The Cyprus Files: Part 1. The Journey


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The journey to Cyprus was…emotional!

The Coach
The madness began right away. My good friend, Neil, picked me up from my house at 7:15am thinking that we had plenty of time to get back to his house in Cwmbran to pick up his luggage and travel documents before catching the coach from Newport at 8:15am. And we would have had plenty of time…if indeed the coach was leaving at 8:15am. However, a quick check of the confirmation email told us that the coach was actually set to leave at 7:45!!

We were stuffed!

Neil phoned his wife, Cayte, and asked her to wake up their sleepy 3 year old and bomb down to the coach station with all his stuff in the vain hope that we’d somehow make it in time.

We didn’t.

We missed it by a minute and had to suffer the agony of seeing it drive past us just as we were pulling up to the coach station. Cayte, however, had (miraculously) managed to get there in time and had been informed by the driver that our only hope of catching the coach was to get to Chepstow before the coach did, as that was the last stop before Gatwick.

We ‘dumped’ Neil’s car at the nearest McDonalds and literally chased the coach all way down the M4 in dense fog. By the time we finally made it to Chepstow we still hand’t seen the coach and feared the worst. However, a few moments later the coach pulled up and we gratefully climbed aboard.

But the drama was far from over!

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The Cyprus Files: Intro

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I’m finally back home with my family after 5 fantastic days in Cyprus.

My reason for visiting this Mediterranean tourist hot-spot (Aiya Napa to be precise) was to see 2 very precious friends, P + J, get married. J works in Cyprus rescuing women from trafficking and prostitution and P has been a great encouragement to me and the RED Community guys over the last year or so.

The chance to see them tie the knot on the island that I have prayed so much for was too good to miss, and the fact that I got to hang out with good friends and make new ones along the way was also sweet.

However, while I went to celebrate the marriage of friends and enjoy a break in the sun as part of the deal, it seems that God wanted me there to learn a few things. Oftentimes God will take us out of the ‘normal’ and ‘familiar’ in order to get our attention and speak into our lives and situations.

And that’s exactly what happened this week, only the lessons started long before I arrived in Cyprus…

Coming soon: ‘The Cyprus Files: Part 1. The Journey’

IF I WAS GOING TO PLANT AGAIN… (PART 3)

THIS IS THE THIRD PART OF A SHORT CHURCH PLANTING MINI-SERIES. YOU CAN READ THE FIRST POST HERE AND THE SECOND POST HERE.

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If I was going to plant again…

>> I would be far less bothered by what others are doing

I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

For what it’s worth, I agree with him!

This is especially true when it comes to church planting. I’d like to think that when I planted Hill City 7 years ago I was a man so gripped by God’s plan that nothing and no one could distract or discourage me from the task in hand…but that would be far from the truth!

In reality, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and everywhere I turned I seemed to be surrounded by leaders who were better than me, churches that were bigger than mine and ministries that seemed far more fruitful. On top of all that were the countless books I read that were written by theological gurus and missional masterminds. The podcast preachers who felt the need to tell me (along with their thousands of online listeners) about the hundreds of new converts they were baptising every month. The church plant down the road that, despite being even newer than mine, seemed to be growing twice as fast and was the new talk of the town! Websites that were more impressive. Ministries that were knocking out awesome media content for fun. Churches that had a worship band (not just a dude with a guitar!) In truth all those things got to me. I started thinking things like:

“If we had a band, we’d have far more people coming”

“Video guy…we NEED a video guy!”

“If only Piper could hear me preach right now!

Comparison had crept up on me and, just like Roosevelt said, it was robbing my joy.

The crazy thing is that for a church plant that had started in a house with just myself, my wife, our daughter and a dog, we were doing OK! The growth wasn’t explosive, but neither were we haemorrhaging folk. Our website wasn’t spectacular, but it was certainly functional (and we were one of the only churches in the valley to even have a website!) My preaching was quite strong, creative and above all – faithful to the gospel. And Michelle remains one of the most anointed worship leaders I know. So why was I allowing myself to get so distracted and discouraged?

I guess it’s a bit like what sprinters have to deal with.

When you see those 8 men/women lining up on the start line you see 8 athletes with steel-eyed focus staring straight ahead. They are not concerning themselves with what is happening in the 7 other lanes – they are focussed solely on executing their game plan in their lane. How many times have you heard the winning athlete say something along the lines of “I just got in the zone and ran my race”?

I think that’s what the Apostle Paul was getting at in 2 Timothy 4 v 5 when he charged his young protege, Timothy: “Fulfil YOUR ministry”

Timothy had a unique calling on his life. Sure, he served the same Saviour as Paul, was called to preach the same gospel as Paul, was filled with the same Holy Spirit as Paul and had plenty to learn from the wiser, more experienced apostle. BUT, when all was said and done, he still had to fulfil his ministry. He had to forget all other distractions that surrounded him and focus on running his race in his lane.

There’s a lesson in there for all of us church planters! It’s taken me a lot longer than it should have, and I confess that I’m still prone to glance across to the high-profile preacher podcasting on one side of me, or the pastor of the bigger church planted on the other side. But God has given me a unique game plan to execute. Those guys have to fulfil their ministry. I have to fulfil mine.

I’m likely never going to influence as many people as John Piper or Tim Keller. And that’s OK. They’re likely never going to move to Trevethin and seek to make Christ known in this beautiful, broken valley.

That’s my call.

My lane.

My race to run.

I’m done with making joy-sapping, faith-wrecking, ego-stroking comparisons. God bless all them other runners. I pray that we all stay in lane, give it our all and that we all get safely across the finish line.

And I’m thankful that when we do cross that line we’re not going to be asked “how many were in your church?” “How slick was your website?” Or “How rocking was your band?”

All we’re going to hear is “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master.” And that’s good enough for me.

If I was going to plant again… I’d like to think that I would be far less bothered by what others are doing – I’d just get my head down and crack on!

Stay tuned for If I was going to plant again…(Part 4)

Proverbs 7

Yesterday at the Courageous Men’s Conference we premiered a brand new short film that has been created by Andy Toovey of 2V Studios. It is a film that has literally been several years in the making. The idea was birthed from a conversation that I had with Andy about 2 years ago about how the story of the foolish young man and the adulteress in Proverbs 7 could be applied to the folly of young men pursuing sexual gratification through pornography on the internet.

Andy developed a screenplay and soon afterwards we were out on the streets of Newport shooting the film.

However, as Andy’s workload increased, the footage remained untouched for a long time…until recently! We agreed that the Courageous conference would be the perfect event to launch the film so Andy got to work. As you’ll see below, it was worth the wait!

The finished product is effectively a partnership between TorFilm and Red Community. It is my hope and prayer that it will be used by God to communicate a dynamic Biblical warning to young men (and women) about the dangers of pornography and that as a result many will be saved from this wretched online deathtrap.


 

There are many things that I love about this film. One of those things, however, is that it features Newport’s fanmous Chartist mural. We had no idea that just a few months after shooting this the mural would be controversially destroyed by the local council. It also features Newport bus station as it was before its extensive renovations. Therefore this film has captured something of the history of Newport.

Biblical Manhood: Promotional Video

Biblical Manhood poster BlueI am starting to get really excited about the Biblical Manhood conference we have this coming Friday. Why not come and join us 10am-4pm at Highfields Church as Gavin Peacock unpacks what the Bible has to say about the true nature of manhood and masculinity.

Here’s what Gavin has to say about the event:

The event is free. Coffee will be provided and there may even be a couple of muffins knocking around!

Hopefully see you on Friday.

Endorsements for ‘A Man’s Greatest Challenge’

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It’s always humbling when people say nice things about stuff I’ve written. Here’s what some people have been saying about my latest book:

“Dai has done it again—managed to write a book that is both simple and hard to read ! Simple, because it is not long or complex; hard, because it is challenging to download into our lives. But that’s a mark of a good book. It will help to identify your flaws and weaknesses, and discover a Christ-shaped, grace-filled response which leads to self-control.”
Peter Baker, Senior Pastor at Lansdowne Baptist Church, Bournemouth, UK

“Dai Hankey has written an extremely helpful book for men and their struggles. Focussing on the core issue of self-control, this book has the capacity to set a man free from nagging sin and shame. I would recommend it as a book to be read by all—from teen through to senior.”
Jamie Rasmussen, Senior Pastor, Scottsdale Bible Church, Arizona

“If this is your issue (and I suspect it is, given that you’ve picked up this book), then this is the place to start for clear, helpful, practical, gospel-motivated wisdom. It’s going to be what we use with the guys at my church who, like me, struggle to get to grips with our ungodly desires.”
Richard Perkins, Senior Minister at Christ Church Balham, London and Director of the Antioch Plan; member of London Men’s Convention committee

“Here is a timely, punchy book, filled with biblical truth, that will give fresh hope to the significant number of Christian men who have lost their assurance, usefulness and joy through a lack of self-control.”
Paul Rees, Senior Pastor at Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh

“All of us men struggle with self-control; and we seem to struggle with losing it in many of the same areas. This book reminds us that self-control is not only a gospel project, it is a church-wide project in which we all must play a part. So, if your desire is to struggle less and look like Jesus more, then you’ll want to gather your friends and read this book together.”
Juan R. Sanchez Jr, Senior Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas, USA; Gospel Coalition Council member

“A Man’s Greatest Challenge is no silver bullet when it comes to temptation and self-control. But neither should it be. Our help comes not from man’s wisdom or experience, but from the Lord Jesus Christ. Dai Hankey points us very clearly to this powerful gospel. No silver bullet—but genuine hope for changed lives.”
Dave McDonald, Senior Pastor at Stromlo Christian Church, Canberra, Australia, and Chaplain to ACT Brumbies; author of “Hope Beyond Cure”

“The smouldering ruins of a great city, walls breached and overthrown, is how the Bible pictures a life without self-control. Using this biblical picture, A Man’s Greatest Challenge speaks Christ-centred challenge and hope into lives wrecked by a lack of self-control. This is an issue I face, as do my friends and church family. The combination of close biblical study and Dai’s frank honesty makes this book that is both biblical and useful—a real-world guidebook full of grace and hope.
John Hindley, Pastor of BroadGrace, Norfolk, UK; author of “Serving without Sinking” and “You Can Really Grow”

“Men, read this book! In tackling the challenge of self-control, Dai shows that lasting hope lies not in will power but gospel power—its comfort and its call.”
Gavin Peacock, Missions Pastor at Calvary Grace Church, Canada; former Chelsea and Newcastle midfielder

You can find out more about the book and pre-order your copy here.

Autumn Leaves and Changing Seasons

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I had a great time kicking through piles of crisp brown leaves with the twins outside school this morning.

Autumn is truly here and I’m buzzin cos it’s my favourite season.

The temperature gets cooler.

The trees dramatically change colour.

It’s stunning.

Beautiful.

But it’s also sobering.

Perhaps more than any other season, Autumn reminds us that nothing stays the same. Seasons come and go. Things burst into life. Things grow. Things die. Perhaps I’m especially aware of the reality of ‘change’ right now as things seem to be changing all around me. I’ve recently found myself in the following situations:

  • Gathering with our church family and sharing about some unexpected changes within our leadership team.
  • Hooking up with friends from around South Wales who for various reasons are feeling unsettled by what’s currently going on in their local churches.
  • Speaking to the local U9 football team and their parents and explaining my reasons for why the time has come for me to step back and hand over the running of the team to another coach.
  • Looking at my 4 kids and it dawning on me how scarily quickly they all seem to be growing up.
  • Going to hospital, looking at an X-ray of my mashed-up ankle and being told in no uncertain terms by a podiatrist that my bones are knackered and they ain’t gonna get better with age!
  • Meeting with the committee members of a gospel project that I’m involved with, agreeing that the ministry in its current form has run its course and that a radical overhaul is in order.
  • Sitting down and drinking coffee with a friend who I have served alongside for several years and concluding that the time is now right for him to move on to new things.
  • Standing at the side of a grave comforting a dear friend who has just lost her mother.

Like I said, nothing stays the same.

Truth is, life is unstable.

Unpredictable.

Fragile.

Which has caused me to turn to the only place where we can truly find security and stability in transient times –  and that place is in the living God and in His Word.

“For I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3 v 6)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13 v 8)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1 v 17)

“The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40 v 7-8)

Unlike the trees and unlike the seasons, God NEVER changes. This is such good news!

God’s nature doesn’t change. He is unchangingly good, gracious, merciful, just, holy, patient, sovereign and powerful.

God’s promises are as good as kept. They are yes and amen in Jesus.

God’s plans will stand. Nothing and no one can stand in His way. In fact, God alone can take our adverse circumstances and situations and use them to accomplish His purposes.

God’s victory cannot be reversed. Jesus died. Jesus rose. Sin was buried. Satan was defeated. Death had its teeth ripped out. The Holy Spirit has been poured out. Jesus is coming back for His bride and heaven awaits.

Buzzin.

So as the seasons change.

As the autumn leaves continue to fall around us.

As we are reminded that nothing of this world stays the same, let’s hold fast to Jesus.

After all, if Jesus truly is “the beginning and the end” then surely it makes sense to trust Him with the bit in the middle too!