The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

Filtering by Category: Christian Living

Sabbath as a Gift

I grew up thinking of Sabbath as an obligation. I felt obligated, and Sabbath became (to some extent) a duty rather than a delight. One of God's greatest gifts became ruined because something within me twisted it from what it's meant to be.

I know there's a lot of debate about Sabbath and the new covenant, but for the purposes of this post it doesn't matter. What matters is two things. First: Sabbath is still a good idea. Second: God's commands are not burdens but gifts. As Jen Pollock Michel said at Theology Pub the other night, "What's good for God will never be bad for me."

Tomorrow is my Sabbath. I don't do this well every week, but here's some of how seeing Sabbath as a gift has changed my practice.

I anticipate it. Someone said that we should spend three days anticipating our next Sabbath and three days living off of the previous Sabbath. The anticipation and appreciation of Sabbath can shape our weeks.

I let go of obligation. My task list never ends. There's always another meeting, another email, another task. On Sabbath, I let go of all of that. It's time to enjoy all of God's gifts that get squeezed out by the tyranny of having to do more.

I indulge. On Sabbath, I try to find what feeds my soul, and pursue that. Often it's the things that  wouldn't fit in my schedule any other day of the week. I take long walks. I see a movie. I visit the bookstore. I read that book that's been gathering dust. I savor God's good gifts.

I rest in God. Sabbath reminds me of my limits. It also reminds me that God is not limited, and that I can rest in Him and enjoy Him. Sabbath reminds me that I have a good Father who delights in giving good gifts to his children.

I'm surprised how many people don't practice something like this. I encourage you to build Sabbath into your life as a gift from God to his people.

800 Million People

Admiral William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, gave a commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin on May 17. It's definitely worth reading or watching.

McRaven said:

Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.

That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com, says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime.

That's a lot of folks. But if every one of you changed the lives of just 10 people, and each one of those folks changed the lives of another 10 people—just 10—then in five generations, 125 years, the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.

Eight-hundred million people—think of it: over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—eight billion people.

If you think it's hard to change the lives of 10 people, change their lives forever, you're wrong.

I thought about this as I spoke on 2 Timothy 2:2 last weekend:

 ...and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Paul describes four generations of changed lives: him to Timothy to faithful men to others. It's not complicated.

I got thinking: the Admiral's math sounds overwhelming. But is it? I belong to the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptists in Canada. We have 500 churches. If just 16 people in every Fellowship church took Paul's words seriously in 2 Timothy 2 and entrusted the gospel to just 10 people, who then entrusted the gospel to just 10 people, and so on, then in only five generations you have entrusted the gospel to 800 million people. Add another generation, and you've reached the whole world.

I think that's what you call multiplication.

You can watch the Admiral's message here:

You Can't Quit This

I told someone the other day that I'm discouraged as a church planter less than 10% of the time, which, it turns out, isn't a bad ratio. But sometimes in that 10% or less I'm tempted to quit and try something easier. Who needs to work at something hard?

I try hard not to read 2 Timothy 2 or many similar passages when I'm this discouraged!

Usually, reality begins to hit me.

Church planting is not a job.

I can quit this, but there is no quitting living a life of sacrifice and service for Jesus.

Missional living is not a job.

Disciple making is not a job.

Honestly, I can quit and do something else, but there is no quitting what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It's the calling of every disciple. I do plan on quitting one day when I hear the "Well done, good and faithful servant," but until that day there's no quitting, even if I do one day stop being a church planter.

The Tenets of Post-Christian Spirituality

Derek L. Worthington describes the three tenets of post-Christian spirituality in his book The Call of Jesus:

  • a distant God — remote, detached, and uninvolved with our lives;
  • "me" as a functional god, with the individual creating his or her own ethic and the ultimate authority;
  • consumption as the path to happiness.

It's a common but futile way to live.

Contrast this with the teachings of Jesus in John 12:24-28:

  • God is not distant. He is intricately involved with the world, and God the Son walked among us;
  • I am not a god. God is in control of all things with the agenda to bring glory to himself;
  • Service — laying down our lives as Jesus did — and not consumption is the path to happiness.

It's a truer way to live. And it's a more compelling way to live. We're invited.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:25-26)

The Slow, Hard Work of Making Disciples

I've been thinking a lot about what Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:1-7:

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

One command: to entrust the gospel to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Three examples of what it will take: we'll need to suffer like a soldier, follow the rules like an athlete, and work hard like a farmer. To top it off, Paul tells us to spend some time thinking about these things.

It's both simple and hard. Entrusting the gospel to others is slow, hard, painful work. But what else would you want to do with your life?

Kent Hughes comments on the last image, that of the hardworking farmer:

The farmer’s life involved: 1) early and long hours because he could not afford to lose time; 2) constant toil (plowing, sowing, tending, weeding, reaping, storing); 3) regular disappointments—frosts, pests, and disease; 4) much patience—everything happened at less than slow motion; and 5) boredom.

Some reflections, in no particular order, as I've been thinking about all of this:

  • What would it look like if we made Paul's command here — to entrust the gospel to faithful men who will teach others also — the centre of our ministries? How would church change if this became the central focus?
  • What "civilian affairs" are distracting us from the hard work of living this way? What are the particular ways that we're unwilling to suffer to carry this out?
  • Athletes are disqualified for breaking rules. What areas of obedience in my life need attention so I'm not disqualified from this task?
  • How long am I prepared to work with uncertain results? What can I learn from the hardworking farmer?

Hugh Halter said, "Disciple making in Western culture is slow and hard, but better than merely doing church." I heard Halter say last week that all of his good stories are three years in the making. I want to be ready to do this slow, hard work. Paul in this passage helps us understand what it's going to take.