DashHouse.com

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: Life

Rest With Purpose

Work is never done, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't rest. In fact, the busier we get, and the more demands there are, the more we need to pause and rest in the fact that the work is ultimately God's, and the world can go on without us for a day.

I take each Friday as my sabbath. It's a discipline because there's always more work to do. But it's also a joy because I get to stop and enjoy God and his gifts for a day independent of what's left on the to-do list.

Phil Caravaggio, CEO of Precision Nutrition, had a good series of tweets the other day that helped me think about how to rest. (I've found that pastors are sometimes the worst at knowing how to do this.) Here they are. They don't say everything that needs to be said, but I found them helpful. I hope they help you prepare for your next Sabbath, and I hope that's soon.

He then lists them:

  1. Physically vitality & restoration. E.g., going snowboarding or bouldering; getting a massage, etc.
  2. Connectedness & lasting moments with loved ones. E.g., making a big dinner for friends and family.
  3. Disconnection from work and “striving.” No email, business reading, social media, etc.
  4. Immersion in excellence. I love just seeing awesome stuff for inspiration. Art, literature, film, especially architecture.
  5. Engage non-work passions and interests. I’ll read about carpentry, tune my snowboard, play my guitar, etc.

He concludes:

Good advice!

A New Year's Resolution on Creatureliness and Limits

One of my favorite tweets around New Year’s was this one by Joe Carter:

So good. Sometimes it’s hard to tell satire from reality, and Joe’s tweet is a good ribbing at the way we often think as we enter a brand new year.

Be careful, though, what you read and experience. It will mess with your awesomeness. I woke up in the middle of the night last night and read a passage from Michael Pollan’s book Cooked. I couldn’t have read a worse portion of the book for bedtime reading. “Consider, just for a moment, the everyday proximity of death,” I read. Okay. Then this:

140102.jpeg

We, too, carry around invisible microbial shadows: the Brevibacterium breeding in the saline damp between our toes, or the enterococci lurking in the coiled dark of the intestine. Everything that lives, it seems, must play host to the germ of its own dissolution. Whether a fungus or a bacterium, these invisibles come wielding precisely the right kit of enzymes to take apart, molecule by molecule, life’s most intricate structures, reducing them, ourselves included, to simple foods for themselves and other living and incipient beings.

Nice. Oh, and have a good sleep.

Then this morning while walking my dog he collapsed for a minute and lay on the ground as if dead. He seems mostly fine now, but it was strange and scary.

And then this morning I read from Zack Eswine’s excellent book Sensing Jesus, in which he quotes Archibald Alexander writing of himself near the end of his life: “He [Alexander] feels he must shortly relinquish, not only his pen, but all earthly labors; and, therefore, he leaves this work to be performed by some other person.” Eswine comments:

To relinquish; to admit that some dreams are presumptuous; to acknowledge that some needs outlast me; to recognize my inability to fully supply what is lacking; to admit that I am limited; to say no to competition with brothers and sisters, and to give to others what I strongly desired for myself; and in it all to still take up the pen or give voice to preach Jesus— these indicate a surrender to noble limits.

To summarize: you carry on you the bacteria that will take you apart when you die. Your dog may collapse and die today. And you must realize that many of your dreams are presumptuous, and the needs you’re trying to meet will outlast you. Happy New Year!

All of this could sound depressing, but look at it a different way.

At the beginning of a new year, it is not my goal to be awesome. It shouldn't be yours either. We are here for a short while. We are not the Savior of anything. There are needs that we can’t meet, and there are things that we can’t control. We are limited at best, and dependent on God’s good grace every moment of every year.

Depressing? Only to the extent that we've lost sight of reality. These truths are actually freeing when we understand them. It’s especially freeing because all of these realities are met in God, and more. God is awesome. He needs no resolutions. He is the Savior of everything. There are no needs that exceed his ability; he is eternal and he withholds nothing good from his children. Even death, which is not good, has been overcome. Everything sad will become untrue. And I am here, now, to enjoy what he's given me, with the hope that there is even more for me when I'm gone.

If I have a New Year’s Resolution, it’s not to be awesome. It’s to rediscover my creatureliness and limits, and to rediscover God’s awesomeness and the richness of his grace.

So far I’m off to a good start. Dragging a limp dog across the road sure seems to help. But if I finish the year more aware of who I am, and who God is, then it will have been a year spent in the best possible way.

Top Seven Blessings of the Past Year

A year ago today we moved into Liberty Village. It seems like yesterday, yet it’s hard to remember not living here.

Moving Day

Here, in no particular order, are the top seven blessings we’ve experienced in the past year:

  • Provision — I remember lying awake at night wondering how we were going to make this work on a church planter’s salary (or, sometimes, lack of salary). God provided for us: We found a condo that fit our family’s needs. We sold our house. The day that we moved in, we received the largest single donation we’ve received as a new church. Church planting can be very financially challenging — we’re in the middle of that right now — but God has provided for us.
  • Friends — When we moved in, we really didn’t know anyone in Liberty Village. We’ve been privileged to make some very good friendships here. We have met some of the nicest people in the past year, and I’m blessed to call them my friends.
  • Co-workers — I remember Nathan and Sarah saying that they would love to get involved with Liberty Grace, but they just couldn’t see how they could ever move down here with their family. Not only did they move in, but they brought another couple with them. God continues to send amazing co-workers. We arrived alone, but we didn’t stay alone for long. God is so good.
  • HealingArticles like this are a little on the depressing side, but there is no doubt that ministry can leave bruises after many years. The past year has been a great one for dealing with some of those bruises, and finding ourselves healing. The alternative is bitterness, and that’s not pretty.
  • Grace in suffering — We went through one of the greatest crises of our lives early this year. As usual, we grew in the middle of that suffering. As tough as it was, we discovered that God’s grace was just as abundant as our pain. And we discovered that our weakness is not a surprise to God; he uses us in our weakness.
  • Greater health — We’ve been eating better and building strength. My wife works for a great company, and we’ve really benefited from one of their online programs. This has not only been fun to do this together, but it’s helped us feel a lot better.
  • Seeing God work — We are planning our first baptism. And I had the gospel explained to me the other day by someone who started attending our church when we launched in September. How do you beat that?

All this to say: God is so good, and we are so grateful.

For the Love of the City

A year ago this month we moved into Liberty Village, a condo community in the heart of Toronto. I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, and have spent the past 20 years living in the inner suburbs. Moving into an urban condo community was a new experience for me. I thought I would love it, but it’s been even better than I expected.

I want to be careful in this post. I don’t want to suggest that cities are inherently better than other places. Sometimes you get the impression that people think city-centered ministry is what really counts, and everyone else has missed out. That’s not at all the case, and I don’t want you to think that’s what I’m saying.

But here is what I am saying: I love the city, as many of you love where you live. And here are just two reasons why.

Liberty Village. Photo courtesy of Carlos Pacheco

The City as a Great Place to Live

My father lived in a village in Kent, England. When I visited him I appreciated many of the aspects of village life. We walked everywhere. We relied on public transit (bus and train) when we needed to travel. We visited the high street almost daily. We got to know others in the community. It was easy to see why a village is a great place to live.

When you live in a certain type of city neighborhood, that’s exactly what you experience. Liberty Village isn’t called a village for no reason: with train tracks on the north and south, and only a few ways in and out, it really does have the feeling of a village within a large city. We tend to walk everywhere. To travel within the city, we often use transit. (It’s almost a kilometer to drive our car from the parking spot to the street outside, for one thing.) We shop the local shops and regularly bump into people on the street. We meet them at parties and community events. We have the best of village living in the big city.

Not only that, but we have all the benefits of urban life as well. We have many of the ingredients of great city living: diversity, culture, food, a critical mass of people. Our commute time is low because we live where we work. Jane Jacobs and others have described the qualities that make cities healthy, and many of them are present here. Contrary to what many people think, the city is a great place to live if you want to improve the quality of your life.

The City as a Great Place to Serve

As far back as Ray Bakke, and as recently as Tim Keller, people have been arguing for the importance of city-centered ministry. I won’t go over all of the arguments, but there’s no doubt that there is a need for churches in the city, just as there are in the suburbs and the country as well. I love how James Boice put it:

Not every Christian needs to live in our cities, but far more should live in them than do now. They should live in them as their mission field of choice….since we want to be ahead of the times rather than lagging behind them, we should probably lead the way with an even higher percentage of Christians relocating to the urban areas. Many thousands should move there.

The whole post on Boice’s view of the city is worth reading.

I really resonate with Boice’s statement, “And while we’re working on it we should not think that the world is utterly opposed to us. Society is often less hostile than we think.” One of the reasons that the city is such a great place to live is because there is such a need here. When a church shows up that loves the city, it is often met with more receptivity than one might have guessed.

One more thing: city ministry has the potential to be much more community-based than in other settings. We are essentially starting a parish church. I don't have to get in my car and drive 15 minutes to a church meeting. I can walk a few minutes and meet most of the people who are part of Liberty Grace Church. The potential for living in purposeful, missional community is staggering.

So What?

The city is not for everyone. Some people are city folk; some aren’t. We need people and churches everywhere.

My point is not to run down where anyone else is living or serving. My point is to tell you that the city is an amazing place to live, and a great place to plant a church, and that you should consider it for yourself.

Last year, Nathan and Sarah Fullerton moved into Liberty Village to join us. It was because they have a love for the city, a calling to the city, and a desire to serve here. I'm so glad they share my love for Liberty Village, for the Lord, and for service, and that they've brought others with them. I want their tribe to increase.

Don’t believe all the bad press about how cities are such a bad place. (A lady told me the other week: “Good luck working with all the murderers in Toronto!”) If you feel the draw to a city, consider how you might live and serve there for the glory of God. We certainly could use more servant-minded believers who love the city in our church plant and other church plants!

Lessons from A Daily Dose of Imagery

I took a street photography course last month with Sam Javanrouh, the photographer behind the excellent photoblog Daily Dose of Imagery. Javanrouh posted a picture every day for ten years from July 2003 until July of this year, attracting 1.3 million yearly images. He still posts occasionally on his Tumblr blog.

Sam Javanrouh

Sam Javanrouh

What Javanrouh taught us that day applies to photography, and a whole lot more.

  • Learn on the street. Don’t teach street photography in a classroom. Get out there on the street and actually do it. We all brought our equipment, and learned by doing with someone who could guide us in real-world conditions.
     
  • Learn in community. The size of the group, less than a dozen, was genius. There were enough of us that Javanrouh could teach the group, but we were small enough that he could also give us individual attention. It was the right balance of community and individual focus.
     
  • Look around you. Javanrouh taught us not to ignore a scene just because we had photographed it before. Conditions are always changing, and you may see something completely different in a building or streetscape you’ve seen hundreds of times before. See with fresh eyes. There is always something new.
     
  • Know your stuff. It’s not complicated, but you can go a lot further in photography if you know your equipment and some basics such as good framing techniques, aperture mode, RAW format, and post-processing. The basic skills can take you a long way.
     
  • Take the time. It was a luxury to spend three hours walking and taking pictures. The course gave us all permission to do what we love doing in the first place, but never take the time to do because we are too busy.
     
  • Model what you teach. I can never look at Javanrouh’s work without being inspired. Seeing someone who is farther along is very motivating, especially if that person remembers being a novice and is willing to teach you what he knows.
     
  • Learn as a teacher. It was evident that Javanrouh himself was being taught by other great photographers as well. To be a good teacher, you have to be a good learner.

I learned a lot from that photography course, and I’m thinking about how some of the principles apply in life and ministry as well.