I have been (slowly) reading through a great book that came out earlier in the year by Matt Perman titled “What’s Best Next.” In this book, Perman takes a gospel-centered approach to productivity and getting things done. As I am getting toward the end of the book there is a section about knowing your purpose and it ends by having you write down your core purpose, guiding principles, core beliefs and life goals. Although there is room for edits and additions as my life carries on I would like to share with you what I wrote down.
To continually and increasingly delight in the work of Jesus as it redeems and renews all areas of my life. I am to do this in a way that promotes the delight of Jesus in others.
I am not my own but am grafted into Christ by the power of God and for the purpose of God’s glory.
My life goal is to remain faithful to the Lord until my last breath which includes being a faithful and loving husband to Becca, an attentive and life-giving father to Kuyper (and the little ones to come) and to be a faithful steward who is diligent in the ministry of making the delights of Christ known.
I have been pretty absent on my blog over the last few months due to things getting busy. In April, Becca and I welcomed our first child into the world (that my my last real blog post). That was a monumental event that shifted everything in our life. We had family and friends staying with us over two weeks which put some pressure on my introverted tendencies, but it was great to have them around. Then a couple weeks later I had the busiest weeks of my work life preparing for and executing our Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday services.
Then in May we were super busy with life things. We celebrated Becca’s birthday in Ames and got to introduce Kuyper to the rest of his great grandparents. Then we celebrated my 26th birthday by signing up for healthcare (oh joy). Mid-month we traveled to Omaha where Becca (and about 20 others from our church) went for a Porterbrook Omaha Seminar Day. I preached the following Sunday. Then at the end of the month Becca and I celebrated two years of marriage.
God has been so gracious to us. Not only has two years flew by but it has been an exciting, joyful, adventurous, busy, love-filled two years. We have seen the gospel at work in one anther, especially since Kuyper is in the picture. Parenthood shakes up your neat little life and reveals how badly you need a Savior who offers peace, rest, comfort, strength and wisdom. There is not one other person in the world I would rather call my wife and baby momma than Becca. Life is so much sweeter and more precious with her as my best friend.
June has also been chaotic because I had the opportunity to preach two weeks back to back. It wouldn’t have been too bad if that were one of a few things on my schedule but in the month of June I have also started premarital counseling with a couple that I will marry in August, a men’s study that meets at 6am Tuesdays and Thursdays, been focusing on how to take our children’s ministry to the next level, leading a missional community, meetings upon meetings and trying to respond to the emails that come my way. It has been a very busy time but it has also brought forth some of the most fruit.
One of the things that I have been really excited about is our Authentic Manhood study that we have been doing. God has been incredibly gracious to Sacred City Church in bringing forth men who are willing and are being equipped to lead their families and in the church. There have been many mornings where I have been moved to tears to see the Lord building his church while using broken men. As we have shared a little bit of our stories I am so thankful that God is a Father to the fatherless and how he has given us Jesus; not only as an example of how to be a man, but to save us from where we fall short. God is doing some really cool stuff and I can’t wait to see what will come of this. Please be praying for the dudes to be refreshed in the gospel and also challenged to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have have been called.”
Another awesome thing that has happened is that our Worship Leader and good friend, Joel Bickford, came on staff full time as a worship intern. It is exciting to see God growing the church in a way where there is a need for more staff as well as the resources. Joel, like myself, is also funded by generous givers who have made a financial sacrifice to support him in his pursuit of ministry. Please pray for him as he gets settled in to his new role and that his supporters would remain faithful to their pledges as he follows God’s call into vocational ministry.
On a familial note, my youngest brother, Adam, is in Vietnam with three other college students on a (long) short term mission trip. They have been over there for about a month and will be back toward the end of July. They have been sharing Jesus with the locals by inviting them to come and improve their English speaking skills. They will talk about friendship or love (or something of the like) and then wrap up their conversation talking about how Jesus is the perfect friend or how the Father loves his children. Please be praying for him in that he would be safe, healthy and faithful to the work laid before him.
As for me my roles have been shifting a little bit as my internship is on it’s last few months. I have been able to hand off a lot of the creative stuff I was doing to Joel which allows me to focus more on our children’s ministry, formal discipleship training (more to come), pastoring & discipleship relationships, reading formative books (leadership, gospel centered, preaching, church planting) and my hope is that I will be able to spend some time honing my writing skills (makes me wish I would have tried to retain information from high school). I am excited for the shift because it means I can do less, better.
This internship has been incredibly valuable for many reasons. It has validated my call to ministry. Ever since my last few years of college I felt that I would be in vocational ministry, however I wasn’t sure what that would look like. Over the last year and a half I and the leaders around me have confirmed my pastoral giftings and now we are testing to see if I am a church planter. I (Becca is on board, too) have a dream of planting a church in the center of Des Moines sometime within the next 10 years. The rest of my internship will be spent determining if I am gifted for such a venture.
This time as an intern has also done a great job of revealing my strengths as well as my weaknesses. It shows me where I am gifted and how I can best serve the church and also where I need to work to be a young man of integrity.
There is some benefit to formal theological training, however I have found that this method of development has been tremendously beneficial. I am naturally an academic/head knowledge type of guy and seminar would cater to that well. However, I have found that what I need most is for my heart to be pushed into the gospel and you typically won’t get that in a typical seminary experience.
I have also had some awesome opportunities to network with other church leaders as well as attend some top tier conferences. I have been able to be under the teaching of some of the most gifted gospel-centered pastors of our day, which to me is priceless. I could keep rambling about all the great opportunities and experiences I have had but I will spare you.
I would appreciate some prayer over the next few months over a few specific things:
Great book for helping to understand feelings and emotions from a Biblical perspective. Very helpful and well cited so there is plenty of further reading.
I read this book in preparation for a sermon that I preached on 1 Corinthians 10:13-22. It was very helpful and gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Lord’s Supper.
RC Sproul has some great resources out there that are for free! This book is from a series of books that address specific questions in the Christian life. The books are typically short (100 pages or less) but they are filled with wisdom. Definitely a great free kindle download worth reading!
This book was a delight to read. Very insightful and many of the pages are marked by highlighter and notes so I can revisit this book often. It was a good reminder for me as a person in vocational ministry that I must be ready for where this adventure takes me. As a member of the church, I was encouraged to fall in love with God’s story again and remember how important it is to treasure.
On April 4th, right around lunch time, God gave us a healthy little boy. He weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and was 20 and a half inches long. Mom and baby have been recovering well and both are healthy.
He has been around for a little over two weeks now and we are still getting used to life as a new family. Kuyper has been nursing and sleeping well (for the most part) and mom is getting used to her end of the deal too.
I cannot believe what has taught me in the last two weeks. I have been reminded of how generous and gracious God is to give us a healthy little boy. Because of how strongly I love Kuyper as a father, I now have a reference to how much God the Father loved God the Son. When I get frustrated and impatient when Kuyper won’t stop crying, I have been reminded of God’s perfect patience toward me. Those are just a few of the things that I have been learning to a greater degree.
You might be wondering about his name (all of our nurses and doctors asked about it, at least). Besides thinking the name Kuyper is cool, our son is named after the reformed theologian, Abraham Kuyper. He was a very influential man both in the church and in his culture. In addition to being a pastor and movement leader in the church; he also served as the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Theologically speaking, Abraham Kuyper was known for his contributions to the doctrine of common grace as well as his writings on the lordship of Christ. His most famous quote goes like this:
We gave him the middle name Alan because that is my father’s middle name. My dad is one of the hardest working, earnest, meek, and humble men that I have ever known. We felt that naming his first grandchild after him would honor him.
These two names are very significant to Becca and I because they serve as a target for the type of man that we want to mold and shape Kuyper Alan into. We desire that he would love the Lord and faithfully and fervently serve him in all that he does. We desire for him to love his family well. To be tough and tender. We desire for him to love the church and be active in the flourishing of his culture. We desire that he would be a man of integrity, discipline, compassion, meekness, and humility. We are praying, by God’s grace, that Kuyper Alan will be this type of man for his good and the good of others but ultimately for the glory of God.
I never realized how scared I was of various things until I read this book. Thankfully Ed Welch does a great job of showing me where I can find peace, comfort and promise in the gospel. A “must read” if you often find yourself worrying, afraid, or anxious.