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!

The Bible – 6 Reasons why pages are better than pixels

old-bible-wide I started writing this post sometime last year, but just haven’t had the time to finish it. However, I’ve finally found a few spare minutes, so here goes…

Essentially I’m writing to big up the Good Book – the real, tangible paper version of it!

Pretty much everyone I know (who owns a smartphone at least) has the Bible on their phone. Myself included! My personal preference is the ESV app – which is seriously slick. However, I’m also quite partial to the Bible.is app cos it actually reads the Bible to you, which is great if you’re busy doing the washing up etc. I also refer to my Olive Tree app from time to time as it contains the Behemoth of all Bibles – the ESV Study Bible on there! And I am well aware that there there are countless other versions that people like to use, such as YouVersion. It is truly awesome having Scripture in your pocket ready to rock and roll straight away. It’s convenience is one of the greatest assets of having pixelated Scriptures in your pocket. The search functions are also class and it is most definitely cool being able to read in the dark e.g. in bed!

There is also a lot to like about having the Bible on an iPad too. Indeed it’s quite remarkable how many pastors and preachers seem to be stepping into their pulpits these days with an iPad under their arm! I guess having your Bible AND your notes in one place is kinda handy. But all that said, I refuse to put down my trusty hard copy in order to trade it in for pixels. Sure I love my ESV app and intend to keep using it regularly. But I wouldn’t swap it for my old school hard copy version in a million years!

Why?

Do I think Scripture on paper is more spiritual than the pixelated version?

Absolutely not – truth is truth!

So why make the case for paper over pixels?

For what they’re worth, here’s my 6 reasons:

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The Big City, Hiraeth and Home

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I’m sat typing this in a Starbucks cafe at London Paddington station.

It’s not like the Starbucks that I’m generally used to visiting. It has minimal floor space, very hard and narrow seats, tiny tables…and no public toilets! I guess they don’t expect you to stay here long and certainly everyone seems to be in a rush! But then, for this plucky little pastor from the Welsh valleys, that kind of sums up my whole experience of the big smoke.

I’ve been in London since yesterday and I can safely say – I don’t fit in here!

In fact, while I am a born and bred Brit, I’d even go so far to say that London is completely foreign to me. Now before you think I’m being racist here, let me explain what I’m on about.

My Starbucks experience is not the only thing that is alien to me. Here’s just a few things that make this place so foreign to me.

Size – The buildings are huge. The bridges are huge. The shops are huge. Everything is huge because the whole city is flippin’ huge, which probably explains why they need all that…

Transport – Oh my days! This city is non-stop! There must be more bus stops and train stations in this one city than in the whole of Wales! You straight up need a PHD to understand those crazy maps and navigate all the barriers and escalators, and there should be public health warnings about all the pushy guys and gals who HAVE to get on the train before you. Hey ho, I shouldn’t be surprised at such logistical madness in light of all the…

People – There’s people everywhere. People from every nation under the sun, speaking every language known to man. I sincerely love the ethnic diversity and experiencing the rich diversity of all the people God has created, but that still doesn’t excuse all the…

Ignorance – Sorry London, but many of you guys are actually quite rude! You don’t seem to want to connect with real people. You sit on trains with hundreds of other relational human beings all around you, yet prefer to connect with you smartphone with your headphones in. NO ONE TALKS TO EACH OTHER!! This is the most un-Welsh thing I’ve had to navigate in London. Everyone is head-down on their own little mission. I think I was the only one who thanked the bus driver (NB it is an arrestable offence to not thank the “Drive” in Wales!)

Anyway, here I am waiting for my train in Paddington and missing my family like crazy after a bonkers last 24 hours, and here’s what I’m thinking -

I don’t belong here.

And I want to go home!

The Welsh have a fantastic word for this emotion – hiraeth – a word with no English translation that refers to a deep, deep longing for the homeland! 

Right now I am longing for Wales, especially the Eastern Valley and perhaps more specifically, Trevethin, because that’s where my family, my home and my heart truly lie. That’s where life makes sense to me. That’s where I feel I belong.

However, my experience of London and this strong sense of hiraeth I currently feel has got me thinking about heaven.

Truth is, right now here in London I am a foreigner. Everything is alien to me and I am alien to it. Which reminds me of something that Peter wrote:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2 v 11 NIV)

As a Christian I am a foreigner, an exile in this world.

London is not my home, but neither is ANYWHERE on planet earth!

My citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3 v 20).

This sin-stained world, it’s systems, structures and insanity are alien to me. There are days when the madness, the sadness and the downright badness seems unbearable. Yes, there is beauty to be found, miraculous moments to be enjoyed and radiant grace does penetrate the dark clouds…but this is not home!

Home is with my Father.

With the family that His Son bled to redeem.

Where ultimately everything is going to make sense.

Heaven is my homeland and my heart aches for it!

However, I’m not there yet! I’m still waiting for my train to come. So what am I to do with this heavenly hiraeth? Sit on my backside, ranting, raging and despising the prevailing culture for being so hostile and foreign?

Nah, that’s just a waste a life and breath.

Hey, here’s a crazy idea – rather than resenting culture, I could engage it. I could believe that God hasn’t sent the train yet because there’s others He wants on board. Perhaps the gospel He has put in my hand is the ticket they need. Maybe His home is not full and He wants others to be part of His family too?

So come on Hankey, get off your backside and get busy! There is a mission-field all around you. There is a loving Father who still has rooms in His home for those who are currently alienated from Him by sin and enmity.

Don’t hide behind the hiraeth.

Rather, let it compel you to love, live and unleash the gospel.

The train’s coming soon, but it’s not here yet…

Should I join this local church?

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If you are looking to join a local church, here are 4 questions that it may be helpful to consider:

1. Do I buy-in to the vision?

Every local church should have a clear vision. A church that has no sense of direction will soon wander off track and end up in all kinds of trouble. What’s worse, it will almost certainly sleep walk into anonymity and irrelevance. Now it would be easy to make the question of vision all about the missional or ecclesiological direction that a church is going in. And those things are important, but they are not primary. What is of prime importance is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In other words, is this church captivated and motivated by nothing less than Jesus Christ Himself? And is that enough for you? Many churches claim to have vision that is big, bold and adventurous. However, I want to suggest that you can’t get bigger, bolder or more adventurous than Jesus. Therefore the church that gets excited about Jesus week-in and week-out, that lives, breathes, models and and sacrifices for the gospel – that’s a church with a vision you should want to buy in to.

Any other vision is too small and unworthy.

2. Can I serve the mission?

A church that loves Jesus will love what Jesus loves. And the gospels, indeed the whole of Scripture is clear that Jesus loves people. Indeed He spilled His blood on the cross in order to redeem a people for Himself. Shortly before catching the cloud escalator to the Father’s right hand, Jesus left His boys with a mission statement that is still as ‘live’ as it ever was. We can probably sum up the mission of the church with just two simple word: making disciples. Therefore:

  • Is this church committed to Jesus’ disciple-making mission?
  • Are they about more than making converts?
  • Are they committed to a mission that extends far beyond what happens on Sunday?
  • Is every member equipped and encouraged to play their part in the fulfilling the great commission wherever they’re at?
  • Will I have opportunities to use my gifts to serve the church and reach the lost?

3. Do I subscribe to the theology?

The mere mention of the word theology sends shivers down the spines of many Christians. It seems to conjure up thoughts of high-brow academics who confuse the wotsits out of ‘ordinary’ Christians with their big words and cold hearts. Theology is for nerds and nit-pickers, right?

Wrong!

In truth we are all theologians (that is, we all have a view about God) and those of us who are Christians will also have an idea on what church is all about and how things should be done. The purpose of this post is not to say what theology is right and what theology is wrong (though I’ll tell you if you want LOL!!!!) But rather, to simply suggest that before connecting with a local church it is important to understand what a church believes. Some issues such as the nature of God, the atonement, the resurrection, the reality of hell, the infallibility of Scripture, salvation through Christ alone etc. are primary and you should not consider joining a church that holds a different position to you on such important matters.

However, there are also secondary theological beliefs that should also be thought through, such as what the church believes about the gifts of the Spirit, women in leadership, infant baptism, the Lord’s Supper, membership, the sovereignty of God in salvation etc. There is definitely room for disagreement and healthy discussion between Christians on these issues, and there are many fantastic Christians who I know that sincerely hold differing views on these matters. I have absolutely NO PROBLEM loving them, fellowshipping with them and calling them my brothers and sisters. However, there is no doubt that while secondary theological beliefs are just that – secondary – they are still important to work through when it comes to serving together in a local church. If you love praying out loud in tongues you may feel restricted in a church that believes the gift of tongues no longer exists. Similarly, if you believe that the teaching role in a church should only be held by men, you may struggle to sit in good conscience under the preaching of a female pastor or vicar.

4. Can I submit to the leadership?

This is potentially the most inflammatory of these points. Perhaps it would help for me to break it down into two parts:

a) Can you submit?

For many submission is a dirty word, and language such as “submit to your leaders” in a church context suggests a thuggish, totalitarian religious regime that wants to crack the whip and keep everyone in line! But submission is a fundamental requirement for all who want to be fruitful, faithful members of a local church. Consider this scripture:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13 v 17)

The Bible implies that we will have leaders over us and it challenges us to submit to their leadership. Notice that it doesn’t tell us to submit if we want, to whom we want, when we want. It simply charges us to submit. By joining a local church you are by default placing yourself under leadership, therefore choosing the right local church to belong to is crucially important.

b) Can you submit to these leaders?

As a leader I can honestly say that knowing that I will one day stand before God and have to give an account for the souls of all those I have the privilege to lead is sobering…and terrifying! Like the vast majority of church leaders that I know, I don’t take leadership lightly. 7 years into leading Hill City and I still struggle to believe that anyone in their right mind would want to be part of a church that I lead, let alone allow me to speak into their lives! I still shudder when I read the qualifications required of an elder, as laid out by Paul in 1 Timothy and Titus. And I know that those I am called to serve are commanded to watch me and learn from me and even copy what I do:

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13 v 7)

As you consider joining a local church, spend time getting to know the leaders. Ask them questions, and let them ask you questions too. From my perspective, I would welcome such dialogue with potential members. Here’s some things you should be asking:

  • Can you respect these leaders?
  • Will they teach God’s Word faithfully?
  • What does their life tell you about their leadership?
  • What does their marriage/family/Facebook reveal to you about their understanding of the gospel?
  • Do they have a faith that you (and your family) could aspire to imitate?
  • Would you trust them to speak into your life, both to encourage, challenge and exhort?

These are just a few thoughts for you to ponder as you consider joining a local church. If I missed anything or if you want me to clarify anything, why not post a comment below? Let’s connect.

Blessinz.

IF I WAS GOING TO PLANT AGAIN… (PART 2)

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This is the second part of a short church planting mini-series. You can read the first post here.

If I was going to plant again…

1. I wouldn’t start with a vision for what the Sunday ‘event’ should look like

When I planted Hill City it’s fair to say that I didn’t have a clue what the dickens I was doing. The vision didn’t really go much further than “Love God and tell everyone about Jesus”. If there was one thing that I did have it was a clear idea of what the Sunday event would look like. Admittedly, I knew that our core team needed to grow beyond the the “2 adults, a baby and a pit-bull in the living room” phase before my “vision” could be realised. But I knew what the goal was – a windowless basement venue, dark walls, grungey artwork, a LOUD sound system, a smoke machine and a gnarly pulpit crafted out of solid Welsh oak (honest!) The church would consist largely of drug-addicts, criminals, single mothers and psychopaths (all of whom would be leading the church within a few years). I guess I envisaged a Sunday event that looked remarkably similar to Adullam’s cave.

But I really didn’t have much of a vision beyond that.

WHAT A PLEB!!

For those who’ve ever attended a Sunday gathering at Hill City, you’ll know that very little, if any of the decor I dreamt up has ever been realised (not even the pulpit!) And while we are blessed to have ex-addicts, single mums and former criminals in our church family, we also have those who are wealthy, married, professional, elderly and spiritually mature too! For what it’s worth, I think that God’s vision for our Sunday gatherings is far better than my plan. But I also acknowledge that I missed something MASSIVE in those early days – namely that there’s A LOT more to church planting than the Sunday event. In fact, the Sunday gathering should almost be an afterthought – the logical outworking and expression of the church whose DNA was already being established behind the scenes.

A few weeks ago my eldest son, Josiah, excitedly reported to us that he’d learned something important. In his own words, he had discovered that “church isn’t a building – it’s people standing on each other’s heads!” Not sure where he got that from, but he was probably closer to what church is really about than I initially was! Church is about Jesus and His people, not buildings, programmes or Sunday events! Certainly when Jesus said “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16 v 18) He was not talking about a physical building with staging and a smoke machine. He was talking about His people, His body – the church!

If I was going to plant again, I’d start with a vision of Jesus and His bride and let everything else flow from that!

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