one of the best and hardest jobs I’ve ever had. Somehow, whenever a big bill came in, there was money to pay for it. A tax credit came through or suddenly I was given 60-hour weeks at work. It was always just at the right time. As our church family prayed for us, they wanted to send us.
If there was any doubt about whether we were meant to return, we just had to look back and see what God was doing to make it happen.
But it happened in such a way, almost effortlessly, that when it was the week of our departure, I was unsure. I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to happen. Were we meant to leave now? Were we meant to return? There was so much that felt unfinished. The land wasn’t done with me, with our family.
It turns out, it really was unfinished.
When we got back, I was employed almost straightaway, but it was miserable. Early morning stocking. Night shift at a gas station. A job in a warehouse that came without a real title or job description resulting in me teaching myself how to use, fix and maintain a CNC lathe and mill that were constantly breaking down. Coiling miles and miles of cable that would end up connecting cell phone towers. Wondering if I was going to be the next one to be let go when business slowed down to a standstill. Working two jobs in order to keep our noses above water. Working 70 hours on easy weeks and 80 on hard weeks. Missing an entire year of my kids growing up in order to keep the roof over their heads. All until finally getting a job that pays enough for me to work one job, freeing up time that I almost didn’t know how to use.
While all of this was happening, we were growing deeper into our church. Leading worship every other week. Leading worship at other churches to serve them and bring in a little bit more money. Tracy spent time becoming more and more involved with children’s ministry. Reading and reading and listening to sermons every week where the Word was preached and the Gospel presented. Every week, hearing the Gospel over and over again. Realising that it is truer and truer as I grow older. Seeing the beauty of something that seems so foolish. Seeing that rather than casting me into sin and suffering and experiencing my best life now, I am a sinner held mercifully in the hands of an angry God Who chose not to pour out that anger on me but on His Son.
And I was placed in a position that forced me to overcome my fear of speaking. Not only do I need to lead in song, I have to proclaim and exhort. I have to explain why it is that we are singing these songs. That when we gather as the Church, we are not gathering for a simple sing-a-long. We are a microcosm of the very Kingdom of Heaven. We are a tiny, broken picture of what we will be at the very end. A gathering of people that have no business gathering together but drawn together by the hand and work of God to proclaim His work and glory.
Then a year ago, I got coffee with an old friend of mine. And a few months later, I found myself in a conference room in Orlando being assessed for something that I never, ever, ever expected to be assessed for. Sitting there, listening and learning and being given a minutes notice that I needed to give a clear, presentation of the Gospel in under 2 minutes. Exegete a text and give a three-minute devotion on it. Psychology tests. Cross-cultural tests. Personality tests. What is it that makes me tick. Finding out what series of letters the business world would use to define me and interact with me. Being told, I should do this but not yet, do some of the hardest work you’ve ever done first.
I then spent a summer agonising over the future while being given a constant reminder that Philippians 4:6-7 really is in the Bible and you really do need to obey it. Keep leading worship. Keep hammering away at this thing. It really is happening and it really is going to be this hard. But write everything down. Keep it in your heart. Remember these things later. Because one day you’re going to need them.
Make lists. Write more. Figure out how to fit all of the work into a life that already feels full.
All so that you can say the following:
I’ve been appointed as a missionary with Converge and AT3. As a family, we will serve the local church in the UK; gaining ministry experience in a post-Christian culture with an aim to further the Kingdom. We’re going at the end of the summer of 2018 and we’re excited and scared and cannot wait to begin. Follow us at our new website to find out how you can be a part of making it happen. Help us support and learn from local church leaders in order to proclaim the Gospel to a nation that has forgotten or, in some cases, abolished the very concept of God.
I haven’t done a knitting update in a while because a. I haven’t been knitting that much and b. This pattern hasn’t been that exciting to knit so far. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really nice knit but it’s also a bit of a TV knit. What it has done, though, is grow very quickly. Here is a terrible photo (the kind of photo that I make fun of when I am looking for patterns on Ravelry) to demonstrate how big this is so far.
That notebook is an A4. It’s a properly big notebook. Taller and slightly narrower than letter-size. It is the best size, but that’s not the point. I still have to knit the lace section on this shawl which is going to be another 96 rows, plus the binding off. This is the part of the project that makes me nervous because there is always the possibility of a game of yarn-chicken in the future.
I baked a buckle with Liam(4) this morning. It’s supposed to be blueberry, but we used frozen mixed berries instead.
This yarn has been waiting for a project. It isn’t technically my yarn, it’s Tracy’s, but we’ll ignore that for now. Here’s what it’s going to become:
That’s right, it’s another Melanie Berg pattern. This time, it’s Sunwalker. I’m excited to get this one going, and no, I haven’t finished the other one yet.
Never mind the badly lit photo, the point is mostly that the Assante shawl is growing and quite quickly. Even though it’s only been a week, I’m just over the halfway point.
If I’m honest, it seems like it’s a bit small for this point but the rows are getting longer and longer, so we’ll see.
The fact that it is all in garter stitch is making for a really relaxing knit and a really good project for watching old episodes of Top Gear and Grantchester.
For the past 9 years, I have had the privilege of saying happy birthday to this woman.
I’ve watched her raise our children, praying with them and preaching the gospel to them.
I’ve experienced the love of God through her love for me. And I am a better man for knowing and loving her.
Since the protests that happened in Charlottesville over the weekend, I’ve been reading more comment threads than is good for any person to ever do, but it brought up a common problem that I saw during the controversy over Colin Kaepernick’s protest.
There are those that are simply calling a spade a spade and then there are the people reacting to that with some variation of:
Yeah, but BLM and antifa are also committing evil. You should be calling them out too.
And while the riots are by no means excusable, they aren’t the problem here. Instead, those riots are being used to distract from what is actually going on in this country. By calling attention to them, detractors are attempting to lessen the poison of their own views.
They are, in essence, saying that it’s okay to be a white nationalist or a racist because surely that’s less bad than rioting.
But the problem with that mindset is that it doesn’t actually matter.
When you refuse to name an evil as evil, without any qualification, you are effectively saying that it is not actually evil. You’re communicating that it’s okay to be a racist because some of the people you are protesting have been involved in riots.
Of course, that’s the logical end of that view. Racism says that people of color are less than human. It denies them the imago Dei that is within them. It says to them, “God made a mistake when He made you.”