Category: gospel

Take time to treasure Christ this Christmas

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I am loving Christmas time right now.

Seriously, LOVING it!

In fact, I can’t remember enjoying the lead-up to Christmas this much in years and years! So why am I so BUZZIN about Christmas? To be honest, I think it’s because I’ve had the time and head-space to really take it all in.

  • To study Scripture.
  • To meditate on the mystery.
  • To ponder God’s perfect salvation plan.
  • To revel and rest and rejoice in the Redeemer.
  • To wander into wonder and wondrous worship.
  • To thankfully think and thoughtfully thank my Saviour.

But why does this year feel so different to so many of my recent Christmases? Here’s why – I’ve got TIME! What I mean by that is that for the last 17 years I have been involved in full-time Christian ministry (I still am, you’ll be pleased to know!) But this is the first time in almost a decade that I haven’t had a CRAZY amount of Christmassy stuff to sort out – church events, outreach concerts, carol singing etc. on top of all the usual stuff like attending my kids’ school productions, visiting family, buying gifts etc. This year the only thing we’re involved in organising is an international carols event in our new community (more about that in a future post). And I’m doing a few preaches here and there. But I’m probably only doing about 25-50% of the amount of stuff that I am used to doing at this time of year.

And the result is that I have had time to actually enjoy Christmas. To study, meditate, ponder, revel, wonder and worship. But mingled with my enjoyment have been 2 strong thoughts that I want to share:

  1. SINCERE GRATITUDE for all those brothers and sisters who serve their socks off to make Christmas such a blessing – both for believers and the hordes of unbelievers who often attend church at this time of year. Christmas undoubtedly provides one of the best opportunities to impact our communities in the whole year and it is right to take that opportunity. So in all sincerity THANK YOU to all who are working and will work so hard this Christmas time. I pray that you will know great joy as you serve. But I also have another emotion rising up…
  2. LOVING CONCERN for all those who, like myself over recent years, might miss the beauty of the incarnation because they are just so busy. So rushed. So wrapped up in what they are doing for Christ that they neglect to focus on what Christ has done for them. And that’s where the true wonder of Christmas is to be found. After a marathon trek to Bethlehem Mary birthed the Saviour of the world in a cattle shed. And after a rabble of scruffy shepherds had gatecrashed the scene to worship her newborn baby, the Bible tells us that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2 v 19) In the midst of the glorious, mysterious mayhem of it all – Mary took time to treasure the true joy of Christmas – the birth of Jesus and the dawn of redeeming grace.

This Christmas, can I implore you to make the most of the opportunities that the season will provide to gather and to give, to sing and to serve, to praise and proclaim the good news. And of course spend time with family and friends wearing dodgy paper hats and watching the Great Escape (again!) But please, Please, PLEASE take time to remember what…or should I say who…it’s really all about! I know it’s a cheesy old cliche but Jesus IS the reason for the season!

Be sure to make space and take time to treasure Him this Christmas!

Blessinz!

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Looking for 300 Prayer Warriors

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Dear friends, hope you are all doing well and starting to get in the mood for Christmas. We certainly are! Anyway, this is just a very simple email with a super simple request.

A few days ago I was chatting with an older, wiser Christian brother who has preached more sermons, planted more churches and learned way more lessons about life and ministry than I have! As I was sharing with him about the new gospel adventure that we have recently embarked on here in Cardiff, he laid down a challenge. It went something like this:

“Dai, what God has called you to do is going to be HARD! You need to get some serious prayer behind you. Why don’t you try to find 100 faithful saints who will commit to praying for you, Michelle, the kids and the mission every day?”

Well, as he was speaking I felt (a) compelled to respond to this wise and compassionate challenge; and (b) that I needed more than 100. In fact, as I thought and prayed about it further I have concluded that I should look for 300 brothers and sisters to commit to stand with us in prayer as we embark on this new mission.

Could you be one of them?

If so, we will commit to sending you regular news and prayer updates by email, as well as a simple prayer guide to help you to pray for different aspects of our ministry on a daily basis. We will also gladly commit to praying for you!

If you would be willing to stand with us as one of our 300 we would be so honoured, humbled and grateful. To ‘sign-up’ all you need to do is email “Count me in!” to daihankey@gmail.com and we’ll hook you up from there!

Thanks so much for you love and support. There are some crazy exciting adventures ahead and we can’t wait to share them with you.

Blessinz

Dai and Michelle and family.

FREEDOM DAY

Join us in Cardiff on Saturday 15th October to be a voice and make a difference!

We’ll be joining in the A21 Walk for Freedom before heading to the iconic Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay for where we will be raising awareness using street drama, followed by the Freedom Event inside the Pierhead building where we will be hearing from various people involved in standing against trafficking, praying for them and spending some time in sung worship.

Join us!

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Post-Sabbatical Reflections

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Tonight is the last evening of my first ever sabbatical that began at the start of July and ends in a few hours. It’s fair to say that A LOT has changed in the last 2 months:

  • I spent a week in the U.S (and got fat).
  • I trained for and cycled from Holyhead to Cardiff (and got slim).
  • I got to spend some quality time with my family (and got blessed).
  • We transitioned out of the church we planted 9 years ago (and got sad).
  • We reconnected with our sending church, Highfields (and got loved).
  • We moved from Pontypool back to Cardiff (and waged war on slugs – more on that in my next post).
  • We got 2 rabbits (one of which looks like Chewbacca – pictured above)
  • Our kids got a new school (as of tomorrow).
  • I pretty much stopped blogging!

But what I want to focus is on in this post is where I’m now at with ministry. To be honest I really wasn’t sure what 2 months ‘out of the game’ would feel like, or what effect it would have on me. It’s certainly the longest time I have not done any preaching in over 17 years and the longest I have not had to function in a church leadership position for the best part of a decade. So where does that leave me now as I’m about to dive back in to ministry?

For what it’s worth, here are my 2 overwhelming thoughts:

  1. I don’t NEED to be in gospel ministry
    It’s been so long since I wasn’t in full-time Christian ministry that until I took a step back I could neither remember or imagine what life as a ‘normal’ Christian was like. That was kind of a scary place to be because my ‘reality’ was one of preaching, serving, leading, living and giving as both a calling and a vocation. And I love this life – especially preaching – which is what I believe God put me on this earth to do. But as any gospel minister will tell you – it’s very easy for our identity, value and worth to be rooted in our performances as preachers, our effectiveness as leaders and our fruitfulness in ministry. And that’s certainly been true of me over the years – loving it when people tell me what a wonderful message I’ve preached and feeling crushed when people have rejected or criticised me.

    Which is why it was so encouraging that as I stepped out of leadership and stepped away from the pulpit I didn’t experience any of the withdrawal symptoms I expected. In fact I kind of enjoyed loving Jesus primarily as a disciple again. Studying the Bible for the sake of my own soul and the edification of my family rather than with a view to how well the stuff I was reading would ‘preach’. Praying more from a place of wonder and personal dependency than a place of pastoral obligation. Sitting with my wife in church for a WHOLE service – not just until one or both of us had to get up and minister in some capacity.It was so refreshing!And I guess what I’ve realised is that while I know that I have been gifted, called and anointed by God to preach his gospel and make disciples – I don’t NEED to do it. Now hear me right, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it – I know what my calling is and to do anything else would be rebellious and disobedient. But what I mean is that I am not primarily Dai the preacher. First and foremost I am Dai the disciple of Jesus – saved and made righteous by HIS works, not my own. Yes, I’m saved FOR good works, but they are not where my identity lies. My identity is in Jesus – the resurrected Christ.

    Furthermore, before being Dai the preacher I am called to be Dai the husband, Dai the dad and Dai the faithful member of the local church. These are all far more important callings than my personal ministry and if I were to neglect those things I would be a hypocritical preacher.

    So no, I don’t need ministry. I need Jesus. But by His grace I get to live and speak for Him, and so…

  2. I really WANT to be in gospel ministry!
    As I’ve stepped back from ministry and sought to press into Jesus, serve my family and purge myself of unhealthy ministry experiences and expectations, I have (especially over recent weeks) found myself getting more and more excited to step back into the ring. There have been 2 main reasons for this:

    i) Firstly, God’s Word has been getting under my skin again – encouraging me, shaking me, provoking me, reminding me that God still speaks powerfully and prophetically today. There have been several scriptures these last few months that have so stirred me that I have just had to share them with people. His Word is burning in my bones again!

    ii) Secondly, as we have moved into our new inner-city neighbourhood we have been excited by so much, but have also been greatly challenged by the scale of need all around us. As I have walked the streets and started to pray, often against the backdrop of sirens, idol worship, drug dealing and broken relationships I have been reminded again that the gospel of Jesus Christ truly is the ONLY hope for our world. And I have been given the privilege to seek to share that gospel and make disciples in this new context. What an honour!

So there we have it – my post-sabbatical reflections in a nut-shell. Please do pray for me and for our family as we step back into the fray. This coming week our kids start their new school and as myself and Michelle start to explore what this new church planting, gospel-ministering, disciple-making, community-impacting adventure is going to look like for us.

BRING IT ON!!

We did it! #CW4HT

Just a quick post guys to let you know that WE DID!! The bike ride that is!

It was a fantastic, though at times gruelling, 4 days of riding, friendship and encouragement – all in the context of breathing in the beauty of God’s creation! (The Lon Las cycle route must be one of the most stunning rides in the UK). We also managed to fit in 3 awareness raising nights in Barmouth, Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff Bay. On top of all that we have been able to raise some significant money for IJM and AIM. The target we set ourselves before the ride was £5,000 and as things stand we are just short of that amount. Therefore, if you feel you could help us reach our target you can do so here.

Thanks so much for all your prayers, support and generosity. For all of us who were involved it has been a memorable, life-giving journey that will live long in all our memories! It’s also got me feeling fitter than I have done for years!

Check out this little video I made to capture something of the adventure:

Through the eyes of a child

On Saturday the Hankey family went to the cinema in central Cardiff. After the film we hurried back to the car along St Mary Street in two units – me and the girls in one, Michelle and the boys in the other. As we dashed though the drizzle we passed several homeless guys sat on grubby blankets in doorways seeking shelter from the elements. Having spent many years in Cardiff this sight was nothing new to me, so I just walked on by as quickly as possible in a bid to get the kids back to the car before they got too cold and miserable.

But that’s when Anastasia spoke up:

“Daddy, why aren’t we helping those men?”

I was stunned to a standstill.

“What’s wrong?” Asked Michelle?

“Ana wants to helps those homeless guys.” I replied.

“Yeah, Ezra just said the same thing!” She replied.

So after a brief family street conference we decided that we should offer to buy the men a hot drink each, and Ezra accompanied me to go and take the order, which I phoned through to Michelle and the others in a nearby Costa. I then went with the kids as they delivered the drinks to the grateful guys. It was a beautiful moment,but one that I have to confess challenged me deeply!

Why did it take the intervention of my 5 year old twins for that to happen?

I mean I had seen the same men as they had just seen. But whereas my instinct had been to rush on by, theirs was to reach out and help. My response was the most cost effective – we could have saved time and money if we had just passed by. Their response was more costly…but certainly more compassionate!

Now I know that historically I have not generally been indifferent to the poor. Indeed much of my  ministry has involved a great deal of serving the impoverished and the downcast. And certainly when I was younger and less time-pressured I’d regularly take time to sit with, eat with and pray with the homeless in Cardiff and beyond. But not on Saturday. In fact the truth is – the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind!

Why not?

  • Have I got cynical about helping the homeless over the years.
  • Have I lost sight of the world beyond my immediate family and their needs.
  • Do I deep down feel the need to protect my kids from the realities of the streets?
  • Is there a lack of love in my heart towards other people right now?
  • Am I just too busy?

To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s any, all or some of the above. All I know is that I have much to be thinking and praying about (and probably repenting of!) And as we begin our new gospel adventure in the inner city of Cardiff, I thank God that He has blessed us with beautiful kids whose eyes are open to the broken world around them, and whose hearts are soft and courageous enough to dare to believe that they can, and should, do something about it!

Father, forgive me for being so cold-hearted, bitter, cynical, busy and selfish that I don’y always see the opportunities that you surround me with to make Christ known in this broken world. Please forgive me for the times that I have modelled the example of the Priest and the Levite more than the good Samaritan to my family. Thank you for the lesson you have taught me this week through the faith and kindness of my precious kids. Please bless them. And please give me the grace to once again see the world through the eyes of a child. For your glory. Amen.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus

Riding Wales for Human Trafficking

 

unnamed-2Hey guys next week I’m attempting something kinda crazy and would really appreciate your prayers and support.

Riding Wales for Human Trafficking is a 4 day bike ride across Wales from Holyhead to Cardiff that will include several awareness events along the way (including Barmouth, Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff Bay). We (myself and a small team of mad-heads) are doing this ride to raise awareness about human trafficking and modern slavery, and to raise financial support for IJM.

This might not sound like the biggest challenge in the world, but trust me, it’s going to be a big challenge for me! Until a few months ago the furthest I had ever cycled was 15 miles (as a teenager), so to cover that kind of distance is going to be hard graft. However, while it’s been a crazy season for our family with the house move etc., I have been blessed to be able to get out on my bike quite a bit over the last few months and am therefore in more likely to make the distance than I otherwise would have been.

Anyway, I’m posting this to ask if you would consider sponsoring me and the guys. All money raised will go straight to IJM and will be put to very good use! If you would like to support us financially you can do so here.

If you would like to come to one of our awareness raising events they are taking place at the following locations and we’d love to see you:

Thursday 25th (7:30pm)
Barmouth Elim Church, Barmouth

Saturday 27th  (7:30pm)
Hope Church, Merthyr Tydfil

Sunday 28th  (6pm)
Costa, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay

If you’re interested and are on Strava you can check out some of the training rides that I’ve been doing.

Blessinz dear people. See you soon.

Dai